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Loss and Grief

Loss and Grief

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” -James 4:14 (ESV)

I wanted to write a post, today, about my extended family that I have come to love at our church. I wanted to share about the closeness and the bonds that have been formed. Sadly, I have received sad news about a man that I loved and respected.

My friend, Jennings Johnson, died today following an unfortunate four-wheeler accident. My heart is so heavy right now. Jennings was a very dear friend to anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. Everyone he loved, he would call “ol’ pal.” I will miss that more than I imagined.

Jennings is the one who guided me on my walk to become a Master Mason. His guidance and teaching was invaluable.

Jennings, along with his brother and father, ran a service station/sporting goods store just down the road from our house. One of the highlights of my son’s day was to drive home from school and stop by the store and get a Coke in a glass bottle and sit and tell tales with all the men that would congregate there.

His only daughter gave birth to his first grandchild just a few short months ago. It is so hard to write all of this, wishing I could share with all of you what a truly wonderful man this world has lost.

I will miss you, ol’ pal. For your sake, I hope that God allows hunting in heaven.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Church

 

First Harvest

First Harvest

“He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during the harvest is a disgraceful son.” -Proverbs 10:5 (NIV)

This past week has been productive, to say the least! We have been busy, busy, busy. Our canning garden is starting to produce for us and we have put up 7 quarts of beans, 9 quarts of pickles, 7 quarts of tomato juice, and there is plenty more to be done in the upcoming weeks.

Also, in addition to all of this activity, Stephen’s chickens have just started laying eggs! We came home from church this morning to find two eggs waiting for us. As many of you know, he had four roosters in the coop and we have tried and tried to find a good home for three of them. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anyone we know and trust to take them so I had to dispatch three of them yesterday. Stephen was very mature about the whole process. He told me later that he prayed for the three roosters that they were in a better place. So, we also have three fresh chickens in the freezer.

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This is our happy farmer with his first egg! He was extraordinarily excited about this little discovery.

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Here are just a few jars of pickles and tomato juice, alongside Stephen’s fresh eggs. I tired one of the pickles and ended up eating a whole jar…not in one sitting, of course!! It took almost a whole 6 hours to eat a jar of pickles! I just couldn’t believe how wonderful they tasted. I can’t wait to gather some more cucumbers. Carla is insisting on a few jars of sweet pickles when we prepare the next batch. I would say, later this week, we will have corn, more beans, more cucumbers, and more tomatoes to contend with! Yum, yum.

One last thing, per Carla’s request, I would like to introduce you to two-thirds of our happy homesteading crew! Until we can find a picture with all three of us, I will just remain a mystery to everyone! 🙂

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We hope everyone has a wonderful week and we pray that God blesses you richly.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Chickens, Garden

 

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Animal Bonanza

Animal Bonanza

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” -Proverbs 12:10 (NIV)

I have been away from the blog for a while as I finished up a summer class to get ready for student teaching at the local high school.

Over the past week, we have been through a very in-depth adoption process! We were finally approved for a bonded pair of animals, a chihuahua and a Maine Coon cat! They had been living together for quite some time when their owner died, very unexpectedly. No one wanted them and they went to a shelter. Baby, the cat, only has one eye and no one knows the story as to why. We do know it was surgically removed though. Snowball. The chihuahua, is as cute as can be with an adorable underbite!

Here is Baby:

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Meet Snowball:

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Here is the whole gang:

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If that weren’t enough, we had three doe and 4 fawns in our front yard this morning!

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I think I will set up a gate and charge admission to our little Noah’s Ark!

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Fur Babies

 

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Old Blue

Old Blue

“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it.” -1 Corinthians 4:12 (NIV)

Unfortunately, my chainsaw requires a little more than just a new spark plug. I inherited this chainsaw from my aunt, after my uncle passed away. I did a little research and discovered that this particular saw was manufactured in 1964!! Up until last week it was working pretty well, I knew it would new some TLC before too long. That day came sooner than expected.

Here is a picture of our patient.

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It is a Homelite XL-12 and, as I mentioned before, was made in 1964. Most chainsaws, or anything for that matter, that we buy these days only last a year or two.

I will have to sink a little money into this repair project, but the hardest part will be in finding the parts! I have had the hardest time just finding parts diagrams. I had to email Homelite just to get an owner’s manual and it was from 1989, but they assure me that the basics are not too dissimilar from 1964. The parts, however, are a different story but I will find a way to persevere!!😊

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Projects

 

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Back to the Grind

Back to the Grind

”He makes the grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate; bringing forth food from the earth.” -Psalm 104:14

Bible school has wound down and I quickly discovered that my grass, for whatever reason, did not take a break from growing! A few more days and it would need to be baled! Yesterday was a busy day, to say the least. Yard work, a little vehicle maintenance, minor small engine repair,and tasty grilled steaks. 😉

I was so close to having the yard mowed when the daggone deck belt broke! I managed to finish the front yard with the push mower, but I still have a little left to mow before I can call it ‘finished.’ Of course, I was completely unsuccessful in my attempts to find a replacement belt and I will just have to order a new one. Maybe Carla will be getting her goats sooner than we thought! Maybe they’ll help keep the mowing under control while I get the lawn mower repaired!

Next, it was on to changing the oil in the truck followed by trying to figure out what caused my chainsaw to poop out on me last week. So it looks like a trip to the store today to pick up the parts for that repair job, or Stephen will lose his mind if we don’t fell a few trees and make some semblance of progress towards building our getaway cabin. If the rain holds off today, we’ll be sawing and peeling logs this afternoon. Should the rain come, I guess we’ll hang out in the shed and change the oil in the four wheelers, find a book to read, and just generally be a little lazy!

The culmination of all the work for the day came when I fixed one of Carla’s favorite dinners, grilled steaks with mushrooms in balsamic sauce. Pretty darn good! Stephen even picked a few banana peppers from his garden and I put those on the grill also.

After dinner, we took some corn out to the chickens as a special treat. Now, these chickens seemed to like the corn but not near as well as they love their dried meal worms!

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We found one of the girls hanging out in the coop, probably enjoying some quiet time away from the four teenage boys and the other five teenage girls that she has to live with!

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Before calling it a night, we all took a short ride on the four wheelers and came across one of the resident deer and her quickly growing fawn, just hanging out at the edge of the front yard.

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Sorry about the poor picture quality, I swear they weren’t more than 60 yards away but the camera on my phone makes them look like they were in the next county! Our fearless dog, Papi (the chihuahua that thinks he’s a Great Dane) barked his head off at the deer for fear that those deer would charge us and maul us to pieces. He’s quite the protector!😄 Of course, the deer around here are fairly accustomed to Papi’s vicious displays. Poor little Papi, the woodland creatures don’t take his 8 pounds of fury too seriously.

A gratuitous picture of the mighty and proud Papi!

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Wouldn’t you be afraid!?!?

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Projects

 

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VBS Update

VBS Update

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'” -Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

What a great night we had! 155 kids came out to Bible school!!

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The reward that my wife and I get, from simply being a part of this, is beyond description. (She’ll be surprised to read this because, in her opinion, I usually have something to say about everything!). It is truly a blessing to be able to see all of these kids, from so many diverse backgrounds, come together in the name of Jesus.

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We received a donation of 100 Teen Study Bibles.  Our middle and high school kids will be using these throughout the week and, at the end of the week, they will get to keep them and take them home.  This donation has occurred for a few years now and I wanted to share a story that I was told about last year’s VBS.

Last year, on the first night, the teens were given their bibles for the nightly devotion and bible study.  They were told that they had to leave the bibles (to ensure that they were available for subsequent nights) and that they would get to keep them at the end of the week.  One, very imposing yet gentle, high school student begged to be able to take his bible home that night.  He was reminded of why we wanted the bibles left behind until the end of the week and he left without too much fuss, just dejected that he couldn’t take the bible home right away.  Well, the next night came and he didn’t show up.  The third night came and he never made it to VBS.  Many of the workers became somewhat concerned as to what could have become of him.  No one knew where he lived and his family didn’t have a phone.  On the final night, halfway through the evening, he was spotted walking down the road towards the baseball fields!  It was soon discovered that he couldn’t make it the previous night’s because he didn’t have transportation and he lived almost 5 miles from the baseball fields where VBS was being held.  This young man wanted to have his own copy of God’s Word that he took the initiative to walk 5 miles just to make sure that he could claim his very own copy to have and to study!!!  How amazing and wonderful is that?!?!  When I heard this story I felt the hairs on my arms tingle. That is just a testimony to the power of God’s grace and love.

When God moves in our hearts, there is not a force on this planet that can stop Him.  If we could all just open our hearts up to God, study His word, and be HUNGRY for His word, I think the transformation in all our lives would be nothing short of miraculous.  Many times, throughout my 35 years, I have discovered that I was only ‘playing’ the role of a Christian.  I would go to church and I would stay awake during the sermon.  That’s what Christians do, right?  It took an awful lot of hardships and heartache for me to realize that the life I was living was a complete fraud and was well short of glorifying His name.  My own personal revival occurred when I truly desired to have God in my heart and I willingly let Him in to work in my life.  I prayed, harder, more sincerely, and more fervently than I have ever prayed.  I turned it all over to Him and asked to be filled with his grace and love.  The feeling I felt, in that moment, was something I will never forget.  It seems as if my entire life has taken a 180 and I can’t imagine a life without Him being the biggest part.  He is always with us, just waiting for us to invite him into our hearts, all we have to do is ask.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our VBS during this week.  I wish you could see these kids and hear their laughter.  It is so uplifting and rewarding.

I can’t wait to see what tonight brings!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Church

 

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Busy Week Ahead!

Busy Week Ahead!

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 18:10 (NIV)

This week is going to be busy for the whole family.

I read the above verse today while I was grabbing a quick bite of lunch, and my wife started mentioning that I should blog about something today.  I asked what “something” that might be and she suggested our Vacation Bible School.  This will be short and sweet, due to the time constraints of the day, but I promise to expand on this later.

Our church, as small as it may be, hosts a county wide Vacation Bible School for preschool through high school.  Last night was the first night and we had 123 kids, in spite of the rainy weather!  Oh, yeah, I guess I should mention that the whole shebang is outside and takes up two baseball fields in the center of town!  We have 15 vans from churches throughout the community, that have committed to picking up as many kids as they possibly can.  We have also managed to get a different live music act for each night of the week, all local talent…and from what I heard last night, EXTREMELY talented!

My wife and son have been going to the church each morning, and will continue to do so through the week, to help prepare the meals and snacks for the kids.  This leads me to one of the saddest parts of all of this.  You see, this is a very small, impoverished, rural community.  Many of these kids, that get to come out during the week, get to enjoy one of the best meals that they will have all summer, even if it’s only a bologna sandwich.  Some of these kids come to us without shoes, and some seem to come without hope.  That is what is so uplifting about this whole week, through God’s grace and mercy, this group of workers can make a difference in the lives of these children.

I know that this is brief, but I am getting ready to head out to the baseball fields and start a new day of VBS!  Please, if any of you have a mind to do so, pray for our VBS this week and for these children that we are serving.  Pray for the workers and teachers that they might be able to have an impact on these kids, even if it is only one child out of 123.  If only one child is lead to Jesus, this entire week will be a huge success.

I will keep you posted on how the week is going!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Church

 

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Italian Zucchini Soup

Italian Zucchini Soup

“And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so.” -Genesis 1:30 (ESV)

Since I talked about the plethora of zucchini that our son has raised, along with the ways we have prepared it so far, I would share a recipe that we really enjoyed. Not to mention that it made my mouth water when I listed it in yesterday’s post!


Italian Zucchini Soup

(1lb) Ground Italian Sausage
(2lb) Zucchini, diced
(2) 28oz canned tomatoes, diced
(1) Onion, diced
(1tsp) Italian Seasoning
(1tsp) Oregano
(1/2 tsp) Basil
(1/4tsp) Sugar

1) Brown sausage with onion, drain and transfer to a large pot.
2) Add remaining ingredients and simmer until zucchini is tender.

Pretty simple and really tasty!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Recipes

 

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Ah, the Joys of Gardening

Ah, the Joys of Gardening

”Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” – Jeremiah 29:5 (NIV)

Our gardens are doing great. We won’t talk about the failure of a garden that I planted in rocky soil…it’s just too hard to discuss.😉

For the last three years I have planted a garden in a spot that I felt would be perfect after a couple of years. All the while my wife insisted on a spot that she felt would be better. Of course, my male ego had to trudge on and my determination and pride kept me from listening! Go figure.

After minimal success with ‘my’ garden, I decided to listen to Carla (even though I knew she was right all along) and I tilled up a plot for our canning garden. The results are amazing!

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This year we will have corn, beans, and cucumbers for eating and canning. Next year, this garden will almost triple in size and be home to our main garden and our canning garden. Jeez, you really think I would learn to listen to my wife more often!

Even our son’s garden is doing awesome!

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We planted 30 tomato plants in his garden for canning, as well. He has corn, banana peppers, more zucchini than you can shake a stick at, and pumpkins. Here is one of his pumpkins, should be a really nice one!

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Speaking of Stephen’s zucchini, we tried to explain to him that he only needed one or two plants at the most. He insisted on five! We now have a freezer full of zucchini! We have have fried zucchini, zucchini bread, Italian zucchini soup, stir fried zucchini, and grilled zucchini!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Garden

 

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Our Getaway Cabin

Our Getaway Cabin

”Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” -Proverbs 24:27 (NIV)

Stephen has been watching ‘Treehouse Masters’ like it is going out of style. So, obviously, the next logical step is to ask daddy to build him a treehouse! Of course, not just any treehouse will do, he wants it to be a log cabin in the trees!

We had to get creative to try to dissuade him from this particular idea. Fortunately, Carla and I came up with an idea that will benefit us all! Why not build a genuine log cabin in the woods near the house? We can use it for entertaining or as a little retreat for us to go camping without actually going to far from home! Actually, we would only be a few hundred yards from home!

Here is the planned location:

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As you can see, Stephen is going to play the role of General Contractor on this job!

We started clearing some trees out today, but the chainsaw pooped out on me and we called it a day. However, we did get four trees down and I managed to cut twelve fence posts for our garden. After peeling the logs for the fence we called it a day.

You can’t tell too much from this picture, but we did get a sizable area cleared out. All thanks to the helpful direction from the general contractor, of course.

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Projects

 

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