Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why I Believe Jesus Came to Earth as God in Human Form

Last week I was visiting with someone about Bible things and as our conversation went along I was rather shocked to find out that they did not believe that Jesus was truly God. They believed that He was the Son of God (which He is) but they didn't believe that He was/is God that came down in human form to live among us.

   I was frustrated with myself that I didn't have more verses memorized and at the ready in my mind (I am not a good debater - not that I really want to be, that isn't my style - but I would like to have a bit quicker memory when false teachings are thrown at me) so that I could share them. So later at home I kept saying "Oh, why didn't I remember that verse?!" So here are some of those verses that I wished I would have remembered plus more that I found....

   "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather that according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;" Col. 2:8-10

  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," Which translated means, "God with us". Matthew 1:23

  Jesus says in John 10:30: "I and the Father are one." The Jews were very upset with His words here and wanted to stone Him because they said that He a man was claiming to be God. Jesus answered them with his final words being "The Father is in Me, and I in the Father." John 10:38

 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
 "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

  After Jesus rose again and then appeared to Thomas and had him put his fingers in his hands and his side "Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, because you have seen Me, have you believe? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." John 20:28 & 29

 "Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus," Titus 2:13

 I believe that Jesus is truly God and that He also truly became man and came to live among us and was the sacrifice for us. How about you?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Doing My Part In Preparing the Army

   We are in a Battle!!! There is a war going on between what is good and evil. We are called to be soldiers in this battle. We are to prepare ourselves so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  This battle doesn't just involve adults either. The devil and his servants would love to take captive the hearts and minds of our children. Are they prepared to stand strong?
Breakfast table Bible reading - this was when my in-laws were visiting
 (during our basement days) and we were privileged to have Grand-dad read.

  Those of us the homeschool are very privileged to have opportunities to teach our children the truth of God's word. The Bible and Prayer are still allowed in homeschooling. But are we truly taking advantage of that freedom? I fear that sometimes we may become so cumbered down with so many workbooks or a large curriculum that we don't have much time to spend on what truly matters in life. It isn't that I don't think other subjects aren't important - I do. Nor do I believe (like I have heard some do) that we should teach every subject (even Math) out of the Bible. I do want every subject to have a Biblical worldview but it doesn't have to come directly out of the Bible. But I do think if we chose to homeschool because we want our children to follow Christ rather than the devil then I think we should make study of the scripture of first importance in our homeschool.

    I just wanted to share a little bit from Ephesians 6: "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Eph. 6:13-17

  This is what I want for me and what I want for my kids, truly what I want for everybody. But I have the most influence on myself and my children so that is mostly what I will talk about today. Let's get practical....

     I think pretty much every Christian I know would say that they want to have on the full armor of God and be able to stand firm against anything the devil throws at them. They would like to know the Holy Bible well. They would love to be able to memorize verses - maybe even chapters or books. They would like to have an active prayer life. But just wanting something doesn't make it happen - we have to have action too.  It can be pretty easy for us to be like the apostles whom Jesus had asked to keep watch and to pray in those last hours before the Crucifixion but who kept falling asleep. Jesus said of them: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." 

   Realizing that our flesh is weak and that we do tend to be busy, get distracted, have a lot on our plate we can't just let the important things like prayer and Bible (study, reading, memorizing, meditating) get put off until "we have time". We are going to have to make time for it. We are going to have to develop habits to spend time with God and in His word. I realize that there is a concern that we will just go through the motions and not really have our heart in it. Work to make sure that is not the case. But still I would rather have to force myself to do something and then be able to turn my heart and mind around to truly be worshiping and studying then to never get started in the first place.

   The area of prayer and bible reading/study/memorizing/meditating are areas that I have grown in over the years but that doesn't mean I have "arrived", I most certainly haven't! My kids aren't perfect either. But we do love the Lord and we are trying to live our lives for Him. We also do have more knowledge and understanding of the scripture then we used to. So with reservations (because I don't want to be boastful, nor do I want to compare myself with anyone else or have others compare themselves with me) but in hopes that hearing about what we do could somehow encourage you and your family or maybe give you ideas as to how you can get more in the Word and into prayer at your house I am going to share what we do with you. 

   Here is the basic schedule of our day concerning the organized prayer and Bible times:
  • Prayer Journaling and Bible Reading are what I do in the morning as soon as I have gotten dressed and ready for the day.(Generally my kids are still asleep - when I had babies they would often nurse during this time) In my prayer journal I record praises first. I think that is a really wonderful way to start my prayer time. It reminds me of who and how great God is. Then I list a bunch of things that I want to thank Him for. The things don't have to be big important things, they can be things that we normally take for granted likes socks and shoes, whatever. Counting my blessings is a great way to start my day. Then I do journal my requests - for me and for others. I also journal things that I want God's forgiveness for and then I try to notice and journal answered prayers. Then I read 1 or 2 chapters in the Bible. This year our church has been working to go through the Bible and so they have different areas we are trying to cover each month. I have been trying to read along with the church's monthly theme at this time previously I would chose which book to read rather randomly often going back and forth between the old and new testament. While I am doing both my journaling and Bible reading I will often be working on some sort of handwork like rag rug making. This tends to slow me down a bit and cause me to spend time meditating on what I have read and spending more time praying about each thing on my list.
  • We read the Bible at the Breakfast table. (on week days) This is a chapter from the New Testament. We are trying to change up what version we read each time we go through. We just recently started reading through in King James which has been interesting and somewhat entertaining for us. I think different versions can help us to notice things about the verses. We aren't just hearing the same thing we have heard over and over before.
  • We work on memorizing as we clean up from breakfast.(on week days) Everybody has their job to do to get dishes done, the floor swept, the table cleaned off, etc. If we are fast with our work and still have a lot of reciting to do we will work on things like making applesauce, dusting, processing corn (see picture below) and so forth while we recite. This allows us to get needed chores done around the house but still memorize scripture. Currently we have been memorizing the book of Colossians. We are nearly done but still tend to stumble over all the greetings at the end. We do this one every time and then most days we also review on of our passages that we have memorized in the past like "The Sermon on the Mount", James, Romans 12, Various chapters in Psalms, Our Alphabet verses (one verse for each letter of the alphabet) and the books of the Bible.

  •  We Sing Together. (on week days) We sing songs that praise God, ones that pray to Him and ones that are verses set to music or Biblical teaching. We love this time of worshiping God together.
  • The Kids use the Bible for their Copy work. (on week days) We have a notebook for each of them and each day they set the timer for 15 minutes and then with their best handwriting and paying careful attention to spelling and punctuation they copy out from a book in the Bible. Some of them get a lot done each day but Aaron who does not yet enjoy writing in cursive can sometimes write only 5 or so words in that amount of time. But speed is not the requirement here - being careful is. 

  •  We read the Bible with our after lunch reading. (on week days) This time we read a chapter from the Old Testament. During this reading time we also often read from some other book that is spiritual in nature. Currently we are going through (with short sections of only 2 pages a day) Halley's Bible Handbook. This is a time we also read from other fun and educational books.
  • We read the Bible on our own at rest time. This is the time that the kids tend to do their personal Bible reading. This is a time that I only recently started reading the Bible. I was challenged by the goal at church to get through the Bible and I just wasn't managing to read that much in the mornings. So I decided I would add it to my afternoon reading time. Now it does mean that I don't get to read as much in the way of other books as my eyes tend to start to close after the 3 chapters that I decided to read each day at that time but that is okay. This is definitely not the highest brain functioning time for me either so I doubt that I remember as much as I might after reading at other times but I do think that I do retain some things so that is worth it.
  • At bedtime we have a prayer time. It used to be that I would pray and then we would sing a prayer song together but I we did recently change that up. A couple of things prompted that. Some of the kids said it really didn't work so well to sing in bed so we dropped our nighttime song though sometimes I will still sing to them. The other thing that I had really been thinking about was all the different times we were asked to pray for something and then would forget it and not really pray about it. Also I wanted my kids to have more opportunities to pray aloud with others. So I got two jars and cut out a bunch of little pieces of cardstock. We have been writing out prayer requests out on the cardstock and putting them in one jar. Each night we each take 3 requests out of the jar and we all pray together, remembering the requests on the slips we drew out. Then we put them in the other jar when we are done. After the first jar is empty we simply switch and draw out of the full jar and put into the empty one. If a request is answered we can remove the card. We also keep adding requests whenever anyone asks for prayer. I have been liking our new method of bedtime prayers.

  • We have Scripture throughout our Home. From wall hangings, to verses on chalkboard doors, etc. I like to have scripture available to read throughout our home. 
That is what we do in a nutshell. I hope and pray that maybe it will give you ideas of how you can incorporate more prayer and Bible reading into your life as well.

 Here are some quick tips on how we have made it work for us: 
  • Add Things Gradually - We aren't going to change drastically overnight. For us this was and still will be a process. We add things here and there and then tweak things from time to time.
  • Routine! It was so helpful to me when I learned the art of having routines and then adding gradually other things to the routine. For instance we already eat breakfast as a family - adding Bible reading to that time wasn't hard. We already clean-up from breakfast - adding memorizing scripture to that time wasn't hard. We have always had a read aloud time before naps - adding Bible to that wasn't hard. When I can just add to a routine that is already established then it makes it pretty easy for it to become a habit.
  • Do What We Can. We do have some days that get super hectic. We have music students arriving early (every other Wednesday we have music students that come at 9 am and it is tough for us to have all our morning routines done by that time) or we have to get out of the house early for something. On those days we don't tend to get our whole morning routine done but we work to see how much of it we can do. Even if the students might be due in 2 minutes we will still start reciting our memory work as sometimes they are late and the truth is you can recite quite a lot of verses in 2 minutes. Also we do just have to realize that some days we aren't going to get everything done - for instance the last two days we have had an afternoon art class that we were going to so all of our afternoon reading got tossed "out the window". But we still did what we could each day.
  • Don't be so focused on getting through the "plan" that you don't allow time for discussion. I have been there and done that at times so I totally understand the temptation. But I realize now that I truly don't want to miss the blessing I receive from having Biblical discussions with my children. They often think way deeper than I do and from their questions I have learned much.
  • Don't forget to have fun! God's word isn't dry and stuffy. It is living and active and truly interesting! There is some humor in their too (at least we think so). We have at times made our Bible learning more "fun" by having Bible drills (seeing who can find verses the fastest. The first one to find it gets to read it), Bible Trivia and Bible games.
 God's Word has really blessed our lives. I hope it has and will continue to bless your family as well!

  I would really love to hear about any ways that your family incorperates prayer and scripture into your days! Please share what works for you in the comments.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Why I Believe that the Holy Spirit Changes Our Lives

 When we become a Christian the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. That is God the Spirit here to help us and to make us become more what we should be.  If we are allowing the Spirit to work in our lives and to be led by Him then our lives are going to change. We will be different than we once were.

  Here are some verses to encourage us to walk ever more by the Spirit....

  "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." Galatians 5:16 & 17

 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

  "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:25-26

  " And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with you heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Ephesians 5:18-21

Let's work to really walk by the Spirit this week!

It is Worth It

Aaron cutting the omelet for our Kim-Bob that Su Hyun was helping us make.
 Today I have been going through pictures on our computer trying to get rid of some as our disk space is pretty much full. Anyway I was very much enjoying seeing all the pictures of my little cute kids who really aren't so little any more (though they are still rather cute). I was going through my cooking category in my pictures and I was noticing just how many I had of the kids helping with the cooking.

  Meanwhile today Mara volunteered to make lunch. Yesterday the boys got the supper ready. My kids are pretty competent in the kitchen. If I am not able to cook or don't feel like it then they can. Often times they will make stuff in the kitchen just because they want to. We also often work together in the kitchen. Things go much faster when I have helpers.
Jonathan working to make his Kim-Bob.
 It wasn't always true that things went faster with helpers. In fact I am pretty sure at times things went slower but training them when they were young has been so very helpful in the long run!! The time spent then was truly worth it.
Aaron helping Pei -Lin. We have been blessed over the years to have international students
 that have showed us how to cook food from other cultures.
   My kids have really enjoyed helping me in the kitchen through the years. We have never used TV or movies to keep the kids busy while I worked so unless they were involved in their own play they have generally spent a lot of time with me - especially before they started really reading a lot.

  I had such fun looking through all these old pictures that I decided I would share a bunch with you. You probably won't find them quite as much fun since they aren't your kids but I am hoping that they might be an encouragement to young mother's out there.
 Even when it feels rather messy - let them keep helping you!
Pei - Lin was teaching us to make these fancy Japanese things with sticky rice, tuna and sea weed.

Megan putting sugar on top of the muffins.

I love these of Megan making rolls. We were making a bunch for a Holiday.

Jonathan helped too.

All of the kids were actually called to action for this roll making day.

Aaron helping my dad make Kim-chee.

Making bread.

Canning beans. I am still so thank-ful to have these helpers when canning season comes.

Jonathan cutting apples for applesauce.

 Do your kids like to help in the kitchen? Do you have any strategies for having them help you?

  You will be amazed at what even very little kids can do to help in the kitchen. Help them wash their hands, give them a chair to stand on (or move somewhere lower) and let them get to work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Prince Who Was Just Himself {A Book Review}

 "The Prince Who Was Just Himself" is a delightful children's book that subtly shares the beauty of people with Down's Syndrome.  The story is written with a fairy-tale setting. There is a King and a Queen and they have 2 princes and then a new one arrives.

When the new prince arrives they observe that he seems a little different. As life goes on they discover that not only does he look a little different but he acts a little different as well. Some people in the kingdom laughed at him and said "He is not one of us!" but the royal family learned to appreciate the ways that he was different from his brothers.

  Then one day comes when the kingdom was under attack and the princes ride out to save the day. And because of his differences the youngest prince was the one who was able to stop the attack and save the day.

   This is a sweet story and one that children will enjoy.  It also teaches the lesson of the value that each person has. Having known quite a few people that have Down's Syndrome I can attest to the fact that they add a different sort of beauty to our world. The world is a better place because of them!

The author of the book is Silke Schnee, the mother of 3 boys - the youngest one having Down's Syndrome. The Illustrator is Heike Sistig. You can find this book available on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for purposes of reviewing but all opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Why I Believe We Should Obey the Law

  Yesterday as I was driving nearly an hour to deliver wedding flowers and I was running a little late (due to having to drive very slowly through a marathon that was going on in our town and running on roads in our neighborhood) I realized what I wanted to write about today.

  As I was driving I was tempted yet again to drive over the speed limit. That seems like such a little thing, so many people do it. I have been told that law enforcement officers give you grace for some miles over and they probably don't really care. What ever we say or excuses that we think of (and I have thought of plenty) it doesn't change the fact that the speed limit is the law. Even when it seems really silly- like the 30 mph speed limit on a road going to our house that is still in the city limits but basically nobody lives in that area and it seems like country. It seems silly but it doesn't change the facts.

 I had another area of temptation lately. There is wild rice growing in the river near our house and last Sunday Mara and I planned to go canoeing and I thought it would be very fun to try harvesting a little bit while we were out. I knew that I am not allowed to harvest and sell rice (to my understanding only Native Americans can do that) but I had thought I would be able to go try out doing a little bit of harvesting so I went online and checked out how to do wild rice harvesting. In my looking around however I saw mention of the need for a license to harvest. Really? Well I guess I had better check into it. When I checked into it I found out that in order to harvest any at all I would definitely need a license and that there was also a season and hours in the day that you could do it, you needed to have sticks that were just so and a pushing pole that was made just so. I admit that my first reaction was one of frustration. Why do they always have to make everything so complicated!? But truly I don't know that much about wild rice so maybe these regulations make good sense. However there is a possibility that there is far to much regulation and that it would be good for lawmakers to work to remove some of those regulations. I don't know. But what I do know is this - that is the law right now. That law does not in any way cause me to do something against God's law so I need to follow it. Whether I like it or not.

  Why do I believe that I should obey the law? Does scripture really say that?
Yes it does.

1 Peter 2:13-17 is pretty clear on this topic:

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God honor the king." 

Romans 13:1-5 also clearly speaks on this issue:

"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefor whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake."

Also check out Titus 3:1 for more on this topic.

I find these scriptures to be quite clear and out of reverence for God, for the sake of my own conscience and so I can be a good example to others (especially my kids) I will try to obey all laws even if they night seem silly or unnecessary.

 If laws should dictate however that we do something that goes against what God teaches in the Bible I believe we should obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19). Also I do think there are some bad and stupid laws out there. But that doesn't mean that I think we shouldn't obey the stupid laws. However,we live in a country that is governed by the people so that means if we think something isn't being done right then we have a voice. We are in charge of electing those that govern us - we need to be involved in that (not just at the general election but at caucuses/primaries as well). We also could run for office ourselves. We also can tell our elected officials what we think on issues and encourage them to make good decisions. If we want our country to be run well then it is our job to stand up and make a difference.

And please....


"First of all, then I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." 1 Timothy 2:1

As always... I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Family Bike Ride

 Last week since Aaron had a "new" bike (a nice used one that we found for a good deal) and the leaves were starting to change colors and it was pretty beautiful out (though still rather chilly) we thought it would be fun to go for a bike ride. We hadn't been on a family one for a while and it was time. Here are some snapshots of our day....

Above you see some milk weed pods that are bursting open. They look so cool, I think.
 We found high bush cranberries along the trail and we picked them. The next day Mara and I went canoeing and found a bunch more and picked a bunch of them too and then we made them all into juice.
 We brought a picnic along. Ken and Jonathan always love to get some wrestling in whenever they can. Boys! (and men!)

 When we road into the little town of Laporte, MN the Lion's club was having a community appreciation day and were serving a free lunch. They called to us as soon as we rode up to come eat. We had already had our picnic a while ago but most of the family thought another meal would be great. I didn't go for a full meal but I did enjoy a snack too.
 Right after we arrived a parade of old cars went by too - which was fun.

 We saw a lot of sumac and I gathered some and made some "Juice" from it. It is supposed to be high in Vitamin C.
 We used the timer and got a family picture.
 We saw many beautiful rosehips - we gathered a bunch and are drying them to use in tea this winter.
 There were some lovely asters along the trail.
 Mara loved taking lots of pictures.
At the parking lot where we had driven to there were a bunch of roosters wandering around. They were very pretty. We spilled our popcorn which got their group (there were around 8) rather excited. They ate it up in a jiffy.

It was a fun day. I love getting out in the Autumn. That is probably my favorite season but I do really love the others too. :-)

  Have you been enjoying Autumn? What have you been doing?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Watermelon Farmer

 My son Aaron loves watermelons! When we are grocery shopping that would be nearly the only thing he would be likely to ask me to buy. I am not quick to buy watermelons, however as most we see are not organic and so they tend to soak up toxins and not have a ton of good in them for you.  So when we do happen to get one or somebody else serves him one he gets pretty excited.

  Because of his love for watermelons Aaron decided to grow some this year. I had a couple of different types of seeds for hardy watermelons (I remember one was MN Midget) and I gave him his own spot in the garden to plant them in. He planted them, watched carefully for them, watered them (though nothing else in the garden got watered) and waited excitedly for the day that they would be ready.
 His impatience did cause for a couple of unripe watermelons being cut into. The thing is there had been this little bitty watermelon that was ripe and had split open so then Aaron figured that surely the bigger ones would be ripe - they made a good hollow thumping sound too - but alas, they weren't. They didn't taste that bad though so part of it was eaten anyway.

  He picked those two unripe ones and then declared that no more would be picked until frost (though he did break that for his Dad's birthday on October 1st and that watermelon was good). We have had some chilly nights but no killing frost yet. Tonight looks like it possibly could be the night so Aaron picked his watermelons - all of them. I have a counter full.

We ate a lovely watermelon for supper tonight. Aaron has dutifully been saving seeds from his ripe melons and hopes to have a very large crop next year.

 He has decided to get full use out of them we had better try making watermelon rind pickles so that is on the agenda for tomorrow. I have never made them before but I remember liking them when they were brought to potlucks when I was a child.
This is a picture from earlier in the season. The watermelons are so cute.

 So you have any uses for watermelons beyond the normal eating of them? I would love to hear. Also I imagine we do have more unripe ones among the ones he picked - does anybody have any suggestions for using them?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Planting Trees

Our property is very wooded though we did have to cut down quite a few trees last year to make room for a driveway and building the house but there were still a few places that we wanted more trees. Ken loves the Balsam trees and so we wanted to plant some of those.
   Some friends from church have a place where there were a bunch of trees that were all crowded together to we went and dug a bunch of them out.
  We had a lovely trailer full of them.
Then we came home and planted a bunch. They look so cute along our property line. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Instructing a Child's Heart

I found this encouraging and I thought you all might as well. May we always seek God and His Truth and then share that with our children.

A Visit to My Sister's Place- An Example of Gardening on a Little Lot in a Big City

 A couple of weeks ago Ken had some continuing education (for his Insurance business) down in the cities and so the rest of us went along too and had fun hanging out with my sister Anna and her family.

   My kids have decided that they really like taking instruments along on trips as it can make the miles pass much more quickly if you can play while you drive. Sometimes it can get a little loud and sometimes we did request a break from the music but I think it is pretty fun that they love music the way that they do. The instruments got used quite a bit while we were down there too. Their kids pulled out their instruments as well and there were several jam sessions. We are far from professional musicians yet but practice is the only way to get better and they do enjoy doing that.

We actually added another instrument to our collection while we were down there too. Travis (my brother-in-law) took us to a pawn shop down there where we were able to find a nice Trek bike for Aaron and a guitar as well. The bike was in very nice condition but did have a loose brake and maybe another little thing or two. Travis was able to quickly get it in good condition for us and I was very happy about that find as Aaron had grown out of his bike and I didn't like it that we didn't have good bikes for everybody in our family to ride.

  While down at my sister's I was impressed as always at their ability to garden, heat with wood and stuff like that in the midst of a big city. I love the "simple life" but I live in the country with the space to do it. But even if you live in the city on a small lot or even in an apartment there are ways to garden and practice other "self-sufficient" methods. Here are some of the things they do:

This year they started something new at their church and that was having a community garden which people from the congregation as well as others from the community could get plots in and grow food for themselves. Travis and Anna arranged for a farmer friend to till it up and I believe Anna was in charge of finding out who wanted to have plots and so forth. It was a successful endeavor.

 Went we went to church on Wednesday night we headed out to the garden ahead of time and I helped Anna pick a bunch of beans from her garden there. She also had okra and other things producing. We visited with another lady who had just picked a bunch of eggplant.
 I found it neat that not only did their church have this community garden but I also passed another church building right in the downtown area that had turned a large portion of their yard into a community garden and then I saw another community garden in a park that we passed. So if you live in a small space you could check into have a spot in a community garden.

Anna has also very much gardened the small area around their house. Here is a little photo tour.
 The front flower beds are no longer just decorative - they now also hold swiss chard, kale, herbs and the like.
 On this side there are beans planted that get to grow up and all over the porch rails. I was able to pick a nice big bowlful off of them while I was there. Carrots are planted down below the beans. All along all the sides of their house she had both decorative and edible plants (some veggies and some herbs) planted together.
 Shortly after they moved here, around 10 years ago, they planted a couple of apple trees in the front yard and they are both producing now. One of them bore very well and Anna canned a bunch of applesauce from it.
 This photo shows the grape vine on one side of their porch (and they were producing nicely) and then beyond that a bunch of Echinaccia.
 Here is the "main" garden in the back of the house. She has tomatoes, peppers and more back here.
In their little back-yard they have managed to include a couple of compost bins (one is the black thing in the middle of the picture), a clothes line (which she used regularly), a water barrel that catches the rain water off of the garage roof and which she uses to water her plants and a swing-set that also serves as a grape vine trellis.

Behind their garage they have a lot of wood stacked which they use to heat their home. They get their wood free by cutting down trees that people are wanting to get out of their yards. It is a win-win situation as they get the wood free (the just have to do the working of cutting up and hauling) and the other people get the tree gone that they want gone without having to pay someone to do it.

   Though I am still very glad we don't live in the city it is fun to see how people can live my style of life-style there too.  People in St. Paul can also keep bees if they want. I have heard of some people in crowded areas building a high platform to keep their bees on. I think that is pretty neat.  My sister and family don't really have room for bees though since they do need some spaces for kids to play too.

 Do you live in the city or country? Do you garden where you are?


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