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Update (2008)

'Beka just took some lemon bread out of the oven---it smells so good! Come on over for the food---stay for the conversation!

My heart is bursting with news and thoughts to share with you. I've been reading Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank L. Houghton these past few weeks as part of my devotion time. I've read Elisabeth Elliot's book on Amy, A Chance to Die, several times over. I'm always so blessed and challenged by it. Now I'm reading Houghton's book, getting a fresh approach to Amy's life, absorbing and thinking it all through as I read. Amy was such an amazing woman, so like our Lord! I so want to be like her when I grow up! I'd like to share a little of what I've been reading about Amy as I write this update. I trust Amy's life will encourage you as it has me.

Take a few moments to relax and contemplate. Summer, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

Take a break and ponder life. (Grandchildren Ethan (7) and Katie (4) fishing at a pond near their home in Virginia.)
Summer, 2008. (Photo by Jennifer.)

Forget the lists and the laundry and the dishes for a moment. Spring, 2008. (Photo by 'Beka.)

The Birdies Still in the Nest

The five remaining children at home are swiftly turning into teenagers. What a joy they are! This is a bittersweet age for me as I watch them spread their wings, fly, dip down seemingly about to crash, and then swoop back up again, soaring to even greater heights. I feel like three of my little birdies are all going to leave the nest around the same time, creating a very large vacuum. I'm so enjoying the fleeting moments.

We continue to enjoy our Sunday afternoon walks.
Summer, 2008. (Photo by 'Beka.)

Matthew (18) is in his last year of home school high school. Matt (as he now likes to be called by everyone) raised so much meat for us this year I had to buy three more freezers to hold it all. We feel ready for a recession with all the meat and potatoes we have in store! Matthew will no longer be raising meat for us as he will be in university during the butchering season. He has applied and officially been accepted (as of December 13, 2008 5:00 pm CST!) to the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana (45 minutes south of us) to take his Bachelor of Science in animal sciences and then hopefully onto veterinary school. What a celebration we had on the occasion of his acceptance! Matthew plans to live at home during his first year. This will be our first child to enter a secular university/college. After much prayer and discussion, this is how God has led us and Matthew. Now I have a better idea of how Hannah must have felt letting go of little Samuel to Eli and his wicked sons, and how Jochebed, the mother of Moses must have felt as she gave him over to the debauchery of the palace! What prayers and tears must have gone up to heaven! At least my son is a young adult!

Matthew with his friend Josiah, September 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)

Matthew is very involved in a local dog club, entering Buddy and now Farley (don't ask!) in various competitions. He is also teaching at the club and thriving there. His best friends are all old, married ladies! When people ask him if he has a girlfriend he says, "Yes. She is 83 and has three beautiful dogs!" Matthew continues his lawn care business and part time work at our local veterinarian clinic. He is gone much of the time, except for about three months during the winter when he does his school work. Matthew is a fine son, and we are delighted with his godly behavior both inside and outside the home.

Matthew at his dog training club with Buddy, September 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)

I thought you would enjoy reading one of Matthew's college entrance essays.

Essay 1 Assignment: In an essay of 300 words or less, write about how your personal or academic interests relate to your intellectual or professional goals.

My parents always advised me to pick a career doing things I enjoy. I didn't think much about it at the time, but now as I look back at the course of my life I see a direct connection between my interests and my goal of becoming a veterinarian.

I have always loved animals. At the age of eight I started my first campaign to get some of my own. My first acquisition was a small, black mouse. My parents were far from enthusiastic about the bright-eyed creature, but after the initial shock of discovering that their son was an animal fanatic, my non-animal-loving parents gave up the fight and it snowballed from there.

Ten years later I have milked goats, sheared sheep, vaccinated pigs, bottle-fed calves, bred homing pigeons, raised ducks that ate my dad's vegetable garden, had geese that chased my mom around the yard, and raised unforgettably dumb turkeys. To my mother's consternation I was constantly adding to this menagerie.

Following the favorable outcome of Mom vs. Dog Ownership, canines entered my world. With my dog came a desire to get him educated. I am now the owner of a dog who has letters after his name and numerous blue ribbons to prove it. Naturally, my dog was soon too well trained; I decided to start over---with a puppy, that is. Dog training and showing is now a significant part of my life.

Throughout high school I have operated a lawn mowing business that services over twenty-five lawns weekly. I enjoy the interaction with my customers and view many as personal friends.

My parents seem to have been right; for years my interests in animals and people have been building a foundation for my future---a career in veterinary medicine.

Matthew invested in a new car and new trailer for his lawn business.
Summer, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

'Beka (16) has worked hard to do two years of school in one, so she can go to Bob Jones University in the Fall of 2010. She continues with her piano, making great strides. She is busy preparing to take her SAT in the spring of 2009, struggling through geometry. I'm so glad I have Gerald as our principal! 'Beka and Rachel remain the best of friends---a joy to my heart! We decided not to let 'Beka take driver's ed at the local public school. It really serves her no purpose to be able to drive. I'm not comfortable with her going anywhere by herself. She wasn't too thrilled with that, but has submitted graciously to our decision. We will teach her to drive the summer she turns 18 and then she can take her test.

'Beka with Matthew's new puppy, Farley. Summer, 2008. (Photo by Rachel.)

'Beka has developed several pen pals and phone pals this year. It is fun to hear her laughing on the phone to her friends. 'Beka hopes to meet one phone pal this coming summer.

Finances for her college education are a big question at this point. Since BJU is out of state, scholarships are not as plentiful. Also, since she has worked at home and not out in the workplace (my choice---I feel that we must protect our daughters, especially) she makes very little money and therefore has almost no savings for college. Gerald and I have never been able to put any money toward any of our children's education as a result of being in Christian ministry and having a large family. We are in the same boat as many of you, no doubt. But God is faithful. 'Beka is a God-fearing daughter, so we know that God will honor that need in her life when the time comes. As Gerald often says, "What good is faith if you don't use it?"

'Beka making a ship model. Winter, 2008. (Photo by Rachel.)

Rachel (14) has become a friend to so many of you. She loves to read and write and is our resident word person. She is learning to edit video footage this year and hopes to get several mini-movies done. She just made her first DVD on the Filliol Reunion 2008 and did a great job! She created for me, which my farm stand customers use to place orders. Rachel also has quite a few pen, phone and e-mail pals. The phone is often tied up here in the evenings. I don't mind. It reminds me of my teenage years! Great to have free long distance! Rachel is struggling through math and what she considers useless word problems. I'm not much help to her I'm afraid. I send her to Matthew or Gerald. College finances are a concern for Rachel as well. We will have three in college by the time she goes! So again, we have the same struggles as you, but nothing is impossible with the Lord, yes?!

Rachel caring for a family visitor. September, 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)

Rachel recording family history! September, 2008. (Photo by Joey C. )

Tim (12) is growing like a weed and eats like a horse! He can now ride the Craftsman yard tractor and till the garden with the big Troybilt tiller, moving him up with the other men in the house. It is great to watch him as he drives the Craftsman---plowing the snow off the road when there is only half an inch to plow. He waves with delight to me in the window! Men and machines. Tim is not interested in raising animals, so we will take a break from animal raising and butchering for next summer at least. I should have enough meat for at least 5 years (no joke). Isn't that wonderful?!

Tim moving the chicken cages during chore time. Spring, 2008. (Photo by Rachel.)

Tim showing me his latest bird feeder creation.
Fall, 2008. (Photo by Rachel.)

Caleb (9) has enjoyed making and launching toy rockets. He has had several successful launches and some failures. His job this year has been to keep the garage cleaned up. He is doing a good job with that. Caleb is starting to read more and can be seen reading at night before going to bed. He has learned to play chess this year and plays against the computer and with his Dad. He is getting pretty good and longs for the day when he can beat his Dad. Gerald, man of integrity that he is, says Caleb will have to win fair and square.

Caleb after a dip in the pool! Summer, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

Say cheese! Caleb, Summer, 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)

The kids and I just took a break and went out to view all the trees down from the ice storm we had during the night. Here are a few pictures.

Out we go into the mist and fog. Watch your step! December, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

The children shook the trees to hear the ice fall. December, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

God's beauty! December, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)


Gerald has just published a new book called The Exodus Happened 2450 BC. This was partially in response to the PBS NOVA special called, "The Bible's Buried Secrets" (see As your children grow and leave the nest, the mis-information that this special provides is what your children will be exposed to out there. Unfortunately, Christian groups are not providing the answers to problems such as are posed on this NOVA special. I challenge you to watch the NOVA special (available on line) with your family and then read Gerald's book to your children (see Your faith will grow and you will better equip your children for the real world.

Gerald is such an amazing, wonderful man! I cannot begin to imagine life without him. In Houghton's book, this description of Amy reminded me of Gerald.

Amy Carmichael was born in 1867. So also was Mme Curie, the discoverer of radium. They were curiously alike in certain ways, utterly dissimilar in others. They were alike in their intense absorption in the task assigned to them, but whereas Amy Carmichael was interested primarily in introducing persons to a Person, Mme Curie abandoned all belief in God, and when she was interviewed by an American newsman, who hoped for a "human interest" story, she closed the conversation with the crushing remark, "In science we must be interested in things, not persons."

But they were alike in their self-effacement---Amy Carmichael in order that Christ might be revealed, Mme Curie in order that the interests of Science might be furthered. "What fiendish ingenuity she used to find impersonal formulas, what a rage for effacing herself, for remaining in the shadows! The 'I' was not detestable to Marie; it did not exist." So writes Mme Curie's daughter. With necessary verbal alterations, much the same might be said of Amy Carmichael. *1

Gerald has a tremendous burden for the young people of our day who are being taught that the Old Testament before the time of David is fiction, that the Exodus never happened, and that Genesis is a myth. He has poured his life into research and writing to give answers especially to this generation of young people who are abandoning their faith by the scores. It is perfectly clear to all who know him Who and what Gerald is living for.

Gerald and Caleb in an after-dinner chess game. Fall, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

So many of you have written and told me you are praying for Gerald's health and asking for updates. Thank you so much for praying. It has been a challenging year. Gerald has had several IVIG treatments for his CIDP. It appears that he will need a once-a-month treatment on into the future and possibly for the rest of his life. This means a 45 minute drive to the hospital and a 3 hour infusion, taking us both from our tasks at home. By the time we get home, the day is pretty much shot and Gerald is fatigued from the infusion. In the meantime, my desk work has piled up, the house and laundry need attention, and school is begging to be marked. The kids have enjoyed us being gone! It takes me another two days to catch up. But it is all worth it just to have Gerald strong and well! Even though the IVIG is not a cure, it does manage the symptoms. We are thankful for each gift of today to serve the Lord. The prayer need for Gerald is that he does not develop allergies to the IVIG and that it continues to work.

Our marriage has strengthened even more through the trials and the joys. We never tire of being with each other and love our daily walks. Even trips to the hospital are special in their own way. We cherish each other more and more each day. We are made more aware of our mortality because of Gerald's illness, which I think is a good thing. "Teach us to number our days" (Psalm 9:12).

Gerald was thrilled to catch a Northern pike on the St. Lawrence River up in Canada, just like he did when he was a teenager!
October, 2008. (Photo by Matt.)

The Birdies Out of the Nest

We have added three new family members this year. Jennifer had a baby boy, Samuel Hudson Hall, in October. Laura is expecting a girl in early March and Kathryn (David's wife) is expecting a girl in the middle of March. That makes 10 grands for Gerald and me. Being a grandmother is a very special role and one I cherish. Our family has grown to 25 now, not counting the unborn babes. I am blessed beyond words.

My first meeting of Samuel was in Canada at my parents' 60th wedding anniversary.
Samuel was 6 days old! Welcome Sammy! October, 2008. (Photo by 'Beka.)

There are many stories I could tell in this section, but some of my older married children might prefer that I didn't. So I will simply share a few photos.

I had the privilege of teaching Kathryn (David's wife) to crochet. Spring, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

Kathryn was a quick learner and soon surpassed my limited skills!
Summer, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

My annual Mother's Day cycle ride with my son David. May, 2008. (Photo by 'Beka.)

Gerald responding to grandaughter Kelsey's request to "pet Grandpa's fish".
December, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

A wonderful pre-Thanksgiving at Jennifer's home in Virginia.
November, 2008. (Photo by Jennifer.)

Gerald playing a chess game with grandson Joshua. November, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

Our 2008 Family Reunion

We had a very unusual family reunion this year. It was held in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada! It was my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. All of our clan were invited to attend on October 18th. I was delighted that eight of my ten were there, even my six-day-old grandson, Samuel. It was so wonderful to go back to Canada after twenty-six years. I know my parents will cherish the memories of that weekend, and so will I.

My parents' 60th wedding anniversary. October, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

My family. From left to right (youngest to oldest): Rob, Helen, Lucy, John, and Dan.
My Mom Aline Filliol and my Dad Bernard Filliol are seated in front.
October, 2008. (Photo by Rachel.)

Four generations: Me, Jennifer, my mother and Katie. (October, 2008.)

Eight of my ten children attended the reunion. (October, 2008.)

My mother and her daughters: Lucy, my Mom and me. October, 2008. (Photo by 'Beka.)

The Homestead

Mulberry Lane Farm has done very well this year. The children, under Gerald's and 'Beka's supervision, grew a great garden! I was selling to customers for several hours every day. The Lord has blessed the work of our hands. We needed to bring in some extra income to help pay for our trip to Canada, so we were very glad for the sales. We baked quite a few goodies to sell at the stand (breads, cookies, etc.) as well as homemade jam. The customers loved it! I don't think I drew breath from May until, well, I'm still not caught up! Maybe after I get the gifts wrapped and Christmas cleaned up and the income taxes prepared and our seed order in the mail and school set up for next year, and ... it's hopeless trying to get caught up. I just put one foot in front of the other most days, "doing the next thing". The truth is, I hate being bored, and as Gerald sometimes reminds me, I love all this craziness and thrive on it.

May we help you? Summer, 2008 (Photo by Timmy.).



Rachel developed as a homeschool website project. She now maintains the site for me. What a great job she does! The site has enabled our local vegetable customers to order online, as well as checking to see what we have for sale in the garden. I have added Ball canning lids to The lids ship anywhere within the USA. If you need bulk canning lids, you may want to check it out. I sell the lids as cheaply as I can and ship out the same or next day after you order. The profits we make from the canning lids help cover the costs of maintaining both and my husband's site

A triple decker homegrown strawberry! Summer, 2008 (Photo by 'Beka.)

Matt and 'Beka sheep shearing. Spring, 2008 (Photo by Timmy.)

We set up a new vegetable stand this year---a very nice Rubbermaid shed. It has worked out well.
Spring, 2008 (Photo by Helen.)

We are going to try to turn part of our strawberries into a U-pick in 2009. As more of our children leave home, we have less labor to pick our strawberries. Hiring labor is expensive and eats up all of our profits, so that is not an option. We will start small with the U-pick, allowing only a few people to come in to pick this coming year. If it goes well, we will expand the strawberry sections for 2010. Eventually we would like to have most of the garden be strawberries and turn the whole operation into a strawberry U-pick, so that by the time most of the kids are gone or working outside of the home (the last two boys) we will still have the income from the strawberries. Maybe this will be part of Gerald's and my retirement? We'll see.

We really put away the jam this year. Summer, 2008. (Photo by Rachel.)

Matthew brought home many bags of leaves from yardwork this fall. Great for our garden!
Fall, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

Putting in drainage along the barn. Fall, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

Some Interesting Thoughts on the Mess in the World

As I was wondering how I could find the time to articulate some of my thoughts on the current economic mess in the world, I ran across this excellent article that says it better than I ever could. I highly recommend reading it: Stinky Demographics: Population & the Fate of Nations by Roberto Rivera.

The Internet Dragon

If you have the Internet in your home, I implore you with all that is within me to make yourself "gate-keeper" of this insidious dragon! This is not an easy job, but it is essential. Don't fool yourself into thinking that "my teens and husband aren't interested in those kinds of sites". You simply are in denial. Gerald and I have searched high and low and tried many different types of Internet filter programs. All failed. Unfortunately, teens and husbands are often much more computer savy than we moms are and have the ability to get around just about every type of software that exists. After a great deal of time, and many experiments, we have settled on using Dansguardian (Dans Guardian), a Linux based program for our home and business network. You can set it up many different ways, but the only way that keeps children and adults from surfing the Internet to look for (and eventually find) holes in the filter is a whitelist-based system with all search engines (e.g., Google) excluded from the whitelist. ("Whitelist" means only the sites you have cleared can be opened. Everything else is closed.)

I am the gate-keeper for our Dansguardian filter. Requests for sites to be cleared are first checked by me and then added to the whitelist if appropriate for all users. (Actually, Dansguardian uses what it calls a "greylist" for most sites. This means they are checked for appropriate content by the computer filter in numerous ways each time anybody on the network visits them.) I have an override on my computer that allows the kids and Gerald to search the Internet under supervision. This is slightly inconvenient for all concerned, but all agree that it is a small price to pay for purity and godliness. Years ago we had to get in our cars, drive to the library, and search manually on the shelves for information, using up hours of time. Now we can get megatons of information at the click of a mouse! So mandating suprvised searches is really not a major setback for users. Please, for the sake of the eternal souls of your children and husbands, do take this dragon by the horns.

The Circus Manager

This has been the fastest year of my life! There still aren't enough hours in my day despite Emilie Barnes. As the children get older and need me less, I just keep adding more responsibilties to my list. I am grateful for full health and strength to keep up with the daily demands. I try to look at the smallest and most menial of tasks as God given and as laying up treasure in Heaven. Often I feel frustrated and stressed by the demands, wishing I had more time to promote Gerald's new book, or have local ladies in for tea, or time to write our family's history down in book form. And then sixteen bank statements arrive in the mail (I kid you not!) and I lose it, with groans the whole house can hear.

Heart-to-heart fellowship with dear friends Joey and Sonya..
September, 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)

Joey and Sonya and their eight boys spent a few days with us. September, 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)

Homeschooling is going well. We've enjoyed adding videos and DVD's to the curriculum. Each has to be previewed first by me. It is amazing the stuff that slips into even nature and travel movies. If it meets my standards, then we all watch it. Great learning opportunities for us all. I never had the time to preview movies a few years ago, which means we didn't get to watch many, so this is a nice added bonus for us. I order the videos and DVD's free online through our local library. I don't have to leave home at all, just pick them up when they arrive. I still use Switched on Schoolhouse, but wish there were better options. Let me know what you are using as far as computer education and what you think of it. The children still do their Dad's math and spelling drills every day, which really helps with the tedium of drilling (see

I can't seem to get time to write The Mother's Companion again, despite requests to do so. With Gerald's illness, mothering and homeschooling five, increased demands on my time doing office work for the various businessess, and helping Gerald with his research and writing work in many ways I just can't get to it. I know that I am doing what God has called me to do, but my heart still yearns to do more writing for The Mother's Companion. Thanks for your support and your understanding.

The children all have lists for me when I go on my once-a-month shopping!
Spring, 2008 (Photo by Rachel.)

I try to do one-on-one mentoring as God gives me the opportunity. Oh, that reminds me of dear Shelly! For the first set of treatments of IVIG at the hospital we prayed that God would use us in at least one person's life. We would chat with the various nurses assigned to us on the different days. Some were pretty "career" oriented and thought we were "weird" with ten children, etc. One day we were assigned a young nurse named Shelley. We chatted and when she learned that we were homeschooling she immediately said how she wished she could quit her job and just be home with her children, who were, at that time, in Christian school. We talked for awhile, I gave her my MC business card and on her break she looked up the Mother's Companion website. She came back after her break and was all excited. When we left, I gave her a hand-knitted washcloth to thank her and told her to e-mail me or call me if she had questions. She did begin e-mailing me with questions and our mentoring relationship has really grown over the past months. I had Shelly over for tea. (Have you ever noticed that hospitality is NEVER convenient? Just do it.) She had so many questions and was all ears for the answers. To make a long, wonderful story short, Shelly is now homeschooling, has their expensive home up for sale (gave up their second home to the bank!), and will quit her nursing career as soon as their house sells. We have had all her family in for a meal and have a special love for this family who so desire to do what God wants them to do, despite pressures from society and even Christians to do otherwise. How God answered that prayer before we went to the hospital! What a God we serve!

Many of you have written to share your trials and tribulations---mates with cancer, loss of jobs and homes, grown children bound in homosexuality, caring for aging parents, husbands leaving their posts in the home, older children who seem to despise you... The list is long and some things we can't even list; the hurts just go too deep. And the load of the work on the home front is always relentlessly whining for our attention, home and office spaces crowded and bulging at the seams making organization difficult and stressful, not to mention little ones who need a story and a lap for comfort, husbands who need a listening ear and a warm hug. We feel so tired, lonely, hurt and often overwhelmed. It is easy to lose our joy in it all. But, God loves it when we are weak, for then He can be strong in our lives. We can serve despite the hurts, the pain and the exhaustion. What a gift we give Him when we continue serving with joy when our hearts are breaking and bodies exhausted! "Thou has put gladness in my heart" (Psalm 4:7).

Two glad services are ours,
Both the Master loves to bless.
First we serve with all our powers---
Then with all our feebleness.

Nothing else the soul uplifts,
Save to serve Him night and day,
Serve Him when He gives His gifts---
Serve Him when He takes away.
C. A. Fox

There is so much more to share with you but my words come faster and easier than my typing and editing. Now that you've heard my news, I'd love to hear from you! Do write and send me a family photo. (Use the "E-mail us" link in the navigation bar at left.) I always enjoy hearing from you and try to respond to each one who writes. Do you have a special burden or prayer request? Please share those as well and we will add them to our prayer list.

"That in all things He may have the pre-eminence",


My daffy-dills! Spring, 2008. (Photo by Helen.)

My Goal for 2009 Starting Now

Love that never faileth,
Love that all prevaileth---
Saviour Christ, O hear me now,

Round me souls are dying,
Deep in darkness lying;
Thou didst love them unto death,
O give Thy love to me.

Grant that I may reach them,
Grant that I may teach them,
Loving them as Thou dost love,
O give Thy love to me.

Love that ever burneth,
Love that ever yearneth---
Saviour Christ, O hear me now
And give Thy love to me. *2

If you are ever driving past Loda, do come visit us! Drive down this road.
We're the little place to the left.
Summer, 2008. (Photo by Joey C.)


*1 -- Frank L. Houghton, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, Christian Literature Crusade, Washington, Pennsylvania, June 1996, xiii.
*2 -- Ibid pg. 287.


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