Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Lord's Day

We love to go for drives out in the countryside and we especially love finding old churches and cemeteries.  We think about all the weddings and funerals that those old churches have seen through the years.  The beginnings and the endings.  But for believers in Jesus Christ we know that it isn't really the end.  It's another beginning!  And how glorious that will be. : ) Have a blessed Sabbath day. 

A Psalm for Thanksgiving (Psalm 111)

Praise the Lord.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who have pleasure in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy,
they are established for ever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and terrible is his name!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all those who practice it.
His praise endures for ever!

With a busy week ahead for most of us in preparing (one way or the other) for Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a pumpkin recipe that I'm going to be making and taking as my part of helping out.    This, again, is for those of us who cringe at the idea of making a pie crust.  : ) 

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine, until crumbly; press into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or till golden brown.  

Meanwhile, beat filling ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth:
2 cans (15 oz. each) pumpkin
2 cans (12 oz. each) evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt

Pour over hot crust.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 2 Tblsp. softened butter or margarine, and sprinkle over the top.  Bake 15 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool and store in the refrigerator.  16-20 servings.

If at all possible, whip your own "Cool Whip" using whipping cream and 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar.  So much tastier.  : )  Yum.

Have a wonderful upcoming week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Now the Doing

Last week I needed time to sit and think and plan and now this is the week I begin what I planned!  The thinking and planning was necessary for motivation.   This time of year is especially fun to do for others.  And the "others" will always be people who cannot give back.  They don't know me and I don't know them.  They will receive what I planned for them and I receive the joy of knowing that I could help in some small way.  Nothing in return.  I like that.  

When I don't make it to church on Sundays I like to watch Dr. Charles Stanley on TV and this morning I came across notes that I took while listening and would like to share them with you.  It's appropriate for this time of year.

How to show encouragement to others:
*Call or text
*Write a letter
*Give a compliment
*Pray for them or with them
*Fill a need they might have
*Give them your time
*Point them to applicable scripture
*Tell them the truth in love
*Be forgiving
*Love them
*Be a good example to them
*Give Godly correction
*Listen to them
*Give them full attention
*Be patient
*Cry with them
*Agree with them when appropriate
*Give a meaningful gift
*Give an affirming look
*Pass on helpful information
*Express loyalty
*Love those they love
*Assist them where they feel inadequate

Isn't that a wonderful list?!

1.  God first.  Matthew 5: 33 - 37  Oaths

Simple truth - "Let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'.  Anything beyond this comes from the evil one."  

At first this seems to have little to write about, but when you think of all the excuses we use and how we talk our way out of commitments, when we really need to simplify it and just say "yes, I will do that" or "no, I can't do that" it's a very important teaching.  I think it calls for integrity and being a man/woman of our word.

2.  Family second.

Be a light in your neighborhood.  Remember the random acts of kindness campaign that was going on a few years ago?  Bring it back!  You will teach your children what it's like to be a part of a neighborhood and doing for others.  Can they shovel for someone this winter?  Can they bake and take cookies to someone?  Can you invite someone in?  Can you take someone's garbage cans back during the day?  Can you house-sit when they're away?  Can you pick up their mail?  Just sit down as a family and make a plan and a list of everything you can do.

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:  It's good to get the homeschool kids out in the community.  What does your community have to offer that they might volunteer with?  Check with your church for outreach opportunities.  Can they box up food?  Serve food?  Clean someone's house/yard?  

Gift giving ideas:

More "hobby gifts":

*Sketch pad with pencils and a beginners book
*Sign language book
*1st aid kit with a simple book on how to take care of certain injuries
*Simple cookbook with a few utensils
*Pre-cut fabric blocks, thread, needles, etc. to make a simple quilt

*Auto repair book
*Sketch pad with pencils and book to go with
*An inexpensive acoustic guitar and beginners book
*An inexpensive camera

Thanks for dropping by.  See you next time.  : )

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Monday!

For the most part, I love Mondays.  I like getting back into the swing of things after a weekend.  At this time, the laundry is done and the ironing is caught up.  The family room is dusted and vacuumed.  The kitchen is presentable and the bathroom is clean.  The bed has clean sheets and the bedrooms are dusted as well.  It just all feels so good when it's done.  After I post this, I will head into the kitchen and bake an apple pie (recipe follows), and then I will put everything together to make a pork stew from our Sunday meal of pork roast, potatoes and sweet potatoes and add a spinach salad to go with it.  It's a very cold, windy, day and knowing that the house is clean and that good aromas will waft through the air, well, it's just a very homey feeling.  An old-fashioned feeling.  A comforting feeling.  : )

Quick but Yummy Apple Pie  (for those of us who can't make a good pie crust!)

4 cups sliced apples
Combine 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon (I use more)
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup softened butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg

Line an 8" pie plate w/apples and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar combination.  Mix rest of ingredients together and spread over the top of the apples.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Enjoy!

1.  God first.  Matthew 5: 31 - 32  Divorce

This is such a difficult subject.  But Jesus tells it the way it is.  It is not to be entered into lightly and much thought and counsel needs to go into it.  It is not an easy way out - sadly that is exactly what it is.  Jesus quotes the Old Testament teachings because he knows that the teachers of the law and the Pharisees (who are constantly following him around) were steeped in Scripture.  They knew that Jesus knew what he was talking about.  They couldn't accuse him of that. 

2.  Family second.

Make meal time special once in a while.  We tend to just want to get the food on the table and get to the business of eating!  Every now and then, slow down.  Take the time to set a beautiful table complete with tablecloth and napkins, good china, flowers, candles, etc. for no reason at all.  Have a theme dinner.  Sometimes I like to put a festive, colorful, tablecloth on when I serve a Mexican meal. Or, cover the table with newspaper when serving peel and eat shrimp.  It's very festive and fun and I've found that it helps to make everyone linger a little longer at the table.  

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:  I have to admit that the ideas I put in this section are for younger children.  It seems that from 7th grade on into high school, the kids become more independent and have their own stuff going on and new friends to be with, so I really don't have a lot for the older ones.  BUT!  This time I do.  : )

Teen night:  We hosted teen night in our home throughout the high school years to introduce our local homeschoolers to each other and give them some place to go to socialize and give them different things to do every Friday night.  I will be the first to admit that I miss those days so much!  I loved the energy those young people brought into our home.  All you need to do really is open up your home and they will think of things to do.  They brought games and had a game night where everyone brought a snack and we provided the soda.  They had movie night.  They had a Christmas Party.  They had their own pumpkin carving party in the fall.  We took them bowling.  We took them on a picnic.  Sometimes they just sat around the fire in the backyard and talked.  We had a progressive "prom" night where everyone got all dressed up and we drove them from restaurant to restaurant (everything from appetizers to dessert) and then back here to listen to music and talk.  We literally have hundreds of photos of these times throughout the years and it's so fun to look at everyone and remember the laughter and silly-ness.  Please consider trying this.  We have a tiny house so if we can do it, you can too!!!!  : )

Gift giving ideas:

I'm afraid with technology, our kids don't have hobbies anymore.  Here are a few ideas to maybe spark their interest in something else besides their phone or computer!

*a dishtowel, an iron-on transfer pattern, embroidery floss, small scissors, and needles
*a simple cross stitch pattern (that includes everything she would need)
*a book about crocheting or knitting, yarn, a crochet hook and/or knitting needles
*scrapbooking supplies (scrapbook, varieties of paper, old magazines or books, scissors, etc.)
*a beginner's cookbook and a few utensils she will need to get started
more to come!

Boys -
*woodburning set
*book about bugs and an ant farm
*leather working kit
*a few old coins along with a special "book" to put them in to get him started
*a few old stamps along with a book to put them in to get him started
more to come!

Thanks for stopping by!  I have to get to that apple pie.  : )

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Lord's Day

It's a rare day when my husband has a day off from work.  It sounds unbelievable, but it is true.  So, on Friday, when that day off came around, we spent the day out and about.  We enjoyed a breakfast out and then we went shopping and just looked around.  It was like a mini vacation and we came back home late in the afternoon feeling like we truly had a day off.  Quite refreshing.  Very thankful.

On Saturday, we went to a Veteran's program held at our church.  We thought we were going to enjoy this together, but because my husband's employment is at our church, he was not able to sit and watch with me.  But, I'm so glad I was able.  The moment I sat down, my heart overflowed and tears came to my eyes, as I looked across the seats and seeing all the men (old, middle-aged, and young alike) who served, and who are now serving, our country.   A bagpipe played and young girls coming into the worship center with the American flag and the flags that represent each branch of service made it truly something that stirred the heart and was a reminder that, even though our country is not as it should be right now, there are men and women who continue to defend it.  And we have a responsibility to make sure that they know how much it means to us.  I was able to shake the hands of a few and say "thank you" and they responded with such pride.  Outside the door young children handed out homemade cards, a free meal was given to those who served and the bagpipe played the following hymn which I have made my own a long time ago:

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace that fear relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
'Twas grace that led us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my secures;
He will my shied and portion be,
As long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.

When possible, please remember to thank a veteran.  Pay for their meal, send them to a weekend retreat, give gift cards, send greeting cards.  It's important they know that what they are doing (or have done) is so very important.  A sacrifice.  For us.

May God stir in your heart love for one another today as we begin another week.  : )

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Everything Give Thanks

I have this written on the chalk board in our dining area.  I have my Bible reading and prayer time there so I have to look at this passage every morning.  It's a good reminder, but it's difficult to do.  When the Bible says "everything" it means everything.  But how do we give thanks when we lose our job, or when we have difficult relationships, or when we have a terminal illness, or when we know someone has lost their way, or any number of other things that could and can go wrong?  We are finite creatures.  We have no way of knowing how these difficult things that happen to us now can have any positive impact on our future.  All we see is the pain, suffering, weariness, fear.  God is infinite and Jesus said that he overcame all of this and that is where we find our faith.  God is our everything and in that let us give thanks.  : )

1.  God first.  Matthew 5: 27-30  Adultery

Jesus is saying that it goes further than the actual act of adultery - 
*anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery.

Jesus goes further to say what parts of the body causes us to sin in this area -
*the eyes (v.29) - looking at inappropriate magazines, watching inappropriate movies or TV programs.  Looking at the opposite sex inappropriately.
*the hands (v.30) - picking up that magazine, movie, or channel changer.  Touching someone (other than our spouse) inappropriately.

With inappropriate things all around us today, this is one area that needs a lot of prayer!  Pray for God's protection.  Pray for purity.

2.  Family second.

I never thought I'd ever blog, but I can see why people do it.  It's fun to share experiences and information.  I enjoy reading other blogs too and wanted to share a few that I think are especially good.  Each one is different from the other but are SO helpful in ways that might be of help to you as well.

These blogs offer great pantry ideas, homesteading ideas, wonderful recipes, feminine (not feminist) insight, and wonderful homeschool ideas along with making homemade gifts.  Also, these blogs have even more links to other blogs (you know how it goes).  : )  Enjoy!

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:  Math - make flashcards!  I believe math is one area where memorization is important.  Have your children help with this.  They will be seeing what they are writing and it will go into memory.  Write down all the important data that they will need to know (ex., 1 year = ____ days, 1 gallon = ____ qts., etc.).   When finished, go through these every day so that all this information is memorized and they can say it without looking.

Gift giving:

More inexpensive gifts - notecards w/stamps and a pretty pen, large jar filled with candy, a set of dishtowels (maybe embroider them for a personal touch), a meaningful Christmas ornament, a puzzle, or a cookie jar filled with cookies (thrift stores have wonderful inexpensive cookie jars!)

Thanks again for dropping by!  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Time to Think and Time to Plan

It seems like I'm always writing new ideas and thoughts down in notebooks scattered all over the place instead of keeping them all in one notebook.  So today, I am looking through these scattered notebooks (now corralled) and am re-writing some ideas that have jumped out at me that I would like to do or re-do within the next couple of months.  I find I NEED a time to just sit and plan and think things through or else I become, well, scatterbrained.  Where I find myself doing nothing at all because I don't know where to begin.  Does that make sense?  I'd like to share some of these "findings" with you.  And, this is a little scary because now that I've said that I want to do these things, all of you are my accountability partners and could very well ask me at any given time if I've done thus and such!  Hopefully I will be able to answer "yes, I have!"  Or maybe I'll give YOU an idea or two.  We shall see.  : )

Progressive Dinners -  it's WAY past due!  We used to have these every once in a while with family and they were so fun.  The nice thing about progressive dinners is that no one woman has to fix the whole meal.  House number one serves an appetizer and something to drink, house number two serves the main course, and house number three serves the dessert.  It's also fun because I think all women like to have people in to see how their homes are decorated for the holidays and provide a little hospitality.

Hospitality - our house is just too small for a big sit-down type meal in the winter.  I usually have bigger get-together's in the summertime when we can be out in the back yard.  But, I still want to entertain.  So, instead of having people over for a meal, why not just have a dessert bar with some of your most yummy sweet things?  People can sit where they want or walk around and mingle - seems so much more comfortable.

Neighborhood Ladies Christmas Get-Together -  I'm pretty much the only homemaker on my block so it's difficult to get to know the ladies that live around me.  For a few years now, I've hosted a Christmas gathering with a couple years of not doing it.  They really seemed to appreciate it so I feel it's time to do this again.  Mostly it's just coffee and dessert and a quick fun game and a lot of chatting.  What I like best is to kind of sit back and watch and listen and see everyone enjoying themselves.  : )

Craft/gift ideas to bless others:

*Call a local nursing home to see if you can provide table decorations for Thanksgiving or Christmas
*Sew for a mission - blankets, pillowcases, mend gently used clothes, etc.
*Provide a Thanksgiving basket for a family in your church - fill a large wicker basket with everything they would need to make it special for them.  Canned goods, fresh produce, pretty napkins, candles, gift card tucked into a card for them to be able to buy their own turkey/ham.
*Keep mittens and scarves in your car so that if you see someone at a bus stop who looks like they could use a little warmth, you can pull over and provide it for them.

Just a few things I wrote down today.  Hoping to write down more, but this should keep me busy!  If you have children, all of these things would be a great learning experience for them.  Let them help.

A little extra:

I like coffee creamer.  I like seasonal coffee creamer.  This month's flavor is Pumpkin Spice.  Here is a wonderful recipe I came across a while back:

14 oz. heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup (homemade recipe follows)
3 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Whisk 4 oz. cream, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract together in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat this at 30 second intervals stirring in between.  Do this up to between 1 and 3 minutes.  Pour sweetened milk and remaining cream in a whisk till well blended and pour into a 1 qt. canning jar with lid and store in fridge.  Just shake each time you use it.  SO good.  

Homemade Maple Syrup (I never buy syrup after finding this!)

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup water
2 tsp. maple extract

Combine sugars and water in small saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add extract.  Pour into a clean 1 qt. canning jar and refrigerate.  It thickens upon cooling.  Very good.

Those are my tips for today.  : )

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance."  Psalm 16: 5&6

Keep thankfulness in your heart!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Making Room for Christmas

I know.  One holiday at a time.  We haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet.  But in 3 weeks (the weekend right after Thanksgiving) our Christmas tree goes up.  So, I have spent the majority of this day moving furniture around, moving furniture out, and filling up a spare room with stuff that I now need to go through and organize and probably end up putting it in the basement until after the holidays.  I think anyone with a small house knows what I mean.  Isn't  it amazing how one Christmas tree can upset the whole furniture arrangement?   But it does.  I want it to look nice yet I want everyone who has to sit somewhere while they're here to be comfortable.  I think I have accomplished that.  There is an open spot by the front picture window where a tree might look very nice without making people feel scrunched.  : )

I have to admit that, at one point, I was becoming very annoyed and grouchy that it just wasn't going to work out but a small voice in my head reminded me of an article I read not too long ago.  It was from Samaritan's Purse.  They wrote (and showed a picture) of a middle-aged woman with her grandchildren living in a tent provided by Samaritan's Purse to be used as a shelter from enemy attacks in northern Iraq.  That humbled me.  Here I have a home.  A warm home.  A home with TOO MUCH furniture, and I'm cranky that it doesn't work.  Really?  And what about Mary long ago.  Don't you think she would have loved to have given birth to Jesus in one of our fancy hospital rooms on clean sheets?  Yet she had to make do and use a stable.  So, yes - Thanksgiving first.  A lesson in REALLY knowing what thankfulness means (while making room for Christmas).

1.  God first.  

Today's Reading:  Matthew 5: 21 - 26  Murder

Jesus' words - 
*anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.
*anyone who says 'you fool' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Therefore ......
*when giving, leave your gift if you know that someone has something against you.
*first go and be reconciled.
*then offer your gift.

What to do .......

I will be the first to admit that this is difficult for me.  I am a stuffer.  I get quiet. And the "matter" goes on longer than it should.  It is definitely a pride thing.  But according to Jesus, this is wrong.  And how about the topic of anger with someone being under the heading of murder?  Very sobering words.  

2.  Family second.

With families travelling during the upcoming holidays (by car), here is a list of things everyone should have:

*blanket(s) or sleeping bags
*flares/bright fabric to tie to antennae
*box of food (beef jerky, raisins, nuts, hard candy)
*water for drinking
*extra boots, caps, mittens, scarves
*any medication needed
*diapers and wipes (for those of you have young babes)
*trash bags
*hand sanitizer

There are so many sites on-line that give detailed lists for even more ideas but this is pretty basic.  Just think about what you and your family would need if you got stranded somewhere until help came.  And remember that could take a day or two!  Always make sure your car's gas is topped off.  And if you do go off the road into a ditch and you need to keep the car running for a certain amount of time, go outside often to see if your tail pipe is clear of snow.  Please think safety!!!

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:  I'm just going to re-iterate the importance of instilling thankfulness into the lives of your children.  If you come across articles (like the one I mentioned above) read them to the kids.  Give them a sense of how much they really do have.  And, again, create an atmosphere of giving to those less fortunate by filling bags full of groceries, putting extra money in an envelope for a special holiday tip to the waitress, pay for the person behind you at the drive-through, etc.  Let the kids think of things too!

Gift-giving ideas:  (more inexpensive gifts to just have around for drop-ins)

Homemade cocoa mix in jar with a mug and a fleece blanket
Homemade bread with homemade jam
Cloth napkins
Magazines tied with ribbon, teacup and tea
Board game with snacks
More coming next time!  : )

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let It Snow! Cozy Up The Home

It's our first snow of the season.  It really seems like we just did this!  But, truth be told, I love the first snow.  I can say that because I don't have to get out in it driving to work like so many others have to.   It's a blessing to just look at it while I try to make the inside of the home feel cozy and inviting.  First, we have a little fireplace in the living room (electric), which went on right away this morning while still dark.  I'm going to brown stew meat to put into the crockpot for our supper of stew.  I will be baking bread to go with the stew and then bake chewy chocolate cookies for dessert.  I will be hanging clothes up today with the fresh soapy smell permeating the basement. All of these things make a home feel welcoming and cozy for your family and others.  A warm place to be as the weather outside is raw and cold.  As we all know, certain smells can bring us back to a certain place and time and having these wonderful smells in the home will evoke those memories for your family as well.  I'm going to give you the recipes for the three things I just mentioned and I hope you will try them too!  They are favorites of ours.  : )

Beef Stew

Brown 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. of stew meat in a little oil in skillet and put into crockpot.  Add 1 medium onion, chopped, 3-4 medium carrots, sliced, 3-4 potatoes, cut in chunks, and 4-5 stalks of celery, chopped.

To the brown bits in skillet, add 2 cans Golden Mushroom Soup, 1 cup of beef broth, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a bit of Kitchen Bouquet for color.  Pour this over meat and vegetables in crockpot and cook on Low for 8-10 hours.  (This can also be baked in a 200 degree oven for 5 hours)  Enjoy!

Anna's Grandma's Bread (from my friend, Anna, who is a missionary with her husband in Poland)

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tblsp. salad oil
1 1/4 cup milk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour loaf pan.  Mix all ingredients on medium speed for 30 seconds and bake for 55-65 minutes.  Cool.  So easy.  So good.  : )

Chewy Brownie Cookie

2/3 cup Crisco shortening
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 Tblsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine Crisco, sugar, water, vanilla, in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed until blended.  Beat in eggs.  Add flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and beat into mixture at low speed.  Stir in chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 7-9 minutes or till cookies are set (soft and moist looking).  Let cool.  Makes about 3 dozen.

(I love making cookie dough to put into the freezer.  It's fun to just let the dough thaw and bake when you feel like baking without having to pull out all the ingredients when time is a little short.)

Your house will smell wonderful.  : )

A Little Extra:

Put God first today!  Make it a family day.  Read the Bible together and pray together.

Cook together today!  Bake together!

Listen to some good music today!  Sing together!

Help someone today!  Write a letter.  Call someone.  Go shovel snow for someone (for those of us who are dealing with that today).

If you are homeschooling today, lighten up.  Have fun.  Read together.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, start a Unit Study about Pilgrims, Native Americans, the first 13 colonies, etc.  Make a trip to the library and see what you can find.  Look for information on-line.  Also, with Veteran's Day tomorrow, can you make cards today to send to a Veteran's Home?  Talk with your children about the great sacrifice these men paid for our freedoms today.

Are you invited to someone's home for Thanksgiving this year?  How about putting something together to take for a hostess gift?  Spiced tea mix?   Cookie mix?  Pumpkin bread?  Think about the person and think about what they would like.

Again, this is a month for thinking about, and doing for, others.  It's a very important part of education in your children's lives.  "Book learning" is important, but so is real life.  : )  Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Lord's Day

Whenever we went for Sunday drives, as a child sitting in the back seat, my eyes would immediately go up to the sky.  I loved looking at the clouds and constantly wondering what heaven will be like.  In taking photographs, I have several photos of sky and clouds.  It never ceases to give me the feeling of awe.  We serve an awesome God. I've always loved the following hymn. In my mind, I can see thousands of people looking up to the heavens and singing this song.  (Come to think of it, this would be a good "flash mob" song to sing at a mall somewhere!) Today, let us raise our voices to the Lord:

Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing:

Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread thro' all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! - the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me.

Look unto Him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race.
Look and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

Glory to God and praise and love
Be ever, ever given
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.


May you read these words over and over again and realize that through it all, through everything that we go through on this earth, Jesus is worthy of praise for all He has done for us.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Making Time for Creativity

I think creativity is an important part of a woman's life.  We all need an outlet whether that be cooking, baking, sewing, crafting, quilting, writing, scrapbooking, knitting, crocheting.....  I don't think it's a good thing to always be working.  There are, of course, things that need to be done on a regular basis, but after a while there's a sense in which we get tired, weary, and depressed.  A sense that we need something to break the monotony of the everyday stuff.   Being creative in our homes can be very rewarding.  Knowing that you embroidered those pillowcases, or made those pillows for your couch, or framed vacation pictures on the wall, or quilted the cover for your favorite chair.  The list of things can go on forever.  It's such a sense of accomplishment.  Also being creative for other people brings such joy.  Sewing for charities, knitting scarves for a homeless shelter, making a scrapbook for a child or elderly person, baking cookies for a shut-in.  It all matters.  For you, the creative one, and for others that will enjoy what you've made.  Now days, we have access to the internet which can show you how to make all kinds of things.  There are such wonderful blogs out there that will give you ideas for things you never even thought about.   But I suggest you try something and see how it makes you feel.  If you feel frustrated by it, that particular venue might not be for you, but don't give up!  Keep trying!  The problem with me is that I like doing TOO many different things and can't make up my mind as to what I want to do next.  Right now, I have fabric for a blouse to be cut out, a kitchen towel that is almost done being embroidered, a crocheted scarf that is half done, and a penny rug that needs a backing.  So, try something.  Have fun.  : )

1.  God first.

Today's Reading:  Matthew 5: 17 -20  The Fulfillment of the Law

*Note - I am not a Bible scholar or teacher.  This "God first" section comes from notes that I take while reading the Word every day.  The Lord speaks to each of us from His Word and I'm just sharing what I wrote down.  : )

Jesus is speaking here - he gives a statement and then follows up with the consequence or reward.

1.  He did not come to abolish the Law or the prophets
*He came to fulfill them.
2.  Truth - nothing will be taken away or disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished according to God's plan.
3.  Until then, anyone who breaks the commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least.
*But those who follow them and teach them will be called great.
4.  Our righteousness has to surpass the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.
*If we don't, we won't enter the kingdom of heaven.

2.  Family second.

Creativity as a family - I think having a weekly or monthly "Family Night" is so important.  Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing!

Concern Night - think of ways to reach out to a family in need.  What can you do together to help them?
Celebration Night - think of something to celebrate!  Each family is different and each has something that they think is worthwhile, so celebrate it!
Fun Night - a night of games with snacks
Outing Night - what does your area have?  Bowling? Evening tours?
Media Night - watch a family movie together
Project Night - get everyone involved in a hobby - with all the technology, I think our kids have forgotten how to work with their hands.   Work on something for the home or for someone else.
Outreach Night - have an assembly line going on your kitchen table.  Ahead of time, buy what you need to put kits together that can bless someone.  Toiletry kits are especially good for homeless shelters.  Put them all together as a family and then drop them off together.  It's good for kids to see how much they have compared to other kids their age.
Bible Night -  read the Bible stories together.  Talk about it.  Share with each other.  Pray together.
Talk-it-over Night - when busy-ness sets in, we forget to talk to each other.  Set aside time to just catch up and find out if there are any concerns or disappointments or worries or fears that need to be out in the open.
Music Night - it's wonderful to be a musical family (we are not - as far as singing or playing instruments goes).  But we love music.  Go to a concert and make a night of it.
Reading Night - either read a book and come together to discuss it, or have a read aloud night.
Show and Tell Night - we all have interests that we like to share.  Have family members bring to the night something that they've made to show and tell why they made it, how they made it, and what they plan on doing with it.

Just a few ideas.  : )  Have fun!

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea: Field trips.  So important to get your children out of the house!  A lot of learning takes place at a factory, zoo, farm, historical site, science museum, etc.  See what your community has to offer.

Gift Giving:

Dad stocking stuffers: coffee shop gift card, drill bits, tool key ring, mini flashlight, wallet, tape measure, USB flash drive, nails and screws, beef jerky, car wash gift card, pocket knife

Inexpensive gifts: (these are fun to have under the tree for when someone comes to visit) -
coffee beans with sugar cubes and a nice mug
pound of pistachios
teacup with herbal tea and honey
deck of cards with snacks
more latter!  : )

Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Hard Week

I haven't been feeling like posting lately.  Our kitty that went through surgery over a week ago is no longer with us.  We had to put him down on Friday.  We found out that with everything else, he also had cancer.  He wasn't rallying.  Only getting worse.  He leaves a huge void in the house.  There's something so homey about having a pet around.  They all have unique personalities that touch your heart.  We miss him dearly.  The sadness we all felt surprised us.  It was a deep sadness.  We felt worn out.  You know it's the right thing to do, but somehow that doesn't help.  Not for a while anyway.  It's taken until now to feel somewhat OK about it.  So a hard week, indeed.

1.  God first.

Today's Reading:  Matthew 5: 13 -16  Salt and Light

Salt - we are the salt.  Salt is the seasoning that makes what's bland come to life.  Without it, nothing tastes good.  We need to add "salt" so whoever "tastes" what the Lord has to offer will consider it good and want more.

Light - we are light.  Light allows everyone to see.  If we hide our "light" no one will be able to see God in us and will not be drawn in.  

Well-known verse - (v. 16) - ....."let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

We aren't saved by our good deeds, but because of our salvation we are led to do good deeds and in doing so, others will see (light) and, again, be drawn in and might be saved as well.  They will want what we have.

2.  Family second.  Beginning a new month.  What needs to be done?  In my Household Notebook it says that we should:

Change the furnace filter
De-clutter shelves, cabinets, and drawers
Flip the mattress(es)
Winterize your shrubs
Do last minute yard cleanup
Clean out gutters/downspouts
Test and hang holiday lights
Winterize cars
Begin holiday shopping/planning/baking

Some of these things the homemaker can do, but some require help.  Never be hesitant about asking for help.  One of the happiest days around the house is when we are all busy at something.  It feels alive and we're all working towards a common goal.

3.  Everything else. 

Homeschool idea:  have your child put up and maintain a bird bath and feeder next to a window that everyone can watch from.  Bird watching is a wonderful hobby.  Keep a bird book close by for identifying the birds and also keep a journal that you can keep track of the birds in.  Either sketch the birds or take photos.  Take notice which birds come through at different times of the year.  Also, have the child make a simple birdhouse if possible.

Gift giving ideas:

Wedding:  2 fluffy pillows tied with a beautiful ribbon and sandwich a devotional for couples in between.

Stocking stuffers for tots:  playdoh, bubble bath, cute socks, character bandages, board books

I hope this finds you doing well.  Thanks for dropping by.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is it Enough?

Every once in a while, I consider this question.  I heard a speaker on the radio a while back where he said that in the United States, we wear busy-ness like a badge.  The busier the better.  The busier you are, the more important you must be.  The busier you are, the more fulfilled you should be.  So, OK, since 5:00 this morning I readied myself for the day, provided breakfast for my husband and I saw him off to work, had my morning Bible reading and prayer time, cleaned up the kitchen, sent a couple of correspondence off, ironed, and now here I sit writing this blog.  Was I busy?  Yes, I think so.  It feels like I was busy.  And I will continue to be busy the rest of the day.  But is it enough?  I don't work outside the home, I don't have kids activities to tend to anymore, I only volunteer once a week.  How DO I answer the questions from other women as to what I do all day?   I think modern day homemakers feel they must justify that question with a list and it seems like no matter how long that list is, we're looked at as being unmotivated, unwilling to share the load financially, lazy perhaps?   Do I bring these feelings of not measuring up on myself?  Maybe.  But the questioning from others is real and so brings on the feeling of inadequacy.  I have to fight that feeling at times reminding myself that what I do inside the home is important work.  We've seemed to have lost that "old-fashioned" notion that women in the home matter.  They do.  And for some of us, it is enough.  : )

1.  God first.

Today's Reading:   Matthew 5: 1-12  The Beatitudes

I like calling this the "Blessing and Reward" passage -

*Blessing - "Blessed are the poor in spirit"
*Reward - "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

*Blessing - "Blessed are those who mourn"
*Reward - "for they will be comforted."

*Blessing - "Blessed are the meek"
*Reward - "for they will inherit the earth."

*Blessing -"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness"
*Reward - "for they will be filled."

*Blessing - "Blessed are the merciful"
*Reward - "for they will be shown mercy."

*Blessing - "Blessed are the pure in heart"
*Reward - "for they will see God."

*Blessing - "Blessed are the peacemakers"
*Reward - "for they will be called sons of God."

*Blessing - "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness"
*Reward - "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Extra point that Jesus makes -

*Blessing - "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
*Reward - "Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven."

The cost of following Jesus is high.  Are we prepared?  Remember the rewards received and that in the end it will have been worth it.  Tough now, blessing later.  : )

2.  Family second.

Remember people.  It's important.  Phone calls, e-mails, cards and/or letters in the mail.  Just to let them know you remembered.  Just to let them know they are important to you.  Just to let them know how they are doing.  Fill your calendar days with names of people in your life.  Send Betty a card on Tuesday.  E-mail Margaret on Thursday.  Call Donna on Saturday.  Then pray for them.  Lift them up to the Lord for whatever they are going through at the time or just for protection for them as they go about their day/week.  I never feel more loved than when someone tells me that they are praying for me or when I hear from them in some way.  Let's extend these kindnesses.

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:  Geography - draw maps!  By drawing your mind is seeing and by seeing it is fixed in your mind so when it comes time to look something up on a map, you'll be able to locate it more quickly.  Don't trace!  Draw your state. Draw the United States.  Draw other countries.  And then fill in some information - rivers, lakes, etc.  Hang them up and use them, filling in information as you go.

Gift giving ideas: 

Grieving basket - a beautifully framed quote, candle, inspirational CD

Writing basket - lap desk, stationery, stamps, pen

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Make Time for Fun

For several years, we, as a family, got together at this time of year and had a pumpkin carving competition in our garage.  We ate supper together first, carved pumpkins, and then sat by the bonfire with our dessert.  So much fun, so much silliness.  Some years we even had an "anonymous" judge sneak into the garage (with the door closed), judge the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners and leave prizes beside each one.  One time we bobbed for apples.  It really was a lot of fun and it was so fun to host!  In the photo above, are just a few of the pumpkins.  Everyone got so creative.   We stopped doing it a couple of years ago.  Kids grow up and get busy and adults get busy because the kids are busy.  I miss it so much and have tried to think of something else to do but I fear that probably won't happen.  That's the thing.  We have to do things with our family while everyone is able or the opportunity passes us by.  We all have good and fun memories with this one little thing we did every year and that counts for something!  : )

1.  God first.

Today's Reading:  Matthew 4: 23-25 Jesus Heals the Sick

What Jesus did:
* taught in synagogues
* preached the good news of the kingdom
* healed every disease and sickness

What the people did:
* brought him people with various diseases (severe pain, demon-possessed, seizures, paralyzed)

Crowds came from:
* Galilee
* Decapolis (the Ten Cities)
* Jerusalem
* Judea
* across the Jordan

Just come to Jesus.  No matter who you are or where you are from.  Come to Jesus.  See what He can do for you.

2.  Family second.

I think I'm just going to re-iterate the importance of having fun with, and in, your family.  Everything is just so serious now days and everyone is so busy with stuff that won't build any memories at all except for the fact that you will look back some day and remember how busy you were and everyone is all grown up and gone and you can't get it back again.  So, please, plan for fun.  Most of the time it doesn't just happen.  You have to go the extra mile and put in the time to make it happen.

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:  Art and Creativity - buy child an inexpensive camera (even disposable are fine) and have your child take all kinds of pictures.  Develop and choose which ones turned out and what didn't and talk about it.  You can talk about subject matter, color, design, etc.  Frame the nice ones or put into a photo scrapbook with captions telling where you took the photo.  Gets you out and about!

Gift giving ideas:

For someone's bedroom:  Padded hangers, sachets, beautiful pillowcase, scented drawer liners, candle

Little girl basket:  coloring book and crayons, doll w/clothes, puzzle, sidewalk chalk, bubble mix

Have a good day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What to do?

On Saturday, we rushed our cat, Carl, to the emergency hospital, and that evening he went through surgery.  This morning we finally brought him home.  In between that time, we literally anguished over what to do, how much to do, and of course, how much to spend.  On a cat.  How far DO you go for a pet?  I think, for me, it's that I don't want to come across as the kind of person where every time our pets have a problem, then we just put them down because we don't want to deal with it.  I feel that since we bring pets into our home, we have a responsibility to care for them since they cannot care for themselves.  With that said, it's still difficult when you see the veterinarian bill go up and up.  He is home now and we're hoping that will help him to be less stressed out and more comfortable so that his desire to eat and sleep will come back.  He's part of the family now and we just have to deal with the bad times along with the good.  : )

1.  God first.

Today's Reading:   Matthew 4:18 - 22  The Calling of the First Disciples

I like the title of this passage - "The Calling."  As followers of Christ we all have a calling.  Jesus "calls" us to do his work here on earth.  Is it service?  Is it giving?  Is it teaching?  Only we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can determine this.

I also love the picture this passage depicts - "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee."  It seems calming.  Can you see it?  Probably early in the morning.  Fishermen in their boats.  The sky tinted with early morning light bouncing off the sea.  Beautiful.

Then, Jesus' invitation - "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."  In verse 20 - "At once they left their nets and followed Him."  In verse 22 - ......"and immediately they left......."  That always amazes me. To be that obedient is incredible.  How often have I put things off because it just didn't seem like the right time or there were other things going on that I wanted to do first.  I don't ever think it's "at once" or "immediately" with me.  Very thought-provoking.

2.  Family second.

I wrote about caring for a pet in the home, but with cold/flu season upon us, we need to care for the people in our homes too!  I do understand that some people like to be left alone, but I do think there are certain things we should do for them (because they won't feel like doing it for themselves):

*Bring fluids - bottled water, gingerale, tea.  Something that will make them feel better.
*Bring cold compresses to the feverish brow.
*Bring chicken noodle soup or broth, apple slices, orange slices, etc. - again, something nourishing and nutritional.
*Bring the medicine, throat lozenges, etc.
*Wash the bedding so they don't feel like they're laying in a bed of germs.
*Air out the room.

These are just a few things that make a person feel loved and taken care of.  If you (the caretaker of the home) are the one who is ill have a plan.  Teach others to:

*Keep up with the laundry
*Either bring in a meal or have on hand meals in the pantry/freezer that they can heat up
*Keep up with light cleaning (kitchen and bathroom especially!)

This is so that when you DO feel better, you won't feel overwhelmed with things that have not been done for a few days.  And don't criticize when things haven't been done the way YOU would have done them!  Be appreciative.

3.  Everything else.

Homeschool idea:   Math  - give your child a yardstick and have him measure things around the house.  Write them down and then have him put these items in order from smallest to largest.

Gift giving ideas:

Sewing basket:  measuring tape, thimble, needles, thread, pins and pincushion, buttons, scissors.

Gift-giving basket: (nice for an elderly or home-bound person) - box of assorted greeting cards with stamps, pen, gift wrap, bows, tape, scissors

Have a good day!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Lord's Day

Good Sunday morning to you.  As we begin another week, and as followers of Christ, I think we all ponder what we can do to make this week a little bit better than the last.  How can we be used by God for his purposes?  As I read the old hymn "Take My Life, and Let it Be" I realize how wonderful it would be to say it as a daily prayer.  The words are:

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord to Thee.  
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and them be filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my, Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Doesn't that just say it all?!  My life, my days, my hands, my feet, my voice, my lips, my money, my intellect, my will, my heart, my love, my self.  On those days when we feel we have nothing to offer, this list of things proves differently. : )

Have a wonderful day.