Category: Community

Birds of the Air

A friend who is in  a kind of similar boat financially…okay not really but in the “trusting God completely with this whole money and provision business” boat has started a weekly meme where she encourages others to share God’s provision.  This is perfect because, though I write it over on the Untraditional Home Facebook page, I do often forget to come over here and share. So here is me sharing all the awesome stuff God has done over the past week.

To start this last week we had no idea where the money was coming from for our auto-insurance.  We are in the “juggling bills” stage of  freelance work and things have been …interesting.  (Initially as in Jessica’s case God provided via our Amazon wishlist and direct donations via paypal.  More recently it has been through  a huge variety of sources, including donations but mostly via work He has provided from many different sources. ) God has been continuing to provide from all sorts of places but it has been tight and we have to be careful.  After paying the most immediate need we waited to see what He would do.  I was finishing up the book and in the meantime we waited on God.  I finished writing and editing, got the book up for sale and by the next day we had exactly the money for the car insurance.  Down to the penny.  Exactly.  So we paid on time.

It was a miracle and all of us were so excited to see what God had done. However, the thing about getting exactly the right amount was that we pay tithe on whatever He gives (personal conviction and He has been faithful.).  I needed to pay that bill and now but wanted to pay tithe.  So we prayed about it and decided to give the money from the next two books sold as tithe.  And sold two more books the next day.  No other books, just those two.  So there was our tithe.

But I didn’t know where to give.  All I had was the name of a friend, I was to contact her. When I did she didn’t need it (they live in New Jersey) and no one locally needed it but she knew of someone who lived on the shore who either could use it herself or would know where it should go.  So she messaged her for her paypal account so I could send the money directly.  When she got back to me she said that 9 other people have also asked for her paypal information out of the blue and she knew exactly the family that needed the help.  God knew exactly what He was up to there.

A few days later my print book came. This was amazing because it meant that from start to finish the book had taken almost exactly 3 weeks.  You don’t usually write a book in 3 weeks let alone hold a physical copy in your hands in 3 weeks.  Granted it is a short book but still. 🙂

So now the book was out there and I could focus on decluttering our house in preparation for sale.  We have no idea where God is leading (okay, ideas yes, but no firm plans) so we are focused on leaving here with as little stuff as possible. We are eliminating everything excess from our lives so that when He says go we are ready.  The house has a buyer so we are waiting on the bank and various decisions to be made.  If it goes through then we will be out of here before Christmas but everything is still up in the air.  So we continue to get rid of and simplify our lives.  We continue praying for wisdom and clarity in this and that we can move out soon because it is expensive to heat and keep electric and water on in this house.

Because of the house sale we needed to get a few estimates on sewer replacement. (The buyer is threatening to walk if too expensive.  Be praying God’s will here– it IS more expensive than they want to pay but if the bank is willing to work with them then  maybe they will stay?) I have always been horribly afraid of making phone calls.  That whole talking to random strangers without being able to see their face thing is HARD.  Yet, suddenly God removed that fear completely.  I was able to call without even a twinge. And last week I spent several hours on the phone negotiating with our cell phone provider so we could move to a way cheaper situation for free, without fear.  I realized that God has completely removed that fear.  Maybe it was all the robot calls during the political campaign.  Maybe it was all the crazy calls from the bank (right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing) but it is gone.  In fact, I have to call this morning and get a few more estimates and I am not even feeling nervous about that.  God is so awesome!

God has been providing money for groceries from every source imaginable and has also provided that for the first time ever our groceries are super cheap.  Thanks to the GAPS diet we are now able to eat “normal” food with minimal side affects– even Es who was super allergic to corn and rice can eat both without a sniffle.  This week, when my dad took Issac and I out for breakfast for Issac’s birthday I asked about going to Sam’s Club sometime in order to stock up on a few things. He offered to go right away but I explained that it had to wait till I had some money to go (our current grocery budget is about $40-$50).  He said he would take us and give me that much to buy groceries.  Then I ended up picking up the wrong rice (50 lb instead of 25 lb– it was in the wrong pile and I got distracted as I picked it up) so we ended up going over but only buy a little and it was fine. So we ended up with enough food to last us several months, or at least to extend whatever else we can afford (the flour and rice will last, the rest?  Probably not. :))  God has also provided random food from friends and family– a large shopping bag of apples from a friend, some fruit from my grandma, things like that.

We also felt led to drop Netflix this last week.  It is a small thing but it cost money that we didn’t have and it needed to go.  So we cancelled, and it turned out that when we cancelled it was the very last day of the month– if we had waited a day it would have charged us and with what we are juggling that could have been bad. Then Issac decided he wanted to use his birthday money for Hulu Plus this month.  He was so excited when he discvered that the show they had all really wanted to watch, which wasn’t on Netflix, was available on Hulu Plus.

And finally, it looks like God has gone ahead and supplied the money for the next bill– the cell phone, which was about to be turned off tomorrow, and would have cost a lot more to get turned back on or if we dropped it completely. So that is another phone call I get to make today. 🙂 Praise the Lord!

As I posted on Facebook: It can be nerve-wracking (living on what God provides alone) but such a blessing to see how specifically He is taking care of us from all different directions. With God it isn’t, “You can expect me to always provide in this one way,” but rather “Don’t bother to expect me to provide in just one way, I am amazing and creative and own the cattle on a 1,000 hills and love to surprise you and remind you I am Lord through my provision.” #birdsoftheair God is so good and who are we to be afraid when He has shown us time and time again that He is taking care of us and will provide.

Now head over to Jessica’s to read some more awesome stories of God’s provision.

The Book

It is done. Well, the e-book edition is done.

What is it?

As my friend Dana, who helped edit it, said:

In this guide, Heather shows how decluttering the home is about far more than just ‘picking up stuff’, yet it is a simple as starting right where you’re standing. The steps in this book are tried and true, as Heather’s insight was gleaned from her own family’s journey in decluttering. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but by providing you with practical baby steps, tips and tricks, Heather can help even the most reluctant folks see the way to decluttering their lives.  ~Dana

Another testimonial:
This is the most amazing book! Heather did an amazing job of putting her finger on the link between house clutter and heart clutter and helps you tackle both. She offers practical advice on decluttering every room, ways to help keep the clutter tamed, and build relationships while you do so. Her honesty and forthrightness talking about her own struggle with the clutter beast are a huge encouragement to the rest of us. I can’t recommend enough that everyone needs a copy of this book, even if you’re not a self-proclaimed packrat. ~ Mari
You can go to the book page on my site to buy it direct from us (we make more money sooner) or you can go to the Smashwords page and purchase it there (probably easier for those who are not sure how to get an e-book from their computer to their e-reader). Later it will be available on Amazon as well as in print format but for now you can get it here or on Smashwords only.  If you look to the right you will also see a link in the sidebar.

Please contact me at ElasahArt@gmail.com if you have any trouble with the payment process or downloading it.

 

 

Happy Halloween

We finished Rachel’s Chell costume (from Portal) tonight.  Issac had to test out the Portal gun: made from a small soda bottle, a 2 liter, foam, paper, tape, glue gun, some pieces of plastic and wire found around the house, and a glow stick.  Designed by Rachel with help from Mom. The boots  are real boots with stockings over (drawn on with sharpie) and lots of electrical and packing tape.

I wrote a book

I wrote a book.  It is in the editing process now.  The cover is finished.  And the miracle is I only started actually writing it last week.  God is pretty amazing.

It is roughly 64 pages. Will be available as e-book- both mobi and epub, plus pdf, and also print. Will have it for sale here on my site (and on my art site and likely Etsy) as well as via Amazon (later–will start with my site). At this point I am thinking it will be $5 for e-book. Should be available within a week or two give or take (waiting on edits now but formatting is mostly finished.)

It is a decluttering book written from a Christian perspective because I can’t seem to do anything else.  It is in 3 parts: Preparing your heart, practical advice, and then a bit on maintenance. So there it is.  This should be interesting.

Where We are July 2012

July was a hard month. I am glad it is over.

A dear friend of mine (who is very well known in the unschooling community) lost her baby boy and her husband was incarcerated early in the month, which meant much grief in the community. I then spent most of the rest of the month mentoring those who were mourning along with her and trying to figure out how to process this pain when we were getting very little real information. It has taken me personally this long to be able to write about it at all. You can help the family, who are now down to a mother and the four girls through this site.

There have also been many friends who have been struggling with family issues, health issues, you name it. July was a month of heartache on many fronts. It has been a sad month and my heart breaks for those I know who are struggling, and I know so many.

I spent some time trying to write a post about real, honest to goodness ways to help those who are hurting, especially when you are part of online communities and during that time a friend wrote exactly what I was trying to put into words (though I had written them over and over to individuals I couldn’t get them into a post): http://theunshackling.com/2012/07/14/helping-the-hurting/ She has it right on and it is worth a read, because we are in community online and we want to help, even when we are oceans apart.

Speaking of oceans apart, this next month is not only going to be super busy but we will get to meet and host a friend from New Zealand, Grace, the owner of Splashdown books (whom I have done a little work for in the past.) Also we will get to see friends who used to live nearby but moved away, meet the only other grandchild (aside from my kids) in the family when my sis-in-law gives birth somewhere at the end of August, celebrate both Shamus’ and my birthdays, and prepare for my other sis-in-laws coming wedding in September. There is much to look forward to and I am hoping August is a wonderful month, especially compared to July. 🙂

As far as our family and the whole money woe is me where are we going to live question? No change, we still don’t know. We might possibly have a direction but we aren’t sure so are waiting on God instead of talking about it. We have been gradually getting rid of and selling some of the bigger things as opportunities arise. The bank hasn’t indicated an exact date if we don’t get a sale and if we get under contract again (we were but they backed out) then we will have more time– we are really praying that we will still be in the area through the end of September for my sis-in-laws wedding.

And financially, things have been tight but God has continued to provide every time, even when we have ended up down to a few dollars in the bank someone donates or I get some work or Shamus has a random check go through. We need some work done on the minivan (and it needs inspected) so it will be interesting to see how that all plays out. And this time around the Lord has provided that we have been able to really cut down on grocery spending (thank you GAPS diet– we can eat much cheaper now that we don’t need enzymes to eat and we know more about real foods– and the Lord has provided an amazing crop of blueberries and parsley– the only food plants we have). So once again it has been an amazing experience (and this time there has been less panicking– God has gotten us through thus far so it isn’t like He is going to drop the ball NOW. :D) We still have momentary freakouts but they are getting shorter.

In the meantime I am working on a website, have some ideas for paintings but they aren’t ready for paper yet, I continue running the Christian unschooling Facebook group– which continues to grow in leaps and bounds), Shamus is working on a new, excellent book that may well lead to a series, the kids are busy playing games online with friends, drawing, making videos, we are having several showings a week (and random people show up at the door wanting to look around), and life goes on.

Halving it All

A recent question on the CU Facebook group got me thinking about my experience with too much stuff and how God got a hold of me– which is why our house is no longer cluttered and it is actually easy to find what we need or want and keep it clean.

I have always collected things.  Old books, lots and lots of old books, vintage toys, rocks, vintage clothes, you name it.  When I was a kid my floor was completely covered with stuff and intermingled with toys and books and clothes were fossils, lots and lots of fossils collected from our limestone driveway. When I went to college, I packed up most of my stuff and moved into a teeny tiny dorm room.  It was covered in stuff all the time.  When I got a job as a nanny and moved out I took ALL my stuff with me– most of it never got unpacked– boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.  And I still couldn’t keep my trailer clean because I had too much stuff.  Same happened when I got married.  And then proceeded to move multiple times, and I took everything with me.  When we finally settled down here 11 years ago  I had boxes stacked in every closet, more books than shelves, the kids toys and clothes overflowed every possible nook and cranny.  The floor was constantly overwhelmed with our stuff.  I couldn’t keep up with the basic chores because I was dealing with 3 little ones (Issac was born 10 months after we moved in) and we had too much stuff.

Shoes
Too many shoes? We figured out that they only wore about 3 pairs of these each. Most didn't even fit!

Probably around 2004, definitely in January, God clearly told me to get rid of half.  I don’t remember the verses I read at the time nor how exactly nor what (and the journals are packed up at my in-laws so can’t check.) However it was very, very clear that He wanted me to get rid of half of all of it.  Some of this stuff had never been unpacked since I first moved out to become a nanny 10 years earlier.  Most of it I had held onto out of fear– what if I need this at some point in the future.  That was how my family had always done it– when I had Rachel my mom handed me box after box of my own clothes and toys from when I was small.  My grandmother saved bread bags instead of buying ziplocks.  It was just how we did things.  How could I possibly give this stuff up?  It just wasn’t done.  But half of everything stayed in my mind and stuck with me.  I needed  get rid of half of everything and I needed to start now.  (And mind you Shamus had been wanting me to get rid of stuff for forever.)

So I started.  I started small.  I looked at the coat rack and my pile of coats– I still had winter coats that I had had in school, and ones that had been given to me by family members who were getting rid of (being the only married kids in the family with the only grand-kids- EVERYONE gave us stuff.) So I looked through my coats and got rid of half.  Those all went to the thrift shop.  I realized I could suddenly find the ones I wore with no problem, instead of knocking everything down every time I tried to grab one.  Then I went through my shirts.  I got rid of the ones that didn’t quite fit, the ones that weren’t flattering, the ones that I didn’t really like to wear.  By the time I was done I could close my drawer.  And it went on from there.  I got rid of half our dishes.  Half our books.  Even half our food (turns out we had a whole lot of stuff in the pantry that had been bought that we couldn’t or wouldn’t eat– that all went to the food pantry in town.)  I went through the old paperwork and got rid of the surplus (which was more than half and went to the burn pile.)  And so, in the matter of about 6 months, I had gone through the entire house and gotten rid of half of everything.

IMG_1403
This train only left the house this year as Issac decided it was time to share it with someone else. Much of the rest in this picture, taken in 2006, is long gone. By that time we had a lot less stuff though not near as little as we do now.

It ended up being a good thing (or you could consider it God blessing us) because in August a friend started dropping stuff off at our house that they didn’t want (she was cleaning out her house) and suddenly we had more stuff– some of which we really needed or had been wanting.  And then my parents, who  were divorced both remarried, combining multiple households and started dropping off stuff THEY didn’t need.  And a neighbor started dropping off things her grand-kids didn’t want.

Issac does Kung Fu with marker sticks in our fairly simple living room. The kids pitch-in and help get rid of because they like being able to find the things they enjoy.

Pretty soon I was in the habit of going through, only keeping what we would really use, and getting rid of the rest, recognizing that God clearly WAS and would continue to provide what we needed, when we needed it, and we didn’t need to hold onto all that stuff.  Because that was all it was.  Stuff.  Even the things with sentimental value were just things, things that were getting in the way of my peace, of our family’s peace, even in the way of my relationship with God because I wasn’t trusting Him, I was trusting stuff.

So now we keep the clutter down, regularly going through and getting rid of, and focusing our time on better things than maintaining stuff.  Less clothes=less laundry, less dishes= people will rewash instead of leaving the dishes to pile up, less toys means the kids can find what they really want to play with, less stuff we don’t use means we can focus on what we DO use.  All in all halving everything was the beginning of a much healthier lifestyle for all of us and God continues to bless us as we willingly pass on the things He gifts to us.

Website related question

I realize a lot of people no longer use RSS feeds and many use Facebook to follow posts on their favorite blogs.  So, my question to you (given that I plan to continue posting more frequently): Should “An Untraditional Home” have a Facebook page?  Would that be helpful?

Interview with Issac

Interviews continued.  If you missed the first one: Jennifer over at Path Less Taken has been interviewing her kids.  I did that  several years ago with all three (here) so I decided to do it again and see how things had changed.   I started with Rachel which is here, Essie here, and now Issac (who was the hardest to pin down– he doesn’t like to be put on the spot. His initial answer is always I don’t know, then when he thinks a bit he answers.)

Issac does Kung Fu with marker sticks.

1. What is something Mom always says to do?

Nice to meet you, Hungry. (In response to his constant “Moo-oomm, I’m hungry”)

 

2. What makes Mom happy?

If I make her tea or clean up the living room.

 

3. What makes Mom sad?

I’m not sure.

 

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Jokes or tickling.

 

5. What was your mom like as a child?

I don’t know, I forget.

 

6. How old is your mom?

37

 

7. How tall is your mom?

2 ft taller than I am. (a foot off– I am 1 ft taller.)

 

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

Painting

 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

I don’t know because I am usually asleep.

 

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

I have no idea.

 

11. What is your mom really good at?

Painting.

 

12. What is your mom not very good at?

Tripletown

 

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Paint

 

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

lettuce

(Apparently I like salad a lot.:))

 

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

When you finish a painting.

 

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

I don’t know.

 

17. What do you and your mom do together?

Board games

 

18. How are you and your mom the same?

We both make weird faces sometimes.

(Weird=silly)

 

19. How are you and your mom different?

Your hair is longer.

 

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

You listen to what I am talking about.

 

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

Um, to the computer.

(First kid who got this close to right– essentially unless I am taking a road trip my favorite place to go is “home”.:))

Interview with Rachel

Jennifer over at Path Less Taken has been interviewing her kids.  I did that  several years ago with all three (here) so I decided to do it again and see how things had changed.   I started with Rachel and used Jen’s questions:

1. What is something mom always says to do?

Do the dishes, but politer. And you always say, “Eat a bug.”

(I do– in response to the constant “I’m hungry, what should I eat?” question.)

 

2. What makes mom happy?

Red appliances.

(Which is true I guess…)

 

3. What makes mom sad?

Bears.

(Stupid *grumble *grumble Tripletown bears.)

 

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Showing me ridiculous dresses in the thrift store.

(I do– I find all kinds of crazy things I know neither of us would ever wear and try to convince her to try it on.)

 

5. What was your mom like as a child?

Why would you ask me that? Kind of a brat but I don’t want to say that. Creative with food I guess.

 (The kind of a brat thing is because I was almost exactly like her younger sister, Esther, therefore the “kind of a brat”.  And the creative with food thing is because they hear lots of stories of the messes and mistakes I made in the kitchen.)

6. How old is your mom?

27?

(HAhahAHAhaha– I am 37. 😛  I told her my age and she said, I knew it had a 7– stupid dyslexia.  She is also in denial that I am nearly 40– I am not allowed to say that I am.)

 

7. How tall is your mom?

Shorter than me.

(I KNEW she would say that.)

 

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

Go to the thrift store.

(I love that she picked the most extroverted thing that I do as my favorite– this is my extroverted child. Plus she says it is because I laugh when I go there.)

 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

Shopping

(Usually she is at babysitting if she is not around, so yeah, I take that time to go shopping so I don’t have to waste gas and stop what I am doing to go pick her up.)

 

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

Art.

 

11. What is your mom really good at?

Art.

 

12. What is your mom not very good at?

Tripletown.

(Stupid bears.)

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Art. Webdesign.

 (She said  she added webdesign because she didn’t like only saying Art for so many questions.)

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

Salad.

(True, though it is more my go to food.)

 

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

Art. (Says this laughing because she has answered art for several questions now.)

 

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

(Not a specific character but rather an anime stereotype)

The anime girl character whith black hair and glasses who always sits in the corner and reads and never says anything.

(Note: this is always the character with the wise advise– I can do that. :P)

 

17. What do you and your mom do together?

My favorite thing we do together is go to the thrift store.
(I am noticing a theme here.)

18. How are you and your mom the same?

(Got the staredown for that one.)
Our dorkishness.

 

19. How are you and your mom different?

Should I start with the top 50? Not a bad thing, just true. Introverted verses extroverted is the biggest one.

(I am the introvert here. :))

 

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

When I come home and my closet or something of mine has been cleaned.

(Good to know.)

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

The library.

Looking back over the original answers and seeing them now, being more radical unschoolers has REALLY changed our relationship.  I am amazed how much more relaxed I am, and apparently how much more fun I am (and obviously no longer fighting my kids about cleaning the house and just trying to make them obey in general– AND the house is CLEANER than it ever was then.  The “take initiative” thing was about them helping out when they saw a mess.  And now they DO, naturally, without me asking because I am not always demanding housework.)  I just read both aloud to Rachel plus my response and she is nodding and smiling in agreement.  So that is cool.  (And she wants me to add– saying bears.  Stupid bears.)