Sunday, January 31, 2010
On our latest adventure we found that....these just weren't right...
but we fixed it.
About two months ago, this came...
it was as beautiful as I remembered it all those years ago!
It took a long time to decide, but we chose this one...
because it should last forever!
Any ideas on what's about to happen?
And it continues to fall...covering our tracks from today, erasing our footprints and sledding trails. There are many days that I'd like to go back and erase my tracks, take back my words, undo my actions as quietly and efficiently as the snow did today. Only through Him can those things be achieved...words washed away, actions cleansed and made new...the ugly made beautiful.
Him bringing beauty where we sowed ugly? How could we live without His life-giving cleansing? He washes clean and love grows because we bend knee?
It is unfathomable to me.
I can see them now, by the light outside, large lazy flakes pouring down. It is supposed to do this until midnight. The flakes fall according to His will. He takes the night and uses it to make tomorrow beautiful. Just as he takes our dark times and uses them to make our tomorrows beautiful.... if we ask Him!
Won't you? Ask Him?
Come....join me in the snow!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
And it is still snowing in spurts!
The only person I know who wouldn't be jumping for joy over this snowfall is this unfaithful lady!
We are off to our favorite sledding hill here on the farm and then in to warm up with some delicious home made soup!
Friday, January 29, 2010
I’m working on re-gaining my skills in asl!
For those of you who don’t use sign language, what I said was that Denise was right! I am working on re-gaining my skills in ASL. Many years ago...many....I was fluent in ASL, all of my friends were deaf and I worked with a large deaf Sunday School class in a huge (5,000 member) church. I was totally immersed in deaf culture, and I loved it! Did you know that the deaf community is the largest unreached people group for Christ here in the U.S.?
Many decades later, I find it much more difficult to learn and it requires much more study on my part! But the deaf people in my area are just as kind and patient with me as I remember them to be so long ago. I am having the time of my life!
We just picked up the steer we took to the butcher! Mom inventoried it as the boys and I weighed it and organized it into our freezer. This knowledge will help me greatly as I plan meals over the next year. What a wonderful feeling to know that there is healthy, delicious meat for my boys! Next year's meat is out grazing in the field as I write. If we work hard, and the girls keep cooperating, we will be able to put a steer in our freezer each year. We had a harder time getting him to fit because the chickens we butchered last fall were a bit bigger than normal but we managed to squeeze him in. We figured out that we have about 20 lbs. of beef left from the steer we butchered last year. That meat has all been moved to the house so that we use the older beef first.
We are holding our breaths today....there is a massive winter storm predicted to hit this afternoon - we are looking forward to a lot of snow and some sledding. School work is getting completed quickly so that the evening and tomorrow will be free for fun!
I'll be making a large pot of Taco Soup today so that we can sled together, play together and then come in and warm up together tomorrow....then we will do it all again!
Normally I would be teaching this weekend for our local community college but I received a phone call yesterday canceling because of the winter storm. I've been meeting with them this last week - we're cooking up something good for our local community! I'm really excited about it and hope it all comes to pass...when I know more I'll be sure to share it with you!
I've got some other exciting news - a couple of things in fact but those will have to keep for another day. Just know that when I am silent here...I am very busy working to bring you something special!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I thought I'd tell you what we are planning and share the pictures after we're done. When we bought the farm over 10 years ago, there were quite a few building repairs that needed to be done. Here we are, 10 years later, and they still need to be done! The boys and I, with help from different men in our church, have been tackling some of these this last year. We've learned a lot and are pleased with the changes that have been made. But, there is still a lot to do!
At the end of our equipment shed there is a room. The floor in this room has a bad "dip" in it. A gentleman from church told us that this was an easy fix. The boys will be jacking up the area and pulling up the floor boards to assess the problem. We are pretty sure it is a rotten post. We will be replacing the post, re-laying the floor boards and hopefully have a level floor once again. We are so thankful for the men in our church who not only give us wonderful advice and guidance but will also come and work with my boys. Lots of fellowship, teaching and relationship building goes on which is often more important and more needed than the building repairs! It is always a very healing time for them. I am watching my Father repair buildings and boys' emotions at the same time!
The first step has been to clean out the room and the boys have been working on that this week during the afternoons after school. We are excited to get this done...we have big plans for this storage area!
The boys have almost finished a project in our barn that they have been working on all fall. I'll share pictures of that soon!
I've been working on a project too. My Perpetual Garden Calendar! I am diligently trying to get this finished up so that you can have it by spring. Time is the hardest thing for me to come by these days (prayers always appreciated in this area!) - sometimes a 30 hour day sounds good!
I've also been working on a way to share my menu planning strategy. It has worked for me for decades and I've recently had some" test runs" teaching it to young mothers who feel overwhelmed with the thought of preparing a meal in the evening. I'm polishing it up and trying to add a lot of my "tried and true" recipes to share! I hope to have that available shortly after my calendar.
We sent our steer to the butcher recently and hope to have him back this week...in neat little packages! We have been trying to take him to the butcher since October but the ground has been so wet that we couldn't get the truck and trailer down to the coral. Well, we could probably have gotten it down there but we never would have made it back up the hill! We are looking forward to a freezer full of meat again. We have been rationing the last of our beef since fall. Last night we had a package of steaks, some stew meat, 3 small roasts and a few packages of rib-eyes left! It has been several years since we sent a steer off and we are so grateful to have the ability to raise our own meat!
Not all news is good news. We had a little cow who looked just a bit thin at Thanksgiving. We brought it up to the barn to make sure it was eating. It was the smallest cow in the field and my thought was that it was being pushed away from the hay. This little cow just continued to get thinner and didn't really seem to have much of an appetite. We called the vet and he found some internal tumors. He felt sure it was cancer. Cancer! I've never had to deal with a chronically ill animal before! The vet suggested some things to do over the next several weeks and then told us to put it down if there was no improvement. There was no improvement. I made the decision that we needed to shoot it. No sense in paying $65.00 for a vet to come out and then pay for a shot - who knows what that would cost. I mentioned this at our home-group meeting and after the meeting the leader of our group came to us and offered to do that for us. He didn't want me to have to do it or the boys. I thanked him for such a kind offer. I'm so thankful for the men in our church! But our Father saved us that chore. This little cow died that night in its sleep. How gracious of our Father to spare us that unpleasant task!
I've been busy teaching my classes for our local Community College. I'll be doing that until the middle of February and then I can start teaching them again on our farm. So much easier than hauling everything to another location although I enjoy teaching the kids at college. I'll be meeting with some of the college staff to talk about some other opportunities to work with them. Sounds mysterious and I'm looking forward to seeing what their ideas are!
Here on the farm, we've been on a soup binge lately! Soups are not only delicious but such a budget stretcher! I'll be sharing some recipes soon!
I think that catches you up on our news...almost! I've been doing something for almost a year now..anybody want to venture a guess?
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I do....I can't imagine not. Momma always did and Grandma did too. Grandma liked full length aprons while momma likes the "tie at the waist" aprons.
I was so excited this year to be given my first Christmas apron! It's adorable!
Here's a little story about aprons...hope you enjoy it! (HT to Kristen!)
History of 'APRONS'
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect
the dress underneath, because she only had a
few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses
and they used less material, but along with
that, it served as a potholder for removing
hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on
occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying
eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched
eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were
ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold, grandma
wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow,
bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into
the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that
had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was
surprising how much furniture that old apron
could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the
porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was
time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something
that will replace that 'old-time apron' that
served so many purposes.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I received a "package" when all I was expecting was a check from a sweet customer in Germany. When I opened this unexpected box guess what I found inside?
My boys and I enjoyed it so much - we shared a bit and froze the rest for a special treat in the future!
I often receive cards from my customers and readers. You share your stories, your family pictures, your Christmas letters and you dash off little notes of encouragement frequently!
This sweet note came from a dear customer in Florida. She created a card with my Jewish name and heritage on it. This so touched my heart. It will be framed for my room.
I receive notes by mail and by email expressing the fact that you are praying for me and my boys. This is such a blessing to me and I am so grateful to know that there are people out there, many whom I have never met, that go to their knees on our behalf.
I have been privileged to speak to many of you on the phone. We've prayed together, cried together and laughed together as we shared our lives. What a blessing!
Many of you have traveled long distances to my farm to take my classes in person! Some of you have graced our table or stayed in our home and through these visits, I've made many dear friends who are scattered from one coast to the other.
Some of you have sent gifts to help us with our ongoing legal bills - how you have humbled me with your generosity! Through your prayers and your faithful patronage of my little business you have helped this mama stay home with her children and continue their home schooling adventures! How can I find words that give thanks for that gift? I am overwhelmed with gratitude!
Y'all have supported me, counseled me, surprised me, and blessed me during one of the most difficult times of my life! What joy it brings to know that these friendships are eternal - that we will all join before the Throne of Grace one day and worship our Father together. What joy we will experience then when there are no more troubles or tears!
Thank you all for making this aspect of my life and business a blessing. Thank you for allowing me into your lives, for allowing me to pray with you, for allowing me to be your friend...
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Prov. 27:9)
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Last year, the best thing I did for myself was to start a gratitude journal. I share some of that online here with all of you. I purchased a journal for each of my boys for Christmas. I found just the right one for each of them...I happened to find them at a discount store so they were very inexpensive.
We started the journals by reflecting on 2009 and how thankful we were for His provisions for us throughout the year. It took several pages! Then we began our lists for 2010. Each day, as we gather for family devotions, we plan to share with each other some of the things we are thankful for.
By writing it down...acknowledging it on paper....you begin to see how blessed you are and how much Yahweh loves you! These don't have to be material things....although they can be.
Some of the things my boys discussed were really interesting! Soft pillows and warm beds, Elders that love and support them, the double rainbow from our last storm, baby cardinals found in a hidden nest, milk from a cow, brothers that love, Grandma living so close, kittens that purr, gardens that feed, friends that teach and help, flowers that are beautiful and smell sweet, the joy of picking an apple off of your own tree, neighbors that bless, ring and run, praying for each other, card games, fellowship with our church family, holding hands, home cooked food....and the list goes on!
Already my boys are talking about sharing them with their children many years from now! What a wonderful legacy of His faithfulness in their lives!
Can I encourage you to start your own gratitude journal this year? Just a few minutes a day...but I warn you. You will begin to look at things differently! During my darkest hours this has been one of my biggest blessings! When you feel that He is silent - read back and know that He is there!
I promise you that it will change your lives! You'll be so glad that you did!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Ok, no pumpkins.... but the sale on Soapmaking Made Simple! ends tonight at midnight! Normally this e-book sells for $20.00 but right now you can download it for just $15.00! You can read all about it here. Don't forget..all students new and old, mentoring is in effect until the end of February!
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Christmas Eve found us spending time together, laughing, chatting, playing games and watching "It's a Wonderful Life". We enjoyed our traditional Snicky Snack Night.
It was also time to search for the Baby....the manger had been filled with straws - each one representing a secret act of kindness for another. Guess who found the Baby?
We headed over in the middle of the day to have Christmas at Grandma's house. My Mom enjoys continuing this tradition which started when we lived miles apart.
Mom had prepared a lovely luncheon which was such a blessing to me! She always sets such a beautiful table!
In the evening, we gathered back at my house for our traditional Christmas Dinner. We lingered long around the table enjoying good conversation and lots of laughter.
Christmas was filled with friends, family...wonderful memories! We were blessed to be able to provide some meals for a few local homeless people, to enjoy the thrill of "ring and run" (giving secret gifts) and to minister in other ways. There is so much more joy in the giving than in the receiving...in fact we have decided to do Christmas differently next year because of the example of this sweet lady's family...I've ordered the catalogs.
We are so grateful to our Abba Father for His provision, His protection and His presence in our lives this past year. He loves us wildly and exuberantly. We are taut with anticipation to see what He has in store for us this new year.
Please remember Todd and his family this new year - keep them in prayer. His most recent scans look very good. He begins his 4th round of chemo this next week. I love this picture, taken by my friend Faith. Such love expressed....
May you all draw closer to Yahweh in this new year, may you still to hear His voice, and may you be the hands and feet of Jesus to your families, your church family, your neighbors, your community and across the world as He leads you!