Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's nearly over already

November that is. Time has just been flying around here lately and we are all feeling like we are chasing our tails trying to keep up. Thankfully we are all healthy even though there is a really yucky virus going around.... I know we just can't afford the time for any one of us to be sick right now. We have been using lots and lots of GOOT, Emergen-C, and our homemade Elderberry syrup (like Sambucol), plus we take garlic capsules and cod liver oil every night and drink as much water as we can. I'm praying that all that stuff is helping and the Lord will allow us to stay healthy because even just a little slowing down will make things even more difficult.

Since I've been so negligent in posting I'll do sort of an update.

-My Mom and my baby brother came to visit for 3 days. We enjoyed seeing them again and the kids loved visiting the beach with them and going hiking and to the Airborne museum. Since I've seen some of the folks from home I'm feeling much less homesick. (there's still a bunch of people I would love to see however)

-The price of heating oil for the house this year is ridiculously high and for a time we didn't have anything but the fireplace to keep the house warm with. The fireplace looks pretty but will only keep the livingroom warm so we were trying to figure out what to do about heat this winter. Thankfully our landlord called us seemingly out of the clear blue sky and asked if we would like to put in a fireplace insert with a blower to help heat the house. So now we are keeping warm for just the cost of chainsaw gas!

I have really missed having wood heat too, it just feels warmer to me.... and it is definitely less expensive. The added bonus is now our P.E. classes are 1)hiking and orienteering -aka- gathering kindling, and 2)ergonomic cardiovascular upper body workout with emphasis on core muscle training -aka- using the large splitting maul to split the wood without straining back muscles or holding your breath to heave the giant thing over the shoulder..... we will be warm AND in shape come spring....LOL

- We've been doing our best to doctor up and take care of Garfield, our beautiful tiger striped short haired persian kitty who I love because he kills snakes for me. He was attacked by several dogs while Mom and Corey were here and has a huge chunk taken out of his leg, another out of his head and jaw, and tore the pads off of his feet in the fight for his life. He seems to be healing up very well but we are still watching for infection and absecesses and trying to keep his wounds clean. Have you ever tried holding onto a squirming kitty while putting antibiotic ointment on them? It's kind of like trying to catch a greased pig only with claws! {i love my kitty who eats the snakes and keeps me from losing it in the garden... i would rather feed a kitty and keep him well than see a snake!}

- We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at our Pastor's home with some of the families from our church. There was A LOT of PIE!!! and they were all good! The food and fellowship were wonderful and as always since the Lord brought us here we were thankful for the church family He has given us and that He has loved us and provided for us well beyond what we could even have thought to ask for!

-Troy is still praying and seeking the Lord about his job. His current employer has already waffled on the pay rate that Troy was promised *in writing* when he was hired, the supposedly wonderful benefit package (which was supposed to give us health insurance) turns out to cost $999 *PER MONTH* or almost exactly half of what he makes, and for the past several weeks there have been threats to cut Troy's pay in half because they do not have the need for a welder as soon as the current project is finished and they do not want to pay what a welder is paid when they can pay someone else half of that to do the other work. {sigh} The Lord knows our needs and has been so faithful to provide for us that we don't dare try to plan or think our way through it all so we just keep on praying.

-In an effort to make the ends meet and try to provide the funds for medical expenses that just can't be put off any longer we have gone back to something we haven't done since the kids were babies. We are rehabilitating neglected rental properties. Troy is doing the flooring work and plumbing and repairs while the kids and I clean some of the most disgusting carpets, appliances and cabinets and closets and walls I have seen in a long long long time.

We have a lot of fun working together and the kids are so excited that at the end of these long days they can see huge accomplishments. I've been pretty impressed with how hard the kids have worked too.... and with absolutely NO complaining or whining or arguing either! I was trying to fall asleep the other night and the boys kept on talking back and forth about work...
J "can you believe that big ink stain came out?"
C "nope.... did you see how the nasty gum and wax came out, I never thought about using an iron"
J "I thought that carpet was a really dark gray colored carpet but it's lighter than your doves are!"
C " You did a good job on that stain in the hallway, I can't believe you got that out"
J "thanks, you did really good on that gum and mom said you really did that little room all by yourself that's awesome"
C "Did you see how clean Fred got that kitchen!"
T "GO TO SLEEP! We have to go do this again tomorrow!"

It's hard on Troy to go to work so early for his other job and then we don't get home from the other stuff until sometimes 10 at night or later. My poor hunk O honey is so tired, but he's holding up fairly well. We should be finished with the first home by the end of this week and the man who owns the place seems really excited about what we've done. I hope we don't have to wait long for payment, sometimes property owners only pay out on a certain day of the month and I would hate to have to wait a long time (see how impatient I am...LOL). At any rate, he says he has a lot more work for us, so it looks like we will have plenty to do this winter.

- We are feeding the bees nearly every day now. All 3 hives are showing plenty of activity which is a huge relief since we were so worried about Taeler's hive being on the weak side. There is still a long way to go before we get another nectar flow though. We're praying for a mild winter, an early bloom season, no late freezes, and the end of the drought we've been in.... and LOTS more purple honey!! The kids have already had a man talk to them about the possibility of renting their hives for pollination in his watermelon fields this year... talk about excited, the kids never dreamed that they would be getting requests already. The same fella asked the boys if they would be interested in working for him some this summer during the harvest too, and me and Fred may help out with the markets if things work out that way.

- The kids have been dealing with their first business "disaster" lately. They had been working really hard to raise a flock of Black Australorp chickens and a flock of Dominique chickens that they invested their own money in buying, feeding, housing etc. The kids worked and saved for a long time to buy those chickens and to take care of them and they had over $300 invested in them. They had a total of 52 chickens who were extremely healthy, gorgeous examples of breeding stock. The dominiques were due to start laying in about 4 weeks and were going to be ready for sale of chicks in 7. The Austrlorps were only about 4 weeks behind that but were much more expensive chickens. Now they have 6 Dominiques left alive but we're not sure if any of them are hens, and there are 2 of the australorps living but neither of them are roosters!

Saturday night we came home really late from work and before I knew what was going on Jared had jumped out of the car while it was still moving screaming his head off. I hurried up and got out and he was running down the road screaming and crying and Troy pulled in right behind me and started yelling too. Finally my eyes adjusted and I saw what they had seen already.... bloody, shredded little black chicken bits all over the yard and dogs running down the road.

I walked around the yard with Troy to try to figure out what had happened, the best we can figure out is that the dogs dug into the little chicken house and killed half a dozen of the Australorps in the house. Some of the chickens escaped by going out the hole the dogs came in and some flew through a small opening a few feet up the side of the house where it looks like the dogs may have jumped against the side or something and broke it. The chickens who tried to escape were attacked by other dogs who were outside the house.

We picked up dead chickens and chicken pieces that were scattered over the entire length of our property and then spent hours walking around in the woods and all over the place freezing with flashlights trying to find the rest of the chickens! After midnight sometime we ended up with 7 that couldn't be found at all, but we did find 2 alive. One was hiding between the beehives and one was sitting in the woods injured... we aren't sure if the injured chicken will ever be totally healed up or not, her wing is a mess but she seems happy enough with her sister and maybe she will at least give us some eggs we can eat.

The very next day Troy and Jared went to talk to the man who owns the dogs. He has had a literal pack of dogs that has caused most of the neighbors problems of one kind or the other for months now but he just refuses to do anything with the dogs. He will not vaccinate them for rabies, get them spayed or neutered or keep them confined to his own property. Troy and Jared talked with him and he promised to lock the dogs up and told Troy to tell him how much he owes the kids for the chickens. The kids had committed themselves to praying about what to ask the man to compensate them for their loses and we all talked about the importance of guarding our testimonies by not giving into emotion and getting angry with this man or engaging in any unproductive conversation or argument. We locked up the Dominiques and started making plans to build them a better fence and such as soon as we got a break from the extra work and had the time to stay at home and work on it, and we made sure the pregnant rabbits were as far away from the noise as we could get them hoping that none of them would deliver early or freak out and eat their babies.

So on Monday we are woke up to the sound of a car horn just blaring in front of the house. I made Jared go out and see what was going on while I dressed. Our nice neighbor fella that the kids work for sometimes came to get us because he saw one of the dogs running down the road with a chicken in it's mouth. We quickly ran around to the back of the house and sure enough the dogs had taken the Dominique's house apart and killed most of them too. Some that we found were alive but too injured to stay that way and some were just gone to wherever the dogs carried them off to.

We were still walking around trying to find all of the chickens and I kept hearing our nice neighbor man yelling, he was on the phone yelling at the animal control people he had been calling for 2 months about these dogs. I kept on trying to help the kids get this mess cleaned up and find the chickens and pretty soon I hear yelling again and look to see the man who owns the dogs and the neighbor man yelling at each other with Jared standing in between them being fought over! As I walked over to retrieve my son I couldn't help just praying and asking the Lord to keep me from doing anything I would regret (those who know me well also know the struggles I've had with my temper).

I sent Jared to help the other kids and quickly told the men that they needed to keep their arguing away from my children please... we just have had more than enough going on and didn't need the extra stress. The man who owns the dogs just launched off on a rant about how he was out of cigarettes and how he didn't appreciate getting woke up so early in the morning and on and on he went! I told that man just a nicely as anyone could that since he had things he needed to do (like we didn't ... sheesh) that he could just go take care of that and we would tend to the mess the dogs made. It had to be the Lord who made those words sound as nice as they did because in my head I was screaming in the guys face telling him all about his selfish, inconsiderate, cold hearted, ignorant self all with a few well timed physical prompts to encourage his participation in the conversation.... also known as picking a fight.

As soon as the owner left our neighbor calmed down and went right back to his sweet self... he's a man that my entire family has enjoyed knowing and usually a real hoot to visit with but he was so angry over the kid's chickens that I thought he might have a stroke! He kept shaking and yelling and turning purple in the face while the owner was here and I don't know what we would have done if something had happened to our nice neighbor on top of everything else. I talked with the nice neighbor for awhile trying to calm him down which was just another act of God's grace because in my head I was still just venting my own anger and frustration that twice in 3 days time my kids were being forced to deal with the death of animals they had raised from the time they were 1 day old, to pick up and dispose of the investment of their life's savings and watch everything they had worked so hard for in the past months get tossed into a hole in the ground.

Finally the nice neighbor decided he needed breakfast and he left too.... which finally left me the time to call Troy. Somehow during that conversation the Lord helped me to speak in calm tones and encouraging and calming language (instead of my old yelling and threating violence) so that Troy wasn't overly upset or angry and his testimony was guarded while he was at work. As I was getting ready to get off the phone with Troy the owner pulls up to the side of the yard and just stared at us until I went to talk with him... he offered to give us some of his fence wire that he said he doesn't need and told me how he just couldn't bring himself to spay his dog because he thought it was mean to do that and how he thinks it's mean to chain up a dog and on and on.

Again, the Lord was faithful to answer my prayer for His help and I just smiled and told the man thank you for offering the fence wire that I would tell Troy he offered it, then I offered him some of the super strong and tall as I am fence wire that Troy brought home from the job site... all 300 feet of it and the boys to help install it so his dogs would have a nice big yard to run in. Even when the man asked me what I thought of it all I never once was able to give in to the urge to just get mean and let the mama bear with claws side of me come out!!

I did tell him that the dogs needed to be vaccinated for rabies because not only was it the law but that if my kids had been exposed to rabies and needed to have the more than $2000 per kid series of shots I didn't think I would be able to maintain any kind of decent composure and that his dogs didn't have to bite the kids to expose them since it's tranferred by saliva as well. And I did tell him that the kids had just lost their entire investment that they had worked so hard for when he asked me what the kid's had tied up in the chickens I told him the full amount... he raised an eyebrow so I also told him that they had the receipts as well since they were tracking the costs for a business math project for school. But not one word passed my lips to him that was harsh or ugly or spoken with anger!!! The guy finally just asked me to tell Troy to call him and left..... thankfully.

Nearly the entire rest of the day was spent dealing with neighbors and animal control officers and county commissioners and so on but through all of it I didn't lose my temper or speak harshly or anything! My poor sweet tired out Hunk 'O Honey is still amazed to the point of tears that I didn't do anything.... not one thing I feel regret for. I stood amazed all day long as the Lord calmed the storms around me and spoke peace to the ones that raged on inside of me as well, and ended the day thanking Him for doing it all and being thankful that I can even call on Him to do anything for me knowing how undeserving of it I am.

God was so good and so faithful to me in answering our prayers for peace and to help us guard our testimonies as we dealt with all of that!! We are praying that He will continue to do so as we try to bring the whole thing to a state of final resolution without making enemies of our neighbors... we have one neighbor pitching a fit for us to sue the other one and the other one is angry because now most of his dogs were taken away and he will be facing some criminal charges for not vaccinating his dogs, allowing them to run at large during the night and so on.

We were talking about the contrast in our lives between now and before we got saved and gave our lives and the running of our home to the Lord. Before I would have committed several assaults during the course of this all and set some terrible examples for my children that would probably have scarred them for life not to mention really doing damage to our families finances because bail ain't cheap and neither are lawyers and if all else had failed me I would have taken out all that anger and frustration on my husband instead of being his helpmeet the way that I should. Now we have peace that in some way whatever is lost will be restored to our family in whatever way the Lord sees fit and though I still feel the waves of anger and those ugly thoughts still run through my mind I can take those things and make them captive to the power of the Lord in my life! AMAZING GRACE....

Well, if you're still even here after all my long rambling you know I surely have things to do but I had promised to catch up. Believe it or not this is only the highlights of all that's been keeping us busy. We are getting ready for REVIVAL at our church and praying and asking the Lord to have HIS perfect will in the meeting. Take care everyone!

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