Monday, November 9, 2009

A Busy Week

soap ~ midnight pomegranate and green apple

pickled peppers

sourdough bread

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today is his birthday!!

Today is my honey's birthday. Happy birthday, Darrell! Thank you for giving us an excuse to eat cake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We are in a house!

Well, we are in the house. We have been in for several weeks and are still getting settled. They issued our Certificate of Occupancy on September 25. Considering that we closed on the building loan on July 14, that was not a long process. We are still moving things in and unpacking but we are in the house, enjoying the luxuries of indoor plumbing and a full kitchen and SPACE!

Life has been busy lately as it becomes for many during the fall. The girls have started back to dance classes, and the dance studio is now further away. For a couple of years we were travelling quite a distance for their classes and had finally moved closer. Then they moved further away. Funny, huh?

The animals have been keeping us quite busy. As the cooler weather sets in and the orchard grass slows in growth, the horses have been eating their pasture down, so we had more fencing to put up. We have had quite a few baby goats born this summer, but one came early and didn't make it. In just the last couple of weeks, two older baby goats mysteriously died.

The time has come when we have tilled up the summer garden and planted the winter one. We have learned and lost quite a bit this year about gardening...and opposums, and racoons, and whatever else has been eating the fruits of our garden. Soon, hopefully, our garden will be safe and sound within an electric fence. But that is a project for another day. Although it has been an incredible amount of work, we have benefited from it as well. We have enjoyed many fresh fruits and vegetables. And we have learned, so next year should prove to be even more productive.

Then there is the unpacking, sorting, washing, organizing, and picking items to give away. We have given quite a bit away over the last year and a half, but there are still boxes that we missed of items we can no longer use, or that the girls have outgrown. We have learned quite a lesson this year and a half about what is necessary and what is not. We are looking at things we have multiples of as well. How many sauce pans do I really need? Or casserole dishes? How many pairs of shoes do I need? How many coats? What do I have that someone else may be in need of?

But we have been trying to take our time settling in so we can enjoy everything around us as well. I have been making bread and canning apple butter. We have had many friends over for fellowship. We have huddled around the wood stove. We are trying to live more simply. It is amazing how much richer our lives have seemed since we have been learning to live with less. It is amazing how much closer we feel to God when we learn to rely on him for our provision. It is amazing how much closer we are becoming to each other when we work along side each other to accomplish so much, and when we take the time to sit and talk together.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of scenes from around our home. I know we are.

The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple.- Doris Janzen Longacre

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.- Robert Brault

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need. - Vernon Howard

Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.- Edwin Teale

Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actual existing world and its wholeness. - Gary Snyder

Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing lessso I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.- John Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go There You Are, p. 69

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Close to Completion

We are getting close to completion. Maybe we will close next week!

I Sure Have Some Awesome Friends!

My friend Britnie has a bible study this morning and I am keeping her adorable four year old son for her for a few hours. She made him his own 'happy meal' and brought two for my girls as well. They are full of healthy goodies including homemade chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat flour and dark chocolate, and peanut butter and honey sandwiches. She even printed up her own bags with some fun activities.

Also, she knows how much time we have been spending at Lowes lately, and how bored the girls are becoming with going there. She printed up some fabulous scavenger hunt activity sheets for the girls to do while we shop for supplies for our new home. She even attached them to little clip boards and included a pen. How cool is that? Don't I have the most amazing friends? I only wish I had that much imagination.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What a Difference Three Weeks Can Make

Okay. So are our builders applying themselves, or what?!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Near the end of the first stage

We have broken ground on the first home at Koinonia Community. To date, we only have approval to build the first one. The more time we spend here, however, the more we feel that God is going to do something amazing at this location.

There is a neighbor moving out to the community....maybe today. More information is to come on this individual who is wacky enough to follow God out to this amazing place and help make living in koinonia a reality.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Quote Worth Reading...and Pondering

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~Maryanne Williamson

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just a quick update....

We closed on the building loan. We are now in the midst of constructing a house. God is awesome! I'll post some pictures when I get a chance.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To Close or Not to Close.....that is the question

So....are we going to close on our building loan today? Or not? It is less than four hours to closing and they have not given us any idea how much money we need to take to closing. We have been disappointed before and were starting to believe that the whole idea of living in a house was just a legend...a tale we heard tell of and retold...but based in fantasy instead of reality.

But a weird feeling hit me this week. Indecision and an odd feeling of peace. Honestly, living in a camper hasn't been that bad. Do I even want to build a house and live a normal life in a normal house just like everyone else? And fear. What if I become too comfortable? What if I forget about all that I have learned this past year? What if I become complacent? What if I become lazy and stop living intentionally? Also, something I hadn't thought of is easy to live a life that others consider peculiar when your living conditions warrant peculiar living. But when you live under conditions like everyone else and just choose to make peculiar choices....that makes you....well, just peculiar.

So how about that feeling of peace? I feel complete and utter peace about whatever happens today. The fate of our building loan is in God's hands...not the lender. If we don't close on the loan for one reason or another, that is a closed door...not an obstacle. Honestly, I'm still not opposed to the idea of putting up a yurt. Quick, easy, inexpensive. Of course, there must be running water. That is my one request.

So that is where I stand today. What will the day have in store for my family? I don't know. I just know it is going to be awesome. At the very least, for now, I get to wake every day to the most amazing view, with the most amazing people I know. Our God is a wonderful, powerful, and loving God, and I am his servant.

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Community Updates

There are many, many things happening at once here at Koinonia Community. The garden is in full swing, so much weeding, harvesting, and canning has been underway. This is the largest garden we have ever undertaken, and we have learned so much this first year of gardening at this beautiful place. This is also the first year that we have undertaken gardening since committing to not using pesticides. Whew, what a learning experience. I am developing an intense hatred for squash bugs. I have located some diatomaceous earth though, so they just may be wiped out soon, even if it is too late to rescue a huge portion of our squash plants.

We are still living in the camper. Harvesting and canning is quite a challenge when you have a limited water source and limited space. We have been collecting cucumbers and beans and storing them in a plug-in cooler out in the barn until I gather enough to haul, along with my canning supplies to my mom's house to take over her kitchen. We have pickled several batches so far. My parents have been so supportive and helpful through all of this experience. My in-laws surprised me last week with a pressure canner. (See how spoiled I am!) Yesterday I canned my first batch of green beans in it. I say I, but truly my husband was an enormous help. We have enjoyed working together on this year's canning and pickling.

We have been blessed with more animals. Two of our goats had babies. Snow had one adorable little girl, and Jane had a boy and a girl. One of our cats had four kittens. We have new ducks, more chickens, and two new horses. We have a donkey coming our way once he is weaned...maybe later this month. We are enjoying them all so much.

We are scheduled to close on our building loan tomorrow. I am trying to keep my cool though since we have been scheduled to close before, and errors in paperwork caused delays. The incredible people who are building our house have gone ahead and started the grading and footings. It is so awesome to witness people stepping out on faith. I am excited to see progress, but a little frightened of forgetting all I have learned along this incredible journey within the confines of a comfortable life.

It has been 14 months since we closed on the selling of our previous house. We spent the first six months living with a friend. We started out as near strangers, but became more like family as the six months progressed. We have been in this camper for nearly eight months now. It has been a struggle and a blessing at the same time. It is a struggle because we are living very primitively by American society's standards. Our family of four is living in a little over 200 square feet. We still don't have running water. We haul it in by cooler loads. We heat it in a pot on the stove top. We haul water to our several dozen animals by the bucket full. Darrell spends alot of time filling up buckets of water at work. We recently acquired a large tank for him to put on the back of the truck to fill. It has been a serious blessing.

We do use an outhouse most of the time. We do have a toilet in the camper, but with no septic system...what goes in must be taken out. Anything in the tank must be removed by the 5 gallon bucketful as well. Additionally, as hot as it is outside, it smells up the camper in a couple of days if you use it.

We are still going to my mom's house or friend's house to shower and do laundry. The shower is probably the biggest struggle we face. It is hard to work outside all day in the heat, and try to sponge off with a small amount of water. I love my showers, and I love being clean. And it really takes quite a bit of time to pack up a shower bag and shower at someone else's house. And it is never first thing in the morning or just before bed as I was previously spoiled to be able to do to my heart's content.

But we aren't suffering by any means. We work hard, but live quite comfortably. We even have air conditioning in the camper. We all sleep on beds. That is more than many people have. We have food. We have family. When it rains or is too hot, we hang out and watch a movie together.

What a blessing this whole experience has been. We have become closer as a family. We have truly been focused on what is necessary and have banded together to get things accomplished. We have grown in our faith immensely. We know we are doing what God has intended for us. We knew we were giving up comfort and security but did it anyways out of obedience, trusting God to meet our needs. And He has. I have to say there is no greater comfort than to KNOW you are within the will of God. No doubts!

I assure you that when you step out on faith and depend fully on God to meet your needs, you have no choice but to see Him working in your life. For example, we have spoken with person after person who have seen their gardens perish this year due to lack of rain. They have told us that they watered and watered it, but it just isn't the same as rainwater. We don't have a way to water our garden, except for the occasional hauled 5 gallon bucket of gray water. But our garden has flourished. We have harvested hundreds of cucumbers. I keep thinking the plants are dying, then I'll check the next morning and find more than forty beautiful cucumbers. We've had more than enough to share. Only God is capable of making that happen.

Oh yeah, and we are getting a neighbor here in the community. Seems we have made camper living sound SO appealing that someone else wants to give it a try. But more on that in the next post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poetry by Alea Hunsucker ~ Age 9

On a dark night
you help me see the light
in the depths of the sea
through sights of blue and green
through it all
Your grace helps me
and now I see
it wasn't all me!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just For from the garden.

We are suddenly blessed with vegetables from the garden. I was planning on doing a bit of canning and freezing this year, but did not expect to still be limited to a camper sized refrigerator and freezer. So we are having to eat as we pick and give away the rest. Kasi is a huge fan of zucchini, but both girls claim to not like yellow squash...or red peppers. So I decided to shred everything together into a sauce. I told them that that way they will get all the yummy flavors mixed together instead of isolated. I shredded yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, onions, garlic, red pepper, and mushrooms (leaving a few mushrooms to be sliced ~ Kasi loves her mushrooms).

After sauteing with EVOO, I added a jar of organic spaghetti sauce. I simmered that for awhile, and just before serving added some fresh thyme, oregano, and sweet basil. Yummy!

Instead of being chunky, the sauce cooks up nice and thick! I'm getting hungry again just looking at the pictures.

Mix it in with some fabulously flavorful whole wheat pasta, and add a salad made of fresh cucumbers, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. It was a fresh and inexpensive and delicious!

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moving Right Along On Community

Well, it looks like things are moving right along. We finally got all our paperwork in order and submitted for our construction loan. It wasn't us holding it up. It appeared like everyone was dropping the ball along the way. The lender had our paperwork for a couple of weeks before he had an opportunity to even look it over. Then it has been a few more weeks to get it all together and get it submitted. But the appraisal has been ordered!

I had a moment of depression when he told us that because of the low interest rates, the system was swamped with people refinancing their houses. He told us that there was a six week wait on appraisals and that it was taking about 90 days to close on a loan. But I didn't cry. At least not in his office. I mean, in one more week it will have been seven months of living in this camper, hauling water. We have been patient, but we are ready to move along. We want to at least get to the point where we can dig a well.

He did assure us that he would do everything he could to speed things up for us. He is going to try to get us to close on the loan by the end of the month. Early last week the appraiser came out and took a picture of the home site. So it appears that things are really moving right along.

I have found that the more time we spend in this camper the less cramped it seems. It is still hard to find a place for things, but really, we are adjusting to it. We are learning to see things differently. I remember when I was a girl and we moved to Israel. Everything seemed so odd when I returned. Some of the things the other kids talked about just seemed so senseless. The way I viewed things was different. That is how I feel now. I feel like I have left the country and returned, and found that things are just so different here than I remembered.

I have found that our reasons for wanting to move along and get in a house are not the same as they were at the beginning of this journey. We no longer desire comfort as much as simplicity. Hauling water in and heating it up in a pot on the stove to wash my face no longer seems like a chore. It actually makes more sense than to run the faucet for minutes to warm up water and wet a washcloth. But not being able to store food or wash clothes or shower here adds quite a bit of complicated time management to our daily schedules. It keeps us rushed. And we are ready to remove all the rush from our lives. We want simplicity.

We have gotten so much done around here. I will have to post some more pictures. This place is changing all the time. We fenced a pasture for horses near where the house is going to be. We had to rush and get it completed in four days since the folks we were getting one mare from were going on vacation and wanted to bring her before they left. But we have two mares out there now, and they are the best of buds, eating grass to their hearts content. I am going to try to get my tack cleaned up this week and work with the eight year old to see if I'm ready to put the girls on her yet.

Our goats are content in a new pasture we have fenced for them. They have plenty of shade, and plenty of grass as well. We have only to put up an electric wire to keep them from scratching on the fence, and so we can put Sweet Pea, the pet pig, out there with them. Every day now we walk outside expecting to see some new baby goats, and looking to see if Meeka, one of our cats, has had her kittens.

The garden is doing incredible. We have had our fill of radishes. Suddenly, we have been getting yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. Pumpkins are growing EVERYWHERE. Tomatoes, peppers, and cantaloupe are beginning to take off. Green beans, eggplant, and watermelon are not far behind. Broccoli, carrots, celery, and corn are continuing to grow rapidly. I don't know about the cabbage though. I made a garlic spray for an organic pesticide. I may not have gotten rid of insects soon enough for them though.

I have an herb garden that is doing fantastic. I planted a rhubarb in it as well. For those of you that have grown rhubarb, I have a question. Mine has grown HUGE. The stalks are just breaking off of it, they become so heavy. But everything I have read says not to harvest stalks the first year. So, what do I do? Do I cut them off and discard them? Do I go ahead and harvest them? Or do I just let them break off? Help me here.

That's it. We always have something to do around here. There is always work to be done. But we are loving it more every day. We are loving the opportunities for working on things together. We are loving the opportunity to rely on God. We are truly blessed. And things are moving right along. Who knows what exciting news I will have to share next week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

.....a Thought Weighing Heavily on My Mind

Something has been weighing heavily on my mind this week. I just have to share so it stops bumping around in this empty head of mine. If we want to show people Jesus, we have to make ourselves invisible.

That's it! It all goes back to the scripture about not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing (Matthew 6). I cannot let that thought go. It is so easy to get caught up in the execution of doing some amazing things. It is even easier to get carried away and start immediately thinking about how we can move on from doing small amazing acts to doing something bigger and better...something spectacular! But what I have noticed is that the more spectacular something I am a part of is....the more people recognize me for what is being done instead of the Jesus I am trying to show them.

Sometimes we don't even recognize how this taints our thoughts and actions. Our motives are still pure, but if we really focus, we begin to recognize the difference in our speech patterns. Where we would use phrasing such as "Jesus is leading me to....God is blessing me with....Jesus is using me to.....", we are now using phrases like "I am doing__for Jesus". I start feeling good about what 'I' am doing. People are starting to recognize 'us' for the amazing things 'we' are doing for Christ. That is an easy trap into which to fall. We don't even notice that we have transitioned from the invisible stagehand to the leading role.

I have had several people, when they find out our living conditions and our goals, comment that we should be admired for what we are doing. I don't even know how to respond to such comments. They make me nervous. We are merely being obedient. Obedience is not to be admired, but expected. A soldier is expected to be obedient to his superior officer. A citizen is expected to be obedient to their government. More so, we are expected to be obedient to our God.

We don't want recognition. We don't want admiration. We want to fly under the radar. We want people not to see us, but see Christ through all we do. We want to be invisible.

So it should be for any good deeds we do for others. We do things to show love for others because Jesus told us to not only love our family and our neighbor, but our enemy as well.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.: The light of the Holy Spirit! Not us. Him.

So remember that this week. Let these words bounce around in your head as well. If we want to show others Jesus, we have to make ourselves invisible. Have a fabulous love filled week.

Romans 12:10 ~Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

John 13:35 ~By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another

Monday, June 8, 2009

Time and Training in The Desert

A few months into our stay on this land I was really starting to lose focus. Most of my focus was on suffering. It hasn't been bad, but it has been hard. And I was ready to move along. Move along to obtaining water....move along to getting a road....move along to having a house....move along to having a shower....and a washing machine...and a comfortable bed. I was tired of hauling five gallon buckets around to water animals, and gallon jugs to cook and wash dishes. I was tired of the mud. I was tired of packing a shower bag, and hauling it and laundry across town. It took too much time. I was tired of my back hurting, and wondered how it was ever going to get better while I was hauling buckets of water, and sleeping on that springy bed. I was whiny!

But most of all I was surprised. After all, doesn't God want us all to prosper? Doesn't He want only the best for his children? Surely we missed the mark, because there is no way He would have sent us out here to suffer. Right?

But I was led to read about the temptation of Jesus. Remember when Jesus was sent out to the desert to be tempted by Satan? Ever wonder why he was sent out to the desert with no food or water? No comfortable bed to sleep in? Or friends to help him in his battle? Just him and Satan. And Jesus, though a God, was also a man. He was a hungry, thirsty, tired, lonely man. And he was sent into the enemy's camp.

Where was his focus? Initially, it may have been on himself. It would be hard to start out such a journey and not be focused on hunger, thirst, or discomfort. Jesus looked around and there was no one there to cover his back in his battles against Satan. Or was there?

Jesus was not only sent out to be tempted by Satan and learn to rely on God. Jesus was sent out to the desert for a battle of the minds with Satan. Without the distractions of comfort, he had no difficulty hearing the voice of Satan. Satan's voice was constant...taunting him....trying to lure him away from fulfilling his purpose. See, it was through personal suffering and resisting the temptations to serve himself (food, power, glory) that Jesus learns to deny himself for our sake.

One of the first things that you learn about Christianity is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and asked us to take up our own cross to follow him. It is a great story. We claim to believe it. But do we live like we believe it? Do we live our life burdened with the weight of our cross on our shoulders? Are we willing to die for our enemies? Are we willing to truly go without so that others may have? Do we serve others first? Or do we serve others after we serve our own needs and desires?

Living and thinking along such lines doesn't occur naturally. We naturally lean toward self preservation. We naturally meet our own needs and help others with what is left. We naturally help others if it can occur without harm to ourselves. But Jesus didn't. He gave it all.

There have been other great people through history who gave it all for others. Mother Teresa is often cited as someone who lived her life according to the Sermon on the Mount. But do you think she was born someone who loved to sacrifice for others? No. It took years of training. She spent time in the desert, training to resist the temptations of Satan. She learned how to see the world through the cross. Then she took up her cross and followed Jesus...every day of her life. I read that someone near her stated that her feet were crippled because when shoes were donated she gave all the best to others. Yet she hobbled along serving the least of these with a smile. To her it wasn't a sacrifice. That takes training.

Even Jesus had to undergo training to change the way he saw the world. For that training his time in the desert was necessary. It is necessary for any of us if we are to see the world through the cross, and take up our own cross and follow him. It is necessary to dislodge our automatic instinct to serve and preserve ourselves before others. It takes training to see serving as a gift instead of a sacrifice.

So, after all this contemplation, I have arrived at the conclusion that we are in the desert. We are being trained to go without so that others may have, and to see it as an incredible opportunity instead of as a sacrifice. We are being trained to follow the leading of God even if it results in our own discomfort. We are being trained to see the world through the cross. I assure you it is beginning to look quite different. We are being fitted for our crosses.

Matthew 4:1-11
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Mark 8:34
34Then 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.

Matthew 10:38
38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

History Lesson

We asked the previous land owner about the strange series of walls heading down the hill toward the creek, and the stone walls along one side of the creek. He said that they were build by German POWs after WWII. He told us that there was some sort of wetland and farmland preservation organization that used POWs as laborers. He couldn't recall the name of the organization. Anyone ever heard of it?

His grandfather used to tell him stories about when they came out here. They not only build the walls, but were responsible for terracing the land, as well. Maybe that is the reason for the unusual soil. Maybe they really did haul it in in order to build the terraces.

Has anyone ever heard of such a program? I tried to Google various things, and found quite a bit about POWs building walls and terracing. But I never found a name of an organization, or any work being done in Lexington, NC. Please help!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Do I Look?

It was time for a change. What do you think of the new look for Koinonia Community? Love it? Hate it? Don't care?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Hoe, I Hoe....creating a garden to feed the people

Well, with dance season over for now (yay!) we are home more and able to dedicate a little more time to getting things accomplished here at KC. We have been working on a garden. Hopefully, over the next couple of years it will evolve into a raised bed sort of garden in order to reduce the amount of time dedicated to weed wars. For this year though, we had to make due with what we have.

What we do have is an abundance of compost and organic fertilizer, soil that retains water, and space. So we set out to begin growing food to eat, to share, and to trade. We wanted to plant a variety of items to prevent frequent trips to the market for that 'one item'. We wanted to plant enough to can, freeze, and give away, but not so much that it would be too much for just us to handle.

It appears that I am having issues with moving my pictures around and my computer time is about to end. I will post more about this amazing garden with some new photos soon.
Here is what we have planted this year:
heirloom tomatoes
cherry tomatoes
grape tomatoes
several varieties of sweet and hot peppers
carrots (orange and purple)
sweet corn
lettuce (these didn't do well)
pole beans
yellow squash
sweet onions
sweet potatoes
various herbs
I think that is about covers it. Oh yeah, we did plant some trees this year as well ~ plum, pear, peach, and fig. Of course, this is a work in progress. Over the next couple of years our list will continue to grow. But for now, we should be able to start on our path to self-sufficiency and be growing our ability to feed people.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Alea's Illness

Sorry I have been so slow to update on what has been going on here at Koinonia Community. I have begun many times to write, but have been unable to complete what I start.

Alea was diagnosed quite awhile ago with severe abdominal migraines. She will go for days with abdominal pain and vomiting. She will be restless and exhausted, anxious, disconnected. She is fearful of travel, of sleep, of eating. She moves and thinks very slowly, and if you try to rush her, her anxiety level increases and she gets sick. She becomes very introspective and a very worrisome way.

These began when she was barely five. We have tried to treat them with medication. The meds did nothing. The doctors prescribed doubling the dosage of her medication and adding another very serious medication. Concerned with the way the medication made her feel, and praying for God alone to heal her, Alea chose to go off all medication.

She didn't have any problems for over a year. Recently they started again. Of course, she is nearly ten, so there could be a bit of a hormonal trigger occurring this time around. We have identified so many "triggers". I'm not sure they are triggers as much as amplifiers. Alea really can't have caffeine, especially chocolate. She can't have anything with nitrates in it, such as hot dogs or pepperoni. She has to be wary of preservatives and dyes in what she eats. Sometimes loud noises and bright lights can bring on an episode. Often fatigue, and stress or worry, or even a feeling of a lack of security can trigger days of pain and vomiting.

There has been research that has shown that a misalignment of the atlas bone between the cranium and neck can contribute to migraines. When Alea was five (right around the time the migraines began) she had a boy jump off some playground equipment and onto her head, splitting her scalp open. We had her neck scanned and her atlas is out of alignment (in the direction of the blow she received). So we began chiropractic treatment. I think we are onto something. But here is the rub. Every time she has her neck adjusted, it triggers another episode. That seems to point pretty clearly to the misalignment being a cause. But how do we get it back into alignment without aggravating the situation in the meantime?

Lately, she has been sick a majority of the time. It seems that the unsettled position of staying in the camper and all the running around town to shower and wash clothes, and all the running involved with trying to build a house aren't helping the situation. What she needs right now is to have the comfort of her own bed, with her own comforting things around her instead of in storage. She had the added stress of 'tech week' for two dance performances, and the death of a few animals here at the farm.

So why am I sharing all this information? Our family has been in survival mode lately. Everything has been placed on hold while we just deal with day to day living, worked around Alea's health for the day. Those of you with children with illnesses know exactly what I mean. True, we are not, to our knowledge, dealing with a terminal illness. But for day to day living for the entire family, it is no less disruptive.

We know so many of the readers of this blog are praying for our family and this project. I ask only that you redirect your prayers. Alea needs your prayers. We all need the prayers. God can create something amazing from all of this. He already has begun. He takes hardship and uses it to strengthen relationships. He takes illness and uses it to strengthen faith. We are completely powerless to help her now. But of course, when we are weak, He is strong. Please lift us up in your prayers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Armchair Activism

We whine endlessly about the state
of our sorry privileged lives
our cold fries
our thankless jobs
we're hot, we're cold

we wake early from our soft bed
and starbucks made our latte
with milk instead of soy
we missed this week's lost
and didn't get a hug

our cashier gave us a look
as we paid for our load of food
after waiting five agonizing minutes
in line in air conditioned shelter
while a child dies from lack of clean water

another cries out from hunger
as we pound our fist in anger
at the injustice of it all
we throw words like daggers
that fall harmlessly to the carpet

eliciting no change
in the state of the world
but piercing only the ears
who had the misfortune
of being withing firing range

as the ears bleed painfully
from the force of our rage
we lean back and click the remote
to dull our emotions
with the next top story.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Song to Sing

Lately, I have really tried to focus on the words I hear in songs as I hear and sing them. It is amazing how we can hear a song and fall into the melody without even realizing what we are singing aloud. We can sing worship songs and they fill us with a feeling of worship, without us believing the words we are singing. Even more often what we call 'praise and worship songs' are about us. They are safe songs that don't mention anything about Jesus but his grace. They don't praise God. They don't inspire us to follow Christ. They speak of our needs, wants, and fears. We rarely abandon ourselves to praising God.

I have found myself falling into the habit of disregarding a song if it says I or me more than a couple of times. But the following song is an exception. True, it speaks of me. But if you pay attention to the words, it speaks of reckless abandonment of self. It cries out against a lukewarm Christian existence. I think the words are beautiful. This is the sort of living that I envision when I read Christ's words about taking up the cross to follow him.

Luke 9:23 (Amplified Bible)
23And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [[a]disown himself, [b]forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, [c]refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [[d]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].

Start focusing on the words you sing. Are they the words you want to cry out when you worship your Lord and Savior? Are they words of praise for an awesome God?

The Motions ~by Matthew West

This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Now?

I don't believe in coincidences. Do you? So when we were told that it appeared as if someone had flown over our land and dumped soil completely unique in this area, in only this spot, I started to wonder why. I wasn't really surprised. God told us to do something different. It only makes sense that he would select a unique spot for such a venture. But where were we to go from there?

We had a preconceived notion of what we were to do. God wanted us to feed people. He wanted us to combine our energy and our resources. He wanted us to fellowship together. He wanted us to be light and salt. So it made sense that we would accomplish that through establishing a living community, right?

What about the soil? What made it unique? We knew that God had most definitely sent us here. So we needed to look at the reason for this location. The problem with the soil is that it acts like a sponge and does not release water. It looks like premium clay on the surface but once you dig past the first foot or two it changes. It takes on a different appearance. Suddenly it hit me. I went to our county soil scientist who was laying out our single septic system and said, "So the soil retains water. That may be a bad thing for a septic system, but wouldn't it be an advantage for growing things? When we are having a drought and everyone else is having trouble growing food, we should still be able to grow? Right?" His answer? "Yes, unless you are trying to grow tobacco. Tobacco likes dry sandy soil." But we aren't wanting to grow tobacco. We are wanting to feed people! Food requires water to grow.

So there is one part of the puzzle figured out. But what about the fellowship and sharing of resources and energy? How can that be accomplished if we are out here all alone? And how can we do all this ourselves? And home school? With Darrell working a full time job as well? It all hurt my head to think about.

But we have learned something over the last several months. We aren't the only ones that God has planted with this dream. We have encountered so many people who desire to feed people. We have learned that others, as well, desire to live in fellowship. Others desire to share what they have so more can be done to show the love of Jesus to people who do not know Him. We believe that God will continue to send people to help make this dream a reality. Already we have people coming out to help who do not live here. And I believe that many hands will help to turn this place into the place that God envisions. We will, together, feed people. We will feed them common food, and we will feed them love.

I believe that is only the first step. I think God envisions a living community as well. But to establish a living community as well as a small farm capable of feeding people takes quite a bit of energy and resources. It will have to be done one step at a time. Quite honestly, if it all happened at once I believe I would be overwhelmed and possibly even give up. So God is going to allow us to feed people on a smaller scale from the start. In the meantime, we will get settled and have an opportunity to get this small farm set up and running. It will be built slowly. We may even have an opportunity to rest and enjoy it.

Why would God give us a job to do, and then tell us to rest? Because we are going to need rest for what is to come.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ahhh! The Joys of Sewage

So many obstacles must be crossed when purchasing land and building a home. One of the greatest obstacles is the perc test performed by your local environmental health department. Often people locate the "perfect" place to build a house but find the land is not suitable for a septic system. The problem is magnified if you are considering building more than one structure.

Of course you can circumvent this whole issue if you purchase land in an area with public sewage lines run to it. Sewage is being run in this area, but is still a couple of miles away, so that was not an option. When you purchase land with the intentions of building in an area that will require a septic system, often the purchase loan will be contingent on a valid perc test.

The land owner from whom we purchased had considered developing this land, so he had already done much of the leg work. He had hired a soil scientist to analyze the soil, and presented a report and map of the land showing where conventional septic systems could be used, where alternative (aka. more costly) septic systems could be used, and what land was unsuitable for septic at all. We were set. There were more than enough perc locations to accommodate the eight or nine homes we were intending to build in this community. We intended to cluster the homes close together, maintaining as much green land as possible, and utilizing much of the unsuitable land for farming.

Working closely with our county zoning and planning department, the soil scientist's map, and our surveyors, we outlined lots so that each lot would include some of the land ideal for septic systems. Then we waited for it to stop raining so we could go to the environmental health department and apply for our perc tests. It rained for weeks. Finally the rain ceased temporarily, and the county soil scientist was being sent to analyze our soil so we could get moving right along.

We had to dig at least three pits per lot, each four feet deep, and four feet wide. We dug 24 pits to start with. The soil scientist from the health department came out two or three times and told us he would be back in another two weeks with a man from the state environmental health office that was coming out just to analyze our soil. He wanted us to be ready to dig fresh pits while they were there. So Darrell took the day off work and dug some more pits while both of the soil scientists climbed in and out of the holes and discussed their findings.

The bottom line? They told us that the soil on this property is completely unique in this area. They have not found any like it in this county and in very few locations in this part of NC. They actually told us that it looked like someone had flown over and dropped loads of soil just on this field. They found a location that had perfect soil...down the hill and along the banks of the creek. You never find soil of it's type downhill or near water. Of course you can't place a septic system near a creek. The water at the top of the hill looked waterlogged. Water should be running away from it. It was insane.

They denied all eight of our applications. They did, however, find one location that would be suitable for septic...but it was not on any of the lots. It was on the area we had designated "community land". According to the soil scientist map we had from the previous land owners, it was a septic dead zone. The county would approve a septic system for a single house only if we reapplied with the entire acreage as a single lot. We were told that we would not be approved to build more than one residence unless 1) we purchased adjacent land and it would perc OR 2) sewage was run to this area.

????? be continued......