Category Archives: Life

Playing Catch-up…

As our fallish weather turns wintry, I’m ever thankful for the factors that make my life so blessed. A sweet family to care for, a cozy home in the country, a hard-working husband, many special friends, and my God who is alive and well and working on us!

And time occasionally to update the blog. Sigh. I’m sorry my posts are so few and far between. Once November is behind us, I’m thinking there will be a little more time on my horizon. It’s been a good round of chaos, but balancing homeschooling with fall gardening, canning, and chicken processing parties, plus our normal day to day chores hasn’t left much time for writing or friends!

What’s new? I’m behind on connecting you all to my two latest articles for Writer…Interrupted, an ezine I submit to the second Thursday each month. In October, I was running behind on deadline so I slightly updated and republished an older post, one I’d originally written in 2007, called Sacrificial Moments in a Homeschool Fishing Booth. My November post is up today: Homeschooling, Homesteading and Living to Write About It. If you check them both out, you might be surprised at the difference in tone. The former is reflective of my early struggle with two passions: homeschooling and writing. The latter hopefully reveals the peace and joy God’s given me in this season of living my dream.

I’ll soon get back to the Romans 9 series, I promise. Sincere thank yous to all of you who have encouraged my writing here with your behind-the-scenes cheer. Wow, I appreciate you! I love being able to share what I’ve been studying with you. Not to mention that organizing my studies for the blog has etched them ever deeper in my own heart.

I pray that this scripture from Jeremiah envelopes you with the joy and peace and assurance that it does me…

Jeremiah 15:16, “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”

Blessings,

Mary

 

Our Church Camp Out

Camping! We love it–especially when it involves great fellowship, delicious campfire meals, and plenty of educational activities for the family. This past weekend we packed up the essential camping gear…camp chairs, tent, sleeping bags, clothes, flashlights, cookies & poppy seed bread & trail mix, dutch ovens, and the really important stuff–our Bibles (!) and smiles, and headed to meet with our church fellowship for the much anticipated camp-out!

Our pastor picked a great location, as usual. We spent the weekend creek-side, in a fantastic woodsy clearing complete with a gi-normous Zaccheus tree and tree house, and a forest maze adjacent to a pasture for night-time hayrack rides. All our meals were fireside ones…and we had the convenience of a portable outhouse on the premises. What a grand time we had escaping to the woods for this three day getaway!

Upon our arrival Friday night, we were greeted by an impressive firepit that the men put together, including even a stone oven (far left) that required, if I remember right, two hours of preheating to bake the bread we ate with our hobo meals on Saturday night.  When this shot was captured, the guys hadn’t yet covered the stone oven with the huge stone “lid”.

After admiring the set-up, we quickly got our bacon-wrapped, cheesy sausage stuffed peppers on the grill cooking, for it was almost time to roast brats and hot dogs. Two kinds of baked beans were simmering away, and all our friends were milling around greeting one another. It was past time to set up our tent!

Friday night’s after supper activity was perhaps my favorite of the weekend. We went on a night hike. In the dark. With no flashlights. I know…we walk by faith not by sight, but this was a little stretch for yours truly. Pastor did have a high beamed flashlight–for emergencies–but the point was to stay close enough to the person in front of you that we all made it across the creek and through the forest maze to the pasture in one piece. Yes. Through the creek. Imagine walking this skinny semi-squishy path through the creek, IN THE DARK, totally holding your breath and hoping that the personnel in front of you are all faithfully following the man-in-the-know! Then imagine the relief *I* felt to make it through with dry tennies. Whew. :O)

Our night hike was replete with hilarity as we stumbled along, waiting for our night vision to kick in. Did you realize that after about fifteen minutes, you really can see fairly well in the dark? I’m here to tell you it’s true. (Can you tell I’m a big time flashlight wimp?)

So we arrived on the other side of the Big. Scary.Woods. to find a tractor and hay trailer just waiting to give us a long, winding ride out to pasture. When we arrived, our Pastor gave us a tour of the stars, taught us how to navigate by the North Star, showed us the difference between satellites and airplanes, and pointed out a planet rising in the distance. What I learned: that the North Star is not the brightest star in the sky! And that the constellations move around the North Star in such a way that you can tell time by their positions. Sooo…if you are following the “brightest star” thinking it is the North Star, you will be going in circles all night. It’s so important to make sure you are building on the right premise, the right foundation, before you take off!

Back at camp, we settled in our sleeping bags for a chilly night. Soon we heard coondogs tearing up the countryside. That went on for….. hours. Morning arrived, and we all gathered around the campfire to cook breakfast. Scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. And hot chocolate too, made with raw milk and cocoa. Mmm. Mm.

Saturday was full of fun, but I especially wanted to share our morning activity devotion. Pastor led our troop back through the woods, to the pasture, and told the kiddos that he’d be hiding something in plain sight, that they’d be able to see, but not find. We watched him trek out about fifty feet, and stick an orange flag in the ground. So far so good. Till he pulled the blindfolds out. Boys against girls. Each competitor got spun around a few times, and pointed in the right direction. Aiming straight for the flag , how could they miss? We soon learned that even when we thought we were walking a straight line, it’s impossible to walk a straight line in a blindfold. Even yours truly almost walked a complete circle back to where I’d started, and I was *sure* I’d walked straight! Needless to say, it made for an excellent lesson on the importance of having a reference point to keep us on track in this life. For Christians, that reference point is the Bible. Without the Bible as our compass, we are doomed to walk in circles, as the Israelites did for forty years in the wilderness after disobeying God. Also key, is that each of the participants just *knew* they were walking as straight as they could. We were all floored to take off our blindfold and see how far off course we’d gone. Proverbs 16:25 sums it up well,

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

It begs the question, are you following your own ways, or God’s ways? Are you sure?

That wasn’t the end of the navigation lessons. Our group built a compass with the help of a shepherd’s staff, some sticks and the noon-day sun. We learned how to determine “South” with the sun and a wristwatch.

Saturday’s lunch was organic lamb-burger sloppy joes in the dutch oven, potato salad, fresh fruit and chips, with cookies for dessert. Saturday evening we all enjoyed custom made “Hobo meals”–foil wrapped patties made with grass-fed beef, and topped with sliced carrots, potatoes, celery and onion and then dolloped with a splash of cream of celery soup. Alongside these, which baked directly on the campfire coals, were foil wrapped baked apples, stuffed with a cinnamon-butter-brown sugar-raisin mixture, and wow, were they a hit! We also had the stone oven bread, which baked in record time…and we must confess, we had to sliver off the top layer because it was slightly……blackened. HOT oven. Otherwise, the rolls were P.E.R.F.E.C.T!

Saturday evening we had another lesson in keeping our eyes on the Lord and His word to stay on the straight and narrow, plus an excellent talk on consciences and what the Bible says about them. To illustrate, Pastor had a type of gyroscope he’d made from a bicycle tire, with handles in the center of the spokes on each side. A gyroscope is a scientific instrument, that when spinning, stays upright and on course. You can balance a spinning gyroscope on a ballpoint pen, and even when you tilt the pen sideways, the gyroscope will not fall over or change directions. It’s another kind of compass. A few of the men were called up to test the theory. The tire was spun, then the men walked a straight line and as per instruction, tried to suddenly turn and go back the way they’d come. But the gyroscope bucked the change of direction and the guys had their hands full trying to change course. Yet another great reminder that God gave us tools–our consciences and our Bibles–to stay on course. And the cool thing is, that even when blindfolded, the person toting the spinning gyroscope will be able to effortlessly walk a straight line!

After this Saturday evening devotional, we sang hymns and visited around the campfire. And all was quiet in our tents Saturday night. Well, in most of our tents. *Smile*

Sunday morning we did scrambled duck eggs and homemade lamb-burger sausage with campfire toast smothered in homemade blueberry jam. See all the happy campers?

Sunday morning we all enjoyed finding a solitary spot of beauty for a 45 minute personal time with God…then we met and shared what we’d been reading…for church, Pastor taught on the “Wilderness Church”, referencing Acts 7:38, 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, and Hebrews 11:32-40. Pretty appropriate, as we’d been having “church” all weekend in our own beautiful wilderness. As we do every Sunday during summer, as the weather permits. The church is not a building, it is not *where* you meet, it is the body of believers themselves. And having “church” outdoors, is about as New Testament as it gets!

One last meal together, and it was almost time to wrap things up. But first, we had some more fire building techniques to learn. One of our pastor’s burdens and practical ministries is his training of missionaries, and folks like us, on how to survive primitive conditions. Water purification tips, wild edible identifications, fire building, etc. So he showed off some handy portable camp stoves that operate on twigs and leaves, and taught us how to build a Dakota fire hole. I want one! A Dakota firehole (pictured left) is a bell shaped hole in the ground, about 12 inches deep, with an angled “tunnel” to another smaller hole, dug on whichever side it will catch the prevailing wind. Into the bigger hole go sticks and leaves, and thus your fire is well insulated, the flames barely visible, and wow, aren’t you impressed? I know I was! Of course, our prevailing wind was David there in the pic…he did a good job, we got flames!

Lastly, a pic of the giant treehouse, taken from the ground…

We already can’t wait till next year! One of our little campers said it well: “I think we should do this every month!”

Big thank you’s to all of you that worked so hard to make this such a memorable weekend! Our family has been so blessed by your faithful witness, example and adherence to the straight teaching of God’s word. Thanks to you, 2011 has been a “closer walk with Thee” for this family!

 

Our May 2011

As I write, my keyboard taps are accompanied by the thunder rumbles and smacking raindrops asserting their world domination via my wide open living room windows.  I’m guessing my apple mint sun tea on the deck might not be the ticket on a day like today. But no matter, I have a steaming cup of chai by my side, and two of my girls are in the kitchen cutting up strawberries we picked ourselves and baking shortcake and banana bread.  And we got 43 chickens processed before the rain let loose!

So it is springtime, once again. Almost summer even. Most of us have wrapped up schooldays, and are busy juggling in yard and garden chores to our already busy lives. I have to say, May sped by. Here are some highlights of our month o’ May days!

We traveled to the midwest’s largest Bible museum, to check out their special 400th anniversary display of King James Version Bibles. Incredible to see ancient tables of stone with scripture carved upon them, dating back to Ur…yes, Abraham’s Ur! What a special field trip, taken with friends, including not only this museum visit, but also a chapel service in a quaint English chapel built of stones from an authentic “Middle Ages” chapel, which were shipped from England to the USA in the mid-1800’s and then reconstructed. We also visited a famous battleground, hiked the woodsy trails there, and picnicked beneath a grape arbor.

I have to say, I really watched the skies in May, not that any man can know the day or the hour, but because May 2011 took in the 400th anniversary of the KJV, as well as the 63rd anniversary of Israel becoming a state. What’s the big deal about 400 year intervals in the Bible? Check out the Exodus and the 400 years of silence between Old and New Testaments, just for a couple of examples. And Israel’s 63rd anniversary? Well, if the church is raptured in 2011, followed by 7 years of tribulation, then Jesus’ return at Armageddon would coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. “70” is a number associated with prophecy in the Bible. Just interesting to think about. For more on why 2011 might be “the year”, check out this website post and scroll down to the portion titled, “Wondering When Jesus Will Come and Take Us Home…” I’ve enjoyed this guy’s writing overall, and in this particular segment of a prayer letter, he shares political reasons as to why 2011 might be, as is every day of every year, a year to be ready for Christ’s return!

Also in May, we had two foals born, both bay colts. We’ve gentled them to where they now let us walk right up to them and give them a good scratching. So sweet. And springtime at our place wouldn’t be complete without hundreds of baby chicks. This year’s layer hen of choice is the Light Brahma. Going with a different breed each year gives us some variety, but more importantly, helps us keep track of the ages of our birds so we know which layers are ready for the stewing pot. I know, sounds harsh doesn’ t it? We give them a good life, free ranging from morning till night on plenty of green grass and organic grain. These Light Brahmas are adorable with feathered legs and feet, don’t you think?

Let’s see, I didn’t really cover Homeschool Presentation Night, also in May…suffice it to say my eldest shared some poetry she’d written, my middle daughter played the trumpet, and youngest sang with gusto, “Look and Live”, an old favorite hymn. Also in May we drove 2.5 hours away to a U-pick farm and helped pick 75 quarts of organic strawberries–delicious! So we’ve made a dozen pints of freezer jam, homemade strawberry ice cream, and have many more in the freezer for future delicacies! We’ve enjoyed many outdoor Sunday morning services with our Christian fellowship now that the weather is so gorgeous, and  finished up the month helping at a nearby town devastated by tornadoes.

Oh, and I finished reading a really amazing book on dispensations, about which I will soon be blogging! In that vein, please check out my current poll on the sidebar, and let me know where you stand on this interesting way of “dividing the word of truth”.

What was your highlight in May? I’d love to hear about it!

The True Joy of Spring

In a corral with two mares and their foals, one can coax for thirty minutes before the long-legged little colts’ curiosity brings them your way. But when they are nuzzling you and chewing on your fingers, that wait is so worth it!

We’re loving springtime, and the births and firstfruits (like rhubarb and asparagus!) that accompany it. Besides the two foals, we also have six kids (of the goat variety!), and around 160-something chicks. And a Border Collie Mama-to-be that is so big we think she must have about 20 pups in the making! This spring we also got started in the “worm” business. Yes, that’s right. My basement is housing a mini-worm farm, for composting purposes here at home. Worm castings are an incredible source of organic, non-toxic fertilizer for boosting the nutrient health of your seedlings, transplants, and for later side-dressing of veggies. It’s been INTERESTING, to say the least! :O) My hubby says that beekeeping is on our horizon as well! Sweet! 

But I have to say, that the best thing about life these days, is the joy of waking up each day with a heart so full of bride-like love for my Maker and the new found hunger for His word that just leaves me in awe every minute of the day. I’ve been passionate about many things and people in my life…from family and friends to writing, homeschooling, homesteading, “Christianity,” etc. But nothing compares to the light of His word, that the Holy Spirit has fanned from a flicker to a flame in my personal life this past year. Nothing else has come with such a price tag, costing me on many counts as God prunes the unnecessary from my life, replacing what I once held dear with things of greater eternal significance. Regrets in this process? No way, except that I wish it had happened earlier! This is the relationship with my Heavenly Father that I’ve always longed for, and wondered how people of old could gladly suffer and die for…

Ephesians 5:14,

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

2 Corinthians 4:6,

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Like a little foal that doesn’t know what’s good for him till he’s brave enough to leave what’s comfortable and respond to the draw of his long-suffering and patient owner crouched in the corner of the corral, we’re so silly sometimes about putting God off for a rainy day. Why not seek Him now, with your whole heart, casting off any preconceived notions and just letting Him speak to you through His word?

Psalm 119:130 says,

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”

My friend, there is light in abundance there, for both your darkness and mine, and an eternity more while we’re at it.

Where is God in this Mess?

Q: My family is going through a ‘bankrupt time’ physically and financially. Everything I used to think assured about our future—my children’s future—is now uncertain. My older teens are making choices that are taking them away from the church. I know this is just another pothole in life’s road, but I’m stuck, and every way out seems to take too much out of me. Where is God in this mess?

A: He’s there. You are not alone. This is a story I am hearing more and more as I talk to people. I’ve been through aspects of it myself. True, you are going through many challenges at once. True, you’ve had the breath knocked out of you. But even at the bottom, there’s light if you look up.

For the rest of this article, take a virtual trip over to Word Explain’s Parenting Q&A website!

Celebrating our January heat wave!

After weeks of gloomy skies and single digit nights, we finally saw the sun today! 44 degrees honestly felt like 75 to my sun-starved psyche.

So this evening before dark, my husband hooked up the hillbilly sleigh–an old pick-up truck hood padded with horse blankets and strapped to the back of the four-wheeler (yes, I know, we’re insane). From then on it was a whirl, ride after ride swooshing down our curvy snow-packed lane,with us spinning halfway around the ATV on each side and oh, we had to hang on tight to jump the ditch into the fields and then: heart in your throat time!  Somehow I still managed to scream plenty. FUN times! Scary times. Reminded me of all the times hubby and I used to goof around like that in our dating days, with his dad and older brother. Hilarious wipe outs galore.

Family bonding of the best sort!

After the wild rides were over, we gathered wood and kindling and built a cozy fire in the grill pit. Though the temperature had dropped to 28 degrees, we were plenty warm inside! I’d thawed a stack of KC Strips and we happened to have half a bag of large marshmallows to roast.  Meat and sweets! I ran inside to put the tea kettle on for hot drinks, when the UPS truck rolled up the drive bearing my Christmas order of Black Currant tea from First Colony Coffee! Happy!

If you’ve never sipped a hot beverage in 28 degree weather, let me say you are missing out! Mmm. And the still night air, so crisp! And snow everywhere…made the steamy, fruity essence that much sweeter!

Oven baked fries will round out our winter frolic here in a bit, eaten inside, of course, with frosted mittens and snowsuits hanging in the laundry room to dry…

And I’m off…

Let’s talk organic!

Okay, the bottom line is age related problems and diseases are widely thought to be caused by two things: consuming insufficient nutrients and adding on top of that, a lifetime truckload of toxic chemicals. This alone is a huge argument for eating organic food when possible–firstly because it is chock full of nutrients, antioxidants and Omega 3’s compared to your non-organic foods and secondly…it contains no toxic chemicals or heavy metals–while unorganic foods are saturated with them in various forms, thanks to fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

(Go read this article at Science Daily for just one example of how toxic chemicals found in pesticides cause things like Parkinson’s disease, and for more stats on just how much healthier organic foods are than their unorganic counterparts visit this article.)

Yet, very few people–at least in my experience here in the mid-west–want their family and friends to label them as organic fanatics! So here’s my disclaimer to all my family and friends: going all organic is my *someday* goal, but never to the point of “bringing my own snacks to parties” etc. Our family loves food, loves fellowship and we have plenty of unhealthy eating habits. That said…I have to write this post. It’s pretty important info in today’s McDonald’s “dumbed down” culture where kids are raised loving refined products made from white flours and sugars, where genetically modified foods abound, and grocery stores sell HFCS everything and milk-flavored drinking beverages. What has happened to real food??? And why aren’t more people demanding answers?

I’ll tell you what happened…this profit driven, fast-turnover, long shelf life agenda happened. Sadly, going “organic” has had a bad rep in past years, but as more people get educated about health, they’re seeing how valuable real food really is. Organic is simply the way people grew food before the chemical ways became the norm. Back when dirt was dirt, and honeybees weren’t dying from all the pesticides.

I recently viewed The Truth about Organic Food, a 75 minute 2007 DVD interview of David Getoff, a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor with a full time health and wellness practice in San Diego, California. Wonderful introduction and overview of what “organic” is, why it’s beneficial and necessary for a long, healthy life, and how to know which “organic” products are worth buying. For instance, grass fed, free range, cage free and natural all mean varying degrees of “good for you”…and certain organic beefs were only organic (hormone & antibiotic free) for their last 90 days on this earth, according to organic standards in labeling. Organic labeling can be tricky, and just because something is organic does not mean it is healthy. Sure an organic candy bar is probably more healthy for you than a normal one, but as David Getoff says, “Cobra venom is organic–mercury, arsenic, and lead get pulled out of the earth and they’re organic!” So do your research, or better yet, grow your own!

Interesting history regarding fertilizers…

Chemical fertilizers replaced “green manure crops” as a way to put minerals and nutrients back into the soil, more time and cost effectively. Farmers and scientists must have put their heads together to find a way to grab back those seasons spent raising rye grass or other “green manure” crops that would then be plowed under as a way to naturally replenish the soil of all the goodies that crops take in their making. Somebody did the research, and found that the top chemicals the soil needed were N, P, and K–the ones found on all the fertilizer bags you buy at the farm store: Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. So they reasoned, let’s just pour this on, and get things back in the ground. Money talks, and this would be cheaper than growing a green manure crop, not to mention, you’d get those months back for growing a cash crop. Makes a lot of sense. Problem is, there are SO many minerals that our bodies need for health that are not contained in a bag of NPK fertilizer! For instance, one that Getoff shared in the DVD was Boron–Boron is a deficiency duly noted in osteoporosis patients. Selenium is another, if you don’t get enough Selenium, the cancer rate goes way up.

But on the outside, these plants grown with chemical fertilizers look great. They are cheaper for the farmer, but they are not giving the people what they need–trace minerals and nutrients, AND the foods don’t taste as good.

Organic growers have found a wealth of minerals still in the ocean and use soil amendments such as kelp meal, crabshell meal, fish meal to put the minerals and life back into nutrient robbed soil. Visit www.groworganic.com for more info. For even more info, check out the book: Worms Eat My Garbage.

Interesting thoughts regarding pesticides…

Okay, so in the beginning, somebody wanted to keep the bugs from eating plants. As in a lot of things, no one seems to have put a lot of thought into the far-reaching effects of dumping chemicals in the ground. How would insectisides affect beneficial insects, birds, bees and pollination…the soil itself? It is interesting to note, that on big organic farms, pests aren’t a terrible problem. It almost seems as if the pests are attracted to the wilting, unhealthy plants, leaving the others alone. However, if today’s conventional farmer were to give up using his pesticides after years of use, all the insects in the world would demolish his crop. David Getoff likens it to the way a shark is attracted to a dying fish. I know personally, if I remember to put newspaper collars on my tomato seedlings, I never have cutworms. Good-bye Seven’s dust forever…now if only there were an easier remedy for squash bugs than squashing…

Avoid unorganic fats because of pesticide saturation

Another biggie that I took away from watching this DVD was the fact that pesticides are fat soluble. This means that the pesticide residue on our fruits and veggies (which by the way, is not easily washed or soaked off) binds to our fat cells. Fat soluble, NOT water soluble…these buggars are not going to be eliminated via sweat or urination. And so many people are on low-fat diets, that these toxins are going to sit around in their fat cells indefinitely. The good news, is that you can let go of these old fats by eating new, organic ones. And it’s a pretty important step to take in the organic process…switching to organic fats. Because so many toxic chemicals bind to fats, David Getoff recommends definitely switching to using EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), organic butter, and buying organic eggs for the high-fat content in egg yolks, and organic pastured poultry meat for the good fats found in the skin. Same thing with nuts, since they are very high fat. Buy organic.

To sum up, make changes where you can. Our family has been taking small steps as we’ve found the avenues to support this way of eating. Okay, maybe butchering my own chickens hasn’t been that “small” of a step, but it sure didn’t happen overnight! Switching to organic fats (EVOO, Coconut oil and butter), organic free range eggs and raw milk are things we definitely all should look into, as these things contain more toxic residue that sits around in our bodies causing trouble.

Yes, organic costs more. So put less money into the less important things. Do you really need that new car? Good health is more important. Organically grown foods have more vitamins, no toxins, and thousands of percents more minerals. There are ways around the cost, one of which is to grow your own foods without pesticides, etc. Or find a CSA farm in your area and see if they’ll let you work off part of a season’s food share. Find a food co-op at which you can purchase all your favorite health store goodies at wholesale prices, and so much more!

Finally, if you aren’t yet convinced, a Rutgers University study compared commercially- vs. organically-grown fruits and vegetables. They were astounded at how organic produce whopped the competition!

Commercially grown fruits and vegetables are less expensive, are prettier to look at, contain approximately 10-50% of the nutrients found in organic produce, are often depleted in enzymes, and are contaminated with a variety of herbicides, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

In comparing organically and commercially grown wheat, researchers found the organic wheat contained 20-80% less metal residues (aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, lead, mercury), and contained 25-1300% more of specific nutrients (calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and zinc).

Why should we buy organic? Why indeed…

The Dying to Self Series

stretchingA situation with a dear loved one had me reviewing my blog for the series of posts I did on “Dying to Self”. I thought I’d repost the links for them here, in case anyone else is wanting a refresher.

Here’s a quote from my first one titled, Exploring Dying to Self:

“The path toward humility is death to self. When self is dead, humility has been perfected. Jesus humbled Himself unto death, and by His example the way is opened for us to follow. A dead man or woman does not react to an offense. The truth is, if we become offended by the words of others, then death to self has not been finished. When we humble ourselves despite injustice and there is perfect peace of heart, then death to self is complete. Death is the seed, while humility is the ripened fruit.” Alice Smith

In another one, Dying to Self in Marriage, I share a list of ways we all feel entitled. Taken from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book Lies Women Believe:

“Today it is assumed that,

  • you have a right to be happy
  • you have a right to be understood
  • you have a right to be loved
  • you have a right to a certain standard of living, to an equitable wage, and to decent benefits
  • you have a right to a good marriage
  • you have a right to companionship and romance
  • you have a right to be treated with respect in the workplace
  • you have a right to be valued by your husband and appreciated by your children
  • you have a right to a good night’s sleep
  • you have a right to have your husband pitch in with the household chores

And most important, if any of your rights are violated, you have the right to protest. You have a right to be angry. You have a right to be depressed. You have a right to take action. You have a right to insist on your rights!”

Lies, indeed. No freedom there.

In The Sting of Dying to Self, we are reminded at what great cost our sins and selfishnesses are to our relationships, and that it all adds up to DENYING God by our DEEDS, even when we profess Him from our lips…we see how important denying SELF is. It helps us proclaim Christ.

Titus 1:15-16,

“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him…”

In Are You Willing? we see through the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah 50:4-9 how the process works:

It’s a process. If you start applying it at the beginning (vs 4) by committing to reading God’s word, and from His word/prayer learning His will for your life (vs 5), practicing being obedient (vs 5 and 6), getting in the habit of bucking this world system in favor of doing right (vs 7), coming back to God to fill you up because suffering is part of Christianity (vs 8 ), and getting to the point that this process is second nature. All your priorities fall in line because of your continual desire to put God and His ways first (vs 9).

And finally, in Grace for the Weary, we see more Messianic prophecies, like this from Isaiah 42:3 and more,

“A bruised reed He (God the Son) will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” Isaiah 42:3 (parentheses mine)

Have you ever felt like a dimly burning wick? This post takes the topic of callings, in particular, our family’s calling to homeschool. But I think it applies to whatever your particular “burn out” may be. Get your vision back and go for it!

Be sure to check out these older blog posts for the great scriptures alone. There’s a wealth of encouragement there for every problem known unto man.

Would love to hear your thoughts on dying to self. :O)

Snapshots of the good life!

“Farmgirl livin’ makes for a more cheerful person, no matter where you are. It’s hard to describe in words what that means–you just know; you just live it.” ~Michaela Rosenthal, in the Apr-May issue of MaryJane’s Farm magazine

Check out this adorable Barred Rock chick, one of 156 that arrived this past Thursday morning. Fear not, these chickies are for laying eggs, not for butchering! (and not for possums either!!!!!)

Farmgirl livin’ to me is…

  • planting green beans barefoot in a gentle rain
  • flats full of plants I started from seed under grow lights
  • cute lil chicks with yellow diapered bottoms
  • cute lil girls with garden hoses–watch out!
  • fresh rhubarb crisp with a few dark sweet cherries thrown in
  • grilling steaks over a pile of smoldering logs in the back yard
  • puppies frolicking with chicks
  • letting the goats do the mowing when I don’t want to
  • cast iron skillet cooking–and fried chicken fresh off the broiler I raised myself
  • collecting clean bee-you-ti-ful brown and green farm eggs and having an overabundance for angel food cakes, deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches
  • running down the road to the neighbors to watch them capture a swarm of wild honeybees

Aren’t these “cackleberries” purty?

Check out our fully critter proofed barn stall. See all the “playpens” outfitted with heat lamps, feeders and waterers? There are six such “stations” in this one barn stall…each with 26 chicks. Four Aldi’s orange boxes, and two large green wooden crates. All in all, a cushy brooder house, completely wrapped in chicken wire so no bad guys can harm the tenants. This project kept dh and I busy till 1 am the night before–nothing like waiting till the last minute…

See the post office boxes atop the green crate? Can you believe those small boxes were home sweet home to 156 chicks? Kept them nice and warm, and we had no casualties! Yay!

Another fun thing to note, the circle of sleeping chicks who’ve found their preferred temperature range…just beyond the radiating heat lamp!

This is the other half of the barn stall full of chicks…the blue barrel is full of organic chicken feed…$100 worth! We’ll see how long it lasts…

Lovely day for mowing, but who needs to? Just turn the goats out…see my irises? They’re the only flower that goats and chickens leave alone…to my knowledge and experience! Behind that grain bin is a nice expanse of green grass, home to our two field pens. When they are full of chicks, I get to traipse down the hill twice a day to check their feed and water, croon at them a bit, and move their pen to fresh grass. Thus the term: Pastured Poultry.

I’m in love with this 10 inch cast iron skillet my mother in law gave us. It’s the best for frying chicken,  scrambling eggs, baking deep dish pies…

By the way, this chicken was my smallest of the broilers, weighing in at 4 lbs 14 oz. Not too shabby! We even had a couple that were close to 7 lbs! One chicken was just enough to feed our family of 5, with one piece leftover. In telling my mom this, she said that in her childhood, one chicken had to feed their family of 8, and  her mom always claimed that her favorite piece was the neck. What a woman.

Saving the best for last…rhubarb crisp! Watch for a post soon in which I explain my reformation from being a rhubarb snob into a rhubarb hog…this is GOOD stuff! We are a family of converts…

This is the life for me! “Have what you want and want what you have”…right?

Hard Life Knocks on the Farm

fieldpenA horrible sight greeted me in the field pen this morning. Let me preface this gory tale by saying I haven’t experienced this scale of blood boiling murderous rage and trembling hysteria ever! And all over a chicken!

That shows you how sheltered a life I’ve lived, if nothing else. Let me remind you, I’m an Austin “pansy” transplanted into this mid-westernly rugged way of life. My husband has kindly dealt with most of our animal euthanization, and up till last fall, I wouldn’t have thought I could even stomach butchering chickens.

Two long days last week were spent helping our neighbors butcher their 100 broilers, along with 12 of our 16 broilers. I left four of my broilers home to “grow up” a bit more. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t.

On Friday night, something got into the field pen (pictured above) and made away with one of my birds. It left a chicken foot and back to tell the tale. Now this only slightly appalled me. The thought of a predator calmly sitting in the pen licking his chops on friend chickie WITH the other 3 chickens cowering in a corner watching?!? The nerve! The other thought for consternation was: Well then, now something has discovered a pen full of tasty treats and he will for sure be back for more! Argh!!!

Hubby assured me he had it under control. Somehow a varmint had popped a couple of zip ties off the base of the tarp and pen, and then had climbed up the inside of the tarp till he could get through the pen’s panels to the chickens. Hubby, an accomplished trapper, set a trap using the chicken remains I’d found, and though I had a few issues with leaving my remaining three birds at the crime scene another night, I decided to leave it in God and hubby’s capable hands.

After all, it was a perky Saturday afternoon, and I was blithely gardening and selfishly didn’t want to think about where to put three homeless broilers. Yes, I could have/should have butchered them, but I had a glorious day for gardening, a dry garden for once this wet spring(!) and lost myself for eight straight hours tilling, planting, making wide raised beds with my fun eight year old’s help…

Along came Sunday morning. Dh went to check his trap. Bad news. The thief  set off the trap, successfully stole the bait AND made away with TWO more chickens!!!

In a snit I stomped down to the field pen to gather up lone birdie intending to put it in a safe spot till I could get around to butchering it in the afternoon.

TOO LATE! Upon arriving at the field pen I caught said varmint in the process of enjoying one last luscious morning snack. In broad daylight!!! Good grief. There goes another fried chicken dinner!

I’m glad no one saw my snarling face as I gave that POSSUM the what for. If Christians had swear words, I would have used them. I mean, I screamed at that mangy, nasty, greasy nosed snot. And then I screamed for my husband!!! Finally he stuck his head out the front door and I yelled, “GET YOUR GUN AND GET OUT HERE!!!”

He kindly obliged.

Meanwhile, Possum is stock still, mildly looking me in the eye, probably wondering what kind of crazy weirdo could make such a racket. I can’t tell whether the chicken is dead or not, so I assume it is. It’s laying inert in the grass in front of Mr. Bad Guy. I’m standing there, shaking like a victim, throat burning from my hollering fit, heart racing, eyes streaming. SO mad and just willing my husband to hurry so Possum will get his just desserts.

Finally hubby arrives, pistol in hand, and possum scrambles for his life. How satisfying. Take that, and that. BANG BANG. We see the chicken move around in the pen and dh is optimistic.

“Maybe the chicken was just playing dead,” he says, opening the door and going in to scope things out.

I’m feeling more and more of my city girl roots. Frozen to the spot. About to melt into a sniffling puddle of writhing anger and grief. Very weird combo. I really think it scared dh because I’m normally cool as a cuke.

“Nope. It’s not playing dead. But it’s not dead either.”

Possum has been eating my live chicken from the feet up. It’s missing its entire back end, and it’s still alive!

Okay. At this point, I’m a bawling mess. I don’t care if I resemble my four year old after a nightmare. Thinking about that stupid possum not even having the decency to kill the chicken first. COME ON.

And you’re thinking…sheesh, you just participated in a killing spree of these same chickens only three days prior! What gives?fieldpeninterior

Well…to that I’d sputter…”But we did it humanely! And-and, that was the purpose behind the past eight weeks of growing up chicks. To feed my family, not a family of possums!”

So I’ve had all day to ponder this ordeal, and have come to some conclusions. Bear with me. You might wonder at my need to make this mean something…but I believe God allows all things for a reason, and that we can learn so much if we just wait on Him to open our eyes and understanding. After all, Jesus used many every-day things to portray his teachings through parables. So here goes. This is what I’ve processed about my emotional upheaval this morning.

The quivering rage I felt towards that possum helping himself so INHUMANELY to my chickens is NOTHING compared to the righteous anger of God when another one of His children dies without Him. The Bible tells us that “He is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance…” How impossible it must seem to such a loving God, that any of His creation could live a life for any purpose other than what God created it for, much less live life rejecting God’s free gift of salvation–free to us, but costing God so great a price–His son’s life.

How angry He must get at our apathy towards people who don’t know Him as their personal Savior. He’s given us very clear directives–the Great Commission,  for Heaven’s sake–and how many of us are actually actively sharing what Christ has done for us with our friends and neighbors and yes, even strangers at the grocery store?

You know, I was pretty apathetic towards my chickens’ plight, preferring to garden the day away. I spent from 2 p.m. till 10 p.m. playing in the dirt, letting hubby deal with the traps, and do the evening chores for my chicks. In retrospect, he thinks he only saw 2 chickens in the pen Saturday night, which means one more was whisked away during the daytime Saturday. I could have been more on top of things. Knowing something had gotten to my chicks was one thing. SEEING it with my own eyes on Sunday morning was an incredible SLAP in the face.

You know, in other countries and continents, mutilations and killings of Christians is something people see on the streets. Subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs if you don’t believe me. It’s one thing for me to tell you about it. But what if you had to watch it happen to your little girl? Or your husband or wife? God sees these horrendous happenings every minute on our planet.

What anguish,  grief and anger He must have towards the evil one, and yes, even those of us who go life’s merry way. Too busy gardening or homeschooling or working to worry about messy things like that happening half a world away.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, that we need to be sober and vigilant because the devil is like a roaring lion, roaming the earth,  seeking whom he may devour.

God is a real and personal God. We are His creation. He cares about us to the point of knowing how many hairs we have on our heads! He knows every sparrow that falls! This is a loving God–this kind of love none of us can fathom. How He must long for us to exhibit even a blink of compassion for the lost who have before them the yawning hole of everlasting fire! Or the ones that are being martyred for daring to have faith in Him? How much time does it take to remain aware of the persecuted ones and pray for them on a daily basis? Why is it so hard to share the good news with the unsaved people in our lives when taken into account that they will burn in hell forever without it?

It supremely bothered me to see the wasteful demise of something I’d raised for a worthy purpose. It’s been worrying at my mind all day. Hymn singing and my daughter’s homemade brownies have helped somewhat, but I hope this experience stays with me enough to remind me that real Christianity happens in the nitty gritty ugliness of life.

Until next time,

Mary