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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Breakfast of Champions

By Chelsa

Did anybody ever eat Wheaties growing up? You know, the breakfast of champions. As a kid I use to think eating that kind of stuff made me healthier and stronger. And I've lived most of my life thinking I was eating healthy food when in fact I was not. I can remember thinking I was being so disciplined and healthy in college because I didn't eat desserts, but then I would eat 3 bowls of Captain Crunch for breakfast or eat Ramen Noodles with a slice of Velveeta cheese for supper and not bat an eye. I really thought I was doing good!

I still don't understand everything about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle, but I do know that eating the things you grow is very healthy because you know exactly what has been used on the produce or put into the animals. The more I research the foods we Americans eat, the more I want to grow my own stuff. There is so much misinformation and deception among those who grow, manufacture and package our foods. Just because it says "organic" on the label doesn't mean it's healthy: organic sugar? The phrases "heart healthy", "whole wheat" & "free range chickens" that you see on labels are also misleading. For example, in order for the birds to be certified as "free range chickens" you only need to have a 10ft x 10ft fenced yard connected to the coop. There is no maximum number of chickens that can use that yard. Big chicken corporations can have a barn that holds 10,000 chickens with a little 10 x 10 yard next to it and call it "free range".

Even though my grandparents and parents always had a garden, I really didn't know much about growing and preserving my own food. My green thumb skills consisted of helping with the weeding and picking. But when we got married, I wanted to try my hand at planning and planting my own little garden plot. And each year my knowledge base grew by trial and error, mostly error! By the time we moved out to the country six years ago, I was ready to our enlarge the garden and expand into new territory...animals we could eat. We're still pretty new at this but we've had cows, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, donkey's, horses and cats. Not all to eat of course! It has been so rewarding and satisfying to eat the fruit of our labor. Here's a sample of one of the many different breakfasts we have here on the farm. And tell me if you think this tops a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast.


Our own farm fresh eggs (just look at how orange the yolks are! You won't find that in the grocery store!)
  • Thick slabs of our homegrown bacon (THE best bacon you'll ever put in your mouth!)
  • Freshly ground homemade whole wheat pitas with homemade wild plum jelly on the side (plums grown right here on our property)
  • Salsa made fresh from our garden (to spoon on the eggs)
  • Tall glass of icy cold fresh raw goats milk (I bet you can't tell the difference)
  • Sweet delicious slices of our organic white flesh peaches (from our tree)
The only thing we ate that wasn't ours was the butter we put on the bread and the wheat we bought and ground ourselves in our flour mill, the sugar for the jelly and salt.

Now that's what I call a "Breakfast of Champions!"

Samantha's Dream Came True





By Chelsa

If you know anything about our daughter Samantha, you know that she's all about horses. Her conversations, her walls, her clothes, her toys, you name it. Horses are beautiful animals and it would be fun to have one, but taking care of a horse is a big responsibility and a lot of work, not to mention the cost of buying a good one. We told her that she could not get one until she earned enough money and showed us that she could be trusted to responsibly do her chores without being told.

For the last year she has faithfully been working hard at lots of different jobs, saving her money, and learning what it means to be responsible. And we've been praying about it too, asking God to help us get the right horse for her. Recently we began horse shopping since she had earned 3/4 of what she would probably need. God is so good! He has answered our prayer. His name is Roman and he was given to Samantha by a friend of ours. He's a 22 year old gelding Quarter horse and is so tame and gentle and obedient. Perfect for a 10 year old girl. She can saddle and bridle him up all by herself and go for a ride in the hills on our property. She can walk him, trot him, canter him, and gallop him, and make him back up if she needs to. She can go with a saddle and boots or bareback and barefooted. She can go alone or with friends. She really likes to brush him and wash him with the water hose. We've had a lot of people come over lately and Samantha loves to lead others around on his back. He is such a good horse and I'm so thankful Samantha's dream came true. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What kind of insurance do you have?

By Creg

Every time I get a letter from an insurance company my kids plead, "Dad can we switch to Geico?" They love their commercials & evidently Sterling & Steele think you get a free gecko with each policy you buy.

Reading Luke 12 made me think of insurance (the health & life kind). In verse 13-21 Jesus tells a parable about a rich man whose land produced a good crop. Verse 17 says,
17He (the rich man) thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.
He ended up building bigger barns to store his grain for the future so he could take life easy. Is there anything wrong with that? Don't we do that & call it retirement?
20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?
Whoa! What did he do wrong?
21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Evidently his problem was that he was not rich toward God. What does that mean? Who was he thinking of in verse 17? What if he would have thought of God instead of himself & asked, "God, what would you have me do with all of the grain that you blessed me with?" Does verse 21 imply that you can't store things up for yourself & be rich toward God? As opposed to storing things to use for God's Kingdom where you have such a loose grip on your possessions that you can give things away without a second thought. Nothing really belongs to us anyway, does it?
Dt 10:14 To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

Jesus continues in Luke 12.
22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.


Does this verse relate to the parable He just told? Is He giving us assurances that if we apply the lesson He just taught (being rich toward God) that we don't have to worry about what we spend money on? Jesus goes on to talk about how God takes care of birds & flowers and then says:
O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Is Jesus saying that if you're rich toward God & seek His Kingdom, He will make sure you're fed & clothed & if you don't believe that, you have little faith because unbelievers are the ones who worry?
32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Do not be afraid of what? To trust in God's promises? Isn't that why we don't trust in His promises? The fear of what might happen when we give up control of our lives to Him. Jesus talks a lot about faith & not being afraid. Real trust eliminates fear.
33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So, by giving your stuff away you're storing up treasures in heaven that will never run out. Wow. So if we truly believed this, how different would our lives be?
Matthew chapter 6 adds this to the story:
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus specifically tells His followers who are seeking God's Kingdom first not to worry about money, food, clothes or what's going to happen tomorrow.
Is Jesus also telling us not to worry about what might happen? And it looks like the more we give away, the better. I've heard Christians say, "You can't out-give God." We all agree with that. But have you ever tried?

Back to my question of what kind of health & life insurance you have. What if we actually took Jesus at His word, were rich toward God, sought His Kingdom first & decided that our insurance would be making sure we're healthy, hearty & happy? Doing what we can to make sure our family is spiritually centered, physically fit, mentally stable & socially adapt. Then, instead of giving His money to Geico or State Farm or whoever, we could use more of it for Kingdom causes. Would that please Jesus?

Can you imagine a scene in heaven where God says, "Well Mr. Jones, I know you gave a lot to the poor, supported missionaries & helped the needy. But if you would have just spent some of that money on a good insurance policy instead, you could be getting the help you need right now." I can't. Jesus likes it when people take risks for Him. I pray that we will take Jesus at His word & live more by faith.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PLUM PICKIN'


By Chelsa
When we moved out in the country 6 years ago, I was so excited to discover that we had wild plums growing near the tank! These are little tart plums that make your lips pucker and taste terrible if you eat them straight off the tree, but makes fabulous jelly. My boys think so, they say it is the best jelly in the whole world. Granjan always makes lots of wild plum jelly and gives it as Christmas gifts every year. I think it is so rewarding to be able to make things off of your own land and to share that with others. We want to be able to make enough to share too. The last 2 years we haven't gotten any plums because of late spring freezes, but this year the little bushes were loaded. We took advantage of our bounty and picked plums several different times. After it was all said and done, we all worked together to make 99 jars of it! That's right, you can count them in the picture below if you don't believe me. Two jars are missing because we've used up 2 of them already! :o)
Here's the directions if you would like to try a hand at making some yourself sometime. It sure is worth the work. Yum-my!
1. Gather buckets, baskets, and your best helpers and go to the plum thicket.
2. Give everyone their own bucket and start pickin'. Go as fast as you can. Don't worry about picking off the stems, you can do that later in the house where it's cool.
3. Don't just pick the ripe ones. Pick some of the greener ones too; they have more pectin in them which aids in the jelling process.
4. Have a contest to see who can pick the most plums.
5. When your 'plum' tired of pickin', take your
buckets and go home.
6. At home, wash and stem the plums then put them in a big pot.
7. Fill the pot with water where the water just barely covers the plums.
8. Boil plums for 2-3 minutes, take off the burner and let it sit overnight on the stove top.
9. In the morning, strain off the juice and put in another big container.
10. To make jelly you will need jars, lids, 2 big pots: one to sterilize the jars and one to cook the jelly in, jar lifter, funnel, sugar and plum juice.
11. Sterilize the jars and lids in one big pot
12. In the other pot pour 5 cups plum juice and 10 cups sugar. Don't worry about or pay any attention to the ghastly amount of sugar you just put in there. All that sugar is there for a reason. Stir well.
13. Turn burner on med-high and boil syrup mixture until thickened. WARNING!!! Don't take your eyes off of that pot for a second! That stuff will boil over in a heartbeat and then what a mess you'll have to clean up. I bet I had to clean that up 5 different times! ARG!!!
14. Leave jelly in the pot until the foam settles.
15. Pour in sterilized jars using the funnel.
16. Screw on lids and label when cooled.
17. Open one of the jars, lather the jelly on a buttery piece of toast, and enjoy!!!

Priceless

I'm sure you've read the statistics about how much time an average father spends with his son during the day. About 15 minutes if I remember correctly. We beat that before breakfast. 7:30 am is chicken feeding time for my oldest son Sterling, 12, and I. We get the produce ready for all of the animals & then take a walk together to feed the chickens & move their pen. Sometimes we talk about really important stuff, sometimes we don't talk at all; just enjoying being together. I wouldn't trade any job in the world for these walks.

The other day we were eating lunch in town around 2:30 & the restaurant was empty. My youngest son Steele, 8, couldn't believe no one else was there. We told him this was later than most people eat lunch. Our usual schedule is 2 meals a day, breakfast at 10:30 & dinner around 5:00. When we told him some people eat lunch at 11:30 or so he said, "That seems early, but I guess most kids get up, eat their cereal & get rushed off to school. I'm glad we don't do that." I am too. I thank God for my boys wanting to be with me.

Isn't that the story of the prodigal son? The only thing the father wanted from his kids was for them to want to be with him. Isn't that what God wants from us? If we're too busy, it's not God that made us that way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

14 Years Ago...



By Chelsa

It's funny how certain questions provoke deep thought. I was asked one last night by my mother-in-law. We usually stop by their house after church on Sunday evenings to visit. While we were sitting around the kitchen table Kay asked me, "What were you doing at this time 14 years ago?"

I was in a hospital room waiting to have our first child, Sierra. I didn't actually have her until today, the 19th, so I was enjoying myself as I watched the monitor show what big contractions I was having and they weren't hurting hardly at all, just a slight tightness in the midsection. I was an athlete back then and thought I was pretty tough. I kept on thinking "What's the big deal? Having a baby isn't that painful. All these other ladies are just wimps. (What an ignoramus! I didn't realize that I wasn't in full blown labor yet. The doctor had induced me and it was very slow going. I also didn't know you could adjust the setting on the monitor - it showed big ones, but it was wrong, so wrong as I would find out the next day around lunch time until about 6:45 that evening.)

If you knew me growing up, you would know that I didn't really care much for babies. I was out playing football with the guys, not being held down holding crying babies. I can count on one hand the number of times I babysat and those times were disasters. And don't even ask me to change a diaper. How gross!!! I didn't really want to have kids yet, I had big plans. I still wanted to try to qualify for the Olympics in the hurdles or pole vault. I was so close to making the Olympic qualifying standard, just .15 hundredths of a second away. But Creg was ready to have kids, so I did it for him. I decided I could train after the baby was born.

Even though I didn't know how to be a mother or really have any mothering instincts that I knew of, I knew deep down inside that I needed to stay home and take care of the baby. And I knew that I was not prepared or capable on my own of being the kind of mother God wanted me to be, so I began seeking his guidance. I felt a strong desire to spend time alone with God. I read my bible all the way through in just a few months. I memorized scripture and hungered after wisdom. I believe God put that desire inside of me and I'm so glad I listened and obeyed the urgings I felt.

Wow! How much my life has changed since that day! I'm still learning and growing and I certainly don't have it all together, just ask my family. But God has done and is doing a work in me. I've gone from thinking about me and my big plans (Spending time with newborn Sierra ended all thought of Olympic glory) to letting go of them and embracing what God has in store for our family. I've gone from avoiding babies to loving and enjoying my children more than I thought possible. I've gone from being in the spotlight to letting God get the glory for what he is doing. I've learned that the more I deny myself, the more joy and contentment I feel. And I pray that God keeps putting that desire in me and that I will listen and obey.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hot, Hard & Dirty Work

By Creg
This living by faith thing really works. (If you don't know much of our story we'll fill you in as we go.) Wednesday we got our yearly auto insurance bill in the mail. We can afford it, but it will be tight. We prayed for jobs & within 2 days we got calls from 2 people with 3 job offers that will pay about half of our insurance bill for the year. One of the jobs was cleaning a construction site. It was hot & dirty & all 6 of us were there for 5 hours of hard work.

It reminded me of a radio interview I heard on Focus on the Family about a wealthy man who was having trouble with his son. One time they were driving along & saw a poorly dressed family doing manual labor. He told his son, "See what happens when you don't get an education. You have to do hard jobs like that all of your life." I couldn't help but think if someone driving past us that day thought the same thing about us. My wife & I have degrees in math & science education, yet we chose this lifestyle to be together as a family, live simply & be available for God's daily calls. Am I using my degree? A few days ago we started digging holes to build a barn for our new horses & I showed the kids how to use the Pythagorean theorem to make sure all of the angles were 90 degrees. The degree I'm more interested in using, however, is the one God has given me to lead my family & train my children. I pray for that daily.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PEACHES, PEACHES, PEACHES



Written by Chelsa
We have peaches up to our eyeballs! Our tree is absolutely loaded down with them. Even after knocking off several peaches earlier in the year, the branches are sagging with the weight of these delicious golden globes of fruity perfection. The tangy, sweet, juicy goodness of these fruits makes my mouth water just thinking about them! This is the first year we've ever really had a bumper crop with this tree. It seems like something always happens, hail storms or late freezes, to keep us from enjoying our peaches. But not this year, God in his mercy allowed us to have more than enough.

So what do you do when their is a mountain of peaches at your disposal?
  • Eat them! Savor them! Let the juice drip off your chin as you gobble them up!
  • Sell em!
  • Freeze them so you can enjoy them all year long!

That's what we did anyway. We all worked together to put up as many freezer bags full as we had room for. This is how we did it:
  1. Fill bucket after bucket after bucket after buckets with peaches (be gentle, they'll bruise!)
  2. Take them in the house and wash them in the sink
  3. Get 2 large pots and fill them half full with water- one for boiling water, one for ice water
  4. Sort through peaches and find the ones that are barely ripe (a little bit soft to the touch). If you get the mushy ones they don't store well (just stuff them in your mouth right now and eat them... they're the sweetest ones of all), and the hard ones don't taste good.
  5. When your big pot of boiling water is ready, gently spoon 10 peaches into the pot. Let them boil for one minute to loosen the skins.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peaches. Put them in a colander to drain, then put them in the pot of ice water. Let them stay there for a minute or so to cool off.
  7. Now get a big cutting board, knives, compost/trash bucket, ziplock bags, permanent marker, and towels (they are a big juicy mess!). You will also need a medium sized bowl with a quart of water and a TBSP of lemon juice to put your sliced peaches in to keep them from turning brown.
  8. Remove peaches from ice water and place them on the cutting board. Slice them in half before you pull off the skin because it's super hard to cut them with the skin already off--too slippery!!! Remove pit, and slice.
  9. Put sliced peaches into lemon juice water and the skin and pit in the compost bucket (trash)
  10. Label and date your freezer bags. Then with a slotted spoon, gently ladle peaches and some juice into bags. Try to remove as much air as possible when you zip them shut.
  11. I like to put my finished bags on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer so they will be flat and easier to stack later. =)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

First Blog

We don't presume we've done anything that someone would like to read about, but we hope you will have as much fun reading our blog as we will have writing it and living it.