An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

But I Don't Want to do School!

Okay Girlfriends~ A little confession time. I don't want to do school! I don't want to do school! I don't want to do school! And the worst part about this confession is that I am the teacher! It's that time of year again to get homeschool under way. Usually I look forward to this time of year and getting everybody back into a schedule and actually doing their chore lists and enriching their young brains plus the regular teeth brushings, but for some reason it just snuck up too quick on me this year. Hmmmm.... what is all this talk about unschooling anyway??! I'm kidding Mom! :)) The public school raised side of me still insists on daily sit down time for reading, writing and arithmetic times 5. Besides all those piano scales, times 5. I have by no means felt a calling to do anything different as far as the education of our children goes, but my own lazy self would rather be out doing the umpteen projects that need to get done around here than learn the communicative and symmetric rules of algebra or learning about indefinite pronouns or interrogative adjectives. I just can't recall the last time I actually used those things on a goat farm here in the middle of Wisconsin. Okay, okay, okay.... whine, whine, whine. For the good of these little dumplings and society as a whole we are plugging away and have delved both feet first into our school schedule again. We have a range of kindergarten to high school this year. Anybody who wants to volunteer to listen to children reading are more than welcome at our house! There is nothing like repetition and lots and lots of good books. Over and over again!
No t-h is not "tuh-hah", it's /th/~ bang head, bang head, bang head...... I'll be okay, I really will. Tomorrow I'll brew the coffee a bit stronger and say another prayer. Maybe we'll have to take a week for shop class if the sun ever shines again. Written while under the influence of being an overtired Mom:))))

Monday, September 27, 2010

What a Guy!

In all his spare time Rob decided to bless me by putting the tin on the roof of the chicken coop. He was going to surprise me and have it done (with Cole's help) while I was at football practice with Trent, but then I went and ruined the surprise by coming home early to work on it myself. Now being I don't care for heights very much this was a sweet blessing to me.
And the fact that he was able to make the roof look decent even tho it wasn't exactly square was an extra bonus. One window is nearly in and one peak end is close to sided. With the prediction of the sun shining for the next week I really, really hope to get it done so I can move on to the next project. Winter's coming way too fast with one too many projects still to get done around here.

Wild Child

Grace has always been a bit on the wild side. She likes extremes. All summer long she has been begging me to let her go faster on Sassy. All summer long I have been telling her that she needs to learn to control her horse before she can go faster. Well, she discovered, quite by accident I am sure, that Sassy doesn't mind going fast when she wants to get back to the barn and her buddies. And if she is only going to the barn Grace doesn't have to do much steering or stopping.
So nearly every day, several times a day, Grace bridles up Sassy and leads her to a big rock in the middle of the pasture.
Then she hops on quick.
And they race back to the barn. First it was at a trot, then faster to a canter and a gallop, and now it has even involved jumping over logs and water. You go Cowgirl!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shriner's and Crooked Feet and 7 Years of History

It's hard to believe, but it's been 7 years since Grace came home from India, which means it has been over 9 years since God started us on this journey of international special needs adoption. The 20 months waiting for her to come home seemed to take longer than these many years of enjoying her as our daughter. The journey has certainly been one of God's making and now we can clearly see His direction in it. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and certainly in this case that is true. As our plans and ideas were yielded to God's plan we have literally been witnesses to miracles. One of those miracles being Grace's feet. God first called me very clearly to adopt Grace the very day she was born. Of course I didn't know it at the time that it was her birth date; all I knew at that point was a burning, relentless passion to do whatever it took to bring home the child that God had waiting for us in India. Ideally (in our minds at the time) that child was of course a healthy beautiful little girl about 2-4 years old. What a surprise when we accepted the referral of a 10 month old little girl with bilateral club feet. We didn't even know what club feet were at the time, but what we did know was that this was our daughter. (Some time ago I started writing our story here and here and one day I really will finish it.) When Grace finally did come home at 19 months old she was one sick little girl. Within the first week of her being home we had her seen by a pediatrician at an international adoption clinic for her overall health. She was very malnourished~ a mere 15 pounds at 19 months old. Then it was on to the Shriner's hospital in the Twin Cities where we would start her treatment for club feet. Club feet is something that is normally treated at birth by casting or special shoes. In Grace's case she had no treatment at all until she was 20 months old so her feet were very rigid and they were actually so twisted that she was walking on the tops of her feet when she tried to walk. Throughout the adoption process God had answered many prayers already, but the one prayer that I kept praying about once we found out she had club feet was that God would heal her feet without surgery. After studying what club feet were, and the results of not treating them for so long, we understood that little other than complete reconstructive surgery could probably be done for her. We were encouraged to contact Shriner's about their services and found out that they were one of the few hospitals that were treating children using the Ponsetti casting method. Nearly every week we brought Grace down to see Chaz and Dr. Aadalen and have new casts put on her feet. One of the things that made it harder for everybody was that once we were given custody of Grace in India she clearly made it known that she did not like anybody with colored skin anymore (she bonded immediately with me, had very little contact with men at the orphanage, and we are guessing that anybody of color must have represented to her that she would be taken away again~ she was staying with the white people), and especially men. So when Chaz walked in every time to apply her casts and he was a black man we had double the trauma. I would sit her in my lap and try to hold her and one little leg so the doctors could wrap, shape and mold a new cast from her toes to her hips every week. It gave us all a work out for sure. Every week the casts would add just a bit more pressure to shape her little feet into the correct position and every week I would pray that surgery would not be needed. After about 2 months of casting it was decided that surgery needed to be scheduled, so we reluctantly made arrangements and went down to the hospital for surgery. After prepping her and waiting for her surgery time we got a visit from a lab tech talking about eocinophil counts that were too high so surgery had to be cancelled. After much talking and more blood work and doctor visits we later discovered that Grace had internal parasites (which should have been picked up from all of her previous blood work but wasn't) and could not have surgery. So we went through treatment for the parasites and continued the casting process every week. Surgery #2 was set up and we headed down to the cities again expecting pretty extensive foot surgery. Again her blood work came back as having a high eocinophil count even after treatment. More doctors and more blood work and more medicine later and we continued the casting process. Seven months after first starting the casting her blood work finally came back low enough that the doctors said she could have the surgery. We made all the arrangements again and Grace and I headed down to the cities, but first I stopped to pray with some members of our church my same old prayer that God would correct her feet without the surgery. Grace was checked in and everything was settled to have surgery in the morning. We spent the night in the hospital family rooms and then headed down to the surgical unit early in the morning. I can still clearly recall walking down that long hallway and a feeling of God's peace washing over me as I expected His miracle. The doctor's really did not know what to expect when they went in for surgery. The seven months of casting had united us all surrounding this little girl and the miracle we all hoped for. Grace was the second oldest child at 20 months (the oldest being 22 months) that they had used the Ponsetti casting method on. After a very short surgery Chaz and Dr. Aadalen came back into her room with beaming faces to tell me that they did not have to do anything to her feet. Because of the length of casting the only surgical procedure needed was to release her achilles tendons on her heels. Who would have ever thought we would be praising God for parasites? Praise the Lord! Chaz once told me that Grace was "the feather in his cap". After surgery she had several weeks more in a hard cast, then 4 years in a brace (starting in them 24 hours a day and weaning down to only using it at bedtime). Grace went back for check-ups every 6 months and now only has to go once a year. She doesn't remember much about the experience any more and still doesn't like Chaz very much, but she does like his Donald Duck voice. For all of us involved it is a yearly celebration of what God did, not only in her life, but in all of ours' as well to be able to watch it. Last week was one of those check-ups and Grandma Lee came with again. Grandma Lee came with us most of the time for Grace's casting appointments. Love you Mom! That meant so much to me:) X-ray's used to be a pretty traumatizing event, but went really good this time around. As long as Dr. Aadalen didn't have to touch her feet too much Grace was fine with him. And Chaz did his Donald Duck voice so he was all right, too. One exciting part of the appointment was that they asked if they could use Grace's case for a study that they were putting together for a research paper. "Gabriella" took photos and video of Grace's feet and they will include her in the results of their work of the past 10 years of using the Ponsetti method of casting to correct club feet. The favorite part of our trip~ picking out toys from the toy box when we're done. The very familiar hallway where we visited Chaz every week. It was very humbling to watch the prosthetics being made. It made me count my blessings again. Back home until next September.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Coop

The sun finally came out over the weekend so we took advantage of it and got back to work on the chicken coop. I have to say, for my little bit of building knowledge this has been a very gratifying project. The fact that the walls are straight and it is even nearly level has me even more giddy. I am thinking I could just make several of these for all over the farm. One by the pond, one at the cabin sight, one by the garden.... That is if I ever finish the one by the barn.
All of the material so far has been from the scrap lumber from the barn and shed tear down project, as well as recycled insulation from an Uncle Jim job. It certainly makes one get creative. I told the kids how fun it would be to paint on such a nice day and set them to work. Between 5 of them painting (plus an extra friend) most of the shed got primed (with left over paint found on the basement shelf). And mysteriously the dog and even the pig got some paint on them.
The I found a couple of monkeys to climb up and help me frame the roof.
I even overcame my own fear of heights and climbed up there myself.
So we now have 3 walls and the start of a roof which passed Rob's inspection.
Hopefully this one won't blow off.
This has been our blessing project for Rob. Considering the things he has left on his list before the snow flies, the kids and I are determined to build the coop ourselves to relieve him a little. So far we haven't had to bug him too much to help. And his part in this whole project? To move this beast of a coop over about 10 feet where the cement pile is still sitting. Can he do it? Well, I really hope so.

Cost so far: $0. Yippee! I like that!

Well, We Finally Did It

After talking about Farmer's Markets all summer long Cole and I finally decided to try selling at one. The biggest excuse we had was that the garden barely produced anything due to all the rain, then the chickens were free ranging so we didn't have eggs to sell either, and we made a new batch of soap in the middle of summer that had to cure, then football started and we were gone on Farmer's Market evenings. No more excuses. Cole's one single pumpkin from his grande money making scheme this spring turned orange so we set off to do what we had only been talking about doing all summer long. Other than the pumpkin we also put together a basket of cute little pumpkins and white gourds, along with some sewing and hollyhock seeds, and of course goats milk soap.
Then we made up a couple of pans of cinnamon rolls. Yummy!
Unfortunately the lady who always brings baking had cinnamon rolls and fresh baked bread, too. We didn't sell a single one and had to bring them all home and eat them ourselves. Cole sold his pumpkin to one of the other vendors in the first few minutes we were set up so he was thrilled! There only a handful of cars the whole afternoon in our little community, and everybody was looking for tomatoes which nobody had. After selling a package of hollyhock seeds and then buying a little jar of honey I was in the hole $1.25 for my efforts. I did get to give away several soap samples, tho.And even tho I didn't sell any soap I did let Cole make a great trade for a couple of bars~
for 2 silkie roosters. All in all we were glad we tried the Farmer's Market if for no other reason than just because we said we were going to do it. The best part of the day was seeing that smile on Cole's face when he got his roosters~ and eating all those cinnamon rolls.


There are so many God things that I have been continuously pondering lately. I have been enjoying reading some of Corrie ten Booms book's and am always encouraged, ashamed, and inspired by them. What a life she led for the Lord! What great trust and peace God gave to her through her trials, allowing her to share that with the world through her experiences. One of the more persistent thoughts that have been rolling around my brain has to do with God's will in our lives and where we are serving Him. One of her comments in her book "Clippings from My Notebook" really struck me last night. "I was the same Corrie ten Boom. But in the concentration camp I was in the place where God had called me, and He was my strength. Here I was not in His will, and without Him I was nothing~ I was stupid, weak, and helpless." I have had experiences of both being empowered and used by God, full of great joy, energy and clear thinking and also times of dullness, suppression, and frustration. Do those times indicate that we are out of God's will in our lives, or that He is purifying us in our sinful nature? Believing that Scripture teaches that God is sovereign over everything I know that no matter what I do, where I go, or what happens is the will of God, but are there certain ways that He directs that we choose to be dull to? And what, then, when if you're the wife and long to honor God through submission? Hmmmm..... what a marvelous God we have to intertwine all these things to somehow still present us as righteous before Him one day.
The other thing I have been pondering a lot is the word of God itself. Primarily the reason that professing Christians are straying from it. Why it is losing it's place and value even in the church, but primarily in the believers life? Psalm 119 was such a sweet reminder to me this morning of God's word and the value God himself puts on it. Why is the word not more highly valued in our lives? Why is it that we think we can twist it? Why is it that we think we have the right to choose how to discern it and what to obey in it? When did we cross over into thinking that somehow we stand above it, rather than humbly coming below it in honor of what God has to say? Why do professing Christians not bother to even read it? I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. It is time for you to act, O Lord; your law is being broken. Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:125-128
And I loved this quote from Corrie ten Boom's book "Tramp for the Lord": "When the Bible interferes with man's theology it always causes a strain." And what is it that is so important in the Bible? It is the revealing of a just God, the creator of the universe and all that is in it, who will one day call all of us to account according to His standards. But the story doesn't end there. For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice to cover the sins that we can never atone for. We were by nature objects of God's wrath, but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions- it is by grace you are saved, through faith. He has done it all. He promises.

Movin' On Up

Or, I guess, Movin' on Down. That's what Trent has been doing in football lately~ in jersey numbers anyway. Let me just put a plug in first for junior high football and what an amazing effect it has had in Trent's life. We have some great coaches up here that really push these young men to give it their all out there on the field which also overflows to the rest of their lives. Yay for great coaches! We all need some encouragers like that in our lives. Now we really haven't invested alot of time into sports so I am extra proud of Trent for keeping his commitment and giving so much to his team. And it has shown, especially being he is a rooky 7th grader. After a couple of weeks of practice playing a full back the coaches decided to switch him to the C-back position which meant he had 4 practice days to learn all the new plays and positions but it also gave him the opportunity to be an essential part of the team making points. And it also meant that he needed a different jersey with a different number. It was so much fun to watch the boys play their first official game the other night. They faced off to a team who were giants in general compared to them, but they gave them a run for their money and barely let them take any ground out there on the field. Being a C-back means Trent has the chance to get the ball and run more often. It also means he is on the bottom of the pile more often. And that his momma is praying more often. Can you tell I'm a smidgen proud of him? Especially being that he was able to break away and make the last 2 points of the game in the last minute or so. Yippee! We still lost 8-12, but not without a fight. Go get 'em boys!


Fall is the time of year that we start seeing more of the steers. Most of the summer they are content to just stay out back in their lush green pasture. As the grass quality is dwindling and the cooler weather is encouraging them to fatten up before winter they have been hanging around the grain trough alot more lately. The little bottle babies that we raised off of goats milk this spring have taken a new interest in the grain as well. With our fences and barn being under construction all summer long they have just been out with the big steers eating grass rather than in their own little corral where they can get fed a ration of grain every day (which causes me to consider raising a few grass fed calves next summer for resale being we did have enough pasture to sustain 3 large steers and 3 smalls steers~ something to ponder over the winter). The opportunity presented itself to easily move the little steers into a make-shift pen of their own so Cole and Micah and I took it. They are now part of the barnyard harmony every morning and evening calling for their grain and hay. And these guys are looking good, too, as they are nearing their date with the butcher.