Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Ickys and other News


Sorry it has been so long since my regular postings. It is amazing how life can take over. First, was the holidays and then immediately after our family has been taking turns being sick. Both Abbie and Micah came down with the flu and I had pneumonia. We are much better now, though the effects of the pneumonia seem to want to linger. I feel better each day. praise be to the Lord!

In recent months, we have found that we are definately going to have to rebuild. Our old 1890 home is just getting worn out and the cost of remodeling, bringing it up to code, new foundation and roof all make the cost too high. So, this year we are beginning the process of building a pole barn style home in our back field.

There are many benefits to this. One is that we will be able to be further from the road. With Micah getting older and exploring more, this is a bonus. We designed a simple home that will be quicker to build, yet will serve our family very well for many years to come. The plans take in account that the kids will need more space as they grow.

The one aspect that we are looking forward to is that we will once again have electricity. No, we are not going nuts and getting back on with the public utilities. We are going to set up a simple and low-cost solar power system that will give us the small amount of electricity that we will need for a computer, radio, and a few electric lights. We plan to buy a good generator that will provide the electricity needed to do laundry or use power tools when needed.

Our refrigerator and stove will remain electric and our heating will be a combination of wood and propane. The wood is the primary, but the propane will be available for times when the temperature drops low such as during the night or when we are away from home for the day. Will be nice to not come home to a really cold house and have to wait for the wood stove to heat it up again. Our wood cookstove is going with us to the new home. Joe and I love that we can both heat and cook with it.

One part of the design that I am particularly excited about is an extra 12x12 room that we will be turning into a large pantry & storage room. What a blessing it will be to be able to lay in a good supply of home canned and store bought foods and other supplies. I look forward to building it up enough that I don't have to make the long trips to a larger store in the winter months.

In other family news, Micah is making a transition. He will be 3 yrs old in a couple of months and has been wanting to sleep on the floor instead of in his crib. So, when Joe gets home from the road in a couple of weeks he will be building Micah a platform bed. The design is very simple. It is a 2x4 frame with supports underneath. A sheet of plywood will form the top of the platform. Along the sides there will be boards that extend a couple of inches higher than the platform to help prevent the crib mattress from sliding off the bed, yet low enough that Micah won't bump them. I am going to buy some of the colorful form floor puzzle pieces to put together around the sides so that if Micah should fall off the bed, he will land on a cushioned surface.

Abbie is doing her Pre-K homeschooling this term. I recently found out that the Keepers of the Faith program has a fairly new option for little ones ages 4-6 called "Little Keepers of the Home" for the girls and "Little Contenders of the Faith" for the boys. This program is a Christian option to use instead of going through the scouting program. I am preparing to start Abbie in the program. If interested or curious about the Keepers program, go to their website and request a free catalog.

In homeschooling, we are beginning to use the workbox system to organize our school day. What a blessing! Being so young, Abbie only has 6 workboxes for now but I will gradually increase them until we have the 12 boxes that the program suggests. Abbie has enjoyed it when we are using these. She is able to start her day and works on the assignments or projects one at a time until all are finished. I found a nice blog that really explains and shows the system well.
I love it because I am able to prepare Abbie's assignments the night before and then she is learning to be accountable and responsible for her our schoolwork. The system is based on a book called, "Sue Patrick's Workbox System: A User's Guide". You can find the book at her website or on Amazon. Doing a search for workboxes will also bring up a large assortment of blogs and other sites with pictures and examples of how they use the system in their homeschools. The premise of the system was based on the way Autistic children are taught to work on assignments. They have bins or other containers that have 1 project/assignment per bin. The child works on that project until completed, then puts away the bin and retrieves the next one. It gives a child a visual reference to help them know when they are nearing the end of their assignments. For Autistic children, it is very calming to see a definite beginning and end to the assignments. With typical children, it simply instills an ability to take control of their day and learn self-discipline and accountability. The workbox system has really taken off in the homeschool community as families discover the simplicity and ease of it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Being with the Lord

Here is are some questions to ponder. Let's say that you were approached by someone who knew you were a follower of Christ. If they were to ask you who the Lord is and what He means to you, could you answer them?

Often when asked these questions, people give very simple answers such as "He is my Savior" or some other comment. Another believer may understand that comment for what it is, but another person may not.

How would you describe your relationship with the Lord? Are you able to put into words a description that not only the person understands but plants a seed in them to desire the same relationship in their life?

I remember when I was struggling with my own beliefs years ago. I asked these questions and got answers from people of faith that seems so empty to me. "He is my Lord and Savior" had no meaning to me as I didn't understand what that meant. Those were meaningless words to me.

If someone were to ask you about your relationship with a beloved parent, you would be able to express it in a very personal way. The person would know beyond a doubt that you had a loving and tender relationship with that parent. How often have you heard someone talk about a relationship that is so close and rich in the nature that you desire to have that type of closeness in your own life? Wouldn't it be great to be able to describe your relationship with the Lord in such a way that we cause the desire in others to want to seek out the Lord?

Here is another question for you to ponder also. Do you live your life in such a way that when others see you, knowing you are a Christian, that they want to know more about your faith? It is easy in life to let the world take over and stress or overwhelm us. We all have those days when we just don't feel like being nice and chipper all the time. Do we however, have too many of "those days" when we are grumpy and peckish in our attitude that we set a bad example? Think about it. If someone sees a believer who is always surly and not very friendly, what would make that person want to seek out the Lord? Why would they want to have the Lord in their life if they are going to be miserable all the time?

It isn't easy to be upbeat and chipper all the time. The world isn't set up as a Utopia that makes life easy and joyful each and every moment. As believers and followers of the Lord, we need to find a way to look pass the world and find the blessings in each day. On the harder days, we may need to look for a blessing each hour. The blessings are ALWAYS there. Even in the middle of our deepest struggles in life, the Lord is there and providing a blessing. It is up to us to see the blessings and rest in the knowledge that the Lord is there.

Our outlook in life can have a huge impact on those around us. Some may be unbelievers while others may be believers who are struggling in their faith. We need to find a way to bless others through showing them that the Lord never stops blessing us and being a presence in our life. If the Lord isn't a presence in your life, it is because YOU turned away from Him. He never turns His back on you. He is always seeking a relationship with you. I often think about a picture my Grandmother had on her wall of Jesus knocking at the door. He is always knocking, waiting for us to answer His call to commune with Him.

This brings me back to the first questions. Is the Lord such a presence in your life and is your relationship with Him deep enough that if asked, could you describe it in such a way to cause a desire for others to seek Him.