Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Farm Baby is Brewing!


Boy have I got news for you!  I've been holding this in for over a month and can't wait to share my story!

Many of you know that I have had two stillborns.  If you'd like to read about it, go here.  My last pregnancy ended at 11 weeks.   So, the thought of getting pregnant again scared me tremendously.   Over time, God changed my heart and although I was still fearful,  I became more open to giving him control.

I prayed every so often that God would not allow me to get pregnant if He planned on taking the baby from my womb.   This was not an angry prayer, but an honest petition to God to grant my request.  Not only did I not want to go through the heartache of another loss, but I did not want my family to go through it either.

And it happened.  But the thing is, I really didn't think it would happen.  I was only about four weeks along when that little positive sign appeared.  And that is why my prayer changed to this,

"Lord, if you plan on taking this baby, please take him/her now before I get too attached."

A few days later, I had baby names on my mind, girl names.  Now let me tell you,  I usually don't get the itch to decide on any baby names until later on.  I hadn't even told my husband about the pregnancy yet! Anyway, I got online and did a quick search.  Hebrew girl names popped up so I clicked on it.  I found a name that really stuck out, Eliana.

Eliana, how pretty!  But the meaning is important to me so, before I got too excited,  I needed to know what Eliana meant.  If it meant harlot or prostitute or some other horrible meaning, it just wasn't gonna fly!

I clicked on the name and there it was.  A meaning that seemed to be talking to me in a still small voice.

"God has answered."

I was somewhat shaken by this(when God speaks so plainly and clearly, it has that affect on me!) and laid my head on the back of the couch.  I knew God was speaking to me.  I know He has answered.  Sometimes I just need the answer written on the wall and, well, that was close enough!

I believe he will see this pregnancy through.  I admit that doubt creeps its ugly little head into my mind.  But those three simple words, "God has answered," gently remind me that He is with me.  He cares about my worries and that has given me so much peace with this pregnancy.  I can rest in Him.

I'm due in February.   Your prayers for this little farm baby are more than welcomed and appreciated!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Confession as a Mama Hen



You've heard the saying, "You can't give advice about parenting unless you have children."

Although I was not guilty of that one, I do have a confession to make.

Here it goes.

I was one of these mamas...

A younger wife and mother who looked down upon older, wiser moms because they weren't as protective of their children as I thought they should be.  My goodness, she lets her teen listen to Christian rap? Oh, good grief, I can't believe she is letting her daughter go away to college!  Gasp, her daughter is wearing makeup at 12!

I hear the tones of prideful judgement all over the internet, in other moms' conversations and within the Christian community as a whole.  I am the first to admit that I was blasting false accusations in my mind towards these older women.  Like I know better?


Come on, Susie.

Please.

I am a mother hen.

These young whipper snapper kids need more nurturing, extra protection and attention than older children.  It's only natural for a mother to flutter about like a mother hen, protecting her little chicks because they are so vulnerable and helpless in this crazy world.

But, I also have an older teen.

We, moms with older children get it.  We get it because we've been there.  We chased off the bully chickens, we pulled our little fluffballs under our wing to protect them from bad influences, sheltering them and helping them keep their thoughts pure and innocent.

I have an 18 year old all the way down to a five year old.  I'm still a mother hen to my five year old.  But, to my oldest daughter, I have transitioned.  I really cannot keep her under my wing any longer.  She isn't a fluffy, cute little chick anymore, but a beautiful young lady, learning how to spread her wings.

Does she still need some protection?  Of course!  But, instead of shuffling her under my wing, I share with her my own experiences, good and bad.  I share with her my concerns, my love for her and the biblical wisdom I have gained through the years.  She is really spreading her wings, but if I feel she might be in danger of spreading them too far, I call her back in, a little closer, but not too close.  Sometimes, I let her learn the hard way.  Just like a mama hen does.

She has seen the world at her job.  She hears it in their music, their speech, their actions and sometimes their thoughts.  She has been tempted and at times she fails, like we all do, but she knows God's truth.  She knows.  And He draws her back in.

I used to struggle with letting her listen to certain Christian music.  I used to struggle with her going to college.  I used to struggle with how she dressed, was it feminine enough?  I never had to worry about modesty with her, but others would see her attire as not modest enough.  I never told her about some of the things I have heard for fear that she would believe she could never measure up to these standards that others have placed.

But, these were not my standards nor my husband's.  I was listening to the legalistic side of Christianity and it really made my life more difficult than what God intended it to be.  I see young mothers sharing their strong opinions about how ladies shouldn't go to college, what kind of music is appropriate, what they should wear, etc.  And their daughters haven't reached the age of three or four.  Those might be excellent ideas for your children when they get older.  Only you know what is best for them.

But every family is different.  Although my ambitious 18 year old is all about playing basketball at a junior college and learning to share her faith on a missions trip and with others, we do feel that at this time in her life, going away to college is not a good idea for her.  She will commute, but who knows what God has in store for her in the future?

She knows the importance of being a keeper of the home, yet until she gets married, she will more than likely have a job after college.  She was the rambunctious little chick that I had to keep chasing after.  Sometimes I had to ruffle my feathers as a warning to others to stay clear of this little explorer as she discovered new things.  Sometimes I lost her and she got herself in a bind, learning the hard way.

My younger daughter told me she wanted to stay on the farm forever and eventually take care of us when we are older(I immediately gave her a contract to sign...just kidding).  She is content with staying close to me, not much of an explorer, but loves to make her mama happy by not wearing me out!  It will be interesting to see where God has her in the next few years.  She is different than my oldest daughter and not quite as ambitious, but loves to dream about farm-related ideas and adventures.  I see myself in both of them.  Yet, God made them so different and gave them different desires.


We cannot say 'never' to certain ideas that are preferences.  I feel as if that is underestimating God's will.  It's saying that we are in control, not God.

So, where am I getting at with all of this?  Moms with younger children, if you stay focused on your family, there won't be temptation to be a little too judgmental like I was.  Remember, you are at a different stage in life with your kids.

You are still the protective mother hen who puffs at any threats or injustice done to your child.  That is perfectly normal.  Some of us get a little more puffy than others....ahem.  But, we have been where you have been.

Don't worry about the future.  It's good to have an idea or preference for your kids, but be open to God changing those ideas if it is His will.  Trust that God will show you when the time comes.  Because, right now, I can almost guarantee your thoughts on certain issues will change within the next few years.

Let's jump on that parenting roller coaster and enjoy the ride!



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Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Daughter's Spiritual Journey with Basketball


 "And then He told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone."
~Mark 16:15(NLT)


My daughter has a wonderful opportunity and mission:  To learn how to spread the gospel to college-level basketball players through Athletes in Action and join them in Guatemala this summer.  This is an amazing opportunity!  And here is her story...

I love basketball, and anything to do with the sport.  Both of my parents played ball in high school, and could've played in college, so I guess you could say that it is in my genes.  I was unable to play basketball for most of my life because I was homeschooled, and public schools don't allow us to participate in varsity sports.  But when we moved to northwest Indiana, we found a small Christian school that allows homeschoolers to play any sport they desire.

So, in the 2012-2013 basketball season, my senior year in high school, I played ball for the first time since I was 9.  I was so excited, but had almost forgotten all the rules and how to play the game.  I will admit that those first couple of months were very mind-blowing to say the least!  I had to learn all the plays, and moves that are essential to being a good ball player, but after those initial two months, I started to get the hang of it.  I worked hard, challenging myself to be the best player I could be.  The thought of playing basketball in college had not once crossed my mind......yet.

But as the season was winding down, I started to get frustrated that it was almost over, and that I would never play again.  By this point, I really wanted to play in college, and was working hard in every practice and game to reach the level of talent collegiate athletes possess.  I contacted a small Division II junior college about playing ball for them, and to my surprise, the women's head basketball coach was interested in me!  It was an exciting time, and to make a long story short, I signed to play for Ancilla College in May of 2013, and ended up waiting because my parents didn't feel I was ready for the challenges of college life.  Although I was disappointed, I wholeheartedly agreed with their decision.

During that long 2 semesters of not being able to play basketball, I got a job at Aldi, and got hired as the assistant coach for the girl's varsity basketball team I played for.  Being the assistant coach for Victory Christian Academy(the school I played for), helped me realize that I need to be a leader, but not just that, a godly Christian leader to the girls on my team.  I went from player to coach in less than a year, and let me tell you, I had a lot of maturing to do!  I am very grateful to my parents for allowing me to be a coach,  I have grown so much more mature in my faith, and in my actions as a result.

During our season, I still wanted to play ball in college, only this time, I didn't want to play solely for my own personal enjoyment, but I wanted to use my talent to bring God glory, and spread the Gospel to my teammates and everyone I come in contact with.  I wanted to help people come to Christ, using the sport I love, basketball, as the platform.  I didn't know any Christian collegiate athletes around here, and I was determined to find like minded athletes who love The Lord.  And what I found, was, there aren't very many.  At that point, I realized that there is a great need for sports ministry.  


 As I continued to pray and ask God to show me His will for my life, one of my friends told me about Athletes in Action, and that their sole purpose is to spread the Gospel using sports as the avenue.  I looked on their website, and was very surprised to see that everything they do with sports, is exactly what I wanted to do.


"We dream of a day when there are Christ-followers on every team, in every sport, in every nation. We believe this is possible when organizations and individuals -- who want every athlete to know someone who truly follows Jesus -- work together toward the common goal of furthering God’s kingdom."   

Athletes in Action sends out sports teams to different countries to share the Gospel,  sets up college ministries, and has camps, and retreats on their sports complex in Xenia, Ohio.  I wanted to be a part of this organization, using sports as a way to minister to others.  Yeah, I was pretty excited!  

So, I filled out the application to go on tour with one of their women's basketball teams, and let me tell you, this wasn't just some easy to fill out application for a job, it took me about 2 days to fill it out!  Their questions were extensive, required several references and were to be thoroughly filled out. After I submitted the application, the first thing I did was pray, asking God give me peace about it, and that if it was His will, I would be accepted.

About a month after submitting the application, I got an email saying that I had been accepted to go on the Guatemala tour in July! We will be going to Guatemala City, Guatemala, playing against local universities, and setting up coach and player clinics, all in hopes of spreading the Gospel to the people who live there.  I thanked(and still thank) God everyday for this incredible opportunity.

The next step in the process was/is raising support for the trip.  I really have to step out in my faith and trust God to provide!  Each player has to raise $3,600 for the trip, and we don't just do it alone.  We do it with faithful people and churches who want to make a difference with us in Guatemala.  This is where you might come in.  Would you prayerfully consider giving $75, $100, $250, or some other amount to help our team meet our goal? You will not only be helping reach people for Christ in Guatemala, but also helping my teammates and I grow in our faith in Christ. 

 Although college and professional athletes are admired by young and old alike, the personal lives and actions of many are looked down upon and understandably so.  What if we could help change the hearts of athletes, one person at a time?  That is not only my mission, but also that of Athletes in Action.  Would you be willing to be a part of this?  If you believe God is leading you to support this sports ministry, go to www.give.ccci.org and enter 0820169 in the "Give a Gift" box.  All funds need to be raised by June 23.

Thank you so much for considering supporting my team as we travel and bring the Good News of the Gospel to the people of Guatemala!

Kaila
A country gal, goat midwife, goat castrator, manure scooper, dog trainer and horse rider




Monday, May 5, 2014

Tips on How to Homeschool and Homestead without Losing Your Mind!



Many of us who homeschool will, at some point in time, get the homesteading itch. Something about being more self-reliant with a take charge attitude towards our children's education can spill over into having a desire to become more self-sufficient in our everyday lives.

I remember the freedom I felt when my husband and I took my now 18 year old daughter out of second grade and started homeschooling her.  She was free to excel at her own pace, to explore, to learn real history, to know that there is more to this life than being lumped into the same category as an animal.  And I had the privilege to teach and learn with her.

After my third little one was born, the homesteading itch started.  I grew up on a hobby farm where my dad raised our own beef and chicken.  He had a big garden and there were many nights that I sat at the dinner table feeling complete satisfaction that everything on that table was from our land.  Even as a child, I knew and appreciated the importance of growing our own food.  So, I guess you could say that the desire was always there, but to act upon it was depending on timing and location.

I have five children.  At this time, my oldest has graduated and I am schooling three.  Last year it was four.  How in the world do I homeschool and homestead without getting some sort of nervous twitch?

Here are some tips I have learned along the way.

1.  Be flexible.  It is good to have some sort of schedule throughout the day, but if you have a strict schedule, you will more than likely end up being frustrated and disappointed.  As a homesteading family, there are numerous interruptions.  Some days are one big interruption and you might only have time for one subject or no subject at all for school.  

This can lead to some very negative feelings because you have set such high standards in scheduling.  If you do decide to schedule your days, be very flexible and include some wiggle room for the unexpected.  The homesteading life does not have a schedule.  Try scheduling everyday life on the farm and see what happens.  Sure, you can schedule feeding times, garden chore time, etc.  But, honestly, this life is full of the unexpected.  So, just expect it.  Then, when interruptions come, you won't lose your mind!

2.  Use the homesteading life as part of school.  Let's face it, you probably don't have time to take your kids to a homeschool co-op or do a lot of 'extras' in your curriculum.  I am amazed at some of the extensive curriculum there are.  

We love history and could really go crazy with what some books will have us do as supplements to each lesson.  I tried to do it all years ago, but after talking to other homeschool moms with smart kids, I realized that even they don't do it all.  Because we don't really have time to spend 2 hours on each subject or take an art class, I felt like I was falling short of giving my kids a well-rounded school day.  

But, what I realized is they draw, a lot, sometimes using step-by-step instructions on how to draw a certain thing or get an idea from the farm.  That's art.  They learn a lot from the farm.  There is science all around us.  They explore and use their creativity.  They build, they role play, they learn outdoor skills, they learn a good work ethic(that in itself is one of the most important things to learn, I believe.  Right up there with reading.).  


So, don't feel guilty for not being able to fit it all in what some would call the normal homeschool standards.  Remember, we aren't normal!  Homesteading is a big school in itself.  

Heck, I guess that means I'm still in school!


3.  Keep your sense of humor.  I'm just going to be quite honest on this one.  Lighten up!  Nobody likes to be around a gloomy person for too long, including your kids.  If the homesteading and homeschooling life is one big burden to you, it might be time to rethink why you are doing what you are doing.   When we miss the humor in things, we miss God-given opportunities to find joy in life.  This doesn't mean we becoming laughing hyenas, of course, but it means to not be afraid to see the funny side of things.  

Sometimes we can get into a rut, that's normal.  Those are the times to renew our faith, renew our vision and maybe take a little breather to refocus.  How do we talk about our homesteading/homeschooling adventures to others?  


Are we constantly complaining about trials or do we share what we have learned through these trials, even to the point of sharing joy or humor in certain situations?  

Sharing blessings and humor with your kids speaks volumes to them.  They will learn to find blessings in a lot of negative circumstances.  They will learn to find the funny side of certain situations.  This will make the homeschooling, homesteading experience a much more memorable one!

4.  Know your limits.  We have two huge responsibilities here.  Homeschooling and homesteading take an amazing amount of commitment and sacrifice.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  


If we neglect our responsibilities, more than likely our children and farm will suffer, sometimes in a big way!   

I used to think I could do it all.  I also used to feel guilty for not getting involved in every neat opportunity that comes along.  

Homeschooling is more flexible than homesteading.  You might be able to take some time off of homeschooling and make those days up whenever you choose, but you can't take a break from homesteading.  The winter time is downtime on the farm for us, but the animals still need care.  So, we can say yes to extra events a little bit more during the winter.  Spring and summer are the two seasons that we are pretty much bound to the farm.  

There will be some who do not understand why we can't go out of town for a day or two or why we really can't take on any extras during this time.  But, if we don't say 'no,' we will pay the consequences.  

We have learned the hard way quite often in this area.  We don't need to do it all, and our kids will be much happier if we put limits on ourselves.  They don't like to be rushed through school and running ragged, to live at a neglected homestead because we are hardly home, to hear their mama gripe about not having enough time in the day, etc.

So, put limits on yourself and your family.  Let the seasons work for you.  We have some very big responsibilities that cannot be ignored.  Once you truly understand that, saying 'no' will be much easier.

We don't have to lose our sanity.  God will give us the wisdom and courage we need to take on these huge tasks that He has blessed us with.  Let's rise to the challenge with gusto and leave the nervous twitch with the barn mice!

What are some tips you have learned along the way?

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