Monday, December 30, 2013

Dreaming of Land

Lately I have been savoring the idea of downsizing. The thought of living more simply and with less stuff is, to me at least, intoxicating. 

When I compare our house with what I see at garage sales or organizing tv shows, we don't have nearly as much stuff as the average American. But we probably have more than we actually need and could do with some paring down.  
I don't know if I want to have a garage sale or just donate it all to the local thrift shops. But the pile of stuff in our basement that we don't want/need anymore seems to grow larger all the time. 

We are also excited about the upcoming prospect of moving! My husband's work contract in the next couple of months is supposed to pay quite well which might give us the opportunity to put a down payment on a new home or some land. (*giddy dance*)

Just the thought of owning our own home again with some decent land is SO exciting. The last 6 years, we've lived in homes with basically unusable outdoor space. And now that we are living in an area with such a lovely climate, we are all so anxious to get experience the full enjoyment of it with some land or a big back yard with a deck.  We can't wait to enjoy a backyard again!

Reminds me of the wonderful old Bing Crosby song, Don't Fence Me In.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evening' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever, but I ask you please
Don't fence me in

I'm so excited that I'm going to be a little ridiculous and a wee bit over-optimistic and begin looking at building plans for houses! ha. I want to be able to whip out my favorite floor plans if my husband presents me with the task of choosing a plan on the spur of the moment. Our lease on the house we're renting is up on May 1st 2014 and if buying a house actually comes to fruition, I don't want to have to decide something as monumental as what kind of house to build under any kind of pressure. :)

That's it for me today. Can you believe we are only two days away from 2014? Wishing you all a happy New Year and a blessed day today!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Is There Room in Your Heart for Hospitality?

I just want to encourage you that even if you are not a confident hostess (I am not either!) you can still open your home to guests and make them feel welcome and wanted. 

Our homes don't have to be perfect — just clean and open. Inviting friends to come and "sup" with you and enjoy fellowship together is part of the mission of homekeeping. It's part of the delight, too. 

Hospitality begins in the heart. Neglecting the opportunity to welcome guests into your home actually does your husband and children a disservice.  The children especially. Kids need to see hospitality in action so they will be able to replicate it in their own homes and hearts someday. There are far too many families who hole up and never invite people over. They do not feel their homes are worthy. And that might be true. If they've arranged their home only for themselves, then it's no wonder they don't invite others over. 

If that is true for you, you can change that if you want to. Every homemaker can create an inviting and comfortable space in her home for hospitality.  Start viewing your home through eternal lenses. Begin to ask God to give you new eyes for your home. 

Last week we invited 5 families (3 large, 2 small - 31 people total) to come to our house for dinner and games. Only two families could make it, but counting our family, we still had 19 people here! 
And it was a lot of fun. We had a nacho bar and divided the games into three groups: Parents, kids 12 and up and kids 11 and under.  The adults played Pictionary, Taboo and Catchphrase and I gotta tell you - it was a hoot! You don't know what you're missing if you don't have a game night at your own house.

We utilized every inch of living space we had - the kitchen for the 12 and ups, the living room for the parents and the family room for the younger kids.  Heartwarming noise and laughter filled our home.  Did you know that if you fill your house with people,  you can turn the thermostat down? :) Body heat creates some serious warmth. I usually have to crack a window open even if it's freezing outside. But then I get warm easily so maybe it's just me! I usually ask people how if they're too warm to gauge how much window to open. :-)

The memories we make today will warm us in years to come. And there is nothing like the memories we make in our own homes. It is different somehow than those memories we make at other people's homes or even other events we partake in. Hospitality is really special.

It is also WORK! ha. But it's fun work. My husband contributed a lot this time and even vacuumed part of the house and made the stuffed jalepeno poppers! What a wonderful man I have. I'm truly blessed to call him mine!

I am not one to shove junk away so my guests can sit down. There's nothing like having company to inspire me to get things tidied and in order. I even tidied up our unfinished basement - just in case my husband got a wild hair and wanted to show the men his tools and toys down there.

I am also an introvert, so I tend to feel a sense of dread on party day. Will the food turn out all right? Will it taste good? Will I think of enough interesting things to say? Will I be able to keep the conversation flowing? Will anyone notice that I am a little nervous?! 

If that sounds like you, then I have good news: the more practice you get, the better you do. I much prefer hosting parties for families than just ladies, but I've noticed a little improvement there, too. 

I think a lot of people often think they don't have enough, aren't good enough or fun enough or know enough, etc. 

But the truth of the matter is, when it comes to opening our homes, it is not the lack of enough that usually keeps us from hospitality. It is the fact that we have TOO much. "Too much?" you say? Yes, too much. 

Too much clutter, too much chaos, too much strife, too much pride, too much attitude, too much overwhelm, too much junk, and too much stuff - everywhere. Where can you put extra people when your house is full to the brim with too much stuff?

If your home matches that description and you wish you could entertain but feel prevented by all your stuff, imagine your home empty and stripped of all the furnishings and stuff —everywhere. 

Now visually just put back some sofas, tables and chairs. Now is there room? Even in the smallest and humblest of homes, there is room for a few guests if you don't have it loaded down in every crevice with the canker of clutter. 

One of the reasons model homes are so alluring is their simplicity in furnishings. Every basic need seems to be represented and with room to spare. Places to sit, do office work, play, cook, read and sleep! The furnishings and the space are a bit of a marvel and many of us feel compelled to just move right in. It feels like a breath of fresh air to be in a room that is actually "roomy".

If your home is loaded down and feeling too full, too dated, too old and crusty, why not change your furnishings? They aren't glued down after all. Gradually start swapping out the things you think need to go. Swap what isn't working for newer or pieces that are better scaled to the space you have. Donate, sell or trash furniture that isn't right for your space, and buy new pieces that suit you better. If money is tight, start searching craigslist for second hand items. 

Ideally, you need furnishings that you can live with AND entertain with. We want our homes to be comfortable for us but we also want them to be useful for ministering and hospitality, too.

In "real life" we all seem to have no qualms about bringing things in. We're always bringing things home from shopping and errands.  But we loathe taking things OUT. This is true for all of us. I know we see weird minimalists in magazines or tv, but really most of us can't live that way. 

So what do we do? Learn how to live within our means. This requires much of the homemaker. She must take the time to gather all that is cluttering her home, evaluate each item and release things from her home as needed.  Even if they are "worthy".  If it's not being used or loved then it's just taking up space. Just keep reminding yourself it's just stuff. 

It's just stuff.

Live with what is truly valuable or used, and learn to regularly let go of what is just extra and unused/uncherished/unneeded STUFF.

It's so worth it. The new year is a good time for decluttering because most of us have already put our holiday decorations away and that can lead to more organizing. It's the perfect opportunity to rid your home of the decor you didn't use this season, plus chuck the outgrown clothes, the broken appliances, the old magazines, and all the other JUNK that for some crazy reason is still hanging around the house.

Get it out and bring some people in! It is a worthy exchange you won't regret.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Latest Happenings Around Our Home

Things have been busy around our house these days. The holidays always add extras that take up more time but are fun nonetheless.

Last month, just days before Thanksgiving, our 14yo came down ill with the flu. Soon after our 17yo became ill, followed by yours truly.  Unfortunately, for our family the day of Thanksgiving was a blur. Our boys recovered fairly quickly but I was bed ridden for days.  

But the following Sunday, the last day of what was supposed to be four glorious days off together as a family, we had our little Thanksgiving. A golden roasted (organic!) turkey with all of our favorite trimmings - dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and homemade cranberry sauce with apple pie for dessert!  This was the first time anyone in our family has been sick on a holiday so it was quite the bummer.  I'm just thankful we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving at all this year.

December arrived in a hurry for us. We were blessed to kick off the holiday season with three Christmas shows in the first week! Two were at the Performing Arts Center (Drums Around the World and The Nutcracker) and one at a nearby church featuring a Philharmonic Orchestra playing the Sounds of the Season. 

This was the first time anyone in our family has ever seen The Nutcracker ballet so that was a real treat. Best of all it was free! Our homeschool group had been invited to fill the seats of two other school groups who had to cancel their attendance at the last minute. It was for a matinee performance and we jumped at the opportunity! My husband rearranged his work schedule so that we could all go together. I am SO thankful that his work can be flexible like that. Not always, but most of the time. He's gotten to go with us on so many occasions, it's been quite delightful.

In other news, our 17 yo son started up another drawing class last month, this time charging a small fee.  It has been a good learning experience for him to manage, even if he doesn't know it yet.  Because, you know... 17 year olds already know pretty much all there is to know. :) And it always comes as a bit of shock when sometimes they find they don't know quite as much as they thought they did. But he's doing a great job teaching the other kids (all homeschoolers) and enjoying the process.



Today we drove out to the country and picked up our order of 150 lbs of local grass fed beef and lamb from the butcher.  A friend of ours had found a rancher who sold his grass fed and finished Black Angus and Lamb and ordered a quarter side of his beef a couple years ago and it was very good.  So last October (the best time to order) we called in another order. It feels great to have a full freezer of healthy meat to feed my family.  Which reminds me, I better go get some to start thawing in the fridge for tomorrow night's dinner! :)

Well that's it for me today, just a little update to what I've been up to.  I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season so far. 

In my next post I will share about the new curriculum I ordered this month. I'm so excited about it! 

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Homemade "Jell-O"

Since my sons have been under the weather the last few days, taking care of them, my husband, the house, our pet, their chores, the meals, the extra disinfecting, and homemade remedies has kept me been busier than a gopher on a golf course. :-)  

My youngest has always liked jello, especially when he's sick. But since I don't like all the added ingredients in the commercial brands, I make it myself and thought I'd share how to do it. 
You will need: 

1 heat proof container (I use an 8x8 baking dish)
small containers (optional - for individual servings)
2 packets Knox Gelatin
1 container frozen juice concentrate (black cherry is good)


Combine juice concentrate + two cans of water in saucepan. 
Pour out one cup of juice mixture; reserve.
Heat to boiling. 

Pour juice into baking dish and sprinkle 2 packets gelatin over top. 
Stir till dissolved.


Pour in the reserved cold juice and stir till combined. 


Pour gelatin mixture into individual containers OR leave in original container. 
Refrigerate 3 hours or till firm.

I didn't quite have enough small containers so the extra went into a regular pyrex storage container. 

Making homemade "Jell-O" is super easy and the best part is you know exactly what is in it! It makes a nice treat for kids when they're sick without all the sugar and dyes in store bought varieties.


Enjoy!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Mother's Priorities - Natural Remedies

It's that time of year! Autumn is my favorite season, but it does seem to usher in colds and flu. In my opinion, natural remedies should be on every mother's list of priorities.

My boys came down with flu symptoms yesterday and I have been using my arsenal of herbs and remedies and they are already showing signs of healing. I found myself reflecting on how far I've come in my 25 years as a mother and thought I would share a bit of what I've learned with you.

When I was a young mother, any fever was considered bad and children's tylenol was the answer. But now, I don't panic at fevers below 102° because I know their immune response is working.

When I was a young mother, sickness usually meant calls or visits to the doctor, accompanied by a trip to the pharmacy for ill advised, gut-destroying antibiotics or other "medicine".

Now, we only use acetaminophen as a last resort when pain or fever have not responded to natural treatments. But I honestly can't remember the last time we needed more than one dose during an illness. Interestingly enough, experts now have serious concerns about the use and overuse of Tylenol due to its liver damaging effects. And Ibuprofen is now deemed controversial enough that some experts say that if it had been invented today, it would only be available by prescription! Yikes.

My conclusion is that these are two OTC meds that are best left for emergencies or when all else has failed.  We keep them on hand just for that purpose but it is so rare that we use them that I end up throwing away expired bottles that are still mostly full.

As my kids grew so did my mothering instincts and I became fascinated with herbs. They are God's medicine garden. To my delight I've found herbs and home remedies to be mostly inexpensive, readily available and remarkably effective!

I've grown confident in using herbs  based on my experiences. I'm solidly convinced of their healing capabilities. I'm always so sad for people who disregard their use, or even just natural remedies in general. They seem to relegate them to the same category as old wives tales. They would rather see doctors and take pharmaceutical drugs that only mask symptoms, when in reality, they are exchanging a temporary comfort for possible/probable long term harm. Then when abnormal diseases develop, they do not seem to connect the dots with the drugs. So sad!

Here's what I do and it shortens the duration of colds and flu dramatically - sometimes down to a couple of days! And the best part? They strengthen the body and have no harmful side effects.

I always keep some bulbs of Garlic around. It is one of THE most potent herbs. Researching it's benefits and uses is time well spent. It can be used in so many ways, but I like to make poultices with it to get its healing properties absorbing into their systems without risking tummy upset.

I always make a batch of elderberry syrup (ingredients can be found online or at a local Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers) and administer a 1-2 tablespoons every hour or two.

For nourishment, I often make a big pot of homemade chicken soup made using a whole fresh chicken (cut up), garlic, purified water, vinegar, egg shells, celery, carrots, onion and parsley. It is easily digestible and full of minerals and nutrients that nourish the cells for wellness.

I keep their fluids going with herbal teas, purified water and a little orange juice. And the second day, I usually wash their bed linens and put on fresh ones thinking that maybe if I wash away the germs they slept with overnight, they'll be less likely to get 'reinfected'. 

I turn on an air purifier with ultra violet light that kills bacteria in the air. And keep their bedroom window open as much as possible.

And depending on what I have on hand, I give them vitamin C and D, encapsulated herbs like fenugreek, ginger, echinacea, cat's claw, cayenne and slippery elm (cures both diarrhea AND constipation - amazing!). I make teas (infusions) with chamolile, peppermint, ginger, pau d'arco and others.

Another good thing to do for almost any ailment is to sit in the sunshine (weather permitting) for at least 10 minutes at some point in the day. Sunshine and fresh air have a wonderful healing affect on the body. I've sat on our porch in the sun when I've felt odd, a bit dizzy or just feeling under the weather and within the hour I feel "right" again. Sunshine is our friend - so long as you don't get too much at the wrong time of day. :)

I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse of my go-to treatments. I like them because they work very well and aren't too complicated to make and administer.  But don't take my word for it. Study them for yourself and how to use them.

May God bless your day!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Mother's Priorities - A Healthy Home

Each year I look forward to the arrival of Autumn. The smoky rooftops, twilight skies, falling leaves and crisp cool air are irresistible! I try to bring the beauty indoors and decorate my house and front porch with pumpkins, leaves and shades of orange and gold. 

But then comes the inevitable and I breathe a sad, frustrated sigh as I'm faced with reminders of Halloween competing for attention during the beautiful month of October.  One nice surprise this year has been the lack of any halloween displays in our local Costco.  Makes me wonder if maybe that store is managed by a Christian?

So what does all this have to do with a healthy home? Well, for me, autumn signals the time to start closing up the house and bracing ourselves for chilly weather and eventually winter.  We all want our homes to be as clean and healthy as possible, and one of the most neglected aspects of good housekeeping today is fresh indoor air. 

There are several different ways we can increase the quality of air in our homes. And as homeschoolers, we are home quite a bit so this is becomes a really important area for us to put some effort into. 

Floors
Vacuuming at least twice a week will keep dust and dander in check. Change the bag and filters promptly when they're full and don't forget to dust walls, ledges, upholstered furniture and carpet edges when needed.

I like to mop using plain water with a splash of vinegar. Microfiber mops and dust cloths don't require any cleaning solutions at all and capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers. 

Putting a large throw rug at the entry points of your home will help keep chemicals and dirt from getting tracked into the house. 

And it goes without saying that every home should be a no smoking zone. 

Radon
Get your Radon levels checked.  Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that significantly raises the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today, so it is worth getting a test done.  

Fragrances
If you use plug in air fresheners, you should know that a recent study found 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOC's) in chemical air "fresheners", seven of which are labeled as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws. Amazingly enough, current laws do not require this disclosure - only the word "fragrance".  How horrible!

I find that the best scent a house can have is fresh air. A house that smells musty is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, dust mites, accumulated gasses, chemicals and phthalates. Studies show that phthalates disrupts hormones in animals. I wonder what they're doing for people!  Some things we can all do: 


  • Let in fresh air. Every morning, even throughout the cold months, we like to open the front and back doors for a few minutes and let the air "blow through" the house. The windier it is outside the better this works. It really doesn't take long to warm up the air for the remainder of the day. 
  • avoid chemical laden cleaners and laundry products
  • use lemon slices, baking soda and vinegar to achieve a clean scent in your kitchen. 
  • Put houseplants in every room possible. The foliage and roots work in tandem to absorb chemical pollutants released by synthetic materials (wall to wall carpeting is the biggest offender there). Plants are living air purifiers, so fill your home with lots of them. 
  • Humidity levels in your home should be between 30% and 50%. Slightly opening a window when you cook, shower and run the dishwasher helps to vent out excess humidity.
  • Use an electric air purifier. They help keep dust levels down and many of them come with an ultra violet light that also kills germs as the air passes through.  

 And if you don't do any of the suggestions here, just having houseplants and opening the doors for a blow through in the mornings will go a long way in giving your home the fresh air that it needs.  

One last tip I can share: in our home, we sleep with the bedroom windows open every night. Wide open in nice weather and just an inch or so on cold nights. That might seem crazy, but this was a normal practice in days gone by. And it actually helps keep us healthy. We just set the thermostat to about 55 - 58° at bedtime (9 pm) and sleep with extra covers. We close bedroom doors so that the cooler air in the bedrooms doesn't reach the thermostat and signal it to come on. 

What are some ways that you keep your home healthy in the chilly months?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Homeschooling Insecurities


A reader shared:  

Even though what I'm doing with him isn't hard, (numbers, letters, shapes, etc...) I still can't seem to shake the feeling that I'm not qualified for this!  I'll get thoughts like, "What if I'm doing him a great disservice?!" or, "I'm not a good enough mom to be a homeschool mom!!!"  It didn't help that I took all my kids to Target today, and an older many stopped us and said, "You kids should be in school!"  Do you remember having thoughts like this when you started? How do you defend yourself to people who tell you  to send your kids to school?

I can only answer for myself. But I believe insecurities like this come mostly from preconditioning. Investigate where those doubts are originating. 

Just what does "a homeschool mom" look like?  Answers will vary because people vary in their ideals. I would describe the ideal homeschool mother as God fearing, kind, loving and industrious. She is a woman who adores her family and is committed to pouring her life into them the way the sun drenches a plat with life giving light. A homeschooling mother knows that "schooling" shouldn't interfere with education. Education happens constantly. Children are sponges and her goal is to be the sweetest drink they know.  

I always ask myself, which would I rather produce: walking encyclopedias or God fearing children of the Most High? I keep this scripture on the forefront of my mind:


For what shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Mark 8:36

Homeschooling, to me, is less about the accumulation of knowledge, and more about the accumulation of spiritual fruit. I put a lot of energy into pointing my kids to the Lord.

My confidence as a homeschooling mom is not based on whether I think I'm smart enough, good enough or ideal enough to homeschool my kids. It is based on stewardship. God gave me these children and holds me responsible for their outcome. Why would I hand them over to an institution for the majority of the day? Why would I want to miss out on a single aspect of the joy of bringing them up? Do you see? 

Homeschooling is mothering. It is parenting. It is natural. Planting this truth into my mind has caused an immune-like response to any doubts about what I'm doing. 

Origins of Maternal Insecurities

Did you know that, for centuries women have been having their babies at home, but during a good portion of the twentieth century, the medical industry duped mothers into thinking they weren't qualified to give birth on their own? As a result, women went to hospitals in droves (and still are) to have their babies based on their doctor's "authority".  And fathers (who were usually present during the birthing of their children) were exiled to the father's waiting room, separated from the miracle of witnessing their own child's birth. 

These same "experts" also purported the idea that breastfeeding was something only practiced by the uneducated and lower classes. It was considered old fashioned and a little disgusting for those who could not afford formula. Why then, in the 1960's did this idea begin to change and women were once again being encouraged to feed their babies naturally?

Think about it. Why do most experts currently (finally) believe that breast milk is the best possible feeding choice for babies?  

Because science finally caught up with the truth and the evidence is irrefutable.  Facts are stubborn things. Children nourished on breastmilk have superior immune responses, lower incidence of illness and higher intelligence in adolescence. These and many more facts have silenced the "experts". 


This illustrates my point about homeschooling. For centuries, a children were educated at home.  But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the "experts" told the public that the education of their children was best left to the professionals. After all, they know what they're doing! But you? Why you're just a mother. What do you know?  Our people have degrees!  And institutions, textbooks, chalkboards, globes, maps, playgrounds and supplies! What do you commoners have? 

Well...

In the 1970's, my parents decided that they were going to homeschool. They figured if missionaries could do it, they could do it too. They got their own textbooks, chalkboards, globes, maps, playground and supplies! And they did fine.

As the years went by, and homeschooling grew in popularity and became legal in all 50 states of America, the "experts" found out that all their claims of superiority were completely unfounded. Homeschoolers were smarter, more balanced and out scoring their institutionalized counterparts. 

Eventually the "experts" aimed their missiles at socialization - the one thing they figured that families could not manufacture, right?  For years they hollered, "Socialization!! Those homeschoolers aren't being socialized!! They have to be with hundreds of other children every day!"

Surprisingly, this made parents cower in uncertainty....for a while. Then they woke up. Have you SEEN the freaks emerging and graduating from public schools? And the gap is closing in private schools now. Homeschoolers are not only better socialized than institutionalized peers who were shut up all day with only kids their ages to contact, they are more mature, creative, contemplative and ready for independence and success.

Homeschoolers are equipped to socialize with anyone regardless of age, position, etc, because their daily environment is life. It's natural. They come in contact with grandparents, other families, and the community on a regular basis. We no longer cower at the shouts for "socialization" from educational institutions because we can plainly see their fruit: violent, irreverent, rebellious, God hating, disrespectful, murderous perverts. It's become rare to see anyone who does not turn out warped from a govt school.


So do you see that the primary reason for homeschooling is really  not educational?  It is biblical.  My children were given to me by God.  All public or private educational institutions represent giving up my children. 

Therefore it is not a question of whether I am the best teacher in the world, but that God chose me for my children. Therefore I am the best teacher suited for my children. No one loves them as much or  knows them better than I do.  That is what qualifies me as their best educational option. 


Anything that you don't know, you can learn and teach your children the same.  Teach them to learn! One of the biggest mistakes a homeschooling parent can make is trying to "teach" her children everything. 

Children have a natural capacity to learn and absorb information.  It is like putting a small child into shallow water. You do not have to teach them to delight in splashing, swishing around or playing. It's instinctual. 

Let me clarify: I'm not saying we should just "leave them to themselves" when it comes to learning. But rather that we guide and provide. As they watch me delighting in the water, they imitate me and experience the same delight. I am like a mirror. It's the same with learning. When they are young, learning is synonymous with playing.  

Teaching them numbers, letters, colors, etc is not work. It is fun. Be careful when they are young not to turn it into work. When it's not fun anymore, just stop for the day.  Or stop for a while and then  do some more later in the day.  But when they're little, learning is playing and playing is learning.

Teach them to read, provide them with the right materials and they will naturally learn. But always show your own delight. Delight is more contagious than the common cold. 


Now about confrontations.  You must throw out any double minded thinking and fear.  You are qualified to homeschool by the same person who qualified you to be a mother.  God. He opened your womb and blessed you with children. They are your fruit! 

Anyone brazen enough to actually say, "You kids should be in school!" I might smile and say, 

"Are you from Germany?"
"I've seen what the schools produce and that's why I homeschool."
"They are in school right now. We're learning all the time."

Or  I'd  simply shake my head and give him a visible look of "For shame. You must be one of the drones!" and keep walking. Now, if you are ever stuck standing in line with someone like that then starting arming yourself with information

Saturate yourself with the truth! Your insecurities will disappear. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn and What I've Been Up To




I am happy that fall is here. It is such a beautiful time of year with the cool breezes and the glorious autumn leaves on parade. I already broke out my fall decorations and candles!

Some of you might have noticed that I took the summer off from blogging.  :) It wasn't really intentional. Days turned into weeks and weeks to months. Blogging takes time and I wanted to give that time to my family over the summer. My posts may never keep up with the pace of other "pro mommy bloggers" but for me, I prefer blogging when time permits and I have something to say. 

Anyway...

Over the Spring and Summer my husband has been working a few hours away from home on and off for weeks at a time and that took some getting used to. It certainly altered our home routines. I missed him so very much when he was away.  Our whole family got to go with him a couple of times which was really great.  And our 17yo worked with him several times. It was a resort town in the mountains and really beautiful.  But now that job is all finished and I am hoping there won't be any more out of town jobs that come our way for a very long time. But either way, I am learning to be flexible and adapt.

My children are more and more becoming not children anymore, but men. They are 14 and 17 and taller than me now. All their lives as they inch closer and closer to manhood, our parenting has had to shift. I had to ease off my mothering instincts and allow my husband to take the prominent role in their lives. That started around the time they hit 7. In medieval times, once boys were 7yo they went to live with the men completely apart from their mothers. I am glad we don't live in those times because that would be heartbreaking. 

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband and father to our boys. They are learning how to be men by watching him. Something to remember ladies, is that the more you honor your husband and emphasize his strong points, the more he will develop those points. But it must be sincere. Pray that God works this into your heart. Whatever we focus on will enlarge. The more feminine we are, the more we defer to our husband's leading, his wishes, his direction, his wisdom, the more of a leader he will become. The more tender he will be with you. If you've been in the driver's seat or had your hand on the wheel for a while, I encourage you to repent and let go. Trust God to lead your husband. (I speak to ladies in healthy homes  -  NOT where abuse is present). 

This year we are taking a fresh new path with our homeschooling. One I have never wanted to do, but am doing for my boys. We joined a weekly co-op. It is only 2 classes (chemistry and literature) plus an hour of P.E. at the end.  A total of three hours every week. I've never liked the idea of anyone else teaching my kids, but they are getting older and need a social outlet which can be SO difficult to find likeminded families to involve our children in. We are morally opposed to the modern church "youth groups" as they are usually a hotbed for immorality under the cloak of religion.

So this co-op we found is pretty awesome with very like-minded families. It is fairly small which is wonderful, too. It's nice that I already know a few of the moms in the group from our homeschool group.  No drop offs allowed and mom's teach one hour, help in another and have the third free. 

Our older son was ambivalent about joining but after the first day said he said he loved it. Both our sons thought the kids were similar to them and showed genuine interest in the things of God, seeking him, helping others in service projects and prayer together.  I was happy they liked it so much. My husband and I feel that it's a good social outlet for our boys. 

That same day we tried out another group for Christian teens in another local homeschool group. We'd heard about it for some time and since they have specific activities for teens, we thought we'd check them out.  That same evening was mom's night in our regular homeschool group. I had a wonderful time, but it sure made for one full day! 

So we went to the Presentation Day and I asked our boys how they liked it, bracing myself for the possibility that they might. 

(The kids were pretty worldly. It's not that we won't let our kids be around worldly people or worldly 'Christians'. It is that we are careful to guard which pools we fish in for friendships. We have exposed our sons to worldly people whenever possible and we discuss as a family the "fruit" that we see from them.  But we're looking for godly friends for them and you don't search for fresh fruit in a back alley, right? You go to a farmers market or a nice grocery store. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. - I Corinthians 15:33)

Anyway, when both my sons answered that they did not like the teen group and didn't want to go back, I was quite relieved. And also proud that they are learning discernment to make wise decisions. I praise God for his great faithfulness to our family. 

So for this school year, we will keep our focus on our new little co-op and our wonderful homeschool group that we've been a part of for almost 3 years which we are agreed that when we found them, we struck gold. :-)

I have company coming for dinner tonight so I am off to get things prepared for them. But I will try to find more time to blog in the coming weeks. 

I'd like to do a series on keeping the environment of our homes healthier once our windows close from chill and we turn on our heaters so be looking for that!

Autumn blessings to you!  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Free From Sin


In the book of Romans, it says repeatedly we are free from sin, free from sin, free from sin.

"Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:18

"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Romans 6:22

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."  Romans 8:2

God has made many immutable laws. There are spiritual laws and physical laws. The law of gravity is an example of a fixed and unforgiving physical law that God made.  The bible says that by the promises God has given us, we are partakers in the divine nature. 

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these [the promises] ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:4-9  


This Scripture also states that believers have escaped worldly lust and corruption. Have escaped. Past tense. Not are escaping or will escape. Have escaped!  

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:4-9

We start out as babes in Christ and are encouraged to crave "pure spiritual milk". We mature in the faith of Jesus and begin by making righteous choices one day at a time. In so doing, we add the above list of attributes one on top of the other. This is echoed in the following verses:

"But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Isaiah 28:13 

Continuing in 2 Peter...

"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."  2 Peter 4:10

According to Scripture, we have been purged from our old sins.  Again, past tense. Purged.  Check out what this word means in the Webster's 1828 Dictionary:



PURGE, v.t. purj. L. purgo.


1. To cleanse or purify by separating and carrying off whatever is impure, heterogeneous, foreign or superfluous; as, to purge the body by evacuation; We say, to purge away or to purge off filth, and to purge a liquor of its scum.


2. To clear from guilt or moral defilement; as,to purge one of guilt or crime; to purge away sin.


Purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Ps.79.
Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Ps.51.


3. To clear from accusation or the charge of a crime, as in ordeal.


4. To remove what is offensive; to sweep away impurities. Ezek.20.


So, essentially purge means something that's been gotten rid of.  God has purged our sins from us. They are gone. This is as miraculous and mysterious as Christ's resurrection. And since God is outside the realm of time, he has, with his own blood, blotted out our sins past, present and future. Like an ink blotter from days gone by, his blood has blotted out the sins of everyone who believes on his name and is born again.

This transaction is a fact written in Scripture - and it is apart from our experience. This is awesome information and great news! :) It is the power of the gospel to them that believe on Him and on his name.


"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound ? God forbidHow shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6:1-2


Paul speaks of a state of being called "dead to sin". Not "dead IN sin" - dead TO sin.  Meaning that sin no longer has power to persuade an individual to walk the dark path. Sin no longer has control. We have victory over sin. 

"Know ye not , that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."  Romans 6:3-4


The Bible didn't stop with a theological salvation where one can say that "positionally I'm saved and forgiven but conditionally I'm still a slave to sin." He said it's a new walk based on a previous death. 

"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed , that henceforth we should not serve sin." Romans 6:5-6

Now whatever sin is, whatever the "body of sin" is - it is at least that thing wherein sin dwells, where sin grows, where sin is fed, where sin meets an expression. So that thing called the "body of sin", Paul says, was destroyed.  The result of that being destroyed, being crucified, is that henceforth we should not serve sin.


"For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Romans 6:7-9


It says, "For he that is dead" - he's assuming that is the condition of all believers.  This is not just Bible theory. It is fact.  Read carefully:

"For in that he died , he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth , he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 6:10-12


He says to reckon ourselves dead.  Dead, not in figure - dead, not in type - dead, not in theory - dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus.

He said to count that to be true.  Reckon it to be true. That the seat, the foundation, the authority, the method by which a Christian stops sinning and never sins again and has power over all temptation and all sin, is based on the fact that the Christian is dead, just as Christ is dead and is as alive, we are dead but alive and freed from sin just as Christ is freed from sin.

That is what the Bible says.

It's tempting to look at our experience or what we see in ourselves or in others.  But what about just taking what the word of God says and believing it?  If we find it to be preposterous and ridiculous then we can dismiss it as irrelevant and unreal and go back to principal sanctification.

But let's not try to twist the word of God and make it into the mold of our modern concept of sanctification. Let's believe it like it's written or reject it as it's written. But let's not tamper with it.

Scripture says we now have the power to "let not" sin. We now have the power to yield not our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but unto God as those that are alive from the dead. 

2 Timothy 3:5 warns against those "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away". God's word is powerful.  When we have the Spirit of the living God within us, it is through HIS POWER that we are able to overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you." Romans 6:12-14


"But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin..." 

Paul was writing to Christians in Rome that it was a fact, a past tense fact, a reality that they're living in. 

"...but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."  Romans 6:17-18                                    

According to the apostle Paul, Christians are free from sin.  That is bible doctrine.  I know that at this point it needs all sorts of qualifications and limitations placed on it in order to make it fit our experience.  But let's not do that. Let's rise to the word of God rather than drag the word of God down to our experience. 

Paul says in Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ".  Not ought to be, not practicing that, but I am.  He then says, 


"Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20


Paul said he has a new life.  A new life that began with a death.

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudimentsc of the world, and not after Christ."

Philosophy is a love of wisdom; seeking out wisdom. Today Christianity is full of philosophy. It's wisdom of this world and wisdom of God blended together.

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him."  Col 2:9,10

I have made a choice to believe God.  He has declared me free from sin and a new creation.  Old things have passed away and behold ALL things are become new.  I have the power of the living God dwelling within me therefore I am no longer a slave to sin, but alive in Christ Jesus, baptized in his blood and risen and seated with him on the right hand of the Father.

Because these things are true, I reject man's teaching of having an  "old man" AND a "new man" inside me.

Because these things are true, I reject man's teaching of having a "sin nature" to blame for sin.  I've never had a sin nature, and neither have you.  God's word is always going to sound controversial these days because:
       
              a.) it's not being read
              b.) when it is read it's a corrupted version
              c.) it's not being believed and then preached
              d.) people have "itching ears" and more and more aren't tolerating sound doctrine.

But praise God we have the Scriptures to read and learn and live by. Praise God the truth can still be found.  I encourage you to keep seeking the Lord while he may be found and have faith in Him and his perfect word and not in man's philosophies and traditions.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Homespun Haircuts

Not everyone is comfortable with the thought of haircuts done at home. We all want to look our best and you can easily wind up looking your absolute worst with a botched up haircut. I know. Been there!

But giving haircuts to your family at home can be a real money saver. And time saver when you factor in making appointments, driving, waiting for the barber/stylist, etc. 

When my husband and I were newly married, we had very little money and I did all I could to be frugal and thrifty. So one day I bought a clipper set at Target that came with a free how-to video. I watched the video and it filled me with confidence.  "I can do that," I said to myself. And I did. Nowadays the clipper sets don't seem to come with videos anymore, but you can find them all over the internet, so that is just as good, if not better.  

Anyone with a little coordination and an ounce of artistic expression can give a decent haircut. 

My husband was a willing and ready participant.  This spoke nothing of my skill, only of his total aversion to barbers and salons! :)  So I experimented and buzzed and clipped away.  I have been giving my husband and kids haircuts now for 18 years and that is a lot of saving racked up!  

I invested in a better clipper about 7 years ago and it's been great. It is an "Andis" brand and cost about $80.  The only thing I don't like about it is that after three haircuts in a row, the metal body of the clipper can become very hot. But I'm learning to wield a pair of scissors pretty well now so I use the clippers just for the base, back and sides of the hair and scissor cut the tops.  

I have long hair and typically get it cut about 2-3 times a year and since my husband and sons have no desire to cut my hair, I get it cut professionally or at a Salon School very inexpensively, usually for $5 or $10. 

If you're interested in saving money (and we all should be) and expanding your homemaking skills, watch some good hair cutting tutorials and see what you think. It's actually fun and easy. I'm currently researching ways to cut my own hair because I can never seem to get the cut I want from the stylist. One of my favorite hair styling tutorials is over at thesmallthingsblog. Finally someone who shows us how to style side swipe bangs correctly! Woopee!

So factoring the math, this is the savings that home haircuts have afforded my family: 



Husband
18 years
6 haircuts per year 
$15/cut
$90
$1620
Son 1
16 years
6 haircuts per year
$15/cut
$90
$1440
Son 2 
14 years
6 haircuts per year 
$15/cut
$90
$1260


Total Savings = $4,320.00!!


That represent a pretty substantial nest egg - enough to pay for a couple of nice vacations!  

I wish I'd have plunked fifteen bucks into a jar every time I gave a haircut. But alas, the extra money went for a bunch of other little things. 

I have had my share of boo boo's and once my husband had to wear a hat for 3 weeks (I told him not to move!) heh.  But that's to be expected. I've learned to have a steadier hand since then.  :-)

Do you give your family haircuts?