Friends and Birthdays

For birthdays at our home, we try to let the birthday person know how much they mean to us. We give gifts, but our favorite thing to do is write letters. When D asked Alyssa what she wanted for her birthday this year. She said, “another long letter.” Some times the letters are funny but they are usually encouraging the birthday person to follow harder after the LORD the coming year.

000_0023Daddy brought Alyssa flowers for her birthday.

100_2987Alyssa reading Daniel’s letter.

100_3002D playing with Mary Katie.

(I promised not to post any tearful pictures but I promise there are lots of tender moments filled with tears on birthdays at our home.)

 Many times I have thought about posting the letters because they are so encouraging but also very personal. Recently D wrote a birthday letter to one of his good friends, so I asked permission to post it.

20140413_150114D and Elijah

Greetings Elijah,

Here is a little encouragement for you on your birthday. You have been a great blessing to me and your walk with the Lord is an encouragement to me. The Lord has grown you mightily in the last couple of years and He will continue to grow you. I look forward to what the Lord has in store for our friendship. Short of Dillon, you and your brother are the closest friends that I have. I thank you for being a true friend to me. You have not been afraid to tell me when I am wrong and to correct me in the Lord and for that I am grateful. That is a true friend. You are like a brother to me. I am grateful to the Lord for bringing our families together, (even though I may not have been on the first day that we met!) The Lord has been so good to me. I want to encourage you to fight the good fight. It is a tough world out there and it is not getting any better. This world needs young men like you and me to grow in the Lord and in the power of His might. To walk in the ways of the Lord and to shine His light to this dark and dying world. The Lord has put us on this Earth for a reason and the chief end of that is to glorify Him, it is how He wants us to glorify Him that we must figure out and then do. Christ tells us that if we love Him, then we will keep His commandments. He commands us to go and spread the Gospel to all nations and make disciples. We must take this role seriously and do what we can to fulfill the Great Commission. I would be the first to say that I have a long way to go on improving in this area. My charge to you is to stand strong for Christ. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you.

My next thing is in the area of our spheres of influence. I want to encourage you to live Godly in Christ Jesus and set the example for the next generation. Not only do we need to set the example for the next generation of what a Godly man is, we need to propel them further. We must not be content with how far our parents have gone in the Christian walk, we must endeavor, by the grace of God, to go farther. There are many people out there who are looking to you as the example of what a Godly young man looks like and they are not defined by age. Older and younger alike look at you and the example that you set. Many people see you and your walk with Christ and they want it. Right, wrong, or indifferent, we do not have a choice about how others look at us. Our ultimate focus must be on Christ, but we all look at other people and think that they have it all together. It is part of our sin nature. The key is to realize that people do that about us. We must do what we can to set the example for the next generation. Also, not only do other young men look at you as the example of what a Godly young man looks like, but many young ladies do as well. I know that you probably don’t want to think about this, but it is true. We must take this fact into consideration when living the life that the Lord has given to us. This fact hit me very hard when one of our elders told me. I had never thought about it before. We are showing them what a Godly young man looks like in our day and age. Are we truly representing Christ? Do we treat our sisters in Christ with the honor and respect that they deserve? Are we endeavoring to keep them pure and not cause them to stumble by our actions, words, or attitudes even if this means that we do or don’t do certain things? These and others are questions that we should always be asking ourselves. The biggest thing to remember is that we should not live life for ourselves. First, we must live our lives for the Lord and accomplish the will of God, whatever that may be. Second, we must live life for the next generation and truly realize that life is not about us. Here is what I mean by that, we cannot live life right now and think that the decisions that we make right now will only affect us. The decisions that we make today, can and will affect the next generation and many generations thereafter. They will also affect the people that we are around today. We must bear this in mind as we live our lives in the service of our King.

The Lord has given us many people that we can minister to and speak into their lives for His glory, including our siblings and others within the Church. We must take these opportunities and use them to advance the Kingdom of Christ. Maturity does not come with age. We must draw closer to Christ, and He promises that He will draw near to us. The Lord does not say that we need to be a certain age before He can use us. He can and will use at whatever time and age He wants to. The older you get the more wisdom you will have, but the Lord can use young people as well. We must remember this as it is easy for some to fall into the trap of saying that the Lord can’t use them because they have not learned this or that or because they are too young and the older men know best. I think that as young men we need to mature up and grow in Christ and become men of God. If we see an area that we are lacking in, we need to do what we can to fix it by the grace of God. We must not sit by in idleness. Christ has called us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Our works are a byproduct of our faith but they are a necessary part of it. I am not saying in any way that a young man knows everything or that he should in anyway disrespect those who are older in some way because he knows better. Older men are wiser and deserve our respect and honor whether or not they are right, but especially if they are right.

I feel that the Lord has laid on my heart to try to encourage other young men to stand up for Christ and quit cowering under the influence of the world. I see so many young men out there who are throwing away their lives for mere pleasure here on earth. There is so much more to life than our pleasure. We must take pleasure in Christ and then the things that bring Him pleasure, will bring us pleasure and the things that He hates, we will hate. I see so many young men who are so downcast all the time and have not the joy of the Lord in their lives and yet they are growing up in Christian homes. We must do what we can to change this. I am seeing so many people in my generation fall away from Christ and destroy their lives and if I want my children to live a life with the same liberties that I have, I must do something about it. Where are the young men who are willing to stand up for Christ? He has called us as young men to stand up and stand strong for Him. That is an order, not a suggestion and yet so many people treat it as a suggestion. We are called to lead our families in a God honoring way. We are called to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The Lord has given me a passion to try to help the next generation and by “next generation”, I mean young men and women around your age and my age. We will endure persecution for standing up for Christ, but what better thing to be persecuted for? Christ is our all in all. He is all that I need. He will protect us. I was just reading in Proverbs where Christ says that no evil thing shall happen to the righteous. Everything that happens the Lord either allows or causes to happen. It is all for His glory and for our good. It does not matter what happens to me, He has got me in His hand and none can take me out, that is enough for me. That is all that I want to be assured of. We must look at everything as a character building opportunity. Christ is conforming us to His image and what a wonderful thing that is. He is preparing us to be His spotless bride. We are spotted right now and must become spotless and there is only one way to change, and that is to be purged of our sin. We must remember to be humble in all of this. We are doing what we are doing for the glory of God and not ourselves. He is our ultimate goal.

Well, I have said enough. I hope that some of this is a blessing for you. There is so much that I could talk to you about and try to encourage you with, but this is what the Lord has laid on my heart. I pray that the Lord blesses you and gives you the courage to continue to stand up for Him. He has great plans for us all, but we must be willing to be used and prepare our hearts for His work. He will do a mighty work in and through each and every one of us if we will let Him. I am thankful to the Lord for the friends that He has given me. You are a big blessing in my life and I praise the Lord for you.

Blessings to you and Happy Birthday!

Looking to Christ,

Dylan Fleshman

That got me to thinking about the children’s friends as I know that is a common concern of homeschooling. Our goal is for the children to be each others best friend first, but of course they have lots of friends. I think of Grandma Duggar who says, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” So we encourage our children to choose their friends wisely, knowing that they are either influencing someone or being influenced.

Here’s a few pictures I came across from this year. A tribute to friends……

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 I was going through the year posting pictures and my computer locked up. Too many pictures! We are so grateful for all our sweet friends!

All for Him, Cynthia (for the Flock)

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Free Conference!!!!

ATI will be having a one day Family Connections conference on Saturday, September 6! Please refer to their website for more information!

www.ati.iblp.com

All for Him, Cynthia (for the Flock)

We’ve always been blessed beyond measure by every ATI event we’ve ever attended!!!!!

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Saying Goodbye, no, See You Later! To the Sweet Determan Family

100_3197For those of you who do not know them, this is the John and Beth Determan Family. We had a fellowship last weekend to send them off to Tennessee. They have a wonderful testimony of how the LORD guided and provided for them to make this move. You can learn more about them on their blog at www.determanfamily.blogspot.com.

100_3200The Eric and Stephanie Calderon Family

100_3202Donny and Shannon Lester Family

Some pictures from the day!

100_3135Daddy’s Fellowshipping (and D holding Mary Kate)

100_3154Sweet Mommies and Dear Friends!

100_3186100_3142Lots of games!

100_3174The trampoline’s a good place for a board game.

100_3133Swinging

100_3172More swinging…..

100_3160More Swinging…..100_3165Zip lining…..

Gil ended the night with a hymn sing and prayer for the Determans.

Such good times…….

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100_3210100_3204100_3207100_3208So sweet, Big sisters holding baby sisters while singing and fellowshipping.

100_3242Cute shot of D holding Hannah, all tuckered out.

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All for Him, Fleshmanflock

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Garden Update

Our garden is doing much better; still slow but better. At this point, we believe our biggest mistake was using new woodchips verses composted woodchips. This was due to our own ignorance because they did say composted woodchips in the Back to Eden Film. We have been watching the film again and studying more to see what else we can do now, and what our best options are for the future. We do not ever want to appear to be casting blame on anyone. We desire to share our mistakes so others can learn from, and with us.

100_2876[1]The squash on the left side of your screen is mulched with straw. The squash on the right side of your screen is mulched in woodchips. :) Big difference!

So, we are gently raking off the top layers of woodchips, trying not to disturb the top layer of soil. We are then adding more compost, and re-mulching heavily with straw. The woodchips really did work great to build our soil in may other ways. It is actually beginning to look like really garden soil instead of the sandy dirt we are used to seeing. We have much more organic material in the soil and the earthworms are everywhere now.  Our pest bug problems seem to be better so far this year as well. Not sure if it’s the chips/mulch or just the cooler Spring. I will be continuing to spend time watching the garden predator populations to see if the chips have helped in this way. I think they probably have. The main problem we learned in placing new woodchips on the soil was that as they break down, they “rob”, or use, much of the available nitrogen in the top layers of the soil. This layer is where the plant’s main root base is located and they need it in plentiful amounts for their initial growth stages. As you can see in the picture above, the squashes on the left in the straw had plentiful amounts of available nitrogen and the plants on the right did not. It really does make all the difference in the world. The good news is that the nitrogen is not actually gone, it’s just tied up right now as the chips decompose. So, as they complete their breakdown, the nitrogen will be released back into the soil in an available state. With all our advances in science, we still know so little about the earth itself. Truly good healthy garden soil is literally live with microbial and insect life. What an amazing design that God uses to grow everything we need for life. The better we can make our soil, the better will be our food, and then the better our health and our life!

In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying our spring (almost summer).

100_2872[1]100_2871[1]100_2873[1]100_2874[1]Yesterday, we enjoyed awesome oatmeal pancakes with fresh maple syrup (made by our adopted older brother Dillon Dornink!) and then had a great time in the Word on our front porch. We love to read the proverb corresponding with the day of the month so yesterday we read Chapter 18 because it was June 18th. We read 2 verses at a time rotating around in age order. So everyone gets to read and then we talk about what we read. God is good and we are thankful for all he is teaching us in this season.

All for Him, Gil and Cynthia (for the Flock)

 

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Questions on our garden

As we are trying to learn from each other, I thought I would post some questions we have received, along with the answers. Please keep suggestions coming as we want to learn together. Thank you all for your calls, emails, and prayers.

Did you all till the wood chips in?
No, We did not till the garden. We did dig up Bermuda grass in a few rows but we are experiencing the same results on the entire garden. Most of the garden does not have new wood chips, only a thin layer of old ones from last year.
Did you plant in the wood chips?
No, we did not plant in the wood chips. We raked the existing wood chips back and planted directly in the soil. We did not re-mulch, push wood chips back up to plants, or add new wood chips.
Did it start growing good and then just stop?
No it didn’t start growing good, most plants are basically the same size as when we planted them or they have grown very little even after weeks. The seeds that did germinate basically stopped at about an inch or so tall.
Have you tried any fertilizers?  Like kelp, alfalfa meal, blood meal, fish meal, or compost tea?
This year we have used fish emulsion, organic miracle grow, and cottonseed meal. We think this is why the plants are alive at all.
Did you plant your seedlings yet? Yes, we’ve planted everything except fall squash.
 I wasn’t sure of your last frost date? April 15th is our average last frost but this year we had a frost in the beginning of May.
All for Him, Cynthia (for the Flock)

 

 

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Garden Lost for 2014 Season

We are cancelling our CSA Program and our markets for the 2014 growing season. We regret to inform all of our customers that we tried the wood chip mulch in our garden and it did not work for us. Our garden is stunted and basically won’t grow. We do not want to cast any blame on the Back to Eden program. However, we have been informed that the wood chip method does not work in Oklahoma due to our climate and soil biology. So we would encourage any one desiring to try this method to test it on a small part of their garden before applying wood chips to their entire garden. If you are a CSA Member you will be receiving a refund in the mail this week. We are unsure how this will affect us in the future. We do not know if God is closing the door of our farm for business or not. We seek to serve Him wherever He plants us. We covet your prayers as we try to reclaim the garden and seek direction for our future. For those interested or those suffering the same plight, our plan at this time is to rake off all wood chips into the paths and cover the rows with as much organic material as we can get our hands on. We would love to hear from any one who has any wisdom in this area. Thank you all for your support of our farm and our family.

All for Him, Fleshmanflock :)

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Farm Happenings

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Most of the below happened in one day. Yes, life is busy but it’s a good busy. We’re doing what we feel God has called us to do, we love it (most of the time :) ) and we’re doing it together. We worked on installing our new irrigation system. Above – Daddy and Danny’s holding a spool of drip tape. Below – Abby runs to the other end of the row holding the drip tape.

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The woodchip mountains make a great place for a rest.

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Above – It’s Timmy’s turn to hold the drip tape.

Below – We started our sweet potato slips. We put toothpicks in the sweet potatoes and then placed them in a canning jar of water. In about 4 weeks, we’ll pull off the sweet potato slips and put them in water to root before planting them in the garden.

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Doing these projects together remind us of why this whole thing started. The vision to work together so we could spend more time together, walking by the way with our children and loving each other.

Right after we finished the sweet potato slip project, the phone rang. Some good friends blest us with these two baby goats.

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It was family night so we made one of our favorites.

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

First, you pop 20 cups of popcorn. Place in a large roasting pan and preheat oven to 300. We pop extra for snacking and taste testers.

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Emily and Hannah volunteered to be taste testers.

Then, you whisk together 1 c. sucanat or sugar (white or brown), 1/4 c. honey, and 1 stick butter. Stir for 5 minutes.

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Whisk in 1/2 t. vanilla, 1/4 t. baking soda, and 1/4 c. cocoa powder.

Quickly stir into popcorn and bake for 8 minutes at 300. Watch closely as it can burn easily. We’ve even skipped the baking part. :)

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Another day, the boys do school around the sweet potato slips.

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While Alyssa helps catch up on some sewing.

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Last night we hurried and covered everything we could with row covers. So far, everything I’ve checked was spared. Thank God. After losing everything last year to a late freeze, we try to get everything covered. Live and learn. :)

Blessings from the Flock!

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Planting Spring Crops and Fertilizing Fruit Trees

100_2259[1]Gil spent the day preparing rows for planting! The dark soil looks so much better than the red dirt that used to be there. Every year it looks a little better.

100_2261[1]100_2263[1]Unfortunately, we haven’t got the greenhouse built yet. Hopefully by the end of the year. So our starts are in the cold frame, all 1,608 of them! The children transplanted some of them into the garden today.

100_2265[1]Here, Daniel is planting Swiss Chard.

100_2266[1]Alyssa is preparing this row for lettuces. Buttercrunch, Red Salad Bowl, and Romaine!

100_2267[1]Timothy and Abigail are fertilizing the baby fruit trees with fish emulsion. It’s great stuff, but phew! Definitely made of fish! :-)

Hopefully, we’ll get our cole crops in tomorrow! We are so grateful for our sweet children to share this dream with us. We would not be able to do it all without them.

Blessings from the Flock!

Gil and Cynthia…

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Sowing Starts and New Shirts!

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We got our t-shirts in today!

I have never felt more blessed or more busy in my life. We are so thankful for the life the LORD has blessed us with! We are living our dream. All my life I’ve dreamed of having a family. I am so thankful to be able to be home to support Gil in his dream of our farm (I’m the secretary), homeschool and spend the day with my best friends (our children), and learn how to run our farmstead. We are learning so fast that I can hardly take it all in. I want to try to post more of our daily life for those of you who would like to contact us with advice (please don’t hesitate to leave advice or questions on our contact us page) and for those who would like to learn along the way with us. We are so thankful for all those who the LORD has brought across our path to teach us. So if you share a similar dream, I hope this website can help us learn together.

Right now on the farm, we are very busy preparing for this growing season. We got our t-shirts in today. Yippee! We all put them on before we even washed them! The kids kept saying over and over, “I love my shirt!” So sweet. We applied and were accepted for the Edmond Farmers Market. Yippee again! We missed doing markets last year and are so excited to prepare for them this year. We will also be doing our CSA Membership. We are making lots of new varieties of soap. We’ll add them to our Soap page as they are available for sale. The girls’ favorite so far is Creamy Coconut. We are filing out paperwork for insurance and licenses. We are sowing starts. So far we have started, tomatoes (lots of varieties), peppers, squash, zucchini, patty pan, herbs, flowers, watermelons and cantaloupes. We have planted onions, turnips, peas, and carrots. This weekend, we have scheduled to plant more onions, potatoes, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, lettuces, kale, chards, spinach, and beets. Gil bought row covers to protect the crops incase we get more freezes. We still have plenty of beds to prepare for planting as well. Speaking of preparing garden beds, we have had several people volunteer to come help with a project. If your still interested, give us a call for a hands on learning experience or just some fun if you already know how to plant. Here’s some pictures and I better go. Dinner Time!

100_2246[1]Here the boys are fill the pots with a mixture of potting soil and peat moss.

100_2248[1]Then they planted seeds.

100_2249[1]We love to order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at www.RareSeeds.com.

A little potting soil, a few seeds, a sunny window, and your off and running! So much fun! Start your seeds this weekend, if you haven’t already!

From our small farm to you, Cynthia (for the Flock)

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2014 CSA Contract is available online!

We just finished our 2014 CSA Contract. If you were a CSA Member last year, you have until March 15th to return your application for the 2014 growing season. Starting March 17th, we’ll beginning taking new CSA Members. Once all CSA Shares are full, we’ll begin a will call list. That means if we have an abundance of produce, we’ll call you and you can pick up a one-time CSA Share. Thank you all for your support of our farm and our family!

We are looking forward to an amazing growing season!

Gil and Cynthia Fleshman and Family

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