Monday, December 19, 2011

Come One and All - Lessons by Lego

Today, my children and I came up with an ingenious plan. Make a nativity scene with legos.

No doubt this has been done... I'll google that when I'm done here. :)

But we were thrilled to have thought of it. We immediately began planning and gathering the pieces we would be needing. How does one make a lego baby???? What can we do for the wise men's gifts?

As we gathered all the pieces, it became clear that even with our best efforts, this was not going to look like the common nativity scene, with flowing robes, crowns, and sheep. Our lego-men consisted of pirates, space men, and airport employees.

And while my children were getting frustrated, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something more important than a 'picture perfect' display piece.

Jesus was born to die, not just for wise men and shepherds.

But for EVERYONE! Consider the bible story all by itself. Who was there? Some animals and angels. Some wise men and shepherds. These wise men were well educated, wealthy and revered. While shepherds were poor, unwashed common folk who cared for flocks of animals in the wilderness. Yet these two classes were both uniquely invited to this event.

So I was able to share with my children a beautiful point with our lego nativity.

Pirates, Space men, Airplane pilots, policemen, Mamas and Daddies, Little Boys and Little Girls....

Our path to salvation is the same.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
Luke 2:11-12

So come, one and all. Be ye a pirate, a spaceman, or just another type of commoner... You are called, and you are welcome. Receive the greatest gift that the season has to offer!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

May God richly bless you and yours!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding Joy in Troubles

I slept peacefully as my husband got up and began preparing for work. As I slowly became aware that the shower was running, I started to wake and fed the baby. Then crawled out of bed with my brain not quite on 'GO' yet. For me, this is a very typical morning.

My husband came out, much sooner than I expected and told me, "There's no water."

No water.... What a way to start the day.

So he dressed to go out and check the well house, while I began preparing breakfast. For me, it was straightforward, and took just a bit of thinking. Can't make oatmeal, can't make pancakes. Eggs and bacon on the griddle. Then I went to work digging through my pantry for our jugs of stored water.
Here is where prepping comes in handy. No water does not equal an emergency in my home. I LOVE THAT!

Sweet, unshowered husband comes back to inform me that the pipe around the pump sensor is frozen. The heater in our well house just couldn't cut it, I guess.

So we sit and eat and he heads to work. The day moves on as usual for the most part. For me, some small things need to be thought out and arranged. A large bucket of water in the restroom for flushing. A small jug in the kitchen and bathroom for washing hands. I probably should heat up some water also for washing dishes, and for little babies diaper wipes. Nothing like cold water on a naked baby butt *CRINGE*. And drinking water in the fridge.

We're set.

The weather promises to warm up for a week or two now, so hopefully by the end of the day, the pipes will be clear and flowing again.

Like so many of our struggles lately.... we find that our 'troubles' are simply results of our numerous blessings!
We have frozen pipes today because we moved out here and are on sweet, blessed well water. (We had frozen pipes frequently in the city as well, but didn't count that water as so blessed. LOL)

We are nearly out of feed for our birds today because they are numerous and laying daily, healthy and strong.
The floors in my house are constantly filthy despite daily vacuuming because we have moved out and started the mud farm we dreamed about.

The sink is full of dishes because my family had LOTS of delicious food to eat. (Honestly I was washing them last night, past my bed time, but STILL more linger. UGH!)
The laundry room is full of muddy clothes because my vivacious children insist on going out to play even in this ridiculously cold weather.

But hopefully, you can see.... these troubles aren't really troubles at all. Just a moment to breath in and out, think about it..... and the perspective changes.

We are not troubled.
We are BLESSED! Mightily blessed by a Loving God.

Look at your troubles.

How many of them are true troubles with no hope in sight?

And how many of them are blessings that the enemy doesn't want you to see? :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tonight's Research - Basic Pig Care

During these cold winter months, my husband and I are stretching our brains and planning ahead for next spring and growing the homestead. While I dream of milk cows, my husband apparently dreams of pigs. I think he is addicted to bacon. :)

So, we are currently looking into the BASICS of pig care. Of course, as in all my research, I turn to google. I pride myself on finding everything I ever look for there. I know it is built for simpletons like me, and we work well together.

Google - "how to pig"

Yep. Easy as that.

I came across some great resources. - A collection of several articles ranging from basic care, basic butchering, and even some on breeding. - A great inclusive article on the basics of raising pigs and what you can expect from the whole process.

So far, as I understand it, caring for a pig is pretty simple. They eat ALOT, and produce copious ammounts of manure which is excellent for your garden. They don't sweat, so their biggest requirement in housing is that it needs to have a large shady area, and possibly a muddy pool. And, pigs are notoriously intelligent and strong. Just a fence will not do. Sturdy fencing, electric wire and even a trench filled with rocks and logs are required to keep in these rooting beasties. Add to this a three walled shelter (big enough for full grown girth) and you are set!

One particular suggestion I am considering to be priceless. "Grow russian comfrey."

In the past, in my research on herbal remedies, I came across comfrey again and again. It is marvelous used in salves and poultices. It is an extremely prolific plant. Practically impossible to kill, any cuttings 2" or more will grow a new plant. It grows very large and hardy, producing an excellent, balanced feed for your swine in great quantity. It also is an extremely nitrogen rich plant and when added to your compost will speed up the heating and breakdown of your pile.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Garnered Wisdom - Reusing a Canning Lid


I have an assortment of Ball and Kerr Jars. And I use the common canning lids by Ball and Kerr, as well as the reusable Tattler lids.

When my neighbor invited me to lunch with her mother, a canning enthusiast as well (having raised 11 children), I brought a few jars of recently canned stew. She asked about the Tattler lids and I explained that they were reusable.

Her mother said, "What do you mean reusable?"

I told her that the rubber rings and plastic lids could be canned with again and again, guaranteed for 20 years' use.

She smiled. "I reuse all my lids."

I was shocked. Being adventurous in my canning, I had tested my own lids. I knew that the 'experts' said each canning lid could only be used for one and only one seal. I had tried to reuse my lids. More than 50% did not seal for me and I never tried again.

Again, she responded with that smile. "I have reused all my lids for years."

Oh I was dying to know HOW!

She grabbed a canning lid and explained her invaluable wisdom to me.

As long as the rubber ring is whole and intact, the lid is capable of a seal. The problem is NOT the lid.

The problem is the screw top RING!

While canning, pressure is built up inside the jar and some air is released from each one, creating its vacuum seal. This released pressure actually warps and pushes out on the top of each canning ring.

She showed me how using a spoon I could easily press each ring back into shape. Pressing the curved of the spoon down onto the inside rim of the ring, turning the jar so that I press around the entire edge.

As I did this, I could see in many spots that this portion of the ring was indeed bubbled up.

I then proceeded to can 35 pints and 7 quarts of pumpkin.

I also wipe all my jar lids and rims with vinegar before closing them up. This increased my seal rate even when using new lids.

I share this technique with a 100% seal rate to back it up. I already called and gave many thanks to my neighbor's mother. She blessed my home more than she might ever know.