Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cutting Up on Bikes

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Knowing the girls would laugh, Brandon took Hannah's Hello Kitty bike. Then, Caleb took Emily's. Em yelled while laughing, "Hey, you can't ride that. Mom, look at them!" To Hannah she said, "Ugh, we have brothers!" It's good fun as long as everyone is enjoying it..and we all were!

Monday, March 27, 2017

She got it out!

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homemade learning tool

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Time to pull the engine out! 
Dad's on hand, after working that morning, to help guide it out.

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She's so happy it's out!

I've noticed it's the people doing nothing constructive that are usually the ones criticizing the people who are movers and shakers. Yes, Amanda has had some criticism. She was told by a young man that she should be learning to "knit and stuff" in her time off. She told him she knows how to crochet and sew, but those things will not get her the car she wanted at a bargain price. Amanda laughed at him because he spends his free time playing video games and can't do simple things on his own car.

There is nothing in God's Word that says a woman can not learn skills. Just because something isn't stereotypical in our culture does not mean it is immoral. This skill will benefit her and her family for the rest of her life. She is adding to what she already knows. She has already fixed vehicles for others and did not charge them for her time. She will be able to minister to more people because of her current project. 

It is honorable, pure, and admirable that she wanted something, set a goal for it, and is working very hard to obtain it for herself rather than sitting around waiting for someone else to provide it or for it to magically fall out of the sky. She is not neglecting anyone or anything by doing this. She is being industrious while the guy at work is wasting his time on something that will never tangibly benefit his life. 

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Civilization Today

Civilization today reminds me of an ape with a blowtorch playing in a room full of dynamite. It looks like the monkeys are about to operate the zoo, and the inmates are taking over the asylum. --Vance Havner

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Amanda's Attitude of Learning

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  Amanda set her eyes on a goal, and she's working to get there. That engine will be pulled out later today. She's come a long way from cosmetology school! "If I fail, I'll still learn, and what I learn will be worth more than my small cash investment. If I succeed, I'll have a great car for very little cash and some hard work. Either way, I am going to learn things I can use the rest of my life, so no matter what happens I can't lose."

Joshua, Caleb, and Bethany are taking turns working with her so they can learn too.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Father, Return Elizabeth Thomas to Her Family

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While they were last seen in TN and thought to be in Alabama, a family member (Danielle Thomas) told me yesterday (3/23/2017) that keeping an eye out and looking in the woods of other places, including my state of Virginia, is worth doing.

"the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says efforts to locate them remain unsuccessful as they could be anywhere." source

"She told my younger sister that if she wasn't home by 6:00 to call the police. Call for help I think was her exact words," James Thomas said." source

" The suspect is believed to be armed with two handguns and driving the listed vehicle." source

I have a particular interest in wanting to see this 50 year old predator apprehended, and this young woman returned home. Let's share the missing persons information, keep our eyes out, and keep the fervent prayers going.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Here's Why...

Our entire family learned a lot through this experience.

A couple of years ago, Brandon left work early in his casual office clothing and took his car in to a local mechanic to have an estimate on getting the work done for him. The mechanic did not know Brandon already had diagnosed the problem, knew the cost of the part, and had the knowledge and skill to do the work himself. Between college and work, Brandon simply did not have the time to perform the repair, so he was willing to pay to have it done.

The mechanic came back with an entire list of things that were "wrong" including some parts that had been replaced a month earlier. That told Brandon the man had not even looked hard at his car since the new parts were easy to distinguish. Needless to say, the estimate was very high and included a lot of work that did not need to be done.

Brandon came home and relayed the experience. Clint, in his stained work clothes, took the car to the same mechanic shortly after Brandon had. It was the same car, same list of symptoms, same mechanic. This time, there was only one part that needed to be replaced, and the estimate was very reasonable. 

Amanda was outraged at the difference and wondered aloud how much more they would have tried to deceive her because of her gender. 

Now you know the reason behind her motivation to learn how to repair her own cars. So, she is giving up her free time and suffering through bad weather and failures to teach herself the skill of auto repair. "I have to drive a car my whole life. I need to know how to care for it."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Three of the Sisters

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Em's bike chain kept falling off.
Amanda was tracking down a minor issue with her truck, so Emily and Hannah asked her for help with the chain.

While she is working nights (including overtime) and flying through college courses, Amanda is also teaching herself all she can about how to repair cars. She, and all of our other children, started learning with Clint as a two year old who would crawl under the cars and hold tools for him. As she grew, he taught more and built upon it every year. Through trial and error, Amanda has really expanded upon that knowledge in the last six months. She's worked outside in freezing temperature and very cold rains. She is eager to being her engine work on her next ride this weekend. Clint did not have a father around. Clint taught himself with a book. I was there for most of that learning, and it did not come quick or easy. It did come by determination, much time, and consistent effort.

If you teach yourself skills, you will never regret it. If you don't because you are afraid of failure, you have already failed. If you are too lazy to learn new skills, don't complain about how you can't move forward in life or how much it costs to pay to have something done for you. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This and That

Amanda bought a fairly nice vehicle for next to nothing. The catch is that it needs timing guards. That means the engine has to be pulled out. Our girl is very mechanically inclined, so we are willing to support her in this. 

Clint and I decided to foot the bill for a gantry since we can use it for other things. To accomplish all of the criteria that had to be met for our needs, we decided to install it ... in the front yard. Neither Clint nor I were happy about that, but it is what it is. I was a bit happier when I realized I can hang a bench swing from it when it is not in use for pulling engines. I'll see if Caleb will build me one like my grandfather's.

We are also tearing out and redoing a bathroom, working on splitting next year's firewood pile, adding fence so our American Guinea Hogs can continue to eat healthy pasture, working on kitchen cabinet repairs, incubating chicks that will grow all spring/summer and go to freezer camp in the early winter, nurturing seedlings that were started indoors, making jigs for woodworking tools, pressure canning over 200 lbs of chicken, hanging solar powered lights (given to me for free) all over the place, etc. It's busy. It's very, very busy, but rather than being scattered here and there, we are busy at home helping each other accomplish goals which serves to bond us closer to one another. 

Emily's and Hannah's curriculum jumped from $299 to $699. Clint and I decided we would avoid the robbery, so I am making my own curriculum for them this year. It is very time consuming, but also rewarding since I can tailor it more towards their interests. 

Clint and I are planning some time away soon. We haven't decided if it's going to be at an ocean front house or a mountain stream side retreat, but it will be welcomed either way.

I was going to write a bit more, but I was just called away. So, I'm off to more mothering and managing our happy home and busy farmette. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Wendy's Tips for Growing Your Own Food to Cut Grocery Costs

A sweet friend asked for tips for beginners who want to grow a garden to cut grocery costs. Here is what I shared with her.

Clint and I are still learning too. There was a generation gap in passing down learning about growing and preserving food on both sides. As a young wife 22+ years ago, I checked out from the library and purchased books to teach myself. Thankfully, there is much more on the internet now. One of my favorite books from then is Carla Emery's The Encyclopedia of Country Living which has been updated. It looks like a phone book and covers just about everything you can imagine about country life.

A lot of my self taught learning was slowed down by lengthy spells of bed rest caused by each pregnancy and then having little ones to care for, but I kept plodding along in that shuffle most of us do..two steps forward and one step back. 

What to plant and what to avoid is dependent upon your immediate area. Know your growing conditions. I have low acid clay soil with a high water table that is rich in minerals due to flooding from our river. Our weather is affected by our river and the ocean. I've been working on building up our soil in certain areas for 22 years. If Clint brings me home a load of mulch or a bag of leaves, grass clippings, or pine cones from a curb, I'm a happy girl! 

What grows well in the wild where you are? Here it is asparagus, blackberries, persimmons, etc. You know you can't lose with plants that already grow wild where you are. I am hoping to get outdoors and dig up some of our wild blackberries and plant them along fence lines and chicken pens this year. 

High yield garden producers like beans, peas, tomatoes, squash, collards, lettuces, etc make good choices. 

Perennials like berry bushes, grapevines, strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, garlic, horseradish, many herbs, fruit trees and such allow you to plant once and harvest for many years. I consider these good investments.

I also like the permaculture idea of "food forests." I would like to tour a place that has these established as I am still trying to get a fix on what this looks like and how it is done.

Speaking of tours, did you know you can do a free self guided tour (a lot of walking) Joel Salatin's farm which is just outside of Waynesboro, VA? There are tons of ideas to be gathered from here, and his family is friendly and polite. I really enjoyed our short time there and hope to go back soon. 

Look at what is naturally (wild) on your land that can be used for your needs that you are ignoring. I harvest my own elderberry, plantain, dandelion, chickweed, mint (planted by someone who lived here eons ago), bayberry (aka wax myrtle), persimmons, pine needles (animal bedding/potpourri), clover and grasses (feed for animals), etc. We've been conditioned to run to the store for everything rather than use the resources that are all around us. We cut the trees down as needed for firewood and use the discarded branches as a natural fence, privacy, boundary line in areas. We make use of things that are here that we know will work for our needs. I've lived here for 20 years and am always finding something new like a female (fruiting) persimmon tree that was hiding in a ton of brush. (I KNEW that deer was going into that thorny thicket for a good reason!!) 

What plants/vines/bushes do your neighbors have that you can trade for? You can cut costs and expand what you grow quickly this way. 

You'll notice one year, you'll have one crop coming out of your ears, but something else might not be doing that well. Preserve what you can during bumper crop years, because the next year, it will likely be a different crop that produces abundantly. 

As Clint and I approach our 50's, we are looking for ways to make it easier on ourselves in the future, so we are adding raised beds, containers, and are experimenting with gutter* gardening. While on vacation, I saw an elderly Asian man who had a large container garden all raised on boards and saw horses to his chest height. He had produce on the vines, so it was working for him. We've often talked about trying that. We are still shufflin' onward! I'm heading outside now to see what I can get up to before the cold weather comes before I head to the store to stock up on some "loss leader" sale items.

*Avoid the strawberry gutter planting idea you see online. The one you see that has the big pretty berries trailing down has an irrigation system run through it. I've heard of too many who tried it without the irrigation hoses. The berries die in the summer heat.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Few Ways I Save Money on Groceries

Here are some of my favorite ways to save on groceries. Most of them were passed down to me from older ladies with many children. Food costs are one of the largest costs most of us have, but they can be controlled. I feed my family very well, but I do not spend a lot on our groceries. All of those weekends you see me taking away with my husband...are paid for with our grocery savings!

Plan your menu based on what you have on hand, what is on sale, and what is available.

Buy nutrition vs "food." Food fills your belly, but the wrong foods leave you feeling hungry. Nutritionally dense food keeps you fed, satisfied, and healthy.

Stock up as much as you can on what is on sale. It's a worthy financial investment.

Learn when food expires and when it is most nutritious to consume it. Most canned and some other foods lasts much longer than the sell by date. Those huge #10 cans can last 20 years or longer if stored properly. However, the nutritional value can break down as it ages. We try to rotate through all of our #10 cans within 12 months or so.

Grow/provide your own...fruit, meat, vegetables, sprouts, herbs, etc. Our grapevines have produced an abundance of fresh fruit and jelly over the years. We have also produced more vines off of those vines. Money well spent! Most of our friends hunt and/or fish.

Don't waste. You would not believe how much this one simple, but far reaching tip can save you in a year. Use everything you can. For example, I will cook a roast with vegetables in the crock pot, and then save the drippings and left overs to make soup the next night. Save drippings from chicken. The fat can be used in baked goods and the jelly like layer makes a very flavorful bouillon for soups and sauces. Save the juice from canned fruits like peaches, add water, and freeze for popsicles. Take the apple your son didn't finish, cut the rest of it up, and make an apple cinnamon "muffin in a cup" for your snack.

Research recipes from the Great Depression. They tend to use nutritionally dense foods that are cheap and readily available. Those recipes can be spiced up to your liking.

Learn the sale cycles in your favorite stores. You will notice certain items go on sale every so often. Stock up enough to carry you through to the next time that item is on sale.

Learn how to preserve the food you grow or buy. Investing in a freezer can save you big dollars over time. I have lived through lengthy power outages and love pressure canning and dehydration because the food is not electricity dependent.

I make a list and plan my trips online before I go. This really helps me stay within budget.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A very full week

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I have been rendering lard from our pasture raised American Guinea Hogs. Why use lard from pasture raised hogs? Because that kind of lard is healthy and is a good choice of fat! (I also recommend researching the health benefits of schmaltz vs vegetable shortening and other oils.)

Mine isn't as bright white as it could be if I had used the fat from only certain areas, but I want to make the most of what the hogs gave us for our large family and our pets. My adult children have asked me to supply their pantries with it too. I might get more picky as I meet demand.

This is a busy season for me. In addition to rendering the lard, I've been pressure canning a few dozen quarts of stock, approximately 135 lbs of chicken, and 150 lbs of pork. Tomorrow, I am going to make schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). I've also started several types of seeds for our garden, made three new raised beds, and filled our small incubator with eggs. I've had a house full of sick kids and am sick myself. I am a tired but happy woman.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prayer Request

Our friends have had a rough pregnancy journey. They were told to abort the baby several times even though a few doctors held out hope that something could be done. One doctor was especially cruel saying they would not try monitor baby during delivery "If it dies, it dies." This same doctor told them, "You have other children. Be happy with that." 

Despite being told the baby would not make it to the third trimester, to full term, through labor... their baby was born alive last night. However, little Verlin does have major health issues and will not be here for long. 

Please keep the family in prayer for comfort and peace as they let their sweet baby go back to the Lord. They take great comfort in the fact that they have left this little one's life solely in God's hands. Thank you!

An update from the mother: "Just an update here: family is here now and we are enjoying today with our special little man who will most likely gain his Heavenly body later today once we take him off life support. We have agreed that it is in his best interest not to prolong his suffering as his lungs are underdeveloped and he has no kidneys or arteries to the bladder. Pray for us as this journey isn't easy for anyone!"

And later: "With heavy hearts we have to say that our precious Verlin peacefully passed away this afternoon. We are delighted that we had 23 hours with our precious son!! Continued prayers would be appreciated!"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Flight of Fancy

Hannah: "Mom, I wish we could take some feathers and make ourselves some wings so we could fly."

Me: "Hannah, that's exciting! Where would you fly to?"

Hannah: "I'd fly over the farm and sit in the top of a tree." 

Me: "But, you have the WHOLE day. Wouldn't you want to fly somewhere else?"

Hannah: "Mom, I don't want to get lost!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Article: The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

"In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points.
All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment. It is hard not to conclude that theological discernment is now a lost art among American evangelicals — and this loss can only lead to theological catastrophe.
The answer is not to ban The Shack or yank it out of the hands of readers. We need not fear books — we must be ready to answer them. We desperately need a theological recovery that can only come from practicing biblical discernment. This will require us to identify the doctrinal dangers of The Shack, to be sure. But our real task is to reacquaint evangelicals with the Bible’s teachings on these very questions and to foster a doctrinal rearmament of Christian believers.
The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. An assessment like that offered by Timothy Beal is telling. The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday School Children's Bible Study Lesson

I haven't written a Sunday School lesson in a long while, but here is one I made recently for my youngest children. It is free for those who come to this page for personal use in homes and their personal local churches but permission is not given for publishing in any work without proper credit to the author given.

Psalm 119:105 Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Thy Word - God's Bible, His letter and instruction to us

is a lamp unto my feet-it reveals where you are standing in the moment, God's Word gives useful and relevant knowledge for right where we are.  (It's like when our family pauses in our walks in the woods to listen for sounds, look at the sun's placement, read the terrain, look up for broken/dead trees and limbs that might come down, and look for wildlife signs. We do this as we stand still to reveal exactly where we are and to gain a warning of what we might encounter ahead so we can be prepared. We take this pause daily in God's Word to gain information to help us as we travel further in life.)

and a light unto my path. - to be on a path is showing movement, God's Word illuminates the way to go as we journey day to day and gives us wisdom to correctly use the knowledge we have gained in our daily pauses to avoid the trouble we know is there. (This is like when we use a bright light on a trail at night. We know danger is there in the things we can trip and fall over, the things that can fall on us, and in the wildlife that can harm us, so we want to be prepared and have a way to avoid trouble.)

To illustrate these concepts, we used a small light and a map to study a path and then took a walk using different flashlight strengths. We also had one person hang behind to show how a bright light can help others. The flashlight strengths illustrate the difference between slack Bible studying Christians and strong mature Christians devoted to studying God's instructions to us. Do you want to reflect a bright light for the Lord that attracts others to safety or a weak light that can barely see where it is going and is tripping it's own feet up?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs -

Just because someone sees things differently than you do does not mean you should jump to the conclusion that they do not have compassion. It simply means they see things differently.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brain vs Heart

Heart vs Brain: Eons ago, my late grandmother told me she was driving on a back road and came across a car pulled off to the side with a man lying in the middle road and two men flagging her down. She did not stop. She drove around with the plan to call for help when she got somewhere with a phone. As she passed, the man in the road stood up, and all three got into the car. Wanting to help someone is a loving response of a caring heart, but please use your BRAIN to keep from being a victim.

Woman almost carjacked after stopping for dummy in child’s clothing

Monday, January 23, 2017

How do you respond?

"Do you want to know if you are really a servant of God? It is how you respond when you are treated like a servant." - Brian Long

Friday, January 13, 2017

Buttermilk Biscuits

Author Unknown

One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer.
The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, "Lord, I hate buttermilk."
The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going.
The deacon continued, "Lord, I hate lard."
Now the pastor was totally perplexed.
The deacon continued, "Lord, I ain't too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix 'em all together and bake 'em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits."
He paused, "Lord help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don't like, whenever we don't understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making.
After you get through mixing and baking, it'll probably be something even better than biscuits." Amen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A New Puppy!

Update: I've been trying to take and post the picture of the "puppy," but we had a snowstorm with unusually cold temps followed by a busted pressure tank. Due to continuing issues with the Flash Plug in, You'll have to look at the picture on Photobucket  Please excuse the baby cereal. I do the best I can while moving quickly to keep him from getting chilled. He never nursed on his mother..not even once. He is growing and gaining weight.

Well, not quite a puppy....

It's a pig. A newborn pig. A rejected pig.

It's an American Guinea Hog piglet. 

The sow was a first time mom and did not take to the experience. There were some influencing factors, so it's understandable. We believe babies are better off with their mothers most of the time. So, we've tried multiple times to get her to take the two survivors until there wasn't any other choice but to help them ourselves. We brought them indoors and started feeding both store bought colostrum. One of them was too weak from the get go so we figured it wouldn't survive. It didn't. The other is a fighter and is still going strong. 

By fighter, I mean it fights us when we try to feed it, but we get food in it!

I have been helping orphaned animals since I was a young child. Mostly, it's been puppies. So, I keep accidentally calling the piglet a puppy as I give it encouragement. "Hey puppy, it's time to eat!" "Come on, puppy, you can do this! Keep trying little pup!" "Good night, puppy! I'll see you in a few hours." If it survives the great odds against it, and it just might, it will probably think it's name is "Puppy!"

It is indoors in a crate during it's crisis, but it will be moved outside as soon as possible.

I will try to get a picture of the new "puppy" soon. I am suppose to be cleaning my bedroom :-)!

Ink Savings for Large Homeschooling Families

This is my affiliate link for my HP Instant Ink account. If you sign up for Instant Ink through that link, we both get a month's worth of ink for free.

We LOVE it! 

You need an Instant Ink eligible printer

This is an affiliate link to the one we purchased and are using. It was very quick and easy to set up with all nine of our computers. We had it working within a few minutes of taking it out of the box and plugging it in.

If you use more than few cartridges of ink a year, the Instant Ink plan will save you money. 

We signed up for the 300 page a month plan which is $9.99 a month. If you do not use all of your pages, 300 of them can rollover to the next month.

If we go over, it is only $1 per every 25 pages which is also a bargain compared to printer companies and libraries! We are very pleased with our membership and will keep using it for a long time to come.

Friday, January 06, 2017

How I Saved and Earned Money While Being a Stay at Home Mom

This was my response to a Facebook post asking what we mothers of large families do to cut back, save money, and earn money while being a stay at home mom. I've shared things like this before, but there are so many women who want to know how others have done things. They are literally hungry for information and encouragement.

Please excuse the typos. My days are very full, and it was written hastily to fit it into a quiet moment. If I wait for a moment to make it perfect, it will never be shared. I just don't have the time or the desire for the illusion of perfection any more..."good enough" is going to have to suffice. I hope it encourages someone else in their walk as a mother.

I've been a stay at home wife then mom for almost 30 years. I share this to encourage the young mothers to look for ways they can save money because there might be more from home you can do than you realize. Some of these things don't seem like a lot of money savings, but it really adds up and begins to build upon itself as the years pass. So, don't get frustrated, don't give up, just keep working at it. Glean through these posts and pick three things you can do and work at those.

This may seem like a lot, but it's been over the course of 30 years. I didn't do it all at once. I dropped things like couponing and rebating when I found better ways of making/saving money at home. I have sold books, clothes, goat's milk soap, items found at thrift stores, etc online. I make most of my own cleaners including laundry detergent, fabric softener, all purpose cleaner, etc. I cook a lot of our meals from scratch and in bulk so I have economical and nutrient dense meals ready to go in the freezer. I grow a garden and can produce. I have raised animals on our farm for cash sales, eggs, milk, and meat. I have made yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc from the milk. I garden and can our produce. I also pressure can and freeze ahead meals like roast beef, soups, etc which saves me time and a lot of money (compared to convenience foods and take out meals) later. I am a certified herbalist and make my own herbal blends for my pets, livestock, and family.

In my early marriage, I spent time developing skills like sewing so I could do things myself instead of hiring it out to someone else. My husband has done the same with car repair, plumbing, etc. I read dozens of family money management books like the Tightwad Gazettes and took away what I could use. I reread them now and then for tips that fit my life better now. As a young and overwhelmed mother, I studied how professionals clean to know how to do it efficiently to save myself valuable time and energy while homeschooling our children.

We reuse everything until it falls apart. If it's a vehicle my amazing husband can't repair, it then gets scrapped for cash. We also recycle, and the metal brings in a little cash. We look for free or inexpensive building materials. We consider purchases an "investment" so we do research and try to buy quality items we can use for years to keep from having to replace them.

We look for items that will give something back to us...instead of ornamental trees, I bought grapevines and fruit trees. For many things, I shop thrift stores first and then fill in the gaps with sales items. We use what nature provides..wild blackberries, persimmons, and elderberries grow abundantly in our woods. My husband cuts down our trees and gets them to a manageable length. Then, I and our children split and stack them for our winter heat. We usually are all working on the firewood at one time as an annual family event with a hearty meal afterwards.

I pick up leaves and pine straw from the curb for mulch, livestock bedding, etc. My sons just raked a yard of acorns to feed our hogs. The homeowner can walk without turning an ankle, got work done for free, and we are going to save a small fortune in hog feed.

I find free things to do locally for weekly family entertainment.

We have seven living children. We are debt free and paid off our home years ago. We pay for used vehicles and every thing else with cash. The farm sales and the ways I've learned to save have also allowed us to take two one-week vacations a year (with some extra weekends here and there) most years for the last ten years.

Living this way can be a lot of work, but I've learned the hard way to treat myself like I would a close friend. I give myself half days and even full days off to read or catch up on sleep as needed. I am content with my very joy filled life. I stay home a lot, avoid situations full of drama, and keep focused on my main job-my husband, children, home, homeschool, and ministry.

I know how hard the days are with little ones, pregnancies, housework, homeschooling, etc, so I sincerely hope this gives someone encouragement.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Roller Coaster

I have found that life is never all good or all bad. Grief and joy are often intermingled. We can have great peace and unbridled joy in some areas of our lives while having immense sadness and even anguish in others. Clint and I are blessed with a lot of joy and laughter in our home, but there are struggles and challenges. There is something in our life right now that has been going on for a while and is bringing us a lot of pain. The situation at present seems insurmountable, but we know where to look for Help. We are having to make some tough calls and venture into uncharted territory. We have no idea where or how this chapter will end. We don't even know what tomorrow will bring. Life is definitely a roller coaster ride with many twists, turns, heights, and valleys! We still take joy where we can, but there are times we cry deeply too. The next week is going to be full of challenges as we go forward where no one would ever want to go. Clint is at the forefront and needs intercession for wisdom, direction, and strength. Please pray for him to know exactly what God wants him to do and for him to have the strength to do it. We appreciate your prayers for our entire family as we take the next step in this journey.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Our gang wishes everyone reading this a Happy New Year!
May your 2017 be filled with an abundance of blessings!

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Birthday Present

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I remarked to Clint that I'd like to see all of our children together. 
He did this for my birthday. 
I love it!

What Does Unforgiveness Look Like (repost)

It is God-honoring when relationships are reconciled , and that doesn't just refer to marriages.  Shouldn't THAT be our main bring honor and glory to God? If you have reached out in an effort to reconcile, but the other party has neglected to reciprocate, God will still bless you for desiring to honor Him. God will deal with them, and their spiritual lives will be hampered because of their hardened heart.

At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion, and a lack of good things. Lisa TerKeurst.

Ephesians 4:26-32 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while
you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Unforgiveness is rebellion against God. It is the deliberate choice to refuse to
give up one’s resentment and the right to seek retribution based on the attitude that someone has to pay for something they did to us or someone else. It is a prideful attitude that elevates self above the offender. The more pride we hold onto, the longer it takes us to forgive and work towards reconciliation.

When we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, it manifests itself in our thoughts, words, and actions. When we think about that person, we have negative feelings instead of feelings of compassion. We will speak ill of them or speak unkindly to them. We will either avoid them when we see them coming or look for an opportunity to unleash our fury on them. We may have an inappropriate response to a different person or situation that reminds us of the hurt we have gone through previously. Unforgiveness may also lead us to give ungodly counsel to others. Unforgiveness is ugly. See what else is lumped together with unforgiveness in 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

God may keep bringing it up in our hearts to urge us to obey Him so we can be right with Him. However, we can ignore the Holy Spirit by hardening our hearts to the point He stops trying. Rebelling against His gentle, quiet voice can put us in the way of more consequences. He will still extend grace to the believer, but our spiritual walk will be hampered.

God tells us He will handle the situation for us. He knows how to speak to their heart and deal with their sin, and we do not want to interfere with God's work. Our acts of revenge, bitterness, and hostility only reap us more negativity.  

If Christ came to forgive us our sins and extend grace on all of the bad things we have done, then to example Him means we have to forgive others. Most of the things we hold in our hearts against others are meaningless when measured with an eternal view. (She stole your car, drove while drunk, crashed it, and put other's lives in danger for the few minutes she was driving. That's bad! Your anger and unforgiveness is putting spiritual lives in danger for eternity. That's even worse!)

“Do not let the sun gone down while you are still angry” does not mean “don’t go to bed angry.” It means we are to deal with sin quickly and without delay to prevent “giving the devil a foothold.” We are to make haste to take action! When we allow ourselves to hold on to anger, resentment, bitterness, we give satan power in our lives. It is so easy to allow those things to sprout and take root deep in our hearts and so hard to get rid of them.

Sometimes the person that committed the offense acts as if the reaction they received to the hurt they caused is worse than their offense. What we have to realize is that when we made the choice to rebel against God's way, part of the consequences of that sin is that person's reaction. We resent the reaction to our sin until we fully acknowledge our willful and deliberate choice to sin caused pain which triggered a response. Once we focus on our sin, their reaction shrinks in comparison. Then, we are able to find forgiveness for the reaction. Forgiveness requires humility.

Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin" Proverbs 20:9

When God clearly puts something on your heart to do, He doesn't want you to wait until circumstances are in your favor. Pride makes us think we know a better time than He does. He doesn't want you to hesitate while you build your confidence. Doubt makes us question. Your doubts, hesitations, and delay tactics are nothing more than sin. Once you know what God's will is, anything less than action is disobedience.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

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We can barely see the tree this year!! Don't worry about Caleb. 
He hates having his picture taken.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!!

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Friday, December 23, 2016

If God hears Christian’s prayers, why aren’t they answered? (repost)

1John 5:14-15 "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us; and if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him."

If God hears Christian’s prayers, why aren’t they answered?

1.)   James 1:6-8 “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” We don’t believe.

2.)   James 4:3 "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  Many times I have had to pray God would help me to get to the place where I could let go of my will (way). Not only does He helps me get on board with His will for my life, but He makes me happy with His will! We can also let someone else's desires (putting them before God), get in the way of God's will for our lives.

3.)   Isaiah 59:1-2 “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities (sins) have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that He will not hear.”  We have to stop doing what is wrong and live the way God wants. Anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, selfishness, any habitual sin will all affect how God hears our prayers and how He works in our lives. I like a close fellowship with the Holy Spirit and find it a strong motivator to stay close to Him.

4.)   Proverbs 21:13 “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”  We have to live generously in a way that reflects His love. Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last=JOY!

5.)   John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my word remains in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.”  We have to live according to His Word with truth, humbleness, love, generosity, forgiveness, kindness, peace, self-control, etc.

6.)   Ezekiel 14:3 “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?” We have idols (things more important than God and His will) in the way. We will not receive His blessing or fellowship unless we are willing to humble (letting go of "self" aka pride) ourselves and do as He leads.

James 3:17 “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 “All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

God wants you to be more Christ-like, not more self-like. That means you have to let go of some things and become something/someone else. This can be both a painful and joyful process. It can be especially painful when we hold on to our pride (self) and resist Him. Pride, especially spiritual pride, is very dangerous:  I Timothy 3:6 "...he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil."

I Peter 5:5, Proverbs 30:32, Luke 14:7-11, Proverbs 11:2

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Two more days!!

"Two more days and I'm eight! Two more days and I'm eight!! Two more days and I'm eight!!!" Hannah's very happy song this morning.

"Good! Mom started teaching me how to use the stove at eight. You can start making your own eggs in two days." Emily

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Truth is.... (repost)

I shared this thought on Facebook a few months ago.

The truth is..

...that the other person isn't affected very much by our unforgiveness. We can punish them with our silence or other ways, but we are limiting our fellowship with God. They may be seeing the difficulty in the relationship as an opportunity to grow stronger in faith while we are growing weaker. Their testimony will grow louder while ours stops speaking. They will be basking in His glory while we wallow in the filth of our rebellion against God's way of doing things. We will blame them for our misery, but our unforgiveness is self bondage. Choose this day whom you will serve.

Age of Entitlement (repost)

Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

It seems like working hard and enjoying your own earnings has fell away in our society. We live in an age where people feel they have a right to certain things without having earned them or rightfully been given to them.There are videos online telling others how to scheme to get the most out of welfare. The people who star in these videos are quite proud of themselves for their ability to manipulate the system. Even many middle aged and senior adults still have not learned to enjoy what is theirs without coveting what does not rightfully belong to them which is why this way of thinking is being multiplied in today's young minds. 

If you have not worked for it, you have not earned it. If God has not allowed you to possess it, it does not belong to you. If He wants you to have it, He will put it into your hand. Believing you are entitled to something that is not yours is coveting. Being angry because someone else received something you felt you were entitled to is a form of rebellion against God. Self control isn't just something you have over your actions. You have the ability to control the mindset you choose to have. Controlling our will to line up with God's brings us joy and thanksgiving. The other way brings anger, greed, resentment, and division which are not fitting qualities for children of the Lord.

"Have you bought into the world's lie that you deserve what you want, when you want it? Dear one, don't go down that path of destruction! Although there may be joy for the moment, pain and suffering will meet you at the end. "An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him" (Proverbs 17:11). Jesus loves you too much to let your pouting spoil things. Trust Him to meet every need you have, and you'll never get burned again by the world's empty promises. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:16-17)." read the rest of the AOP Daily Devotional entitled Pouting Pains here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

the Ball Brothers - It's About the Cross (OFFICIAL video)

This is worth the time to listen. This is why my family and I celebrate Christmas.