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, May 21, 2013

Redneck Farmers


You haven't truly lived until you've experienced the excitement of hauling two Black Angus bull calves two-and-a-half hours one way in the back of your minivan. For some reason the word "Redneck" keeps rolling through my brain.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Underground Railroad History Reenactment

As a final "hurrah" to our home school year we hosted another history reenactment day. A few years ago these events started as a fun idea for my children as well as my sisters kiddos to get them excited about history. They have since morphed into including our home school group plus their friends which made this year the biggest yet with a total of seventy-one participants.

We've gone through the Revolutionary War, the Oregon Trail, a farm day and this past week we traveled the Underground Railroad. The purpose of the day was to introduce our children to living history, with the intent being that there is so much more than names, dates and places to memorize but realizing that these were real people living real adventures.

The day started off with an auction, then the slaves had to go to work. Soon, their conductors rescued them and they started their trek to Canada. Alexis prepared historical parts for our story tellers where each group visited and met characters along the way. They were introduced to a Quaker, an Abolitionist (who fed them lunch) and a common farmer who knew what it was to be saved by God's grace so therefor represented the many unnamed people of this era who opened up their homes and risked their lives so that slaves could gain their freedom.

Along the way they were being hunted down by guards and learning history in a fun way. After each of the stops they made a final run to the Hudson River (the pond) and Canada (the island) where freedom and freezies awaited them. Once the actual event was over one of the best parts of the day began: fellowship. Everybody went home renewed, refreshed and excited about learning again.

Today I am working on putting together a scrapbook of pictures for the families who attended. If anybody is interested in hosting an Underground Railroad History Reenactment for your group and would like to use our schedule just leave me a comment with your email address and I'll send it over. Now they're all wondering what we're going to do next year!


Friday, May 10, 2013

The Problem With Farm Auctions

 The problem with farm auctions is that you get so caught up in the excitement and hand waving that you forget just what you went there for in the first place. Standing in the dusty Fair building next to the local farmers and wanna-be farmers watching one bovine after another traipse through the make-shift ring gets your adrenaline pumping and soon your dreams change shape right before your very eyes. I didn't even realize that I had dreams of raising a Jersey milk cow until tonight.

After the first group of beautiful heifers came through I started to think that a refrigerator full of unpasteurized, hand squeezed milk would be the next best thing, but their high price tag scared me off. Then, a few sales later, and with only a couple of stragglers left, the slim pickins got pretty cheap.

There she was, the skinniest most bedraggled red critter in the barn. When the auctioneer could barely get one hundred dollars to start the bid I nudged Rob and suggested she would make a perfect mother's day present. Up went his hand, then again and again, and number twenty-nine was the proud new owner of  our very own Jersey heifer. After finding a trailer to haul her home in we tucked her into her own dry lot and will patiently wait for the sun to come up in the morning to see what we really bought.

Now for a name: Daisy, Milly, Mercy, Petunia, Hamburger...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Seeking Joy

The thoughts won't quit. Busy days, sunshine and hard work, it should all equal a solid nights sleep. But the thoughts still don't quit. The mornings only come earlier, the desperation greater.

From the beginning of this grief process numerous people have encouraged us that time would heal. Lately, the push of the general consensus has been that it's time for us to find our joy again here. I almost listened, my people pleasing nature being quick to conform rather than to trust the whispers of God.

There is more than here. So much more.

Jesus endured for the joy set before him. Paul lived for That Day. The Apostle Peter said the inheritance was waiting ahead of us, not here. What good would it have benefited Trent to have lived only for here, only for now? Twelve years, his entire life span, compared to eternity. An eternity that is somehow based on what we do here for our Savior. Rewards and treasure to store up there, trials and sanctification that are achieving for us an eternal glory. A sovereign God in complete control of it all while at the same time we are responsible for our own actions in it. Our very decision to respond to the gospel, to choose heaven or hell in a sense, and I should just be content to be happy with some new hobby.

That concept of seeking out ultimate joy here is no longer a reality. My soul screams out the insanity of all these well wishers' kind words. The demeaning of the gospel in exchange for my fleeting pleasure. Idolatry in its subtlest form.“Seek it here,” repeated over and over again.

What a fool I must be portraying myself to be to those who have never tasted of this depth of pain, this desperate need for there to be more, with the only satisfaction being found in God. What else is worth seeking out? What field is worth selling all of my possessions for, even the giving of my very life? How could the more be in this life? How could more joy be found in experiences rather than in a Divine Creator?

It's pretty easy for somebody who has held their child every night for the past twenty-seven months to tell us to just be happy here, while really implying that we'd quit making them feel guilty, to stop talking about eternity all the time. So many professing Christians have mastered trying to convince the outside world and themselves that everything is all about Jesus when really it's not. Only torturous pain will drive you to look deep enough to ask the hard questions, to seek only God Himself. When you're bucked off the soothing carousel ride of life and are lying flat on your back is when you finally look up.

Christ talked about heaven constantly, trying to explain it to his followers. Eternity. Eternity. Eternity. He didn't seek His kingdom here, in fact he denied a worldly kingdom when it was offered to him. He didn't build castles, establish Facebook friends or make sure he saw all the sights and crammed every imaginable experience into thirty-three years, rather he sought fellowship with God, pursued heavenly missions, battled for obedience, waited patiently for the glory due him.

The Apostle Paul was warned about how he would suffer for the sake of the gospel. Somehow, his joy was found in that honor. How my brain battles with this concept. How much easier it would be to content myself with believing the words of those who encourage me to just seek out the good things God has given me for the rest of the days I am here. “He made them for your joy, so enjoy them,” I hear over and over.

Common grace, yes, but past the sun and the croaking spring frogs and the new birth of farm animals is God himself. I can't get enough of Him to fully notice the rest. But there's not enough of Him that this sinful flesh part of me can drink in because of the physical separation of heaven and earth. It's not that I've grieved too long, or I need to get on with life, or I need a new hobby. It's that I truly long only for God. Substitutes won't satisfy. It really is all about God, glory and the gospel.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Ducks

Farming must be genetic. Being raised on a catch-all farm with a collection of critters that did little more than to satisfy the beckoning of my father's soul of the need to have them surrounding him, the homesteading gene was passed along strongly. Of the five girls in our family only my sister and I inherited it, and in our home only one, possibly two, kiddos seem to have a knack and love for raising animals like their grandfather did.

Ever the farmer and business man, Cole ordered some ducklings from the local Co-op. They were purchased with the intent being for resale, although I've heard much begging to keep "just two." Nope, we've tried ducks over the years and there is just no place around here for them. Granted we have a pond, but being that pond freezes over in our cold Wisconsin winters means those same ducks have to house with the chickens in the below zero weather - a mess the chickens don't appreciate, either. So, we'll be content to enjoy their peeping and waddling antics for the next couple of days while they grace our basement with their cuteness.

Even if he doesn't make his fortunes on them the excitement, plus the memories made, were worth more than any green printed paper bills could ever pay for. What would the cost be to look in the rear view mirror and see all those smiling faces? Little girls wearing shorts and cowgirl boots, sneaking the favorite farm cat with for a van ride, giggling over baby ducks pecking your fingers, and being happy to do chores: priceless.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Broken and Scary


Alexis informed me, after I'd mentioned calling one of her friends to ask a favor, that I'm "that scary lady that talks about Jesus all the time." 

"No, mom, I'll ask," she assured me.

I guess there are worse things you could be called by a seventeen year old girl. I guess I've lived so many years as the "scary lady that talks about Jesus all the time" that I find it odd when people don't talk about Jesus all the time. She didn't mean anything bad by it, it's just that she wanted that friend to grant us the favor, too, and thought he might not be so scared off by her.

A strange thing happens when your kids' friends turn into teenagers, they do get scared off by parents, and in all honesty, I get scared off by teenagers.

I was asked to help lead a small group of young ladies for a youth event this past school year. They also thought I was the "scary lady that talked about Jesus all the time." Nearly every Wednesday evening around 7:45p.m. found our little group sitting on the floor, me silently praying to be cool enough and have the right words to say so that they would hear me. Them trying to be too cool to pretend that they were listening, all the while with their eyes glued to me and this strange message of eternity, sin and a Savior. Given the fact that we actually confronted the concept that people really do die, like sons and grandmas, it made for some amazing conversations.

I wake up daily begging God to use me. If I'm going to be here anyway I'd rather be a vessel for glory versus indulging in the temporary glittering rewards that are offered in this world. Brokenness must be a part of that journey because that's where God has me most of the time. Broken and scary, quite a combination. But broken and scary for Jesus - the perfect combination.

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Rebatch Goat's Milk Soap

I really thought that I knew how to make goat's milk soap. After three-plus years of consistently making it, it turns out that I still have quite a bit to learn. Although I have a tried and true lard recipe that I have tweaked to the point of being extremely happy with the results, I have been on a quest all winter to make an oil based recipe that I really like. Most of them turn out too soft or too slimy for my liking, and I just can't find that perfect recipe. Add to that experimenting with various scents from the tempting Brambleberry site, and you have the perfect scenario for botched batches of soap. My rack was getting pretty full of them, and after two more failed attempts this week it was time to get brave and attempt my first ever time of rebatching.
Since I am very impatient, I went with the microwave rather than the crockpot or oven method. I procrastinated long enough to check out various directions on the world wide web before I jumped in and finally just did it. Rebatching boasts the claim of being able to salvage nearly any soaping fiasco by magically remelting the mess and pouring it into your mold again. There are a few precautions because you are working with extremely hot soap, and of course warnings of active volcanoes in your kitchen is always a possibility. I wore gloves and goggles for safety, but four logs of soap later, rebatching isn't so scary anymore.
I started by finding a kiddo to help cut up the soap. We made two piles: one of larger chunks (1/2 inch or so) and one of smaller chunks for the imbeds. I tried to use the equivalent number of bars plus an extra to assure that the resulting soap would fit into my mold correctly. For me, that was 15 bars of botched soap to cut up. I had some Pearberry that didn't like the Titanium Dioxide that I added, some Plumeria that was castor oil heavy, and a couple of Lilac bars that had turned grey instead of a pretty purple, as well a couple of Oatmeal Milk and Honey bars that overheated. I saved the purple, greens and some tan/yellow pieces for my imbeds, the neutral colors all went into my glass mixing bowl.
As with any other soap making supplies, this bowl is now marked as "soap use only." I poured about 1/4 cup of canola oil on top (you can use any oil of your choice). Then I popped it into the microwave for 45 seconds, took it out and stirred. After a couple rounds at 45 seconds I decreased the time for each interval, the majority of them being 30 seconds each with stirring in between. You don't want to heat the soap too fast.

 When the soap started to look dry around the edges I added a little bit of water to moisten it back up. It will start to look like a squash casserole with big chunks.

 Once everything gets pretty hot and smooshed together, I added some Black Amber Lavender scent and my colored chunks and popped it back into the microwave for a couple more rounds, mixing again in between.

Then I plopped it into my prepared soap molds and set is aside to impatiently wait about twenty four hours before I cut it. Thinking that I had mastered this new art of soap making I went on to whip up three more rebatches of soap: Raspberry Patchouli, Drakkar, and Lilac and Lavender.

Wallah! Beautiful soap! It was still fairly soft when I cut it (maybe I added too much water?), so I will let it harden on the drying rack for a couple of weeks, but it already makes bubbles and smells so good.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Heaven on a Thursday Morning

What do you think goes on in Heaven on a Thursday morning? Certainly not laundry and washing down the front of the noisy washing machine, or waiting on grain to be ground or anticipating six more inches of snow to fall in May. Probably not school plans or drinking too much coffee or continuing battles with tween-ager wills, either. What goes on in Heaven on a Thursday morning? The thought stops all of the day's plans and makes me consider eternity and God for the umpteenth time. I fight back tears wishing Trent could tell me, wishing to know, pondering the reality that my brain cannot fathom. I come to a dead end, nowhere to even begin to imagine or reconcile the difference. Missing and waiting for another day, remembering to look up and wondering if this might be the day. Then I go back to my scrubbing, back to my coffee, back to the battle of desperately begging for the salvation of that strong willed child who is still this side of eternity and pray that she would wonder, too, about what goes on in Heaven on a Thursday morning.