Friday, November 2, 2012

But By The Grace Of God...

Most times, I would prefer to stay in my own little world, my own bubble, and just ignore what's going on around me.  I have enough to keep me busy, with our new baby, toddlerhood, homeschooling, chickens...  You get the idea.  It is so EASY for me to stay here, be busy at home, and not venture out.  My dear hubby does a lot of the grocery shopping for me, so it's really easy.

There is definately a season for staying home more often.  New babies, harvest or planting time, sickness, weather are all good reasons to hunker down and focus more on the home life.

When I do venture out, I find God is drawing me out of my shell and showing me the world out there.  I must confess, I would like to squeeze my eyes shut and retain my peace.  It's kind of like when those uncomfortable commercials come on with pictures of starving children on them.  I'd like to just flip the channel and pretend that starvation is not a reality in this fallen world.

BUT, Jesus lived a compassionate life amongst the hurting people.  He loved them and comforted them and brought healing in their midst.  As a Christ follower, I am called to do the same.  I have had a tendency in the past to go "amongst" them and judge them for the position they are in or be so busy that I completely ignore the stranger in the check out line.  We are called to "entertain strangers" because we may be entertaining an angel unaware.  The Lord has been changing my proud heart and teaching me to love.  We live in a small town and we are a larger than normal family.  We are known in Walmart, Neimans, farmers market, etc.  I want those people.  The check out ladies in Walmart to KNOW that Jesus loves them.  It has taken the Lord to show me how important it is to smile, to talk to people, to get to know them a little bit.  Then watch Him work.  Hurting people are every where.  The desperation and pain I see in their eyes and hear in their stories renders me speechless.

Daniel and I were in Walmart the other night.  We were on a date with just Elijah.  As we were checking out, one of the check out girls came up to take over.  I was wondering how her baby was doing, but didn't say anything.  She said something about it being the 5 month anniversary of something, I couldn't hear.  Daniel asked her if her baby was going to be 5 months old.  No, it was the 5 month anniversary of her baby dieing of SIDS the next day.  Mouth drops open.  Tears form.  Oh my gosh, I am so sorry.  We saw her every week.  And had no idea.  Maybe I judged her for her uncombed hair or her general apathy.  Maybe I didn't go in her lane on purpose because she made me uncomfortable.  God is teaching me to love.

And then, we have the extreme weather, hurricanes, massive tornado outbreaks, floods and droughts assaulting the earth.  I read a story today of a mother who decided to try and ride out the storm this past week.  A foolish decision, certainly, but maybe she really had no choice.  I don't know.  Her house started to flood.  She packed her 2 and 4 year old in her SUV to try to outrun Sandy.  Her babies were ripped from her arms.  She frantically ran from deserted house to deserted house to get help, to no avail.  She spent the night on a porch of an abandoned home riding out the storm.  I cannot even imagine the pain of this mother.  And the comments I read after the story were OUTRAGEOUS!  We all have our opinions and our ways to place blame and maybe they are even true, BUT let's have some compassion.  Let's weep with those who weep and pray for these people.
As we were reading Ezekial the other morning.  (I am being obedient and reading this book of the Bible.  I KNOW that all of God's Word is inspired, but I struggle with some of these books!)
I read this...
Ezekial 9:4-6
And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.  And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:  Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.  Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

As we see and hear the abominations that are going on in our towns, our states, our countries...  What is our response?  I am praying that my response will be one of love & compassion & heart wrenching & weeping for the people around me.  God cares immensely about our hearts response to abortion, homosexuality, drug addicted people, the people displaced by Sandy, the people you come in contact with, the people I come in contact with...  Only by the grace of God, I am saved and the Lord has decided that today, my home is going to stand.  Today, my children are going to live and thrive and be healthy.  Today, God is living in our home.  Today, we are imperfect, flawed and yet, still forgiven and loved.  Only by the grace of God!

May we have the heart of Jesus and cry out, "Father, forgive them!  They just do not know what they are doing!" 

It's important to notice in Ezekial, that the judgement started at the church...

In His Grip,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Bosom Friend...

Kathryn & Anya ~ 2010

Rosalie, Lukasz & Anya
I have had my copy of Anne of Greene Gables sitting on our book shelf for years.  Our older girls are 16 and 13 and I've been asking them to read it for a few years.  I don't demand that they read much, but make suggestions, when they ask.  Well, finally, they picked up the book.  And devoured it!  Then we had to borrow volumes 2 and 3 from the library because ours are lost.  Then we rented the movie from the library.  (Love inter library loan!!!)  It was so fun to watch this movie and share with them my love of an old movie.  Even the boys liked it.  But what I liked most is how a couple of my girls, Anya and Kathryn, could relate to Anne.  Slightly dramatic...  okay, ALOT dramatic.  Sensitive...  Fancy dresses...  Lovers of good books (finally)...  They come by their nature honestly from their mama, I must confess.  So embarrassing to admit!  :) 

What I love most about our "Anne of Green Gables" adventure has been the love shown between
Lukasz & Anya ~ 2008
our two daughters.  As Kathryn was putting Anya down for her nap one day, Anya looked at her and said, "You are my bosom friend and we are kindred spirits."  They have been buddies for awhile now.  Each older child has a younger buddy to help them get dressed, do chores, potty, etc.  Thank you, Michelle Dugger, for the idea.  This, I think, is a key to having siblings be friends.  They interact with one another all day long.  They share rooms.  They help one another.  They cook together.  Play together.  Learn together.  Work together.  Every day has conflict.  Every day has laughter. 
Mama & Anya
But, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17

As a dear friend of ours told me once, "We are like rocks on the bottom of a river.  As the water washes over the rocks, the rocks rub together, making them smooth."  I won't resent those rocks in my life, those children, husband, family or friends who God is using to make me more like Him.

My desire is that my husband and children will be my bosom friends.  That we will continue to draw closer to Christ and closer to one another.  

Ryan, Rosalie & Izabella ~ 2011
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I need more of Jesus.  More of His love.  More of His Power.

In His Grip,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Adventures In Lacto Fermenting EVERYTHING

Beet & Carrot Salad
I'll be the first to admit, that I'm a perfectionist.  Sometimes, I'm even a purist, meaning...  I'm just not going to do it, if I can't do it "right".  My idea of right is my "right".  My right is formed by the books I've read, the people I've talked to and the direction of the Holy Spirit and my husband.  

We have had an abundance of fresh produce this summer and let's be honest.  We can only eat so many fresh tomatoes.  I will deny writing this come mid February.  

In my quest to put up food for the winter AND maintain the healthfulness of fresh food, I've stumbled across lacto fermentation.  It's the exact same principle as making traditional sauerkraut.  Chop up all your veggies, say in corn salsa, put it in a jar, add salt and/or whey and cap it up.  Watch the chemistry.  Within 12 hours, major biological activity.  Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles...  In about 3 - 7 days, it is ready for cold storage. The whole process is amazing to me and very nourishing and fulfilling.

Don't bother looking into FDA or USDA approval.  But then, the more I know about those two governmental agencies, the more I disregard their "wisdom".  For more info on that, read Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M Smith and Folks, This Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin.  

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'   Ronald Reagan  40th president of US (1911 - 2004)

I look at more traditional wisdom from the "old world" rather than modern day researchers and government reports.  That means we eat real butter, drink raw milk, avoid immunizations and sometimes eat with dirt on our hands.  AND we lacto ferment. 

This year, we've fermented beets, cucumbers, cabbage, tomato sauce, corn salsa and hot peppers.  Today, we'll be doing cortido (Latin American Sauerkraut) aka hot sauerkraut.  Some of them have turned out fabulous.  My boys love the hot peppers.  I put lemon in my beets and they now have an overwhelmingly lemony flavor.  I usually LOVE lemons, but not in that, not so much.  Cucumbers are a delicate fruit.  Too much fermentation and the lactic acid eats up the insides, turning them to mush.  Not so appetizing.  

But, the joy is in the journey, right?  The trials and mistakes teach us and give us wisdom. 

A word about the perfectionist thing...  We're all on this journey together.  We learn from one another and challenge one another.  

Because Jesus is my Lord, I desire my whole life to be a reflection of Him and my body to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12).  Because of that, I am on a journey to improve my health.  I'm on this journey to grow strong, healthy children.  It is important!

10 years ago, I was standing in the kitchen at the doctor's office I worked at eating a row of Oreos.  5 years ago, I was spending $4 a box on Kashi cereal because it was labeled Organic.  2 years ago, we put in a garden.  1 year ago, we starting avoiding all things processed except for Mrs Braggs products.  This year, we started lacto fermenting AND I had a bowl of Breyer's Neopolitan ice cream last night.  It's not about perfectionism.  

Please don't worry if you just ate a Swiss Cake Roll or haven't planted a garden.  Visit our local farmer's market and pick up some locally grown, organic produce.  Stop at that road side stand.  Spend a little more on food and less on entertainment.  Just be on the journey of seeking and following Christ and allow Him to lead you.  It's an amazing ride!

In His Grip,
Daniel and Laura

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In The Waiting...

Joyful Mama!
Expectant big sister!
It seems like only yesterday, but alas...  Elijah is a month old already.  It seems like just yesterday, we were busying ourselves with gardens & chickens, trying to keep our mind (well, my mind anyways) on the simple realization that at any moment I was going to go into labor.  We experienced an amazing pregnancy.  I had back pain for a total of 3 days my whole pregnancy.  Blue Bonnett Liquid Cal Mag solved the leg cramping, screaming, jumping out of bed in the middle of the night problem.  I kept active and limber by weeding and planting our garden.  (The kids helped a ton!!!)  At my doctor's appointment when I was 39 weeks pregnant and it was 95 degrees out, I was as happy as a clam and all smiles.  I LOVE being pregnant!  And I LOVED this pregnancy.  On my due date, I was sure I was going to the hospital.  Instead, our well pump quit working.  "Well, I can't go into labor if I can't take a shower," I told myself indignantly.  Night would come and I prayed that I'd wait til morning.  "I'm just too tired!", I'd tell my Lord.  Days crept on.  The heat wave crept on.  I thanked the Lord for our air conditioner and for my hard working husband who set up a watering system so that our garden wouldn't die for lack of rain.  Friends called or emailed.  I started telling people immediately when I called them, that no, I was not in labor and yes, I was fine.  But I was growing restless.  I was enjoying getting the last minute things done, but I was ready to hold my baby in my arms.  D and I got so restless, that we finally prayed and said, "Yes, Lord, we can go into labor in the middle of the night."  Isn't it funny how in our prayers, we can say Lord, right before we direct GOD how to handle our situation.  Kind of an oxymoron. 

Daddy & his boy...  Kind of look alike, aye?
The day finally came when I awoke and I hoped that the contractions were real.  We went to our scheduled appointment.  Yup, we're on our way to the hospital.  This is my 8th baby.  We're in a hurry to get to the hospital these days.  God has His own way of doing things.  We didn't need to be in a hurry to get to the hospital.  I felt like a watched pot.  The nurse was a sweet heart.  We were all just expecting a little quicker labor.  But, God has His own way of doing things and this time around, He wanted me to relax and wait on Him.  I wish I could have seen the lesson while I was in the middle of it, but life is rarely that way.  Hind sight is 20/20 most times.  By the time labor was intense, I was just tired and hungry.  (no food during labor...  stupidest hospital policy EVER)  I'd been in the hospital for 10 hours and I wanted to be done.  I gave up.  I looked at my dear husband and cried.  "I am tired.  I am starving.  I can't do this.  I want drugs!"  Now, in the midst of the pain and exhaustion, I looked to my husband to sympathize and take it away.  Instead, he responded quite differently.  He reminded me how close we were to holding our baby.  He asked me to wait 8 minutes before getting drugs.  He recognized the signs of transition.  He took action and notified the nurse who called the doctor.  AND a short time later, at 11:37 p.m. on July 3rd, I was holding our newest blessing, Elijah John Czeslaw. 

Elijah at the beach!
When my strength had run out, when my eyes were fixed on my pain, when I could not think clearly, my husband came to my rescue.  He gave me his courage.  He gave me his strength.  He pointed me to the blessing that God had for us at the end of the road.  He was and is my hero.

Looking back, I am amazed at God's great mercy and grace on me.  God kept me strong during my pregnancy.  He protected this baby and knit him together, one cell at a time.  He allowed me to see and learn through this pregnancy and labor His great love for me and also that He really does know best, that He's got it all under control.  I can tell Him what I want, but I really can trust His will for me.  He just loves me that much. 

My new favorite verse is

Mark 5:36  Be not afraid.  Only Believe. 

Jesus said this right before he raise Jairus' daughter from the dead. 
How much of our lives can we apply that scripture to???
Every day.  All day.  In every situation.

Be blessed!
Daniel & Laura

I'm in LOVE!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Babies, Babies, Babies Everywhere

Baby Chicks ~ Day 1

Picture perfect...
Bella & Dandelion
Yesterday was a busier than normal day at our house.  When getting ready for any baby, there are preparations to be made, things you forgot, last minute trips to the store.  Well, in this case, we were preparing for 277 baby chicks and really had to improvise in the end.  The plan was to build a brooder (baby chick house) for these little guys.  If you know Daddy at all, you know that he is a problem solver to the core & he thought & thought about the best way to build the brooder, etc.  The day we went to get the lumber, he decided that we would turn our storage shed (very inefficiently used) as our chicken house and he would build a insulated room inside of the shed for brooding.  The room has to stay at about 95 degrees the first week!  If you can tell by the pictures, the brooding room is not finished, but it looks beautiful so far!  I am so excited to see that little used shed turned into something useful & wonderful.  We're using a kiddie swimming pool in our school room for a few days, until the brooding boxes are finished.  

 Our 212 to date consist of Barred Rocks, Black Australorps, Black Jersey Giants, Silverlaced Wyandottes & Jumbo Cornish Rock Crosses (ugly meat birds).  We have 50 Goldenlaced Wyandottes & 15 guineas coming next week.  

We add these to our existing colorful flock of 9.  We have 1 bantam, Clover, 1 Polish chicken, Chachi, Suzan, Chloe, Gena, our guinea, Salt & Pepper, Kiko, and a couple others.  They've been free ranging for a year and have done wonderfully.  Clover, Chachi & Suzan are all about 7 years old and have started laying eggs consistently again after a couple year break.  I cannot say enough for the healing power of food and letting our chickens free range in some capacity. 
Dandelion ~ 1 of 2 Bantams

The kids are being so helpful, changing waters, digging worms, checking the temperature of the pool, to make sure they aren't too hot or cold, changing their bedding...  The list goes on, but it is all worth it.  The lessons they are learning by taking care of these animals are worth more than money can buy.  All are very excited to help & do the chores assigned with these little guys, just to be around them.  The nostalgia of it all may wear off in time, but for now, I'm enjoying this adventure.

Some things we're doing a little different.  I do not want to view our chicks as just "meat birds" or egg laying machines, but as our animals that we are in charge of & have a great responsibility to.  If we take good care of them, they will take good care of us.  They will put food on our table, certainly.  They will provide manure for our gardens, to help us grow better food for the future.  And they provide hours of entertainment for our children.  
Our family does not go on antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary.  We didn't want to start these chicks out on traditional chick starter food that has antibiotics in it.  We've been adding apple cider vinegar, kefir & garlic to their water.  We've also made their food from whole grains, ground them a bit & soaked them.  Very little food is being wasted like when we give them an almost powdery food.  In a few short weeks, they will be able to free range for short periods at a time and they'll start catching their own food.  

This is the harder route, I'm sure, but I think it'll be worth it.  I've been called weird before, when I plant my tomatoes in my flower garden & transplant stinging nettle.  I love to experiment and see how things will work out.  I'm encouraged by Daddy's adventurous spirit & his words to do it, even if it means a little more work.  
Clover ~ The little mother

A funny little story...  As I brought the chicks into the house from the van yesterday, Clover was in the driveway.  She followed me into the house twice, searching for these babies she was hearing.  She never goes in the house!  I have heard that bantams are good mothers.  We shall see.
Gina ~ The guard dog

An interesting fact...  Guineas are excellent "guard" birds.  Gina will sound off an alarm if she sees a chipmunk or anything out of the ordinary.  I have been walking through the yard & been surprised to see her "charging" me, head down and running at me full speed ahead.  And they are ugly.  I'm looking forward to a few more, but I have a feeling that 15 are going to be quite LOUD!  
Chachi is just Chachi

Polish chickens are FUNNY!  Chachi's feathers are so long, they kind of block her eye sight.  She has a tendency to get lost, if her family moves on without her.  And when she gets lost, she squats down and camouflages herself, making her virtually impossible to see.  I have had to send one of the kids out when it was down pouring to go take her to her family, so that she would be safe.  And after it rains and she comes out to scratch & look for bugs, she is one dirty bird!

As I was monitoring the temperature of the "brooder" today, I was so thankful that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided for me a perfect little brooder for our new little one, perfect temperature, perfect food delivery system, just perfect...  Thank you, Jesus!

The journey continues around here.  Never a dull moment.  
But full of memories and funny stories.

In Jesus Name, the Author & Finisher of Our Faith,
Daniel & Laura

Friday, May 4, 2012

Smoothies, Kefir & Loads of Energy

In recent years, I have been a huge advocate of eating a big breakfast.  Somewhere I read how important it was.  A diagnoses of hypoglycemia, ions ago, added to my need to have protein often.  I would insist my dear hubby eat his 3 eggs & big bowl of oatmeal before he went to work.  Or I'd take it personally and worry about him when he didn't.   I insisted and then drank my cups of coffee and tried to produce the energy it took to motivate my 6 children to get going in their day.  It was not working! 
The past month or so, I heard that a light breakfast may be better, that our bodies do not digest protein well early in the day.  Now, admittedly, I didn't check into this.  I just wanted to experiment.  Would a smoothie for breakfast be better for us?  Would we have more energy, feel better, make mornings a little easier?  With the blessing from Daniel, we started our smoothie adventure.  We started out with yogurt, juice, fruit...  You know, the typical "smoothie recipe" sweetness.  Although delicious, very expensive for our family of 9.  Today, our smoothie consisted of homemade kefir, kombucha, carrots, bananas, frozen berries, fresh rhubarb, 1/2 lemon (peel & all), fennel seed, flax seed, chia seed and our homemade green smoothie mix consisting of things like alfalfa, oat straw, dandelion root, cayenne pepper, etc.  Although not in any recipe book, it was fabulous.  We've thrown in beets, celery, cabbage, apples, pear sauce...  Just about everything we could think of.

The results have been astounding!  I am 32 weeks pregnant and most days do not feel the need to take a nap.  If I go to bed at a decent hour, I am up by 6:30 am without a problem.  The kids seem to have a lot more energy, but not the nervous, distracted kind, just good, productive energy.  Daniel & Ryan take an extra one for their afternoon snack while at work.  Every one has good, healthy bowels, making for a healthier family.  I am amazed!  I am elated!  I am so thankful to the Lord for answering our prayers and changing the way we eat a little bit at a time!  He's always teaching and showing us the way, if I'll stay alert and pay attention.

A little warning:  A smoothie like the one we had this morning could keep you in the bathroom 1/2 the day if you were not used to eating this way to begin with.  The kefir, kombucha, lemon & "greens" are all detoxifiers in one form or another and a little can go a long way.  For me, I watch how I feel and I make sure I drink lots of herbal tea and water to make sure I'm flushin' the junk out.  If I were to feel nauseated or really run down, I would back off on how big a glass of smoothie I drank.

Kefir Grains
A note about homemade kefir:  There is nothing easier!  Fill a quart size canning jar with milk.  Put in about 1 T kefir grains.  Cover with some sort of breathable material.  I use coffee filters.  Attach with rubber band.  Let it sit out on your counter for 12 - 24 hours, shaking occasionally.  Pour the finished kefir into a bowl and "fish" out the grains with your clean hands.  Put them in another jar and start all over again.  I will never make yogurt again!  It is amazing stuff, full of good bacteria to heal & strengthen your immune system.  and Dom's About Kefir both have a lot of good information about it.  I must state that the kefir that we would pay $4 for a small jug in the store tastes much better, but is full of garbage and NOT the same.  That's why we put it in our smoothies.  Although, several of our children and dear hubby love it plain.  Maybe when I'm not pregnant. 

Note about green smoothie mix and herbs:  I absolutely love  for all their information on herbs, their uses, cautions, remedies for every day maladies & very high quality herbs, teas & great books, too!

We still have our eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, omelets, and other yummy breakfast foods.  We just have them for at lunch or dinner time, which makes for happy campers around here.  They love their pancakes and eggs.  Gabriel would eat a whole pan of oatmeal if I let him!

Maybe next time, I'll write about all our latest gardening activities and small farming adventures.  6 days and counting until we pick up our baby chicks, all 277 of them.  Praise the Lord!

In The Name of Jesus, the Author & Finisher of our Faith,
Daniel & Laura

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Basking In The Son

Oh my, yesterday was a beautiful day!  The sun was shining.  The wind had died down (at least at our house).  It was the perfect day to be outside, playing, working in our garden.  We even had a picnic.  It was just that wonderful!  About mid afternoon, however, the clouds started to roll in.  Just slight cloud cover in the beginning.  Sun.  Coat off.  Clouds.  Coat on.  Coat off.  Coat on.  Then the clouds stayed for good and my coat stayed on.  My mud boots went on.  It was down right cold.  (For me anyways)  Anya was still running around in a dress and shorts.

My relationship with Jesus is like that sometimes.  I just LOVE feeling His presence and seeing Him work in our lives.  I love it when He just blesses my heart with a word of encouragement or a kiss from my dear husband or one of my babies.  I feel His light and love surrounding me, just like the sun surrounded us yesterday.

And then sometimes, I allow sin to fester. I know that my attitude is wrong, that my words were harsh, that I'm working in my own strength, not His.  And I can feel the clouds.  It might be only slightly uncomfortable at first.  I'll just do something nice to make up for it.  I'll just eat that piece of chocolate to make myself feel better.  Maybe I'll take a long nap.  And pretty soon, the clouds are thick.

And I MISS THE SON!  Oh, how I wish I could feel the warmth on my back, in my spirit.  I wish I could hear His voice and see His hand print in my moments.  He is so faithful and full of grace.  He just wants me to fix my gaze upon Him.  Praise Him.  Love Him.  And He will break up the clouds.  The warmth of His love will shine down on me again.

Just like yesterday, the sun never went away.  The clouds just covered it.

My prayer is that I will apologize quickly when I have sinned against my family.  That I will have a spirit of humility and grace and mercy and meekness.

Lord, I need you every hour.

Looking forward to another beautifully sunny day tomorrow.
I will make it a point to look up and enjoy the radiance of God's glory.

In Love With Jesus, the Author & Finisher of my faith,

This is a new favorite song of ours.  Be blessed, my friend!
I Give Myself Away by William McDowell