Why we don’t allow our kids to read Hunger Games, Divergent or The Dairy of Anne Frank

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Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love before the proper time.

Song 8:4

I recently had a conversation with my mom regarding all of the false ideals we often enter marriage with.  Children today have it especially hard, in my opinion.  Not only are they bombarded with s*x and romance in the media, but they also participate regularly in what one pastor rightly called “divorce training.”  Engaging in romantic relationships as early as elementary school and losing their virginity by as young as 14 years of age, kids today hop from one relationship to another all through their most formative years, learning early on that the easiest way to fix a relationship that isn’t meeting all of their expectations is to end it.

From the time most children are in their teens, they have already formed a myriad of expectations regarding what a s*xual encounter should look and feel like.  Thousands of times they’ve experienced the hormonal butterflies the popular books, movies and songs of today are designed to elicit and often (subconsciously or otherwise) set this up as the standard by which their own relationships should be measured.  And when what they experience with their spouse doesn’t measure up, it’s easy to find those relationships lacking.

Personally, I have no desire to see my children walk down that path.  I want my children to have no hollywood-inspired fantasies regarding love and physical intimacy.  I don’t want their heads filled with angst-ridden love songs and romantic ideals.  I want them to go to their marriage beds completely pure – without images in their heads of men other than their husbands or women other than their wives and unrealistic ideas of what intimacy is.  I don’t want them to expect their spouse to kiss them or touch them in certain ways because they’ve seen it on the screen or read it in a book, I want them to be clumsy on their honeymoons and discover things with their spouses “thinking they were the first to know, believing they had reached heights others have never known.” (link)

This is one reason (among many!) that we censor what our children read, listen to and watch on the screen.  Will we always censor what they’re exposed to?  Of course not.  But it is our goal to provide them with a foundation while they’re young that will eventually lead them to censor these things for themselves as they get older.  We hope to teach them in a meaningful way that “the eye is the lamp of the body” and that some things just aren’t worth reading/watching, even if they’re on the top of the best seller lists and the rest of the world calls them “classic.”  We hope to teach them that mental purity is just as important as physical purity.  We hope to raise them to want to go to their marriage beds completely innocent, without ideals, expectations and mental images gifted to them by mainstream media (and pray God will send them wives and husbands who have been raised to feel the same!)  If that means they never read Pride and Prejudice or watch Gone with the Wind, that’s perfectly fine with us.

“When I travel to find a certain new specimen for my garden, or to purchase seedlings, or obtain a cutting or start of some plant I want to try, I go to extreme lengths to give that plant all the help I can to make sure it begins its life in a healthy manner. Whatever strength it will carry with it throughout the remainder of its existence depends on the help I give it in its first year or two. What I must do mostly at first is protect and shelter it from all sorts of effects that would kill it if left to itself – snow, frost, wind, pests, various fungi, rabbits, deer, snails and so on. I am extremely protective of my young plants, and often I cover them with small shields until they are well under way. I also fertilize and prune as needed. I spare no effort during the critical first two seasons.

“You see, it’s all a matter of getting their roots deep into the good, rich soil so that the growth of stalk and trunk and stems and branches and leaves above ground is vital and healthy. Without deep roots, and if outside influences continually come to eat and destroy the first tender green spouts, a long and healthy and productive future is doomed.

“I happen to believe that the same thing is necessary in the matter of one’s children.

– The Eleventh Hour by Michael Phillips

 

Note: I’ve heard many parents say that there are important lessons to be found in some books/movies with questionable content (The Diary of Anne Frank, for instance) and I agree.  In such cases where the good heavily outweighs the bad, pages can (and, in my opinion, should) be skipped and scenes forwarded through.  Our prayer is that through careful teaching, character building and censorship when they’re young, they will do these things on their own when they’re older (I actually have a friend whose oldest daughter is a huge Hunger Games fan, yet stopped reading the books halfway through because she felt the scenes between Peeta and Katniss were too intense.  That kind of self-restraint is, in my opinion, a manifestation of excellent parenting.*)  While our children are young it seems best to us to simply avoid those books/movies for now and in the case of many “classic” and best-selling books and movies firmly establish the following precept:

Don’t go searching through the trash in hopes of finding a good apple.

Some books aren’t worth reading, and some books are worth waiting until maturity for.  There are myriads of books that can teach and inspire our children toward greatness and don’t include glorified, glamorized violent or sexual content.  And plenty of these are written by and about true life heroes, in real-life circumstances.  Those are the types of books I hope my children will grow to love.

*I don’t mean by this that no child should ever read the Hunger Games, but that it’s impressive that a child who wanted to read it stopped reading it because she felt convicted about it.

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Related Articles:

The Greenhouse Effect (why we shelter our children)
On romance and love and not marrying my soul mate and an attack on poor Mr. Darcy

Entertainment: does it have a place in the Christian life
I didn’t marry my soul mate… was I supposed to?
Want to rekindle your romance?  Don’t sell yourself short!

A Husband for Lara Rose (outside link)

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Posted in Discipline/Discipleship/Raising Godly Children, Femininity and Womanhood, Marriage, Parenting, PERSONAL | 1 Comment

“Momma’s sick, and she’s putting onions in the fridge. I think she’s pregnant.”

From the mouths of babes.  🙂

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In honor of our most recent pregnancy, (yes, that’s an announcement!!!) I thought it would be fun to give our answers to some of the most common questions/comments aimed toward families with lots of kids.  Most of these questions don’t bother me unless they’re presented sarcastically (and some of them often are) but it’s funny how many people have NO IDEA how many times we hear these questions/comments over and over again!  So here is everything you really want to know, but are too polite (or not!) to ask….

Are you catholic?

No, but we do tend to side with catholic teachings in this regard.  Few people realize it, but up until 1930, all christian denominations considered birth control a sin.  In fact, the use of contraceptives was once illegal in America.  It wasn’t until the Lambeth Conference in 1930 that the Anglican church, swayed by social pressure, announced that contraception would be allowed in limited circumstances.  Soon after, all other Protestant denominations followed suit and in 1938, in large part thanks to a woman named Margaret Sanger, the federal ban on birth control in the U.S. was lifted.  While we don’t go so far as to say that all forms of birth control are a sin, we do believe that children are a blessing (Psalm 127) and that God desires married couples to have children (Mal 2:15.)  I also believe that the practice of separating the act of sex from the conception of children has led to the huge rise in our culture of abortion, divorce, pornography and promiscuity.  But that is fodder for another post.

Do you use birth control?

From even before Jon and I got married, I knew that I never wanted to use birth control, because it’s exactly that.  Birth. Control.  How could I ask Jesus to be Lord of my life, and then set myself up as lord of my own procreation?  I feel this is something God is supposed to be in charge of.   After all, what else in this life has more eternal significance than the number of children we bring into the world, and how we raise them?  And yet, many self-professed Christians never even stop to consider how many children God may want them to have.  That way of doing things was and still remains foreign to my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  Having said that, however, I’ll admit that I get just as frightened as anyone else over the prospect of another pregnancy and at times even just plain selfish (I had no desire to get pregnant in the middle of training for a marathon, for instance.)  So at various times in our lives, we have used birth control in the form of Natural Family Planning or abstinence.  Without going into too much detail, we have gotten pregnant under some pretty incredible circumstances through which God has made it obvious that He is personally responsible for the number of children we currently have and I’m comfortable with the way we currently do things.  Every now and then I’ll get scared and take back control, and God will gently remind me (usually with another pregnancy!) that He wants to be Lord, even in this.

How many kids are you going to have?

I have no idea… see the two answers, above.

How many kids do you want to have?

It sounds pretty trite to say that we want “as many kids as God wants us to have.”  The truth is that with every pregnancy, Jon and I both have to go through a bit of a mental adjustment.  Jon, especially, as he’s 11 years older than I am and worries about leaving me with young children some day.  How many do we want to have?  Well, currently, we’d be pretty happy with eight.  🙂

(Upon hearing that we’re pregnant AGAIN): Are you excited?

As I said, there is often an adjustment period for us when we first find out we’re pregnant, and the measure of how excited we are often depends on how selfish we’re being at the time.  When I found out I was pregnant in the middle of training for a marathon I was pretty upset about it, to be honest.  At other times, I’ve been thrilled.  Once the initial shock wears off, we’ve always grown more and more excited over the course of the pregnancy and there is nothing like holding a newborn in your arms.  Whether it’s number one or number 7, it’s the most beautiful, wonderful experience in the world.  Every. Single. Time.

Are the kids excited?

Every time, and the older they are, the more excited they are.

Are any of them twins?

No.

How old are they?

Currently, they are 12, 10, 9, 7, 5, 2 and 18 months.

How far apart are they?

Our closest (#1 and #2) are 15 months apart, and our furthest (#6 and #7) are 29 months apart.  This next one will be roughly 26 months apart from his/her youngest sister.

How many girls/boys?

Currently, five girls and two boys.

Are they all from the same marriage?

Jon and I have seven children together, and I also have a stepson who lives with his mother in Tennessee.

How do you afford it?

If we waited until we could afford it, we would never have had one child, let alone seven.  It’s been our experience, and that of the other large families we know, that “whom God sends, He also provides for.”  Being open to having children is an act of faith, perhaps the most significant and far-reaching act of faith in our lives, and God has never let us down.

Are you on welfare?

No, we’re not on any form of government assistance.

What does your husband do?

He’s a nurse.

I bet you get a huge tax return!

Actually, only three of our children have social security numbers (before we knew better,) so we get virtually none of the tax benefits of having lots of kids.

(From the comments section):
Why don’t your kids have social security numbers?  Isn’t it required?

With all the problems social security is currently facing, we want our children to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to participate in it. Considering the fact that the government is taking wages out of our paychecks each month to support a crumbling system, we think it’s THEIR decision to make, not ours.
As for being required, it’s absolutely NOT. It is, however, required for tax purposes (which is why we don’t get a tax break for our children who don’t have SS numbers. This is one of the ways the government convinced virtually all American citizens to enroll their kids in it.)

Do you drive a bus?

No, we drive a fifteen passenger van and are trying to fill it and get our money’s worth out of it. 😉

How old are you?

I’m 33, Jon is 44.

Wow, you look too good/too young to have so many kids!

Okay, so in reality no one has ever said this to me, but it sure would be nice if they would!

Are you competing with the Duggars?

Haha, aren’t you clever.  No.

Are you working on a basketball team?

Um… no.  But it would be pretty cool to have a family like this:

Without all the bluegrass, that is.  😉

Don’t you think (insert number of current children here) is enough?

This is another sarcastic remark veiled as a question, but to answer:  Yes.  Since we firmly believe that God is invested in how many children we do or don’t have, and He hasn’t yet informed us of the total number of children we’re going to have, I am positive that our current number of children is exactly enough for now.

Oh my goodness, I only have [insert number here] and they drive me crazy. How do you do it/How do you manage?!

I drink. Copiously.
(kidding)
I manage the same way everyone else does, whether they have one child or 20.  One day at a time, some days better than others, and some days I feel crazy, too!  I’m not a saint, my kids aren’t perfect, and I’m far from the perfect mom.  But what seems chaotic to someone else is just my “normal.”  God (usually!) sends them one at a time, and you simply adjust.

And to those who look at their two or three children and think they could never handle 7 or 8, keep in mind that I probably don’t do for my 7 children all that you do for your 2, especially if your children are young.  All of our older kids have responsibilities around the house, and they’re all incredibly helpful.  Our oldest kids are even starting to cook more often, simply because they want to, and that in itself is a HUGE blessing.  My children are also able to entertain themselves with very little (we don’t electronics at all and watch very little TV) and, of course, they always have someone to play with.  So I actually feel like my job is easier than it was 8 or 9 years ago when we only had three.  Don’t get me wrong – my house is almost always a mess and we can never find anything, but now my life is crazy thanks to my compulsion to complicate it with goats and cows and puppies, and not so much because we have another child every couple of years or so.

Do your older kids help a lot?

Yes, they do, and something that our society can’t understand is that my older children don’t consider it a burden to help.  My two oldest have recently taken over a lot of the cooking in our house because they want to and they recently asked if they could start milking the cow, because we only have one goat in milk right now.  Our third daughter loves to “babysit” her youngest sister, and even changes her diapers on occasion, simply because she thinks it’s fun.  That’s not to say they don’t have chores that they don’t particularly enjoy, but that’s another great thing about having so many kids… everyone only has a few things to do in the morning outside of their own self-care such as brushing teeth, hair, etc. because there are so many of us here to do them.  So yes, my older kids help a lot.  All of my kids help a lot.  But that’s because we’ve raised them to consider helping a joy and an act of love.  And trust me, if you could see our house 6 out of 7 days of the week, you’d know that none of us are doing an excessive amount of cleaning!  😉

Did you always want a large family?

HA!!!  No!  When I was younger, I wanted a large family but by the time I was in high school, I was swearing I’d never have ANY children.  Never say never.  🙂

Do you homebirth/homeschool?

yes and yes

Do you breastfeed/how long do you breastfeed?

Yes, and with our first three we were lucky to breastfeed past six months or so (mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing,) and with each child after that it’s gotten progressively longer.  I usually start weaning around 18 months.

Haven’t you heard of overpopulation?

Yes, and it’s a lie, the explanation of which would also require a post of its own.  But even if it weren’t, I’m convinced that the rising rate of couples with two jobs, two cars and huge houses; singles who leave their homes at 19 or 20 to get their own places and marry late in life; and the vast number of parents who buy myriads of toys and clothes and electronics for their 1.2 kids contribute far more to the “carbon footprint” than my family living under one roof with one breadwinner, very few electronics, a small number of clothes (from thrift stores) and our own milk cow.

Don’t you know what causes that?

This has to be the most hated, over-asked question OF. ALL. TIME.  This is either a question that people A. ask to be funny (it’s not) or B. comment out of pure sarcasm or C. ask to hide what they really want to know which is: how often do you guys have sex?!  Answer: unless you are a very, very close friend (you know who you are!): absolutely none of your business.  But I’m going to answer this anyway, because many of my friends with multiple children would answer the exact same way.  Contrary to popular belief and assumption, we probably have sex a lot less often than you think (Jon’s first words when we found out about the baby were [jokingly] “how did this even HAPPEN?!”)  As I mentioned before, God has made it very clear that the number of children we have is the number of children He wants us to have.

And to those who ask this question in a sarcastic, smarmy kind of way as if we belong in the circus or a mental institution, I’d like to ask you a question:  Why aren’t you planning to have more children?  Why are you stopping a natural function of your body from doing something it was made to do?  Why are you surgically altering your or your spouce’s body, using chemical hormones that are known to cause abortion or minimizing the intimacy you have with your spouce by wearing a condom?  Just curious.

Do you have any regrets?

I have absolutely no regrets and I think that we’re giving our children an absolutely incredible childhood.  I do occasionally struggle with feeling guilty, however, especially as I watch friends struggle with infertility and know that the pregnancies I seek to avoid (ie while training for a marathon) are pregnancies they would give anything to be “burdened” with.
I also struggle with feeling misunderstood and ridiculed because we live in a society that doesn’t welcome children on a large scale basis and assumes hurtful things about our family (ie. we must have sex all the time, or we must be in poverty, etc.)
Lastly, I regret my own perceptions of family and what it means to have a happy, fulfilling life.  I have to admit that the idea of having small children in the house when I’m fifty doesn’t appeal to me.  At some point I’m supposed to be free of the responsibility of raising children.  At some point, I’m supposed to only have to cook a meal for two and do laundry for two and be able to look out my living room window without the haze of fingerprints obscuring the view.  Right?  And yet if family was really the most important thing in my life,  I wouldn’t ever seek to be free of that “responsibility.”  I’d seek to live close to my children, and have the privilege of helping with their children (which is a dream of mine, and one of the reasons we’re doing our best to learn to farm.)  My oldest kids already talk about living close together and helping (and receiving help!) with each others kids.  Taking care of children shouldn’t be a responsibility I seek to be done with.  What else am I going to do with my time, anyway?

So there you have it.  If you have any other questions that don’t pertain to the number of times my husband and I copulate on a monthly basis, feel free to ask in the comments section.  🙂

Posted in Daybook, Parenting, PERSONAL, The Seven of 'em | 5 Comments

Quick Takes – March 2, 2014

— 1 —

We have a new baby on the farm!  I walked outside to feed the animals a few days ago and heard the bleating of a lamb!  He was cold and shivering and his momma didn’t seem terribly interested in him, so we brought him inside to dry him off and milked a little colostrum from Momma before putting him back in with her.  She’s still ignoring him and not allowing him to nurse, so it looks like we have another bottle baby on our hands (can you hear the lack of enthusiasm with which I say that?)  🙂

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— 2 —

We had a HUGE scare with Lucy this week.  I went to take the puppy out early one morning and Lucy was laying flat on her side (never a good thing for a cow – they can die within hours in that position.)  She was lowing in the same way she did when she got caught in the electric fence, only very, very softly… as if she hardly had the strength to call loudly anymore, and she didn’t seem to recognize me or be aware of anything.  I really thought she was going to die and chances are, had our dog not needed to go potty when she did, she would have.  I ran to get Jon and he and Bunchkin were able to get her up on her side while I called our neighbor and our vet.  After a little while we were able to stand her up in the same way we usually do when she’s down (twisting her tail to give her the incentive to stand [it hurts] and then throwing our weight backward as she starts to stand, which seems to give her just enough leverage to stand up on her own.)  We gave her a steroid shot and a pain killer and babied her for the rest of the day.  She’s doing well now, and has been fine since then and my wonderful mom picked up a baby monitor for us in town (even though she wasn’t feeling well!) so that we’ll be able to monitor her better during the night.  It makes me sad that the inevitable end to all of this is going to be a trip to freezer camp, as we won’t be able to breed her in her condition and eventually she’ll stop producing (and we cannot afford to keep a pet cow, nor, probably, would we want to.)  The good news is that Gwendolyn is doing great and she’s getting huge and fat on her momma’s milk.  She’s a sweetheart and I’m really thankful to have her.

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resting after a very rough morning

— 3 —

Despite the trouble she had recently, Lucy has actually been doing really well up until this point.  We haven’t had to pick her up in a few weeks, and her milk production has been great.  Since we’re sharing milk with the calf (which means we only have to milk ONCE a day – woohoo!), we’re not getting huge amounts of milk, but she’s maintaining her body weight well on barley fodder and hay, unlike last year when we had to start feeding her grain.  Since grass-fed milk is so much healthier than milk from grain-fed cows, I feel really good about it, and I’m so grateful for every day that Lucy is up again and we get another jar or two of her wonderful milk.  The longer she can hang in there, the better off Gwendolyn will be and the better chance we have that Gwenny will also grow up to do well on grass (the loner a calf has access to raw milk, the better the rumen will develops, which in part determines how well they’ll convert grass to milk. Most dairy’s start supplementing with formula and grain pretty quickly, as it’s cheaper to keep the milk and feed formula than to feed the milk to the calves.)

— 4 —

Every  now and then I think of how much more milk we’d have if we sold the cows and invested in some standard dairy goats.  I think you can keep something like 4 standard goats on one acre (as opposed to one cow per acre) and if each goat is giving a gallon of milk… well… we’d get a whole lot more milk with goats!  But I just love having a cow.  In so many ways, a milk cow is the heart of a farm (or can be, anyway.)  She provides compost for the garden, milk, cheese and butter for us, whey from cheese making can be fed to chickens or pigs and extra milk can be used to feed the cats.  For the cost of a little bit of grass, a little bit of hay, and a little bit of barley fodder (optional,) we have an animal who can provide valuable inputs to an entire farm.  Pretty amazing, really.

(Okay, so technically, a goat can provide all of those things, too.  But a goat is not a cow.  And I love my cows!  They [goats and cows] each have such wonderful, different personalities and are each fun for their own reasons.)

— 5 —

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Our little puppy is doing great!  We decided to name him “Daily.”  My brother suggested that name many years ago for a little boy, and I always loved it.  We especially liked it for our puppy, to serve as a little reminder to us (Mat 6:11 and 34.) It seemed timely.

I’ve never had such a smart dog before!  He’s only had a few accidents in the house and every single time he’s tried to tell me he had to go out, and I haven’t been fast enough.  I won’t say he’s “housebroken” yet, since he’s only allowed access in certain parts of the house right now, but he definitely knows where he’s supposed to go. He also already knows several commands including “sit,” “look at me,” “yuck” (signals him to leave something alone,) “no,” “out” (to drop something in his mouth) and will touch my hand with his nose when I snap my fingers.  Right now we’re working on “come” and he’s almost got it!  Considering the fact that I just started working with him not long ago, I’m pretty impressed!

— 6 —

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Speaking of training Daily… to go along with my extreme perfectionist complex, there is something inside of me that is absolutely COMPELLED to make my life more difficult than it has to be on almost every possible occasion.  The other day, my dad came over and asked me “do you ever do ANYTHING normal?”  But really, I’m taking his training pretty seriously and trying my best to raise him right from the beginning.  We’ve had a lot of sad situations having to give up dogs in the past, almost completely due to my own lack of education and willingness to take the time to train them, and I’m determined that won’t happen with Daily!!!  I also want him to be a working dog.  He will have a job to do around here, hopefully several, so I’m determined to raise him right from the very beginning (one of the reasons we wanted a puppy and not an adult dog.)  I’ve been looking into a lot of training videos, and one of the main websites I’ve been searching on has been Leerburg.com (Ed Frawley has been working professionally with German Shepherd Dogs for over 30 years.)  Really great information there, for anyone interested in training their dog!

— 7 —

We’ve decided to feed Daily a raw diet and I’m pretty excited about it!  For one, it just makes more sense to me.  I’ve never seen a wolf eating out of a bag of dried kibble, that’s like feeding my kids a diet of nothing but lunchables.  Call it a “balanced meal” all you want, but I don’t think you can’t get good nutrition out of a package.  Second, research seems to back this up.  I learned alot about raw food diets for animals when I was looking up information on raw milk.  (((STUDY WITH CATS))))   Third, with all the animal byproducts we have (bones, organ meat, etc.) from processing our own animals, I’ll feel good that those parts that we would ordinarily waste will be put to good use. And fourth , if we shop the sales, it will actually be cheaper for us!

For instance, a store near us has chicken leg quarters for .59/lb right now.  In addition, our local butcher shop sells organ meat for .80/lb and bones for even less.  To give you an idea for comparison, we’re currently feeding our puppy Science Diet as we make the transition to raw foods, and it’s $2.60/lb!!!  Purina is .75/lb, Iams is .93/lb, Eukanuba is 1.33/lb (and that’s on sale!)  Even Old Roy (which we do NOT want to feed our dog!) is only a little bit less than the raw chicken quarters at .40/lb and that’s the nutritional equivalent of feeding  sawdust.

So I’m pretty excited about it!!!

Which leads me to a funny story…

I found the deal at our store through this website, and I called Jon to ask him if he could swing by on his way home from work and “spend all the money he has with him on chicken leg quarters!”  I started telling him the story about how much money we’ll save and we had the following conversation:

Jon: “I’m in a meeting, so can you give me the quick version for the rest of this story?”

Me: “Oh!  I’m sorry!  I’ll just tell you the rest later!”

Jon: “Don’t be sorry!  I work with crazy people all day long, it’s nice to get a phone call from someone who’s excited about the price of chicken quarters!”

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For more quick takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary

Posted in Daybook, Farm & Garden, PERSONAL, Seven Quick Takes | Leave a comment

A New Dog!!!

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our new puppy!

 

Well, it didn’t take long at all for us to find a dog, and there’s a pretty incredible story behind it all!…

About a week ago, I started calling a few people in the classifieds about German Shepherd dogs. Mostly, I was calling about adult dogs because puppies can be very expensive, especially if they’re from a good breeder. But I did call one man who had puppies because the picture of him with his dogs really interested me. In one picture, his dog was wearing a pack and in another he was fishing with is dogs off-leash beside him.  Obviously, his dogs were well trained and I felt he might be a good person to get information from.  I called and told him I didn’t want to waste his time and didn’t think we could afford a puppy, but wanted to ask him some questions about the breed. He and I talked for quite a while and he gave me some great information and pretty much sold us on the breed. At the end of the conversation, he told me that he had a puppy he thought would work really well for us. I asked how much the puppy was, and he said $800. Ouch. I told him I appreciated his time, but there was no way we could buy a dog for that amount. He said: “I never do this, but I really think this dog would be perfect for you and we really want him to go to a good home. Could you afford $600?” I didn’t think there was any way we could do that, either, but I told him I’d talk with Jon about it and get back with him.

The next morning, I got a call from the breeder (I’ll call him “Joe.”) He said he and his wife had been talking about it after we got off the phone and really wanted us to have this dog. Could we afford him for $400? At that point, I really felt like God was answering a prayer! In my opinion, $400 is not at all too much to pay for a dog from a good breeder, and both the kids and Jon told me that they’d been praying this exact thing would happen. But after I got off the phone with him, I had a terrible feeling of uneasiness.

Jon and I are trying hard to spend money very carefully right now, and there are some other important things going on right now that just made me feel like I could NOT spend that amount of money. The kids were pretty upset about this (because God had answered a prayer, and we weren’t going to take the dog!), but I asked them if it were possible that God had answered their prayer because he loves them and wants them to know He loves them, but not because we were actually supposed to get the dog. Then Jon related the story of David when he’s on the run from Saul and cries out for water from the well in the enemy camp. Three of his mighty men risk their lives to get it for him, but when they bring it back, he doesn’t drink it because of the sacrifice it took for his men to get it for him (2 Sam 23.) Jon said “maybe this is that kind of situation.”

I called the breeder back apologizing profusely and thanking him for what he was willing to do, but explained that we just couldn’t take the dog. I thought about asking him if I could pay less for the puppy, but in the end I felt that would be offensive, so I didn’t That was three days ago and in the meantime, I resigned myself to looking again for adult dogs and Jon and I prayed and settled on an amount that we felt comfortable paying ($200.) And yet, the whole time I was looking for dogs, I just kept coming back to that puppy over and over again. I was reading all these articles on training dogs and puppies and kept longing for a puppy whose whose history we knew, and whose formative years we could shape. I was also reading about how to pick out a dog with a good temperament, and again I kept coming back to the conversations I’d had with Joe about his dogs and the puppy he thought would be good for us. I kept asking God “isn’t there ANY way we can do this? Maybe our tax return would be $200 more than we thought it would be? Maybe Jon’s paycheck would be larger than normal? Something?!

Three nights later, I got the following email from Joe:

Rina is there anyway you could do $200 for a puppy…. I have saved the male that I feel would be best for your farm. I have been denying people from being able to purchase him because I believe you could give him a better home…

I called him right away and he told me that he’d had two different people come to buy that puppy and both times he told them “no” because he just kept feeling like it was OUR puppy.  Not only that, but he and his wife insisted on driving all the way to Bowling Green from Fort Campbell to bring him to us!!!

The next day, my dad called to tell me he was going to be sending us some money… guess how much he’s sending?

In one fell swoop, God not only provided us with a puppy for the exact amount we felt we could spend, He has also completely removed any trace of doubt as to whether a German Shepherd is the breed for us, or whether we should get a puppy or an adult dog. He’s made the way so incredibly clear, and I’m SO beyond excited and happy and thankful!!!

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Quick Takes, Feb 6, 2014

— 1 —

It occurred to me as I milked Lucy this morning that while I waxed lyrical about how she “stood perfectly still for me” as I learned how to milk her, this isn’t true at all!  In fact, I wrote a whole post about how scared I was when I first started milking her, because she stomped her feet while I was milking her!  Isn’t it funny how things always look so much better through the windows of the past?  I guess I was just looking through love-tinted glasses.  Awww.  🙂

— 2 —

I’m happy to report that quite a few more chickens survived than we originally thought.  At last count, we have 12 left, including enough Penedesenca’s and Ameraucana’s to breed this Spring as we’d originally hoped.  We also still have our little polish hen, who belongs to our friend Michelle and is a favorite around here (I don’t have a picture of her, but if you’ve never seen a polish you should really do a google image search!  They’re adorable!)  Some chickens are still missing, and I don’t really expect that we’ll find them, but considering that the Pene’s and Ameraucana’s are almost impossible to get ahold of, and that we were hoping to raise chicks to sell, I’m very, very thankful.

— 3 —

We’re now on the official hunt for a dog.  We’ve been playing with the idea for a while now, and the attack on the chickens sealed the issue for us (we’re about 99% sure it was a neighborhood dog who killed them.)  We’re doing research into different breeds and we’re looking for a very specific type of dog.  We’re looking for an indoor/outdoor dog with a strong protective instinct who is easily trainable and doesn’t wander (obviously all dogs wander, but some are particularly prone to this, as we discovered when we tried to train our Great Pyrenees out of her natural instincts.)  We’re looking for an animal who is good with other animals (ie. no breeds who are bred to hunt birds and small game), and one who is equally good with children (ie. no Jack Russell Terriers [tend to be snappish,] or Border Collies [tend to herd.])  Personally, I vote in favor of a Pit Bull Terrier, but they have so many stereotypes against them that too many people (including Jon) are fearful or suspicious of them.

At the moment, we’re leaning toward a German Shepherd, but if anyone has any suggestions for us, we’d love to hear them!

— 4 —

Just as we started searching through classified ads, I found the following ad in our local paper:

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I have wanted a cavalier for a long time, but we’ve never gotten one because there aren’t many breeders around here and they are very, very expensive.  We really do not need two dogs right now, but I couldn’t help calling to find out how much these dogs are!  I’m actually kind of hoping they’re expensive and then I don’t have to live in the agony of “should we/shouldn’t we!”

— 5 —

We had another incident of God’s amazing timing (see here and here for those stories!) last week when I made it to the end of the driveway and halfway into the road and then ran out of gas!  I’d just told the kids to pray that we’d make it to the gas station, because we’d been running low but the light hadn’t come on yet (little did I know that the van doesn’t have a light that comes on!)  It was literally half a second after the words were out of my mouth that the van sputtered and died.  Thankfully, we did indeed have enough gas to make it to the gas station, in two gas cans that were both almost completely filled.  This is without question a divine intervention, as Jon and I are probably the least likely people to be prepared for just about any disaster, and we rarely ever have spare anything laying around here (unless you count spare couches, bed frames and microwave ovens laying around in our junk pile.  We have plenty of those.)

— 6 —

I’ve discovered a great way to get my kids to do just about any job around the house/farm, especially those jobs that are really gross and I don’t want to do them!  We just call it a “dirty job” and suddenly the kids are excited and ready to dig right in!  Mike Rowe, from the bottom of this momma’s heart, I thank you!

— 7 —

Speaking of television shows, the kids have really gotten into this Alaska: The Last Frontier show (have you seen it?  It’s really great!)  It’s a little (okay, a lot) over-dramatized, but it’s a great show and it does my heart good to see the kids pretending to work around the house doing farm chores and hunting and harvesting food.  You can believe I’ll be taking full advantage of this and sending the kids off to play “stir the compost” and “bring in the firewood” and “weed the garden.”

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For more quick takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary

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Lung Leavin’ Day

Lung Leavin' Day 2014

Some of you know that my aunt fought a battle with cancer a few years ago, but what you may not know is that although she went into remission, she is once again fighting this battle along with another family member and a very dear friend of mine who found a lump in her throat several months ago.  It’s not something I write much about, because the truth is I just don’t know what to say.  Sometimes I don’t even know what to pray.  But today I received the following email and am honored to share…

Hey Rina,

My name is Cameron Von St. James and I am reaching out to you today because I would like to share something special with you. I found your blog while searching for people who’ve posted about fear. I noticed that you’ve done so and I was wondering if you’d be willing to help me with a cause that means a lot to me!

Eight years ago, my wife Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer that kills most people within 2 years of diagnosis. She had just given birth to our daughter Lily, and was only given 15 months to live. After a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, LungLeavin’ Day was born. On February 2nd, we celebrated 8 years of Heather being cancer free.

The purpose of LungLeavin’ Day is to encourage others to face their fears! Each year, we gather around a fire in our backyard with our friends and family, write our biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. We celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, we celebrate life!

This year, we asked bloggers to participate and spread the word about LungLeavin’ Day. We created an interactive page (mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday) that tells the full story of our special day. Although the day has passed, we hope you will still check it out and share it on your blog. It would mean so much to Heather and I. Let me know what you think.

Thank you so much,

Cameron Von St. James

I am happy to share Heather’s story here.  To say I admire the courage of those who have been through this horrible disease is a severe understatement.  I have stood back in awe as I’ve watched loved ones around me fight back with courage and grace and a smile on their faces.  You all inspire me every single day and I love you more than words can say!

If you feel led to help in any way, you can visit Heather Von St. James’s website Here (donations can be taken here) and my Aunt Lisa’s favorite organization Here and my friend Amy’s blog Here.

My friend Amy doesn’t have a “donate” page on her website, but if you feel to help her and her family in any way, you can donate by using the option below.*  Every little bit is a HUGE help, and greatly, greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

*Update.  I just discovered that paypal charges over THIRTY percent for payments made through their “donate” button, and for some reason I’m not able to set it up on paypal any differently.  I’m going to keep working on this, but in the meantime if you feel led to help, she can accept donations on paypal through her email address jessupfamily13 [at] yahoo [dot] com

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Unless the Lord Builds the House…

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Gwendolyn, sleeping inside tonight because the ice storm would have destroyed the makeshift shelter we have up for her. That is hay. And a cow. In my bathroom.

You may realize that I’ve borrowed this title from the post I wrote several months ago, when I was writing about how it seemed like our farm story just kept (as I put it then) “morphing into a series of miraculous happenings.”  It seemed like every time I turned around, God was doing some new amazing thing… providing in some new incredible way, blessing us with some new wonderful gift.  And now, it seems that we’re going through the exact same thing, only in reverse (see here and here and here and here and here for a few examples.)

Tonight we came home to find only 9 of our 21 chickens still living after an attack of some sort.  Most were laying hens, a few were hens we were planning to breed this spring – some to sell and some to keep as this years meat birds – and one was a sweet little pet who actually belonged to my friend Michelle.

I told my mother-in-law yesterday that there isn’t much that could happen around here that would surprise me anymore and at least in this case, it’s true (but I’d REALLY rather not test that theory so with all my heart I take it back!!!)  I feel sad and angry at myself for letting the chickens free-range, but I don’t feel overwhelmed or distressed or any of the other things I’ve been feeling lately.

I feel like, as strange as it is, this is also a part of God’s plan for us.  I have no idea why we’re going through all of this, but it’s going to be wonderful to come out the other side and look back, and, as a friend mentioned, do and experience all the things we’re supposed to do and experience because we went through this.

Not terribly long ago I was reading a blog written by a woman who often seems to be experiencing some sort of crisis or another on her farm (disease, flooding, coyote attacks, etc.) and I (perhaps foolishly!) told Jon that I would love to learn to be the sort of person who can pick up and carry on in the midst of crisis – who doesn’t simply give up or become so overwhelmed by the hard stuff that I can’t function.  Because that’s been a struggle for me in my life – I tend to get overwhelmed easily and give up in the face of struggle and conflict.  In so many ways, I think all this is helping me to become resilient and, in some ways, strong.

So, once again, I find myself thankful for the struggle.  And thankful that this is the particular way He has chosen to teach me whatever it is He is teaching me (which I can only guess at, right now.)  He is still doing some new amazing thing, providing in incredible new ways and blessing us with wonderful new gifts.  He is gentle with me.

And because it feels like I’ve written almost those exact same words about a hundred times in the past few months, I have to ask…

Is anyone else sick of reading these types of blog posts?  Because I sure am sick of writing them.  🙂

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