Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Discovery

During our trip to Ashville this summer, I discovered something wonderful.

I discovered the splendor, the wonder, and freedom of days without Internet.

Really. I'm not joking. Those six days I spent without Internet connection shocked me. Shocked me because I wasn't expecting such relief.

I was expecting to be a little frantic. To have withdrawal symptoms. To get home and discover something wonderful (or terrible) had happened online, and I had missed it.

But none of the above happened. Instead, I gained quite a few minutes in my day. I didn't feel a bit guilty about going for days without posting on my blog (though I did wish I had let my readers know that I would be gone!). I didn't worry about emails piling up. ("Oh well, they'll have to sit!") I didn't get headaches from straining my eyes at the computer screen. I didn't get stiff and sore from sitting still too long. For those six days, the only world that existed was the immediate one.

My family - not some other family.

My church - and the new body of believers we met.

My possessions - not the advertised stuff.

My world.

Forget about the 6 trillion people - and their lives - waiting to bombard me from that screen. I can only bare my burden for today - not the burdens of everyone else.

As I hung clothes on the line yesterday morning, I looked at the beauty around me, and recalled that wonderful feeling of freedom. I knew I hadn't posted on my blog since a brief entry on Saturday, but I was outside, ...with clothes whipping in the wind, the faint scent of soap, the wonderful smell of clean air, the sound of birds talking to one another, the background sounds of a small neighborhood - such as a neighbor's car door slamming - , a long grass blade tickling my bare feet... I was so content in just soaking up what my five senses were telling me.

And there was another sense that was satisfied - that sixth sense, deep inside, that says all may be exploding on the other side of the world, but the people I love and care about most are safe, and my God is still on the throne. He will care for that other side of the world, too.

And I realized that I haven't done as much computer work in recent days as I used to. It's worried me a little; I've worried that my blog readers will leave me, or that I'll loose the ability to write what I'm thinking about, or that my friends will get mad at me for not answering their emails sooner (or not commenting on their blogs), or that I'll not complete all the computer work I need to do.

But yesterday morning, I decided that it's all right. I can't do everything. And I'd rather have a peaceful private life, with a few disgruntled friends who will understand when I explain, than have a "public" life with all my duckies in a row and a private life that's miserable.

I plan to start that series soon - the one I keep talking about. Maybe I'll start tomorrow. Maybe it will be the next day. Perhaps the first quality raised for discussion will be "peaceful." :)

I'm about to go off and play music with my siblings. I expect we'll have a bunch of fun together. But just before I go, I offer public apologizes to those of you to whom I owe an email or letter. Yes, you know exactly who you are! I could list names, but be assured I am thinking about each one of you, and...well, I will write when I can.

You have this comfort: at least until I write you, I constantly have you on my mind! :) (I mean that kindly.) :)

What about the rest of you? Do/did you have something in your life that is keeping you from being the peaceful, un-stressed lady you could be? Is/was it keeping you from showing Jesus-like love to others? What did you do/can you do to conquer it? I'd love discussion on this topic.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Well, well, well!

I do realize that I left blogging world on Thursday - rather abruptly, and without notice. I never even got around to writing a Family Friday post! Sorry about that.

I hope this doesn't sound bad, but I really haven't missed BlogLand very much - I've been too busy. And I've been having lots of fun. My grandparents from New York are visiting us!

It's always so wonderful to have them with us, and their visits always seem too short. We're trying to fit in as much as possible before they leave us - hence my absence here.

A few hours ago, Grandpa and I were busy making rolls. Grandpa is a great cook, and it's loads of fun to have him in the kitchen! He tells all sorts of stories about years gone by, and always gets me laughing.

I've also been showing Grandma all my latest sewing projects, and listening to the family history she knows I love to hear.

Heather, Curtis, Justin, and I have also been busy practicing for an offertory at church tomorrow. I love playing with my siblings. I hope that someday soon Tiffany and Lezley will have learned instruments well enough to join in, and we'll all be able to play together.

Oh - thanks for the interesting discussion on clutter in small houses. :) Just so y'all know, I did finish cleaning both my hope chest and part of the closet shelf on Thursday. Yippee! The top of the hope chest looks sooo much better.

It tends to usually be piled high with books that I was reading before I fell asleep,...

...and papers and pens that accumulate during the day,...

... and two or three crocheting and embroidery projects that I like to keep handy,...

...my lamp and alarm clock,...

...a jar full of loose change,...

...research supplies (from teaching history to my siblings),...

...and other odds and ends.

Now it's down to just my lamp, alarm clock, Bible and notebook, a few little jars containing loose stuff, and one pretty basket to hold a crocheting project. Improvement, yah?

I still want to better organize my closet. Heather and I share a rather small area for our clothes, and I'm always looking for ways to maximize our space. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Clutter...I don't like it, so why does it hang around?

Okay, I'm determined that this will be a short (versus rambling) post.

Today, two of my projects are to tackle the top of my hope chest (which serves as a bed-side stand) and the top shelf of my closet - you know; that top shelf, where you put things you don't have any place for, and which never is cleaned or organized.

If I can get both those spaces cleared I will be doing well. ...But not just cleared - they need to be organized, so that they will stay neat!

I tend towards a minimalist taste in room furnishings. I like space to think. Space to breathe. Perhaps it comes from being raised in a small house with eight people, but I really like seeing space that is just for being there - space with nothing in or on it.

I also like the country look - pretty and practical. I like the saying:

"Have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

I like furnishings to have a purpose - no cluttered Victorian look for me! And no modern plastic or synthetic look - I prefer wood, wicker, cotton, linen, etc. Real stuff.

Okay. Enough about my own personal tastes. If I'm so into "everything having a place, and everything in it's place," why is my room so messy this morning?

Because man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upwards, I suppose. :)

...In any case, I hope to soon have a room that lives up to the saying "cleanliness is next to godliness."

What do y'all think of that saying, anyway?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cottage Cheese

"Oh, please tell me how you make your own cottage cheese! I would love to know how. I did a google search but had a hard time coming up with anything very helpful..."

~ From: Kimmie in Fort Worth

Reading this comment a few moments ago, I had to laugh. I'm afraid, Kimmie, that you don't want the recipe I used.:) ...Unless, of course, the flop was all my fault.

Let's see... the recipe was very simple: Let one quart of whole milk sit out until it is thick and sour. Then warm the milk slowly on the stove until the whey (the watery part) comes to the top, and the curds (the solids) sink. Pour into a cloth bag and let hang for 6 hours. Then remove to a bowl, and mix in 1 tsp of salt.

Perfect. Very simple.


I was thrilled.

We pour some milk (less than a quart) into a small glass bowl, and let it sit on the counter. This was early Friday afternoon. I was sure we'd have cheese by Saturday.

I didn't calculate for the fact that the cool breeze flowing through the kitchen windows, though lovely for humans, was very...well...cooling for milk. That stubborn milk refused to get thick and sour.

So we let it sit.

And sit.

And sit.

...Until late Saturday night, when I finally noticed that it was thick. It was too late to boil it that night. It just had to sit.

I think the reason it finally got thick was because we moved it to the stove top, and used the oven quite a bit that day, and the stove top got very warm. Maybe too warm. The milk not only got thick, but separated nicely into curds and whey.

I was afraid to let it sit through Sunday, so after Sunday dinner, I put the lovely VERY thick milk - which, since it was now separated nicely into curds and whey, I suppose wasn't that thick, really - into a small saucepan and heated it.

Because it was already separated into curds and whey, I had no "way" to tell when I had heated it enough. After letting it warm for several minutes, and seeing no change in the substance, I finally just decided to skip to the cloth bag.

Pouring the mixture into a cheesecloth sack, and tying the top, I hung it from the paper towel rack, and propped a bowl under it to catch the drips. I then set a timer for six hours. During this time, I stuck my nose up to the bag and got a whiff of...well, let's just say it smelled more like dirty socks than any other food I've ever smelled.

Upon our return from Sunday night services, I dumped the cheese into a bowl and added a little salt. My sisters were watching in great anticipation, but their eagerness faded when they too smelled the socks...uh, make that cheese.

After Mom smelled the said substance, she positively forbade us to eat it, and I for one wasn't going to argue with her. (One of my little sisters did want to sample, but I told her "no way", and dumped the bowlful into the trash.)

I'm not sure if I did something wrong, or if the recipe is at fault. If I caused the mishap, I'm guessing it happened when I let the bowl heat up on the stove top, and then let it sit until it separated into curds and whey.

Can any of you help Kimmie, with a cheese recipe that is simple, yet works better than mine?

A "Fruit" Verse

Did you ever think about how many verses in the Bible talk about fruit?

Not apples, grapes, and olives. The other kind of fruit.

The fruit of our hands. The fruit of our lives. The fruit of our work. The word "fruit" is used over and over again to mean "results," "outcome," or "reward," etc. I enjoy making note of each new verse I read or hear that contains the word "fruit" in this sense.

Here are some Mom read at the breakfast table this morning:

"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."
~II Peter 1:5-8

I can't count the number of times I've read verses 5-7. Every time I do, the realization of how much diligence I really need to apply to acquiring these things awes me.

Mom didn't know it, but I had just read these very verses before breakfast, as I studied the qualities a woman of God should have, in preparation for the series that will soon be hosted here. These things were already on my list:


The other qualities needed to be added:


I keep working on that list. I now have 42 qualities that I have found. Accompanying those qualities is a list of 132 references, where I found them mentioned in the Bible. The more I study, the more I find. I am having so much fun!!!

The veggie I have no idea how to fix.

I've had butternut squash once in my entire life.

It was yummy.

Someone - I can't remember who for sure - made the dish and gave it to our family. It was fluffy and buttery, and oh so good. We all sat around the table and commented on how wonderful it was, and marveled that we hadn't tried the vegetable before.

In spite of that experience, years have gone by, and we still haven't tried fixing butternut squash for ourselves. It wasn't on purpose - it's just one of those things that you say "oh, we'll have to try that sometime," and never put on the grocery list.

But this week Mom and I dropped by a family-owned, old-fashioned, veggie-selling place, not far from us, and I spotted butternut squash.

"Oh Mom, can we get some, please?"

We came home with two nice-sized squash.

Two nice-sized squash that are going to go bad very soon if we don't do something with them. I don't even know if they need to be refrigerated or not. ...Or if the outsides are edible.

I'm calling on y'all for help. Do you have tried and true recipes that will turn out for sure and certain, and taste great - so that Mom will agree to get butternut squash again some time in the future?

Please respond soon!

Monday, September 22, 2008


What do y'all think of this?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pioneer Cooking

Wow. It's Friday. I'd forgotten.


I forgot it was Friday until I sat down to write.

Where did this week run away to? Are you certain we didn't miss a day somewhere? Maybe someone sneaked in and bumped our calendars ahead while we slept.

Or maybe I forgot because I was busy.

I wish I had pictures of this afternoon to share with you. For today's history, my younger siblings got to study pioneer life skills - in particular, cooking.

I had SO much fun in the kitchen with them. Justin, though he loves to cook on ordinary occasions, declared that only the pioneer women cooked, ...but he later relented and whipped up some absolutely delicious fried cornbread.

The girls (Tiffany and Lezley) and I made pumpkin butter, hasty pudding, syrup, and fried mush. We are also letting some milk sour so we can make cottage cheese tomorrow.

Everything was done the old-fashioned way...with the exception of an electric refrigerator and cook stove. The girls really got into their efforts, and I was as pleased as I could be to hear them pretending to be certain pioneers that we have studied. Tiffany said "Hey, I'm going to be Narcissa Whitman, feeding the people on the wagon trains!" to which Lezley promptly replied "And I'm going to be Lewis." ...as in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I hid a smile, and refrained from asking her what Lewis was doing in a kitchen.

Everything turned out edible - and we sampled everything. I don't think I need supper. But I'll eat it anyway - can't refuse pizza! :)

Actually, the hasty pudding, syrup, and pumpkin butter were quite yummy, but my favorite part was observing my siblings as they worked.

The girls giggled and laughed as they dug fistfuls of pumpkin seeds and goo out of the medium-size pumpkin. They roasted uncomplainingly as they took turns stirring the hasty pudding - and then smacked their lips over the results.

I let them do as much as possible by themselves. I had to restrain my natural assertiveness, but it was worth it. I think they really enjoyed themselves, and felt the sense of actually doing something, not just being in the way. Their pride in the food was justifiable - they did a lot of real work.

The recipes, due to their pioneer sources, were quite simple. Here are the recipes for the hasty pudding, and the pumpkin butter. If you have some little people in your life, and would like to nurture your relationship with them, try rolling up your sleeves and getting in the kitchen together!

Hasty Pudding:

Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal in a steady stream, stirring constantly so that the mixture will not form clumps. (This is very important.) Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium heat, stirring often (or constantly, if your sister insists:).

When done, ladle into cereal bowls. Pour a little cold whole milk over each serving, then top with syrup. (See below.)

For the syrup, mix 1/2 cup honey, 2 TBS molasses, 1/8 cup water, and 1 TBS brown sugar together in a small pitcher. Use this on your pudding. (This is actually what I use on everyday pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc. I don't like store-bought "fake" syrup. Only fresh maple syrup from my grandparents beats this syrup recipe!)

Eat pudding while it's still warm. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butter:

Use one medium pumpkin. Wash it, and remove seeds and goo from center. Then cut into small pieces and peel the rind from each piece.

Place the pumpkin pieces in a pot of water and boil until soft and mushy. Drain, and mash with potato masher (or food processor, if you're being modern) until VERY smooth.

Measure how many cups of the pumpkin mixture you have. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar for every 1 cup of pumpkin. Also add 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of allspice for each cup. Mix well. Put in a saucepan and cook until thick. Remove from heat. When cool, place in a container and store in the refrigerator.

This is great on bread!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


It's 8:44pm, and I'm just now getting around to posting on my blog. For those of you who don't know my daily schedule, ...that means it's been a busy day.

But a good busy. I feel as if I've accomplished some things, which is a lovely feeling.

To start with, I had dish duty today. Washing dishes for three meals, for 7-8 people takes some time out of the day. :)

But before breakfast - and dishes - I was able to go out running in our nice backyard. That's a great way to wake up and start the day. Then I came inside with plenty of time to read in my Bible. That's a superb way to start the day.

I tried some blueberry tea at breakfast today. I'm not a "hot drink" person - coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or anything, but this tea was good, and I mean good.

Cleaning the toilet after breakfast dishes were done was the next thing to be checked off the list. (Okay, it doesn't sound very proper to be mentioning this task, but, hey, somebody has to clean it!)

I also managed to cut out some future sewing projects this morning; one dozen cloth napkins (for my hope chest), and almost half the pieces for a quilt.

A half hour before lunch, I began working on a soup; the recipe was a new one. It turned out well, though only Mom and I tried it for lunch. My younger siblings don't like lentils or onions and tomatoes in soup. :)

After lunch dishes were done, the next thing in my day was history. I usually teach for one hour, but today I was pleasantly surprised by my younger brother insisting on spending an hour and a half on his history, even after his younger sisters left. This is the brother who doesn't like school! I was soooo happy. I treated him to a cookie.

After putting the books away, I spent a little time crocheting an afghan while watching a good old-fashioned black-and-white movie show (on DVD).

Then I left with Mom to run some errands for the rest of the afternoon. We came home in time to fix supper and... yes, do dishes. :)

Now, Family Bible Time is over (we're going through the book of Revelation), and I'm sitting here typing.

So there's my day, all written out. Not much to look at, I suppose, and perhaps of no interest to anyone but myself, but it's all I have to share today.

You know, sometimes it's just simple life that thrills a heart. Slowing down and looking for each blessing makes the day special.

The yellow light of early morning...the dampness of dew soaking into my running shoes...

...the peace of reading God's Word...

...the delicate beauty of a blue and white teacup filled with steaming tea...the thought of the Christmas my sister gave me that teacup...

...the foam of bubbles in the dishpan...the orderliness of neatly folded dish towels in the drawer...

... The nice solid sound of a shiny knife against the cutting board...the pungent smell of herbs in a soup...

...my own voice reading history aloud...the warmth in my heart as I watch my brother's head bent over his writing for so many minutes...

...the fun of traveling around town, seeing old and new things...

...conversation around the dinner table...

...fellowship around God's Word....energetic discussions about the text...prayer together...

...the click of my nails against the keyboard of this computer...the comments I read that you kind ladies have left...

Yes, it's the small things - that aren't so small - that make a day special.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More thoughts on the upcoming series...

During my prayer and reading time this morning, I began listing the qualities a woman of God should have.

I started in Proverbs 31, but then moved to other sections of scripture where I knew women were mentioned, or where there are lists of things a believer should be. I was surprised when passage after passage popped into my mind.

The pages of my Bible crinkled, and my pencil scratched rapidly against my notebook paper. "Slow down! Let me finish this one first!" I panted, as my mind thought of yet another chapter I could look through.

I listed the qualities in a column on the right side of my lilac-colored paper, and I jotted down references on the left side. Most of the qualities had many references trailing across the left hand side of the paper.

When Mom rang the kitchen bell for breakfast, I counted the qualities I had so far.

Over 30.

Then I reread them all. What a list! I found myself wishing to meet someone who was able to live so purely as this.

"You silly girl." The feeling that had been growing on me came to a head. "How do you expect to run a series of posts on your blog about this topic? You're hardly out of pigtails!"

"Yes...I know." I didn't have any good reasons to give - even to myself. "But I want to live like this - doesn't that count for something? This morning's research has thrilled me - challenged me. I'm going to study this anyway, for my own benefit. ...Would it be wrong to share what I'm thinking as I study?"

"But you'd be a hypocrite. You'd be talking about all these wonderful character traits, that you want to have. And you don't have them all - hardly any. But your readers won't see that. They'll think you're saying you've got it all together. And you'll be lying."

I never know what to call those two "inner voices" that talk back and forth. Are they both me? Is one me, and the other the Holy Spirit? Is one my conscience? Is the other one me, or not me? If it's not me, who is it? Is it thoughts the devil has planted in my mind? Is it my sinful self - the old man? And if so, is that old man me? Or is the new me me? Or are these voices just logical weighing of ideas, with neither being inherently right or wrong?

Whoever - or whatever - they are, they were having a lively conversation this morning. I didn't know whether I was a listener or participant.

I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to share all the stuff I was discovering! But was that wrong? Would it come across as pride? Would I become proud through sharing it?

But what if working on the series helped me to develop these character traits? What if this challenge was what I needed - to prompt me to more study and prayer?

"I thought I had all this settled! That's why I shared the news on my blog."

"Yes, but maybe I wasn't thinking deeply enough. Maybe I have no business teaching about this stuff."

"But I'm not teaching! I don't want to teach! I want to learn."

"You could study this privately on your own, and learn just as much."

"But what if the girls have good insights to add? What about the older women, who could teach me so much?"

"Are you really wanting that? Or do you want to make everyone think you're wise and smart?"

"Stop it! Of course that's not what I want."

"Ho ho - are you sure? You are wanting to be seen as wise. ... aren't you?"

"But I want to be wise."

"You're proud."

"I want to learn!"

"I think you ought to go ahead and host the series - just be frank with your readers."

"I think she ought to forget it altogether."

"She'll not be as diligent in studying, if she does."

"I think she ought to - "

This was becoming a public forum! Where were all these opinions coming from? Did all the spirit world think they could barge into my head and hold a barrage of campaigns?

Then I remembered the breakfast bell.

"You see - you're not prompt, you're not obedient, and you're lazy. Told you!"

"Of course she's not perfect. But that doesn't mean she should forget about the series. Maybe God wants her to do it."

"But maybe -"

I stood up, put my Bible away - only for the moment - and went to enjoy some solitude at a busy breakfast table. Baked oatmeal and a pumpkin muffin sounded really good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quick Random Kitchen Tip:

To save on paper towels or to keep you from running to fetch the mop:

Keep used, wet, or dirty, dish towels in a small laundry basket on the floor in the kitchen until you are ready to launder them - an out-of-the-way corner or nook works best, so you're not constantly tripping over the basket.

When you spill something on the floor, just grab a towel from the basket, wipe up the spill, and toss the towel back in the dirty laundry basket. No need to waste paper towels, or get a clean towel dirty.


Monday, September 15, 2008

A "short" post, for once!

After two gigantic, long-to-read posts, I figure it's time to have a brief one on here. Y'all are good for putting up with me.

Of course, for all I know, maybe nobody's reading those long posts, anyway! :)

I've just finished washing a HUGE stack of dishes. It was my turn to wash Sunday dishes and, would you believe it? - yesterday afternoon, I rinsed and stacked everything, ...and put off the washing until this morning.

I had 66 dishes to wash this morning - not counting silverware. [cheese]. I'm really not that smart, am I?

I can't think of anything interesting to post about today, because everything going on inside my head is rather muddled at the moment.

Instead of talking, I'm going to ask you to talk. I need some help.

Question #1: When browsing many blogs, I find beautiful old fashioned pictures and paintings of women or girls. Do you know the kind I am talking about? They generally have lots of flowers in them, or white frilly dresses, and a strong play on light. The subject is generally in a pondering mood, perhaps with a book in her hand, or she's working hard in a flower garden, or she's dusted with flour from the lump of dough under her hands. Of perhaps she's writing a good old fashioned letter - on stationary.

Here are the best examples I could find on short notice, with the top and bottom pictures being the ones closest to what I'm talking about:

So... where do y'all find those things? I've looked all over, and I can't find a one on my own. I would love to garnish my blog with some of those kinds of pictures now and then, but I can't if I can't find them. :)

Question #2: Would any of my readers be interested in a series, hosted here, about how a daughter of God should strive to live? Her appearance. Her mannerisms. Her hobbies. Her speech. I'm not suggesting I know all these things; but I think it'd be a good thing to learn. Would any of you be interested in joining me? And if so, could you suggest a name for such a series? I keep drawing a blank when I'm considering a name. I'd appreciate both name ideas, and advice for the formulating of such a series.

Okay, so maybe this isn't such a short post after all?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's sunny!

Okay, so the sun outside really has nothing to do with this post, but I thought I'd share the news. I've felt like we were living in England for the past week.

Not that I'm ungrateful for the rain; not after the drought we've had this summer. I'm thankful for every drop. But it's nice to see the sun, too. And it's nice when the mosquitoes go away for the day.

All the rain, of course, came from the hurricane season. I've heard bits and pieces of information about the flooding that's going on in Texas, and my heart goes out to those folks.

Locally, we're having our own news flash. A gas line or something was damaged by the last hurricane, and most of the gas stations in our area are completely out of gas. Yesterday was unreal. We were called by our good neighbor lady across the street a few hours before lunch, and warned that gas was going to go up to $5.00 by the next morning, and we'd better get some that day if we didn't want to pay $5.00 a gallon.

Mom thanked her, and we planned to stop by a gas station on our way home from our library outing that afternoon.

In the library, we heard several people talking about the gas situation, and they sounded worried enough to motivate Mom to get us out of the library and to the gas station quickly.

On our way to our tried and true favorite gas station, we passed several small country stations.

They had lines of up to five cars.

At tiny, out-of-the-way gas stations.

"Wow - look at that." We all pointed, and maybe even laughed a little at these panicking people.

Mom dropped me and several of my siblings off at the house, and took two siblings with her to get gas, then go grocery shopping.

They weren't laughing when they came back, a couple hours later.

"It's amazing," my brother told me, with wide eyes. "You wouldn't believe it."

"I didn't get gas," Mom said. "If I had stopped to get it, I still wouldn't have been home. Sheetz has lines of cars backed all the way out and down the road, and the gas station just up the road from there is completely out of gas."

"Out of gas?" My own eyes widened. Well, it was a little station. It must not have had much on hand.

"The man at the grocery store said he went to get gas, and he had to wait in line two hours," my little sister informed me.

"What has happened?" I asked.

"Apparently, a line has been broken by the hurricane."

My family has no antenna for our TV, since we only watch movies. We couldn't flick on the News to get more information.

But that isn't necessary, when you have computers, and friends and neighbors. The phone rang continually, and we exchanged news with several people. Everyone had the same story; gas lines down, prices skyrocketing, better get gas while you can afford it.

Dad came home from work. He, too, had by passed the stations, when he had seen the lines.

"I'll just pay a little more, and get gas tomorrow or something, after this dies down."

Mom and Dad weren't acting too concerned. I continued working on the pizza. My little sister hung around the kitchen, saying how glad she was that we still had some gas in the car and van, so we could get to church on Sunday, and Dad could get to work on Saturday.

During supper, our pastor called. He asked if we had gotten gas yet.

"Not yet," Dad told him. "I saw the lines, and figured I'd wait until later."

"Well, station after station is closing down because they're out of gas. You'd better get some while you can."

That sounded serious.

Dad and Mom left in the middle of supper, to get gas for both the van and car. The rest of us looked at each other, and decided to just enjoy our pizza.

I wondered to myself if this was how people had felt and acted when the stock market crashed during the Depression, and there were runs on the banks. Same scenario; get there while you can, 'cause the money is running out. I wondered what was going to happen.

Our parents returned sooner than we expected. They had found a small gas station where the price was still the same as yesterday. I have no idea why. They said there was no one in line, and they didn't have to wait a second.

Then we got online, and read up on what was happening. We found out that the problem was only local, and that trucks would be shipping gas in as soon as Monday. Leaders were advising people to take it easy, not to panic, but to be responsible in their driving habits until gas was brought in. They emphasized "this situation is only temporary."

We were thankful to hear that.

Later, just before I went to bed, I got online and searched for videos from September 11, 2001. I had been wanting to do that ever since the anniversary of the event.

I found several videos that had been filmed, not by news crews, but by individuals living just down the road, or standing there talking to the firemen and watching the fire. It made the whole event much more personal. It made me relive that day.

I remember every detail of where I was that day. I remember watching the news (after we dug the TV out of the closet where it was stored), and thinking "that looks like a war movie. This can't be really happening."

So many people. So many deaths.

I relived the horror of it last night.

It is good to remember. It is good to feel how helpless we are as a nation, and how our only hope of defense is the Lord Almighty. In the videos I watched, every bystander was swearing as they saw the towers come down. They called the Lord's name as they turned and ran from the oncoming cloud of smoke that filled the streets like a deadly river. I could hardly believe they would take the name in vain that they so desperately needed to be using in prayer at that moment.

Do you remember the days following 9-11? How everyone talked about prayer, and getting back to God? Remember how the talk faded slowly?

What happened?

Apparently, God only got America's attention for a short while. Even the tragedies of 9-11 weren't big enough to change our direction for good. Are we going to be like the nation of Israel, and simply ignore all the warnings, until He has no choice but to destroy us?

These are the thoughts that have been going around in my head since yesterday. People talk about how we need revival in America. Amen. We do need it. But what is revival? Weeping? Praying? More people coming to Christ?

How do we pin it down and define it?

The nation of Israel had revival, in Nehemiah 8. They begged to hear the word of God, and then they obeyed it. This is what we need. Obedience. It is better than sacrifice.

We are blessed with more Christian literature, Christian radio, and TV preachers than any other nation. We don't need more of that. We need to obey what we already know.

I need to obey what I already know.

He says to preach the gospel to every creature. Am I witnessing to every person I meet?


He says to live a holy life. Am I holy?

No. Not always.

He says to hate evil. To fight it. To refuse to even be tainted by it. Do I do that?

Not always.

So... Am I surprised that there is no revival in my life?


But at least I know what to work and pray towards. God helping me, I will.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The story of the best deal I've had in a loooong time:

Today is Friday, when I usually post a "Family Friday" entry, but I hope y'all will forgive me if I'm a little different this week.

You see, I have an amazing story that I'm bursting to tell, and because it is quite lengthy, I don't think I have the time to write both it and a Family Friday post.

And, after all, if I were to spend the day locked away from my family, typing about "Family Friday," it would be hypocritical, wouldn't it?

So with out further ado:

The Story

"Oh...well, thank you so much... You guys have a good night...Yes...Bye." Mom hung up the phone.

From my place in my bedroom that Friday night, I heard her tell Dad about her conversation with her brother. Somewhere in the conversation had been tucked a detail that I found interesting: my aunt and cousins had gone shopping at the mall that day and found out that our Belk was going out of business, and having a HUGE sale.

I'm not much on mall shopping.


I'm too frugal, I guess. I like to go in and look around now and then, for fun, but I rarely - and I mean rarely - buy anything there. In fact, I don't remember the last time I bought something from a store in the mall. What's the point in buying a $44.00 blouse when I can find it - with the price tag still attached - at GoodWill for $2.50? (Yes, my sister and I consistently find things there with the price tag and extra button in the little plastic bag still attached.)

But a sale at Belk - one of the mall stores I liked the most - and the magic words "75% off!" did wonders for this reluctant shopper.

You see, I have recently been getting more and more in the mood to fill my hope chest. I think hope chests are wonderful things, and that every keeper-at-home-minded girl ought to have one - be it a rubber maid tub, or an actual chest. It's certainly a frugal thing, to buy items (or fabric for homemade things) now, while I have a little extra money and not as many responsibilities to pay for, than to someday start out as a young wife on a tight budget and all sorts of household expenses to pay.

As far as housekeeping goes, there is a dream I have cherished since my mid-teen years; to have a lovely set of good quality stainless steel pots and pans for my kitchen someday.

My family smiled at my high tastes, but I couldn't help planning ways to save up and purchase a good set of pots and pans.

This was the first thought that entered my mind when Mom mentioned the sale at Belk. Our Belk has two levels, and the top floor is entirely filled with home items; sheets, quilts, comforters, aprons, towels, bathroom rugs, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen mixers, stoneware, silverware, kitchen gadgets, and so much more.

I could just see that set of pots and pans - somewhere - waiting for me to come pick it up at a cheap price.

"Oh Mom, can we go?"

"Would you like to? I think we can manage that some time this weekend, or next week."

And I was content with that.

But weeks fill up, and days become busy, and all during this week the sale at Belk was put off the schedule, replaced by more important duties. I stilled my impatience by reminding myself that if God was to be Lord of the home I hoped to have someday, then he was also Lord of what would go in it, and if He wanted me to buy a set of pots and pans, they would wait for me.

My older sister, Heather, and I finally planned to go shopping at Belk on Thursday morning. I was so excited. I had a little money set aside, and I was sure I'd find what I was looking for.

Around 10:30 Thursday morning, Heather was sitting on our living room couch, looking ill.

"Are you okay?" Mom asked.

Heather shook her head.

"Amber," Mom called to me, "I don't think you'd better go out this morning. Heather doesn't feel well."

I came into the room quickly, and cast a look at Heather. One look told me that Mom was right. I fought off the disappointment in my stomach, and told myself to stop being so selfish.

Heather went off to sleep, and I sat on the couch with my arms crossed. I couldn't be mad at Heather - this wasn't her fault. But I was sure that the shelves at Belk would be empty by the time we got there.

"Now, Amber, if the Lord wants you to buy something, it will still be there," Mom told me.

"I know, Mom. ...I just don't want to take that too far."

"What is it that's so important for you to get?"

"I want to find a set of stainless steel pots and pans," I sighed.

"Well, I'd go shopping with you, only I'm not going to leave everyone here in the middle of the morning. We have school to do."

"I know, Mom. I'm not asking you to take me."

"What about if I took you this afternoon, right after you teach History? We could leave someone here with Heather, and the rest of us could all go shopping."

"Oh Mom - would you? That would be great!"

"Okay - that's what we'll do."

* * * * * *

Several hours later, we were in the lower floor of Belk, browsing the clothing clearance racks. I kept casting glances toward the escalator, thinking about the top floor, but I took my time looking through the clothing.

I checked the price tag of a dress on sale - $44.99. Originally $102.89.

I smiled and dropped the tag.

"When are we gonna go upstairs?" Tiffany, my younger sister hung on my arm like a beautiful blossoming pea vine clings to a trellis.

"You can't wait to ride the escalator, can you?" I teased.

She grinned.

"Are you ready to go upstairs?" Mom asked me.

I nodded, trying not to seem too eager.

As the moving staircase carried us up, and the wonders of the top floor unfolded all around us, I felt my stomach squeeze. Today I was shopping to buy!

Splitting up, my mother and Tiffany headed towards one section, one brother headed another way, and my younger brother Justin and I headed still another way. We browsed through all sorts of bedding and towels. Justin seemed to find the most interest in pointing out how even the things on "sale" were extremely high compared to ...say... WalMart.

I had noticed the same thing, and a nervous feeling began growing in my stomach.

I purposefully left the kitchen section for last. As we entered it, I saw a display of a really nice pot and pan set.

On sale.

For $250.00.

The bills I was carrying in my purse suddenly seemed very light and small.

I slipped into one of the quiet side aisles and fingered a box of dishes. "Lord," I whispered, "I'm doing what I should have done before we even left home. I'm praying that I'd do Your will here. I pray that You would provide only what You would have me buy. Please, show me what the wise thing to do is. I can't afford so much that I've seen here. I don't want to be wasteful and a bad steward. Help me, please, know what to do."

Justin was great at helping me find every set of stainless steel pots and pans in that area. They weren't all grouped together, but scattered within the kitchen section. We finally found a small back corner that contained three reasonably priced sets. Well, pretty reasonable. The price was still higher than I had expected, but I could afford it.

Finding Mom, and bringing her to that back corner, I asked her opinion. I handled the display pieces for each set, praying and thinking. What would God have me do? Should I buy at all? If so, which set was the better investment?

After much time spent in that little corner, I felt an amount of peace concerning one of the sets, and asked my brother to carry it to the checkout stand. As he lifted it, I looked at the side of the box, and read the shiny white letters on a black background.

"Professional Cookware!"

"Safe for any cooking surface!"

"Aluminum enclosed in the base, for even heat distribution!" I knew that was a sign of good quality.

"Stay-cool handles!"

"Oven and Dishwasher safe!" The pans being oven safe was something I had been hoping for.

When we got to the checkout, the lady cashier scanned the box, and cheerfully told us "we have a special going on today, and you get an extra 10% off your purchase - even things already on sale! That will be $133, please."

Her first sentence made me want to cheer, but her last one made me look at Mom with wide eyes. My hand froze where it was, plunged into my purse. "Did she say '$133'?"

Mom looked at me, then back at the lady. "That isn't what the sign said." Mom named the sale price the sign had shown.

"Would you mind showing me where you got this box?" I could hear skepticism in the cashier's voice.

"Sure." I led the way back to the shelf, and showed her the sale sign.

She picked it up and looked at it. "Hmm. Well, we'll have to give you the advertised price."

Back at the cash register, while pushing buttons, she told me what the original price of the set was. I wanted to drop my mouth when I heard. No wonder she didn't believe Mom when she told her what the sale sign had said! The had obviously been a mistake - at the "real" sale price, I would have never picked this set. But because the mistake had been theirs, the store policy was to sell it to me at that price. I won't tell you what it was, but it only had two digits, instead of three.

Again, the lady subtracted that extra ten percent and, this time, when she told us the final price, I wanted to cheer. I couldn't believe I was walking away with this wonderful set at that price!

"Well, Am, I think that was the Lord," Mom looked over at me as we walked out.

I nodded silently. I knew that I would always consider this set of pots and pans as a personal gift from Him. He had answered my prayers - not by giving me supernatural wisdom, but by directing my steps without me knowing it.

When we got back to the house, I looked at the receipt. In bold black numbers and letters at the bottom, it proclaimed:

You saved $199.01 today!

I shook my head in wonder.

That all happened yesterday. The box of pots and pans is still sitting in our living room, waiting for me to find a place to store it. Every time I walk by and look at it, I feel like yelling "thank You!"

I hope I always feel that way when I look at them. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a home someday filled with items that make me think of the Lord like that?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teaching is in my blood!

It must be. 'Cause I love it.

Yesterday, I started the school schedule with my younger siblings. This year, I've been allowed/promoted/asked/requested/permitted to take over an entire subject! The fact that I love the subject may have something to do with my eagerness.


I'm teaching it Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Under Mom's instructions, I'm using a unit-study style approach, to incorporate in all three of my youngest siblings. For this month, we're studying the Pioneers.

Time lines, tracking skills, map-making, the Pony Express, famous traders, trappers, and other pioneers, clothing styles, horse breeds, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Indian tribes of the Great Plains ... you name it. So many subcategories! So much we could study. We also have planned a library outing on Friday, where I'll drill my siblings in their research skills as they decided what subcategories they want to dive into.

Every day after lunch, we gather around the table and spread out the art supplies. Justin, Tiffany, and Lezley are all creating "Lap Books" - manila folders filled with fold-outs, pockets, maps, and other creations to help cement into their minds what they are learning.

Of course, teaching isn't all a bed of roses. There are some thorns in there under the red petals. Siblings aren't always eager to learn. And they don't always feel like being creative and studious.

And I don't always feel properly prepared to teach. Lesson planning takes time. I'm still learning to plan ahead. I'm also learning that creating your own curriculum means a LOT of research and reading. I'm glad we're going to the library on Friday.

But all in all, I'm glad for this experience. I've taught before, but never have I had the lesson planning for a whole year relying a great deal on me. The challenge stimulates me...and also intimidates me ... a little.

I'm sure I'll learn a lot about what not to do. It's good I can learn how to teach long-term while having an experienced teacher like Mom at my side, instead of making all those mistakes by myself some day.

After all: I cook, bake, do laundry, garden, clean, sew, organize, schedule, and do all sorts of things here, to prepare myself for running a house some day. (Besides, they come in mighty handy right now!) My logic in doing such things - besides the fact that they help my family - is that I want to practice, and get as many mistakes out of the way as possible right now, while it doesn't matter so much.

If I burn a supper (not that it happens very often!), Mom is around to whip up a substitute in a matter of a few professional minutes. If I break the toilet while trying to clean it, Dad is around to fix things. If I sew a skirt that doesn't fit, my sister is always around to borrow from. :)

So I'm free to experiment with life more. Ah, the freedom of living under my father's roof!

...And the joys of teaching, with Mom by my side!

I'm so thankful I have younger siblings to "practice" on - and that Mom is letting me practice. I realize that not every girl has that advantage.

I apologize if I've sounded boring and scatter-brained in this post. I have plans rolling around in my mind. That's one thing I still haven't learned; how to multitask well. (The word "well" being the key word.)

Any suggestions? I'm off to accomplish more from the "To Do" list!

...One thing at a time, of course.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Different Kind of Fruit


Yes, here are the pictures of our wood project - completed!

I have never worked on a wood project that was so time consuming - nor one that I liked so much when it was finished.

My brother Curtis and I started this kitchen island/cabinet/set-of-drawers/whatever-you-want-to-call-it back in the last part of May. We continued working on it in secret until Mom's birthday in July. Then we showed it to her, but it took us until the middle of August to complete it and get it in the kitchen.

The piece is made almost entirely of plywood and 2x4s - including the front paneling on the four bottom drawers! Working with humble-quality materials meant we put a lot more time into things like sanding, nailing, and staining, but at least we were frugal!

It contains eight drawers all together. The two bottom drawers are on metal drawer slides, which makes opening them a breeze. The two middle drawers are on handmade wooden slides, and the four top drawers are just resting on a shelf of plywood. Every reachable surface on the piece has been sanded and stained. Mom selected the handles and knobs.

Working with my brother on this project was a wonderful experience. I gained a lot of appreciation for his woodworking skills - some of which I was unaware he had. He was constantly surprising me with something else he knew how to do. He also taught me a few new things.

But don't ask about the time, fairly early in the project, I decided to surprise him by screwing some boards together while he was away.

...Let's just say he had some work waiting for him when he got home. Does anyone have advice on removing stripped screws that are only halfway into the wood?

I stuck to what I knew how to do, after that. Things like using a hand screwdriver instead of an electric one, and sanding and gluing and cutting and holding things in place, and fetching tools.

I also learned a lot of character lessons. This might be of more interest to the majority of you ladies.

There were sooo many times when we were ready to quit on this project. Unless you have tried nailing plywood to plywood, you won't understand what I mean when I say it's one centimeter away from impossible. The bottom of our drawers bare the marks of many, many, many tries to put them together.

And then there was the time we broke three drill bits - in a row.

And then there was the time we cut a piece of wood to the wrong dimensions and had to cut a new piece, when we were trying to be as conservative of our wood as possible!

And then there was the day we had to put those metal drawer slides in place. Curtis was stuck inside the cabinet area from his waist up. One arm was over the a bar of wood that was in the way, and his other arm was under. The heavy old drill he was using was held out at arm length while he tried to see where in the dusky back corner he needed to put the point. I was laying on my side, squirming my arm under his to hold the slide in place, and trying to put my head where my stomach was so I wouldn't block the light. My other hand was trying to find the screws on the floor without the benefits of my eyes.

The drill kept missing the correct place, the slide kept moving over, and our arms kept falling asleep. We twisted every which way to try to make this thing work.

I can't say on what attempt it happened, but suddenly we were struck with the giggling fits.

Giggling fits don't work very well in crowded areas.

I'm not sure if the laughing was due to the odd way we were twisted, or just nervous break downs, but we finally decided to break for lunch.

...So we had plenty of times to feel like quitting. I saw my brother become discouraged enough to quit woodworking. I became frustrated enough to throw a sander - but I didn't. When one of us became discouraged, the other one insisted "we can do it! Come on - don't give up." It was a great lesson on team work.

We also had many heart-to-heart talks while working together, which was great.

I was also reminded of what it is like to work with a young man. I hadn't done any lengthy projects with a male lately, and I guess I had forgotten what it was like. I decided that the workshop was a good place to give me some practice in submission, and Curtis some in leadership: it wasn't a kitchen.

Here was an environment where he knew much more than I did. Here was a place where he was telling me what to do - regardless of age. Here was a place where I couldn't (or shouldn't!) insist on my ideas being best.

My brother blossomed beautifully. He was ever thoughtful of my preferences and safety. He constantly asked me what I preferred, when we were faced with choices. He couldn't help laughing at some of my mistakes, but he taught me to laugh at myself too. He kept me smiling with the jokes he would make about his own failures. He showed great humility - even when everything was going well.

It was a big change from the times when I was telling him how to do something. I think we both enjoyed the difference. It was certainly more restful for me, to just trust that he knew what he was doing. ...And I think he enjoyed the freedom to use his mind to plan and do what he thought would be best. I enjoyed seeing him act like a man in charge - because he WAS a man in charge. There wasn't any play to it. That was the best part.

All in all, building this piece of kitchen furniture was a wonderful time. Giving it to Mom and seeing her face light up made me so happy. Having more space to store things in our kitchen thrills me!

It's different from my normal projects; it's not made from fabric or yarn. It wasn't made in the kitchen or sewing room. It didn't grow in the garden.

But it's still fruit from joint labor.

And I think it falls under the category of "the fruit of her hands," don't you?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The post I didn't plan

Okay, I didn't plan to post today, simply because I'm overwhelmed.

There is so much I need to do - TODAY! Things that must be finished in time for Monday, which is when the new school schedule "goes live."

Remember that schedule I posted about some days ago?

It's still not finished.

I feel like a balloon that has been blown up and let go, zooming all over the room. Actually, that's not a good example, because I'm not busy enough. I guess I feel more like a fly that's been squashed on a tread mill.

Then I visited Keeper of the Home, and saw a post about living simply. "What are you learning about seeking greater simplicity in your life?" the provoking question asked. It echoed a thousand times in the chambers of my mind.

I haven't been living simply lately. Things have been quite hectic. I long for a slower pace...yet, I don't, because I need to get things done! Is it possible to accomplish things without feeling so...frantic?

It's all inside my mind. Its a mindset. My family could tell you I haven't been working any wonders around here lately, despite my complaints about "too much to do." I just feel overwhelmed.

This verse is playing faintly in my mind; "thou wilt keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."

And this one: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your heart and minds through Christ Jesus."

I know that living "simply" isn't what I'm really after; it's living peacefully that I want. And my Heavenly Father holds the key to that.

So today, by God's grace, I plan to focus just on pleasing Him with my attitude, words, and actions. When I'm about to pull my hair out, I'll remember "peace." When I'm about to speak roughly to my little sisters, I'll remember "love." When I'm about to tell Mom I can't handle another chore, I'll remember "obey." All by God's grace, of course.

"He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8)

It's that simple?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Well, I did it!

On Fridays, as most of you have probably noticed, I like to participate in "Frugal Fridays," hosted by Crystal at Biblical Womanhood. I have read a lot of neat tips posted by others on there, and I only hope that my ideas will be as inspiring!

This past week, I took advantage of that JoAnn's sale I mentioned earlier.

At first, I couldn't find enough matching fabrics. The pattern I wish to used needed 20 different prints - and I was hard pressed to find five that matched! I was facing a wall covered with myriads of different colors and prints, but I couldn't find matching ones.

...Of course, the prices of those bolts of fabric ranged from $2.99 to $9.99, and I was only in the market for the ones $3.99 and under. That might have been the reason selection was a bit limited. [grin]

Anyway the bolts were on sale for $1 off each yard, which is the only reason I was shopping for $3.99 fabric - I try to always buy my fabric for $3/yd. or less.

After 30 minutes of searching, I gave up. I had a buggy full of five blue prints, and five green prints. That was only half of what I needed, and I wasn't satisfied with the way the blue and green went together.

... Enter Mother Dear!

Upon my Mom's suggestion, I scrapped the original quilt pattern and selected 5 blue prints and 5 match-anything white prints, and bought double of each fabric, to give me the required 20 yds. I was confident I would be able to come up with a new pattern to suit the different fabrics.

I had a coupon for 10% off my entire purchase, which I used. (I love JoAnn's coupons. Just wish there were more of them! Once they had a 50% off your entire purchase. That was a steal. Wish they would do it again! )

"Sew," in all, I got 20 yds. of fabric for about $55. I've never spent that much on fabric before, but I had set some money aside for quilts a long time ago, and so I didn't feel guilty about spending it. The joys of a budget!

This amount of fabric will make 4 quilt tops. That's about $13.75 for each quilt top. I think it will make a double-size quilt. Last time I bought fabric for a quilt, it was a twin size, and I think I spent almost $16. (This is not the cost of the finished quilt - the backing and batting are still to be bought.)

It's not a huge savings, but every little bit counts. I would have saved more if I had spent only $2 a yard instead of $3, but I have to go with what is available.

Now...the only problem: designing that new pattern.

P.S. I would show you a photo of my lovely new fabric, but there's one problem: being a frugal family, we use re-chargeable batteries in our digital camera, and...well....they aren't charged at the moment. [grin]

They are indispensable.


Today, as she walked by me while I was busy in the kitchen, Mom told me I was being diligent.

Usually, if you browse through a book on raising little children, the author will tell you to build them up with praise, be careful to notice everything they do, be encouraging, etc.

But who says we ever outgrow that desire to be encouraged? I know that too much praise and not enough correction will harm a child, but building one another up is certainly Biblical - and it sure feels good when you're on the receiving end!

"You're being so diligent."

Four little words.

When I heard them, I instantly thought back in time to certain journal entries I made as a young teen. In them, I tearfully complained about my lack of home-making skills. "I'm never going to be as good as Mom! I'm too lazy. I never work hard enough. I'm always too tempted to sit here and read or write. How will I ever run a household?"

It was a worry that plagued me constantly. And no matter how hard I tried to conquer bad habits, I was never satisfied with the results. Mom still was a better worker than I. (And no surprise!)

I don't know if Mom was even aware of how I felt. I'm certain she had no idea how much pleasure her four little words caused this morning.

Mom is generous. Her praise is easily earned, by showing her something new we've done or created. Praises centered around our character, however, are more carefully bestowed. We're not commended as faithful, kind, loving, or truthful unless we really are such. I like that.

So Mom made my heart sing today, with her small comment. I needed it at the moment, because I'm not feeling well today, and certainly didn't feel diligent. I felt like I hadn't accomplished much at all.

But you know what? After she left the kitchen, something inside of me wanted to work twice as hard - to be sure I had honestly earned that compliment.


They sure know how to capture your heart and make your day.

P.S. It also makes me wonder how often I make someone's heart sing. Can I find a good character trait to commend today? How 'bout you?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ah, Autumn...

Nope, it isn't Autumn yet. But I guess the trees don't know that. Their leaves are already starting to drop to the ground and turn brown. Maybe it has something to do with the drought we've had this summer.

No, these pictures didn't come from our yard. But a few (very few) of the trees around here are actually starting to turn pretty colors.

I like lots of things about autumn. The sights. Vibrant reds, yellows, oranges and deep purple. The bright green of the evergreens, standing out more than ever.

The smells of Autumn; pumpkin pie, spice, cold brisk winds, fireplace smoke, dirt, cookies, wool, flannel...

I like changing my wardrobe to soft browns, cozy oranges, plaid greens, ribbed reds. I like being able to wear layers without sweltering. I like wearing cardigans.

But, as I said, it's not autumn yet. These things are coming soon, but not yet.

Sigh. But the leaves are already falling.

I really don't like falling leaves.

I don't like seeing anything die, but my reason for hating the leaf-falling process is a little more selfish than just that.

I'm allergic to dead leaves. Ugh. Right now my eyes are watering and my nose is red. That's just from walking in the yard. If I were to spend an hour or two raking leaves, I could plan to spend the next day or two with a fever, feeling miserable.

But I love to rake leaves! I love to be outdoors, and see what God is doing next.

But in autumn, I go back and forth; do I want to be outside, or don't I?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Spider's Web

Right now, I just feel like writing a rambling post, following the thoughts of my head, which are quite ramble-ish right now.

Today is my younger sister's birthday. Tiffany and I are very close, and I'm glad she's had a wonderful day so far. It's fun to see her so happy. I love you, Tiffy!

I have an afghan-in-progress sitting on my lap as I type. I was working on while I browsed some of the blogs I read. It's my newest project, started just today. It's made with blue and green cotton yarn, ever so soft and supple. The pattern is one I've created myself, and it looks like ocean waves.

Sometimes I think I'm crazy, starting so many projects at once, but this is a gift for someone, so I "must" make it.

...Besides, starting a new project is fun!!! :)

Oh - exciting news! THE PEAS AND BEETS SEEDLINGS ARE UP! I found them yesterday afternoon as I browsed through the garden with a friend. I was very surprised to see them, since I planted them only about a week and a half ago, but I soaked the seeds in water for several hours before planting, and that is supposed to shorten the germination time.

It's so wonderful to look around at the fading leaves and brown plants in the yard, then look down at the tiny slivers of green poking their new heads through the soil in our garden. This is our first year planting fall crops, and I love it. It's like a second spring.

Speaking of brown and green... the world is so beautiful since receiving that gigantic rain shower six days ago.

...I'm curious; how many of you were praying for us to receive rain? I posted on here once before, asking for your prayers for rain (this was back in June, I think), and right after that we got several weeks of rain. Then, a few days before we left on vacation this month, I asked y'all to pray for rain, and again the Lord answered!

So, how many of you were praying? Will you leave me a comment and let me know? Isn't our God wonderful? His ways are marvelous.

I have another prayer request; this one even more serious. A few minutes ago, I received an email containing this message:

...This is a time of mourning in India. The situation is critical in India in the state Orissa, the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh and around 30 km from the place where we are having a Children Home in Paderu. Right now there are tensions in the villages and many districts. Hindu mobs of around 700-800 are attacking villages where the Christians are during the nights and burning the whole villages. The unofficial report from the Christians is that at least 950 Christians are missing and around 50 churches are burned along with whole villages where the Christians live are burnt. We are planning to go and visit some of the villages to assess the situation in one week time. But in the mean time we urge every brother and sister in Christ to pray for the Christians who have lost their homes and in fact everything. We do not know the intensity of the need but one thing we know is that there is immense need for food provisions and need to build homes, churches. Please do pray for the need. I also request you kindly send this update to friends for their prayers...

I have a special place in my heart for the country of India, and this report makes my heart ache. I know God is still on the throne, as has not forgotten how to be merciful, but who can say if He has chosen to use persecution to further His church? He has done it in China. This may be what the church there needs.

Or it may be the devil roaring like a lion as he hunts down those he hates. How are we to know?

All I know is that I instantly want to cry out to God "please stop these people!" I am glad to know that He is in control, and that He sees everything that is happening. I am glad to read the Psalms, where David constantly affirms that God's eye is over the righteous, and He will lift them up and set them on the solid rock, though their enemies surround them.

Please, God, do it again!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Absolutely the BEST kitchen tip I've ever recieved

I've been planning to share this one for quite awhile.

I don't remember when or where I heard it, but it works extremely well, and I use it ALL the time, unlike some of those obscure tips that I keep in the back of my head for those rare occasions when I'll be able to use them.

In fact, it's so great that some of you may already know it.

First, the problem:

Screw-on lids that won't open. You know the scenario; you're baking bread, you reach for the yeast, and the silly jar won't open. You practically sprain your wrist in an effort to get the lid off that jar. Or you're trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and those luscious little red strawberries remain sealed away from you, just because you can't open the jelly jar.


(Drum roll, please!)

A rubber band!

I'm not kidding. Those little things brothers shoot all over the house, and collect because they want to use them for millions of curious things? They come in a variety of colors and sizes, but for our purposes, I've found that the absolutely best source and size comes from celery.

If you buy celery at a grocery store, most of the time the bunches come with a thick sturdy green rubber band around them. Save it! And keep it in a convenient place.

Then, next time you're stuck with a jar that won't open, stretch the rubber band around the edge of the lid, and use it to give you a good grip as you twist. Works amazingly wonderfully!

The first time I did this, I couldn't believe the results. From then on, I kept the rubber band on a shelf above our kitchen sink, and used it all the time.

A few weeks ago, I actually came to a jar that would not open, even with the band. That was a first. It was an old honey jar, with honey dried in the cracks between the lid and jar. I have opened plenty of honey jars using the rubber band method, but this one was really stuck.

Thankfully, my brother got it open.

I just thought I'd better put that disclaimer in; there was a jar in this world that the rubber band couldn't open. But now that y'all know I had it, there's no need to worry. :)

Monday, September 1, 2008


Today is officially our "last" day of vacation. Dad goes back to work tomorrow, and the rest of us must get the house back in order so that we can get back on a regular schedule next Monday. My younger siblings will be starting school then.

I thought I'd share a few pictures of the work we've done in the past three weeks:

Our first project was painting all the window shutters. The change to white really brightens up the exterior of the house.

Then we stained the deck. Aren't these little feet adorable?

The most time-consuming project was the kitchen. Here are the boys and Dad putting up new drywall after the old stuff has been torn out.

After such an irregular schedule for almost a month, it's hard to get back into things. I've become completely thrown off. Everything from doing dishes and making supper to waking up at the proper time have suddenly become difficult. Ugh.

But today is the day to sit down and write out a schedule for the new school year. Even though I'm no longer in school, what the rest of my family is doing affects me. My life and activities are woven into the school schedule.




Honestly, do y'all have any suggestions for creating a schedule that works? From past experience, these are a few things I've learned:

~ Don't write micro-detailed lists. They are impossible to follow, and discouraging.

~ Do have a written schedule. Leaving it all in my head makes it easier to disregard it.

~ Do balance physically active things with "head work." It healthier for the mind, body, and spirit.

~ Do make a list of priorities; things I absolutely MUST do. Then list things I WANT to do, that I believe will improve me. Then make a third list; things I'd LIKE to do for fun. Then sit down and work things into a blank schedule, starting with the first list, and not moving to the second list until the entire first list is incorporated. I've never yet made a schedule that had room for all the things on my third list, but that's okay. Sometimes I even have to leave out things from the second list.

~ Do put the written schedule in an easy-access place. If it's buried in a top drawer under old letters, papers, and hair brushes, it will never be used.

~ Don't make a schedule without involving mother! It just won't work. You'll end up planning to go somewhere when she needs you at home.

~ Do leave blank spaces on the schedule, for those things that always pop up.

~ When doing things such as sewing, computer-time, or reading, when it's easy to loose track of the time...KEEP TRACK OF THE TIME!

~ Pray before creating the schedule.

~ Put similar activities on the same day, so it is easier to dress for the day; for example, if I know I'll get hot, sweaty and filthy doing a certain garden chore, I will plan to also clean the rabbit cages that day, since I'll already be in work clothes.

~ Don't fill a schedule with things just for me. Leave room for time to minister to others. Leave time to bake something for someone. Leave time to watch the little ones if Mom needs to go somewhere. Ask in advance, if practical, so I can accurately plan for as many of these things as possible.

Okay, now I've made myself sound like a know-it-all, I suppose. The truth is, I'm not. Even if I was, that's nowhere near as good as being a DO-it-all. Doing it is my problem.

And here I am, typing on the computer, when I have some other things to do. I'd better go. But I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on making schedules, and sticking to them. Remember, all this is so that we can obey Ephesians 5:15-17:

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."