Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Diet Update

We have gone several weeks now trying to avoid gluten and dairy and I am happy to report it is going well.  I had a short spurt of eating only soup because the weather turned cool and I discovered soup is an easy thing to make without gluten and dairy.  Here are some of the meals we've tried:

Sloppy Joe stuffed potato boats-  I baked some potatoes scooped out some of the potato to use for another meal and filled it with sloppy joe.  I put it back in the oven for a bit and then topped it with crushed up potato chips.  The children loved this, it's a definite keeper.

Our good ol' stand by fried rice which everyone likes

Spaghetti stuffed squash-we stuffed a spaghetti with marinara meat sauce and baked it.  The children loved this.  Pete and I had quinoa and chicken sausage stuffed acorn squash.  It was really good.

Salmon Salads

Roasted Vegetables with Chicken Sausage

Tacos-surprised to find no one misses the cheese or minds using corn tortillas

Soups-chicken wild rice, chicken pot pie soup, alphabet soup and cream of vegetable soup.  These were all really good, but I did have some requests from my family not to make them all in one week for our meals.

It has been really great to see that there are still fun culinary options for eating despite the need to do without many things.  I have been putting off this change for a long time in fear of being a burden to others with our special diet.  It does take extra time, money and effort but the health results for us have been so encouraging.  I am still working on getting over the hurdle of letting go of having what I want when I want it and the other hurdle of having to plan and inform others that I can't eat dairy, gluten, corn or tomatoes and a few other items.  I've always tried to live by and teach the children that we eat what we are served in gratitude.  I do believe that if others are willing to serve me by cooking for me I should have a grateful heart and never put forth demands.  These food intolerances I am finding are a huge blow to my values and I haven't worked through how to manage the situations we encounter eating with others.  Initially I thought it wasn't very often that this would come up but now I realize it's all the time!  We can't simply run through a drive through, there's too few options that or family can eat.  If we are invited to some one's house I haven't quiet figured out how to communicate our needs.  Perhaps the hardest is celebrations with others where I feel like I don't even want to go because I have to bring a separate meal for some of our family and then explain, explain, explain why we don't eat certain things.  Depending on the crowd and family the reaction is often that I am a paranoid freak.  Which perhaps I am, but would rather not admit to others!

So the physical part of our experiment is having some great results.  The emotional part is a different story.  I didn't realize there would be an emotional part to this and feel a little side swiped.  Thankfully I have been feeling a lot better which gives me a lot more margin to deal with these issues as they come up!

Worrying the Kids Away

I read this post by Nancy Wilson this morning and felt I must share it.

"We mothers are tempted in many ways, but one of those ways is to be worriers.
What do we worry about? Oh, we are very imaginative! If we don’t have any real situations on our hands, we can come up with all kinds of potential stuff to worry about.

Now, worry is bad for us. And it’s bad for our kids. It’s an uglifying sin (like all the rest of them). Worry is antithetical to biblical femininity. It is never pretty. It sucks the joy out of our lives, disturbs our peace, and disrupts a gentle and quiet spirit."  To read the rest go here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Friendships and Our Children

I have been lacking clarity and discernment lately in the area of friendships and our children.  There are so many messages that I've allowed to populate my  mind.  Unfortunetely I have not been on my toes to the chaos these messages have caused until now.  I've always had several ideas running around my head about how to spend time in friendships, but never really have come to a hard and fast conviction of what friendships and social time in my children's lives should look like.  I suppose part of the reason why I haven't really evaluated what my convictions are is that my children are still pretty young and the subject didn't come up very often.  The past 6 months have changed that.  Now that my eldest is 9 I am finding that I need to figure out these convictions and quick!  The pressure to spend time with others, invitations and oppourtunities for friendships are astoundingly many.  The choices we make as parents will have a big impact on not only our children's friendships but their entire future.
I know that choosing the wrong company can lead to a plethora of issues.  That  was my childhood.  I always seemed to choose the wrong crowd and suffered the consequences of shallow, rebellious relationships my entire childhood.  It is really sad to look back and see that without any guidance the easy choice was always the wrong choice.  Knowing this, I have complete confidence that I, as a parent need to be heavily involved in where our children spend their time and energy in relationship.  The problem is that now I know I need to be involved what do I do?  Praise God that I do not parent alone and have a very wise husband.  I have much control over our daily schedules, but love that he ultimately looks at the schedule and can easily tell what is and is not wise.  I find the more I consult my husband and pray to God the more readily I can make righteous decisions in this area. 
The two biggest questions that seem to perplex me the most is who to allow the children to spend time with and how much time.  As christians we want to be a light to the world.  I want to train my girls to be able to to deal with difficult people and stand true to their convictions.  I want them to share the love of Christ readily and show his love by speaking the truth in love.  I find that this desire drives me to allow them to sometimes spend time with company that does not share the same convictions in their walk or a belief in God.  I was under the idea that somehow my children were ready to be a shining example of Christ's love to others and they would not be tempted give into the temptation to follow the ways of the world.  God ever to kindly rebuked me of this naiive attitude I've had.  This  morning as I was praying about a specific relationship in one of my children's lives I was reminded that we are not on earth to have pleasures and be popular.  Was I allowing my child to compromise her character to be popular or liked?  I was allowing her to pursue and spend much time in a relationship that was often causing her to sin.  I am so thankful for God's gentle wisdom in this matter. 
My dear friend Kim Doebler once told me that she often asks of relationships, "are we being more influential or being influenced."  In this relationship my child wants to be in I am so dissappointed to say that she is being more influenced and unfortunetely it is for the detriment to her.  I am not sure the other child has any intention to lead my little one into sin, but sin is what results from her time with this child.  So as unpopular as I will be for limiting the time she has in this relationship I am convicted it is not for my or her popularity that we spend our time, it is for the Lord. 
Thankfully we have many other relationships in our life that are uplifting and mutually encouraging in our walk with the Lord.  We are so incredibly blessed to have others that lead us towards righteousness that we don't have enough time in our schedule to nurture all of those relationships in our lives and the childrens closely.  We had a terrible afternoon of crashing this week after over committing and under discplining ourselves.  It was a blaring red flag to me that I had mismanaged our time and stressed my entire family out by having too much time with friends and in enjoyment.  We were no longer able to refresh and keep our home running and we all had a feeling of chaos.  This has led me to evaluate how much time we spend with our friends.  God has not spoken to me quite so clearly about this one.  I think there must be a balance that I try and strike with this that happens before we commit to things.  I know each family has a different tollerance for outside activities, ours happens to be very little.  I know this about us.  I know that we can only handle a few extras in our schedule before it has a bad effect.  Given that understanding I think the best course is to look at the realitites of our capacity and schedule a little more clearly in the future and ask my husband a little more often his input!
I feel a have a little better vision and conviction to move forward with but still have a long ways to go.  I don't want to raise children who are so guarded they don't know how to function outside of our home.  But I also don't want children who value friendship more than God.  It's a delicate balance, one that I am sure I'll continually be learning to seek God's will in. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 2 of Our Dietary Expirement

This morning I got up motivated to try a new recipe and was rewarded!  It was fabulous and go two thumbs up from every family member.  An unanimous two thumbs up vote at our house happens rarely so I'm feeling pretty good about myself right about now!  I tried another recipe from Cooking for Isaiah, the chocolate banana waffles.  The waffles were really good with a nice crisp crust.  I found a gluten and dairy free chocolate sauce recipe on-line that I drizzled over the waffles and bananas.  We added some sausage and fruit salad.  That recipe will definitely stay.  We had left overs for lunch and look forward to a roast with potatoes, carrots and onions for dinner with a salad.  Day 2 was a huge success.  My child's skin is looking better too.  I'll just have to figure out a way to stretch our budget to keep up with all of these new recipes! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Dietary Expirement

Our family has been almost completely dairy free for almost a year.  Our little Gretta kept having skin rashes and digestive issues that prompted us to have her tested for food insensitivities.  The only thing that came up was pasteurized dairy so we decided to go dairy free.  On occasion we've enjoyed a little raw cheese but otherwise we don't use dairy.  Our goal has always been to gratefully accept whatever is offered when we are out.  However, Gretta complains of belly aches after dairy so we try and really avoid it. 
This fall as one of my children started experiencing allergy symptoms and a skin break out a friend suggested that it may be gluten so we are on day 4 of her not having any dairy or gluten and by golly her skin is clearing up!  So we are going to do an experiment in no dairy and no gluten in our diets for a few weeks and see how it effects our family.  I plan on reviewing here how it is going and what sort of recipes we are using.  Here is tonight's review. 

Dinner:  chicken rice tetrazzni with mushroom gravy and mustard crumbs from the cookbook Cooking for Isaiah, maple roasted acorn squash and salad.  Squash is a huge hit with our kids so that went over well.  The children did not really enjoy the tetrazzini, but Pete and I did.  We will not make it again as Pete wasn't thrilled about it and none of the children really liked it.

Dessert:  Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies from the Cooking for Isaiah cookbook.  I used Earth Balance margarine in place of the shortening and a mix of chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips.  This was a hit!  I made them to bring to church so the kids could have a cookie with their friends.  I loved these.  In this cookbook there is a baking mix and pancake mix you pre-make.  It makes the prep for baking gluten free easy. 

So far so good.  I had one child pretty upset she couldn't have some french bread with garlic butter, but was happy to have the garlic butter on our sprouted bread so other than that hiccup it's been going well.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.....

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Having a blog is a bit of a soap box for me.  The great thing is that no one has told me to get off it yet.  Maybe today will be the day?
I can't count the times I've heard someone say that marriage is a 50/50 relationship.  It's give and take.  You must compromise.  For years these sort of attitudes have rubbed me wrong.  It's sort of like how Revelations 3:15-16 says, "I know that your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."  Compromising often leads to a similar feeling.  We are fed this idea that if I take a night out, then my spouse gets one.  If my spouse gets a new toy than I get the next one.  It's my night to get up with the children tomorrow, you do it tonight!  That's my play money use your own.  I don't know that it is a sin to set up a plan in marriage as far as who does what when.  But I know that it can lead to sin in our human hearts when we only give in expectation of getting back.
When we fight for our rights to our half of our share in life we are settling for mediocrity.  We are steeling away the opportunity to bless others by simpling serving.  Perhaps we become a terribly tepid taste in our Father's mouth.  I don't care to think of my God wanting to spit me out due to my taste.  When we insist that others take care of us and expect that others put us first, again we lose our flavor.  It is better to choose to be cold and indifferent than feign the middle ground.  The Bible doesn't speak much of the middle ground, it does ask us to walk righteously and give all. 
So how do we stay hot, on fire and motivated for God?  We serve like Jesus served us and we take time to be with our Father.  Get up with the baby at night.  Prioritize a quiet time of prayer and Bible reading.  Take care of the children instead of expecting to get a sitter or someone else to always help you.  Look to someone elses needs first. 
Does this mean that we never ask for help, NO!  But we ask God to give us discernment and wisdom about how many favors we are asking of others.  Don't be a score keeper, especially in marriage.  Let your husband take care of his flock, especially you by simply relating to him the needs that you have.  Be careful that Satan doesn't fool you into thinking that you can't get by without a little "me" time.  We as wives and mothers can and should be able to take care of our homes, our children and our husbands.  If we are struggling with doing these things it is a wise woman that learns to assess her time.  If you run so much you can't keep up, prayerfully go to God and your head (husband).  Surely they will be able to lead you into what needs to stay and go so you can accomplish their will.
"Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."  Mark 9:50.  It's not easy to be a mother and wife.  We have so many balls to keep up in the air these days, but we can choose to be at peace in our marriages and lives.  This is the one solution offered in Mark 9:50.  BE AT PEACE!  The key word here is be.  We keep house by work, we keep up our children by effort and diligence, we try and keep good health why would we not spend as much time working on keeping peace?  So next time you are asked to get that thousandth cup of water for your little one, or to serve another family, or to run that extra errand for your hubby or to not go out with the gals so your man can do something remember to be at peace and remain salty.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The American Dream. Heaven On Earth?

I read an article on world news about social security and viewing retirement from a christian worldview http://www.worldmag.com/articles/18569.  There was a quote by John Piper that said, "we must reward ourselves now in this life for the long years of our labor." Retirement—playing, traveling, sleeping late—is "the world's substitute for heaven since the world does not believe there will be heaven beyond the grave."

This was in reference to retirement but I couldn't help but think I have run into this sin lately.  In my quest to be comfortable have I been trying to exchange the pleasures of a true heaven for earthly ones?  In my desire to have things look just right, taste well, to feel well, to make sure the children have experiences have I turned my heart away from God?  The trials of this world seem to mount up on my shoulders so quickly and I forget that trials are what this world is made of.  I will not be able to replicate what my perfect God has made for eternity in this fallen place, not only that I will lose the opportunity to glorify him.  Taking this thought a step further I realize that my children miss out on the opportunity to hunger for God when I pacify them with pleasures here. 

God's timing is amazing.  After going to the dentist this morning and spending way more money than I desired to, it was good to be reminded that trials are where I have the opportunity to "prove my mettle" as Oswald Chambers said.  God has provided for this and will continue to.  He does not promise a nicely decorated suburban home in keeping with everyone else I know.  He doesn't say that my days will be easy and that I will flawlessly mother, teach, mentor and submit.   I find myself challenged to remember and truly believe what he does say each day, that he will never leave me or forsake me, that he will provide all things, that he will work all things for His good.  It is really much easier to believe what the world says.

What a gift the Bible is in times of temptation and confusion.  My heart overflows with gratitude for truth and direction from His Word.  It would be easier to construct my own heaven here on earth without any concern for eternity.  But I've never been one to follow the crowd!  I can undoubtedly say that I hunger for heaven  more than the American Dream. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Balancing Truth and Grace

Recently I heard truth and grace explained this way.  Truth alone is legalism and grace alone is lawlessness.  I can't get this analogy out of my head.  Perhaps God is speaking to me?  As I face situations in each day as a disciple, wife, mother, friend etc. I am astonished at the opportunities that come up for me to practice truth and grace.  What is alarming is the times I automatically respond to situations without balance.
 I tend to lean to the side of truth.  I love truth the way it cuts through the chaotic confusion of emotions and worldly opinions.  I love that I can pick up the Bible and know truth, that I can pray and hear truth.  Truth is a beautiful boundary, solid, unmoving, unchangeable, like my God.  In my life it is so easy to concoct a rule and adhere to that than to have to patiently, gently, mercifully and graciously extend myself in times of trial.  Whether the trial be large or small I always tend to go for a rule, for a truth and stick to it.  This trait of mine has it's merits, but I believe the Lord is trying to increase the merits of it's counter balance, grace, in my life.  Grace is the example that Jesus gave us on the cross.  Grace is the tenderness that extends love when wrath is deserved.  Grace is the beauty of trial and the triumph of love.  If I adhere to the rules so closely I lose the opportunity to extend grace, to be truly alive in Christ.  The truth I love so dearly if not properly balanced will lead me down the same road as the Pharisees.  I too will miss the grace of a saviour.
Coming to this information has been thought provoking to say the least.  All the times I want to create a new rule to keep my little women in line I have now stopped to wonder if perhaps it is not a rule they need but a bit of grace and someone to help them sort out their heart's intentions.  As my husband makes decisions and my foolish independence seek to cram a rule in his face to prove I am right I have been convicted that it is grace that is needed not more of my truth.  Maybe that is where the crux of the problem is, that truth when it becomes our truth instead of His truth is dangerously out of balance. 
What about when grace is too heavily weighted.  Is that when I allow what I know I should be dealing with.  When I hear the children bickering but get a little lazy and let it go?  Is it when I choose to not be disciplined and sleep a little more, or do a little less and suddenly things are not going as smoothly as they should be?  I confess this is not generally my trial, but I have made friends with lawlessness and the results are not desired.
Either end of the extreme leaves something in want.  The best way is to live in balance.  To cry out to the Holy Spirit to speak to us so clearly each moment of the day that we know when to act in truth, when to extend grace and how to do both.  Jesus was such a wonderful example of both.  He kept the law but did not become legalistic.  He extended grace, but never became permissive in allowing sin to continue.  I've just begun to consciously think on this profound idea of balance between these two wonderful gifts of grace and truth.  It seems that the more I think on these and pray over them the more I realize that balance is not found in a moments realization but in a lifetime of following the master of both.  Even then at the end in this fallen state I think I will still be just as in awe of the perfect man and his balancing of grace and truth as I am at this moment.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who's Your Saviour?

I am struck by how many saving influences we have at our beck and call in modern society.  What has been more striking to me in our 2nd week of a new year of school is how often I want to run to one of these worldly saviours.  I am feeling overwhelmed with the education of my children, I am ashamed to say the thought of sending them off on a golden chariot to school has crossed my mind.  My emotions seem ablaze and out of control, maybe I could call on a friend or someone to just listen to me.  I am exhausted physically, perhaps another cup of coffee will do the trick to perk me up.  Yikes!  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my automatic reaction to life and my buckling under the tiniest amount of pressure.  Running to the world for comfort has been my all too immediate response lately.
What is more disappointing than my weakness and lack of faith is that I have passed it on to my children!  When school gets hard they fight the temptation to fuss.  When they have to work hard they cave into the temptation to sigh and whine about the work.  When relationships get difficult they often act in a selfish way.
  Years ago before all of the modern day comforts we enjoy I wonder if it was so easy to run to the world for relief from our everyday problems?  I recently watched just a snippet of a documentary on Theodore Roosevelt.  As a young man he lost his wife and then his mother.  In his grief he headed west to Dakota Territory where he lived a solitary and hard working life.  It was a time of healing not by escaping discomfort but working hard through it.  There were not many therapists and physcologists to run to when the trials of life got hard.  He and others at the time had to simply live through the trials and grief of life.  What a beautiful example of fortitude, one that we see less and less these days.
The temptation to run to pop-phsycology, medication and worldly interventions is overwhelming in our society.  We are promised a  cure for every ail.  When we run to the world's saviours will we ever find true healing?  Perhaps there is a place for what the world and science have discovered in the way of drugs and therapies, but dare I say in this politically correct world of words that first we must seek our true Saviour Jesus Christ?  I wonder how many times it even crosses the mind of a sufferer to run to Jesus?
We are not promised happiness or ease of life.  We are promised comfort, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.  We are not promised worldly wealth or riches, we are promised provision, "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19.  We are not promised happiness in life, but we are promised peace, "I will listen to what god the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints." Psalm 85:8.  With all of these great promises in a true saviour why is it we continue to throw His ways away and try the world's?
Parenting is not easy.  Especially if you choose to take on the majority of the responsibility of caring for your children on your own.  The past two weeks have highlighted this fact in my life over and over again.  However, we have a saviour that will certainly be able to help us in each of our trials, but we must take the step to call on Him and accept the help He gives.  It is not usually in the form of a pill or a quick fix, but rather of a molding our character and soul into the likeness of Him.  This way runs so contrary to how the world deals with issues.  His way always has lasting satisfaction, even if we don't get to see the entire result until we enter eternity with Him!  In the mean time, "We say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?'" Hebrews 13:6

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day Dad!

When I was six years old one of my favorite things to do was to pop my head into my dad's wood shop and sniff the air and ask him what he was doing.  This was the one place I remember my dad being peaceful and really where he seemed  most at home.  He would patiently teach me how to use a wood burner and then let me make crazy plaques (he still has the one I made for over the cat's food dish!).  He was always working on something and didn't mind my hanging around his shop.  I thought, and still do that he was the most talented man in the world when it came to wood.

As I grew I didn't spend as much time in my dad's shop but learned to really treasure his opinion.  He didn't ever have a lot to say, but what he did was always spot on in wisdom and intellect.  I must confess that as an adult women I treasure my dad's opinion more and  more.  I know that he doesn't care to spend time shooting the breeze with just anyone so when he does with me I always feel honored to be in conversation with him.  The times he's expressed pride in the choices I've made  have been like wind to my wings.

This father's day I am so enjoying counting the ways that I value my father.  It reminds me of how the man I have married is accumulating ways that his girls love him.  Neither of these men are perfect, I rather like them better for their imperfections.  Were they to be great perfect men I could not relate or enjoy them!  As Father's Day approaches I want to send a loving note to my Father and the Father of my children and thank them for the great men that they are.  In my eyes they excel far above any other men and I send up thanks to God for allowing me to be in the company of these two.  So Pete and Dad I love you, thank you for all of the wonderful ways you make fathering a blessing to me and to my little women!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Check This Out........

I read about 10 ways to love on the Heart of Wisdom blog.  It was so good I couldn't help but share it.  To check it out go here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Celebrating Marriage

(I can't find a picture of just Pete and I from the past year!!  A family pic will have to due.)

It's easy to remember to celebrate our marriages on holidays and anniversaries.  Given the state of marriage in our society it would seem prudent to celebrate and rejoice in our marriages more often.  This is the most important relationship outside of the relationship we have with God.  Do you we treat it as such on a daily basis?
Pete and I are in the process of planning a 10 year anniversary vacation.  As I plan I am wondering why I don't put more effort into celebrating each day?  It's so easy to let the ways of life get away from me and put my marriage on the back burner.  So I brain stormed a few ideas on how to celebrate my oneness with my man.

  • Happy hour!  I love to surprise Pete with an appetizer and drinks (you could do tea or lemonade) when he gets home from work.
  • If you can, have a bonfire after the children are in bed.  We have a second hand metal fire pit that serves the purpose.
  • Have a movie night after the kids are in bed.
  • Play some card games together.
  • Listen to music and make a meal.
  • Join your hubby in his work or a hobby he is doing.
There are so many ways we can take special time out to nurture the most important earthly relationship we have.  The time serves so many purposes.  We set an example of our heart's priorities to our families.  As women we have a time to refresh and step aside from our focus on serving in other areas.  Perhaps the most surprising benefit of taking time to enjoy my husband is the amount of refreshment I get from being with him.  That alone should spur me to set aside my daily duties and enjoy my man more!

With the crazy life I can be tempted to lead, it is so vitally important to make wise and well thought out decisions on how to spend the little bit of time I have on this earth.  I don't want to get to the end of my days and look back at the frazzled way I swung through life, but the special times I took to make certain God, marriage and family were were placed in proper priority.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Olivia!

Today our eldest daughter, Olivia would have turned 14.    She died 8 1/2 years ago from cancer.  It seems impossible for me to have a child that would be a teenager!  I love this day because I have such sweet memories of all of Olivia's 5 birthdays.  She was always well on her birthday.  There are not any shadows of suffering over birthday memories.  I am so thankful to the Lord for this one day that was always happy. I wonder if they celebrate birthdays in heaven?   We've celebrated Olivia's memory in some way or another every June 10th.  Sometimes it's just looking at her memory book, or maybe going through the chest of things that were hers.  Some years we have cake.  This year we don't have any plans, but it is such fun to share who she was in memory with her sisters. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011


It never ceases to amaze me how quickly I forget.  In Isaiah 40:30-31 I am reminded that,

"Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. 
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall
mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint."

Over the past week I have flexed my motherly muscle, strained my maternal voice chords and disciplined with parental consistency.  But I did not go to the Lord for my strength.  I kept trying to dig deeper, resolve more, seek some encouragement from my hubby.  However, these are all fruitless and leave me weary and falling all over the place.  Day by day, moment by moment I have to lean hard and renew my strength at feet of Jesus.  I cannot self-improve or motivate enough.  It is clear in Isaiah that my renewal and strength will not come by any other means than by the Lord.
So this afternoon I sat at the throne and asked yet again for the Lord to be in control.  The memory is slow.  The learning is painful.  Maybe this time I will remember for a bit longer?  If any good comes from forgetting it is that I am encouraged to continue to remind the little souls in my care over and over and over again as they inherited my memory!  They don't remember.  I am reminded that I must repeat, repeat, repeat to them just as I need to have things repeated to me.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Haunted by God

This morning in my devotional that I am currently reading My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers I read about being haunted by God.  When we are walking with the Lord and His Spirit fills us we will be so close to him that he haunts us.

"The Psalmist says we are to be haunted by God.  The abiding consciousness
of the life is to be God, not thinking about Him.  The whole of our life inside and out
is to be absolutely haunted by the presence of God." O.C.

At one point in the devotion Mr. Chambers related this to a child being haunted by his mother.  This was a great comparison for me and a motivator of what I am to be to my children now so they can walk steadily and hauntingly with the Lord later.
Our culture and the effects of the feminist movement minimizes the importance of a mother's influence on her children.  Socialist propaganda would have us believe that mothers are more valuable in the workforce and children are better off in a structured peer environment.  Who is haunting our children when we choose this lifestyle?  Who is it that our children run to when harmed, think of when they are about to sin, cry out to when they are scared, look to for comfort and boundaries?  Who do they learn to place their faith in, trust and follow completely?  A school teacher, maybe a daycare provider, a family helper?  Is this one person, or does the person change often?  These are all interesting questions to consider, especially when we look to what we want their relationship to their Father God to be as adults.
If we are to imprint God's character on our children's hearts we must not believe the lies that Satan is feeding us.  There is a price to pay for farming out our children's care to someone else, their education and their moral development.  When my husband and I asked ourselves if we could trust daycare, public school and babysitters with our impressionable children the answer was perfectly clear. NO!
In the course of a day it is so easy to believe that we are failing as mothers.  That our influence is less than it truly is.  When we take into consideration that we are building a relationship between them and God by our faithfulness and trustworthiness, our comfort and care, our presence and dedication it should boost us all up by our suspenders and make us stand taller.  This is no small job to be minimized.  Ladies we are doing something so much more important than we allow ourselves to think.  Perhaps if we really valued our jobs we would find ourselves more motivated.  Be encouraged this day that you are a bridge for your children to understand their Lord and Saviour!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Bad Day

It's 10:21 far later than I am use to staying up to post something.  This day is in need of an end and this may be the most appropriate way to end it, by pepping myself up for tomorrow and putting today to complete rest.  Today was a day filled with emotion, arguing, crying, fussing, yelling, biting and completely unsuccessful toilet training (most of those were not my doings!).  That I put to rest.  The hope I have is in tomorrow and the likelihood that it will not be like today!  So for tonight I will choose to remember that one bad day does not wipe out years of training and success.  I can either look at the soiled undies and only hear the whining voices or I can choose to remember the great devotion time this morning where the little disciples in my care learned about staying attached to the vine and how we need to drink in Jesus all day long.  So now I can breath a sigh of relief that I haven't completely failed, I can rest in peace tonight believing the truth.  What a joy it is to be reminded so gently that it will not be by my power or strength but by the Lords and what I see as failure is often his blessings in disguise. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What to do With a Toddler

A friend asked me about a suggestion for toddler curriculum.  As I looked back on what we did with our first few toddlers I thought it would be beneficial to document it here.  I made many wrong decisions , but I also had a few things that worked well for our family.  I don't think any of these ideas are my own, they are from other mothers who gave me tips and advice.  So here are a few of the things that I learned from others that have gone before me.

A day without structure and toddlers usually always led to trial and failure.  A day filled with a structured outline, but flexibility usually set our family up for more success, contentment and joy.  Here is what an average day looked like when I had little ones and didn't formally school.
   7-8 Wake and get ready for the day. We would work on morning chores (make bed, get dressed, brush teeth and hair, and clean up bedrooms) we did all of these things together until they were old enough to do most of it on their own which for our children was around 3-5 depending on the child and if they had an older sibling to help them
8-9 Eat breakfast and have Bible time.  Bible time has looked different ways through the years.  It has always included a Bible story, prayer, and singing.  We've used a few really good books with our little ones including Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland and Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt.  Mostly, we just read a Bible that is appropriate for the childrens' age.  We have always sang songs together during this time too.  Our focus has been to sing to the Lord and for the children to practice following me lead them (words, actions, manners).  Now that our children are getting a little older they will take turns leading during our song time.
9-10 Was spent on a focused activity.  I had a list of things that we could do.  Puzzles, blocks, games, play-dough, crafts, painting, coloring, learning manipulatives like beads and bobbles, or Tangos. 
10-12 We would usually have a snack.  Then have some less structured time either to run errands, play at the park, go on play-dates etc.
12-1 Was lunch and then a story before nap at 1. 
1-2 Has always been quiet time in our house.  The children when they are too old to sleep may bring some good books to bed and just rest and read.  Now that our oldest is having more school work she usually stays up and does school. 
2-3:30 Was free play time.  I might bring out the doll clothes or dress up.
I usually did blanket time during dinner prep.  I could get dinner done a bit easier and Pete came home to some peace.
Some other things that I am happy I did were:
Creating a time where the children had to sit and listen at our kitchen table and to follow my lead.  This has made every transition into more in depth schooling easier as the children were already use to the routine of just being able to sit and listen.
Training character with purpose.
Not running out to entertain them all the time.  Our children are perfectly content now to be at home and have found ways to entertain themselves.  We do not run to the zoo, museum, fancy park, pool etc.  We may do these things as a treat on occasion but they are not routine by any measure.  I am so happy we have been home bodies learning to be content here and entertain ourselves.  It is a joy to not be nagged to take the children out to be entertained and to have them find things to do on their own.
Watching less television.  Again, our children can entertain themselves and don't require electronic stimulation.  We do watch TV, play the computer and have wii nights,but they are not the norm or majority of our time. 
Asking my husband how he wanted me to spend our time and the activities he wanted us doing.
Consistency.  Our children seem to thrive with order and consistency.  When we would be off schedule and things a little out of order slowly we all became out of order too.

Some things I would have done more of:
Play with them.  I often found I was making myself busy with my own agenda.  I think I should have slowed down a little bit more and just enjoyed my little ones.
Patiently allow them to help me with more.  I do not have much patience.  I think I should have tried harder to be gentle and less rushed and let them help me with whatever I was working on.
Less Legalistic, more gracious.  It has always seemed easier to just make and enforce rules than to gently deal with the heart of issues.

I still have one toddler in the house and she is just a joy but also the biggest trial in our days sometimes!  These years are so precious.  As I am growing little by little as a mother and disciple it is becoming clearer just how important it is and beneficial to slow down and be calm.  Rushing away the day and griping in anger and frustration has never helped my toddlers to do any better.  That is my first natural response.  Now after having 4 toddlers on the 5th I finally feel like I am getting a glimpse of how sweet this time is and fleeting.  My responses are more gracious, but I still need work.  With some order and structure I have found the toddler and I both do better!

Raising up toddlers is a lot of work.  But, with a good attitude and some planning it can be a joy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It is with hesitation I write this post.  I have purposefully not written for a while.  It seemed prudent for me to be silent.  In that silence the realization of just how weak and flawed I am came.  It was good.  It is still painful.  In silence I have asked this question, is it ever wrong to remain in silence?  On the surface there is a simple answer for this as I tend to see things a bit black and white, yes, if God is asking you to speak or go you need to obey.  As I ponder this question further there is more that lies in the gray area. 
 It seems most inconvenient and providential that I am reading the book 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The possibility that I would have taken the thought about silence any further without the provocation of this book is slim.  Since reading the first few chapters of this book I cannot quiet my thoughts in regards to emotional silence.  Ann has the courage to name emotions as they are and allow for them to be present and full of just what they are years and years after their birth, no matter of how painful.  I was not prepared for this.  In the painful moments of life I have almost always to chosen to keep silent.  Now I wonder what if I was to break that silence?
After all these years is it weak and pointless to grieve for a shattered family, a lonely little girl, a slew of reckless sins?  What about grieving still for those who I still love and miss so very much?  Would it be too painful to spell out in words the cries I've moaned to God so many times?  Cries to see my sister again in  a dream, Lord I miss her face, her words, her laugh.  Cries to ask God to give me memories not of a horrific suffering by a child destined to die so young, but of a child healthy and funny and strong.  Will I fall into an emotional heap and get lost in the pain of bringing these things from heart to present?
I've been challenged to think that just maybe healing and renewed joy will come if I open myself up.  I am not sure I realized that there was still healing to be done.  Although, I don't think that you ever heal from the loss of those you love so very much.  Longing to see them in heaven is much more appealing then stuffing the feelings down deep where they are not to be dealt with.  Can I move onto longing for them if I can move beyond the desire to not deal with the pain? 
The future of this revelation is very unclear.  The reality of my history is that fear of selfishness gets caught up in my silence too.  It has seemed so very inefficient to grieve and share grief.  But, I see that there is a place for grief to help others.  When Olivia was so sick the one thing that gave me hope was that God would use this trial for His glory and His good.  Perhaps part of that will not be me running a race to raise money for cancer research, it may be that I offer a human perspective to someone else.
The funny thing about keeping silent is that I haven't done a marathon to raise money,or talked about my experience or shared deeply with someone who needs to hear they're not alone.  Silence has been an enemy to my healing and prevented me from living fully in this world, with a heart for the next.  Were it not for Ann Voskamp's example of sharing grief, perhaps I would have remained in silence.
It is only a flawed human like me that would think that 19 years have passed since the divorce of my parents, it's too late to grieve now.  It's been 9 years since my sister and Olivia died, it's too late to confess the pain and heart-ache and horror that those losses brought and continue to bring.  Grief, loss and pain know no season, no dating system or expiration date.  I am just understanding enough to know that they are a part of who I will always be.  The bonds of self-preservation have been broken.  The road to healing and honesty and I pray greater use for the Lord have begun.  So in goes one breath and out another.  One foot in front of the next.  The wall has had a brick plucked off.  There is a moment of peace that has followed.  For this I am blessed and thankful.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inconveinant Reminder

I forgot the baby's birthday!  Really I forgot that sweet little #5 was turning 2 today.  What a terrible reminder of how I fall short.  It was 10:00a.m. before I remembered Greta's birthday.  I guess the great thing about her turning 2 is that she probably could care less.  My, how life changes.  With sweet baby #1 she had 3 parties and plans were made weeks in advance.  Well now these girls have a mentally overloaded mom who may forget their birthday altogether!

The one comfort I have in forgetting is that this sweet baby #5 has received what the other children did not.  More patience, cuddles and affection.  Since I was so busy with little ones previously or work I didn't get to just snuggle as much as my babies wanted.  Little Gretta has received a lot of time with Mom, love and hugs.  As I get older my hot temper is mellowing and my hyperactive ways are subsiding slightly.  So fortunately for Gretta she has gotten a calmer more patient mother.  Maybe this makes me feel slightly better for forgetting her birthday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Was the Proverbs 31 Women Frantic?

"A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far m ore than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wood and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
when it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty id fleeting;
but a women who fears the Lord is to be praises.
Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:10-31

One thing that I repeatedly notice is how I am tempted to feel frantic.  As my life gets busier and I find myself pulled in many different directions I think it's so easy to allow feelings of anxiety and being frantic into my heart.  My question is this, how did the ever diligent, perfect model of womanhood deal with all of the pressures on her?  How would the Proverbs 31 women cope with the stress of all that needed to be done?

The first thing that I notice when I read through the values this lady possessed is her diligence, discipline, orderliness and foresight.  In the course of running a household we see first hand what a little planning and hard work can do to make our lives run smoothly.  This seems to have been a way of life for Proverbs 31 women.  She had the discipline to be up early and planned well enough to be able to provide nourishment not just for her family but her servants as well.  The fruits of her planning and hard work are evident later in the passage as we see that she is able to "laugh at the days to come."  So here I gather that the hard work she put in on the front end brought joy vs. anxiety later.  So my first  lesson from this lady is that I must work hard in order to prevent anxiety later.  Unfortunately I did not grow up working hard, nor do I live in a situation where I must physically work hard to survive.  If I am a little bit lazy and choose not to be disciplined and work hard the consequences are not immediate and really not all that painful.  However, I can see that a little "a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding off the hands to rest-and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."  My laziness now will result in anxiety and trial later.  I sense that the Proverbs 31 women did not fold her hands to rest often.  Neither should I. 

The next lesson I see from this passage has to do with attitude.  In verse 13 the word select is used, in verse 16 considers is used and in 18 sees is used.  All of these words lead us to know that this lady was one who thoughtfully conducted her life.  She did not follow her emotions, she used her mind.  This is quiet revealing of how she dealt with her day.  She did not let her heart conduct her, rather she chose purposefully how to move from one task and thought to another.  Again we see discipline, this time not of physical time and work but of mind and attitude.    Lesson #2 flee anxious thoughts by being purposeful and not allowing idle time in mind.  If we have enough time to fret perhaps we should be applying our thoughts to something more productive.  This is a lesson I must really work on!

The next thing that I am struck by is where and how she spends her time.  Surprisingly to me it is not all at home!  She is industrious and shops and sells.  This is so relieving  because I must go to market, I simply cannot survive without shopping.  We can see in verses 13, 14, 16, 18 & 24 she is industriously and proactively contributing to the household.  Her time is described as being spent providing food, clothing, and supplies for her home.  It is also spent reaching out to the needy.  The one thing we do not know of is how much of her industry is done in the home and out.  I appreciate the freedom here, since each women is going to have different requirements of in home and out time.  What I do take away from this is that she had enough time after her industry that she was able to reach out to others.  Lesson #3 after I have met the needs of my family am I able to reach out to others?  If not I need to evaluate where my time is mis-spent.  One extra note here, there is no mention of tea with the girls or me time for Proverbs 31 women.  I wonder if her refreshment came not from filling self with refreshment but from filling others?  This is just a thought I would like to keep in my mind next time I'm having a poor me moment and desire to be served. 

The last lesson I have learned in how this wonderful woman kept from anxiety is how she feared the Lord, and spoke in wisdom and faithful instruction.  If my words are idle, the opportunity for sin to enter in is pretty strong.  If I am speaking wisely and faithfully according to God's word, I can't help but think that my anxiety and fretfulness will be impacted.  Our hearts often follow our words.  In my day it is so easy to fear and grow anxious with what is in the world.  But, God calls me to fear him alone.  Lesson #4 am I fearing God alone?  If I am, the anxiety and fret level of my life will reflect my heart's condition.

I have struggled with this women for a long time. She points out so many things in me that I don't care to look at.  She sets the standard at a level I can NEVER achieve alone.  But today I am encouraged by her example of not running the rat race, but running the purposeful, diligent, hard-working, God-fearing race.  There is hope in the work I do now if it will be blessed later.  I can persevere on with this example out in front of me.  Not perfectly, but honestly.  It's striking to me that this women had so many areas to tend to in her life and she did them so well.  I do not have nearly the responsibility she did (no vineyard here!), yet I find myself trying to come up with excuses to be less than diligent and give myself an out.  This passage points out to me just how blessed I am and how I need to be faithful with those blessings.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


"Have I any confidence in the flesh?  Or have I got beyond all confidence in myself and in men and in women of God; in books and prayers and ecstasies; and is my confidence placed now in God Himself, not in His blessings?"  Oswald Chambers

I read this in Oswald Chambers book, My Utmost for His Highest this morning.  Each day as I read a few paragraphs in this book I find that my preconceived ideas of who and what a christian is are shattered and I am left asking myself profound questions that alter my entire view on life.  This morning rather unexpectedly I had the question posed to me through this book, are you devoted to the blessing or the one who blesses?  Ouch, the answer to that question was quiet heart breaking when I really looked closely at my heart.

Lately it has become increasingly obvious that I am so much more full of self than I even realize.  Questions like these point to a prideful condition of my heart.  In attempting to honor God with my life I realize that I often am praying for and striving for the blessing that I will receive.  When I am praying over my husband and how I am to be a wife so often I find I am asking the Lord to bless me with a fix.  Please Lord fix my attitude, please Lord help my husband to do this or that, please Lord help me.  I know He wants my heart and for me to give Him everything and rely on Him, but I can't help but sense I am missing the right attitude here.  I just want to fix the problem.  Perhaps the problem that needs the most fixing is my attitude.  Instead of bless me, give to me, fix me maybe my attitude should be one of wanting the Lord's will to be done. 

What if I prayed that God would help me to know His will more?  What if I asked for Him to give me what He wanted in each relationship and situation?  How would my expectations and relationships change?  With my husband what if I didn't ask for a fix but for the wisdom and will of God to happen through me?  Instead of expecting the children to be perfect models of divine character what if I asked God to help them be who he designed them to be and I simply acted in consistency to His word.  Would I feel frustrated when they don't meet my expectation?  Maybe not.  They are not mine, they are His.  My job is not to require them to reach my expectations but His.  If I acted in obedience to what I know about God's word and then lifted up prayers over them for His will maybe the selfish reactions of my heart would be fewer. 

For today I want to really look for God not the blessing.  When my marriage is good I know I am blessed.  When the children are walking in line with God's will I am blessed.  So should my efforts be to only seek after that blessing or to simply obey and serve God and then the blessings will come?  It is not the blessing I live for but God.  If I only seek after the blessing I will be crushed in times of trial, which are to be many in my home given the number of sinning souls here!  What a refreshing thought that if I am not striving for the blessing but striving to know, follow and be close to my Saviour I will be filled less with self and  more with Him.  Self and world do not have lasting satisfaction.  But He satisfies to fully and completely in His timing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Veggie Kabobs

As a result of my carpal tunnel and stomach issues acting up I have ramped up my efforts at healthy eating.  Here is one creative idea I came up with that was a hit for dinner last night. I can't sing the praises of the griddler by Cuisinart enough.  This new kitchen tool in my kitchen is fast becoming my favorite, don't tell the Cuisinart food processor or the Kitchen aid mixer they have been so dear to me for so much longer than this new love!

Veggie Kabobs
chunk cut veggies in the quantity suitable for your family (broccoli, par-boiled potatoes, peppers, onions, summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli etc.)
1 package of chicken sausage cut in slices
butter or margarine melted (I used about 1/4c for 5c of veggies)
brown or Dijon mustard (I used a about 3T for 5c of veggies)

Pre-cook the potatoes.  If you are using wooden skewers soak them for about 10 minutes so they don't burn.  Cut up your vegetables and sausage while the potatoes cook.  Melt butter or margarine in a pan, add mustard and seasonings to your taste.  Mix veggies, chicken and potatoes in a large bowl.  Cover with mustard sauce.  Put on skewers.  Use the griddler pannini style with the grill greats and cook for about 3 minutes.  Flip the skewers on the side and cook another 3 minutes.  Serve with a big salad.  Everyone loved this!  To make it more fun you could let everyone skewer their own with their preferences.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This weeks Menu

We've been eating well here and I thought I would post some new menu ideas.

B-carrot muffins, scrambles eggs and blueberry, spinach smoothies
L-minestrone soup, vegetables w/hummus
D-Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans
B-blueberry oatmeal
L-chicken noodle soup and buttered bread
D-black bean salad and ww pita bread
B-cereal, rice milk & oj
D-orange chicken, fried rice and salad
B-honey quinoa
L-egg sandwiches
D-pan fish, potatoes & mixed veggies
B-blueberry muffins, eggs & oj
L-pbj & cut up veggies
D-venison burgers & salad
B-banana oatmeal
L-tuna filled pitas and veggies
B-pancakes with pb and apple butter, oj
L-bean & rice burritos
D-teriyaki chicken legs,  roasted sweet po's, salad