Friday, December 30, 2011

A Time to Look Back

Recently I came upon an old clock that was gorgeous. The price was right, (free) so I picked it up and took it home. I was so sure it would work properly that I was bowled over when it ran for about 60 seconds and then died. I have found an old clock maker who will look at it to see if it can be fixed. When I went to the man's shop I saw lots of fascinating old clocks. The insides were so intricate. I was amazed that there were lots of things inside to make the clock work properly.

Our lives are like that old clock. The guts of the clock have to all work together before it can keep time accurately. It can sure look pretty on the outside but not fulfill it's purpose (keeping time) because the inside is broken.

Do we look good on the outside yet find our inner workings are broken? This is the perfect time of year to take stock of our "innards". What things need to be changed inside ourselves for the coming year? What goals did we make last year that worked? What needs some more fine tuning?

God is our clockmaker. This is what the Psalmist says about us;
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalms 139:14-16 (ESV)

This weekend we say goodbye to the old year and start fresh with a new one. Let's do a check of our "innards" and find out how we can fulfill our purpose better in 2012.

In Christ Alone,

Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When God is Silent

I know, I know, this is not your typical blog post 3 days before Christmas. I was reading a blog that is a favorite of mine today and the writer asked for prayer requests. There were 73 comments asking for prayer. Some of them were gut wrenching. It was then I realized it was time to write a post about real life and real struggles.

I have always tried to be honest here and I have no intention of changing that. For those of you who are struggling this holiday season this post is for you.

Here is the question I have mulling around now for the past 6 weeks. What do you do when God is silent? What happens when it appears that God is simply not listening? Are we "allowed" to question when our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling?

It is so easy to answer very differently when everything is going well. If the biggest challenge you have is an annoying in-law then this post is probably not for you. But what if you are facing life and death issues, then what?

It is easy to look at Job and his life and know that in the end God restores his health, his wealth and even more children are given to him. That assumes you can replace children which you can't. Is it enough to just not curse God? How can you and I not just live but thrive in deep pain? How do we go on when it seems the petitions we offer bounce off the wall?

How do you watch your spouse suffer hour after hour, day after day and month after month and not be challenged by it? How does someone who has been a faithful servant of the LORD praise HIM when all he can hear is the pain?

Have we not proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will NEVER and I mean NEVER turn our backs on God? We will always remain faithful but can't see the lesson we are to learn? How many more days, weeks, months and years are we to endure such anguish?

God of the universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the King of King and LORD of LORDS, I can't hear you Papa. I can't hear anymore. Please Father, restore us and make us whole once again. Until then, I will be still and know that you are God.

Your faithful servant,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

For Those Who Serve

I caught a commercial today that deeply touched me while watching the news on Fox. There is a group that minister to families that have been devastated by the war.

I will never forget the Thanksgiving and Christmas that Rich was in Saudi Arabia. It was during the first Gulf War. I learned a lot that Christmas.

I am reminded of all the families that are facing their first Christmas alone. Whether it be because their spouse is over in Afghanistan fighting in the war or their spouse died this year, there will be an empty chair at the table.

My heart goes out to all the families that are struggling with that empty chair this holiday season. I encourage you to reach out to a family this year who will be faced with the loneliness. God is pleased when reach out to others. Let His name be glorified this season.

Till next time.
In Christ Alone,
Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gratituesday December 20th

Happy Gratituesday to each of you. This morning I got up and went to the local Y. I love to swim laps. There is something magical that happens when I get into a pool. It seems that all of the burdens I carry just float away. When I am under the water it feels that I am encircled with total peace and weightlessness.

I am trying to get back into the habit of swimming each morning. This morning though the pool had been without a heater for the last 48 hours. The lifeguard gave me the information as my first toe goes in. Mercy was it COLD! She told me not to worry that eventually my body would adjust. Boy is she a fibber! It wasn't till my 40th lap that I was "used" to it. The cold forced me to swim really fast which was wonderful for my brain.

I am so thankful that I have a place to go and do something that will help me a better wife, mother and grandmother. Thank you Father for the gift of the Y.





Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gift of Time

In my own little world Christmas is just not on my radar this year. I wouldn't be the least bit disappointed if the day just flew by unnoticed. I am only one person though in the house I live and I doubt my idea would get any traction among the other ten!

The tree is up and the lights twinkle. The grandchildren are so excited. I imagine by Christmas eve they will be beside themselves. They are excited over possible gifts coming their way. With a little toddler in the house this Christmas there is not one present under the tree. I suppose they will all magically appear on Christmas morning.

I was reminded though this past Sunday that the best gift I can give is time. Time to my husband who is a special gift from God. Time to all of my children who each in their own way have a very special place in my heart. Lastly, time for my grandchildren to make memories with their Grammy.

Time is a precious gift. We never know how much time we have to give so I don't want to waste a moment. What gifts are you giving this year? Will it be something that will be used in a moment and then gone? Or worse, will the gift end up being sold for a nickle at the next garage sale? The gift of time is eternal.

What are you giving to those you love this Christmas? May it stand the test of time.
In Christ Alone,
Jill








Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Discipline of Solitude

I have a journal that I started in January 2006. Like most years I start a journal and then tuck it into a drawer and forget about it.

A couple of weeks ago I needed a journal to write some thoughts down and came across a quote I had copied while reading Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster several years ago. I wish I had written this quote because it goes to the core of the journey I have been on the past few years.

So here it is, read it slowly and meditate on the the message.

The Discipline of Solitude
"Whether alone or among people, we always carry with us a portable sanctuary of the heart. Inward solitude has outward manifestations. There is the freedom to be alone, not in order to be away from people but in order to hear the divine whisper better."

In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Wrap Up

It's time to officially close out my series on the Plain Community. It definitely was a watershed event for me. The visit happened at the perfect season of my life. I seriously doubt at the ripe old age of 20 or 30 it would have had the same affect on me!

I count it a huge blessing to have been welcomed into the plain community. The people were gracious to answer question after question that I had. I wanted to fully experience the lifestyle they chose so they allowed me to roll up my sleeves and experience first hand a new way of doing things.

I learned that it is entirely possible to live in the 21st century simply. To wake up every morning to the crow of a rooster and actually hear the birds chirping brought a smile to my face. To cook healthy and delicious meals using simple tools opened up endless possibilities for me. I thought I would go crazy without contemporary Christian music playing all day and I was wrong. To sing the old hymns was a simple act of worship. Finally, to not be dashing from one appointment to the next was balm for my soul.

I am blessed beyond measure to have experienced the plain community. It is a very important principle in my life to continue to learn and grow towards my Father. I never want to tire of stretching myself and visiting the community helped me stretch! I still have a story or two inside of me that at some point I will share. I hope that this series has opened your eyes like it did mine!

My prayer is that you and I cling to the Savior, the one and only who is the giver of all good things. May His name be praised. Till next time.

In Christ Alone,
Jill








Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gratituesday December 13

Good morning and happy Gratituesday! No matter what gets thrown at us on a daily basis I desperately want to have an attitude of gratitude. Never in a million years would I have ever guessed that our life would be this way. When Rich went into the military the plan was for him to serve our country for 20 years and then retire so that we could serve a tiny congregation somewhere who could not afford to pay a minister full time. We would live on his military retirement and whatever the congregation could afford to pay.

God continues to provide for us what we need. This morning I went online to our bank account and sure enough there was a deposit and for that I am truly blessed. Rich continues to provide for us even in our circumstances. God is so faithful my sweet friend. He provides what we need every time. For that I am truly grateful.

In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Treadling the Afternoon Away

I will never forget when our daughter was only a year old. We were a very young military family without two nickles to rub together. My challenge was to be able to clothe our daughter. We didn't have money to go buy new clothes so I figured I better learn how to sew her clothes. Here was my theory, I figured our daughter could not possibly complain about a seam not being fitted perfectly at only a year old! I figured I would have conquered the sewing machine well before she was old enough to complain. So, I taught myself to sew. Our daughter now has 5 children of her own and I get to sew for them.

I was eager to learn how the ladies in Caneyville sewed clothes for their families without using electricity. Each of the ladies has a treadle with a machine sitting on top. If you can see in this picture there is a rubber loop the goes from the machine down to a wheel. The wheel is attached to a metal rocker plate that your feet go on. It was challenging at first to get the machine to go more than a couple of stitches while putting my feet on the rocker plate. It made me think of trying to rub my tummy and pat my head at the same time! It takes coordination for sure.

While I was trying my hand at treadling I was reminded of Dorcas in Acts 9. She was a disciple of Jesus and lived in Joppa. She was known for her good works and acts of charity. Her friends were standing around her body after washing it and showed Peter the clothes she had made for the poor. Here was a woman who loved God and sewed for those in need. I think of all the women today who makes quilts for preemie babies, knit and crochet blankets and hats and gloves for the needy. Each of these women are being "Dorcas". Very cool.

Tomorrow I am finishing up this series and getting back to the book of Daniel.
In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our Epitaphs

I was thinking about tombstones the other day. When you walk through a cemetery you will find all
kinds of interesting epitaphs to read. People who lose loved ones want to share the most important thing
about their loved ones so they have it put on the tombstone.
The reason I was thinking about tombstones in the first place was a birthday party Rich and I attended
recently. The party was for a woman who had turned 60 put on by her one daughter. This gal told the
audience she wanted her mother to have the flowers she so loved now and not at her funeral. I thought
that was a pretty interesting thought. We spent the next couple of hours honoring this woman’s life. I
was struck by the servant's heart she has displayed. I felt in one sense I had been to her funeral.
At funerals we talk about the person’s life and what was important to them. We share the impact that
individual had on their family and friends. It got me to really thinking about our legacy. Did you know
you can write your epitaph right now? Strange thought, isn’t it? How you live your life is what people
will remember you by.
So, what does your epitaph say? If you don’t think you like what it would say, how about changing that
today? Today is always the right time to change what we would like to be better at!
Start writing that epitaph today!



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gratituesday December 6th

We are officially in one of my favorite seasons. I love the sight and smell of the holidays. The twinkling lights both inside the home and on the front lawns are dazzling. I enjoy driving through neighborhoods and admiring all the artistic lawns lit up.

I like the food that surrounds the holidays. My friend Cathy makes the best white hot chocolate in the world. I make baklava only once a year and this is it!

I like reconnecting with old friends who sit down and write letters telling what is happening in their lives. I love seeing pictures of our friends children. It's a great excuse to get together with those we love.

I am so thankful that we are here in December. What are you thankful for?
God Bless,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, December 5, 2011

Till the Storm Passes By

You are a precious friend for coming here time after time reading my thoughts about God's word. You might have noticed I did not write on Friday like planned. I ended up taking my husband to the emergency room first thing in the morning and we came home late Saturday afternoon.

Hubby had hoped to teach his Bible class this morning. His body had other ideas. His muscles froze in the doorway and he could not move. I ran and got Michael and our daughter to help me get him moved. It was such an emotional time for everyone. For my husband there is weariness from this trial. He has now been disabled and suffering for 2 years and 9 months. With the exception of an hour here and an hour there he has not had relief in all this time. Debilitating pain wears you down like nothing else. There comes a point where the pain is so screaming at you that you can't hear anything else.

This trial we are going through has changed each of us. There are days when I am certain God is going to heal him in a blink of an eye. This nightmare will be just a distant memory. There are days when I lose hope and think that for whatever reason God is going to allow him to continue to suffer for many more months and years. What do you do when all seems helpless?

For me, all I know to do is walk by faith because I sure can't walk by sight! Faith that in the next life I will understand God's plan. I chose not to ask why. It is like Solomon said, "a chasing after the wind" and we know how well that works out!

For the past week I have been singing an old gospel hymn called, "Till the Storm Passes By" listen to the words for a minute.

In the dark of the midnight, have I oft hid my face,
while the storm howls above me, and there's no hiding place.
Mid the crash of the thunder, precious Lord, hear my cry;
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more, till the clouds roll forever from the sky. Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of the hand. Keep me safe til the storm passes by.

I will continue to sing till the storm passes by. If you are in a terrible storm right now sweet one, won't you join me in the boat while we sing, till the storm passes by?



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Simple Lifestyle Part 1

Good morning to each of you. As I sit down to write this particular post the sun isn't even up yet. Today I write with fear and trembling. Who am I to express the desires of the heart for a group of people? What if I misrepresent their views? What if somehow I make my reader feel that they are less of a Christian then those in the Plain Community? Never would I want to offend but encourage. So with that said, join me in understanding a radically different way of living.

There are some things that would be universal if you happened upon a Plain Community. The first would be their love and deep devotion to God. God is number 1. They live to please the Master in all they do.

They believe fiercely that they are not to be conformed to the world as Paul stated in Romans 12. They believe that God has called them to be holy which truly means to be called out.

With those two rock solid foundations they have had to decide how to live these principles out. The first that stands out to me is their belief about "stuff". You know what I am talking about, right? The stuff we spend lots of money to store in commercial storage units. Or, the boxes and boxes of stuff that we stash in closets, under the bed or in the garage. That's the stuff I am talking about.

In order to live a simple and quiet life as found in 1 Timothy 2:2 they resist the urge to have "stuff". My favorite fluffy little purple gal Flylady says that stuff clutters the brain. When our brains are cluttered with stuff, it fills up areas that only God can fill. Profound! We brought nothing into the world and we will leave this world with nothing but our souls.

The Plain Community believes that they are only travelers in this world for a brief moment in time. This is not their home, they are just passing through. Travelers pack light when they know they are only going for a little while. If you take that philosophy then traveling light makes sense. Jesus traveled really light. He had no transportation except the feet God gave him. He had no home, no bed and no pillow at night. He was just passing through. When you travel light you can move with speed because there is nothing to hinder you. They keep this principle before their minds on a daily basis.

Money is another area where they live out the above beliefs. The love of money is the root of all evil. It is so easy to love money. In fact, Jesus said it would be very hard for a rich man to go to heaven because his "stuff" weighs him down. The desire for more and more is in the very fabric of our lives here in America. You only have to travel to most of the other 4/5 of the world to see that we live in great excess by the rest of the worlds standard of living. They buy only what they really need.

Their homes are a perfect example of this concept. They could build fancier houses but they chose not to in order to keep the expense down. They could buy washers and driers and microwaves and t.v.s buy they chose not to because it takes electricity to run all that. The expense of electricity goes beyond just the monthly price. The cost of a home goes way up when you put in electricity. They can build a home cheaply since they don't put in all the wiring etc. that comes with using electricity. They don't believe the washers and dries etc. are sinful just that they add another layer of complexity in living simply.

They believe in hard work. Hard work builds character especially in children. When you train a child to have a good work ethic they develop into hard working adults. All this hard work makes the lifestyle slower. No one is dashing to and fro. They have work to do and they do it. No rushing out of the house each morning, running through the McDonald's drive thru for breakfast before going to work or school. Speaking of which, I will stop here so I don't have to dash before heading out for ladies Bible class.

Please feel free to leave a comment or a question and I will try to answer to the best of my ability. Till tomorrow, may your day be one that brings glory and honor to God.

In Christ Alone,
Jill






Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Simple Clothing

Good morning ladies. In our adventure we come to clothing which can be a hot topic in any circle. If you talk to someone who is Amish or old order Mennonite you would learn their thinking behind what they wear.

The group I visited is really a melting pot of several different traditions. There are Amish, old order Amish, old order Mennonite and German Baptist along with a smattering of different evangelical Christians. Along with them they brought their own traditions and beliefs. They agree to disagree on some issues and they all agree to dress the same way.

In this group all the women wear a button down to the waist dress that has long sleeves and a half collar. The dresses go down almost to the floor. On top of the dress they wear an apron of the same color that covers from under the neck and is fitted at the waist with gathers into a very full skirt. It is only a couple of inches shorter in length from the dress. They wear the apron over the dress all the time. None of the dresses have collars. They avoid any "bright" colors like pink, red and purple.

The men wear what is called broad falls and a button down shirt without the collar. Broad falls are pants without a zipper. They have extra material in the front of the pants and they are folded over with buttons on the side. They usually wear dark blue or grey pants. No one wears a standard collar.

The little girls wear dresses very similar to the women and the little boys wear broad falls like their daddy's. They all wear dark socks during the winter with dark shoes and in the summer they almost all go barefoot. In fact, when I visited the school several children were barefooted.

The material they chose is plain. There are no flowers or checks or polka dots on their dresses. Their reasoning is the same as with just about everything. They chose a life totally devoted to the LORD. They look at "fancy" things as a distraction and an opportunity to become vain about their looks. They look at their clothes as a necessity for modesty and not for a fashion statement .

Lastly, all the women and little girls cover their heads. Each group has a different covering that they wear. They are all the same. In this group their covering is a simple white cloth material that covers the hair and the ears. The women don't cut their hair so it's quite long. They put it in a bun before they put on their covering in the morning.

Our second host family had several school age girls. I noticed that all the girls had their hair up in braids and then twisted into a bun before putting on their coverings. I asked one of the girls if she took her hair down each night and she told me that no but on Saturday mornings they each take down the braids, wash their hair and then let it hang free with no covering till Sunday morning.

Tomorrow I am going to try and explain the philosophy behind their lifestyle.
Till then may God richly bless you.
In Christ Alone,
Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Hero Gratituesday November 29th

Happy Gratituesday to each of you. It is the day we set aside to be grateful for our blessings. This past week we had one of our sons home from college. It was wonderful to be together again.

Our children grew up knowing about guns and safety with some history thrown in. The boys really wanted their Dad to take them hunting and target shooting during the Thanksgiving break.

Mornings are incredibly hard on my husband. He tries to sleep through some of it. After a lot of medicine to fortify himself he climbed out of bed. Sometimes it is just so painful to watch that I leave the room. This particular morning was one of the toughest I had seen in a while.

He slowly made his way around the side of the bed, hunched over and holding the edge of the bed as he went and it was then that I had an epiphany.

Thankfully, most people will never experience the kind of neuro pathic pain that my husband endures hour after hour, day after day and month after month. That kind of pain changes everything, and I mean everything. It was during this scene that I realized once again that my husband is a hero. Not one of those fly through the air with a cap flapping in the breeze kind of heroes.

Every day he chooses, in spite of unbelievable pain, to get out of bed and endure one more day without the promise of healing. And one more day he tries with all that is within him to make another memory with the boys that will hopefully last beyond his days. To me that is true courage and for that I am grateful for the hero beside me.






Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Kitchen Part 2

Good morning precious one! I pray your long weekend was one that was filled with joy and rest. I fasted from the internet for three days which was wonderful. This is the last week I will be writing about my adventure into a Plain Community. Next week we will get back into the Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel.

Have you thought about how you would prepare food for your family without electricity? I can tell you that many areas of our lives get simpler without power. The women plan their menus carefully so that there is very little leftovers since it is harder to keep them without a refrigerator.

Our second family host has several cows and pigs and chickens. They are one of the very few with milk cows so they sell some of the milk they don't use to others in the community. Raw fresh milk was a new experience for me. I am picky about the milk I drink. I want it ice cold and fresh. I can tell the difference between generic milk and the more expensive name brand milk so I was a little apprehensive when our host brought in milk from the barn. It doesn't get any fresher than that! Did you know that raw milk is not white? I was bowled over. You can tell I was raised a city girl.

Our host took the pail of milk and poured it into a gallon glass jar. Their cow gives 1 1/2 gallons twice a day. In just a bit the milk started to separate and the cream rose to the top. An hour or so later the cream was taken off the top and set aside for later. She makes butter just about every day. I volunteered for the job. Now I have made homemade butter before and I have to say it is yummy. The color is bright yellow and creamy. When I made it I had an electric mixer. I poured the cream into a jar and shook. Then I shook and I shook and I shook some more. Did I mention that living a simpler life requires physical labor? It wasn't to long before I started seeing a little ball inside the jar. The more I shook the bigger the ball got. Before I knew it I had made a pound of butter. The milk that is left is buttermilk! I added a dash of salt and we had butter for our rolls.

Our host is known for her yummy cheeses. Many of the women in the community make their own cheese. Mozzarella is the easiest to make. We took the gallon of milk that had just been brought in and started on the cheese. Out of the gallon we made a large loaf pan filled with cheese. Once the milk is scalded on the stove and the secret ingredient is added (sure wish I could tell you what it is, but if I told you, I would have to shoot you!) the milk starts to change texture. First it starts to have little string like material in it. You put your hand in the pot and just start stirring with your fingers. Apparently utensils would wreck it. The longer you wiggle your little fingers around the strings the more strings there are. At some point there are the proper amount of stringy things that you stop and let it rest. Now this is the cool part. Once it has rested 15 or 20 minutes it is time to cut it. I could barely make out the cut I had made a few minutes later but it was there. It rested again for another 15 minutes and then the entire mixture is carefully taken out of the pot and rests again. Apparently cheese needs alot of rest!

We then started to slowly knead the cheese. It got firmer as we went. In just a few minutes it was time to put it in the pan. We ended up with very bright yellow cheese. I asked about string cheese which our host had never heard of. She cut off a big piece and gave it to me as we left. It is whole food at it's best. It taste yummy and melts like a dream.

Within the community the young men hunt mostly deer and rabbit for their meat. Most of the families grow huge gardens which of course they can for vegetables all year. Several have cows and pigs that are also used for meat. A couple of the younger couples have produce that they sell at farmer's markets. One of the young couples that we had dinner with had the yummiest salad I have ever tasted. There were so many different kinds of delicate greens that I have never heard of but were so yummy.

What I found the most fascinating is their portion sizes. Remember I said in the beginning that there was not one pleasantly plump lady in the group? Well, they eat small portions plus get a lot of physical exercise. I went to bed each night thankful for the lessons I was learning.

Tomorrow is Gratituesday. On Wednesday and Thursday I will share some thoughts on their style of dress and then Friday I will wrap it all up. I hope this has not only been a blessing to you but something deeper. We have much to learn from those who chose a simple lifestyle. May God challenge our thinking as we look towards the Savior for the answers

In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the ultimate Gratituesday! Each of us, no matter what our circumstances has many things to be thankful for. Please join me in taking time out of our day and truly thank the ONE who has given us abundant life.

See you next Monday.
In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratituesday November 22nd

Today is Gratituesday and I don't have to think a whit about what to be thankful for this week. Our son Daniel came home from Harding University on Saturday evening. He had been gone for three very long months. This was the first time he has been away for more than a week. The entire house erupted in shouts of joy when the truck pulled into the driveway with our son. Everyone ran outside and shared in hugs and laughter.

When we first moved into our daughters home she had just had baby #5, baby Noah. Noah took a special shine to Daniel from the beginning. We all wondered what would happen when Noah saw Daniel for the first time after being gone so long. No worries, Noah knew exactly who he was and has been seen riding on top of Daniel's shoulders the past 2 days.

This morning after breakfast I came back down stairs to our apartment and I could hear Daniel playing his guitar. It has always brought me peace when I watch Daniel play, whether it is a guitar, a piano or just singing. It gives me great joy.

We get him for a week before he heads back to Arkansas. I am so thankful our "man-cub" is back home with us. What a huge blessing.
What are you thankful for?



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Heart of the Home

My kitchen has always been the hub of our home. I truly love to cook. Some years ago I was trying to figure out just why I spent so much time in the kitchen. I realized that when I spent time cooking for my family. I was not only feeding my families stomach but also nourishing their souls.

Since me moved 14 times in the first 21 years of our marriage I had plenty of opportunities to learn new things in the kitchen. If I went to a potluck through hubbies job or a church potluck and found something particular good I would go and find out who made it and then get the recipe. I have learned to make Greek Backlava, Korean broccoli and egg rolls, Guamanian shishkabobs, a Sweedish pastry called Kringler and much more.

With that in mind I could not wait to see how a group of women could prepare and cook food for a family without electricity. That means no refrigerator, no blenders for smoothies, no Kitchen Aides to mix dough, no coffee machine or toaster and certainly no microwaves.

These ladies are hard workers; without electricity they have to be. Let's take the stove for instance. This picture show a typical stove. The community actually makes the Cadillac version of wood stoves; it is called a Pioneer Princess. It is a mighty fine piece of equipment in my opinion. You simply put wood inside (that you cut of course), burn it and it heats up the top of the stove and the oven. Oven temperatures are a little tricky because you have to figure out just how much of a roaring fire is needed to get the temperature correct. They all hang a thermometer inside the oven so they can see just how hot it is. The stove top has no burners just a smooth top to put pans on.

There is a ledge over the stove that you can rest your food that you want to keep warm. It is their version of the microwave! The first family we stayed with had a water heater that they rigged up right next to the stove. The fire in the stove would heat up the water which was wonderful to have hot water coming out of the faucet. Our second family we stayed with did not have a water heater so there was only ice water coming out of the tap. She kept several very large pots on the stove to use for dishes which of course are done by hand.

Before visiting the community I had not worked out in my head the ramifications of no refrigerator. I was totally surprised at just how dependent I am on them. The community makes their own ice at the ice house. They are 50# blocks that each family can go and purchase when needed. In the summer they go through the block in just a couple of days but in the winter they don't need to get ice most of the time. They take the ice and set it inside a very large camping style cooler. One of the families showed me their cooler and it was bear proof so quite solid. The cooler will hold any leftovers and cheese if they have it along with milk. Things like ketchup and such would never be put in due to space.

So you might wonder what they do about meat. Where would you put fresh meat? I was so surprised, you can it! Yep they can just about everything and before you turn your nose up let me tell you a couple of things about canning. I didn't know about the meat until our second meal. We ate a delicious taco casserole. Our host brought out all the ingredients and set them on the counter and sure enough there was a jar and it was filled with taco meat. They prepare multiple pounds of whatever meat they do have all at once. They season it and then can it.

Most of the women have a summer kitchen on the backside of their house. In that kitchen they have a grate or an old burner up on a counter with a propane tank underneath. When you don't have air conditioning you don't want to use your wood stove very much so a summer kitchen makes a lot of sense. They make spaghetti sauce and then can it. They do bacon, ham, ground venison, homemade soups and even chicken nuggets. I still marvel at their resourcefulness.

One of the ladies showed me her root cellar. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a root cellar it is usually a dug out room either near the basement or off to the side of the house. The one I saw actually was cut out of the rocks on the side of the hill. All four walls were the rocks which made for perfect humidity and temperature to keep canning jar filled with good food safe.

There is so much more I want to tell you about from the kitchen that I think I will stop here for the day. Just for grins, spend the next 24 hours and see what life would be life in your kitchen without electricity. What would you miss the most?

Till next time.
Remember, it truly is with Christ Alone!

Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Washing the Simple Way

Good morning sweet friend. Thanks for coming along on this journey of mine. The picture to my left brings a smile to my face. I will never forget washing clothes in the community.

Every woman in the community does their wash on Mondays, rain or shine. Our first host washes just once a week. I was so excited to experience everything I could in the community so I volunteered to do it for them if they showed me how.

All of the women have a basement and that is where the wash tubs are. Ironically I got to experience the simplest machine in the community on Monday and later in the week the most sophisticated machine! Isn't God good?

After we washed up the dishes bright and early Monday morning we headed down into the basement to start washing. Remember, there is absolutely no electricity. You need a flash light for every step. The floors and walls are concrete so it is cold and damp.

My host did not have a metal bucket but an old wood barrel cut in half and laid on it's side. Picture a large thick wooden handle attached to the right side of the barrel that is attached to another arm laid on it's side at the bottom of the half barrel. When you move the top handle back and forth it moves the bottom arm back and forth to swish the dirty clothes back and forth.

The hot water comes from the wood stove (which I will share with you about on Monday) and we filled up the barrel with hot water and laundry soap. We started with their dresses and put about 7 dresses in the water. They keep a little timer on a shelf next to the washer and set it for 7 minutes. I moved that arm back and forth, back and forth for 7 minutes. When my right arm got tired I switched to my left arm. We visited while I was doing the washing so time went by really fast!

Once the timer went off it was time to squeeze out each piece of clothing by putting it through the wringer which in the picture you can see over to the left. The wringer was a hand crank so it was a little tricky at first to crank while trying to put each piece of clothing through the wringer. Once I cranked my finger right into the wringer. Yep it hurt!

After a piece was put through the wringer I dropped it into another large tub that was filled with hot water and liquid fabric softener. I swished the clothes all around for a couple of minutes with my hands and then put them back through the wringer for a final squeeze and dropped them one at a time into a plastic clothes basket. Once the load had been washed, wrung through the wringer, rinsed by hand and then put back through the wringer, it was time to hang it all out on the clothes line to dry.

We did 7 loads that morning and all the wash was hanging out before 10 am. I got a great aerobic workout along with some weight training all for free! Those clothes hung out all day flapping in the breeze. By late afternoon we brought them all in to be folded and put away.

My host only changes the water once during the 7 loads which seemed a little on the gross side but her barrel was difficult to drain out and restart. The clothes looked and smelled clean so whom am I to say?

Several of the ladies had told me that our second host families had the Cadillac of washing machines so I could not wait till Thursday morning breakfast was over so I could experience the Cadillac version! My host explained that since her husband was one of the farmers he tended to be home most days so for a couple of years he helped his very pregnant wife do laundry. Once day the farmer says to his wife, "I am tired of pushing and pulling the handle over and over again for hours on end so I am going to design you a better washing system." And that he did.

Mr. Farmer acquired some piping and a wheel which helped him make a circular path for his horse to ride over and over again which turned a wheel outside that was piped inside which had another wheel that was attached to an old wringer washer that agitated the clothes all by itself. This is truly "horse power." Now the horse is pretty smart and really doesn't care to walk in a circle for two hours alone. So the oldest son that was home was 5 years old and his mama put him on the horse and had him encourage the horse to go round and round.

That day it was around 24 degrees and lots of wind. That poor little guy got really cold so mama brought him out a hat and gloves so he wouldn't freeze. I did the same thing I had done with the barrel back at our first hosts home. The "washing machine" was not old wood but stainless steel. I did not have to move an arm back and forth since the horse did it for me. What was funny was sometimes the horse would jog a little and the agitator would go really fast and then the horse would practically crawl and the agitator would barely go. The horse simply did not understand what a steady pace meant!

Once the timer went off I started snaking through each piece of clothing on the wringer. The wringer was also attached to the wheel so it moved without me having to crank the arm back and forth. There was also an old tub next to the machine so I rinsed the clothes just like I had done on Monday. I did 11 loads in 2 1/2 hours which impressed me. I have to say that my fingers were frozen after hanging out 11 loads of laundry on a very windy day.

So which way sounds better to you? I thought the horse was cool but frankly if I were to do laundry that way I would choose the way without the horse. It takes two people to do the laundry with the horse and I would rather not have to wait for someone to sit on the horse.

We ate dinner and supper each day at someone else's home so I saw lots of variations and I can safely say that I like the first way but without the wood barrel. The stainless steel version seems cleaner to me. The wood barrel got kind of slimy on the bottom and I figured there were a lot of germs in that barrel. A stainless steel tub can be sanitized before and after.

What did I learn? I love washing clothes the "old fashioned" way. It would have taken me from sun up to sun down to do 11 loads of laundry in my fancy high efficiency washer and dryer. In fact I would not mind selling my fancy set for a shiny next stainless steel tub with an old wringer attached. Anyone want to buy it?

On Monday I will start telling you about the kitchen and food! Yeah...
Till then, it is truly with Christ Alone that I am here,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Sound of Music

I have listened to contemporary Christian music for years. The thought of not listening to music on my I-pod or radio seemed impossible. How would I go an entire week without it? Well let me tell you I can still surprise myself!

When I didn't have music constantly playing I could actually hear sounds I don't normally pay attention to. I could hear the bluebirds outside singing. I could hear the horse whinny and I heard the wind blow through the trees.

Our first host family sings before they eat breakfast each morning. Yep, they all stand around the table and sing a hymn or two. Well, after that morning I caught myself singing hymns I don't seem to have time to sing anymore. One of the days I walked by myself I totally enjoyed singing.

My favorite part though was on Wednesday night when we moved to our second hosts' home. We had supper (which is different then dinner, which is lunch) and then we went to "meeting." It was pitch dark when we got back to their house. We were given their upstairs to sleep so we all headed up stairs to go to bed. I crawled under the covers and started praying. The Mama of this home nurses her baby in an Amish rocking chair and sings the entire family to sleep. I laid there amazed at the peacefulness. I have to say, I have never been sung to sleep before. There is something magical about one sweet voice in the stillness of the night praising God. I felt like I was on holy ground.

After my visit to the community I have learned that noise, no matter what the source, is still noise that can clutter our brains. It's funny, I thought I would be miserable without the radio or my ipod playing my favorite songs, I was wrong. I enjoyed the silence so much that I have yet to turn on the radio when I hop in the car.

I am so thankful for the lesson I learned. Thank you Father.
In Christ Alone,
Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A One Room School House

I love teaching. I schooled our children for twenty years. I love watching the light bulb come on when a child gets a concept. I could not wait to visit the one room school house in the community. The children go to school from first grade through 8th. There is no kindergarten so they usually wait till the child is six years old.

The first family we stayed with had two boys ages ten and twelve. I was scheduled to go with them to school on Tuesday morning. So on Monday night the oldest boy sat down with me after dinner and explained what school was like and what the rules were. The school room is very quiet so they have different hand signals the students use to communicate with the teacher. I thought I had all the hand signals down and was ready to go bright and early the next morning.

The next morning at 7 a.m. I walked to school with both boys and what an adventure it was. Since my host family lives the furthest away we walked at a fast clip. Now I am an old lady and it was a major feat to keep up with these young whippersnappers. The path was very steep at times, muddy and rocky and oh yes, horse deposits to maneuver which apparently I was not very proficient at!

Half way down the hill we walked through one of the other families property and found ourselves adding to our numbers. Four little girls had just come out of the house and they walked in front of us singing together. We were about 3/4 of the way to the school when three other boys joined our ranks. By this time we are on flat and may I say blessed flat ground when I hear in the distance more children. These little guys had bikes and they whirled past us. Apparently it is a game to see just who can get to the schoolhouse first. Now I have to say by the time we arrived 25 minutes later I had just experienced a great aerobic workout and it was free!

After climbing the steep stairs to introduce myself to the teacher, who was expecting me, we promptly went back down the stairs and out into the field next to the school. All the children gathered and started a game that resembled baseball without the bat and ball. The children love this game they play. The teacher joined in and I have to say I was impressed with just how fast this 30 something gal could run especially in a long dress!

It only lasted about 10 minutes and then it was time to line up for school. I hung back so I was the last one into the schoolroom. When I entered they were all in a line that snaked around the old fashioned desks. In the back of the room there was a sink and above the sink there were stainless steel mugs on a large board with hooks. As the line snaked around the room the children would grab a mug and quickly fill it with water from the sink. All was quiet and done with great precision. While you stood in the line snaking around the room for a second time you drank your water. By the time you got to the sink the second time you hung up your mug where you found it. Since I was in the back of the line I was the last to grab a mug. My first reaction was eewww I am going to be drinking out of a mug that has been used multiple times by children and not been washed. I quickly got over the ick factor and was happy with a very cold mug of water!

I sat in the back on an old wooden bench and observed. The teachers desk was up front on the right side of the room. Her assistant sat behind a desk all the way over on the left side of the room. This school year they are singing through their hymn books starting at the front of the hymnal. They sing two hymns and have a prayer before class starts. I have to tell you they sing with amazing gusto. I am certain the singing could be heard some distance away. Then the teacher called by name one family at a time to stand and introduce themselves to me. Some families had 4 or 5 children in the class and some had only one or two. It obviously was a treat to have a visitor so it was so cute to watch them address me.

There were 34 children in the classroom. The rows of desks went by grade. First grade was on the far left and each row went into a higher grade till you reached the far right and they were 8th graders. Behind the first graders there sat the heat for the room, a huge wood stove. In the back of the room all the way to the right sat a picnic table of sorts and a large blackboard. The teacher would call one grade at a time back to the table and teach a subject while all the other students worked on the same subject in their workbooks. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Since I had been quizzed the night before on the hand signals I knew what each child needed.

When a student finished an assignment in their workbooks they held it up high in their left hands and waited patiently till the teacher acknowledged them and gave the go ahead to walk to her desk and lay the finished workbook on her desk. If you raised your hand without a workbook in it that means you have to go to the bathroom. Now remember the outhouses, the ones for the school are down the steps, out of the room and over across the road and are marked one for boys and one for girls. If you have to go to the bathroom before the time allotted to go then you had to stay in 4 minutes after recess starts. It apparently was a great incentive since only two children raised their hands to go before the time set aside. If you raised your right hand with two fingers showing then that meant you had a question.

After 1 1/2 hours of this the teacher called one boy and one girl by name at a time and they hurried out of the room and went to the outhouse. I finally figured out what she was doing and realized the entire recess period would be wasted if you had to wait in line for the bathroom. This was all done in silence with great precision also. By the time recess came around all the children had gone to the bathroom so they could play once out on the field.

Recess was another game they all played together that for the life of my I could not quite figure out. I have to stay they all play well together. There is no tattling, no complaining and no fighting. They all just had alot of fun together.

They go from 7:30 in the morning to 12:30. They are taught reading, writing, arithematic, science and geography. There are no classes on gay pride etc. just basic teaching. The teacher obviously ran a tight ship but she did it with joy and kindness on her face. What a blessing to see.

If you have any questions feel free to comment.
Tomorrow I am going to share with you what their worship looks like.
In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Transportation 101

When I came out of the outhouse I whispered to Gabriel, "Son, thanks for telling me about the "accommodations" ahead of time." He is such a man, it NEVER occurred to him to tell me such an important fact! My first thought was to stop drinking for the week, but after 53 years of living on this earth I knew better.

Supper was a delicious chicken casserole, some homemade bread, pickles, potatoes and an apple crisp for dinner. More on food later. I promise.

Remember there is no radio to listen to, no mind altering television shows to watch, so what does a person do without any of that? They sit and visit for a bit and then everyone heads off to bed. Their three children moved out of the second floor so Gabriel and his crew slept in one room and I got a room all by myself. The upstairs was lit by a single kerosene lamp. The moon was out that night so I could see shadows in the bedroom. When I climbed under the covers I couldn't help but think how peaceful the place was.

The next morning was Sunday and when it was time to get out of bed it was pitch dark. I could smell the mornings breakfast and hurried to dress. We all sat down together to eat and the conversation turned to "going to meeting". This family lived on the far side of the community so it would take a while to get there. With 11 of us there was no way the horse Barney could pull us all there. The men said they would all walk and the "women folk" would take the horse and buck board.

Just recently I had gone to an Amish community in Ohio and had ridden around the property in a buggy on solid ground. Never in my wildest dreams did I consider just how rough this ride would be going all the way down into the community. I sat on a bundle of hay holding one of the babies. There were a couple of times I worried I would be dumped on the ground with baby in hand. The buckboard rocked back and forth over and over again. Just when I thought Barney would find some smooth road he would send us over a large tree stump. I am certain our host saw fear on my face because when she looked at me she told me not to worry. She went on to tell me that her first 4 or 5 times down the hill absolutely petrified her. I felt a whole lot better after she told me that. I truly held on for dear life. When we finally pulled over and Barney was tied to a tree, all I could think about was wishing my favorite chiropractor was around!

Most of the families in the community do not have your traditional buggy but rather have a buck board which is much more practical in a farming community. They have to haul lumber to build the buildings so a buggy doesn't make much sense. When I got to help in their one room school house (which I will write about in a couple of days) I saw a few Papa's "drive" their children to school which was impressive. The children would stand behind their papa's and hold onto their shoulders. They looked so secure holding on to their Dad. No fear in their eyes like I had in mine. Hmm, what a lesson for you and me. I just love it when God teaches me new things.

Walking is the only other way to get around the community. They all walk so much of their day that I have to tell you that in 20 families there is not one pleasantly plump lady in the bunch! They have no need of gym memberships. What a life!

Next time I will tell you about their "meetings."
In Christ Alone,
Jill



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratituesday November 15th

Today is my favorite day. It is the day we set aside to praise God for all our blessings. Last week I was privileged to visit the Christians who live in Caneyville Kentucky. It will remain a highlight for the rest of my life because I have believed for many years that I was born in the wrong century! For the past few years I have craved a simpler life. To be honest I am tired of living in Babylon. For those who regularly read my blog you know all about Babylon. The thought of living close to the land, growing what we eat, canning the food we need for the winter all sound great to me.

So last Saturday we left at 6am and arrived around 7:30 in the evening. This place is so far out of the way it's crazy. There isn't even a Jiffy Lube, let alone a McD's! It was pitch dark when we arrived. We drove first to the home of the leader of the group where we were welcomed. One of their sons still living at home offered to take us to our hosts home. We would have never found it otherwise! We jumped in the van and started off.

It was pitch dark by this point and of course no lights to mark the way. We drove through thick woods on a path that was anything but smooth. When we finally reached the top I saw one small light up in the distance. When we got out we grabbed flashlights and headed in. That one light I saw was in the kitchen of our hosts home. Since there is not any electricity they use a propane light to see.

So imagine my surprise when I ask to use the restroom before sitting down to a meal and get taken back outside and around to the back of the house! Now I had asked precious son number 1 if they had bathrooms when we made plans for the trip and he assured me there were. Well, that bathroom is really an outhouse. Later he told me that it never occurred to him to relay such important information to me. Is that a man for you?

So today my dear reader let me just say I am thankful I got to experience many different kind of outhouses during my stay. More on that later.
What are you thankful for today? I would love to know.
In Christ Alone,
Jill






Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Adventure In A Plain Community


This past week I had the privilege of visiting a Plain Community in Caneyville Kentucky. Our son Gabriel and his wife Bethany will be joining the community next year, Lord willing. They asked me to come alone to help with our grandchildren and get a peek into the community. Well let me tell you ladies I had the adventure of a lifetime!

Imagine stepping back 150 years. There are no cars, no electricity, no television or internet or phones. In our society today we can hardly imagine going a day without our cell phones or facebook and everything in between much less live week after week, month after month and year after year. Yet, this community has chosen to do just that.

The community is made up of former Amish, German Baptist, Mennonites etc. All culturally different yet agreeing to come together to just be Christians. They chose to live in community with one another. In the next few days I want to share some of my experiences last week so that you can know how one community is living out their faith. If you have any questions along the way then please feel free to ask.

In Christ Alone,

Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".