Category: Day to Day

Tire edition #birdsoftheair

It has been a blessed week, though exhausting.

The car now has new tires, and a fixed right front lower control arm thing, and as soon as we have the cash, aligned. It was all confusing and convoluted because  my dad got wind of us needing tires thanks to totally bald ones that skidded in less than a half inch of snow.  He and my mother-in-law decided to pay for it for our Christmas present, but then there was something broken which needed fixed before it can be aligned, and so on.  So my dad ended up paying more than planned for our gift but is now happier because he isn’t worrying about us  getting in an accident.  The tires still need aligned but that will happen as soon as we get paid for a couple jobs. So God worked it all out and we now have good tires and a fied thing that we didn’t know was broken, and soon it will all be aligned so there will be no more concern in that department.

Several packages full of things from our grocery wishlist as well as from the kids wishlists.  This is awesome because we have no money for gifts this year and Hanukkah starts tomorrow night.  The kids thought they were getting nothing.  Instead we now have  the makings for several treats, so we can have a special treat a day, plus they have each gotten a gift – each something they really, really wanted. I also know that at least one other person has ordered gifts for the kids which I haven’t mentioned to them, so that will be exciting to see as well.  (I should take a video next time we get a package.  Everyone gets so excited because it is always a surprise, and often we don’t even know it is coming.)

We got a coupon in the mail for $10 off $40 in groceries, one for each of the next few weeks so I suspect that will be helping put food on the table.

We have the house decorated for Hanukkah, we are all warm and fed, and God, Lord Provider, is so very good to us.

Have a blessed Sabbath.

Manna Living

My dear friend calls it Manna Plan and oh, what a wonderful description it is. Living on faith, trusting God to provide everything– work, money, food, shelter; everything.  He provides when we stay in His will (sometimes it is like being herded or for D&D players: railroaded.) We trust Him and want His best for us, and sometimes His best plan leads through some pretty uncomfortable territory.

Some days manna living is hard.

Some days  you have to decide between  buying butter or toilet paper (in general toilet paper wins but what if you are only almost out of both?)

Some days you have to decide whether it is worth the gas (which you have to buy because you are running on empty) to  make a run to the bank to put $10 in the account lest that small bill that you are pretty sure will go through the next day does and might possibly cause a bounce if anything else goes through that you have forgotten.

Some days you wish you were a normal person with a normal job so your family didn’t have to struggle with these days.

Some days you forget how much God has taken care of you in the past and want to take the easy way out.

Some days are exhausting and scary and heart heavy and hard.

Yet God still provides rainbows after rain.

Manna still comes in the morning.  It may not be much and you may be sick and tired or it, but there it is: Abundance. Just enough is all we need. And we only need enough for today.  

God is still in the heavens and He still owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

The bills will get paid in His time.

We will still have food on our table.

We will still be able to do what He has ordained for us to do.

We can trust Him because He is trustworthy; more trustworthy than government, or insurance, or man.

And all is right with the world for God is good.

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.

God Stuff: August-October 2012

It has been crazy busy around here, with a house full of guests off and on all August, my sis-in-law having a new baby (their first), another sis-in-law getting married this last weekend and showing, after showing, after showing in between (house still for sale, no sheriff sale date yet so praying it sells prior as we do want to do the right thing and pay our debts properly).  Not to mention various jobs cropping up here and there that have been part of God’s supplying for our needs.
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Paintings have been sold, books have been sold, websites have been designed and hosted, I have helped out with appraisals (a side job I have been doing on an as needed basis for 15 years), and so on.
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God has provided  despite book sales slowing down (though they are still paying the bills) and while we are gearing up for the next book to be finished soon:

  • monetary gifts  from all sides– including one left under a box of old fashioned oats in the pantry by a house guest which was found just when we were out of money and nearly out of food.  Another friend pressed money into my hand after a visit over tea.  Our birthdays (Shamus’ and mine are 4 days apart in August) brought money that went to groceries and came right on time.  Also a check we had been waiting on came a the perfect time to pay two months of bills.
  • physical gifts of food, gas, clothes, and video games (yes, video games and what a blessing they are.:)) One friend has a huge garden and has been giving us their surplus– tons of onions, potatoes, garlic, and apples.  My dad’s raspberry bushes have meant lots of pies and smoothies. Our own blueberry bush had more blueberries than we have ever seen on it– a gallon a day for months.  Another friend bought us multiple tanks of gas while she was visiting.  Another guest was moving across country and brought us all the freezer stuff that they wouldn’t be using (and which would make it for the trip).  That freezer full of meat has continued to bless us as we can’t afford to buy any at the store (well nothing worth buying– this is all grass fed beef and free range chicken– all the weird stuff like hearts and chicken legs). Another friend brought us tons of peaches, eggplant, and herbs from her garden plus several computers that needed fixing (including one they didn’t want that we could have) and traded us fixing the computers for a family photo session– the first we have had in ages.
  • blessings through many other sources– items on sale or clearance that meant we could make our funds stretch so much further, the perfect gift at the thrift shop for Issac’s birthday next week on sale for half price ($2.50 for his entire birthday present).  Extra cake from the wedding reception that means Issac will have a cake for his birthday next week.  Ice cream super on sale at our local Walmart so he also gets ice cream. A free cup of coffee at the dinky little gas station that just happens to be 20 cents cheaper than all the surrounding gas stations– and that coffee was very needed for Rach because she was heading to work and had a massive headache (and is the best coffee I have ever tasted– that stuff was amazing.)  There have been so many cases of “exactly what we needed at exactly the right time for the perfect price” that I can’t list them all.


God is so good to us and continues to take care of us and it is exciting to hear the kids response when someone mentions no money for such and such, whatever the need:  “God will take care of it.  He has gotten us this far so we can trust Him to continue.”  Yup, that’s it exactly.

 

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.

Where We Are May 2012

It has been a long month full of paperwork (house related stuff) and illness. Shamus, Es, and Rachel still have whatever this sickness is and I just really got over it finally yesterday. This is probably more rambly than usual as I have been dealing with the remains of the illness (headache that won’t just go away) and have been spending much time pondering things in my head rather than out loud.

Issac built castles with the boxes for packing.

We are still working on selling the house. Finally have all paper in for possible short sale and now it is a waiting game. People keep looking at it but no offers yet. We have gotten a letter from one of those companies that buys houses offering to buy it but we feel we need to wait on God on this and not try to jump the gun and go with a quick solution.

Enjoying taco salad out with great-grandma.

We are also continuing to prayerfully consider an RV. We would really like to be able to travel to conventions (which would help sell Shamus book and get his name out) and the kids and I just want to travel and see the US in general (what better way to homeschool?) An RV would give us a cheap place to live, allow Shamus to travel while giving him a place to work and be comfortable and home, it would allow us the freedom to go where we want to go but be back home with family as needed. We need to wait for the Lord on this as well. We don’t want to get something that won’t run, doesn’t fit our family, or has had pets so we are prayerfully watching and waiting.

Headband from Japan-- gift from unschooled friends in Japan

We have also decided not to sell our stuff but rather to give it away where it is needed. We have prayed about this a lot and feel strongly that we need not attempt to sell everything but instead rely on God to provide. I am trying to decide how best to put my art for sale since we don’t want to store it. The paintings of the kids will mostly go to family as interested but I have the dragon and bunny paintings plus illustrations from the game and book that I would like to sell. Have considered ebay but looking at sales results I don’t think that is the best way. Considering just putting buy it now buttons directly on my art page (http://elasah.com) or just putting things up on Etsy. I don’t keep up with Etsy enough to really get sales that way so am not sure. I have however spent the last few days updating my art site (http://elasah.com) and Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ElasahArt) with more art so hopefully some things will sell.

Cool Japanese stuff from friends.

The Lord has been providing, mostly through sales of Shamus book. The initial sales were good though they have tapered off and it will be interesting to see how the Lord continues to provide. We have an added monthly expense for Him to provide for (in order to do short sale we have to pay a certain amount each month– nearly as much as the original mortgage which we didn’t pay because we didn’t have it. Thus far He is providing and we trust Him to continue.

We continue to rely on Him rather than the government and He has been faithful. Just the other day we had several checks we had been waiting for suddenly go through just in time to make the mortgage payment that had to be in that day or we would go straight to Sheriff sale. We have also had numerous small miracles– free vitamins, $10 off coupons for new stores accepted at the only store that carries the butter we use, things like that. God continues to provide and take care of us in wonderful ways.

Watching the raw milk coming directly through the pipes from the cows (who are being milked during sell times.)

The last few days it has rained while the sun was still shining. Usually we are in the perfect location for a rainbow (they appear just over the hill from us nearly every time it rains). I look forward to them as the Lord has used them many times in the past to remind me that He provides and will continue to take care of us. However the last few days there have been none. As I was driving home from getting milk in the pouring rain with the sun glaring directly in my eyes I had a revelation.
Sometimes we can’t see the rainbow because we are in the midst of it. I am sure those around us could see a rainbow and I am trusting that He will continue to use our current situation and how He takes care of us to give others around us hope.

PAX East

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The show floor from the sky bridge that you walk across everytime you want to get to a panel room across the building on the same floor as the last panel you saw.

We just got back from PAX East last night.  God provided that we had the money to get there, sold all the books while there and therefore had the money to get home.  Go God!!!  And thank you to the random gift givers who helped us get there.  You all are awesome!!!

Escapist Movie Night
The Escapist movie night panel, L-R: One of the dudes from the new show "Space Janitors", Shamus, Movie Bob, and the crew of Loading, Ready, Run: Matt Wiggins, Kathleen De Vere, Graham Stark

We got to find out how quickly Shamus’ book would sell out and wish we had brought more.

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Blankety Blank Panel which was hosted by Susan Arendt (NOT in the photo), in photo : Russ Pitts, an ex-reviewer who wrote a book that I can't remember the name of, Kathleen De Vere, and Movie Bob

We saw some amazingly funny panels (like the LLR panel and those that the Escapist creatives including Susan Arendt and Movie Bob were involved in). We got to meet some more cool people to add to the list of cool people we already know (like Russ Pitts and James Portnow along with a slew of Shamus’ readers and some really awesome indie game developers) and see friends we hadn’t seen for a year (like Susan Arendt and the LLR crew) .

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James Portnow of Extra Credits among many other things.

We got to see some incredibly thought provoking panels which I am still pondering and percolating posts thanks to (namely two that included James Portnow and were on topics close to my heart– one on Gaming and Education and one called the Genre Divide about rethinking why people play certain games and how games are divided into genres.)

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Girls Like Robots (a pretty fun indie game.)
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A very cool concept for a rpg that my kids are really looking forward to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/JoshuaACNewman/mobile-frame-zero-rapid-attack

We got to see a ton of amazing indie games and some cool AAA games.

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Shamus crashed while waiting.

We got tired and hungry and sick of granola bars (thanks to the convention centers ridiculously huge symmetric layout where you have to go down a level and cross a sky bridge to get between two panels on the same floor and expensive food–$7 for a HOT DOG.)

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In front of the convention center-- parking was in rear and you had to walk a quarter mile of wind tunnel just to get in a door.

We got stuck in 2 hours of 5 mph traffic and only got lost in Boston once (last year we managed to add a half hour of wrong turns onto every single trip and this year we were saved mostly thanks to paying close attention, avoiding the roads we knew we had trouble with, and Josh’ excellent sense of direction.)

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The audience at the Escapist movie night panel.