__________ August 24, 2016 ___________



This one hit home with me on a LOT of different levels.  I learned a lot, here… so bear with me, as I talk too much and tell/show you what this chapter has to say to me.  And maybe you’ll have something to add about what it says to you, too?

Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?  If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.  Mine answer to them that do examine me is this:  vs 1-3

Paul is giving his ‘credentials’ to prove who/what he is.  He’s a servant of the Lord.  He’s an apostle.  And his proof is those whose lives he has touched for the Lord.  His proof is his writings, his teaching, his helping others.  He has evidence in his life of action showing him working out his faith.  It’s not just lip-service.  I have to ask myself, “When people look at my life, do they see proof of my faith?  Do they see my actions, my writings, my observances *prove* what I claim to believe?  Is it more than just lip-service?”  This is something we should all ask ourselves.  Do we LIVE out the obedience we claim to have to the Father?

Have we not power to eat and to drink?  Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?  Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?  vs 4-6

We are FREE in Christ.  “He who the Son sets free is free, indeed”.  “Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free.”  Verse one here says we are FREE.  We have the power to eat/drink what we like (although last chapter we explained why we temper some of our rights where food is concerned).  It doesn’t negate the fact that we’re FREE.  Freedom means the right to choose.  I got into this issue this week, with someone who wants to strip me of my freedoms.  It’s a blessing, having the right to choose.

Interesting to note: Believers have the power to marry, according to this section of scripture… just as the brothers of Messiah and Cephas (the apostle Peter) married.  Peter is considered the ‘first pope’ by the catholic church… but they’re not allowed to be married.  Isn’t that irony?  And utterly unscriptural?!

Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?  vs 7

THIS is interesting, too!  I had a conversation about half a year ago with my penpal.  We’d built a beautiful menorah, and were considering making and selling more of them.  Brian has the program saved on his machine, and the wood wouldn’t be hard to procure to do it.  It’s a little time consuming and requires some supplies, but we thought about selling them as another side income.  At the same time, I was telling my penpal about how I would never charge for anything I write here at the blog – whether Biblical studies or lapbooks for school.  It was a ministry to me – to share what I create and think and do for His glory, for others.    Anyhow, I’ve seen what happens to prophets who teach eschatology and ask for money.  It’s WRONG. 

My penpal said that we couldn’t sell menorahs, because it’d be ‘making a profit off God’.  I had trouble, because then what is right to sell, and what isn’t?  I was confused, and more than a little wavering.  And I couldn’t argue with his assertion… until now.  Look at the above verse.  Paul says soldiers are paid physical money for physical combat.  Farmers get a tangible income for their physical pains in the field and for the crop.  Shepherds get a tangible nourishment from their physical efforts in caring for the flock.  What is done physically, that we tangibly put supplies and work into… these things warrant a tangible, physical (monetary) income.

Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?  vs. 8-9

This isn’t just Paul’s opinion on things, either.  It’s Torah/Law, too!  The verse he’s quoting is Deuteronomy 25:4.  The Lord says that it’s okay to make a physical/tangible profit for physical/tangible items and work.  And that makes sense to me.

— HOWEVER!!  —

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?  If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.  vs 10-12

This is talking about spiritual things.  Preaching.  Teaching.  Prophesying.  Helping with our knowledge and/or revelation.  We do NOT make a physical/tangible profit on these things.  Our reward for spiritual edification and divine obedience is spiritual in nature.  Yehovah gives us what we earn with our faithfulness.  THIS is why I can’t/won’t ever ask for donations or charge for anything written here.  I had this part right.  Hope sewn earns spiritual reward, only.

Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.  vs. 13-14

Having said?  PASTORS SHOULD NOT be paid for their position I’ve always held this view, and so has Paul.  He was a tent-maker and did other manual labor-ish work while preaching across the then-known world.  He never was paid for his work as a teacher, preacher, apostle, or missionary.  And I firmly believe that pastors should hold jobs in addition to their spiritual servant obedience.  Things are seriously, seriously wrong in the church as people know it.  And I’m not saying there aren’t people out there that believe that way – my friend John is a minister who works weekdays at the bus station.  That’s the way that it’s supposed to be.  ‘Pastor’ is not a full-time, paid position.  It’s not even a part-time paid position.  It’s wrong.

Interestingly?  I’ve never seen a pastor punished by God for it.  Likely because close to all of ’em not true believers/Christ-followers, anyhow.  They’re certainly not Torah-obedient.  But time and again, I have seen prophets held to a different standard.  Likely because we’re under a far different mandate, and it’s straight from Him… so it’s more dire.  Every true prophet I’ve ever seen try to make money on the information they’re given?  (And I’ve only known five.)  The four who tried making money off things were struck with horrible diseases and even found swift deaths.  What is sewn spiritual does not reap physical reward.  Period.

But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.  For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!  For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.  vs 15-17

So then, if a pastor isn’t getting paid, why would he bother pastoring?  For the real reason a pastor is called to ministry – because Yehovah compels him to preach!  It has nothing to do with being provided for or paid.  It’s a willing thing – something they are to do because they love the Lord and wish to do His will.  That’s what all of the spiritual gifts are about.  We do what He calls us to do, for Him, not for us.  If someone’s about the money or attention their getting being in front of a crowd, or about the power and prestige of the postition?  They’re the WRONG man/woman for the job.

Something went wrong along the way with the church.  I suspect it’s been a problem since before the time of Martin Luther.  And my personal opinion is that all stipends and salaries for ministers and pastoral positions stop NOW.  We’d find out pretty durn quick who was there because of a love of the Lord and a compelling need to do His will, wouldn’t we?!

What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  vs 18-19

You remember that verse, ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and dust doth corrupt, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven’?  It’s not just a pretty little platitude.  That’s what believers are to do.  Especially their leaders.  Our reward is to be procured from the Throne, when our time here is over.  Delayed gratification of an astounding kind!

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.  vs. 20-23

THIS…!!!!  I have been reading thru the entire blog of a homeschool ‘gypsy’ (<< lives a transient life out of a bus with four children).  When she started, she was a christian immersed from birth (like me).  Then she came out of churchianity (like me).  Then she started keeping the feasts (like me).  Then she rejected ALL of it, and went the hippie love-peace-karma route (NOT like me).  She started doing things that I was balking at – she got a nose piercing and dreds… to reflect her ‘authentic’ self.  I had issues with it – it didn’t seem about being authentic as much as it seemed an attention grab and/or an agenda.  As she went along, she swung around from being a christian judging the gays, divorced, alternative, unbelievers… to being ‘open’ and judging the conservative, christian, closed up people.  I know why this happened, because I’m experiencing the same things: once you leave christianity, you are treated like shit.  No, seriously, it’s true.  How DARE you!  They don’t love you regardless of your choices, they ostracize the snot out of you.  I get why she went the polar opposite way – acceptance is such a blessing… but I wonder at how weak a person has to be to forsake Truth for human acceptance.  Anyhow, I have to admit something:  I feel like if we met?  This woman would judge ME, because I don’t kum-ba-ya with drug-dealers and share lunch in the back alleys or live off-grid and vegan.  I’m struggling with all of what I’m feeling/reading… and it’s a huge growing experience.

In light of this whole thing I’m vicariously (still!) living thru her life choices and changes, I have to say… there’s some new meaning to these three verses for me.  Who am I?  Am I accessible to everyone?  I’ll be honest with you – I’ve become pretty closed off, over the years.  Mostly from hurts by others.  I don’t find people to be lovely – I find them to be backstabbing, close-minded, hurtful, controlling, manipulative, angry and lashing out, and selfish.  I’m not like Paul.  I’m not all things to all men… and I’m a little ashamed of it.

This is partially why I’ve made everything public on this blog, again.  It’s why comments are open, again.  (<<Although I reserve the right to not even read/delete-on-sight negativity).  I just… prefer to be transparent, as a person.  I prefer to put myself out there.  And while a part of me says “don’t do it – they’ll hurt you!”, I know Paul is right.  I’m supposed to be more than I am, right now.

Will probably be writing a LOT more about this, over the next few months.  For now, let’s just keep it to this one question:  Are you exclusive?  Would you tell a mother who doesn’t vaccinate that she should be medicated for her choices, that she’s a parent who deserves to be reported to CPS?  Would you judge a homosexual couple on the street?  Would you turn your gaze away from a homeless person?  Are you able to relate to people outside of your circumstances?  Wow… I’m feeling particularly challenged in my life, by this.

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.  vs 24-27

Everyone who’s ever been in a church knows this fun little analogy.  But think about this:  if life is a race, and we’re to ‘strive for mastery’ by being ‘temperate in all things’… what does that MEAN?  That the key to winning at life is to find balance?  ‘Temperate’ means relating to something thru moderation.  All things in moderation.  Have you heard that before?  How do we apply that to our lives?  This is more of what I was just saying.  Are we able to find that middle ground?  Are we able to ‘bring ourselves to subjection’ and the place where we’re ‘all things to all men’?

I feel like there’s so much I have to do, to consider, to possibly change about myself… just based on this one chapter of the Bible!

__________ August 23, 2016 ___________

IMG_6365Click to enlarge, as always.

__________ August 22, 2016 ___________

Camping Review


IMG_5887 (444x333)Setting up our new camper!

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After setting up, we went for a sunset swim with the inflatable boat.
(We have two, the other has a leak we’ve got to fix, yet.)

IMG_5824 (333x444)Sunsets at the lake are one of my favorite things to photograph.


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Whilst on a bike ride, the boys find tiny toads.

IMG_5831 (407x444)We had to make a trip to the County Seat to register the camper.  I’m not on the title (grrrrr), so it was a 45 minute wait for nothing.  But we did get fake flowers at the dollar store to gussy up our camp.  The kids gathered stones for me, and helped to arrange the flowers.  We’ve since moved them OUT of the *GLASS!* vase, and into a plastic container, so I feel much better about it!

IMG_5839 (377x444)Afternoon project for school.  Mostly it was just for fun.  Pretty!
Barely got it done in time for the rains to begin, again.

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The game cupboard.  For when it rains. (And otherwise!)

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We also sprawl and read…

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And of course we bring out the computers, with us.


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The sun out, we bike past flooded areas to Stony Beach for a swim.

IMG_5851 (444x235)A group of older women hobbled up for a picnic.
I half wish they wore red and purple.
Whatever happened to the Red Hat lady movement, anyhow?

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Looking for stones at Stony Beach.  It’s named so because the first 15 feet or so are rocks, before you get out to the sandy bottom to swim.  Most people don’t like this beach for that very reason.  My kids LOVE searching for special stones, and utilize them in castle-building.

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Lake Blue Cheese.  I don’t know why, but they always dig one.

We had to go go Allendale, after lunch, and we found our next hike and checked it out… but because it was SO wet, we sadly had to leave it for another day.  Instead we went to Goodwill and got a camper coffeemaker.  Isaac busted the carafe of my last one, and it was specialized, so I needed a whole new unit.  I overshot the turn-in, so we had a little ‘hike’ to the store from a playground.  That was kind of fun, too!  And the lady at the check-out had lots of recommendations for places to hike/swim in Ottawa.

IMG_5885 (444x333)That night was a campfire night, as we were going to make supper on it.  The kids LOVE to burn the tips of long sticks.  But with the torrential rains from Sunday night, it took a while to get our fire going… and the sticks were stubborn!

IMG_5889 (333x250)Foil packet suppers.  I’m experimenting, again…!

IMG_5890 (333x250)Mater was camping for the night near us!

IMG_5892 (444x269)Kind of an ominous sunset, that night.
Pretty, but portending more rains.

IMG_5899 (333x242)Isaac and I play with the sun, a little

IMG_5901 (333x444)Our camper was leaking.  (More like water pouring in.)  Brian pulled apart the A/C, which is where the water was coming in, and the parts inside were hanging on completely loosened screws!  Tightening them helped a lot, but there’s still a bad seal at the roof we have to deal with…


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The next morning the kids got out our play box and did lawn games…

IMG_5918 (444x333)  … their style.  They also attended a Junior Ranger event by themselves.
(They were cranky I didn’t go, but it’s for kids,
and they don’t need me all the time.)

  We went home for a while to regroup and get showers, and we had a quiet night
of bike riding, supper, and playing cards with snacks.


We had to go home early, but
were back out to do some sketching by the waterfront.

IMG_5925 (444x326)Theme: At the Beach

We had three visitors over the course of our camping.  First, my mom’s cousin Sharm (she and her sister’s families are out at the lake all summer) came to see our new camper.  She’s looking at getting something different, soon, too… and was interested in what we’d bought.  Then Thursday my cousin’s wife – Rebecca – was out at the lake and driving around, and she didn’t know we were there until she saw us.  She pulled in and had a look around our new trailer, too.  Then my BFF had a family reunion/party up north, and asked if her daughter could borrow Lydia on Saturday so that her girl would have someone to be with (no other kids her age at the party).  So she got to see our camper, too!

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The full sturgeon moon over our campfire!  Gorgeous!!


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Critter tending and our home trip was early,
so we could get back out for the junior ranger event: Clouds!

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Things were dry enough for us to take our ‘adopted’ trail hike.  We clean this trail once a month for the summer, as a part  of our ‘Leave No Trace’ badge-work.  We actually ended up taking the trail twice, because the SD card to my camera got left in the computer at camp!  Besides, it’s a rather short hike, and we like it so much back in the trees.  It really wasn’t a big deal.  Plus they had fun trying to find exactly the things I’d attempted to photograph the first time with no SD card!

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Always something new to see or discover… or photograph!

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And we came out with more litter than we expected to!

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We went to the beach that night to do our annual sand sculpting,
but the boys were too wound up and busy running!
Lydia and I got ours done, at least.


Lydia got up with Brian and went to work with him.  It’s only three or so blocks from my BFF’s house, so that made it easier for them to pick her up.  It meant an EARLY morning for her, though!  And of course the boys were immediately out of sorts, with someone missing from our crew.

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So I took them to an empty paved lot, and we did chalk art.  The camp hosts (new people – we met them at the cloud event, when I helped the man move another picnic table over for the unexpectedly large turn-out) came over and we talked like we’d been friends for ages.  The irony of it?  He’s ex-military.  Another TCK person, that I *instantly* click with.  Isn’t that crazy?!  We had a good time talking, though.  And the boys had wanted to do chalk.  It was good timing, because there was rain on the way – in a BIG way.

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Did you hear about the five tornadoes that touched down in West Michigan?  They missed us, but the accompanying rains did NOT!!!  We were absolutely floating!!  Our shabbat lunch was completely washed out.

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During a lull, we took a bike ride to assess the damage.  The lots were completely underwater, with children ‘swimming’ in them, floating boat toys in them.  This isn’t actually as unusual as it sounds.  The idiots that paved the campground built the roads UP, so that the lots are where the water all flows into.  It floods all. the. time.

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This is a parking lot.  It shows how much flooding we got!

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Even the moonshine was cloudy!


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The beach was damp, but that makes for THE best sculpting.  So we took the boys out to do their projects supervised (and with some parental help).  This went much better.

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While we were there, a plane landed!

Then it was time to pack up, and go home.  Which was followed by unpacking, mowing lawn, weed whacking, trimming trees by the road and over near the camper, Brian working on side jobs, and some yard play.  But man…!  What a busy week!

__________ August 21, 2016 ___________

At the Lake

This past week, we were on vacation at the lake.  Brian had to work – it’s not much further a drive from our house, so that’s not an issue.  It was very wet… perhaps you heard about the five tornado touch-downs in West Michigan?  They fortunately missed our travel trailer, but we were absolutely underwater.

Anyhow, I plan to do a picture post recap, tomorrow, but today…?  With packing and moving home and unpacking and mowing and weed-wacking and [Brian got some side work!] and trimming branches around the property?  I just didn’t have time for more than a video.  Videos are a rare thing on the blog, I know… so this is a treat, right?

__________ August 20, 2016 ___________


__________ August 19, 2016 ___________


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What better place to sketch ‘At the Beach’ than by the water?

As always, click to enlarge.
And yes, Isaac is in a ‘Sinbad’ phase.  Can you tell?

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As a bonus, the Sturgeon Moon was incredible, last night!

__________ August 17, 2016 ___________

On Making Friends

I read the most interesting article this week, about how/why military kids and overseas missionary kids are different as adults than people who grew up in just few places.  I’m going to share excerpts of the article first, and then my thoughts.



Of all the topics I cover in my seminars, the subject of relationships seems to elicit the most interest and response. At our core, I think we MKs and TCKs know that we don’t function like others in this area, yet we can’t quite put our finger on what it is that makes us so different. (MK = Missionaries’/Military Kid.  TCK = Third Culture Kid.)

I think our methods for developing relationships are most acutely challenged during our initial reentry into our Passport Culture—a world that is supposed to be familiar and comfortable to us, but is often confusing on a human-to-human level. If we’ve spent our entire lives around other TCKs, we assume that everyone functions the way we do…or should! But they don’t.

…Introducing The Time/Depth Dilemma: whereas MKs and TCKs generally require depth in forming relationships, mono-culturals require time to form meaningful connections. On paper, it looks like this:


Do you see how quickly and fearlessly the MK/TCK dives deep?  To the mono-cultural person who craves time to slowly move from depth to depth, the MK appears way too intense. To the TCK who values speedy self-revelation, the mono-cultural’s emphasis on time feels shallow and pointless.  As a result, we reach the conclusion that an entire people-group is relationally flimsy and we write them off with an arrogant generalization.

[Clarification: in no way do I use “mono-cultural” as a negative label. People who have never left their country of origin are not inferior to those who have. Their lives are just as significant. Their experiences are just as valid. Their histories are just as rich and worthy. Their contribution to our lives and to the world are just as notable. “Multi-cultural” and “mono-cultural” merely serve to  distinguish people groups with different experiential backgrounds.]

Why do TCKs do things so differently? There are several reasons, really. The greatest of them is the awareness that time is limited. We’ve lived so long in a world saturated with both expected and unexpected goodbyes that we enter each relationship anticipating that it could end at the drop of a hat—when circumstances, mission mandates, finances or the inherent transience of the international community rip us away from those we’ve loved.

We function as if there is no time—because so often, there isn’t! When we meet someone new, it’s as if an invisible timer has started a countdown. Quickly! Figure out who this person really is. Tell her about your greatest joys and sorrows and see if she knows what to do with them. Ask him about his faith and emotions, and see if he’s willing to be vulnerable. Throw every “like” and “dislike” at the person you’ve just met and see where your points of interest intersect. Then decide (just as quickly) whether this person is capable of the depth you crave and worth the inevitable pain that will come when your proximity is suddenly ended.


It’s a lightning-fast vetting process that serves two important purposes: eliminating the tedious, long-winded “getting to know you” stage and diving headfirst into the kind of meaningful connection that feeds your soul.  MKs and TCKs can cram a lifetime of friendship into just a few weeks, because we’re so focused on making the most of what we have while we still have it.

Mono-culturals function completely differently. They observe a steady descent through well-defined relationship levels—not because they’re shallow, but because it’s the progression that makes their culture comfortable. Each level can take days or months, depending on personalities.  They are:

  • Cliché: Exchanging pleasantries, superficial topics, “How are you?” gets standard answers.
  • Reporting: Conversing about sports, TV, factual information.
  • Judgment: Sharing some more personal things like opinions and beliefs.
  • Emotional: Revealing how we feel about things, stories that have impacted us.
  • Disclosure: Allowing transparency and complete vulnerability based on trust. (♦)

As MK/TCKs, we might look at the progression of mono-cultural relationships and roll our eyes. We dislike the expectation that we engage in small talk for days, weeks or months before progressing to a deeper level of communication. It feels absurd and trivial to us. But even when we do try to play along, we often find that our version of “small talk” can leave our friends bemused. Because small talk, to us, includes discussing personal, intimate things. It’s not a big deal—it’s how we roll! But we’re not in our own world anymore, where sameness allows for shortcuts. We’re in somebody else’s world. And respecting a culture means respecting its relational methods.

Look back at the Time/Depth diagram. Do you see how both relational methods eventually end in friendship? That’s the bottom line.  As we enter into a mono-cultural setting that has a well-established progression for making friends, it falls on us to be flexible. This culture was not designed for our comfort—it was designed for the comfort of those who belong in it (†). It would serve us well to apply all the cross-cultural skills and flexibility we’ve learned in our international lives to this culture too.

To be honest, there are some downsides to the TCK way of forming relationships. The first is that we can be far too quick to dismiss someone we’ve just met. In a mono-cultural setting, where time is essential, we might be judging people to be “unworthy” of our attention and affection before we’ve given them the time to go through the requisite levels and reach authentic intimacy.

In my own life, how many people have I dismissed because they didn’t dive deep enough fast enough—people who might have become kindred spirits if I’d just been patient enough to see where it led?

We also risk creating misunderstandings if we enter a mono-cultural setting without respecting its relationship-building methods:

  • Scaring others off with the intensity of our self-revelation. If they’re not used to that kind of thing, it could freak them out enough to prohibit further connection.
  • Discovering that members of the opposite sex have taken our willingness to be vulnerable as a romantic overture. I’ve interviewed dozens of MKs who found out too late that a mono-cultural “friend” thought they were engaged in a much deeper girlfriend/boyfriend relationship! That’s what happens when we skip cultural levels of communication.
  • Finding that we’ve attracted the needy, not the healthy. In mono-cultural settings, the needy are generally those who expose themselves too readily. They’ll recognize themselves in us and latch on. Disentangling ourselves from them down the road might be a messy proposition.
  • Sharing our “deepest, darkest” with untrustworthy people to whom we haven’t given the time to prove their character. It’s important that we allow enough weeks and months to pass to be sure of the person to whom we’re revealing ourselves .

So what is my advice to those of you who are entering a new world in which friendships are predicated on mono-cultural principles?

First, use your vast cross-cultural skills! If you were dropped into a primitive tribe in the jungles of South America, you’d find a way to learn about the people, to understand and emulate their approach to friendship. You wouldn’t demand that they become like you, yet so often, that’s our expectation of our passport culture. Be tolerant, be adaptive, be kind.  Consider this a cross-cultural experience.

Set healthy boundaries. Be aware that over-sharing too soon can get you into trouble, so be honest and open, but respect this culture’s need for gradual intimacy. You don’t want to scare away a potential friend.

Commit to the long-term. Though the small talk might feel tedious and the process too drawn-out, you won’t really know how these friends could enrich your life (and you theirs) until you’ve given those relational stages the time to play out. As you can see from the Time/Depth graph, both methods of relationship-making end in friendship. And though you may not have your “internationality” in common with mono-cultural friends, I can assure you that we Third Cultured People have much to learn from those who have never owned a passport—like belonging, loyalty, family bonds, cultural identification and long-lasting relationships…

So be patient.  Expect good things.  Engage in the process.

Mercy, I saw myself all over this.  I grew up military – my friends were constantly coming and going.  We lived overseas and here, both.  I was friends with people who were in the same boat as me, and as a result, they mostly understood and were experiencing the same things.

Being such a person, I have to admit: my vetting process is lightning fast.  And mostly I do find people lacking and trivial, unwilling to open up.  Shallow, if you will.  And I really do have this knack for attracting the needy, while being unable to ‘communicate’ on the level of the mono-cultural people around me.

I had no idea about any of this until the article.  I thought I was just defective, wired differently.  I thought it was the two weltangschauungs of my mom and Grandma Fern warring within me and creating chaos where relationships and friendships were concerned.  I really never traced it back to this.  But it makes sense.  I just saw the exact same thing happen with my penpals – one of which was ex-military and functioned like I did and connected with me in a way I hadn’t had in a long time, and another who was mono-cultural and thought I was a freak and couldn’t seem to connect, at all.  It’s because of that chart – I was light-years ahead of everyone else.

I’m having a problem with this, now that I’m aware of it.  Because everyone around me has a mono-cultural background.  This is why military kids usually marry other military brats (or people in the service).  It makes sense to me, now.  I’m pretty amazed that I even managed to connect with my husband, to be honest!

The past week and a half, I’ve been reading the blog of a TCK/MK, and have been a little envious of how quickly and easily she makes ‘friends’.  Brian shrugs and says, “She just has that personality.”  But that’s not it at all.  The truth is that she lives in a place where people come and go almost constantly – ALL of them.  So they all are open to getting together, playing cards or having a fire with strangers, joining each other on hikes, with just half a days’ introduction.  That’s not the way people are, in my world.  And it’s a real shame.  I kind of mourn for the lack of it, and feel stuck with a tedious society.

This article says that I have to change, that the responsibility is on my shoulders to adapt.  But how do you adapt a learned behavior and lifestyle?   I’m not so sure it can be done.  Especially when I don’t relate to or understand how the process works, or how long it takes, or how the individuals respond.

Trying to figure out how to deal with this information…

__________ August 17, 2016 ___________

Hiking: Olive Shores County Park

With the weather so incredibly hot, I was determined that our next hike would be another one that ended at the Big Lake.  Consulting our new Ottawa County map, we decided to go to Olive Shores, which is in West Olive.  (<< Home of the Michigan Blueberries!)  Anyhow, we knew that the county parks in Ottawa charged in addition to the State Parks Passport, to the tune of $7 per visit.  But I also had read that there were annual passes available at Kirk Park (and I assumed Hemlock Crossing, since they have a huge educational facility with gift shop/information, there).  Since we are planning to try all of the different parks, I don’t mind paying the $25 for the annual pass.  And since Olive Shores wasn’t too far from Hemlock, I figured I’d just go to Hemlock on the way, and get the annual pass, and be all set!

photo:  travelthemitten.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Olive-Shores-Sign-Holland.jpg

We were returning the last of the ‘Blue Planet’ DVDs to Allendale library, and came in from the northeast, so the sign for Olive Shores appeared before Hemlock’s sign… and right with it was the sign to Kirk Park.  So I figured I’d just get our pass there (although we’d never been, before). Turns out that Kirk Park is only one mile north of Olive Shores, on the same road.  I’d found two of our hikes in one shot!  That makes it easy for next time, that’s for sure.

I asked the girl at the gatehouse as we were getting our window cling pass… “which do you prefer, Kirk Park, or Olive Shores?”  She took a deep breath and lifted her eyebrows.  “Olive Shores has a lot of stairs.  It’s a hard climb.  Kirk Park is easier, and we have hiking and a playground and amenities…”  I perked up.  “Hiking?”  She agreed.  “A really nice three mile trail.”

So we decided on Olive Shores, since we were short on time and mostly wanted to cool off in the Big Lake.  Besides, I’d had Olive Shores kind of set in my mind, y’know?  When there’s a hike, we liked to leave a little more time, and be in more of a mindset for it.  This particular day, we had tubes, water shoes on, and were ready to SPLASH!

IMG_5658 (416x555)At the trail head.  We’re ready to go!

I forgot to tell you last time (at Saugatuck Beach trail)… when it’s 90+ degrees, the sand is in the hundreds.  We burned our feet SO BAD… not running down the dune to the water, which was a very quick trip with relief at the end.  It was the trudge up the dune to the trail that killed us.  I felt horrible, and had no choice but to drive the kids upward.  “The faster you go, the faster you’ll stop hurting.” I promised, but Owen and Aaron were crying, it was burning so bad.  I hadn’t even thought about that!

So from now on, water shoes… and I’m half tempted to open a big golf umbrella half way down the dune, and pin a note that says, “Cool your feet here.”  I keep two in the car, anyhow… and other people might make the same mistake we did.

Back to this hike:

IMG_5659 (416x555)She wasn’t kidding.  108 steps, up and down the mountain!

We did a lot of stair-climbing in Indiana, but man… steep is still steep, no matter where you go.  Datta lotta steps!  And it’s the same on the other side, because basically we were climbing up/down a mountain!

IMG_5660 (555x102)Mount Olive.  Not to be confused with the Mount of Olives.

And that’s not the only unique thing about Olive shores.  Apparently in 2001 they built a ‘house’ set right on the lake-end of the stairs, and Hollywood shot the film “Road to Perdition” here.  How unusual!  I had no idea.  We got to stand where Paul Newman and Tom Hanks stood, and we didn’t even leave West Michigan!

IMG_5746 (444x333)Tom Hank’s movie “Road to Perdition” was film on site, here.

The sand wasn’t hot, this time – clouds were moving in, and while the air was very warm, our feet were fine.  Have I told you about the singing sands?  All up the coast of West Michigan, the sand makes a ‘Tzing! Tzing! Tzing!” noise when you scuff (or run) along it.  It’s considered kind of a phenomenon.  More here, if you’re interested… but we were making the sands sing, on this day, and that was fun, too!

IMG_5673 (555x341)This time, there were WAVES.

IMG_5669 (555x329)I was a little worried about a rip tide/undercurrent, but we stayed shallow.

IMG_5676 (555x312)Whoa… check out the crests!!

IMG_5688 (555x382)Even with life jackets, I had Lydia stay close to Owen, in the shallows.
(Make this bigger to see some serious smiles!)

IMG_5703 (555x320)The boys imagined themselves to be dolphins and dove into the surf.

IMG_5729 (555x416)Warming up on the beach, in a sandy spot

IMG_5717 (555x350)And because you needed laugh…!

__________ August 16, 2016 ___________

Story of the World II:  Chpt 7

~~~~ Sinbad the Muslim ~~~~

Irony: studying Islam’s roots while dealing with radical Islam in prophecy/current events.

This chapter had us rolling our eyes a lot… because here we have the prophet Mohammad dying, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi taking his place as the first official ‘leader’ of Islam.  Immediately it became ‘join us or die‘.  And people died.  Lots and lots of people.  And people realized that if they wanted to be a part of something powerful, Islam was the way to go.  The ‘or die‘ thing probably went a long way with them, too.

And it’s been a ‘peaceful’ religion, ever since.

There are a LOT of really easy, fun Islam crafts and projects out there to do.  Have four of them for you, here.


Ramadan Sun Catchers    Paper Bag Mosques

Mosque Stained Glass   … Mosque bookmarks

In case anyone would like to do any of those.  They’re quick, easy, and pretty.  If you need options.  I’m trying to include as many ideas for people as I can.  Personally, we’ve decided to go easy on this one.  Over half the chapter was on the tales of ‘Sinbad’ the sailor, so we focused on that rather than the religious part of things.

I tried to find the old ‘Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger’ movie that traumatized me as a child… but frankly none of the libraries in a two-hour radius have it.  They did, however, have Dreamworks’ defilement of the Islamic adventures of Sinbad.  I didn’t know that Dreamworks re-did the show, and so we tried to give this one a try.  And I do say ‘defilement’, because Dreamworks makes Sinbad a Greek, fighting with the Greek goddess Eris.  No praying to Allah, no mosques or Middle Eastern architecture.  It was altered, completely.  It did have the fish island in it, but… no.  It was definitely something I wouldn’t recommend anyone bother with.

We went with the craft from Homeschool Ways’ blog – mostly because we were camping at the time that we did this (still and ever playing catch-up, yes), and these look great hanging from the awning of a camper.


IMG_5832 (444x333)Coloring our plates…

IMG_5839 (377x444)

We don’t like snakes in our house.  So while technically we’re making the slithery things from the Valley of Snakes?  Ours are mere whirly-gigs.  My kids are insistent, and I’m not going to argue with that… feeling the way I do about serpents.  LoL!!!

__________ August 15, 2016 ___________

Hiking: The Saugatuck Beach Trail

From our days of hiking with Ashley, years ago, we’ve a favorite family jaunt.  Of all the hikes we went on, the Saugatuck North Trail was hands down everyone’s preference, should we decide to take an impromptu trip out.  It has the perfect variety of terrain, starting in a deciduous hardwood forest, meandering up a hill and into an incredible stand of towering pines (which smell so lovely!), then out to a dune, and down to the beach.  From there, it loops up another dune, then hits a beautiful prairie grassland area, before turning and heading back into the trees for shade, and looping back to the parking lot.

Up until three weeks ago, this was the only trail we bothered with in this recreational area, in spite of the fact that there was a ‘Beach Trail’ to the south of the parking lot.  Well, this time, we decided to be adventurous and take the southern trail, instead!  The south trail is by far more popular than the one we loved, so we were naturally curious as to why.

All ready to go!

In hindsight, we were sorry that we hadn’t brought along a plastic sack to collect trash in, because the people along the Beach Trail obviously don’t subscribe to a ‘Leave No Trace‘ mentality.  It was dirty.  It was trampled, littered up, and not a nice hike.  We wished for something to put garbage in, because the kids wanted to clean it SO badly.  I can’t for the life of me understand why people prefer that trail over ours… but honestly?  I’m grateful.  It keeps our favorite trail nicer!

Busier, and much more littered up.
lotst of spacing againOnly pretty thing on the trail was this tree.
spaceI’m not sure, but does this ugly thing on a bench stand for a Pokemon pitstop?

Regardless, we had fun.  It was a brilliantly sunny, extremely hot day (up in the nineties, and we Michiganders melt, you know!)… so we brought along our tubes and sunscreen, snorkles and masks, and headed out into the water.  I wasn’t sure how cold it would be – Lake Michigan is a BIG lake, and therefore takes a long time to warm up compared to the other lakes in our state.  But it was beautiful.

Isaac, being Isaac.
space space spaceLydia and Ethan (and Aaron), enjoying the water.

I was so surprised that the water was so enjoyable.  There were layers within it, it seemed.  From the armpits up, it was warm.  From the waist up, it was cool.  From the waist down it was chilly, but refreshing.  Not so cold that we couldn’t enjoy it, so it was perfect, IMHO.  Besides, such a calm and sunny day?  What better place to wind up than the beach?

__________ August 14, 2016 ___________

Tons of Topics!

G’morning!  It’s been a week.  I’m beginning to think that I’m going to have to open a post on Monday, and add to it as we work our way to Sunday… otherwise, I’m going to miss so much.  It’s not a bad idea, actually.  I’d say it’s an age thing, but really I’ve always just been a little absentminded.  It’s okay – I’ll claim it.  ((grins!))

Thunderstorms!  Half of the week has been thunderstorms, which we’ve really needed around here.  It’s beautiful and lush and green, again- what we call ‘Shego World’.  You’d have to Google ‘Shego’… but she’s kind of my favorite super (anti) hero.  If she could move things with her mind, she’d be perfect.  Anyhow, we love the rain.

Hike of the Week.  This week, our hike was to West Olive beach.  It’s been in the 90s, and that’s just so hot… so I’ve been choosing Ottawa county hikes that end up at Lake Michigan.  We had to buy an annual pass to go to these places ($25/yr), but it’s $7 for a day pass, so might as well get the annual.  Four trips, and we’re saving money, you know?  I’ll write more about this, later (with pictures), in it’s own post.  But there are really special things about this particular place!

Into the Incubator.  I know it’s late in the season, but we’ve got eggs incubating.  *FINALLY!*  Thing is, we only have one rooster, and he’s pretty old.  I’m worried about winter putting the hurt to him.  So I’ve really wanted to breed him, for a while.  It just hasn’t happened, for one reason or another, until now.  But at present, there are EIGHT eggs in the warmer, so that’s good!  I figure I can just keep the chicks under a heat lamp a lot longer, if it’s a cold fall… but the way things have been, it probably won’t be a problem.

Planning a Trip!  My cousin (Steve) is turning 40 this year, and apparently there’s going to be a party for him… but it’s WAY up in Buckley.  Three hours north of here!  Anyhow, he invited us via Brian, who kind of shrugged off the thing, it being so far away.  But then Steve asked again, and Brian could tell he really wanted us to go… so apparently we need to go.  Brian thought just drive up, go to the party, and drive home (hitting our house about 1am)… but I suggested that we take our new camper and try a road trip.  We’ve never gone more than an hour away, camping, before.

Eyeing up Options…  Okay, so staying in a camper isn’t ‘roughing it’.  But in looking for a campground to stay at, we saw that Buckley is so small, there just aren’t options.  The closest is Interlochen (which is trendy and packed and not our style), or Mitchell State Park down in Cadillac – which is 40 minutes from the party.  We’ve camped there before (wait!  We camped in the Hi-Lo 15 years ago in Cadillac!!  That’s the furthest we’ve gone.  I just forgot about that!)… and that’s just not where we want to be.  There’s also two private campgrounds – a KOA that’s richy-rich, and a place called ‘Northern Exposure’ that’s also very pricey.  Then (me being me), I thought, “Do we need electrical hook-up?”  After all, there’s a battery and propane tanks on the camper.

Roughing It.   So I found a State Forestry place very close to the party, and it’s half the price of the cheapest electrical option.  Plus there are only 17 lots, there – very quiet.  Mostly it’s the juction where one major trail system meets another, so there’s a huge parking lot where people park and really rough it… by backpacking a 23-mile loop.  (It sounds like fun, actually… but my family would never go for it.)  There are campsites all along the big loop, so people don’t really camp at the trail-head place – which makes it a nice place for us!  There’s also apparently a river right there, and a beautiful suspension bridge… but it’s little known/used, because it’s ‘rustic’.  I’m getting excited about this whole thing!!

Rascally Racoon!!!  We’ve been trapping raccoons almost constantly in critter corner, this year.  We’re up to something like fifteen, now.  It’s been crazy – Brian’s grandpa has gotten over thirty!  It was a bumper crop of coons, apparently.  His grandpa blasts them, but we relocate them to a protected park.  Anyhow, as Brian was transporting one on Monday, the cage came open.  The thing climbed up on the ledge around the box of his truck and was doing laps, while Brian was doing 60mph!!  The guy driving behind Brian had to be busting up!  Then it burrowed under the mat and wouldn’t come out.  We’re not sure where/when he finally took off.  But sheesh!!!

BIG Expenses.  We have to register the camper.  We still haven’t bought tires for the bike trailer we built.  Brian’s truck still needs to go in to have a tune-up.  Luckily, he never deposited the quarterly bonus $$, so we can use that to do these things.  But it’s going to be a busy week, next week, getting stuff taken care of!

Lauren & Poppies.  I’ve been spending a lot of time reading thru other people’s blogs, this week.  I started with ‘My Little Poppies’, and I read three years of her writings (back to when she was repeating posts [?!?], and her children were so little that the stuff isn’t pertinent at all).  Then I found Lauren’s blog.  I like homeschooling full-time travelers/adventurers, and that’s what Lauren is.  She’s been writing as long as I have, so it’s a DAUNTING thing, reading all of her stuff.  I started at the beginning, in 1997 (!!!), and I’m up to 2010.  But I’ve a long way to go.  She’s just so kindred, though…!

Clean ‘n’ Purge.  This week I went a little crazy, organizationally.  The boys’ room was driving me CR-azy… so we found ourselves at 10:30pm in there, adding shelving, rearranging everything (which involved moving a giant copy-machine to Lydia’s room, which extended the rearranging to HER room, and then to the parlor…!!).  Things look far, far better in here, but it was a temporary fix.  We have to try to figure out a way to get rid of some stuff.  It comes in from who-knows-where, and compiles.  I do shovel it out the door as I can, but man… it really does overwhelm, sometimes!!

Non-fiction.  I was reading (on My Poppies’ site) how getting children interested in reading non-fiction was a fun, interesting, and exciting new world.  So when we went to the library this week, we decided to browse the non-fiction sections.  Isaac found books on ‘insect origami’ and ‘woodworking fun with Dad’, and the younger boys found books on animals and biomes.  I got a book on watercolor, and several on upper Michigan (I need to know more about the western tip).  Lydia got books on papercrafts, drawing and music.  Oh, and we found decade-books of sheet music for the most popular songs of the decades.  I got out the 1990’s book, and am playing Cher’s “Believe” and Sting and all sorts of crazy stuff!  They truly fell in love with the non-fiction section.  I’m so glad!

Anyhow… I really ought to go.  The tomatoes fell over in the storms.  I’m still working on cleaning the old camper – it’s rather a glorious mess, truth be told!  Lots to do, so little time…!

__________ August 13, 2016 ___________


PS:  Sadly, it’s been thunder-storming for 36 hours, here… so we can’t see the Perseids for cloud coverage.  But if you can get out and have a clear view, they’re supposed to be BEAUTIFUL this time around (tonight!).

PPS:  Tomorrow is the date of the Georgia guidestones.  Just… a refresher notification, as we come closer.  Should be interesting to see if anything happens.

_________ August 12, 2016 __________

2016 Elul Chains!

We got a little behind, this year… but playing catch-up isn’t really all that hard.  Especially when Daddy is willing to work the paper chopper and help cut up our strips for Elul countdown chains.

IMG_5766 (488x660)… LOTS of color, this year!

 IMG_5761 (399x444)

With the kids, of course…

IMG_5759 (444x164)

I did quilling for mine, this year, and Lydia was playing around with the technique, after.  Isaac, as always, was making origami Yodas.  I told him that he should branch out and try making a quilled Yoda, and he gave me a look that said he didn’t think it was possible.  So I did it, for him.  Turned out kinda cute… maybe?  Anyhow, he did relent and teach Aaron to make an origami man (also pictured).

_________ August 11, 2016 __________

Why I didn’t have Time to Post Today

  1.  1398 photos to edit.
  2.  Cleaning the old camper.
  3.  Moving things into the new camper/organizing.
  4.   An afternoon packed with whitecaps on the Big Lake.
  5.   Me on a tube squealing on said whitecaps.  With dolphin children in tow.
  6.   School stuff in there, too, of course.
  7.   Working my way thru someone’s blog (13 yrs worth!!!).
  8.   Working behind the scenes on my own blog (nitpicky stuff).
  9.   LIBRARY VISIT/BOOKS.  (Starting Ludlum’s “Jansen” series)
  10.   No time after all that!!!

I really will try to do better, but with the weekend pending and plans made and not being anywhere near finished with most of the things on this list?  I don’t know.  You might have to deal with some cheatish-ness.

___________ August 10, 2016 __________

Messing Me Up!

Well, this year is just about driving me out of my mind, to be quite honest.  It’s the first time I’ve really ever had to deal with a 2-Adar year, and that’s why.  Never before has such a thing been a problem for us.  And I’m not sure what to do about it, but something has to give.

jewishyearWhat on earth are you talking about?!‘, you ask?  Well, this has to do with the Jewish Calendar.  I’ve talked many times before about how the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar that strays from what Yehovah set up for us in the Bible.  You know that verse in Daniel that talks of an evil one who ‘would seek to change the times’?  That’d be the Gregorian calendar.  There are Eastern calendars (and I understand some Wiccan ones) that are lunar based.  The Western world’s Gregorian calendar is solar based.  But Yehovah’s way is solar-lunar.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that years and days are based on the earth’s relationship to the sun, but the months are based on our relationship to the moon.  So while Gregorian months are 30 and 31 (or 28) days long with a leap day added every four years?  Yehovah’s months are 28 (mostly).  So every once in a while, they make up the difference (all those extra days from the 30/31 Gregorian calendar?) by adding an extra month of Adar to the year.

That happened this year.  There was an Adar I and an Adar II.  And up until now, it meant absolutely nothing.  HOWEVER… if there weren’t two Adars, this year?  This would be Elul, right now – my prep time for the feasts.  But the two months of Adar have bumped things out… and not in a good way.  The feasts are the entire month of October.  Which puts our next school year at a November 1st start date – I can’t DO that.  Worse, it puts Hanukkah into next year!  Um…  no.

Besides, I have issues with the whole thing.  Who says this year has an extra Adar?  Who chose the month of Adar?  There are months with less going on in them, hello.  But honestly?  Who said it’s this year that gets the extra Adar?  It’s not in scripture, so  I don’t know.  It’s a MESS.  And worse, what if ‘they’ are wrong?!  What if this isn’t the year for that, and we *ARE* in Elul, right now… and the feasts are September, not October?  What if ‘they’ are screwing things up on Yehovah and me?!

(((Well, they are.  Just sayin’.)))

Actually, they add the extra Adar in the Gregorian leap years.  Did you know that?  Which kind of irritates me, because if you’re going to be separated from the world?  Don’t take on their crap, y’know?  Be true to yourselves.  But that’s just me.  I’m rebelling against that, just on principle, alone!

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this, and I came to the conclusion that I have to not have an extra Adar in my year.  In fact, that’s not optimal.  What I need to do is add an extra Tevet next year.  It’s the same concept as what I do with months that have a third payday in them – I don’t treat them as if they have a third paycheck.  The ‘third’ payday is the first payday of the next month, and the first payday of the next month is the ‘second’ payday of that next month, and then the second payday of the next month is the extra $$.  Maybe I’m weird, but that’s the way it works out for us, so as not to have trouble with bill payments.  Stuff continues a little off until there’s a ‘lull’… and that’s when you play.  Get the bills done, first, right?  As far as I can tell, this is the same thing.  This year may have an ‘extra month’, but I have to treat it as norma, and wait for the following ‘lull’…  in the case of this month issue, the lull is Tevet 5777/January 2017.

Brian thought he’d argue as devils’ advocate.  It didn’t work, by the way.  I flummoxed him, and he began getting angry at his own stance, and abandoned it all, entirely.  *Snort!*  Well, it is seriously stupid.  And conformist on a level I wasn’t expecting.  In the end, we both agreed that we have to buck what everyone else is doing, and go with what makes sense.  ((<< In my case, what *feels* right – because for the better part of a week, I’ve been ‘nesting’… which is my Elul behavior.  I’m in feast-prepping mode unconsciously, and the lack of physical manifestation is becoming a real problem for me!))

SO!  That means that this month is Elul for my family.  YIKES!!!  Ten days in, and I’m realizing this!  We need to get our countdown chains made, post-e haste-y!!  That’s TEN DAYS of shofar blowing that we’ve missed!  Ten being the number of the world/humanity… isn’t that ironic!

But mostly I felt like I had to work this out, verbally on the blog, to ‘set’ it all in my mind properly.  But now that this is settled, I feel much better about things.  We’re bumping up into Elul, as of NOW!

___________ August 09, 2016 __________

Georgia Guidestones Redux

Do you remember a long time ago, when I posted about the Georgia Guidestones?  If not, it was here.  I’m going to tell you about it here, so that you don’t have to slog back to a post from two years ago:

guidestones-1The Georgia Guidestones is a granite monument in Elbert County, Georgia, in the United States. A message clearly conveying a set of ten guidelines is inscribed on the structure in eight modern languages, and a shorter message is inscribed at the top of the structure in four ancient language scripts: Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The structure is sometimes referred to as an “American Stonehenge”.  The monument is 19 feet 3 inches (5.87 m) tall, made from six granite slabs weighing 237,746 pounds (107,840 kg) in all.  One slab stands in the center, with four arranged around it. A capstone lies on top of the five slabs, which are astronomically aligned. An additional stone tablet, which is set in the ground a short distance to the west of the structure, provides some notes on the history and purpose of the Guidestones.

In June 1979, an unknown person or persons under the pseudonym R. C. Christian hired Elberton Granite Finishing Company to build the structure.

My previous assertion was that the name referred to the Roman Catholics and Christians.  Not hard to decipher THAT pseudonym.  And this was done in 1979???  Weirdness…  Anyhow, of the ten ‘guidelines’ on the stones, the first is ‘maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.’   Considering that the Earth’s population is  7 BILLION right now, it looks like someone is calling for a massive extermination event, here… are you seeing that?  This is a call for One World Order and a massive extermination event.  Moving on…

Into the top of the English stone a notch was carved, which was there from at least 2009. In September 2014 this notch was filled with a small stone which reads “20” and “14” on both visible sides. It’s unclear who placed this nor what it means.

Now back in 2014 when I posted this, it was because there was something that happened with the Georgia Guidestones.  The notch that was empty in the English stone suddenly had a cube placed in it, with the numbers ’20’ and ’14’ on it.  In spite of there being surveillance cameras on the property, nobody knew who put the cube inside that slot.  Ooooooo

They came and removed the stone, and destroyed it.   Captured the whole thing on YouTube if you want to see it.  Apparently it doesn’t matter to whoever owns it, because at minute 5:25 on the video, he says, “we have the original”.  (???)  But regardless, it turns out that ’20’ and ’14’ weren’t the only things on that cube.  One side side “MM”, another said ‘JAM’, another was inscribed ‘8’ and another ’16’.

photo credit http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1131371/pg1

Why am I bringing this up?  Because this morning I was directed to an article about this… how the numbers ’20’ and ’14’ were turned out on the cube as a sort of ‘false flag’.  Nothing happened on 8/16/2014.   It wasn’t even a notable date.  But if you mix the numbers up?  You get 8/14/2016.

It’s been two years since the cube appeared in the notch of the Georgia Guidestones.  According to the man in the video, he said ‘they have the original’… whatever THAT means.  (That a replica was made so that it could be destroyed to give yet another false flag?  Who knows, these people are just weird, you know this, right?)  But regardless…

We are five days away from 8/14/2016.  Is there anything significant about that date, this year?  Yes, why yes there is:

  1. It’s Tish B’Av, a day of mourning in Judaism
  2. It’s the culmination of the Plieades, and a ‘huge’ one, this year
  3. Five-planet line-up in the heavens: August 13-19
  4. Olympics in Rio – first ‘Sunday’ of the event

There were several other things given as important, too.  I’m not terribly wujo, so when they say it’s 777 days between the official declaration of an Islamic Caliphate from ISIS, 6/29/14, and 8/14/16?  I kind of scoff a little, personally.  And I mostly blew off the Nostradamus ‘in the days of the games, the dead shall rise’ thing.  He was only right 30% of the time – that’s not a good track record.  But wantig to verify the five planet thing, I looked it up:

When will we see all five planets together again? We’ve had a number of people ask us when the next presentation of the five visible planets in the same sky will take place. It will be possible to view all five in the evening sky – very briefly – from about August 13 to 19, 2016.

There’s a huge caveat, however. Right now, all five planets are strung out across the early morning sky in an easy-to-see way (well, Mercury is the tough one, so close to the sunrise, but keep watching … it’ll get easier). In August, Mercury and Venus will be sitting low in the west at dusk and not that easy to catch from northerly latitudes.  The Southern Hemisphere definitely has the big advantage for spotting all five planets in the August, 2016, evening sky.

I don’t know.  I have no idea, but you know we’re told to watch, in scriptures.  Repeatedly we’re admonished to watch, and how can you watch if you’re completely unaware, no?  So there it is:  in five days time (this coming Sunday), something may or may not happen.  We will just have to wait and see.  But it’s interesting to note, at any rate.

___________ August 08, 2016 __________

Questing: Oceanography!

One of the year-long units we did this year was a Biome study.  I’m still working on putting a post together on it, and it might be a while, but that’s neither here nor there.  The fact is, I had some concerns, because while there are a lot of sites that cover the different biomes upon the earth, there’s a whole ‘nother thing going on, under the sea.  Oceanography is almost more than another biome – it’s a whole additional study!

Enter on-line helps.  I read a lot of wonderful homeschool sites, and one of my favorites is HomeschoolDen.  (I should probably not mention her name, right?  I can’t imagine she’d appreciate it, coming from me.)  But anyhow, she’s done an oceanography study, and recommended a video series called ‘The Blue Planet’ by BBC that was amazing.  Lots of episodes, and a virtual trip down into the depths of the oceans!

So off to the library we went, and for the past few weeks, we’ve been having a glorious time watching ninja crabs, funky octopus, scrambly penguins, and more.  It’s been a wonderful video series, and I’m so very lucky, because the same library has ‘The Green Planet’ DVD series by BBC, too – which will be a lovely ‘finale’ to our biome study.  (See?  There’s a reason for the delay in the post!)

HomeschoolDen also featured some interesting ideas for ways to study the ocean.  She did posts on Currents, Bioluminescence, Salinity, Zones, Tides, and the Ocean Floor.  I’m not hugely about paying for homeschool resources, so instead of buying her unit pack, we went with Iman’s Oceanography Lapbook.  It’s really amazing, although we skipped out on the Islamic parts.

Anyhow, there are a LOT of fun crafts having to do with the underwater world.  The first would be ‘Make your own Ocean in a Jar‘… with the zones of the sea.  This we did to show the zones of the ocean, of course.  (Graphic to the right).  We actually ended up doing this THREE times, and it never did turn out.  Sunlight is just an issueful layer, apparently – alchocol mixes with twilight, and turpentine became a goopy mess in the top of the jar.  Just look at the picture, and call it good.

Here are some of the other projects that we decided to do to help fulfill the requirements for our badges.  Instead of showing our results (seven of each thing!), how about I just share the pages illustrating how to do them:


Paper Cup Octopus                    Paper Strip Turtle


Killer Whale Catcher Game         Moving Fish


Paper Plate Whale  Diorama of another kind/video (we didn’t do this one)

Another fun one: hand and footprint crabs & lobsters

And of course here are our lapbooks:

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IMG_5646 (444x333)

___________ August 07, 2016 __________

Little Yellow Pills, Big Blue Lakes

G’morning!  Well, I don’t know about you, but it’s been one CR-azy week for me.  Just a bunch of stuff going down that I need to talk through.

Money Matters.  As you know, I had concerns about taking a second loan for the camper.  I don’t like having ONE loan, let alone two!  And I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to swing it.  So last Sunday we did a little running around, and ended up at the AT&T store.  We wanted to know if bundling our [3] phones in with wifi would reduce our electronics bill.  We also had to find out of AT&T wireless reaches our house out in the country/woods.  And we had to find out when our 2-year contract with Verizon was up.  Our plan at that point was 10G for $80 thru Verizon, and every month I go over that, so it was actually about $100/mo for wireless.  That’s not working for us.  Our cellphones ($30/ea) were with AT&T, so we thought if we could end Verizon and move…

The GOOD news!  Come to find out, 1) our cellphones dropped in price by $5/ea, 2) AT&T does reach our house, and they could bundle cellular and wifi for $140/mo +tax, and 3) when Verizon went to the *new* plans last month, they ended all contracts.  We could leave anytime we wanted!!!  So going from $190 to $140 was a HUGE savings.  And we’re rid of Verizon.  They were horrible, anyhow.

La-La-Landline.  I also had been whittling away at my DH about having a redundant landline, and Brian finally agreed that we should call and at least see if they could reduce our bill… if not just cancel.  That’s $40/mo just for a ‘just in case’ line!  Turns out AT&T is working on phasing out landlines, entirely, anyhow.  They offered us a ‘home hot-spot’ wifi line, but it was the physical landline we’d wanted… Brian liked that our old rotary phone would still work, even without power.  Who he’d call on it, I don’t know – nobody has that capability, anyhow.  But we ended up just dumping the landline, entirely.  Freeing up another $40/mo!

MORE paying Peter via Paul.  When we got the new trailer loan, we wanted to borrow from our 401K.  Unfortunately, the money wouldn’t be released until our next pay period, which was ten days out, and we’d needed the money in three days time.  So we went to our credit union, and walked away with the money the next day!  Apparently Brian and I have credit ratings above 95% of the population?  That’s amazing.  We’re both in the 800s, if that means anything to anyone.  I was pretty happy to hear it.  But the CU loan was at 8%, and the 401K loan would be at 4%… that’s a huge difference.  So Friday was PAYDAY… and we got the 401k loan, paid off the CU loan in full, and now have the 401K rate of 4%.  It sounds like a rigamaroll, I know, but it’s a matter of playing the game.  Not only that, but the payment on the CU loan was $160/mo.   The payment on the 401K loan is $115/mo.  Which, btw, if you look at our monthly savings in electronics?  Is just about perfect!

Crown Financial.  A million ba-zillion years ago, I printed out a ‘Monthly Income & Expenses‘ sheet from Crown Financial.  See, before Dave Ramsey,  Chuck Bentley was a christian financier who helped people reduce their debt.  Only he offered his stuff free, unlike the pig who’s making a killing at it, now.  It’s still on-line, and free.  Anyhow, I’ve just re-done ours, and we’re still in the black.  Yay!  I’m very happy about that.  I was worried, what with the two loans.  And I still want to pay them off.  So badly, I’m almost considering getting a small part-time night or weekend job, to do it.  I hate debt THAT much.  We’ll see what happens.

39G of USE?!?!?  I cancelled our home phone.  I cancelled Verizon.  And then Verizon said I’m paid up thru September 3rd, so I can use the 10G of Verizon wifi for August.  In addition to the 15G of AT&T wifi.  I was shocked.  That’s a lot of gig!  But then last night Brian was looking at the AT&T hotspot device, and it reset – added another 15G of wifi to what we had!  We’ve only had it a week – it shouldn’t have rolled over, already!  So in essence, it says we have 39G of wifi.  Whoa!!!  I’m… nervous.  Will be calling on that, first thing.

Birthday Babe.  Today is Lydia’s *SWEET SIXTEEN*.  She’s… not impressed.  The girl thinks time is flying too fast.  I told her not to worry about it.  She has all the time in the world, at this point.  Anyhow, I think she’s mostly nervous about stuff, because her friend (My BFF’s daughter… can I just start calling her MBFD?)  did summer school and moved up a grade, so Lydia hears about ‘senior year’ a lot, and – being the same age – she feels like she got bumped up, along with MBFD, kinda.  In addition, her BFF got a job (cleaning toilets at a campground).  LBFF’s pressuring Lydia to get a job and work, like her.  A lot.  LBFF is a year younger, but they ‘unschool’, and from what I see/hear, she’s pretty much not even doing that.  Then MBFD got a job, too… and now both of the girls are talking driver’s ed on her, and Lydia just doesn’t feel ready…

Young Once.  I keep telling her, ‘don’t worry what other people are doing.  Enjoy your youth.  After all, you’re only young once!’  I figure she has the rest of her life to work.  She has loads of time before she’s 18 and gets her license.  And I don’t believe in the public school ‘twelve grades and out’ policy.  As far as I’m concerned?  As long as she wants to stay and learn, let’s do it.  I feel like society shoves kids around, and I don’t like it.  Let the kids progress at their own pace, y’know?  At their comfort level.  I don’t want her to feel pressured.  There are tons of opportunities, and she’s not going to miss out by choosing to wait and take them up later, when she feels ready.  I know that’s not what most of society thinks/feels… but I don’t care.

Gone Outdoors.   We also spent a lot of time outside, this week.  Got the garden weeded – there were actually vegetable plants in there!  We also went to the Big Lake and floated on the massive waves, there.  It was fun, but we went on the hottest (90+ degree) day, and the sand was scalding.  (Note to self: next time?  We wear water shoes.)  We hiked up in Ottawa, and found some other wonderful places to hike, as well.  A TON of them.  And of course last weekend we slept in the yard in the camper for three days.  NO allergic reaction.  That’s great!  So now I just have to get electricity out to the old camper, and get to work cleaning it up to sell.  (<< Put the $$ on the loan and pay it down, quicker!)

Paint Class.  Lydia and I did a paint class together.  She wasn’t entirely on-board, to begin with.  I think she was worried that she’d suck and the painting would turn out horribly.  But we got there, got our drinks, teased around and loosened her up, and she had a wonderful time.  I was amazed at how she opened up, over the course of the night.  We had a good evening, together.  (I need to take Isaac canoeing, next…!  And then Ethan sailing, and Owen rafting, and Aaron… hrm.  Still thinking on that one!)

Water & Weight.  Last week THU-FRI-SAT you may recall I did the ‘Military Diet’.  I lost six pounds on it.  So then I took four days off, and did it again, W-TH-F of this week.  I’m down to 203lbs.  Yay!!  I figure along with my usual active-ish lifestyle, I’ll keep taking off a little here and there, and paring it down.  When I started last July, I was 217lbs, the most I’d ever weighed.  When the pool closed down in February, I was toeing 199lbs.  But then after stopping the intermittent fasting and swimming, I gained again.  Still lower than last July, but not good.  So now I’m back to swimming again, too!  Two weeks, now.  This week?  They played Disney music in the pool!  Ever swim to ‘Under da Sea’ before?  LoL!!!

Swim Stuff.  Lydia comes with me.  She doesn’t want to swim, but she loves the smell of chlorine, the echo of the cavernous room, the lap of the water, the blue of the pool.  She does sudokus on the benches, wrings out my suit while I’m drying my hair.  Stuff like that.  I think she just likes doing the mom-daughter thing.  But anyhow, the first week, I did 25 minutes.  This week, 30 minutes.  And amazingly, since I went from two little yellow pills to one?  I’m not dying in the pool, anymore.  I had NO idea those pills were messing me up so badly until May, when the Derma told me they were actually blood pressure pills!  We were hiking in Indiana, and I was absolutely breathless, and I knew I wasn’t out of shape.  I’d done the same 7 miles the year before in the U.P., and that was before taking up swimming/tap, and I hadn’t struggled so badly then!  And it hit me: it was the little yellow pills (for my hormonal break-outs).  So I went down to one… and it’s MUCH better, now!

Time to Close.  There’s a LOT more that I could talk about, but… this is getting long, isn’t it?  I’m sorry.  I babble.  But it’s only once a week, right?  ((wink!))

___________ August 06, 2016 ___________


___________ August 05, 2016 ___________

Crop Circles and Cubes

Weirdness is all around me.

( Had to state that, for the record.)

The kids are making me continue with Revelations, and I didn’t want to.  It gets confusing to me, and if it’s confusing to me, it’s gotta be confusing to them.  But they insisted.  And strangely, there’s a LOT of stuff there that isn’t as mystifying as it is intriguing, at this point.  There’s a lot that I want to look at, coming up here in the next week or so.

But I (being anal and logical, both) don’t like to think past the next handful of things that are supposed to happen.  Which – when listed – include:

  1. Angel with book
  2. Seven undisclosed thunders
  3. Declaration of ‘time no more’
  4. John eats the little book/bellyache
  5. Measuring the temple
  6. Destruction of Israel
  7. Two witnesses

Of those things, I keep seeing stuff pop up that makes me do a double-take.  A few days ago, I told you that this summer’s crop circles are pointing to ‘time no more’ – or the ‘end of the Gregorian Calendar’, according to one of the analysts over at the woo-woo site.  (I say this semi-tongue-in-cheek, but considering what I’m looking for…?!)

Then yesterday.  I was reading my daily Jewish pit-stop blogs, just as I do every morning, and… weirdness:


Over the span of a day’s time, clearly shown is the planet [Niburu] in our Hemisphere, moving closer and closer. A rising sun, high in the sky sun, and setting sun, with the planet clearly visible. Our Sun rising over the planet emitting a glowing halo. Scroll Down to a closeup revealing a Structure seemingly within the planet. Do you see what I see?

AN IMAGE OF THE THIRD BEIS? (it was inverted and using color shows this-no alteration of image) … The Third Beis Hamikdash… the vision in the clouds was reminiscent of a Structure and possibly a glimpse of the Third Beis?

We are so close!  Plead to Ha’Shem that His children wake up and… desire that Ha’Shem reveals his Mashiach and rid the world of sin.


When I saw this, I had a ((((O_o)))) moment.  Seriously????  Not just a planet, but a planet with a cube.  That I’m not seeing.  I’m sorry, but I don’t see it, except in the ‘inverted’ images, and I don’t trust that.  That’s just weirdness.  You know what I’m sayin’?

And you have to remember… I’m reading Jewish blogs.  They hate Christianity, hate Yeshua, and reject/won’t touch the New Testament.  They’re not looking at Revelations and seeing this, they’re looking at OT scripture and seeing this.  I’m looking at Revelations and thinking… ‘Wow.  It’s the cube measured and described in the last book of the Bible.  Funky.’

Ironically?  I left that site and went directly to FB, where the crop circle page had just put up the latest circle on my ‘most recent’ feed.  You’re SO NOT going to believe this:

I’m not making this up.  Oh, hey, look.  It’s a cube and a planet.  !!!!!  What the holy weirdness is this?!?!?!  Of course I don’t understand it.  Are the squares a ‘countdown’ of some sort?  If so, (I did the math), and assuming we’re 23 days in on August 4th, it ends October 20th… smack in the middle of Sukkot.  Now if it were the first day of Sukkot, or maybe Simchat Torah or Hoshanna Rabbah, yes.  But… weird…!!!

On the other hand, look at my line-up of stuff that I’m looking to see happen.  There’s a temple in there.  I figured it was in Heaven, but… maybe it’s on its way?  I’m a little at a loss for words over this.  And probably going to go bury my nose in scripture for a while.

If you’ll excuse me, please.

Next Day Edit:  Missed one!  The day before (8-3-2016), there was another one:


___________ August 04, 2016 ___________

Hiking:  Hemlock Crossing/Pine Bend

I know, I know… I’m supposed to be putting up a ‘Sketch Thursday’.  But I really don’t like having to do anything.  It can be a day late, right?  Because this morning I’m editing pictures, and really want to share about our newest challenge.  ((<< In addition to all sorts of other challenges, of course.))

Several years ago, I saw an ad on FB for family hiking.  A lady was moving from Alaska to Michigan, and she wanted to form a hiking group similar to what she had up in the Last Frontier.  There was a ton of enthusiasm about the idea, but when she made up the schedule and set off, we were the only family to actually show up and do the hikes.  We didn’t click – she was a working woman forced into mom-ing, and she hated it… while I was full-on mom with five kids, homeschooling.  There was nothing in common.  BUT… we were bitten by the hiking bug, through her.  She has long since moved ‘home’ to Maine, and ever since we’ve kind of faltered along thru it, without buddies to motivate us.

This year, I knew I wanted to really get into it, again.  Even considered putting up a hike post, and inviting other families to go.  ((<< I’m not good with the peoples, though.  It’s one thing to join a group, another to lead it.))  Anyhow, I joined a hiking group on MeetUp.com and another on FB called HikeItBaby.  We don’t hike with either of them: the first group is ‘adults only’, and the second group is *inclusive*, meaning it’s meant for people with babies, and the rules state that when someone blows out a diaper, has a melt-down, or needs to nurse, everyone stops.  I… no.  Cannot do that.  BUT…!  I can join these groups, find out where they’re hiking, and go the same places with just my little gang, at another time.  See?  Useful, after all!

Our first hike this year was to a nature preserve in Alto.  It… doesn’t even warrant pictures.  But it was something new, and very short (?!!!), so it was a good first hike.  Then we did seven miles in Shades SP in Indiana one day, seven miles in Turkey Run SP in Indiana another day, along with several other parks (McCormick, and a few others… they were easier – two or three mile hikes).  And of course we did the ‘Leave No Trace’ trail, a few weeks ago.  But I’ve been really needing to get out there, again.

So we grabbed our walking sticks, slathered on sunscreen, and took off on a hike.  I found out that Ottawa County has .pdfs of their trails on-line, and I thought that might be fun.  Besides, we were back and forth to Allendale library at the time, borrowing and returning “The Blue Planet” DVDs for a biome study we were doing.  (More on that, soon!)  Allendale isn’t that far from Zeeland/Holland.  Pulling up the hike pages, I chose ‘Hemlock Crossing‘, wrote down directions, and off we went!

I chose beyond well, and didn’t even know it!  Hemlock Crossings is approximately 3 miles of hiking, starting in one county park, and winding around to another – Pine Bend is at the other end of the park!  So basically, we were completing two hiking venues in one fell swoop!  More, Hemlock Crossings is the site of the Ottawa County Nature Center… so there was a gorgeous building that offers programs and information, right there!  I had no idea.  But when we pulled in, we were awed by how well-kept and beautiful this place was.

IMG_5503 (333x444)What a beautiful hike!

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Perspective:  Heads of trees and kids…

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There were bridges all through the woods.  The only complaint was the ugly creek beds.  Apparently Ottawa county has high iron levels in the water – everything was rust-colored slime, along the creeks.

This was a creek running through a tree’s roots!

IMG_5531 (251x444)Winding our way thru the woods…

IMG_5544 (333x444)And of course Isaac, being… Isaac.

IMG_5550 (271x444)Hiking a zig-zaggy path!

It was comical – there are black marks on the map for ‘most difficult’ trails, blue for ‘moderate difficulty’, and green for ‘easy’.  We headed right for the difficult trails.  After Turkey Run and Shades?  We were all about extremely rough hiking.  Apparently Michiganders are seriously wussy, because ‘most difficult’ here means ‘one person wide trail’.  (!?!?!)  We were just laughing like crazy.  That’s not difficult.  A little disappointing, but we had too much too look at to dwell on it.

IMG_5558 (388x444) IMG_5559 (444x427)

IMG_5561 (444x329)Math for the day was to figure out how far we hiked, based on the trails we took.

bigleaf-maple-leafbigleaf-maple-leafbigleaf-maple-leafbigleaf-maple-leaf   We’re rating Hemlock Crossing four out of five stars.  The rust was an issue, and it was so wetland, there was a high level of apprehension where snakes are concerned.  But we did have a wonderful time.  More, it was a beautiful park.  The hike was well marked, and the kids took turns telling us which way we were taking.  And as an added bonus?  They had a big map of all of the parks in Ottawa county in the Nature Center – so we’ve put it up on our wall, and are going to mark it off, as we take them all!

PS:  There was a gray fox (taxidermy specimen) in the Nature Center.  The lady said she was going to tell the kids one new thing about nature that they didn’t know: and that’s that the gray fox is the only canine that can climb trees.  How fun!

___________ August 03, 2016 ___________

Chapter Eight:  Why not (besides the Obedience thing)?

I’m actually learning SO much from this Bible Journaling experience.  It’s not just about making a pretty page.  [[[Which lately hasn’t been so pretty, so I hadda join a Bible Journaling (margins or notebook only) group on FB to re-inspire my creativity a little.]]]

Anyhow, it’s been very interesting, reading these things again.   It’s just (this week!) occurred to me: this is the first time I’ve gone thru the NT letters since we left Churchianity.  When we came out of that cess, I dove straight into Torah to find out what are and arent’ relevant laws and commandments for believers post-Resurrection.  And that is tremendously meaty stuff – it’ll suck you right in.  I also did the Gospels – looking at Messiah’s teachings from a Torah-observant standpoint.  Amazing from a Torah-relevant viewpoint!  But all of these revelations… and the un-learning of SO much B.S. …!  It takes some serious time.  So doing the letters is amazing, at this point, for me.

Shall we dive in and have fun with this?
Because this chapter is seriously amusing.  No, really.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.  vs 1-2

So we start out with a question:  ‘Are we allowed to mess with stuff offered to and/or associated with idols?‘  Apparently (taking a look at the following related verses) this was about eating meat dedicated to idols, specifically… but Paul has to be rolling his eyes.  Geez, really?  Can you mess with stuff that’s associated with evil/sin?  This is a question?!  Are you people even thinking???  What the heck!  For the love of Pete, this is basic Bible stuff, here…!!! 

Actually, this being Corinth, they might not know basic Bible stuff.  (<< And when I say ‘Bible’, I mean ‘Torah’ – remember, there was no New Testament, at this point.)  And anyhow, the Corinthians might not be Jews, per se, but believers in a different land who heard the Good News… and maybe didn’t grow up with Torah.  So here in verses one (and two, but mostly just the first half of verse one), we have a question and the answer everyone should have.  Can we touch things offered to/associated with idols?  You have Torah (which is knowledge given from God), and you have logic (which is also given from God): let both serve you to lead to the obvious ‘NO’ answer, hello Verse 1[a], summarized.

But then Paul checks himself.  He says, “Now… hang on.  Because those of you who are saying, ‘TOLD ya, moron!’ (and even I might be included in this, or seen to be included by my comments) are approaching this from a puffed-up-by-knowledge standpoint.  And really?  You don’t know anything.  I don’t know anything.  We have answers because we were given (or deduced) answers, but they’re just a few answers in the bigger, grander, more IMMENSE scheme of things, and really, we known nothing.  So let’s all just be nice and understanding about this… erm, ignorance, here.  Besides, being smart/learned in scriptural things isn’t what we’re to be known for.  We’re to be known for our Faith – our love of the Father and discipleship to the Son.

Good call, Paul.

And there are a few things here that I (<< Anna) need to say, ’cause they came to mind as I was doing this study.  First, Albert Einstein.  Did you know he was a Jew?  (Well, he was.)  But he’s known for his knowledge, not his faith.  Is that commendable, in God’s eyes?  I’m  just… sayin’.  These things are a sobering realization as we think about them.  And then I also think of Ryan Bice (<< name changed to protect a guy I met and seriously did NOT like).  He was this Messianic dude that I once got to meet.  He set himself apart within the group I was with, and ‘I AM BETTER THAN YOU’ emanated from him.  People approached him as a revered spiritual father, r’something, and he ate that up. And it irritated me.  And he came to mind as I was reading these verses… because I think Paul probably would’ve taken Ryan down a notch or two.  You know nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Don’t be a puffed up prick.  Be known from your charity and understanding, for your love… not your knowledge.

((This is not a problem for me.  I’m blonde.  And mostly confused.  And apologizing often enough to keep me in line.  I’m known for being over-zealous and having to correct things.  Moving on.))

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.  For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.  vs. 4-6

Paul brings us back from the ‘don’t be a strutting peacock’ thing to the question at hand.  Can we eat things offered to/associated with idols?   The answer was no… but at the same time, it’s technically also ‘yes’.  Remember that verse… ‘everything is permissible, but not all things are beneficial’?  (<< We’re actually not there, yet.  That’s in chapter 10.  I just… nevermind.)  Anyhow.  We can do pretty much anything: it’s the free will design.  And the same is true here.  Meat is meat is meat.  Idols are crap – they aren’t gods, they’re chunks of stone or wood.  False gods are fake.  None of it matters.  What matters?  There is ONE GOD, and that’s Yehovah.  There is ONE SAVIOR, and that’s Yeshua.

Now something interesting, here.  Look at the verses.  There is but one God… OF whom are all things.  There is but one Savior… BY whom are all things.  Do you see that?  These little things really catch my eye.  I want to know the difference.  So I looked it up in Strong’s.  The first word is ‘ek‘, which means ‘the point from which action proceeds’.  The second word is ‘dia‘, which means ‘the channel by which the action is delivered’.   Wow!  I could go into the whole ‘Messiah is the Word, and Creation was spoken into existence, and therefore He was there from the beginning…’ but you know all that, right?  And that’s me going Torah on you, again.  So we stay here, focusing on the point:  There is ONE God, and ONE Savior.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.  vs. 7

Ah… Paul confirms my earlier suppositions.  Corinth has people who don’t know the basics of Scripture.  (And this IS a basic.  It’s the first commandment.  It’s the Shema.  ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, He is One!’  Shema, Y’Israel Adonai Eloeinu, Adonai Echad.  This is seriously basic stuff.  But if you don’t know that, if you grew up in Corinth with a ton of other fake Greek gods shoved down your throat, you’d only know Zeus and Hera and their gang.  It’s a weakness, but not one of choice.  So a little charity is called for, in this situation.

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.  For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  vs 8-11

The truth?  Meat doesn’t matter.  Now… don’t take this as a vegetarian/vegan debate.  We were told fresh off the ark by Ha’Shem, Himself that the animals of the earth are for us to eat… and we’re even told to do so.  This isn’t a debate on healthy nutrition.  This is about something far different.  If you eat meat dedicated to idols?  So what?  They’re fake.  God is One.  If you don’t, that’s fine, too.  Our spirituality doesn’t hang on this.

And honestly?  Unclean meat doesn’t matter.  We can eat it.  The Bible says not to, but we can eat it.  It’s just being disobedient.  It’s not a faith-breaker, but it is something we can do.  We just choose not to, out of obedience.  But our spirituality doesn’t hang on that, either.  We’re saved by faith, not of works, remember?  (Romans 2: 8-9)

HOWEVER (<< and there’s always at least *one* however), eating the meat might hurt those who aren’t as far along spiritually as you are.  So do you want to drive them back to the temple?  Or hurt your testimony?  Obviously not!

Now… the reason this is so amusing, is because Paul has to take a different route to the same truth that was in verse 1a.  The original answer was ‘No!’… we don’t eat meat associated with idols, because it’s against Torah, and while we’re no longer under the Law, we keep the Law (as did Messiah) out of Obedience.  If you love Me, keep My commandments.  This is a show of our faith: obedience.  The faith is there, not because of the works; rather, the works are the evidence of the faith.  So the real answer is ‘Obey the Lord.’  Exodus 23:13 makes it abundantly clear:

And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

‘Circumspect’ means ‘wary and unwilling to take the risk’.  The verse says, ‘don’t even mention’ other gods.  Don’t even talk about them.  Let alone eat their food?  Have nothing to do with them.  Set yourselves apart.  Be unwilling.   ((Interesting note:  There is no verse in scripture – that I could find – that says not to eat food offered to idols.  Apparently verses like this one made it more than clear, and there was no need for it.))

But apparently obeying these scriptures was not the answer this particular crowd wanted or needed to hear.  So instead of taking the same route as he would with Jewish believers (Obey the Lord, if you claim to love Him)… Paul had to make this about other people.  It isn’t ‘Obey God’, it’s ‘Think of how this would hurt others’.  Which… yes, why yes, it would.  But it’s interesting that he – in the end – had to go that route with it.

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.  Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.  vs. 12-13

Ah, but he didn’t take the Lord out of the equation, entirely.  Hurting others is still a sin.  It’s still an offense.  Interesting!  Paul still brought it back around to the beginning.  We are His servants, we should do His will.  And regardless of which way you slice it, it still comes down to one thing:  living out your faith by way of obedience.

One last thing.  You may be thinking, “This is all nice, but it really doesn’t apply to us, today.  People don’t offer us meat to eat that was dedicated to idols.”  And there you’d be wrong.  Just as an example… there’s a whole paged devoted to applying this chapter to Catholicism’s holy water, Eucharist, and sacraments.  And while that’s actually not something I’m going to argue here… it fits.  There are other more subtle things, as well, that fit… not necessarily in the meat department (Ha!… sorry.), but in other similar areas.  I’m sure if you thought about it, you’d come up with some.

The point is, there are things we need to do.  Be charitable.  Be humble.  Be considerate of others.  Be obedient to the One we claim to serve.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.  (1 Thess. 5:22, if you need that reference).  You know what’s right/wrong.  Do what’s right, keep away from what’s wrong.

The end.

___________ August 02, 2016 ___________



___________August 01, 2016 ___________

Questing:  Leave No Trace

One of the biggest problems I have with Quest is that for many of the badges, another badge is required first (or as a part of the badge in question).  We ran into this right away with our group: the leader had wanted to do ‘Backyard Camping’, but there was a requirement of ‘Campfire Safety’ that had to come first… which is why our first badge was ‘Campfire Safety’.  ((<< That and the group thought it would be good to have, in case we wanted to have a fire at whatever park we were meeting at.))

So I balked a little when our leader decided we should do our hiking badge… because the very first requirement of it was “Earn your ‘Leave No Trace’ badge”.  To me, it made more sense (and followed protocol) to do the ‘Leave no Trace’ badge, first.  I may or may not have mentioned our leader was a self-proclaimed ADHD.  I may or may not also have mentioned that she’s doing a 100-mile challenge this summer with her son, so this was more of a personal goal for her than one made with a group mindset.  She was very much about the hiking, and not interested in the  least in the ‘Leave No Trace’.  Which is a bummer, because it would’ve been fun to ‘adopt a road’ together, as a group.  Never did that, before…!

Anyhow, without going into too much detail, the ‘hike’ she chose fell through, every single family begged off of it (except the leader) and there was some ugliness –  not related to the ‘Leave No Trace’ badge – but it was so much so that we felt compelled to leave the group.   Kinda saw it coming.  Can I also just say that going from seven to five families in just three weeks is probably not good for a newly formed group, statistically speaking?  Isn’t that like a thirty percent loss – a third gone in less than two months?  Just… sayin.

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Oh, don’t misunderstand me – we did go hiking on the day slated for the hike.  We just went alone… and in a different place… but with a different objective: to learn the eight principles of ‘Leave No Trace‘!  I’m methodical, thorough, and a little anal… this is no secret.  As for my family, they were grateful not to be on a paved rails-to-trails, one-way nightmare with little to no shade on a 90-degree day in July at two in the afternoon.  ((<< A walk, not a hike, btw.  Hikes involve natural paths with varying terrain and some strenuous effort.  You could do the same as the rails-to-trails on a high school track.  But I digress.))

ANYHOW!  There are eight principles of ‘Leave No Trace’, and we were to memorize them.  Me being (well,) me,  we used hand signs as memory aids… and they worked perfect in helping us to learn and retain the rules.  Here, lemme share:

1. Always stay on the designated trail.
One finger, moving in a curving path motion.
2. Remove obstructions from the path. 
Two fingers, scissor-cutting fallen branches.
3. What you bring in, be sure to take out!
Thumb and two fingers, picking up stuff.
4.  Always respect Nature: be kind to plants and animals. 
Four fingers, petting a critter gently.
5.  Don’t take anything that isn’t yours.
Five fingers holding down the things you don’t take.
6.  Fires are only in designated pits, please. 
Five fingers as the pit, one as the flame.
7.  Camp in clearings or campsites, only. 
Five fingers as a campsite, two upside down as a tent.
8.  Know the rules.  Five fingers over your heart,
thumb and two fingers to your forehead in a ‘know’ sign.

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The trail we took went thru a wild blueberry patch, into a pine forest, through a deciduous area, and then through a fern glade.  We were very grateful for the shade!   And the really fun thing about this trail is that it had identification  signs to give us hints on telling the different species of trees, ferns, and other plants apart.  So not only was this counting towards our LNT badge, but also our tree identification badge, and hiking badge, too.

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The kids were seriously excited, because we all agreed that this is going to be our ‘adopted’ trail for the summer – for July, August, and September we’ll be keeping our area clear and clean.  And they got a good head-start… we had to move a branch off the trail, and just look at the debris that they collected on our walk!  It was almost like a scavenger hunt.  But we don’t get to earn our badges until the three months is complete… so we have some time to put into this, yet!

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Ironically, we’ve been studying Oceans in our normal homeschooling (and of course also whittling away at our ocean badge), and one of the requirements for that badge is also “apply the principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ to the sea and life therein”.   So it’s double-duty, for us – we’re able to apply this to yet another badge, too.  Hey, it works for me.

As our final wrap-up to this whole thing, we went out one morning and collected leaves for our Tree Identification badge, and before pressing them as our specimens, we did leave rubbings and made ‘Leave No Trace’ posters for our Nature Notebooks.  A good review of the principles, to help solidify them in the kids’ (and my) minds!

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So there’s the news:  we are no longer in our Quest group.  But it doesn’t really matter – because I have a family membership, and two-thirds of the badges we’ve been working on are outside of the group, anyhow.  So we’re by no means stopping in our adventures with this.  It’s been fun for all of us, and we’re learning so much.  And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

___________ July 31, 2016 __________

Meanwhile in Real Life

Good Morning!  Y’know, I have been looking forward to this post all week.  Wanted to write it a lot earlier, but… reasons, I guess.  I should just do whatever I want on here.  After all, it’s my blog!  And it’s not like I can’t change the line-up of things, right?  Especially now – Monday I got sick of trying to decipher my scribbled out, changed, written-over list of blog ideas, so I created a posting log on Excel, and now I can just cut/paste/move/delete stuff.  It’s SO much nicer, and less paper!  … did I just tangent?  I just tangented, didn’t I…?

Our New Camper!  Well, this week was one fourth about the camper.  Monday we dealt with bank stuff.  Tuesday we got the money.  Wednesday we made the cross-state trip to go and get the camper.  Thursday I started transferring things from the old camper to the new camper.  Homigawsh, I had no idea there was so much weird stuff in our camper…!  I found sunscreen from when Lydia was two years old.  I found… well, it’s really actually kind of gross in the old one.  Been feeling that, but cleaning it just confirmed that there’d been creatures defiling everything.  Stuff is getting thrown away, and we’re going to have to try that anti-freeze bucket trap Brian’s co-workers were telling him about.  Because D-con isn’t cutting it.

PS:  All’s I had to do was start unloading the camper, and God sent rain.  It’s been raining, ever since!  Sheesh, had I only known that, I’d’ve cleaned the camper weeks ago…!!!!

Work Woes.  The second fourth of this week has been about Brian’s work.  Apparently a big machine broke, and the parts are hither and yon – emphasis on yon.  So they’ve been patching it and patching it and ordering pieces to attempt more patches… Anyhow, Brian worked until 8pm one night, and is working all day, today (Saturday).  It’s good for the paycheck – especially since the side work has dried up a little – but wOw.  Who is this stranger living a shadow of a life, here?!  I feel for him.  He’s exhausted and strung out over this stupid machine.  And it’s messing with our home groove.  Beware the groooove!   Grooooooooooove….

Weight-Loss Reboot 1.  This is apparently the time of year that I start to get my health on, because last year (second week of July) was when I first started swimming.  Lost 17 pounds, too.  Sadly, the pool closed in February, and I never got back to it.  First it was uncertainty of when it’d open (late April), then it was feasts and ‘we’re going on vacation’, then camping.  Anyhow, this week I decided it was time to get back in the water.  It was good!  I liked it.  I needed it.  I missed it.  I did 25 minutes, and wasn’t dying, so there’s that.

Weight-Loss Reboot 2.  At about the same time, I somehow linked to a ‘Military Diet‘, and decided to give it a shot.  It said “Lose up to ten pounds in three days”.  But it warned that you need to have a week of recovery between the sessions, so that sounded good.  Also, it’s all whole foods – not a serious starvation thing.  And it’s a three day ‘boot’, if you will.  I like that idea.  I know we eat like crap – lots of noodles and fried foods and sugar – but getting out of that rut isn’t so easy without a kick-start.  This ‘Military Diet’ has been a beautiful kick-start.  We’ve been eating better, because of this.  (I just give the kids more than I get, and supplement with some other stuff, too.)  It’s not as expensive as I thought it’d be, either – with all the produce.  Anyhow, my first round, I’ve lost six pounds..  Not even close to ten, but I’d rather have less than ten, IMHO.  I don’t like ‘quick’ loss… it feels fake.  ‘Less over longer’ seems smarter.  But I’m going to continue this, periodically.  And of course I’m considering in the interim re-starting the intermittent fasting.  It worked alright for me, in addition to swimming.  With the Military Diet thrown in, I’m thinking I might make better strides, this year.  Spanx are nice, but not nearly enough.

Me n’ My Gal.  (<< Shouldn’t have done that, now I’ve got a song stuck in my head!!)  Last night was exciting – I took my girl to paint class!  She was very excited about it – we’ve gone to dance together on Tuesdays, and she insists on tagging along when I swim (she likes the smell, sounds, colors, feel of the pool, so she brings Sudokus and does them in the bleachers)…  but we don’t go out for girls’ night very often.  At dance she’s doing her thing.  At swim, I’m doing mine.  Last night we did something together.  I was pretty geeked, myself.  Especially since I love the painting.

Schooling Stuff.  The last fourth of the week has been about schooling.  We’ve been doing a TON of projects, and it’s been a lot of fun.  Mostly craft stuff.  Some other stuff.  But I found out that EasyPeasy (<< that we liked, but was a little too ‘elementary’ for us) has a free high-school homeschool curriculum.  I’m over the WORLD happy about it – and plan to use it, next semester (should we be here).  It looks really intensive, and I think it’ll be more our level.  Anyhow, we like to do things slowly, so I’m betting it’ll take us a good six or seven years to get thru it, which is just about right, if I may say.  I’m seriously excited!

Out of Mind.  I swear, during the week, I have so many things to write about, that I mentally file away for Sunday.  And then Sunday comes, and can you believe I don’t remember a single thing?  It’s ridiculous, but there it is.  I swear, I get more and more forgetful every minute!  Or maybe it’s just one of those weeks…?  I don’t know, but I keep getting distracted by homeschool shiny…

Dance is Done!  Have I mentioned that we have August off from dance class?  I think we both needed a little break.  She really didn’t enjoy the summer session as much as I hoped she would.  It was entirely the teacher’s fault: she was all ballet, and didn’t put much into the contemporary.  In fact, the last class?  She skipped the contemporary entirely, and had Lydia come in and do the ballet for her hour of contemporary.  ((Lydia was not happy.))  If the teacher thought she was going to coax my girl over to the ballet side, she was wrong.  In fact, she just made it so Lyddie wouldn’t want to take another session with this chick, ever.  Not the best thing to have happen.  I am privately a little glad that she was exposed to some of the techniques that the teachers inevitably pull over from ballet into contemporary dancing… but I didn’t care for this woman’s teaching, either.  She didn’t focus on strengths or weaknesses, she just basically played games and did drills.  It was a dance daycare, of sorts… but we’d never tried it, before, so it was an experience, no?  Now I just have to figure out her class for September…

____________ July 30, 2016 ___________


____________ July 29, 2016 ___________

A Little More on the TimeLine

… and then I’ll be quiet.  But we’re finishing up talking about this as an after supper topic, and as we’ve been doing it, I’m trying to work thru the information, and the more I put things in order, the more I see… and don’t see.  As in, Monday I said that this fall feast is the most likely.  I’m already correcting myself, and saying I’ll take this fall, but it’s next fall feast that’s the most likely.  Why?  Because of stuff-ness that’s lined up that I mostly don’t know and can’t logically place.  Here’s what I’m looking at in the Revelation Timeline of Events:

2011b – Trump #1: Fires
2012a – Trump #2: Radiation in Pacific
2012b – Trump #3: Polar ice melt
2013a – Trump #4: Niburu approach
2013b – Angel announcing 3 ‘woes’ (unseen)
2014a – Trump #5:  ISIS crisis
2014b – Trump #6: Syrian refugee ‘invasion’

2015a – Angel w/book and Measuring of Temple (unseen)
2015b – Jerusalem downtrodden (continues 3.5 years)
2016a – Two Witnesses (continues 3.5 years)
2016b – Trumpet #7: Mystery completed (1 Cor 15:51-52…  Rapture?)

Which would put us at a fall feast (Last Trump reference in the above verse) rapture this year, right?  Except for a few things.  First, Jerusalem isn’t downtrodden, yet.  Well, not anymore than usual, anyhow.  Second, Elijah & Moses haven’t showed up over Pesach.  And their most likely arrival would be Pesach of whatever year they come.  And they’re not here.  (Or if they’re here, we haven’t heard about them… which I would think we would?!)

So then… more likely, we’ll see some major event in Israel this fall, and then come spring the witnesses will arrive, and next fall will be Trump #7?  And then to achieve that, apparently the angel/John things split up further in Chapters 10 and 11?  It would make sense.   But how?  There are a lot of little bits that could be separate events:

  1. Angel with book
  2. Seven undisclosed thunders
  3. Declaration of ‘time no more’
  4. John eats the little book/bellyache
  5. Measuring the temple
  6. Destruction of Israel
  7. Two witnesses

That’s a LOT in those two chapters!  The last two are definitely separate events, obviously.  But are the first four separate?  Maybe some of them, not all of them?  I don’t know. Yesterday, I spent the morning trying to catch up on my crop circles.  ((grins))  Interestingly, one of the commenters there had amazingly prophetic things to say about what the circles mean:

6/21 – Chilcomb DownThe Heart of God will send the Lion of Judah to reap
6/24 – Fulley DipoleEyes are about to be opened.
7/8 – LongbarrowNibiru is closer than you think.
7/8 – StonehengeIslam discord; something to do with 6/2017 and the Wrath.
7/11 – TwyfordNibiru riding a ‘warship’ – pending battles on the Earth
7/16 – HackpenThe Tree of Life is being prepared to be returned
7/18 – New Hall‘Seed of Life’ indicates our being on the cusp of 7th millennium
7/22 – East Field11/17/2016 thru 11/30/2016 event heralding the beginning
………………. of the end of the fall of man; dark things ahead for Europe.

7/23MammendorfThe end of the Gregorian Calendar will be 2/28/2017 (!!!)
7/23 – Ranscomb9/1/96 eclipse event, also end of Gregorian calendar 2/28/2017
7/28 –
BurderopETA of Niburu given, with planetary chart to help

*Note:  Ranscomb appeared in England at the same time as Mammendorf did in Germany.  Two circles in two different countries with the same meaning.  Yeah… that’s not likely.

Of course, the crop circle season isn’t over, yet.  And I’m still looking at the Burerop ‘map’, since it hasn’t been fully translated, yet.  These things are intriguing as heck, let me tell you.  What really gets me is that whole thing about ‘time no more’ being on my list of things to watch for, and this 2/28/2017 end date for the calendar.  What is that?!  It’s not the same thing – it doesn’t figure out, properly.  But it certainly piques my curiosity!

Anyhow, does it matter?  We’ll know when we see it, no?  Which… we mostly won’t – See it, I mean.  All of the John/Angel stuff is unseen in Heaven.  So basically, until Jerusalem has a massive crisis/attack?  I won’t know where we are.  I’m not a future-teller.  I’m a present teller… as in, someone who sees the events happening and calling the attention of believers to it.

But I’m still watching.  We were commanded to watch.  To be sober and vigilant.  And man, it’s so interesting to watch!  Better than the hoax that is the elections.  (<< I’m pretty convinced that B. Hussein Obama is the 12th Imam and there’s going to be a massive crisis come September [Maybe that November week ‘foretold’ by the crop circles?] that will allow him to retain power and cancel the elections.  I’m not thinking the horror of choosing between Clinton or Trump matters in the slightest, but I may be wrong.  A third of the global population is supposed to be killed by ‘terror’, according to scripture, and so… well, we’ll just see.)

The good news is, either way?  It’s looking like we’re in the last ten year stretch, now.  That’s including the vials and the final war, of course.  But it’s pretty amazing, from where I’m sitting to see.  Prophecy as it’s being fulfilled?  Astounding.

____________ July 28, 2016 ___________


Because I’m severely behind, again… the wrap-up of our teddy bear badge.
Sketch theme this week:  Teddies!


____________ July 27, 2016 ___________

Questing:  Hula Hoops!

I’m so behind in posting things we’re ‘questing’, it’s seriously laughable.  This summer is just so full of unexpecteds, and we’ve been coming and going so much…!  I shouldn’t complain.  We’re blessed, and we’re having a wonderful time of it, too.  But I really do need to get back on track and share about hula hoops!

10031lhI used to be able to hula hoop.  When I was a kid?  I could win contests.  Six babies later?  (((snort!!!)))  But that doesn’t mean my five couldn’t get out there and try it, right?  Anyhow, there was a library event to inspire them, so we planned on starting with that.  But the even better thing was that one of the girls in our Quest group did aerial silks and hula hoops – the type that light up and are really kewl.   So we were already starting out a little awed in inspired by what we were being told.

First, we watched our favorite hula hoop video (it’s one of those we downloaded because we love the music, so mostly we just listen… but pulling it out to watch is fun, too!):

Then – courtesy of Kristen, the mom who’s daughter does this stuff as her choice of extracurricular – I got a video of the actual Olympic like events in hula hoop.  We were absolutely blown away by what these girls can do… how high they can throw them and catch them on one foot.  It’s incredible!

And then it was time for the library event.  We hadn’t realized it, but the lady giving the presentation is the teacher of our friend Kristen’s daughter.  So that was pretty kewl, too!

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I actually shared a video of the girl on the left doing a whole routine, on FB (if you’re there, it’s still up, along with the one of me participating).  YES, I did!!  The Audacious Ms. Audrina called for a volunteer, and nobody was offering up, so I figured it couldn’t be too taxing, if she was asking novices, right?  So I went up there to help, and… homigoodness, they didn’t tell me I’d be – in essence – doing a ring toss over her head with TEN hula hoops, so that she could ‘dive’ in and do ten at a time!!  Thank goodness I didn’t miss!!  Yes, the video for that is still there, too… but I can include a snapshot, here.


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They taught anyone willing to take up a hoop a bunch of different moves and tricks and *WHEW!* is that hot, tiring exercise!  I was impressed by the workout it was.  We had so much fun.   Here’s a pic of my Ethan doing the calf-high hula with me.  We had a ball.  Funniest was Owen, who can hula hoop with his eyes shut.  He doesn’t actually wiggle, he just gets it going with his hands, stands stock still like a post, and lets it go down him.  It was hilarious.

One of the requirements was for the kids to learn to hula hoop for 30 seconds without stopping.  Ethan and Isaac can do it around their waists, but the others did their necks, arms, or calves.  We also learned all sorts of fun things about hula hoops – the rage in the 50’s and 60’s, the biggest hoop, heaviest hoop, most hoops, and more.  It was really fun.

Then we went to the teddy bear picnic, and we’d told Kristen that we’d bring our hoops for after the picnic.  Her daughter did, too – and she was amazing.  No, seriously amazing.  I was so impressed, and the kids were all having a ball taking turns – the one who was craziest and highest energy was a little girl named Gigi.  She was all over that hula hoop, and got a serious work-out in the yard with it!  (<< Then went directly into the boys’ soccer game, where she was their most aggressive player.  Where do kids get their energy?!  Just 5 minutes of hooping, and I’m winded!!!)

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But we weren’t done!  One of the final requirements for our badge was for the kids to each come up with their own routine to music.  This is my ‘Photo of the Day’ over at Facebook, today… because they did SO good!  And who knew Lydia could put together a video like that?!  Wow, that’s impressive, too!


Anyhow, we only have one requirement left: to use a hula hoop in an obstacle course.  So that will be coming soon… in the Quest: Obstacle course post!

____________ July 26, 2016 ___________

Travel Trailer Talk

I’m allergic to travel trailers.  Not kidding, I really am.  I’m not allergic to anything else… just campers.  And not all campers, either.  Just campers built after the year 2000 that have high levels of formaldehyde in them.  And it’s in everything – they use it in the plywood, the laminate, the carpeting.  It keeps things from mildewing and getting mold/rot… something important when you’re roughing it, yes.  But it’s strong.  Bad for humans to breathe.

Do you remember Hurricane Katrina and all of the trailers they shipped down there, and how people were getting sick from being in them?  It’s the formaldehyde that made the people have terrible reactions. And I’m one of those people.  Depending on the amount of formaldehyde that’s been used in the manufacturing of the trailer, it can affect me immediately, or over the span of about an hour it can build.  Brian’s aunt bought a used camper (2000, I believe), and I couldn’t make it thru the tour she was giving us of it – just the three minutes of being in it made my eyes burn.  And everyone else is just fine.  It’s so weird!  Brian says it’s a blessing – because such levels that cause reactions like that can’t be healthy for people who aren’t allergic to formaldehyde, either.  So there’s that.

Our camper is a 1978 Coachman.  We call it the ‘Sunflower Trailer’, because whoever had it before us recovered everything with greens, yellows, and sunflowers.  It has baskets of sunflowers, sunflower magnets on the fridge and a window cling on the mirror… it’s just pretty.  Very vintage, very nice.  We’ve loved it for years… have had it for going on seven, I believe, now.  Even when we thought it might be nice to upgrade… it was paid off, so we kept it, “just in case”… and then it turned out I was severely allergic to the new one, so we were very glad that we held on to the older, better camper.

But this year, we have a problem.  There are fold-down upper bunks in the bunkhouse that are *tight* to squeeze into, and the 8 and 11 year old no longer can shimmy up there.  (Believe it or not, they’re the same height/weight!  Aaron’s built like Brian, and Ethan is slight like I was at his age.)  Also, the 6 year old does NOT fit in the port-a-crib, anymore.  I couldn’t even ask him to, anyhow – it’s an age thing.  So we had to move him up to a bunk, use one of the upper bunks for backpack/toy storage, move the 8 and 11 year olds into our bed in the back (used to be a bathroom – we tore it out and made it a full-size bed with a real mattress)… and Brian and I had to cave and put down the table permanently into a bed up front for us (and buy a real mattress for that).

This is NOT ideal.  There’s no room to maneuver.  There’s no table, there’s… problems.  And then?  We’re lying up front, and we notice that the ceiling is coming apart.  Rotting apart.  And in Brian’s corner, the wood is actually crumbling all the way down to the seat backs.  It’s just too old.  We already knew this… when we’d pulled out the bathroom to put in the rear bed, we’d discovered that the previous owners had used the shower and it’d leaked and rusted thru the frame of the camper.  We’ve used it that way, but we can’t take the thing further than 20 miles.  It’s just too old for a road trip.  Which is bad for us, because we’re starting to not fit in a hotel room, anymore, either… and we’re going to need to start doing our travel adventures in a trailer.

It was time to get a new trailer.

Which, of course, brings us back around to my little allergy problem.  Brian said that likely they’ve lowered the concentration since the Katrina trailer crisis… and maybe the newer ones wouldn’t be so bad.  So we went to General RV to talk to them.  And as we’re waiting for our ‘agent’ to be assigned to us, the kids and I wander around.  There’s a 40′ (I swear, it was HUGE) massive house-on-wheels in the showroom, so I step inside… and immediately am hit with that smell… and my eyes start burning.  Oh, no…!  So I got out of that sucker fast, my hopes plummeting.  Brian’s raising an eyebrow my way, knowing that something’s wrong, and suspecting what I already know.

Salesmen are arses.  Did you know that?  They don’t mean to be, they just want to make a sale, I get that… but they’re arses.  They’ll tell you anything to get you to buy their products.  We shake hands, show him our horde of children, explain our situation (can’t travel, outgrew the beds, starting to fall apart), and ask about formaldehyde.  “Oh, every company is different.”  He assures us, and I start breathing, again.  “Keystone’s are the worst for that, so stay away from those.  But Starcraft has really good campers, and doesn’t have any formaldehyde at all.”  This was sounding better.

He took us out to see the hybrids, because with our sheer number, that’s what we were leaning towards.  He had a 22.9 ft Travel Star with three expandables and a slide out (also one w/o slide out)… and that was amazing, because it was smaller than the sunflower trailer, and lighter by far.  Plus they were really pretty.  Seriously pretty.  Marble counters, hardwood floors, super-mega everything.  And I was able to be in them and not flee… so we were getting pretty excited.

But as pretty as it was…?  It felt wrong.  I can’t explain it any better than that.  It felt… blingy?  Fancier than my house – not a ‘camper’, if you understand.  It’s probably just me – I’m not very good with lavish things, to be honest.  Quaint, charming, antique, cheap, comfortable… yes.  Expensive, blingy, fancy, high-end… not so much.  And we didn’t care for the numbers he was tossing around, either.   So we headed out… but keeping TravelStar in mind.  Although as we were leaving, he checked with the manager.  TravelStar’s have formaldehyde, too.  All of them do… to one level or another.

I’m a Craigslist girl.  We love to get things used off the ad site – in fact, that’s where we’d just gotten our new mattress for the front of the camper (<< also eating into our vacation, but I digress).  So anyhow, I went on-line, and found a Palomino Solaire 213X on Craigslist.  It looked to be the same style/size as the TravelStar, but it was a lot cheaper, and I liked the interior (just from the pictures!) so much better.  They had two on a lot in Lansing, so (in the middle of our vacation) we took a day and drove over to Lansing.  Brian was off work, you see – and that’s hard to come by.  Plus it’s an adventure, right?

The salesman was hilarious.  “None of our campers have formaldehyde!  They don’t do that, anymore.  That was back in the early 2000s.”  Yeeeeah.  Anyhow, if you want to see lots of pictures of the Solaire, they’re here… but I’ll put up two, like I did for the TravelStar:



Very similar, but not so fancy-schmancy.  We got there, and he’d just sold both of the models.  He said they go off the lot as fast as they come in, because of the space in them.  This is a 21 ft camper that opens to the size of a 27 footer… and is light to pull!  It’s amazing.  He was getting another one delivered first thing the next morning, so we drove back again the next day (after calling to make sure it was there, this time!).  We walked into it, and loved what we were seeing.  Comparatively speaking, of course.  It was really nice, but not luxury quality, you know?  And the price was better, too.  I sat in it for half an hour, to be SURE that I wasn’t going to have a reaction.  We shut ourselves in, and I went to every corner of the thing, spending time in all areas, just to be SURE.

We also went in everything Solaire on the lot, in case.  (And one Jayco pop-up, which had red plaid interior that I absolutely fell in love with.  It would never, ever fit us, but I loved it, just the same.  It was so cottage-y and wonderful!)  And then we drifted back over to the Solaire 213X hybrid, and had to make a decision.

But something was holding me back.  Brian was all for it.  It was a 2017!  Brand new, never owned… and the price was high, but if we tightened, we could swing it.  But I couldn’t do it.  I loved it, don’t get me wrong… but it wasn’t for us.  I couldn’t explain any better than that.  And I’m sorry.  But I couldn’t.  I blamed it on the money, because that was a big part of it for me.  I hate debt.  We have one on Brian’s truck, and that’s already too much debt for me.  Adding another that was large enough to be an uncomfortable squeeze?  No.  Just… no.

So back to Craigslist I went.  Had to find another option.  And so I thought, “What if we didn’t just search hybrids?”  So I started looking at other options, and found a listing for a 2005 25′ Jayco 25G.  It’s the same size as our Sunflower Camper (but nearly 30 years newer), has longer bunks with more headroom, and a pop-out up front, which adds a lot more room.  It’s got double the storage.

And it’s red plaid interior.

(((GRINS!!!)))  Ha’Shem was prepping me for that, with the little one we’d gone in at the Lansing lot!  I couldn’t believe it.  I do believe in signs, and that was just… awesome.  Have I mentioned that my first car had red plaid seats in it?  It was a 1979 Mercury Zephyr, and it was red inside, too!  I just… have a thing for red plaid, apparently!  Take a look… what do you think?



I texted the number in the ad (TEXTED?!?), and the guy was a hoot.  He kept texting me all sorts of crazy stuff.  He was just chatty, and a lot of fun, so we were looking forward to meeting him… even if it meant driving almost to Detroit!  So off we went.  The guy – Dave – has twelve kids.  (Six are hers, five are his, and they had one together!)  He buys ‘totalled’ campers at auction for pennies and fixes them as a side income, then re-sells them with a salvage title.  This one had water damage on the floor, so he pulled out the flooring and replaced it all.  (The flooring in the picture has all been replaced with wood in his camper.  Brian went over it all, to be sure there were no soft spots or problems, that the guy did a really good job.  And he seriously did.)  Which, btw, means less formaldehyde issues!  Except we were still concerned.  We knew nothing about the chemical concentrations in Jaycos… so this was an ‘exploratory’ trip.  To see if it would work.  If I could tolerate it.  If the style might suit us.

Long story short, we loved it.  It was “The One”.  I wasn’t allergic at all, and we all agreed that it was perfect for us.  So we put $$ down, and bought the camper.  I was waiting until we had everything squared away to post about it, because we had some goofiness with the financing (salvage titles make things tricky, you can imagine).  But the price is way lower than the newer ones, it’s the same weight as the 213X (because it doesn’t have a slide-out), and it’s not too long for us to pull.  It’s just beautiful.  Cozy, quaint, charming, cheap, antique-ish…

… and the perfect camper for us!