Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Merry Christmas

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Left Over Oatmeal? No Problem.

We have come to love steel-cut oats and many days I will make more than enough.  Is anyone wondering what I do with all the left-over oatmeal?  Make baked oatmeal, oatmeal peanut butter balls, use it in breads or muffins, or make granola with all of it.

Basic Baked Oatmeal Recipe

After I have made oats from the previous day, I use all the left over oats (usually about 4-6 cups)
4 eggs, mixed well
2 cups yogurt, Kefir, or milk
1/2-1 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar or preferred sweetener
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2-1 cup chopped nuts
optional: fruit (this morning I added frozen diced peaches)

Mix all of the above ingredients and place in a 9x13 in. baking pan and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday

This is what I woke up to this morning.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nothing Like Fast

Our old washing machine has been on it's last leg for a while now, not spinning out clothes.  I found an add in the paper today for a washer for $75 in the next town over, 2 miles away.  I waited till hubby came home and asked him if we could purchase it.  He said yes.  I called and they need us to pick it up right now because they are moving out.  So, I had to find someone to help with a pick-up truck.  It all worked out and now the kids and I are doing a quick clean up while they are picking up our new used washing machine.  Plus, God provided the money!  That is the best part of it all!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Christian Home

O give us homes built firm upon the Savior, Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide; Where every child is taught His love and favor and gives his heart to Christ, the Crucified:  How sweet to know that, tho' his footsteps waver, His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers, Who always place their hope and trust in Him;  Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers, Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;  A home where each finds joy in serving others,  And love still shines, tho' days be dark and grim.

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,  The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;  Where pray'r comes first in peace or in disaster, And praise is natural speech to every tongue;  Where mountains move before a faith that's vaster,  And Christ sufficient is for old  and young.

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!  We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;  Their bonds of love no enemy can sever  If Thou art always Lord and Master there:  Be Thou the center of our least endeavor-  Be Thou our guest, our hearts and homes to share.

Barbara B. Hart  1965

Hymns are a vital part of our daily life and I could not resist posting this hymn that we sang tonight during family worship.  The theology is rich.  The words are powerful.  This is my prayer and I hope that it will be your prayer too.

It has become a pattern of ours to sing our way through the hymnal that our church is using, focusing on learning one hymn a week.  Then on Sunday evenings, since we do not have evening services, we have an extended time of family worship in which we pray, read our Bible, review catechism and memory verses from our TAG books, and have a hymn sing.  Everyone gets an opportunity to choose their favorite hymn and we all sing along.  Even our youngest, 19 months, sings along.  We have come across many songs in which we did not know, so Cyber Hymnal has become our friend.  If you go to the site, you can just type in the song and it is played for you with out the words.  So, if you wanted you could all gather around the computer and sing along as the words are written out on the site.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Sun Is Shinning Today

Yesterday and today have been a much better day.  Thank you all for your prayers recently.    I took the children to Moss Lake hiking trails today and they had a blast playing in the water and in the woods.  Also, we thoroughly enjoyed outside time today.  The sun is out and we soak in every little bit of it that we can.  It does not shine often, and when it does it makes for a glorious day outside.  Right now we are enjoying a highly recommended movie:  Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Movie.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When Mommy Hits A Brick Wall

Ladies, I am sure that many of you can relate.  You reach the point of total exhaustion and feel that you can handle no more.  You either start yelling at those around you, fall into depression, cry, sleep, or all of the above.  I have hit that brick wall in my life today.  Life around me seems to be happening so fast.  There are financial struggles within the church that sometimes cause me to stress, children who argue and pick on each other all day long, many new things to learn as we have began a new journey in making all things from scratch (which I love doing), learning to be frugal, stress over having to prevent getting pregnancy due to health concerns (even though I feel strongly against doing things to prevent pregnancy, but trust my doctor), and trying to be a happy homemaker who is immersed in the Scriptures.  Today I fell in utter defeat.  I napped twice and still feel exhausted!  I feel lazy when I take a nap.  I feel like I am not using my time wisely.  However, in order to be a better mommy, I need to be refreshed and take a break every once in a while.  Since we do not have family nearby, my husband and I must rely upon each other to help take care of each other.  He sees my weakness and gives me a break when I need one.    I am  rejoicing that the Lord was my strength today.  The Holy Spirit carried me through the day today.  Tomorrow will be a new day and the Lord's mercies are made new each and every day.

I have not blogged much this week and will hopefully get back on schedule next week.  The week started with the absence of my husband.  He was away in South Carolina preaching.  We drove him to the airport on Friday and then picked him up on Monday.  The airport is about a little over 2 and a half hours from our home.  Then on Tuesday, we traveled to Utica for a doctor's appointment and a few errands.  So, my reason for not blogging has been well justified.  Also, yesterday, I posted about the struggles many pastor's wives face and received a great comment from Celee.  However, after my husband read the post he felt that it was a good post (but a little too personal) and that it could offend others, so I needed to delete it.  I appreciate all my readers and their comments.  It is never my goal to offend others in what I write.  I want to be an encouragement to others and to be real.  I am not super-mom and cannot handle it all.  It is entirely the Lord who enables me to do the things that I do.  I am thankful for the Lord and His mercies.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Feeling A Little Discouraged

We make our plans but the Lord directs our steps.  No matter how hard we wish for, hope for, pray for, and desire certain things to happen if it is not in the Lord's will it will not happen.  The Lord is teaching me to place my confidence in Him alone and not in my circumstances.  He is to be my contentment and nothing else.  But the reality is that every time I get my hopes up about certain desires being fulfilled they seem to just get deflated and the more discouraged I become.  I truly desire the Lord's will and not my own, so I will just rest in Him knowing that He always does what is best.  Right now I just feel like a child who desires candy and cannot have it because it is not what is best for me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Canning Peach Jam

In order to make fresh jam all you need is 4 cups fresh or frozen fruit, sugar-free sure gel pectin, 3/4 cup cold water or 12 oz apple juice concentrate, and 1/2 cup sugar substitute.  In a sauce pan bring the fruit to a boil and then add the pectin and boil for 1 minute with either the water or juice concentrate.  After it has reached a full boil for 1 minute add the sugar substitute and boil an additional minute.  Pour into hot and steralized canning jars.  Let it sit for at least 24 hours.  Enjoy!

This is a picture of mushrooms, ketchup, peach jam, and pinto beans!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Frugal Friday

Tip for today:  Shop for great used children's books at library sales.  Plan to take some time, money, and a box.  Look up the libraries in your area and ask when their book sales are scheduled.  Often, they will also keep a cart or a room in which they will keep the books until the sale.  I have found that if you just ask, they will let you in to see the books and purchase any that you may find.  My son came home a few weeks ago with a large stack of books that he purchased for only $5!  Usually they will only charge 25 cents for paperbacks and $1 for hardbacks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guest Post From Sandy: Read To Me, Mommy #1 Biographies

 I asked my dear friend Sandy, who owns more than 9000 books in her library to write a few posts for me about books for children.  Enjoy!

Ride along on Hudson Taylor’s first voyage to China...trek through the virgin forests with George Washington, the young surveyor....painstakingly sew a flag with Betsy Ross....suffer the grief of a mother dying with Abraham Lincoln....brave the dangers of going to a remote tribe with David Livingstone.

All of these adventures and more will be yours and your children’s as you read biographies aloud. But this isn’t the only benefit to reading biographies to your children. The true story of a great man or woman will set before your sons and daughters a wonderful example for them to follow. Most of the heroes of today’s society are not fit to be copied. But godly men and women of the past and present as well as the great statesmen and patriots of our American heritage are worthy of presenting to our children. Reading biographies helps us understand the backgrounds of these people’s lives that lead to the great feats they did usually in their later lives. Let’s raise our children’s dreams to those thing that are noble and good, that are unselfish and of pure motive, that are full of worthy character. All of this can be done by reading aloud biographies to them.

Reading the tales of great people also indirectly teaches history to your children. This is so much more effective than a straight historical account in a textbook. The people of history “come alive”. After all, what is history? God’s work in the lives of people involves in the circumstances of life.

Many series of biographies are available today at reasonable costs. Not everything you can sign out of libraries will be good for your children to read. Choose carefully. Remember that most of the public library books will not be written from a Christian perspective. So a great American who was a Christian will be presented without that important part of his life being portrayed. Those who opposed Christianity throughout history will be presented as worthy role models. So be careful when you are picking biographies. Listed below are some good sets of biographies and some good publishers, as well as some sources for finding these for your family. Grade levels listed are approximate and for your child reading the book for himself. Of course, these books can be read aloud to children younger or older than listed.

It may take awhile for your children to learn to really appreciate a good biography because this type of literature is rarely assigned in school work today. And when was the last time you read a biography? Perhaps I can challenge you to read at least one. I find the missionary biographies particularly interesting. When I read these, my problems become petty; my “sufferings” are meager; and my faith is found wanting. I need these giants of the faith to keep my life in perspective. We love biographies so much that our family has collected almost 2,000 of them! You are welcome to come by and borrow some for your spring and summer reading. We also have some excellent audio cassette and CD sets of great biographies. Wonderful for traveling time!

Biography Sets

Childhood of Famous Americans - This popular set was first published in the 1950's and some of the 200+ titles have been reprinted in paperback now. We have found almost 100 of the old edition at book sales. They are wonderful stories, telling about the childhood of famous American people. Our children loved them. Each book is close to 200 pages with black and white sketch drawings or silhouette illustrations. For grades 3-5. Not from a Christian perspective but do not mock these heroes for their beliefs and Christianity.

The Sower Series - Published by Mott Media, a Christian company, these biographies will tell of the true Christian character of many famous people such as Appleseed, Morse, Wesley, Handel, carver, Webster. For grades 5-8, about 150-200 pages.

Men & Women of Faith series - This set is mainly of men and women who were missionaries and portrays their faith in God including Carmichael, ten Book, Elliot, Stam, Muller, Kuhn, Slessor and Carey. Reading level is grade 6 through adult. Published by Bethany House.

Hero Tales - four volumes - by Dave & Neta Jackson. A family treasury of true stories from the lives of Christian heroes. Short biographical information and three stories that display the person’s character plus Scripture verses and thought provoking discussion questions. For all ages.

Biographies for girls by Tracy M. Leininger - Priscilla Mullins, Nan Harper, Sacagawea, and Dolley Madison. Available from Vision Forum. Other titles of biographies from this company as well for boys and adults.

Living Principles of America - Audio dramatizations of America’s Greatest Heroes. CD. Each set has 12 stories.

Your Story Hour recordings - Audio dramatizations of American heroes. CD.

Focus on the Family Radio Theater - They have produced many biographical audio dramas. For example: Squanto, Corrie ten Boom, William Wilberforce, John Newton, etc.

Voice of the Martyrs - Beautiful picture story books of famous people including St. Nicholas, St. Valentine, and others. Lovely!

The Reading Parent

I had a parent who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
Blackbirds stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a parent who read me plays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every child has a right to know.

I had a parent who read me
Tales of Gelert the Hound of the Hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness bent with his final breath.

I had a parent who read me the things
That wholesome life to the child heart brings -
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each parent of children were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold,
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a parent who read to me.

~Author unknown~

Frugal Friday Coming Soon...

Be on the watch out for money saving tips on Fridays.  I will be posting tips that I have been learning along the way on Fridays and hoping that others will join along and share your insights each week as I post a tip.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Canning Mushrooms

On our recent grocery trip, I ran across some great markdowns in the produce department.  Mushrooms were marked down to $1.05 per 10 oz. package and bananas were marked down to 29 cents a pound averaging a little over $1 per bag.  I bought 11 packs of mushrooms and 6 bags of bananas.  Once home, I figured that I could just can the mushrooms.  It was easy once I learned.  In order to can mushrooms all you do is clean your mushrooms and trim off the end of the stems.  Soak the mushrooms in cold water for 10 minutes and then rinse them well.  Place them in a pan of water and boil them for 15 minutes.  In the mean time, prepare your canning jars and lids in a pot of water.  Place the jars on the counter and fill them with mushrooms, the same water in which you boiled them in, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pint jar filling them to 1/2 head space.  Screw on the lids.  Place the jars in a pressure canner and cook for 45 minutes.  I did not have a pressure canner, so I just placed a rack at the bottom of my water bath canner, filled the pot to about 2 inches above the jars, and boiled it for 45 minutes.  When finished, place the jars on the counter and let it sit still overnight.  In the morning, it is okay to remove the ring while making sure your jar is sealed and place them on the shelf for future use.

If you want to know more about canning, I would highly suggest buying Homestead Blessings:The Art of Canning.  I just purchased the complete set of Homestead Blessings through Vision Forum and received them yesterday.  I have since watched 2 and highly recommend them.  If you want to know more about Homestead Blessings here is their website:

Signs of Spring

Last week we took a hike twice around Moss Lake.  The first day it rained.  The next day, we hiked the entire 2 and a half miles and had a blast.  Our 3 year old ran almost the entire way!  I took lots and lots of pictures and had a hard time choosing which ones to post.

Wordless Wednesday

One of our sweet members at church came over just to read to my children today.  Priceless!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recipe Swap: Beef

I am getting ready to purchase a half of a cow and need to be inspired with lots of beef recipes.  We typically do not eat a lot of beef because of the price.  However, we have a friend who is an organic farmer and has given us an amazing deal on beef that we could not pass up so I am hoping that a lot of people will join with me and post a link for their favorite beef recipe.  If this all works out well, I would love to continue the recipe swap to include other foods on Saturdays.  I am thinking of calling it Recipe Swap Saturday.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Want to join me in meeting other mommy bloggers? Come on along and see what all the fun is about April 9-16th. There will be lots of great prizes and a chance to meet up with other moms who are on this same journey of motherhood. I think that it will be agreat time to expand your horizons and read new blogs.

Let me begin by introducing myself. I am Debbie, a wife to a wonderful man who is a pastor in Upstate NY. We have been blessed by the Lord to have 5 children here on earth and 1 precious little girl in Heaven. I home school our children and they are 9,7,5,3, and 1. We are reformed in our theology, see children as a blessing, and feel convicted that it is our duty to teach our own children. My husband pastors a small church in the Adirondack Mountains and our children stay with us during the worship service.

A few other things about myself that you may want to know is that being a pastor's family we make very little money so I am joyfully pursuing frugality! Any tip that I find I take note of and carefully consider it. I am learning how to make things from scratch and having fun. It is fun to see just how many things that you can actually make at home from very simple ingredients while saving money, teaching the children, and loving every minute. Recently, I have been making yogurt, breads, tomato paste, ketchup, dishcloths, and the list goes on. Frugality has been a journey for me since I did not grow up learning the art.  

Growing up, my Mom and Dad both worked, have been married several times, and sent my sister and I to day care and public school. My Mom did try and schedule her work so that she could be home when my sister and I arrived home from school on the bus as much as possible. My Mom and step-Dad took us to church. I grew up Independent Baptist. After finishing High School, I went to community college and then on to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO in order to meet a husband. I met him in my first year and we married after a year in February 1996. It was the second best decision of my life. My first best decision was when the Holy Spirit drew me to HImself in salvation (which was entirely a work of Him and not myself) September 2001.

I hope that you, too, will join me in this journey of motherhood as I blog about life regularly. Comments make my day :) I love meeting new people and getting to hear what the Lord is teaching them on this same journey. Please feel free to leave a comment anytime or e-mail me with any questions that you may have

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's A Woman To Do?

I know that this sound silly.  Being a wife and mom are the most important job in the world and many days I wake up and ask myself, "what am I suppose to be doing?"  Does anyone else struggle with this?  Just yesterday I installed a clothes line and I feel productive.  Earlier in the week I completed a crocheted wash cloth and I feel industrious.  When I make bread and yogurt I feel delighted.  Growing up, I did not learn many homemaking skills, so this is all still new to me.  However, I am loving every minute.  This is all a big learning process and very often I feel as if I do not know what it is that I am suppose to be doing.  Do any of you have these same struggles?  Who taught you to be a homemaker?  What books have most influenced you in homemaking skills?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Crane, A Hike, and a Very Tired Little Boy

This day started out with much excitement over getting to watch a crane being put together in our front yard driveway.  The bridge has been taken out and workers needed to put together a crane, so after asking us we graciously allowed them the use of the church's parking lot.  Yesterday, they promised us that after the crane was put together that the children could climb up into it and have their picture taken.  Everyone was thrilled and anxiously awaited the wonderful opportunity.  In the mean time, I decided to allow the children to play outside while I put up a clothes line.  They finished the job and the children never got the opportunity to get inside the crane.  However, we did get to see it up close and take pictures.

Later in the day, we got to take a hike around Moss Lake.  It started pouring and we were deep in the woods.  By the time we got back to the van we were all soaked.  Everyone seemed not to mind, but thoroughly enjoyed it.  Here are a few pictures that I was able to take.  Had it not been pouring, I would have taken much better pictures.  The hike was still fun and well worth every minute!

A very tired little boy

Wordless Wednesday- Signs of Spring (Week 5) No More Snow!!!

Notice the green :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thankful Tuesday

Please join me each Tuesday as we seek to give thanks for 10 things to our glorious God.  It will be an amazing journey to look back upon if we list 10 things each week.  We will be cultivating a heart of gratitude.  Will you join me in this challenge this week?  Just copy and paste this button on your website and leave a reply in the comments.  I LOVE comments!

31.  Little girls who are big helpers.

32.  Big brothers who are brave.

33.  Helpers around my house when it comes to chores.

34.  Children who volunteer to prepare lunch and do a great job.

35.  Getting to rock my sweet baby (now toddler) before she went to sleep.

36.  A new laundry schedule that I think will work.

37.  A clothes line that will be installed tomorrow.

38.  Time to crochet a wash cloth and complete it!

39.  Getting the opportunity to be a stay at home mom and loving every minute!

40.  Hubby and I getting back on the treadmill after a few weeks of not being as faithful as we should have been and a plan to follow called  couch to 5K.

Concluding Thoughts On Holy Week

I want to take a few moments and quote from the Westminster Directory of Public Worship in regards to celebrating Holy Days.

There is no day in scripture commanded to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord's day, which is the Christian Sabbath.  Festive days, vulgarly (i.e.- commonly) called Holy-days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.
Nevertheless, it is lawful and necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for public fasting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God's providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people. 

What are your responses?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Do You Believe about Celebrating Holy Week

While the rest of the world is waking up this morning to celebrate Christ's resurrection, I am asking a question.  Why do we need Holy Week to reflect on Christ's death and resurrection?  I grew up in Texas.  When I was a child on Easter morning, I would wake up to new clothes, shoes, and a hat.   Later in the morning, my family and I would attend a traditional southern Easter service.    The choir would sing a special Easter cantata, and the pastor would preach on the resurrection.  After the service, we would have an Easter egg hunt for all the children.  People, who gave no thought of Christ throughout the year,  would pack the pews, wanting to punch their spiritual time clock in order to earn their way into heaven.

This week I reflected on why many professing evangelicals celebrate Holy Week.  It wasn't always the case.  In a distant past, evangelicals would have felt that such practice was catholic in conviction.   Why is Easter so special?  Don't we celebrate the resurrection of Christ every Sunday?  Why did the early church assemble on the first day of the week?  Was it because of their Lord's resurrection?  Isn't every Lord's day an Easter celebration?

 What do you believe about celebrating Holy Week?  Do you find it helpful?  Have you given it much thought as to why you observe these religious holidays?  Is it conviction or just tradition?  How do these religious holidays affect people's view of the Lord's day?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Question About Milk Powder

I am hoping that someone out there can help me.  I recently called Hillcrest Foods (the place where I order all of my bulk baking supplies) and asked about prices for dry milk powder.  They gave me the prices for both low heat and high heat milk powder.  They could not explain the differences.  I want to use it in making yogurt, baking bread, and in cooking.  Does anyone have a suggestion on which one I should purchase?  Also, could someone please explain to me the difference between the two.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursdays: From Scratch (Week 5)

This week I continued my from scratch journey in making everything I serve from scratch.  I tried 3 new things:  finger paint, tomato paste, and ketchup.

The finger paint was 1/3 cup corn starch or arrow root  and  2 cups water mixed and cooked on the stove top till thick like gel.  Then I add 1/3 cup dishwashing detergent and a few drops of food coloring.  Once finished enjoy with the children.

Tomato paste is made from 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes boiled down till thick with 1 tsp. of onion powder and 1 tsp. garlic powder.

Ketchup is made from 12 oz of tomato paste, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup either maple syrup or honey, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder and onion powder if not using homemade tomato paste, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 4 Tbs. cider vinegar.  Combine and blend in blender till smooth.  Store in refrigerator or pour in canning jars and process.

Don't forget to join Sarah on her journey in making things from scratch and writing about it every Thursday.

The Best Thing Since Wheat Bread- Shadow Drawing

My children played outside for hours drawing shadows on our drive way.  They were happy to show off their art work.

Wordless Wednesday- Signs of Spring (Week 4)

Better late than never.  Wednesday is just so busy and I don't want to miss this post so it will probably be late often.  The snow is almost gone.  It is not till the end of the season that it turns dirty.  The rest of the year the snow is gloriously white and it is a winter wonderland around here.  I can't wait to show you all how green it gets in the summer.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thankful Tuesday

Come and join me each Tuesday and post a link on your blog referring others to Thankful Tuesday.  This is all being done to cultivate a heart of gratitude.  Won't it be great to look back over the entire year and see how many things you were thankful for.  I encourage you to try and list 10 things each week.

21.  Jesus did not stay dead in the grave.  He rose from the grave and is reigning with God the Father at His right hand.

22.  The Lord's mercies are new each morning.

23.  That I do not have to work in my own strength, but rely upon the Lord's strength.

24.  New York Maple Syrup- 1 whole gallon of it in my refrigerator.

25.  Food in my refrigerator.

26.  A few more dollars than lately to spend at the grocery store this week.

27.  Kind and generous people who are willing to pass on very nice clothes for my children (Two people shared with us this week).

28.  We finished the Vos Children's Story Bible this morning for the upteenth zillion time and now a new start with the actual Bible in Genesis reading 1 chapter at a time.

29.  A great foundation was laid with our children when it comes to the story line of the Bible as we read and continually re-read our favorite and highly recommended children's story Bible.

30.  The salvation of one of our children and the growth I am seeing so far.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Is Your Confidence In The Lord Or Your Circumstances?

Our lives for the most part are pretty ordinary, routine, and mundane.  We get up each morning, get dressed, spend time with the Lord, and start our routines thinking that today will not be much different than yesterday.  We do not plan on getting sick, caring for sick ones in our families, losing our jobs, losing our spouses, seeing others suffer all around us, or enduring other trials.  However, trials are a very real part of our lives.  For those who are repenting of their sins and trusting in Christ alone for their salvation they draw us near to Jesus.  Jesus went to the cross for us and endured the greatest suffering of all.  We are created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever no matter what trial we may go through in our lives.  We are to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and not lean on our own understanding, but acknowledge Him in all our ways and He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:4-5).

Many times we plan our days thinking that we are going to do certain things and are confident that certain things in life will work out.  We assume that all will always be well.  We live as though we will never die or get sick.  We think that we can decide on what our plans for life will be.  We will graduate from high school, go on to college, get married, work for a while, and then have children.  This is all what society teaches us.  We are taught that we are in control of our destinies.

When I first married my wonderful husband we were in Bible college and decided to wait a little while to have children.  After a time when we were ready we would start trying.  All this time I was thinking that it would happen on my schedule.  God had other plans.  We ended up having to seek out an infertility specialist.  Four and a half years later our first child was born 7 weeks early.  Once again this was not my schedule.  Didn't the Lord know that I had to work that day and that I was actually starting to like looking pregnant?  I wasn't ready to deliver our baby yet.  I still had another 7 weeks to go.  It all ended up turning out fine, but had me petrified in the whole process.  Then we decided to go to seminary and once again wait to have children.  When we were ready we would try again (assuming that we would need to see a fertility specialist again) and low and behold I was now Fertile Mertile!  Our oldest was 15 months when I conceived our second child and then again our second child was only 10 months (I was still nursing) when I conceived our third child.  Still not totally convinced that I was not in control of all of this, we decided to try again for a fourth child and ended up conceiving after three months of trying.  At this point we were starting to see that God was in control and we were really fine with that.  Right on schedule we conceived our fifth child.  I was starting to become rather confident that I was either going to deliver a child every 19 months or 26 months, so we were not surprised when I conceived our sixth child.   I always had wonderful pregnancies and nothing was ever wrong.  However, I was being prideful once again and living my life assuming that all would always be well and that one day I would have a large family with 7 or 8 children since I was only 35 and pregnant with our 6th child.  Then on November 11th this past year my world came crashing down when I went to the doctor and had our sonogram only to find out that our baby was dead and that I needed to schedule a d&c because it was a partial molar pregnancy and that I had to have my hcg levels checked weekly then monthly for 1 year with no conceptions!  That was all more than I could take.  How could I, who always had picture perfect pregnancies, have a miscarriage at 10 weeks?  I was suppose to be pregnant now and preparing for delivery around June 10th and not on birth control waiting to conceive for 1 year.  Didn't the Lord know just how strong I felt about birth control and that I was Fertile Mertile?  Didn't He know that both my husband and I had finally come to the conclusion that the He was in control of my womb?  Where did this trial come from and was I ready to go through this kind of trial?  It came from the Lord, who gave me the ability to say at the hospital and still today, "blessed be the name of the Lord.  He gives and He takes away, blessed be His name."  I said and meant that in all confidence.  Two months later, I found out that I had glaucoma and I was only 35!  How many 35 year old's have glaucoma especially when it is not in their family?  35 year olds are suppose to be healthy and not have these kind of problems.  Din't the Lord know that this was an old persons disease and that I was not old?  Of course, He did.  I was placing my confidence in my vision and not in the Lord who is in control of my vision.

Even though we may plan our days, the Lord directs our steps.  He knows all things and has all things already planned out.  He is in control of all things.  Trust in Him.  He uses times like these to draw us close to Himself and to glorify Himself.  Hide yourself in the shadow of His wings.  The Lord is full of mercy and compassion.  If you are going through a trial that seems too difficult to bear cast you burdens on the Lord, for He cares for you.  He loves you and is conforming you to His image.  This trial did not take Him by surprise.  He is controlling all things.  This life that we are living is not about our comfort, but His glory.  Rest in Him today and every day.  It is okay to weep and to be sad.  There are still many day where I still find myself wondering why this had to happen and watching other bloggers pregnancy's progress.  Sadly to say, I sometimes find myself jealous that I, too, am not pregnant.  This seems to happen when I take my eyes off of Jesus and place them on my circumstances.  Fix my eyes on Jesus, He is the author and finisher of my faith, is what I need to do.  Find your rest, comfort, and solace in Him.  He cares for you like no other.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guest Post From Sandy On Dying To Self

I Corinthians 5:7b says, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” The story of the Passover, which is when the Israelites celebrate the story of their deliverance from the death angel sent to convince Pharoah to let them go from slavery in Egypt, and the story of the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are beautifully intertwined. This verse brings the two together, Jesus, the Lamb of God (John1:29 “...Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”) willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. Just as a perfect lamb was killed for the Passover and its blood was put on the door posts of the Israelites’ homes, Jesus’ blood was shed to cleanse our hearts from sin and save us from sure destruction and judgment.

In the hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. There He laid down His will to do the will of the Father. He would go to the cross to die in my place and yours. It was for our sins that He died, not for His because He has no sin. He would do as His Father had said; the whole reason He had come to earth was to be the sacrificial lamb, to die once to pay the penalty of death for the sin of the world.

The apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Really Paul is saying that just as Christ laid down His will to do the Father’s will, we have the privilege of following Jesus’ example by laying down our own will to allow Christ to live through us. Our needs, our wishes, our hopes, our desires, and our dreams are all surrendered to do the will of Christ in our lives. This sounds so noble and most of us would say that we are willing to do this, but how does it work out in our day-to-day lives? How do we “die to self”? How do we put aside our pride and willful ambitions? How do we in actuality “take up our cross” and follow Jesus? The following poem tells us how. This was an eye opener for me to realize how much I still hang on to my will for my life and how far I have to do in learning how to die to self.

Dying to Self
author unknown

When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set as naught and you do not sting and hurt at the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ,

that is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself but take it all in patient, loving silence,

that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensitivity, and endure it as Jesus endured it,

that is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God,

that is dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown,

that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart,

that is dying to self.
~ * ~ * ~

Five times in my life I have had the experience of giving birth to a child. Perhaps you have had that privilege, too. In a sense, that is also dying to self. Your own comfort, plans, and wishes are set aside in order to give life to another person. Then after the birth, you get up nights to feed this little one, change endless diapers, and basically take care of his every need no matter how you feel or what you were doing or trying to do. You die to self in order to care for the needs of another. But what a joy it is! Just as Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, so we as mothers also endure the demands in order to have the joy of bearing a child and caring for him.

When you have a moment, read Proverbs 31:10-31 and look for ways this godly woman demonstrated dying to self. She worked hard, reached out to the needy, got up early, brought her family’s food from afar, and learned skills with her hands. And she did all that with strength and honor, not demanding recognition for her labors.

I first found the poem “Dying to Self” almost 15 years ago. As I read it again now, I wonder how much better I’ve learned its lessons. Have I truly died to self?

Lord, help me to follow your example.

(all rights reserved)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Our Sweet Girls Are Not Feeling Well

This is how our daughter is looking today.  She is always full of energy and loves to serve others.  However, today is a different story.  She went to bed with a bad headache and still has one.  She does not nap and today this awful headache has her down napping most of the day.

Our other daughter woke up at nap time covered in vomit!  Cuddle time is necessary tonight.  Please pray for our girls that the will be back to their normal selves tomorrow.  We often forget how wonderful it is to have healthy children in our homes.  It is hard to see our children sick.  We would take their pain for them if we could.

Helpers in the Kitchen

Some of my favorite moments this week was spent with family in the kitchen doing what we always do and loving every minute.

Kitchen clean up after dinner.

Cooling yogurt on the back burner and stirring syrup on the front burner. 

This was our first attempt at making pancake syrup.  It looked great, tasted great, and then it hardened in the bottle.  We will go back to square one on this project.  Any suggestions on how to keep it looking like pancake syrup?

Thursdays: From Scratch (Week 4)

Making things from scratch has become an everyday part of my life.  Just about everything that we eat is made from scratch.  I am thankful to Sarah for leading us in this challenge.  It has been a learning experience and challenging at times.  There have been times when I have been stressed out because of all the time involved in making everything from scratch.  Many days we have just done school work in the kitchen on the floor while waiting on something in the oven or something rising.  The children have learned how to cook right along beside me.  In fact, 2 of my five children now have homemade aprons made by me.  It makes me feel like a proud momma when I see how excited they are about cooking and about wearing their aprons with confidence.  Just this week, my seven year old daughter made scrambled eggs with turkey for breakfast and my nine year old son made pancakes.  Our youngest loves to sign cook with her hands and knows right where her apron and step stool are being kept.

This journey has been a tremendous help when it comes to saving money.  All you need to do is buy the basic staple items and be amazed at what all you can make with just the basic items.  I would like to give you an example.  My mother-in-law brought lots of trix yogurt for the children.  I have been making our own yogurt for some time and looked at this as an opportunity to stretch the yogurt and make it last a lot longer.  I have a yogurt maker and I poured 7 of my  glass containers full of milk and brought it to a boil where the milk was coming up the sides of the pan.  Then I let it cool down to 110 degrees and took out about 1 cup of the milk and mixed it with 1 of the 4 ounces of trix yogurt and then poured it back in the pan.  Next, I mixed it and poured it into the individual cups and let it warm at 110 degrees in the yogurt maker for about 10 hours.  When it was done, I screwed on the lids and put it in the refrigerator and ate it for breakfast the next morning.  I now think that I have 8 cups of trix in the refrigerator which will made 56 cups of yogurt.

Chocolate oatmeal cake and stromboli were also big hits for our family this week.  I found the recipe for chocolate oatmeal cake over at Phoebe's blog and the recipe for stromboli was Grandmother's bread that I just rolled out and added american cheese slices and turkey slices.

Wordless Wednesday- Signs of Spring (Week 3)

Yes, I know it is Saturday and I am just playing catch up!

Thankful Tuesday

I am going to take a few minutes here on Saturday to play catch up with a few of my posts since we had family visiting this week.  I would be honored if others would join me in this challenge of cultivating a heart of gratitude.  Just copy and paste this button to your blog and list 10 things each week that you are thankful to the Lord.  It will be an amazing thing to look back upon as our list continues to grow longer as the weeks pass.

11.  Our family made it safely here to visit and then safely home again.

12.  One of our members gave us their old H.P. printer.

13.  The Lord once again met our needs when it came to food.  My mother-in-law brought us some food.

14.  I was able to  spend $27 this week at the grocery store and it is more than enough food for the week.

15.  Everyone cooperated for the family picture on Tuesday and they all turned out great.

16.  I was able to have a great conversation with Sandy today.

17.  My laundry is complete (all done) for the week.

18.  I did not have to change eye drops again for my glaucoma.  The doctor said the medication is working out just fine.

19.  I am thankful that I get the wonderful opportunity to be a wife and a mother and I get to stay at home full-time.

20.  Blogging is one of my favorite things because it keeps me connected with the outside world since I live in a very lonely place.  I don't feel so all alone when I blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Very Valuable Lesson

Today I learned just how important it is to put away all harmful chemicals.  We had company early in the week and she asked if she could borrow my fingernail polish remover.  I said yes and told her where I keep it.  It was never put away and in the midst of cleaning house today, my oldest child came and was panicky as he told me that his little 3 yr. old brother had drank the fingernail polish remover.  I questioned him and smelled his breath. Sure enough, he had indeed drank 5 oz. of fingernail polish remover.  His breath reeked of it and so did his skin.  I quickly called my doctor and they told me to call poison control.  The nice lady from poison control assured me that my son would more than likely be okay and that he would probably just experience irritation in his throat.  She told me to sit him still and have him drink a glass of milk to dilute the fingernail polish remover and if in 30 minutes he was complaining of stomach pains, vomiting, acting drunk or weak to call her back.  Well, we all stopped what we were doing and watched him for a long time.  My oldest son was scared to death that he would die, so I called them back for reassurance that he would be okay.  They were patient, thorough, and great people to deal with.

If you ever have an experience like I did do not hesitate to give poison control a call.  1-800-252-5655 Keep their number posted clearly and warn your children of the dangers of chemicals in your home.  Put all chemicals out of reach of your children's hands.  Teach them the importance of telling others if they see their siblings ingesting these kind of things.  This could have been life threatening today!  It scared me enough to walk all through out my house making sure that all chemicals are put out of my children's reach and teaching them of the dangers of ingesting them.  I am thankful to the Lord that He preserved the life of my son today and that He gave me a real wake up call.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Family Is In Town

Sorry about not being faithful to my daily posts.  We have family in town visiting this week from Indiana and we were out of town yesterday for family pictures and various other things.  I will try and write my Thankful Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday posts sometime this week.  For now, I am going to thoroughly enjoy family being with us.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blueberry Pie Filling Made From Apple Juice Concentrate

Just this morning I made the best blueberry pie filling from apple juice concentrate.  I had no sugar and had read that you could use apple juice concentrate as a substitute for sugar in some recipes, so I decided to give it a try.  I added 1/4 cup of apple juice concentrate to a pan on the stove under low heat and then added about 2 tbs. of corn starch to thicken it.  It made a paste and then I added about 2 cups of frozen blueberries along with a little water and stirred it with a whisk until it reached the desired constancy.  It was absolutely delicious!  I plan on trying this also with my frozen diced peaches and my frozen whole strawberries.  The possibilities are now endless!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Making The Sabbath A Day Of Rest When You Have Energetic Little Children

How can you make the Sabbath a day of rest and worship of the Lord when your life is full of little ones to care for and your husband is a pastor?

My husband has been pastoring a tiny church for 4 years now and it has been our conviction that they should worship the Lord right along beside us and that we need to teach them that the Sabbath can be a day full of joy and not a list of don'ts.  So, you may be asking what are some of the things that we do to make this day a special day?  I want this to be an encouragement to other moms, so I will just list a few things that we do and greatly encourage others to share what you do to make this a special day.

  1. First of all it is our goal to have all the children sit with us throughout the entire worship service.  However, I have found that the more children I have with no other help sometimes it means that I am taking the two youngest with me to sit in the nursery and listen to my husband preach through the speakers while the older ones hopefully sit still upstairs.  Sometimes, despite your own convictions, you just must do what works best for your own family.
  2. We try and begin the morning with a reading of the scripture that my husband will be preaching through (currently it is Titus) and we sing a hymn with the help of cyber hymnal (this morning it was Follow On).
  3. Once everyone has eaten breakfast, I make sure that everyone is fully ready and we listen to music that focuses our mind on Christ.  I prefer hymns, Getty music, Sovereign Grace music, Andrew Peterson, Bob Kaufman, Indelible Grace, and others such as these.
  4. We all try and walk out the door together as a family to go on over to Sunday School.
  5. After worship service, I encourage the children to play outside to release a lot of energy.  If it is terribly cold, then they will watch either a Moody science video, a creation science video, or a Veggie Tale.
  6. We eat lunch together and talk all about the worship service.
  7. I will sometimes read a special book that focuses our minds on Christ and then the little ones will lay down and nap while the older ones will lay down in the front room usually with a book while my husband and I either nap, read, or write letters.
  8. After nap is outside play again, walks, or just play inside while listening to music.  We also sometimes listen to sermons online, watch t.v., or go hiking as a family.
  9. We then have dinner together.  We do not currently have evening worship.  
  10. Everyone does a quick pick up.  I give baths to the little ones.  We then have an extended time of family worship in which everyone gets to request their favorite hymn and we all have fun singing together.  This is followed by catechism questions, verse memory, prayer time, Bible reading, and the closing Doxology.
  11. At this point it is bedtime and the children will read their Bibles in bed.
There have been other things that we have wanted to do like have special toys that are only brought out on the Lord's Day, special books only read on the Lord's Day, and maybe do things like plays, but for now this is what is working.  It may look a lot different during the summer months since we all love being outside then.  The key is to make it an enjoyable and a restful day for everyone in the family and to not feel bound by a list of do's and don'ts.  I want my children to look back and say that Sunday was their favorite day of the week.  What are some of the things that you do to make Sunday's special and restful?  Next week I would like to talk about some of the books that have been most influential in our lives.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Children And Chores

At what age do you start teaching children responsibility and assigning them chores?

As for us, we start as soon as we see understanding in our children.  An example of what is currently happening in our family is that our 18 month old daughter completely understands what it means to throw her diaper in the trash, so we tell her to throw her diaper in the trash.  She also knows how to put plates on the table, put the silverware in the silverware drawer, help knead dough or stir things, and put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.  Our 3 year old son helps to empty the trash cans, picks up his toys, place his clothes in the laundry basket, helps to carry in wood (one piece at a time), helps to load the washer and unload the dryer, take dishes out of the dishwasher, washes the table, and can help in setting the table.  Our five year old son can clean his room, make his bed, empty trash, carry in wood, dry and put the clean dishes away, help with laundry, help to cook, set the table, and vacuum.  Our seven year old can clean bathrooms, clean her room, vacuum, set the table, help with the laundry, help cook, change diapers, sweep and mop, and help to bathe little ones.  Our 9 year old son can clean the front room, clean the school room, sweep and mop, help with dishes, make pancakes and a few other foods, clean out the van, carry and stack wood, and various other things.

Now you may be asking how do you start teaching children chores?

As soon as the children are able we (my husband and I) have the children follow us around and watch us do our chores.  Next, when they are about 3 or 4, we start working one on one with them.  We will do the chore as they watch and then they will do the chore as we watch.  Many days we will also sing a cute little ditty as we are teaching them how to clean.  This continues for a long time until we feel that they are capable of handling a "zone" on their own, usually around 5.  Then at around 5 we officially assign them a zone that they are responsible for cleaning and we give them a check list.  They clean and then we check it with them.  If it is not done properly, they redo it with our assistance.   As the children get older and more mature in their cleaning responsibilities, they are assigned more work and sometimes different chores.  It is our goal to equip our children to one day be able to take care of a home by the time they leave home.  There is no better time and opportunity to teach the children these things then when they are little and all still living in the home.  I also want them to be able to help others when given the opportunity.

Since the children have chores, what do I do?

I teach homeschool, take care of all of the laundry (with help of course), planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, bathing little ones (when my daughter is not eagerly volunteering because she loves this job), sweeping, mopping, and many other things that fill a moms day.

Does the training time ever stop?

No!  Even my 9 and 7 year olds still need lots of training.  I do not expect perfection, but I do expect them to do their work hardily as unto the Lord.  Just recently I noticed areas that have been slipping.  I have not been doing my job of checking my older children's zones and have just trusted them.  They have been doing short-cuts and have found places to hide thing to make it look like they cleaned their zone.  So, we go back to "boot camp" and watch me, I watch them, and then they do their job.  If it is not up to standard then they have to redo their zone until I feel that they have done a thorough job as I have taught them.  It is our rule that in order to play they must work first.  However, many days when we get to the end of the day, the house is very messy.  My husband and I have spent time talking about our plan of action.  So far, we have decided to have "pick-up times" twice a day and a thorough clean once a day.  During school in the morning, I have the kids take a 15 minute break and do a pick up.  Then sometime in the afternoon, they do another pick-up.  Lastly, at night they do a thorough clean up of their zones.  The afternoons are usually filled with lots and lots of play for the big kids, while the morning is filled with lots of play for the little kids.

Cleaners-What I use?

 Now you may be asking about my seven year old cleaning the bathroom and what kinds of cleaners she uses since cleaners are dangerous.  We make our own cleaners out of safe products.  Vinegar and baking soda are a staple in our home.  They are safe for the environment and do not cause undo health risks.  They also clean well and have been used for centuries.  I will give our cleaning recipe in another post.  It is far cheaper to make your own cleaners and a lot safer when you have little ones around.  When it comes to products that could cause harm on my children I do not want to take a chance, so I just chose to keep it safe by using "green" cleaners.

Any other questions?

I write this post to hopefully be an encouragement to other moms who struggle with instituting chores with their children in the home.  I am not claiming to have all of the answers.  I still struggle many days as this has all been a learning process for me, but I would love to be a help to someone else out there.  If anyone has any questions or tips when it comes to children and chores please feel free to leave a comment.