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.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home For A Muskrat

This school year we have been reading through the Little House series and today we started book #6, The Long Winter.  We read about muskrats and how they build their homes very thick if the winter is going to be long and hard.  The kids were thrilled that it was a warm day and that when they went outside they would get to make a muskrat home.  I told them that all they needed was mud, water, and pine needles.  It got me to thinking that it would be great to take them out sometime just before winter next year and look for muskrat homes and see how thick they are.

Wordless Wednesday- Signs of Spring (Week 2)

Notice no shoes on all the children.  It was a heat wave in the 50's for us today!

See the tiny pine cones?

Just Spit It Out

Tonight during family worship we were all taking turns saying what we were thankful for today and when it came time for Aaron, who is 3, to tell what he was thankful for he started stuttering and his dad said, "just spit it out."  He literally did!  He spit and then he continued to tell the things for which he was thankful.  We all got a BIG and hearty laugh.  Children are the best.  They make us laugh often.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thankful Tuesday

Will you join me on Tuesdays in giving thanks to our God and posting this button along with 10 things for which you are thankful?  If we can list at least 10 things a week for the remaining year, that will be 410 things at which we can look back over our blogs and see the things for which we were thankful.  After you have posted them on your blog, could you please leave your name and blog in the comments.

I thank God for...

Sunshine and blue skies.

Bread baking.

Children playing outside.

Dirt, mud, and more glorious mud.

The woods to explore.

Snow to stomp barefoot in on an amazingly warm afternoon.

Taxes that have been filed.

Happy, healthy children.

A wonderful husband.

And time spent in the Word of God!

Headaches And Our Total Grocery Spending For The Past Four Weeks

First of all, I have a headache that started yesterday and is still continuing this morning.  I went to bed at 6:30 thinking that would make it all better and it is still present.  I am thinking that my glaucoma medication is causing it because I have had it before and I ended up being allergic to the medicine and just switched medication 2 and a half weeks ago.  I am okay unless I make a quick move or bend over and then it hurts very badly.  I canceled my appointment with the eye doctor today and rescheduled it for next week so that I could get some bulk shopping done before my in-laws arrive next week.  So, please pray that I at least figure out what is causing this headache.  Motherhood does not stop because I have a headache.  I am normally not prone to headaches.

Now, enough talking about myself and on to more important matters, grocery shopping.  You may find your self asking, "how did she do for the month with the $25 a week challenge?"  The answer is, "great!"  The four weeks of the challenge I spend $19, $26, $19, and $28.  Totaling $92!  However, for me to be completely honest, I also did bulk shopping for baking supplies twice this month $25 and $89.  Figuring all of the spending together, I spent a grand total of $206 this month to feed a family of 7!  Not bad!

How did it all work?  Stockpiling.  Last summer and fall, I would spend an average of between $150 to $200 a week on groceries that would be valued at around $400 because I shopped sales, used coupons, and stocked-up.  An example of something that I would do was to purchase olive oil when it was on sale for $36 a case.  It normally cost around $18 a can and I got 4 large cans for $36 saving me $36.  I also buy meat when it is marked down and cook and freeze it immediately.  I found chicken quarters at 49 cents a pound and stocked up.  I also found chicken tenderloins at $1 a pound and stocked up.  No, I did not only buy chicken products, I also purchased a large variety of meats.  I stocked up on pork chops, roasts, pork roasts, kielbasa, bacon, shrimp, salmon, chicken, and turkey.  I did the same thing when it came to vegetables, both canned and frozen.  As for fruit, I have recently found it to be cheaper to buy it IQF (individually quick frozen) in bulk at a commercial sales warehouse that usually sells to resteraunts but also sells to the individual (you must just be brave enough to walk in and place an order).  Just yesterday, I purchased IQF diced peaches  $29.95 for 22 lbs., IQF whole strawberries $33.95 for 30 lbs., and sweetened coconut flakes for $21.95 for 22 lbs.  Usually I also purchase IQF blueberries $29.95 for 30lbs.

How can you do it?  Just look around, shop around, and ask around.  Now you may be saying that you live in a small town and do not have access to these resources.  I live in a town of 200 people in the Adirondack Mountains and I had previously moved from a city of a million.  I drive quite a distance to get our food, but in the long run it saves us lots of money.  If you plan accordingly, then it is all possible and you can save lots of money.  Just yesterday, we drove 4 and a half hours round trip to purchase our bulk supplies, but on average we usually drive 3 hours round trip (because of lack of grocery stores where we live and the high cost of the one that we do have).

Let it be a challenge to you to try and reduce your grocery spending this month, stock up, and then sit back and enjoy all of your hard work.  It is best to plan ahead, because you do not know when the day is coming that you might not be able to do any grocery shopping for a period of time.  Things might become tight financially, you might have unexpected medical bills, you or your husband might lose a job, paychecks might be reduced, unexpected bills may come in and it is best to be prepared.  Start slowly and do not try all at once to do everything that I have suggested or you will find yourself overwhelmed and give up in the process.  Take baby steps and maybe try and spend $10 less this week and purchase a few more of one particular item each time you go shopping and then overtime you will have a large stockpile.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.  Please feel free to send me your questions or comments about grocery shopping, stockpiling, and saving.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Do You Find Yourself Worrying And Not Realizing That Is What You Are Doing?

Do you wake up at the start of the day and stress out over how you are going to accomplish it all, have enough energy to get through the day, endure this heavy trial (sickness, or other things) that God has placed in your life, feel overwhelmed by sins that you are struggling with, worry about the salvation of your children, or any thing else?  I do and I am sure that you do too.  Please be encouraged today as you worship in your local church and then listen to Joel Beeke deliver a sermon about Anxiety.  He is one of my favorite authors and preachers.  His messages are so simple, powerful, and applicational.  I highly recommend his book on Family Worship and then his wife's book on The Law of Kindness.  The church's website where you can listen to his sermon, entitled, Anxiety Out Of Order, is  .  If you go to the sermons tab you can find that he preached this sermon on March 3, 2010.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Couldn't Resist

Don't you just love a sweet and rambunctious little boy who walks out the door and says he's going camping and is wearing his big sister's shoes?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Signs of Spring (Week 1)

Yes, I know it is not Wednesday, but I took these pictures yesterday and fully intended to post them yesterday.  My husband suggested that I take these pictures every Wednesday.

Thursdays: From Scratch (Week 3)

This week I have found my true passion in making things from scratch, baking.  This was my week in pictures.

The bread that you see pictured above was from grandmother bread.  The first loaf was a regular loaf of bread for sandwiches.  The second loaf of bread was for french toast.  The third loaf of bread was rolled out and had american cheese slices inside it.  Making bagels and cinnamon rolls was also a lot of fun.  

Grandmothers bread needed to be baked longer.  I pulled them all out of the oven thinking they were done and sliced it all.  This was a mistake because the bread was doughy in the center.  We ate it anyway  and ended up with tummy aches.  So, the next day when I served the bread again, I sliced it down the middle and tried baking it longer and found out that it only got harder.  Learning from experience is how I learn best.

Sewing- I was also able to work on one of my son's apron.  It is almost finished.  Maybe next week I will be able to post a picture of the completed apron.

Cleaning supplies- windex.  Using one cup of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dish washing detergent, and 3 cups of water I was able to make an entire spray bottle of window cleaning solution.

Don't forget to head on over to Sarah's blog and check out her progress and all the others who have joined her.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do You Want to Know How To Buy Tide For As Little As -$2.03 for 3 Containers or get Pampers for Free Plus Overage?

Just last night I was looking at the flyer that was sent to me through e-mail from Rite-Aid and noticed that they had a great promotion going on.  If you purchase $30 worth of participating P&G products then you get $10 back in a prepaid Visa card.  Plus, you can always find $1 off 1 Tide coupons in the newspaper.  If you participated in the Olay Olympics program January and February and received either the $15 prepaid Visa card or the $35 prepaid Visa card, you can use this toward your P&G purchase.  Also, Rite-Aid regularly runs rebates when you purchase certain products and this can also be applied toward your Tide or other participating P&G purchase.

Here is the breakdown on what I plan on doing:  sending my husband to Rite-Aid and purchasing 3 containers of Tide each for $10.99.  That totals $32.97.  I also plan on using my $5 off $20 purchase through watching videos on Rite-Aids website.  Then using my $15 prepaid Visa card earned through the Olay Olympics program, bringing my total down to $12.97.  I also received a $2 rebate check and have 3 $1 off 1 Tide coupons.  That brings my grand total down to $7.97 and that is before my rebate of $10 is applied from this purchase.  My grand total for purchasing 3 Tides is better than free, -$2.03.  So basically what I am saying is that Rite-Aid is paying me $2.03 to purchase 3 bottles of Tide.  That is cheaper than homemade detergent any day!!!  This is also how I purchase all of our diapers for so cheap.  Once you get started in the rebates the money starts rolling and it is very easy, no paperwork and no mailing required.  All you do is log on to Rite-Aid's website and type in a few things from you receipt and then in a short weeks you get your money.   Couldn't be easier!!!

I also just saw that this will work well with Pampers diapers or wipes.  However, because the diapers are $9.99 you will have to buy 3 packages of diapers and one "filler item like maybe a pencil or some candy or gum" and this will make the savings even greater depending on the value of the coupon.

Another great way to save is to watch for money given on prescription transfers.  They just ran this last month and gave away $50 for a transfer of 2 prescriptions and $25 for a transfer of one prescription.  All that needed to be done was to print off the coupon from their website and take it in the store when you transferred your prescription.  This one I missed because I am currently without a printer.  I am always looking for great ways to save, so the more I find, the more I will share.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Discussion Starter: At What Age Did Your Children Become A Christian And How Could You Tell?

Having 5 children who are growing up in a pastor's home where family worship is practiced twice a day with Bible reading, hymn singing, scripture memory, and catechism can make it rather difficult to determine if your child has repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ alone.    They know all the right words to say and the right actions to practice.  How do you know if they have started repenting of their sins and trusting in Christ alone for their salvation?  I would love feedback!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pursuing Domestic Arts With Joy

Recently I began making all of our own bread and am starting to feel resourceful on most days, except when I am stressed that things (like emergencies interrupt our schedule).  I have found it helpful to read others blogs such as , , and as they have encouraged me in bread making and in storage of bread.  One day, I would like to figure out how others are able to have bread making days only once a week without their bread going stale.  That being said, I am also starting to feel like a helpful homemaker.  Here are some pictures of our bread making journey today.  It is a fun thing to get the kids involved in the whole process. We were making grandmother's bread.   I had such fun making this bread that we decided to venture out and try some new things with it.  I rolled it out and put white american cheese slices in it and then rolled it back up and baked it.  It tasted like grilled cheese sandwiches minus the butter.  Everyone loved it!  Then I decided to make cinnamon rolls minus the butter (since I did not have any butter or margarine).  I rolled the dough out and spread nutty peanut butter all over it (since I had loads of peanut butter and it is a butter that is oil based), sugar, and cinnamon.  They were also delicious!  I am also thinking that these would be tasty with a cream cheese frosting.  The recipe is from the cooking section of .  Experiment!  The recipe is versatile.  The kids and I talked about all the different ways we wanted to make Grandmother's bread.

Another pursuit that I have recently rediscovered joy in is sewing.  I have yet to find a permanent spot for my sewing projects that my kids will not sneak into and destroy.  Four years ago, I undertook a huge job to make window coverings for my entire home that we would soon move into.  I chose to make window valances that were all the same, just different fabric.  At the time, I had some wonderful seamstresses helping me so that I could complete the job before we moved.  It makes happy every time I look around the home and realize that they were homemade with love.  

With my recent pursuits in the kitchen, the need for aprons was of great necessity and I had lots of extra fabric.  I had five willing helpers all with no aprons.  So, as of late, I have been making aprons.  Only two are complete so far.  I plan on continuing my work on aprons and then moving on to other well-needed projects, like mending clothes.  My grandma is a great seamstress and made the pretty apron that my little girl is wearing and another apron for my big girl.  I plan on using these aprons for future aprons for my daughters and a different pattern for my boys.  I have not yet taken pictures of the second apron that I made.  I plan on finishing it up this week and taking pictures and posting them on Thursday's from scratch post.  My question that I do have for those with many children is, "how do I make sewing a part of my daily routine with so many little ones to care for and teaching my children to sew?"  Amy over at has been a big encouragement when it comes to sewing things.  Just yesterday, I made a moby wrap and am loving it!  My back has been hurting lots and my little girl loves to be cuddled lots, so when I found out that I could make this moby wrap I was thrilled.  There are many places online that teach how to use the moby wrap.  I listened and learned and she loves it.  It is so comfortable.  I love to swaddle my babies in their miracle blankets when they are newborns to about 3 months and to cuddle them in the moby wrap or my arms as often as I can.  

Another blog that has encouraged me when it comes to sewing is .

Last of all laundry.  Mindy has an encouraging post about organizing a laundry system.  Click on her name and it will take you to her site.  After reading the Duggar's book, Twenty and Counting, I was inspired to have a laundry room that was centralized.  We moved all the kids drawers downstairs and put up a clothing rod with a shelf above it.  Now all of my laundry is on the same floor.  We have a folding table and laundry baskets are placed under them.  We also have a chest that we keep our blankets in and a large rubbermaid tote that holds all of our sheets.  I have yet to constantly stay on top of all of our laundry.  This is a constant battle.  Laundry is a journey just like motherhood is a journey.

This final picture was taken just before I cleaned the tops of the drawers.

Spring Cleaning- Main Bathroom

This week's focus will be in the main bathroom.  For all who are joining me on this adventure I would encourage you to go on over to Sarah's blog and join us in making our homes a pleasant and clean place to dwell.  Next week, I will be posting the before and after pictures.  Please share with me how your progress is going.

Spring Cleaning Update...Last Week- Entry Way

Before Picture.
After picture.

Sara over at had a challenge last week in her spring cleaning to work on the entry way/mud room.

                 After Picture.

We are still in the midst of winter, so cleaning the entry and having it all organized was a bit of a challenge.  I still plan on doing a few more things to this entry way/mud room when winter is over for us sometime between April and May.  But for now, I am satisfied with having all of the boots on a shoe rack and the coats hung up on either the rack or in the closet.  I would also like to hang some kind of welcome picture or Bible verse above the coats.  When I figure out what I will do, I will update this post with more pictures.  Until then head on over to Sarah's blog and check out her progress as well as other's progress in this area.

If you do not want to join Sarah in her challenge then head on over to Janelle's blog and check out her challenge to transform one room at a time.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tips For Success When Using Whole Grains And A Recipe For Blueberry-Corn Pancakes

Have you ever found that by in large wheat flour is usually heavier and generally produces weighter bread?  I have until just recently when I purchased stone ground whole wheat flour, fine grade.  In fact, a friend just asked me why her whole wheat hamburger buns did not turn out light and fluffy like mine did.  At the time I had no idea, so I ask another friend who had also had good success with her bread products.

When using whole wheat flour, the secret to lighter and fluffier buns is in the grade of the flour.  The finer the grade the lighter and fluffier your bread will be.  The texture of fine stone ground whole wheat flour is that of white flour.  I usually purchase stone ground whole wheat flour with a fine grade and my products turn out great.  Another thing that I have read and tried is allowing the wheat and warm water to sit for at least 15 -30 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.  For example, if the recipe calls for 7 cups of flour I will add 3 cups to 1 and a half cups of warm water and let it set for 15-30 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This allows the grains some time to start working and the flour time to absorb the liquid.  When using cornmeal this same method applies.  Just this morning, I tried this when making delicious blueberry corn pancakes.  Also, when I thought  that I had purchased 50 lbs. of white flour this week, I opened it and discovered that I will be cooking using all whole grains for a while as it was enriched, unbleached, unbromated wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, folic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine mononitrate.  It did not affect the flavor or how the bread rose.

Blueberry-Corn Pancakes (from Whole Grain Baking)
(I doubled this recipe when I used it for my family of 7)

1/2 cup whole yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup boiling water
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1/4-1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

  1. Place the cornmeal in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling water over it, stir the mixture thoroughly and let it sit for 15 minutes. This allows the cornmeal to absorb the liquid, and it will be quite stiff at the end of 15 minutes.  Stir the melted butter to loosen the mixture.  Measure the milk; use the smaller amount of milk if your blueberries are frozen.  Beat the egg into the milk and stir the mixture into the cornmeal.  Combine well to be sure there are no lumps.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and combine with a few swift strokes.  Let the batter sit for 15 minutes, then stir in the blueberries.
  2. Heat a nonstick griddle or a cast iron skillet and brush with oil if your pan is not non-stick.  When the surface of your pan is hot enough, drop 1/4 of a cup of pancake batter onto the skillet for each pancake.  Let the pancake cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges, about 3-4 minutes (since it is whole wheat bubbles will not form across the whole surface).  Flip and finish cooking about 2 more minutes on the other side.  Serve immediately with maple syrup and enjoy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursdays: From Scratch (Week 2)

This weeks from scratch journey led me to making brown sugar muffins, 2 batches of whole wheat hamburger buns, 4 loaves of cinnamon raisin bread, cinnamon raisin bread french toast, dried cranberries, 2 batches of yogurt,  part of an apron for Joshua,  learning to patch holes in jeans, and window cleaner.  I will be posting pictures at a later time.

My dried cranberries were an utter failure.  I had the crazy idea to set a pan with waxed paper and cranberries cut in half on top of our wood stove.  When I saw that it was too warm, I set it on the counter for a while and then in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours.  Needless to say, I burned them!  After talking with a friend whose mom dried all their fruit, she said that she put them on a pan and set the pan in the attic for a few days because the air was drier up there.  I will persevere and keep trying until I get them right and then I will try my hand at drying grapes.  The idea of making my own dried fruit is very impressive to me because of the high cost of dried fruit.  If anyone else has had any luck drying your own fruit without paying for a food dehydrator I would love to hear how you did it.

Making things from scratch saves a lot of money and is totally worth the time.  The children love it just as much as I do and they are learning right along with me.  This week I plan on looking for a recipe for homemade ravioli. If anyone else wants to share of their journey in making homemade pasta, please share.  Also, I would like to venture out and start sewing more, but I have not yet figured out how to fit that into the schedule more then about once a week.  Any suggestions?

Don't forget to hop on over to Sarah's blog and read how others  journey from scratch went this week.  She would love to have more join her on her journey.  It does not have to be a lot of work.  One recipe a week or one thing made from scratch a week is a big help when it comes to becoming a frugal mom.

Feeling A Bit Ambitious And Overwhelmed

Okay, I have to admit that diagramming Romans was a bit ambitious for a 9 year old boy.  We finished our grammar book about 6 weeks ago and have not spent time reviewing it at all.  Today, when I set down with him he had trouble with diagramming.  For now, we will be spending time reviewing and then we will try diagramming Romans at a later date.  Getting back in the swing of things after being gone all day yesterday is also a bit overwhelming with my very long to do list today.

How Home Schooling Can Be Simple

Yesterday, the kids and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with him and stay a few hours at a friend's home while he made a hospital visit.  We had a great visit.  The children got to play with another home school family out in the woods in the snow on a rather warm day and see maple taps on the trees.  I had an encouraging visit from two other moms, one who had already completed her home schooling journey and one who was in the thick of it with her 6 children.  It is rare that I get to sit down and visit with other home schooling moms.  We shared what was happening in our families and some journals of what home schooling looked like when another mom was teaching her children.  Getting to see the journals was very helpful to me because sometimes I get discouraged when I want to spend lots of time in the kitchen baking and cooking with the children and not working on our "lessons" for the day or spending time on other homemaking skills such as meal planning, laundry, or sewing.  She taught me that homemaking is schooling.  She taught me that going to see maple taps is schooling.

Just recently we finished our grammar book with our oldest child and was not planning on starting another for a little while, but in the mean time feeling as if he still needed to do some grammar (just because that is what we do).  While looking through my friend's journals I saw that she made grammar very easy by having the kids diagram sentences, write summaries, write out vocabulary words with their definitions, and copy Bible verses.  That all got me to thinking, "I could continue to teach Grammar without an "official textbook" especially since the curriculum I had been using had been teaching him how to diagram sentences.  So, my husband and I talked on our long drive home and decided that we were going to have our son keep a notebook of his diagramming and that we would start by diagramming the book of Romans.  Then we would have our daughter, who just finished her handwriting book, copy Bible verses from Proverbs.  What better way to teach your children than to use the Bible as your "textbook"!  I was so excited that I had to share.

Lastly, my sweet friend whom I went to visit, knew of my journey in making things from scratch and also knew that my husband was picking up a few of our bulk baking supplies (50 lb of white flour and 50 lb of wheat flour) and lent me a copy of King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.  She also recommended and let me look at More With Less.  I LOVE cook books!!!  When I got home, I immediately opened the book and started reading it.  I am very excited to share with you in future posts my journeys through Whole Grain Baking.

The day ended by my husband and I sitting down and watching Julie and Julia.  If you have not gotten the opportunity to watch this movie I highly recommend it!  It is about Julie taking on the challenge of blogging about cooking for a year through Julia Child's cook book, The Joy of Cooking in a small 900 square foot apartment and about the story of Julia writing her cookbook in American while living in France.  It is two stories in one that is based on two true stories.

Later in the day, I will be posting of my journey in cooking from Scratch.  I would love to hear from you, too.  How was your week?  Did you venture out and try making something from scratch (it does not have to be food)?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another Great Blog To Check Out

How am I doing on the $100 challenge for a month?  The first week, I spent $17.  This week, I spent $26 plus tomorrow I will be spending $23 on a 50lb bag of white flour and a 50lb bag of wheat flour.  Not bad!  In my journey to save money on groceries and to make everything I can from scratch I ran across another very helpful website  It is her challenge to feed a family of 6 for $60 a week.  Amazing!!!  On Thursday, I will be posting pictures of my journey in making new things from scratch.  Let me know how you are doing?  Are you, too, learning to save money when it comes to meal preparation?  I love to read comments.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Come and Join In On the Spring Cleaning That Sarah is Hosting

Sarah over at is hosting a spring cleaning of the entire house.  Each week we will be cleaning and focusing on decorating  a different room in the house.  This week's focus is the entry way.  Go on over to her blog to read the details.

The Bible Podcast

The Bible Podcast, I have linked in my side bar, is a great way to read through difficult sections of the Bible.  If you ever get to a certain spot in your Bible reading and you feel as if you are walking through swamp land and moving at a snail's pace while losing motivation to continue in your commitment to faithfully reading all the way through the Bible, listen and follow allow with someone else reading the Bible.  At the start of the year I had decided to read through the entire Bible in 90 days and write posts about summaries of each book as I finished reading each them.  However, as time past, I came upon certain  sections in Joshua that I was just having a hard time wading through and was losing motivation  due to the many names that I was unable to pronounce and the repetition until I came upon The Bible Podcast.  I love it!  It got me over my hump and renewed my excitement as I was able to listen to the entire book of Judges yesterday and today.  While listening, I was reading along in my own Bible and encouraged to keep going.  I also learned how to pronounce certain difficult names.  So, I write this post to encourage others to persevere and give The Bible Podcast a try.

I have also been wanting to share this hymn written by Julia H. Johnston

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured, there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.  Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, threaten the soul with infinite loss; grace that is greater, yes, grace untold, points to the refuge, the mighty cross.  Dark is the stain that we cannot hide- what can avail to wash it away?  Look!  there is flowing a crimson tide; whiter than snow you may be today.  Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe!  You that are longing to see His face, Will you this moment His grace receive?  Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within!  Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin!