Wednesday, August 31, 2011

34 Years Ago Was My Day Of Birth

So, a year can come and go so fast anymore. It's true, the older you get, the faster life goes. And same for, time flies when you're having fun. Guess I'm getting older and having fun both! My birthday was yesterday, and I spent time at my mom's working on relish to can and spent some time with my great friend, eating cupcakes and giving her a pregnancy massage (one of my most favorite things to do!).

Our line up of help cutting, chopping, cleaning, food processing, and crying from onions. : ) The children were great help and it was amazing how quickly we were done with the prep work to can relish.

We actually spent Sunday celebrating my birthday with my family. I invited everybody to go with us to Goshen to a vintage baseball game. Grandpa Murphy even came along for the fun. We all enjoyed watching one game and were volunteered to watch a little girl while her daddy played ball. Glad she didn't mind us trying to entertain her.

After the game we took a bike ride around the around park while the rest of my family went home to prepare a meal. Delicious it was! After dinner and some ice cream cake, we sat around the table listening to my dad and grandpa tell fishing stories from when my dad was a boy when they lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. God's hand was on them through so many situations that could have ended very badly. But apparently I was to be a part of this world, so he kept my dad living. : )

And we can't forget about some gifts from my children. Diella went shopping and bought me some new dish towels because mine are all torn and ragged. She even picked my favorite color, blue. But during a bike ride one evening she slipped up and told me what she bought, so when I opened her present, I made sure to act surprised for her. : )

Such sweet cards from my children. The ideas they had to gift me and the words they chose to honor me. I am loved by my family!

Oh yes, and if you are riding your bike on a road, and there is a sign that says "caution slippery", be aware of the sign and road condition. Riding through water on a road with a child in a seat behind your bike, will result in an accident. Yep, you guessed it, Jonathon tested the waters, hit the algea that was formed on the road from the water, the weight from Benaiah behind caused some sliding and down they went. Nobody was hurt, thankfully, and we all learned a good lesson! And we took the bridge to get across.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Health, Yaks and Amish Land

We always have our first day of school be a field trip of some kind and though we aren't plugging away at books quite yet, we did count this as our first day. There is just too much nice weather for us to enjoy than to be sitting inside doing books.

Jonathon as been researching different cattle that he could be interested in raising and somehow he came across yaks. After finding a yak farm in Michigan, he decided we needed to go visit them. There is also a health musem that I have wanted to take the children to, but it was just too far away for me to take a day trip with them and drive all the way there just for that. The health museum in St. Joseph Mercy Health Center and the Yak farm were just about 18 miles apart, so we combined them to make a fun day. The health museum takes you on a walk through the body. There were lots of fun activities for them to do, read, and compete in.

We figured out that most of us read the word better than seeing and saying the color in ink. This was an interesting activity.

Who wants to crawl through the intestines?

And who wants to come out to the end...our little stinker, that's for sure!

They learned how much money it costs to smoke and what smokers could buy instead.

This nose, if you sat under it, would sound like a really big sneeze. While Diella was in the bathroom we decided we would have her sit under it and take her picture of her reaction. Well, she didn't care at all. I, on the other hand, when I sat under there when noone was looking, got out of there real quick. Good thing the camera wasn't on me at the time. : )

Jonathon seeing how strong he is.....too much work apparently.

Okay, that's better. I was starting to worry about how strong my man was. :D

They learned that their right arm is stronger than their left, except Josiah. He was the same which would make sense since he is ambidextrous (is that how you spell that word?).

And as the competiveness arose in him, he way out did his sisters in this challenge.

Benaiah loved the two slides they had. Just the right size for him.

Now onto the Michigan Yakkers!

We had such a good visit at this farm. The owners were entirely more hospitable than we could have imagined, the children had a fun time playing with their son and we enjoyed learning about the yaks and other critters they had on their farm. They have yaks, sheep, turkeys of all sizes, chickens of different kinds, ducks, a bunny and bees. What a lovely place this was!!!

I believe we gained some knowledge in how the animals are and loved how docile they were, but when Benaiah snuck into the pen with the yaks, I sure wasn't gonna let him get close to those mommas. Yikes, okay, gave this momma a little scare for a second, and I learned that I can squeeze through a split rail fence in short order if need be. : )

They also prepared a meal for us! We were not expecting to be fed, that's for sure. They served yak short ribs, potatoes and beans from their garden. All right up our alley and everything was just delicious! The meat was so moist and definitely liked by us all! Thank you to Michigan Yakkers (Tom and Cayce Kelly) for being so hospitable to our family!

One more stop on the field trip day....Joshua Murphy's Homestead

We weren't expecting horse rides, but what a great way to end our day! We got all sorts of goodies at this stop. Let's see, a bushel of peaches for $17.50 (guess I better figure out what to do with them now), a loaf of homemade bread, watermelon for a snack, horse rides, a bag of organic field corn cobs (so I can make some of my grandma German's corn cob jelly), Jonathon got his first peek at an ice house, saw a mass production of eggs from free range chickens, and I got a lovely, quiet visit for a bit with my sister, Ellen. We don't get too many of those opportunities, and I think my brother was disappointed that he didn't get to join us, but sometimes us ladies just need some chat time. : )

What a full and fun day! We learned so many things from a broad range of topics. I do believe this was a sufficient day of schooling for the children.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pumpkinvine Bike Trip- Shipshewana to Middlebury

Since the summer seems to be rushing right by, if we don't say "let's just go now", then it won't happen. After hearing about this part of the pumkinvine trail being finished, we decided we had better try it out. What a great ride!

The trail started at Ed's Supply in Shipshewana. We parked at Ed's, but then once getting back to the van, we realized there was a sign there that said, no parking. Oops! From Shipshewana it went all the way across the country side to Middlebury, right to Dairy Queen. What a great treat after a long ride!
As soon as we got to Dairy Queen, it started to sprinkle. We figured we would be riding back in the rain, but when we left the clouds rolled away and the sun came out. What a great trip! And who can pass up Dairy Queen? : ) A 12 mile bike ride round trip. Some were too tired by the time we got back and some were ready to ride more. Some road circles around others and one could have cared less what happened to him. : ) I, the mom, am just glad that we are all healthy and able to ride our bikes, enjoy the weather and be treated to food at a restaurant. I don't want to take anything for granted. Everything we have is a blessing to us!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lessons from Tomatoes

I was canning tomatoes the other day and while I was working, I had a nice visit with God. He layed some thoughts on my heart and mind, bringing to my attention those that I know who are struggling in their lives with feeling hopeless or families that seem to have more troubles than blessings.

He directed my mind to The 10 Commandments. Christians/Americans can really be forceful in how they feel about these commandments, but as I cut my tomatoes, the question came to me, "Do they even know what it is they think should be kept or obeyed? Do YOU even know, really know, what it is that I want YOU to obey?"

So, after my pressure cooker was filled with jars of bright red tomatoes, and the stove top turned on, I sat down to read it for myself, word for word, not adding to it or taking away from it.

The 10 Commandments start in Exodus 20:1. I didn't get very far when I had to reread a portion. And I noticed that it gave more instruction than what I had been reading, so verse 5 says, "you shall not bow down to them (referring to carved images) nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." And because He doesn't ever contradict Himself, He says the same thing in John 14:15 where Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." This part of the 10 Commandments sounds to me like if you don't keep His commandments, He considers you to hate Him and the punishment will leak down into your future generations. Could some people be struggling so badly because of the sins of their fathers or grandfathers? Sounds like it to me. Interesting. The pressure cooker is sounding bubbly inside, onto the next verses that catch my attention.

I must confess, the next one that caught my eye, didn't stick out because it was interesting to ponder on, but because I was guilty of not obeying it. This is what it says (It's a long one with explanation on exactly how to keep this commandment and I still messed it up. I would guess He knew we would mess it up since He dedicated 4 verses to explaining it to a T.), verse 8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."

I would make my girls wash dishes. It's not that I think washing dishes is wrong to do on the Sabbath, but to them, it is work. So, I was chastised by my husband just this last week for it, and won't be making them do the dishes anymore, unless they choose to do it to serve their family as unto the Lord. Another thought that He gave me on this passage was, "Why would man change My day? I chose and blessed that day for a reason, to bless you at the end of your tiresome week. I didn't change it to another day anywhere in my Scripture." He clearly said when the day was supposed to be. If we are creating our own version of when His Sabbath is, are we keeping HIS version of the 10 Commandments or our own? He brought an example to my mind. Say I asked my children to put their bikes away, and they decided to wait until tomorrow, and their dad came home after dark and didn't see the bikes, resulting in ran over bicycles. My command was to be done when I said it, for their own good. God wants us to not just say, "Okay", but to then obey what He says, when He says it.

Then the very next commandment is, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." I love how He gives more details on how He feels about some of the commandments, almost showing us the ones that would be harder for us to obey.

And another He elaborates on, the last one, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." Speaking for myself, it's hard to not want more. Just in case you might try to find a loop hole, He covers it by saying, "nor ANYTHING that is your neighbor's." So, don't think there are any exceptions. I usually do though, and this command reminds me to be content in ALL things. I am content now that I hear some bobbling going on. Fifteen more minutes and my canned tomatoes will be done.

So, back to this, "If you love Me, keep My commandments". Does it just refer to The 10 Commandments or all that He has commanded in His Word? I challenge you to search it out as our family has. I do know that Psalm 19:7&8 says,

"The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, Yea than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them Your servant is warned,

And in keeping them there is great reward."

Time to turn the canner off, and let the pressure go down before checking out my jars of tomaters.

He brings to the forefront of my mind one more portion of Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." The "Scripture" that they had was the Law of God, The Commandments, and His statutes. This is where doctrine, correction and instruction in living righteously comes from. The "New Testament" just reiterates it by using Jesus as the perfect example of how we should obey it.

My canned tomatoes are looking pretty good. What a blessing and reward they will be this winter, after all the work we've put into growing them from seed, planting them in the garden, weeding them, picking them, cleaning them, and canning them. Is that it? Do people just not want to go through the work it takes to make our desperately wicked hearts obey God in ALL He commands us to? Our family is in the process of growing (learning His Word, causing our minds to be opened wider than ever), weeding (getting rid of all of man's version and only following HIS version), picking (choosing only the Truth of God's ways, not what is tainted with man's ways), cleaning (washing away the dirt and filth of our hearts so we can stand before him with pure hearts), and canning (preparing ourselves for that glorious day when He returns to reward us with eternity in His kingdom).

We love to talk about what we've learned and hear Scriptures that may teach us something else that we hadn't considered. Maybe we are missing something, so we always welcome hearing Scripture that we can grow and learn together with other believers. Isn't that what we should all be doing, challenging, questioning and holding one another accountable? The reward will be great when we hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant".

Friday, August 12, 2011

Produce & Sleeping Children= JOY!

Oh the joys of harvesting from our own land. This week, we've begun getting tomatoes that I've canned as stewed tomatoes for chili this winter, and just harvested my first ever zucchini. Never got it to grow until this year. Beans were ready to be picked just for an addition to our supper meal, and I accidently pulled out one onion, but added it to our supper as well. I also cut off some fresh mint to add to our mid day snack of mint chocolate chip shakes. Oh, and peppers, which I've been chopping up and freezing. Am always glad to have those on hand when the prices go up during the winter. And my new produce basket that was given to us by Jonathon's mom, Linda. She sure does provide us with some very useful items for around our farmstead, for which we are very thankful for!

Summer days sure are tiring. That's the way we like it around here. As we continue to struggle with having such a small house with our 4 children, it's nights like this one that causes me to realize that they have a roof over their head, are clothed, have warm blankets and a soft place to lay, and are building great memories with their siblings, so what's the struggle really about. Because we live in a society that says, "live the american dream with a huge house, a bedroom for each person, garage, fancy cars, and name brand clothing", that's what the struggle is. It isn't something that is biblical. It is something that is of this culture in this day and age. Things of this world are only a distraction by the enemy of what we should really be focusing on for the Lord. So, as I contemplate on that while I eat my dinner that was made from mostly things out of our garden, I will choose to let all those distracting trends and cultural beliefs go by the wayside while I live simply and focus on only what HE wants of me. That's really all that matters in eternity.

And just for the record, we don't just have 2 beds. We do have 4 beds for the children, but I guess it's more fun to sleep together, at least as long as they are on the top bunk. And Benaiah was quick to climb up into Josiah's bed while it was free. Fun to be a kid.