Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Blessings!


Here we are on the last afternoon of 2007! The eve of a New Year is a special time for our family as we reflect on the many blessings of the past year and make goals and plans for the coming year. We always enjoying making our plans, fully realizing that our lives are in God's hands and our plans are subject to change! It is good to make goals - after all 'aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it' has been a theme oft repeated in my growing up years. We like to look at character goals and see how much progress we can see in an area of former weakness. For example, last year at this time, one of our children, who shall remain nameless, was really struggling with untruthfulness, and this year we see such an improvement in that area. It is so very encouraging to see our children grow and mature, but we also make these types of character goals for ourselves, since we are still in the process of maturing to be more like Christ, even in our 'advanced years'!

We also make goals for home improvements and personal goals as well, but keeping them within reason and making sure they are 'do-able' encourages us to actually achieve our stated goals and enjoy the feeling of success that brings. I think it is great to aim for something that you know is within reach, rather than make unreasonable goals, which always end up just being a waste of time for me!

I am planning to re-vamp my spring cleaning plan this year and get started a little earlier since I now know that spring comes quickly to our little corner of the mid-west and the garden calls me out doors just as soon as the soil begins to warm. The past two springs have found me trying to clean the house from stem to stern, clean up the garden, plant, and finish the school semester with the children - a bit too much at once. This year we are also hoping to get a bit more systematic with our family Scripture reading and memorizing, since the business of health issues in the fall sort of side tracked that goal. I've decided not feel guilty about that small failure - just pick up where we left off and go forward.

Our community 'First Night' celebration has been canceled due to lack of volunteers, which is a real shame since we throughly enjoyed the celebration in past years. We thought about renting a fun video but our t.v. which was my grandfather's for a number of years before we inherited it, has finally died, and our van is experiencing transmission trouble! My parents are here for a visit, which is wonderful, but I feel badly that everything is on the fritz just now! We will be making our own fun for New Year's Eve - perhaps pull some taffy, play some games and stay up late before praying in the New Year and going to bed. We're not big party people, but if all of our water problems hadn't occurred just before Christmas, we might have had a few friends in for the occasion. As it is, we are still in a bit of a mess and are looking forward to having everything put back in it's place. The flooring in our utility closet must be replaced which involves lifting the furnace - a big job to say the least! The furnace is currently working, but it is 'on the lean' as the flooring's integrity has been compromised.

The first few weeks of the New Year will be busy with doctor's appointments for me, and the resuming of regular activities. I am also looking through recipe books and planning to try out at least one new recipe each week, as I do every January. Last years picks resulted in a few new family favorites, so I hope I am as successful this year. I was rather hit and miss last January, because of my health, but I spread the weeks out and thus made my goal of trying new things more achievable, which was a blessing!

I've just pulled some fresh bread from the oven, and need to run a loaf over to Mr. Neighbor while it is still warm. Tonight dinner is simple grilled chicken salad with and fresh bread - since we will be snacking later on cheese ball and shrimp, I am sure a light supper will be appreciated.

I do hope that your New Year is a time of learning and growth, that your trials strengthen your relationship with God, and that above all you know the deep and abiding joy of walking with God day by day - come what may. Peace and happiness to you my friends!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 'Get What You Really Wanted' Sale


Last night before bed I was attempting to tidy up the kitchen counter a bit when my eyes fell on the sales circulars for today. The 'Get What You Really Wanted' sale ads just blew me away. Stores are capitalizing on our dissatisfaction with the gifts we received for Christmas and encouraging the idea that we are entitled to have 'what we really wanted' for Christmas. It's so sad, and yet today the stores will be filled with customers taking back gifts, not because they don't fit, but because it wasn't what they really wanted - or just to get the cash. It's no wonder that people are discouraged from buying gifts for others - knowing that it will be exchanged, re-gifted, or end up at Goodwill is enough to make anyone feel like Scrooge. Even the whole gift card thing is a waste since something like 1/3 of them will never be redeemed. It's a shame.

It's all about expectations and building them up beyond all reality. It's also about people driving themselves crazy to meet those unrealistic expectations. I ran to the grocery store quickly the other day to get a few things I knew we would need over Christmas. It was crazy busy and the shelves were often bare or almost bare. Everyone was in a hurry and grim faces greeted me at every turn. Exhaustion and stress were in the air and there was no time for the pleasantries. I was in a long line for the check out and gave a bright smile to the lady behind me. She scowled and swore at me, asking what I had to be smiling about and generally insulting and belittling my beliefs as I briefly shared the joy of Christmas for Believers with her. It made me really sad to hear her tirade, but as I've reflected more on what she said, I feel more sorry for her than anything. She was totally stressed about finding just the right gifts, preparing just the right meal and having her home ready for the holidays. She was racking her brain to think of something to give to that hard to buy for husband, and knew that most of what she chose would just be taken back or sit on a shelf, never to be used. While I didn't appreciate her coarse language or the personal insults she lavished on me, I understood her feeling of pushing herself to make an effort knowing that is was probably not going to be appreciated. Christmas just doesn't make sense without Christ.

My husband asked me about a month ago if I really wanted diamonds for Christmas. I laughed and asked him where he got that idea from. He mentioned that all of the t.v. ads, radio commercials, and newspaper fliers were insisiting that every woman needs a diamond for Christmas in order to be truly happy and satisfied. He felt like the advertisers were saying that any other gift would be woefully inadequate. The thing is, while that may be true for some women, it isn't true for me. I have a beautiful diamond on my left hand and I am more than satisfied with it. In this season of my life, practical and useful gifts are very appreciated. I love pretty things, but I I like it best when something I use everyday is both pretty and practical, and I personally don't appreciate spending a great deal of money on something that is just purely for looks. That's just me. I wasn't expecting diamonds, so I wasn't unhappy with the thoughtful gifts my family selected for me - in fact, I was very happy with everything!

I remember as I child a Christmas when my teacher at school had us make a long list for 'Santa' as a writing exercise. She has us 'dream big' and make a really extensive, specific list of our wants and wishes. We brought in the Sears 'Wish Book' and poured over it for hours writing down exactly what we wanted. I got an "A+" on my creative writing assignment. That was the first Christmas that I wasn't satisfied with what I got for Christmas. I was 11 and I remember going to my bedroom and crying great tears of disappointment. Once I had written down my long list of wants, I began to feel like anything less than the sum total of the list was inadequate. My expectations were high, but the reality was it wouldn't have been good for me to get everything I wanted, and my parents knew that. I remember my mum coming into my room and talking about how I felt. She helped me to look at what I had been given with a grateful heart and encouraged me to be content with what I had. I remember leaving my bedroom and going back to the tree and carefully looking over each thing and deciding to enjoy the gifts I'd received - and I did!

A gift is a gift. It is not something we earn, deserve or have a right to. It is not something that we should be critical of or be ungrateful for. Whether it is for Christmas or any other special occasion, we need to have grateful hearts. It all boils down to contentment - knowing that no THING is going to bring peace and satisfaction to our hearts - despite what the advertisers are constantly trying to tells us! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever - He is the One who fills our hearts with JOY!

Our children are good examples to me. They woke up very early yesterday morning and were excited about opening their stockings in their rooms. Everything they opened was exclaimed over and chatted about. I over heard 'Wow sister, look at this!' and 'Look brother, isn't this nice!' over and over again. Every gift had to be brought in to their half asleep Daddy to show him (even though he had wrapped them all and stuffed their stockings!), and it's virtues were extolled! They only had time to open a few gifts before we went to our friends for a lovely Christmas dinner, but they were happy with that. When we got back home and finished opening their gifts at 7 pm we got big hugs and exclamations of 'thank you - I love it' and 'we're so blessed'! I pray that they will always be so easily satisfied with the simple things in life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Blessings!




I am popping in briefly to wish you all a very blessed Christmas! I pray that the joy of this season of celebration will warm your hearts and draw you closer to the God who chose to send these good tidings to a group of solitary shepherds on a hillside 2000 years ago!


Luke 2:10-16

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
He is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,

the shepherds said to one another,

"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,

which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby, who was lying in the manger.


If this has been a season of stress, anxiety, frenzied activity and overcommitment for you, I pray that you will take some time to rest and reflect on the wonder of the Messiah and His presence in your every day life. There is great peace in knowing that 'He is Christ, my Lord.'

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Diamonds for Christmas and Prairie Living


Prairie style living is not for the faint of heart. I wouldn't know, really, but if our minor inconvenience of no hot water for three days is any indication, I most likely would not have survived, let alone thrived in those covered wagon days. The west would not have been settled by the likes of me! These are some things I have learned about water leaks and broken hot water tanks and making do with cold water.

  1. Take a deep breath and pray. In the eternal scheme of things, it is only a house, only a bunch of messed up stuff, and only money; nothing that will last beyond this life. Why waste time in worry? God is still in control.
  2. Call your insurance adjuster - they really know what they are talking about and they can point out things about what may be lurking under the carpet or behind the walls that you had no idea about.
  3. It is often worse than it first appears and will go way beyond your deductible to repair, so it's worth making a claim.
  4. When there is water there is mold, fungi and other foul odors. Shiver!
  5. Pulling up carpet is a major revelation. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!
  6. Wet under padding is worse smelling than a football locker or hockey equipment bag. Hold your nose ladies! It is also very heavy.
  7. Being cheerful and somewhat calm when 1 Adjuster, 1 Plumber, 1 Plumbers wife, 2 Water extraction men, 1 Ironing friend, 3 Extra children expecting a cookie baking party and 1 Friend's helpful husband ( trying to replace a dead battery in the van and point out the almost flat tire) are all in your house at once can lead to opportunities to share the Hope of faith in Jesus Christ.
  8. Be ready with an answer for the Hope that is in you 'in season and out of season' - simply because your brain may not be fully functioning at the time you have an opportunity!
  9. If you sometimes feel very cut off from the world and wonder what kind of light you are being to those around, pray that God will bring people into your life to be a light for.
  10. Remember to pray for a little spacing in those witnessing opportunities. All in one day can be a bit taxing. The light can get pretty dim by 5 o'clock.
  11. Water from a 175' deep well is icy cold in winter.
  12. It takes every large pot and kettle of boiling water to take 'the chill off' of bath water for the children. Rinsing in cool water makes for shiny hair. Rinsing in water straight from the well makes for screaming children, instant blinding head aches and at least two hours of warm up time. Brrrrrrr!
  13. Ice cold showers are just as awful as ice cold baths.
  14. Don't try to shave your legs in ice water - you'll just slice off the goosebumps! If you don't follow this advice, have Band-aids ready - lots of them!
  15. Waking up knowing that the water is not any warmer today than it was yesterday is enough to make you roll over and go back to sleep.
  16. When your dear sweet husband offers to take you all to a hotel with a pool and hot running water - say YES!!!! When he tries to entice you with endless HGTV and a whirlpool bath tub, give in. Don't be stubborn like me!
  17. Watching your husband wash the dishes all by hand is a thing of beauty. Acts of love and service are always a thing of beauty to me.
  18. Keep smiling. Life will resume normalcy shortly - this is but a minor bump on the highway of life. Keep on counting your blessings.

We made a quick decision based on our research and chose the Rinnai water system and it is too be installed tomorrow - it will be an all day kind of thing, and we won't have any water at all for a good part of the day, so I am planning ahead tonight and hoping that all will go well.

Some gals will be getting diamonds for Christmas this year, but this happy Momma will be enjoying a nice hot bath and endless hot water! Ahhhhhhh!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In A Lot of Hot Water - or not!

We have had a mysterious 'spot' of moisture on our carpet for about a week- my husband discovered it when he 'really' vacuumed the house last week. I love when he does this - lifting the couch with one hand and vacuuming with the other - there is just something about a helpful hubby that makes my heart hammer! But I digress - back to the spot! At first we thought the kids had spilled a drink of water and not 'fessed up!' - but to be frank, our kids are usually the first to 'tell' on themselves and don't go for the 'cover up', since they know life will just be miserable for them until they tell the truth.

The puddle was under the 'bun' foot of the couch, so my husband got out the little green machine and cleaned up the spot and rid the carpet of the foul odor and got it mostly dry. We were all set to put the couch back a few days later when we noticed it was wet again. We were thinking a leaking roof, a burst pipe in the wall or something ... but that was as far as we got. Somehow life just hasn't been about finding the source of the spot - it been about healing and catching up, and a wee few Christmas surprises in the making!

Tonight my husband began investigating .... the culprit? An ancient hot water tank .... leaking! UGH!!!! Do you remember when our children were plotting the imminent demise of the only non-energy star compliant appliance in the house? Well, I really didn't hope for it to go out just now, but I guess it was inevitable! Now we need to shop for a new hot water heater and we are considering the tankless hot water on demand variety. Any thoughts? My husband has heard really good things about the Rinnai. We plan on being in this house for quite a while I guess, so we might as well get something that will save money in the long run - and if we move, I'm sure the next owners will appreciate our investment - or not!

So .... the gas is turned off, the tank is drained and we have no hot water! Showering is going to be such a thrill in the morning!!!! I've been really pale for the last two weeks - now I'll be pale blue!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Won!


Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me held a contest for an extra copy of this lovely book and I was the winner! I am so delighted - and surprised! I am not generally the 'winner' of any type of contest or draw. Thank you so very much Brenda - I look forward to 'A Return to Sunday Dinner' - it looks lovely! This book was on my list to look for at the library - how fun to have a copy all to my self!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Snowed in and loving it!


Here in our little corner of the Midwest we are enjoying a taste of winter. This morning when we awakened we saw bare trees, green grass and lots of beautiful Cardinals at the bird feeders. Within an hour the snows began - I guess the 'weather event' scheduled by out weather experts was a bit later than expected. All day long the snow has fallen, and we have enjoyed a snug 'at home' day as a family. No time pressures or essential things needing to be done.

The Historian ran out for a few staples before the storm became earnest and we are snug and set. We have our weather emergency preparations made and now we just have to sit back and enjoy. We made some treats for the birds with bird seed, bacon fat and peanut butter melted together and poured into grapefruit halves. It was based on one of the great ideas Kelli shared last month in Seasonal Delights and we really had a good time doing it! Our ingredients were a bit different since we just used what we had on hand!

I also caught up on my mending today which had pretty much taken over my sewing table. You would think I was the only one who could repair an injured bear or put on a button around here! That being done, I started messing around making a simple tea cozy. I have this awesome software for my sewing machine that makes cute tea cups, but I have never used it (shamefaced). My first attempt was too big and tall, so I'll have to get back to the drawing board. I don't have a pattern or dimensions, but I remember my Nanny having one that she knit where the spout and handle stuck out - I'm trying for a fabric version. Once I figure out the pattern in scraps I have some lovely old English linen that will look nice with an embroidered design I think!

Tonight I hope to make some simple jammies for our boy - he is so long in the back and getting a bit pudgy around the middle all of the sudden. His p.j. tops don't meet his p.j. bottoms and his back is all cold and exposed in the morning! I'm glad I have some nice cozy flannel on hand and time to go into jammie production. They usually only take an hour to make when I use nice cotton ribbing around the neck, cuffs and ankles.

The Dreamer and I went over to Mr.Neighbors and she shoveled off his stoop and a path to his garage. It is very slick, so I hope he stays indoors until his 'man' comes and clears his drive. Our snowblower is back in the shop - not great timing! They said it was fixed the last time, but something wasn't right. It wouldn't start and gas was leaking all over the place. This snow will probably melt before we get it back again!

Our pastor canceled church for tomorrow so we are set for a morning of home church and lazing about. The Historian has prepared a message, Dreamer is going to 'do' Sunday School, the Storyteller will undoubtedly 'help' and take over the music department, and I have the coffee hot cider fellowship taken care of. I'm looking forward to a lovely day! I hope that you are too!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Breathing a sigh of relief!


Today was my second mammogram and screening, and I am delighted to report that I have been given an 'all clear' and we expect a letter to that effect early next week. I am so very relieved. After the spot magnification, the Doctor read the results and further testing was not even necessary!!!! Praise the Lord!


Thank you all for your words of comfort and encouragement! Your prayer support has been such a blessing. We have been trusting the Lord through this time of uncertainty, and knowing that a community of Believers are supporting us in prayer means so much. We had decided that with either outcome we would keep on praising the Lord, but it certainly comes as a relief to know that this isn't something we have to deal with right now.


I am hoping that with such wonderful news, and my fears relieved, I will be resting more comfortably tonight. Now that I am allowed to sleep without my compression stockings, I am physically more comfortable, and with deeper sleep, I hope my legs will be healing up more rapidly! I know it's just been a week, but I wasn't expecting to be in so much pain still. Wishful thinking I guess! All healing takes time!
Now, I can focus on Christmas, and throw my limited energies into making our simple celebration a time of blessing for my family! Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Merry Tossmas?


My husband brought this 'Stoplight' from citizenlink.org to my attention - he thought it was too funny! My only 'beef' with the idea is that there should have been a recycling bin, not a garbage can! Always doing my bit to recycle, you know! You'll understand after you go HERE. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Warning: Pity Party in Progress

I'm not loving recovery.  Today I had myself an all day pity party - and none of the party goers had a 'fabulous time'.  I didn't even supply finger foods or favors! We are all out of chocolate and milk. I'm not up to baking. 
I finally decided that rather than bark at the children anymore, they should be in bed - it was safer for them there. So they went to bed - at 7:00 pm.  We made our peace before bed, and they listened to Scripture in Song to sooth their hearts.   The Storyteller hugged me tight and said, 'I love you even when you're grouchy Momma - don't forget tomorrow is a new day, fresh with no mistakes!  See you tomorrow!'
I have to admit that I am desperate to get these compression bandages off.  I need sleep.  I need to stop itching.  I need a shower - and I want to see my legs again. Even if they are ugly. 
I've been cheating a tiny bit.  I take one half of my compression hose off once a day and change my unmentionables - as quickly as is humanly possible.  Sorry about that visual.  Please don't tell my doctor - pretty please!  I know what I promised on the table after surgery, but hey - I was willing to promise anything just to get off that table!  I truly thought I could follow through - but I am weak - terribly weak.  
Fresh garments daily are essential to my well-being.  I know certain boys survived at summer camp without a change of unmentionables for a week, bringing home 7 pairs of clean underwear to their mystified mom, but I am NOT A BOY!  There is something important about morale in the healing process.  Cleanliness boosts my morale.
Other than snapping at my children, I have accomplished very little today.  I took some time out from my party to give everyone the silent treatment.  That was no fun.  I did the laundry. Not so much fun either.  I really wasted the day, in more ways than one. I should have turned myself back the minute I exited my room this morning and emitted the first syllables of discord. I should have gone back and started the day in prayer.  I am all out of my established morning routine, so I skipped that and boy did it show. 
The thing is, I have one more night of misery in these bandages.  One more night of rolling and tossing and sleeplessness.  They come off tomorrow.  All my dreams of cleanliness and excessive quantities of lightly scented moisturizer will come true.  One more night.  One more day. Why am I wasting my day in depression today?  I'm not sure, but I'm glad God loves me through it, teaches me more than I'll ever understand, and that joy comes in the morning. And if I'm ever getting too full of myself, I'll just read this post, and know there is a whole lot more growing ahead for me!  Now to bed - and I won't forget to end the day where I should have begun it, taking to my Heavenly Father about my day.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm Back!

I thought about titling this post ' the good, the bad, and the ugly', but didn't want to scare anyone away! I'm running a slight fever, so if this doesn't sound like me, blame it on delirium! The very good news is that I survived surgery - twice. Praise the Lord! It took slightly more courage to go back for day two then it did to go on the first day - somehow the unknown is scary, but the known can be even more frightening, if you know what I mean. I didn't have the courage to go back, but I ran to God with a prayer for help and He supplied!
So now both of my legs are trussed up like turkeys! I am wrapped in compression bandages and to complete 'the ensemble' - compression stockings - lovely! Somehow, they just remind me so much of my grandmother! My liver has not enjoyed all of the commotion - especially being squished, but I'm sure things will calm down as soon as it kicks all the chemicals out of my system. Each procedure lasted about 2 hours, so I had lots of time to pray. And study the water sprinkler spigot. Fascinating! Other than answering the occasional 'how are we doing?' I just had to try to be absolutely still and not fall off the torture rack table, which was somewhat less comfy then I'd hoped!
In 5 days we take off the compression bandages and hopefully by that point I will be able to recognize my legs - right now they resemble black,purple and blue stovepipes. They've never been so friendly with one another! The worst is over - I hope! At my next appointment the Doctor will form a plan to deal with the varicose veins and then I'll be ready for swimsuit weather without little kids pointing at my legs and saying "ooh, Mommy what's wrong with the lady's legs? Why does she have grapes on the back of her knees? Is that a spider tattoo?"
My compression stockings and I are going to be good friends for at least two weeks after these bandages are removed, but at least I'll be able to sleep without them! My dear husband has comforted me with the comfort only a woman who has struggled for 20 minutes can fully appreciate "Look at it this way Hon, after this, tights and pantyhose will be a breeze!" It didn't exactly tickle my funny bone as I lay panting on the bed having done battle with the stockings (and won) - but I'm sure I'll find it funny another day!
In other news, our children are loving the snow - loving it! They have been out in it for hours and hours getting rosy cheeks and building the most interesting 'fort'. They asked Grammy to send a couple of truckloads of her snow to our house, but she didn't have to since God had it in the plans to give us a little bit of white, naturally. I'm glad we have some here, since they had their hearts set on sliding down Thompson Hill with their cousins over Christmas, and that isn't very likely, now. We would have to stop often - every hour - making a 10 hour drive into a three day excursion. We would just have time to say 'hello', open gifts and turn around for home. We haven't broken the news to them yet - we need to get plan B in order first, and make it sound really exciting! Nothing is more exciting than a trip to North Bay though, and possibly seeing their cousins was the real clincher, so we're praying they'll be understanding.
And for the final tidbit of fascinating family happenings, we now have high speed Internet!!! Yeah! The cable guy came today and we are up and running - without a hitch! It's so nice when things go smoothly - since it almost never happens, it makes it even more delightful!
Now, I have sat enough and I need to 'take to my couch' and recline at a more comfortable angle. Up and walking is not too uncomfortable, but since my legs have to wrestle one another to get anywhere, the novelty wears off quickly. I refuse to walk like I just got off a horse after an all day trail ride! Sitting with my feet up is the very best - just sitting or laying down is torture.
It is good to be back though - and with our Internet connection zipping right along, I'm excited about all of the fun possibilities!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Plan 'B' and Blessings In Disguise!

Here we go with another medical update - sorry about that, but it's what is going on in my life right now, and it kind of takes priority in my thinking! Go figure! You're welcome to skip this post and wait for a while until our lives settle into and more calm daily routine and I get back to just loving the Lord and trying to bless my family with the gifts and abilities He has given me!

Late Friday afternoon I got a call from the vein clinic - they had an approval for my surgery from our insurance company, and a cancellation! Thank you, Lord!!! I'll take it! When I answered in the 'affirmative!' the girl sounded really surprised! She mentioned that everyone is too busy right now with the holiday's to have surgery - I wasn't the first on on her list to call, and everyone else had flatly refused. Perhaps they were wiser than I, but I am in enough discomfort to just want to get it over and done with!

I'm beginning to feel like an old car that is in need of major service - no simple tune-up and an oil change here - nothing but a complete overhaul will do for this model - I've got warning lights going off all over the place! Maintenance Required! Check Oil! Engine Light! Overheating! New Tires! Valve Job! I haven't abused this vehicle, and yet I'm facing multiple problems. For a 'clean living' woman, I am beginning to feel a bit like King David did in Psalm 73! Yet I can see that I don't need to dispare - and I can say with David " ... it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works."

I am glad to be moving forward and getting one thing checked off the list! This means I have to get organized - FAST!!!!!

I want to have the house decorated inside - one room at least, so that I have pretty Christmas things to lift my spirits during my enforced lolly gagging! I'll need to put a few meals in the freezer and make sure there are enough fresh things for The Dreamer to make simple lunches and start supper. I'm glad we have taken the time to train her in the kitchen - I think she will be delighted to help out while I'm down - I hope so!

I need to make sure we have enough schoolwork ready to keep everyone busy, and some reading and handwork for me. I guess I'll be finishing up my Christmas preparation with some online shopping and hopefully, I'll be able to get some sewing done too! I need to make some calls and rearrange some other appointments that we had scheduled for Wednesday, so I have a few busy days ahead. I am praying for clear thinking and proper prioritizing!

We can see God's hand in the timing of this, since hopefully I will be sufficiently recovered and able to travel to my parents for Christmas - at least that's my prayer! I have heard that after recovery my legs will be more comfortable and with the improved circulation, they will feel less 'heavy' and tired! What a blessing that will be! I don't even care about how ugly my veins look, really, but I can't remember a time when they didn't feel tired and sore.

So, I have so much to be thankful for, don't I? God is good, and in His time He is working out His plan carefully and purposefully. I have veins to think about so my mind isn't absorbed with worry about the upcoming mammogram and possible outcomes - it's a blessing in disguise!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In the Right Direction

First, can I say how much your support has touched my heart? I am overwhelmed! Thank you all so much!









I have not been able to use our computer much this week since our Dreamer is getting caught up on her Switched on Schoolhouse Math and Science. We were having technical difficulties with our e-mail program, so now that the glitch is fixed, she is full speed ahead and loving it! It is giving me more time to work with the Storyteller on his reading so we are making slow but steady progress there too. By night time, when the children are in bed, I am too tired to type, so I've just let things slide.




I promise that this won't become a medical update blog, but I do want to say that God is good, and share a bit about how He is working in this circumstance. I am trying very hard not to live 'under the circumstances' and to continually take my fears to God and seek His peace. Despite being in prayer continually, I am not sleeping as well as I really need to. Sometimes you don't think you are worried, but your mind spends the night mulling over the possibilities without your permission! I'm beginning to feel a bit like two people - the 'trust in the Lord with all your heart' gal during the day and the 'leaning on her own understanding' gal when the sun goes down!




Last night at Bible Study I felt compelled to share my upcoming tests with the ladies, though I had not planned to. I'm a pretty private person, in person! The ladies were all so supportive and caring - it was a blessing! Our big city Women's Medical center was highly recommended to me, by THREE ladies! LOL! I hadn't even thought of going to a larger center for my tests, and I was a bit overwhelmed. Three ladies - hard to ignore! I guess God knew that in my 'fog' I would certainly need some DIRECT intervention if I was to make a change in my plans for further testing.




I wasn't sure what to think, but a quick prayer and a call to Mum for wisdom, and we decided to pursue getting my appointment changed. I wasn't sure if it would be possible, because while I really like my doctor, her staff leave a lot to be desired, and of course, the whole insurance thing is often a hassle.




After 6 phone calls this morning, I have an appointment in two weeks! I feel very positive about this, since they have such a great reputation and their equipment is top of the line. Also, they have a radiologist on site who goes over your results with you immediately and so that will eliminate at least a week of waiting. All three ladies were very certain that it is the best care in the area, so I am hoping that means they will make this whole process a little easier.












On to a more pleasant topic - Christmas! On Monday morning my Historian got up into the attic and brought down the Christmas bins! The poor man! I am excited about decorating the house for Christmas and beginning our Advent Adventure! The funny thing is that I was so excited about the 90% off stuff I bought last January - until I looked at it and thought 'WHAT was I THINKING????'. It is a good thing that I know how poor my memory is becoming, because I actually had written myself a note and said 'see page 167 of Southern Living Christmas' - so now I know what I was thinking! At least I think I do!





Do you remember that I started a painting project in the Grammy flat a week before we had company? Part of that project was a very old, very ugly desk that I am painting white for the Dreamer's room. She had a major project this week moving her room around to accommodate the desk, but she now has a space and her books are neat and tidy! I need to put one more coat of paint on the desk and it will be ready for her!









We re-purposed her old bookcase in the family room and now there are actually empty shelves - and they are MINE!!!!! Do you see what a mess my books are in? It's another case of the Librarian's Family never getting their books in order ....










Today, the wonderful Mrs. Helen came and made our house sparkle and shine - so now I have clean surfaces to make pretty for Christmas. I was reading an article about decorating for the 'holidays' and wondered at their logic. The author suggested that decorating the front door first - fabulously - would 'fool' the neighbours into thinking the rest of the house was completely decorated and just as fabulous! When did Christmas become a decorating competition? Keeping it 'Christ-Centered' is what Christmas is all about in our home. I decorate for the sheer joy of placing meaningful decorations throughout our home that point us to the Saviour!


I guess that's all for now! I'll try to check in a bit more often! Blessings!
Heather

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mini-Holiday

Last night our family attended the most wonderful Steve Green Christmas concert! It was inspiring, uplifting, encouraging and just a wonderful blessing! What a way to begin the Christmas season, focusing our hearts and minds on the reason for our Saviour's birth though the powerful words and music. The Storyteller and Dreamer got to meet Mr. Green! The Storyteller showed him his teeth! Who knows why? The Storyteller was awed by Mr.Green's powerful voice, and finally related that Prayer Bear and Sir Bernard are really Mr. Green using his voice to play a part.

It has been years since we attended a concert, and I am so glad that we did! Both children were really well behaved and attentive. We made it into a 'mini-holiday' and stayed overnight at a hotel. With a pool of course! We will make our way back home later this afternoon after exploring the area a bit and perhaps visiting a museum. It's not our usual Sunday morning activity since we are 'always' at church on Sunday morning - barring illness or a major weather situation. However, we heard the good news last night in such a powerful way, and were encouraged in our faith sufficiently to bring us through this Lord's day.

I have been burdened with concern and worry since Wednesday of this week. I received word that I did not pass my mammogram last week and I am required to have further testing this week. It's hard to face the 'unknown'. The idea of cancer on top of liver disease and thrombosis really scares me. I know that worry is sin, and I have been praying through the worry and fear. I actually was not feeling up to getting the family ready for this 'mini-holiday', but since the tickets were paid for and we were all looking forward to going, we baked some chocolate chip cookies, packed up the van and came ahead.

There is nothing like focusing on God's unfathomable love to take your mind off of yourself for a little while. I hope you get the opportunity to drink in the music of Good News this Christmas season, as we have. What a blessing!

Friday, November 23, 2007

17.5 pound Tom + 4 People = Leftovers!!!!


Last week when we thought we were having some company for Thanksgiving, I ordered our fresh, free range turkey.  The smallest they had left at that point were 17-19 pound size, which I didn't think would be any problem at all, since we were expecting company.  Their plans changed, which left us alone for Thanksgiving, and with one big bird!
 
On Wednesday morning, I was feeling a bit down about being alone, but after some upsetting news Wednesday afternoon, I was actually very glad to have a pressure free, quite family day. I needed a day to remember God's goodness and unfailing love.  Working away quietly in the kitchen allowed me time for prayer and reflection, and my heart was blessed by uplifting music.  I have to say, our turkey was one of the tastiest toms I've had the pleasure of eating. Since we were not worried about presentation, we cooked it breast side down and it was moist, flavorful and tender.  We have lots left!  

After dinner, The Historian de-boned the turkey, and we threw the bones into a big pot of water with onions, celery, a few cloves of garlic and herbs.  It simmered for 2 hours and then I put the whole pot in the Grammy flat fridge.  I am cooking it a bit more today, and then I will strain it, discard the bones and freeze most of the broth for future use. I plan to make Turkey Noodle Soup and freeze it.  I'll also make a batch of 'Mama's Wet Chicken' but with turkey.  It can be frozen without the biscuit topping.



Mama’s ‘Wet’ Chicken - or Turkey
In fry pan sauté together:
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion chopped finely
1 cup of sliced carrots
½ cup finely chopped celery
When tender, add:
4 cups of good chicken broth (leftover gravy and turkey stock work well)
2 cups of potato, peeled and diced
Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
In a small jar combine:
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
½ tsp. each poultry seasoning, thyme, and sage
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cold milk
Shake together to form a smooth paste. Add slowly to simmering broth and stir until thickened. 
Add:
1 ½ -2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, diced
½ cup frozen peas
Allow to simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Add a bit more warm milk if this becomes too thick. Dump into large greased casserole and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Biscuit Topping:
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. cream of tarter
Cut in ½ cup cold butter until crumbly. Add 3/4 cup ice cold milk and stir to combine. Dump unto a floured board and knead gently 2 minutes. Roll to ½” thick and cut into 3x3” squares. Place on top of chicken mixture in casserole and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes until biscuits are brown and chicken is bubbly. 
Serve with a nice salad and enjoy!

Today, I am putting away my fall decorations, tidying the house, doing some laundry and avoiding 'Black Friday' like the plague!  It is crisp and sunny here and I am glad for the sunshine!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cranberry Pecan Dressing

I meant to post this yesterday, but forgot.  This is one of my hubby's favorites and I thought I'd pass it along to you.  It works well with turkey, whole chicken or even a pork tenderloin roast.  Enjoy!


Cranberry Pecan Dressing (or Stuffing)

Coarsely chop 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries.  
Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar. Set aside or refrigerate overnight.

Toast 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Set aside.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in large fry pan. 
Add:

1 large onion chopped
2 cups of chopped celery
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. thyme

Saute until the onions are tender and translucent.  Cool.

Cube one loaf of stale bread and 2 bagels.  We use whole wheat, but whatever you prefer.  You should have about 8 cups of bread.  Reserve the heel of the loaf to cover the opening.

Toss together breads, onion mixture, cranberries and pecans.  Drizzle with 1 cup of good chicken broth, or more if it seems dry.  It should hold together when squeezed, but not be soggy.

This is enough to stuff a 15-18 lb bird.  Remember to remove the stuffing from the bird as soon as you take it out of the oven, and stuffed turkeys take a bit longer to bake then unstuffed birds!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Providence


Happy Thanksgiving!
FORASMUCH AS it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to Him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of His common Providence...


IT IS THEREFORE recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise;


THAT with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgements and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favour, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ,
mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance;


THAT it may please Him graciously to afford His blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and
fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the Providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human
blessings, independence and peace;


THAT it may please Him, to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people, and the labour of the
husbandman, that our land may yet yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth “in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”


AND IT IS further recommended, that servile labour, and such recreation as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion.



By order of CONGRESS

Henry Laurens, President

Continental Congress

November 1, 1777

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Tender Heart


I keep wondering how God will use our tender hearted children to further His kingdom and bring glory to Himself. It's an exciting, overwhelming, sometimes discouraging, yet hopeful journey we parents are engaged in!

Our sweet Dreamer is often brought to tears by the sufferings of those around her, the hurting world 'out there' and we wonder where such empathy will lead her as she seeks to live a life pleasing to God. We are praying that our animated Storyteller will turn his passion into something amazing, but since he is only seven, it is hard to even imagine how God will direct. I know without a doubt that God has a special purpose for these two wonderful children that He has entrusted to our care for such a short space of time. God is the one who will mold them and form them, allowing them both to be tested and strengthened through trials and sorrows. I am glad I know nothing about what our children's future holds, except to be confident in this, God is in control, and He will finish the good work He has begun in our children. Despite our many parenting blunders!

Today, I made a most horrible mistake. I didn't carefully preview a book, and now they have decided that they never want to be read to again! Oh boy!

We had quite a lengthy morning. The appliance repair man came and went early with a promise to return with parts later. The Historian did a history lesson with both children while I did some usual Monday morning chores. I hurried off to help with creating some decorations for the church's Christmas tree - a bit of a brainstorming and work session. I needed to be home so the Historian could get to work, and also to be there for the repairman's return. It all worked out, and my oven is working just fine now, but by the time lunch was over and all was said and done, I just needed to get my feet up and do something relaxing. My best solution - read aloud!

Without praying for direction or really looking through my lesson plan, I grabbed a book from our to read shelf, ' The Terrible Wave' by Marden Dahlstedt. We began to read on our big couch, cuddled up together against the dull, chilly day with a soft blanket and good light. The story engaged the children immediately since it is written from the vantage point of a 15 year old girl's experience of the great disaster. We were cuddly and comfortable and they begged me to keep going.


There were many of points of discussion, some new words to be explained, and great food for thought. The children took a break to play, but then found me again and begged for another chapter. Or three. As soon as supper was cleared away they rushed into their p.j.'s and asked for more! Since Daddy was at work late tonight, they had me read on and on - past bedtime! We were all on the edge of our seats - despairing and delighting in turns as the story unfolded. We were almost to the end and desperately wanted to see it through, so we finished the book - or almost.

*Spoiler* if you plan to read this book:
We came to the fourth to last page and discovered that young Timothy had also perished in the flood and had been found five days after the disaster. My children were inconsolable.

The Dreamer calmed first, but it took 45 minutes for the Storyteller to get a hold of himself. We finished the last few pages, which were filled with bright hope, and a promising future, but I'm afraid they will always remember their deep sorrow.


Read aloud's are an important part of our school work, so regardless of their passionate declarations, we will continue with them, and we will finish our study of this terrible flood, and the good that has resulted. In a sense, I am blessed to know that though this senseless loss of life occurred more than 100 years ago, my children felt it as though it were just taking place. They are still so innocent and tender hearted - they have not been 'desensitized' by the casual reports of lost lives that we are hearing every day, or calloused by graphic television images. I will not be one to tell them 'toughen up' or 'stop being a baby' - they will learn to look at tragedy without really seeing soon enough.


I have learned something about the power of words - again. I will, in future, be more prayerful concerning the timing of our reading adventures and prepare them more for difficult subject matters. I think perhaps those last few pages read in the bright sunlight of day would have seemed a bit less forlorn, but maybe not.

I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the vast needs in this world that I almost wish I didn't know - what little bit I do actually know threatens to overwhelm me. Yet I know Jesus had a tender heart, for the lost, the hurting, the poor, for widows and orphans, and even stubborn fishermen, and so I long to have the heart of my Saviour. I look into the faces of my children and learn something daily about the faith of a child - something I think I would miss if I were not a home school momma. Learning from one another - what a challenge. What a blessing!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, Fires and Fun!



Things were going along swimmingly yesterday and I was about to place the last sweet in the oven when a very loud BANG! SNAP! FIRE!!!!!!!!! occurred in my oven! Now, before you think my oven was dirty or greasy - it wasn't. I ran the 'self - clean' cycle November 1st as usual and there were no spills in between. For some reason the element chose that particular moment to blow up. I threw salt on the whole affair - expensive organic sea salt - and it went out within a few moments. I think I threw the wrong thing - I can tell it's time to review my fire safety protocols! Ah well, it worked! What a stench! Talk about an adrenaline rush!

This is the second time I have had a fire in this range in the last few weeks - the last time it was an electrical fire under the glass top and JennAir repaired it for free on October 30th. This time it will be our bill, since elements do 'wear' out. The repairman will come Monday to see if it is repairable or at least safe to use if repaired. I am very unhappy with the frequency of trouble with this stove. We have already replaced the computer that controlled the display panel. I think we will have to be shopping for a new stove really soon! This one was here when we bought the house, but looked to be in decent shape and worked well, so when we remodeled we kept it. Now I wish we hadn't!

After all the excitement, I pre-heated the stove out in the Grammy flat and baked the brownies out there. I changed my snack menu to exclude anything that required more baking. The Grammy flat stove had a 'slipped pizza' incident about a week ago and needs a thorough cleaning too - but I always stay in the room when the cleaning cycle is in progress, and I have not remembered to do it when I was out there painting or cleaning! I've left myself a note!

The ladies from our adult couples Sunday School class seemed to have a nice time. One lady commented that she had fun and she was 'really surprised' since she didn't think she'd like card making. I enjoyed sharing my 'toys' - I have been blessed with so many rubber stamps and things to use to make pretty cards and I'm sad that they don't get used much at all. Everyone made nice things to take home - all different and unique. I bought one of those 'punch out and glue' 20 card and envelope kits and it was easy, cute and just right for the 'uncrafty' of the group, so that was great. A few ladies mentioned that they would welcome another invitation to 'play with my toys' and there was even talk of an all day paper crafting Saturday, like I hosted for the scrapbookers last fall. That would be fun!

It is so nice to have a big room for crafting and have supplies to use - but I so rarely take the time to use what I have. We want our whole home to be used for the glory of God and to share what we have with others, but it isn't always easy to figure out how to do that effectively. I'm glad this worked out so well.


I served candied almonds, spiced nuts, veggies with sweet dilly dip, fruit with caramel cream, cheese ball and crackers, brownie bites, pink party squares, lemon squares, cranberry raspberry punch, and hot apple cider. I forgot to take a picture after I put it all out! We can blame the adrenaline rush let down for my lack of brain power. The hot apple cider was well received. It was a pretty chilly evening.
We don't have company for tomorrow after all. I've been tired today, but could have cheerfully prepared for company out in the Grammy flat stove if I had needed to, but the extra steps would have been hard. Maybe we'll try to grab someone after church and go out for a meal!

I hope that tomorrow finds you lifting your heart in praise to God for all He has done in your life this week! I know I will have much to be thankful for after such a busy week! Strength and peace are at the top of my list!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Vanquished!

All visible signs of dust bunnies have been vanquished - all thanks to Mrs. Helen, cleaning lady and friend in the making! I have some food preparation and a few crafting supplies to gather, but I am almost ready for company. This is what we are doing! I hope we have a fun time!


Ladies of the Family Matters Class

I would like to invite you to our home
for an evening of fellowship Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7 pm. We will be making Christmas cards or gift tags using paper and enjoy a snack together. There is no cost involved, and I am not selling anything, it is just for the purpose of getting to know you better.

If you would like to bring your own paper
crafting supplies that is fine, otherwise you may use what I have in our ‘Grammy Flat‘ - a guest area I use for crafting. I am happy to share scrap booking and card making papers, rubber stamps, inks, cards and envelopes in various sizes, scrap booking markers, idea books and samples, embossing gun and powders, hole
punches, craft scissors and cutters, and some dies cuts and embellishments.
I will try to plan it so that each lady can
make at least 6 special cards, if they wish. I am no expert, but am happy to share what knowledge I have, so don’t worry if you aren’t the ‘crafty type’. Anyone can rubber stamp, cut and snip and make a piece of paper into something special!

I will provide a simple snack and beverages, so there is no need to
bring anything, but yourself and a willingness to have
fun.

I hope you’ll come and enjoy an evening out, a relaxed
time together, and a sense of accomplishment as you create one of a kind cards and tags to enrich your Christmas celebration.
I thought I'd include part of my invitation here and perhaps inspire you to open your home in a similar way for some ladies who might like to get together and do something fun! I like getting invitations to book parties, kitchen and candle parties and those sorts of things, but sometimes it is just too much! There are times when I am uncomfortable and feel obligated, and for that reason, I have never hosted one, on purpose that is! I did 'by accident' once, but I was just helping a friend and didn't 'clue in' until it was too late!
So, no games or gimmicks, but something to do with our hands so that we'll talk more freely, and of course a little something to eat! I hope it is a success! I perhaps didn't do as much 'promoting' as I could have if I'd planned a bit further in advance, but I'm praying that those who come will be blessed!

Elysha Update


Elysha is coming up on her 3rd week birthday celebration Saturday! She has just been to her pediatrician and her Daddy reports that she is doing really quite well - she is gaining weight on target and she is looking wonderful - all the outward signs of a healthy, precious baby girl! Her progress is quite remarkable, and probably inexplicable, if you don't factor in the power of prayer! The truth is that she is being prayed for all around the world, and that God is able to do more abundantly then we even dream of asking for. Please keep on praying for this adorable girl, for her family and doctors. She sees her heart doctor soon, so I'll try to keep you posted. As she continues to astound the minds of men, may all the glory be the Lord's!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Psalm 73


Tonight in our Bible Study, we had a fellowship and thanksgiving sharing time that was a real blessing. Miss E, a sweet young lady in our study, shared how precious Psalm 73 is to her heart and it reminded me of the encouragement my own heart received from this passage one recent Sunday morning. I looked it up at BibleGateway and searched 'The Message'. These words touched my heart again tonight and I was blessed!

Psalm 73


verses 25-28


You're all I want in heaven!


You're all I want on earth!


When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,


God is rock-firm and faithful.


Look! Those who left you are falling apart!


Deserters, they'll never be heard from again.


But I'm in the very presence of God—


oh, how refreshing it is!


I've made Lord God my home.


God, I'm telling the world what you do!

Scones, Anyone?


It's been more then a year since I did this post about my very favorite scones, but since I made two quick batches for the ladies at Bible Study tonight, I thought I'd post another favorite recipe. It's very similar to the Raisin Scones recipe, but is lighter and cuts nicely into rounds or pretty shapes. Scones are my 'I need to make something-fast' go-to! An old stand by that always turns out well, is generally well received and is quick!

Orange Scones with Lemon Curd

Sift together:

3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

3 teaspoons of good baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

Add the grated rind of one large orange (wash that food grade wax off before grating!) and stir into dry ingredients.

Cut in 1 cup of cold butter with a pastry blender or two knives until well blended and mealy - about the size of peas.

Add 1 cup of white sugar and mix together. In a 1 cup measure, beat 1 egg until frothy. Add enough cold milk to make 1 cup. Add to dry ingredients and stir gently by hand just until it comes away from the sides of the bowl. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Add more flour if needed.


Cut into diagonals or circles and transfer to greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes, serve with Lemon Curd.


Old Fashioned Lemon Curd


6 large fresh eggs

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Juice of 6 lemons

1 1/2 cup of sugar ( 1 1/4 cup makes for a tangy version)

6 tablespoons of soft butter


Beat eggs in the top of a double boiler - stainless steel is best. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and cook over boiling water for 20-25 minutes until it is thickened. Stir continually. When it is finished it will be very thick. Cool. This keeps for about 4 weeks in the fridge or freezes nicely. Makes 3 cups. There is not much to this recipe, but it sure is great with scones! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wanted: Another Me!


I'm quite certain my husband is sure that one of me is more than enough, but this week I am longing for 'another me' - as in two of me! I'm not sure how I did it, but I've overloaded this week and I feel like I'm never going to get 'it all' done. This is where my old adage 'wow them with simplicity' is going to come in very handy! I am planning to simplify plan 'A' so that I don't go crazy trying to get it all done. I'm also really looking forward to Sunday afternoon - I'm planning on a very long and cozy nap - just so you know!

This past weekend I foolishly optimistically started a big painting project in the room where I am planning to have company on Friday. It's not done. Yikes! I also booked a haircut and color for myself, committed to snack foods for Bible Study, invited company for Sunday and had to finish getting our Operation Christmas Child boxes ready and out. My first 'now that you are 40' mammogram is scheduled for 8 am tomorrow, and all of the regularly scheduled activities of the week, including homeschool, piano, AWANA, and Bible Study are still on the agenda! Our house looks like a dust bunny convention was in town and decided to stay and multiply, and the bathrooms have a faint 'odor of outhouse' going on. We still need to eat this week, healthfully, and laundry is not really optional!

For some of you, this kind of week would be a breeze, but it's just Tuesday and my liver and I are feeling a bit stressed. No liver pain, thankfully, but just the usual fatigue, accompanied by some extra tiredness since we are now 'playing' with my thyroid meds and trying to switch to a more natural replacement that, so far, doesn't seem strong enough. Thankfully, I'm pretty well rid of the cam walker and as long as I'm not on my feet too much, good sturdy shoes are supportive enough.

This is how I plan to simplify my week:

1. First of all I'm getting some extra sleep. I cope better during the day when I'm well rested. I took my books back to the library and I'll not get any more until next week. Really.

2. I will not neglect my Bible Study and prayer time - it's essential!

3. We are having a 'lighter' school week. I will make the most of all the teachable moments and work in seat work where it fits best - even at the hair dressers! We had a great science lesson on trees while the Storyteller and I walked off some energy during sister's piano lesson. We did some math at Wal*Mart while picking out the Christmas Child gifts, and there really was geometry involved in wrapping those shoes boxes, along with a wad of tape!

4. I have simplified my menus and made some things in advance - and eliminated 'fancy' for 'tried and true'. So what if they have had the same thing at my house before - it's not about the food anyway!

5. I am not going to deep clean my closets, require spotless bedrooms from the children or move any more furniture this week. I'm not!

6. My paint brushes go away tomorrow - whatever isn't done will have to wait until another time. Life will go on!

7. My wonderful cleaning lady is coming Thursday and she will make everything sparkle and shine, but I will tackle the bathrooms again tomorrow, for health reasons. They were 'deep cleaned' Saturday, and 'swished' yesterday, but we do have a highly distractable boy of seven who shall remain nameless!

8. I will play uplifting music, light a fragrant candle and find some time just to praise my Lord and laugh out loud. In the grand scheme of life, this is nothing!

9. I will strive for simplicity and just stick to the basics. Why do I aways think that more is required? Doing a few things very well is much better then a great deal of mediocrity.

10. I will remember this week and do better with my scheduling in the future - really I will! I hope!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Selective Sampling

Before the days of neatly illustrated and labelled guides included in many of the finer varieties of boxed chocolates today, eating those special treats really was a guessing game! The Historian laughs about it now, but it caused some very real frustration in his growing up years.


Each year at Christmas time, a box of these lovely chocolate treats would appear in their home courtesy of his caring Grandfather. After the box was first received, carefully opened and passed around, it was set aside for future enjoyment. That is when the problems began, for often the next opening of the box would reveal villainy!


It was the clandestine work of my husband's one and only older sister, who had very definite opinions about which chocolates she would and would not eat. Without the written guide to aid her, she developed her own system of identification - she took a small bite out of the bottom of each and every chocolate! Those she liked, she ate. The rest were placed back in the box for some unsuspecting party to discover with dismay.


Not too many younger brothers care to eat treats already sampled by their older sisters, even if they were just nibbles! I suppose their Mother eventually had to do her duty and finish off the box, since it would never do to let it go to waste!



In the course of my Bible Study, and through some comments on my blog and others, I have begun to think more about the 'samples' we are choosing for our family. There have been times when we have been strongly encouraged to allow our children more 'freedom' in order to teach them about 'the world' we live in and help them to think 'critically'. In other words, we have been asked to expose our children to things that we consider to be inappropriate simply to give them an opportunity to learn about the various attractive ways that lies can be packaged, and so avoid them.


This kind of thinking has often puzzled me. While I do agree that I, as a Christian, am to be a thinking, informed individual, I do not find it logical to assume that 'sampling' the world's offerings will accomplish this goal. I certainly don't feel it will accomplish it in our children's lives. In fact, we intentionally shield them from many things that they are just not ready to know about this world we live in. Our children possess an ignorance that we are bound to protect. They will grow up soon enough, prayerfully to become mature thinking adults in due time.


At this point in their up bringing we certainly encourage them to be lively thinkers, asking thoughtful questions and digging deeply for answers. Dinner table discussions are often great times of teaching and learning. Our goal at this time is to teach them diligently from God's Word, so that their days are saturated with the Truth that we are living for. We take the admonishment in Deuteronomy 6:1-2 seriously and strive to teach God's statutes and commandments daily. We weave Scriptural principles into our everyday conversation as naturally as breathing. Prayer is becoming something real to them, and their devotion to God's Word is growing. It thrills my heart to see our Dreamer laying on her bed reading her Bible completely of her own accord, or to hear our Storyteller recount a Biblical event in far more detail then I myself can.


We want them to know the Truth so well that they will be able to spot falsehood or erroneous thinking without hesitation. We see this skill already beginning to form in our 10 year old girl, and it is very rewarding to know that she is taking what she knows to be the truth of Scripture and using it to measure what she is hearing, seeing, learning and listening to her friends talk about.


We are very careful to make sure that when something is truly a Scriptural principle we share the passage that we take the principle from and often have them work to learn a verse that supports our position. These types of principles are foundational truths that can be universally applied to all Christians in all circumstances, and not just to our family. At other times, we make choices based upon, but not specified in, Scripture, and these we also make clear. "This is something we have decided for our family, based in this principle from God's Word, however, not every Christian family is going to do things the same way, but this is our family's position at this time."


Teaching our children to live purely in an impure world requires deliberate diligence. First, we have to model it. Not so easy. We are the adults, edging towards maturity, and yet we still make poor choices at times. We want to be thinking and informed, aware of the culture we live in, and be relevant to it, so that we are able to the understand and speak to needs of those around us. At the same time, we are to be separate, seeking to live holy lives, to walk in integrity. For this reason we guard our hearts and minds, we put on the full armour of God, and we avoid many of the pleasures of this world.


A couple of nights ago, our Bible Study leader asked us what the world sees that is different about Christians. The 12 women in the room had a really hard time coming up with a list. The two things they came up with seemed pretty insignificant - not swearing and not drinking. Even that isn't accurate, if the truth is known! It was pointed out that even 50 years ago there would have been a much longer list of 'distinctives' that would be obvious to the world around us. I understand that many of the things that used to be distinctive were things that Christians did not do, many of which were 'legalistic' rules. Some of these rules birthed rebellion, since the principles behind the standards were not taught. So the rules were 'bent', then 'relaxed' and finally dropped. In seeking to be relevant to the world around important distinctives have been lost.


Yet, we are still called to live in the world but not be like the world. Jesus prayed for Believers, knowing that we would always face the struggle of living in a world where we don't belong. He asked His Father to strengthen us so that we might maintain our testimony, thus glorifying the Father.


I like the way The Message puts it John 17:13-21 where Jesus is talking to His Father:

'Now I'm returning to you. I'm saying these things in the world's hearing so my people can experience my joy completed in them. I gave them your word; The godless world hated them because of it, because they didn't join the world's ways, just as I didn't join the world's ways. I'm not asking that you take them out of the world but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth.'




I find in my own life that I don't need to 'sample' what the world has to offer in order to know that it isn't for me. I am fairly aware of what is good for me and what isn't. I find enough sinful habits in my own flesh without developing a taste for the habits of the world! I daily struggle with wrong thinking, self-centered living, careless words and a lack of passion for the things of God. And that's the short list. I don't need to know what the world is into to know that it isn't going to help me become the woman of God I desire to be. I do know where I need to be 'sampling' - in fact feasting - daily, and that is in God's Word.


Matthew 10:16 says, "Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves."




I will not bury my head in the sand. I will not be afraid of the world, but I will not knowingly be pursuing it's fading pleasures or finding my entertainment in things that I know will suck me in to wrong thinking. I will try to learn to be relevant and informed, but I will strive also to live a life that is distinctively different - and that includes passing up what the world has to offer, and developing my taste for the wonderful goodness of God. I will keep on seeking internal devotion in a world of continual commotion! I want to be the kind of Christian who is known for what I stand for and not just for what I stand against. I long to have the reputation of a woman who fears the Lord and who exhibits love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. I've got much yet to learn!

Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;

Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Blog Level Check

I saw this on Rosemary's Blog and thought it looked interesting! I hope it doesn't open my blog up to something unwanted, like spam! Does it mean anything? Who knows? It made me smile - and maybe my dad will think my college education was more valuable then first estimated! Even if I still can't spell!

cash advance




Maybe you'd like to try it too!

The Power of Your Love


Lord I come to You

Let my heart be changed, renewed

Flowing from the grace

That I've found in You

Lord I've come to know

The weaknesses I see

In me

Will be stripped away

By the power of Your love


Hold me close

Let Your love

Surround me

Bring me near

Draw me to Your side

And as I wait

I'll rise up like the eagle

And I will soar with You

Your Spirit leads me on

In the power of Your love


Lord unveil my eyes

Let me see You face to face

The knowledge of Your love

As You live in me

Lord renew my mind

As Your will unfolds in my life

In living every day

By the power of Your love


Hold me close

Let Your love

Surround me

Bring me near

Draw me to Your side

And as I wait

I'll rise up like the eagle

And I will soar with You

Your Spirit leads me on

In the power of Your love




Hillsong Publishing
Words and Music by Geoff Bullock

Monday, November 5, 2007

Historical Fun!


This morning's History project involved re-creating the pyramids - in clay! We were supposed to get mud and straw and bake them, but we decided that since we don't have the hot Egyptian sun and benefit of the Nile for a quick cleansing dip after, we made them with Play Dough. I was given a small batch version of this recipe in my Early Childhood Ed. days and then recently came across in on a blog - but I'm sorry to say I can't remember where! Thank you -whoever! It reminded me of the old recipe and all the trouble we had getting the lumps out, so this is my version. The changes made it simple and the only problem was due to my lack of upper body strength - so with the Historian to the rescue, it turned out smoothly!


Pumpkin Spice Playdough


Boil:

4 1/4 cups of water


Sift together:

2 cups of salt

6 cups of flour

1/4 cup cream of tartar

4 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice OR 1 Tbsp. EACH cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger - whatever you have on hand will work! Get creative!



Add:

3/4 cup oil

orange food coloring (yellow:red 2:1)


Mix until it is crumbly and fairly even. Start pouring in the boiling water, slowly and stirring as best you can. This is where upper body strength would come in handy - I held the pot and the Historian stirred. When all the water is incorporated turn unto a cutting board or piece of waxed paper and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Store in an airtight container. I can't remember how long it lasts, but it make a nice big batch, smells great and provides hours of fun - even for the Mommy! I got a 'B' on my pyramid - the kids wrecked theirs before the photo!