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.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home Made Goat's Milk Soap Laundry Detergent

A few months back I had a fiasco soapmaking issue. It turns out that if you forget to cut a large log of plain goat's milk soap for five days the odds of ever being able to cut such bar short of a saw is impossible. So, I handed it over to Cole as he was requesting the privilege of shredding it. He got out the old grater and in no time we had a paper bag of soap slivers. The bag sat in my soap closet, forgotten, until a couple of weeks ago when I finally remembered to pick up the supplies to make homemade laundry detergent. After a short trial, and umpteen loads of laundry already, I'm lovin' it! What I really love is the cost, as I am hoping to not have to buy laundry soap supplies again until the New Year, and all for less than a $15.00 investment.

Since we have lots of farm clothes and kids who like to get dirty, I added some powdered Clorox stain fighter and color booster for an extra "oomph" to the standard recipe. For super sensitive skin the Clorox could be left out.

My recipe:

1 cup grated, plain Goat's milk soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Clorox stain fighter and color booster

Add 1 tablespoon per regular load of laundry. Vinegar can be added to the rinse cycle if you have a really dirty/smelly load.

I mixed up a gallon jar of it, tied a pretty bow around the top and found a vintage tablespoon to throw in for measuring. It looks so cute in my laundry room:))

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Smell of Fall

With three bucks locked in a stall in the goat barn, the smell of Fall is in the air. I can feel the shift of the seasons beginning in my own body and mind as well. The slowing down of summer chaos has begun, and I am beginning to relish the thought of lazy, snowy afternoons with a cup of hot chocolate and books to read or write.

Home school thoughts are creeping in. Not that any of us are quite ready for it yet, but we're getting closer to being ready for it. I have yet to begin to put together any official curriculums, but rather have a vague list in my head of who needs what. When the gumption strikes(and Lord willing it will strike this week, perhaps after the corn is picked and put away in the freezer and the tomatoes have been canned)I will attempt to niche out a couple of quiet hours and type up a schedule and dig through the shelves to see if we need to order additional books. I have successfully ignored WalMart for several consecutive weeks, but I may have to break down to take advantage of their pencil sales.

This may be, by far, the easiest Fall farm preparation we have had since moving to this abandoned plot of our dreams. There are no falling down barns this year, no plastic to staple up to block the drafts, no half-built chicken coops to finish trimming before the frost comes, and no imminent projects to finish. The calves have shelter, the goat stalls all have gates, and the chicken's toes should stay warm in their insulated abode.

Soon the pigs will be shipped off to the locker plant. I never have to feel like we waste any food with pigs around as every little scrap is fed back to ultimately feed us back. The three steers will be a bit smaller this year as we have refused to pay the high prices of corn, but God always makes it enough. The three young steers are growing just fine on grass, and given the state of the pastures they make me think again that we could have raised four.

There are eight does to condition for the upcoming breeding season which ushers in the dreaming season of spotted kids in early 2013. Soap classes continue to be a success, and an invitation to host a goat's milk soap booth this fall at a local event is a good sign that their livelihood on the farm is secure.

The garden is dwindling down. It hasn't been a stellar year, but we have had it so much better than most of the country. If my world wasn't so consumed by grief I would probably be much more appreciative of the lush green that surrounds us up North.

Thanking God, again, for His sustenance on OurCrazyFarm.

The Fair

The 2012 Fair season is officially over, and we survived. Three hundred and sixty some odd days until we get up the gumption to do it again. Our little community has two Fairs that we are eligible to enter, and of which we usually gladly do our part to support. What began years ago as a nice addition to our home schooling has become a bit of a ruling force of our summers, but none of us complains too loudly, especially when the Fair checks arrive in our mail box.

Being a person who enjoys new projects, deadlines, and working until 2:00 in the morning to finish a quilt makes the Fair appealing. This year we broadened our horizons and entered about every category from natural sciences to baking, gardening to woodworking, paper mache to bead work, cheeses to butter, and the political realm to photography.

Cole also entered chickens for the first time, and his rabbits for a second year. He came away with some blue and red ribbons, and even a grand champion for showmanship. I came away with nearly a hundred pictures of a boy who had nowhere to hide as he stood before the judges stand.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Joy Revealed

First Peter is my go-to book of the Bible when I am longing for a reminder of God's good plans. Under the chapter title I have recorded that I am on my sixth reading since last summer, and I am sure that I have referenced it more often than that these many months. They say the days are long but the years are short. Some days seem to never end with grief, but then I look up and try to figure out where a year and a half has gone; a year and a half closer to heaven.

I always tend to stay quite a while in the first couple of paragraphs, relishing Peter's words. I sometimes think of the writers of Scripture and wonder if they had any idea of the plans that God had for their work of recording His words, wonder if they thought those words were futile and if it was really God behind them. Scripture is certainly a living and active work of art; a love letter to God's children. Today I couldn't get past the first sentence before I was in tears, overwhelmed by the thought:

“To God's elect, strangers in the world.”

I woke up yesterday pondering thoughts of joy. As I have persisted, along with others, praying for the return of joy I realized the root of my discontent. My joy had always been based on this world, fixed here on the next project, the next achievement, the next experience. Since Trent has died everything here is now compared to heaven, and nothing can come close to satisfying. A stranger, yes; I am a stranger in this world. I trudge along because I must, performing my tasks but always longing to be “home.”

Alexis recently asked me to pray that God would draw her nearer. I kissed her pretty forehead and told her that I have been for quite some time. She smiled. As I walked away I choked back more tears, remembering my own pleas to be drawn nearer to God; prayers whispered just weeks before the accident.

I know being drawn nearer means being shattered by glory. God rarely ever uses anybody without wounding them first. Not a cruel wounding, but a physicians scalpel that must go deep to save a person's soul. I ask for a gentle drawing nearer for this girl who is already walking closer to her God than I am. I see Him in her. I don't want her wounded. In my flesh I want what the world wants for her: a long life full of happiness and smiles, not growth and pain and depth to cause her to know God more. I hand her over, again~ as if she was ever mine to offer in the first place. I repeat my trust in God's good plans. I allow Him to be God.

Peter says that trials come into our lives so that our faith~ of greater worth than gold~ may be proved genuine and result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:7).

I am not a Bible scholar, but I understand this verse to mean an ultimate glory, not primarily a temporal one that we will see with lights blazing here. God has revealed Himself to be more patient than I am, and perseverance must be of great benefit because often He withholds things for a long time, even the revealing of His glory. We learn to walk by faith, not by sight, as we wait; battling all the while to know what we thought we knew; a constant war-ground where truth must conquer in our lives~ the truth of Scripture.

“Though {I} have not seen Him {Jesus} {I} love him; and even though {I} do not see him now, {I} believe in him and am filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for {I} am receiving the goal of my faith, the salvation of my soul.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

Joy will return. Its depths will not be found in goats and gardens and projects anymore, but in the faithful God who has opened my eyes through suffering and has promised so much more than what I can see here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ponderings of Mice and Men

The weather is turning cooler, and the sputtering air conditioner is turned off (hopefully) for the summer. Another indicator of the subtle change in seasons is the fact that we have little furry brown visitors. As I sat in the early quiet, enjoying the hush of the house this morning, I heard pitter-pattering feet scurry across the dining room. Eeek! It headed right under my computer desk, so I get up and carry the laptop to my comfy chair instead in an attempt to de-clutter my brain. Along the way I grab the fat barn cat who is sitting outside on the covered porch hoping that she is hungry and will do her job; no luck, she heads to the dog food dish. When Grace comes downstairs and hears the news she brings in the orange kitten, too, and goes on a mouse hunt herself, ever the critter collector. I will be going on a trap hunt soon, hoping Cole will set it and check it for me over the course of the day. I put the foot rest up on the recliner and let the chaos continue.

Words have seemed to elude me this summer; their return is as of a welcomed friend. Neither writing them nor reading them have been much comfort as of late, but this morning they seem to flow. Maybe the barometer shift has brought freedom with it as well.

The thought dawned on me the other day that I've been crying for nearly a year and a half. Sometimes I wonder if that is too long, or not long enough. I wonder if there could possibly be any more tears. Often they are just dry sobs, as if the well has run dry and lamenting groans will do in their place. I almost wish the old tradition of mourners wearing black would come back into style. My heart is still broken on the inside, but the outside must smile. I wonder if others have truly forgotten, or if they just honestly don't know what to say. Everyday I wake up to the fresh loss of my son. One morning not so long ago I woke up and enjoyed a brief moment of forgetting that he wasn't just in his bed across the hall from me. . .

These words spoke to my soul this morning:

But now, this is what the Lord says –
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel;

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:1-3b

This all still seems so unreal; it still seems like just yesterday Trent was here, and then at the same time it seems like forever since he was here. I remind myself that he is still Trent, he's just in heaven. The battle of fighting for that reality is never ending. Our minds were not made to understand death; the separation is inconceivable.

Silly analogy, but it was so obvious to me: we have had two crying goat kids in the barn for the past couple of days – they're sad because it's weaning time and they can longer be with their beloved momma. As I fed them last night, and then headed outside to feed the rest of the herd, I found myself telling them “It's okay, mommas just on the other side of the wall, soon you'll be together again.”

“Trent's just on the other side; soon you'll be together again,” I heard whispered to myself.

The reality of eternity is unimaginable: eternity. What does a mortal mind even do with that word? Because we only know death here, how do we conceive of forever, and ever, and ever? Which brings back the whole concept of God and His glory, forever, and ever, and ever. What are twelve years here, even fifty years or eighty years, compared to eternity? So I trudge on, fighting to find the joy of the cross set before me.

And there is much joy. Not a worldly joy as I am so used to expecting, but a new-found depth of joy; a joy which has been granted as a privilege only to sufferers. The joy of seeking God, a desperate need of knowing Him and trusting Him; of depending on Him to be who He says He is for the simple reason being that unless He is the Great I AM, this life has no meaning. Chasing the world reveals only futility in the end: Trent took nothing with him to heaven, and neither will I. I seek for treasures that will not tarnish or rust, treasures kept in heaven for me.

But the battle is fierce. Stepping into the ring means you get beat up. When you share the gospel of Jesus, people either repent or rage. I wonder if we really understood eternity, and the cost, if we would be bolder. I wonder at the binding of the truth in our society at large, even in our churches. I wonder why it is so difficult for my brain to understand the words of Scripture, or to live them out.

My tears lately have been over my own sins as well. When you are drawn closer to a holy God, a consuming fire, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you can't help but see your own failings. The idolatry of looking only to our own short comings should not over-ride the glory of what Jesus did on the cross to pay the price for our salvation, but refusing to look at our own sinfulness is of no benefit either. God has been taking me through a time of chastening lately, and it hurts. I fall at the foot of the cross repeatedly. I am reminded that “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean” (John 13:10). This chastening reveals much grace if I will choose to see it rather than reject it.

Honestly, I am tired of being grown and sanctified, chiseled and shaped, pounded and hammered. My flesh likes its current state of sinful indulgence most days, and looking like Christ is not my top priority in my own will. But God doesn't let His children go their own way, He sanctifies them for His own glory, to reveal Himself in them, not to reveal their greatness in obeying Him. Therefor, I find much hope in the fact that God continues His molding in my life.

So as I raise my hands in surrender, acknowledging that I really can't do this: can't persevere on my own, can't control sin on my own and can't change my wicked heart on my own, God has me right where He wants me: walking by faith, not by sight; trusting Him to do it all, trusting Him to be faithful, trusting Him to be “that good.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Dog and His Boy

The memories would be a lot fonder if the boy was actually his boy...

and the dog was actually his dog...

instead of being the neighbor dog.