Monday, June 30, 2008

Sniff. Sniff.

Well, we did it.

Dad decided it was time to harvest all the carrots and beets, so on Saturday we pulled them up.

I'm particularly attached, out of all our plants, to the carrots and beets. I planted them this year, and have cared for them almost by myself. But I haven't done the picking. Dad, Mom, and my younger sisters have done that.

As Dad says; "you take care of them, but you can't stand picking them. You think of it as killing them, don't you?"


I'm not crazy. I grew them so we could eat them. But they look so pretty, standing up from the ground in a sea of bright green, waving in the breeze.

However, if it had to be done, I wanted to get in on it. What would my plants have thought of me, anyway, letting a stranger root them up?

I hope they appreciate the sacrifice I made. We went out early in the morning, while the earth was still damp from the night's rain. Do you know what damp and humid equals around here?

Well, I'll give you some clues:
~ They buzz
~ They annoy me to no end
~ The have great big eyes and a little tube for a mouth

I was nearly eaten alive by mosquitoes. All so I could pull up my carrots.

We had about 1/2 a bed to pull up. That's about 4'x6'. Not a huge harvest, but the best we've ever had of carrots. Last year was our first time that I remember trying carrots, and they turned out about as thick as a pencil, and as long as my little finger. This year was better. We filled three grocery bags full of carrots.

Of course, most of that was the tops of the carrots. To store the carrots, the tops ought to be removed, and because we didn't care to donate half our life's store of blood to helping keep the mosquito population alive, we decided to top the carrots indoors, in our kitchen.

Never mind the fact that the floor had been mopped the day before.

Aren't these beautiful? Dad snapped this picture as we worked. We saved the tops for our three rabbits. They're spoiled, I know!
This is what those three bags melted down to. One basket full. But, hey, it's better than nothing.
We'll do a second crop in the fall.

And here is what I got to sweep up after we were done. Fun, huh? I've come to the conclusion that if I were to try to keep up with all the stuff that gets tracked into our house and onto the floor, I'd never do anything else. In the fall, I thought the leaves were the worst. In the winter time, I thought nothing could be worse than the mud. (Around here, we don't know what white snow is.) In the spring and summer, it's the garden causing the mess. Then there's the bugs that come inside....

Naw, I won't get on that subject. Despite the tone of this post, I'm in a good mood this morning. (Despite the window shade that I just broke, and the two sewing projects calling for me that must be finished by tonight, and that I haven't even started....)

Yup. I'm in a good mood. Know why? Because my joy doesn't have to depend on my circumstances. It doesn't come from what I know, but from Who I know. So... praise the Lord for carrots!

What happened to YOU?

Well, it's Monday.

I hope y'all had a good Lord's Day yesterday. At our church, we started a study on personal evangelism, or, to put it in simpler language; The Art of Soul Winning.

How many of you have personally won a soul to the Lord? That's a thought-provoking question. We have been saved that we might reproduce. Are we being busy about this business? Conviction has entered my own heart.

It's nearly impossible to win someone to the Lord if you don't know the Lord yourself. Take this into consideration first.

Have you been born again? Being a church-goer, being a nice person, being raised in a Christian home, or being able to talk the talk doesn't matter a bit if you haven't been born again.

Have you ever thought about what "salvation" really means? What does the Bible say? Is it a decision that a person makes? Is it turning over a new leaf? Is it a mental assent to something they've just learned? What is the Christian saved from; hell? their sins? God's wrath? Does the Spirit do anything? How does a heart of stone change to a heart of flesh? How does a human - a member of a condemned race - become legally justified before God? How does this balance with God's holiness and justice?

When Jesus talked with Nicodemus, in John 3, he talked about a new birth. He talked about condemnation. He talked about about the Spirit.

So...if you are saved, what is it that has happened to you? Paul used his testimony almost every time he witnessed. He described what happened to him when he met the Lord. Could you do the same thing?

I challenge each one of you to leave a comment on this post, and share with the rest of us what has happened to you. Make it personal! Let us be encouraged by hearing what God can do.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Worthy Thought

I just read this somewhere, and thought it was worth sharing;

"A woman's heart should be so close
to God that a man should have
to chase Him to find her."
-C.S. Lewis
"She looketh well to the ways of her household..." Prov.31:27

For past Family Fridays (, I've talked about all sorts of things; ways to have fun as a family, recent family activities, relationships between family members, reasons to strive for strong families, and random family-related topics that have occurred to me.

Today I'd like to let you follow my thoughts on a certain character who lives in almost every home; the firstborn.

I like to joke that I'm an expert on firstborns, because I live in a house full of them; my parents are both firstborns, my older sister is a firstborn, and my younger brother is a firstborn son. ....Then there's a gap of years, and our "second set of siblings" begins; my second brother is the firstborn of this set, the sister who comes after him is the firstborn girl of the set, and the sister after her acts like a firstborn.

The truth is, I'm partial to firstborns. I believe they have special potential for the Lord. Do you remember how He set aside all the firstborns in Israel to serve Him, back in the beginning, before the Levites became the priestly tribe? And do you see through the Bible how God says the first of everything belongs to Him?

~ The first fruits of the crops (tithe),

~ the first day of the week (Resurrection Day, the Christian Sabbath),

~ the first hours of the day (David is constantly seeking His face early in the morning),

~the first years of your life ("Remember the Creator in the days of thy youth").

In Biblical times, it was the custom for the first-born son to have the birth-right; to inherit most of his father's goods and authority. That is why it's significant that Jesus is the only begotten (and therefore first-born) Son of God, and that He is called the "first-begotten" (Heb. 1:6).

That's also why it's cool that in Revelation, the church is referred to as "the church of the Firstborn," meaning the church of Jesus.

I've always thought that it must be extra-special to be engaged in a profession that Jesus knew. carpenters who know the Lord must think it's pretty neat that they are working with wood, just like Jesus did, when He was growing up. And Christian authors know that God is a writer, too - much better than they'll ever be. And doctors know that He is the Great Physician. And Jesus even knew how to cook - don't you think those fish He fixed for His disciples must have been absolutely delicious?

So it must be pretty neat to be a first-born, just like Jesus. (Of course I realize it's not "just like" Jesus.)

It makes sense that God would give firstborns a special potential. Throughout history, many leaders have been firstborns. There's something special about them that I can't explain. They have the possibility to do great good.

If you're not a firstborn, and you're feeling a little jealous...DON'T. Firstborns also carry a great weight.

Because they have so much potential, they are special targets. Think for a minute of all the parents you know who are grieved by a way-ward child. Now count how many of those children are firstborns. Strange, isn't it?

Okay, I'd better pause right here and make some clarifications. First of all, what I've been saying about firstborns is my own opinion. I'm not against anyone who's not firstborn - that's me, after all! And I don't think that we don't have any potential to serve the Lord if we're not firstborns. That wouldn't be a Biblical opinion. I just find it interesting to observe that something special goes on in firstborns' lives.

In any case, there is one very interesting fact about firstborns; they outnumber us. You can have a family with only a firstborn, but you can't really have a family without a firstborn.

So if you aren't a firstborn, you have a relationship with one.

Hmm. What can I say? You all know what I'm talking about. They're different, aren't they?

Sometimes they're difficult. Sometimes they're loads of fun. Sometimes they are demanding. Sometimes they are a ton of help. Sometimes they make you pull your hair out. Sometimes they make you laugh.

I'm afraid that in today's world, most younger siblings do not have a good relationship with their oldest sibling. They consider him or her the bad guy. I hear it quite often; "They are SO bossy!"

Maybe. Take it easy with them. They have a lot on their shoulders. And, after all, think about where they've come from;

~ They've never been the younger one. They don't know what it's like to have a sibling telling them what to do. Maybe they've never thought about what it feels like.

~ For a time, at least, they were the only child; that influences their personality. They can't help it.

~ They are under special attack. Pray for them.

I'm not excusing meanness and bossiness. Yes, it doesn't feel nice to be on the receiving end. But we can't let what they do determine how we react. We DO have a choice in the matter.

Just for the record, I'm not writing this post to pick on the firstborns in my family. I love you guys! There are lots of nice firstborns out there. And there are some non-firstborns who have got the "bossy thing" down pat!

So, no matter who it is in the family who seems to constantly bugging you, how do you react?

Well, if you're me, you bristle up, and determine that they aren't going to get you to do anything you don't want to do.

But your conscience reminds you that you are suppose to turn the other cheek, and that you don't have any rights, and that the fruit of the Spirit is love, etc.

So you groan and try to shut off the conscience.

But, praise the Lord, He won't let His children do that forever.

So you try to pacify it; with pride written on your face, you do your best to act sweet and kind and humble. The outward actions are correct...if you don't count the three or four mean words that slipped out.

Inside, however, you are raging. "How dare they do this to me! They are sooo mean! Why am I always the one giving in? They think that can do whatever they want, because I'm always nice and I always give up to them."

Then the Spirit starts bringing things to your mind. He plays the words that you spoke over in you ears. He shows you the toss of your head, the roll of your eyes. Next, He shows you the verses about love, humbleness, kindness......

Memories nag your mind; "But they were worse than I!"

"So what?" the Spirit whispers.

...And suddenly, you are very miserable. It isn't long until you are broken by the realization that you have again dishonored your Lord. What pain! Nothing in the world compares to it.

I'm in no place to offer advice on relating to siblings. I fail too often. All I can say it that the pain isn't worth it. Why do I choose to suffer it so often, when within my reach is the power to live right?

The Lord truly provides the grace to not just do right, but be right, if I will but abide in Him. I know this. There have been times, believe it or not, when I do desperately cling to Him, and He sends me the right state of mind - and I leave the conflict victorious! Not because I won an argument, but because I submitted to His will.

He can do it for you, too. I know He can.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big news!


Tomato Sandwiches. Delicious.

Thinking about...

"The Fruit of Her Hands."

The Bible sure talks about hands quite often. 1,571 times, to be exact.

You may blessed because of your hands: "...that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine HANDS." (Deut.24:19)

You may "provoke him to anger through the work of your HANDS." (Deut. 31:29)

Or we can be encouraged; "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your HANDS be weak: for your work shall be rewarded." (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Nehemiah prayed; "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my HANDS." (Nehemiah 6:9)

And we know He can do that, for Job prayed; "Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak HANDS." (Job 4:3)

When considering this earth, we are taught that God is the Creator; "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy HANDS."

Then, of course, we are taught what to do with our hands;

~ "For thou shalt eat the labour of thine HANDS: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee." (Ps. 128:2)

~ "Lift up your HANDS in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. (Ps. 134:2)

~ "A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man's HANDS shall be rendered unto him." (Prov. 12:14)

~ "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her HANDS." (Prov. 14:1)

~ "The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his HANDS refuse to labour." (Prov. 21:25)

~ "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the HANDS to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man." (Prov. 24:33-34)

~ "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the HANDS the house droppeth through. (Ecclesiastes 10:18)

~ "Let us lift up our heart with our HANDS unto God in the heavens." (Lamentations 3:41)

~ "And labour, working with our own HANDS: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:" (1 Cor. 4:12)

~ "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his HANDS the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." (Eph. 4:28)

~ "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own HANDS, as we commanded you;" (I Thess. 4:11)

~ "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy HANDS, without wrath and doubting." (I Tim. 2:8)

~ "Lay HANDS suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." (I Tim. 5:22)

~"It is a fearful thing to fall into the HANDS of the living God." (Heb. 10:31)

~ "Wherefore lift up the HANDS which hang down, and the feeble knees;" (Heb. 12:12)

~ "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your HANDS, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. "(James 4:8)

~ "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine HAND to do it." (Prov. 3:27)

~ "The HAND of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute." (Prov. 12:24)

~"If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine HAND upon thy mouth." (Prov. 30:32)

~ "Whatsoever thy HAND findeth to do, do it with thy might;" (Eccl. 9:10)

And how can we forget the classic HANDS chapter?

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her HANDS.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her HANDS she planteth a vineyard.
19 She layeth her HANDS to the spindle, and her HANDS hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her HAND to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her HANDS to the needy. 31 Give her of the fruit of her HANDS; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Lately, I have been noticing how often I read the word "hands" or the phrase "fruit of" (more on that later, Lord willing!). It's a study all on its own.

We ought to pray every day that the Lord would work through our hands. Nearly every skill we have comes through our hands. Let us use them well!

Oh yes - Guess what I've been using my hands for lately?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I can't believe I thought of this all by myself

Yes, folks, I actually have a kitchen tip today that I didn't steal from someone else. Aren't you pleased with me? :)

Some of you may remember the bread post I did last Tuesday. ( ) A few of you were kind enough to say it inspired you to bake some bread. It did the same for me!

Seeing a new recipe that I wanted to try was also part of the reason I made a batch of bread. I was pleased, but not completely satisfied with the results, and I want to tweak it a little before I post the recipe here.

But it did feel good to be making bread again. Ah! All the senses are involved in the process:

The strong smell of yeast being activated...

...the smell of fresh flour (when I'm blessed enough to be using it!)...

...the powdery softness of that flour....

...the heavy, slippery weight of bread dough in my hands....

...the sound of the kneading machine whirring, or the thuwumph of dough against the table when I knead by hand...

...the silky smoothness of well-kneaded dough under my fingertips...

...the sound of timers going off when my bread has finished rising...

...and, of course, there's the taste and smell of bread fresh from the oven! With butter and cheese melted liberally over a slice? Nothing better!

And, when I made bread this past Saturday, I had an idea. A simple idea, to be sure, but one that I thought was interesting.

You see, for lunch, we had reheated pizza on some baking stones in our oven, and we happened to leave the stones in there. I mixed up my dough right after lunch.

I usually set the dough in the oven to rise, but on Saturday, when I opened the oven door, I was met with a blast of hot air. Those stones really hold heat, and the oven hadn't cooled down much at all. It was far too hot of an atmosphere to rise the dough properly.

But the windows in the kitchen were open to admit a pretty breeze, so the top of the stove or counters was no place for bread to rise, either - too drafty.

As I was puzzling over the situation, the thought came to me that I ought to be thankful that the oven was staying warm, because it would use less electricity to heat up again when I wanted to bake the bread. A frugal mindset helps keep me cheerful sometimes! (Tip #1; store baking stones in the oven when not otherwise in use!)

However, we have three baking stones, and I was sure that two would keep the oven sufficiently warm. Therefore, I removed one of the stones, and set it on the top of our stove. I could feel the heat radiating several inches above the surface of the stone, but it wasn't too hot. I set the bowl containing my dough on the stone, and covered it loosely with a cloth.

The dough rose perfectly. Later, for the second rising, (with the dough in the bread pans) I took a different stone out of the oven, because the first one had cooled. It, too, worked beautifully. The loaves rose high and puffy.

Oh - one more thing; during the process of rising, Mom needed to use the stove top. No problem. She just moved the stone, with the bowl on it, to the table. My invention is portable!

Pretty neat, huh?

Monday, June 23, 2008


Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Yes, my father celebrates his birthday shortly after Father's Day. Isn't that cool?

My family's idea of fun is to do something together outside. Therefore, on birthdays, holidays, and vacations, we're heading out to hike, bike, play tennis, swim, sled, etc. My brother Curtis, whose birthday is in December, protests that it isn't fair that he doesn't get to swim - one of his favorite sports - on his birthday....but most on most other special days, we go out in the sun.

Sooooo....this morning, we went to the tennis courts. What fun!

Did you know that 8 people is the perfect number of players for "King of the Court"? That's a good game (at least our version of it) for a combination of young and older players, because everyone plays in pairs. Mom and Dad were together - a perfect pair of good players - and each of us older children took a younger one. The two boys were together, Lezley and Heather were together, and Tiffany and I were together.

I thought that it would be me helping Tiffany, 'cause she's much younger than I am, but it ended up the other way around! Good lesson in humility. I couldn't get that ball over the net! I don't know what went wrong. I'm no expert, but I usually do a little better than that!

Ah, well, as I told Tiffany (trying to console her for the fact that our two-player team was loosing) "It's all about having fun in the game."

We weren't sure that we'd be able to do anything outside today, because the sky was cloudy last night, and thunder kept rumbling. I was praying so hard for it to rain! Not to spoil Dad's birthday, but because we needed it so bad.

Needed. Past tense. Praise the Lord for answered prayer! He indeed sends the rain on the just and unjust alike. His mercies are never ending. Our garden has been spared for a while longer.

The rain barrels worked GREAT. did. Last night's shower was our first really good rain since putting them up. This morning, one of the barrels is so full I can't wiggle it. Dad took the cover off to look, and he told me that it is overflowing. Who knows how much more rain we could have caught if we'd had a bigger container? The trashcan we used (clean!) has a 35 or 37 gallon capacity. That's from only 1/4 of our roof!!!!

But I did mention that we have two barrels in use, right? We don't know how much we got in the other one.

It got a little too full.

Apparently, the base it was sitting upon wasn't strong enough to bear up the weight of all that water. The barrel tipped over during the night... so we only have a few inches in the bottom of it.

If both barrels had worked, that would have been about 70 gallons of water from two drain spouts - half our roof. That's a lot of water!!!!

Dad was the one who thought of all this. He got one of my brothers interested in it, too. Dad and Curtis researched water collecting on the web, got ideas, and planned action. Dad bought the trashcans. Together, he and Curtis turned them into rain barrels by installing spigots near the bottom, cutting rectangular holes in the lids, placing wire mesh over the holes, cutting the drain spouts to fit the barrels under them, and installing the barrels under the drain spouts.

Aren't they smart?

Thinking of all this reminds me of a big need in our culture - the need for women to recognize and respect the headship of men. Not that all men are over all women; indeed, that would be oppressive - but that each man is the head of his house. And he ought to be free to try all sorts of projects, knowing that his wife and children will back him up in anything he feels the Lord calling him to do.

I hear lots of women saying that they will follow their husbands anywhere. I suppose they mean they'd follow him to the mission field or into another profession. That's good. Much better than some.

But what about everyday stuff? I'm not qualified to be a judge in this matter, since I'm not even married, so this is only an observation.... but it seems to me that promises to follow in the major things are pretty empty unless they are proved by action in the minor things.

I see a beautiful example of this between my parents. When Dad wants to try something new - be it a new food, a new plant in the garden, a new store, or a new family project, Mom's actions say "okay, let's go!" She has her ideas too, and Dad is great about listening to her suggestions and treating her as a treasured companion, but he knows he can try anything he believes would be good for our family, a better way to serve the Lord, or just interesting to try.

I have a part in this as a child. My natural personality is very domineering. Mom says I'm creative. That's putting it nicely. Bluntly, the fact is that have a bunch of ideas that I'm rather forceful about suggesting.

A child of God isn't suppose to be controlled by their old nature, but by the Spirit.

Sooo.... I have to learn to be slower to suggest my own ideas, and quicker to listen to others' ideas. Particularly my parents.

My job as a daughter is to do my part to encourage my father to do the things he believes he should do. He's a warrior for God, and woe to me if I do anything to hinder him in his fight! Could it be that my critical attitude might cause him to feel hindered in something, and therefore keeping him from doing his best? That thought makes me cringe. I don't want to cause any Christian's fight to be less than successful, but if that person should be my father? Horror!

Wow. I'm really convicting myself. I have some praying to do.

But before I leave, let me mention one more thing: Brothers.

Yup. Men in training. How can we expect them to grow up as leaders if we are constantly telling them that they aren't good enough, that our ideas are better, that they're suppose to do what we say? It's particularly tempting to act this way when the brothers are younger than us, isn't it?

I don't mean that we don't have a job as older siblings. But let it be a ministry of encouragement and gentle instruction. ...AND let's not be too proud to let them teach us things. They need practice in leading. Practice in being free to follow what they feel God is calling them to do. If we don't give them that practice....who will?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On Potatoes

Mmmm! I just finished a supper that contained a very special dish; potatoes.

OUR potatoes.

Our family eats a bunch of potatoes. They're cheap, versatile, and delicious.

We planted seed potatoes in our garden last year. Many weeks later, we dug up dozens of green golf balls. Not sure what went wrong.

This year, we tried again. I was hoping we'd actually have potatoes this year, 'cause I've never had home-grown ones.

Yup. That's right; I've been raised in a gardening family, and never had a home-grown potato.

But there's a first for everything.

And tonight was a first.

How can I explain it? First, realize that store-bought potatoes are actually soaked in chemicals to prevent spoilage, and to keep "eyes" from growing. Those chemicals impart their own little tinge of flavor to the potato.

Second, realize that all store-bought potatoes have been on the shelf for who-knows how long.

Tonight, I ate potatoes that had been in the ground 3 hours before. No chemicals whatsoever.

They were a beautifully clean white on the inside. They were absolutely, positively, the BEST-tasting potatoes I've ever eaten.


Well, since typing my last post, I've thought of lots to add to my To Do list, but I've also checked some things off.


"Kitchen Sink before."
(Ugh. I hate dirty dishes. They look so terrible.)
Are you wondering where the picture is?
Like I said, it was dirty.
Who wants to publish dirty photos on the world wide web?

Kitchen Sink afterwards.

Much better.

It didn't take too long, either, though Mom did get home before I finished the last load.

By the way, thanks to Faith from "The Lily Spring Craft Room," for a comment she left on a previous post:

"One thing I like to do if I'm feeling a bit sluggish or tired is drink a glass of lemon water. Squeeze a lemon, (or half a lemon) into a big glass of water. If I'm in a hurry or we are out of lemons, a couple drops of Lemon essential oil will do the trick. It is very refreshing and will also help to alkalize your body which will give you more energy."

I tried it this morning and, while it didn't magically make up for those hours of sleep I skipped last night, it has helped. Thanks, Faith!

Typed with dropping eyelids...

Because I stayed up late last night, reading this book right here...

...I am very drowsy this morning. It's wasn't a good thing to do. (However, I do highly recommend this book! Great for frugal minds, or the wanna Be's.)

But, anyway, I am really too zapped to think of an amazing post. Right now, all I can think of is my "To Do" list, which stretches from one side of our house to the other. (Well, actually, I haven't even written it on paper, but you understand. It's long. At least, it feels long.)

The first thing I plan to do is surprise Mom by washing a pile of dishes for her. She needed to go grocery shopping this morning and, since it's her turn for dishes, the breakfast dishes are just sitting in the sink....calling to me.

Then, I want to finish up at least one of the two shirts I'm working on....because they'd really come in handy this week.

Then, the garden could use a weeding. (It could REALLY use some rain. All our rain barrels are empty now, and we're praying hard that the Lord would see fit to send us some water.)

Then, it wouldn't hurt to tidy the living room...

And if I felt really energetic, I'd start a load of bread dough.

Please, make me feel TONS better by sharing a few things you have to do today - so I'll know I'm not alone. If you are a "drifter," instead of a "lister," let me recommend To Do lists to you. Sure, they seem intimidating at the start, but it really frees up your mind to know exactly what you need to do, and to know when you are done.

And no, you don't need to tell me to cut the staying-up-late-reading habit. I'm working on it! (Not that you could really tell...)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Random Frugal Tip for the Day:

If you, like us, have a garden, and live in a place where you don't consistently receive at least 1" of rain a week, then perhaps you can make use of these water-getting tips.

Don't run up your water bill using the hose! Besides, tap water has things in it that can kill beneficial organisms in your soil. Try these sources instead:

~ If your home is humid, invest in simple dehumidifier, and empty it regularly. The water will be clean and if the room you place it in is really damp - such as a basement - you will be making a significant contribution to your water levels. Of course, the bonus is that you are dehumidifying the room, so you don't have that musty smell, mold problems, or items being ruined from too much moisture in the air.

~ A home with an average-sized roof has an amazing amount of square footage, which catches a stupendous amount of rainwater. Don't let it all drain into the soil around your foundation and go to waste! Trash cans or other similar-sized containers can easily be fixed underneath the downspouts. If you're worried about appearances, just do it on the back of your house, where the containers won't be seen from the road. If you have sheds, barns, and other outbuildings, make use of their roofs' square footage too!

~ No matter where you're getting your water, be sure to put it in the garden early in the morning, when the air is cooler. This gives the water the best chance to soak into the soil without being half-evaporated before it touches the roots. If you water in the evening, and get water on the leaves, you might have problems with fungus growing on them, so be careful.

~ Cover all bare soil around the plants with straw or other mulches, to keep water from evaporating from the soil.

These ideas have greatly helped my family's garden, and I hope they will benefit yours, too. If you have ideas of your own, please leave a comment and tell us about it! We are searching for more ways to get/save water.


Here's when making pizza becomes extra fun; when other family members get into the act!

Last time I made pizza, I recruited my two younger sisters to help me, which more than doubled the fun I had in the kitchen.

We were feeling mighty adventurous, and ready to try new we baked our pizza on our special pizza stones that I've never been brave enough to try again since the time I baked the pizza TO the stones... And we even tried tossing our dough up in the air, like the professionals do.

Did you know that's a good way to get your dough to fall on the floor? Yup. Good way to have fun, too.

Besides experimenting with the dough, we also tried combining every topping we could think of for pizza; sauce, squash, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, olives, cheese, onions, etc. Our pizza turned out very colorful!

But this post isn't about pizza. It's about family. Kitchens are great places to learn more about your family members...and yourself.

I was so pleasantly surprised to find out how much my sisters have grown up, just since the last time I cooked with them (which wasn't that long ago!). They are getting to an age where they are actually helping me save time in the kitchen!

I had them in the kitchen with me when they were younger. To be honest, it was more time-consuming to have them help me than it was to do something myself. But then I would remember the many times Mom was patient when I was in the kitchen with her, and so I tried to be patient too.

Now I can understand a little of the victorious feeling Mom must have had when I got to the point where I could use the spatula without dumping things on the floor, switch the mixer to "on" without braking it, and chop vegetables instead of my fingers.

Though they are not experienced cooks yet (and who says I am that?) my sisters are starting to blossom into young ladies - and if you remember from an earlier post, the word "lady" means a woman who supplies her family with bread. I'm so excited for them, seeing them begin their journey.

I'm excited for me, too. Though I lost my patience more times than I should have, I can recall a few times I was able to contribute to what Mom was teaching them in the kitchen. That means I had a part in their success.

That motivates me to make sure I have a part in every area of my sisters' lives. I want them to be able to say "Amber taught me to sew," "Amber helped teach me to clean," "Amber helped teach me to be kind," "Amber helped teach me to love Jesus," and "Amber helped teach me to pray."

What better reward could I ask, for the time I take to be with them, than the eternal rewards I'll receive in Heaven, and the smiles on their faces I get right now?

I love you gals!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sewin' and Fishin'

Okay, ladies, please be honest; how many of y'all talk to yourself?

I will freely confess that I do.

Well, I suppose that's not strictly true. I don't talk to myself - I talk to people I am thinking about.

When I hear about a bad law a political figure has made, I spend the next hour or two talking to him under my breath, telling him just what I think of him.

When I have sinned against someone, but they aren't close by for me to apologize immediately, I spend the time 'til I see them again in murmuring to them how sorry I am, and telling them how terrible I feel.

When I have thought up a splendid (or so it seems to me) way to phrase a biblical concept, I (dare I write this?) actually pretend to be "preaching" to a crowd of people, telling them all about the newest thing I've discovered about my Heavenly Father.

Now...before y'all decide that I'm really wacko, and flee this blog for fear I'll contaminate you, let me state that my mind really is quite sane. Really.

It's just that I love words. I love the way they sound, the way sentences are put together, the way they can convey emotions. For me, it's not enough to sense the way I'm feeling. I must analyze the emotions and be able to convey them in words - even if only to myself.

The great majority of my "talks" never get louder than the under-my-breath tone I use when I'm creating and rephrasing them. But some actually do get told to other people.

I said all that to say this:

I sat down at my cutting table at 9:55 this morning. I didn't leave it until a few minutes ago - around 12:05. I was drafting patterns, trying to finish up a summer skirt, and a summer shirt. (I still hope to post pictures when they're finished!). I hadn't realized how fast time was flying until I looked at the clock. Why was I so preoccupied? Well...

...I was talking to myself. Yup. Oh - wait a minute - I mean talking to someone. Not myself.

I was having a random conversation with a check-out person at WalMart. Someone who I created in my imagination.

In my mind, we got into a conversation about spiritual matters, and I was able to present the gospel and tell my testimony. Then, from behind us, someone waiting in line behind me made a rude comment and started challenging the things I was saying.

(Yes, I know....this sounds a little weird. What can I say? I have a vivid imagination, and my fingers were occupied but my mind was free to wander!)

My first thought was "I need to reply to his challenges with scripture, not my own opinions." (This is something I've learned from real life!)

As I began searching my memory for verses that say God truly will judge sinners, and that He cannot let sinners into Heaven because He good, and holy, and righteous, and must punish sin, I realized that I couldn't quote very many verses to support my position. I knew I've memorized verses that talk about those things, but I couldn't think of them - much less quote them. The only one I could come close to quoting correctly was Joshua 24:19, which I read in my devotions two days ago.

As I realized with dismay that I was not familiar enough with the verses that cover this topic, I wondered if I needed to be refreshed on other topics, too. As the person stood behind me in line, arrogantly await my reply, I tested my memory. Did I know verses that clearly state mankind is a race of sinners? Yes... I knew verses in Romans about that. ...I could quote the ten commandments...

Was this stage fright? When talking to an imaginary character? I almost laughed. But it has happened to me in real life before. I'll get into a spiritual conversation with someone, and my mind will go blank on verses.

I've been blessed with parents who greatly encourage scripture memory. Because of this, I can recall whole passages of the Bible... when I'm in a friendly environment. But it seems I need work on applying them to real life. If someone challenges me on something, can I remember the particular verses that talk about that? I'm not sure.

So, I have discovered a new use for my time at the sewing machine. Practicing soul-winning! As proverbs says, he that winneth souls is wise. Becoming a good fisherman doesn't just happen. (If you need proof of that, just come fishing with me sometime and watch me try to spear the worm with my hook, and then proceed to get the hook caught in my hair!) I want to be prepared, so that when I do get in conversations with people (check-out people or otherwise!) I will be able to show them the gospel clearly.

By the way, if you are interested in improving your soul-winning, I encourage you to visit the "Way of the Master" link on the left side of my blog, under the "Check Out These Great Sites" section.

Happy fishing to y'all!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I had the pleasure of having some "food talk" with a guest in our home yesterday. As such conversations usually do, ours drifted into the topic of bread making.

I haven't been making bread as often as I ought to. My dream is to make all the bread we eat.

Sigh. Somehow, I get discouraged when I watch four loaves disappear in two days. I can't keep up with eight stomachs!

But I used to make bread at least once a week. Lately, I have gotten out of the habit, but now I am starting to feel inspired again. I think I shall make a batch of bread soon.

The process of learning to make bread has been a long one for me. If I had several hours to type, I could entertain y'all with the tale of my flops and falls along the way, but the story is so full of horrifying details that I shalln't go into it for the world-wide -web to see. Suffice me to hint at...

... sourdough loaves...which weren't suppose to be sour...

...Hollow loaves...

...Loaves made with spoiled flour...

...Loaves that refused to rise...

...Loaves with twice the proper amount of yeast, and half the proper amount of sugar...

...Loaves the shape of bricks...

...dough exploding on oven walls...

...contributions to the dog food...

...As I said, the story could get quite entertaining if I dared to write it all out. Let's just say this picture gives a clue (at the time, I took it because the loaves were the best turn-outs yet!):

(Oh yes - I forgot to mention BURNT loaves. And you really don't need to look at that third loaf in the back...if you can call it a loaf! )
Funny thing is, now that I'm able to turn out edible - and even, so my family tells me, tasty - bread, I don't take many photos of it with the camera! Therefore, I have no pictures to share with you, to show you how I've improved. Just take my word for it - it's no longer black and flat. That's improvement, right?
Oh - and here's a random trivia fact for the day. Did you know the old definition of the term "lady"? It comes from the Saxon words "hloef" meaning "a loaf" and "digan" meaning "to serve." Therefore, a lady is one who literally serves bread to the family. The term "lord" which was often used of husbands in former days meant "supplier of bread." Therefore, the "lord" supplies the bread and the "lady" serves it.
Now, isn't that neat?

Monday, June 16, 2008

I love you, Daddy!

Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day.

Fathers. They're a wonderful thing to celebrate. My siblings and I decided to make our Father a T-shirt for Father's Day. I would show you a picture of it but, though the camera is available, the shirt is not. Dad is wearing it, and he's not home right now.

Making shirts for Dad is a long standing tradition in our home. We don't actually make the shirt... I guess it'd be more proper to say we decorate it.

Mom started it all long ago, by getting a simple T-shirt and fabric paint from the store. Now I can't remember what came first but, with Mom's help, we children have made him...

...a shirt that had our hands outlined in fabric paint on it,...

...a sweatshirt that had our feet outlined with fabric markers on it (and the verse "how beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news" written on it too!) ,...

...another shirt with updated hand sizes (and numbers!), ...

...a shirt with all sorts of exclamations written in a crazy fashion all over it (Our dad is... "great," "godly," "wonderful," "hard-working," "handsome," "fun," etc.)...

...and just recently we've discovered the wonder of photo-transfer paper. So for his birthday last year we made a shirt with our pictures on it, and the words "Thanks, Dad! We love you!"

There have been other shirts, too, with Bible verses, and even store-bought shirts that say "this is what a great dad looks like." and "world's greatest dad." (Imagine... the store sells more than one of those!)

This year, in preparation for Father's Day, the six of us held a conference. (And laughingly told Mom she had to leave the room and let us plan it all on our own. She graciously did so.)

It took awhile to decided what to put on the shirt, but we finally settled on Psalms 127:

1. Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
3. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth.
5. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Around the verses, we put a bow and six arrows, with one of our names on each arrow.

This chapter is so contrary to what the world says. I can't count the number of people who have looked at the six of us children (and six isn't that many!), and said to Mom or Dad "wow, you've got your hands full!" Sometimes it's said with a voice that implies my parents are crazy to have six children but, thankfully, most of the time people say it with a little awe in their voice.

But then they add this: "I could never have that many. My two kids drive me crazy."

Why don't folks love children any more? Why don't parents take the time to train their children, so that they won't drive everyone crazy? Why don't they embrace the thought of more 'arrows'?

I could say that it's only the Christians, who read what God says about children, who embrace children. But that wouldn't be true. Lots of other religions encourage big families, and some Christians haven't read those verses....I guess.

But I know many Christian parents who do see children for what they are: potential. My parents are always telling my five siblings and I that they are praying for God to use us to change the world. The unsaved man down the street may have only one child to carry on his unrighteous heritage, but my father has six people to carry on his faith. That alone makes us valuable.

I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to know that I'm valuable to my father and mother. My father loves to be home with his family. He likes to be with us. I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to be liked - 'specially when I hear other fathers and mothers saying that "can't wait to have a break from the kids."

All in all, I think I have some of the best parents in the world! I KNOW I have the best ones for me - else why would God place me in their home?

My father. As the leader of our home, he is extremely valuable to all of us. Every time I think about my Daddy, and how thankful I am for him, I can't help remembering that he almost didn't get to live.

You see, his mother tried to illegally abort him.

But God, in his mercy, protected Dad, and he survived. Dad didn't have a father growing up, and the mother who raised him wasn't his own, but he survived. He survived to grow up, become a follower of Christ, marry, and have six children of his own.

I think it is in part because of the way he began life that Dad treasures his own family so much. He is giving us what he never had. And we treasure him, knowing that if God hadn't had His hand on him, we six children would never be here either. (The whole thing also makes our family furious when folks say a woman can choose to kill her baby. We would never be here if abortion had been legal when Dad was born!)

What about you? Do you treasure your father? If he is a godly man, who leads your home wisely, you had better get down on your knees and thank the Lord for that. What you have is rare.

I know that the devil hates to see a man being a godly leader of a home. That thought drives me to prayer. Does it do the same for you? Do you surround your father with spiritual protection, through prayer? Do you submit to him and allow him to be the leader of the home? Are you a good child to him? Love isn't love without obedience and honor - it's only lip service.

If you don't consider your father a wise leader, it's still your duty to submit to him. Only if he tells you to sin do you have any right to disobey him. And you NEVER have a right to dishonor him - the Bible plainly teaches that. If you aren't obeying the Lord, in honoring you father, how can you complain about him not following the Lord?

I'm so thankful that my father loves the Lord. I know he isn't perfect. But he has a heart to follow Christ, and that is a blessing many girls would pay millions to have.

This post is getting rather long, and I have so much more I could say about my father - and a TON more about my Heavenly Father, Who is the One my father points me to - but this will have to suffice for the present. I have some "daughterly" and "sisterly" duties to perform.

Let's all be extra watchful today, looking for ways to show our fathers that we want to honor them. ...and not just one day a year.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Really Great Book

I apologize for those of you who aren't gardeners, if you feel I'm writing too many post with that as my topic, but I find plants fascinating, and hope that even if you don't garden you can enjoy hearing about all the wonderful things that God has designed plants to do.

I just wanted to tell you about a really interesting book Dad recently got out of the library: "How to Grow World Record Tomatoes," by Charles H. Wilber.

This book is informative, funny in parts, clear, and well-written in general. Like all books, it must be read with a grain of salt, but you can't help getting excited by what you read.
Dad really couldn't wait to get his hands on this book. He had it on hold for a while at the library, and mentioned nearly every day how eager he was to read it. He even researched it on the Internet to get some previews of what it was going to be like!
This author really did grow world-record tomatoes, and his methods sound very logical. Dad and I both agree that it will be fun to test the ideas when the tomatoes get planted next spring. It's a little late to use all his ideas now, since many have to do with the way you plant, but there are a couple we can use - such as lots of compost.
Even Mom sat down and browsed the book. Mom has gardening flowing in her veins, since her father is a wonderful gardener, but although she does her share of caring for the plants, 'specially preserving them, she doesn't usually read through gardening books. I guess a book with tomato trees on the front cover is a worthy temptation!
Plants raised with Mr. Wilber's methods have produced more than 300 lbs. of tomatoes in one year. He considers under 100 pounds off of his plants to be a harvest failure! They grow over 20 feet high, and are less sensitive to frost at the end of the year, so they produce longer.
A few points that he makes:

~ Use LOTS of water. I mean lots. And don't use tap water, or water from your hose. Use rainwater or water from a pond, lake, or river. The other stuff is treated with things that could kill microorganism in your soil.

~ Use LOTS of compost.

~ Prune wisely. He gives a detailed method for deciding exactly what parts of the plant to remove, and lists 18 branches as the ideal number to have on one plant.

~ Support your plant correctly. He uses wire dog fencing.

There are many other neat suggestions in this book, and if you're growing tomatoes, or want some interesting reading, ...or just want to see some photos that make your mouth drop, then see if you can get a copy of this book!
P.S. For those of you who prefer sewing to gardening, take heart! As soon as I finish a few more of my many projects, I plan to show you some of my additions to my summer wardrobe.

Proverb for the Day

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
Proverbs 14:1

Friday, June 13, 2008

Frugal Tips for the Day

Did you know: ...?

~ When you brush your teeth, you really don't need a 1" strip of toothpaste down your toothbrush. Just a dab of toothpaste gives you plenty of lather.

~ When the shampoo bottle says "lather all over your hair, rinse, and repeat" you really don't need to repeat ...and if you have long hair you really don't need to use shampoo on all your hair - just the area near your scalp. The shampoo that finds its way down your hair as you scrub and rinse will be plenty to clean the rest of you hair.

~ For most recipes (pudding excluded) you can replace half the milk with water, and not even tell the difference.

~ A little laundry detergent goes a long way. Most loads of laundry will get by just fine with about 2/3 of the amount the package recommends.

~ For those who don't use a dishwasher; ...the dishpan doesn't need to be full of water.

~ Most Americans could survive nicely on much less food than they eat. A woman once asked my mother how she manages to feed eight people. I almost laughed when I saw Mom's face. I guess she hadn't thought much about it before. (Amazing how hard it is to have a "big" family, huh? You can tell the worries just consume the mothers, right?) Mom finally replied "Well, I just make a meal, and tell them that when the food is gone, it's gone." We can't eat it if she didn't buy it!
(Just for the record, all of us are VERY far from starving!)

~ You don't need to use all hot water when you take a shower. Water must be at the boiling point to kill germs anyway, and since you aren't going to reach that temperature, why not use as much cold water as you can stand? (Great way to cool down on a summer day, too!)

~ Studies show that when people are asked to test a product without being told its brand, they almost always can't tell the difference between generic and name brands. Why not save your brand-buying for when it really makes a difference?

It almost seems as if the advertising community is waging war on us, doesn't it? We really don't need much of the stuff we buy, and what we do need, we often don't need as much of.

I guess I'd better put a disclaimer in here and mention that I'm no expert (as if you couldn't tell!). I just was sitting here, thinking of different ways our family has found to save money. A little here and a little there can add up. As Dad said the other day, some folks are interested in "frugal living," almost like a fad, but they aren't motivated enough to make it work. If they want to, they can still afford to live wastefully. Having a "big" family - which means more costs - gives us motivation to really find ways that work, and stick with them.

Just one more great reason to love "large" families!


She looketh well to the ways of her household... Provebs 31:27

What does it really mean to "look well to the ways of our household"?

Sometimes - most of the time, really - I wish I knew more about the Bible than I do now. By the grace of God I'm learning more all the time, but it never seems fast enough!

So... what does "looking well to the ways of our household" mean?

Could mean housework - keeping everything with the four walls clean and neat.

Could mean focusing on our families - the true household.

I'm thinking it has something to do with both; after all, if we are focusing on our family, we'll want them to have pleasant environments.

Wait a minute.

Did I just write "focusing on our family"? I sure did. Hmm... That's a phrase that requires an explanation.

Families aren't to be our focus. Really. God is to be our focus. There's a family friendly movement today that has started as a reaction to the anti-family culture that surrounds us. It's good that so many folks want to get back to honoring the most important and basic unit God has made - the family.

...But sometimes I wonder if we've forgotten the why of everything.

Why do we want to honor families in the first place? Because they are something God has ordained as the building blocks of nations and cultures.
Why do we need to have strong families? So that we can have strong churches.
Why do we need obedient children? Because that's the fifth commandment.
Why do we need submissive wives and loving husbands? Because it's commanded in scripture.

I have found myself guilty of sometimes acting almost as if I were following a cult that has a long list of dos and don'ts; do learn to love the home, don't send your children off to be raised by the government, do love being a woman, don't desire a selfish career....

...And forgetting the why.

But other times, I fall in love with my Saviour all over again, and suddenly life isn't a list of rules; it's an abundant adventure of fervent devotion and delight. It's ....well, I really have a hard time describing it all. But it's not a bunch of rules that I check off. It's a love and devotion that permeates my every thought. Suddenly, the ruler by which I measure all my actions and beliefs isn't "what am I suppose to think about this? Let me see if I can remember what I've been taught..." but instead it's "how does He feel about this?" These two thought patterns might lead to the same end, but they take two totally different ways of getting there.

So when I read in Scripture that the Lord considers a woman who looks well to the ways of her household to be virtuous and worthy of praise, then that becomes my desire. To look well. To really look. To spend time working on "my" household. To imitate my mother's devotion to the cause of being a godly woman.

To do everything I can that will cause my Lord to smile on me.

And when that causes me to focus on my family...then I am really still focusing on Jesus.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Don't Lose Your Balance!

A little over an hour ago (at about 7:00), I came indoors from brisk 2-mile walk with my brother. What a beautiful morning we have today! There is something special about mornings. The atmosphere is totally different from the rest of the day. It's not only the light and temperature, but other things, too...

...Such as the dew, beading on the grass blades like bubbles in a pot of boiling water - only this water is cool instead of hot.
...Or the robin sitting on the border of my flowerbed, preening his tail and trying out his morning voice with a force that makes his little red chest swell.
...And the certain orange glow from a sun that is just waking up.
... Or the refreshing breeze that puffs at our faces now and then.
...Or the welcomed break from the heat of the day, which arrives at about 8:30am.
...Or the strange quiet that hangs over our neighborhood. No one is outside, and the houses are still and silent.

I love to be outdoors in the morning. I don't necessarily like prying my eyelids open in the morning, but once I'm up I'm glad I did so. (I still need to work more on getting to bed earlier!)

And walking is another thing I enjoy. Combining walking and being outside in the morning makes a wonderful start for my day.

I have found that walking really helps my mindset for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, it's a wonderful way to relax my mind, and let stress out. I think it has something to do with the delicate connection between body, mind, and spirit.

I think more girls would do well to pay closer attention to that delicate connection. It influences so much of what we do. We have lives to live for the Lord - we can't afford to be out of commission because our spirits are droopy, or because our emotional status is teetering between two drastic and opposite reactions.

A girl can't feed herself junk, exert her body only occasionally, and expect to be in top mental, spiritual, and emotional condition. Things just don't work that way. When one of your three "areas" is neglected, the other two areas will show the effects.

The fact that you are made up of three parts - body, mind, and soul - is part of the way that humans are made in God's image. God is a trinity and, in a small way, we reflect that. ...But all three Persons of the Godhead are perfect. We aren't. We can have bad days - days when we don't feel so good, or days when our attitude stinks.

Throughout history, many civilizations have chosen to focus on just one area of the human being, neglecting a healthy balance - and having some pretty serious results. Greek culture exulted the human body to the point of worship. Some Asian cultures have focused so much on the spiritual part of man that they begin to destroy their bodies.

Western culture has chosen to emphasize the mind. Education. Knowledge. Business. These things aren't bad - they just shouldn't be the only things we think about. We also have a spiritual relationship with our God to think about (which affects every area of our life), and we each happen to have a body that we have no choice but to live in.

I understand that sometimes God calls people to suffer physically for His sake. The apostle Paul did. And many Christians today face health issues and trials through which they are able to magnify the name of the Lord. But there are a lot of average Christian people who aren't doing everything they could be doing for God simply because they spend too much time feeling sluggish, or their mind is consumed by stress. I see many women who want to be good homemakers, and lovers of their children and husbands, who are greatly hampered by simple things like fatigue and stress. This hadn't ought to be!

I'm not even a wife and mother, and I often have problems with my attitude and work because I have spent too much time just sitting down reading or sewing, and my body is sluggish and my mind is zapped.

So let's strive to find a healthy balance in our lives, so that we are able to live up to our full potentials as servants of the most high God.

What do you do to keep yourself healthy and bright-minded? Will you share it with us? Please leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A New Recipe

Well, folks, I haven't come up with my "cheapy menu" yet, but last night Mom served a dish for supper that immediately stood out in my brain as something that could go on the list. Containing cabbage, frozen corn, carrots, and tortillas, the dish was quite tasty, as well as "cheap."

I've asked Mom for the recipe, which she adapted from a magazine, and here it is:

Beef and Cabbage Tortilla Wraps

16 Tortillas (This recipe has been doubled. You can 'half' it if 16 tortillas sounds like too much.)
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 or 3 cups frozen corn
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup or so of BBQ sauce

Cook the beef and onion together in a skillet until the meat is no longer pink. Put in a bowl and add corn, cabbage, and carrots. Mix together. Spread a little BBQ sauce on each tortilla, then add the cabbage/carrot filling. (Mom used salsa, instead of BBQ sauce, for those in the family who don't like BBQ sauce.) Roll up tightly, and place in an ungreased 9x11 baking dish. (You'll need two dishes if you're using the doubled recipe version.) Bake at 350 for about ten minutes. Serve warm. Can be eaten "as is", but I added french onion dip and lettuce to mine. Yummy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Reaping the Harvest...

I hope y'all will forgive me if I "brag" a little bit on this post.

Actually, I don't really feel like bragging, just showing you these pictures and saying "Look, aren't these tender little vegetables beautiful? Can you believe these came from our back yard? Aren't their colors vibrant? Doesn't their Creator have a master touch? Isn't He good to supply food from the earth? Isn't He powerful, and kind?..." I could go on and on.

Because we were out of town on Friday, we had our pizza night on Saturday this week. Dad mixed up the dough, and asked me to put it on the pizza pans and top it.

As I was getting everything ready, I remembered that my basil plants needed to be picked (helps keep the production up), and I asked Dad if he would mind going out to pick basil and oregano while I put the dough on the pizza pans.

He kindly agreed to that, and asked if I would like to put some onion and garlic on the pizza too.

When he came back inside, Dad not only had a handful of herbs, an onion and garlic, but also a tiny squash and zucchini! That's our first harvest from our squash and zucchini plants, which have been growing rapidly ever since the temperature began to climb.

The veggies only stretched to cover two pizzas, which was okay because only half the family likes vegetables on their pizza.

Oh, were the slices of pizza good that night!!!!

It's best to pick squash and zucchini while they are still small and tender (Though we really could have let our gets a bit bigger! *smile*). They taste best when they are only a few (5 or 6)inches long, and the plant will produce more if you are continually removing what they are bearing.

By the way, I have been keeping an eye open for zucchini recipes all winter and spring, because I know from experience that we always get too much zucchini, and not enough ideas for what to do with it! If we like any of the new recipes, I'll post them here for the rest of you gardeners who get overloaded with the plant.

I know the focus is blurry in this last picture, but I couldn't resist showing you another thing we are beginning to harvest; carrots! This is the best that carrots have ever turned out for us. I wonder if the loose soil in our raised beds is the cause?

No, we don't eat carrots on our pizza. Have any of you ever tried that one?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

(Gasp!) I actually was forgetting about something!

I listened to two very good sessions yesterday, at the conference. I'd like to share about one in particular. It focused on what we young Christian women should be doing with our "in-between" years. (Would you believe it - the speakers used the Proverbs 31 woman as an example!)

I really only have time to mention the one thing that was impressed on my mind the most.

Okay. So..... I'm a young lady who is out of school. I love the Lord. I want to serve Him with all my heart. I want to be a witness. I want to be a wife and mother some day. I want to raise godly children who can help win the world to Christ.

That's great for the future. What about NOW? Am I just suppose to be put on a shelf somewhere?

I already know the answer to that: NO, of course not! I know that God has called me to serve everywhere and every way I can, during this special time in my life. Yes, everywhere I can. That little word is important. God hasn't called me to desert my family, but rather to pull with them.

So I've devoted myself to being the best sister and daughter I can be. I also help with outreach things. We help our church do "mission" type work in our town. I try write things to reach the unsaved. I use this blog as a way to reach out to young Christian ladies who need some fellowship or encouragement. I earn a little money teaching sewing lessons. I sew things for ladies who can't find modest clothing in the stores. I try to develop relationships with young ladies in our church, and be a good sister to them.

These are all things that I do RIGHT NOW. (Isn't it nice to know there are more choices available to a young woman than just going to college?) Of course, I haven't forgotten about the future. I pray about it. And I prepare for it.

Or at least I think I am preparing. After yesterday, I've started asking myself if I'm preparing quite as much as I ought to be.

I am apprenticed under my mother to learn how to run a home. And my parents are always teaching me about spiritual matters that will help me be a better wife and mother.

...But I think I've fallen into the trap of "the other extreme."

Yes, in fear of falling prey to the mindset that says "Hey, I'm gonna be a career woman and prove that I can succeed just as well in the world as a man can!" I have swung to the other way of thinking that says "Hey, I can neglect my mind. After all, I need practical skills more, anyway."

And I was the one who LOVED school! I still do.

I've now realized that I should be developing all the talents I can. I just need to use them correctly. If I'm going to be a helpmeet for a man someday, I need to understand and care about the topics he's going to care about. Men need helpers who can help them. They need well-educated women, well-read women, well-spoken women.

I still don't want a career. But I suddenly find myself desiring to develop skills that will help someone with his career. ...Or rather, his mission. That way both of us can serve the Lord together.

With all we've got.

This isn't really about homeschooling, but here's one thing I learned from the Virginia Homeschool Conference yesterday...

I went to the conference with high hopes. The night before, I was like a child waiting on Christmas - dreamy, and jittery with anticipation. At the same time, I purposefully tried to calm myself and act mature, reserved, and patient.

I looked forward to people - meeting new people, listening to famous people, and smiling at unknown people. Public events of such size are always full of bustling, directing...and so many people! Such scenes remind me of a noisy ant hill.

The Richmond Convention Center buildings, where the conference was held, are masterpieces of modern architecture. Whole walls are constructed of seemingly one window, while in other places glass tunnels lead over streets, connecting one building to another like indoor bridges.

The whole place is filled with a bright grey-blue light, created by sunlight passing through countless tinted windows. Forest green carpet, and a ceiling several dozen feet above us, adds richness to the atmosphere. When I walk through the glass doors into this place, I sense importance.

Important people, rushing here and there. Men in business suits. Men communicating to teams of workers, via walkie-talkies. Women in high heels clicking to desks and filling out forms.

And there I was, a homely, country-looking girl, swallowed up by the crowd of her family surrounding her, and looking about 15, though she's old enough to drive and vote.

Being a volunteer at the conference this year was a major cause of my excited anticipation. "At last! I'll have a job to do! I will be behind a desk! I'll feel like I'm a part of all this bustle!"

I wasn't raised in a very public atmosphere. My family hasn't traveled all over Europe, or been in and out of hundreds of airports, or been a part of major influential circles. We haven't even been to lots of conferences. When we do travel, it's almost always to visit family or historical places. My parents are dear, honorable, godly people who have much influence in our own circles, but my family name isn't known around the country. We meet lots of people, but mostly in one-on-one situations, not in public arenas. We're just ordinary folks.

I knew about some of the young ladies I would be meeting at the conference. They were speakers there, or in charge of behind-the-scenes work. They are well-traveled girls, with poise, grace, something to say - and people to listen to them. I know they meet dozens and dozens of people, everywhere they go. I so desperately wanted to come across as different - not someone they smiled at, said "nice to meet you" to, then turned away from to shake the next hand, but a girl they could become friends with and remember beyond the events of the day.

Now, how unrealistic is it, to expect that? Very.

Oh, I had a lovely day. I did my volunteer work. I sat behind the desk. I answered questions. I met the young ladies I had hoped to meet. One I worked under. We were too busy to really talk. I understood that.

Others I listened to as I sat amid the crowd at their sessions. I was introduced to them afterwards. I was able to stand in the "inner circle" and converse for almost five minutes. Then they moved on. There were other girls waiting. Very natural. I understood completely, and was thankful for having received so much.

Or was I?

Ashamed I am to write it, but I had to battle against selfish desires and ugly pride as I left the conference. I had had enormous fun working in the morning, and the sessions I listened to in the afternoon were some of the best I've ever heard, yet I wasn't content.

How could I be so encouraged towards godliness by these young women, and yet envy their...

... their what?

What was it I envied? Their popularity? The opportunities they have had that I haven't? The fact that they are doing so much for the Lord, while I'm not doing half as much as I want to do?

Maybe I envied all of it.

And my pride was stung. I wanted to be important too! Ah, curse that I am under! Why must I always desire to increase instead of decrease?

I found a red brick pillar, off to one side in one of the busiest grand halls. I leaned against it and observed the action around me. So many people. I felt very small and young. I was so tempted to give in to despondency and bitterness.

Then the verse was sent to my mind. MY verse - the one I cling to in order to keep me afloat in every sea of trouble.

"The joy of the LORD is my strength."

Like a drowning man finding a rope that has been tossed to him, I clung to that verse. As I did, other ropes of hope hit the water around me. Verses about contentment, faith, humility, kindness, love... ...and I became truly ashamed of myself.

Shame can also drown a person. Joy keeps one afloat. So I took a fresh grip on my verse, whispered it aloud, and walked down the hall to find my family.

Lessons learned:

#1 ~ Several weeks ago, a friend of mine made an observation so wise it could have come from the lips of an 80 year old woman; "I think the reason we are so often disappointed by 'special days' is because we expect too much of them." She's so right.

#2 ~ Be content with such things as I have, for HE HIMSELF has said that He will never leave me, nor forsake me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Home School Conference

Tomorrow is the Virginia Home School Conference. I'm excited, because this year two of my siblings and I have the honor of helping out as volunteers.

Do I have any Virginia homeschoolers among my readers? If so, are you going to the conference? Maybe we'll bump into each other (that would be amazing!) and maybe even figure out who we are, so we can introduce ourselves (that would be even more amazing!).

It doesn't hurt to hope!

While I'm on the subject of homeschooling, just let me say that I am soooooo thankful God has led my parents to educate the six of us children at home. I can't really begin to list all the benefits, but I think I might try! I have some ideas for a "homeschooling" post to write when we get home from the conference. (Or maybe on Saturday instead, since we'll probably get home after 9:00pm.) :)

Stay tuned!

So Maybe I CAN'T Make a Good Sandwich

Scene: In the kitchen just before lunch. Mom is busy with preparations.

Amber: "Hey Mom, can I help?"

Mom: "Oh yes - I'm glad you came out. You can cut the cheese for the grilled cheese sandwiches while I finish cutting these vegetables."

(Mom gestures towards the stove, where four slices of buttered bread are sitting in the frying pan, topped by four more buttered slices. They wait for cheese to be put between them.)

Amber: "Sure." (Opens package of cheese and begins to slice.)

...Time Passes... (Amber finishes slicing cheese, puts the cheese in the sandwiches, and puts the remaining cheese away.)

Mom: (While passing the stove) "Dear, you have to turn the burner on."

Amber: "Oh. I thought it was on already."

Mom: "No, I was waiting for the cheese."

Amber: "Oh. ...Mom, that reminds me of a funny story I read today."

(Mom turns burner on, and goes to the refrigerator for something.)

Amber: "Mom?"

Mom: "I'm listening. Keep an eye on the grilled cheese while you talk."

(Amber grabs a spatula, and proceeds to tell her mother the funny story she read; all about how a mother thought she had burned her house down when she left an oven on when she was gone, but how really the food in the oven was stone cold because she hadn't turned the oven on.

During this process, Amber remembers to flip the grilled cheese once. She finishes the story, and is pleased to see her mother laughing heartily. She goes over to the cupboard to get a plate for the grilled cheese sandwiches.)

Amber: "Now I'll flip these.... Ohhhhhh." (Amber is deeply distressed to see that the underside of the sandwiches are a lovely, crisp, hearty BLACK.)

Mom: "You know, I told you they don't take long to cook."

Amber: (whimpering) "I know."

Mom: "And I think the burner was on too high."

(Amber just nods, still staring at what she has created.)

Mom: "Well, give them to Curt - he'll eat them."

(Brother Curtis enters the kitchen.)

Curtis: "What will I eat?"

Amber: gulp. "These?"

So maybe I hadn't made a grilled cheese sandwich in several months. You would think I'd still remember how to do it.

All in all, I think Curtis summed it up best, as he got out the bread and butter, and began to make his own sandwiches:

"The way to get perfect grilled to have DAD make them."

I agree!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Wow! Thank y'all so much for the advice on frugal foods. Once I come up with my menu, I might post it on here to see if y'all think I've done your ideas justice. :)

Today is really hot, here in southwestern Virginia. At least I feel hot. And guess what chore I really need to do - the one I've been putting off for two days?


Yup. I've got a big stack of line-dried (errr, rod-dried, that is) clothes that I really need to iron, or I will wake up tomorrow morning with absolutely nothing to wear. (Not a good prospect!) Come to think of it, if I don't get busy this afternoon, I won't even have something to wear to our mid-week prayer service at church tonight. (That's not a good prospect, either!)

Nothing like motivation to get a person going!

It's not that I have anything against ironing, you understand...but there are so many other things I would rather be doing. ...Like reading some library books. Don't you just love library books?

Oh, speaking of clothing made me remember something I've been wanting to post about on here.

Since y'all have so many good ideas concerning food, I'd like to ask for some input in another area.


Proverbs 31 mentions clothing, fabric, and appearance more times than any other chapter in the Bible that I can think of.

"She girdeth her loins with strength..."

"...for all her household are clothed with scarlet."

"She maketh herself coverings of tapestry, her clothing is silk and purple."

"She maketh fine linen and selleth it; and delivereth girdles..."

"Strength and honor are her clothing..."

"Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but the woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands..."

Undoubtedly, that last verse is the most important. As Peter wrote, our adorning should not come from that outward adorning of plaiting our hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel, but it should come from the hidden man of the heart, with that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Of great price! Just think about that for a moment. If mankind values something, such as gold or diamonds, that's one thing. But when GOD values something......Whew! That thought nearly blows my brain.

Anyway, about clothing.

Even though they are secondary in importance, I know we can't just ignore clothes. We do need them, after all! And a Christian woman, more than others, needs to be concerned that she is giving a good testimony by what she puts on her body.

There are so many different standards, even among Christians, concerning clothing. I don't purpose to go into all of that. I believe in soul liberty - the freedom for each child of God to follow their conscience. Each Christian woman should look at what is clearly stated in scripture - such as the principle of modesty, or being feminine versus manly - and prayerfully decide from there what her wardrobe should look like.

But the advice I'd like to ask from y'all is this;

I am in the process of designing a new summer wardrobe. I think the basement eats my out-of-season clothes every time I store them away, because when I got my summer stuff out this year, the store was sadly depleted. Anyone else have this trouble?

What I need most at the moment are some more shirts. I'd like to sew a few, and find a few at good prices in the stores. As far as the sewing goes, I'm having trouble finding patterns that I like.

For those of you who are seamstresses, and have made shirts before, where did you find your patterns? Could you recommend websites with pictures, where I could go to get ideas? I sew a lot of my stuff just from looking at pictures.

Hope y'all can get my "creative juices flowing," as my mother says. Thanks in advance for anything you might have to offer!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Take My Life

Doesn't this hymn seem so fitting for women who want to serve God with their hands, heart, and life? It's almost as if the Proverbs 31 woman could have written it.

Take My Life and Let it Be
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days -
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold -
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect and use
Ev'ry pow'r as Thou shalt choose,
Ev'ry pow'r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine -
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart - it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love - my Lord I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself - and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Think about this next time you redeem your time,
...the next time you use your hands to make a meal,
...the next time you walk the floor with a fuzzy child,
...the next time you sing over the dish pan,
...the next time you speak kind words to a family member,
...the next time you give at church,
...the next time you give all you possess to your King.

Frugal Food

Every so often, Mom will let me have "a week of cooking;" I get to shop for and make all the meals for a week! I've been thinking lately about asking her to let me have a week this month.

There's just one little problem.

I always run the food bill way up over what Mom gets. She's perfected the art of shopping frugally, and I want to be a good steward too, but I can't seem to catch how to do it. It's depressing to put all the work into making a good menu and shopping list, and then go to the store and see the checkout screen register $25-$30 more than what it does when Mom goes shopping. Mom gives me tips and help, but I still seem to do something wrong.

Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman providing food for her household and, from the context, I would assume she was pretty frugal about it, though the meals must have been delicious. So I don't feel like it's wrong to make a study of frugality.

And today I'd like some extra help. I'm making a list of foods from the store that I know don't cost much. Of course, I wish our garden was producing more than just lettuce and peas at the moment, but that will have to wait until later this year!

Here's what I have so far:

Dried Beans
Canned Tuna Fish
Frozen Veggies? (can't remember how much they are)

As you can see, this is by no means an extensive list. Can y'all help me out? What foods do you buy that are cheap? AND ....what meals do you make from them? (Isn't that just as important?!!)

Monday, June 2, 2008

One of those days

My family has a saying:

"Oh, it's one of those days."

The emphasis on "THOSE" could mean anything at all.

It could mean it's one of those days when you are dropping everything you lay hands on. (I have those days more than anyone else. DON'T hand me glass dishes on those days!)

It could mean it's one of those days when everybody seems to be mad at you.

It could be one of those days when you are mad at everybody else.

It could be one of those days when your brain can't remember the simplest things.

It could be one of those days when you burn every dish you make....and your hand, into the bargain.

Or it could be one of those days when you just feel blah - as if you were walking around in your sleep.

I would say today is one of those days.

Of course, it's my own fault. Remember that post I wrote a few days ago on "Time"? Remember how I said I'm working on getting up earlier, because that gives me more hours in a morning?

Well, it does give you more hours in a morning.

However, I have been failing to pay attention to my other piece of advice; get to bed earlier!

Okay, now that I've just done something to the display on our computer screen.... and can't figure out what button I've hit...

...I guess I've just proved again to myself that I am walking around in my sleep. I hope I wake up soon, because I have sewing lessons to teach today. Yikes.

Other than splashing cold water on your face (already tried!), and reading the Word for strength (I fell asleep in my own lap) and going to bed earlier tonight (that doesn't help me right now), do y'all have ideas for what to do on one of THESE days?