The Day My Life Changed Forever (otherwise known as, The Most Difficult Post I’ve Ever Had to Write)

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to submit this post only to decide that I wasn’t ready just before clicking the “publish” button. But, I feel that it’s now time.

I vaguely mentioned that my family had recently gone through a dramatic change recently.  I wasn’t sure about sharing it here, but I feel that God is directing me that direction.  While I will not be giving every detail, I will share my story and how God is working in my life.

On the afternoon of January 19th, our lives were thrown a HUGE blow that we are still reeling from!  While I wish that I could say that we had no idea that it was coming, we had been praying and praying that God would not allow it to come to this.  On this day, our oldest daughter decided that she was moving out and moving in with her boyfriend, his mother, his mother’s boyfriend, his sister, and his young twin brothers.  She came home early from work and had already packed her bags the night before.  She had been planning this for a long time.

Over the last several months, he has convinced her that our beliefs are not for her, that there is no God, and that he means more to her than anything else.  Our hearts are just breaking.  We had put rules in place to help protect her, yet give them the space to get to know each other in a safe setting here at home.  We wanted them to get to know each other, as well as allow us to get to know him.  They both chose to ignore this rule and take matters into their own hands, and continually deceive us about everything.  While we definitely were not happy about this and both said some things that we know we shouldn’t have out of hurt and anger, we would always ask her for forgiveness.  We were/are hurting, scared parents who cannot save our 19-year-old daughter from the very bad choices that she is making.

 We had told her months ago what the consequences of moving out and going down a path that we could not/would not sanction would be, but she still chose to follow whatever bad advice that she was receiving from him.  He and his family are a godless family with no desire to have Christ in their lives.  She sees this as an acceptable way of life.

We took back her car, which was part of the lease program through my husband’s work, and she had to buy her own car.  We also found out that the day she moved out, she was fired from the job that she has loved.  She would not tell us the reason.

Our hearts are so heavy right now.  I’ve cried harder and sobbed louder than I ever thought possible.  My husband and our other two children are just as heartbroken and confused about things as I am.  Please don’t think that I’m saying that we are perfect and have made all the right decisions.  I’m sure that we have made mistakes, and will make many more before it’s all said and done.   The decisions we’ve had to make since this has happened have not been easy.  Some have caused my heart to break even more, even though I didn’t think that was possible.  We are having to let her go physically, but we have the promise that He has never left her, regardless of what she thinks.  Our prayer is that God will use her poor choices to draw her to him, and that He will soften her heart toward Him.  We are also praying that He will give us the peace & comfort that we need right now during this difficult time so that we can be the parents that we need to be not only to her, but to our other two children, as well.  While we can’t answer the “why’s”, we are here to show them what God says in His Word.  I could list dozens of verses that He has shown me since this all happened about peace, comfort, how we battle sin on a daily basis, how he gives us the strength to get through each minute, each heartache, each spiritual battle, etc.

While we don’t understand why this is happening to our family, we do know that God knew that it was going to happen, and that He will walk with us through this battle.  He will bring us through it.  She is His, as is the rest of my family.  Just because she chooses not to acknowledge Him right now, doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love her.

I don’t know what the future holds for my oldest daughter, but I do know that I still love her, and I will always love her.  She knows that she is welcome to come home, but our rules will still apply.  Please, if you feel led, lift my family up in prayer as we go through this difficult time.  I’m not looking for sympathy or criticism, but just asking for prayers.

God is using this time to draw my family (especially me), closer to Himself.  My biggest prayer is that He uses this situation to draw her to Himself.  I pray that my family and I will allow God to take this situation and use it for His Glory.  Will you pray with me?

Long Time, No Post!

Hello, everyone!  Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve really been able to post.  Not only has my life been a whirlwind of activities, but it’s also recently went through a dramatic change.  But, I’m praying that I may now have a bit more time to think about blogging again.  I really have missed it, but it had to go on the back burner while I dealt with everything going on around me.  My family comes first.

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, celebrating our Savior, and a great start to the New Year.  While our New Year started out very well, it has become very rocky, very quickly.  But, God has it in control & I know that everything that is going on came as no surprise to Him.

 

So, be looking (hopefully) for more posts from me in the near future.

Fire on the Mountain!

Early Morning Fire on the Ridge  We recently dealt with a situation that I never really thought could happen to us. We’ve been through numerous tornado warnings (several were very close calls), but we have NEVER had to deal with the threat of a fire! Yes, we live in an area with a lot of wooded areas and ridges, but we had never really thought about the possibility that it could/would threaten our home. So, when the ridge across from us caught fire, it suddenly became a very real threat.

I won’t go into the fact that the fire traveled about 2 miles over a 3-day period, or the fact that our local county took THREE days to call in the local forestry division to help them deal with the fire. We were so blessed that, even though the fire was in a very heavily wooded area, it mainly just burned the low brush and fallen trees. But, the biggest blessings of all was that none of our dear neighbors were hurt, none of the fireman or forestry men/women were hurt, and no one lost their homes!

Mid Afternoon - Fire had spread & gotten quite a bit worse.

So, why am I telling you about this? Not very exciting, right? Well, I didn’t say that it never came close to any homes, because it actually came within just a few hundred feet of THREE homes. We were also supposed to have a very high chance of thunderstorms with strong winds, but God was gracious and allowed the storms and winds to hold off, which allowed the fires to stay low. Otherwise, there was a very real chance that the fire could have gotten worse and jumped the road to our side.

When the fire was quickly starting to get worse (for a short time before it was brought under control), we had to take a serious look at the situation and decide what we needed to grab to take with us in an emergency.

Early evening - the fire had gotten worse right before they got it under control.

Yes, I know we should have gone over this beforehand, and we have, to an extent, but it had been quite a while. So, here is a few of the things that we learned:

*we do have a fireproof box for important papers, but I definitely need to go through it and update some items

*need to work on being able to grab meds, first-aid supplies, clothing essentials, etc., within a moment’s notice. (Some are easily accessible and some are not)

* While my food pantry will supply our needs IN our home, what would we do if we have to LEAVE our home at a moment’s notice? (We are working on this one. Any ideas would be appreciated!)

*If we have time to save some items from our home, what would they be? (This is a tough one since we have many items that may not have a lot of monetary value, but the memories attached to them are priceless!)

My sweet husband and I took the time to discuss these things and, while we still have several kinks to work out of our plan, I know that, should this threat ever happen again, we will be as prepared as humanly possible. Ultimately, it will be in God’s hands. With our being in the heart of tornado season here in East Tennessee, we need to make sure that we are prepared as we can be.

The Importance of Having a Well-Stocked Pantry

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If you are like me, you like to keep a well-stocked pantry, not only to help out with the monthly grocery budget, but also to help out when times are tough (i.e. money is tight, sickness, job loss, etc.). For me, it is very comforting to know that I always have food on hand to feed my family, no matter the circumstances.   It is one less thing we have to worry about, especially when times are tough.

But, it honestly doesn’t matter if you have a few days or a few months worth of food on hand if you don’t have a organizational system in place to help you keep track of it all! If you go to the store to buy groceries & you have no idea what you have on hand already, you will end up buying duplicates of items that you already have, AND items will go to waste because they get lost in your cabinets/on your shelves/in your refrigerator or freezer.   Not only are you throwing items away, but you are also throwing your hard, earned money away in the process. When you throw items in the trash, picture yourself throwing away a $5 bill, $10 bill, or even a $20 bill, depending on how much you are throwing away. OUCH! That really stings, doesn’t it?

Here are a few tips that I have that have helped me keep my pantry more organized (not perfect, but better organized), & it keeps me from throwing out a ton of unused items!

*Keep like items together: Either on a shelf in a pantry area, cabinet, freezer, or refrigerator, make sure that you keep like items together. A few examples would be to keep herbs/spices together, keep condiments together, keep like canned items together, keep all like meat items together (beef, chicken, fish, etc.) etc.

*Keep your stock rotated – oldest in the front: When you buy new items, make sure to pull the oldest to the front & put the newest items in the back. This keeps you from using up the newest item first & then ending up throwing the oldest item away because it was shoved to the back & forgotten

*Make a weekly/biweekly/monthly menu plan: I know a lot of people who have said that they can’t menu plan. The reason? Because when they’ve done it in the past, they’ve not been able to “stick to it” & ended up wasting food. They key to menu planning? FLEXIBILITY! Yep. That’s it! When you plan a menu, always remember to be flexible. You can’t plan sickness, last minute meetings at work, deaths in the family, unexpected trips out of town, etc. Be willing to change things around.

*Shop at home first: Before you even grab your shoes to head out the door, grab your menu & see what you already have at home that needs to be used up. Make your grocery shopping list accordingly.

*Only keep items in your pantry that you KNOW that you will eat/use! Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean that you need to buy it! If you’re family will not eat it, then you might as well throw it away as soon as you get home. Remember that mental picture of throwing $5 in the trash?

*If you are storing several months worth of food in your pantry, make sure that it is stored properly in air-tight containers. If the food isn’t stored properly, it will not last as long as it could & you will end up throwing it out.

Always remember that, just like snowflakes, no two pantries are alike. Everyone’s family eats differently & doesn’t like the same items. Just because your best friend stores pinto beans in bulk in her pantry doesn’t mean that you will do the same especially if your family doesn’t like pinto beans.

One last tip. If you don’t already have at least 3 months worth of basic items in your pantry, I would strongly suggest that you do so. Again, you never know what life will throw at you & when emergencies will arise. It’s always smart to be prepared.   And stocking your pantry will not happen overnight. It will take time. Start by setting aside $10-$20 of your normal grocery budget to start buying extras of items that you use on a daily basis (i.e. coffee, sugar, flour, salt, canned fruits/veggies, etc.). Stock up a little bit at a time as the items go on sale or as you can afford. It will take time, but you will be so glad that you did!

(On a side note: Please note that most of your store bought canned goods do contain BPA in the inner lining of the can, so while my family & I have chosen to not buy store bought canned goods & can much of our own fruits/veggies, I know this is not always an option for everyone. Always use your best judgment. When in doubt – buy frozen!)

Update On My Speckled Sussex

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Well, they are 12 weeks old now.  It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been 12 weeks since I brought them home.  They have grown by leaps & bounds, & they are doing very well.  We did have a fox discover them, but, thankfully, it only managed to pick off one pullet before we discovered it & sealed up the area where it had managed to get it.

In about 6 more weeks, I’ll begin integrating them in with the rest of the coop.  In about 8 more weeks, I’ll start getting eggs from these beauties! I can’t wait!

Garden update

Full garden pic

Full garden pic

Things have been busy, as usual, around here.  But, I thought that I’d give you a quick update on how the garden is doing.

The onions & beans are coming along nicely.  The carrots never did come up, so that row was tilled back under, and I will be planting more beans in it in the next week or so.

Onions & Beans

Onions & Beans

Here is a pic of our okra, corn, pepper, squash, & tomatoes.

Okra, corn, peppers, squash, & tomatoes

Okra, corn, peppers, squash, & tomatoes

My herb garden is also coming along nicely.

Herb Garden

Herb Garden

The only thing that didn’t come up that I planted was chives.

My marigolds, dill, echinacea, parsley, cilantro, sage, & some basil that I planted from seed have all come up & are coming along nicely!  As soon as they are ready for planting, I will get them in the ground, & then I’ll be ready to mulch it all!

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It won’t be long before I’ll be sharing with you about all of my canning endeavors!  I can’t wait!  It’s always a lot of hard work, but I look forward to it!

 

Turning A Mason Jar Into an On-The-Go Cup!

(post contains affiliate links)

I’ve been seeing online where people were turning a regular mason jar into a to-go cup and absolutely love the idea.  But, even though I know the prices I have seen them charging have been fair, I still have an aversion to paying for something that I can make myself.  So, with the help of my sweet husband, Brian, we made 10 of them ourselves.

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Here’s what you will need:

Pint sized mason jars

Reusable Straws

Canning Jar Lids

Canning Jar Rings

Rubber Grommets (1/4-inch inside diameter or size needed to fit your straw)

drill

3/8-inch paddle drill bit (or size needed to fit your grommets)

scrap piece of wood

Using your scrap piece of wood, drill a hole in the middle of the seal (or just off center, whichever you like better). If you read my post on how to make mason jar soap dispensers, you will know that by running the drill in reverse, you will still be able to drill your hole, but the bit will not grab the seal as badly or leave as rough of an edge.

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Insert your grommet into the hole you just drilled.

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Now you’re ready to put it to use!  Enjoy!

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These have already become a favorite in my family.  We made 10 the day we made these.  I’m sure we will be making more in the near future.  These would also make great gifts for family, teachers, friends, etc.

This post is linked to:

Heritage Homesteaders