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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grasshoppers


By Chelsa

In my last gardening post I was raving about how wonderful fall gardens were. And I told how we tore out all the old plants and prepared the soil and planted many new seeds to prepare for fall harvest. I had all of these grand plans for how I wanted our garden to be. I spent my time reading, researching and planning and we worked at weeding, watering and waiting. But let's face it, bad things have happened yet again, and my expectations of bounty and beauty have been slowly eaten away by grasshoppers. That's right. Grasshoppers.

We just planted rows and rows of corn, green beans, cabbage, carrots, squash, zuchini and swiss chard. And we've been faithful to water the ground every day since. The last few days I have noticed the green beans sprouting their first leaves, and when I checked this morning I noticed that every single little seedling that has sprouted has been gnawed to a stump by grasshoppers. ARRGGG!!! That is so frustrating! Just think of all that work we did in preparing the ground for those seeds! I'm seriously contemplating capturing some of our chickens and putting them in the garden for grasshopper control. I know they will eat my tomatoes, but it might be worth a try. I'm willing to sacrifice a few for the greater good.

This is yet another reminder for me (and I've had several) that we cannot be self-sufficient in our own power. Sometimes we think we are, but in reality we are not. If the hand of God does not bless it, it will not succeed, no matter how hard we try.

Some of our seedlings may survive and produce a crop, or it may be a total loss. We don't know. But there's one thing we do know...if we seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, our God will supply all of our needs in Christ Jesus and we don't need to worry about it at all. We're going to trust Him.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Milking by the Light of the Moon


By Chelsa

Now that Samantha has her horse, I am in charge of milking the goat twice a day. In the evenings I usually milk around sunset, but every single night this week we have gotten home after dark, which means that we have to put up the animals and milk the goat in the dark. I don't know about you, but that's a little bit spooky. We're used to it now, but there's all sorts of critters that come out at night around here, like big spiders, opossoms, raccoons, skunks, rattlesnakes, bob cats, coyotes, ect. We always use flashlights at night when we put up the animals.

But this week was different. We didn't need to use the flashlights because of the glow of the full moon. And it wasn't spooky or scary at all. In fact, it was perfectly lovely. Amazingly beautiful. A cool front blew in this week and made it even better. I wrote about my experience and have posted it below.

Sunday night: Just finished milking the goat under the light of the full moon. So peaceful and beautiful tonight. Our God is awesome!
Wednesday night:
Milking the goat by the light of the moon once again. The sky is spectacular...full moon, soft clouds reflecting the gentle light as they float past. Night time bugs chirping, the wind whispering. While I milk I rest my head against the goats warm chest. As I listen to her munch softly on her hay, I can also hear the milk stream gently into the bucket. It's so peaceful and relaxing. God is good!
Friday night:
I think milking in the dark the last few days has been good for me. It really increased my awareness of God's goodness at all times, even at night, even when I am not aware. All the nighttime sounds, sights and sensations came alive since I couldn't go off and do other projects while I was waiting for Milkshake to finish eating her hay. So I just sat there watching, listening, smelling, feeling and marveling at God's creation. It made me realize how much love and creativity and beauty God has given us if we will just stop, slow down, and pay attention. Just because I live out in the country doesn't mean I take time to appreciate His handiwork...there's always so much to do. So I am thankful for these late night milkings. They have reminded me to slow down and enjoy even the little mundane chores and see God's fingerprints on them all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Out with the Old, In with the New

By Chelsa
I love gardening, but it gets to be a little depressing this time of year. Most of the beautiful little seedlings I started indoors this past winter, that looked so strong and healthy and full of potential earlier this spring and produced well earlier this summer are now looking old, lifeless and worn out, unable to handle the extreme heat and pressure of endless pests sucking the life out of them. It could make you throw up your hands in defeat. Why even go to all the trouble if it's going to end like this? I mean there's still 3 good months of growing season left until the first frost and most of my plants are worthless. It almost seems like a waste of time.

But wait, there is good news. All is not lost. There is still time to enjoy your garden once again. How can this be? What can be done? These plants can't possibly be resurrected. They can't, but there is time for new ones to sprout and produce before winter hits. All you need to do is plant a fall garden. I just love fall gardens! I think they do better around here than the spring ones. Do you realize how much stress the little plants have to go through during a West Texas spring? Multiple days of high winds, late freezes and cold spells, hail storms, and a bombardment of bugs coming out of hibernation, just waiting to sink their teeth (um, pinchers) into those young, succulent tender leaves. Not to mention the weeds that want to sprout at the same time and fight to take over. It's a wonder they survive at all. Late summer and early fall are much more gentle and forgiving on your young plants as far as the weather goes. Young seedlings like warm temperatures and the older they get the more they enjoy mild weather which is exactly what this season brings.

So the last few days we've been clearing out and pulling up the old, worn out plants (and the pesky weeds beside them) and are preparing the soil once again for new seeds. Out with the old and in with the new. I feel better already.

Homegrown Cookin'


By Chelsa

Ahhh! What a meal! There's nothing like enjoying a feast from the fruit of your labors. The kids and I cooked and prepared a knock out supper tonight. I know that because Creg said so. It wasn't just good, it was delicious and fun and special too, because ALL OF IT was grown on our land and ALL OF US pitched in to help. The pigs, the goats milk, the fruits and vegetables were all products of our tender loving care.

Sierra started us off by creating her own marinade recipe for the pork ribs last night. Not only did she raise those pigs herself, but she thawed the meat, seasoned it, put it in the fridge to marinate overnight, and cooked it in the oven all day without any help from me.

While that was cooking, Steele and I worked together to slice, season and saute the squash, onion and zucchini in the skillet on the stove. But we didn't just prepare and cook the veggies. We spent many a morning pulling weeds, checking for squash bugs and their eggs, and picking the tender vegetables and putting them in the baskets.

Samantha made fresh peach smoothies for dessert from our own delicious peaches she hand picked from our tree. She also milked her goat and used the raw goats milk to make kefir (which is similar to yogurt but much healthier). Not only did she milk the goat, but she also had to bottle feed the two kids several times a day for 12 weeks. Thankfully the kids are weaned and we get all the milk now.

Sterling set the table. That doesn't sound like much, but he is one reliable, hardworking hand around here: Weeding in the garden, taking care of chickens, washing dishes, hanging out the laundry, working with daddy. He didn't help cook this time, but he does his fair share and always does it cheerfully.

To do the finishing touches on the meal, Samantha sliced fresh tomatoes and salted and peppered them to perfection while I grabbed a handful of fresh sweet peppers from the garden and placed them on the plates.

We blessed the food and ate our fill. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. It was a feast fit for a king. Mmm, Mmm, good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A money fruit tree


By Creg

A good friend of mine who'd been down on his luck lately came to Sunday worship with only $10 to his name. He decided to put $5 in the collection plate. Have you ever given 50% of your total life savings to God? Me neither. Do you give money & goods to Kingdom purposes in such a way that it affects how you have to live? Does that have anything to do with Biblical fruit?

Luke chapter 3. 7John (the Baptist) said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

Does that sound harsh? What does John mean about producing fruit? It sounds like they already repented. Where did they go wrong? Maybe they got their identity from being children of Abraham rather than just being obedient children of God. John continues.

9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

Ax, cut, fire! Bad, bad, bad. Should we find out what he's talking about? They do.

10"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.

John answers in the next 3 verses.

11John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." 12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" 13"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."

All of John's answers have something in common. They all deal with money or material possessions. Remember he was addressing how a Christian shows fruit. Is John saying that genuine repentance will lead to a new heart & a new way of living that will radically change your priorities? Does it look like the fruit of spiritual transformation intersects with money? Look at what John the apostle wrote in 1 John 3.

17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

So, what are you investing your money in? You can't bet too much on a winning horse, if you know what I mean. That makes God's Kingdom a wise investment. By the way, my friend who gave half of what he had got 5 calls for jobs the next day.







Friday, August 13, 2010

Chelsa's Herbal Skin Salve


By Chelsa
My homemade herbal skin salve was put to the test. We use it all the time on ant and mosquito bites, but I wasn't sure how it would work on bigger stings, like wasps. Well, I just found out. Yesterday I accidentally stepped on a red wasp and he stung me under my little toe. I yelled out in pain thinking my toe was on fire. I hopped to the bathroom as fast as I could and slathered my toe with the green goo. I kid you not, my toe stopped throbbing almost immediately and there was no swelling or redness at all. All proof of a sting was completely gone within 2 minutes! My toe never got sore or itchy or anything! I was amazed! That stuff really works and it probably works best the quicker you put it on. We've toyed with the idea of putting it on the market and selling it, but I wanted proof that it's as good as they claim it to be. Now I know.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Family Reunion


By Creg

Summer is the time for reunions. A chance to see your extended family & adore the new cousins who have been born since the last reunion, adding to the family tree. This picture was from our reunion in 2005. We used to have a tee shirt color for each of the sisters' families. You can see who has kept up with their color :-)

Why does Matthew start chapter 1 with a family tree in his gospel? Is it important to know all of those names we can't pronounce? I think 4 of them are significant, they're in verses 3, 5 & 6. Have you noticed there are 4 women mentioned? Everything I've read about women in the first century says that they didn't have much of a role in society. And at least 3 of the women mentioned are Gentiles! Rahab was the prostitute from Jericho & Ruth was from Moab. Moabites were not allowed to enter the assembly of the Lord (Dt 23:3). Tamar's story is told in Genesis 38 & it is worse than anything you would see on a TV soap opera. These women were a part of the line of Jesus. Think of Mt 1:1-16 as Jesus' family reunion photo. He doesn't try to hide those women like you might a crazy uncle who you hope doesn't get into the picture. Why would God have Matthew include these women in this genealogy? Maybe because God wants us to know that He used people like that to save the world. And if He can use those women, then He can use me, regardless of what my past is like. Isn't that good news?