Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Camping - A Lesson in Simplifying

Last week we went on a canoe trip. It wasn't real long (only 4 days and 60 miles) but it was a fun time.  I was thinking about how trips of that nature (Canoe trips, backpacking and bike trips)  where you have to carry with you everything you are going to use for the next few days are good for teaching about simplifying. When you pack for a trip like that you really pause to consider - "Is that item worth the weight it is going to cause me to carry?"

Though we don't actually have to carry all of our belongings everywhere we go it still doesn't hurt to have a little of that mindset. Is this item worth the space it is taking up, the work that I might have to do associated with it, etc. Is it worth the "weight" it adds to your life. Many items truly are! On a camping trip just as in life there are things that are exceedingly useful and totally worth having around and even carrying on your back (Warm clothes and rain gear come to mind as things I have skimped on a little to much in the past). But some things aren't worth their weight. They slow you down and make you tired. In simplifying our homes we want to try to figure out which items are which. :-)

 Life has been pretty busy this summer and I have not managed to keep up with my de-cluttering goals. However I am still making some progress so I am happy about that! I don't think I have reported on my goals since July 12th so, since that time I have....

  • Gotten rid of 129 items.
  • Gone through 6 spaces.
  • Sorted through 5 photo files and deleted unneeded pictures.
  • Lately I have been doing a pretty good job of keeping my inbox empty. Yeah!
I think I am getting back in the swing of things again but we do have another very busy (Homeschool Starting, garden harvesting and preserving, 2 trips, 5 weddings, Homeschool co-op organization and music students starting back up again) month ahead so we shall see.

How are you doing at simplifying in your home?

If you would care to read more about our camping trips here are the links to a few of them...

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Religion of Jesus Christ

  I think the word Religion is often thought of in a bad way in our current culture. Have you sensed that as well? So what does the word mean?
 -The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
  •     -A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. 

  •        It isn't that complicated. From these definitions I have no trouble at all saying that I follow the religion of Jesus Christ. I believe in Jesus, I worship Jesus and following Him is of supreme importance in my life.
  •   But the question is - Why do I choose the religion of Jesus Christ when there are other religions out there?
  • It is the only divine religion. With other religions if you check there is always a human instigator of that religion. With Christianity it was created by God.
  • It is a religion for all people - some religions are not.  Matthew 28:19 & 20 says: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Mark 16:15 says"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."
  • It is a Spiritual religion. We don't have to be physically born into it - Anybody who wishes can be Spiritually born into it. John 3:5 says: "Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  Romans 6:4 says that we are going to have a new life: "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 12:1 & 2 explains a little further the Spiritual nature of following Jesus: "Therefore I urge you, brethren,  by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."  John 4:24 says: "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
  • It is a saving religion. "For the Song of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10. "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the foremost of all." 1 Timothy 1:15. 
  • It is an authoritative religion. Meaning that it is not one in which we can just come and design it to fit our personal preferences. God has give us truth in His word and if we want to follow Jesus Christ we must follow and obey. This creates peace in our lives because we have a standard that we can follow rather than blowing around aimlessly. " While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!" Matthew 17:5. And Ephesians 1:22 & 23 says: "And He put all thing in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."  If we know Jesus Christ we will obey Him: "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." 1 John 2:3-6

      I am thankful that God has provided us His Son, Jesus Christ whom we can believe in, worship and follow.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What Do You Have in Your Hand - Eating from the Garden and the Pantry

This summer I have really been trying to be careful about how much we spend and to cut costs in various ways so I have done very little shopping of any sort including groceries. Sometimes that can seem overly challenging but a lot of the time it is just a fun challenge.  

   I didn't do any shopping during the month of July (But Ken did buy milk for himself and a few other things) and so sometimes we would have that thought - "What do we eat now?" but truly because I stock up so much and because our garden has been producing well we had plenty to eat I just needed to use what we had in a good way so that it sounded yummy and fun to eat.
   One Sunday because we had a friend that needed to get on the road right way after church we packed a picnic lunch to eat in town. When we decided to do that there was a moment of wondering what I would take. We were currently out of bread, we had very little lunch meat and not really enough eggs to make egg salad. I just struggled to think of easy picnic foods. So I decided to look on Pinterest for ideas for picnic foods. That was really fun. I saw lots of different ideas and discarded the ones that didn't work and took the ideas that did. I ended up making a much fancier lunch than I would have if we would have had sandwich stuff and chips or something like that. We ended up making Kim-bob (a Korean sushi like food), I made one hour rolls that morning, we made carrot sticks and had green beans, peas and radish from our garden. We also made deviled eggs, I had some crackers left in my cupboard and some cream cheese from the freezer and our last jar of hot pepper jelly. We also took along some homemade blueberry jelly which was delicious on the rolls or on the cream cheese and crackers.
On that particular picnic Megan climbed and tree but was having trouble getting down. She was nervous about just jumping. We finally sent our 6 foot 2 inch Jonathan over to help her.
 We have had more picnics since. We have eaten things like cucumber, cream cheese and sunflower seed sandwiches (on homemade bread), chicken salad sandwiches, energy bites (homemade from peanut butter, honey and dry milk and other odds and ends), salad and various other things.

   When you are out and about it can be tempting to buy things but if you plan ahead it can generally be avoided. I also discovered rather by accident this year that when you volunteer places you often get a free meal to go with it. I volunteered in the kitchen both at the Bluegrass festival and at the fair (the 4-H food booth) and got free meals both times as did the kids when they helped out.

   Sometimes specialty food items that are at events like the fair can be very tempting but often you can make them at home instead. The kettle corn smelled and looked good but it was so easy to just make at home. Simply put a little oil in the bottom of a cast iron pan and put it on medium/ high. Cover the bottom with popcorn seeds and then spread a few tablespoons of sugar over that. Put on lid and wait for the first pop. When the popping starts you will need to shake the pan regularly. When they are popped transfer to a bucket or bowl and sprinkle just a little salt on it. This was so easy but very much enjoyed.

  The kids thought the funnel cakes looked really good at other places. Aaron found a recipe to make them and made them for our breakfast this morning. They are not hard to make and were pretty yummy. No need to buy them elsewhere.

  When you are out and about it can be tempting to take cold drinks. I have take a cooler along and fill it with water bottles and also herbal iced tea that I made. That was nice to have.

   Eating out of the garden is what we are doing a lot of now. It is such a blessing. I love all the fresh items! It still can be challenging to think of what to make with what I have but it is also pretty fun!

   I would love to hear your stories of using what you have int he food department of your home.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More on the Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives

I am still going through verses that talk about the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian and I wanted to share them with you....

"By this we know that we abide in Him and Him in us, because He has given us His Spirit." 1 John 4:13  - The Holy Spirit is a sign of truly being in Christ.
1 John 3:24 says basically the same thing... " The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us."

Romans 8:16 has more to say on that subject: "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,"

"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13 & 14

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Romans 8:11

"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26 & 27  Isn't that super cool!??

Do you have the Holy Spirit in your life? Acts 2:38 has something to say about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Check it out! :-)

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

 We got rabbits (we are up to 5 now and hope to do some breeding soon) this year and so we wanted some hay for them for the winter. When I saw that the county/township had mowed all the ditches in this area I decided that was a prime opportunity to get some free hay.

   Megan and Aaron were my helpers for this job (the others were at work).  The top picture show what the ditches looked like after the grass/weeds dried a couple of days.

We took our rakes and raked it up.
It rolled into loose bales quite nicely. We left them all over in piles along the edge of our road.

Then we went back home and got the van and the trailer. The kids thought this was the really fun part.

 They rode in the trailer and would holler at me every so often to stop so they could load up another pile.
 We got  a pretty nice load.

 Aaron and I tied some holey pallets together to make a hay storage place.
 Megan and Aaron unloaded it and then covered it with a tarp.

Hopefully the rabbits will eat it and we can also use it for animal bedding. This was a pretty fun project thought my allergies did protest a bit. The kids thought it was fun too and we are happy to have all this "hay".

Do you put up hay? Have you ever collected from the ditches?

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life of a Christian

Let's look at some verses that show how the Holy Spirit is/can be active in our lives....

"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. " Galatians 5:16-18

"For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Romans 8:13 &14

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

"But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is not law." Galatians 5:22 & 23

That is just a few of the ways the Spirit works in us. With those in mind let us also remember the message of this verse:

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

Saturday, August 12, 2017

County Fair Week and Other Recent Pictures

   This is the week of our county fair. That tends to be one of the busiest weeks of the year (though we are doing less at it -than we used to-  in some areas but more in other areas).  On Tuesday we took 4-H projects to drop off. On Wednesday we took our open class items and the 4-H chickens and Aaron and Megan did performing arts with 4-H. Aaron also did Dog Showmanship and a dog training exhibition. On Thursday we only went to the fair quickly for Aaron to take care of the chickens. On Friday Aaron was part of the poultry show and we three worked at the 4-H food booth. This evening we finally went out as a family to watch Aaron and Megan participate in the Dress a Chicken contest. We also found out while we were there that Megan had won Grand Champion in performing arts in the Junior division. We were excited for her. She had played a piano solo.
This is a sculpture that Megan made and entered.
Aaron doing his harmonica song in performing arts. He also did a Mandolin solo.

Here is Megan the Miller with the "Little Red Hen".

Robin Hood and Little John.

Last week was the Dog obedience show and Rally Show. Aaron and Kitchi participated in that and won two blue ribbons and an award.

We are so loving eating out of our garden! This plateful included fresh potatoes, beans and cucumbers. Yummy!

Last weekend we enjoyed spending some time at the Itasca Family Music Festival.  It is a fun time of listening to good music, hanging out with siblings (above I am pictured with my brothers and sister-in-law) and visiting with a lot of friends. It is a really neat family friendly event.
 Mara and our friend Thomas enjoying the music,

 I love my garden at this time of year. It gets a little bit jungle like but it is so much fun to see all the growth and enjoy the production!
 I have made one batch of pickles and I want to make more soon.

What is going on at your place? Do you have a garden that is producing a lot of food?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Buying Bulk Chicken Feed and Saving Money

I am pretty excited because last week I was able to figure out how to get chicken feed that not only was about 1/2 the price of buying it in bags at the feed store but also it has way less GMO ingredients in it AND it works for all our chickens (layers and broilers) and mixed with some other stuff it is the main source of feed for our rabbits too! 

  I did actually buy food in bulk once last year as well with my dad's help and that was a huge money saver but this time I did even more research so that it was healthier ingredients (without raising the price hardly at all) and it works for the rabbits. 

So... if you also raise animals and haven't looked into this I thought I should share what I did.

 Our local feed store has an option where you can buy 500 lbs or more (I think 500 is the minimum but I am not sure) of feed that they mix together for you according to how you want it. Then they bag it up for you in reusable bags that I can take back to them to use again (I love that aspect too - no waste!). My Dad usually gets his feed in 1000 lb quantities and gets them in a really big bag that he moves around with a bobcat.

I wanted around 18% protein. I think my batch ended up closer to 17% but that should be fine as we feed them a lot of other scraps too and often soak their grain in whey or extra old milk so they will get protein in other ways as well.

Here is my recipe which is just over 500 lbs. I based it off of my dad's recipe and then a lot of research online and a lot of talking with the feed store and finding out what they had available and the price and then figuring out the protein content of each addition.

150 lbs. Barley
50 lbs Corn (I may cut this out completely next time or see if I can get it organic to avoid GMO)
100 lbs Hard Red Winter Wheat
100 lbs Oats
50 lbs Black Seeded Sunflower Seeds
30 lbs 41 Poultry Concentrate (a mixture of many things but high in Soy so I will work to find a substitute for this in the future. I used way less than most mixes however so at least it was a big improvement in my opinion.)
25 lbs Flax Seed
10 lbs Calcium
2.5 lbs Trace Mineral Salt
2 lbs Vitamins A, D and E
1.5 lbs Molasses

My total cost was $95.39

It should last for many months. We are currently feeding 32 broilers but they will be butchered soon, we also have 23 layers and 4 (with 2 more coming on Sunday) Rabbits. We do try to also give them a lot of weeds and scraps. With the rabbits we mixed the feed with rabbit pellets for now but will be added hay and things like that in the future.

I would love to hear what you feed to your chickens and rabbits and why.

 Our broiler pen was getting stinky so I have been added sawdust and other wood shavings to it. It makes it so much nicer! I got sawdust from my dad's sawmill.


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