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Archive for October, 2008

poverty

Do you have money in your pocket, in a dish somewhere and in a banking account?  Then you are amongst the top 10% of the world’s wealthy.

Poverty. 

It is a catch word in our society, but what does it really mean?  To some, it means that they don’t have everything they want.  To others, it means they can’t provide certain thing that they consider necessary.  For me, poverty means you have virtually nothing and no way to get more or do better in life, by your own means.  There are people all over the world in this situation, and those of us who can, should do take the steps necessary to help them. 

  • Simple measures, such as buying free trade products and boycotting slavery will make a difference.  We will never make everyone rich…”For ye have the poor always with you;” -Matthew 26:11. 
  • However, that does not mean that we shouldn’t do what we can to help those who are in need.  “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” -Proverbs 19:17 
  • God says of the virtuous woman “She stretcheth out her hand tot he poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” -Proverbs 31:20.  I believe this is why Mother Theresa and Princes Dianna have been so honored.  They are/were truly virtuous women.

There is another group that I believe it is very important to reach out to:  Widows and the fatherless.  Throughout the Word, God often tells of His special care for such.  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” -James 1:27  The Bible only mentions single parents in this context, and therefore I will limit my comments to widows and the  fatherless.  I personally only know one young widow and fatherless child.  She has my empathy and support.  Our home has always been open to her son, though we see less and less of him as he becomes a man.  Older widows ought not be forgotten.  Even if they have enough money they are often lonely.

So what about the rest of those in “poverty”? 

I think attitude makes all the difference.

I grew up below the poverty line, but never knew it:  My parents worked hard, and provided abundantly.  Though we never had name brand clothing or new cars, and the house we lived in was old, we always had food and health insurance.  I got a top notch education from my mother, who home schooled my three siblings and me.  I went to college, and graduated debt free.

My parents not only provided a home and education for my sibling and me, they gave us the tools to do well in life.  All of us have been small business owners.  I ran a Child-care service for five years, until my husband decided we no longer needed the income.  My brother ran a scrap-metal business until recently, when he was offered two different jobs that both appealed to him.  One sister, and her husband own a roofing company, while another supports her family teaching dance and cleaning houses.  Considering that I am the only one who lives in an area not greatly affected by the current economical crunch, I would say we are all very blessed.

So how did my parents achieve this? 

  • First, they had a good attitude. 

They took responsibility for their choices.  I never heard them complain about what they could not buy, and frequently saw them giving to others. 

Yesterday, this topic came up when I was talking to my dad.  He told me of a time, when we children were small, that he read an article written by a southerner on welfare.  The article told how little welfare paid, and how hard it was for this single woman to make ends meet living on it.  At the time, Dad had figured out what she made, and compared it to what he made.  She made more.  Yet, who was happy?

  • Second, they did not spend on impulse or habits. 

At one time they had some friends who were always broke.  Their house was in need of much repair, as was their car.  My dad did much to help them, including hang drywall throughout their upstairs, turning it into a usable living area, and building the man a professional green house, so he could improve his landscaping business.  After all this, the family was still broke.  You see, the father smoked about two packs a day.  They had a different car every few years.  Their children always had new clothing, and something was always on lay-a-way at Wal-Mart.  My dad often used this family as an example for us, to teach us about handling money wisely.

  • Third, they worked hard and made do.

My mom always grew a large garden, putting up gallons of spaghetti sauce, pickles, corn, beans and many other things.  She made much of our clothing and Christmas gifts.  She decorated with natural objects, keeping things for years.  Dad farmed and took odd jobs when needed.  He carefully bought equipment, and ran several part time business.  Most of his tools were old, but he kept them in good repair, and used them as long as there was a market to do so.  His biggest fault was that he often undersold himself.

In my own life:

 The first year my husband and I were married, we made $6,000.  That was it.  We did not have health insurance that first year, and my husband was injured, unable to work.  We lived in a tent for the summer, having been blessed enough to get a job hosting a camp-ground in the national forest.  This made it possible for us to save enough to get into an apartment that fall.  I waitressed and also worked as a seamstress at a dry-cleaners.  By Christmas, my husband could walk again.

The second year, he worked and we had our first child.  We made health insurance a priority, and our son’s birth was paid for before he was a year old.  During that time we lived in a 16’x20′ log cabin and then a park-model trailer. 

While we were living in the trailer, we made friends with an older couple, who helped us out, and gave us good advise.  She had been widowed at a young age, and despite working four jobs, had still needed to frequent soup kitchens to feed her teen-age sons.  She always said, don’t thank me, just pass it along.  At the time I never thought that would be possible, but I was wrong.  We lived as frugally as we could, and little by little we escaped “poverty.” 

We are blessed to be able to “pass it along,”  and make giving a priority.  Even when we had very little money, we gave, volunteering our time when ever possible.  “The liberal soul shall be made fat:  and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” -Proverbs 11:25.  “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” -Luke 6:38.

God has seen fit to bless us.

This post was written in response to Blog Action Day 08.

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little frustrations

Daniel, with his mittens on again!

I love the snow, but it comes with certain disadvantages, like cold.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Cold is wonderful when one is skiing, or sledding.  It is fabulous in the refrigerator; but, when one is hanging out laundry, cold is no good.

Yesterday I started in on my favorite chore, only to remember that I could not hang them out, and therefore should not wash large amounts at a time.  Crud.  A weeks worth of laundry started grimley from their baskets, as I considered what to do.  How many chairs do I have?  Oh, what about school?  Writing is not best done standing up.  What about stringing a line up in the basement?  That could work.  Now where is the stud-finder?…  The day was getting on quickly, but the laundry wasn’t.  I finally started throwing one load after another into one machine after another, only to be half done with the clothing by supper time. 😦

Another disadvantage to snow is the amount of dressing up it takes to send the little one’s out to play.  While Daniel thinks it is a game to see how many times he can get in and out of his snowsuit in a day, Gideon is having none of it.  As someone just learning to walk, he thinks all that clothing is just way to much, and then there is the cold… 

A third disadvantage is the tempers that come with losing a snowball fight.  Now maybe I should see this a blessing:  Something that reveals the real heart attitudes of my children, but right now, I don’t.  It is not that they are poor sports, it is that they are taking this whole thing of getting hit with flying snow very personally.  This escalated last night when a neighborhood kid came over and started making snowballs with rocks in them.  We sent him home.  I am all for fun, but rocks…enough said.

So with all of these little frustrations, has any good come of it? 

The answer is yes.  The aspens have finally begun turning to gold, making the mountains sparkle, and I finally had a look at Lehman’s, to see what they offer in the way of clotheslines for indoor drying.  I discovered that they sell the old fashioned hand washers I have been wishing for…they are a bit pricey, for something without a motor, but they would help the electric bill.  There is always a trade-off somewhere in the works.  They have a clothesline kit, complete with pulleys, that I think would work very well in my home.  Now convincing my husband… You see, outside I have been using rope strung between the deck and fence.  I have wanted a real clothesline for some time now, but the parts are still in the garage.  Oh well, I can put this one up myself…even if it means buying my own stud-finder.  (Every woman need one of those anyway, right?)

Another good thing?  The kids are finding out the true nature of their friends, and that is always a good thing.

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first snow fall

The snow has been falling steadily for a day or so.  As it has been piling up, my family has been making frequent ventures out.  Sometimes they bundle up in every bit of snow clothing they own, other times…well you can see for yourself from the shot I captured this afternoon.  Maybe they will join the Polar Bear Club. 

Inside it is warm and toasty.  The wood stove is crackling, and the smell of fresh bread fills the air.  We have been cuddling and reading stories together.  Maybe tonight will hold a board-game and a round of hot coco.

Earlier, I took pictures of three boys running barefooted, around and around the maple tree.  One was carrying a balloon, telling it not to be scared of the cold and promising not to drop it.  I adore this family and the craziness of life.

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finishing

Last week I finished knitting my little sweater, and immediately began another.  Then it dawned on me:  All of those little pieces, knit so carefully, mean nothing, sitting in my work basket.

Yesterday, I took the time to stitch them together.  Last night, after everyone else was in bed, I stole some time to begin crocheting.  This morning, as I taught school, I finished; or hope I did.  The trim did not lay like I thought it would, and may need some adjusting, but remembering some previous experience, I am blocking it before deciding what to do. 

Daniel has been frustrated with me, since it was his sweater I started and am not working on.  Oh the trials of being a toddler… I’ll be back to it in a day or two.

To knit is human…To finish, Divine.

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flowers for momma

Last night I asked Benjamin to set the table, for supper.  He looked at what I was making, and asked, “Since your making a nice meal, can we use a table cloth and real napkins?”

Of course I told him yes, and he proceeded to set this beautiful table, complete with a flowered napkin, just for me.  🙂  I love their creativity, and the little extras they think of.

Courious what a “nice” meal is?  We had broiled steak, baked new potatoes, fresh pineapple, and bread, dipped in roasted garlic olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  It was a very nice meal, but I think the table cloth was the really nice part.

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This is a very simple recipe, but the results are wonderful.  You will need a tall bottle with a lid or cork, for storing this in.  A Soy Sauce or wine bottle, cleaned well, work wonderfully.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head garlic
  • olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Roast garlic, by wrapping entire head in tin foil, and placing in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes.  (This can be done while you are baking something else.)
  2. Cool garlic, and peel.
  3. Drop cloves into bottle, and pour oil to the top of the bottle.
  4. Store in a dark place, and wait two weeks before use. 

To use, simply pour oil and balsamic vinegar (optional) onto a small plate,  and dip your bread lightly.

Note:  When the oil runs low, simply refill, and wait two more weeks before using.

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harvest

Yesterday afternoon, we began our fall harvest.  We dug our five potato hills, and careful not to disturb the roots too much, as they are still growing. I am very happy with this little crop, as it turned out very well.  This year I planted my sprouting potatoes (the ones I would otherwise have thrown to the compost) in trenches, and regularly covered them with more dirt.  I have tried several other methods of growing potatoes, but this is the best crop I have ever gotten. 

Next year I will have to try several varieties, as white potatoes are readily available for gleaning.  I am told, seed potatoes, ordered through a company like Guernsey’s produce even better.

The children had a blast, scraping away the dirt, with their little fingers, pulling out the potatoes, and comparing, to see who found the largest or weirdest shaped one, under each plant.  I could hardly keep up with them, as I went behind, found the last of the potatoes, and carefully replanted. 

When we finished that chore, we gathered the dry pea pods, for nest years planting, and them looked for squash, who’s vines had dried up.  Last night was another hard freeze, so we will be back out there today.  I don’t think my sprinkler saved all the plants from destruction.

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