September 30, 2010

Non-Negotiables

My pastor's wife is the most loving person I know!! The crazy thing is, the same Spirit that is in her is in me as well!!  Sometimes that is hard to believe, but I know it's true (read Ephesians - powerful stuff)!  Anyway, this wonderful woman is mentoring me. Even while taking care of her 6 children (one of which is a special needs child with severe disabilities), she has found time to invest in my life!!  One of the first things she asked me to do when we started meeting together was write down my top five "non-negotiables".  These were to be those things that I will never compromise - no matter how crazy life can get, or how bad things may seem.  I think it's important that we all have non-negotiables.  Writing them out and being reminded of them will help us keep our priorities in order, and make wise decisions.  

"If you have nothing worth dying for, than you have nothing worth living for."
~ Martin Luther ~


*** My Non-Negotiables***

1) I will love, honor, serve & be faithful to God
2) I will love, honor, serve & be faithful to Skyler
3) My priorities shall be:  God 1st, Skyler 2nd, Family/Children 3rd, Others 4th
4) I will find a place/way to serve the body (church) of Christ
5) I will pray and wait eagerly for opportunities to tell those who are lost about the sweetness of God's grace!



"The faith which you have as your own convictions before God." 
~ Romans 14:22 ~

What are your non-negotiables?? I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to leave your comment! :)

September 29, 2010

Recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent


I have been wanting to try homemade laundry detergent for sometime now, but I was having a hard time finding what I needed.  A local homesteader told me what she used, and where I could find it.  I think I will try this recipe, but if you have others that you use please feel free to share!



You Will Need:

- five gallon bucket.
- cheese grater
- 1 bar of Fels Naptha --- found at Price Cutters, Dillons, or local grocer
- 2 cups Washing Soda ---found at Price Cutters, Dillons, or local grocer
                                                       - 1 cup of Borox



Use a cheese grater and grate the Fels Naptha in a bowl and then add hot water.  Let it stand overnight.

The next day in a five gallon bucket mix the Fels Naptha, Washing Soda and Borox. In the bath tub add HOT water until it is about 2 inches from the top of bucket. Let set for a while and mix occasionally.





A couple helpful tips:   If you have a high efficiency machine, you may want to water it down a little because they require less detergent.  You can use ice cream buckets, milk jugs, or old laundry detergent containers to store it.  Also, you may want to use a hand mixer to mix it up real good!

For those of you who end up trying this out, let me know how it goes!  For those of you who currently make your own laundry detergent, I would love to hear your recipe, or any other tips you might have!!

September 28, 2010

Why Choose Raw Milk?

One of the first things my husband and I began purchasing when we started our food journey was raw milk.  If you are one of those experienced homesteaders, you already understand the value of raw milk.  However, there may be some of you who either 1) Have heard some not so good things about raw milk or 2) You may be like I was and have never even heard the term "raw milk" until now.  Either way, I hope to bring some insight to this to topic.

Raw Milk:  You can skim the cream off to make butter, or shake it in!  Both are yummy!!

First of all, realize that I was pretty clueless about all of this until recently.  I will try to give a nice overview of what raw milk is, a little history, the health benefits, and where you can find it, but for a more thorough examination of the topic I would check out the sites I have listed on the "Resources" page.  There is so much information and research you can find that will really get you excited about finding some raw milk for yourself!

Let me start, then, with what raw milk is, or really . . . what it isn't:

1) It is not pastuerized -  this is a heating process designed to destroy all bacteria, and most enzyme activity.  This is a way to partially sterilize raw food, and it also allows for a longer shelf life.  Completely pasteurized milk can last for months without refrigeration.  In fact, the only reason why milk bought from the grocery store is refrigerated is because people will not buy warm milk - we know that milk is supposed to be refrigerated!

2) It is not homogenized - this is the process of breaking fat globules into much smaller particles so that the cream will no longer rise to the top.  The extreme pressure subjects the milk to high heat for a second time, and as a result, the color, flavor and nutritional value is altered.

Here is the thing,  not all raw milk is the same.  You see, it depends on where the raw milk comes from.  The ideal milk is taken from an animal that has only been fed organic, fresh grass.  Then this milk is rapidly cooled to about 36 -38 degrees Fahrenheit.  That's it . . .no pasteurization, no homogenization.  Raw milk becomes dangerous when it is coming from a commercialized farm where the cows are crowded together, with little or no pasture to graze.  Instead of nutrient-rich grass, cows are given a sore substitute of grains, soy, and alfalfa.  Don't get me wrong these non-grass foods may, in fact, increase milk production, however when it comes to nutrition, these foods cannot compete with the good 'ol grass.  The unsanitary conditions of commercialized farms are not usually questioned simply because the milk will undergo a pasteurization process anyway.  Raw milk in these conditions will most definitely be harmful to you!

Alright, so now that we know what raw milk is, let's talk about the history.  Raw milk, no matter what kind of animal it is coming from, has been a safe and reliable source of food for thousands of years!  In America during the Industrial Revolution, milk and whiskey were the two main beverages of choice.  As demand for both of these products grew, distilleries began popping up in almost every major city.  Well, in order to make the most profit possible, one entrepreneur thought it would be a good idea to put the milk cows right next to the whiskey distillery, and let them eat all the hot, leftover, swill.  Turns out this is not very good for a cows diet - go figure!  Confined to a small space full of manure (not grass), and given this poor diet the cows began producing milk that was very poor in quality.  Add to this unsanitary milk pails, and dirty workers who didn't wash their hands, and . . . you guessed it, disaster!  Many people especially children and babies became ill and/or died.   Therefore, some well-meaning men decided to find a way to "clean" the milk. The first was a doctor from New Jersey, Henry Coit, MD.  He worked with farmers in order to get them to produce clean "certified" raw milk.  Another man,  Nathan Straus, had lost a child to the poor milk production.  He thought milk would be unsafe for consumption unless it had been pasteurized.  He was very wealthy (the co-owner of Macy's department store), and he spent many many years promoting pasteurization.  For awhile "certified milk" and pasteurized milk co-existed.  However, eventually medical professionals and government officials (swayed by cooperate dollars of course) were able to take this incredibly healthy food from the people.  Even today, there are some states in which selling raw milk from your home to informed buyers is considered illegal!  Fortunately, as more people are realizing the benefits of healthy, organic food,  having the right to drink raw milk is becoming increasingly accepted.

So what makes it so good? This kind of milk has all the stuff you need; proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, cholesterol, beneficial bacteria (yes, there is such a thing!), and of course it is not genetically "tweeked" in any way!   Let's just say, clean raw milk is so good for you, you could eat it exclusively and survive!! Crazy, huh?  But it's true!

Alright, hopefully by now you are asking . . .where can I find this stuff!?  Just click on the link below.  It will take you to a page titled "Where Can I Find Raw Milk," scroll down, find your state, click on it and hopefully this will put you on track to enjoying this wonderfully nutritious food/drink! :)

http://www.realmilk.com/where1.html

September 27, 2010

Great Science Material!

If you have read my "About Megan" page, then you already know that currently I am teaching 9th grade physical science and 8th grade American History at a public school.  Someday, when we have children (God-willing), we plan to home school.  For those of you who are already homeschooling, I thought I would introduce a book that I currently use as a resource for my 9th grade science class.



I incorporate a lot of information from this book into my public school classroom, and every home school family I know that uses it says it is the best out there!  The information presented is very thorough, while at the same time interesting.  I have even considered getting some of the higher level science courses such as Biology or Chemistry just to learn more myself.  Many relevant topics are discussed, and the hands-on labs are excellent.  My classroom is actually the old hospitality room; so instead of science equipment I have a stove, refrigerator, microwave and sink.  I have been able to do most the experiments from this book because it is set up to utilize household chemicals and supplies. I purchased both the General Science book and the Physical Science book.  I can say, as a science teacher and one who has read through them,  they are top notch.  These books would be worth looking into if you are wanting some good content rich, Christian-based curriculum that will really get your kids involved and excited about science.  Shoot, even if you don't home school, and maybe don't even enjoy science, these books would still be an interesting read.  You may find, you actually do like science! Although I haven't read Apologia's other books, I have heard great things about them as well.  Even the elementary books have gotten rave reviews!!  I will definitely be going to Apologia for my science curriculum when I am able to home school.

Do you home school?  Do you use Apologia?  What do you think?
What other science resources have you used?   

September 26, 2010

The Lovely Ladies

So if you checked out yesterday's blog you got to see the makings of a chicken coop!  

Today you get to see the finished product!! 

 The finishing touches . . . 

 
This is how we will get the eggs . . . 

 
Putting in the chicken feed . . . they will be in this coop for a weekwithout being let out.  This will help them get to know where their home is.  Then, since we will let them free range during the day, at night they will know where to come for "bed time".


Inside the Hen House . . . Skyler did such a great job!


Yesterday we picked up our chickens!  
Allow me to introduce you to our ladies:


 The ride home!  I was so impressed at how calm they all were.  Much more calm than our little yorkie puppy!  I guess I thought they would be flapping around going crazy because they were caged up inthe back of the truck, but no . . . they were great!

 
Meet Tamar . . .

 
Meet Rahab . . . 

 
 Meet Ruth . . .


Meet Bathsheba . . .


Meet Mary . . . 


Meet Noah's Wife . . . Originally, we had only planned to get five chickens, and I wanted to name them after the 5 women in Jesus' lineage (from the Gospels).  When we told our friend (and mentor), Houston, He said "What about Noah's Wife?"  I asked what her name was . . . he said "Noah's Wife."  Apparently, we don't really know her name, but technically she would be another woman in Jesus' lineage.  Since we ended up getting six hens, we thought Noah's Wife was an appropriate name for this lady.  She is the only one who is a year old.  All the others are 5 months!

 
Welcome Home!! Our Lovely Ladies!

What do you think?

 
"Hey! Where are the rest of our friends?"

"Ummmm . . . hello out there . . . are you bringing the others?"

 
 
"Hey, this place looks pretty nice!"
"I agree, it will be perfect for laying our eggs"

 
"Yea! Everyone is together again!"
"What lovely windows!"
"Yes, the view is nice!"

"Alright, enough with the view.  I'm hungry, let's eat!"

I hope you have enjoyed getting to see our hens and their new home!!
Have a very blessed Sunday!! 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!"
 - Luke 13:34
Jesus desperately wants us to come to Him! 
He will take care of us.  We can find comfort, shelter, and joy in Him alone. 
The question is . . . are you willing?

September 25, 2010

Building A Portable Chicken Coop

My husband is such a handy man!  He built this chicken coop, and I must say he did an amazing job!  He used pieces of scrap metal (from our barn that fell down a year and a half ago when a tornado came through),  wood from some random items he found in the burn pile at the school where we teach, and the wheels came from an old lawn mower. He had to buy just a few pieces of wood from the store, but using items we already had helped us save a lot of money!! Plus, check out these pictures!  He did such a great job! Ha Ha . . . Can you tell I am a proud wife right now?? :)

Beginnings . . .

Here are the random pieces we found in the burn pile!!



It's coming along . . .



These wheels didn't end up working . . . .who knew this thing would be so heavy!



Getting Excited! . . .


I love how Skyler used the purple wood from the burn pile to make the nest boxes!


Ah!  Look at the cute window!



Closer look at those nesting boxes.



How did I get such an attractive husband?! . . . the boxes look good too!:)



Hmmmmm . . . let's think about this handle.



Whew!  That's good for an afternoon worth of work!


There will be more to come tomorrow everyone . . . I just got it all painted last night, and Skyler put the lawn mower wheels on it.  We get our chickens today!!  I am so excited, and so nervous!!  Check back tomorrow for the final product  . . . chickens and all! :)





September 24, 2010

A Word From The Wise: A Visit With Kendra @ New Life On A Homestead

Let's Visit A Homestead! I thought it would be educational and fun to find out more from those who have been homesteading for awhile.  Once a month I will try to interview someone new, or ask someone to write a guest post.  Today, we are visiting with Kendra @ New Life On A Homestead.  Kendra started out a few years ago as a newbie like me!  She is really my inspiration for starting this blog; therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to interview her first.  Please check out her site at: http://newlifeonahomestead.com/ .
 
Tell us a little about your life before homesteading?

Before we decided to homestead, we were just another young couple in their 20’s, doing what most people do. My husband worked a full time job, and I stayed home with our then two small children and watched other kids as well. We lived in a duplex in town for a while; and we hated it. The neighbors were incredibly rude and loud, the passing cars and motorcycles just feet from our front door were incredibly irritating, and the parties across the street on the weekends were a nightmare. We knew we wanted to get away from city living. Little did we know of what was in store for us!

When did you decide to begin homesteading, and why?

In the beginning of 2008, I met an amazing woman at a local farmer’s market who would come to be my mentor, and very dear friend. She introduced me to a whole new world, one which I had never even considered could be a possibility. She invited me into her life, and taught me all about what homesteading was. I longed for the peace I found in her world, and knew that this was what I wanted my children to know. And so, our journey began.

What resources have you found to be most helpful in your homesteading endeavors?

Like-minded friends have been a huge blessing to us! We have learned so many things from our more experienced homesteading friends. The internet has been the second most important resource available to us, definitely! I don’t know what I would do without the internet. It is the ultimate library of knowledge.

Of course, it is important to have good books on hand too, just in case one day the internet is not so readily accessible anymore. Carla Emery’s “Encyclopedia of Country Living” is a must-have for any wannabe homesteader. Though there are many other wonderful self-sufficient living books out there.


What kind of animals do you have on your homestead?

Well, we just sold our dairy goats a few months ago, so now we just have chickens, a meat rabbit we plan on breeding soon, and a pig. We do plan on getting more goats again as soon as we have put up a proper fence for them. (I would NOT recommend free ranging goats. Just another one of those lessons learned the hard way!)

We would love to have a milk cow, and a mule or two, and sheep, but when you only have an acre to work with, you are sort of limited on space! We would like to add some ducks to our pond though, eventually, for eggs and for meat. And turkeys! We definitely plan on getting turkeys.

You are quite the gardener.  What methods do you use to preserve your produce?  Do you use anything to extend the growing season?

Actually, (ha, ha!) I am totally not “there” yet when it comes to gardening. This is only our second year attempting to grow our own food. Granted, our garden this year did SO much better than last year’s, but we still have a lot to learn.

To preserve what we grow I’ve been canning as much as possible. There is a lot that could be frozen, but I prefer not to depend on electricity to preserve our harvest. I like the idea that once the food is in the jars and sealed, nothing more needs to be done to keep it. I have dabbled with dehydrating produce, but I don't know enough about cooking with dried goods to continue this method for now.

We have a cold frame for tender plants in cooler weather. But a green house, and hoop houses for the raised beds, are definitely in the future.

What is your favorite part about homesteading?

My favorite part of homesteading is knowing that I am giving my three beautiful children the very best lives that I can possibly give them. They are learning the value of hard work, how to be a good steward of what the Lord gives, and the importance of being thankful for all that you have. They know where their food comes from, and understand the cycle of life. They are learning resourcefulness and ingenuity as they watch us and learn how to make the best of what we have on hand. They know that we rely on God to provide for our every need, and not on the government or anybody else to do so. And they are free to play and explore their world instead of being locked behind brick walls for most of their childhood.

What new skill are you still hoping to acquire?

Oh man, I want to learn how to do everything!! I am still so new to this lifestyle and have so many skills yet to attain. I’m dying to learn how to make hard cheeses. I need to learn to sew (it’s embarrassing to even admit that I don’t know how!). I’d love to know how to darn socks, spin wool, weave baskets, make soap from home rendered lye (definitely on my to-do list!), crochet, raise honey bees and make candles from their wax. I am anxious to grow my herbal medicinal garden, and learn to make tinctures and other natural healing concoction. I want to learn to do it all.
 
You are a passionate young mother.  What does a typical day look like at your homestead?

Let’s see… well, a typical day around here would look something like this:

At around 7am my little man wakes up and must be fed right away or surely he will perish! His sisters wake a little later and eat as well.

Right away I get a load of laundry going, so as to get it on the clothesline and in the sun to dry as soon as possible. I try to get two loads washed, dried, and put away every day. One load is usually cloth diapers and wipes.

I unload the dishwasher, and straighten the kitchen from the breakfast mess. Then we go about getting dressed and ready for our day. If it’s nice outside I’ll let the two older children go out front to play for a bit while I do housework.

Around 9am I go out to feed and water the animals, and make sure they’re all okay. Then more housework or outdoor chores/gardening.

10:30 the kids have snack. Nurse the baby and check emails (it’s all about multi-tasking!).

More of the same, a little “lesson” with my preschooler, then lunch at 12.

1:00 is my three year old boy’s nap time. I nurse baby and usually try to get her down for a nap at this time as well. Then I am free to do school lessons with Jada for about an hour and a half.

3:00, kids are all awake and ready for a mid-afternoon snack.

More multi-tasking; nursing baby, checking emails, researching something, making phone calls, etc.

5 or 6pm dinner is ready.

7:30- baby’s bed time.

8:00/8:30 The older two get tucked in as well.

Then it’s FREEEEE time for me! I’m usually on the computer either researching how to do something, checking social networks, answering more emails, or writing. I go to bed around 11:30 most nights.

Basically, it’s housework and making sure the kids are healthy and happy!


What are some of your favorite homeschooling resources?

Toys are definitely my favorite teaching tools! Kids aren’t designed to sit and be lectured or made to retain facts. They want hands-on activity, and fun! That is how they learn best. I do recognize the importance of book work and worksheets, but I find it incredibly rewarding to incorporate “play” into every day lesson time as well.

What advice would you give to a family wanting to start a homestead?

My advice to anybody wanting to homestead would be to definitely do it, but wisely. Do not go into debt to attain this lifestyle. You will never have peace or true freedom. Be patient, and frugal. Live humbly, buying only what you need and turning away from worldly luxuries. Make sure that you have your place properly equipped for animals (ie: fencing, housing, supplies, and basic knowledge) before bringing livestock to your homestead. Expect to make a lot of mistakes… costly ones… and be grateful for them, for you will never make them twice. Be realistic, and know that nothing is as easy to do as it seems on paper. Build a good library of books on everything that you want to learn to do! Devour them, and never stop seeking for more knowledge. But most importantly, have fun and enjoy life! Homesteading his hard work, but so incredibly worth every ounce of strength.

September 23, 2010

Lessons From Giles Ranch: Starting with Chickens



Every Tuesday I go to Giles Ranch to purchase our raw milk, eggs, and free range chickens.  I just adore Kenda and Houston!  They are a Christian couple in their forties who are living on a homestead and raising their own food!  I am a very visual/hands-on learner, and I don't really like reading directions - I always seem to mess it up, or something goes wrong even when I was sure I followed them precisely! Since I always end up hanging around Giles Ranch chatting for a couple hours with Kenda anyway, I asked if she would sort of guide me in my homesteading endeavors.  The first official "lesson" begins next week; and baking bread is on the itinerary!  I can't wait!
Even though we were not officially having a "lesson,"  Kenda and Houston shared some very helpful information with me this week about purchasing chickens.  See, Skyler and I are planning to get chickens very soon.  The hen house is almost ready.  Just a little paint around the windows (yes, windows - it's really cute, you'll see), and the pictures will be all ready to post!

I haven't ever been around chickens so I am a little nervous. Kenda suggested, if I wanted more docile chickens then I should get:

Buff Orpingtons 
They are very docile, but Houston said they wouldn't last long because the coyotes would get them.  Apparently they started out with 50 a few years ago, but now they only have two.

Bard Rocks 
She said that these have a pretty good disposition.



Black Australorp 
These are also docile, but apparently take care of your varmints.



 








Araucana 
These are also pretty nice ones, but I think it might be this one they said I would need to trim it's feathers back . . . not sure though (You should see all the scribbled notes I have on this paper!)



Polish Crested
These are very sweet but they do not lay as often.

                                            Ha!  This is probably the one I need to trim back!


Silkies 
Not good layers, but they will sit on any hens eggs!

 Wow! Or maybe this one!


Here is a brief list of the other chickens Kenda told me about:

Banties - These peck at you, especially the rooster, but they are smaller so it is not too intimidating!
Brown Legerns - These will give you white eggs.
Ginnys - These are very good "watch dogs" because they get loud when someone comes, but they are dumb.
Rhone Island Reds - Eat more bugs, but they are not very good mothers.  They also peck at you.


Houston said we should buy pullets and not chicks, so that way we can start getting eggs right away.  They are only about $8-10!  What a deal!! Unfortunately, he told us that awhile back, and we are just now getting started.  It might be hard to find anything but chicks at this point in the year, but we are optimistic!  We just may not be able to be picky about what kind we get - so much for having docile chickens! :)  Anyway, at some point I would like to get some baby chicks (they are just too cute, and I am a sucker for baby anything).  When we decide to get chicks we can pick out the exact ones we want.   I think I would like a variety; the specialty ones are pretty fun!

So this is what I learned, maybe it can help some of you newbies out there, and if any of you experienced homesteaders have any other suggestions please, please, please send me your comments!

September 21, 2010

Our Food Journey

My husband and I had never really thought about the food we eat.  Both of us have been involved in athletics all our lives, so we would consider ourselves rather healthy.  Our theory has been "as long as you work out, you can eat whatever you want."  Yikes!  Were we ever wrong!


We have found that as an adult it takes a little more effort to work out.  When you don't have a two hour practice scheduled every day it is not quite as convenient or motivating to work out.  We still try to stay active, but we knew just eating whatever we want probably wouldn't always cut it.  I guess that is why we first became interested in researching what it means to eat healthy.  If you read through any health food magazine, you hear a lot about low-fat diets, and what is healthy for you to eat.  Some of their claims seemed to be a little out there to me, but hey, what did I know?  Then, Skyler and I came across a book called The Makers Diet. This is a great book you should check out in my store!  Anyway, this book really got us thinking about what it means to eat healthy.  Do you know where your food comes from?  We didn't either, but as we began researching this question, it has literally changed the way we live!


 American's may enjoy the highest standard of living in the world, but we are certainly not the healthiest!  We have access to first-class emergency care, but that does not make us healthy.  We treat the sickness, but we never get to the root of preventing it in the first place!  We eat foods that are cheap and convenient to meet the demands of our fast-paced lives.  The problem is, God did not design our bodies to operate well, eating sugary junk food all the time.  We need nutrients, and if you think you will get a good dose of them by buying some vegetables and wheat bread from the super market, think again!  You would have to eat a portion 10x that of a commercially grown vegetable, in order to get the nutrients from one portion of an organically grown vegetable from your garden!

With all the technology we have, and as much as we have "evolved," it is interesting that we have so many diseases that were rare if not non-existent just over 100 years ago.  It is crazy, if you look at the research on cancer in primitive people groups, you will find that there were practically no cases of cancer until after they began consuming a modern diet.  Dr. Weston A. Price, a Harvard Trained dentist was curious to find the root cause of the seemingly increasing number of cavities, crooked teeth, and deformed dental arches in his young patients.  He ended up going on a six year expedition to five continents to study primitive people groups in the 1930s.  Dr. Price did much research and in the end he found there was "a stark contrast between the wide faces, perfect teeth, and perfectly formed dental arches of families who still lived on a pimitive diet and the narrow faces, misshapen jaws and crooked teeth of other family members who consumed modern diets."  He suggested we learn from these primitive people, however, this was during a time that people sneered at primitive people groups for being so uncivilized.  He published his work, but few people took it seriously.  Fortunately, as we are seeing the effects of the food industry in our country and the world, many of us are starting to pay attention.

So what does the Bible say about all this?  Most of us disregard the Old Testament dietary laws as legalistic, but  maybe God gave the Jewish people these laws because he knew it was best for them . . .  See, I think somehow this idea has been passed along that God is a tyrant and he just likes to give us rules to make life tough on us.  This is so far from the truth!  God knows what is best for us!  The things are natural self desire, although pleasurable for a time, will leave us empty, sick, and tired.  God wants to give us the abundant life, but it is only through His ways, through life in the Spirit through Jesus Christ that we will be able to do that!  . . . Sorry for the side note . . . Anyway, did you know that the Jewish people were confronted with anti-Semitic hatred during the outbreak of the Black Death?  Apparently, the Jewish people were some of the only ones not effected, and so the other people thought they had poisoned them, or somehow caused the disease to spread to them.  In reality, the Jewish people were given a dietary code from the Lord that was way ahead of its time.  It might be wise for us to check out what exactly God thought was healthy for His people to eat.

Skyler and I have continued to research, and it seems we are learning new things every day!  Our food journey is going to be a process, though, and not something that we can change overnight.  We still eat out way more than we should, and desserts/sweets seem to be our weakness.  We have been trying to avoid pork and shrimp . . .  Man!  I never realized how much I like pork, and my eggs look awfully lonely without their bacon!  It is something we are taking a little at a time, and as we continue to research,  I am sure we will discover many more things that will challenge us to live a healthy live style that is honoring to God.

Do you have a food journey?  I would love to hear about it!  Feel free to comment below! :)

September 20, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

 Photo taken with permission from "Photo Place: Source Supplier of Oil Paintings"

Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thy self."  This is a very profound statement, but recently I was reminded of how straight forward it really can be.

I remember once, when I was young, my family moved to a new neighborhood, and every one of our new neighbors brought us some sort of baked good!  At the time, I was going into high school, and I remember being so surprised because I thought that sort of thing only happened in movies.  Funny (and sad) to think that Hollywood would do a better job displaying neighborly love in their movies than we do in real life!

When my husband and I moved into our little country house, we decided to give all of our neighbors some baked goods (no, I am sad to say I didn't even bake them . . . we gave them leftover cupcakes from our wedding!)  We figured it would be a good way to introduce ourselves, and get to know them as well.  We discovered our neighbors out here in the country really look out for one another.  They all offered to keep an eye on our house while we were gone, and one couple even gave us their phone number to call if we needed anything.

Over this past year our neighbors have helped us out in so many ways.  The couple who gave us their phone number also helped level out some dirt for us, and when we offered to pay them they refused.  Actually, they were able to take the extra dirt to our neighbor across the street.  The same couple also offered to let us run up and down their drive way so we didn't have to run on the main road.  The family down the road always waves and smiles at us, and they play outside together (so great to see kids playing outside).  The elderly couple next to us have watched our house while we're away, offered lessons in hunting and canning, given us produce from their garden, and even given us a kitten to take care of the mice!

Having been given so much, we felt so honored when the elderly couple asked us to watch their house and feed their kittens this next week while they are away antelope hunting.  Last night, we went to visit with them and get the details on where the food was etc.  My dear neighbor lady had actually bought me some canning equipment so her and I could can together, and she could teach me all her tricks!  She also sent me home with homemade applesauce, apple butter, pear jelly, cheery jelly, and the most amazing salsa!  I tried to offer to pay her, but she said "absolutely not".  I told her I would have to give her some eggs when we get our chickens!  That is the least I can do.  I feel so blessed to have such wonderful neighbors.  Living here in the country is teaching me what living in community with one another is really all about!

So back to where I started.  Jesus said "love thy neighbor as thyself."  I used to think that this simply meant treat other people the way you want to be treated.  I am started to realize even more that although our neighbors are all so different, and we are each at different stages in our lives, with different backgrounds and stories, we can love one another, take care of one another, and learn from each other.  I think this is what Jesus meant by "love they neighbor."

September 19, 2010

Humble Beginnings


As a child, I was always excited to learn new things. It didn't really matter if I knew anything about my new hobby.  I was a child, and nobody expected me to know much about it.  Plus, there was usually someone who could guide me in my endeavors.  Sometime around middle school this changed.  Suddenly, I didn't want to participate in activities unless I could be the best!  I guess I was afraid to fail, and as an adult this hasn't changed much. 

For some reason as we get older, the concept of having to be a "beginner" causes us to quit trying, give up quickly, or pretend like we already know.  Usually, we just avoid those things that make us feel uncomfortable, insecure, or ignorant.  You know the phrase, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks".  Many of us proclaim this proudly.  We get stuck in our ways, and anything that is going to require us to learn something we don't already know is just not worth the effort.  The problem is, we aren't old dogs!  We are humans created in God's image!  When we became Christians we weren't signing up for an easy life with free give-a-ways from God.  No, when we asked God to be Lord of our lives we were actually asking Him to mold us into what He wants us to be.  We asked him to chip away all the yuck and make us more like Him.
Becoming more like Christ is a journey, and for the rest of our earthly lives God is going to be shaping, molding, stretching, and testing us so that our character reflects that of Christ.  This means that we are going to be challenged with things we aren't familiar with.  We will, indeed, be "beginners" for the rest of our lives.
Right now, I feel incredibly inadequate and ignorant about homesteading, and a great many other things.  My natural response is to say; "sorry, this is just too hard."  "I don't know anything about this."  "I can't do it!"  "Why me?"  These are lies from Satan, and he desperately wants us to fail.  The truth is, I have been given the Holy Spirit, and "greater is He who lives in me, than he who is in the world." - 1 John 4:4.  I must remind myself of this each time I am tempted to give up.

Slowly, my perspective has been changing.  I am learning to embrace my failures, as opportunities to learn.  I am seeking advice from others, and willingly admitting that I don't have a clue.  I have found that all the mistakes actually make the successes sweeter!  Finally, I am getting excited about learning new things just like when I was a kid.  Perhaps this is why Jesus said;

  "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."-  Matthew 11:25

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:3