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!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Case of the Missing Posts

I have been having a time with my computer this week - and I still don't have it solved, but I'm giving up for now! The biggest problem is that Dreamer does SOS Math and Science on the computer and we have an 'unhandled exception' that won't let her do her work. Fiddlesticks! I don't really mean to complain, I just want to explain - my posts didn't post when I tried to post them - but now they have! Go figure! One day when I have loads of leisure time, I will actually learn something about computers and not feel so intimidated by this mostly helpful machine! I would love to learn how to make my blog more attractive with restful backgrounds and creative headers - maybe one day my children will teach me!

We have had such a lovely weekend - I almost wish it wouldn't end. A bit too much junk food, but otherwise quite a delight. It's not that we did anything very special - we just spent time together. My thankfulness list includes:
  • pumpkin donuts and hot chocolate for Saturday breakfast brought to us by the Historian - so thoughtful
  • laundry hanging on the line
  • sunshine and coolness - perfect for a cozy sweater
  • a pleasant phone call with a friend
  • a bit of ironing - nice to see the pile done
  • outside to play, and put the garden to bed
  • the laughter of our children
  • safety in their 'way too high up' tree house
  • moving a pile of wood to the fencerow
  • a tidy backyard
  • making a fire pit circle with big heavy logs, just right for sitting on
  • The Historian's safety while cleaning out gutters
  • the Buckeyes winning their game
  • kindness between siblings expressed freely
  • grilled salmon for dinner - so simple and good
  • two quick haircuts by Momma - and not too goofy looking this time!
  • baths and bed - ready for the Lord's Day
  • an extra hour of sleep
  • achy muscles that enjoyed their workout, but reminding me I need to use them more often!
  • Sunday morning worship
  • a long afternoon nap
  • an e-mail from a dear friend - just keeping in touch
  • our first 'cookout' around the fire
  • tin mugs of hot chocolate
  • marshmallows lightly toasted and dipped (by accident of course) in the caramel apple dip - too yummy!
  • the end of a day of blessing

May you have much to be thankful for this evening as well!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding


Last week while I was grocery shopping I overheard a cell phone conversation that gave me food for thought! It was very loud, so I really couldn't help eavesdropping! The lady was talking to a man about rice pudding. She was trying to decide what flavor of rice pudding to buy. They actually had an argument, but she finally selected the ‘traditional’ cinnamon and raisin and moved along.


Just out of curiosity, I ambled over to the rice pudding to take a look. The variety was pretty revealing - I had no idea rice pudding had gotten so fancy! The price was what really caught my eye! Unless cell phone lady had a coupon, she paid $2.99 for 4 tiny plastic cups of rice pudding. Yikes! I started to read the ingredients and got really lost - there were 13 of them and half were requiring a chemistry degree.

I like rice pudding - it’s a comfort food - something I remember my Mum and Nanny making often. It is a bit on the rich side, so I don’t eat it often, but it is so simple and economical to make! I guess I couldn't figure out why someone would pay so much, get so little and miss out on the fun of making it at home. It can be made after supper while the kitchen is being tidied. It smells wonderful!

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding
1 ½ cups of cooked rice (not minute rice) - plan extra when making it for dinner!
¾ cup milk + see note
¾ cup cream (whatever you have on hand - even whole milk works just fine)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon


Throw this all together in the top of a double boiler (if you don’t have one use two pots close in size that will fit in one another without dumping everything). Put 1 ½ inches of boiling water in the bottom of the double boiler and set the top pan so that very little steam is escaping. Low heat for 30-45 minutes - or longer if you are adding more milk like my Mum does! Stir occasionally. Makes 8 or 9 ½ cup servings.


My Notes:

*My mum likes to let it get really thick and than add more milk, and cook it some more - but it’s up to you! It is yummy served warm or excellent cold.

*If you like a more custard style - beat up two eggs and add them at the end cooking for 5 more minutes or until it coats a metal spoon.
*If you want to get crazy with those flavors, throw in 2 Tablespoons of cocoa.

*I have substituted currents, dried cranberries or cherries and they are all quite nice too.
*If you are Swedish you might like to throw in an almond. It is a Christmas tradition that the one who receives the almond will have a special wish granted, and a happy year! Just a bit of fun!

I have a nice pot of rice pudding simmering away on the stove tonight - I know I’ll be taking some over to Mr. Neighbor tomorrow and packing some in my hubby’s lunch for work!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Astounding the Mind of Men

Don't you just love it when God surpasses all our expectations and astounds the minds of men? This sweet girl Elysha, born on Saturday with multiple heart defects, is happily at home with her Mommy and Daddy and doing so much better than all of the learned doctors and specialists could have dreamed. In fact, her Daddy and Mommy had to do a bit of emergency 'essentials' shopping because they weren't prepared to bring her home so soon! She was supposed to need surgery and be in hospital for quite some time, but she is at home! Isn't God's plan so much better then what we have in mind? We're going to keep on praying for this precious girl and her family, since she still faces major heart surgery. Her doctors would like her to gain weight and be at least 6 months old before her surgery. I hope her Mommy and Daddy don't mind me sharing her sweet baby picture here and giving you an update, but I am so excited to see God's hand at work!