2012 Prayer

"My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make ever effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 10-12

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rest In Peace

Tragedy struck the Zbylot household yesterday around 4:00 p.m. I was preparing for my lesson for the next day at my computer when I looked up at the window and was greeted by Nathan holding a chick upside down by the legs. I initially thought that he was mistreating the bird, but quickly saw that the bird was dead. I jumped up and went outside to find Hannah running through the back yard with tears in her eyes, Dawson with a concerned and determined look on his face, and Nathan giving me the low down.

Evidently, Dawson went out to check on the chicks and instead of seeing their cute little bodies scratching around, saw a big hawk "ripping" (his words) off the face of his bird. He quickly threw a stick and scared the hawk off. This led to a mass search for the other chicks. As I arrived on the scene the search was in high gear and I could hear nothing but extreme squawking from the nearby neighbors yard. None of the chicks could be found. I walked with the kids down the street and all we could hear was that loud piercing sound of birds when they have found their feast. I was thinking to myself that there was no telling how many of our chicks they were up there eating, but I didn't say anything to the kids. I quickly said a prayer and as we walked back through the gate I glanced to my left and saw the remaining six chicks all huddle up in the corner under some leaves. With great relief the kids quickly picked them up and carried them to the coop.

Hannah was in tears. Holding her I told her that the hawks have to eat too. She said that she hated the hawks. I told her that hawks can't just live off of bugs and asked her if she could live off of bugs. She said no, but that she could live off of cereal. We had to laugh because it is probably true!! After some more tears and hugs by Hannah and listening to more of how it all happened, things began to calm down a little. However, later in the evening when dad came home, the story was relived again and a burial was performed. Now this wasn't our first burial. We did have one chick pass on at the ripe age of less than one week of being with us do to an unfortunate accident underneath someone's foot. Little Peep had already been buried and now it was Dawson's chick, Rocky's, turn. (Luckily for us the hawk did not carry Rocky off when Dawson threw the stick at him.) Hannah and Dawson worked diligently to not only bury the chick, but also give them a proper tombstone and decorations.

The inscriptions read:

Peep #1 was a good chick. The best behaved chick I ever saw.

Rocky #2 had a good personality. P.S. The best.

After baths, I joined the kids on the back porch while they ate their snacks. I asked them what they were talking about and they said they were discussing what they have learned about chickens. Here is their list:

1) Don't leave the chicken feed close to the fence (it got rained on the other day)
2) Don't just leave the chicks out without watching them
3) Don't let the chicks get under your foot
4) Don't lock the chickens out of the coop or pen without leaving water and food for them

We face a new day today. I am sure that the kids will be on high alert as we listen and look for hawks. A covered chicken run is now being discussed for added protection for the chicks. It is just another reminder that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) The hawks had been circling our house for about a month now. We have been surprised that they hadn't struck sooner. However, they are just like Satan. Satan circles around us until just the right time and strikes us when we least expect it. Who would have thought that the hawk would have gotten our chicken while we were here at the house. Surely it would have happened while we were gone!! No, Satan is sneaky and will wait patiently for the prime opportunity. May we be on guard both day and night through the meditation of the word and continual prayers of thanksgiving and praise as we seek God's protection from our enemy as well as protection for our families and friends.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mom and Me Time

The first two weeks of school are complete. Only 32 left!! While most students are counting down the days left before they start back to school, the Zbylot kids are counting down how many they have left before next summer. Yes, we start back to school early and we do for a multiple of reasons. One reason is we get out before everyone else in May and can enjoy some of the summer activities before the summer crowds hit. All that said I wanted to give an update about how our 2010-2011 school year has begun and what God is doing within our family.

Each year I fervently pray and put together a family schedule for us. I have done this from the very beginning when we first decided to homeschool. I have used a wonderful book, Mangers of Their Home, that gives examples and a method for setting up a family schedule. Over the years, I review the book during the summer and then tweak it according to our family's needs. This year as I was reading through a different book, the Holy Spirit really burdened my heart about how fast the kids were growing up and how much time I spend with them outside of homeschooling. Let me clarify. I am officially teacher for about six hours every day. Then of course there is the daily chores and cooking and cleaning that has to take place. God wanted me to examine how much time I was truly spending with each of our children just getting to know them for who they were and the uniqueness God has given to each of them. This conviction led to slotting 45 minutes each week for me to spend one-on-one time with each of our children. Scott also has 45 minutes each week with each of the kids as well. My initial goal was to have an hour, but we ended up with 45 minutes. After I get everyone's schedule put together as far as when they do what, I let Scott look over it and offer any changes or additions. Once we had agreed on the schedule we put it into practice the first day of school.

The kids were not too excited about having something to do almost every hour of the day this year, but as they have gotten older their school work takes longer. They also didn't realize that some of that time would be spent with one-on-one time with mom or dad. Our first day of school went well. In fact, everyone seemed to enjoy it. It is always hard to get back into a routine and a new one at that, but the kids did well. Scott had still not gone back to work yet, so having him at home helped a little too.

To my amazement and almost sadness that I haven't done this sooner, the kids most favorite and most looked forward to time of the week is their individual one-on-one time with mom or dad. Throughout the week they will look at the schedule or ask when their mom and me time is going to happen. They plan all week about what they are going to do during their special time alone with me or Scott. Each time I am with one of the kids alone, I get to see the creation God has blessed me with and how much he desires for me to help train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Sometimes we play Legos. Sometimes we throw the Frisbee. Other times we cook, play the Wii or just watch a movie. It doesn't matter what we end up doing, it always opens up great conversation that we would not necessarily have had if we had been all together. In fact, according to Nathan, I am getting better at throwing the Frisbee! :)

Our family schedule also has two other special times that I have been encouraged by. We have always wanted our children to have a quiet time in the morning (a time where they just sit and read the word and pray before their day begins.) This year, I put it on the schedule. First thing in the morning, Hannah and Dawson each read from their own devotional book. Since Nathan and Peter need a little help reading and neither Scott nor I are available in the morning to help them with that, Nathan and Peter listen to a chapter read to them from the bible on or from the mp3 player. This has worked really well. After they each finish their quiet time they come and tell me what they read about. This has been another blessing for our family as it has helped all of us begin our day with the right priority and attitude.

Last, our family schedule has a family worship time at the end of the day. This time is set aside right before bed where we gather together and sing worship songs off of or a worship cd. We discuss what was good about the day and have a time a prayer. We wanted to have a time together as a family where we could just relax and worship God through song and prayer and end the day he gave us. It has been a great way to relax and enjoy one another one last time before going to bed.

I guess I wanted to share all of this because it has been such a blessing to me these last few weeks. It has always been on my heart to spend more time with the kids (outside of schooling), but have never really found a way to make it work. By actually writing it down and putting it on the schedule, God has allowed it to become a reality. I have seen the longing my children have had to spend time with me uninterrupted doing something they are interested in. I am looking forward to the next 32 weeks. It will be fun to see what I get to do with them each week as they come up with new things to do for their mom and me time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Chicken Experience

Okay, I know I haven't posted anything in over two weeks, but when you spend a week at Preteen camp and then begin homeschooling the very next week, it is really difficult to find time to write down all the crazy things that are happening in your life. So for the last two weeks I have had a running list of the blogs that need to be written...And yes, I still have one more Uganda entry to write. That has been the hardest one to actually force myself to write, because I don't want it to be final!! I would use my first available time to write about our final days in Uganda, but do to relatives (not mentioning any names, Rochelle) having chicken dilemmas, I thought I would begin with our summer project to build a chicken coop and begin raising chickens.

Our new house has a large open backyard. We decided that our summer project would be to build a chicken coop and plant a garden for the fall. We have had a garden on multiple occasions in our married life, but we have never ventured out to raise any other animal but our dog, Maddy. Since Scott would be off for the summer, we knew we had a limited about of time to get everything done that we needed to get done before he went back to teaching. I had purchased a book at the homeschool convention called The Backyard Homestead. It is a wonderful book and makes you think you can do anything related to gardening and becoming self-sufficient with regards to feeding your family. Anyway, I sent a copy of the chicken coop plans to my dad who is a carpenter so that he could take a look at them and give us some direction. He found some other ideas and shared them with me.

That weekend I took Hannah, Nathan, and Peter to Lowes and bought some of the material we needed to begin the coop. We didn't have to purchase too much wood because we were using old fence that had fallen down during hurricane Ike several years ago. Scott and Dawson were away at Kidz Camp so I was flying solo. That didn't stop me though. After all my dad is a carpenter and surely I could run a skill saw and drill!!

With blueprints, wood, screws, skill saw, drill, and fence in hand, I went to work. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of what I built, but I couldn't take a picture while I was working!! However, I did build the base of the chicken coop all by myself. We did have to make a few minor adjustments when Scott got home, but at least I got it started!! Once Scott got home, I shared with him the ideas and after he worked a solid week on the coop, we were really close to the finished product.

Front view of the unfinished coop.
Kids peeking through the hen boxes.
Backside view of the unfinished coop.
Dawson and Peter helping to cut the chicken wire.
Hannah acting like a hen.
Scott had talked to his brother in Lufkin who has had chickens for several years now. He told him to order us some chickens and Scott's parents, who would be coming to visit his brother and family that weekend, could bring them back to us. Now we really had to have not only the coop ready, but also the pen. So on a Sunday afternoon, we all set out to finish the job. Dad came over and helped out with finishing up the doors and gates. We were now ready for our chickens!!

The coop is finished!!
Inside the chicken pen.
Scott's parents got in to late that night to deliver the hen, but the next morning 'Lil Red entered her new home.

Taking 'Lil Red to the coop.
'Lil Red checking out her new home.
But one hen was not going to suffice for the Zbylot children. Scott took them the next day to the feed store and came home with six new baby chicks. They were about a week old and were so cute. We had to keep the chicks separate from the hens because chickens can be cannibalistic!! Who knew? We kept them in a large box on the back porch with a heating lamp so they would stay warm.

Our new chicks exploring.
Later in the week we had a neighbor's mother give us her hen who kept eating her tomatoes and she wanted to get rid of it. So we took in Ole Yeller!!

'Lil Red and Ole Yeller getting use to each other.
After having the hens for a little over a week, we finally got our first egg!!! It was about the size of a robin egg. You know, the malted milk kind you eat at Easter!! We didn't know what to think. How were we going to survive off eggs the size of robin eggs?!?
Scott bought some different feed and about a week later we had our first real size egg.
I never thought in a million years having chickens would be so much fun, interesting, and entertaining. The kids have had a ball and watching the personalities of the chicks and hens has been amazing. Getting chicks has been better than getting a cat or dog for a pet.

The kids have enjoyed playing with the chicks so much. Here they are just a few days after getting them.
Could have used this at Easter. I just love this picture!!