Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cleaning and Organizing

Every few months I have to pull apart my cupboards and reorganize them.  After so many trips to wholesale clubs and grocery stores, the bags, boxes and cans getting shoved into storage, I reach a point where I don't know what items I have anymore.

When I take the time to get them organized, I can tell just what I have, what is about to expire and what I need to stock up on. So my food pantry went from this:

to this...

Next was my baking cupboard.  I had really let this one get messy and it needed the overhaul badly.  So it went from this:

to this

I think, as women, cleaning out the 'cupboards' of our hearts regularly is important for the same reasons. We need to clean out old feelings or worries that are lurking around in there. We need to salvage and nurture the little hopes of our hearts that are in danger of "expiring".

We need to make the time for these things and know that they are worthwhile endeavors that will yield us great rewards.  My kitchen is in better shape now and ready for me to use and it didn't take me very long because I do it regularly. About every two months I clear one shelf at a time and wipe it down with vinegar and replace each item in the best way possible. 

When I "clean out my heart" I begin by getting alone with the Lord and reading my bible and praying. The holy Spirit knows what is burdening me and makes intercession for me to my father in heaven.  We can ask the Lord to show us any hidden areas we may not be aware of that need healing or repentance.  Time alone with the Lord is cleaning out the closets of our hearts and it doesn't take much time when we do it regularly.   :)


I want my home to be a place of sweetness and delight and thankfully, most days it is.  But the longer I am a mother the more acutely I'm aware I am that this depends heavily upon me!  Sometimes I forget this.  Sometimes it feels "unfair" and a burden to be the one who has to have it all together. Because there are some day when I not only don't 'have it all together' but feel I'm coming apart at the seams! :) This, I think, can drive many moms into the impossible delusionary land of "doing it all" or at least making it appear so.   

But the Lord knows we are fragile and human with a great need of divine help. We simply cannot do this on our own. I can't count how many times I have been on my knees in prayer with such burdens on my heart that all I could mutter to the Lord were feebles squeals of "help!".  Good thing that God has an interpreter!

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

It's so important to remember that our facsinating job to make our homes a place of sweetness and joy is a privilege rather than an obligation. When I think of it this way, I see it more as a "power".  God has given me major influence!  No matter what is on "the menu" each day, I have the power to put the sugar bowl on the table! :)  I have been given the amazing power of sprinkling my family with sweetness and joy.

So you would think that knowing this, grumpiness would never sneak up on us! I wish it were so! :)  But the truth is, it's just all too easy to forget where our source of joy comes from.  We can give and give and give and if we never take the time to drink from the well of Life (the Lord Jesus and his word), we'll feel empty and pressured and our attitudes will suffer. And when mama's attitude suffers, the whole house suffers!

Praise God that he has given us the simple act of prayer and calling on his name when we are in need!  We don't have to find a quiet place to run to. We can call to him from our hearts wherever we are - while we're driving, doing the dishes or even in the middle of a conversation that isn't going so well! :)

I'm not a "perfect mama" but I am being perfected by the Master himself, Jesus Christ. He's my Saviour!  Is he yours?

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Today's Happenings

Today on a last minute decision my oldest son went with my husband to work to help him put in some base molding for a client. He's such a big help and learning so much about the trade of carpentry.

So it's just me and my younger son today and I think instead of our normal school day, we'll spend the day catching up on some different things.  Like preparing for "World's Fair" coming up this Saturday.  That's where families in our homeschool do a presentation table on a country of their choice and also bring a dish from that country to share. 

I think I'll also use our time together to focus on a few areas with my younger son that have been needing some one on one attention like spelling, penmanship, sentence structure, etc.  My children are such joy to spend time with. They also enjoy these "just you and me" days around our house. I'm thankful for every day I get to spend with them for they will be grown and gone before too long. :)

My younger son is my little 'mountain man' and language studies and writing just don't come naturally to him.  But he does really well when I sit with him and patiently show him how to do it right. I think he just needs a bit more 'hand holding' in general when it comes to written work than his big brother did. 

It makes me sad to think of all the children with similar struggles in public school. They don't have their mom to patiently teach them at home. The differences between public schooled children versus homeschooled children reminds me of the differences between test-tube babies and babies who grow in the womb.

I thank God that we are free in this country to educate our own children at home!  (Please pray for that right to continue and support!)

Let's see what else...oh, I also plan to overhaul my kitchen pantry today because it's bulging at the seams! Time to get those boxes and canned goods in order! :) 

Then later this afternoon, we'll make a trip to Sprouts farmer's market for some Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar. Today's the day to go because the weekly sales overlap on Wednesdays. I always forget to go on a weds, but today I remembered! :)  

And then dinner tonight will be roasted chicken and vegetables with rice pilaf. I always add turmeric to my rice. It gives it a beautiful color plus turmeric it's a super-herb! I love turmeric. :)

Well there is a snippet of what's going on at my house today.  I hope you all have a blessed day in the Lord today.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High.  - Psalms 92:1 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homeschool Decisions and Directions

Yesterday was a nice day. I got my 30 minute walk on the treadmill and then we got together with our local homeschool group for our monthly Presentation Day.  This is a day where the kids have a chance to speak in front of a group of their peers and parents. They each get about 5 minutes to present a report, show a special item, give a speech, sing a song - whatever they'd like to do.

Of course we parents are always guiding their choices and there are monthly themes as well.  We usually like to stick with the themes, but have sometimes varied from them. Sometimes the little ones will just sing their abc's.  It's fun and a great way for the kids to learn public speaking.

Afterward we have lunch at a nearby park or fast food restaurant and the children play and the moms chat.  My boys are too old to play on the playground equipment anymore and there just aren't enough kids their ages for them to have any real fellowship with during that time so I am praying for direction. 

I don't want to join a co-op but I do want to find some avenue for them to flourish and grow and have some friendships with others.

On another note, I decided I'm going to add in unit studies to our homeschooling.  Since they've been doing more curriculum this past year, I just plain miss the interaction with my kids.  So we'll just pick a topic and do something with it for a half hour a day or so along side the other stuff.   It will be the highlight of our day, I'm sure.

I am also really struggling with the whole college prep thing.  We are not set up to finance college educations at this point and on top of that, neither of them have a burning desire for higher education.   One wants to be a mechanic and has since he was a preschooler, and the other wants to work in the field of art and has since he could pick up a crayon.

Last night, for the first time, I saw my youngest come in from the garage looking like a mechanic. His hands were black, he smelled of auto grease and his eyes were beaming. :)  He is taking a greater interest in the little engine we got him a year ago and decided to take it completely apart. He found out that he left some parts out so he said he'll have to go back and undo a little so he could put the missing parts in. I just stood amazed.  Here I was beholding my 13 yr. old - a man in the making, with a lump of motherly pride in my throat.  :)

My other son, 15, spends the majority of his free time writing novels (he's written almost a dozen now) practicing the piano (and composing movie soundtracks and delightful melodies) and drawing.  He dreams of being a graphic artist and possibly getting novels published on the side. His creations are beautiful and publishable. With a little polish and professional instruction, perhaps a vocational school, the sky is the limit to what he can accomplish.

We decided that if we should we seek higher education for them, we will use distance learning. The college environment, as with the public schools, is not conducive to learning and is a very ungodly mess of partying and atheism that we have chosen to avoid. 

So I have a lot to pray about. I know the Lord will give us direction in these matters as we seek him earnestly.  It is such a privilege to raise children but at the same time such a mind boggling responsibility. :) 

I praise God though, for he is guiding us every step of the way whether we know it or not.

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (Psalms 25:9)

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.(Psalms 32:8)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Studying Your Bible

Do you enjoy studying your bible or do you find it a bit intimidating?  If your answer was the latter, then you are probably missing some simple truths and useful tools.  :) 

The Normal Grammatical Approach

In most cases when we say, "It is difficult to understand" what we mean is, "It is difficult to believe".  But we are not left to our own imagination to determine meaning.

When Isaiah or Zechariah have already employed identical terminology, with an interpretation by themselves or another prophet, we need search no further.  It sometimes takes a little thumb work (turning the pages of a Bible or concordance), but the "Scripture with Scripture" method is superior to all "scholarship" in understanding Scripture. The layman need not be intimidated.

With a complete concordance and a King James Bible, you are on the road to a great blessing. The modern commercial translations have destroyed the cross references through text alterations. Stick with the book of superior scholarship, not one hastily conceived under a profit motive. :)

Who's Faith?

"...thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith..."(Revelation 2:13)
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith a mind darkened with sin cannot truly understand the Scriptures.

Many Christians refer to their faith as though it, in an of itself, were something great. They are misguided.  Notice in the Scripture above that God did not say, "you have not denied your faith" -- He said you have "not denied my faith". 

"My faith" is God's faith. Never look to your own faith as if it were an arm holding on to God. Your faith, at best, is weak.  God's faith is as full as the work of Christ, as big as redemption, and as high as the throne where Christ now intercedes on your behalf (and mine!).

In your weak faith, don't deny "HIS" faith.  It is the very weakness of our faith that makes us cling to "HIS" faith.  You will be blessed and encouragaged as you read HIS Scriptures with HIS faith.

Symbolic Language

Don't read symbolism into Scripture where none exists. When Scripture says "a day" it literally means "a day". There are many doctrines which seek to complicate, allegorize and symbolize Scripture. They do this apart from faith and apart from the Holy Spirit. This is a decieving practice and one that leads others away from the truth.

The people of Christ's day had a problem with the prophecy of Messiah coming into Jerusalem on a donkey. And while they searched for the deep spiritual significance of the passage, Jesus rode past them on a donkey.

Ever wonder about the deeper truths of the Revelation prophecy of Christ returning to earth on a white horse? Well don't dig too deep or you might destroy the hoof prints. :-)

I am studying the book of Revelations and it is a very literal book. Only those ignorant of Old Testament prophecy and its fulfillment stumble over its meaning.  But the prophecies in Revelation are as literal as are the prophecies of Exodus.  The Gospel of John has more symbolism than does Revelation.

So remember, with a concordance and a King James Bible (the Treasury of Scripture knowledge helps, too) you have all you need to study your bible. 

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Did you know that the Bible has its own built in dictionary? For example, to understand the meaning of a word in the Scripture, simply look up every instance in Scripture where that word appears. You will gain a comprehensive view of that word's usage and thereby be enlightened to its Scriptural meaning. It is that simple. 

Hiding God's word in our heart is something that no one can take away from us.  :)  It is useful to find a place in your home where you can leave your Bible opened up to read a few verses and meditate on them throughout the day. 

What food is to the body , reading is to the mind.  When something is read, it's literally "food for thought". It is needful to meditate on what we read in God's Word.  That is like chewing and swallowing.  And as you read, the Bible says we become "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine". 

So go get your King James Bible out and feed your mind and spirit with it. :)

Comic Relief

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.  Proverbs 15:13

It is good to laugh. The bible teaches us that laughter and merriment is health to our bones. Research shows it lowers blood pressure and raise immunity.

Jesus was annointed with the oil of joy. When you think of Jesus do you think of the somber, stern and unapproachable man that movies typically portray him as? That is not the way he was according to Psalms 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9. 

Did you know that it takes more facial muscles to frown than smile.  It's been said that God is responsible for the face you are born with but you are responsible for your face when you get old.  The old saying "Do you want your face to freeze like that?" is actually true.  It just takes lots of repitition and time.  So practice smiling.  :) 

Take a moment and laugh at this hilarious clip from Christian comedian Tim Hawkins as he pokes fun at homeschooling. (He and his wife homeschool their four children.)


Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Fruits of the Spirit

We have all had feelings to deal with that we haven't wanted to experience. It could be sorrow, depression, lonesomeness, worry, or anger.

When these unwelcome feelings seem to bombard our hearts, we know they are contrary to the peace, joy, contentment, and comfort that comes from Jesus Christ. These sound a lot like the fruit of the Spirit.

Below is a unique wall hanging we received for a wedding gift many years ago. It has the fruits of the spirit burned into small pieces of wood and attached lengthwise on a strip of burlap.  I cherish it and keep it near our front door as a reminder to walk in the spirit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)

We want the fruit of the Spirit to pervade our feelings. But when we are experiencing the opposite, how is that supposed to happen? 

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:16-17).

Our desire is to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. So how do we take this step? By praying and asking for prayer support.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

The first part of the verse is key – “Be careful for nothing”.  This word careful does not carry the modern meaning we tend to associate it with today.  Today we use the word more in terms of "be careful not to fall!". But in Scripture, the word means to literally be “full of cares” as in worries and anxieties. And that fulness leaves little room for much else.

Being anxious, worried, sad, or upset about anything signifies a concentration on negative feelings, rather than praying and making our requests known to God with full assurance that he will not only hear but act in our best interest. From which point our joy and peace can quickly return.

Not only should we pray ourselves, but ask others to pray for us as well.

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

Admitting our weaknesses and asking for prayer is a humbling act.

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 4:6).

Our need for more of God's grace is never ending. For He is shown to be strong in our weakness.

It’s very important not to forget to pray with thanksgiving. The immense power of God is availed through gratitude.

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Something amazing happens when we are being thankful.  Anger, depression, sadness and anxiety seem to fade away the same way that darkness simply vanishes when you turn on a light.

Psalms 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Light is movement and energy. You've heard of the "speed of light" but do you know what the speed of dark is?  Zero.  Dark has no speed, no movement. It is like death.  So keep your light on!

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Throughout the day, thank the Lord for things you have never thanked him for before. Sitting here typing this, I am thankful for the peaceful sounds outside my window and soft morning breezes wafting in.

I’m thankful for my mental faculties and the many creative avenues open to me for creative expression. I’m thankful for the food in my cupboards, the water in my faucet, the many bibles in my home and the gas in my car to take me places.

You get the idea.  Thank the Lord for 5 things today which you have never thanked him before. 

And what to do with your worries? Take them to the Lord in thanksgiving.  This is "turning on the light". And you know what happens to darkness when the light comes on? It has no choice but to vanish

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) 

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Crumpled Homeschoolers

Can I just say (and I guess I can since this is my blog) that just because a family homeschools, doesn't mean we should walk around like we just got out of bed. 

My family has lived and homeschooled in 3 different states and in each one we've been involved in homeschool groups with families who consistently arrived late with tousled, uncombed hair and crumpled clothing. The mother sports an unkempt appearance and foggy look in her eyes and her children usually wear a harried, stressed look. 

I am very sympathetic to the many things in a woman's busy home life that can deter her best attempts at ordering her home and children, but it's important to make a good appearance in public.  It is worth all a mom's effort to help her kids look their best when out in public. 

Teaching our children routine and order will help them to be prepared and equipped for adulthood and greater responsibilities. 

When a mother doesn't teach her children to take pride in their appearance, what effect it will that have on their future? 

There's no excuse for taking the privilege of homeschooling so for granted. We should always strive to make our appearance in public representative of all that we stand for in Christ Jesus. And teaching our children to take care of their appearance is an important part of homeschooling. 

The fact that we, as homeschooling families, don't send our kids off to school each morning, should not give us license to "let ourselves (or our children) go".  Neatness is a virtue that  carries far reaching rewards for ourselves and our children.

A 9 year old girl with stringy, bed-head hair and mismatched, wrinkled clothing will find it a very difficult and foreign discipline to keep herself well groomed when she reaches adulthood ; much to the detriment and displeasure of her future husband.

In 1 Peter 3, Paul gives instruction for a woman's appearance.  But I really believe that he is instructing that her heart should not be set on this alone. He doesn't say that she should wholly neglect her personal appearance (and by extension her children), for she has no more right to be offensive to her husband by neglecting her personal appearance, than to have a finical attention to it. 

In the Bible there are many Scriptures and stories showing the importance of order, neatness and cleanliness which includes our external appearance according to our circumstances in life.  It is as pertinent to the fastidiousness of the character as it is to the internal virtue of the soul.

We can also see cleanliness and order upheld and displayed in God's world, and by contrast, uncleanness and disorder with it's accompanying disease, chaos and odor, is condemned and punished.

If we teach our children the Bible and the three R's but fail to teach them how to iron a shirt, comb their hair and properly care for their hygienic needs, then we have failed them.

We need to revel in the freedom and richness of time  that many only dream of having.  We can take 15 minutes each morning to teach our children the rewards and joys of cleanliness, neatness and structure. 

It's a good idea to give each child their own grooming supplies to keep in a personal basket or container marked with their name.  Depending on their ages these supplies would include combs, brushes, nail trimmers, deodorant and cologne.  As they get older you might add facial cleansers and toners, nail polish, shaving supplies and lathers, tweezers, etc. 

They will feel a personal joy in using them when they have ownership of their own kits.  Teach them to take the time each morning for personal grooming.  My children know that at a minimum, they are to brush their teeth, wash their faces, comb their hair and wear clean clothes (preferably color coordinating) each morning. 

I would like to see all homeschoolers everywhere take pride and care in their appearance, especially when out in public, because whether we know it or not, we are shining ambassadors to the lost for what we are standing for.  This has nothing to do with finances.  It's not the fanciness of the clothes we wear but the cleanliness.  We can all afford to wash and iron our clothing and clean and groom our bodies.

Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.  - Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Our Homeschool Schedule

Now that my kids are in older (one in 8th grade, one in 10th), their work load has increased and I have made a new schedule to help us accomplish it all in a decently short amount of time each day. 

So here is what we're doing:

8:00 - 8:25      Personal KJV Bible Study
                                ("Why the King James Bible is the Perfect Word of God".)
8:25 - 9:10      Alpha Omega Language Arts
9:10 - 9:55      Saxon Math
9:55 - 10:15    Break
10:15 - 11:00  Alpha Omeaga History
11:00 - 11:45  Wordly Wise

11:45 - 12:30   Lunch Break

12:30 - 1:15    Apologia Science
 1:15 - 1:40     Piano Practice
 1:40  - 1:55    Rosetta Stone French
 1:55 - 2:00     Mavis Beacon Typing

Our new schedule is working out really well and my kids are learning to do their schoolwork on their own which is important for homeschoolers.  If you have a homeschool schedule that is working for you, please share. :) 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Scrumptious Smothered Chicken

I've read a lot of recipes for smothered chicken but none of them quite measured up to the luscious dish I had envisioned in my mind: succulent pieces of chicken swimming in a creamy wine sauce with whole crimini mushrooms floating around lending their delicious flavor to the sauce.

Recently, I made this imaginary dish for real and it turned out scrumptious. I cooked it on the stove top, but I would like to try making it in the crockpot so it could feed a larger crowd.
Here's the recipe:

Creamy Smothered Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced
chicken herb seasoning
cooking oil
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1/2 to 1 cup white wine or cooking sherry
2 TBS cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp capers
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 green onions, sliced small
8 crimini mushrooms, cleaned
Hot noodles

Heat a large skillet over med high for a minute. Add oil. Then add chicken and brown for 3-4 minutes on both sides. Sprinkle with chicken herb seasoning. Add a little water and add mushrooms.  Cover and let mushrooms steam and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, start a pot of boiling water and cook the noodles till done.

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, milk, wine, cornstarch, salt and pepper. (Go easy on the salt if using cooking sherry as it already has sodium in it.) After well blended, stir in capers and pour over chicken in skillet. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Serve over hot noodles with garlic bread a green salad on the side.

This was super delicious and tasted like a restaurant gourmet meal. My family raved about this dish and asked me to make it again.  Enjoy!

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