Monday, June 3, 2013

The Curve In The Road

Many years ago, we lived on a little mountain. It wasn't an ordinary mountain, not to us anyway. It was a mountain full of life, love, family and God's beauty.

The sunsets were breathtaking.

A nightly view we never grew tired of ~ 2008 

The days were full of sunshine. Rarely did the fog touch us. Most days, we were well above the fog.

One of the valleys surrounding us ~ 2008

The views went on for miles.

In the summer we could see at least four different firework shows in the towns around us ~ fall 2008

And the winters were the harshest I've ever endured in New York!!  There are no trees to stop the wind so it blows all year long.  It keeps the summers cooler but makes the winters extra burtal. The wind would blow the snow under our doors and into our house.

snow blowing across the road. The drifts were taller than us, sometimes  ~  jan 2009

Despite all that, it was a place we loved.

Fifteen months after moving up there we left. We mourned leaving the hill. We went from a mountain top house, to a tiny house in the woods with hardly any sun. It was very difficult for me yet God used that time to teach me about being happy where ever he planted me.

We left for a variety of reason, all out of our control, yet that hill has remained imbedded in our hearts.  

My husband and I joined together into an extended time of prayer and fasting this spring, with many prayers on our hearts but one of our common prayers was about our future. He's about 11 years away from retirement and where we'll live is one of our big questions.  We deeply desire Florida but with family here, we didn't want to just leave everyone behind.

With one day left in our fast, my husband stumbled upon a farmer who had a piece of property for sale, on that very hill. Different place on the hill but still amazing views with stunning sunsets. A place for us to build our future home together and a mountain top to retire to!

Through this process, we have covered every step in prayer. We have run into many closed doors that we thought would stop the purchase but each time God has opened those doors wide open.

Last night, on the eve of our closing, we went up to the property. Our goal was to seek God one last time on the purchase and just pray together for awhile about the road He has us on.

We were treated to not just a magnificent sunset again but also a rainbow off in the distance. We had been praying about the purchase when my husband noticed the rainbow. It really felt like God was telling us that Yes, He was indeed with us through this.

at one point it was a beautiful double rainbow

Hubby's picture of the rainbow. Love the perspective of this one.

enjoying the views

Sun's just setting 

Hubby's picture of the sunset last night

about 40 minutes after sunset

Today we closed on this piece of property. It's exciting however this has been and will continue to be, a journey in trust and faith.

A few years ago a friend gave us a picture of a dirt road in the woods. The road curves and disappears out of sight. You can not see what is beyond that curve or what you may come up against and that is how we view this journey with Christ. We could see down the road to today, the closing, but we are now at that curve and can't see what's in store for us. We know our destination is to eventually sell this house and build our home up on the hill but we have no idea what pit stops are in store for us along the way.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." ~ Maria Robinson

Today was the 1st day of writing our new ending.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Daniel Fast ~ Lesson's Learned

I posted three weeks ago about doing the Daniel Fast.  It seems like the time has both flown and crawled. This evenings dinner will break our fast. I'm looking forward to have some chicken on my salad and just maybe a cannoli for dessert.

I wasn't sure how I was going to do with no coffee, no animal products and no sweets. We also added in no wheat to see who we'd feel, so that add another challenging layer to what I wasn't eating.  My hubby did his own version of the fast and Tinker Bell fasted from sweets. I was so proud of her and how she did over the last three weeks.  Especially because she's involved in two church activities each week that has snacks and I always forgot to pack her something she could eat.

Here are a few things I've learned over these last three weeks.

Lesson one: Just because you're not eating much doesn't mean you're going to lose weight. I had this idea that because I was eating a vegetarian diet, I was going to lose weight and a lot of it. Swim suit season is coming up, you know. I've been watching my calories and what I was eating closely. Some days salad was both my lunch and dinner! I've lost only 3 lbs but that's better than nothing.

Lesson two: I can survive without coffee. More importantly, my family survived me not having coffee. After the first two days of withdrawal headaches I was actually feeling really good without it. I have less of the ups and downs during the day and I've been sleeping better too.  I will not be going back to coffee tomorrow morning. I may occasionally have a cup when we go out somewhere but there is so much freedom knowing I'm no longer held captive by that morning cup of coffee.

Lesson three: It is possible to mourn a food group. Sometime in the last week I stopped mourning no bread. I believe that bread is one of the biggest culprits to the muffin top I've developed since last fall. I love to make bread. I would make it a couple times a week and I would live on it.  I've been reading Wheat Belly and can see the concepts he's talking about in both my body and my hubby's body. Bread was harder to let go of than coffee. But this too, I'm not really going back to. I'll still make bread occasionally but not in the quantity I was making it. I'll eat bread occasionally but I've found the gluten free bread to be an acceptable replacement.

Lesson four: Food can be consumed just for survival. I LOVE to eat. I mean LOVE it. I love food, how it tastes, the joy of making it, the joy of serving it and the satisfaction of being full after a good meal. For weeks I've not had any of that. I've eaten just to put the required nutrients into my body. Most of the time the food was pretty bland but I've still found ways to enjoy making and eating a salad. I learned to be creative with what I put on my salads and what foods I mixed together.  The last week and a half, especially, has had a better mix of foods and flavors. Side note: Chickpea burgers are no replacement for real juicy hamburgers.

Lesson five: This is probably my most important lesson and it's not really a lesson so much as a reminder again of something I've known; prayer works. In the first week or so, I really had to press into prayer to get through each day.  Hunger would remind me to turn to my prayer list.  Cravings would drive me to my knees in prayer. I know this fast was not something I could do on my own.  I believe that there is so clarity in some of the items on my prayer list. There are still things that have yet to be answered too. I do believe those answers will come in time. Even Daniel didn't get his answers within in 21 day fast.

So as we get ready to break this fast today with dinner, I believe I'm coming away from it with hope for some answered prayers, a better grasp on my foods and feeling a little bit better than I did. I have a little more energy than before and I've decided to keep a lot of the unnecessary foods out of my diet in the future. I'm grateful to have been called to this time of fasting and prayer and look forward to the next time, as long as it's not too near in the future.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Daniel Fast

At a time when a lot of Christians are breaking a fast of some type from Lent, my Hubby and I are embarking on our own fast.

Last fall, as I was reading Daniel, the scripture on how he requested to eat really stood out to me. Back when I was training to run a marathon, I attempted to eat a more vegan diet but was left feeling run down and weak. I quickly gave it up, knowing that I needed more in my diet than I was getting.

While reading Daniel, I was struck by the fact that he requests eating only foods which consist of vegetables and water.  (Daniel 1:12) After the 10 days Daniel and the others with him, appeared better then those that ate the kings delicacies. (v. 15).

I felt God speaking to me through this but I just gently pushed it away. I like my food. A lot. This scripture kept coming to mind over the winter but I continued to push it away. I cook mostly whole foods.  I really felt like I was doing what I could to make us healthier, BUT I still have my weakness in sweets and carbs in general.

It's hard for me to admit but food is an idol for me.

The last couple of weeks have been particularly difficult in how I feel with my weight and with finding clothes to wear that fit comfortably. I'm 30lbs overweight, and that's 30 lbs over a healthy, reasonable weight, not a size one weight! I've gone up two jean sizes this winter alone and I'm pushing outgrowing this size.  I've stopped running again and I'm back where going up the stairs leaves me breathless.

This has been the springboard for me to look into this scripture even deeper.  I don't want a quick fix, I want more life change. We've been altering our food intake, changing from packaged to whole foods. Adding in more organic foods. Adding in more over-all healthy choices.  It's just time for me to take it to a new level.

It's not just about the food though. As I've been digging into Daniel, I discovered there are many churches and individuals who have done fast such as Daniel describes in Chapter 10:2-3. It's about submission to our Father, about prayer for our needs and for the needs of others.

There are things my hubby and I pray about together and we've seen many of our prayers answered in amazing ways.  However, we still have prayer requests for our family and friends and about the path that God desires us to be on.

As we go into the next 21 days, I'll be cutting caffeine, sweets, gluten (that's my choice, the fast typically specifies yeast) and any animal products out of my diet. There are a few exceptions I've decided on and my Hubby's fast will look a bit different from mine.

Our goal is not just about what foods we don't eat, it's about finding a deeper balance in our healthy eating, submission to our Lord, seeking His will in our life and interceding for others.

The last time I participated in an extended fast, it drew me closer to Jesus and I have no doubt it will this time also, especially as I walk away from foods I rely on and I deeply crave.

A bit of prayer from my friends for us, especially this week, would be deeply appreciated as I know this first week will be the hardest as our bodies adjust to "no choice foods" (daniel 10:3).

Thank you Lord for providing Your word that contains all the knowledge we need to live our lives according to You, even the things as simple as what we should consume. Amen

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Will Come

I love spring. So many exciting things going on.

I'm planning our expanded garden. We've already cleared away a lot of the winter debris from the garend area.

I've been planing like crazy. I have my tomatoes, peppers, onions, broccoli, herbs and many flowers already started. Some of the seeds I planted 3 days ago have already sprouted and my kitchen garden, that includes, 2 types of lettuce, spinach and a bush cucumber, is well underway.

Tink planning her garden with her new plant book

Today I made a frame to hold the lights for my seedlings. They are very happy now that they don't have to stretch to the windows anymore.

I've been listening to friends and family that live about 45 minutes to an hour west of us, talk about seeing robins. Yesterday, Tink and I saw our 1st robin in town. Glad them finally decided to make the trek east, to our little town.  Now if they'd just make it up our hill!

If you know us, you probably know that we are slightly addicted to grapes. I hate to rush the season on us because it means summer is over but we look forward to our grape picking every year. We normally pick around 100 lbs of grapes for eating, grape bread and sometimes grape juice.  This spring we have broken down and purchases some grape vines.  Our grapes have the beginnings of grapes on them already and I swear I can see the plants themselves get bigger every day.

Isn't that the cutest leaf? 

I've started seeing some of the spring flowers breaking through, like the tulips.

I love that the days are getting longer. It's still daylight at 7 pm! It also means that we are starting to get more eggs from our chickens too.

Each day there is something new coming awake despite the chilly temps that refuse to go away. Soon the wonderful heat of summer will be upon us! Till then I'll just keep planting and planning my garden.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Sky Blanket

**UPDATED: added my mom's scarf

Last year on Pinterest I found a conceptual scarf. I thought it would be an interesting project to work on. The site says it comes out to about five feet long. As much as I love to knit, I knew if I made a scarf like this, I'd never wear it and really wasn't sure what I'd do with it.  My mom is doing this project also but she's going to hang her finished scarf on the wall.

My mom's conceptual scarf

I decided that I was going to crochet it instead and make a blanket but still wasn't sure what pattern I would use.

After much research, I decided I really liked this pattern from the Lion Brand website.

My next step was to choose the yarn. After looking at the local craft store I picked the same yarn brand listed in the pattern.

These are the colors I picked in Vanna's Choice
Dusty Purple to mark each month
Silver Grey for cloudy days
Denim Mist for partly cloudy, sunny days
Colonial Blue for mostly sunny days with little or no clouds
White for snowy days
Charcoal Grey for rainy, stormy days

I'm trying to do a composite of each day. For example, if it's cloudy most of the morning and then gets clear and sunny for the rest of the day, I do the octagon or square half of each color.

To create my pattern, I took the Lion Brand pattern and pulled it into Photoshop.

  • I turned it on it's side
  • Copied it many times to different layers 
  • Overlaid the edges
  • Counted all the squares to ensure I'd have enough
  • Erased all the marking from the pattern
  • Printed it 
  • Then color coated and marked each month
I do have extra squares at the bottom but I'm just going to carry the last day of December across the bottom.

If you are interested in a copy of the pattern I made, I'd be happy to send it to you, just email me from my profile.

I'll post updates as I go through the year.  I'm a few days behind right now, I despise sewing the squares together.  Hoping I don't let myself get to far behind in the summer!

It's still not too late to join this project. There are a lot of really cool ideas on the Ravelry group.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tink's Reading Update

It's amazing to me the progress Tinker Bell has made in reading over the last 5 months.

In the fall she was struggling with reading and remembering simple 3 letter words. We'd help her sound out a word and two sentences later she didn't know the word at all.

 Now she's sounding out big words like beautiful and spectacular, all by herself.  She's reading various levels of books and her bible on a regular basis.

I attribute this progress to prayers (thanks Anne) that were added and lifted up with my own!  I really don't believe it's because of our curriculum especially since we were very lax in it during December.  We are not as advanced in her daily studies as she is in her reading. I'm very cautious though, to advance her studies so that she won't miss any important reading rules.

I'm overjoyed to have another reader in the house. She stayed up late reading last night and we had to finally tell her light out.

I pray she always finds adventure, love, fun, mystery and so much more in all the books that have yet to come.