Friday, December 7, 2007

Do Not Give Up Meeting Together

I had an epiphany recently. As we were sitting together on Sunday night, with our new church small group. We shared a meal together. We praised the Lord in song. We partook of the Word, and of the Lord's supper. But mostly, at least for me, it was about being together, in the Body of Christ. Lingering in His presence, as we sought the fellowship of the beloved.

As I came reluctantly away from the meeting, a scripture whispered in my ear. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is..." (Hebrews 10:25a). I found myself wondering if this is what the Lord was referring to. This time of fellowship in a smaller, more intimate group, perhaps? As opposed to the modern church service? It is easy in many churches to slip in and out again without truly connecting with the Body of Christ. Surely this kind of disjointed "body" cannot function correctly. His blood must flow freely through His body and each member be cleansed continually by the flow. His muscles must be used in a coordinated fashion in order for Him to be effectively ministering to the world around Him. His members must be near Him to become like Him, for surely we become like those we are with, as "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18).

I think many Christians fall into the trap of believing that drawing near to the Lord is experienced alone. And certainly it is that, when we are communing with Him in our prayer closet, and seeking his guidance throughout the day. But it is so much more! We are exhorted to continue meeting together, to encourage one another, to confess our sins one to another, to a unity of the faith, to pray for one another, to sharpen one another, to love one another and serve one another. All of us together, striving toward the same goal. To be more like Jesus, from glory... to glory!

And what about being with others who may not have it all "together"? I remember thinking on multiple occasions that I really wanted to spend some one-on-one time with a Godly family. A family who had gotten some things that I was struggling with. But whenever I encountered such a family, I was always paralyzed by fear. Fear that they wouldn't want to be with my family because we were certainly not "together" in so many ways.

And then I went through my "together" stage. When I thought things were going pretty well. The kids were pretty well behaved and, well, maybe we should just hang around others who were "good" also. After all, we wouldn't want any negative influence to rub off on us. Perhaps you hear the sarcasm in my voice.

Being with Jesus means being with people. Especially people who don't have it all "together". And when you are seeking after the heart of Jesus, pressing in to be near to him, that means you are, like Him, surrounded often by people (self included) who miss the mark. It's not about us. It's about Him.

I am certain that I would not be experiencing this had we not been searching for a new church. A wise preacher once said "go where people are getting saved". Well, our fourth church out, we came to an out-of-the-way, hard-to-find church to see John Clayton, who happened to be speaking at this church. We had just finished a 17-week series called "Does God Exist" by John Clayton in our home school, and we found a card on the bulletin board at Panera which advertised the very same series. We went out of curiosity, to see what kind of church would promote his teaching, which is not mainstream in regard to science and Christianity. It turned out that John Clayton himself was there and we met him in person! It was very exciting. We decided to visit the church also, hear the preaching and I went to the ladies Bible study. Everything lined up, and we have never been to a more "alive" church. There are tons of young people serving God, several ministries to disadvantaged families and people really want to know each other and hang out and fellowship. It is very precious to be a part of.

So, anyway, I am now eagerly pressing in to the Body of Christ. I am hungry for fellowship and looking forward to each occasion where I can be with these people. I feel like a huge missing element in my life has been filled in, and it is glorious! Thank You Lord!

Inwardly Fashioned for Faith...

"I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath - these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely - these are my native air."

"A John Hopkins University doctor says, "We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact." But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; we are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality." -Dr. E. Stanley Jones

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Mark of Maturity

I vividly remember an encounter I had as a young woman in the Lord. An older woman in our church was giving me a piece of wisdom that I did not appreciate. It had something to do with the security of the believer, or lack thereof. I remember not the exact words which were given. But I do remember one thing.

The dissonance. I had received certain truths into my spirit which had been the cause for much rejoicing, and I was very protective of that world. It surrounded me. The contradictory dissonance rang in my ears in such a way that I was afraid to let it continue.

After all, if I let my worldview shatter, then I would be vulnerable. I would have to work hard to rebuild my understanding. Seeking out the truth can be time-consuming, and I believe many, myself included at the time, are far too lazy to be such a seeker.

Seeking the truth diligently is rather akin to being in a perpetual construction zone. It can be messy. And overwhelming at times. Chances are that as soon as one area is finished, another one will be crumbling and require attention. Yet continued diligence in this area will yield a world view which is strong and likely to crumble much less completely and much less frequently. The key is: let it crumble!

I believe in the world of Christendom it is very easy for people to ride upon another's understanding. And to blindly follow another's world view without having tested it themselves. This is why it is very difficult in some churches to ask questions. After all, who are we to question what Bible scholars and great pastors have "figured out" before us? Certainly we must respect our teachers and learn from those around us. But I have heard it said that any pastor worth his salt will be rejoicing when questions abound about the Word of God. I agree! And we plan to find such a pastor, as we are currently seeking a new place of worship, closer to home.

But truth seeking is not limited to the Bible; though to the yielded Christian that may be the only important thing. God gave us a brain and put us in a rational world; a world that makes sense. We can use our minds to understand that world. I believe we have a responsibility to peel back the layer of deception which is often found in mainstream media, and to be a seeker of the truth in all areas of life; to disallow the worldview of ease in our lives. We can do this in many different ways. The internet provides a way to look at history as it is happening, instead of waiting for the polished (often inaccurate) version to show up in a textbook. There are some very reliable news sources today. Just by having a mindset which questions instead of accepts, we can filter through a myriad of errors.

One of my favorite Christmas specials is Mister Bean's Christmas. In this hilariously funny episode, Mr. Bean goes shopping for some Christmas ornaments and he chooses two shiny balls. He decides to test them by bouncing them upon the hard cement floor. The first one shatters. He is undeterred, and throws down the second one, which amazingly bounces right back up. He smiles, satisfied that he has chosen the best decoration, and moves on (note that he broke it, but he did not buy it ;-) ).

I like his courage. He is not afraid to test something beautiful and fragile, though it may break, and in the end he has a durable, beautiful ornament that he can be proud of.

In my mind that willingness to forge ahead and find the truth, whatever the cost, is a true mark of maturity. For the last few years or so I have listened eagerly when others expound about the truths they hold dear, and I am thankful that I have learned to tune out dissonance (usually :-) ), as I examine my particular view of the world for flaws. My world view has changed, as a result, and I believe this is a very good thing.

These thoughts are the result of watching a passionate truth-seeker in action. I have grown to admire and emulate my husband's journey to find a truly consistent world view.

Note to husband: Nathan - you inspire me! I think you have the most consistent world view of anyone I know, and I love you for your love of the truth. I thank my God for you always...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

When Perfection Comes, the Imperfect Disappears

My heart was stolen by Mr. Self-Help. He was strong, and it seemed he could fix anything. Surely, my heart reasoned, this was the One for me. And my heart loved him, for a time. We read lots of books together. And he seemed to have all of the answers. That is, until my heart realized that he was just a box of bandaids, and he burned up in the fire. When the smoke had cleared away, I stood at the edge, overlooking the glory beyond, out of my reach. Then my heart cried for him, shook off the crusty bandaids, and moved on.

When Mr. Self-Denial showed up on my doorstep, I was intrigued. He was wiry and he moved slowly, but he seemed to have a lot of wisdom. I followed him, for a time. My heart thought, surely this is the path. If I give up food and pleasure, it will strengthen this heart of mine and I will see glory. Surely. But my heart could not do it, for it was surrounded by a weak and fleshly body. One day Mr. Self-Denial left me in the dust. When it had cleared away, I once again stood at the edge, overlooking the glory beyond, out of my reach. I didn't even cry for him.

I just stumbled over Mr. Penitent. He was kneeling in the tall grass and he looked up, startled as I fell over him. He had the saddest eyes; he seemed to be perpetually on the verge of tears. I liked that - a guy who could cry. I fell hard for him. We were together for ages it seemed. And he saw everything. My heart was an open book. Together, we poured it all out, but it seemed I would never be like him, and eventually I tired of those eyes. I realized that my heart would never be penitent enough. I would never be good enough for him, and when he saw that I despised him, he left me. I was so relieved, that I cried.
But I was still left with a wounded heart, surrounded by a weak and fleshly body. And I wandered, seeking a path to the glory which landed on my face but refused to permeate my heart.

At first I almost missed the knock, it was so soft. And the voice of Glory. Hope flooded my heart, and I threw open the door excitedly. He stood there with his arms wide open, pulsing with passion and life and love emanating from the source. I couldn't look upon Him, for the guilt which flooded my soul took the starch from my legs and I crumbled to the floor, sobbing. Slowly, I rose to look at Him again. He wanted me, I could tell. It was entirely unfathomable. How could this be? There was nothing that I could offer him; nothing that I could take to Him. How could I put my weak body in contact with His glory? It couldn't happen. I just couldn't see how it could happen! My heart throbbed for him, but my body trembled in weakness and fear. I turned away. When I looked up, He was gone.

I sat there in my house for days, feeling that nothing would ever be the same. Had I blown it? Because of my pride? But Lord, no good thing dwelleth in me... Woe is me! I am a woman of unclean lips! I am a woman with weak flesh....

Yet my heart desires You above all.

I made up my mind that if He returned, I would not draw back. And my heart mounted the wings of an eagle, waiting tirelessly for His presence.

This time His knock was unmistakable. It seemed that I had the ears to hear its sweet reverberations. I flew to the door and flung it wide open. Panting still with amazement, I beheld His Glory for only a moment before being enveloped in an embrace of perfection. His Perfect Body covered my weak body, and I melted into His death. I could sense my own death, and there was no longer any barrier. The blood of Christ flowed through my heart, cleansing and renewing. I knew that my weak and sinful flesh was disappearing in the waves of His white robe. I knew that His blood beat in my new heart. I knew that the dividing wall of hostility was ...... gone.

O Glory! Glory.

"21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven;..." Col. 1:21-23a

"6For 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." 2 Cor. 4:6

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Ration-al Revelation

Our daily rations are simple fare. We are always making changes, but many of our tastes remain constant, so we have created a menu which allows for flexibility. For instance, on Wednesday night we have Mexican food, so instead of getting bored with just tacos eaten a little too frequently, we sometimes have taco soup, burritos or just chips and cheese. But it's always on Wednesday. My favorite thing in the world to have is tacos, because I feel so healthy when I eat a taco salad with fresh guacamole, black beans (sometimes with rice), onions, cheese and fresh salsa (at least, this week we have fresh :-) ). Mmmmmm. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Here is our current menu:


Breakfast: Porridge - this is usually a mix of oats & 7-grain rolled oats mixed with grass-fed butter (if we are so fortunate to have this rarity) and real maple syrup. I will sometimes remember to grind up the golden flax in my freezer to sprinkle on top, but the kids don't like the flavor as much when I do - and Banana Kefir Smoothie. Today we shared a grapefruit, complements of Becky. Everybody loved it except the baby.

Lunch: This varies on a day-to-day basis. We will sometimes have peanut butter & honey sandwiches, with a carrot or an apple on the side. Sometimes if our bread is all gone we will have chips and cheese or crackers and cheese with a little fruit, nuts, seeds or veggies. And sometimes we scrounge for whatever leftovers we can find in the fridge ;-).

Supper: Pasta! My girls love to eat pasta, and I am so thankful that hubby likes it too. I am especially thankful that he still likes it when we don't have time to cook meatballs. Sometimes we have something else Italian, such as lasagna, but mostly we just have spaghetti.


Breakfast: Toast and eggs is typical. Sometimes a little later, for we often end up making bread on Tuesday mornings. If you check out the link on my sidebar, you'll see how we have made bread in the past. However, recently I have started using a new bread recipe which is soooo delicious that I hope to share it with you soon. We drizzle raw honey on the bread fresh from the oven and then smear butter over the top to make a divinely delicious breakfast (just as good as doughnuts!).

Lunch: With the bready breakfast, we will often just have fruits and veggies or maybe a little cheese & crackers for lunch.

Supper: Salad is supposed to be our Tuesday supper. If we happen to have lettuce on hand. If we don't, we just have baked potatoes (presently from our garden :-) ). Right now I have a fall garden of spinach, lettuce and radishes, so if the deer don't find our greens first, I hope to have some delicious Tuesday salads soon. When we have company over the weekend, we often will feed them wild salmon (Nathan cooks it perfectly on the grill) with pesto (made from crispy pine nuts from Nourishing Traditions & my basil plant on the veranda). Anyway, when there is some leftover Salmon, it makes a to-die-for salad when combined with cherry tomatoes & honey-mustard dressing! We had this recently with some surprize cherry tomatoes from the neighbors, and believe me, it was a Tuesday to remember!


Breakfast: Nathan leads the men's Bible study at Bob Evans or Cracker Barrel or some such place for breakfast, so to compensate for us "poor" homebodies, I make pancakes. Well, Rebekah and I do. She is on the schedule for meal helping on Wednesday mornings. They are always different, for I am in search of the perfect pancake. But they usually contain freshly ground Prairie Gold wheat with about a quarter buckwheat (my friend Becky swears that buckwheat has almost completely healed her spider veins), some buttermilk powder & occasionally a little leftover kefir or some ground flax. We use whatever oil is the most plentiful - sometimes coconut oil, sometimes butter, sometimes a little olive oil mixed in. We serve them with butter and real maple syrup.

Lunch: If we are out, sometimes it is a McDonald's hamburger (I know, I have to close my eyes and not think about it). Occasionally I will pack a lunch and we will eat by a pond in town and feed the ducks. A snack of whatever is handy is what we eat if we are at home on Wednesdays, but this is rare because we usually run out to get goat's milk and run to the library.

Supper: Mexican night. Mmm mmm. Everybody's favorite. Sometimes we will have Walmart's beef & bean burritos (no hydrogenated oils). This kids love 'em. Sometimes we will have tacos with all the fixin's (black beans, guacamole, onions, tomatoes....etc). And sometimes in the winter I make taco soup. Either way, it's good.


Breakfast: I hope to soon perfect my granola and have this every Thursday for breakfast, but presently we have either oatmeal, or kefir smoothies with apples & peanut butter.

Lunch: Flexible, as usual. Dried fruit, cheese, carrots & sometimes our special crunchy/salty grain mixture. We soak grain berries (wheat, spelt, buckwheat), sunflower seeds and whatever nut is handy in saltwater for several hours, then dry it out in the oven on the lowest setting overnight. It really satisfies salty cravings.

Supper: Chicken in the crockpot is our preferred Thursday dinner. We buy chickens from a local family, so that we can be sure to avoid hormones and antibiotics. They are amazingly delicious with just a little onion, carrot, potato & lots of salt and pepper. The meat just falls right off the bone after simmering on low in the crock pot all day, and we serve this simple dish over rice. The baby loves it :-). Sometimes we have garden baked potatoes (if it's 4:30 and the forgotten chicken lies frozen in the freezer). They are really much moister than what you get from the store.


Breakfast: Eggs and toast. We buy eggs from various nearby chicken-raisers. I will often send Nathan off to work with a raw egg-banana-goat's milk-kefir smoothie. He is going out with the guys presently, so I'm off the hook for his lunch right now.

Lunch: The baby toddles over to the pantry and fishes some apple chips out of the bin at the bottom. When I step on chewed apple chips or see a trail of them, I know it is time to get out the leftovers :-). Sometimes I'll send them outside to swing on the homemade firewood swings in the backyard with apples while I make phone calls or take care of business.

Supper: Generally it's either hotdogs or hamburgers. Last Friday we had a special taco night with company and watched Lord of the Rings. Occasionally we have make-your-own-pizza night. Usually on Fridays we will make some cookies also.

Breakfast: French toast is one of our favorite Saturday breakfasts. Deborah is pretty good at making it now. Recently, since the purchase of some Prairie Gold all-natural white flour we have been making some to-die-for! biscuits with coconut oil. We purchase nitrate-free bacon and enjoy biscuits and bacon-grease gravy. Then we sit around for awhile and think of all the things we could do if we had eaten a lighter breakfast :-).

Lunch: No thanks, that's all for me, I'm full [unmentionable noise]! If you're not, then you may get a handful of raisins or a carrot (or something).

Supper: Stir fry. Or Salmon. Or leftover Friday night fare. We are having stir fry this Saturday and continuing the watching of the Lord of the Rings with friends.

Breakfast: Some cheesy scrambled eggs, cooked light and fluffy, complements of Daddy Tippy. This is traditional. However, when we are running late, leftovers or bags of dried fruit, cheese and crackers is not out of the ordinary. We have a family van :-).

Lunch: Out to eat about every other Sunday. O'Charleys has 2 kids meals free with the purchase of one adult meal, so the kids eat free. It's hard to pass this up on Sunday. I have it as a personal goal to begin making the big Sunday meals and have people over on Sundays, but right now because we drive 30 minutes to church on Sunday, it is easier this way.
Supper: Chips and cheese. Daddy is gracious to usually take care of this so that I can work on homeschooling preparations.

One of the best things about having a menu is that the kids get into the habit of doing certain things every week. For instance, my second daughter always washes the potatoes and wraps them in foil on Tuesday nights. And my oldest daughter is nearly ready to be responsible for breadmaking on her own. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that my son David learned to make guacamole this last week, and he is now frying and scrambling eggs on Tuesdays (which means mom has less scrambling to do, if you know what I mean ;-) ). And cooking is home economics, which is definitely school time (as oppposed to cleaning). I think Mrs. Pearl had it correct when she had her kids doing all of the interesting things while she took care of the cleanup :-). Who says work has to be boring?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hand in the Hornet's Nest

I found this analogy from the Borg Blog to be extremely humorous, yet an accurate reflection of history and present positions:

How Recent and Would-Be American Presidents Would Deal With A Hornet's Nest

  • Jimmy Carter - Pretend it’s not there, and run like hell if they sting.

  • Ronald Reagan - Work to undermine the foundation of the evil nest, support the efforts of good bees, and swat the hell out of the hornets if they do attack.

  • George H.W. Bush - Swat the hell out of the hornets when they cross into another’s yard, and then contain them. Poke at them from time to time for good measure.

  • Bill Clinton - Find a small hornet nest that doesn’t threaten us and try to build a bird’s nest in its place. Take away their aspirin but not their leader if they do attack.

  • George W. Bush - Compromise pursuit of attacking hornet and stick hand into a different hornet nest, and then insert another. Ask for more hands to stick in nest when it grows bigger.

  • Rudy Giuliani/John McCain - “We need ten more hands now! Four for the one we are already in and two each for the other three nests that are looking at us funny.”

  • Hillary Clinton/Mitt Romney - “What will play best with my base now?” When all else fails, give free aspirin to all hornets everywhere.

  • Ron Paul - Calmly pull hand out of hornet nest and keep it out. Cease aiding and abetting potential hornets. Encourage hornets to become constructive honey bees by eliminating restrictions on trade relations. If hornets still attack - and only if they attack - swat the hell out of them.

  • It is such a refreshingly logical position. As opposed to the tripe we hear from many politicians in regard to foreign policy. I see it in a rather golden light. If we treat others how we would like to be treated, they are more likely to treat us right, or at least leave us alone. Simple, right? Safety is more likely in the absence of aggression.

    Yet we seem to be paranoid. I liken it to this situation - my own little analogy from my own little world :-).

    Johnny lives down the street. Johnny is mean. Some people who remind me of him hurt me. I'm scared. So I'm going to go and take care of him right away. I've staked out a tent in his yard. As soon as he looks like he's doing something suspicious, I'll sling a rock at him. Some other friends have joined me. So far we've wounded him thrice and broken several windows in his house. Naturally he and his family are rather upset, and fighting back. Some more friends are trying to teach them how to change their ways, so they'll be nice. They also want to fix the windows and help Johnny's parents to raise better children who get along. Johnny and his family want us to leave, but we feel like we have to stay until they have better relationships, and things are all fixed up. Lots of other people want us to leave too. They say that we are violating his rights. I guess I thought only nice people had rights...

    Surely the situation is more complicated, you say. And my analogy is not perfect. But our problem is that we are crowding out the simple truth by our "complications". We ourselves have no "right" to invade another country which has not attacked us (Iraq is not responsible for 911), just because they "might". Indeed, if we take away their reasons for doing so (our presence), we are more likely to live at peace with the Middle East and the world.

    We certainly have more of a chance if we elect Ron Paul. And I haven't even scratched the surface of the reasons why.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    A Typical Homeschool Day at our House...

    I'm really glad Candy suggested this, because it is soooo good for me to look at how we have been spending our days, and it is certainly time to take stock and make sure we are redeeming our time.

    We change our schedule a few times a year, but this is what it looks like presently. At least, when things fall flawlessly into place, which is rare :-). Keep in mind, it is currently a flex-schedule, which seems to fit our family well.

    My daughter Deb (7) and son David (9) get up at 6:30 (Deb - always; David - sometimes). Deborah is faithful to get dressed to the shoes, brush her hair, and do her math & writing. David usually takes a shower and works on Scratch, which is an open-source (that means free!) programming language for kids which David is completely in love with. And his Daddy has given him the directive to practice in the morning when his mind is fresh - I love it that he wants to please his daddy so much!

    Usually the baby wakes up at 6-ish and I nurse him back to sleep before stumbling back to bed for another hour or so of sleep (Nathan and I still lack the discipline to go to bed early ;-) ). I am roused to begin the day by one of two scenarios: either Nate gets up to shower and I have pity on his poor hungry soul, arising to fix coffee and a to-go breakfast of raw-egg/vanilla/banana/kefir dream smoothie or crackers, cheese & banana OR Joshua bounds into the bedroom, announcing enthusiastically "I'm hungry Mommy!"

    On Wednesdays Daddy leads the early morning men's Bible study at Bob Evans and I just see a wisp of steam and hear the faint sound of the garage door. On other days, I kiss Daddy out the door with his breakfast & coffee, then have a half hour or so to quickly shower, make the bed & tidy my area before tending to my enthusiastically hungry 4-year-old. Who, by the way, is always right there with me cooking oatmeal and serving it up. Generally if anyone is still abed at this point I rouse them, and they dress & report to the island for re-fueling. Meanwhile, Deborah dives into Mavis Beacon to get her typing done, and perhaps finishes her piano practice. David will often get his typing & piano done before breakfast also.

    At breakfast, we are currently trying to re-establish our breakfast scripture reading/memorizing habits. They fell by the wayside somehow during the busy summer months :-(. The kids right now are learning Proverbs 27:17 & James 4:17. After breakfast I allow the three youngest (baby Jonathan, Joshua & Rebekah) to help me clean up the kitchen lickety split while Deborah cleans the bathrooms (sinks, toilets, sweeping) & David vacuums the living room, hall & bedrooms. Sometimes the process is more lickety split, sometimes less, usually depending on the amount of enthusiasm & encouragement (or lack thereof) coming from yours truly. Last week I allowed the older kids to do their cleaning chores as part of their to-do list on the white board. However, I think it works out better when we set the timer and just get our work done together, so we will go back to doing it right after breakfast.

    After clean-up, Deborah does a little school time with the baby while I take Joshua (4) and Rebekah (5) under my wing to read, narrate & do flashcards (this doesn't always happen but I'm determined to make it stick). Then they can all play outside for a half-hour or so while I do any needed administrative work (phone calls, bill-paying...etc). The children are good about pushing Jonathan on the swing and helping him go down the slide. As I can see them right out the window, I will let him be with them for a short while before putting him in the playpen near me.

    After playtime, we all come in for reading time. I am currently reading Nathanial Bowditch as our read-aloud. We are reading through a poetry book. We are reading through some assigned old & new testament passages. All of this is assigned from the Sonlight Curriculum which I borrowed from my dear friend Jenny in Kentucky. The littler ones will often play quietly with Legos or Tinker Toys while I am reading. This way they get the benefit of hearing the stories, but they don't feel like it is a completely boring time. If we have time before lunch I will also go through Language Lessons with David & Deborah, from Susan Wise-Bauer's Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. I absolutely love doing the language lessons with the kids! I think they like memorizing the engaging poems & learning chants, but the copy work and dictation exercises are a little tedious for them sometimes. Rebekah is going to find it so easy to do them when we start because I think she has already memorized half of the poems!

    Lunch time is usually pretty concise. A little fruit & cheese, or a peanut butter sandwich. Some raw goat's milk if there is any left. I will usually do a really fast 5-minute cleanup and let the older children keep working on their lists, then occupy the smaller ones with a game or let them play outside some more. Around 1:00 pm I will put the littlest one in bed for a nap. He will usually sleep until 4:30 - 5:00 pm.

    David & Deborah, as I mentioned, have their to-do list posted on the fridge white board currently. They know to check things off as they accomplish them. Currently their list looks something like this: math, writing, reading, language, typing, piano, chores, room, laundry, baby-time. David has read alone time and read-aloud time. Deborah has read alone time, read-aloud time, read to Joshua time and a reading lesson with me. They know that in the afternoon they will be free to play, program or watch Cyberchase & Fetch if they have their whole list checked off.

    At 2:00 pm we gather in the living room for quiet reading time. Sometimes I'll do read aloud at this time if we missed it for some reason earlier; or catch up with our scripture reading; or rarely sit down and read my own book (I'm currently reading through the Uncle Eric Series). If Joshua is really tired, he will sometimes fall asleep on the couch. The others just read. David is reading through the readers from Sonlight. They are a bit easy for him so he flies through them. I used to read them aloud so everyone could hear, but it put too much responsibility on me, so I put them in a stack for him to read through in order. David and Deborah will usually narrate from the scripture reading, but this is a weak point with me; I sometimes forget to have them narrate, though I usually ask questions. I know that narration is such an important skill and I always try to make it happen regularly, but we aren't there yet.

    If the kids have done well, they are allowed to watch a show in the afternoon at 3:30. This is usually my time to either catch-up on my email, work on a project, take a cat-nap or blog. And I touch base with Nathan at this point in order to make supper plans. At 4:30 we start supper. The children all have a night to help. Lately I have been swallowing my desire for easy clean-up and letting them make more messy things like biscuits and cookies. They have so much fun! I intend to loosen up even more; especially when our wheat arrives, which incidentally, did not show up last Friday because they had trouble locating a driver and it never left the warehouse! But I have a clean garage ;-).

    We eat when Daddy comes home, or without him if he has meetings at work or church. David & Deborah are responsible for cleaning up dinner; though usually I will put away the food and wash the big pans. David is my wiper/sweeper extraordinairre. Deborah will clear and wash the dishes, or unload and load the dishwasher (if it's working). They are sometimes motivated with outside play, sometimes with dessert ;-). Tonight was an exception; Daddy forgot to have them do cleanup (I was taking an important call) and so here I sit with a messy kitchen behind me ;-). Anyway, it will get done :-).

    The evenings are often spent outside to enjoy the cool shade which happens in our front yard just before sunset. Nathan and I will sometimes sit in the rockers on the front porch and watch them swing, slide or ride bikes up and down the gravel road in front of our house (it connects only to the neighbor's house, so there is not much traffic). Lately Joshua will push Jonathan in the little red car up and down our front walk.

    Before bed we do different things, depending on the night. On Monday Daddy reads to the children from the Uncle Eric Series. On Tuesday night we watch Nova Science Now. On Wednesday night we go to piano lessons (usually earlier on). On Thursday night we have presentations. On Friday night we watch movies or play games. On Sunday night we watch an excellent video series entitles "Does God Exist" by John Clayton. It is a 17-part series (about 8 hours total), in which he clearly shows that there is no conflict between science and Christianity. He also shares his quite extraordinary testimony and some dynamic sermonettes which are wonderfully insightful. We watched the last one yesterday. I can't wait to start it again, but we'll probably wait a year or so.

    Bedtime means a story (if we are there early enough), a prayer, a hug. Teeth brushed (and sometimes flossed), a time of mild-roudiness while the kids sometimes horse around a bit, children sneaking out for "one more drink" - they hug each other and say goodnight; the baby talks for awhile. Then blessed quietness.

    Nate and I usually hang out in his office for awhile, and unwind (sometimes with ice cream :-) ). We will sometimes watch the latest on Ron Paul & the elections. We will often watch a documentary - currently we are on part 3 of "The Power of Nightmares" which is a history of how Neoconservatism and Islamic Fundamentalism came about in the 1940's & 50's. It is fascinating stuff! Speaking of which - I'm late! I'd better get down there :-).

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    The Wedding that Never Happened

    Grandpa Tippy (Nathan's father) passed away 3 years ago, of cancer. Grandma (Nathan's mother) took care of him in their home in Washington state until he died. Then she took care of lots of other old people; many of them until they died. We finally persuaded her to move here about a year after Frank died. She lived with us for a few months before she was drawn down to S. Illinois to take care of Great-Grandpa Tippy, her father-in-law. Do I need to mention that my mother-in-law loves old people?

    In the meantime, an old friend of the family, Dale from Michigan, was drawn to Grandma. He came to S. Illinois and helped Grandma remodel Grandpa Tippy's house so that she could take better care of him. He helped Grandma often. Over the next year or so, Grandma and Dale (we call him Grandpa Dale) fell in love and decided to get married.

    The date was set for July 7th - at our house! Dale's family was coming, and we were building up to it for the prior two weeks; getting all our duckies in a row, so to speak. We clipped the hedges and cleaned the house; including all of the carpets and some of the furniture. Grandma and Dale were going to "officially" tie the knot on their way up from S. Illinois to our house in Missouri, and then have a ceremony at our house with just close family, with Nathan presiding.

    Well, with a week to spare, Grandma & Dale called the whole thing off. However, I guess the eye-catching title of this post is not entirely accurate. It implies that it never WILL happen. And I believe it's been rescheduled for Christmas-time. :-)

    We were not at all upset that we had worked hard to get things in order. I am always very thankful that we have some "event" to get ready for, because that means that most of the things that need doing will get done - no slouching! We had friends over for the 4th of July, passed out lots of Ron Paul DVD's at fireworks, and had a relaxing weekend. I don't have to start thinking about the wedding (that happened) until after Thanksgiving ;-).

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Update / Children Slide Down Stairs on Winter Sled

    During the last month, I have often longed to be blogging. Subjects have flitted in and out of my consciousness as I have transitioned between the worlds of homeschooling, campaigning for Ron Paul, beginning a new wheat business. Titles such as "Children Slide Down Stairs on Winter Sled", "Hermit Crab Nearly Dies in a Loose Shell", "Mother Succeeds in Creating 5 Ron Paul Revolution Signs w/5 Little Ones in Tow (with their help of course :-) )", "The Wedding that didn't Happen", "The Bleeding Economy", "The Lawn that didn't get Mowed - and Why" and "The Paradigm Shift that Rocked My World". These are just some of the things that come to mind, and they are not in the right order.

    Hmmmm. Which one shall I write about? I'll start with the first one right now, just so that I can get going on my list.

    I am currently cleaning out the garage, because any day now the Wheat Montana truck is going to arrive carrying 5,000 pounds of wheat and the garage is truly a pit. So today I carried coolers, carseats, boxes, furniture & sleds up to the loft above the garage to make some room to sweep up all of the trash which has somehow remained in the garage for the last month or so. Well, actually I stacked these things in the hallway just inside the garage which leads to the stairs which lead above the garage.

    And little 4-year-old Joshua discovered, you guessed it, the cool winter sled! Not the big clunky one, mind you, but the smooth one with handles designed to move with your body. He climbed to the top of the stairs and I had to investigate when I heard him having way too much fun. Now, my kids normally slide down the stairs in their footed pajamas, and they are so fast! But the sled, well, it was PHENOMENALLY FAST! Like, GET-OUT-OF-THE-WAY IF-YOU-DON'T-WANT-TO-GET-HURT fast. So I let them slide downstairs on the sled while I fixed lunch. And no one was hurt. And I have a new activity I can pull out of my hat to occupy my little ones, which, by the way, is my weak area. Planning and occupying.

    So, what should I write about next time? If anyone still reads my blog, let me know what you want me to write about. Right now I have to take my fifteen minute break while the kids watch Fetch. It's educational :-).

    Monday, July 9, 2007

    Our Nation's Tax on the Poor

    My husband calls it "The Great Enabler", and prays everyday for it's destruction. Let's face it folks, our country is broke, and we literally cannot afford to wage war all over the planet, when our borders at home remain unprotected. The American people are taxed, of course, but it is not near enough money to finance the money-hungry monster which is war. So we borrow trillions of dollars from China. However, since we have debts which require huge sums just to pay the interest (does anyone see the snowball?), it is still not enough.

    Hence, the Great Enabler. It is the Federal Reserve, and it allows our government to continue on, unhindered (for now) by the consequences of unsound monetary policies. Here's how it works: The government issues bonds. The Federal Reserve buys them with the money they have printed. Congress pays interest on the bond back to the Federal Reserve for money they didn't have in the first place. The banks also lend printed money to the American people who pay huge sums of interest back to the banking industry. This is why almost anyone today can borrow money, even when they have very lousy credit. Banks are willing to take chances because the money was "free".

    Now, here is where the poor-tax begins to make sense. When the money is first circulated, it's value is inflated by the market's current money supply, giving a huge advantage to the government and the banking industry. But by the time that money trickles down to the average American, the market reflects an increased money supply. This makes our dollars worth less (not worthless, mind you, at least not yet), and therefore reduces our purchasing power.

    This may not seem like much to those who have some margin in their budget, but to those who don't have much to begin with, it really hurts! The poor people of America are the hardest hit by the unsound monetary policies in Washington right now. It's not big business, though that certainly plays a role. I think it's time for the American people to wake up, and take an interest in putting people into government who will make changes that will truly help our people.

    Right now, there are very few politicians who have this understanding. Ron Paul teaches about it continually, and I am extremely impressed with his ability to hold his own in any situation. Last night I looked over at Nathan after watching his interview with Stephanopolis, and it just clicked with me.

    Ron Paul has a clear conscience. He will go on any show and speak forth these truths (and a host of others) because he has nothing to hide. He has walked his political career with integrity, he understands the economy, he understands history and wants to restore this great Republic.

    Lord, help him.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Not Yours To Give

    When I mentioned the account of Ron Paul's response to the proposed Commemorative Gold Medal for Ronald & Nancy Reagan, all I could think about was this story that floated just out of reach. I have researched the story, called Not Yours To Give which was originally published in "The Life of Colonel David Crockett," by Edward Sylvester Ellis. I will summarize it for you here.

    In the 1820's & 30's Colonel Davy Crockett was, like Ron Paul, a congressman for Texas. He was one day standing on the steps of the capitol when a fire broke out in Georgetown. After he and several other members of congress offered aid and surveyed the damage, Congress easily voted for $20,000 in relief efforts, which sounds quite laudable on the surface.

    Later on, as Davy Crockett was surveying his district and preparing for an election, he happened upon a farmer who told him flat out that he shouldn't waste his time - he wouldn't vote for Davy Crockett, due to the $20,000 of relief Congress had awarded. The full story lays out in detail the farmer's response to Congressman Crockett. The gist of it is this: the Constitution does not give Congress the right to use the people's money for charity. Here are portions of the farmer's response,

    "It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means...."

    "...If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give at all; and as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. 'No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity....'"

    "'...So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people [emphasis mine]. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.'"

    Davy Crockett humbly received this farmer's correction, and learned that this farmer was none other than Horatio Bunce, a man well-known for his great intelligence, kindness and benevolence. He told Davy that he would vote for him, on the condition that he would acknowledge his error before the people. Horatio organized a barbeque for him, and Davy delivered what he says was his best speech ever, and gives credit to Horatio in his story. Horatio endorsed Davy Crockett to the people, and Davy writes,

    "there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before. I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress."

    As Davy tells this story in its entirety, he opens with a situation in Congress, where a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. The bill had already been supported heartily in Congress and moving speeches made. Davy Crockett then opposes this bill, and is successful in shooting it down. Here is a quote from his address:

    "We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money."

    The story of his encounter with Horatio is in response to an inquiry of a friend as to why he had opposed the bill. The whole story is definitely worth reading. This particular link is found at Love to Learn and is part of a lesson plan for children, replete with vocabulary, geography & comprehension questions for homeschoolers.

    I'm sure it's obvious why I think of Ron Paul when I read this! Ron Paul seems to be the only one on capitol hill right now who recognizes that the American people are being robbed to finance a myriad of unauthorized things. Consider the following:

    "Foreign aid is a system by which the American taxpayers are forced, in the name of national security or defense of the “free world,” or charity, or whatever the politicians tell us, to subsidize US export companies and prop up client states that are often ruled by dictators.

    Constitutionally, of course, none of this spending is authorized. The US Constitution was written under what is referred to as “positive grant.” In short, what this means is that the federal government is authorized to engage in only those activities specifically authorized by the Constitution. Positive = authorized activities. Grant = specifically listed.

    Just to make sure this principle was legally codified, the Tenth Amendment was included:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    There is no authorization to pay for spying in Mexico. There is no authorization to prop up dictators in places like Pakistan with your money. There is no authorization to spend your money on “military assistance” for other countries. There is no authorization to funnel money through the CIA to support regime changes. The Constitution was written in plain English – there is nothing there which authorizes the federal government to take your money and give it to foreign governments. For any reason."

    If we desire to reign in the government that we have allowed to run amok, then we have the responsibility as Americans to educate our children about the Constitution, and vote for Ron Paul and others who advocate limited government and walk with integrity in regard to our Constitution. In closing, here is a quote from The Wall Street Journal:

    "Ron Paul has a record of philosophical consistency unmatched in recent congressional history. He seeks to limit government at practically every turn. His refusal to compromise is legendary."

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Banana-Kefir Smoothie

    My son David is particularly fond of this recipe; in fact he helped to develop it himself. I am absolutely thrilled that he loves it, for he tends to be one of my more picky eaters, and I feel good knowing that he is partaking of something as wonderful as kefir. Kefir is a cultured beverage, which (like yogurt) is extremely probiotic in nature. Here is an excellent website which gives everything you want to know about kefir (and everything you didn't want to know :-) ). Dom's Kefir Site is very fun to read because it is written in such an engaging style.

    We were blessed when the wise and gracious Robyn (Mama of 7), from whom we buy goat's milk, gave us some kefir grains (and sold us a $6 strainer), and we have been having these smoothies every other day since then. It is so easy! We just pour fresh milk over the strainer, which contains the kefir grains, and then set it in our pantry for a few days until it is of the right consistency (kind of lumpy). When we use it up, we transfer the kefir strainer to a new jar, pour fresh milk over it and then begin the process anew.
    So, without further ado, here is this easy recipe:

    Combine the following in a blender, chill (if you can wait) & enjoy! My son will often add color to the smoothies, so it will sometimes be rather vivacious looking :-).
    1 quart kefir

    1 quart milk

    1/4 cup raw honey

    2 bananas

    1/4 tsp. vanilla

    5-6 strawberries (optional)

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Ron Paul - America's Hero!

    In the spirit of Davey Crockett, Ron Paul voted against awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan, though he was one of only 4 congressmen to support Ronald Reagan. Here are his supporting statements:

    Dr. PAUL: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 3591. At the same time, I am very supportive of President Reagan's publicly stated view of limiting the federal government to it's proper and constitutional role. In fact, I was one of only four sitting members of the United States House of Representatives who endorsed Ronald Reagan's candidacy for President in 1976. The United States enjoyed sustained economic prosperity and employment growth during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

    I must, however, oppose the Gold Medal for Ronald and Nancy Reagan because appropriating $30,000 of taxpayer money is neither constitutional nor, in the spirit of Ronald Reagan's notion of the proper, limited role for the federal government.

    Because of my continuing and uncompromising opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution, I would maintain my resolve and commitment to the Constitution--a Constitution, which only last year, each Member of Congress, swore to uphold. In each of these instances, I offered to do a little more than uphold my constitutional oath.

    In fact, as a means of demonstrating my personal regard and enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan's advocacy for limited government, I invited each of these colleagues to match my private, personal contribution of $100 which, if accepted by the 435 Members of the House of Representatives, would more than satisfy the $30,000 necessary to mint and award a gold medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. To me, it seemed a particularly good opportunity to demonstrate one's genuine convictions by spending one's own money rather that of the taxpayers who remain free to contribute, at their own discretion, to commemorate the work of the Reagans. For the record, not a single Representative who solicited my support for spending taxpayer's money, was willing to contribute their own money to demonstrate their generosity and allegiance to the Reagan's stated convictions.

    It is, of course, very easy to be generous with the people's money.

      If you are interested in reading the whole story, here is the link. I will be writing soon to summarize my reference above to Davey Crockett - a fascinating story!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007


    I was so confused. There were many things that needed doing and fuzz-brain was having difficulty getting her butt in gear. My dear husband helped me. He said "Danielle, I want you to figure out what the most important thing is, and do it." I was also given direction in how I was to do it. Sweetly. This may give you a clue as to my true need. And I'll tell you that I really thought hard about what I needed to do next.

    I finally sorted it out. I needed to reconcile our checkbook. This was certainly the most important thing. After all, how would I know if there was enough money in there to buy milk this week (fresh, raw goat's milk - mmmmm!) if I didn't update things? So I trudged over to my computer with a *smile* on my face and ignored my true need.

    It's easy to center ourselves on our perceived needs. As a parent, we realize that we aren't as consistent as we need to be, so we center ourselves on being consistent. As a wife, we realize that we aren't being loving enough so we focus on being a more loving wife. Maybe we see that we need to be gentler to those around us, and we try our best to be sweet. On the practical side, we see that the dishes need to be done, so we do the dishes. Or we see that the house needs to be painted, so we paint the house. (Or we reconcile the checkbook, like mu-wah.)  So much of our lives are centered around the "tyranny of the urgent". And, like a bunjee cord, we snap back to the object of our true heart focus when we aren't paying attention.

    But there is only one thing that is needful. Centering ourselves on the Lord Jesus Christ. is. for the believer. essential. In such a way that we are breathing Him. Eating Him. Drinking Him. We are to fix our eyes upon Him, our need upon Him, our hope upon Him. And when we do, it all clears up. Sweetness isn't much of an option, because the banquet of Jesus will bring the smile of a chesire cat to our faces. It used to seem like a miracle to me when this happened. And I guess it really is a miracle. That the Christian identifies with Christ in such a way that he is truly dead, as the scriptures say, his life hidden with Christ in God. This death is the only thing that makes it possible for us not to be ruled by our flesh. Centering ourselves on the Lord Jesus Christ means reckoning ourselves to be "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:11).

    Yet there is more to centering on Jesus Christ. That affection, ripped away from our fleshly appetites, must. be. put. on. Christ. *Period* And Him alone. And we do this by singing his praise and thanksgiving to Him "all the day long". By putting on praise music and remembering to thank Him often for little and big things. Even when we don't *feel* like it. For our affections, like a bunjee cord, will snap back ravenously to whatever our flesh was previously fastened to, if we don't firmly fix our eyes (& affections) on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

    "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
    Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Hebrews 12:1-4)

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Founding Father Material

    Once in a very long time there comes along a fellow who truly has the potential to direct the affairs of a nation with understanding. Our founding fathers were such men. They understood the dangers of government, and put one in place which left the power where it should be - in the hands of the people. Thomas Jefferson has many quotes on this subject, the shortest being "[It is] the people, to whom all authority belongs." (--Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1821. ME 15:328) We utilize our "authority" as we elect officials and communicate with our leaders.

    However, there seems to be a problem when the majority of Americans believe one thing, and our leaders are directing us elsewhere. Consider our current state of affairs. No one would disagree that we are currently "at war". Yet our constitution has given us clear directions in regard to declaring war. It must be declared by congress, and congress is to declare the will of the people. Our constitution puts the seat of power in congress for a very good reason. Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, observed:

    "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

    I believe our founders understood this well, and that is why our government was formed just so, with all of it's checks and balances. What I want to know is, why are we at war now, when our congress has not declared it? One congressman, in fact, proposed legislation which declared war and our congress would not vote for it. So it seems that "we the people" are being carried along by a small minority. I say it's time for a change.

    In the past I have tentatively endorsed candidates for president or other offices. But this is the first time I can wholeheartedly recommend an individual for president. Congressman Ron Paul, in my opinion, is "founding father material". Here's why:

    • He is the only candidate who will only vote for something that is expressly stated in the constitution. And, here's the neat part - his voting record proves it! He has, for nearly twenty years, stood consistently on his principles! Today in the world of politics, this is truly unique.

    • He is the only candidate who believes there should be less government; therefore he's the only one with the fortitude to steer our country toward true fiscal responsibility. Consider this: he annually gives back a portion of his office budget to the US Treasury. I don't know about you, but when I hear of a government official acting righteously (not just giving lip service), it gives me great hope for our country.

    • He didn't seek out to candidate for the presidency; others have, like they did George Washington, propelled him forward to a difficult calling to serve our country. In the past, a career in politics was unusual. Men would have a career in some worthy occupation, and then serve our country later on. Ron Paul is such a man. He had a career in obstetrics and delivered over 4000 babies! He also served our country as a flight surgeon in the US Airforce in the 1960's.

    If you have listened to the Republican debates, you know what I mean when I say that he has understanding of history, government & our constitution which seems to be lacking in many of the other candidates. He also, according to the poll results, is the clear winner of the debates, even though the media is downplaying him and not giving him as much air time as the other candidates. When I hear Ron Paul speak, my heart beats with pride to be an American! I remember what our country was founded upon; what made her great, and I shake my foggy brain and want to make her great again.

    In summary, I believe Ron Paul is a man of integrity. He is 71 years old, and has used his considerable intelligence to understand economics, historical patterns of government, and the intentions of our founding fathers in designing our country like they did. I pray that other Americans will really listen to him and rally behind this man of wisdom and strength.

    Friday, June 8, 2007


    For the third year we have stepped into the heretofore unknown world of gardening. It is becoming more familiar to us, but we still have a lot to learn. This year is doing well - especially the cool weather veggies, as we are enjoying a cool spell. I absolutely love green onions from the garden! Rebekah also has a little wild onion garden in the forest. She will often bring me a handful before dinner :-). They are one of the first veggies we can eat in the spring because they grow so fast

    In October we will finally plant garlic. I've even written it on the calendar so I won't forget, as we have the last two years. So far this year we've planted spinach (not coming up - I must do some research), black seeded lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, onions, potatoes, and gobs of tomatoes! Our lettuce is delicious and we eat it with every evening meal - it's really good with the green onions. It is especially rewarding to be able to supply the fresh vegetable for a meal from our garden. The three oldest children also have a little square garden that I roped off with string. They have planted what they desired to plant from our collection of seeds.

    We plan to mulch again with straw or hay, using the Ruth Stout method. Ruth Stout gardened diligently until she was well into her 90's. Though she is no longer with us, her many articles and books about gardening bring much spunk and wisdom on the subject. She is mostly known for her method of laying down straw or hay at least eight inches thick in order to smother weeds and prevent watering. As soon as I can get ahold of my straw provider, we will have them deliver a truckload of straw bales. The kids will have great fun for a week or two playing on the straw bale stack; then we will begin mulching around the plants and between the rows. After a few weeks, when a few weeds will begin showing their ugly faces, we will just cover them up with straw so they can't grow through. Simple! But still a challenge in the hot weather when we would prefer to stay inside with the A/C on :-).

    Though we don't plan to need a lot of watering once we get the mulch on, we have determined that there is a need to have a water supply closer to the garden. A hose laid across the yard just doesn't cut it! We decided this after two hoses burst due to hot weather, and one hose was shredded by an inattentive mower (I'm not naming names her :-) ) Having a water line put in would cost about $1500, so that was out of the question. So, my sweet husband decided he would bury a hose across the yard. He ran the hose along the back of the patio, up the edge of the cement stairs that lead to the garage, and off the landing into his trench, which is the shortest route of ground to the garden and goes downhill. The trench leads to the edge of the garden, so when we do need to water, it's a cinch! And o-so-much-better than dragging the hose off the yard every time you want to mow.

    We have also experimented with two ways of deterring critters from the garden. The liquid fence (foul smelling liquid that deer hate the smell of) is not very cost-effective or fun to use for the garden, but we like it on our apple trees. The water sprayer with the laser eye (I'm not remembering the name of it right now) was very effective for awhile. The device is battery-operated and attaches to your hose. When it senses movement in the vision of it's "eye", it will then spray a semi-circle burst of water toward whatever critter is invading our garden. Generally speaking, this was very effective in scaring them off. However, it was not as effective when the plants began to grow too tall and thick. I think the next thing we will try is the electric fence; if we can find the time and money this year.

    We also planted 4 new apple trees this year, which seem to be doing very well. We planted them in a semi-circle around the apple tree that Nate's dad planted before he died. However, Nathan did find ants - big, fat, black ones - on all of them last week. He learned that the ants were there because aphids were present; the ants were trapping the aphids at the end of the branch until they were nice and fat from sucking the juice out of the leaves. Then they would eat them. What was the solution? Dish soap, diluted with water, and sprayed on the aphids, effectively killed the aphids (and some of the ants). This solution seems to work well for a lot of yard pests. Our decorative cherry tree was attacked by tent caterpillars this spring, and dish soap did the trick with them also. Now I just need to find the solution for squash bugs. I found some of them on my zucchini plants and I refuse to leave a pail of bleach water in my garden, where the children often are present.

    In summary, I love my garden! And I love a good portion of the work associated with it. But I still have so much to learn and so much work to get into a likable pattern. Anyway, it gives me a great deal of security to know I am working on it, when I consider the current state of our economy.

    Monday, June 4, 2007

    To Provoke or Not to Provoke


    I winced at the high-pitched scream from the back seat. Turning to face the perpetrators, I questioned my son and daughter carefully. The truth came forth easily. It was a case of mistaken provocation. We were driving along in our van on the way to our campsite in Iowa for vacation. My daughter had leaned over to get her crayons, which had dropped to the floor, and leaned into my son's pillow. My son, assuming he was being provoked, reached out his arm to shake off the annoyance. This provoked said scream from nose-bopped daughter (as well as the following discussion and this blog-post :-) ). The fact that the annoying behavior was expected shows that one child is not guiltless. Both children are responsible for their reactions and for the expectations others have of them based on past actions (parents are also responsible to train their kids up right, but that is another discussion).

    After the above incident, Nathan and I were discussing the reasons that annoying and provoking one another is such a problem, given that unpleasant consequences are often directly evident. Is the demonstration of power and manipulation more important to the child than the potentially painful consequences? Does the child forget that such consequences exist, or is he just so self-centered that he can't see them? Certainly Godly parents will strive to train their children up to see the folly of such actions and to look out for the best interests of those around them. Yet provoking behavior & consequences is certainly not limited to siblings.

    A particularly good example is the way women dress. If a woman chooses to wear short, tight-fitting or otherwise alluring clothing, she is likely to provoke men to lust; certainly some men more than others. She is also likely to have consequences for her provocative behavior. She may end up compromising her innocence on some level (sometimes the consequences for this come sooner, sometimes later). Or she may end up being raped or murdered, having become a target of some man who lacked restraint. The point is, if provocation occurs, consequences should be expected.

    But this begs the question - is she entirely to blame? No, not entirely, but she bears more responsibility than our society would lay at her feet. Consider David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba could certainly have chosen a place to bathe which was less visible than a rooftop! Modesty here may have averted a long chain of disastrous consequences, including much bloodshed, and the death of an innocent baby. Yet here was King David, taking a stroll on his veranda, obviously idle during the times when kings go to war. (Perhaps industry is the cure for much provocation? My little ones just need more constructive activities! :-) ) Many would lay the blame for the heinous sins that followed entirely in David's lap. I believe Bathsheba bears partial blame.

    Another example of provocation is a tad controversial, but still deserves attention. Many Americans believe that we were attacked on September 11th solely because we are the subject of unprovoked hatred; that Muslims hate us merely because we are free and because we are "rich". This is simply not the case. Since before I was born, we have had a military presence in Saudi Arabia, considered to be the Muslim holy land. I question, along with Congressman Ron Paul, "what would we do if they were building bases here?" Would we not be provoked by such an action? It is simply not logical to provoke someone, and not to expect consequences. I agree with Congressman Ron Paul that we have a flawed foreign policy; it is not our job to be the policeman of the world. The consequences, or "blowback" of such provocation are simply too great.

    So the inevitable consequences of my ramblings brings me home to My Father's Words...

    "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not." James 4:1-2

    "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works..." Hebrews 10:24

    "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. " Mark 16:15-16

    "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." Col. 3:21

    "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth." Col. 3:8

    Sunday, June 3, 2007

    They Ate All Our Hotdogs!

    At first we were confused. We believed the hotdog wrappers which littered our campsite came from the trash they had invaded. But after we had stoked up a fire the next day, we realized that we had no (zero, nada, zilch) hotdogs left in the cooler. And our butter was decidedly mutilated. Let me explain.

    The first night at our campsite was beautiful. The wind blew through our popup camper and the temperature was just right. But some noises disturbed our restful night. I groggily opened my eyes to hubby shining his flashlight out to scare whatever critter dared to approach our groceries in the night. It didn't work. So he reluctantly came out of the camper to investigate. Here's what he found: a raccoon with his hand in the cookie jar! Well, really we didn't bring our cookie jar with us. Nor do we actually own one. However, we did bring our butter, and this resourceful raccoon managed to pry the lid off with his claws, sit back on his haunches, and eat much of our tub of butter! I would give much to be able to have a picture to show you, but all we have are claw marks on the butter container (sorry, I didn't get a picture of that either).
    The next night Nathan and I sat around the embers of our fire and chatted in the dark. I saw the outline of a large, fuzzy creature walking down the middle of the road. His eyes were round, focused flashlights in the night. He was completely fearless; used to taking what he wanted from unwary campers. He was the king of his domain. This was the last I saw of him for the duration of our camping trip.

    Friday, June 1, 2007

    Magicicada Mania

    I am stilled awed with the wonder of it all.

    Rubbing their wings together to make a familiar summer song, cicadas and I were only marginally familiar with one another. That is, before this last week. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I think I assumed that this bug was just like any other. I feel that I have been re-educated. By the critters themselves. They were simply inescapable; crawling out of the ground by the hundreds; transforming an otherwise boring campsite into a homeschool room to be envied.

    The Magicicada is a periodic cicada with a 13 or 17 year life cycle. This particular brood (brood XIII) of cicadas will not return until 2024 - we were fortunate to have landed right in the middle of the most exciting part of their cycle! There were holes everywhere on the ground just like this one:


    The cicadas burrow out of the ground as nymphs, leaving holes like the one above. Then they crawl up nearby vegetation (or laundry :-) ) and begin their transformation. At nightfall, we were able to get pictures of them in their various stages of change.

    Here is a nymph crawling up a pine tree right next to our picnic table.


    Here is the nymph opening his shell and beginning to change.


    Note how he has curled his body back onto the tree.


    Now his wings are beginning to fill in and take shape.


    Here his wings are almost formed, but he is still white. Only his eyes stay the same. A magnificent red.


    The fully formed cicada is much more colorful:

    The cicada will hang around for six days or so waiting for his exoskeleton to harden, at which time the males will begin calling to the females with their signature cicada song. They produce the sound using their tymbal, and the females respond by flicking their wings. This attracts the male to the culmination of his life, after which he weakens and dies. The female lives long enough to deposit her eggs into a twig. About 6-10 weeks later, the nymphs will hatch, fall to the ground, and burrow below to find a root to snack on for 17 years of so. How fascinating! I can't help but think how utterly long it takes this cicada to mature. Once he matures, his only goal is to reproduce, which takes but a short stint into the sunshine (is there a lesson for me here Lord?).

    Yet I think he is happy. That is, when he is not being attacked by a purple dinosaur:


    Or carried around by a giant bi-pedal creature.  :-).

    I am so awed to have been a part of this rare event. Thank You Father, for giving us a glimpse of Your marvelous creation! My eyes have seen, recognized and glorified the amazing God of the universe. The merciful and mighty God who authored and perfected my faith; the creative genius who authored and perfected... the Magicicada.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Gleanings on Memorization...

    Jacob Tu Tu's father was right on the money when he said "do it until you get it right, then keep doing it until you can't get it wrong." He inspired me to keep playing the hymn I was learning on the piano. Even when I couldn't get to it for several weeks, it was always in the back of my mind, and when I sat down at the piano to play I practiced the same hymn. Many times it was boring, yes. And many times I just wanted to start playing something else. But I was determined to memorize this hymn if it was the last thing I did.

    Well, I am happy to report success. Not perfection, mind you. But I can play it many times through without a mistake, and how it thrills my soul to be able to worship the Lord without distraction on the piano. Another benefit is that I can work on technique without having to worry about which keys to press. It is so freeing! Also, I have already noticed that playing other songs is easier. Maybe because my brain is more easily recognizing common intervals. For the record, my goal is not to become a concert pianist, but merely to be able to easily play hymns and perhaps to compose simple worship songs.

    Memorizing scripture gives the same benefits. When we take the time to commit His word to our minds, it is easier to focus on what He is saying to us. It is also easier to understand His word, for the scriptures interpret themselves when you have other related scriptures coming to mind as you read. When you are well-nourished, it is easier to enjoy the presence of the Lord :-).

    Much like the habits in the physical world bring a certain automation to our activities, memorizing written material brings automation to our minds, and memorizing music brings an ease to playing heretofore unknown. It is like a groove which is whittled deeper each time you pass over it. Soon it is no longer a chore to move the same way. Eventually it is difficult to go any other way. You are hemmed in and able to enjoy the activity.

    I am convinced that mentally there is really no difference between memorizing a song on the piano, and learning discipline (or teaching it to a child). Until a person is constrained to obedience and self-control, he is really not free to enjoy his life (or activity). Just as a young child who is being allowed to disobey or break rules is unable to be truly happy for the mental tension which is present in his little heart, so the child of God is unable to be truly happy if God is not the ruler of his spirit. Indeed he will not be happy until he is hemmed in by the author and perfecter of our faith; walking in the Spirit with all diligence.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Crazy for Critters

    Lately, when my little girl Deborah goes outside to play, she has one thing on her mind: catching frogs. The toads and frogs are abundant this year, and they seemed to have moved into the large stump in the front yard, as well as into the landscaping rocks beside our house. I'm afraid they don't stand much of a chance with Deborah around, for she has a really sharp eye. Here she is with a lovely tree frog she caught last night.

    DJ & Frog
    Here is the same frog, on top of the baby's head :-).

    Jonathan Frog

    Over the weekend, Deborah found a baby bird beside the house. She promptly brought it inside and we wondered what to do with the fuzzy little fellow. We learned from our research that we should leave it near where we found it and clear away all of the hoopla, observing from afar to see if Fuzzy's Mama would return for him. We were concerned that she wouldn't want him for the essence of Deborah, which surely clung to his fuzz. The ornithology site we visited assured us that birds have a poor sense of smell, so she would likely still want him. Here is a picture of Fuzzy. Isn't he cute?


    Well, after observing from my bedroom window and giving him a nudge closer to his Mom, whom we found was searching in the wrong place, we had success! They found each other, and the mother was able to get her little baby to waddle off after her :-).

    I don't have any pictures of the critters my son Joshua brought into the house. We found his shoe in Daddy's office, full of pill bugs. But I do have a picture of some pill bugs that the children played with in the dollhouse earlier on in the spring.


    Life with children doesn't get much more interesting, does it?

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007

    Journeys Around the Sun...

    Today, my dear husband Nathan joins me in the land of 35 rotations.  The way I see it, he is now half-way done, so to speak, in the oven of life.  Of course, if you add our years together we are already complete.  That is, numerically, if the number 70 means anything at all! (Biblically, 7 is the number of completeness and 10 (according to this source) means the completeness of order).  Anyway, 35 times around the sun means nothing at all if you do not have the Son.  For "in him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4).

    I am so thankful that I have a husband who desires to serve the Lord, and to be a good husband and father.  Recently, I wrote him a note and put it in his lunch.  Here is an excerpt...It really captures my appreciation for him :-).

    "Shiny!" I say as I peer through the window of life's glass, at the soul of my beloved.

    He wipes dishes,
    scratches itches,
    moves at the wishes - of his dear ones....

    This exhortation from Philippians 2 often reminds me of him..."Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."  Truly I am blessed to be able to say such things!  Thank You Lord.

    Humorous Anecdote:  I often pull multiples out of birthday years (or special meanings, such as when we turned 33).  Once I was doing this for my mother-in-law, as she was turning 51.  She looked at her husband with a raised eyebrow and said "I'm three 17-year-olds!"