Saturday, May 31, 2008

wrapping it up...

As you can see, I have made a few changes to the blog. For starters, I added a widget from the Library Thing. These are some of the books that we are reading or have read. Another item is the counter. I never thought about it before this week, but the other day I was interested in seeing how many visitors check out our blog. What will I do with this information? Nothing :) Just an interesting tid-bit for me and a way to stretch my computer skills.

I have one more week of school, and no prospects of a new job yet. Last year at this time I was in the same boat, and in the month of July had to decide between three different job offers. I am assuming that it will be the same this year. Each time I apply for a school I get excited and practically move myself into that community. Ildi finds a a house in the country and we fantasize about living there. It is fun to dream about the situation.

Now that school is almost over, we are going to spend some of the beginning of the summer visiting places here in North Carolina. First, we are going to the Biltmore Estate. And of course, we will visit the NC Zoo which is only an hour away. Since we have been here, we have enjoyed a membership to Old Salem and have visited the living museum many times. In addition, there are many pottery places that I want to see located at Seagrove. We are going to start getting milk from a farmer in South Carolina, so our trip down there will take us close to Charlotte. The couple of times we go down to get milk will give us a chance to drive around there for a visit. I do have to confess though that I am not really interested in visiting such a large city.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

our great society...

I just finished a small novel, Henry and the Great Society tonight, and wanted to post a little bit about the message it brought to me. Before I do, I first want to preface this by referencing that there are many bloggers that I read on a regular basis, and most of them have to do with agrarian living. Some are radical, and some are quite "normal." So as to not offend any of them, I'll keep my opinion about who the radicals are to myself. :) Most of the ones that I read are located on the preferred blogs list. They range from city to country folks, institutionally educated and self-educated, financially well-off and financially struggling, and a smattering of everything in between.

Side note...I got my test results back today that states that I know enough to teach Art in Ohio. I am just waiting on the Ohio Department of Education to send me a teaching License now.

However, there is no need to move from the city to the country to live an agrarian lifestyle. You can do it right where you are. In fact Jules Dervaes at Path to Freedom is doing it in Pasadena, CA right around the corner from where I lived. Back to the novel.

In this story, Henry goes from a contented farmer with no modern conveniences to a ......(wait a minute, I don't want to spoil the story for you :) person who is not as happy as he used to be. It seems throughout the story that the answer is to always "get back" to the way things used to be. I enjoyed the story, and it made me reflect on many of the "conveniences" that I have now that are not actually convenient. But the point I want to make here is that no matter how hard we try to get back to a place in the past, progression takes us toward the future. Are we trapped by the forward movement and unable to stop its affect on us? I think not. Actually, having lived the progressive life for years and not finding too much benefit in it is what has causes us to desire a more rural, self-sustaining life in the first place. I think that if a person (or family in my case) establishes a vision for their lives and actively pursues accomplishing it, they will find that the future holds more promise than always trying to recapture something that they once had. So much for my Thursday, I just read a book, wisdom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

it pays to Discover...

Years ago, we cut up all of our credit cards when we joined Consumer Credit Counseling Service to become debt free. I won't go into the details about it here, but on this post, praise to God, I want to talk about the benefit of credit card use.

Last month I drove up to Ohio for a job fair. I made mention in an earlier post about it, and that I had a road issue with the rental car. I ran over a piece of rubber in West Virgina right before the second toll booth, near Beckley, WV. I was fine, but the radiator was damaged, leaking all the coolant, resulting in the car overheating and possibly blowing the engine. All I know is that I was traded out a car and only lost three hours of traveling time. When I returned after my trip, I found out that they were going to junk the car, and the charge to me was going to be $3395.16 for all the damage. Quite an expensive trip to Ohio. Since I only had liability insurance on my vehicle, and I refused the extra insurance they offered at Enterprise Rental, I would have to be responsible for the whole amount.

The young man I talked with at Enterprise claims gave me a tip about calling to see if my credit card would help me with the bill. Before this past year, Ildi and I had made the decision not to use credit cards because they had gotten me into trouble before, but when we moved across the nation I got one "just in case" and I used it to charge the move. Since then, it just sat idle in my wallet until I rented this car.

After photocopying paperwork, filling in and sending in information, I had not thought too much about it until I got home from school today. In the mail was a letter from an insurance group that works with Discover card. They referenced the claim, and mentioned that the letter they were sending was in reference to Collision Damage Waiver coverage. The next paragraph read
"Payment in the amount of $3395.16 has been issued to the Enterprise Rent A Car. A copy is enclosed for your records."
What a surprise! Discover COVERED my damage to the rental car. It really does pay to Discover.

Now, we really do know that it is God's hand moving on our behalf, so thanks goes to Discover Card Services, credit and praise goes to God.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action. All of this, of course, is from Wikipedia.

This day is usually a day that people have cookouts, parties, or gather with friends and family to celebrate. Sort-of an excuse to have another party. Annually, I do this as well. Most of the time we spend the day with one other close family friends of ours, and we cooked on the grill and spend the day talking and relaxing. Today, however, we spent the day in a very different way than we have done before. We traveled north up to Caswell county and helped some friends bale some hay. The fields were beautiful, the patterns of the hay laying in the field was artistic, and the weather was perfect; sunny, small breeze, and extremely quiet. Notice the horse drawn rake in the distance.

Asher had a time with the bales in that they were as big as he is. Nolan spend most of the day stacking them on the wagon. All together we got around two-hundred bales in the barn today. It would be nice if we were able to go back tomorrow to help them finish putting the rest of it up.

May God bless all of those that have served in our military and have given their lives so that I have the freedom to attend a barbeque, have guests over for dinner, or bale some hay with some friends.

Friday, May 23, 2008

an email posted...

This is an email I sent to a friend that says most of what I wanted to post about today. I tried to eliminate all the specific addresses to him and make it more general here.

it seems that I am selling my house!

I had a lady call me a few times about it and wanted to work me down to a frightening number. I thought she was another scammer so I dismissed her and just spoke bluntly to her. Nearing the end of the conversation, she told me that she was an investor and wanted to buy the property. I gave her the bottom line and said I would not take anything less than 500k for it. She agreed to buy it. Over the next few weeks, we talked a few times and she said she was still interested. I ended up writing up a contract and mailed it to the escrow company to look over. Long story shorter, I mailed it to the wrong place so it was returned. I then mailed it out for the agent to look over again before forwarding it to the investor. Before she received the one I sent, she faxed me an agreement she made up that was all wrong. Wrong name, wrong price (for more!) and wrong info. I thought for sure that this confirmed that it was a scam. I told the escrow agent I am working with to call her and ask a few questions. You know, kind-of play dumb about the situation. She did call a few times but the lady never replied. So, last week I called the agent again to see of she returned any of her calls. She told me she didn't and again it was a confirmation. After I hung up from talking though, the agent called me back and said she had just gotten in touch with her and that she had received the agreement that I made up, was going to sign it, and remit the 3% deposit to open escrow. I am hoping that she is going to buy it. :)

We are closing down our time here in NC. It's hard to believe that we have lived here for almost a year already. I still haven't secured a position in Ohio yet but in retrospect, I hadn't secured a position here in NC until mid July. I actually didn't even fly out here to interview until the end of May. I have sent several resumes out and am checking the job boards regularly. Ildi has encouraged me to apply for a couple of part-time positions in the city of Westerville, OH. She says it is the Pasadena of Ohio :) The pay scale there is outrageous as well. She said after I work a few months part-time they will be sure to pick me up for a full time position. Sounds good to me. It's either take a full time job in a small community and living somewhere in the country with a guarantee that I will make a decent salary, or work part-time for a bit making a little less than that with the potential of getting hired for a full position at a large sum. All for 180 days of work a year! At this point, if this house sells, we will still be able to buy a farm cash without me making any more money.

Which all brings me to the question I have for you (all). Remember one of the conversations we had about our children growing up and that we wanted to provide for them? I remember talking that night about the plans you all have for your children. It is not too far away. What is reminding me is that I just picked up the book I started several years ago called The Power of Focus. It is the kind of book that makes you think of why you are doing what you are doing. Anyway, it reminded me about goals that I had set many years ago that I have already accomplished. (ex. debt free, MA degree, have more children, live frugally.......) And now, I am starting to think about some of the things that I want to accomplish as we move into a more agrarian life. For example....I am thinking about having our family farm a tourist type of place equipped to accommodate school children visiting, community visitors, and possibly over night stays in a Wall Tent. Mary Jane Butters gave me the idea:) Sort-of like a bed and breakfast but on the farm. You know, a tent/cabin that you stay for the weekend listening to the crickets chirp with a small fire on a warm summer night. The morning comes with a hot /fresh cooked breakfast that includes milk and eggs that are from our animals. The day is spent leisurely touring the farm, milking a cow, gathering eggs, weeding/planting in a garden, and eating great home-cooked meals. The draw would be that it is a place AWAY from the rat race and a time to really relax, get your hands dirty, and feel part of a family farming vision.

Sounds like a huge plan. I better start writing all this stuff down before I forget it!

And, as a side note, long posts are VERY BAD. Sorry. :(

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

discipline again?...

Disciplining children seems to be an endless task as a parent. Sometimes we wish that they would just "get it" and not bother us with the same old bad behavior. With this in mind, I want to share a few things that I have been reviewing in the book I just finished reading called Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo.

These are evaluative questions we should be asking ourselves concerning correcting our children. I have shortened them and changed a few of the words to make it a quick list.

1. Do I teach them in the moment?
2. Do I talk to them about why I am disciplining them?
3. Do I confront them regularly or wait until I am mad?
4. Do I communicate with grace?
5. Do I correct in private?
6. Do they understand why they are being disciplined?
7. Do they understand biblically what they have done wrong?
8. Do they agree that they need discipline for their behavior?
9. Do you apply practical and predicable discipline?
10. Do you use this time to proclaim the Gospel?
11. Do you discuss alternative ways to respond to the problem?
12. Do you use scripture to instruct and correct?
13. Do you require the child to make restitution?
14. Do you comfort and pray with them when it is over?
and lastly,
15. Do you ask for feedback on your disciplining to correct some of your bad behaviors?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

more signs of life...

As most are aware, childhood is a time to experience the wonders of life. From killing flies in the house, to collecting bugs, children find all sorts of ways to interact with God's creation. Most recently, the children have been interacting with the small animal and plant life that surrounds this house we our living in. They used an old fish tank that was cracked to make a home for some new signs of life. It started as a moss terrarium and now has evolved into a frog and turtle enclosure.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

family video

Nolan enjoys technology so we accommodate him by letting him play the computer games like Word, Excel, and of course Windows Movie Maker. Here is an example of his most recent work on Movie Maker. The song he chose comes from a young group of musicians called West Coast Revival that are affiliated with the Sovereign Grace Ministries group. The movie chronicles this past year moving from "West to East."

Another one of the emails that I am forwarding.

Please read before viewing picture - it's worth it!

A picture began circulating in November. It should be 'The Picture of the Year,' or perhaps, 'Picture of the Decade.' It won't be. In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it.

The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by surgeon named Joseph Bruner.

The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Med Ctr in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is
still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. Dr Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger
was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.

The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity The
editors titled the picture, 'Hand of Hope.' The text explaining the picture
begins, 'The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges
from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life.'

Little Samuel's mother said they 'wept for days' when they saw the picture. She said, 'The photo reminds us pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person.' Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.

Now see the actual picture, and it is awesome....incredible....and hey, pass it on. The world needs to see this one!

Don't tell me our God isn't an awesome God!!!!!

making choices...

In addition to the last post.

Please don't think that I am not in favor of doctors or that I have had bad hospital experiences that cause me to be cynical of medical professionals. Actually, the opposite has been true. Just a post to make us think about what we allow into our lives. An email I received from a friend the other day gives some startling statistics.

(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is


(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians

per year are


(C) Accidental deaths per physician



Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of

Health Human Services.


Now think about this:

A) The number of gun owners in the U.S.

is 80,000,000.

(Yes, that's 80 million)

(B) The number of accidental gun deaths

per year, all age groups,



(C) The number of accidental deaths

per gun owner



Statistics courtesy of FBI


So, statistically, doctors are approximately

9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.