Thursday, July 30, 2009

Perfect Peace

Well, the kids and I went blueberry picking today with an elderly gentleman in our church. We got four gallons...I was impressed with the kids...they picked till the buckets were finished ...no complaining. We chatted, laughed, and realized when the buckets were nearly full, that no one had even eaten one yet!! I gave Isaac one and he was hooked. I wish I would've had my camera....he was shoving them in by the handfuls. We came home and I made 7.5 pints of blueberry freezer jam and put up lots of 1 cup bags to use this winter in cobblers, sauces, pies, etc. While I was working, I started contemplating... *grin*...

The verse "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee" came to mind. I was thinking that so many times we ( I ) get caught up in thought processes that are detrimental to our happiness. It's like you're going along perfectly content and you figuratively stump your toe on something that smarts and starts you to fussin'....Could be you noticed again that one of your possessions isn't "up to par" with a neighbor's...take my van for instance. It's a '95 (gasp)...can you believe that???? I gets me from A to B...it has an ac...it's not even rusty...but every now and then I take my eyes off what matters, and I start looking around. Now Darren and I have had this discussion too many times to count. We decide we're going to get a new van. We look around...contemplate makes and models ...go back and forth over the color...and if we talk about it long enough, we always come back to "ah well, ours runs and its paid for, why bother adding on a payment when you don't have to?" It is soooooooo tempting to want better things, shinier things, things that show the world we are happening and in the know. It makes it so easy to lose sight and in doing so, lose our contentment. It's not just possessions either...it's something someone said that raises our hackles everytime we think of it; or maybe it's hidden jealousies, insecurities, or resentments. Whatever it is that makes us lose sight of the joy and peace we should have in Him....it's a toe stumper...it makes us look down instead of up.

I've just finished a book entitled "Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret"....such a good book. He was a missionary to China in the late 1800s. I continue to be amazed by the life he led...his faith seems so real I felt I could've reached out and grabbed a hold of it. What a beautiful life! While living a life fraught with trials, dangers, and uncertainties, he found perfect peace in God. He came to realize that we don't have to constantly be striving to be close to God....that if we are His children, we abide in Him already! Taylor says "I have striven in vain to rest in him. I'll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me - never to leave me, never to fail me?" It reminds me that all these things surrounding us are sooo temporal...of no lasting effect. The toys we have now are but whispers in eternity. It's what lies within us that matters...it is He that can give contentment and perfect peace. Anyway, I was just thinking that I'd love to be able to share my faith the way Hudson Taylor did...to be able to show others in a tangible, daily way that He makes a difference in my life...that He is the light within me that shines outward. I'd like for others to know that He gives me peace and joy and contentment. I gotta watch out for those toe stumpers :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sarah's Colonial Dress

I finished Sarah's dress!!! I have never been so excited to finish a project...seriously, I could hardly go to sleep last night for wanting to get up and look at it one more time...sounds silly but I just couldn't believe how several yards of fabric, a sewing machine, notions, and some help from my mom could produce a dress so cute!! I managed after much contemplation to finally get started Thursday ...the much contemplation involved figuring out which side to lay the fabric on and which side to lay the pattern on (blush). After I got it laid out and pinned, I started cutting away...with that finished, it was on to the actual sewing. Ouch...my lack of knowledge was glaring me right in the face...basting? stay-stitching? darts? gathering? OH MY!! So, off I went to view how-to videos on youtube. Thank goodness for the "infonet".... :) I put the five bodice pieces together ..realizing to my utter dismay that I had incorrectly cut the notches in as opposed to out...now who knew which way they were supposed to be cut???? Well, now I do...in hindsight. sigh... Anyway, I was supposed to put interfacing (whaaat?) at the top and gather the skirt...and then I realized, "Oh my word!!! It has a ZIPPER????" You have to be kidding me. What a nice way to break in my sewing experience. So, I called my mom and pleaded with her to help me out just a bit...and she caved and came over for a couple of hours yesterday. She showed me how to gather, put the sleeves on, and sew a zipper!!! Yeah! I am a visual kind of person...helps to see what I'm supposed to be doing. Anyway, I got it hemmed and had time to add the trim last night. I loved adding the lace and bows ...that's the fun part.

Okay, now for the heart part...I gotta tell you...seeing Sarah in that dress makes me sigh. It is soooo little girly and feminine. Makes me wish again for days gone by. I mean, just look at her...she looks like a LITTLE girl...not all this "cool" stuff they make for little girls now. It looks so innocent and sweet. I think the clothes make the attitude alot, ya know? You put a little girl in something that resembles an adult "sexy" outfit...little mini skirt and glitzy top and she takes on a different persona...I've seen it. So, I'm thinking, just as with little girls, maybe it works that way with big girls too. I was thinking last Sunday as I was getting ready for church...what am I dressing for? It's a humbling question...one that has a risk of exposing you to yourself :) What do I have in mind when I put this particular dress on? Is it that I think it shows my form well? Is it that I think it makes me look pretty? Do I ever contemplate modesty? Do I consider how it portrays me or the persona I may take on while wearing it? Made me think a little more while preparing to go to my Savior's house. ...I mean, that is why we go right? To worship Him...not to be seen, not to shine, not to show off...we go solely for Him and the fellowship with fellow believers. I don't know...you know how the old ways...picking green beans, making old fashioned dresses...it just sets me to contemplating :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frontiersman Shirt :)


Yeah! I finally got up the nerve to put the scissors to the fabric :) I can't believe it turned out relatively correct! Jacob seems to be pleased. I made Malachi's too....the chest on his is a little tight...darn it. But it's wearable...
Sarah's colonial dress will be a completely different story tho...the pattern is pretty involved..especially for yours truly who does not possess seamstress skills. Well, might as well see what I can do. But not right now...I"ve had enough sewing for one day :) I am off to paint the blue top coat on my dining room chairs....or iron...both need my attention.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I have to be the luckiest mom alive :)

One of those days that just make you smile....

Today was our weekly day to visit the libraries and get groceries. Yes, I take all four of my children. Only Isaac on occasion gives me some hassle...and let me tell you, when he is good, he is very good, and when he is bad....he is very bad :) But that is neither here nor there, because as I just said, today was one of those days that just make you smile :)
We started out with Malachi and Jacob organizing our library books into piles for the two separate libraries. We generally check out 15-20 books per child or more(obviously we take free wholesome entertainment seriously :) ...anyway, the boys separated the books, helped carry the bags to the van, and off we went. We had a nice conversation on our way to the first library. At the checkout, I just happen to casually ask the guy if he knew a local entomologist (for Malachi to talk with)..he says "No, but I know a geologist...me" ...yeah!! Said he would talk with the kids when we cover geology!! I love it!
At WalMart, Malachi spots a huge orange moth on an elderly lady's buggy and we stop her and her friend to see if we can have it. She is so accommodating that she takes her cabbage out of the bag and gives him the bag too! Come to find out, they are both retired teachers and enjoyed seeing his enthusiasm for science.
I have started trying to distress paint our new dining room furniture. It's totally unfinished...so I thought I would paint it dark brown and then paint a dark blue over that, and then sand the blue down on edges, etc to get a cool distressed look. Well, to shorten the story, I've made a couple of wrong moves and I mentioned those to the elderly man at the paint counter. In short order I received a thorough paint education! How I love competence and knowledgeable sales people! :)
I feel as tho I may be able to correct my mistakes and finish the job successfully!
So, today was one of those days....I enjoyed being with my children...enjoyed their chatter, smiles, and acts of kindness toward each other. I enjoyed intelligent conversation.
I am so looking forward to spending the weekend with Darren and the kids. We have been running to and fro nearly all week. I am very ready for home time. It's my favorite thing with my favorite people :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crazy Hens!



Isaac and I went to check for eggs today as we do everyday. As we are approaching the nest, I notice there are three hens gathered around acting rather peculiar...even for hens. I saw one pecking around and thought, "Oh great...she's pecking at her egg." I went over and lifted the piece of tin and said "Whoa baby!!" A black snake was coiled up nice and snug in the nest and the crazy hen had scratched herself out another nest right beside him to lay her egg!! I guess she figured he could go ahead and help himself but she had business to attend to :) I ran to the house, got Malachi, Jacob, Sarah, and the camera and ran back. I told Malachi I didn't figure the snake would hurt him if he just reached in and picked him up...being that he was rather involved with something. :) Malachi reached in and grabbed him...the snake must've just got started on the egg, because when Malachi picked him up, the egg fell out. When I turned to get the egg, the chicken was already laying squatter's claim (hehe) on the nest so I guess I'll get the egg out later. Okay, funny thing, I guess the snake's jaw was in the open, big gulp position and when he was picked up by his head it stayed that way ~ because he had this pucker going on! Too funny! We all checked him out and then Malachi let him go in the woods. I walked back to the nest later to check on things and three of my hens were there....one sitting, two waiting in line. Guess the snake put a hold on the egg-laying. :)

Carnival of Homeschooling

My blog has been included in Tami Fox's Carnival of Homeschooling! Yeah! I didn't even realize what a CoH was until I read her blog. Thank you Tami! :)
It can be found here: http://www.tamifox.com/2009/07/185th-edition-of-carnival-of.html

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gotta give the kids a blogging high-five!

Malachi, Jacob, and Sarah entered the 4-H mini garden contest. They received the results in the mail last week from the judges' visit. Malachi received County Champion in the 9-10 age group, Jacob received 2nd place in the 7-8 age group, and Sarah received County Champion in the 6 and under age group! Way to go kids! Momma sure is proud of you! They planted, watered, and weeded faithfully and have enjoyed quite a few cucumbers for their labors.

Squirrels in the Corn Patch

It's 7:30 am and I've just awakened. I sleepily peer out my window to see what manner of sky today holds. Wait...what is that I see?? I feel anger flushing it's way up my neck...my eyes are not fooling me...there it is...creeping its way to my corn patch. A little thieving creature with beady eyes and a body not unlike a rodent save for it's one distinguishing feature ~ a big, bushy tail that I'm sure provides the tiny animal with much boasting amongst the other woodland creatures. At any rate, the burglar is looking and tip-toeing it's way closer to our meagar plot as I stand contemplating the nuisance. I spring into action...I quietly sneak into the boys' room and grab a bb gun...(it shoots quietly ~ I want to scare off a thief, not wake my children :) ...I open the front door and am quickly made to understand the blessing of having no close next door neighbors as I realize I'm "manning" the gun in my pjs....I point...realize I'm squinting and closing the wrong eye (hehe ..blush) and promptly assume the proper shooting form...I shoot!! I look and see....nothing. Not the squirrel scampering away in utter terror, not a corn stalk moving...okay, well, I may not have hit the target or even got close, but the squirrel is no longer a threat to my corn so that's a good day hunting in my view :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ye shall be free indeed....

Well, I've not only caught a glimpse of blue sky but I've felt the sun shine warm on my face today. As I was leaving the hospital with an aching heart of sadness, I heard a song with the repetitious words, "If the Son hath set you free, you are free indeed"....and I thought, ya know, that is so true. He CAN take our chains and give us wings. It lifted my heart to think that no matter where you are or what you've done, He can break the cycle, forgive you, and make you free. That is just beautiful folks. :)
Here is the song by Steven Curtis Chapman called Free that inspired me and reminded me of His love : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63nTGwxWp0M

Seasons....

Our lives consist of seasons. There are the gentle joys and beauties of spring; the boundless, exuberant excitement in our summers; times of peace and quiet in fall; and then there are the winters we face. It seems as though my family has been in a winter season since the beginning of the year, at least. There is such a prevailing atmosphere of sadness and despair it nearly suffocates me.
Even in winter, there are pleasures tho - when I am at home and my children are laughing and playing and Darren is by my side, it's like a nice warm fire or a freshly fallen snow. But when I lift my eyes and take in the scene of my family, I see the bleakness of winter - the trees are bare, the sky is gray, and the air chills me to the bone. Some of the sorrow is of a physical nature, some comes by consequence of poor decision, and others just seem to be an endless cycle of despair that doesn't break. I feel helpless as I watch. I pray. I know God hears, but things happen in His time, not mine. I keep looking for signs of spring. I think sometimes I can catch a glimpse of blue sky or a whisper of warmth in the air but it fades quickly - leaving me to wonder if maybe I just imagined it to be so.
How long can a winter last? I am afraid maybe some people's lives only consist of winter...and that crushes my heart in sadness. I count myself blessed beyond measure. I have four healthy children and a husband who has been faithful and loving to me for 12 years. While gardening, milking, and homeschooling are sometimes hard work, there is pleasure and satisfaction to be found. I sometimes panic when the whirlpool around me edges more closely and I am reminded of the man in Mark 9:24 who said to Jesus "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." There was a time that I didn't understand how those two small sentences could stand together. I figured either you believe or you don't....how could he say both. But my time of understanding has dawned. I know what the man was saying. And I say it along with him now. "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Revolutionary War Excitement Continues...

We have been reading simultaneously through three books (with some others on occasion) to cover the war. The American Revolution for Kids by Janis Herbert is a wonderful book chock full of information and activities. She has instructions for a powder horn, sewing a pouch, and making a fringed hunting shirt. The sewing directions seem easy enough for even me to handle! :) We are also reading through George vs. George: The American Revolution as seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer. This is a really good book with lively pictures. Sarah's interest seemed to be waning so when we read about both Georges being farmers, she got to create a farm page with a cut-out barn and farm animals. She also colored a picture of George Washington and gave him a cotton ball powdered wig...and let me tell you, it was quite poofy! Ole George would've cried out in alarm or strutted with pride one...not sure how cool big hair was in the 1700s :) We are also reading through A Child's Story of America by The Christian Liberty Press....I like the Christian view they offer. The boys especially, are enjoying the story of our fight for independence. They are impressed with the stamina, courage, and resourcefulness of those Patriots of yore. I have to say I love to watch their excitement and hear them say "Just read one more chapter, Mom!" Nothing beats interest. I've been putting off making the shirts and pouches....hoping I'd wake up one morning and the elves would've visited and surprised me. I would like to find some old tin band aid containers to make some tin canisters. And then there is Sarah's colonial dress.....sigh....I am excited about the outcome...it's just the sewing that throws me for a loop. But anyway, I'm implementing the Charlotte Mason approach a bit and letting them narrate daily what they remember from the day before and their favorite parts of the story. I also made up some worksheets to go with the study. I spent quite a bit of time drawing 5 pages of Revolutionary War weapons and ammunition. They turned out nice and the kids love to look at them. It'll be a handy reference to put in their notebooks/lapbooks. Well, maybe I'll go dive into those fringed shirts....wish me luck! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If it's not one thing, it's an udder!





Okay, so I thought that phrase was just hilarious when it came to me..... :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Green Thumb


Sarah's made of farmer material!! Look at those sunflowers!

Family Doctor?


Isaac may one day turn out to be the first Fox doctor....maybe he'll figure out where the stethoscope goes :)

Learning to Drive the Tractor...


Malachi got his first lesson in tractor driving! He was cool, calm, and collected :)

Cheap Mouse Management


We saw this snake headed away from the garden on Friday. Jacob begged Darren to catch it so he could hold it. Darren caught it for him and handed it to him. He was loving it! He held it, checked it out, and proudly posed for pictures. He released it himself too....while I held my breath :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thinking about the Past...

We are off to pick green beans again this Saturday morning. Which has me thinking...in order to live almost completely off the land, my ancestors must've worked nonstop. If we don't put up enough beans and tomatoes, I'm sure WalMart will have plenty. If they didn't put up enough, I suppose they tightened their belts and went on. It's no wonder the divorce rate used to be lower. Children then knew what life consisted of...there was no disillusionment as to the work involved in living. I suppose when they got married it was with the foresight of marrying to live and have a family. They watched their parents work every day of their lives ...together. I just can't imagine my great grandmother going out to work in the garden or milk the cow and her thinking, "I gotta get to Kohls today...this dress just isn't in fashion." What I'm thinking is that more serious thoughts were on their minds. Maybe people just have too much free time nowadays. Too much time to waste on trivial matters and things of no substance and circumstance. If you don't work your own land, you can still go to WalMart, and hey even if you don't work at all...you can still go to WalMart on everyone else' s dime. People just don't face any consequences...don't feel committed to anyone or anything. Maybe that's what makes people fly away to someone else or each new gadget so easily..nobody has roots...no bonding knot with their spouse. They aren't working together to survive, they are each going their separate ways and working for stuff. Stuff to keep up with other people who shouldn't even matter in everyday life. I don't know ....I'm just thinking. Picking beans always has me contemplating.... :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gardening and Milking

Summertime gardening is not for the faint of heart :) Milking, feeding, watering, weeding, picking, cleaning, canning, hoeing, planting, and milking, feeding, watering again...not to count all those inside chores that we won't discuss here :) We have squash coming in so squash pickles need to be canned, more green beans are ready to be picked and canned, and I am still up to my ears in goat milk. I have made feta cheese, fromage blanc, and chevre. I've even poured a quart in my bath! But the milk is encroaching upon every shelf in the fridge...it's like the widow's oil in the Bible ...straight pipeline from heaven via the milk goat :) Seriously, I've got to make some soap or something with it...it's driving me nuts. I briefly had room for my tea jug but that's a thing of the past yet again. We are thinking about planting some fall crops too. Well, so much for typing my day away...better get to work...