Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Odd Situation

(Deep breath)

Our landlord asked us to move out. His exact words were, "I want my old house back." I was so shocked that I could not reply sensibly. It took all the strength I could muster not to cry in front of him. I managed to inquire after the health of his wife, then I left. Back at home, I had to tell Paul the news. I tried to repeat the whole conversation to Paul, but we could not make any sense of it. We simply decided that we would comply. And, as I had asked the landlord "Can we have thirty days?", we planned to be out by Oct 1st.

This past weekend was stressful. And, I have struggled with worry like never before!

Today, Paul had the afternoon off of work and was able to go speak to the landlord face to face. He asked why we are being evicted. And, the landlord said that he was angry that we leave the wash-house (shed) door open occasionally. And, he expressed frustration that the kids occasionally leave their bikes in the driveway (though I can count on one hand the times he has had to get through when there were bikes left out). Oh - and he was put out that the outdoor lights occasionally get left on (though we pay the electricity). These reasons surprised us, because we have been here for two years and he has never mentioned it before!

He told Paul that he wouldn't kick us out on the streets. And, he apologized for upsetting me on Friday. (I think my nose must have turned pink from my withheld tears and given me away ; ) He said that we could have as much time as we need to find a new place. Paul was grateful for his offer, but said that we will still be leaving as soon as possible.

We have prayed for months and months and months... and we had decided to try to eke out another winter here. But, we feel that God has used this episode with the landlord to show us (again) that it is time to move on. Paul wants to be out of this house before the heater needs used, because it is a propane guzzler.

Paul is applying for jobs in Tiger Town. He does not want to leave UPS, but it could be years before that position turns into a full-time job!

We have a few ideas about where to move to. But, I do not care to put my thoughts on the blog yet. I will wait until matters are more settled.

I am turning off comments again for this post, because (as you can imagine) this situation is much too personal to entertain suggestions from strangers.

A Review of my First Year of Gardening

I want to remember the lessons I learned this year in gardening, and what better way than to write it here on the blog... just in case there is anyone out there less garden-savvy than myself (anyone? ANYONE???) OK, maybe I am just writing it for me ; )

What we will do again:
- plant tomatoes
- plant jalapenos
- plant onions
- plant potatoes
- plant marigolds
- plant sweet banana peppers

What we will change:
- we will MULCH more! (to keep weeds down. Because, let's face it, one tired mama of five cannot do all the weeding by herself!!!)
- set up a system for weeding, like doing one bed or one row a day... rather than trying to do the whole garden every few days
- plant heirloom tomatoes (if we are able to get the seeds in time...), but even if we cannot get heirloom, we will NOT be using "Big Boy" or "Pink Lady" tomatoes. I think a Beefsteak tomato is more of the texture/size/shape we want
- plant a LOT more tomato plants, because we had just enough to eat, but none to can (which was fine for this year!)
- use home-made cages rather than stakes for large tomatoes. (Stakes were fine for the cherry tomatoes)
- we will try to use more of a "square-foot gardening" model, rather than traditional rows
- we will use more companion planting
- keep a closer eye out for caterpillars and other pests
- add a birdbath and hopefully some martin houses (to help control the insect population)
- plant berry bushes and fruit trees (someday)
- plant corn, green beans, and peas that we did not get to this year
- get an earlier start by: starting tomato seeds indoors, getting lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli in the ground early
- buy hoses, because our water bucket relays were exhausting! This was supposedly the children's job, but I ended up doing it
- come to think of it... I think a new rule is in order - if you are 4 or older, and if you plan to eat any homegrown food, you MUST help mommy take care of the garden!!! (And, playing in the sprinkler while it waters the garden does not count as "help.")
- make better use of compost
- prepare beds in the fall for the following spring
- no cayenne pepper (better to buy it and save room for something we really want!)
- plant two zucchini plants (this year we had none)
- plant pie pumpkins
- plant melons

Now, while I think I have some decent ideas here, I acknowledge two things:
1- This was my first real garden ever!, I am still learning
2- We don't know where we will be living this Fall or next Spring, so all this planning sounds nice, but is not set in stone

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Buying Apples

I learned something new about buying apples, and I wanted to pass it on. We buy bushels of apples at the Dutch Bulk Foods Store. (To make apple sauce) And, last time I was there, I saw that I could buy a bushel of #1 apples for $16.95 or #2 apples for $9.95. I asked the proprietor what the difference is.

#1 apples are all about the same size and have no blemishes. And, they are packaged very nicely, so that they do not bruise.

#2 apples are various sizes and have bruises on them. But, there are a few more in the box, because there is no packaging materials.

I bought the #2 box to "save money." But, I am not sure that I really got the best deal. When you buy #2 apples they need processed right away. And, some bruises go deeper than others rendering the apple useless.

Next time I will buy the #1 apples, it is well worth the extra money!


I am listening to these songs by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir this morning, to cheer myself. The first video is an amazing rendition of Psalm 3. (Not to be confused with the metrical Psalter version, which our family sings regularly to the tune of "Our God our help in Ages Past." AKA St. Anne's.)

The second song is just to get you smiling and rejoicing.

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Phil 4:4 KJV

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Cheeky Caterpillars

These naughty catalpa worms ate my entire catalpa tree! Anyone want to come to my house and get some great fish bait? I think that every caterpillar on every field sprayed by pesticide in a one mile radius all smelled my organic garden and came to my house for refuge. Well, at least the birds are well-fed!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Logging with Homeschool Day Book: Day One

I have been frantically looking at different ways to log my hours for school. I am/was looking for a program that would tally hours for several subjects for multiple children. I also want(ed) to be able to write a brief account of what we did in each subject.

I found that Homeschool Day Book has a free offer for homeschool bloggers. In theory, all I have to do is one review on the product. But, you know me... I will be writing many  reviews! (I think this is what they probably expect with bloggers ; ) If it turns out that the product is not for me... well, that time will not be totally "wasted," because I will be one step closer to knowing what I want/need.

Day One:

- Entering each child was very easy
- Entering subjects was very easy... so was changing names and adding others as I went on
- Entering the log was not complex. I had to make it a little more difficult, since I am logging more than one child (more on that later)*
- If the children share the work, you can mark both names*
- Overall - very easy
- I can count hours, minutes, or both (so this works whether you go by actual minutes or by the "credit hour" approach)

- One helpful hint - to save time later, write a title for each "day book entry" as the subject. Makes corrections easily later on!

- I went to look at the "printable reports" page right away, to see what it looks like. Was it what I was expecting? Not exactly.  Will it work? Maybe. It does tally hours for me (in the various subjects, and all total), BUT I had to go to the "printable records" page to see it. I was/am looking for a program that keeps my total hours in view at all times. But, I can make this work, so long as I look at the printable records often

* - One problem that I found very quickly (by looking at the printable records) is that there is some difficulty in the recording of hours if I marked the same subject "reading" for both children, but wrote separate entries. While the time was listed to both children, it did not show up as under the reading subject. So, I had to make a "Rebecca Reading" subject and a "Nelson reading" subject. This will need to be done in all other areas when the children do not overlap.

- Another thing that would be nice, that this program does NOT have (and I don't know if any programs do this) -would be a list of main core subjects and then minor subjects that build up that core. (You know, like a hierarchy drop down menu. Choose "Social Studies," then "geography", etc)

So far - so good. I will not make any recommendations at this point. I will be writing more later.

Another Analogy Taken From the Garden

I know a family who planned a huge garden this past spring. And, they labored a full day to plant their many vegetables. But, as the summer wore on, they did not take the time to till, hoe, weed. They did, however, take a simple approach to getting rid of pests which amounted to spraying pesticides on their produce. A few months ago, they were talking about all the goodies they would be getting soon - and even offered to share with my family. I thought that sounded wonderful, since my garden was not as large as I had hoped (yet, bigger than I could manage).

Fast forward to a few weeks ago... This other family had a full-grown garden. That is, fully over-grown with weeds and grass. They had no produce at all. None. So, they called it a loss and tilled the whole thing under.

What is the moral of this story:
Gardening practices aside - what does this tell us about our spiritual life?

A lot of people go into churches every week and go forward to "get saved." They say a prayer and/or sign a card and they are considered "new Christians." Some of these new "Christians" are like my friends in the story above. They have lofty hopes of doing good deeds. They want to imrpove their family lives. They want to be released from the bondage of alcoholism (or some other vice).
These are not bad desires... but, they are not the same as becoming a Christian.

A few weeks go by, and things go really well. They attend church meetings. They stop watching R-rated movies. And make some other changes that were suggested by the pastor.

After a few more weeks/months things get tougher. It turns out that the Christian life takes a lot of work. Many so-called "new Christians" will let their gardens go. They do not necessarily think "I choose to spend my time being worldly, rather than growing spiritual fruit." But, nonetheless, they spend less time cultivating the fruit of the spirit...and more time sowing in the flesh. Perhaps they did not mean to get back into all their old habits, but things got out of hand in a hurry.

It happened like this - they knew there were some sins that were not dealt with completely (bitter roots), and they decided that they had done all they could for now. Those bitter roots turned into great difficulty and sucked nutrients away from the produce of their spiritual garden. And, when they saw that weed (sin) beginning to grow, they did not pluck it out at first, but decided to see how it would grow. Before they knew it, the sins grew, seeded, and spread to become out of control!

Their garden (their walk with God) was looking so pathetic that they decided to call the whole thing off. I believe that men/women who take this step of tilling their garden under (running headlong away from God and back to sin) were not ever truly coverted.

BUT, THERE'S HOPE! The story does not have to end that way!
A garden can be salvaged! The weeds (sins) might seem out of control, but you can get down on your knees (pray) and weed them out (ask for forgiveness) one by one until you can find your plants (spiritual fruit) again! Organic matter (Bible reading, fellowship, worship) can be added to the ground (your soul) to build it up and make it more fruitful. There will be some immediate differences! You will be able to see you plants (love, joy, peace, patience, etc) again. But, it may be another year before these fruits can truly multiply (in another "season" of life). But, do not dismay! There is hope!

Friend, if you have been "backsliding" in your walk... if you have been letting your spiritual garden grow - it is not too late to change it! Repent of your sins today! Ask God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to empower you to live a fruitful life! And, keep looking to the Lord!

If you are alive - there is still time to change!

Cheeky Caterpillars

These guys are working as fast as they can to destroy what is left of my tomatoes. Tomato hornworms and tobacco hornworms are cheeky caterpillars - how dare they eat my dinner!
I am amazed at how fast these guys destroyed my plants before I caught them in the act!

There is an analogy for sin here! Sin is a cheeky caterpillar! Kill it before it destroys your fruit!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Tourniquet

Sometimes God shows us things while we are doing the menial and mundane tasks of life. The other day I went out to mow the yard right after morning devotions with the children. And, I want to share an analogy that the Lord gave me while I was working.

A man was working on his farm and had an accident that cut his arm terribly. He was lying on the ground in pain with much bleeding when his neighbor heard him and came to see the cause of such groanings. The neighbor said, "What Happened? Let me see what I can do, I have some experience as a paramedic." The farmer on the ground was too weary for much talking but told his story. (The explanation was broken by many groans and tears...and a little cursing. I have left out his explanation of the injury for the sake of brevity. But, I can tell you that if he had just read the owner's manual, or even the warning sticker on the tractor itself, this accident would not have happened.)
The good neighbor said, "These cuts are awfully deep. I have seen cases like this before, and I am afraid that I will have to do a tourniquet. I will put my belt tightly around the top of your arm to stop the bleeding."
The farmer, greatly alarmed, spoke with great force for his condition, "What?! But, if you use a tourniquet I will end up losing my arm."
The helpful neighbor said, "Yes, that is true. But, you have already lost so much blood that I am surprised you are even alert. I really think that I should apply the tourniquet without delay." And, with this he took off his belt and reached forward towards the ever whitening man.
"No, NO, I won't let you!" screamed the farmer with what strength he had left in him. "I won't live without an arm!"
"But, friend, you are going to die if you lose too much blood. I know what I am talking about, I have seen this before. Please, wouldn't it be better to live?" reasoned the neighbor.
The farmer, who is known for his stubbornness said, "NO! I would rather die than live without the use of my arm."
And, with this, the farmer passed out. It was a wonder than he was alert as long as he was!

The interpretation of the analogy (though I know that all analogies break down somewhere):
The farmer represents a man caught in sin. He knows that his actions are wrong. He ignored caution and continued in his sin. The owner's manual that he had long since thrown aside represents the Bible. But, even if he did not want to read the owner's manual cover to cover, every farmer knows that there are certain things on the tractor that are very dangerous. It is like folklore... every farmer knows there are some things you just don't do.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 NASB - emphasis mine)
Every human knows that there IS such a thing as right and wrong. Every human knows that there IS a God, a creator (though he may choose to push aside that knowledge, because it interferes with his lifestyle and desires.)
The neighbor (and paramedic) represents The Great Physician, that is Jesus. Jesus beckons mankind to set aside our sins. He tells us to be finished with these habitual sins:
“If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.(Matt 5:30 NASB)
Just as the good neighbor told the farmer that he would have to apply a tourniquet to save the farmer's life, so Jesus wants us to apply the Belt of Truth (see Ephesians 6:14) to our sins and cut them off! Jesus is asking unbelievers to cut out their sins to be saved! But, the wisdom of the world says that life is not worth living if we have to give up all of our pleasures to have salvation. But, we Christians know that this advice is skewed. Because, while we are commanded to quit committing these habitual sins, it is not to make life less enjoyable! Jesus says that He has come that we might have life more abundantly! (see John 10:10)

I am not preaching perfectionism. We humans will never be perfect. Only Jesus is perfect and without sin. (see 2 Cor 5:21) BUT, I think that our desire to cut sin out of our lives is an indicator of our love for Christ. If you have sins in your life, and you don't even care, then perhaps you are not truly saved. BUT, if you are aware of your sins and you are doing your best to flee from them, to cut them out of your life - then I say that Christ is at work in your heart!

Friends, it is better to leave aside these worldly pleasures than to go to hell and be forever separated from the Lord! True pleasure is found in the Lord, and it can be ours for all eternity!
You will make known to me the path of life;
         In Your presence is fullness of joy;
         In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11 NASB)
Keep looking to God, He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith! (see Heb 12:2) He can give you true joy! The sins that seem too good to let go of (gluttony, idolatry, adultery, and more) will not ever truly satisfy. But, Jesus Christ can satisfy!

Father, In your mercy, please use this post to touch the lives of those who read it! If there be any reading who are not yet Christians, please speak to their hearts and show them their sins. Show them that they are helpless without you. Show them that they will never have true joy except in you.
And, Lord, please use this post to challenge the readers who are already Christians. May we not grow lax, allowing sins to creep back into our lives. May we be ever tightening that tourniquet that keeps our sins away. Help us to better understand what it means to be a new creation, and how to put aside the old man.
Please, Father, keep all of my readers focused on You. Help them to look past me and my inadequacies, and to look to You and your Perfections!
I ask this in the Name of Your Glorious Son, Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How can I help?

Do you find yourself daily reading about good causes that need financial help, but you think "How can I help?"

This morning I read about a family who is trying to get money for an adoption from the Ukraine. Two girls with Down's Syndrome - Bethany and Hannah. This family needs about $10,000 in less than two weeks. Can you help them? Or, if you are too skeptical to give strangers money... or if (like me) you cannot give them any money - can you please, please pray for them?

Read the post here.

Father, You command your people to care for the orphans and those in need. And, we see a family desperately trying to live out this command in a very practical way. Lord, we believe it is Your Will that this family bring Hannah and Bethany home. But, we know that our thoughts are not Your thoughts, and our ways are not Your ways. If it be Your will to place these two beautiful babies in that home, then please provide the money in a miraculous way!
I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Amen.

Hat Tip to Mama Hen.

Giant Despair

Our goal with this blog is to edify and encourage believers and to hopefully lead any lost readers to salvation. Some days I question "Why did I have to post that?" And, I am tempted to beat myself up for showing just how silly and immature I can be. But, here's the thing - I leave most of these posts up, because I believe that God is growing me (albeit ever so slowly). And, I think that there are a lot of women who are similar to me in their trials. And, if my openness helps you to face your struggles with any greater ease, then my humiliation in writing any post is worthwhile.

That said - I want to write a little about my Giant Despair who holds me captive in Castle Doubt. (I am taking these terms from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.) My giant could aptly be named "Perfection."  Because, I have such expectations of myself that are highly unrealistic. I don't know about you, but some days I expect myself to be better than I am...to never make the same mistake more than once.

Here is a picture of my Giant Despair (with Bethany writing in third person... how annoying):
Bethany wakes up at 3 am and trudges to the kitchen to put Paul's lunch items together. Bethany feels good about this service, and knows that she is doing the right thing by seeing her husband off and kissing him goodbye. Several nights mornings a week Bethany will stay up and do her Bible reading at that quiet hour. She is deeply convicted by sin and begs God to give her more love for God and more love for mankind. She makes some resolves about how to better serve her family.

Bethany grows so weary with this reading that she decides to go back to bed... the sun is just rising. She is sleeping soundly when screaming begins in another room. Such a call to attention! She gets up and races to the other room to see two children wrestling on the floor and another cutting holes in clothes with the new scissors. She immediately loses her temper and, in a fit of anger, screams at the children.

Feeling immediately guilty and defeated she flies back to her room and throws herself down on the bed. "Lord, I am so wicked. How could I be so impatient. Why did I have to go back to sleep?! Why did I have to yell? I am such a heathen." Giant Perfection sits by laughing, feeling proud of himself. Until -

Bethany goes and apologizes to the children (after a few more minutes of crying). She hugs the children and they forgive her. All is well.

Within the hour, while she is folding laundry, someone has wasted all the hand soap again, put a toy in the toilet again, wrote on the wall again, and spilled water all over the bathroom floor again (at least, she hopes it's water).

She immediately goes into hysterics, "How many times have I told you..." And, the cycle continues. 

Giant Perfection then sequesters Bethany while she is in her room begging God for mercy. Giant Perfection tells Bethany that she has no patience, and since patience is a fruit of the Spirit, then she must not have the Spirit, Bethany cries, "It's true, Lord. I am so impatient. I never improve. I must not be a believer at all, because clearly I don't have the fruits of the Spirit."

Unless God breaks through with the Key of Promise (that is, promises of assurance from the Scripture) then Bethany will be doomed to dwell in Castle Doubt for far too long.

This same scenario can be replayed using the theme of joy, love, peace, etc. Any time I have a bad day (or several in succession) Satan jumps at the opportunity to make me feel like the worst mother/wife/Christian in the world. Some days he succeeds, and I downward spiral into deeper despair.
But, some days I remember:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASB)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.(Phil 1:6 NASB)

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.(Psalm 103:12)

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins." (Isa 43:25 NASB)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John1:9 NASB)

I know that I will never be perfect in this life. Yet, Giant Perfection wants to make me his slave! His is too hard of a master! I choose Christ as my master. His yoke is easy and His burden is light!

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matt 11:28-30 NASB)

Disclaimer: I am not using this as a license for habitual sin. God's Word is plain that we ought not "practice" our sins.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Look Who Is Five!

 Happy Birthday, Lydia!

Lydia is such a special girl! She is so sweet and tender. She is very affectionate and loves hugs and kisses. Our home would not be the same without her!

Yesterday I let her crack eggs for the first time. Only one shell broke into her little bowl, and I easily fished it out. She is getting so big!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two More Pictures

Paul (holding Baby Josiah) and his brother 
Paul (with Josiah), Paul's Dad, and Paul's Brother

Family Pictures

We set up the tripod at the park in Tiger Town, after church... here is what we came up with!

Friday, August 13, 2010

How children can help in the kitchen

I had no idea how to cook ten years ago! And, I did not really care to learn to cook, until I realized that I had to teach my daughter to cook. So, when Rebecca was about 4 and taking an interest in cooking, I finally started trying to teach her. It was a nightmare! I barely had the patience to let her stir eggs. Let me tell you - you cannot expect to say to your children "Get out of the kitchen!," and then expect that one day they can come in and cook without making messes and mistakes!

Lesson learned. Now, my children are all helping cook from the moment they can walk about steadily. (I am not exaggerating. Toddlers can set the table. Toddlers can learn the name of utensils and get them for you. Toddlers can stir a bowl.)

Here are pictures of my children helping to prepare a ham and cheese omelet. Daddy was cooking with them, and I think he cracked the eggs that day. But, Rebecca has been cracking eggs for a few years. (It is time to teach Nelson now!)

Joshus stirred the eggs. He stirs really well :0) He has also graduated to stirring some items in pans while they cook (so long as they are not splashy foods).
Nelson cuts the ham into bite-sized pieces.
Rebecca sliced the onions and peppers. (Note to Self: If you get behind on washing and folding Rebecca's clothes, she will have to wear that pair of pants in the bottom of her drawer.)

Lydia helped by feeding the baby! Food was in his chair, on his outfit, inside the rolls of his legs, on his toes... everywhere. But, it kept the baby happy and Lydia occupied!

I am still in the learning process myself. I don't claim to be an expert. I just thought this post might help out someone with less experience than myself.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Boy With One Front Tooth

Here is the new and improved Joshua: a new haircut, and one less tooth.

My indoor pics with a flash are never as good as I see them in my head. I will try to get some good outdoor pics in the coming week(s).

Two Years in Review

(reposted 09-28-2011)

Two years ago today (on Aug 12, 2008), we loaded all of our possessions into a moving van and left IL. We left the small, rural church in Illinois where Paul was the pastor.

To remind myself my readers why we moved:

- Paul's parents needed help on their farm, and we were driving down here weekly to help put up hay

- We were in debt, and he had just finished preaching through the qualifications of an elder. And, he felt like he was not qualified on account of our debt

- I had just had a huge spiritual awakening in my life, and I was a totally new person. I wanted to be near his family, whereas before I did not care to be around them at all

- And, while we never admitted it to the church at the time, we were terribly lonely. The congregation was much older than us. And, while we LOVE (not past tense, but still do love) all the folks there, it did not fulfill our desire for peers and friendship

In retrospect (refuting point by point):
- We moved here to help Paul's parents, BUT we took such a huge cut in income that Paul has to work SO many hours that we rarely get to help them at all! And, when we do, Paul is dead on his feet before we even get there! I end up becoming bitter at my in-laws for expecting Paul to work for them (for no pay or very little pay) after such a long day of work... yet, that is why we came here (yes I know that the Bible speaks of bitter roots. And, I am praying that God would change me)

-We were in debt... true... but nothing like we would become in the following year after the move. In IL, we were making a very good income, and lived in a free-to-us parsonage. We were only occasionally late on van payments. We did fairly well at keeping our payment arrangements with other creditors. We were even able to eat out (a lot), keep a gym membership, order Netflix, and buy other luxury items (CDs, movies, decorations, new clothes, new shoes, life insurance, etc). Why did I think I was so poor then?! Why do we have to get in a worse position before we see how good we really have it?!

- God did truly move on my heart in May of 2008, no denying that. But, once we moved here - to live near in-laws who hate me - and encountered many other troubles... well, the old Bethany came back over time.

- As for our desire for peers/friends - moving away from my parents, my extended family, and the loving church members, put me in a very lonely place! Before we moved, I sincerely thought that I would make new friends and everything would be great. Two years later = no friends nearby. We still don't even have a church we go to regularly. I have never been so lonely in my life! (And, I thought I was lonely then.)

Paul and I are scared to move again!!! We don't want to make the same mistakes again!!! So, we are waiting, waiting until God makes things perfectly clear. (OK, so I personally feel like God made it clear that we need to move out of this house... but "to where?" is the question). I do NOT want to write a post exactly like this two years from now!!! If/when we move again, we want it to be a step up, not a step back.

Y'all can keep praying for us. We need wisdom from the Lord. And, I need a lot of peace, patience, and contentment! I want to be able to say this:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.(Phil 4:11-13 NASB emphasis mine)
Added 09-28-2011: I had to laugh when I read the part of this post about maybe someday regretting our move from the moldy house. NO, NO, NO!!! We will never regret moving from the moldy house. And, then I wrote that God would have to make things perfectly clear... well, He did. Our landlord kicked us out (in a fit of drunkenness or dementia, we still do not know which!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great Garden Companions - A Book Review

My vegetable garden will never be the same now that I have read Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free, Vegetable Garden, by Sally Jean Cunningham!

Cunningham uses a mixture of flowers and vegetables to create a healthy and lovely garden! I am intrigued by her idea of drawing in all kinds of insects and other critters that she calls "beneficials." It is a neat idea. Companion planting pairs up different plants that help fight bugs and diseases of other plants.

The book is full of ideas:
- what veggies and flowers to plant together
- how to build an arbor with PVS
- how to build a raised bed (a big, pretty one that will last many years)
- charted garden layouts
...and much more

The only disagreeable part of the book is its frequent mentions of Mother Nature... and giving her all the credit for the beauty of the Earth.

As with most gardening books, this one is overwhelming to read cover to cover. And, I would recommend that the serious gardener purchase it, or check it out twice a year from the library.

I am thrilled with the idea of companion planting, and I hope to implement more next year. However, if all I am able to do is plant marigolds again, I am okay with that.

Two other helpful books about companion gardening are written by Louise Riotte, look her up at your local library too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bonhoeffer - A Documentary Review

We recently watched the documentary film Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist, Nazi Resister. Our whole family watched it together, and the children were enthralled. (Of course, Nelson and Joshua got their guns to shoot Hitler.)

The film was very well done. There was black and white photos, black and white film, readings from Bonhoeffer's original writings, and interviews with his surviving family members and friends. The film uses mostly primary sources for history, and that pleases me. However, there were some modern day theologians interviewed for the film as well... this I thought could have been left out. Perhaps they were able to offer a little enlightenment, but I felt like the quotes taken from Bonhoeffer's own works did that much better!

I thought that the film was very tastefully done, in that it covered a hard topic in a brief way (only 90 minutes). Not only that, but they established that Hitler was a "mean man" (as my children say) without showing piles upon piles of bodies. Yet, at the same time, there was some scenes that showed dead bodies, destroyed Jewish dwellings, etc. It did not show anyone being killed... just some of the aftermath.

One of the things I found interesting about Bonhoeffer's theology was the way he did not want to see the church divided. He points out that the church is the body of Christ, and asks "can Christ's body be divided?" A thought-provoking question indeed. And, we see Bonhoeffer working within ecumenical groups to aid the suffering Jews.

It is also very interesting to see a man working through the idea of Christian ethics where there is an evil dictator. Wow! That is certainly food for thought. How does one read Romans 13 when people are being led to the slaughter? I am certainly interested in reading this answer by Bonhoeffer's own hand, in his book called Ethics.

I recommend watching this film with your older children. It would definitely count as school work! Just so you know, I am leaving huge chunks of history out of this review, because I don't want to "spoil" the film for you! It really is very intriguing!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gardening Update

On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being very successful, I would have to rate my garden at about 6... and I think that number is about to drop!

All of our peppers have done very well... some a little too well... I don't need that much cayenne pepper! And, the tomatoes are doing ok. We have lost almost all of our full-sized tomatoes so far due to God's over-watering them ; ) They all split. Hopefully the ones growing now will be good, so long as we keep them well watered on these smoldering hot August days.

I worked in the garden this morning, during the Baby's nap, because it is suppoed to be near 100 for three days in a row. And, if you are not familiar with mid-MO weather, we have terribly high humidity too! (Though as of 11 am, it is still at only 60% humidity.)

So, I was in the garden pulling up weeds and hunting for the potatoes and onions. And, my face was dripping with sweat and my glasses were fogging up. I had forgotten to take them off before going out to work. No problem, I just put them in my pocket.  Oops! They fell out of my pocket when I was bending over some plant or another, and I cannot find them!

To add insult to injury, I could not find my potatoes! Where did they go? Seriously. Where did they go? And, my onions? Where are they?

Paul thinks I did not dig deep enough. I am not so sure.

I planted a whole row of 80 onion sets. Where are they???
We planted two whole rows of potatoes! What a waste it will be if they all vanished!

As for our fall garden, I have not gotten it in yet. I am hoping to get to that soon...

P.S. (added at 5 pm the same day) - Paul came home and went looking for the potatoes. Just as he said, they were deeper than I thought. BUT, many were lost to rotting, because of all the rain in the past months. We might get enough small potatoes for a few hearty stews... but nothing to stock up for winter. We are averaging two small potatoes per plant.

We found only a few onions, almost all of those are lost to rotting as well.

Tomorrow, we will dig for more potatoes in a cooler part of the day. Though, I seriously considered posting a picture of our family dripping from sweat and covered with dirt! But, I decided that might be gross :0)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mold VS. Health

(reposted 09-28-2011)

Ever since we turned on our A/C (one window unit in the living room) I have felt more tired than before. I knew that I was getting worse. I knew that Lydia was getting worse.

Then, today I was outside raking the grass piles for garden mulch, and Lydia came outside to help. She came running out saying, "Daddy sent me outside because I kept coughing everywhere." But, outside (even helping me with the grass clippings) she did not cough at all.

So, we spent the rest of the evening outside.

Back to the A/C.... I tell Paul every day that I see more mold on it than I saw the day before, so tonight he took it apart. Black mold covers the inside of my A/C unit. Paul is praying for wisdom for whether or not to throw the A/C out. But, I said "the air conditioning is not the problem, it is just a symptom." All the same, the A/C has been turned off for the night.

Paul prayed for wisdom and for a miracle (to move)... then he went outside to sleep in the tent with the four oldest children. The baby and I are sleeping indoors. I know that I could benefit from a night "out," but the tent sleeps 3! I am a party pooper, I know... But, I have GOT to get a good night's sleep.

We are still calling out to the Lord, trying to figure out what to do and where to go. We don't want to leave our garden... our big yard... all this open space around us. And, our rent is laughably cheap (though perhaps we get what we pay for).

I just try to wrap my mind around that fact that this house would be a mansion in many other countries. I need to be grateful for what God has given us.

PS- Adding something I forgot - Paul used a whole lotta bleach on the A/C unit. I truly doubt that this will help a whole lot, because the mold is still circulating through my house. But, the unit itself has been baptized in bleach!

Make Your Own Worksheets

Go take a look at Worksheet Works, a site for generating worksheets! So far I have only looked through the handwriting section, but I was VERY pleased with what I saw! For example, make your own practice sentences for kiddos to copy! This would be a great way to have the children copy Scripture!!! (Because, if your kids are like my Nelson, then an open Bible is just too overwhelming to copy one verse!) So, you choose what your chlidren will copy, then you choose the size. Then, you can choose what the lines will look like that he writes on! Fantastic!

I can't wait to delve into the worksheets in the other categories: Math, English, Geography, puzzles, and more!!!

You can take a look at some other sites that I recommend in the side panel under "Free homeschool helps." If you ever find something questionable on those sites, please let me know (because I can't keep track of everything.) And, if you have some great sites to recommend to me, please leave a comment!

Hat Tip to Mama Hen!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Food Causes Cancer

(Edited and reposted 10-13-2011)

Paul came home from work the other day all upset about the news he heard on the radio that nitrates in processed meats cause cancer (and a slew of other problems). He decided that he did not want to eat nitrates anymore, and asked me to stop buying lunch meat.
So, being the good wife that I am, I went to the store to look for meat without nitrates. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero. I would have better luck finding a needle in a haystack! As if our diet was not limited enough... now we have to cut back on lunch meat, sausage, bacon, even whole hams (and so much more!). What now?! Can I knowingly feed my family carcinogens? Or, do I eat beans and rice three times a day?
I know that I said that I was going to be more moderate in my food intake... but, seriously, can I do it when I know something causes cancer? Do I just say, "We live in a fallen world, that's just the way it is," and present a platter of processed meat? Because, it looks like it will be a long time before we have any livestock.

And, then I read this today - Cancer cells feed on high fructose. So, if you have cancer, it will be worsened by eating most any processed food that you pick up in the store. Lovely.

OK, who wants beans and rice for dinner?

Any practical suggestions? (besides plug my ears from the news and stop reading health articles)

Added 10-13-2011: Wal-Mart does sell one pre-packaged lunch meat without nitrates. It is about $3/half pound. This is what we buy when we want lunch meat.

"Where do you find the time?"

When I had just one little baby, it seemed that I never had time to get things done! I always had to nap when she napped! I rarely saw my kitchen counters. I never mopped the floor. And, I certainly did not get up early to read my Bible! There was just no time!

Now, I have five children. I listen to sermons. I read the Bible and other books daily. Our family reads books together, or listens to books on CD together. And, occasionally, I even get the kitchen clean.

So, what changed? I learned how to do two things at a time.

I LOVE to listen to sermons while I fold laundry! And, there's nothing like listening to a sermon, or the Bible, or a book, or good music, while washing dishes or driving into town. And, we listen to Pilgrim's Progress in the van any time we are out driving.

Some call it multi-tasking, I call it motherhood!

Leave me a comment to tell me how you combine something you love with a chore you might not love so much.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One Tooth Less

Long story short (because I am much too tired to write the whole thing out):

Joshua had one tooth removed. It was broken. And, his other tooth might still have to come out as well. Time will tell.

He did very well. The person in our family who is most upset it Rebecca. She had both front teeth pulled at the same age... and she is empathizing!

God is good, and He sustained us and went before us the whole day. Praise be to God!

What Will the X-Rays Show?

Joshua took a bad tumble last night, so we are taking him to the dentist today. We can see that his gums are terribly bruised and a little swollen. We can feel that his two top front teeth are loose. The question is -

WHAT will the X-Rays show? Will they have to be removed? Will I have two children who have had accidents requiring the removal of teeth? (Rebecca had hers out at almost the exact same age.)

Pray for Joshua (and me!) at 12:30.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Homeschool Organization Idea

I buy colored construction paper from Sam's, because my kids go through it like crazy. But, I needed somewhere to store it, (because the kids were wasting it when I was not around).

I found this filing container at Wal-Mart near the office supplies. I supplied my own folders.
The paper and the filing system cost about $20 all together. BUT, this nifty box will keep the paper in great shape until it is all gone. And, when not in use, I grab the box by the handle and put it high out of reach!

Josiah is Pulling Up and Standing!

Look, Mom! I'm standing!

...and some other cute moments!

.Photos courtesy of Bethany and Rebecca