What uncommon things do we want to become common?

Things like:
our children having mutual love and respect for each other.
our teenage children having love, honor, respect and obedience for their parents.
us continually becoming better friends and lovers.
our family totally trusting God in all things and putting our faith in Him to fulfill his promises.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Life is a Gift. Everyday.


By Creg

The two phrases "10 year old child" and "life threatening" shouldn't be in the same sentence.

But on Monday the 27th they were. There is now no competition for the longest day of my life.

Samantha, who was nearing a diabetic coma (though we were unaware that she had diabetes), and Chelsa were flown by emergency helicopter to Cook Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth. As strange as this may sound my thoughts were not on whether Samantha would live or die, but on who God would reach through this ordeal. A few people came to mind.

Throughout the week I thought of many things a father would be thinking, I suppose, who was in this position. The more I thought, the more I realized who God was reaching. It wasn't the people I had in mind, it was me. God was speaking to me about life, fatherhood, relationships. I can see God reaching a lot of us in large and small ways during circumstances like this when we fill our thoughts with Him and make time to listen .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Man Triumphs Over Beast or Temptations Lead to Traps



By Creg
Step 1-I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost...I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Step 2-I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place, but it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Step 3-I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in...It's a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Step 4-I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Step 5-I walk down another street. (by Portia Nelson)

Isn't that the way we deal with temptations sometimes? It's a good thing bobcats don't get to step 4 or 5.

For the last 9 months our chickens have been an occasional supper for a bobcat. We've seen her periodically and have even taken a few shots at her. I actually caught her, momentarily, 3 times in 3 different traps (in picture) but she's always escaped. One time she ripped through the metal screen covering (see the hole).

Our army of egg layers went from about 35 to 4. The bobcat would come about every three or four days near dusk to try and catch one of our free-range chickens before they were in the safety of their portable pen for the night. Finally, I set a big claw trap with a live chicken as bait after I saw her near the coop at 1:30 pm. I knew she was desperate to be hunting that early in the day and I knew which path she would take. The temptation proved to be too much for her to turn down and she was caught. While checking the trap the next morning, I was within 10 feet of the tree where I chained the trap. I noticed the trap tunnel was messed up & before I realized what had happened, she roared. Overcome with a fear that only a loud roar in the wild can produce, I almost fell into a batch of cactus. Before composing myself, I ran screaming to Chelsa, "We caught the bobcat! We caught the bobcat!" Special thanks to Duane, Geoff, Jeremiah & Phillip for the use of traps, guns & ammunition.

Chelsa got the bobcat fur slippers she wanted for Christmas.

Commander Creg protects his house.

Forgiveness


By Creg
Shoes, vases & figurines flew through the air, some a direct hit. When nothing else presented itself as a weapon, Deborah pounded Ron with her bare fists until her arms wore out & hung limp at her sides. Ron had just confessed to committing adultery.
The next day they went to their pastor for counseling. That night while sitting in their bedroom talking, Deborah asked, "I want to talk to her. Will you give me her number?" He did.
"This is Deborah Hall, Ron's wife." Ron could only imagine what was going on at the other end of the line. "I want you to know that I don't blame you for the affair with my husband. I know that I've not been the kind of wife Ron needed, & I take responsibility for that." She paused, listening.
"I want you to know that I forgive you. I hope you find someone who will not only truly love you but honor you."
Her grace was stunning. "I intend to work on being the best wife Ron could ever want, & if I do my job right, you will not be hearing from my husband again."
Deborah hangs up the phone looks eye to eye with Ron. "You & I are now going to rewrite the future history of our marriage. Let's go to counseling. I forgive you & I promise I will never bring this up, ever again." (From "Same Kind of Different as Me" ch. 14)
Mt 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus goes on to tell a story of a King who forgave a debt of millions to a servant. That servant then refused to forgive a debt of hundreds. Could a person be forgiven that much yet refuse to forgive so little? Notice what God does when the servant refuses to forgive.
34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
I think we are our own jailer. We torture ourselves with anger, bitterness, resentment & revenge. But we can let ourselves out of jail by forgiving. Deborah Hall figured that out. True forgiveness means second chances, not holding grudges.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Be a Lamp

By Creg
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light."
Jesus (Luke 11:33)
A lamp is a container that lets the light out. It's the answer for darkness. I think Jesus uses lamps to represent Christians. We're the vessel that allows the light to be seen so people can come out of the darkness.

Notice Jesus says that people are coming in to see the light. That tells me we should be in contact with people that need the light. Too often we pray for unbelievers that we safely avoid having conversations with during the day.

Two friends of ours, Ezzell & Tracy, came by my parent's house for a visit today. They were homeless when we first met them, but now they have a place to stay & she's starting a job this weekend. We haven't seen them in a while & when they came in, Tracy told Chelsa that they were struggling. They knew they needed to get God back in their lives by going to church, Bible study & surrounding themselves with Christians. Then Tracy said, "I'm not exactly sure what to do, but I knew we needed to come here (my parent's house)."

It doesn't take long for people to notice that my parents are good lamps.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Darkness

By Creg
I've been thinking about that rat in my shed (earlier post). His nest was behind boards in the darkest corner. When the lights came on he ran. Why did he like the darkness? Because he was a thief! Taking trinkets he could find to make a nest & scrounging food from wherever he could find it.
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."
Jesus
Why do some like the darkness? We've all been there. The good news is it doesn't matter how long you've been in the darkness or how dark it was, if you're ready to get out Jesus says He is the answer. Do you believe that?

A few months ago a group from church, 3 men & 3 women, were at the Middleton prison unit to help with the worship gathering. After it was over we were standing up getting ready to leave when the lights went out. It was dark. Needless to say there was a moment or two of uneasiness. After all, we were in a gym with 200 men who had done things to scare people & now people are afraid of them. What happened next was startling. It was loud & so coordinated that you would have thought they planned it. All at once the men erupted in singing "Amazing Grace"! Now, remember where we were. The state of Texas has said these men are a threat to society and they've been put behind these walls thinking something may change them. Well something is changing them. Only through the love of Jesus could this have happened.
The ironic thing is that these men used to take advantage of the dark to get away with evil. (Just like we all have on occasion.) But not anymore. They know that Jesus is the son of the God of 2nd chances.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What If There's a Greater Purpose?

By Creg

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Jesus

I hope you are blessed by the words of my current favorite song.


In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population: me

I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate, but I never give ’til it hurts
I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
It’s easy to do when it’s
Population: me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

When I Stopped at a red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign, said “Help this homeless widow”
And above that sign was the face of a human
and I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”
So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
I thought how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money then I drove on through
And my own little world reached
Population: two

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
Outside my own little world yeah

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
and Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Pack Rat

By Creg

A few weeks ago I sent the kids to the shed that currently houses the baby goats (it's also used to store other items). I told them to get the can of bolts & wing nuts that go with our scaffolding. They came back saying it wasn't there, but I knew it was so I went to look myself. Sure enough, there was no sign of any of them. What could have happened? After several minutes of looking around I found one bolt in the far corner next to the can that held them. This was the beginning of a mystery. After digging a little in the dirt I found some more bolts & a few other items. All of a sudden a grey flash appeared out of the corner of my eye & I knew what I was up against. A pack rat! (All of the stuff in the picture was in his nest.) The body was 6 inches long & he was as quick as a chubby rat stuffed with goat food could be. Knowing I had to get rid of him I closed the door & went to get my pistol.
As I crept around slowly moving boards trying to find him, I cocked the hammer on my .22 ready to fire. Once he made a run for it, I shot & the next 45 seconds was like a cross between The Apple Dumpling Gang movie and a Tom & Jerry cartoon. I felt like Don Knotts trying to shoot a rat that was sticking his tongue out at me as he ran. It's a good thing I had a 6 shooter because I needed all 6 shots. I think the rat was laughing so hard he had to stop & catch his breath. That still moment was all I needed.
Commander Creg protects his house.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mmmm....Freshly Baked Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

By Chelsa

I'm so happy!!! I can't tell you how excited I am! I've finally found a whole wheat sourdough recipe our whole family likes. This is huge, mainly because I make ALL of our bread products: Loaves of bread, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, tortillas, pitas, pancakes, biscuits, scones, cinnamon rolls...you name it. When I got my electric flour mill for Christmas a couple of years ago (it grinds grain into flour), we bought TWELVE 50lb bags of wheat (yes, you read that correctly 600 lbs!!!), so I promised myself that I wouldn't buy bread from the store anymore. Why not, you ask? Because I know how I am. If there's bread from the store in the house then I'm not nearly as motivated to make my own. This way I have to make myself do it. I'm so glad I made that promise because it's become a routine part of my life now and I thoroughly enjoy it. And we've even built an earth oven in our back yard to bake it in! (I'll do a post on that soon)

I tried making sourdough bread in the past using my own starter with a different recipe, but it was just too sour. Even I didn't like it. Then I tried making a different recipe using a starter from someone else. The bread tasted great (a little on the sweet side), but I didn't think it was very healthy at all. The starter was potato flakes, sugar, and water, and that's what I was supposed to feed it. Why would I want to feed it that when I don't feel comfortable feeding that to my own kids? It tasted great, but that was not what I was looking for. I wanted something that both tasted good and was nutritionally sound.

That's why I'm so excited about this new recipe. It's the best of both worlds: nutritious and delicious!!! I'm sad to say that I didn't even want to try this recipe at first because of the simplicity of it... only 3 ingredients: flour, salt, and water (plus the starter). I thought it would probably taste bland and dull since it didn't have oil and sugar in it. The only reason I tried it was because I had volunteered to do a sourdough bread making demonstration for a group from the Weston A. Price Foundation. The Abilene group meets once a month to learn about the benefits of eating healthy, natural foods, no artificial anything- like potato flakes and white sugar. They try to incorporate these healthy eating habits into their own lives. So I was desperate to try it since my previous attempts had been major flops and the meeting was soon approaching. After talking to the group leader, who just happens to make his own sourdough bread, I discovered that the trick was to only let the dough rise once. Normally you knead the bread, let it rise, punch it down, form it into a loaf and let it rise again. But the longer you let sourdough sit, the more sour it becomes. That was my problem. Allowing it to rise twice made it just too sour for my taste buds. If I would have done that with my original recipe and my own sourdough starter, it would have turned out fine, but it would not have been acceptable for the bread demonstration because of the added oil and sugar in the recipe. That's why I am extremely happy with this new recipe, it's just simply delicious!

Below I'm posting how to make your own sourdough starter and 3 of the recipes I demonstrated at the Weston A. Price meeting. Give 'em a try.
p.s. If you live here and want some of my starter I'd be happy to share some with you.

Nourishing Traditions Sourdough Starter:

(makes about 3 qts)

2 cups freshly ground rye flour

2 cups cold filtered water

cheesecloth

6 cups freshly ground rye flour

cold filtered water

Best results for sourdough starter are obtained from rye rather than wheat flour, perhaps because rye contains a lower phytate content than wheat. You will need two gallon-sized bowls. Total time to make the starter is 1 week.

Grind 2 cups flour and let it sit for a bit to cool. In one large bowl, mix flour with 2 cups cold water. The mixture should be quite soupy. Cover with a double layer of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band---this will allow yeasts and bacteria to get in but will keep insects out. In warm weather, you may set the bowl outside in the shade if you live in an unpolluted area and no pesticides have been used in your garden. Otherwise, keep it in a warm open area indoors or on a patio. The next day and every day for a total of 7 days, transfer the starter to the other clean bowl and add 1 cup freshly ground rye flour plus enough cold water to make a soupy mixture. Cover and let stand. After a few days the starter will begin to bubble and develop a wine-like aroma. It should go through a bubbly, frothy stage and then subside. After 7 days, the starter is ready for bread making. Use 2 quarts for a batch of sourdough bread (p. 490) but save 1 quart for your next batch of starter. If not using remaining starter immediately, you may store it in airtight jars in the refrigerator or freezer. Do not be tempted to add honey to your starter, as some recipes require. Honey encourages the proliferation of yeasts at the expense of lactic-acid-producing bacteria and may give you an alcoholic fermentation.

To start a new batch of starter, place the quart of leftover starter in a clean bowl. Add 1 cup freshly ground rye flour plus water each day, changing bowls, until 3 quarts are obtained.


Sourdough Flat Bread (serves 6)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sourdough starter

1 and 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water

3/4 tsp. sea salt

  1. In a ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all dry ingredients well
  2. Add liquids and stir until completely mixed.
  3. Cover with a cloth or a lid, and let it set on the counter (7-12 hours). The longer you leave it the more sour it will become.
  4. Cook on a buttered electric griddle (350*) or skillet on medium heat. Scoop out handfuls of dough with wet hands and pat flat. They take longer to cook than pancakes. Flip when bubbles leave a hole in bread.
  5. Top with sausage and cheese, peanut butter and honey, or any combination you like.
PizzaDough/ Hot Pocket Dough (serves 6)
  1. Use the same measurements as Sourdough Flat Bread.
  2. Follow the first 3 steps in that recipe.
  3. Then gradually add ½ cup flour and stir well with a spoon.
  4. Sprinkle some flour on counter top.
  5. Make 6 equal size balls of dough.
  6. Roll each one out until dough is between ¼-1/8” thick.
For Pizza: Spread pizza sauce with a spoon, then add toppings and cheese. Bake @ 400*F for 12-15 minutes.
For Hot Pockets: Place hot pocket ingredients on one half of the circle leaving a ½” space along edge so you can fold dough over and seal. Pinch edges until sealed. Poke a few holes in the top with a fork. Bake @ 400*F for 15-17 minutes.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread (makes 1 loaf)

*** IMPORTANT TIP***

(For each loaf of bread you will use ¼ cup starter, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp. salt)

(Time from start to finish in baking a loaf of bread is approximately 10-12 hours)

(7 hours to make sponge, 2-3 hours for loaf to rise, 30-60 minutes to bake, depending on loaf size)

Directions

1. First make a sponge. In a glass or ceramic bowl add:

  • ¼ cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 cup flour

Stir and let this sponge sit on the counter (covered with a cloth) for 7-12 hours. The longer it sits, the more sour it will be.

2. In a large mixing bowl add 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 tsp.salt.

3. Mix well.

4. Add the sponge to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until you can’t anymore.

5. Add 1 more cup of flour and knead aggressively by hand for exactly 15 minutes (the time is important!)

6. Form the dough into a loaf and with a sharp knife score the top of loaf and let rise until doubled in size (2-3 hours depending on room temperature)

7. Heat oven to 350*F

8. Bake for 30-45 minutes


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They're Back

By Chelsa

As I was out on this crisp fall morning doing my farm chores, I thought I faintly heard a familiar sound. I stopped what I was doing, walked over to a clearing, and gazed up into the heavens and just listened. My heart skipped a beat and I smiled when I realized what it was. I now clearly heard the lovely sound; beautiful music to my ears. As my eyes adjusted to the distance, I saw their graceful form; magnificent symmetry in the sky.

The Sandhill Cranes are back. They have migrated once again from Canada to the Abilene area. Every year large flocks of them come in with the first big cold front. They usually start trickling in a few at a time, around the end of October. Many of them make their winter home around here until mid March, when they begin their long flight back. It's hard to count, but I know that at least 600 of them fly over our house every morning and evening during the winter months. They fly around in small groups all throughout the day and I enjoy that immensely, but I love it best and it's the most spectacular when it coincides with the sunrise and sunset, as they all travel at once. If it's too cold to go outside to watch the show, I can just sit in my living room by the wood burning stove and watch them from my big west windows as they sail off into the sunset. It's a beautiful sight to behold, a joy to my heart, and music to my ears. And it's a time when I think about the awesomeness of God and his creation. Thank you Lord.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Samantha and Roman's First Play Day!

By Chelsa

Saturday night we drove to Hawley to watch Samantha participate in her first ever Play Day. It was special because both sides of the family were in town to see it and everyone was excited to be there to support Samantha. The parents and grandparents enjoyed watching her fulfill her dream of riding Roman in a race. The boys spent the evening climbing back and forth over the pipe fencing while rooting on their sister and trying not to knock Granny off the top rail where she was perched to get a better view. Sierra tossed the football with Creg and Gramps between races.

Samantha participated in two events: The Flag Race and The Goat Ribbon Pull. In the Flag Race you sprint your horse to the other end of the arena, run around a barrel which has a flag sticking out the top, grab the flag and sprint back to the starting line. She made it to the semi-finals and had the 2nd best run. In the Goat Ribbon Pull she won first place! Here's what you do: First you sprint your horse up to a goat that is tethered to a 6 ft. rope (it has room to run around a bit), jump off your horse, run to the goat which has a ribbon tied onto it's tail, pull off the ribbon, and run with the ribbon to the finish line. She had a time of 11. 39 seconds which was better than any other time in any age group. She was nervous at the beginning, but handled it like a pro. You would have never known it was her first Play Day. Way to go Samantha!!

P.S. Our thanks to Robert and Georgeanne Cole who encouraged Samantha to participate and even came by with their trailer to pick up Roman!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We've Never Done That Before


By Creg
Once middle school athletes have been to 2 track meets, they're experts. However, when we would go to a meet that ran events in the "wrong" order, they would start asking, "We've never done that before. Can they do that?" Have you ever had trouble with belief or doctrine just because you haven't seen something before? There's a story in Mark 8 that could give us a lesson or two.
22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
Notice why they brought the blind man to Jesus; "to touch him." They knew that when Jesus laid His hands on people good things happened. But that's not what Jesus did. He spit on him. After they "begged" Jesus to touch him, Jesus cleared His throat, puckered His lips & the people cried, "How dare you spit on him, let's go." It's a good thing they didn't base their beliefs on what they've seen or haven't seen. I think we do sometimes. "God can't talk to you like that. He only does it this way." "Visions are just your imagination because I've never had one." "We've never done that in worship before. That's wrong."

24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." 25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

How did he know what a tree looked like? He probably could see before and Jesus is giving him a second chance at seeing. Isn't that what Jesus is in the business of doing? Getting you back what you lost in the will of God. Jesus came so we could go to heaven, but that's not all. What about right here and right now? To restore us in an intimate relationship with God through the Spirit so we can learn what it means to live all of life under the reign of God. In John 10:10 Jesus says;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Was it ok with Jesus for the man to see people as trees? No, Jesus could've said, "That's better than you were before." Jesus wants us to see as clearly as we were created to see, especially spiritually. Some of us spend our whole Christian lives seeing people as trees. Seeing sinners and problems instead of opportunities. When you stop at an intersection that cardboard sign has a face above it, made in the image of God.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Satan Seeks Weakest Link Pt 2

By Creg

The story of Achan in Joshua 7 is a sobering story of God getting rid of a weak link. Achan took some plunder from Jericho after God said not to.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.

Yikes. God, I think, is basically saying, "If the rest of the world is going to know me by my people, I can't have behavior like this."

1st John 3:8 says;
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.

One reason Jesus came was to destroy the devil's work. The devil came to destroy our lives through sin & Jesus came to save us from that. Continuing in 1 John 3;
9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
John's not talking about being perfect (1:8-10) but sin is not a normal way of life for a Christian. If a Christian has a particular sin in his life, he's going to do something about it; like a good coach or military general from the previous post. If sin is normal in a Christian's life & not dealt with, that person is making a mockery of Jesus' life & mission.
10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God;
How can a Christian enjoy what God sent Jesus to destroy? I read of a man praying in church, asking God to get rid of the spiritual cobwebs in the member's lives. Then one fella said, "Lord, just kill the spider." That's the mission: destroy, not tolerate. Too often I've just wanted to clean the webs out of the corner to look better & not deal with the spider.

Satan Seeks Weakest Link

By Creg

The other day I was hanging some wire up for a new clothes line. I had to splice several pieces together to have enough length. While I was stretching the wire it kept breaking in the same spot. I didn't tighten that splice enough. Doesn't everyone know where a chain breaks? At it's weakest link.

If you're pitching to Josh Hamilton you're not going to throw it over the middle, belt high. You're going to try to hit the corner of the strike zone. If you're a football coach & the other team is playing their 3rd string rookie at cornerback, that's where you're going to throw the ball. In war, scouts are sent to spy on the enemy to find their weakness to know where to attack.

John 10:10 Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal & kill & destroy." Satan comes to destroy your life & he's a good scout, looking for your weakness. After a loss a good coach or military general won't rest until he finds the solution for the weakness that caused the loss. Do you know what your weakness is? What are you doing to fortify it? I know what mine is & Satan's been after it.

Playing in the Rain

By Creg

What do boys do when it's raining 2.5 inches? They put on raincoats & mud boots & pretend they're Jurassic Park workers running from dinosaurs. What an imagination!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Istre Farm Day


By Chelsa
The last couple of weeks our family has had the privilege of hosting Farm Day at our place. This has been a new and fun adventure for us. A while back, we received a call from a friend of ours asking if she could bring her preschool kids out to our farm to have a tour sometime. So last Wednesday morning we braved 15 four year olds and 10 moms as they toured our farm and did some hands on "helping." The morning was full of all sorts of fun and educational things. First, they watched a goat milking demonstration, then held baby chicks, petted rabbits, got up close & personal while feeding the sheep and goats, played with the baby goats, gathered eggs from the chicken's nesting boxes, rode the horse if they wanted, planted garlic in the garden, made their own personal pizzas and watched us bake them in our homemade outdoor earth oven, played at the tree house, played with our kitties, and ate their pizzas in the back yard for a picnic lunch. We all had a great time. I think they liked it, too.

The next Monday we got an unexpected call from another friend who is Headmaster of a local private school. The teachers had planned a trip to the May Farm that morning, but Mrs. May called in sick. So he called us that morning asking if they could come out to our farm instead. Monday mornings are busy for us because we prepare and take a meal to Faithworks and In-Focus Digital and I make and bake lots of whole wheat pitas from scratch. But we worked it out so they could come anyway. Creg and 3 of the kids stayed and led the tour, while Sterling and I left about halfway through and delivered the food. Because we had such late notice, they didn't get to watch me milk the goat, but it worked out perfectly for them to watch the bread making demonstration outside since I had a fire in the earth oven going earlier that morning. We didn't make the pizzas this time because they had packed their lunches. I couldn't do the garden planting with them, but they had a hay ride as Creg pulled his trailer full of bean bags with his Farmall tractor.
As far as we could tell, all the kids had a blast, but I think it was the moms who learned the most. They asked lots of questions. And our family had a good time, too. It was fun working together to pull it all off. This is definitely something we want to do more often.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What treasures are you chasing?


By Creg
This quote from Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life" book was in our church bulletin yesterday.
"You will not be in heaven two seconds before you cry out, 'Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time, energy, and concern on what wasn't going to last?' "
If you believe this statement, what are you going to change?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Solitude

By Chelsa
About 3 weeks ago I was able to go on a silent retreat for the weekend. No computer, no phone, no music, no talking, no distractions. I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, slow down, rest, relax, think, and focus on God. It was really nice. I had lots of time to read my bible, seek God, listen to Him, think, journal and pray. I thought about my relationship with God. I thought about our family and all the things that we do to teach our children about God and I realized that we don't really teach them about the benefits of solitude: going outside to solitary places to pray. When I returned home I discussed this idea with Creg and we decided to incorporate a time of solitude into our schedule. Last Sunday was our first organized attempt as a family. We all met in the living room and discussed what it meant to "be still and know that I am God." We told the kids to find a quiet place outside, think about God, take a notebook and pencil and draw something they saw that God had created. They had to sit still and be quiet until they heard the bell (about 30 minutes later). Creg found a place by the river to read his bible while I sat by the river, enjoyed the scenery, and journaled. At the end of our time we came back to the house and discussed our experiences. It was good. If Jesus went often to lonely places and prayed, we need to do the same.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

By Chelsa
We're doing a little experiment this fall. For the next few days/weeks when we have time, we're going to spend about 30 minutes each morning cutting tall grass along the roadsides. After we cut it, we stuff it in the back of the truck, drive it home, unload it, and spread it out to let it cure and dry. Finally, we pack it in the barn. I'm curious to see how far it will go this winter.

Faith = Risk Pt 3






By Creg

One summer during my college years I flew to California to visit my roommate. His grandmother lived in Las Vegas so we drove there to spend a couple of days. As luck would have it, our visit just happened to coincide with a Mike Tyson fight, when he was in his prime. Being the big sports fans that we were, we decided to make a visit to the hotel where the fight would take place. As we made our way through the casino to the boxing ring we saw portable stands & make shift fences set up around the fight ring. It was enough to get in the view of anyone who wanted to see the action without a ticket, that would be us. We settled in the middle of a big crowd just outside the fencing where we could see the fight on the big screen TV above the ring. Right before the bell for the first round we decided to give up our spot in the crowd and take a risk. My roommate saw an unmarked portable fence we could sneak around to try for a closer view. Luckily, we found a place where we could stand behind the grand stand & watch through a gap in the bleachers. Seeing a heavy weight world championship boxing match in real life was absolutely electrifying.

Luke tells a story of a sinful woman (some versions say she was a prostitute) in chapter 7 who took a big risk to sneak in and get a closer view.
37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.
How did she get in the Pharisee's house? Was she invited? There's no way a woman, especially a prostitute, would be a guest of a Pharisee. Evidently she snuck in. Was that a risk? She could be stoned for adultery! Does Jesus like it when people take risks for Him? Absolutely!
38Then she wiped them (Jesus' feet) with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
Do you think she had the perfume for her job? Is she showing, by pouring out her perfume, that she was giving up on her former way of life, and that she has faith in Jesus to help her? Isn't that the effect that Jesus has on people?
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
The ironic thing is that Jesus knows exactly who this woman is & that's why He's letting her touch Him. Makes me wonder who should I be touching today that would make Jesus smile & others cringe.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?
Did Simon see the woman? Jesus sees the woman & her pain; Simon sees the sin. What do we see in others in similar situations? Jesus continues:
44I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Does Jesus defend her in his reply to Simon? Jesus sees her pain & her hopeless situation. By defending her He puts himself with her. Jesus makes it very clear whose side He's on. It's the faithful ones who take risks to serve Him.
47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.
Jesus sees in her heart that she wants to love, but she just can't get out of her hole. When Jesus gets down there with you, He knows it's a horrible place to be, but He'd rather be there with you than someplace else without you. However, He doesn't leave us there.
50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
She is rewarded for showing faith in Jesus. Knowing He was the one to see her as an opportunity, not as a problem. Jesus didn't come just to get rid of our sins, He came to handle our pain, to suffer with us, to love us no matter where we've been & to offer us a peace that the world can't give us, nor can the world take away.

This story starts out as a story of pain because she didn't get to where she was by accident. Little girls don't grow up with a goal to become a prostitute. But Jesus is in the business of radically changing the lives of people who take risks of faith for Him. The view becomes much better.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Faith = Risk Pt 2

By Creg

Doesn't that picture look like a driver's worst nightmare? That's what happens when the drivers in Bucharest, Romania all decide to run a red light. What an adventure!
I just read an article by John Stossel describing how traffic moves better & more safely when the traffic lights & stop signs are removed. Does that sound crazy? Instead of sitting at a mechanized light waiting to be told when to go, drivers meet in an intersection & negotiate their way through by making eye contact & gesturing. In Drachten, Holland, lights & signs were removed from an intersection handling about 30,000 cars a day. Average waiting times dropped from 50 seconds to less than 30 seconds. Accidents dropped from an average of eight per year to just one. On Kensington High Street in London, after pedestrian railing & other traffic markers were removed, accidents dropped by 44 %. This type of behavior even has a name: the "Peltzman Effect", named after retired Univ. of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman. He said, "
People tend to behave more recklessly when their sense of safety is increased. By removing signs & lights, drivers feel less safe, so they drive more carefully."

When you read the life of Jesus you continually come across people taking risks for Him. The leper who risked a stoning to come to Jesus asking to be healed (Mark 1:40). The 4 friends tearing up someone's roof to allow their paralyzed friend to see Jesus (Mark 2:4). The Royal Official risking his son's life by taking Jesus at His word & going home to his sick son without taking Jesus with him (John 4:50). Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:29). The Canaanite woman who barged into a Jew's house uninvited to ask Jesus to heal her daughter (Mark 7:25). Story after story in the gospels tell of Jesus rewarding people for courageous acts of faith done for Him.

How can I have a part in that great adventure & come away with a miracle to tell? I think Matthew gives us a hint in chapter 15 of his gospel account of the Canaanite woman.
28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."
So great faith causes you to take risks? That means faith is not something you think or believe, but rather how you live.

Do some people think picking up a homeless couple that you've never met is risky? They could stink up your car, or spill their beer on you. They might even pull a knife & rob you. You just don't know what might happen. How can you take that risk? Remember the Peltzman effect? People tend to behave more recklessly when their sense of safety is increased. Here is the spiritual way to look at the Peltzman effect. When you feel safe in doing God's will you can take more risks for the Kingdom.

About a month ago my mom saw a lady holding a cardboard sign (pictured at left) at the corner of an intersection. They had come to Abilene on the promise of a job & it didn't work out. They were out of money & living in a tent behind a restaurant. My mom asked the lady if she would like to go to a Bible study & have a meal. The lady said yes so she & her husband came along for a ride (Little did I know that my family were the ones that would be going for a ride). Tonight they were both born again, baptized into Jesus. Just weeks after they had thought about committing suicide, they have been raised to live a new life. Having a front row seat watching God work in their lives is the great adventure. If my mom hadn't taken a risk of faith, we would've missed out. When we risk things for the Kingdom we tell the world about God, that He is trustworthy & faithful. Sermons, Bible study and seminary classes can't teach the true nature of God, you have to experience it.

When was the last time you took a risk for Jesus?

Mom's Doing Her Job


By Creg

Chelsa was gone for the weekend at a spiritual retreat in Houston. Thankfully she has done a wonderful job of preparing our 4 kids, ages 8 to 14, how to manage the house. They did their morning chores and cooked & cleaned without hardly any instruction from me! While I was working outside or preparing a lesson I would come in & the laundry or the meal or the dishes would be done. Chocolate chip pancakes, pitas with bacon, eggs & cheese, pan fried potatoes, scones with green icing. And that's just breakfast. YUMMY! What a proud dad! But I still missed Mom :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interpreting the Bible


By Creg

Sierra has been reading Winnie the Pooh books to the kids. I've forgotten how funny they can be, especially the language from the 1920's like, "Oh bother", "many happy returns of the day" (which Sterling wrote on Nana's birthday card) and "tut, tut it looks like rain." They get a real kick out of that. When you read "Winnie the Pooh & Some Bees" what should you try to get out of the story? Is it instructions on how to make honey? Or just a story of how Pooh gathers & loves honey?

I went to Mark Hamilton's class on interpreting the bible at ACU's Summit earlier this week & he had some very thought provoking things to say. He talked about the different ways in which the bible was written; laws, stories, poems, parables, etc. and how we try to carry out each one of those different types. Laws are easy to understand what to do, but how do you do a story? He showed a picture of a car stereo manual & said one problem is when we read other texts like this manual. Put disk A into slot B & push button C. For example, if you read the stories in the book of Acts as a manual, then examples get put into commands. What if you don't have disk A, slot B is too small & there is no button C? He said if you want to memorize all of Paul's stops on his missionary journeys, that's OK, but the main message of the book of Acts is that they went out & spread the gospel & we should also.

He also talked about how experience plays a big role in how we interpret the bible. If you've already installed a car stereo you're probably not going to read the manual because you think you already know what to do. Same with scripture. Sometimes we don't read with a fresh mind because we've already read that verse & we know from our previous experiences what we think it means. I pray for an open mind while reading the ancient words so the Spirit can reveal things to me that I was too stubborn to see before.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What did I do to deserve this?

By Creg

As a result of a disease that took years to take its toll, Kyle was totally blind for his 14th birthday. He sunk into depression & loneliness & didn't care about getting out of his hole, rarely leaving his room. He questioned God, his parents, his friends & even strangers, but didn't get any answers to his satisfaction. After about a year his dad started leading him around inside the house to remind him of where things were. The father wanted the son to start being involved in the house again, but Kyle would have none of that. Finally one day his dad decided to take a different approach. He woke Kyle up & boldly told him to complete several chores before he came back from work that day. If Kyle didn't get finished, there would be severe consequences. Then the front door slammed. So Kyle got up & drudgingly went to work. There were a couple of minor mishaps & a few close calls, but he made it. When he finished the last chore someone gave him a big hug from behind. It was his dad. The father had taken the day off & had been right next to him the whole time!

Job of the Bible lost his animals, servants & children. After that he was covered with painful sores. Then the questions started coming. What did I do to deserve this? Have you ever felt like that? John the Baptist did.

2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

What do you think motivated this question? John was the forerunner of Jesus who was sent to prepare the way for the Christ and now he was in prison. Do you think, since John was in trouble & Jesus hadn't done anything to get him out, that John was wondering if this was how God rewards his anointed; is this how God honors the faithful? Could it be that John thought his release from prison would be best & that if Jesus was in command he should do something about it? Aren't questions asked anytime the faithful suffer the consequences of the faithless? Anytime a person takes a step in the right direction only to have their feet knocked out from under them. Anytime a person does good but suffers evil as a result. Then the questions come, "If God is so good, why do I hurt so bad?" "Why doesn't God do something?"

Sometimes, does God choose to do nothing?

4Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Was the problem Jesus' silence or John's inability to hear & see? Jesus basically said, "Tell John everything is going as planned." John ended up dying in prison.

Notice in the book of Job that God didn't give Job answers, but he did give Job perspective. God could have said, "People will read about you for thousands of years. I'd bet on you against the devil!"

Sometimes being able to see things from God's perspective is better than getting all the answers to our selfish questions. If we make it through our ordeal with a better way to see the Father, like Kyle realizing that his dad was there right beside him all along, then wasn't it worth it?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Possibilities...


By: Chelsa

Look at this picture. What do you see? An innocent looking slender brown goat with floppy brown ears wearing a blue collar. Is that what you see? You know what? We saw that too when we first got her. She was a cute little kid goat whom the children loved to play with. But after the newness wore off and after she had gotten herself into trouble one too many times, we began to see her as an evil escape artist who deliberately ate our garden and grape vines, destroyed our flower beds and defoliated our fruit trees.

When we decided a few years ago that we wanted to get a milk goat so we could have fresh raw milk to drink, we didn't know what we were getting into. We would come home and find her out of her fence and inside the garden fence, munching on our green beans. Or she would be in the back yard eating our shrubs and rosebushes. Or she would be up on her hind legs stretching her neck as she ate the last leaves off the little trees we had just planted. Ooooo!!! She was really messing up our landscape attempts! And we started to wonder why in the world we ever decided to get a goat. She just wasn't worth the trouble!


But then one fine day in May (on my birthday! :-) she had twin kids and the milk started flowing. And our bad thoughts of her began to melt away into yummy possibilities. We went from thoughts of wringing her skinny little neck to thoughts of homemade ice cream, yogurt, kefir, fruit smoothies, fresh cold raw milk to drink, and homemade cheese! She still gets into trouble now and again, but my thoughts of her have changed. I want to show mercy because she is our source of creamy goodness. Thank you Lord for Milkshake.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sierra's Golden Summer Skye

By Chelsa
It's been a LONG wait, but it was worth it. Skye is finally here! Isn't she cute? Sierra has been wanting a Golden Retriever puppy for a couple of years now, but finding the perfect dog in her price range was harder than she thought. Because her main purpose in getting a dog was to breed and sell puppies, she needed to do it right. And that took lots of time, energy and plenty of patience.

She read up on dog breeds to see which kind she should get. She searched the internet for breeders in the area, read book after book on how to train puppies, worked different jobs to earn money for her future dog and built and prepared the area where the dog was to be kept.

Now all that work has finally paid off... well, except that the work is really just beginning. There's a new puppy to train. What fun!