Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Hard Pill to Swallow

I have been pondering the importance of preparing our children for adulthood. More importantly, preparing them in ways that will not only prepare them in practical skills, but will prepare them for their future mind-sets.
I come from a first generation Christian family. My grandparents, I do not believe were saved they way Scripture teaches. My parents were saved as adults (through the Catholic and Episcopal churches, no less), and did their best to introduce Christ to my brother and I. I lay no blame on them, as they did the best they could with what they had. They (mom and dad) had no example of what a Christian family looked like. I am grateful to them both for the way they struck out of their familial comfort zone, and chose to follow Christ.
However, I understood very little, starting my own family, about the importance of strong character. That sounds terrible, but I guess I mean the kind of strong character that can smile in the midst of dificulty, exhibit a sweet, kind spirit when plans are running amuck, and bear all things for love of the other person. Character that exhibits diligence when no one is watching, is thankful even in uncertain circumstances and most importantly, can remember to turn to the One who created us when that character is starting to crumble, due to stress, fear, exhaustion, confusion, and so on.
I struggle so often in the minute by minute living, when the house is chaotic, the kids aren't listening, supper is waiting to be made, I have a list of chores a mile long...or worse, half-done chores, waiting to be finished. I think about people from history like Caroline Ingalls, Laura Ingalls famous mother. Perhaps people overlook her in the story, but she was an amazing woman of character.
When they lived in the big woods, she operated her home in amazing dispatch and orderliness. Living in the middle of nowhere didn't let her off the hook. They live in a civilized fashion. She saw to it. She rarely spoke harshly, always had her little girls with her in every task, watching, helping and observing. You never hear Laura mention her mother complaining.
Later on, their family faces disease (malaria and scarlet fever), the stress of travelling and relocating, poverty (long winter), in which they had nothing to eat but dried beans, potatoes, and raw wheat, not to mention having to fuel their fire with sticks twisted from hay. All through the season when one blizzard followed another, Caroline looked for ways to keep their minds and hands active and busy. She tried to avoid idleness in her home at all costs. They memorized a lot of Scripture and pieces out of the different levels of school readers.
I have to wonder what her childhood years were and how they prepared her for role as Charle's wife. She had the skills to do everything from making butter and cheese, to making straw hats, to sewing, etc. I wonder how her mother went about preparing her. If you read on in the story, Laura marries Almanzo, and have their own set of hardships, but you get the impression that Laura faces them with a lot more complaining and whining than her mother did. She wasn't nearly as willing to do all she could to keep home cheerful, orderly, and peaceful.
What women do you look to for examples of Godliness in the home??

Friday, October 30, 2009

Encouraging Our Husbands

While I was washing dishes this evening, I put in one of my favorite movies(I watch 'em on the laptop in the kitchen). It was "It's a Wonderful Life", with Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart.
Not for the first time was I impressed with the courage and tenacity of the character Mary, who is George Bailey's wife in the movie. She has long had a crush on him, and when they finally get married, their honeymoon is cut short by the stock market crash, and every dollar they had to travel with had to be put into their business, or sink. She gave it all willingly, with no reproach. Later, he finds that she has been busily working out the arrangements of their first home, and she welcomes him home to a good dinner and shining, admiring eyes.
Later, as the movie illustrates, he goes through ups and downs, and she is always there, and always looking for any way she can to help him, support him, and encourage him.
I know these are fictional characters, but suppose for a moment, they were real. How precious and valuable do you think Mary would be to her husband? She encapsulates the verse "she does him good and not evil all the days of her life." She is his crown, quite literally. She goes about each day seeking to be a blessing and a help to her husband, not dragging him down with complaints. Even when great calamity falls upon her husband, and the security of their whole family is threatened, she rolls up her sleeves and finds a way to fix the problem, and welcomes him home (along with others) with open arms. Finally, he begins to see of himself what she knew all along, and has been trying to show him all these years--through her faithful love and willing sacrifice.
What do you see in your husband that he needs to know?
Tell him.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cold Weather Soup

I have made these two easy soups lately and they are fantastic!! Thought I would share with you all to enjoy.

#1 Creamy Tomato Soup

1 small onion, minced
2 cp water
1-2 bullion cubes
15 oz tomatos (crushed, sauce, puree)
1/2 can evap milk (NOT sweet condensed)
1 cp milk
1 Tbsp sugar
cornstarch in water for thickener
garlic powder
black pepper

I sautee the onion in butter for about 5 minutes, til it gets pale and soft. I add the water and the bullion and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the spices the tomatoes and the sugar and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Add the milk and bring back up to near boiling (note, sometimes, the milk seems to curdle due to the acidity in the tomatoes. But not always. If it does, ignore it and proceed. It will still taste good). Pour in thickener--not a lot as you want this soup creamy, but still soup--not pudding....Stir as it begins to get just thick enough to cling to the spoon. Serve with grilled ham and cheese.

#2 Ham and Potato Soup

1 good sized uncooked ham steak, cubed
1 large onion, minced
beef bullion (2 cbs)
1 1/2 qt water
five medium potatoes, smallishly cubed
1 can evap milk
black pepper
grated cheese
Sautee ham and onion in butter til onion is soft. Add water and beef bullion and potato cubes. Bring to a simmer and cook potatoes til tender. Add evap milk, and spices. Reheat til barely boiling. Add cornstarch and water for thickener, stirring til creamy. Add couple handfuls of grated cheese--cheddar colby, whatever..
Stir in cheese til melted. Serve

These are both easy and tasty. I will warn you all--I don't measure when I make soup. I guesstimate. I eyeball it. I sprinkle of this and a dash of that. These amounts are my hypothesis of what I think I used...Any of you who are soup makers, feel free to adjust accordingly! If you are not a soup maker, pick my brain if something doesn't come out right, and I will try to tweak it for you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Sanctification

I have been thinking a lot about the biblical family, lately. I think having #4 on the way has me thinking about children, their purpose, and the way they change our lives. In today's culture, children are--for all our pro-life propaganda--looked upon as inconveniences and hindrances. Perhaps you think that our children are those that never worry or irritate their parents. I am at this moment, typing to the wail of the child that woke up thirty minutes after I put him down, and hasn't stopped screaming since...I know about the inconvenience of children.
But only in the last couple of generations has convenience taken such a top priority. Or perhaps we should call it something else--easy, or easier. When something is an inconvenience, it's harder, is it not?? But I digress.
Sometimes I wonder if we separate too much the world of our children and our relationship with God. I know I struggle to find time to read Scripture undisturbed, as my idea of a devotion time is to be quiet, with God, in unbroken concentration, often resulting in frustration and anger that I can't even have a time with the Lord without interruption.
Let me illustrate with a well-known figure of the media right now--Michelle Duggar. She, if you don't know, is the mother of 18 children, and they host a reality show called 18 and Counting. I have heard Christian women slam her as they express their own distress in parenting one or two children. They don't understand how she can be so "perfect". The fact that she seems to never lose her cool, she is always smiling, she never seems to be at a loss for energy or inspiration. I think the presence of a real live mother who has such a beautiful life with her family makes us other women ashamed and jealous. However, if you peruse her family's site, she makes no bones about the fact that there have been times when she had a much smaller family (like six)and felt very exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed.
My question is, has the Lord used her children to mold and shape her in to the woman she is?? Have her children, in essence, been a tool for her sanctification?? (ie process into Christ-likeness) In having such a large family, has she had to learn to so totally depend on God's strength, that after having done so for so many years, she has learned to instinctively do things like "cast all your cares upon Him" and by so doing has "peace that passes all understanding".
We see larger families and I we think say to ourselves,"I am glad it's her and not me, I could never handle that many children."
Do you see what the implication is here?? That we, in and of ourselves, are the ones holding the reins for our families. That we decide to only have as many children as we can handle--in our own strength. It's true that a couple children are all we can handle in our own strength. But if we could come to the realization that we are not to do anything in our own strength--especially parent--perhaps we could begin to view children as a means for our own Christ-likeness. That the poor attitudes we display when something goes ary due to our children also need to be weeded out and disposed of, knowing that we are to "be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Yes, parenting is hard. Parenting our children to love the Lord and obey Him is even harder. But I don't remember convenience clauses added to any of the Bible's references to teach and train our children.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conference on Uniting Church and Family

I just found out about something that sounds really interesting. Doug Phillips of Vision Forum ( is aiding in the presentation of a conference whose purpose is to unite church and family--also called the family integrated church concept. The main thrust is how the church is wondering where all the young people have gone. This line of thought is suggesting that the age-segregated variety of church we have mostly now is the reason. It's like we are telling our children and young people "church isn't for you--go over there." Five and ten years later, we wonder why they no longer want to be involved in church, or always are church-hopping--attending the ones with the best programs.
The idea is that if we want to raise a generation of young people who love church, and attend out of love and obedience to Christ, we can't bend them away from it now. Get them involved now. Find ways of incorporating children in the work of the church. Let's teach them how to serve every week! Have them assist in taking offering, or have older children or youth read the call to worship passage. Or give the announcements. Church isn't about going to the best programs to be served, it's for the purpose of teaching in sound doctrine, exhortation among believers, and I also think it's about learning to serve one another. Kelly Crawfor has a great article on this topic in her archives on Church and Children's Ministry. I think it's called "How Shall We Then REach Them?". Great stuff to consider.
It would be a great thing for pastors to attend.

Today We Tried Something New

I have been frustrated with our household lately. It seems like so many days go by where I run around like crazy, making meals, cleaning, laundry etc, and my children simply play all day everywhere, with no real guidance or interaction with me.
So I thought I would try instituting a new daily rule. No toys until after lunch. That every day, the mornings are to be devoted to helping mommy, getting dresses etc. School in our house happens after lunch as my older child is only five, and it takes us maybe 1/2 hour to work through some reading and number worksheets and whatnot. Timothy is not quite four, and is still learning letter recognition, so we work on that for 10 or 15 minutes after Nathan's time. Then, toys and play can happen.
I think this may work for three reasons. 1) I think it will force me to begin to include them more in housework--don't think that I never give my children chores to do, but so far it's been a more incidental thing, rather than a regular "do this every day at this time" kind of thing. 2) I think it will preserve the interest of the toys we have if they have a period of time each day that those toys are out of commission--entirely. 3) I also think it will help cut down on the messy house to have limited hours of toys, which will in turn cut down on my workload each day.
What do ya'll think??
This is the first major scheduling attempt of sorts I have tried to implement. And today, so far, it has worked!! This morning, when the no toys rule was still in effect, I was ironing, and my older boys and I were sitting together reciting mother goose rhymes. Maybe I will get really ambitious and start memorizing Scripture!
Let's see if it's still working a week from now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chair Caning

I think the Lord may have given me another idea for a home business. Have you ever been to an antique store, or flea market, and encountered a cane bottom rocker? Unfortunately, the weave of the cane is usually broken out. You see, after a time, the reed that is used dries out badly, and becomes brittle, especially since we don't use oil to polish and clean our wood surfaces anymore. So I had a thought--perhaps I could start working on learning how to reweave the bottoms of the chairs. But not with reed, with something that I think would be ten times stronger than reed and less likely to become brittle. It's my secret--otherwise, ya'll might beat me to it, and then my grand idea for a home business won't fly, and you won't hire me to do it, you'll do it yourself. (I'm a selfish soul, what can I say...).
Anyway, if any of you out there happen to have a cane bottom chair that is broken, cracked etc. Lemme know, or if you happen to see one that you could get cheap, pick it up and send it my way, and I'll see if I can repair it for you.
If you are wondering, I was an art major in college, and took weaving, so I'm not entirely clueless about this matter.
Prices--well, I won't know until I actually start doing it, but I am anticipating that the overhead in materials won't be that expensive, it's just a matter of time involved. Let's just say that I am inclined to charge less in labor if it means people can actually afford to pay for it, and use the service. Even if that means I only earn $2.00/hour. I don't know about you, but a product priced high that is sitting on my shelf brings in less income than a lower priced product that goes like hotcakes!! Which makes more sense?? Besides, here at home, $2/hr is more than I bring in now, right??
Lemme know what you all think!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I wish I wasn't so impatient

I have had this nagging impatience lately. As you all know, I am expecting our fourth baby. We live, presently, in a small house about 1000 square feet, that will be housing six people. When we moved from our last house, we got rid of several pieces of furniture, and slimmed down our possessions in general. Since then, I have taken stuff to the local thrift store etc. Another baby means that we have to find places for the bassinet, and eventually, how to fit them all in one bedroom, with four beds. Hmmmm.
We also have had our first snow of the season. And I do mean snow! It snowed all day yesterday, all day today, and may be still snowing now. It's only October! I am being overcome by a bad case of cabin fever, and it's not even winter yet. I have three rambunctious boys in the house that are under the age of six. The winter months are stretching out before me....I'd like to just go pile under a snow bank and sleep until spring....But, alas, I can't.
I hate to sound complaining, but I would love to be somewhere that is a little bit permanent. I would love to have the space that will sufficiently store things, and enough rooms to label as play and not play areas, so that some of my house can look pretty--you know, a dining room without legos under the table, and lincoln logs on the chairs...And a mudroom where the coats and hats and scarves can go, instead of half-all-over-my-living room, maybe near the closet...
I have to keep reminding myself that we live within our means. We don't have the funds for a home to buy, yet, so we make do with the house that the Lord provided that fits into our budget, small though it may be. I have to remind myself that I would rather be here in our present circumstance, and be able to sleep at night (barring the baby) rather than strapped with bills I cannot pay, and an ulcer. It's hard to watch all the other family members move ahead, and feel like we are still in limbo, but I have to remind myself that we are moving ahead, just not in ways that are visible to all. We are saving more aggressively, we are saving expenses by making do here, we are training and teaching and discipling our children day-by-day, and hopefully preparing them for the day when we will be moving to a house where they will activley serve the family, contributing by their work, etc.
And all this has to be lived out one day at a time. The money has to be saved one dollar at a time. Lessons need to be learned one mistake at a time.
But chocolate always helps!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wakeful Baby

Has anyone ever had to live with a baby that won't stay asleep all night? Our baby right now is a monster at night time. We go through bedtime routine, he falls asleep in arms usually very quickly, we put him in his bed and leave him well covered. Usually at least twice he wakes up through the night. We have wondered if his peepee stings his skin and is uncomfortable when he is wet, so we consistently change him and usually put him right back to bed. Sometimes he falls back asleep quickly, sometimes he screams for however long we let him scream. The problem is, all three kiddos are in the same room. So if we let him bellow for more than thirty minutes, Nathan and Timothy wake up, then it's all three of them bellowing. So we really can't do what we did with the other two and let him just cry til he falls asleep, but unfortunately, he may not be learning to fall asleep by himself--you know, how to comfort himself back to sleep. We never (or very rarely) take him into bed with us. I have occcasionally, when hubby is doing overnight shift, if I can't get him back to sleep, or if he is sick, or can't seem to get warmed up. But I try to get him back into his own bed as soon as possible. We don't do co-sleeping. We only have a queen-sized bed, and both of us are somewhat violent sleepers. We would either never get sleep ourselves, or squash the baby...neither are good options.
Any suggestions?? We also will need the crib for new one before too long, so the toddler bed will be coming out of the attic for Keith soon, maybe that will help.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maybe this 'il get a rise outa ya'll!!

We have, presently, three June birthdays in our family. By the next June, we will have a fourth....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This is the way we can the pumpkin, can the pumpkin...

Hello friends. I am sorry I haven't been very diligent in posting. It has been rather a busy week. This past Tuesday, I had my first experience as a volunteer for CEF. For those of you who are unaware, that stands for Child Evangelism Fellowship. It is an evangelistis program that reaches children during the schoolday. They hold release time classes at an alternate location (other than public school), where the children receive a Bible lesson and a song, and learn about missions. I am taking on the missions aspect of this ministry (for one release-time class).
Friday, I had an ABW (Ladie's Aide Society) meeting that I serve as secretary for, and had to prepare gluten free dish for myself and dessert. They had turkey, which was fine, but I couldn't eat the gravy or the stuffing, or the mac and cheese or the green bean casserole(all campbell's soup has wheat starch!). So I had some of my own dish, some turkey, some scalloped corn, baked beans, and dessert.
Friday night, I had family coming in to spend the night, so we could cook up pumpkins together, and can them. So early this morning, my mom and friend Melody came to help, along with my sis-in-law and her foster-daughter.
We spend the whole day cooking and canning pumpkin. We finished up the processing around 8pm, and they all were gone by 9pm. We got 34 pints of pureed pumpkin. We had both of our double decker canners filled. Whew!! And I have a stock pot of cooked, rough pumpkin that we started but never finished, that I will have to do later. I still have 16 ripe pumpkins to do at some point, plus a slew of green ones...But we must have processed at least thirty of them!! Only one major incident, Annette my sis-in-law, did cut her finger while hefting down on the chunk of pumpkin, when it slipped. We did have to rush her to the ER. She did have to get three stitches--it was a pretty bad cut. But we came back and finished up without too much problem.
I have a filthy kitchen, 18 or so jars of canned pumpkin, probably 10 jars worth to still do, and tommorrow's Sunday.
Did I mention we have a demoninational association meeting tommorrow, after church??
Can I stop moving now??
Good night!!
ps my husband's doing an overnight shift, tonight....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like Our Dishes

The one thing that occurred to me the other day, is that as a mother, I am the doer-of-all-work in my home. I am the laundress, the bed-maker, the dish-washer, the rinse-the-cloth-diaper-out-in-the-toileter. As I was washing dishes the other day, after I posted the one about sin, it occurred to me that perhaps our sin is like our dirty dishes. You see, when those dishes were on the store shelf,or at the yard sale, I had no responsibility to clean them. It wasn't until I purchased them and brought them home and began to use them that the responsibility to wash them became mine. I think, in some way, we are like that with God. Our step of salvation is the purchase of us, and after that purchase, it is now God's responsibility to wash us clean. And like the dishes that are used every day, He must clean us over and over and over. After all, we are called vessels, right?? A vessel that sits on a shelf and never used, hasn't much purpose, correct?? However, the ones that are used a lot, need constant washing, drying and putting away, only to be pulled out when a need arises. The dirtying of my dishes doesn't make them any less mine, in fact, because they are in a way dependent on me for cleaning, it makes them more mine. But the dirtiness on a plate doesn't render it ineffective, it simply needs to be taken up by the master dish washer to be made ready for service again!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How Does Sin Affect Us?

One of the things I have been pondering lately is how sin affects us after we are new creations. Let me see if I can clarify my question. Before we repent, and are saved through Christ's atonement, sin is the barrier that holds us away from God. Our sin puts us on one side of the chasm and God on the other. After we cross that chasm through faith and repentance, we do still sin, don't we? And yet our sin doesn't put us back on the other side of the chasm, does it?? What would be the point of salvation, then? So what effect does our sin have after we are saved? I know the Scriptures indicate that sin can still cause a breach of relationship with God in the life of a believer, but I understand it to be a much lesser breach than the pre-salvation breach. Any thoughts??

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What We Have Been Up To

Hello everyone. No, nothing is wrong, just tired. I haven't had a chance to sit down and post for days, it feels like. The whole fam is down a little with colds and sniffles, including me. My ears are muffly, and my nose is stuffed/runny(i always wondered how it can be both???). My upper chest feels thick and weezy, and sleeping is difficult.
However, we have not time off. We are still busy as ever!! Monday, my parents came for dinner and my dear mother stayed over to watch the boys while I went to a church meeting. Tuesday, I took mom home early in the morning. Wednesday, we had church to get ready for in the evening. Thursday we had MOPS, plus an errand or two. Tomorrow, I have a friend coming over to spend an hour, and I am going to do some mending for her. Whewwww! Did I mention that my dear husband is doing an overnight shift tonight for some extra hours?? He'll need to sleep in the morning...
Let's see, I have projects coming out my ears. My cousin Michelle(hi meesh!)sent four huge bags of fabric to me through my mommy when they were out in Jersey this past week. In amongst that fabric was three beautiful yards of linen. Not a linen blend, but real linen. It's a heavy, wonderful quality. I have been cutting and hemming them into dishtowels. There is nothing better than heavy linen for fuzzless dishtowels. I was thinking about doing a little give-away here on the blog, for anyone who might like one of these beauties. I just hafta think of a good way to narrow it down--you know some good question, or poll or something....for all six of my followers...
I experimented with a new way of cooking up a couple pumpkins tonight. I steamed them on the rack in my steam canner. Worked like a charm!! Steamed two in half an hour!! Just have to drain the water off, so I can can it solid pack. Some fam is coming on the weekend of the tenth to help me process all the pumpkin!!
There have been some new developments I am not looking forward to, however. My hubby works for a residential treatment facility that is funded (at least in part) by state and federal money(as well as local and private). Well, since the budget isn't done yet in those areas of government, his company is scrambling for funds. Things have been very tight around here, and as much as I would hate to see it go, the internet may have to be allowed to go. We have to finish our contract for one year, but when it's up, it may have to be up for awhile. I don't know, right now, but in our rural area, there isn't any competition, so prices are high (I think). It could save us $30-40/month, and right now, every little bit helps. The budget has been a little bit squeezy, lately, and I think it's back to the scrimp and pinch mode for a while.
So, I will let you all know what's happening before we just disappear. Becaue this means we will not be able to check our email or anything, unless we go to a library. We have to do what we must, however.