Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Woman's Heart

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ, that a man should have
to first seek Him to find her." - author unknown

That saying is one of my favorites. I found it years ago and still find
it to be as profound as I did back then. I am thinking of embroidering
it to hang on my wall and as a future gift for Little Miss.

The message of that saying is convicting to me. It is a constant
reminder that it is our responsibility to seek out the Lord first.
After my divorce from my first husband, I had no intention of ever
getting into a relationship again. That relationship damaged me in a
way that is hard to talk about even after all these years. My patient
Beloved even had to ease me into the idea of being told "I love you"
because I had no trust in the words. They were always a tool of torment
in my past. I have always believed that it was the Lord who led mine
and Beloved's relationship. I trusted no man. In my experience over
the years since my first dating relationship at age 16, had taught me
that men were deceivers who would say anything to get you to trust
them. Once they gained your trust, they would use your emotions against
you and their true nature would come out, often in some form of
controlling or abusive behavior. For that reason, at age 40, I decided
to spend the remainder of my life alone. The Lord, however, had other
plans and hadn't given up on me.

When I first was going through the divorce, I also separated myself from
the religion that we were members of. The church leaders had sanctioned
behaviors that were not those of someone who follows Biblical teaching.
The term the church used was "unrighteous dominion" as a label for this
behavior. The leadership of the church spoke out against it, but the
local leader of the congregation ignored the behavior and chastised me
for saying anything about it. At that point, I felt the need to leave
the church as well. I had been in that church for 26 years, from the
time I was a teenager. I felt deceived and damaged. I still believed
that there was a Higher Power who was in control, but I had to take a
step back form organized religion completely.

I turn into a more Native American belief system. In that lifestyle you
are taught to see the creation of God in all life around you. It was
that lifestyle that started my process of returning to the Lord. Sounds
strange, huh? I guess it is. You see, after being left feeling damaged
by organized religion, I had to step back completely and find the Lord
in my own way. Without the dictates of someone's interpretation of what
the scriptures say or the legalistic attitudes. In my heart, I felt
that the Lord isn't that complicated or demanding. I began seeking Him
out in my own way. I prayed often and tried to see His hand in all that
was around me. This was a part of the foundations of learning to trust
in what God was again.

By the time I met Joe, I was already on the path back to the Lord. I
still had no trust in Christians, but I was learning to have faith and
trust in the Lord. In truth, I think that is how it is supposed to be.
Even if you are trusting a very strong follower of Christ, you cannot
allow your faith to be in that person more than it is in the Lord.
Eventually, you will see human nature come out in that person that will
have the ability to make you question your faith. All people, Christian
or not, will say or do something that can shake your faith in them. The
Lord, however, is worthy of our faith and never fails us. He may allow
us to go through experiences in our life that make us wonder why He is
allowing it, but He always has a plan for our life.

In finding that truth and in seeking out a peace in the Lord, I found
much more. Joe came along into my life and against my own plans at that
time, we began getting to know each other. The fact that he is very
open about his faith should have had me running away like a scalded
cat. It was the Lord's grace that kept me willing to get to know Joe.
I began learning more from Joe about his beliefs after we were team
driving for the trucking company. We spent many hours with one of us
reading the Bible to the other and talking about what we were learning.
Faith in the Lord was critical to me. Not just for me personally, but
if Joe and I were going to have a relationship he would have to have a
solid faith in the Lord also.

Today, we both still have strong faith in the Lord. It is what helps us
to go through our days. For me, it helps in keeping much of the
loneliness at bay. I know that I can keep Joe in my prayer and that the
Lord will watch over him while he is away on the truck. I know that the
Lord is watching over our family. Not just because of my prayers, but
those of Joe's also.

This past Sunday, we had a wonderful example of that protection from the
Lord. Pookie always walks on my left side out of habit. I am right
handed, so it is easier to hold his hand with my left so that my right
hand is free to do things. After church, I stopped at a fast food store
to get the kids a sandwich before making the 90 mile trip home. When
going back to the jeep after our meal, I had Little Miss climbing into
the back seat. A small pickup truck was parked close beside us with
it's engine turned off. I had to step back with Pookie to allow Little
Miss room to climb into the jeep. Just as she was getting in, I
transferred Pookie's hand into my right so that he was next to the back
bumper of our vehicle. The driver of the pickup started his engine and
quickly began backing out without looking. Their back bumper hit me,
knocking me into the side of my jeep as I moved Pookie further behind
our back bumper to protect him. I slapped the truck repeatedly to get
their attention. The driver stopped for a moment and then continued
backing quickly and drove off. It was a hit & run. Little Miss saw it
happen and was very upset. Pookie went into a meltdown. I had 2 young
children to comfort and so didn't see the license plate of the truck as
it drove away. My first priority was my children's well being. I was
not hurt as badly as our old ram had done years ago, just very sore.
Nothing was broken and it was mainly my left leg that was affected. Not
my stomach or other soft tissue area that I would have to worry about as
much. We went back to the church. The pastor and his wife got ice for
my leg and helped calm the children. It gave me a chance to calm my own
nerves before making the journey back home.

The Lord was watching over us in that experience. Pookie is always on
my left side. Had I not transferred him to my right when I did, he
would have ended up underneath that truck. The Lord's grace was with us
in that I was not badly injured. We were close enough to the church
that I was able to have help both in treating my leg and in seeing to
the children's needs. I am so grateful to the Lord for His divine
intervention in this situation. It could have been so much worse! But
the Lord is good and took care of us. I praise Him for His love and
grace in watching over us.

While I am still sore, I am at peace within. I know that the prayers
for the Lord to help the man who drove that truck will be answered.
That man needs prayer! I can forgive him for what happened, but he
needs to find that place within himself to come to terms with his
reckless behavior. The Lord is good though and I know that His divine
will is going to prevail in this man's life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Garden Plans Resources

Finally! I bought some of those seed starting trays with clear lids. Today, after laundry is done, I will be planting seeds. By the time they are ready to be transplanted, my raised beds will be ready for them.

It is amazing just how much time it takes to move a garden and change methods. Once done however, the garden will be so much easier to maintain. I cannot remember if I had posted a link to the YouTube video, but here is the video that inspired me. I am going to be using the planting mixture suggested in Mel Bartholomew's book, Square Foot Gardening. The planting mixture recipe can be found here.

One of the nice parts of this method will be that it will require far less maintenance. Once the raised beds are made and filled, you only have to maintain the soil each season to"freshen" the nutrients in the mix by adding a bit more mix to the beds.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Teaching Compassion

Raising a child with autism disorder is a challenge and a blessing to
many parents of children with autism.We are challenged in the struggle
to help our child to reach their potential.We are blessed to have these
special ones in our lives.They bring joy to our families.We find each
and every milestone that they reach to be an event to be celebrated, for
we know how hard they have had to work to reach that goal.

There are times though when reality will slap us in the face.A recent
experience at a church function was a good illustration of that
statement.First, let me say that the other child involved meant no
malice towards my son.The situation is a great example of a "typical"
experience with children not familiar with special needs.I relate this
story so that it will hopefully bring about awareness in others,
especially in the teaching of their children in how to show compassion.

Our church held a block party the day before Easter.We had a great time
and even Pookie was enjoying himself.At one point, a little girl came up
to try and talk with him.She looked to be about 10 years old and was
very sweet in trying to say "hello" to Pookie.When he didn't respond to
her, I explained that he has autism and cannot talk.She looked unsure of
how to handle the situation.I explained that she can play with and talk
to Pookie.He would enjoy it.He just plays differently than other
kids.After a moment or two, she walked away and never approached him again.

I don't have any bad feelings towards her for her reaction.It was simply
a new experience for her and she did not know how to interact with
Pookie.As for him, Pookie didn't seem to notice at that moment.He was
too involved playing with a toy maraca that he had been given earlier in
the day.The experience does illustrate the reaction that many autistic
and other special needs children (and adults) face.In the training of
our children to be kind to others, are we teaching them to not fear or
be uncertain in how to interact with others who are not like them?As
Pookie's momma, I welcome questions about him.I would much rather deal
with the questions than having someone misunderstanding Pookie and why
he acts differently than they do.

That experience was not the first time that a child has walked away from
Pookie because of his being different.Unfortunately, it will be a
reoccurring event throughout his childhood.While he doesn't seem to
notice what happens around him, I am seeing a growing awareness in
Pookie.He notices the little things.He cries and fusses each week when
his sister is gone for the day without him.He gets upset if he wants to
play with Little Miss & Tank when they are busy with a game he cannot
join in on.It may not happen often, but it does from time to time.It's
no different than when any younger child wants to play with older
siblings, but the siblings are playing a game the younger one is too
little to join in with.

On the flip side of the equation, I was so humbled to see how our Pastor
and a few others set the example for the other children. At the block
party there was an inflatable bounce house set up. When I first
approached it with Pookie, Little Miss had already gone in it and was
having a lot of fun jumping and playing with other kids. Pookie heard
the sounds of the fan and the kids' at play. He got frightened and
wanted nothing to do with it. The 2 ladies that were overseeing the
children asked them if they would mind climbing out long enough for
Pookie to try to go in. Their were no complaints. The ladies explained
that he was afraid and the kids seemed understanding. When Pookie showed
no signs of wanting to go in, the kids went back to playing. Later in
the day, our Pastor and another gentleman were overseeing the bounce
house. There was a group of kids in there having a lot of fun, Little
Miss was among them. When Pookie approached the bounce house, actually
touching the entrance/exit point, we took the opportunity. As I removed
his and my shoes, our Pastor spoke to the children inside. he explained
that Pookie was coming in and asked if they could not be loud or jump
too close to him. Now, I must state that most o the kids have seen
Pookie at church and realize that he is different. Many know he has
autism, though they may not understand what that means. Well, the kids
were very sweet and quieted down a bit and allowed Pookie and I to get
in. He was very nervous, but when I sat in the bounce house, he simply
laid in my lap until he felt comfortable. Kids were bouncing and having
fun around us, but staying just far enough away as to not frighten him.
The bouncing motion, after a few moments, had calmed him enough to get
on his knees in front of me and bounce. We were only in the bounce house
a few minutes, but it was a huge progress for Pookie. He had faced a
fear and dealt with it. I was so proud of him. I was especially proud
and at the same time humbled, by the compassion that was shown towards
him. Our Pastor helped the kids to gently ease Pookie as he faced a
fear. Their willingness to do so without complaint or fuss was a
precious experience to behold.

It is not a comfortable reality to know that our Pookie, as well as many
others with special needs, will face times when children are uncertain
how to approach or interact with them. It is the responsibility of all
parents to teach compassion to their children. Not only through words,
but by example. If you know that your child has a classmate or maybe
even a neighbor that has a disability or other special needs issue, try
to find out about that special need. Talk to your kids about it. Maybe
even take the time to get to know the parents & family yourself. Set the
example for your children. If possible, invite the child's family to
your home so that your child can get to know them in a setting that they
feel comfortable in. It has been my experience that if a child is given
the opportunity to see compassion in action by their parents, along with
being given time to be around others who are different than themselves,
the children will most often become at ease around special needs children.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, I feel that we have a
responsibility to help ease the way. Talk to others who are curious.
Don't take offense if someone asks questions. Take the opportunity to
help others understand your child. When they gain a bit of
understanding, it may make it easier for them to interact with your
child. We cannot sit back and bemoan the unfairness of how our children
are treated by others if we are not willing to help ease the way. Just
as children don't understand how to interact with a special needs child,
many adults have never learned either. They don't mean to be rude, they
simply may never have had the opportunity to learn how to interact with
a special needs child or adult. Through your willingness to help ease
the way for others, you are also setting the example for your own
children. They learn how to be compassionate towards others in setting
them at ease in what may be an awkward situation for them. Compassion is
a 2-way street. Just as we would like others to be compassionate towards
our child, we should be compassionate towards others also.

A Growing Fence

Wow! I didn't realize how long it has been since my last post until I
started getting emails from readers asking how we are doing. It is so
humbling to know that there are people out there who you have never met,
but become concerned when you don't update your blog. Thank you so much!

The past week or so has been very eventful and busy. We were blessed
recently to be able to replace our old car. We now have a "new to us"
jeep that is only 6 yrs old and is very nice condition. It is such a
relief on both my beloved and I to have a reliable vehicle again. Once
we got the car, we have been trying to get caught up on things we were
unable to do over the past few months without a car.

The weather lately is becoming even more reliable for gardening. I now
have potting soil and plenty of little containers for starting seeds.
As soon as the raised beds are ready, I will have the little plants
ready to transplant. In previous years, the last frost occurred in late
April. With the mild winter we had, our planting season began a month
earlier than usual. Already some families have planted their root crops
and a few salad greens. It seems unusual to me to think that in
mid-April I am already behind in my garden planting.

This year, we are doing our garden in a completely new way. We are
turning completely to the method of raised beds. One reason being that
it will be far less work for me to maintain. I won't have to bend down
or get on my knees in the garden to weed or manage the plants. The
second reason is that we will have more control over the critters that
like to use our garden as their personal buffet. We are recycling old
shipping crates and pallets to make the garden. The garden beds will be
about waist high and lined with the leftover black weed barrier plastic
from last year. The plastic will hold in the dirt while still allowing
the extra water to drain through.

I have a copy of Mel Bartholomew's book, Square Foot Gardening, which I
bought last summer. In the book, he gives his "recipe" for a no-weed
soil planting mixture. It contains peat moss, vermiculite, and
composted soil. The peat moss and vermiculite loosens the soil as well
as providing a great method for holding in moisture. This is a big
concern if you live in a drought area. The composted soil provides
nutrients the plants need. One of the best parts of his soil mixture is
that it makes the gardening much easier to manage. You have a
relatively weed-free garden. The only weeds that it may produce are
those grown from seeds that may have blown into the raised bed on a
windy day. I used the square foot gardening method years ago when I
lived in an upper desert region. It was very successful. I had a much
larger harvest than when I tried gardening in the traditional way. This
year's garden may be much smaller than I would have planted in the
ground, but as we are able to add more raised beds, I will have an
expanded garden area to use.

An extra benefit to this garden is that Beloved is having it set up as a
fence line along one side of the children's play yard. We are going to
let each of them plant a few vegetables in their own little garden
beds. Little Miss and our 6 yr old grandson have each picked out a
couple of favorite vegetables that they would like to plant. I am
excited to watch them plant and tend their little garden areas. It will
be fun to see them get excited about the plants blooming and producing
the veggies.

Having this growing fence line is such a wonderful idea. My Beloved is
such a clever man to think of it! We plan to plant cherry tomatoes and
possibly some strawberries that the children can snack on if they get
hungry while playing in the yard. Both Little Miss and our grandson
love strawberries and cherry tomatoes. Who knows? We may end up having
to plant a strawberry bed and a cherry tomato plant for each of the kids
so that they all get enough to snack on.

I am amazed that the garden is only going to cost us the cost of nails
and the soil mix. The recycled crates and pallets are free from a
lumber yard in a town about 25 miles from home. If you ask around, you
may find old pallets that are being given away. Businesses that receive
their order shipments on a pallet have to pay to have the old ones
hauled off when they are done using them. If you ask, you may find that
they are willing to give away the old pallets for free or ask only a
very small price for them. The lumber yard that we got ours from gives
the old ones away but sells new pallets for $6.00 each. Prices depend
on the business. You might find some through Craig's List or the local

Monday, April 2, 2012

Self-Reliance Blogger

I wanted to share an awesome blog. Crafty Country Momma recently shared a recipe for Homemade Liquid Dish Washing Soap. For those of you who are looking for frugal living recipes and ideas, I would strongly suggest that you check her blog out.