Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tagged Again? Aw shucks!

Trisha, at Suds to Love is one of my soapcrafting friends I have made through the Soapmakers Corner forum. She has presented me with the above blogging award. I am supposed to link to the person who sent it to me *check* and send it on to seven others. As this has traveled a bit already I am going to have to limit how many folks I send it to. Sorry, I only have so many friends! Go check out Trisha's blog and admire her gorgeous children.

The one plus to all these fabulous tags is that it gives us all an opportunity to explore new blogs that we would have never checked out otherwise. Thanks for the opportunity. I have been truly blessed with some wonderful new friends through the blogosphere. So.......I would like to take the opportunity to present the above award to

Sherlyn at Carolina Cowgirl
Starr at Threshold Moments
Elizabeth at Gassner Custom Soaps
and my newest blogging friend
Heather at Swallowing a Moose

I LOVE their blogs and I know you will too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Place of Refuge....and a bit on sharing

We are moving right along (slowly) on the plan to help build a community. We have agreed on a purchase price for half of the land, and are still working with the land owners to arrive at an agreement for the lease with option to purchase on the other half of the land. God gave us the project to work on so I have no doubt it will succeed, but, wow, what a road this has been thus far. Here is a little more information on what is going to be a thing of amazing beauty. I will try to provide pieces of the puzzle over the next several weeks. Hopefully, these pieces, when they come together, will provide the big picture of what we hope will be accomplished.

God wants us to help to kick-start a living community to reach out to the people of this area. God has outlined his plan for community living in Acts of the Bible. His plan includes people living in fellowship with each other, sharing their blessings, and sharing their burdens.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT)
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Acts 4:32-35(NCV)
The group of believers were united in their hearts and spirit. All those in the group acted as though their private property belonged to everyone in the group. In fact, they shared everything. With great power the apostles were telling people that the Lord Jesus was truly raised from the dead. And God blessed all the believers very much. There were no needy people among them. From time to time those who owned fields or houses sold them, brought the money, and gave it to the apostles. Then the money was given to anyone who needed it.

Over time we have lost that vision. People don't often share what they have. They don't share possessions, or meals, or even their time. They have sealed off the avenue toward sharing by the way they live their lives. People don't live in close proximity to one other. They live in secrecy. Sometimes they live emotionally isolated from others within their own home. Look around as you drive through town. Homes face the road not for access, but for appearance. People drive around back, go through a back door, shut the doors and windows, and retreat into their secret lives. And if they go outside, it is often within the confines of the high 'privacy' fences they have erected. How many of your neighbors do you know?

At one time or another, each and every one of us bears something that needs to be shared. It doesn't just apply to things. Sometimes it is our hopes and our dreams, or our concerns or burdens that require sharing. When we have good news, we can't wait to share it with someone else. Victories seem hollow unless there is someone to share in your joy. When we are dealing with guilt and shame, they continue to eat away at our peace until we share the stories with someone else. Once we break free from those chains that bind us in secrecy, we are liberated. And when we are struggling, emotionally, physically, or even financially, we need to share that too with people. We need to stop trying to tackle those sorts of burdens on our own. Struggling against these powerful burdens ourselves is like trying to fight our way out of quicksand by ourselves. The more we struggle, the deeper we sink. But if we only had a hand to grab hold of, someone to help pull us out. If only we were given the opportunity, in turn, to be that hand reaching out to others.

....more to come on sharing, fellowship, and living in community....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yikes!! I've Been Tagged!

Yikes! I've been tagged by my buddy Starr from over at Threshold Moments!

These are the rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them (This is only a game)
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up are some nifty little tidbits about moi. I know you are on the edge of your seats!

1) I am a wee bit 'energetic'. This means I don't sit well, I talk excitedly, and I am easily distracted. You may be able to tell that from my writing. When I'm talking to you you may hear "Well I was driving down highway 8 and Oooh that's pretty. Did you see the color of her shirt. I like that..and I came to the stoplight and was sitting there thinking...Kasi, get off that chair. Furniture is for sitting, not for climbing...and finally it turned green and it was my turn to go..." Fun, eh?!

2) I love reading aloud to my girls. If we don't get any learnin' in for the day, we get in mommy reading time. And we talk about it and have a grand ol' time. How else can a momma get a chance to read those corny as always Nancy Drew mysteries? Ah, yet another chance to find out what sort of smart outfit titian haired Nancy is wearing, and what pleasantly plump Bess is eating.

3) I am married to the coolest pig farmer in the whole world. He is laid back and brings me back to earth when I do get a wee bit 'energetic'. God definitely brought us together to establish balance.

4) I wake up early every day and let my girls sleep in just so I can have a couple of hours or so to myself of complete silence. This is my selfish time. I hang with God, write on my blog, send emails, read....anything a wanna.

5) Cooking is a creative artistic outlet for me since I don't have time to paint anymore. There is no telling what you will eat when you come to my house. Beware! I will try to make anything.

6) I was once a correctional officer. That's right! At one time, a long, long time ago in a far away land...someone respected my authority!!!

7) Yup, I had to add one. I'm a nonconformist. I'm not as normal as you think I am.

So, now you know all the important whatsits, howsits, and whosits. Have a blessed day!

And, a tag you're it to.....we'll all find out after this important break.

A "Tag, you're it" goes out to my buddy Sherlyn over at Carolina Cowgirl. You will love Sherlyn. She is warm, funny, and a huge animal lover. And she is short like me. We short people are drawn to each other. Maybe it's 'cause we can hug flat-footed. What do you think, Sherlyn?

Next is her hubby and also my buddy Mike aka Preacher Mike. Mike writes some incredible posts that really get you thinking about the biblical relevance of some of our current trains of thought. Mike has been a little slack about posting lately and I want us all to encourage him to get back to it. Try it! You'll like it!

Next, one of my newer friends from the Soapmaker's Corner, Elizabeth from Gassner Custom Soaps. She too is a SAHM and a soap maker! See, and y'all thought I was weird. She is generous and has some adorable little girls. You will find all sorts of goodies on her blog. She's not just a soap artist. Enjoy!

I also want to tag my friend Karen aka That Mom. You really need to check out Karen's blog. She is an incredible mentor and encourager for homeschooling mothers, having home schooled her own six. She has numerous podcasts available for download from her site. Stop and hear some words of encouragement and testimonies, and enjoy the discussions and information you will find there.

Reverend Colin is a gentleman I have become friends with during the last year or so through my friend Lindsey via Blogger. Even if I am rushed, I stop by his blog, Share My Journey, for a visit. You will find the Word of God, encouragement, compassion for the needy, fabulous poetry, and also be able to access the Voice Ministries site for Christian music and writing. So often, when I visit I find that God has placed the same issues on our hearts.

And, lastly but not leastly is my newish friend Anne-Marie aka the Soap Queen from Bramble Berry. I think all of you need to learn a little bit more about soap making. It is incredibly fun, and natural soap is SO much better for you than those bars and bottles of harsh detergents you buy at the store. You will find that Anne-Marie not only writes about soap but her other passions. Stop by and learn about entrepreneurship, exercise, and maybe a wee bit about cupcakes. She's a busy woman. You never know what she will have going on.

Now give these folks a couple of days or so to get going with the game. They are all very busy people and incredibly good sports for playing along. Then drop by and see what they have to say. Get to know them. Encourage them. Learn some new stuff. You will see that my collection of friends are as eclectic as I am. Have a fabulous time getting to know them! Then enjoy your new friends.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thought of the day....

Psalm 123:1 (KJV)

Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Swimming or Serving?

Several days ago we had a blood drive at our church. Darrell and I were going to be donating. Normally, my girls, being the social butterflies that they are, walk around and talk to all the donors while we are there. The Red Cross always manages to get a wee bit behind, and even though we make an appointment, we are usually there for three to four hours. I figured that I would be prepared this time around, and asked my mom and step dad if the girls could stay with them and go swimming while we donated. They agreed that would be a wonderful idea. The girls love hanging out with their Grandma and Grandpa, and you have to realize that to my girls there are few greater pleasures than swimming.

So I told them. And they looked like they were going to cry. My eight year old, Alea, said "but Mooooom, we wanted to go and encourage people there giving blood". (she really does talk like that!) Kasi, my six year old, in the semi-Valley girl teenish tone she has adopted said "yeah Moooom, we just wanna walk around and talk to everyone...please, mom, please". (puppy dog eyes)

So our girls, bags packed with useful tools, came with us. They had fans to fan people waiting in the hot gym of the American Children's Home (where we meet for church). They brought their magical stuffed animals, 'Spotted Puppy' and 'Purrs' to give to folks if they got scared. And they worked all afternoon to encourage people. They walked around, talking to people, and fanning them. They gave hugs. They directed them to refreshments, and even brought them snacks and drinks. When the waiting got a little long, one woman announced that we needed music or entertainment, so the girls performed a dance for them. Before we left, they walked around and hugged all those remaining and thanked them for coming and sharing their blood. It was an amazingly blessed day.

We have had many people come up to us and tell us what having the girls there meant to them. One man shared that his mother couldn't give because her iron was low, and Alea stayed and talked to her and thanked her for trying, and encouraged her to try again at the next blood drive. God worked through them to touch the lives up many.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can use each and every one of us, even a child to touch others with the love of Jesus Christ. We just have to make ourselves available. It amazed me and humbled me that the children that God blessed me with would choose to serve others rather than go swimming. They learned that from the Bible. Jesus set the example and we are to follow it. He is our King, yet He chose self-sacrifice as his way of leading. He expects us to be servants, not Lords over others.

We have explained to our children that it is easy to give up something that you no longer need or want, but that true sacrifice and serving occurs when you give up something that you love and still want, merely because someone else has a need for it. I think they learned the lessen.

Galatians 5:13 (CEV)
My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don't use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.

Romans 12:10 (NLT)
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Thank you, God, for using these children to teach me a valuable lesson. I love to serve my brothers and sisters, but thank you for showing me that when I give up something that I desire in order to serve, you truly step in and create a miracle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thought of the Day

Let your imagination soar!

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create. ~Albert Einstein

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.
~Arnold Toynbee

Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world.
~Blaise Pascal

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
~Carl Sagan

Nothing happens unless first we dream.
~Carl Sandburg

You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
~George Bernard Shaw

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
~Gloria Steinem

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one.
~John Lennon

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.
~Lauren Bacall

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recipe for Homemade Granola

My own recipe for yummy, healthy granola. Packed with nuts, this granola is great for fighting those hunger pains between meals. I eat mine dry so it is not super-sweetened. If you like yours in a bowl of milk, I recommend sprinkling it with additional brown sugar or palm sugar while it is still warm from the oven. I like my granola crunchy with toasted nuts so I do allow mine to brown a little longer in the oven than an hour. Adjust it to your taste preferences.

8 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
'chunked' *I like the flavor of large bite sized pieces. You get maybe three or four chunks per nut.
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup sweetened cranberries
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar or grated palm sugar
1/8 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, almonds, sunflower seeds and flax seed. Set aside.

Measure out your cranberries and set aside to add later.

In a saucepan over low heat, simmer cinnamon, vegetable oil, honey, brown sugar or palm sugar, and hot water until the sugar begins to dissolve.

Slowly pour sauce over your oat & nut mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into a baking dish and place in your preheated oven. Bake for about 50 minutes stirring mixture every 10-15 minutes. Mixture will begin to turn golden.

Add cranberries and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. *Any longer and they will become very chewy or hard.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


A Quote to Remember

Alea was sitting on my lap the other day and snuggling ... something she rarely does anymore ...unless she wants something. She was poking my belly ...something she always does. I was teasing her about playing with my fat.

I said, 'that's okay. I like my belly this way. It's not super fat... just fluffy.'

To which she replied, 'Yup! Stuffed with love!'

You gotta love her!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Living Green?

Do you ever consider the impact you have on the world around you? Do you think about how much you as a family or individual use for yourselves? Do you think about how much you waste? I didn't until recently, and wow, was it ever an eye opener!

How do we measure success? Usually we measure success by what we have and what we are able to do. If we take a Caribbean vacation, people assume we have it made, we must be doing well. If we have a big house, we must have arrived at success. How true is their assumption, and how often are we putting on a show to impress them. Or worst, how often do we think we deserve these things. We are entitled to them whether we can afford or even need them?

We decided we wanted to reduce our environmental impact when we sold our house. We started looking at 'green' house plans. I was amazed at the number of 'green' mini-mansions! Folks, it is not environmentally responsible if you are utilizing nearly 3000 square feet of space for one couple! And trying to heat and air condition that amount of space counteracts the fact that you constructed it passive-solar. The amount of material used on constructing the spaces that don't necessarily get used are a waste in themselves.

Here are several things to consider when trying to build 'green'.

Of course, we all know about using green materials. It is helpful to not only use materials made out of renewable resources, but ones that are constructed using methods that are environmentally friendly. For example, bamboo is renewable. However, if a product is made out of the bamboo, and it's production requires high amounts of energy and produces toxic gases, it's use is counterproductive.

Reduce Waste! Many home plans are now being developed in ways that produce less scrap material. For example, walls are being constructed in dimensions that use standard lengths of lumber. Floor plans are being developed with simplicity in mind, with fewer exclusive areas of the home, but with areas that serve more than one purpose. For example, a house can be constructed more efficiently if a study 'area' is designated off the main living area instead of an extra room designated as a den. Many people are considering the simplicity of design and are now constructing homes in simpler shapes, with fewer peaks and gables.

Don't build areas for infrequent use. When considering whether to construct extra rooms consider their usage. Do you need to build a guest room for Aunt Sally who may or may not come to visit once every year or two, or would it be more cost effective to pay for her to stay at a motel, or with a friend. Is there really a problem with her sleeping on an air mattress for a few nights?

Consider not only construction costs, but heating and air conditioning of that space. Consider the cost, then divide that figure by the amount of time the space will get utilized. How much are you paying per hour for usage of that space? If you have frequent guests, it may be cost effective, especially if you can use that space for something else during the rest of the time. But so often we just want to be prepared for the 'what ifs'. Use the same method for rooms used for a sewing room or home gym. Consider a multi-purpose room to serve as a home office with a sewing closet and a stow-away bed or sleeper sofa for infrequent guests. You get the idea.

Consider energy use. You can use green materials in the construction process. And you can keep the wastefulness of the design to a minimum. But if you construct a house that uses a large amount of energy in order to maintain a comfortable environment, you will be nullifying all your efforts.

Most of all, consider the reasons for your design. Why does it need to be so large? Do you need that much space, or are you trying to impress others. Be honest with yourself. Can you be comfortable with less? People often believe that they need a certain amount of space in a home in order to distance themselves for the other inhabitants - personal space. Buy, hey, that is another issue! (see posts on fellowship)

The most useful tool in building and living green is our own mind - measuring our sucess not by what we have, but by what we accomplish.

Cult Talk

There has been a bit of talk lately about emergent churches. Some refer to them as the 'new church'. Some refer to them as 'new testament churches'. Some refer to them as 'biblical-based churches'. Many traditional churches refer to them as 'cults'. I decided to look up the meaning of 'cult'. According to Merriam-Webster, the word cult comes from the French culte and Latin cultus which means care and adoration, and from colere which means to cultivate.

1: formal religious veneration : worship 2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents 3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator 5 a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b: the object of such devotion c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

As I began to read these definitions I began to say 'oh my goodness, I belong to a cult"! I am devoted to Jesus Christ. I participate in a system of beliefs and rituals, alongside a body of adherents to Jesus Christ. The questions begin to arise when we look at the wording of definition number 3 "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious". Unorthodox means breaking with convention or tradition. Something that is spurious is something that is not genuine, basically false.

Christianity in it's early stages was highly unorthodox. It was referred to by many as a cult. Here were all these people deviating from the norm of erecting idols and worshiping multiple Gods. People thought they were crazy. They thought they were following a spurious leader. But they were wrong. Time proved that Jesus was and is the Christ. I heard a pastor once say that Jesus was either mad, he was bad, or he was and is the son of God. Those are the only possibilities. It has been proven historically that Jesus the man existed. So, was he mad? Was he just a delusional crazy man? No records exist of anyone claiming such a thing. No historical record exists of anyone questioning the authenticity of Jesus. In fact, it appears that everyone he came in contact with became completely enamored with him, made a positive life change, and became a devout follower. And there is no record of him doing anything negative. Not exactly the fingerprint of a madman. So...was he bad? Was he just a liar? Did he merely claim to be the son of God to deceive people? What would his motive have been? Once again, there is no record of him doing anything negative. He didn't take money. He didn't live lavishly off the pennies of his devout followers. He didn't kill his enemies. And there is no record of anyone who knew him claiming he was a liar. There is only record of him showing love for everyone, including the unlovable. There is only record of him selflessly serving others. There is only record of him enduring beatings, torture and death. If he was merely a madman or a liar, couldn't he have avoided arrest and crucifixion? It leads me to the third option - that he is the Son of God. Who else could live such a selfless life, but a son of God? Compare Jesus to the 'gods' of other religions, the 'gods' of traditional religions of the time, who lived in selfish luxury, while their followers starved. What did they do for the people? And these were the orthodox religions, while the Jesus followers were considered members of a cult.

So, there is an example of what society has viewed a cult. Following the definition of 'cult' it qualifies...that is, until you get to the part of the definition that includes the word spurious (or false). Many of us believe that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God. For us it is a question of faith. And, according to the Bible, which we believe to be the inspired Word of God, 'faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.' Hebrews 11:1

In our society, people are quick to throw names around when they become uncomfortable. And they become uncomfortable when they are treading unfamiliar ground. These New Testament churches have more in common with the early churches than with the churches with which we are familiar. Most of their followers are more interested in following the guidelines for living outlined in the Bible than the traditional denominational guidelines outlined by men. Shane Claiborne is known to say that he gave up Christianity to follow Jesus. Many like him are breaking out of the mold. They are receiving criticism for worshipping Jesus Christ in a way so many people are uncomfortable. They are reading their Bibles and doing what it says. Many people claim that these emergent church are to be the downfall of the 'Church'. But are they a trigger for destruction or the catalyst of Revival?

1 Peter 4:6 (New King James Version)
For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thought for the day....

Dream with the same imagination that you used to use for looking for shapes in the clouds.

Imagination is more important than knowledge...
~Albert Einstein

Bye Bye Mousies!

I thought you would all like to know that two mice were found and evicted. They were very picky mice. They ate only peanut butter, peanut butter chips, homemade granola and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans. They were so desperate to get to the peanut butter that they chewed part of the label off my jar of Skippy! Everything else appears untouched. Just to be sure they weren't part of a mouse community, I will be waiting another day or two before making any more granola.

You can all rest tonight knowing I'm not laying awake at night listening for nibbling.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Will You Eat Them In A House? Will You Eat Them With A Mouse?

I LOVE animals! I love mice. They are my friends. But when it comes to the furry little cuties breaking into my family's food supply and traipsing all over it with their little footsies, I get a little annoyed. In fact, I get irate! And a new little mouse has welcomed itself into the house we are staying in.
I have tried nice little humane methods of getting rid of our little friend, who, by the way, moves faster than any mouse I have ever seen in my life. Even made my husband jump. Trust me, that is no small feat! Nothing is getting rid of the little guy, who scurries at the speed of light from the storage closet to under the range to the wood stove to behind the couch to the pantry faster than you can blink. I'm not even sure what color he is. I call his color dark blur (aka. not white).

We went to Costco the other day, and have a sack load of goodies that I picked up for Grandpa. Soon to be Dead Mouse apparently has developed a taste for coffee and decided to help himself to Grandpa's coffee beans! So now he is hopped up on caffeine. And I have to use another half tank of liquid gold to drive to Costco and get Grandpa some more coffee. I do not have my happy camper face on right now. And he has been clawing his way into my boxes.

Then I sniff sniff opened the pantry to find my last little Ziploc of healthy homemade granola on the floor with little pieces of granola goodies strewn across the floor. It is eviction time Mousie! No more Mrs. Nice Guy! Just as soon as I finish my big bowl of not so healthy Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which, apparently, you are not so fond of.

Year Round Unschooling

So many people have asked my girls if they are glad school is out. Alea will tell them, "We are still doing school. I'm a natural learner." People often misinterpret what she is saying and think she is bragging about how easily she learns. Let me explain. Natural learning is learning from the things around us, and turning our experiences into a learning experience, as opposed to learning from a curriculum or worksheets.

The biggest difference between natural learning and school is that you don't turn your learning on and off. We don't take summers or weekends off. We discuss, look up and learn from daily experiences. We use movie watching as a jumping off point to learn about history. We use vacations to learn about cultures, geography, science, and take advantage of everything around us. Kids that go to a traditional school often see learning as 'work', so when they are out of school, they are off work. And they want to shut off their minds. My twelve year old niece made a comment about shrimp being her favorite fish. I told her that it wasn't a fish. My six year old pipes in "It's an invertebrate." Said niece rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips and said "well it swims in the ocean so it's a fish". This opened her up to learn that there are even mammals in the ocean and actually very few ocean creatures are fish. She told me that she was out of school, so she didn't have to learn anything, so she didn't want to hear any more. She actually covered her ears! She has never been taught that learning new things can be fun and exciting. We were designed to experience life, not just go through life. And all of the new things we experience and learn are the seasoning that give our life flavor!

So we choose to learn all the time. And it is working! We don't sit down and memorize times tables, yet even my six year old is multiplying. My eight year old (that is now 8 11/12 - deep sigh!) is writing books and has a business going where she makes and sells bookmarks, and donates 80 percent of the sales to our church. They are learning plenty. We are currently researching bats because......bats are cool! and interesting! We may finish up by making a bat house. Or ten! The property we are purchasing runs along a large creek so we may need ten bat houses to house all our friendly furry mosquito eaters. Did you know there are resources on the web to teach you how to make a bat house more desirable for our bat friends? I didn't either. But now I do.
Here is last week's fun learning project. We made lip balm. The girls picked the scent. They designed the name and the label. They poured the lip balm and applied the labels. We found a recipe that needed to be divided in half, so we worked on division. The recipe used decimals, so decimals were discussed. It was listed in ounces so we talked about units of measure and the metric system. And they weighed them on the digital scale. They even asked questions about the different oils and butters used, and we looked up ( and they read ) the different properties of the oils and butters we used, and why we chose them.

And here is what I have learned. I LOVE this lip balm. I have been making lip balm for over a year and tried several recipes, but this is the smoothest, creamiest lip balm ever. So, they have now developed my new lip balm for my new company! I might change the label though. And they are talking about a product line for girls. And they have discovered a new gift they can make for their friends. Who knows what this could turn into? All because we didn't take a summer vacation.

Go to Work with Daddy Day!

The girls went to work with Daddy yesterday.....FIELD TRIP!
They came home with a spot or two of dirt. And Kasi rode a bike (a two wheeler) down a steep hill, at the last minute deciding to dodge a mud puddle in the gravel. Wipe out! She has a couple of new boo-boos.

So the girls got to visit the piggies and play in the mud and I got to go run errands all by myself. The bank folks didn't recognize me without my girls limboing while in line, and I only spent 30 minutes at the grocery store, spent less than $40 and didn't visit the bathroom. Who's life is this, anyways?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Confessions of a Mere Puzzle Piece

I made a promise regarding this blog. I promised God that what I wrote would honor Him. I promised to not make it into a gossip column. I promised not to make it into a page for venting my frustrations when things don't go my way. It's not about me. It's about Him.

Well, here is the thing. Everything that we have been working on has been moving SOOOOO slowly. And I have been frustrated. I have not been content in my circumstances. I have not been rejoicing. And I have not been praising God in the storms. There! It is out! I have been thinking about MY suffering, and MY discomfort. I have been sticking out my lip and stomping my feet. Don't I look mature?

I haven't been writing because I haven't had anything positive to say. I haven't had any words of encouragement. Looking back, it almost cracks me up. Would you believe that miracles have been occurring all around me, and I couldn't see them? I was too busy looking at myself.

It really hit me yesterday about how blessed my family is. We are actually staying with a friend while we are waiting for all the pieces to fall into place for this amazing project God chose us to be a part of. How many people do you know who are willing to take in a family of four? And our host is being so good to us. God told him to take us in. And he chose to listen.

And God has been showing us favor wherever we go. I have run to pick up a bit for everyone to eat, and the clerk has smiled and told me he gave me a coupon discount (I'm not the cute young hottie that everyone gives free stuff to, by the way). We go to get the oil changed in our van, and the guy gives us our old air filter to us in a box marked 'merry early Christmas'. We know him, but I wonder, did God prompt him to do something for us as well? My van sure is running better with the new one! We went to one restaurant recently and it hit me. We have been to that restaurant more than a half dozen times, and have never paid! Someone else has offered to treat us when the check comes EVERY time. That is my new favorite restaurant, by the way.

And the pieces are falling into place. I can see it all around me. It seems like we have been waiting for months to be able to proceed with the survey and an actual contract for the land we intend to purchase. But I can see how that was moving slowly to enable us to be prepared financially. Now, new doors are opening in that area. As much as we wanted to jump in and get going, there is no way we could afford to proceed. We are coming across people who want to be a part of this amazing venture. We are coming across people who want to help. It may appear to be coming together slowly....but it is coming together. And much more smoothly than I could have imagined.

I need to catch myself when I start questioning God's purpose. Maybe you do too. Maybe the next time I wonder if He is listening, when I wonder if He is punishing me, when I wonder if He has forgotten me....maybe I will look away from me, and toward Him. Then He can show me all the puzzle pieces He is dropping into place, waiting for just the right moment to drop me in as a part of an amazingly beautiful puzzle.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Filling Our Hearts with God

I found this at my friend, Sherlyn's site (aka. Carolina Cowgirl). It struck me as to how true it is.

I'm afraid that I often crowd God out of my heart with thoughts of myself - thoughts of my desires, my discomforts - focusing on me, me, me. In all truth, I should be focused on God. I should focus my heart on God, and he will fill it up. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Our teaching pastor gives us an illustration of a triangle when describing the relationship between a husband and a wife. The husband exists at one lower corner, and the wife exists that the other lower corner. They are far apart. In fact, as long as they look toward each other, the distance remains. But as they travel upward toward the other corner (where God exists), they not only travel closer toward God, but closer toward each other. In seeking God, they will discover each other.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Glimpse at a Future Community

These photos are of a future community. We are incredibly blessed to be working with a landowner who is excited about helping God's vision for this community become a reality. He has agreed to sell us a portion of the land with an agreement to lease and later purchase the remainder. We are awaiting the results of a re-survey to divide the land nearly in half. When it is complete we hope to sit down with the owner and strike an agreement that will benefit us all. We truly desire the entire tract of land, as you can see it is amazing. We have all agreed though that purchasing a portion for now, and making an agreement for a future lease and purchase is much more desirable than living in a tent for the next couple of years.
I am getting anxious and truly covet your prayers for this incredible project.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thought of the day....

Make new friends!

*Note* photos taken at Tiger World. Tiger World is now open!

Signs of Change?

Yesterday, when driving past a place that sells sheds and picnic tables, I saw a sign that read 'rent to own'. It suddenly hit me....can you now rent to own a picnic table or shed? I thought it was a wee bit odd. Companies are now making it possible for us to finance ANY purchase. Harley Davidson makes it possible for you to own a motorcycle with just $99 down, and 72 monthly payments. Wow, that is a lot of payments for a toy! And those payments substantially increase after the first two years. But a picnic table?

I wish people would stop and think it out before they finance unnecessary purchases. Do I really need this item? There is nothing worse than the feeling you get when the newness of an item wears off, you tire of it, it is in the way, and you are still paying for it. How much will it cost me if I finance it? Figure in interest rates (and possible penalties) and you could be paying 200 percent or more (usually more if you make the minimum payment) of the original purchase price. Is this item something I could save for a couple of months and purchase with cash? If it is, the peace of mind you purchase when paying cash makes it worth waiting. Then when you scratch it, dent it, your kid hits it with a baseball bat, it catches on fire, or gets damaged in a storm, you don't panic. It is paid for!