New Adventures and a Simple Lesson

I have never considered myself a very “quick” person. I learn – and comprehend – things very slowly.
I also have very little confidence, which is, indirectly, a reason why I take so long to learn things. I’m afraid I’ll make some mistake, or mess something up, or hurt something. So I don’t just avoid doing things, unless I know exactly what I’m doing.

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Just now, at work, I finished putting up all the receptacle/switch covers and then remembered Mama had mentioned that the bathroom lights needed put up.
I have never bothered with putting up lights. It’s just one of those things I figure I can’t do.
Granted, even today, I didn’t do any wiring, and these lights are almost too simple, but I did put it up without any thoughts on “what if I mess up?” Or “what if its not right?”
I just did it.

I have been praying a lot today and seeking The Lord. Not particularly about work, but just about my life in general.
Putting up this light He showed me again how focusing on Him – on His Will, His Way – allows us to think less of ourselves, our inabilities, to pity and worry about ourselves less, and allows Him to work through us, even in day to day life on things as simple as putting up a light.

He can become everything to us, day by day, if we keep our hearts and minds on Him, and our eyes focused on His Way – the strait and narrow way before us.

Thankful Thursday – with a few words on how unthankful I am.

“Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.”

Psalm 69:1-3

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I was going to write a post about our soapmaking this morning, as we unmolded our first designed soaps last night and Carra and I are so excited about them, but I just couldn’t get the words to come.

I kept remembering today was Thursday, and generally the day for my Thankful Thursday posts if I’m keeping up with my blog as I ought, and I feel the Lord is impressing on me to write one, especially because this week in particular has been so hard for me – for us all, but I speak for myself.

Everyday this week has dealt our family a new struggle of some sort, and as we’ve drudged through each day I’ve felt there is little in my life to cause me joy or to be thankful for – I wonder often what it feel like to be truly happy again.

But whenever – well, usually… – I write to my silent friend, or I scribble on this blog it makes me feel so much better as I find myself seeking the Lord to guide me in my writing – and my words to my silent friend often become written prayers.

I leave my writing feeling refreshed, renewed, and closer to my Jesus.

Because, through my writing, I have been seeking Him.

What if I were to seek Him so everyday, through the difficulties and troubles – not just the good moments and easy times – and truly seek His Word and seek His Face, not rely on my own strength and ability to handle a situation?

If I were to do this with my everyday life as well as I do it with my pen, how much more joy would be mine – in Him. For in Him are all things good, and in Him is Life bound up. If we don’t seek Him – every moment of every day – we are seeking of ourselves to live life by our own methods and natural ability. Thus, we fall into traps, we trip over rough places, and we become disillusioned by the difficulties when we find ourselves bogged down in the mire of this world.

This week I have so much truly to be thankful for.

Even if I haven’t known it or claimed any of it.

  • The right to come before my Jesus, to seek Him as I would seek an earthly friend, to trust Him as my Beloved – my Protector, my Guide.
  • His Ability to be with me, to instruct and guide me each moment; to protect me and be my Joy and Grace – despite what my flesh tells me is wrong or is right.
  • My life. The fact that I’m actually living and breathing – all by His Will! If He did not desire it, I wouldn’t even be here writing this today.
  • My family. We are all healthy and well, still able to work with our hands.
  • Our farm. Its still here! We can spend time with our animals, and are refreshed each time we visit the barn.

The Lord Jesus knows what is best for us – way before we even see things coming.

He knows how He will deal with problems before they even arise in the dimmest of our imaginations.

If Jesus can raise a man from the dead, if He can still storms – if He can protect people when terrific, deadly tornadoes rip through entire hospitals and schools and homes – why can’t He deal with our little problems day to day?

He can!

But only if we believe.

Lift Your Eyes to Jesus

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I wish I were back home with my family on our little farm; instead I am in the city working in a business I feel is not the best for our family.
But only Jesus knows; and He knows what is best for each of us each day.

Lift your eyes to Jesus, where there’s a higher power. He’ll be a comfort in life’s darkest hour. Do unto others as you have them do to you. Then you’ll be rewarded for the things in life you do.

A Look Back, So We Can Look Ahead

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but them shall I know even as also I am known. 

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

I Corinthians 13:12-13

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Going through pictures yesterday, I was reminded of how things change.

I guess everyone is inclined to do that when they look through pictures – even if their not really old, per se.

I was looking through pictures of a couple years ago. 2011.

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Carra was 18, I was 19, going to turn 19 and 20 later on in the year.

Daddy had taken a day job in town for the first time in our memories, and us girls were at home most of the time; cooking, canning, and doing things we later would come to love (though at the time it was mainly work).

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 This was the year we began doing some outside jobs; four or five in this year actually.

Daddy had begun working on getting his GC license again and we were picking up a few small jobs for individuals.

Earlier in the year we had traveled so far as Statesville NC to work.

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It was also the year of the big snow (something very rare for South Carolina!).

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That was the last time I remember sledding – and the first time I remember sledding since 2003 when we had a huge snow over in Gaffney, SC.

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Our herd of goats was still small; Daisy, her two daughters Joy and Princess, and our buck Silver. We had scores of chickens though! And we loved every minute of chores. 🙂 I don’t think the goats liked the snow as much as we did though! 😀

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It was the first year we had more than one goat give birth at once (and the last year that kidding season was not so exhausting). It was also the year our little Rosie was born. 🙂

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We would take long walks on the dam behind our house, Carra and I together, and K would read to me.

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We had a special mothers’ day – of course, this was before we knew how much we would need to use that grill when a huge storm came through shortly afterwards and took away our electricity for two or three days! 😀

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Things were changing in our family; so slowly, but they were.

We weren’t always happy with the changes, but come they would, and the things that went on in this year, and the years before that, the Lord put within our lives to change us into better servants for Him.

Of course we didn’t know it at the time, and still are not often aware of it when He is working.

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I could go on and on about the changes of 2011. The things we went through; all the learning we did – a lot of it in cooking and canning! We had tons of pickles that year and preserves.

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Carra, I’m sure you’ll remember this blurry picture!

We thought this was the very pits of life, didn’t we? The month or more we spent at this home, working – and learning so much about our work!

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Glazing windows.

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And painting them – then trying to get them unstuck! 😀

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We thought this was just the worst part of our lives that could be imagined.

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It was the first time in 11 years that my sister and I ventured to have separate rooms.

And it worked.

Mainly because one sister was on the computer a lot at the time, while the other wanted to sleep!!

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And though we thought we were so, so unhappy….

We can look back now and see the joy that’s hidden in these pictures; the joy we didn’t really know that we had.

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It was a year of learning; of doing things we’d never done before, of experiencing changes we never imagined would come, and of touching new relationships that for a while seemed to send our family on rollercoasters – when really all the were doing was showing us hills and valleys that weren’t really all that deep or tall.

If only we could have seen this then.

If only we could have seen the Lord’s Hand in our circumstances, and learned then to love everyday as if it were our last, and to put our most into each moment for the glory of our Lord Jesus and the love of each other.

If only we could have seen this then.

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And today; as we work…trudging through hours of labor we outright despise, having no time at home as we think we ought, and struggling with relationships – within our family and without – as well as laboring in our own personal relationships with our Jesus….

If today we would just look up.

If we would take a lesson from our past.

All those hours we could have enjoyed and rejoiced in, even in trials and trouble, if only we would have seen Jesus’ working.

And what of today?

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In the simple things in life – and the most difficult – He is still here, still working.

Why can’t we just trust Him?

Why don’t we ever learn this lesson?

Instead of being downcast and depressed and drug down because of tribulation and struggles? Why can’t we embrace these hardships and hold onto Christ, knowing His is always a better plan?

Working in the Gas Chambers

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving Cavour than silver and gold.”

This is going to be another one of those mobile posts. (Mainly because I got up late and haven’t time to upload all the pictures to my computer! Errr….the folly of being tired!)
But yesterday as we were working I promised myself I’d do a blogpost on our latest achievement, so here I am! 🙂

Insulation.
Not the blown in kind by any means…the bales, you cut into strips, push up between the floor joists, and pin in place with tiger teeth.
Not the green, cotton kind
The fiberglass type.

We often put in insulation. Blown in above, and whatever-this-is-called beneath. But yesterday was so full of laughing – even amidst all the work, itching, burning, and squeezing in (sometimes the spaces between the floor and ceiling were only 2 feet or less), that I just had to write about it. 🙂

I only went under for short periods. Asthma keeps me from doing things that are so dusty (or shall we say fibery), but I did go under some to deliver things, and I have a good reputation as a gopher. 🙂

Carra and I joked that we were working in the gas chambers (pictures I took of them thru the foundation vents show why. 🙂 )

Also, I included here the rare picture of one of us girls in pants. (Carra). As I shared on fb, we wear skirts (ie mainly dresses) for modesty even on the farm, mucking out, trimming goat hooves, attending goat births, giving vaccines, disbudding, or at work painting, putting up vinyl siding, muddying, Sheetrock, roofing, etc. or doing any job at home from cookie to mowing grass and anything in between. But sometimes (as at work when crawling under houses or at home hen tending bees) over/coveralls are a must have, even for girls. Of course, it is so rare we use them that we wear Daddy’s.

Hope you enjoy these pictures!

What did you spend your Monday doing?

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May

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14

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I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with my blog as I really should have. Things have been busy round here – not so much in events, as in my mind and in atmosphere.

I’ve also been writing a lot – and when that happens every other writing requirement seems to go to the wind…whether it be diary, blog, or letters!

We have a new job starting up next week as well, so unless i find time to do mobile blogging I doubt I’ll be able to scribble much here then.

Before our job however, our week begins with a trip to NC for a relative’s surgery. We’re praying very much for Randy and his family through this time and that we may be a blessing in going and staying with them through the operation. We’ll be seeing many other family members as well, so even under the sad circumstances, we’ll have a chance to catch up here and there.

But I still mean to write.

My story, that is. 🙂

There’s only a couple things I wanted to share with you that have gone on of late. Mostly around the goat barn.

I wrote the following on the first of May, but I’ve decided to share it now – as its not something I want to leave out!!

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May,  the fifth month of the year, and the first month ever since March 15th 2009 that Princess Tender has not lived here on Goshen’s Plenty Dairy.

April 30th, a very nice older gentleman came and bought her – quite unexpectedly! – and she went to live at a new home to provide milk for another family.

We weren’t quite planning to sell her just yet – I guess we’re holding on to our girls. 🙂 We had planned to sell her sister, Joy, who has a dangerous horn and has been spearing the kids and causing us to be anxious for them. But the Lord knows best and we do plan to sell all the unregistered does – with the exception of Rosie – so we have to make a start I guess.

So, May begins with one less familiar face in the barnyard, but one more step towards achieving our goal; to have an all-registered herd of quality dairy goats.

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If all goes well, in an hour or so, these two little girls should be going to their new home too. As the beginning stock for a family herd.

I love to see people getting into goats – especially families with young children. I think its beautiful to see children growing up learning the ways of the land.

All did go well, thank the Lord, and Tot and Merciful (now named Mercy) went to their new home on May 1st, and through it the Lord led us together with a family that loves Him and seeks to serve Him, and a young woman (the Mama of that family) who has now become a dear friend of ours.

I think it is so beautiful how the Lord works, bringing His servants together at the times He knows are perfect.

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Well…I guess more has happened in May than I give the poor month credit for already! 🙂

Things are growing like crazy (you should see our hay field!), we sold two dear little goaties, Princess went to a new home on the last of April, we made new friends in Jesus, and Enslaved to Freedom is going on 200,000 words and (as of this morning) hit 300 pages. ( I don’t usually pay attention to page numbers, as the finished, published product will not be the same size (8.5×11″) but 300 is a nice number to notice, I think! And I thank Jesus for bringing it along this far!)

I have so been wanting to share with you about Sullivan’s story (but honestly have slipped into that…maybe they don’t want to read it?…mode again and have been putting it off…..) So many things are truly happening though, at sea again in Part Four (did I mention Part Three was finished – thank Jesus!).

That I will have to save for another day, though.

Oh! But one thing about writing.

As an attempt….what of I don’t know…I started a short story ‘series’ (actually chapters from a bigger book) that I’ve put up for sale on Etsy (VERY self published, I’d say). Anyways, the first installment is very small and there probably will only be a few more (longer, I promise!) ones following it before they are all strung together and put in a book for sale via Amazon.

But that’ll be in the future. For now, I’m sharing these sections (as I write them!) for sale as PDF downloads on Etsy for $0.99

The story’s title is Wilma and it is another pirate romance (but about a woman this time…. 🙂 )

If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link;  https://www.etsy.com/listing/150183341/christian-pirate-fiction-short-short?

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day everyone!!

Spring, some updates, and some ranting.

I’m always amazed by how spring rolls around.

Down here in the south, it doesn’t come so gradually. Everyday you can see things getting greener, more flowers opening – even sometimes you can see the difference between the morning and the evening if there’s been a good rain during the day!

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Within a few weeks, everything goes from brown and dead, to lively green and shades of pink and red and purple.

I love the spring – but it also opens up the year’s busiest season on the farm; gardens must be planted, the goats’ pens have to be mucked, pastures re-worked for the coming breeding season, buck pens built, bees tended to, honey harvested, hay cut (two or three times before the summer ends) and stored away, old hay sold or spread on the gardens, then once the veggies and fruits start coming in we have canning and preserving to do, besides all the milk to be processed, cheese and soaps made, and then all the dishes….

Dishes…dishes…dishes…..

Those never seem to have an end!

Besides this, we’re still working away from home.

Its been slowly of late, but we’re due to sign another contract on a large project this coming week (henceforth referred to as “High”), so we’ll be back to the old routine soon, Lordwilling – and then trying to fit in all our farm chores as well.

But still, all considered, I love the spring. 🙂 I love seeing everything come to life and I love working on our farm.

I haven’t been around my blogs lately – I suppose all this (and the fact that a cold’s been going round) gives a good enough reason for that.

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During this break from blogging I’ve seriously been giving some thought on why I busted up my interests into two separate blogs.

I write two blogs, one for my life on the farm etc, and one for writing.

I had a very good reason to when I did it – and it sounded logical to me at the time, but the more I’ve struggled to keep both of these up the more I find that my blogging – like my life – is all mixed up together and stashed into one compartment.

When I write I am – confessedly – in another world, and do sometimes feel like another person, but my writing takes up a great part of my life – whether physically or not – and its all mixed up and confused in my farm life, work life, and family life.

I don’t really see where I found the reasoning behind moving it to another site.

Or…yes I do.

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I have a tendency to worry too much about what others think.

I try to tell myself I don’t – and in some situations I couldn’t care less what people think of me – but in others I’m just as vulnerable as the next person to a fear of rejection…or misunderstanding.

That’s why I moved my writing to a new site.

Because, by sharing my work and my love with my readers, I felt I was imposing on them.

I began this blog to document my life as a servant to the Lord Jesus – and everything that entailed; farming, working, music, everyday struggles, sewing, house-wifery…..the list goes on.

I had no intention of sharing my writing, per se, and for a long time I did not.

Here and there, I tried various ways of sharing, short stories, chapters from the stories I was working on, etc. but I always felt this sense of…heaviness? Is that the word?

I felt like people would not understand me, and that my posts on writing were more of an imposition than an asset.

So I moved them.

And now I feel like a person trying to live two lives – when really I am the girl who writes My Life in Him not the girl who struggles to write a literary blog like what Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver has become.

That’s not me. Not me at all. The posts are me, most of them, but I’m not a ‘literary’ type person.

I don’t read a lot, I can’t stand most fiction, I’ve never delved into many classics, and contemporary works simply leave me empty. I don’t write book reviews and I don’t like to teach. I have steadily disliked the way young writers try to teach other writers how to write; writing is something that you are born with, the Lord Jesus puts it there, and He’s the One Who must fashion it and bring it up – with much labor and work on the part of His instrument. I believe in sharing this journey – not teaching.

And of all things, I have ended up writing a couple of these ‘teachy’ sort of posts on Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver simply because I’m at a loss for something to write.

And that is just not me.

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Writing to me is living.

What I write in what I live – in another world, as another person. I believe in the things I write, I believe in the people the Lord gives me to write about, and I struggle through their lives and trials just as much as I struggle through my own in reality – it just all comes out on paper instead of being lived out day to day.

I fear others will not understand me, because I do love writing so much, so I bury it amongst the other things that enliven my world – our dairy, our wonderful goats, our farm, my family. I hide behind the part of me that wants to go and just lay down in the grass and let twenty baby goats jump all over me.

I don’t show people the part of me that wants to hide away in a closet with pen and paper and scribble in another world.

I probably will never show this part of me to people as much as I would like to.

I have never wanted to be an author, since I was just a tiny girl (five or six) the very word author summoned up the picture of an all-knowing, sophisticated, somewhat crazy type person with thin glasses, the perfect physic, and a very stuffy character.

I know this is quite a stero-typing, but this is what I thought, sitting in public school (before my parents took me out and homeschooled me) and listening to my teacher, Mrs. Bradly, tell us all about what author meant.

I guess she made it sound like authors were a special class of people – something worth noticing above everyone else – and that’s what turned me off.

I have never wanted to be an author – I still don’t.

I just write what the Lord gives me to write, and I hope one day that others will read it and be blessed by it in someway.

In the same light I don’t want to have a literary blog.

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I know over the years of keeping a blog I’ve proven quite….what’s the word….wish-washy?

I can’t make my mind up over a format, I keep changing the settings, swapping the name, making new blogs, now I’ve changed platforms, and now I’m merging my blogs together again.

That’s something else you’ll learn about me. 🙂 I am wishy-washy! My sister, Carra, will vouch for me – I change purses like I change my clothes, and I’m always looking for a better diary or notebook than the one I have. 🙂

But this time I think this change will be final. Writing is separate from my farm life – but its not – its separate from my work – but its not – its separate from my family life – but its not.

Would you believe I read my story on my Iphone while I milk in the mornings, or write scenes while we’re at work? And my family will be the first to tell you how ragged I run them talking about my story (I’m glad they can’t hear how much I think of it!)

I feel rejected in my work, I guess because I can’t talk about it like I would like to – because I’m afraid no one will understand, or because I think they’ll think I’m crazy!

But I’m tired of hiding.

do take my writing seriously. I trust the Lord Jesus for my stories and for my characters, but I do worry – all the time – about how scenes will turn out, if characters are consistent – if things are real.

And I’m tired of being something I’m not.

I’m tired of writing about the farm, or cooking, or work, when really all I want to do is scribble about my latest work in Enslaved to Freedom or share a new idea for a story to something that will listen – beyond the pages of my diary.

My writing is just as big a part of my life in Jesus as farming and work is – maybe even bigger! – and that’s why I’m bringing it back to My Life in Him.

What I do

“Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”

Proverbs 23:4-5

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I know I talk a lot about our work; renovating low-income houses for the government. And I share a lot of pictures, and updates about our jobs (Hemlock is almost done by the way 🙂 ), but it seems it can still be rather confusing what we really do. I guess because from the time we started in it again ’till now I’ve never really sat down and explained it, other than that we do construction work.

So…I’m going to explain it now. 🙂

Our job starts with getting bid packages from the city government. (To do this you must attend a pre-bid conference. If you are not at the pre-bid conference then you do not get a package and do not get to bid; its really a strict system.)

After you’ve got the packages (i.e. write-ups) you visit the houses.

I look forward to visiting houses. 🙂 Its fun to go into town and see communities you never knew were there – get a glimpse as to how city people live. Seeing kids riding their bikes on the streets, playing ball, and making friends with neighbors brings me back to my own one year of city life when I was young. Nostalgic in a way…in another very repulsive…but I’m off the subject….

Anyways, we all four go to look at houses together. Generally there’s more than three – last time there was seven, time before that twelve – so we make a day of it, usually eat-out and all that. 🙂

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Then there’s the part of getting up the bids. Daddy does most of this, but usually we all look them over, pray about it, and give our opinionsWe try to let the Lord Jesus guide us in this – as in all that we do – our natural logic and figuring is never equal to what His Will may be.

I pray we never lose this conviction.

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Then there’s bid meeting. Everyone brings their sealed bids to the city meeting, signs in (you have to be there on time), and then they are read aloud. The lowest bidder – within 10% above or below the Public Body Estimate – gets the job, after it is approved by the state.

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Some of the homes we work in are rough. We try not to get jobs that are in too bad of neighborhoods. With a family of three girls and one man, its not always best to spend weeks in a bad area, even if you’re getting paid.

So far I thank the Lord that we’ve worked in pretty decent areas. The jobs have been hard, but not overcoming, and we’ve been able to handle them.

There’s a lot of painting involved, some carpentry, a lot of replacing HV/AC systems, some windows, pouring concrete, building handicap ramps, and other things like that if you are sort of getting the idea. Complete renovations, but not gutting the houses (thank the Lord!)

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You’re generally given between 45 to 60 days to do the work. This time frame seems to do well for us. Weekends off and we take some week days off too if we’re pushing too hard and need a break. It really provides us a free schedule, the ability to set our own hours, and work other things in if we need to.

I am beginning to actually enjoy this work. I don’t like the work itself, mind you, but the whole atmosphere of having a family business, working hard with your hands to make a living, going to new communities, seeing things you’ve never seen before, “living” per se at another house for a month or two, cooking and packing healthy lunches (or eating out 🙂 ), scribbling in my diary at lunch time, listening to our music as we work, updating facebook on the job, taking tons of pictures (between one and two hundred a day actually 🙂 ), even working on my stories sometimes when there’s slow moments and I’m not hollered at or my job threatened. 🙂

Construction work isn’t a girl’s job. That’s true. But who says a girl can’t be in it, enjoy it, do her best, help her family make a living, and be doing something most girls never even imagine doing? I mean, most girls my age would never dream of helping re-screen a porch, hang ceiling fans, paint a whole house, help bust up a segment of concrete drive-way, or lay carpet and vinyl flooring – no more than they would ever imagine living on a farm, helping haul in 200+ square bales of hay two or three times a year (in the hottest days of summer), helping a doe give birth to tangled twins or triplets, milking nine does by hand every day, or even drinking goats’ milk period!

I’m beginning to see the beauty in, and appreciate very much, my out-of-the-normal lifestyle.

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