Saturday, April 9, 2011

Let the Season Begin

Tis the season for new beginnings!  
I LOVE Spring!! 
Life is beginning to come alive again here on the farm.  
This morning Annabelle had 5 kittens...and the kids and I got to watch!  
It was so awesome!
(Yes, this is the same Annabelle who had kittens last year.
Guess we didn't get her fixed fast enough. Oops!)

We told the kids from the start that we can only keep one, 
but already they are begging to keep them all.
They have each claimed "their" kitty.
They are excited that she had 5, cause now they each get one to play with!
Oh my... this may be tough.
Anyone want a precious little kitten? 

I also shaved the boys' heads yesterday.  
Tis the season for sweaty boy heads, so the hair had to go! 
If you've never been in the south in the summer heat, 
then you may not get what I'm talking about.
Summer may not be here yet, but the sweaty heads are!!
I think they look so cute!
(Well, Sam looks a little scary in this pic. Guess he forgot to smile.)

And the garden is underway...
Steven and the boys have been working on getting it ready. 

Today they made all the rows and mounds, 
and layed out the watering system.

It looks beautiful!  And it's ready to plant!

The mounds on the left will be for watermelon and cantaloupe. Yum :)
We will also plant tomatoes (lots), peppers, green beans, butter beans, 
squash & zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries and I think that's it.
We also plan to have an herb garden!

The flowers are in bloom...

And so am I!  Sorry, I don't have a picture of me right now.  
I'll have to take one.
I'm about 18 wks and have a serious baby bump already!
Guess that's what happens with baby #7.

Springtime will also bring us into a new business venture. 
We're in the SOAP business!
Goat Milk Soap to be exact.
We have just a few soaps for sale right now, 
but will have a whole line of new soaps coming soon!
So stay tuned!

Here is our Peppermint Goat Milk Soap

And our Raspberry Cheesecake Goat Milk Soap

They smell delicious and are so wonderful and moisturizing for your skin.
We can't believe how soft our skin is since we've been using this soap!
We're becoming soap snobs. Anytime we use "regular" soap,
we think, "Yuck, how did we ever use this stuff? My skin feels is so dry now!"
You'll just have to try it for yourself. :)

Well, that's it for now.
We'll keep you posted as our springtime events continue. 
We hope to have a baby goat to report next month!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ask And You Shall Recieve

I have a wonderful, AMAZING story to tell you.  It's what God has done for us in the past 3 months.  The stories of God's wondrous works should never be forgotten.  In the Old Testament God told the Israelites to make stones of remembrance so that when their children ask about them, they would tell them the story of what God had done.  This is one of those times that we want to remember so we can teach our children and grandchildren of God's wondrous works of provision in our lives.

At the beginning of January (about 3 months ago) our van started making some horrific sounds.  We took it in and heard the dreaded words..."It needs a new motor."  ($4000 +)  The Lord has blessed Steven with work this year and our basic needs have been met, but we don't have extra, and haven't been able to put away for a vehicle (even though we would have liked to since we knew our van wouldn't last too much longer).  The Lord knew this when He providentially had our van break down.  The Lord has also convicted us through reading His word that we should not go into debt, even for a much needed vehicle.  So, we knew what we must do.  We would ask God to provide and wait on Him.  We had to completely depend on Him.  We didn't know how long we would be without a vehicle, but we knew we could trust our God, who promises to supply all our needs.

The next 3 months were a time of time of great growth for our whole family.  We prayed continually, looked at many scriptures about faith and prayer, and learned how to BELIEVE.  There are so many scriptures that God used to teach us.  I will share a few with you.

Mark 11:24, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
I John 5:14-15, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."
I John 3:21-22, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us."
Matt. 7:7-11, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"

I'm sure many people thought we were odd going about it this way.  We would continually hear the question, "So, have you decided what you're going to do about the van?" It felt a little uncomfortable to keep giving the same answer, "We are just praying and waiting."  It must have seemed strange, but it was all we could do.  And we are so glad we did not run off and try to "fix" the situation ourselves.  God had a much bigger plan.

Our first anonymous love gift came the middle of February.  It was interesting because we just happened (by God's design of course) to be reading George Mueller's biography to the kids.  If you haven't ever read his biography, you MUST!  It's the story of how one man cared for tens of thousands of orphans through prayer and faith alone.  George Mueller would pray and believe and God would provide.  It's truly inspiring.  We were spurred on by his great faith and in awe of our God who faithfully answered.  So as we were living in hopeful anticipation of God's answer to our prayers, we found an envelope in our mailbox with an anonymous check for a LARGE sum of money.  Steven came practically running into the house, quickly gathered the whole family together, grabbed his Bible and began to read Matt. 6:25-33, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we wear?' (or 'What shall we drive?'-Steven added this part) For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Now mind you, we still didn't know exactly what was going on.  We were anxiously awaiting.  After Steven was done reading, he pulled out the envelope and showed us God's provision.  We were all amazed!!  He was hearing our prayers and He was answering!  What a blessing it was to see His hand in our lives.

Now we began praying that God would give us wisdom as to how we should use this money.  We didn't really have enough to do anything quite yet, but we were getting closer.  Should we get a new used motor or look for a new van?  Well, I have a tendency to think and ask BIG, so I suggested we start praying that God would give us a 15 passenger van.  Hey, we have a BIG God, right?  And He loves to give good gifts to His children!  Our family is growing and we don't know how much more He plans to grow us... only He knows this.  It would be wonderful to have room for more children as well as have space for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to ride with us when they come and visit.  So we decided to pray for a 15 passenger van.  If He sees that we need it, He will provide it.

We found a beautiful 2002 Chevy Express 15 passenger van in great condition that was being sold by a Christian homeschool family who have 8 children, some of which are grown now and they don't need such a large vehicle anymore.  At first I thought it was crazy to even look at it since it was $6000 and we weren't close to that.  But Steven reminded me that God could do anything!  So, we began inquiring about it and praying.

The beginning of March we received another anonymous gift.  It was hard to contain my excitement!!  It was happening!  God was providing!  The next day we got another check in the mail.  We were hootin' and hollerin'!  Praise the Lord!  He is so good!  We were now up to $4500!  Can you believe it?!?  So, even though we didn't have enough to buy the van yet, Steven decided to go and look at the it.  On March 9th Steven headed over to see the van and drive it around.  On his way home he called me and told me all about it.  He said, "I love this van!"  It was in great condition and the owner had kept meticulous records of all the maintenance done on it.  When he got home I was finishing up putting kids to bed and hadn't gotten a chance to talk to him yet.  But I could tell he was excited about something.  When I came out to the family room he came straight over to me with an envelope in his hands.  "I think He did it!! I think God did it!!"  he said.  I was still trying to figure out what he was talking about when he ripped open the envelope and we pulled out another anonymous was the exact amount we needed to buy the van.  Tears just welled up in my eyes.  I just can't describe it to you.  We had nothing when we started praying and now the Lord has provided all that we needed.  Truly this was the love of the Father lavished on us.

There's nothing better than these reminders of His love.  As His children, His love is always ours.  It was demonstrated in the greatest way when He gave us His Son Jesus Christ - Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"  He loves us, He really truly LOVES us!

We were able to pick up the van while my brother Danny, his wife Jessie, and kids Townes & Finch were here visiting last week.  It was so exciting!  We all went out for a celebration dinner, celebrating what God had done.  And we all rode in our big blue van!  6 carseats, 2 booster seats and 4 adults!  It's huge!  Praise the Lord!!

Do you believe?  Do you have faith?  I have come to see something very clearly in God's word as I was reading through Matthew during this time.  Over and over again we see Jesus healing people.  But I began to see a pattern.  First of all in chapters 6 & 7 Jesus tells us not to worry about the things that we need, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and he will provide.  He tells us to ask and we will receive, because our Father loves to give good gifts to his children.  We are told to have faith, to trust and believe!

In chapter 8, verses 5-13, the centurion comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his servant who is lying paralyzed at home.  Jesus says he will come and heal him.  The centurion asks Jesus to just say the word and he will be healed.  He understands that Jesus has all authority and can just speak the word and it will be done.  Jesus says, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith...Go; let it be done for you as you have believed." vs.10,13

Then in chapter 9, verses 20-22, there was a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for 12 years and she came up behind Jesus and touched the hem of his clothing because she believed that if she only touched this garment she would be made well.  Jesus turned to her and said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well."

Also in chapter 9, verses 27-30, two blind men came crying out to Jesus to have mercy on them.  Vs. 28-30, "When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' they said to him, 'Yes, Lord.'  Then he touched their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it done to you.'  And their eyes were opened."

In chapter 15, verses 21-28, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus crying out for him to heal her daughter who was oppressed by a demon.  Jesus would not answer her but said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."-vs.24  But she persisted and knelt before him begging for his help.  Vs.26-28, "And he answered her, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.'  She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed instantly."

Yet in chapter 13, verses 53-58, we see something different.  Jesus went to his hometown where people had seen him grow up and knew his mother and father and brothers and sisters.  Vs. 56-58, "Where then did this man get all these things?  And they took offense at him.  But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.'  And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief."

These passages are so striking to me. It seems to me that Jesus matches our faith, that He works according to our faith!  Do we really know the power of our God?  Do we believe He can do anything?  Do we dare ask Him for great things?  I want to!!  Giving us a van is a big deal for us.  But it's small for God.  I'm ready to think bigger.  I'm ready to see God do mighty works in and through us.  I want us to impact this world for Christ.  I want to see my children follow hard after God and make a lasting difference in this world for generations to come.  I can ask boldly for these things because I know it is according to His will!  I John 5:14-15, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."

So, what are YOU believing God for?

One more thing... We want to thank all of you who prayed on our behalf!  He heard your prayers and answered!!  And for those of you who gave to us to help meet our need, thank you!!!  God used you as a vessel of blessing in our lives.  The body of Christ is an amazing thing, it's a family who cares for one another and meets each other's needs.  It has been a true joy to see this in action.  It is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Resolution #2- Get Healthy

A friend of mine just inspired me to blog more about our day to day life.  I guess some people think it's really interesting!  It's so normal to me that I forget how different our life is from most of the world (soon to be 7 kids, homeschooling, small farm life, no tv, etc).  So, I'm starting tonight.  I at least have 13 new resolutions to write about!

So starting with Resolution #2- Get Healthy... This is a huge one.  It's gonna take a while to get the hang of all that this entails.  What does this entail?  Eating all whole, real foods (this is going to be a process).  That means not eating fake food.  When you look at your food, ask this question:  How close is this food from it's natural state, the way God created it?  I've never seen Oreo cookies grow from a seed (although I really wish they did!).  But I've seen tomatoes, potatoes and cantelope (we actually grew these in our garden!).  So, it's back to the basics.  The more food is processed, the more nutrients are lost.  A lot of the food in our grocery stores today shouldn't even be called food.  I call it manufactured food.  Someone created it and it wasn't God.  Therefore, they have to fill it with dyes and artificial flavors to make it look and taste like food and then add preservatives so they can sell it for a looooooooooong time and make more money.

In the class I'm taking called Real Food For Rookies, the first class is all about these food additives (artificial colors & flavors, preservatives).  Did you know they are made from petroleum? That's the same stuff we feed our cars!  And they are legally allowed to contain certain amounts of arsenic, lead, and mercury. The rest of the first class goes on to talk about MSG, Genetically Modified Organisms and Soy.  Can't wait to learn the rest! And that's just the first class (there are 12)!  They show how kids are being healed from learning and behavioral problems just by cutting food additives out of their diet!  The stories are amazing.  I'm talking about ADD, ADHD, even Tourette's, asthma and more.

So, one of the first things I did was go to my pantry and look at all the labels.  You wouldn't believe it!  Almost everything has some kind of preservative (BHA, BHT, TBHQ), artificial flavor or artificial color (yellow 5, blue 2, etc).  Also, MSG...  So, we threw it all out.  Ahhhh!  Now what?  I know that we aren't going to do this all!!  And I hope we can stick it out!  But after knowing what I know now, I can't just feed these chemicals to my kids!  So, I trying to quickly learn what we can eat.  The class goes through all of this thoroughly, step by step, but I'm too impatient and am jumping full in (maybe over my head).

So at this point we are eating a lot of meat & potatoes, rice & beans, vegetables, fruits & nuts... and Dad's Disappearing Salsa (Steven's unbelievable salsa).  And I've started making our bread again.  I'm not a complete rookie when it comes to all this.  I've been interested in nutrition for a while now and have learned the benefits of making your bread from scratch.  I did it for a while and then we moved across the country, had a baby (or two) and I just never got back into it.  So, I'm back.  It's really not that hard, but you do need the right equipment (like a good mixer).  If you're interested, check out The Urban Homemaker for all the help you need getting started making your bread from scratch (I use her tried and true recipe).  I use whole wheat berries and grind them in my high powered blender (I need to buy a grain mill for larger quantities) and then use the freshly ground flour to make the bread.  Sounds like a lot, but really it's doable.  I'm trying to bake on Saturdays and then freeze some so that it lasts us through the week.  Problem is my oven is so small I have to bake in shifts.

Unfortunately, my downfall is follow through- for the long haul.  So please don't be impressed.  I'm in my excited, gusto phase....which usually peters out.  So, pray for me and let me know if you have been inspired to get rid of the junk and get healthy too!

By the way, if you have a child that has learning or behavioral problems (like ADD or ADHD) or other issues, you can check out Fiengold Association.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jenny's MUST READ New Year's Resolutions

Well to start off I have to say that I have no idea how I'm going to accomplish all that is racing around in my mind. But, I just have to write it all down. Maybe you could help me prioritize (and keep me accountable)! By the way, this is not your typical New Year's Resolutions list :-)

1. SO MANY SPIRITUAL GOALS FOR MYSELF AND THE FAM...hard to list. Some of them are: be in the Word more (individually & as a family), more discipleship time with individual kids, memorize more Scripture, train & discipline children always using the Scriptures...and most of all, grow in our love for Jesus and others!

2. GET HEALTHY (ok, this one is typical). I want to get my family eating healthy again (I've totally slacked).  No more processed foods filled with dyes, artificial flavors and preservatives (all chemicals made from petroleum!). I just started taking the Real Food for Rookies class online and we cleaned out the pantry. So, I made my first step! Now to figure out what we can eat!

3. GET A PIG. We want to raise a pig or 2 for meat this year.

4. GET MORE HENS. We're only getting 2 eggs a day and need a new flock.

5. RAISE MEAT CHICKENS...and figure out how to slaughter them (ahhh!!) Oh, and we want to raise some turkeys too!

6. GET READY FOR BABY GOATS. We bred our milk goat "Liberty Belle" and think she's pregnant (hard to tell on a goat). She should deliver in May, Lord willing!  Does that make me a midwife now?

7. START A SOAP & SALSA BUSINESS. We want to start selling homemade goat milk soap and "Dad's Disappearing Salsa" (Steven's famous salsa) at farmer's markets this spring.




11. LEARN TO SEW. I want to make summer dresses for Hailey & me. :-)

12. LEARN TO PLAY THE BANJO...ok, that one's not going to happen right now.

and what you've been waiting for....

13. GET READY FOR BABY #7 COMING IN SEPTEMBER!!!!! Yay!!!!! We are so excited! The Lord has given us yet another gift and we do not take this for granted. He says they are His reward and blessing!(Ps. 127:3-5) We are humbled and thankful that He loves us so much. Now to figure out how to convert the attached garage (aka Steven's shop) into more living space! Which means we also need to build Steven a shop! Maybe we should start a Mena Family Expansion Fund!...with a DONATE button in the sidebar :-)

Ok...side note here. How many of you scrolled right down to the end to see if that was coming?!? I knew it! :-) You're thinking...yada, yada, yada, where's the good stuff? I tried to think of more to add to my list just to make you suffer...just kidding :-)

Oh, and now I need to accomplish all the above goals before September 12th (due date)! HA!! Much prayer needed... 

Well, it's fixin' to be an eventful year on The Fruitful Farm!  So come and visit!!