Sunday, April 29, 2007

God Will Provide

I think we've all heard this and most of us say we believe it. But when it comes down to truly living our lives as if we believe God will provide, that gets a little harder. He wants us to do something about our own provision, right? Isn't that why He gave us brains?

I've let my sewing webpage expire. I was losing money on that venture. Then there was our attempt to raise chickens and sell the meat. I'm not sure about Roger, but in my mind, this was going to keep us going. These were the two things I was putting my faith in, along with God, to provide for us. Neither one has been successful and we have lost money on both businesses.

So, with the expiration of the webpage being yesterday, and the chicken business's last attempt totally failing as of Friday (we were supposed to process chicken for an order of 30. We only had 23 still alive--out of 70 chicks purchased--and only 5 of them were big enough to bother with.) I've been asking God how? How are we supposed to make it out here. I mean, we have Roger's job, but it's part time with an income to match. And while I know it was provided by God, what about the extras that come up in life--like braces! I was thinking that things would only have to be hard until the chicken business and/or my sewing business took off. Now, these things helped me believe we could survive and gave me the confidence I needed to be okay with just up and leaving everything to move out here where we knew no one and had no job. But it seems it wasn't what God intended to be our provision. So I have been praying and seeking His will for us.

Over and over this last week it seems God is trying to tell me that He is all I need. Not just in word, but in truth. He is ALL I need. I mean, it's everywhere I turn. The same message over and over. Last night I had to run to the store. I went by myself which meant I could talk to God. I love driving somewhere by myself. I turn off the radio and just talk to Him out loud. I realize it doesn't work this way for everyone, but I've found that when I talk to Him out loud, I can "hear" him more clearly. So we had a conversation last night.

I asked Him HOW to trust Him for provision. I can say I do, but then I worry about all kinds of things. So I'm not really trusting Him or I wouldn't worry. He explained to me that I just need to tell Him what I need and then leave it to Him. Sounds easy enough. That doesn't mean, of course, that I get to just sit around and watch tv and eat bonbons and ask Him to provide cable and more bonbons. He's given me a big job and I am trying to do it. I am homeschooling 9 children. We do most of our cooking from scratch. There's laundry to do and bathrooms to clean and while the children do their share of chores, there's the disciplining that has to go with that. I have to watch over them and be sure they are doing the chores and honestly, that's harder than just doing it myself. So I do these things that He's given me to do and I (often) do them to the best of my ability frequently asking Him for guidance and help. Because, let's face it, I don't have a clue what the future holds and what my children need from me. I could get so swayed back and forth by the things I hear from others and the thoughts and dreams I have for my children. But God, when I ask Him, is always steady and keeps me keepin on.

So I just have to trust and obey. Sometimes I worry though. I asked God HOW can I just give up the worry and trust Him. He asked me if I would like it if my children worried about where they'd find food when they are hungry or clothes when they need them. Of course I wouldn't! That's my job. They can just ask me and I'll feed them and clothe them. "Oh," I said, "I get it." It should be the same with us and God, our heavenly father. We should go to Him when we have a need or a worry or a concern and let Him take care of us. So I did. I gave Him a list of things I've been worried about. Then I left it with Him. Okay, truthfully, I'll probably keep nagging Him about stuff kind of like my kids do to me because I'm impatient and want an answer right now. But hopefully God won't snap at me when He just can't take the whining anymore.

I'm thinking then that if I just ask God each and everyday, "What do You want me to do today?" He'll keep me on the right path. And then He'll provide through the things He tells me to do or some other means. I'm wondering if that's what He means about not worrying about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of its own.

I think it's going to be hard to just give up my own planning and worrying. But I sure like the idea of the rest and peace that could come from living day by day for the Lord.

And so far so good. I asked for shoes for Sam. Not just any shoes, but the kind he already had that he loved so much he was willing to shove his feet into shoes that were at least a size too small. I followed God's guidance and went to the Goodwill store. They had shoes on sale for 75 cents that day and had a pair just like Sam wanted in his size in perfect condition. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Melissa

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Guinness World Records: Primetime- Worlds Worst Mouse Plague

The other night after Stephen shot that first mouse he showed me how to use the gun. I paid attention because I've seen mice and not known what to do about it. He then left the gun, and does so each night before he goes to bed, where I can quickly and easily find it. Keep in mind this is one of those air soft guns that all the kids are playing with. They shoot each other and don't get hurt. But it will kill a mouse--without waiting for the stupid things to walk in the mouse traps!

So at about 6am, Sam got up and asked me to tuck him back in bed. I start walking toward his room, but as usual, turned on a light in the dining room. And there's a mouse. I grabbed the gun, but trying to aim without glasses with just waking up eyes didn't work very well. It ran behind some furniture. I tried again, but it disappeared without getting hit. So I gave up and went to tuck Sam back in bed.

As I headed back toward my room, I checked again behind the furniture. There it was. I grabbed the gun and aimed, this time bracing my hand against the wall. That did the trick and I killed it with one shot. Roger heard the commotion and showed up in time to help me dispose of it.

As I was falling back to sleep I heard some noises in the dining room. Stephen found another one. He hit it, but it got away. He then went to google to try to figure out what type of mice these are as he and Roger both say they don't look like regular field mice. I don't know if he ever found what they are (house mice?) but he found a very disturbing video. Viewer discretion is advised.

Melissa

Can we build it? Yes we can!

The steel for the roof was delivered yesterday. The south wall was completed yesterday. The full crew is here this morning to get the east and west walls finished. The steel beams have to get put in place and the roofer’s only way in is if a wall is left undone. That is the non-existent north wall. The beams are set to go up Monday. The roofer (Johnny) will then weld the rafters in place in the southern part of the house. If all goes according to plan, the north wall will get built while Johnny is putting roofing pieces in place. The potential is there that we will have a completed shell a week from today.

Yesterday I was helping shlep some steel off the truck and counting quantities and it occurred to me that this house is really going to happen. After a year of researching various options for construction and a couple of false starts (and money wasted) we are on the verge of getting after it. We aren’t going to be doing it as cheaply as we had hoped when were looking at using mesquite cord wood, but we are going to have a solid, well built and relatively inexpensive home and we will be in it soon. Mitchell will be framing in the doors first and I will be trenching for the earth tubes and other underground pieces. Having a competent helper will make it go much faster than any other project as I have always worked alone.

Perhaps the best thing about the way we have been approaching this is that we have managed to save money by shopping sales and getting in on offers. For example, when we filed our taxes through TurboTax we took the option of getting our refund in Lowe’s gift cards. The neat thing about this option was that each $100 card only cost us $90. So now we will wait on a sale and buy stuff. Home Depot sent a coupon to us for 10% off an entire purchase, up to a $2000 purchase. The purchase has to be made from May 1st through the 7th . Great timing as we will need a bunch of wood for framing and Home Depot carries wood. Paint goes on sale, fans go on sale and we have been there. Also, ebay turns out to be a pretty good place to get home improvement supplies as well.

Today, I am going to build some boxes for tile. There used to be a tile plant in Coleman and there is a bunch of tile for the taking at the dump. You just have to pack it out. Still, it is free tile.

Roger

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stephen and the Mice

We've had some trouble with mice lately. It's that time of year where it's warming up and I'd expect them to be moving OUT, but no, they're here. The ones in my closet were particularly baffling. I understood the kitchen, but the closet? I couldn't understand why they were there, but they were leaving droppings all over my clothes!

Yesterday morning Stephen saw one in the bathroom. He got his airsoft gun and shot it. Killed it. Hmm. Maybe those guns aren't just totally useless and stupid, huh?

Then last night we let him stay up and watch a couple episodes of Lost with us. (We've been renting them from Netflix. I can't believe we waited so long to give this show a try!! I love it!) After it was over he walked into the kitchen and found a mouse cornered on a shelf behind a couple of bottles of ketchup (it was on sale so we stocked up). He told me to go get the airsoft gun I'd taken away from him (for shooting it in the house) and put in my closet. Oops. I moved it and couldn't remember where. But as I was searching I figured out why the mice were in my closet.

Turns out I'd hidden candy in there and forgotten about it. With nine kids and Roger around, I had to hide it. What surprises me though is that *I* forgot it because some of it was peanut butter candy. I love just about anything with peanut butter and I have one of the worst sweet tooths ever. But since it was left alone the mice decided it was for them. And they feasted!

I never did find his gun. But Roger found the one Stephen snuck and bought to replace it. Stephen aimed and shot between what looked to me to be a half inch space between two bottles. He hit it right in the head! I was impressed!! He admitted later that the opening was about an inch wide, but still! He then shot 3 more times to try to put it out of its misery since it was twitching. He hit that mouse every time.

Just think what he could have done with a better gun and a deer. Claire has decided that M.P. stands for Mouse Police.

Maybe this was really a simple feat, I don't know. But I was impressed and proud and no one should tell this momma otherwise.

Melissa

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mom's thoughts on children growing up

It's been an emotional roller coaster for me lately. I don't know how most mother's feel when their children grow up, but I imagine it's at least similar for all of us.

Stephen was given a date to report for boot camp. Six months. It felt like a death sentence to me. That's all I had left with him--just six months. I know I'll see him again after that, but it will never be the same again. He's not going off to college where he'll then be home again for Christmas breaks and summers. He's going off to become a man. He'll be responsible for himself from that time on. He will hopefully come home for visits, but he won't live here anymore.

And yet I'm so happy for him. He is definately happier these days. I believe that people of all ages need to have a purpose and his was hockey before we moved here. Hockey was taken away and left him with nothing. He now has a purpose again and he's happy. That is definately a good thing.

Yet it won't be like we can even save him a bed for when he does come to visit. There won't be "Stephen's room." It won't become an empty guest bed or a place for him to crash when he visits. He'll truly be a visitor when he comes back because his bed will have been given to the next kid. At best we'll have a guest room for him to stay in.

I'm so proud of him. The path he's choosing is a good one for him. I know he'll be a good soldier. He loves our country and is happy to get to play a part in defending our rights.

When we dropped him off at the recruiter's office to go to the MEP station to enlist, I must have looked sad as I walked back to the van. Faith took one look at me and said, "Just think about his temper tantrums, Mom." I laughed and that helped.

Then we had all the stress and worry of what mos he would choose and if he would ever get to choose one. I just focused on what was best for him and muddled through life that weekend. I have a lot more gray hair than I did before. When that was all over, it all hit me.

I cried myself to sleep one night last week. The kids were in bed, Roger was in bed and the house was quiet. I was alone with my thoughts which is really rare. There were no distractions and nothing to stop the ache--the heartache that I was totally unprepared to feel. Everyone tells you the terrible twos are hard. They warn you that the teen age years are hard. Neither of those were really all that bad. But nobody warned me that when you have to let them go, it's the hardest thing EVER.

I kept picturing him as a toddler needing me to keep him safe so he wouldn't break his neck. I pictured him going off to kindergarten and needing me to get him there and back safely. I kept picturing all these different stages of his life where he needed me and I was there. Now he's going to move on and it's time to stop needing me daily. That's a good thing and I pray I did an adequate job so he won't make a ton of horrible mistakes. But I know that he'll make mistakes. He's human, you know. And he'll muddle through them just like the rest of us. I can deal with that. But I won't get to see him. I really love this young man that turned my life around so long ago. The boy who taught me what love really is. I'll miss his smile. I'll probably even miss his faults. It will be a treat to get to see him again, but it won't be the same.

So here I am already missing him so terribly and he's not even gone yet. I still need to discipline him and I have such a short time to finish teaching him anything I think he needs to know.

Discipline is hard now. I can see the huge importance of it. It's my last chance to teach him! But yet, I want to be so careful not to drive him away emotionally. I don't want to make him so mad that he doesn't forgive before he goes. But it's not my job to be his friend. I want more than ever to be sure he has a relationship with Jesus. I was there when he was saved, but is that really enough? His life will go so much smoother if he'll follow Christ. I see that, but does he? We can't make our children follow the paths we want them to follow. I have to just keep praying and giving it all to Jesus and trust that He will lead Stephen in the right direction. It's so scary and so hard. Just because it all matters so much.

And the thing that really made me cry was the realization that I have to go through this NINE times! Raising nine kids is no picnic, but it's not that hard. There are so many rewards each day that make it all worth it. But now I'm realizing that I have to say goodbye to nine kids and let them all grow up! Yikes! I'll be getting a lot of gray hairs over this I guess.

The time really does fly by. I've got to say that changing diapers for the almost 1 year old, struggling through potty training with the almost 3 year old, trying to find time to teach a 4 1/2 year old to read, dealing with the craziness of a 7 yr old boy and the moodiness of 9, 11, and almost 13 yr old girls, and keeping up with the over-my-head thoughts of a 15 yr old young man all seem to take on a new meaning as I watch my 17 yr old prepare to fly out of the nest. An empty nest is quite a way off yet. But it feels more like a reality now.

Hmm. Here goes that roller coaster back up again with this thought. I may be able to have a few more uninterrupted conversations with Roger some day! And once the nest is empty, most likely there will be a grandchild or two that will come visit. Maybe there is a silver lining in this cloud after all.

Melissa

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Major Accident?

I just thought I'd give you all a laugh. I just said something to Roger about worrying about him everytime he's had a major accident. He looked at me totally confused and asked, "When have I ever had a major accident?"

I guess cutting off your finger, stabbing yourself in the leg, or shooting yourself in the hand with a nail gun don't count. I mean, sure, things could be worse, but isn't that list bad enough?

I guess I worry for nothing.

Melissa

Friday, April 20, 2007

House Progression Pics

The first picture was taken Sunday. They came and did the four corners on Saturday, but ran out of sand to mix the mortar. They delivered new sand Monday.

The next picture was taken last night. It was taken from the spot that will some day be the kitchen sink looking toward the front door. They missed a window to the left of the front door, but they'll take care of that. This was all done yesterday by one guy.
This is all very exciting! We have walls and doorways and window openings! I have to say though that it felt more like I was standing in a roller hockey rink when I looked at it yesterday.

Melissa

Travels

There hasn't been any news for some time from either of us because we've been busy. Busy with things like the farm, the house and getting Stephen in the Army. I will hit on the last one today. We have pictures of the house to share, but Melissa is not here to do the almost technical stuff, so we'll have another post later.

Melissa took Stephen to Abilene last Thursday to get on a shuttle that took him to Dallas to take the test that would get him in the Army. All went well on Thursday as he got to Dallas and took the ASVAB (which stands for: A Something Very Army B). Anyway, if you score 50 you pretty much have the world at your feet as far as getting a job in the Army is concerned. The only catch being if the job you want is available. Stephen scored a 77. Very good stuff.

On Friday I drove to Dallas because when a kid under 18 is signing up for the Army the parents can be there when he is signing up for his job. I got there at 10 a.m. I caught a glimpse of Stephen at 11:30 a.m. At 2:00 p.m. I saw him again and he told me he had been to the doctor to have his ears cleaned out, which is where he was headed at 11:30. At 3:30 p.m. we were called by the guys in the Army office. Seems that since Stephen is home schooled he has to take the AIM test (Another Indian's Mohawk). The AIM is not given on Fridays, but we can come back on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and he can take it then. After that, he'll get his job. The job, by the way, is called an MOS (Military Operation Spartacus).

Stephen goes to the hotel they have set up for the recruits and I went to my Dad's for the evening. It was a fun evening and all, but it was still being stuck in Dallas. Stephen got up bright and early - 3 a.m. - so he can get back to the MEP (Military Entrance Pantry) Station for his 1 o'clock test. I went and got waffles. At 1 o'clock Stephen takes his test. His score? Well, the score on the AIM test doesn't matter. It is just a test that home schooled kids and those with GEDs have to take to get into the military.


At 2:30 we get in to see the Counselor. "Bad news," he says. "Your AIM scores can't be put into the system (in Dallas) because the MEP computers in Fort Knox are not talking to the MRCCJKLWOP computers in Indiana (these aren't really the letters, I do know there were a lot of them and there was at least one M and an R. I hope this doesn't ruin the story for you). Can you come back Monday?"

They knew Stephen's score. They had a copy of the results. However, the computers from one side of the place in Dallas went to Indiana and the other side had its information come from Kentucky. So, we came home. At one point I thought about getting all agitated and throwing a fit. This urge lasted about a split second as the people I would have been yelling at are all Army guys in great physical shape and trained to kill. Stephen and I went home.

On Tuesday we went back to Dallas. Stephen is now set to report to basic training on October 17th at Fort Leonard Wood. He will be there 20 weeks and six days and when he is done he will be an MP (Member of Parliament). We are very proud of him.

Roger

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Snow House News

We did not get any pictures, but there was 4" of snow on the ground this morning. It fell all day yesterday. When Faith and I went out to milk it was beginning to snow and it was cold, cold, cold. It just kept coming. At around 11 a.m. the snow was falling so heavily that visibility was down to about a quarter mile, at best. Off and on throughout the afternoon we alternated between heavy snow fall and just some snow falling. Snow and blue bonnets. The heaviest snow in the area? Right here in Coleman County. So proud. So cold.

Update on the house - no freaking update to give! The slab is still poured. The blocks for the wall are still at the warehouse. Seems that they had mechanical problems the week before all the rain fell and they were supposed to deliver last Wednesday or Thursday. Nope. So we wait. I hope to have an update again someday. Just don't have one today.

Roger

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Stuff and things

Melissa blogged about the bull snake in the laundry room last Sunday and I really don’t have anything to add to that story. All I have is a report from Faith about another snake that she encountered Tuesday. Seems she was on her way out to the tank and there, in her path was the water snake I saw the first summer we were here. When I saw the snake it was early one morning and it was on a log in the tank. I saw the last three or so feet of it sliding into the water. Yes, the last three or so feet. It was huge. Faith saw a part of it and swears it was four inches wide. I believe her. I saw that beast two years ago from 100 feet away and I am betting it is the same snake. While the waters are up we are not letting anyone out alone in the tank or waterway areas. Okay, I get to go out alone, but not anyone else.

Stephen and I milked Bella this Saturday morning and she went out to the big pasture along with the two calves. She looked thrilled to be going after the grass out there, which is tall, versus the grass she has been getting. The big challenge on Saturday was the milking of Stella. Turns out she is straight from hell! If she is not trying to crush you against walls of the stanchion she is working up for a full on roundhouse kick to the head if you are milking on her left side. This makes securing her huge, tiring effort for her and me. I am headed to Dallas Wednesday to buy a used head gate. We’ll set that up and build a chute for her to stand in while we milk her and, hopefully, no one will get hurt in the process.

On Tuesday I was able to get her tied up with little threat of violence from her, but I am still planning to get the head gate. The trip to Dallas will also allow me to cruise through a bunch of Lowe’s stores along I-20 and up the 360 corridor. Cheap beige tile is calling me.

Roger

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Grass Farmer

I spent most of the week, from noon Monday through early evening Thursday, in Overton, Texas at a Pasture and Livestock Management Workshop. It was absolutely a well spent week. I came back with a new perspective on what I am supposed to be doing and anyone looking to make a move like we have done needs to go to this workshop. My only regret is that I waited until now to go. I should have been there two years ago.

Something simple that, I guess, most ranchers understand is that if you think you are raising cattle you are looking at it all wrong. You are a grass farmer with cows serving as the harvesting mechanism. Rather than a combine taking your crop out of the field and putting it in a truck to get it to market, your cows eat your crop and you take the cows to market.

So, here I am all ready to take soil samples and work on a farm plan and get going and I can’t get a sample because it is so wet. I am not complaining about the rain. I am glad for the rain and that I have some minor inconveniences because of it is just fine. I have a full tank and the junk that is growing out the pasture will grow better because of the rain.

I learned how to calibrate a sprayer to kill my weeds. I will not use this bit of knowledge because I don’t want the chemicals in the soil. I learned how to castrate, de-horn, vaccinate and implant hormones in a calf as well. Another set of information that I have no intention of ever putting to use. I also learned how to figure out the nutritive value of the grasses I have, the stocking rates, setting up fields, improving the soils and many other very useful things for a grass farmer. I will go to another workshop like this next year, but I am going to go to one that has a more organic/natural emphasis.

It was a good week, but I also missed the family. Two years ago I traveled all the time and would be gone for two to four days. I didn’t love traveling, but it wasn’t any big deal. After almost two years out here and only about four nights away from home over that time it was a rough sort of adjustment. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like I have anything like that coming up anytime soon.

Roger

P.S. One of our friends was concerned that we were really brought up on charges by the ASPCA and PETA. Please keep in mind that I am full of crap. This will be very beneficial when it comes time to fertilize.