Sunday, December 28, 2008

Contemplating Stuff

I have been doing a lot of thinking...and a lot of praying. I am starting to realize some things, or perhaps God has been attempting to reveal some things to me and I just stopped to listen. We have been house sitting and dog sitting for my mom and step dad for nearly a week now. It seemed like such a blessing at first. A shower, a washer and dryer to use any time I wish, an indoor toilet, a kitchen, and hot water - even a driveway made of concrete instead of mud. I can even park just twenty or so feet from the door instead of nearly a half mile away. Does life get any more blessed? Seriously, we have no idea how many daily blessings we take for granted until we do try to live without them. I appreciate so many things more deeply these days.

But here is the thing. I am ready to give them up. I want to be back at my home - the land God has given to me! I miss it. I admit I don't miss the mud, and a few of the other things. I am ready to live with a few more modern conveniences. But if I had to choose, I would choose to stay in the camper at the land over comfort away from the land. Does that sound crazy?

You would have to stand there in my place and feel the peace that overtakes me. It is impossible to explain. God is standing there with me assuring me that all of this falls into HIS plan. He is assuring me that everything, even the trials, are for my good. He excites me with the plan he is slowly unfolding before my eyes. I feel him working personally, hands on, in my life. That is incredible! How could I walk away from that? How could I choose something as small as comfort over the enormous peace of knowing I'm in God's will?

I have given much thought to the community God is slowly working on forming. What is it's purpose? What is it's path? I know that God is using us to form a community that's primary focus is to promote fellowship and sharing. I know that he wants us to be able to meet the needs of our neighbors and people throughout the community. I know he wants us to feed the hungry, and that through sharing our resources and living more simply, we should be able to accomplish so much more for others with the resources with which he has blessed us.

But why? What is the purpose behind all of this? What does he actually hope to accomplish through us? I believe he has begun to tell me. It is SO simple. I really can't believe I have been struggling so hard with gaining understanding.

He wants us to teach people about Jesus. That is all we are supposed to do. We are supposed to go out and create disciples. But you reach different people through different avenues. Some people learn by reading. They will best learn about Christ through reading scripture. Others learn by hearing. They will come to know Christ through being told about him, through a preacher or a friend. Other people learn by seeing. Those are the people God wants us to reach. We will teach people about Jesus by living like him.

Jesus listened. Jesus shared. Jesus gave. Jesus forgave. Jesus fed. Jesus healed. Jesus taught. Jesus loved. Jesus participated. Jesus lived in the world, but not of the world. That is all he is asking of us.

So when we choose to live in community with one another...when we choose to share in each others victories and burdens...when we choose to teach, to listen, and to share...when we choose to give, and feed, and forgive...when we choose to heal, and love...we choose to live like Jesus. We teach people about who Jesus was. People will see Jesus in us. I can't think of a better purpose for our lives. Can you?

Exodus 9:16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December Update

Merry Christmas my friends! Happy day before the day before Christmas. It has been so long since I have had an opportunity to share that I don't know where to begin.

The leaves have all fallen and the community land seems more beautiful to me bare and brown with frost coating the ground. It is such a peaceful place to be. I awaken every morning and head out to feed animals and take my time returning to the warmth of the camper. I just look about me in awe.

So far our progress has consisted mostly of adding to our animal collection. Our herd is now up to eighteen hens which free-range through the day, three roosters, one pig, four rabbits, two dogs, and seven pygmy goats. They are so much fun. I never thought I would enjoy watching chickens, but the hens come running up to greet me and seem to check in on me throughout the day. The girls have leads for the goats and love to take them for walks and even carry around the baby billy goats, Cody and Bolt.

And it has rained...and rained...and rained. I admit the rain has dampened my spirits as much as it has dampened progress. The lots have been staked out since nearly Thanksgiving, awaiting perc tests. But it has rained bucket loads, and the soil is saturated. We have attempted to get a crew out to put in the road, but the rain rained on that little plan too. So we have been slipping and sliding in mud. Most days we park the van out at the main road and walk through the mud and back to the camper.

Little things like taking a shower and doing laundry now take up much of a day as we need to travel elsewhere (mostly my mom's house) to do them. So we have felt like we are chasing our tails a bit.

Boy, have we ever needed to shower and wash clothes! All this mud. I think God loves irony. He takes someone with some itty bitty obsessive compulsive tendencies about neatness and cleanliness and puts them in a small space in the middle of a mud hole with no washing machine or shower. And we have to get muddy to get to a washing machine or shower...isn't that funny? One day we will laugh about day very far off.

Yet we know we are where God wants us and take incredible peace from that. See, we have been unsure before, but now we KNOW. That is an incredible feeling. That means we will be victorious. And it truly is an amazing plot of land. I feel God's presence and can witness so much of his creation from my vantage point. So many trees...and the creek...and the deer...and the birds. I love it.

And our girls love it. They think they live the most blessed life. Oh, the stories they will have for their own kids one day. They also encourage me greatly when I lose my feeling of contentment.

We have to come up with names for two roads - the one leading in from the main road which will be dedicated for public access, and the one that circles through the community residences, which will remain private. We think we have settled on their names. The public access road will be Koinonia which means fellowship, sharing, contribution, and participation. The residential road will be Allelon which means one another, reciprocally, mutually. Both are Greek words from the New Testament.

Well, I must get to work on my tamales for Christmas, but I am house sitting for my folks through New Year's day, so I will be posting more while I can. Have a blessed Christmas. Enjoy your family and friends and tell them you love them. And relax and think about Jesus and the babe he was when he was merely our Lord, before he became our Savior.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Community Update

Long blog....

Time for a community update.

Today we are getting a camper set up to stay in on the land. We have reached the point where it is just insanity to try to run back and forth to try to accomplish anything and just need to be there full time. It is going to take us a few days to get set up though. There is power run to the barn now, but no outlets to plug into. That needs to be taken care of. The nights here have been rather chilly and I don't want to wake up to below freezing temperatures every morning in a camper. I know..where is my sense of adventure. Have no doubt I have already been on an adventure. Our water use will be limited to what can be stored in the tank as we have not yet dug a well or had county water run to the land. But we know that God is going to bless every moment we spend there.

We have chosen a layout for the lots. All of the lots are between nearly 3/4 acre and 1 1/4 acre. There are eight of them. There is a circular area in the middle of the field of about a half acre which will comprise a community park area. Around this circle will be the residential road, around which the lots are situated. All the houses will face this park area (and each other). All of the area which is currently being leased to purchase will be community land and will contain the garden, orchard, barn and pasture land, and community house.

There is so much to be done, but it is becoming very real. We meet with our first builder Monday and are planning meetings with at least two more. The surveyors are going to head out and put up stakes to designate boundary lines. Then we will be able to get the health department out there to do the perc tests. Then......a well! Then we won't have to head to mom's house to shower. Woo hoo!

I just wish you could see the multitude of confirmations God has sent our way. This is most definitely what he desires for us to do. It's not easy. I does take sacrifice. But he is creating something absolutely amazing, and allowing us to be a part of it.

We have a few purposes at the forefront of this project. We want to promote fellowship because fellowship with each other not only encourages us on this journey, but it makes our lives more meaningful. But even more importantly, it strengthens the bonds of our fellowship with our God. He created us for himself. We want to grow closer to him. Secondly, we want to promote sharing because sharing is the key to abundant life, abundant relationships, and an abundant heart. Truly understanding that God is the owner of our possessions changes how we view things. It shuffles the priorities in our lives and frees us from bondage to stuff. Lastly, we simply want to feed the hungry. We intend to grow food for a dual purpose. We want to use it to feed the hungry, and to feed ourselves so that we can direct the money God has given us to govern into different areas. We want to be able to leverage our resources for something, not just use it to meet our own needs.

So many people are in a panic over the state of the economy. Their retirement funds are quickly disappearing. The price of living is rising. Well-paying jobs are becoming harder to find. How will we survive? Not by trying to find a way to make more money to fund their current lifestyle, I assure you. But by standing in unity we will survive. By sharing our resources, and living more simply, and by giving away to those in need. We will not only survive, but we will live in abundance, blessed with a heart overflowing with love and thankfulness.

I will be offline temporarily once we get moved to the land...until we get wireless service. I'm not so sure that is a priority though, so for now...good day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hate and Anger ~ A Dangerous Pairing

Hate and anger - have you ever seen them paired together? Sure you have. They are the automatic response of many of us when we have been wronged. They are the automatic response of many of us when we have a preconceived notion of the way things ought to be...and they aren't. They are the automatic response to other hate and anger.

But Jesus told us to be different. He told us to respond to people's anger and hatred with love.

Matthew 5:44
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Luke 6:27
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.

Luke 6:35
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

Why would he do that? I thought Jesus loved us as well. Doesn't he want us to defend ourselves? Doesn't he want us to ensure our own safety? I understand that he wants us to teach others about love, but doesn't he want us to be around to teach them? After all, we won't be around to teach about love if they kill us...will we?

I have worked in a juvenile placement facility and at a prison, and have learned a thing or two about self defense. I learned a thing or two about the most effective way to respond to anger and hatred. I would love to share them. When I first interviewed to work at the juvenile placement facility I was a bit nervous. I was going to be working with big, angry teenage boys, many of them gang members, and I was a small, young woman, less than five feet tall. Everyone was scared that they were capable of overpowering me. But true power doesn't come from physical strength. It doesn't come from physical control.

Back to the interview. I was asked how I would respond to someone if they came at me full of hatred and brandishing a weapon. I listed off my best street fighter self defense moves. My interviewer slowly shook his head and told me that the ONLY response would be to act calm and indifferent. He told me to lean back against the wall, stand on one foot, and fold my hands across my chest or stuff them in my pockets- James Dean style. I'm thinking he is insane. I am just opening myself up for a beating. But here is what he taught me, and after quite a bit of experience with such situations, I have learned that he was, without a doubt, right.

There is no more dangerous animal than a cornered animal. If you respond with anger and hatred and attempt to control someone who is already angry and full of hatred, they will shake off any remnants of coolness and self control, and come out fighting for their lives with fully unrestrained, undignified rage. If you do manage to overpower them...if they do appear to surrender, you still have not conquered them. They are still seething with anger and hatred on the inside, looking for another opportunity to rise up again and perhaps get the upper hand.

I have also learned that anger and hatred are like rabbits. They produce plentiful offspring. But their coupling doesn't just produce more anger and hatred. They produce contempt and disrespect. They produce prejudice and violence. They produce a feeling of righteousness and justification for sins. They produce loathing and they produce rage. They produce torture and they produce killers. But they must be fed in order to have the strength to reproduce. They must be fed anger and hatred in order to develop.

And I believe that is why Jesus told us to love our enemies. If we feed the anger and never obtains the strength to produce any offspring. Love is the only thing that has the power to disband the pair. The only thing! Love is like an infectious disease to the darkness of anger and hatred. It eats away at all the darkness in it's path until no more is left.

Romans 12:18
18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 14:19
19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.

See, love and peace are the only way to victory. I have heard people say that 'redemptive violence' is necessary. To redeem something is to recover it, to free it, to restore it. This can never be accomplished through of the offspring of anger and hatred. Because more anger and hatred, even justified through a valiant cause will merely feed the anger and hatred of the enemy.

I once had a friend who was a victim of domestic abuse. We would rally around her and try to defend her. We would strike out toward the angry coward she chose to live with. Finally she begged us to stop. Our anger only fed the anger of the man who was beating her, which led to more violence toward her. It always does.

If we think we are going control people who are mistreating others...if we think we can strong-arm them into ceasing their violence, their rage, their torture and murder of innocent people...through our own anger and violence....were are wrong. They are not going to say "Oh, now I see where I was wrong. I should be treating people with compassion" because the anger and hatred within them will only grow stronger, fed by our own. And we begin to create exceptions to the commands of Christ. We begin to see loopholes, and we readily step through them, justified that Jesus would approve of our own hate and anger, because it is for 'good' is for Jesus.

The only way to put an end to the cycle of anger, hatred, violence, injustice, rage, and killing through retaliation is to stop. We are supposed to stop and pray for our enemies. We are to shower them with love. I know it sounds crazy but it works. And not only does it kill the anger and hate in the hearts of our enemies, but it changes us from the inside. It starts to slowly change the way we see other people. It starts to allow Jesus to take over our perception of them, and we begin to see these people...these people that were once our Christ sees them.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Ephesians 6:10-17
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Redemptive violence is not capable of redeeming anything. Christ is our redeemer!

*Would you like to learn about the true power of love in the face of anger and hatred? Look into the history of Rwanda. Look into the present state of the country and how the present governemnt put an end to the violence. Love works!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Are You Disturbed As Well?

You know those big signs that so many churches post these days. They are often peppered with witty Christian sayings. I don't know who comes up with so many plays on words. Often I read them and roll my eyes. They are frequently too far on the corny side for my enjoyment. And often they are trying so hard to sloganize Christianity...and I think it makes following Christ look cheap and easy.

I saw one yesterday that disturbed me. I really could not remove the image of this sign from my brain. It said "November is the month for being thankful". Sounds simple enough. After all, Thanksgiving in this country falls in November. In my mind, I can already see their sign for December..."December is the month for giving". As if such enormous things and thanking God and giving to his people can just be checked off the calender and not thought about for another year. Why does this disturb me so greatly?

We are instructed in the Bible to pray without ceasing. In other words, we are to pray ALWAYS. And we are instructed on how to pray. We are to praise God. We are to thank God. And we are to petition God. So the way I see it...maybe I'm wrong...we are to THANK God without ceasing. We are to thank him ALWAYS! Not merely on Thanksgiving, but every month, every week, and every day.

I am thankful for life and the ability to use my life to give my life meaning. I am thankful for my family...they brighten my day, and comfort me. I am thankful that God loves me even when I am unlovable...because I am often unlovable. I am thankful for Jesus...because he truly saved me. I am thankful for creation. I am thankful for art. I am thankful that God meets all my needs and still throws in some of my wants. I am thankful for the laughter of little girls. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for a warm home. I am thankful for people willing to share what they have with others. I am thankful that I am not the one in control. I am thankful that others are more interested in politics than I...because I don't want the responsibility of running this country. I am thankful for peace...and long for more of it. I am thankful for the people who God places in my path daily who give me a reason to smile. I am thankful for music, and the ability to hear everything from the sounds of birds chirping to bluegrass music. I am thankful for sight to see beauty all around me. I am thankful for the changing of the seasons. I am thankful for love and passion. I am thankful for tears. I am thankful for compassion. I am thankful for healing. I am thankful for a purpose, and for opportunities to serve that purpose. I am thankful for the kind words of a stranger. I am thankful for the opportunity to share a smile with a scornful stranger. I am thankful for pain, because it means I can feel. I am thankful for the silent peace of snow. I am thankful for food and that I have not only enough to not go hungry, but a variety to enjoy. I am thankful for hugs and I am thankful for words of encouragement...they are the most valuable of possessions. I am thankful for trials, because they give me the opportunity to emerge triumphant. I am thankful for freedom which my God has blessed me with. I am thankful for the smell of horses and of dry wild grass. I am thankful for my husband who believes I am beautiful and wonderful...when I am far from either. I am thankful for silliness. I am thankful that God has created ticks and mosquitoes for a purpose...even if I haven't discovered it yet. I am thankful that one day we can sit around and chit chat...and he can tell me about it. I am thankful for laughter.

And I am thankful for all these things EVERY month, EVERY week, and EVERY day. May you have a blessed and thankful life as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Election Time

It seems that of people are putting their faith for the future of our nation in who is elected for president. People believe that the policies they intend to enact will make or break the moral well-being of this country. The future of this country lies in the hearts of individuals. We are capable of making this country a better place and it's leadership is in the hands of our true leader, our God. I realize that it is important to see where the candidates belief system lies in order to get a better understanding of their character. However, if you believe that a president can enact a policy that will make or break the moral fiber of the people of this country, you are deceiving yourselves.

So many Christians in this country seem to direct their energies into such activities as the non legalization of abortion. I have to be honest with you- I don't agree with the killing of unborn babies. Go ahead and have the baby and I will find someone who will adopt it. As a matter of fact, I will adopt a few myself. But I don't believe that our energies are directed in a manner that actually eliminates abortion. Making it illegal will not eradicate the problem. True change can only exist when you change the hearts of the individuals. Once you change the hearts of the individuals, they will not do something regardless of whether it is legal or illegal.

Same goes for gun control and so many other issues. We can enact laws and policies until we can't possibly keep track of them all. But they will not truly be effective until we begin to change the hearts of people. When we get them to truly understand that God is real, and that He loves us all, and that He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves...when our greatest desire becomes to please him...then these laws become unnecessary.

So why do we direct our energies on who is planning on enacting what laws, and not on changing the hearts of our neighbors? Get out there and change some hearts people! Go love some folks. "You must be the change you want to see in the world. " Mahatma Gandhi.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where oh where has Koinonia gone? Where oh where could she be?

Sorry for my incredible slackness in writing. I just may be that way for awhile. I haven't even read what anyone else has written in weeks. It seems that planning for community left me for a little more time for writing than actually creating community has permitted. Sorry! We really do have some cool stuff going on, and some nifty pictures to boot.

We have the land and have moved our pet 'dog in the body of a pig', Sweet Pea, into a stall in the barn until we can get some fencing up. She is very lonely and in need of some friends. We really want to get the fencing up so we can supply her with some. I have my eye on this adorable little pony and pray that he is still available when the fencing is up and God has provided the funds.

We have been refurbishing the barn, and cutting down trees, and hauling limbs. We have a huge brush pile and lots of firewood. I spent over two hours today digging a pit for the outhouse with Alea's enormous help, while Darrell cut and nailed boards for the walls. We should have it completed and set up tomorrow.

There is electricity run to the old barn. The meter is still there as well. Seems though that you can't get power turned on without an inspection from the city if power has been turned off longer than six months, and it has been off way longer than that. So we are waiting to hear from the inspector. We are also waiting to hear from the surveyor about dividing the land into lots so we can get the health department out to approve the lots for septic, and perhaps see about selling some of them. We also have to get that done before we can even think about digging a well, or purchasing a building permit of our own. We did complete all our calls about hooking up to the county water supply. That is now going to be a last resort, and only happen if we sell all the lots and one of our new neighbors happens to be rich. We will require high pressure six inch pipe running a very long distance. I don't see us investing that kind of money to run water that we will have to filter to drink! Lastly, we have to wait to get all our ducks in a row in order to get our construction loan underway and put in the road. Deep sigh!

So back to repairing the barn, clearing underbrush and bad trees, and watching the wildlife. With the abundance of persimmon trees, we have deer everywhere.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Complexities of Simplicity

I have decided that 'simple living' is an oxymoron. Living is anything but simple. Life is a spiderweb, and maneuvering our way through it is not a simple matter. I love the way of life that people have coined 'simple living' - growing and making my own food, making much of what I use and give, natural learning. But this way of life is anything but simple. It is difficult. It is hard work. Just like following Jesus.

Matthew 7:13-14 You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

But just like following Jesus, travel on this difficult path is rewarding.

We have been up to our elbows in community planning. We have been working and working on trying to get this community underway. We want to be living there. We want to be living 'simply' and enjoying fellowship with our neighbors and our greater community. We want to be sharing. We want to be working the land. But trying to be simple is anything but simple. It seems like all the folks that have to plan and approve everything we do don't like to do things the simple way.

With all the codes, requirements, and regulations, there is no way we can by ourselves make this community happen. But God can! I am reminded of Mother Teresa, who with three pennies wanted to build hospitals and schools. They told her that with three pennies she couldn't do that. To which she replied that with God and three pennies, she could accomplish anything. And she did. I have to keep reminding myself of that story.

This community is going to become reality. We couldn't sell our house. We did. We couldn't buy the land. We did. We couldn't afford to rent a place to stay. Someone took us in. We didn't have the money to close on the land. The closing was delayed....and we received the money just a couple of days before this rescheduled closing. Can any of this happen without God? God can do anything. He can build this community. And He is.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Well, I am slowly getting back into the swing of things. Two days after Athena died, a good friend of ours died from Lou Gehrig's disease. It is a rapidly developing illness, and kind of surprised us by it's progression. I will miss her dimpled smile and encouraging words. But I am praising God that she is no longer suffering.

My mind has been so full and active the last week or so, and I have been unable to shut it down to direct my thoughts down another path. Does that ever happen to you? Your mind is working on an issue, and you try as you might to shut down your line of thinking and direct your focus in another direction, you can't. Before you know it, it is 2am and your mind is still working.

I find it hard to focus on writing when I get in such a condition. I don't read well either. I keep rereading the same passage and never absorb the words. And I become quiet. I know! Some of you just don't believe that part, but it is true.

Well, I do have much to say! We now have the land to begin building a community. We are leaving for the Catalyst Conference in a few days and are going to hear some incredible speakers and sing to some incredible music. We are even going to have the opportunity to visit with some folks from a couple of Christian communities in Ga. I am reading one of the best books I have ever read (even though I took a week long break from reading it), and have just finished a pretty cool one, and we are still witnessing God's miracles in our lives. And I can't wait to tell you about all of it...just as soon as I can gather my thoughts.

Ever notice that certain numbers keep jumping out at you? It seems like almost every time I look at the clock it says 10:31. I see those numbers pop up everywhere. I used to think it was because that is the date of my birthday. I would say "cool, there it is again". Then I started reading 'Crazy Love' by Francis Chan. I'm reading along and he lists a scripture....1 Corinthians 10:31. Maybe this is why those numbers keep coming up. It is a reminder.


Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God's glory.

(The Message)

So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you're eating to God's glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God's glory.

See, it's not about me at all. It's all about Him! Cool, huh?!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Athena the Great

December 1994 ~ September 26, 2008
Yes, she was almost 14! and not a gray hair on her. Up until about two years ago she would still jump the fence to get out of the pasture away from the other animals when they were annoying her. These pictures are from last summer at our old house.
Athena, I love you girl. You were my first daughter. You were just a pup, and with me when I met Darrell. You were there when we welcomed two little baby girls into our family. You watched over all of us. You were like a mother to our other dogs Janice and Faith, and even the cats and pigs we brought home for you to care for. Janice and Faith still have not left the spot where we found you.
You will be dearly missed. But we are all so glad to see you go quickly and not have to suffer. This winter would have been rough on an old gal like you.
We love you and thank you for being such a loving and faithful member of our family. You have always been a blessing in our lives.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's your color IQ score?

Ah, the things you stumble across when it is after midnight and you can't sleep. I took a color IQ test. Believe it or not, I got a zero, which means I have perfect color vision. Ha, all those art classes did pay off. Okay, maybe they didn't actually pay off, but at least I did pay attention.

Actually, I took it twice and the second time I scored a four, so I guess my vision is already deteriorating. Oh no!

Try it, you'll like it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just another Wednesday

~scuppernong jam and apple butter~

I haven't meant to keep everyone in suspense about all these fabulous miracles. It really has been a busy week.

This afternoon we are scheduled to close on the land for our community. I am truly amazed at the way God has brought so many factors together to make this happen. I assure you that when this project gets underway, it is fully in God's hands. We have neither the knowledge nor the finances to make it happen on our own. And, quite frankly, I can think of much simpler choices to make.

My husband asked me a question the other day from a book he was reading. If God were to cease to exist, would you continue to live your life the same way? In other words, are you living for God now? If you are, if He would cease to exist, you would change everything about your life, because your focus would change. If God did not exist we would not be building this community. It's not our idea. It is his. I have seen so many houses for sale that I would love to live in. Already built! Available NOW! Simple!!!

But he does exist. And He is going to build an amazing community right here, just like the ones he is building across the world.

.....well, I had better run. Apple butter and scuppernong jam down. Muscadine jam, pear preserves, mixed muscadine and scuppernong jam, and maybe some more apple butter to go. And, oh yeah, I have a closing to go to today....

~what a view!~

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oooops! Did I Say That Out Loud?

A couple of years ago we were sitting around talking with some friends about this plan for a community God had placed in our hearts. Talk turned to spiritual gifts, and we mentioned that God blessed us both with the gift of giving. We had struggled through some very tight financial situations, and we both believed that God had brought us through those times so that he could instruct us on how little we could live on. That way, when He does bless us financially, we will have already formed living habits that will enable us to give more and consume less. Well, I then said something that I almost immediately wished I could take back.

Have you ever said something and immediately had the feeling that God said "Hah, I was just waiting for you to say that. Now I can use you"? Just like the time a friend told me I should teach a class, and I responded "Sure, but God hasn't given me anything to talk about yet". Slam! He suddenly knocked me upside the head with a subject to teach on. (another Homer Simpson d'oh moment for sure).

Well, I told these folks that I was sure glad God had blessed us with a desire to be givers, and hadn't called us to be missionaries in one of those hot places with lots of mosquitoes, or worst yet, martyrdom. Now, aren't you glad God hasn't called you to be a martyr....yet anyways. As soon as I said it, I could hear God say. "Are you sure I haven't? And who is to say I won't?" Wow, I'm not sure that was what I wanted to hear!

That moment has never left my mind. In fact, I have meditated on it. And I have delved deeper yet into my Bible. I think I finally realizing some things.

Do you realize that God never tells us to preserve ourselves in the Bible? Never in his instructions does God say "Do this, unless it will provoke your suffering, or endanger your safety". It doesn't say Love your neighbor as yourself UNLESS he puts his stuff on your side of the property line or raises his hand against you. It doesn't say Thou shall not kill BUT if someone is threatening you it is okay to kill to preserve your own life or to hold on to your stuff. It doesn't say to honor your father and mother ONLY IF they are loving parents. God knows we are going to encounter situations in which we will be tested in our obedience. We will have times when we will be given the choice between honoring God and preserving ourselves. Often we fail. I know I do, and I'm sure that sometimes you do too. Ever wonder why there aren't more martyrs? In moments of suffering we often denounce our faith. Very few people are strong enough in their relationship with God to cling to Him regardless of the personal cost.

What concerns me is how often do we ignore God's instructions and his calling for us because it endangers our sense of comfort or security? Do you think God only calls people in third world countries to be martyrs? Or do you think that in our pursuit of comfort and self-preservation we drown out his calling?

What about missionaries? Aren't we all called to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ - to make disciples of all nations? But how often do we interpret that to mean folks in our own neighborhoods. You know - the ones that are just like us, and already open to receiving the Word. After all, we don't want to step outside our comfort zone, and we certainly don't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable. Very few of us are dedicated enough to go into hostile areas, where we may not have drinking water, and there are huge mosquitoes among other dangers, to teach others about the love of Jesus Christ. We don't even want to give up satellite tv and high speed internet! "God, ya know, I would love to serve you and go to Africa to help the orphan children. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to find a Coke Zero there, and I just don't know if I can go without one that long." Sounds silly, I know, but I do that all the time! Do you?

It humbles me when I compare what Jesus did and continues to do for me with what I am willing to do for him. I have finally realized something though. There are no good or bad spiritual gifts or callings. Any opportunity to serve God should bring me irrepressible joy. The greatest tragedy in my life would be to be so concerned with my own comfort and preservation that I would miss such an opportunity.

Isaiah 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And I said, Here am I; send me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

God Has a Funny Way of Speaking to Us!

Sometimes God has a funny way of speaking to us. Sometimes he uses a sign or a magazine. Sometimes he uses other people or even a donkey. Sometimes he uses soap.
I love making soap. It is one of those activities that satisfies the mad scientist inside me, while still satisfying my urge to cook new, delicious recipes and develop my artistic talents. What an outlet! But some days everything appears to go wrong. I spill. I drop. I misprint. My labels won't peel. And I have a full out toddler's temper tantrum! Last week I had one of those days.

Well, you must know that I include a scripture on all the products I make. I know, what a fabulous testimony to God my temper tantrum must have been. Well, I was making some fabulously yummy emulsifying sugar scrub, and finishing up the labels for these soaps for a fall soap swap I am participating in. And I go searching for THE scriptures that God wants me to place on these products. So, here I am, struggling with scrub and labels, and I just happen to REALLY LOOK at the scriptures that God led me to place on the scrubs.
I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Hmmm! I could use a little patience.

Ephesians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Surely He meant all things but these stubborn labels, right?
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

D'ooh! Okay, I hear ya God! Do you think He might have known I was going to need those later? I just hate it when He catches me in a temper tantrum.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Miracles! Miracles! And More Miracles!

Oh, my goodness! Do you have any idea how big God is? Do you realize that He is truly in control? I know we say it and we sing it, but do you believe it? Have you ever experienced life when you completely surrendered control of your life to God? Have you resisted the temptation to pick up those reigns of control when you feel things racing out of control?

I assure you that when you do, you will see God working in your life. You will see the individual care he puts into personally working on YOUR life. It is truly something awesome to see!

I am awestruck that someone as huge as God, who created EVERYTHING would choose to place his attention on someone as tiny as me. But He does. And He is personally trying to work in your life too.

I am witnessing miracles! True, living, breathing, real miracles! But I don't believe God was able to work those miracles until I was willing to relinquish control. See, He gives us the freedom to make our own mistakes. I think back to when the Israelites kept asking Samuel for a King. He kept telling them that they didn't need one. But they kept pushing. They wanted the illusion of control. They wanted to stick with something that was familiar to them. They wanted to stay inside their comfort zone. But an illusion was all it was.

1 Samuel 8(HCSB)

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. His firstborn son's name was Joel and his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba. However, his sons did not walk in his ways—they turned toward dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not follow your example. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have."

When they said, "Give us a king to judge us," Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the LORD. But the LORD told him, "Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king. They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods. Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them."

Samuel told all the Lord's words to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "These are the rights of the king who will rule over you: He can take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots. He can appoint them for his use as commanders of thousands or commanders of fifties, to plow his ground or reap his harvest, or to make his weapons of war or the equipment for his chariots. He can take your daughters to become perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give them to his officials and servants. He can take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys and use them for his work. He can take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves can become his servants. When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you've chosen for yourselves, but the LORD won't answer you on that day."

The people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We must have a king over us. Then we'll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles."

Samuel listened to all the people's words and then repeated them to the LORD. "Listen to them," the LORD told Samuel. "Appoint a king for them."

See, God tells us we are free to choose to do things our own way, but He warns us that the road we travel, if we choose to pave it on our own, will be a rough one. But so often we choose the long, hard, rough road just because we can set the direction in which to walk. But the other road, although it travels into the wilderness, although it leads into territory unfamiliar to us, is riddled with miracles. All we have to do is allow God to direct us down that path and He will reward us with them.

Well, He is rewarding me. Thank goodness I made it through at least the first dark, scary tunnel, and have arrived at the other end to witness the light and the first set of miracles. I can't wait to tell you the story about them. But those miracles are still being performed, and the story is still incomplete. Ah, but what a story it is going to be.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Francis Chan Sunday!

Enjoy these little snippets from Francis Chan, a pastor in Simi Valley, California.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why do churches in this country display American flags?

Why do churches in this country display American flags? I don't mean to sound rude or unpatriotic, but seriously, who are we there to worship? Who are we there to pledge allegiance to? Who are we supposed to look to first...our flag or our God?

Who are we supposed to look upon as our brethren? Christians? Americans? What about the non-Christians? What about the non-Americans? What about the folks that have different beliefs than us? What about the 'bad' people?

My Bible tells me that ALL of us descended from two people, and that our original national affiliation was Garden of Edenites. That means that those people in China are my brothers and sisters....even the communist ones. That means that those folks in Africa and are my brothers and sisters, even though they don't live in my neighborhood. So, why, when I am thinking of Jesus...when I am worshipping Jesus, should my thoughts rest on the flag of the United States of America? Are these the most worthy of my brothers and sisters? Are these the most important of my brothers and sisters? Are these the only folks worth dying for?

Check this out. Choose 'launch movie' when you go to this link.

A Place of Refuge - A Bit on Stewardship

Finally, I'm back to talking about this community living stuff! And you are on the edge of your seats, waiting to read more. Yes? I wrote about sharing and fellowship as two of the major goals and benefits of living in community. Now I want to talk a little about stewardship - both of our personal resources and of our environment.

Whether you believe in the reality of global warning or not, there is the simple fact that we do have limited resources on this planet. Once we push an animal to extinction, it is gone forever. Once we pollute the air, we don't have a quick way to pump out all the filth and replace it with fresh air. We have no choice but to breath in all the pollutants. Do you have a filter on your tap water? Wonder why? In this county it is necessary. You filter your water, or you drink only bottled water...which comes in plastic bottles...but hey, that's another issue altogether.

When we were in Kauai, a man told us that the reason land was so expensive on the island was because they had a limited, finite amount of real estate. But don't we all? We may exist on a larger land mass, but it is still finite. Our whole planet is, and our population is skyrocketing.

One thing we hope to accomplish through living in community is better stewardship of our environment. We hope to accomplish this first through sharing. It is a fact that one lawnmower produces less pollution into the air than ten lawnmowers. And one lawnmower takes up less landfill space once it breaks down than ten. Now imagine the impact on our air and in our landfills once we are sharing more than just our lawnmowers.

We also hope to impact environmental stewardship through the way we live. We are planning on establishing organic gardens and orchards in this community. We hope to be able to make these self-sustaining through composting for fertilization, and the use of honey bees for pollination. And we are also planning on raising our own animals for meat and eggs. It really can be an efficient way to live in more than one family is willing to share in the labor.

There is an additional environmental plus to raising much of your own food. You reduce your dependence on the grocery store. This translates to less gas being used for those once-frequent trips to the store. It also translates to less garbage being produced as your food comes with less packaging. Now your diet is consisting of fresh canned or frozen organic fruits and vegetables, fresh organic eggs, and fresh and frozen organic meats. Very little to go into the landfill, and you have the added peace of mind of knowing what is going into you. Now, we aren't planning on giving up the occasional trip to the store for some ice cream, yogurt, or soy sauce, along with other supplies, but look in your pantry and realize the amount of waste we can eliminate...and eat better quality food to boot!

The layout of the community is being planned with the intent of homes being built in a cluster, preserving the most open green spaces and wooded areas. This too, reduces the environmental impact. And it is just plain prettier to look at.

I hope this idea of community living is starting to come alive in your minds as new pieces are added to the puzzle. I will continue on later on the how living in community effects our personal resources. Have a blessed day and do something amazing!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Prom Pictures ~ Arts Evangelica Prom 2008

I just came across these on the Arts Evangelica site today. My husband and I were invited to participate in Arts Evangelica's prom and graduate blessing ceremony this last spring. The first picture is us. The second picture includes our glamorous looking dear friends, Lisa and Grady Kidd. Hope you enjoy!

This was the first time EVER that I have seen my husband in a tux. He cleans up pretty well for a pig farmer!

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mighty to Save

What will I do when my mind is gone?

I found this is my archives and thought you might enjoy.

What will I do when my mind is gone?

Will I forget the names of my children
or the contours of their faces?

Will I gaze questioningly at my husband
and call him by another name?

Will people look at me with pity
or with disdain
or will they notice me at all?

Will my friends sit and read to me
and listen to me repeat myself
again and again?

Will my friends sit and read to me
and listen to me repeat myself
again and again?

Or will they grow tired of the forced smiles?

I will still have Jesus by my side.
But will I recognize him or remember his words?

Will I find comfort in his presence?
Will I know he is there?

Will I occupy myself with the hobbies of my past
or try to learn new onew?

Will I be able to learn?
And will they let me use the scissors?

Will I be able to hold my grandchildren
without hovering hands waiting or me to lose my grip?

What will I do when my mind is gone?

Will you still love me?
Will I?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lanterns, Spiders, and Wells

Have you ever read the story of the 'woman at the well'? You will find it in John 4. Jesus stops to rest at a town well. A Samaritan woman is coming to the well at noon to collect some water. Jesus just happens to run into her and strike up a conversation that will change her life forever.

Think about it. Here was this woman heading to the well in the heat of the day for water. Why was she there in the middle of the day? During the time when the sun was at it's highest and hottest? Because she was living in disgrace. She was a sinner. She had been married to five men already and was shacking up with another man she wasn't even married too. Gasp! Living in a small village, I suppose all of her faults and mistakes were known to everyone. Some folks probably even let her know that they knew of her mistakes. Can't you just hear them listing the inventory of all her wrongs? Just in case she forgot. Can't you hear the snickers and see the looks? Have you ever seen or heard them before?

So...was she likely to head to the well at the same time as all the other ladies? Probably not. She probably chose a time of day when the rest of the village was not likely to be outdoors, and less likely to be at the well collecting water. She wasn't looking for a friend. She wasn't looking for a man. And she certainly wasn't looking for a savior....or a Lord for that matter. She wasn't looking for anything but water.

So, along comes Jesus. He is tired and looking for a place to rest. Where to rest? Where to rest? The shady spot under that huge olive tree? Nope. How about right there at the well. So there Jesus sits resting at the 'randomly' chosen well, and 'coincidentally' (because we know Jesus was a part of bunches of coincidences) along comes this huge sinner of a Samaritan woman. Sounds like a soap opera, doesn't it? And we thought they originated in the age of television. The Bible is just full of juicy stories!

Jesus asks her for some water, and she is shocked. He is speaking to her! This Jew is speaking to her - a Samaritan. And she probably notices that he is neither winking or smirking at her - treatment she has become accustomed to in her village. Jesus goes on to tell her about the 'living water' he offers and how she will never thirst again. He tells her things about her sins that she thought he, a stranger, could not know. He then tells her that he is the Messiah. Do you think she believed him? Oh yeah!

Then his disciples return and freak out when they see who Jesus is talking to. The woman, immediately recognizing the expressions and the tone of their voices, leaves, running to the village. But she is a changed woman. She is no longer hanging her head in shame, fearing judgement from her neighbors. She has seen Jesus! He spoke to her! He knew her, and all the terrible things she had done. Yet he spoke to her. And as she returned to her village, she sought out her neighbors - the same people that minutes before she was willing to suffer discomfort to avoid - and told them all about the messiah, Jesus. She told them all about this man she had just happened to run into...and took them back to meet him.

I love that story! Ever notice that we never learn the woman's name? It's not important. Or maybe she has more than one name. I believe that all of us, or at least many of us are the woman at the well. She could be me. Could she be you? There was a time when I would hang my head in shame when out of sight of others, perfectly aware of my mistakes. But unwilling to admit my mistakes, I would boldly and arrogantly march before my judgemental neighbors, not willing to let them see the shame that I felt, flaunting my sins at them, daring them to cast a glance or a word in my direction. And I wasn't seeking Jesus. I was perfectly content to live with a mess all around me. I was content going to the well during noon when I wouldn't have to see their stares. Who needed them anyways.

But there was that one day that Jesus happened to be sitting there, ready to blind side me with the truth. Our 'coincidental' meeting. And life would never be the same.

There is this crazy thing about truth. You can live in the darkness, and you can be happy not seeing what is in the dim corners. But once you shine a light in the darkness, you can't remove what you saw from your mind. If you shine a lantern , and there is a web full of spiders illuminated in the corner, you don't walk quite as boldly into that corner again. And then your mind starts doing some wacky things. You start wondering what is in the other dark corners. Then you start wondering if there is possibly a brighter and safer place to be spending your time.

That's what happened in my life. Jesus, who I wasn't looking for in the first place, showed up and shone a lantern into the corners of my life. Surprise! For the first time, I saw the dangers all around me. And for the first time I saw him. And I realized that as long as I walked with him, he would light up all those dark corners for me, and help me to steer clear of the dangers all around. Here is the kicker. The dangers are still all around. He didn't cause them to disappear. But Jesus illuminates them for me, and walks with me every step of the way. He never leaves my side, and he never, ever, turns out the light.

See, I told you it was a cool story!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Picture of unSchool Our Way....

I don't often share daily happenings in our lives with y'all, but I thought it would be fun to share what we are working on in unschool this week.

Alea got a book for her birthday about a young Christian girl who lived during the Depression. She loves those fictional historical diaries. It has a chart in it that details the cost of several items during the 1920's. So we decided to do a comparison of the price of living during the 1920's and today. So first we designed a spreadsheet. Kasi and Alea both got to learn how to design a chart and practiced on the computer designing their own spreadsheets using Microsoft Works. I think we now have in progress a spreadsheet of their Build-a-Bears, and how many shirts, shoes, etc, each of their two animals have. Then we headed into town to spend the day travelling to MANY stores to check on current costs. The chart had food, clothes, appliances, toys, vehicles, and even items such as the movies or a travelling circus, and private music lessons. We should be finishing our charts today. Maybe I will post them next week. It has been quite fun and very informative.

The girls reached their 30 book reward level a couple of weeks ago, but I have not been feeling great, so we have been holding off. Their reward for reading 30 books was a trip to Dan Nicholas Park to do the 'gem mine' and play in the water fountain park they have there. The gem mine is really cool. You are given a bucket of sand with various unfinished 'gems' which you take down to the flume and get to pan for your own gems. They give you a chart for identifying your new treasures. You can even have them polished and made into jewelry.

Alea and Kasi helped me with chores, learning to sort and spray laundry, and what is washed in warm and cold. We were actually trying to stall so that we could head out after lunch time for a surprise visit to Daddy at work. The girls made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, we loaded the van with our lunch, and we surprised Daddy at work. We told him we stopped by to kidnap him and take him with us to the park. He did not resist. We all had a wonderful time panning for gems and then Daddy and I sat in the shade watching the girls play in the water. Ah, the life. We hated to have to leave.

After we got home and ate supper, the girls and I finished out the day by making coconut, blueberry, banana bread following a recipe I found at the Hungry Housewife blog. Yummy! We made one change though - substituting honey for half of the sugar. And I don't think that I reduced the liquid by quite enough to compensate for the change since they kind of sunk. But they are delicious. And honey makes them moist, and adds nutrients. Kasi and Alea each made three mini loaves, so we are going to be swimming in sweetness this weekend.

Well, today we are finishing up our spreadsheets and heading to the library. Tootles! Hope you enjoy the slideshow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quotes from my Babies to Make You Smile...and Laugh

(when saying prayers at night)
"And God, I hope you are safe and happy in heaven."

(after falling down AGAIN)
"Another bruise!" (big grin) "Yeeeesss!"

"I love you even when you suck up."

(after seeing a commercial for a magazine subscription)
"Why would I want to buy issues? Like I don't already have enough issues of my own for free!"

"Aren't these the coolest thing EVER? Magnifying glasses with lights so I can read small things in the dark! They are a little big though. I need smaller ones so I don't look goofy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Place of Refuge...The Importance of Fellowship - A Repost

Living in community has so many benefits, which stem from it's few basic purposes. I already discussed the first purpose, which is to promote sharing. The benefits from sharing are numerous.

Today I want to talk about the second basic purpose which is to promote fellowship. Fellowship, whether we know it or not, is important to us all. I want to repost an article I wrote about fellowship last year to establish a foundation for this topic.

The Importance of Fellowship *originally posted 10/22/07*

Koinonia is often translated as fellowship. How important is fellowship? How important is getting together with other people?

Scientists have studied the longevity of married people versus singles. They have found in every study that married people live longer than people that never marry. They have found that married people have fewer health problems. Now does this mean that a wedding ceremony instantly wipes away illness? No way. The root of the problem is isolation and loneliness.

Think back to when you were in high school. What was your greatest desire? For most of us, it was to belong. We wanted somewhere where we felt like we were a necessary part of a group. Why do you think kids join gangs? To feel like a necessary piece of a puzzle. To feel camaraderie. To belong.

Houses used to be built close together. They had big front porches and front lawns where entire neighborhoods would gather and chat. Folks would sit and greet their neighbors as they returned home. They would sit and share a drink and chat. They would slow down and relax, and invest in the lives of their neighbors. Ever been sick and wishing for a steaming bowl of chicken soup? Neighbors knew when someone was sick, and would look in on them.

Today front porches have been replaced with back decks. Today people want more land, more privacy, higher fences, gated neighborhoods, and bigger houses so they never have to go outside. Everything they need is at their fingertips, in their nice, climate controlled environment. Even the outside hot tub has been replaced with a jetted tub in the privacy of their own bathroom. They don't even walk out to get their mail. They drive the car close to the box, blocking traffic, so they never have to get out of their car.

We complain about how people in the stores are so RUDE. What do we expect? They have no socialization skills, because they never socialize. It is a fact that isolation builds self-centeredness. People have forgotten that other people go through trials just like they do. That is why support groups have become so popular. Deep down we all desire fellowship. We all desire to be a part of something. We all desire to share our hopes and dreams, and struggles with other people.

It was always my dream to buy a big chunk of land, and build a big log house in the middle of the woods. Ahhh, completely silent, but for the sounds of nature. But the more I think about fellowship, the more that big chunk of land and woods seems like a box to me. The thought of having a really neat place, and no one else but my family to share it with, somehow seems inadequate. And then, I think, how will I be able to teach my children about sharing and giving, if I am hoarding, saying 'all this is ours', not theirs.

I want to live close to my neighbors, and have a big front porch with a free soda machine on it. That way everyone with stop by for a drink and a chat. I hope I get so busy chatting that we are forced to eat sandwiches every night for supper, because I got nothing accomplished. That would be living life.

Lately, there have been stories of kids killing. There have been stories of kids claiming their own lives. Do you think these kids had a feeling of belonging? Do you think they had a strong history of fellowship? Do you think they sat around and chatted on the porch with their neighbors? Or do you think they felt isolated? Alone? Different? Misunderstood? Do you think they were loners who sat quietly and unnoticed at school, and came home and shut themselves in their own rooms with their own thoughts?

I want to show my children that the stories in the Bible are not mere stories of what people did long ago, but a blueprint for how we should live our lives. I want to show them that it is possible, in the modern world, to live like Christ. I want to show them that miracles can again be commonplace. I want to show them how to change the news. I want to show them that they are an important piece of the puzzle, and an impact on the lives of others. And I don't want to just tell them about it, I want them to see it in action by the way we live.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Back Among the Living

Okay, I am back among the living. I have been under the weather for nearly a month now and so many things have just been put on hold while I just muddled through the necessities. But after trips to three different doctors, several different tests, and even more medications, I am feeling much, much better. Yay God! I promise to be back to posting the first of the week. Please enjoy the last installment of quotes on education in the meantime.

Have you read any of them so far? It is wild how differently people look at learning. The common theme I have noticed is the emphasis on the importance of creativity over mere knowledge. And the importance of learning by doing instead of learning by memorizing. How does that line up with how we educate our children, and ourselves for that matter?....since we are all still learning something. Hopefully.

In our schools we promote conformity, not creativity. We make sure our children learn the order of the US presidents and about Greek Mythology, but place little emphasis on life skills and common sense. Their stringent adherence to standardized curriculum limits how far children can excel in their learning.

My daughter tried getting me to purchase a science curriculum a month or so ago. I tried to tell her we don't need one. She was in the third grade last year, and her CAT test scores placed her at the seventh grade level for science. If we had followed a curriculum, she would have never been giving the opportunity to learn the material that she mastered at four grade levels above her own. And she did well because she was learning about things she had an interest to learn.

Anyways, the purpose of these quotes is to allow you to think outside the box in the ways you teach your children. This isn't just for homeschoolers. You are capable of teaching your children new things every day, even if they attend public or private school. We learn something from everything we encounter. Take advantage of it. Ignite their curiosity. Promote their creativity. Encourage them to become excellent at something they enjoy!

John Dewey
Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.

Maria Mitchell
We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.

Mortimer Adler
The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.

Anatole France
Nine tenths of education is encouragement.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Skill to do comes of doing.

Simone Weil
The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running. Where it is lacking there are no real students, but only poor caricatures of apprentices who, at the end of their apprenticeship, will not even have a trade.

Vernon Cooper
These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.

As the twig is bent the tree inclines.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Quotable Quotes of Note on Learning ...

Edith Hamilton
It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought -- that is to be educated.

Ethel Barrymore

You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.

Henry B. Adams
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

Hannah More
It is not so important to know everything as to appreciate what we learn.

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.

James Baldwin
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Is That Really A Good Idea?

We had Alea's 9th birthday party the other day. She had a disco skating party at the local skating rink. Check out the menu board from the skating rink. Look closely. It is really a poor picture.

Butter milk + sardines + hot skating kids = ?????

My guess would be disaster! That just really doesn't sound like a good idea to me. I wonder how much of that they sell?

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Place of Refuge...A Bit on Sharing Stuff

Exodus 12:4(NIV) If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.

So what happens when we loosen our hold on our possessions and begin sharing? What happens when we not only share what we have available, but receive what others have to share? What does God do in response to that sort of management?

Let me first say that you have to change the way you look at your stuff. I know several generous people. They love to share what they have. They would love to be able to meet your needs through what they have. But they want to be the ones sharing. They do not want to go without and be the ones dependant on someone else to share. They want to know that when they go to bed at night, they possess everything they will need. It makes them feel good to be able to have excess and share. I have to admit that in many ways, I am this way. I would love to have enough money to meet the needs of so many people, and the resources to bless the many wonderful programs with which I come in contact. But that is not the key to sharing. It needs to be give and receive.

2 Corinthians 8:14 (NLT)
Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal

My husband was given money to give away. Seriously! A friend of ours noticed that he seems to have a knack for allowing God to show him people in need. So the friend started giving him money to give away. At first, my husband said he felt a little weird about giving away someone else's money. He felt like he had to really be careful with how he distributed it, because someone else had entrusted him with the responsibility of managing it. Then it occurred to him that the source was the same. Money, whether it came from his bank account or someone else's, all comes from the same origin. God blesses us with it.

To truly grasp the meaning of sharing, we need to first really let our hearts absorb the fact that it all belongs to God anyways. We need to grab hold of that fact and let it infect every fiber of our being. It is not MY stuff! I'm only managing it. Then it becomes of question of what I believe God would choose as the best use for HIS stuff. What do I choose to do with it? Do my choices honor God? So, I choose to spend money on big toys....What do I do with those toys? He is not against us buying fun stuff. But how do I use what I have? Am I bringing honor to God? Am I glorifying Him in my use of them? Am I using them as a tool to strengthen my relationship with Him? Am I using them as a tool to strengthen my relationship with others? Or am I hindering my growth and relationships through my use of them? Is it any better to just save the money He gives me to manage, or then am I just hoarding?

Once we accept the fact that it is God's money and God's stuff, it becomes natural to share it. We want to do something with it that honors our God, and what better way than to meet the needs of His children?

Matthew 25:40 (NLT) “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Hebrews 13:16 (HCSB)Don't neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

We know that sharing what we have makes God happy. But what else is there to it? What can we accomplish through sharing our possessions.

We will have more. Sounds crazy, but the less we own, the more we will possess. If we are dedicated to sharing, we have access to each others stuff. I don't have to buy a pickup truck for an occasional load of lumber if you are committed to sharing your truck. You don't have to purchase a boat to fish every couple of weeks if I will share mine with you. Every family doesn't have to fork out money for a lawnmower (or two) if we will pool our resources and buy one, or pay a lawn service. Suddenly we all have boats for fishing, and trucks for hauling. As a matter of fact, we don't each have to pour money into a complete wood shop for that occasional project. We can pool tools and equipment into a community shop and share in fellowship while we work.

Which leads me to benefit number two. We will be less wasteful. Okay, not everyone stands in the same position on the whole "Green Living" issue. But whether you are a greenie or not, you have to recognize that we have limited space for landfills. One day we will run out of land to bury our waste. When we share, we produce less waste. One truck, one boat, one lawnmower... You see where I'm going with this. They take up a lot less landfill space than six trucks, boats, and lawnmowers. And less storage space, so we don't need to buy all those sheds!

We can plug into helping in our area of giftedness, and allow others to plug into theirs. Some of us have some areas where we are super handy, and others where we appear to be trying to work with nothing but thumbs. And some of us have physical limitations. For example. My husband mows the yard at least once a week. But every time he does, he needs to take a Zyrtec, wear a mask, and still suffer somewhat for a day afterwards. What if you, my neighbor, like nothing better than to ride your mower? Think of the blessing you could be for my family. What if someone in the neighborhood loves beautiful flowers, but has arthritis? But I love to tinker in the garden. Could I pull her weeds while I am pulling mine? What if we have a few stay at home moms who love to can...and a few working moms? Can canning moms share in the bounty while working moms pick up a pack of diapers from the store they are passing on their way home from work? And you have the added bonus of fellowship with your neighbors as you share in chores. Those are just a few examples, but once you start thinking this way, more will just pop into your head as well.

Here is just one last thing to think about before I end this illustration of sharing. So many of us want to truly make a difference in our communities. We are being bombarded by soaring unemployment rates. Homes are being foreclosed on all around us. People are scared and hungry and they are praying for help. We try to buy some canned goods to distribute at the local shelter. We search for a few coats and blankets to distribute to the homeless in the winter. But with our own limited resources, we can only do so much. The answer is not just to work more to earn more. What if we lived in such a way that we could live off of less, and use the excess to help those people? What if we could, instead of making a small difference in the lives of a couple of people, band together with others to make a huge impact on our community? How many lives could be changed forever? Would ours?

Some verses to chew on:

Psalm 112:9 (NLT)
They share freely and give generously to those in need.Their good deeds will be remembered forever.They will have influence and honor.

Luke 3:11 (HCSB)
He replied to them, "The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same."

Acts 4:32 (NLT)
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.

Romans 12:13 (NIV)
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

1 Peter 4:9 (NLT)
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More Quotable Quotes of Note about Education

Roger Lewin
Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.

Annie Sullivan
Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.

Arthur Koestler
Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Beatrix Potter
Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.

Bill Beattie
The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men.

Carl Rogers
If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.

Dean William R. Inge
The aim of education is the knowledge not of fact, but of values.