Sunday, December 28, 2008

Look at this!!!!

Hi all,
Now, if you know me very well, you know that we live in a house that was Amish built in the 1880's. It was a great deal when we bought it (complete with the 9+ acres) because the house was in such horrible shape. Overall, good structural shape, lousy interior shape. Picture filth, bugs, furniture and tons of stuff. And an entire second story in great need of renovation. Some day I will have the nerve to post the before pictures, but they were truly horrible. We had most of the upstairs redone by professionals in order to get it done as quickly as possible so the kids could move into their rooms without being terrorized by how awful it looked. Seriously.

Well, the downside of the whole thing is that you get tired. Tired of the constant renovations and of things just not being done. This year has been the year of fences and containments for our animals, and fall and winter of a new laundry room door, new plumbing in the bathroom, new tile in the bathroom, and a new paint job (in progress) in the bathroom. Add to that the normals of life: working part time, homeschooling five kids, parenting, being a family and all of that. Needless to say the progress is slow and in fits and starts as time and money allows.

Well, my kitchen counters have not been clear or done since we moved in here - as long as their was room to get stuff done (and things that just didn't seem to have places to go) life went on. Well, today, we made headway!!! Take a look at my gorgeous cupboards, antique scale (thanks to my grandparents), and composting pail. Yay! I feel like our tiny kitchen grew by miles.


And another view:

And the other thing we are trying: a recipe for bread, you make the ingredients for eight loaves of bread, let it rise for about two hours, then put it in the fridge. When you want to make a loaf, you cut out 1/8th, about the size of a grapefruit, and set it out to rise. Then you pop it in the over and "ta-da" fresh bread!!! Our plan is that I pull it when I get up in the AM, set it out to rise when I toss in a load of laundry and while I shower and get ready for work. Then pop it in the oven while I start rousing the kids - they get up to fresh bread and jam or cinnamon sugar, and we have breakfast together before I leave for work!!!

Got to love it. I got the recipe from the most recent edition of Mother Earth News, so check it out!

Well, I hope to send photos of the new bathroom project as we get it just a bit farther - the end is in sight!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

You never know...

I know that many a pastor tells us to study the bible, to read it well. And those same pastors also often tell us not to just open up the bible randomly to expect God to speak to us. But, I tend to disagree. I do tend to believe that often God knows better than I do what I really need on a particular day that He will speak to me in whatever means I will open up to him. And yes, I do believe that if I allow him to do his work, that he can get through to me, before I even know that I need it.

Today was another example of that. In the craziness that life is sometimes, it is easy to view Bible time as a rote thing, even when I don't want to. I have read so much over the years, have heard it over and over in my life, that sometimes you sort of hear it again and think "yep, yeah, this I have heard before, I know this". And it is easy to not hear what you really need to hear, deep down in your soul that day. I struggle with this on a regular basis. I have heard so much, it resounds in my head and I even forget when I first heard most of it. And that is different than having it resound intensely in your soul - though it lives there, some days there are days it really needs to resound.

Today I am in a strange place, a whole different place than my normal life - I am at a continuing education course (I am by trade a speech language pathologist) at a fancy hotel in downtown Chicago. Way different from my usual! No farm animals, me alone in a hotel room at night, no laundry to switch, no cooking, on and on, way from my normal. And feeling very out of place. The course is amazing, and very, very challenging! The pre course preparation was very difficult, and the course has proven to be just as challenging. I am very hopeful that it will add a lot to my ability to help my patients. But, the overall situation is very weird for me. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water!

So, this morning I looked at my Bible on the nightstand, and didn't know where to even start, but wanted to read something this morning, to really start the day off right. And the Bible opened to Isaiah 45:19: I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness. I have not said to Jacob's descendants, "Seek me in vain." I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right. Gather together and come, assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ingnorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. Declare what is to be, present it - let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked; Before me every knee will bow; by me everty tongue will swear. They will say of me, "in the Lord alone are deliverance and strength." All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the Lord and will make their boast in him.

I am so glad that we were adopted into the Lord's family, that Christ made this all possible, for us to be joint heirs with Christ, that we are valued and a part of God's creation.

I have been struggling with finding my new roles, maybe it is more of one of those "mid-life" things. I am knowing that I am facing 40 soon, that I am facing life changes that I have mixed feelings about - perhaps no more babies, having teenagers, working part time, considering returning the kids to school or if we are fine with what we are doing, looking at a few more years with my oldest, pondering what impact I will leave behind on the world when I am gone.

I am not satisfied with just traversing this life. You have to understand, there are several reasons for this. For one, I was raised in the faith, raised by wonderful parents who instilled that faith deep inside my soul. And that requires something of me. That requires that I carry on that legacy, not only in my own family (that would be maintaining the status quo) but elsewhere. Second, my dad was an amazing man - and he left this life too early. Somehow, my living on means that I must do something to carry on what he might have done. I don't exactly know what that is, but I know lots of what that isn't. I need to move forward, to try to do something that he would be proud of. I don't know why that is so important to me, but it is. It is deep in my heart. When you watch a man of God live it out from day to day, when you see someone work day in and day out with integrity, honesty and faith, it requires a response from you. It requires that you pull a little deeper from within yourself and pull yourself a little farther. It sets the bar a little higher. I want to know that somehow my kids will feel the same. That God has called them to something a little bit more. I want to see them work to find the strength to do the hard things, whatever that might be for them. If I don't live it out, they won't have a pattern to follow. I wish they had met my dad, that they could have known him, so the only way they will get his message is through me. What if I fail him?

So, what does that mean? I simply don't know. Except some days it means that I mustn't complain about what is hard, about doing what needs to be done, about doing the correct thing. I wish sometimes I could see farther down the road, a clearer path of what is to come. I simply don't know. I don't know what is going to happen in the next year, with the economy, the larger pictures. I just don't know. But, I know that I get up each day, do the daily work, try to show my kids what they need to grow strong and wise, try to be the person I am supposed to be that day, try to see for the next day what needs to be done and accomplished. I know that I need to find a way to have more faith, to walk where God would have me walk. I am not sure I know where that really is some days, and some days it is just enough light for the step I am on. I wish I had answers. I really wish I did. Some days it is just doing the one thing that has to be done that day. To do one more step, to clean one more spot, to fulfill one more task, to love one more child, to learn more, to just try to move on. Some days it is mundane, some days it is a bit more exciting. I just don't understand not trying to take steps forward. I don't know how to do anything else. Some things I so want to change, some things I am totally unable to change. So, when you have this kind of a mindset, right or wrong, what do you do when you are nearly 40? I just don't know. I know that you just move forward day to day. When I was 20 I had vision for where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. What do you do when you have done that, or when you have changed your focus? I don't want it to be about money, about stuff, about comfort. I want something a bit more than that.

So, I go back to the Word. And the Word for today said that God is God. That he speaks the truth, that he has put his words out there for us, that we are to declare what God says. It said that God is our savior, righteous. That we are to turn to him. And I am turning. Trying to turn each and every day. But, is seems like turning to God requires more than just immersing ourselves in the Word, that God asks for action also. It is easy to end up being no earthly good to God. I am very action focused, it is who I am. So, to me, in order to be in God, I also must be in action too. If I hole up in my little corner, read my Bible, rely on God for my needs, but sit with that, then what have I done? I remember watching "The Passion of the Christ" and coming away with the feeling of "what do I do with this?" because to acknowledge all that I had seen and to really viscerally take it in, well, then it required that somehow you must do something. It was not enough to be grateful, to rely on grace. It demanded an answer, a response beyond just emotion and words. I question myself regularly on if I am living that out. I hope so. I hope I raise my kids to question themselves the same way.