An Autumn Celebration!

Strewn toys, sweet drawings on my refrigerator, empty treat trays, decorations (that aren’t placed just so anymore), and frosting bowls with finger trails in them. Signs of a day well spent.

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Micaiah wanted to celebrate this beautiful harvest season. “A fall party!!” he kept saying.

He planned games, made decorations and wrote his own invitations complete with a handprint turkey.

He was kind enough to let Adriel choose and make treat recipes (with help from Grandma of course).

We practiced welcoming guests, taking coats and offering beverages.

I am one proud mama. I set out one decoration and helped a few mothers understand what the mysterious turkey card meant that their child brought home. Grandmas helped with the cookies. Other than that, this was a kid-thrown fling. How cool is that?!

It was a time of enjoying friends and showing love.

Blessed, I feel. (How Yoda was that? Sorry)

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The Why: Time Edition

The it the second post since in which I’ve started writing out why we do things the way we do. People who know us are probably thinking, “You mean, the hard way?” …maaaaybeee…

Anyways, I’m mostly recording this for my own sake. It helps me to remember why Nic and I have structured our lives the way we have, and you dear friends (I accidentally originally typed fiends, which made me giggle) just happen to subscribe to the journal of alphabet soup that explodes out of my brain now and then.

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So first I talked about food, which was super easy. Even if people have an opinion, I think it would be difficult to find a good reason for expecting me to do something differently. It was low risk. I likey.

Buuuut, now on how we use our time. A wee bit more touchy when you live sub-level to a multi-lense cellular magnification device.

What does our life even look like? First the how:

Daily, our life looks a wee bit different from many families. First, Nic works when and where it suits him. This means, while he has a lot of work to do, he gets to remain involved in a lot of our daily lives. Most days he and I are up earlier than the kids (more on that later) so we can spend time with Jesus, spend time with each other and then discuss our day.

Sometime Nic eats breakfast with us (yay for us!). Either way, we usually get some things done around here and then he gets to “work”. He heads to the church office, the “office” (aka his standing desk in the garage) or sometimes a coffee shop depending on what needs done.

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While he works for a few hours, the kids and I get our day started. This usually looks like breakfast, clothes and the like, and then slave labor chores. While I finish  absolutely necessary household duties (such as the rolling hills of dirty dishes or the vast mountain of laundry) the kids are supposed to be playing.

Our kids don’t usually get out of bed until 8 or 9 or maybe later for Micaiah. So between the aforementioned tasks and whatever life throws at us, that usually brings us to much time.

The afternoon brings naps (praise Jesus) and “structured” (kind of, I mean structured for me) school with Micaiah. This usually looks like some reading and discussion before I get him started on whatever activities he might be doing on his own.

We eat dinner early, around 5.

Then, we get ready for our evening which may involve guests for dinner, Bible study or outreach night with some teenagers or other miscellaneous activities. Our “free” evenings are few and far-between.

In the late evening we do more chores, a little cleaning up, get ready for bed and the next day. Besides normal bedtime stuff (like teeth brushing) we read a Bible story and pray with our children. Lately Nic has been doing this with the older kids while I finish straightening some things and then put Eloise to bed.

My day goes much better Everyone’s day goes better if I can just wake up to a cleanish floor and orderly throw pillows and blankets on the couch. A clean counter is nice, but I mostly just do it to keep the pests away. I can get from my room to my spot on the couch without seeing the kitchen, so if it weren’t for the gross factor of having a dirty kitchen I wouldn’t worry about until breakfast time. Weird? Maybe. But orderly pillows make for a sane mother in this house.

Mop, girl, mop!

Mop, girl, mop!

Also, if there is more “stuff” on the floor then I feel like I can pick up before Eloise needs to be in bed, I sweep it into a pile and pretend I don’t see it in the morning. Then, I assign that chore ASAP to one of my beautiful children. I don’t even know how the stuff gets there, it’s insane what accumulates in one day. Someday I’ll take a picture for you, then you’ll know were really friends.

Now to the why:

Much of the way we disciple others happens in the evenings: Bible studies, meals, sports etc. So we’ve always put our kids to bed later than the average family. The result has been kind of cool. Our children all get the amount of sleep they need. They just start and end later than many other families. The flexibility of homeschooling means that we can continue this as long as it works for us, not worrying about kids who need to be up to catch a bus or drive to school.

I love that the Hebrew day traditionally began in the evening. The way I spend the end of my day, drastically effects the next one. So I to do my best to prepare for a good day.

I didn't even know a "felfie" was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie.

Because we like to “do things the hard way”. We do a lot of working at home. I prefer things handmade, done ourselves and of course, beautiful. I’ve encountered some questioning on this one. When we moved here, I explained to the nice people on the board and search committee and then the congregation that we want people in our home. We do ministry at home. This was different from both our communities tendencies and the previous youth pastor & family. (Please read as different, not better. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s…ok I’ve digressed :) So, I think they didn’t believe me.

Three years later, (yes three, gotta love slow moving change where the roads are dirt) it’s finally actually working like that. For a while, even I was wondering why I didn’t go to this or that. But remaining homeward oriented has paid off. Young mothers, unbelieving neighbors, employees from the business across the street, people who know people on the aforementioned list, and completely random people who know this is a parsonage are all among the many visitors we get in any given week.

A walk.

A talk.

A cup of coffee or tea.

It starts differently, but inevitably some need whether emotional, physical or spiritual, mine or theirs is always met.

It’s beautiful.

And it’s just one of the many dreams that have come true for me lately. See, fairy tales do happen: in the way of good and perfect gifts from God.

Again, working at home allows us to be available to people and gives us a unique opportunity to show people we care by setting our work down or involving them in it.

As a socially awkward (awkward is such a fittingly awkward looking word!) introvert, it would be a bad idea for me to be leading on up front situations. And as a creative person it doesn’t work out well if I take on administrative roles. By that I mean that I’m fine through the whole process and everyone else is panicking.

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We’re all gifted differently. Women are different from men and different from each other. We continue to try to evaluate things (read: I occasionally overanalyze things) to ensure that we’re honoring the Lord, our brothers and sisters in Christ and our community with our time. It’s a lot to balance.

Let’s just say I’m super-dee-duper thankful for grace.

To blog or not to blog: Chloe

I have far less readers on this blog than on my previous one. I think a good portion of this is because the Bella Red had a focused theme of content: theology and the church. The rest probably had to do with my passionate heart coming off a wee bit…dramatic.

Finding Engedi doesn’t gather any one kind of reader; probably because one day I post pictures of my latest sewing project, one day I talk about homeschooling and the next what I learned from Scripture.

So that leads me to my question for today. Do I continue to blog about my everyday life if it adds the additional dynamic of…farm life? I guess that’s what you’d call it. I don’t feel like I have a farm. I have a garden, some chickens (both for several years) and now, Chloe: our milk cow. None of which exist on my own piece of dirt. Do I add one more “thing” to this blog?

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Homecoming Evening :)

As I was wondering this, I started thinking about why I blog at all. Is it to collect readers and be heard? Not really. And I definitely don’t see myself doing it for money anytime soon. So I decided this is simply a journal that I don’t mind you peeking at.

Whether it be on paper, in the sand or on the world wide web, I will always write. It’s just in me. I may not do it perfectly, but it gets the confusion in my head out and simplified so that Jesus and I can take care of business.

I didn't even know a "felfie" was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie.

I didn’t even know a “felfie” was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie!

So the question remains, will I blog about my novice homestead adventures? I think so.

Will I post a tutorial on how to milk a cow? Probably not. Will I share what God was speaking to my heart in the milking parlor? That’s more like it.

So while you may see and hear about our adventures in dairying off and on; fear not, loved readers of my diary, it’s not turning into a farm blog!

Some Moments

I’m a dreamer. I’ve made so many plans in my life! From music to medicine and far away places, I can romanticize anything. But in reality, my heart swells when I look around at the way I get use the gifts God has given me (and some things that I’m just plain terrible at) to serve my family and my community.

I find so much more joy in brewing a mean cup of coffee or a pot of tea for a neighbor than if I were working as a barista in the best coffee house in town.
…singing praises as my children all asleep…on any stage big or small.
…teaching my children all day every day…paid to teach other groups with vague hope that God’s Word would penetrate their hearts.
…making handmade things for my family and home…making an income with my craftiness.
…raising plants and animals to feed my family fresh ingredients…farming for an income.
…making fun fresh meals that my kids actually enjoy…on the Food Network ;)
…creating a peaceful environment by keeping an organized home…designing the best scandinavian cabins in the world.
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No matter what I could be doing with my time and energy, the opportunity to serve husband and children seems like the most beautiful thing in the world.

There is nothing else I would rather do.

To be honest, sometimes I forget. When a handful of people are all asking for something or there’s a whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet (again!) I forget how truly blessed I am. It’s so easy to forget about the vast realities of God’s faithfulness. Maybe telling all of you will be a good reminder for next time I have to break out the plunger.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.
Proverbs 14:1

 

A Little Vacation

Our family took a train ride a couple weeks ago. We wanted one last chance to see some friends before they move even farther away from us. It was the best weekend away we’ve ever had with our children. Our hosts had already thought of tons of fun things to that our children would enjoy. Our kids enjoyed not being drug around to see people they don’t know and do things that are no fun. Happy kids = happy visit, a much different pace from our normal whirlwind family trips. Here are a few moments:

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We were blessed beyond words. The only thing we could have asked for, was more. For time, talk and delicious food!

 

 

I Need People

I remember the first time I came across the word hermit. I was about eight and came across it in a book. I’ll admit, the first thing that came to mind was Kermit the Frog. Secondly, the appropriately named crab. Not knowing how either of these applied to the man in the story, I asked someone. They described someone living alone, venturing out for necessities only when absolutely necessary. I think I heard angels sing as I pictured a cabin by a stream in a mossy wood where no one would find me unless I wanted them to. I could grow my own food and visit with the deer and hedgehogs. My life goal in third grade was to become a hermit.

Obviously, I am an introvert.

Today, I have an ever-growing family and my house is often full of teenagers, neighborhood kids and whoever else the hubby drags welcomes in. (He, obviously, is an extrovert.) I’m happy that my hermit dreams didn’t come true; not that I don’t day dream of my cabin in the woods on a regular basis. With the various people in and out of our days and weeks, I’ve noticed something about my self and it really set me to thinking.

It’s difficult to admit, but I noticed that I interact with my children differently when people are around: in both good ways and bad. The first thing I noticed is that I can encounter something incredibly frustrating, at home: my frustration will usually show at the very least but sometimes I’ll be impatient and snappy. The same thing can happen out and about and somehow I manage to scrape up the patience to remain calm and kind as I deal with the situation.

Unfortunately es, I was raised to care a little too much about what people think. But it’s more than that.

When we are alone, unwatched and unchecked it is easier to lose a battle against sin. On the other hand, it is easier to live in the freedom from our sin nature when we other believers around us who are on the same journey.

We were made for community. Christ didn’t leave us with a pep-talk about making it on our own and standing in our own strength. He left us the Holy Spirit and a body of believers, each member having different strengths and weaknesses. How well our Creator knows us and how gracious he is to us! We need the visual reminder of our accountability and the consequences of our actions.

The fact that my patience and mercy amidst their treachery points my children toward Christ should be enough to help me operate that way. But is it? Not always. Sometimes encouragement, understanding and even a swift kick from other Christian moms is just what it takes.

I see my parenting more clearly in the eyes of other gracious parents. Likewise, if I’m transparent about my marriage, I’m more likely to see areas in which I can care for it better. If I’m close enough to my believing neighbor, she’ll see ways in which I waste time and I’ll have to think twice before I do certain activities. The same goes for homeschooling, finances, homemaking. The more other believers are a part of my life, the more I’ll be forced to think about whether my actions are useful for furthering the Kingdom of God. I’ve even considered whether it would be worth the sanctification process for us to live in a multi-family situation, but that’s a conversation for another day.

I guess what I’m saying is that all of our fences and independence in this modern world we live in have done us no favors.  “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” If our eyes had as little contact with our ears and our legs as most Christians do with others, we wouldn’t get anywhere or accomplish much of anything. We’d be a train wreck! And so it with the body of Christ. We need each other.The difference is that with Christ as the head on our shoulders, the Victory belongs to Him despite our stumbling!

Our Honest Thanksgiving Menu: Real Food & Otherwise

Update: I highlighted our actual menu in orange where there were choices given. It was a delicious day!

There has been a lot of talk about holiday dining on the blogosphere these days. When it comes to entertaining and guests and being one ourselves, where do we compromise? So I decided to honestly share how we will be handling our Thanksgiving menu. Honestly, I would love to be able to prepare a huge 100% real food meal with sprouted buns, wild turkey, home grown beets – the whole nine yards, not only for my immediate family but as a service to the extended friends and family who will be joining us.

Maybe next year I’ll set a holiday food budget and save in advance (as well as pay a babysitter) so I can do it all, but this year here’s what it will look like. You’ll see that the biggest area in which I’m caving is homemade soaked baked goods. Being over 7 months pregnant and doing all of that on top of normal commitments is one unrealistic expectation I am with-it enough to dodge.

  • Organic Spinach Salad topped with walnuts, organic pears, dried cranberries
    • (Store-bought) Raspberry Vinaigrette or (Homemade) Italian Dressing
  • Rolls (will ask Mother-in-law to pitch in here so ingredients might be organic, definitely not soaked, but she will bring gluten free as my father-in-law in on a GAPS type diet)
  • Main Course Options ( I need to decide on one or two)
    • Turkey – local, free range organic ♥ –
    • Two Chickens – Local, free range – yummy, healthy, but not turkey!
    • Venison/Elk Roast – I read today that the Wampanoag Indians brought five freshly hunted deer to the first thanksgiving. I think it would be plenty festive if we used some of the wild game in our freezer!
  • Trimming – Homemade stuffing from gluten free bread – if I have time to make the bread I will, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not above buying a (hard as a rock I might add) frozen Ezekiel Loaf or other bread (food for life) to make it.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Homemade from homegrown potatoes
  • Gravy – Homemade, thickened with xanthan gum or one of my many GF flours
  • Creamy Corn – canned corn (i know BPA…once in a while I just have to) simmered with organic cream and unprocessed sweetener of choice)
  • Dessert – My husbands grandmother will probably want to bring something, usually an interesting jello number or a boxed pie. (Pumpkin pie…from a box)
    • Also, I will make a homemade pie (either pumpkin or butternut-maple with real maple syrup) my cheat: Gluten Free Mama’s Pie & Pastry Mix
    • My Mother-in-law was kind enough to make both gluten free blueberry pie and apple crisp – not organic, but edible for me which doesn’t happen very often. Woohoo!

Ok, so there’s the bulk of it. As you can see, my normal standards have been lowered. I find fellowship and hospitality more important than being inflexible in our diet. We have chosen to eat natural foods prepared healthily for good reasons. But taking care of the body God gave us is not near as important as showing others love (Isaiah 58, 1 John, the whole life of Christ).

When it comes to large events, do you lower your standards (wherever you’re at in your real food journey)? If so in what ways? If not, how do you manage it all?!

Repurposed Shower Curtain

In my frenzy of nesting this pregnancy (aka the whole second trimester) I have done a lot of artsy things! It all started with knitting projects and migrated to sewing/fabric projects. Since this baby will eventually share room with my son, I had wonderful plans of making my own crib sheet, crib blanket and trendy curtains.

Oh the plans we make! Since none of these have made it past the planning phase (so far), I decided it was time to give in and buy some curtains to replace the ugly tan ones in my son’s room. (They came with the house – yeah that ugly!)

While I browsed the curtain isle in Target, I was disappointed as everything I chose seemed out of stock or the wrong length. Just as I threw in the towel and walked away, I found myself on the endcap looking at the clearance items. While the curtain selection continued to be less than encouraging, my eye was drawn to a geometric orange shower curtain…and the gears started turning!

I bought two (I only ended up needing one) and headed home to start sewing! I simply cut the shower curtain in half and redid the seams on those edges. I then folded over the top and sewed a new space for the curtain rod. No fancy extras, I didn’t even take them up any which I had originally planned on – and tah-dah!

Photo Cred: EliciaJohnson

 

The whole project was MUCH cheaper than buying curtains OR fabric to make them, and half of the work was already done for me!

 

What’s your favorite “look what I did” repurposing story?