Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Christmas Letter

We are in a frenzy as we try to complete preparations for our trip to Indiana. So what am I doing writing my Christmas letter? Sometimes you just have to do it when the desire hits. And the desire just hit me. So what was 2011 like in the Rogers household?  We learned a lot. And I am not even referring to typical school learning. I am more meaning learnings of the heart and soul.  We learned how to be patient with each other, gracious to others even when our flesh was screaming for revenge and the joy of nightly family dinners.  We have much more to learn, I am sure, but at least we have gone through the beginnings of heart changes. Speaking of heart changes, there was a lot of birthing going on here.

Our cat had a litter of 4 kittens and we hatched 4 clutches of chickens for a total of 24 chicks. We had a lovely garden of a variety of tomatoes, sweet onions, basil, jalapenos, arugula, zucchini, and bell peppers.  I have never been so grateful for the end of the summer growing season as I have eaten my weight in arugula and was very ready for cabbage, squash and other fall vegetables.  

Josiah is now 9 years old and Naomi is 7. We continue to homeschool and the kids have joined Cub Scouts and Keepers of the Faith, respectively. They are really enjoying earning their pins and all the activities that go with it.  They are also in AWANAS which is a Bible based club of sorts. Naomi has been steadily learning homemaking skills like canning, baking and quilting. She is my natural-born fashionista.  Josiah really enjoys the camping aspects of the Scouts. He continues to be fascinated with sharks and ocean life; my marine biologist in the making.

Roughly 8 months ago,  Dustin and I became the coordinators of the food share ministry of our church. We provide food bags of non-perishable goods to roughly 70 families every month.  We have noticed a trend and change in this ministry as the economy remains sluggish and ask that you would pray not only for our current families but also for those that will be coming as food and gas prices rise and employment is difficult to attain.

Dustin continues to work at BST (Behavioral Science Technologies). He LOVES his work and he works with the neatest people. We are so blessed to know them and have them be a part of our lives.  

We are really excited to be headed to Indiana to visit with Dustin's folks. This will be our first visit there with both kids. They are going to be shocked when they meet all of their cousins and aunts and uncles.  Which brings me back to the beginning, I should be packing.  

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life on a Chicken Farm

Friends often make remarks to us about our "chicken farm." They love reading the quirky stories about our fine feathered friends that live in the back lot. Funny thing is, I never really considered it all to be a chicken farm.  That is until I received a culling set from my husband for Christmas and I was thrilled to receive it!  I guess we do have a chicken farm. It has been a slow, steady movement from 2 hens to 24 hens and a rooster.  

At first it was all about fresh eggs.  Then it was about hatching 4 clutches of eggs and experiencing the precious beauty of life bursting forth from a dormant egg. Then there was the realization that we have to do something with all the roosters we hatched. We could give them away, we could let them roam free in the wild... the decision was made and our "chicken farm" came full circle with Culling Day 2011.  

On a sunny, warm October morning I required the ultimate sacrifice from 4 roosters.  The same roosters that we marveled at when they hatched from their eggs, laughed at when they were chicks hopping after their mama and the same chickens that made us cringed when we realized the tufts on their backside were more like rooster feathers than hens, were the same chickens I led to slaughter. 

After butchering and dressing the chickens, I felt the most humane thing to do would be to honor the chickens in every way.  We saved their feathers to make ornaments out of.  We saved other feathers for fly fisherman and hair stylists. The gizzards went to nourish family dogs.  Someday we will get the guts to make broth from the feet but like I said, slow and steady, that time will come.  

The response from our family and friends that received the feather ornaments has been mixed. Most love it. Others are repulsed and others are not quite so sure.  Either way the reactions are intriguing to me.  It reminds me that we are so far removed from death. We find it easy to purchase little packages of meat but we cannot fathom eating that which we raise ourselves.  We forget that in this fallen world, sacrifices of death are required. Even seeds die to produce for us plants and those plants must die to give us herbs and salad and tea. But I digress.  The point is I am happy to acknowledge our chicken farm, honored to better understand God's marvelous creation..... but am not ready to accept the title chicken farmer. I guess that will come soon enough but for now I will file it away in the slow and steady part.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Currently off the shelf...

"Mama often shared wise words from the Bible. As I plopped down on the porch steps to pet General, I tried to remember when Mama did not have her Bible nearby. I couldn't." 
- excerpt from God's Courageous Composer: Francis Scott Key by David Collins

What picture do I create in my children's mind? Is it of a mom staring into a computer screen so I could "socialize" or is it of a mom with her phone nearby always checking for another text? 

I know what it is I desire for my kids to see. I desire for them to see a woman desperately in love with Jesus with worn out knees from praying; a sinner saved by grace. I want them to remember waking up and finding their mama at the table with Bible wide open, cup of tea next to my journal and head bowed in reverence to the One that has given me life.  I want them to see a contented woman that deeply loves her husband and her children. I also want them to see I don't have all the answers but I know where to find them.  But the question remains: What picture do I create? 

Where and at what do I spend my time and energies?  What do I consistently do because those things are the brush strokes of the picture I am creating. It is not the once in a while activities that create the picture. Those are mere pinpoints in a beautiful canvas. I believe it is those consistent activities that truly color my picture. It is the laundry and dinner making, the night time traditions of reading and game playing, the respect and honor shown to my husband, the tending, and caring of little people, and the serving of others in need that make up the grand picture that I am indelibly drawing in the minds of my children.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"You're so good at those things."

A friend of mine was dropping her daughter off to have a play date with Naomi and she made a comment about the upcoming Women's Tea Party that stopped me in my tracks. She said, "You're so good at those things. I couldn't do that." I had to immediately correct her. Truth is- I am not good at tea parties. I am not good at being organized and showing hospitality.  I force myself to do such things because I believe in what the Bible says about being hospitable.  And I will never learn to do that if I don't practice it. 

I do not remember ever having a tea party in my house as a child. I remember the occasional church tea party but I never had little friends over dressed in lace with gloves and hats.  I think I have been to more tea parties as an adult than as a child. In any case I confessed. I told her that I actually get books from the library so that I can learn how to throw a tea party and what foods to make and how to follow a theme. I get ideas from the internet and I feel nervous every time I send out invitations thinking that I may be the only one who shows up. 

Thankfully my friend was gracious about it. We both laughed. She had no idea. She thought I had it all together. Isn't that what we think of everyone else? They have it together and I don't? It was a nice reminder for me to be vulnerable with others. To share those dirty little secret that guess what? I'm winging this walk too! And by the grace of God, He will get me where He wants me to be.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


You may have noticed that I am posting more than normal lately but I just can't contain myself. God has been speaking so clearly and so often that I have to put it somewhere besides my journal. I need to share it!  My latest jewel from the Word is Isaiah 50:4. God has been re-directing my heart in the area of homeschool all summer. It is not just about academics or from some idea that I must protect the kids from the evil public school. It has really been a matter of what is best for our kids. Most of you may not remember that Josiah began Kindergarten in our public school but it was a difficult road to walk with his special needs and it was disheartening to watch our sweet boy turn into a ball of nerves and anger. So when he came home for Spring Break and began to become his normal sweet self, we never let him go back.  As noble as that rescue may have been, the truth is homeschooling is not for the faint of heart and probably should not be done unless the Lord has specifically called you to it.  There is no way you can succeed without being totally reliant upon Him day to day.

But this summer God has been stirring my heart regarding discipleship and the need for me to disciple my kids and be purposeful about it within their school time.  I just finished a study on Joseph's life and it was amazing for me to learn that 90+ of his 110 years of life were spent in slavery. Yet Joseph knew the God of Jacob. He understood His Holiness and His Sovereignty enough to remain an upright man despite his circumstances. And I wondered- If my kids were torn from me like Daniel or Joseph and taken to their own Babylon or Egypt would they remain faithful to the God of their forefathers? Would they know enough of God's character and His promises to stand firm in the midst of chaos and trouble? 

So I began studying discipleship. The first verse I came to is Isaiah 50:4.  
Holman Christian Standard reads:
The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are instructed 
to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me each morning. 
He awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed.
New American Standard reads:
The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples.
that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. 
He awakens me morning by morning.
 He awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed.
New Living reads:
The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom,
      so that I know how to comfort the weary.
   Morning by morning He wakens me
      and opens my understanding to His will.

As I began to look up key words, I was awed by their meaning.  
Disciple: at its root means to goad, to teach, instruct.
Know: to ascertain by seeing, used in a great variety of senses.
Sustain: to hasten, succor, speak in season
Word: a matter, spoken of, to speak in a sense subdue, answer
ear: hear, broaden at ear with hand
listen: to hear intelligently, witness, discern, be obedient

As I continue to ponder this I see my personal need to broaden my ear with my hand to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as well as a need for me to speak with wisdom to my kids in all matters.  But I cannot speak with such wisdom if I am not listening to the Sovereign Lord myself. So the beginning of this road to disciple the kids begins with me and my relationship with the Lord in hope that the kids will one day remember the God of their father Dustin which is the God of Jacob, Abraham and Isaac.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This year's school verse..... (drum roll please)

"He will teach us how we should live.  
Then we will live the way He wants us to."
Isaiah 2:3b (NIRV)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Creekside Learning Center Year 4

My mind has been on overdrive as we get ready for another year of homeschooling. Tomorrow is the big day! We begin our 4th year of Creekside Learning Center, our homeschool.  Over the summer God has been reminding me that it is not curriculum that makes our school unique. Nor is it the worksheets we complete or the concepts learned. Rather it is the opportunity to disciple my kids.  Am I more concerned with the heart or their academics? Am I mindful that school is more than a checklist of subjects completed? It is also about character, family and faith.  It is about investing into my children.  This path we have chosen is not for the faint of heart. And it is not to be taken lightly. Nor should I even think I could do this without the Providential hand of God guiding me every step of the way. I am feeling very somber about the beginning of our school year.  I desperately want to be purposeful in our daily class time.  Purposeful to point to the many ways God is in each subject. To live before the kids a life dependent upon the Holy Spirit and to examine the heart of the issue not just gloss over the subject.

Josiah will begin third grade, Naomi second. We have the literature. We have the paper and pencils. And now we invite God to lead us in this adventure. To teach us, humble us and make known His Name for His Name's sake.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

George Mueller Living

Five months ago, my husband became the chairman of the Food Share ministry in Ojai called Operation Blessing.  I had volunteered for this ministry several times in the past so I knew a little bit about what we were getting ourselves into. But I had no idea the amount to which it would challenge my faith and prayer life.

Operation Blessing distributes food once a month to local low-income families. We averaged 120 families a month.  The families receive a banana box of non-perishable foods and local produce. We also receive commodities from USDA and on occasion we will have frozen meats and cheeses.  The amount of food given to each family is designed to assist them and give them some breathing room in their budget so they can concentrate on keeping their utilities on, etc..

As Dustin has made changes, some responsibilities have fallen to me since he is unable to get work off in order to accomplish theses vital areas. I have become the "shopper." Once a month I go to the Food Share warehouse and buy all the foods needed for our monthly distribution.  I have made a conscious effort to focus on healthy staples and have eliminated the sugary desserts, juices, and other "junk" food.

Most Americans do not realize that there is a serious food shortage coming our way.  Items such as rice, beans and peanut butter will become high demand items in the near future.  The strain is being felt by the Food Share community as federal funds have decreased 50% this year and will decrease another 20% within the next year. All that to say that I have been intently praying for the commodities that we need most.

Last month I asked God for peanut butter. We hadn't seen any peanut butter jars for 3 months.  When I walked into the warehouse, I was shocked. Three-fourths of the palettes were empty.  I walked to one of the palettes that had food and the box read, "Peanut Butter, Jelly and Honey."  I was ecstatic. I put the max 10 cases on my cart and when I looked across the aisle, I saw a palette full of peanut butter cases which meant I could get another 10 cases!  It was like Christmas for me. Thank you Lord for hearing my plea for peanut butter. Then I thought, why did I stop at peanut butter? I should have asked for our other needs as well. As I am beating myself up for not having enough faith, I tell God that we could use canned vegetables too. I had not even finish the thought when the forklift put down a new palette behind me.  A full palette of CANNED VEGETABLES! Oh how I was rejoicing. (BTW, every box that said it contained peanut butter, jelly and honey, has only had peanut butter so we have double the amount we would normally be allowed to have.)

Today was another one of those moments. I took inventory of our pantry earlier this week and decided to bring to God the needs of the pantry. I had a little scrap of paper with four items written on it. Four items that have been in scarce supply and if found, I would need to get the maximum amount allowed.  Once again God proved his faithfulness by having all four items ready for me to purchase for our families. And He proved His extravagance by having boxed cereals; a commodity we have not seen in over 6 months. 
Oh the richness of our God!!

Matthew 6:31-32

New Living Translation (NLT)

 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Philippians 4:19

New Living Translation (NLT)
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mama Hen

My sweet girl's favorite hen, and the only one we named, is a Cuckoo Maran named April. April began stealing all the other hen's eggs a couple of months ago in order to create for herself a clutch of eggs that she could sit on and hatch. It became a battle of the will as I would go out and check the nesting boxes 4, maybe 5 times a day and try to stop her from moving eggs and consequently breaking a number of them. Not only was it exhausting for me but it turns out it was pretty futile on my part. I finally gave in and set up a large dog crate with the essentials for a broody hen and chose 7 eggs for April to set on.

Twenty-one days later, to our great surprise, April hatched 6 out of the 7 eggs. I love watching her care for you chicks. I could do it for hours. She is a great teacher. I watch her teach the chicks how to scratch for food. I watch her show them how to catch bugs and which ones to eat and she fiercely protects them. One morning, I was watching her find food for the chicks and God quietly spoke to my heart about the important role a mother plays in the lives of her brood. April constantly instructs verbally and physically. She has a variety of clucks and coos to give her chicks instruction. Proverbs 31:26 says, "She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue." I wondered if someone watching my life could say the same about me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Half of 2011

How pathetic is it that my last post was December 2010. Well, at least I can say life has been eventful around here.
Naomi had a wonderful kitty themed party in April to celebrate her 7th birthday. We had a lovely time with all her friends in the backyard and playing pin the tail on the kitty. Dustin also celebrated a big birthday- #40! We had a great time as a family and took him out for ice cream instead of our standard birthday cake.
We are putting to bed another year of homeschooling. Our third year! I cannot believe how fast it has gone by. This year we learned about Ancient Egypt, honed in on our addition/subtraction facts, practiced time and money skills so we don't get rusty, explored Science with air, in the kitchen and with magnets, read tons of tantalizing books, and wrote several short stories.
Josiah joined Cub Scouts a few months ago. He had his first camping trip 2 weeks ago and he loved it. Not sure that Daddy had the same enthusiasm but they made it home in one piece so I would call it successful. He also has worked really hard on completing some merit badges which he will receive tonight. He is very excited.
I am doing extraordinarily well with my health. I love homeschooling and super duper love my husband. It has been such a pleasure to watch God grow in my husband and kids. And to know the inner workings that He has been doing within my own heart is equally a joy; even when it hurts. But much like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it is a good hurt.

"Then the lion said – but I don't know if it spoke – You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. "The very first tear he made was so deep and I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away." (7.41-42)