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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Seth Barnes wrote today about being interruptible in terms of leading and mentoring young missionaries and it got me thinking about it in terms of parenting and unschooling, especially when both parents work from home plus in terms of the mentoring I do of Christian unschoolers and others who contact me regularly via email and Facebook. In Christ being a leader (whether of a group of 800 or just in your home as a parent) means being a servant. Being a servant means being available. Being available means you are setting yourself for exhaustion if you don’t make sure to recharge. If you are being there for others 24/7 then you need to take what opportunities He provides to rest and make sure you are filled up with Him. July took a lot out of me. It was a very hard month. This month is just as full but in more fun ways and He has been showing me how to serve while taking care of my heart and mind so I can better serve.
Anyone who knows me well knows I am a non-planning laid back sort of person. When I try to plan and schedule things I get caught up in my plans and forget to enjoy life. So instead I come up with a tentative plan and trust God with it– His plans are way more awesome than mine. 🙂 So I am naturally fairly interrupt-able. Once upon a time I was obsessed with reading missionary biographies. ONe in particular said something that stuck with me. It was something about how being interrupted was God’s way of getting him where He wants him. Back then I decided I needed to make sure I was doing that– seeing interruptions as God getting my attention and refocusing me on what was important. I have also needed to learn when I have to stop and how to work things so I have the breaks I need in order to recharge properly. I am introverted despite my constant interactions and needed to learn how to get the recharge time I need to I can be what others need when they need it. So, even though we have had company visiting and lots going on in the group I admin (with the help of 11 beautiful, gentle women who help me keep things loving and thoughtful when anger and frustration rear their heads), plus the kids needing this and that and just wanting to talk, I wander out to the porch with my book and read until one of the kids joins me on the porch for a chat. I take a long quiet bath or watch a bit of a movie or read or bake or take a walk, anything to get the rest my brain needs when I can so that when I am needed I am recharged and ready.
Yesterday I was blessed with a minor road trip to the airport with several visits interspersed– some with people I have never met, others I hold dear, but in the midst of it I had time driving alone. I love driving, especially in new places with interesting sights. I love being able to see God’s handiwork everywhere and have quiet conversations with Him as I navigate roads, having faith that He will get me safely where I am going whether I know how to get there or not (the kids will tell you I am never lost since I know where I am– right here– and know where I am going though only God knows how to get between the two though I very often am in the place where I don’t know how to get from here to there and spend that time prayerfully driving and we eventually get where we want to be). It was a day that was not planned, other than getting to the airport on time and meeting up with Grace’s friend’s family. Everything else was spontaneous and relaxed and filled with the freedom to wait and see what God had in store. The visits were a lovely blessing and the space to drive and pray and think was just what I needed after such a hectic week. God worked it all out perfectly so that not only did I get plenty of time with Grace before seeing her off and time with my brother-in-law and his beautiful and very pregnant wife, but I also got plenty of downtime alone with Him. And I have learned that if I watch and wait He will provide those times in the midst of the busy-ness if I keep my eyes open– I just need to be ready to take them.
Everything is an adventure and I love seeing where God is leading us and watching to see how He works it all out. And very, very often it is those interruptions, those messages on Facebook, or those emails, or phone calls that remind me where He IS working and how I can help in this or that circumstance. Those interruptions also remind me that He uses everything for good. Our various health issues, behavioral stuff with the kids as well as both Shamus and my learning issues in school, and the way He has worked to heal us through various diet related things, my studies of herbalism and wildcrafting, food related stuff, our indie book publishing, writing, fixing things, unschooling experiences, gentle parenting experiences, art stuff, the list goes on. I have messages daily about all sorts of things that people are struggling with — areas that I have past experience with that helps and encourages them. It amazes and blesses me daily that God is redeeming those experiences through these “interruptions” in what I think I should be doing.
Addendum– as I wrote this I also helped Issac figure out ideas for things to build in Minecraft (including finding him graph paper, ruler, and pencil so he could draw out his ideas), and had several conversations with Rach.
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.
On the house front we have a buyer– maybe. Have to get a “dye test” done for the sewer and if that needs work then the buyer is walking– so still no idea when we will have to move and just waiting on God.
Otherwise all is well and the Lord has continued to provide enough for the coming month. It has been so awesome to see where the money comes from each month– some from book sales, some from website stuff and art sales, some from ads, some from donations, but regardless it is just enough eacah time.
The kids are busy and happy and growing and learning and just plain awesome. We got to go meet up with some fellow Christian unschoolers yesterday at Old Bedford Village which was so much fun despite the heat. I am thinking that is another post though.
The Christian Unschooling group I run (now with the help of 11 wonderful ladies) on Facebook is growing by leaps and bounds with roughly 20 new people a WEEK and all sorts of conversations ranging from basic unschooling and Christianity questions to health to prayer requests to who knows what (today’s big question was about coffee– best type of coffee maker and coffee because one of the kids wanted to know so Mom asked.:)) It takes a lot of time and energy to keep up but it is amazing to see what God is doing and I am so grateful for my small group of admins who help me keep it kind, gentle, and away from the danger zones.
I AM remembering to post recent pictures of the kids but mostly just to my Facebook page for the blog since I am on Facebook for the group all the time and am able to quickly upload them there now (used to be nearly impossible for me to upload pictures to Facebook, plus their policy about photos used to be squiffy). So if you want to see where we have been and what the kids have been doing and learning you can find the pictures here: http://www.facebook.com/untraditionalhome?
Also, I have been updating my Etsy shop with all the art I have sitting around that never got posted (still have Sherwood Showdown paintings to post but otherwise I think I have them all up there and decently organized). Lots more geeky stuff for sale plus art from Shamus’ book: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ElasahArt
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
We got to find out how quickly Shamus’ book would sell out and wish we had brought more.
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) .
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.)
We got to see a ton of amazing indie games and some cool AAA games.
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.)
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.)
You might say we are in a tight space, but we have been there before and God is providing and now that all family members know where we are and what is going on, at least in part, I can share here what is going on here.
The house is up for sale (current potential sheriff sale date is in early May. We are praying the house DOES sell before then or that they push back the date –still in the reams of paperwork that it takes to figure all this stuff out.) The house has a lot of issues (that we can’t afford to fix– one of the reasons we didn’t even attempt to sell in the past) and there are a lot of houses up for sale in our area so it is definitely a buyers market and there are NOT a lot of buyers though we have had a lot of showings.)
No, we have no idea where we are going. Looking at our current financial situation, poor credit, and random freelance income combined with aneeding a completely mold and dander free place big enough for the 5 of us to live and work, well, finding a place around here isn’t likely. Also our families all have pets so that is a no go.
One of the things we are prayerfully considering is an RV– IF the Lord provides one that suits our needs (within our budget, big enough for our family, self-contained since our minivan couldn’t pull a big enough one, everything functioning and low maintenance since neither Shamus nor I is good with fixing vehicles) then that would be awesome. The kids and I love to travel and love to be able to come home to family. Shamus loves to stay home yet wants to be able to go to conferences. The cost of living in an RV works well with our freelance income and the cost per month is within our means. So far we have found a few that IF we had a check come we could afford and look to suit our needs so the idea is not too far out there.
Otherwise the Lord would either need to increase our freelance income or provide a place to stay for low rent or free until such a time as He does that.
We are currently at the “in-between checks” stage of the freelance life. We just used up the big check we got back in November (and thanks to the Lord’s intervention in various ways we were able to extend it slightly further than expected– we expected to run out and need more in January and we just hit the end of it here in March– which is amazingly awesome.) We have money we are waiting on from various sources and we know we will get it soon though whether soon is this month or next month we don’t know. So, THAT is interesting. 🙂
In the meantime the Lord has provided for us here and there in all kinds of cool ways.
Currently we have just enough in the bank to make it to PAX East in a few weeks (we have to go this year for various reasons or we would back out knowing money was tight). Since we plan to move soon we thought it best if we used up the food we have instead of buying lots of other groceries of the type that the family prefers. In the process the Lord has extended our food supply in amazing ways. We have had more than a few “stone soup” type meals: The last few grapes, the last banana, the about to go bad Mandarin oranges, and the pears I found in the bottom of the fridge behind something else made a wonderful fruit salad. The broth I made from the last chicken in the freezer, plus the last bit of several bags of vegetables made a wonderful soup. While searching the freezer for something else I found a lb of ground beef and made that up for Shamus (he is allergic to chicken). While searching for something to go with noodles and meat for him I realized that the jars of red peppers in oil that I bought by mistake (was supposed to get fermented and missed that fact when buying) made an amazing “spaghetti sauce” that the family couldn’t tell from tomato sauce (which they can’t eat anyway so that was pretty awesome.)
The Lord has also extended the money we have when I do buy at the store– over and over again when I have gotten to the cash register the price has been way below what it should have been– either because of $15 off coupons given out because there is a new store in town or because I miscalculated or because the food was mis-priced. This week I was able to supplement the food we hav eat home for the week by spending only $30 (I make everything from scratch and we buy our meat, eggs, and milk from the farm and our weekly grocery budget is usually around $200-$250.)
Also a wonderful group of friends, who knew a little bit about what was going on, pulled their resources and sent us $150– which has basically provided gas and groceries for the last 3 weeks and probably the next 2.
So it has been pretty awesome to see and while Shamus and I have been here over and over again since 15 years ago when we married and had a grocery budget of $10 a week the kids are getting a much needed reminder of God’s amazing provision. It has spawned numerous conversations about how sick the Israelites must have gotten of manna (and how God did not appreciate the whining and complaining :)), God’s promise of provision, God’s plan for our lives and how He shows us which direction will be best for us. The kids are old enough to remember past instances of this but it is a good reminder and they are doing better about it this time around then in the past. We have plenty and they know it. 🙂
Also the Lord has blessed them in new exciting ways. Rachel has had work recently so has been able to buy the things she wants instead of feeling deprived. A friend who has been to Japan has given her info on a Japanese missions trip each summer which has further fueled her passion to GO. The same friend is giving her a copy of Rosetta Stone Japanese (which is a cool God’s timing story in itself– a whole day flipped upside down and inside out just to get us outside the thrift shop at exactly the moment this friend was leaving.) Family members have randomly stopped by and given us some of the kids favorite foods without even realizing that things were tight (we generally don’t advertise the fact wanting all provision to be obviously and clearly from God plus we don’t like people worrying.) Issac is getting to stay with his best friend while we are at PAX East (the family is going out of their way to meet us and pick him up which is so cool.) A neighbor out of the blue gave us a full working computer (it just needs a decent graphics card and it will be awesome for the stuff Essie does– and this happened the day after Es sent her Eee pc off to a fellow Christian unschooling family who needed a computer. Her Eee pc no longer suited her needs and spent most of its time in her desk while she waited for a turn on the bigger laptop that can run Blender and Gimp so finding someone who needed a computer just for writing and communicating and being able to bless them was awesome.)
Shamus’ book is selling well though not nearly as well as Shamus had hoped (though VERY, VERY well for an indie author in a new genre.) And he is working on a new book (in a different genre of course. Sigh.:)) He has been very inspired and therefore writing on the new book nearly constantly which is a blessing in itself.
Shamus’ asthma had started acting up again very suddenly– we think we have finally tracked down the cause but also a friend blessed us with some Young Living Essential oils to try and he has been using the R.C. one on his chest twice a day and it has REALLY helped. So that is another awesome blessing.
I am sure there are many other things that the Lord has been doing but those are the ones I can think of at th emoment (we have been so busy that this is the first time I have had a chance to write in a while.)
God is so GOOD!
As soon as I say I am intending to post more often things get super busy here and I can’t. Shamus’ book, The Witch Watch, is almost finished and ready for print editions to be available. Since I am doing all the formatting/final proofing plus much of the marketing and web related stuff (aside from him posting about it and that sort of thing) I am super busy preparing it for print. We have the proofs here and I am going over them one more time, adding any edits to the various formats, and getting the author site and his profiles on the various distribution channels all on the same page. You can read Shamus’ take on it all on his site (in case you missed it). Also here is the author page we have set up where links to the books already for sale plus information on the various versions and whatnot is available.
This morning Shamus and I went out for coffee in order to get away from computers and get on the same page regarding the business side of all this. As we talked we realized how much the Lord had been preparing me for this aspect of the job, from working on author websites (I have dealt with authors more than any other webdesign client) to working on illustrations and proofreading for Splashdown books and just having a wide range of experience with various writers and books. This just served as another reminder that we are going the right direction with all of this, despite the financial set backs.