Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pictures of Our Life Lately

 We have a had a lot go on in the last couple of weeks but I haven't always gotten pictures. But here are quite a few pictures that we did take....

Aaron having fun with a balloon.
 Dad showing us how to graft apple trees again. It is kind of tricky.
 Granddad and Nana came to visit!! This visit was an exciting one because they bought a house here!
 Aaron bought a new (to him) mandolin off of Ebay. He had been wanting an F style so he saved up his money and bought one. He has been enjoying it.
 Mara has helped me some as I have worked to graft our apple trees. That has been a challenging job.
 We saw a kayak for sale in town so Aaron bought it with the rest of his money (not counting what he has in the bank). He is now nearly penniless but has two things that he has been wanting for a long time - a F style mandolin and a Kayak. Nana was trying it out in this picture.
 Megan's 11th birthday was on Sunday. She wore the dress that she made and we curled her hair. We had family over to help celebrate.
 Angel food cake is her favorite.
 Megan loves to swing. The one that the boys had hung on a limb here got knocked down when a dead tree was cut down last summer. Megan has been wanting a swing ever since but we didn't have any more good limbs for swings. Dad fixed up this frame for her and Aaron made her the swing. She is enjoying it.
 We have some "teenage" chicks at our place. I meant to get pictures when they were little and cute but I failed to do so.
 Thursday evening we went to our electric co-operative meeting where Mara was recognized for having been chosen to attend the Rural Electric Companies youth tour to Washington DC. Here she is meeting the CEO.

 Here is Aaron in his Kayak. We have been loving getting out on the water!
 Practicing my cello. I have been really working to spend more time practicing my instruments. I love doing it but it is easy to put off. In February my goal was to practice (not just play - actually work to improve) the piano every day. I think I may have missed 2 days but I did pretty good. March I chose to focus on the violin/fiddle and this month the cello. I have missed more days with both of those instruments but I am practicing many more days that I don't. It has been good for helping me improve.

 We have been transplanting a lot of crab apple trees that we got the first Spring we owned this land and I planted them temporarily in the garden area. I have been finding them permanent homes and moving them. I have also been moving my highbush cranberries. It has been fun but rather exhausting work (especially working on it today following a 17 mile bike ride). I have also been working to graft most of the crab apple trees.
 Maiden hair fern coming up in the woods.
Megan working on her fort. She is making it with sticks and adobe. She plans to make it into a hobbit hole.
She made this wood stove for her fort but when she tried it out the tape (which I thought might be heat resistant) she had used on her chimney melted and she ended up with a chimney fire. Trying was good experience however.

What has been going on at your place lately??

Monday, April 17, 2017

Homestead Dreaming!

    I have been doing a lot of homestead dreaming lately. We recently ordered our garden seeds and that always gets me thinking on the homesteading line. I am so grateful God for giving us a place where we can work to grow much of our food and just for the way He provides food for us. It is such a fun and amazing process and our God's design is amazing!

   Here are some of the things that I have been dreaming about working on at our place this year....

- Moving the apples trees, cherry bushes and highbush cranberries out of the garden space and into their permanent locations around the property. We need to do some grafting of better apple varieties on the crab apple root stock. I am thankful that my Dad can teach me to do that and that he has a bunch of good apple varieties to get from. I have been working on this a lot the last couple of weeks. I still have more work on this project.

-I am hoping to plant raspberries and black raspberries. Ken's employee at his insurance agency said that she had a bunch of black raspberries plants that produced well and multiplied a bunch and we could get some starts of them if we would like. I am hoping to take her up on that offer this year.

-Figuring out more ways to cut down on the cost of chicken feed. We did buy in bulk this fall and that has been really nice and has saved us money but there are also ways to raise some of feed as well which I hope to try. Here is an article with lots of ideas for saving money on chicken feed. I found it very interesting. And no, we probably won't be trying all the methods. Some might be a little TOO interesting. :-) I did just buy a bunch of sunflower seeds (the black seed type that is especially used in chicken and I believe rabbit feed) and I have a placed figured out for planting a large patch to hopefully grow and use for feed.

-I am working to grow ginger as a houseplant. I did get some planted and we just noticed that some shoots are poking up. Exciting! This video has a lot of information on doing that. I love to have fresh ginger to cook with and growing our own will be so neat. We do have a friend that has been doing it here in MN so I am confident that it should work well.

-I think it would be neat to grow turmeric as well. I did buy a root of that as well and it is planted but nothing has come up yet.

-I also got some lemon grass that I have been soaking and hope to plant soon.

-I really hope to do more fishing this year and figure out how to make that a larger portion of our diet.

-I am planning on keeping bees again this summer and really hope to get them fence to protect them better. I also will be exploring ways to work at overwintering my bees. I haven't done that successfully yet but I would really like to try harder to make that work.

- We are adding more varieties of herbs to our gardens this year.

-I am hoping to do a lot more seed saving this year. That is such a fun way to save some money and not having to rely on somebody else.

I do think it would be so fun if we could get the large majority of our food off of our own place. I wonder if we can truly get there or not. The family in the video below really makes me think that we can but I know that it won't happen overnight nor will it happen accidentally - it will have to be intentionally. I do love dreaming about it.

Do you have any dreams for your home and yard?

Jesus is Coming Again!

Today many celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The death, burial and resurrection is central to our faith as Christians and it is fun to be reminded of it's importance. Since Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven we are now looking forward to his return someday. This post is about what the Bible says about Christ coming back.

Christ will come again - check out all these announcements of that fact:
"Jesus said to him, You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Matthew 26:64

"And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11

It is also pretty cool that every New Testament writer refers to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ: Matthew (25:13), Mark (8:38), Luke (21:27), John (14:3), Paul (1 Thess. 4:16), James (5:8), Peter (1 Peter 5:4) and Jude (vs. 14 and 15)

What will Jesus' 2nd coming be like?

"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." Mark 13:26

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." 1 Thess. 4:16 & 17

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10

"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30

"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Mark 13:32

"So if they say to you, "Behold, He is in the wilderness," do not go out, or "Behold , He is in the inner rooms, " do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be." Matthew 24:26 & 27

People will react to the 2nd coming in 2 ways.

Christians will rejoice ~
"Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:13

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 7 & 8

"So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." Hebrews 9:28

The unsaved will face it with fear ~
"For after all it is only just for God to repay with afflictions those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away form the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed - for our testimony to you was believed." 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30

Are you ready for Jesus' coming?

"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:42

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Bee Baby Shower- Using What I Had in My Hand

 This past Saturday my sister Keren and I hosted a baby shower for the two newest arrivals in our congregation. We held it at the church building (because we wanted to make it wheel-chair friendly). The two little guys who's births we were celebrating are named Buirlen and Brody and so we decided to have a "Bee" ("B") themed party. It was a lot of fun to prepare for. I love hosting parties and decorating for them. I really especially love see how we can make it cool using things we already have on hand. So I didn't buy anything for this shower (not even the gifts or prizes) but I was able to use things that I already had on hand and had great fun doing that. This post is a little bit picture heavy but I hope you find it fun! :-)
Making a last minute welcome banner.
An old burlap potato sack became a banner. Decorated with silk flowers that were laying around, bees we made from felt, felt letters and fabric scraps.

The "B's" were our guestbook  as well as decoration. In their former life they were boxes, curtains, pillowcases and cards. The & chalkboard was borrowed from my house for the event. I had made it earlier from a log slice and chalkboard paint.
 For the "B's" we had each guest put a thumbprint on a little circle of cardstock (what I had cut out of old cards and such) and then add details to make it into a bee and also write their name on it. Then they pinned it on the B. At the welcome table they did that as well as guessing how many M & M's were in a jar and how many bees spent their whole lifetime working to produce that jar of honey. We also had a sheet of paper to fill out for the babies about what we wished for them.
Some of the prizes that I brought (to give out for winners of the games) were jars of honey,

This bag that I had been given at a bridal show and I decorated for the occasion,
This hand mirror that I had in my stash and also decorated for the occasion using bottoms that I rescued from an old jumper.
 We had fun with centerpieces. Keren brought in this geranium. I added bees that Megan and I had made from felt and cellophane that had come wrapped around flowers. I mounted all the bees on curly wires that had been saved from old calendars. The wood slice and watering can I had on hand.
 My old Winnie the Pooh (from my babyhood) and another jar of honey got put into use for another table.
 Megan and I made a few skeps for other decorations. In their former lives these skeps were old yogurt containers, newspaper, a partly done macrame project (that had been given to us) and then the calendar wire, felt and a flower wrapping.
 Another centerpiece made from things I had on hand and the bees we made buzzing out of it.

A close-up of the bee and it's cellophane wings.
We stuck bees in some of the containers of flowers that were already at the church building too.
 We had fun making the invitations. We were a little corny on it saying: "Two little Honey Bees have arrived and we're buzzing with excitement!" But we had fun. I am glad that I already had a set of bee stamps to use. We also used these stamps to decorate napkins and the paper for the games we played. I did re-purpose brown packing paper for making the invitations and the envelopes.
 We were able to use some silk flowers that were already at the church building for decorations. The chalkboard vase was one I made a while back from an old olive oil jar. The Chalkboard is another of mine from home (It is a slate tile that I bought for very little at the Restore). I stopped by the side of the road to pick pussy willows and other branches.

Megan and I made pins for the mommys. I re-purposed old political pins and more of the party finished macrame project.

 Keren made the lovely cake complete with M & M bees on top and a delicious filling! I made Lemon bars, Honey and Ginger cookies (that were supposed to look like skeps) and popcorn. Keren also brought lemonade and peanuts and I brought Mint Tea and honey.
For the gifts I had fun using some yarn I had on hand and making sweaters and hats (which they will grow out of very soon - unfortunately!). I also made Brody a blanket and Buirlen (and his mom) a nursing cover. I had started working on Brody's sweater a while back (and I actually made the blanket last year) but was planning on a making a very colorful sweater for Buirlen as his Momma loves colors but when we decided to have a bee theme I knew that I needed to make a bee sweater. I was happy that I did find black and yellow yarn in my stash.

   Buirlen slept through much of his shower. Brody didn't - when I held him he just stared and stared at me but when we tried to take the picture he thought it was a pretty bad idea and complained quite heartily.
Another friend gave Buirlen his yellow boots. This cute little guy is also my nephew. His daddy is my younger brother.
 We were trying to figure out a good pose for our little bee.

 That is one of the fun ways I was able to use things that I had on hand. How about you - how have you had fun using things that you already had lately?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Seeking To Simplify - My Way of Having a Simple Homeschool

    Homeschooling is something I am pretty passionate about. I love being able to teach my kids at home. I love getting to learn with them and being able to teach them wholeheartedly about spiritual things along right along with the learning about everything else. I just love being able to be together a lot - and not having to spend most of the school days apart. I also love seeing them grow and develop and see things "click" when they understand something.

   Because we love homeschooling so much and because I see how wonderful it can be for teaching out children about the Bible and living for Jesus Christ - I want to see everybody that tries homeschooling to be successful at it - to love it as much as we do. It makes me sad when I see young mothers who are homeschooling but are feeling stressed out and burdened by that journey.

  Homeschooling is an area where I think simplicity can be very beautiful!!!

   We were at a small local homeschool book sale this past Friday and coming up soon in our state is the state wide homeschool conference which many will go to and look at all the different options for books and curriculum and I believe many will go away feeling overwhelmed and unsure of their choices. I know  many will go away feeling very blessed and inspired too so I am in no way knocking these events, I just know how seeing so many different options and ideas affect some people.

  But even beyond homeschool curriculum fairs, just in normal life, I have seen many families getting bogged down in the process of homeschooling. I don't know how many moms that I have visited with that struggle with knowing how to get every subject covered by every child. My heart goes out to these families that are trying so hard but feel like they are not getting everything covered and that they are failing. I believe that homeschooling does not have to be that hard (sure there will be some struggles - these is in pretty much everything worthwhile). I want to share with you some of the ways that we have worked to keep things simple in our homeschooling journey....

  • We do not have to have textbooks for every subject. In fact we use very few. Textbooks can be useful and sometimes they can even be very interesting and fun but often they are a little dry. Kids often don't feel inspired by them and so parents are left assigning them and making sure they get done. We do still use them regularly for Math and for some other subjects off and on but it is not a large portion of our day.
  • Not every subject has to be worked on every day, every week, every month or even every year.  For us we do have some core things that are worked on most every day throughout the school year - Bible (without textbooks!), Math and some sort of working with words/writing are done every day but not so with everything else. We hit many of them very often but not always. This year we decided we needed a stronger emphasis on science - so we have spent more time on it. Mid year my husband declared (after helping some kids proofread essays) that we needed more working on English Grammar so this Spring that has had higher emphasis. You can observe  your children and see what they are learning naturally and what you can give them to help them in that learning and also see where you need to prompt some learning to happen. :-)
  • We like to learn from REAL, LIVING Books just as much as possible. This is a Charlotte Mason term for using books written by people that are passionate about what they are writing, ones that have a personal knowledge of the subject they write about - they have lived them. We use these largely instead of textbooks. They are written in an interesting manner and they catch a child's interest. They can be non-fiction and even fiction that is written about History or Science in a way that we can learn from it.
  • We do a lot of learning together through me reading aloud and then they tell me back (reciting) what they have learned. This is done with all of my kids together. I love this so much! This is how pretty much all of our Bible, History, Geography, Science, Art, Literature and more is learned. They also do non-required study on their own in many of these subjects just for the fun of it.
  • We try to limit any textbook learning/ individual subject work to a couple of hours in the morning and then around an hour of reading together after lunch. It is a schedule that is do-able for me and also does not overwhelm my children.
  • We do try to keep learning opportunities available at all times - year round- for our children. Just because we don't have lots of textbook time doesn't mean we can't learn. We have shelves full of fun educational books, we visit the library, we learn how to do things from others, we watch things that educate us on Youtube. There are so many opportunities to learn - let's have fun doing that!
  • We try to remember what really matters. Whether my child becomes a genius is not important. What is important is if he loves Jesus Christ and loves his neighbor. Whether she is honest and hardworking. I did/do also hope that all my children would love to learn and delight in discovering what God made for us to enjoy.
 When we go into any part of parenting, whether it be homeschooling or simply training, it can feel overwhelming and beyond our capabilities. Parenting is truly a challenge - and I think it is one that we are better off not trying to handle on our own. I am so thank-ful for the parenting advice given me when my oldest was a baby: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5.   I remember a time thinking - "God I can't do this, I am afraid that I will fail in training my children so that they will follow You." I was reminded that it doesn't rely on what I can do but rather God is the one who has the strength and wisdom that I would need for each day. Only through Him would this mission of raising children be successful. 

  Now that my children are a little older and I can start to see the end result it makes me so very thankful for all that God has done for us. He has blessed us over and over again. He is so very faithful!

   I think some might question whether the simple methods that I listed above truly work. I believe they do. But mostly I would say that it isn't the method that is as important (different ways work for different people) as just leaning on God for wisdom and trusting Him. But because I believe there are mothers out there that are feeling overwhelmed with a heavy load of schoolwork but hesitate to try something like what I listed above I want to tell you a little about the success that I see in my kids. This is completely to the Glory of God! Without Him I don't believe these would be true...

  • We are blessed to have 4 children who love Jesus and have turned their lives over to Him.
  • We are seeing ACT scores that win scholarships.
  • We have children successfully working for employers.
  • We have children who have successfully run their own little businesses complete with book work and certification needed for that.
  • We have children who have won essay contests.
  • We have children who are leaders in our homeschool community.
  • We have children who volunteer.
  • We have children who love to learn.
  • We have children who are smarter than us in so many areas - Ken and I have figured out who to ask when we have questions in different areas. This is so delightful for us. No need to google things - we can just ask our kids.
  • We have children who are well respected and loved in our neighborhood (Filled with mostly elderly people).
  • We have a daughter who was chosen to represent our community in Washington DC because she was such a "well-rounded and community minded individual". 
 I think simple learning works but most of all I truly believe God works in amazing ways. 

 So, if you are a mother that is struggling to get everything done - this post is for you. My dream is that you could find rest in Jesus Christ and seek His leading through-out this homeschooling journey and truly be able to find rest and joy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What the Bible Teaches about Physical Death

 Death... something that affects all of us. It is a real part of our lives but since none of us here have ever been through it, it is easy to look at it with uncertainty and sometimes even fear. God knows everything though and how helpful it is to be able to see what He says about it.

 Death entered the world because of sin.
"but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." Genesis 2:17. When man ate from the tree God then said that he would die and not live forever. " By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Genesis 3:19

See this also: "Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" - therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life." Genesis 3:22-24

Unless we are still alive when Jesus Christ comes again - we all will face physical death.
" And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement, so Christ also having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." Hebrews 9:27

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:12

Jesus came so we could have life.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy"; I came that they may have life,  and have it abundantly." John 10:10

"Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of ht same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil," Hebrews 2:14

"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on my, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." Revelation 1:17 & 18

When Jesus comes back the dead will come out of their graves.
"Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." John 5: 28 & 29

" Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of GOd; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." 1 Thess. 5:17-18

Christians do not need to fear death.
" For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake." Philippians 1:21-24


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