Monday, April 26, 2010

This speaks to ME in so many ways...

The following Franciscan Benediction is so rich.  I'm going to have to comb through it a few times before I really understand why it speaks to me so deeply.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share it here, 'cause maybe it'll speak to you all, too.
"May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word Who is our Brother and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore. Amen."

                                 -Franciscan benediction

Monday, April 19, 2010


Looks like they're saying, "Gee, how do we adjust the temperature in here?"

Too bad Erma the chicken didn't have insurance.  We could've billed her for the "e-section" John Wesley performed.

New life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Blue and The Gray...

On Saturday, the kids and I got a chance to watch a Civil War battle re-enactment.  What a gorgeous day!  Weather was sunny and in the 60's.  All the new leaves were coming out on the trees and the world was feeling fresh.

The costumes were beautiful, and if I concentrated really hard, I could imagine how it might have really know, back then.

As we watched the troops advancing on each other, and men (pretending to be) falling dead after (fake) gunshots, I thought to myself, "This REALLY happened."  Men actually got close enough to one another to see the faces of the men they were killing.  They watched the life go out of them. 

But what struck me even more was that these men stood eye to eye with not just possible-death, because the odds were greater than 50/50, I'm sure, but eye to eye with the almost certain prospect of death.  What did they think of as they awaited the next volley of gun-fire--waiting to see if this round would take them out?  Did they think of home, a sweetheart left behind, their families?  And just what gave them the strength and the inner fortitude to keep pressing in on the enemy, closer and closer until it was eye to eye and hand to hand?  Was it the courage of their convictions that what they were fighting for was TRUE and RIGHT?

I didn't know until yesterday, that the Civil War claimed more lives than all of the wars that the United States has fought since that time...put together.  It claimed upwards of 600,000 lives.  Some experts say closer to 700,000. 

And of course the whole thing left me thinking about how differently war is fought now than then.  For example, the way they advanced upon each other in an organized way, the stationary cannons, the flag carriers, all of that seems so risky and personal, compared to the long-distance bombs, land mines, and air-raids that later wars have utilized.  It seems to me it must be easier in many ways to launch the long-distance missiles than it was to actually look a man in the eyes as your bayonet pierced his flesh.  I'm not sure yet how I feel about all of that or if I even need to have an opinion, but it has caused me to think, anyway (don't say it...I already's dangerous!!!).

So now my plan is to delve a little deeper into the Civil War era with the kids.  But first, I think I'm gonna watch Gone With The Wind one more time!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Are You Chicken????

Our family spent Friday and Saturday at Trade Days.  We took the motorhome with the trailer behind it to bring home whatever struck our fancy.  There is an area close to the sales area where we were able to park the RV and we could walk back and forth as we wanted. I wish you could see the wagon John Wesley's pulling--piled high with various cages ready for critter-buyin'.  Lena's pulling another wagon "just in case".

We went with the intention of getting some coop-mates for Lucky. But, it took all the will-power we had not to come home with a million and three other fun things and animals.  Jared begged me to take a picture of him with this cute little pony.  He had been petting it, but when it lifted up its head, Jared got scared!

Isn't she so funny?  I love the lopsided comb and the piercing eyes!  We thought we'd just get a flock of Rhode Island Reds or White Rocks, since they're both good layers, but when I saw her, I had to have her.  After that we threw conventional logic to the wind (we do that kind of often) and got a variety of breeds.

This is one of the roosters we got.  We also got a Buff Orpington roo.  They're both so handsome--well, that is if you think roosters are handsome!  For those who care...(does anybody really care???) the laying hens we got were Aracaunas, White Rock/Aracauna mixes, Barred Rock, Buff Orpingtons, and the funny girl with the crooked comb is one of the Light Brown Leghorns. 

We found a good deal on baby chicks, and decided, "Why NOT?"  So we brought a few of those home, too.  Again, we got a variety.  After all, it's the spice of life, and it keeps my egg bowl colorful!  (I'll show you what I mean in a minute!)

When we got them home, we fixed up a brooder using a baby pool.  Aren't they so cute?  I love to hear them cheep-cheeping. 

See, here's my colorful egg bowl. Aracaunas lay the bluish colored eggs and the pink egg in the middle, then the white and barred rocks lay the brown, and the brown leghorns lay white ones (but I don't have any of them in my bowl yet--I did yesterday, though). We thought it was funny that the WHITE rocks lay BROWN eggs and the BROWN leghorns lay WHITE eggs. Love that!  Aren't they egg-ceptional?!  We may not have to dye easter eggs next time!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reason #2942 Why My Little House is PERFECT For Me...

So, if you've read here very often, you've probably noticed that I refer to our "not-so-temporary-itty-bitty-too-small-extra-tiny" house as my "Little House." I choose to find reasons it works, instead of reasons it doesn't. Frankly I don't have to try to find reasons it doesn't work--those are glaringly obvious.

One of my favorite examples of this fact is when my nephew was here visiting. He hadn't been here in a while, and when he came in he noticed I had moved a few things around, namely the microwave. It used to sit on top of my front loading dryer, which is in a corner of the kitchen. We got a new set (not front loading this time) and I needed to move the microwave to the counter beside the washer & dryer. The problem is that this counter space is not technically in my kitchen, it's right on the border line of being into my living room. Buy hey--I had no more counter space in my kitchen and this was what worked after we tried every other option, so we went with it. Anyway, "un-named" nephew comes in and looks around...before he even says, "Hi, Aunt Lori!" he announces, "Wow, that's an awkward place for your microwave!" LOL I had to agree with him. It is indeed.

As I said, the shortcomings of this little house are quite readily noticeable--even to a 7 year old. That is precisely why I am so quick to announce and focus on the things that make me say, "Oh, yeah! This wouldn't have been possible in a bigger/newer home." And today, I get to share with you exhibit A. The picture above is of ink--red ink, in case you hadn't noticed. A sizeable smear of red ink. And this is only one patch of it...there are more. This red ink is right in front of my refrigerator, which is right next to my kitchen sink, which also happens to be right next to my table. So, a high traffic, high visibility area for sure. And guess what, when that pen broke and I realized I may not ever be able to get that ink off my floor, I didn't even bat an eyelash. First, it was a true accident. Not even a careless one. A simple, unavoidable, freak accident--so how could I get mad at that anyway? But secondly--that floor??? How can you really ruin it? It doesn't really come totally clean anyway, no matter how hard or how often Cody or I mop! So what am I gonna do? Get mad just because I technically should probably not be happy about it? Heck no! I like RED! In fact, when I choose kitchen towels or bowls, etc, I usually choose red. So really, it's just an added unexpected colorful accent! A little unconventional perhaps, but this is the UNDERWOOD family, right?!?!?

Now, had this been a brand new hardwood floor, or expensive tile floor???? That may have upped the frustration level a few levels. But, in the long run...I'm glad it wasn't. Who needs the added stress? Certainly not ME! So, chalk one up for the Little House! (Not sayin' that the Big House won't be welcomed someday, but you know, contentment and all that....)
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Garden...

Somebody asked me about the garden beds.  I meant to say yesterday, that each of the biggers got to choose what they are going to grow in their SFG (square foot garden) bed.  For example, Cody only wanted to grow carrots and some flowers.  John Wesley wants to grow about 50 different things (he's trying to scale it back--or he may borrow some space from Cody's carrot-bed).  Lena loves green peppers and tomatoes, so she will no doubt grow lots of those. 

We're trying to decide how to implement this, but the kids were to buy seeds themselves.  They could share the cost of the packet if more than one person wanted to grow the same item.  They will take care of their own SFG bed, and then when the produce is ready to be harvested, they can sell it to me.  I also have my own SFG bed where I can grow the stuff I want that nobody else is going to grow.

Now, whether or not it will go as smoothly as planned, we shall see.  But for now this is the plan.  It is entirely possible that we will change the plan as things progress, but that's life, right?  For now, we're just trying to keep the cat out of the plants when they're inside and the dogs out of the SFG beds outside!!!  We need to get a fence up soon.  Pretty soon, it'll be the goats in the beds outside eating all the plants--then I'll cry.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What to do on a sun-shine-y day???

Today was a gorgeous day.  I decided that we weren't going to be stuck inside; we were going out to enjoy it.  So, the "littles" went on the porch to play Play-doh.

While I was unwrapping their Easter Play-doh eggs, I noticed this warning.  I had never seen it before.  So, if you have a wheat allergy, DON'T EAT THE PLAY-DOH!!!!

These are the raised beds John Wesley put together for me.  They look small, but they're about 4'X4'.  John Wesley and I read "Square Foot Gardening" and decided to give it a try this year for our garden.  Today was the day for the "biggers" to put them in place and fill them up.

The beds are filled with a mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost.  Before you call the child welfare agency on us for over-working poor little Lena, you should know that that bag only weighs 16 pounds!  :)

We definitely agree with the "many hands make light work" philosophy in this family!  More hands = less work!  More people = more fun!

Once all the beds were laid out, the kids filled them with all the various dirt ingredients and mixed and mixed to their heart's content.

Fun, like a big personal sandbox!  Hmm, I have a feeling my bathtubs will need a good scrubbin' after tonight's baths!

"The Little Lena Farm"

We had a beautiful, productive afternoon, until the littles and I were chased of the porch by the giant bumblebees and wasps that wanted to share our space.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Our Church Has A New Building!!!

I haven't talked much about our church on our blog.  I guess that's kind of strange, since it's such a big part of our lives.  So, I thought NOW would be a great time to do so since our church family has spent the past few weeks preparing to move into our new building in time for tomorrow's Easter service.  Our church began about four and a half years ago.  A couple other families and our family felt God's leading to plant a new church here in the town where we live.  We began in our homes, and gradually over time have outgrown a couple different spaces that we had rented.  Since then, we have gradually gained in attendance, now we have around 100 each Sunday.  Not a huge number of people, but the impact on the lives that has occured because of what God is doing *IS* huge.  And this past month, the Lord allowed us to purchase our own building, lots more space and less money per month than the rent we were paying!  Gotta love that!

So, this week will be our first service in our new building and it just happened to be our week to clean the church.  Having just moved into the building, there were quite a few things to do and everything was new and different.  We all got to work.  Jared wanted to vacuum, so, of course, he did (with Grandma's help).  Lena worked alongside him. 

Cody and Grandpa put up some shelving in the storage closet.  (A much better place to put things than the floor.)  I'm not sure you can tell from the pictures, but we haven't even painted the walls or put up any permanent walls yet--we still need to build out the class rooms and offices.  That's okay.  The physical building is not what it's all about.  It will come in time.

Jonas entertained Matthew and did lots of other odd "gopher" (go-for this, go-for that) jobs.  He also did a detail job on the water fountain.  Ewww, I'm not sure I would have allowed the kids to drink out of it before.  Now--no problem!  You see that metal tub on the right-hand side of the picture below?  That's our current baptistry!  Three new Christians will be baptized tomorrow!  I love the fact that they'll be baptized on Easter.  I think that's sooo appropriate, to be "buried" and raised to new life in Christ on the day we celebrate Jesus rising from the tomb.

William ran the buffer to shine up the floors.  Today was his birthday, but he still had to work--that's life!  He didn't complain, though.  We had made his choice of breakfast before we left home and he requested that we grill out brats (you know, the hotdogs--not bad kids) for dinner.  Then we had birthday cake and ice cream.  (Have I mentioned how much I love this sweet, handsome boy?)

Before we left, MaKenzie, Lena, and Jared helped Grandma put the contact cards and pens on each chair.  Many hands make light work!  I can't wait to go tomorrow and settle in to our new "home"!  Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Things I'm Thankful For Today...

The Lamb of God who shed His blood for our sins, and the pleasure of sharing the story with my family.

A true servant-leader husband, who leads his family with dignity and serves with humility

The sweet look of happiness on a little girl's face as her Daddy tells (and shows) her how much he loves her.

The pure joy on a little boy's face that tells me even though he doesn't understand most things, he sure understands that he's loved!

The promise of provision.

New buds on the trees.

Strong boys who aren't afraid of hard work.  (But really...they should be afraid of borrowing Daddy's boots.  Those are some big shoes to fill, literally AND figuratively!)

Subliminal messages I can send my kids even while gardening.  :)

Happy Easter everyone!