The Journey

This blog began in an attempt to provide resources and encouragement for homeschoolers. However, during this homeschool adventure, I've found it's also about life. Specifically about losing my own life, that I might find it in Jesus and thus discover the joy of REAL life. (Matthew 10:39)

In March, 2012, our family stepped out in faith again as we moved out to the country. The first step of faith was trusting the Lord to sell our other home before our emergency fund ran out. He is faithful, and though I was hoping this would happen sooner, He knows what we needed.

I just know that He is going to use these 5 acres and this old house to teach me even more lessons in abiding with Him...and I look forward to the Adventure!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Living Without and Being Content

On August 9, 2012 I was praying for some answers regarding some things which had been going on in our life recently. Here is the path I took that morning in discovering how the Lord was using a difficult time to help me walk in contentment regardless of my circumstances...

First I read Matthew 12:50, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (NIV, 1984) I thought of Paul talking about spiritual milk and solid food, so I found that passage and began reading 1 Corinthians 3.

Paul is chastising the church body at Corinth for needing milk instead of solid food. Why? Because they are arguing among themselves as to who belongs to Paul and who to Apollos (verses 1-4). For this, Paul says, they are showing themselves to be of the flesh, unspiritual, “under the control of ordinary impulses” (verse 3), behaving “like mere unchanged men.” Verse 5 asks what is Paul and Apollos - the answer follows:

Ministering servants [not heads of parties] through whom you believed, even as the Lord appointed to each his task: I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was making it grow and [He] gave the increase. So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater. He who plants and he who waters are equal (one in aim, of the same importance and esteem), yet each shall receive his own reward (wages), according to his own labor. For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God; you are God's garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Amplified

Here I stopped and read Isaiah 61:1-3, as verse 3 was referenced after 1 Corinthians 3:9. Here is the passage from Isaiah, as it seems appropriate on this eve of 2013.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3, Amplified

I also thought of Paul's words in verse 6. I mused about whether we were being planted, needing to be watered, doing some planting, or a combination of the three. I wondered about what kind of solid food we might be in need of. It all boils down to trust. Whatever the reason for the unexpected turn our lives were taking, I continued to write, “I trust You, Jesus, as we enter an entirely new season in our lives.”

You, Lord, seem to be reorganizing our lives in many areas...all at once. I feel like a shaker, turned over and shaken hard - as things come out which are dead and useless, room is made for the new things You have planned for us! I also trust that it is You who will be making us grow - whether we're being watered, planting, watering, or still being planted in some way. May I keep my eyes fixed on You as You continue to show me the difference between “wants” and “needs.”

Like a closed fist, I hold on tight to things. Yet You, in Your love and mercy, are gently pulling them open, one finger at a time as You whisper, “Tanya, you don't need that. Here is something better.” Oh, Jesus as You refine me, I want the lessons to stick - I don't want to go back to old ways.

Once I thought I needed:

a dryer. But I lived without one for 5 1/2 weeks and learned to depend more on You. I had to wait for the weather to be right in order to do laundry, and then I had to focus on it so that the day wouldn't be wasted! I saw the blessing of being done with laundry by sunset - more rest!

a dishwasher. After using it for a few days, we noticed a residue on the dishes. Not knowing whether it was soap or hard water deposits, we began to do all of the dishes by hand. After a month or so, I found it takes just about the same time to wash by hand. There's something soothing in hand washing dishes, especially when Ken dries and we get a chance to talk.

a large island. Our other house had a huge island, kind of triangular shaped with sides “a” and “b” about 4 feet. Our farmhouse island is about 24 inches by 30 inches. In fact, it's the first thing my family commented on when we sent them a link to the listing after we had made an offer. However, the small one we have is still large enough to work at. AND it makes us keep the clutter away or there would be NO ROOM to work! A large island that's cluttered gives little work space and more stress!

air conditioning. It did not work when we turned it on in early June. We had two mortgages, two electric bills, two water bills, you get the idea. We decided that paying for a repair and then the electric bill from running it was not worth the limited resources in our emergency fund. We lived without it the whole summer and have seen, again, how You care for us. We depend on You for cool nights, cool mornings and cool breezes (though we did buy 3 fans).

We've learned the benefit of the natural diurnal cycle You set in order and appreciate it so! We actually cool off overnight as the air comes in the open windows - except, of course, when there is a heat burst and the temperatures go up overnight instead of down! The first cold front of the season was so much sweeter this year, as we opened the windows during the day - Saturday, August 4th. We praised You as the temperatures dropped with sunshine and a north wind in Kansas!

a gas stove. The farmhouse has an electric stove. I MUCH prefer a gas stove. We had a line put in for a gas stove when we first moved in...and that's where we're at. But I have learned to be content with an electric stove - cooking, baking, and cleaning it!

As I wrote the list above, I thought of Paul writing how he learned to be content in all things. Here is the passage from the Amplified translation.

Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.
I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.
I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
Philippians 4:11-13, Amplified

If you read the post “A Tale of Two Thermometers and An Abundant Life,” you know that we are now using our wood stove to heat our home. As we burn wood that we did not chop, I am reminded of the Lord's warning to the Israelites when they finally reached the Promised Land. He told them that when they lived in houses and cities they did not build and ate from vineyards and olive groves they did not plant or tend to be sure NOT to forget the Lord their God who gave them all of those good things (Deuteronomy 6). We have their example of what happens when we forget Him (think exile)! In light of that, I often thank Him for the blessing of those who chopped the wood that keeps our home warm. For it was not our hands which did the work.

As 2012 draws to a close, I wonder what 2013 will bring to our family. What other adventures does the Lord have in store for us? For indeed, it has been an adventure! One new thing we're preparing for is keeping bees. A friend ordered them for us and we ought to get them in April, the Lord willing! Oh, the sweet taste of honey...but there is something sweeter yet...

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good!
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8, Amplified

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our New Farmhouse: Storms, Rainbows, Chickens and More!

It's been quite a year for our family.  One year ago today we set out with a list of land for sale, snacks and water.  Though looking for land, we unexpectedly found a house on one of the listings.  From that point life became sort of a blur, first slow moving, but with the pace slowly picking up.  On March 9th we closed on our home and we moved in on March 17th.  

While we knew our prayers before, during and after all of this, it was still extremely difficult to wait for our other home to sell.  It finally did on October 24th.  God is faithful!  He did much in my heart and in my relationship with Him during those 7 months.  But that will wait.  For now I thought I'd post some pictures of our homestead!

Here is one of our farmhouse that we took in May.  I love the way the clouds look in relation to the house!
This was also taken in May.  One of many beautiful sunsets on the plains that we've had the privilege of witnessing.

The only photo I took of this particular flower while we were on our 2nd annual Ascension Day field trip!

A May thunderstorm on the plains.

A rainbow displayed against the backdrop of this same storm after it had passed over us.  I believe I had tears running down my face at some point during the storm as I sang Blessed be the Name of the Lord for the second time since moving to our farmhouse.  While we have not regretted our decision to move in any way, I can also say it has not been an easy road by any means.  But the Lord never says He will make our roads easy, just that He will be with us for the journey and give us the peace that passes all understanding when we hand things over to Him.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

While the rainbow could be seen to the east, here is a photo of the sun setting in the west.  We, my precious children and I, remarked that the rainbow reminds us of the Truth of God's Promises, even when we are in the middle of a storm.  My princess said that the sun is like Jesus shining on us!  Lord, may they remember You in the future storms of their lives!
A portion of our spaghetti squash harvest!  Praise the Lord for His abundance!
Our acorn squash harvest!

Finally!  The reason we moved to the country (at least in the eyes of our children perhaps)!  We picked up our 15 chickens from the local Feed Store on September 20th!  5 Light Brahmas, 5 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 Americaunas

Look how cute and fuzzy they are!

These are the Light Brahmas as chicks.  We got them when they were just 2 days old!

A close up of their cute fuzziness!

The multi-colored one is an Americauna.  I believe our princess and warrior named this one Chipmunk because of the dark stripe down her back.

Chickens eat, drink, sleep and provide fertilizer for the garden! : )

An outside play date for the chickens!  And time to clean out their bins.

Just a few weeks old and already trying out their wings!

So fun to play with the chickens!

Is it right to tease a chicken with a dandelion?  It was cute!

Wonderful to see our warrior with chickens on him.  He's been iffy with animals because they act in an unpredictable way (in other words they have their own minds and do things he doesn't expect).  Who knew chickens would help him with this?

My man really wanted guinea fowl.  Here are the three we picked out at a local farm store on October 20th.  We're up to 18 birds now!  Left to right these are Shadow, Boots (Brownie), and Snowball.

What could be more fun than playing with worms on a farm?  This is the hand of my fearless....princess!

Not only do we get beautiful sunsets here on the plains, we have amazing views of the full moon rising to the east!

This year's peanut crop! 5 gallons from only 9 plants!
Our new chicken coop!  Built in just 8 days by my wonderful man and father in law!
Our chickens in their new coop.  The garage is now chicken free!
The one with the red comb is our rooster, Blackie!  I have another post in mind about him, so check back soon!
The sun setting on the night we moved our chickens into their new coop.  November 17, 2012.  Our warrior turned 7 the next day and my in laws left for home.

Despite some of the challenges we faced this year, God has consistently reminded me that He is faithful.  I've learned to let go of things, even things I think I need.  I've also been learning about fear and how much it controls us if we let it.  My new prayer when I start feeling tense due to fear is, "I trust You Jesus, I trust You Jesus." The words from Psalm 56:3-4 also come to mind.  These are the first verses my princess memorized in 2011 with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

When I am afraid,
    I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
    What can mortal man do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4, NIV, 1984

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Thermometers and Living an Abundant Life

On Thursday, my husband called a fireplace store about our wood stove thermometer. In October, we had to get a new blower for the wood stove. The thermometer for the blower had fallen off the back of the stove and we forgot to turn it off before attempting to reattach it to the stove. What happens when a live wire touches metal? Any motor attached to the wire no longer works. Thus, we needed a new blower.

While at the store to purchase the blower, my man was asking about thermometers for the stove. We suspected the one at the farmhouse was not quite accurate and were looking to get a new one. The man at the store said a flue thermometer which has a probe that goes into the flue is the safest and most accurate, so we purchased that too. Since that time we have been using both the flue thermometer, placed in the flue, and the one that attaches to the side of the stove.

The problem has been that the two thermometers don't agree. The flue one is almost always in the underfire range, while the one on the side of the stove is in the optimum temperature range. My man kept trying to figure out ways for them to come into agreement, but couldn't do it.

A few days before Christmas, he came to the conclusion that the thermometer on the side of the stove was wrong. So, he got the fire up into the orange range of the flue thermometer - the optimal temperature range - and the stove thermometer was at the very edge of the overfire range. We planned to get a new stove thermometer, but had not gotten to a place that sold them yet.

Now back to the phone call my man made on Thursday. He talked with the woman at the store and explained what had been going on. The thermometer on the side of the stove, he said, would get up to 550 degrees and we still couldn't get water to boil on top! She said that you would be able to feel it - and wouldn't be able to stand close - if it was that hot! She confirmed that the best - and safest - thermometer is the one that has a probe going into the flue! I told my man what a praise that was that evening during family worship.

You see, we've been using the wood stove to heat our home, along with a few space heaters. Our furnace, which was working in the spring when we moved in, did not work when we turned it on again in the fall. [Aside: The person who came to look at it said even if parts were available (it's a Montgomery Ward furnace), he wouldn't want to fix it because it's rusty, which could cause carbon monoxide.] So, we've been going it the old fashion way - again! Kind of reminiscent of our summer without air conditioning, except we do have a heat source!

Now that we weren't hindered by the thermometer on the side of the stove, we would be able to have hotter fires and thus a warmer house! Praise the Lord! It seems we weren't nearly as close to putting our stove in the “overfire” range as we had thought!

As I laid in bed that night, I was thinking about those two thermometers, “There must be a lesson for us in that.” I thought. John 10:10 came to mind.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 
John 10:10, NIV, 1984

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 
John 10:10, Amplified

That thermometer on the stove was like the thief - it was stealing us of our stove's potential to heat our home. The flue thermometer could be trusted, like Jesus, it allows us to have a warmer home.

How often do we believe the lies of the enemy and limit ourselves? The enemy wants to tell us we're in “overfire,” even when we're not! He wants us to think we've done enough or that we're at the limit - the edge so to speak of our “fire” for the Lord. The enemy tells us not to load any more wood in the fire and don't allow any more air in either - the fire is hot enough!

But the truth is that the enemy, like our thermometer on the side of the stove, is WRONG! In fact, he's lying to us. We're no where near being too hot. That flue thermometer tells us we can add more wood and allow more air into the fire. Jesus says we can open our hearts - and lives - even more to His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to work even more freely in and through us. We're not in danger of getting too hot.

Because Jesus came that we may have life. He came that we might enjoy life. He came that we might have life abundantly. He came that we might have a life that is so full, it's overflowing. While it might not be good for our wood stove to get into the “overfire” zone on our flue thermometer, I think Jesus might say it's okay to get into the “overfire” zone when it comes to living our life abiding in Him! Perhaps that happens when we lay down our lives and pick up our crosses to follow Him - each day He gives us breath.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
John 15:1-8, NKJV

[A]nd anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 
Matthew 10: 38-39, NIV, 1984

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 
 Luke 9:23-24, NIV, 1984

Thank You, Jesus for giving me a hunger for You - please set me on fire for living an abundant life. May I recognize and not believe the lies of the enemy, who only wants to limit the fire of Your Holy Spirit. May I keep my eyes fixed on You alone as I travel the path You have so graciously laid out for me. Thank You for Your promise of a life filled with abundance because of You. Amen.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 
Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV, 1984

We've now removed the thermometer on the stove and are only using the flue thermometer.

Jesus, may we do the same in our spiritual lives. May we remove the lies of the enemy. May we remove any other filter we have which is limiting our ability to see Your Truth clearly. We want only to live by Your Truth - by Your Word. Because our spiritual lives should be over every other part of our lives. You should permeate our beings so completely that You are a part of all our decisions - whether physical, emotional, financial, business, personal, etc. May it be so in our lives as we become more Christ like in our thoughts, words, actions, choices and attitudes today and every day hereafter. Amen. So be it.

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
John 4: 21-24, NIV, 1984

P.S. The Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2013 with Living Proof Ministries starts on January 1, 2013.  As I wrote this down in my journal I realized the Lord had pointed me to the first verse I would memorize in 2013...“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10, Amplified

P.P.S.  As I read this post to my family this evening, my husband commented that I ought to have added this:  "Now, if we could only get our chain saw working, my man could cut wood to go in the fire!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Keep Directing Our Steps Lord

 As I was typing up my "Good Morning Girls" email today, I realized that I was also typing up a post for this blog.  Not that it has anything to do with homeschooling, nor what the past year has been like in my life, but God is showing me, yet again, that He is not without a sense of humor.  When I logged on, I saw that my last post was exactly one year ago.  As Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." (NIV, 1984) 

There have been several times over the past year I've had ideas for a post and I've even started a few, but none of them felt right.  They're saved as drafts right now.  I shared the following with the wonderful group of women I've gotten to know over the last few years as we hold each other accountable to be in God's Word.  It goes farther than that, however, as we share our hearts and what God is doing in our lives.  I thank the Lord for these women!

I read 1 John 1 this morning and these verses gave me pause.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. NIV, 1984

I have a son who does not like to admit wrong.  Admittedly, he is not alone in this phenomenon as many of us have an adversity to admitting wrong.  It seems, somehow, that when we admit we've done wrong or made a mistake that we are weak.  Maybe we feel that we're letting those around us down.  Maybe we feel less than whole.  Whatever the case, there it is...we don't like to admit that we have been wrong.

Now, that being said, we can add the following logic statement.  All sin is wrong, but not all "wrong" is sin.  As an example I'll use my son's school work.  When he gets something wrong in his reading work book, it's not a sin.  But when he yells at me when he gets something wrong, that is a sin! : )  He's not honoring me, which is something the Lord explicitly tells children to do with their parents. (Exodus 20)  If it's disobeying God, it's a sin.

As I read verse 10, I thought of my son.  I thought of his stubbornness in not admitting wrong.  I think mostly he doesn't like to admit when he's made a mistake, usually something which is not a sin.  This is a good thing, but to really humble ourselves before God, we need to be able to admit this kind of wrong too.

Then I thought of how so many people don't like to admit the sinful wrong.  To be accurate, the "so many people" ought to be changed to "we," because I think it's a human condition.  So many excuses are thought of to place the blame elsewhere or to argue that it's only a "small" sin.  Or we put ourselves on a ladder of sorts when it comes to the sinful wrongs we do.  "At least I don't....<fill in the blank> <another blank>."  But John makes it clear that when we do not admit sin, we make Jesus out to be a liar.  (He didn't need to die for us, because we're not sinners.)  And His Word has no place in our lives.  Wow.

I don't know about you, but that's pretty convicting.  I don't want to make Jesus out to be a liar and I sure don't want to leave His Word out of my life!  It's His Word, His Holy Spirit, His Grace, His Mercy, and His Love that has turned my life around.  And, to be honest again, I never thought my life was that bad before!  But how freeing it is to readily admit failure and sin to those around me.  Okay, it's more readily than it used to be! : ) 

As a result, I'm more loving to those around me (though my family can attest that God's not finished with me yet).  I see the common ground in our humanity.  How we all, believers and unbelievers, want to be patient and loving to those around us, but then this junk comes out.  Oh, the words of Paul in Romans 7: 21-25 (NIV, 1984) speak to this infirmity well:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I guess we need to do as the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 12 verses 1 through 3 (NIV, 1984):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The next time you are wrong, whether it's a sinful wrong or a mistake, fix your eyes on Jesus, knowing that He loves you and knows you have done wrong.  He knows your past wrongs, your present wrongs, and your future wrongs, sinful and otherwise.  And He still loves you.  And He's covered those sins with His blood.  Your job is to admit wrong, confess it to Him, with a heart ready to steer clear of that wrong in the future.  Then, when you ask Him to forgive you, you will be able to hear Him say, "Yes, child, I forgive your wrong.  That is why I came to tabernacle among you.  It is why I hung on the cross for you."

I would love to hear if this encouraged you in any way.  It might give me a hint as to what the Lord is doing here...

Lord, we pray that You would keep directing our steps, even as we plan a course in our hearts.  Thank You, Jesus, for Your faithfulness.  In Your Name we pray.  Amen.  So be it.