16 Blessings | Thanking God for 2016

So many people are posting about what a terrible year 2016 was. Yes, there were some bad things, but over the course of my life, I have learned that gratefulness opens doors for blessings. So, I want to focus on the wonderful things that God has blessed me with in 2016!

  1. Thank You, LORD, for my husband’s smile and his job! 2 years ago, after triple-by-pass surgery and the ensuing depression that engulfed him, I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the winter. But! He’s still here and healthier than he ever thought he could be. 🙂

2. Thank You, LORD, for our truck and our cozy little camper that lets me travel with my hubby and only takes 15 minutes to clean!

3. Thank You, LORD, for the time you gave us to really get to know my oldest son’s kids!

4. Thank You, LORD, for giving my Blue a great home, even if my daughter-in-love likes to torture this country boy who rarely wore a collar before this year!

5. Thank You, LORD, for my wonderful kids! They are all hard working adults who love their families and their mom!

6. Thank You, LORD, that this little guy is now a 1-year-old! He had a rough start being born at 2 pounds 10 ounces, but he made it and we are so grateful!

7. Thank You, LORD, for his rambunctious brother and sister. They have blessed my youngest by giving him a chance to experience the challenge of his greatest love, fatherhood!

8. And thank You, LORD, for this other unexpected blessing! Here I thought Ryan would be my last grandbaby and along comes Grayson! He keeps his big brother and sister busy! My daughter did it right. Having another child when you’ve got built in babysitters was something I could not convince Grampa Tom to do. 🙂

9. Thank You, LORD, for my church in Dallas City and the opportunity to be present for my honorary granddaughter’s baptism!

10. And Thank You, LORD, for my church in Kansas! It is such a blessing to be warmly welcomed by loving people so far from home!

11. Thank You, LORD, for my mom and dad, the time I’ve been able to spend with them and their continued healing!

12. Thank You, LORD, for my little sis who has taken on the care of my folks, my uncle and her in-loves on top of her job teaching Spanish. She is an incredible woman. Please strengthen and bless her LORD!

13. Thank You, LORD, for my jobs cooking for the harvest crew and as a sample lady at Sam’s.

14. Thank You, LORD, for international dinners on dirt roads all over the Mid-West!

15. Thank You, LORD, for visits home! For the opportunity to reconnect and touch base with our roots!

16. Thank You, LORD, for opportunities to explore the beautiful world that You created for us!

And that’s just the tip of all the blessings You’ve poured out on us this year, LORD! Thank You!

What has God blessed you with this year?

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue

Yeah I know, you thought I was done, but I just can’t resist one more. Back after Grampa Tom had his heart surgery he wanted some slippers. I made him buy these flip flops over his irritated objections because we could adjust their size. His feet were swelling up and going down depending on what time of day it was and how much he had been doing. This summer, Grampa Tom told me he was glad I “made” him buy them. He really likes them! Thank You, LORD, for a man that can admit when he’s wrong!

School Funding

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Question for teachers? If someone were to give you $210,000 per year, would you be able to rent or buy a school room, hire a helper, pay utilities, buy or create curriculum and give 30 students a good education? How much would you have left for your own salary? What if the only restrictions were that either you have a state teacher’s certification, be supervised by someone who has one or that your students pass a standardized test? What if you had the ability to accept or reject students? Would you do it?

My guess is that most teachers would jump at the chance! Most would be able to pull this off easily and make better money doing it. This proposal is based on a per student tuition of $7,000 per student, a figure far higher than most private schools charge. Yet, most public school districts spend at least $10,000 per student per year. Many spend much more, as much as 50% more. A teacher’s average pay in a public school is less than 20% of the total a school district spends to educate the students in his or her classroom. Not only that, but school budgets don’t include the billions of dollars spent at the state and federal level on regional school boards and the federal department of education. All this money and yet our schools keep deteriorating!

Why? Because in an effort to make things, “fair”, we have an excessively top heavy system that has steadily become more rigid and less responsive to the needs of the individual student. This is what happens when government is given a job it is not designed for. Education belongs in the hands of parents, not the state. Most homeschoolers would take their kids on field trips to foreign lands every few years if they were funded at the same level as the public schools.

If we must fund education (and I’m not sure that is a good idea at all), it should be a voucher system run by local school boards, (not state, not federal – only local school boards have ready access to local costs) and PARENTS ought to be able to decide how to spend those education dollars any way they want, put them in school, find tutors or homeschool them. The only restrictions should be that the student takes a standardized test or submits a portfolio of his or her work to a certified teacher once a year.

When I was homeschooling my kids, I spent less than $50/year on all 3 and I worked outside the home for many of those years. They are all literate and fully employed in their chosen careers. It wasn’t the best situation, but I believe my kids got a better education than they would have if I had sent them to school. If there had been a voucher system available like this, I wouldn’t have had to work and I could have done an even better job.

That’s my rant for the day.

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue

Integrated Living | Connected Families

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Many people want to own a second home where they can get away from it all. Me? I just want to live in one house. I want to sleep in my house, cook in my house, eat in my house and work in my house (or in the land surrounding it). I want my husband working there too and my kids living close enough that my grandkids can come see Grama Sue anytime they want. That’s my dream. We were very close to living this dream at one time. It was challenging in every way, but if I could go back to it, I would in a heartbeat.

Many years ago, when I first started teaching kids other than my own, my husband thought I needed to build a little building to house my “school” so I could “go to work”. I steadfastly resisted. I liked being able to help a child with their math,  put in a load of laundry, read a book aloud and then work on lunch while the kids helped each other with their spelling drills. I love having an integrated life. Years later, when we decided it was time for Grampa Tom to come home and build an egg and veggie farm, he finally got it. Working where you live creates a sense of wholeness that we as a society have lost. Our society promotes fractured and compartmentalized lifestyles. We go to work, leave our kids at daycare or in schools where they are separated from their siblings and then try to create a sense of family in the little time left over. It’s no wonder we have so many fractured families.

One-hundred and fifty years ago in America, most people lived where they worked and worked where they lived. America was an agricultural/entrepreneurial society with strong families. Most lived and worked on farms, but those who didn’t generally had their living quarters behind or above the family business. Then came the industrial revolution. Successful self-employment takes a lot of managerial skill and is subject to income fluctuation. Factory work promised a steady income without the responsibility of management. The lure of a stable income without the risks inherent in self-employment seemed a no-brainer for most men, so off to the factory they went. But at what cost?

Working with other people creates relationships in a way that nothing else does. In order to work with other people, you have to communicate, you have to get to know them. When you work with someone else, you learn how they think. You learn about their strengths and their weaknesses. You learn to cooperate and to compensate. And you have to forgive! You just can’t develop this type of relationship over a family dinner and 2 hours of TV every night.

Before I started homeschooling, I was pretty sure that if I had to stay home with my kids all day long for too many more years, I would probably kill them. But intentionally working with my kids by teaching them every day opened up a depth of relationship that I never dreamed possible. It didn’t occur to me that the same thing could happen in our marriage. Grampa Tom and I figured that if we ever had to work together all day long 365 days a year, we’d probably end up divorced, but those few short years that we were able to, brought us closer than we ever thought possible. We honestly wish we had made the decision to go into business for ourselves when we were young. If we had, his relationships with our kids would probably be stronger and we would have been established enough that we could have weathered the storm that his triple-by-pass put us through a couple of years ago instead of being forced back into the workforce. The jobs we have now still give us a lot of time to be together, but it’s not the same.

If you homeschool, you already have a leg up over most families in our era, but if you or your spouse are still out there in the workforce, you aren’t experiencing all that God intended for families to experience. Start looking for ways to make income at home or at least ways to make income as a family.  If you can, downsize your home and your stuff so you don’t need as much to live on. Find ways to cut expenses such as cooking from scratch and gardening. Make it a goal for both you, your spouse and your children to work  together. Strive for an integrated life!

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue

Defeating Racism | Celebrating and Embracing Differences

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There were a couple of posts I was thinking about writing for today, but over the weekend I promoted this meme featuring a couple of black kids being freed from the classroom. It went viral, which I loved, but it floored me when a couple of people’s reaction seemed to read race into it. Honestly, that was a reaction I never expected!

So today, I want to re-introduce you to my grandson whom I affectionately call, “The Brown One”. Yeah, I know, some people are going to get offended by my nickname, but hang in there and I’ll get around to explaining my motivations! For a while, I was homeschooling him. If you search the archives, you will find several posts featuring him.

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First, though, I want to give you a little background about myself. Up until I was in 6th grade, I didn’t know  any people of color. It had nothing to do with segregation. It was a rural area in the Midwest where most of the people were of European descent – mostly German, French, and English. There were a few African-Americans, Mexicans, and Native Americans around, but I didn’t know any personally. Whenever we ran across someone of color, my mother took great pains to stress that these people were no different than us and to warn us against racism. She often told us the story of when she moved to Atlanta as a young child. Having lived up north where there were no people of color to speak of, she was quite confused by the “colored” water fountains. When she first saw one, she thought, “Oh how interesting! Colored water!” but was quickly disappointed when the water turned out to be just the clear variety she was accustomed to. She found the whole atmosphere of segregation and racism very upsetting. It was one value that she made sure us kids picked up!

In 6th grade, a boy moved in from Chicago. He was a real mixture of races. He told us he had African American, Native American, Asian, and Caucasian ancestors in his family tree. He was smart, good looking and a blast to be around. He ran in my circle of friends all through high school and even dated one of my best friends. Through high school, I became acquainted with a few other black people, but I can’t say any of them were really good friends. Then I got married and moved across the river where the population of people of color was less than 0.01%.

Many years later, God set me in an interracial church about 40 minutes away. There I got to know and love several African Americans and developed a desire for an interracial grandchild. Both my older children were considering adoption and my youngest (a teenager then) was attending church with me there. I thought I had a good shot at it, but then we wound up leaving that church and my older two started having babies of their own. After many years, my youngest started dating The Brown One’s mom. On their first date, Belinda tested the waters by announcing that she had a black baby. Jess was delighted. He told her about how I had wanted an interracial grandbaby and the rest is history.

The Brown One is smart, good looking, mischevious and fun to be around. Isn’t God good? He gives us the desires of our hearts!

I love this little boy with all my heart and I want him to know that it’s OK to be who he is even if he is different. As a child, I had a red tint to my hair and freckles. In my neck of the woods, everyone was either blondes or brunettes and no one had freckles. I was teased mercilessly because of it. I want my grandchildren to associate the words about them that might be used to hurt them with my love. I call my little redheaded granddaughter “The Readhead” and my nerdy grandson “The Geek”. I tell them how proud I am of them and that I love that aspect of them.

In the first century, people who followed Jesus were not known as “Christians”. They were known as “People of the Way”. Non-believers chose to try to belittle them by calling them “little christs”. Christian means “Little Christs”. The People of the Way chose to be proud of this taunt and turned it around by owning the name. Those who first coined the term “red neck” also tried to give it a shameful connotation. Instead of bowing to that shame-filled spirit, we chose to own the term. Duck Dynasty is a result.

I know that my grandson will run across prejudice and people who will try to belittle him. My purpose in giving him this nickname is to teach him to be proud of his heritage so that when he does run into ignorant people, he can hold his head up and say, “Yep! I’m brown! I’m of mixed race. I’m whatever term you might choose to call me and my grandparents are red necks! Deal with it! I’m God’s answer to my grama’s desires!

When I chose this picture for my meme, I thought the kids were cute and I also thought it might encourage the growing homeschool movement among African-Americans. Hatred was the furthest thing from my mind.

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue

The South Africans

Have you ever thought about running away to join the circus? Our South Africans actually had to run away from the carnival they were working for in the middle of the night.

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Dan and Ivan are both very hard working young men. They came to the USA to work for a carnival company called Ottaway, AU. They were paid $47/day. The minimum work day was 14/hours. When the carnival was moving, it would often be 24. Out of this $47 they had to buy all their own food and do their own laundry. This carnival even charged them for water! They were working in dangerous heat and a 12oz cup of water was 50 cents!

The management was abusive to say the least. If they made a mistake or were sick, they were screamed at and threatened with deportation. If they talked about getting another job, they were told they would have a warrant put out for their arrest and have them deported before they could get to that next job.

Both Ivan and Dan ran away in the middle of the night to avoid confrontation. They have been with us for a couple of months now, but I have waited to post about this until they felt they were safe.

There are a lot of young South African men out here working for harvest companies, farmers, carnivals and oil companies. South Africa is not a good place for white people right now. Overturning Apartheid didn’t result in more opportunities for all people like the Civil Rights movement in this country. It has basically just turned things upside down.

Ivan had a good job managing 3 stores in South Africa, but he was let go because he wasn’t black enough. Dan has also been unable to find work because he is white.

It’s pretty sad. Ivan has a wife and 2 kids at home and Dan left an ailing father (who may not be alive when he gets back) to help support the family. Even with all the abuse they were taking, the money they were making was more than they could make at home.

Almost everyone who worked for the carnival were white people from South Africa. I’m sure my boss would rescue the entire crew if he could. These guys are super!

On a side note, when I heard we were hiring a white South African, I expected to hear something of a British or Australian accent, but these guys sound soooo African! If you close your eyes and listen, you’d never guess they were white!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Daily Routine

It’s a pretty cushy life here 🙂 Generally I wake up between 6 and 7am. I try not to get out of bed too early or I’ll be in Grampa Tom’s way 🙂 Once he’s out sitting in our “porch”, I get up and tidy things up in the camper, check e-mail and Face Book and just generally try to stay out of the way till the guys take off for the field.

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Once they are gone, I usually take a walk and then head to the bunk house. I spend 2 – 3 hours, doing dishes, checking on coolers, making ice, cleaning, doing laundry, planning meals and making the breads, salads and desserts for the day.

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Around 11 or 12, I get a bite to eat, check out my FB pages and often take some time to pray, worship, do some Bible study or listen to a sermon. Then from 1-3, I try to write, unless I need to go shopping – then it’s off to town just as soon as I get done eating.

At 3, the real cooking begins! It takes a while to get enough food ready for  6-9 guys and me! I can’t just put everything in at once like you can in a normal kitchen. Often times, if I get too many things going at once, it will blow the breakers, so I have to stagger things. I don’t have a cook top to work with either. I have a roaster oven, a convection oven, an electric frying pan and a Ninja cooker. It’s a challenge, but I usually manage to put together a good hot meal by about 5:30 or 6.

Once the meal is done, I load it up in coolers and take it to the field. Right now that’s about 30 minutes away. The guys eat as they get there. It usually takes an hour or two to get them all fed. I generally get back to camp around 8 – 8:30 and then have about an hour of clean up time.

After that it’s get ready for bed and play on FB for awhile 🙂

The guys generally get back here around 10 or 11. Most of the time, I wait up just so I can get to talk with Grampa Tom for a while, but every now and then, I just can’t make it.

What’s your typical day look like?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

 

New (to us) Truck!

So how do you get an F250 with 48,000 miles for less than $20,000?

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Because the interior is a little rough! That doesn’t matter to us! Apparently the guy who owned it was an older heavy set man who couldn’t get in and out of the truck very well like Grampa Tom was for many years, so the seat is worn and it’s not the cleanest, but we’re OK with that. According to the Carfax, it has only had one owner and no accidents or other catastrophes. And the people at the dealership said he has traded vehicles with them for decades 🙂

We saw it online, and I have an internet friend that I have known for 9 years that I have never met up in Salina where Long-McArthur is so we decided to go take a look. There were no pictures on the internet yet. They hadn’t even detailed it when we called. We were expecting some sort of major problem, but it runs well and everything seems to work right so we bought it!

Making the decision to have truck   payments after 3 years of no debt was difficult, but we really needed to do it. Our old truck was just having a lot of difficulty pulling the camper up and down hills 🙁

And I got to meet Kandy after all these years! Dumb, dumb us were so excited, we forgot to take pictures! Oh well, we have to take it back up sometime this next week to have it detailed and transfer the goose neck hitch from our old truck to this one, so hopefully we’ll get some then 🙂

Long-McArthur is the biggest Super Duty dealer in Kansas. We could see why! They even gave us a 48 month warranty on the transmission, drive train and motor!

We are going to keep the old red truck. Grampa Tom just can’t let it go after 291,000 miles. It will sit here in Kansas until fall unless someone comes to drive it home before then.

So for your viewing pleasure:

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God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Major Life Change

This weekend, Grampa Tom accepted a position as a combine driver for a custom harvest crew. He will be gone for several months over the summer so I will be on my own for the season. I’m gonna miss him, but I did it last year when he was sick so I know I can do it again 🙂

Running around to all kinds of markets will be out though. I am planning to be open here all day on Fridays and Saturdays, so you all will just have to come to my house 🙂

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Frost Warning Frenzy

What a day! Last night I checked the 10 day forecast on my Weatherbug and it said it’s supposed to get down to 25 degrees Friday night! It was very nice today so my list included:

Feed Chickens – check

Dig potatoes – check – found this monster:

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Paint latices – kinda check

Paint front steps – one coat, ran out of paint

Relocate a fence – check, involved cutting down a forest of 6 foot weeds

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Had to do this to make room for the hoop house green house I’m putting up at the end of the trailer.

Drive posts for hoop greenhouse – 2 out of 8

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Pick Calendula – check

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Found this really odd one with little buds all around the main flower. Wish I could have let it go and see all the little blossoms, but it would never make it through 25 degrees 🙁

Bring in all the stuff I had drying out in the shed – check

Bring in the pot of aloe and moss rose that was on the porch – check

Pick all the rest of the patty pan and spaghetti squash – check

Water all the plants – check

Gather eggs – that was sad, only 3. We’ve been having predator problems. I have seen an oposum. I tightened up the hen house and shut them in, but something is still getting the eggs, probably a snake, either that or the poor things are just to traumatized to produce eggs.

Pull weeds and greens for the chickens since I’m keeping them inside – check

Work on re-tagging and categorizing all 648  posts that I transferred over to this blog – 24 done. Please excuse the mess here. It will probably take me all winter to clean it up 🙁

Dishes

Fill my vitamin planners – almost check. Gotta make more nettle and eggshell capsules

Balance check books – check

Laundry – almost check. Saved the drying for tonight so I could heat the house before bed.

Clean up mini-tramp and bring in – check. I have a very bouncy grandson who keeps jumping on my couch. Hopefully this will curb that problem some 😉

Put up shelves by south window for plants.

Do something with the 2 gallons of milk that were use-by dated today. I bought too much, but who can resist whole milk at $1.89/gallon? – Almost check. Made 3 quarts of yogurt and condensing the rest to can. Might get that done yet tonight 🙂

Vacuuming – NOT

Write a blog post on my new blog – Done 🙂

My grandkids are coming tonight and are going to stay a couple of days 🙂 The Brown one will be a big help, so we will see what we can get done tomorrow 🙂

What have you done today?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue