Friday, October 12, 2012

Who Do You Call?

I don't know if you are like me, but when something big happens in my life I immediately have this overwhelming urge to tell someone or say, the entire Facebook community! I usually go down the line of family members and friends who are on my mental call list. When this something is a negative life experience, the pressure to "go tell it on the mountain" is even greater. It is almost as though I expect a release or peace from the pressure of anger, fear, or sadness, just to share it with others. Usually, there is a slight or temporary release by telling others, but there is no real resolve. No real peace, until...I take it to my Lord.

I found a Bible lesson that is a great reminder of who we need to take it to and trust to resolve it for us. In 2 Kings 4, there is the story of Elisha and The Shunammite Woman. Elisha was coming through her town quite often, so she asked her husband if they could make a room with a bed for this "holy man of God." They made him one and in return Elisha wanted to do something for her. His servant Gehazi said that she had no son and her husband was old (this meant she had no one to provide for her if she became a widow.) So Elisha told her she would have a son and she asked "just don't get my hopes up." A year later, she had a son just like he had said.

When the son had grown up some, he was in the fields with his father and screamed that his head hurt. The father sent him home to be with his mother. She held him in her lap until noon and then he died. She carried him up to Elisha's bed, shut the door so no one would know, and went to her husband. She asked her husband for a servant and a donkey, so she could go see the man of God. He asked why she would go to him at such a strange time of year and she said, "It is alright." (This woman only had one thing on her mind, getting to the man of God who gave her a promise of a son which was fulfilled. She didn't mourn for her son, she didn't go sob with her husband, she just wanted to get to her direct link to God, Elisha.)

She told her servant to go fast and don't slow down for her unless she asked him to. When Elisha saw her in the distance, he told his servant Gehazi to run to her and ask if everything was ok. When Gehazi got to her, he asked and her response was again, "Everything is all right." When she got to Elisha, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi tried to pull her away, but Elisha said to leave her there. God had not told Elisha what was wrong with her, but he knew she was in bitter distress.

Once Elisha found out the woman's son had died, he gave his staff to Gehazi and told him to go quickly to the boy and lay the staff on his face. The woman said as surely as the Lord lives, she would not leave Elisha, so he got up and they went to her house. (Again, she was relying solely on her source to God and didn't want to rely on anything less.) Gehazi was not successful in raising the boy, so he ran back to meet them. Once Elisha got to her house, he went into the room and raised the boy. He called for the woman and told her to take her son. She fell at Elisha's feet once again and bowed, then took her son.

Through Elisha, the Shunammite Woman served the Lord, she was blessed by the Lord, she shared her pain only with the Lord, she trusted the Lord in His promises, and she praised the Lord for His provision. She recognized the Lord as her main source for everything and she never looked away from that. So the next time I have something big happen in life, I hope I remember this story and don't waste any time. I hope I just take it straight to Him!

Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Give When you Barely Have Anything Left

I was catching up on my read the Bible through and came to the story of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath located in 1 Kings 17. There had been drought. A widow was starving and barely keeping herself and her son alive. She only had a handful of flour and a little oil, yet God was asking her to feed Elijah. She was to give what little she had left. Elijah told the widow, "Don't be afraid." The Lord said that her flour would not be used up nor her oil run dry, until the rain returned.
We live in a time where we literally give or spend all that we have, almost to the point where we have nothing left or that we are eager to protect what we have left. Our time, money, energy, and physical goods, we run them down until they are spent. So what happens when we feel God asking us to give of those things? Do we do it with faith and trust that He will provide? Or do we hoard it for our own good? Just as the Lord provided for the widow who was faithful, He will provide for us who are faithful.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pirouettes in Life

Have you ever had those times when you feel like everything is pulling at you and you are doing your best to stay above water so to speak? I am definitely in one of those times. Everything from homeschool, my parenting skills, relationships, my new business of selling children's books, this hurricane, is all pulling at me and ahhhhhh each in different directions! I am so incredibly off balance.

So what do I do? Psalm 46:10  says, "Be still and know that I am God." Be still. These two simple words are so calming and bring me back to the foundation. Be still. Do nothing. Let go. Just stop and know that He is in control. He is my steady. Psalm 105 says, "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."Just like a ballerina must find and keep a focal point, I need to stay focused on Him as I do pirouettes in the dance called life.

Be still. Know. Look.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Health(ier) Snacks!

I know it has been quite some time since I last posted, but summer has come to our house and schedules are full with exciting new things! Bowling, swimming  lessons, Bible school, and library summer programs are just a few of the things keeping us busy. Also, my mom was recently diagnosed with inoperable, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (your prayers are most definitely welcome,) so we have already traveled to visit grandparents this summer. 

Her diagnosis has turned my focus back to what we eat in this house. If you have never read Don Colbert's Eat This and Live book, it is an eye opener! Our meals have been pretty healthy, primarily fresh meats and vegetables. Fresh fruit is always a great choice, but our boxed snacks needed some improving. So, we are taking baby steps to make better choices. I have found these two recipes and wanted to share.   

Gold Medal's 100% White Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie
So maybe the butter, sugars, and chocolate chips are not the healthiest ingredients, BUT using whole wheat does make this treat a healthier option for the store bought cookies. Your kids will not notice the difference in flour and will enjoy this fiber filled cookie. As my oldest daughter says, "they are deeelicious!"

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups Gold Medal® white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips

Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Cheese Crackers
This is my attempt to replace packaged Goldfish with fewer and fresher ingredients. I started out using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but made a mistake and then changed it up slightly. My oldest just asked for the "real" Goldfish that mommy made instead of the boxed Goldfish, so I would say they were a success. As you can see from my picture, I did not attempt a fish shape, but cut them into small squares and rectangles. You can probably use white whole wheat in place of the all-purpose to make these 100% whole wheat snacks.

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter softened
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4+- cup of milk

Mix first six ingredients in a mixing bowl and add enough milk to form a stiff dough. Roll dough on a floured surface to 1/8 inch. Cut in desired shape. Bake the crackers at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until they brown around the edges.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Racing for the Prize

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Today, my daughter ran her very first race. As I ran alongside of her, I could tell she didn't know it was a competition. She was running, simply because she just loves to run. She had no regard for winning, losing, or placement, but I did.

She has the physical ability and passion to run, so I knew she was capable of doing great and even winning. As we ran, there were times when I encouraged her to keep going and times when I was patient while we slowed down. There were also times when I couldn't be with her and I directed her to keep running without me. It wasn't until I pointed out the finish line that she began to run with all of her heart and might. She had finally realized it was a race, a competition with a prize at the end!

I have been reflecting on this race all day and how symbolic it is. I realized the importance for us as parents to encourage our children to race towards Christ. We need to point out the prize at the end that they have yet to see. The best way to do this, is to run that race ourselves right beside them. Along the way, we need to encourage them to see and fulfill who God made them to be. We need to be patient with them while they are growing. There may even come a time when they will race without us, but we need to teach them to keep their eye on the prize. So, that leaves one question...are you ready? On your mark, get set, GO!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

21 Days

It all started with one request from my daughter, "Mama, maybe one day we can get a daddy rooster, so we can have baby chicks." She even prayed that day God would give her some. Little did we all know, two days later a rooster would fall into our laps at the strangest time and place and my daughter's dream of baby chicks become a reality. Not only was it a rooster, but one that was within the same breed of our hen. As simple as it may seem, we thanked God for our new rooster and looked forward to what we would all gain from this experience.

The next step was to decide whether to let the eggs incubate naturally with our hen or in an incubator. We decided it would be fun for the kids to actually watch them hatch, so we needed an incubator. They were very reasonable to purchase or there were plenty of homemade plans on the Internet, but someone actually blessed us with one for free. Once we had our rooster and our incubator, 21 days was all that stood between us and baby chicks!

We didn't purchase an automatic turner, but turned the eggs ourselves three times a day. We enjoyed candling them throughout the process. (You can purchase equipment to candle eggs, but I used an empty toilet paper roll with a bright flashlight.) We could see a heartbeat as early as four days. We could see the blood vessels and the chick moving at 14 days. We began hearing faint chirping around 20 days, and that made the excitement grow. Finally on the 21st day, we saw what is called "pipping." It is the first hole the chick makes before hatching. A few hours later, after patiently waiting and watching, we had our first chick! Later in the day, I had the privilege of watching all three of my children stare in amazement as our second chick hatched its way out and into our lives.

One may ask, so what did you learn from this experience? Well, I now realize how fragile and articulate the creation of chickens is. One wrong move of temperature or humidity in the incubator, the presence of bacteria, or failure to turn the eggs could have been fatal to the growth process. The fact that He created the hen with instincts to turn their eggs and to care for them over the 21 day process, is just extraordinary to me. Once the hatching began, it was amazing how the chick worked to break the egg, then rested, taking in nourishment from the yolk with each pause. Then once they hatched completely out, the final nourishment sustained them for the next 24 hours.

Through this experience, I was reminded that God sees our heart and our desires. Sure this was a four year old making a simple request one day, but we didn't go looking for a rooster and we didn't go buy an incubator. We didn't make these eggs form into chickens that hatched. God did! See, I had the same dream of hatching chicks, but I thought it was something we couldn't do until we moved to the country. I didn't ask God to provide us a way to do it, but my daughter with her child like faith did. It makes me think of Matthew 7:9-11 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! I truly believe He did this for her. The day they hatched, I heard her praying and thanking Him for our chicks. She finished by asking Him to watch over them. He gets the glory from this and we, well we get to enjoy two sweet, new chicks!

If you would like to watch the video of our very first chick hatching, please click here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Living versus Dead

I recently discovered the writings of Dr. Don Colbert and became a huge fan of his book, Eat This and Live. It has drastically changed my perception of food and will have lasting impact on our family. In his book, he discusses living foods versus dead foods. Living foods obviously nourish our body while dead foods tend to bring harm to our body. I had the thought this week, why not apply this to our words and actions towards others? The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21,"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." So, this week our family has focused on our words and actions and whether they bring life or death to those around us.

This has been a very simple method to teach our children the importance of how they speak and act towards others. The oldest two are only seventeen months apart, so there has been ample opportunity to study this over the week. When one child says something hurtful to the other, we discuss whether or not that statement was living or dead. Once they determine it was a dead statement, we discuss how they can rephrase it to communicate in a loving manner. I have seen great fruit from this during the week. I have listened as my children encourage one another and show love through their actions. They have even begun correcting one another saying, "try to use your living words."

It doesn't stop there though. We as adults can practice this in our relationships with our spouse, children, family and friends. We set the example for our children, so it actually starts with us. I encourage you, as a family, to become aware of your words and actions and the fruit they are bearing. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Freedom to Live

"God works for the good of those who love him." It is a commonly used scripture out of Romans 8. Most have either heard this or even said this to someone when they were amidst a trial in life, but do we really believe it? Do we live in the freedom of this scripture and do a trust fall into the arms of our Lord, knowing that He will work everything out to His plan?

The answer lies in our response to our trials. How do we respond when life throws us a curve ball such as work pressure, an unexpected bill, children disobeying, or a friend hurting us? What about when we are tired of waiting on God's timing and frustrated in our place in life? Even more so, when we hit major trials such as death of a loved one, divorce, illness, or job loss?

The real question is, how does God want us to respond to these trials? Well, He tells us in His word:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
   whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.”  
Jeremiah 17:7-8

God is the great I AM (Exodus 3:14.) He is anything and everything you and I need Him to be. He is the stream that continually nourishes the tree to bear fruit, even during a drought. Once we take hold of this and proclaim it, we can face whatever life has in store. We can remain calm and steady amongst the storms. We can have freedom to live our life of hope and joy without fear, depression, or turmoil. We can be blessed and even bear fruit through our trials.

"And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you." Matthew 6:30

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Are You Prepared?

If you are a follower of Christ, you either have or more than likely will face spiritual battles. The battles will not be easy, but will pull at every ounce of your flesh to fight the worldly way. They will put your faith and trust in the Lord to the test. They will determine, who do you call out to? Whose words do you hold claim to? Who do you try and glorify?
This morning, I faced a spiritual battle in a relationship with someone I am very close to. It was ugly and it was painful.  I walked away with wounds, but I choose not to focus on the wounds. I will focus on the fact that I am still standing firm and victorious after the battle and our relationship is still standing firm.
It is vital for us as believers to first see that we have victory only through our Lord and His power. We cannot fight these battles on our own strength.Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
Secondly, we have to know how to be prepared for the battle. If we aren’t protected and armed, then how can we even survive the attacks and overcome the enemy? “Put on the full armor of God…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:11, 14-18 Notice, Paul says “full armor,” because if we are not fully protected, then we are vulnerable in some area. Also, the majority of the armor is for our protection. The only tool to actually fight with is the sword, which is the word of God. This is why we need to study His words, so He can put them on our hearts and minds. If you remember, Jesus fought the devil’s tests with God’s words through scripture.
Finally, we have to know who the enemy is that we are fighting. It is not our family member, friend, co-worker, or even a stranger that is attacking us. It is the devil.  “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:11-12
I urge you to know that victory is only through His power. Be prepared with the armor and know who the enemy is, then you can stand firm!  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

Friday, March 23, 2012

Living Books- The Story of Ferdinand

This week, I am sharing one of my husband's favorite living books, The Story of Ferdinand. I never grew up reading this book like my husband did. It actually wasn't until I was 31 that I read it for the first time. I sometimes believe I enjoy reading these books just as much as the kiddos do. Regardless of your age or your childrens' ages, this book is a sweet reminder that it is ok to be different.

Summary: Ferdinand is a young bull who enjoys sitting quietly under a cork tree and smelling the flowers. He does not want to partake in the rowdy activities with the other bulls. He grows up and remains the same. He does not desire to go to the bull fights in Madrid like the other bulls. By chance or a bee sting to be exact, he ends up in the bull fights in Madrid. Even there, against the pressures to perform, he remains true to himself.

Lessons: There is one main lesson in this book: it is ok to be who God made you to be! Even if you are different from those around you, that is ok. This is an important lesson to teach our children, especially when they have so many external pressures to conform to this world. It is an equally important lesson for us as parents. We should accept our children as they are. We do not need to compare them to other children or their siblings. We have to embrace them as they are. That in turn, will help them embrace themselves and have confidence to face the world and live out the purpose God designed for them.  

This book also presents a great opportunity for a geography lesson on Madrid, Spain.

Bible Parallel: God had a purpose for Moses to lead His chosen people out from Egypt. Moses did not have the confidence that he could do this, one reason because he was not a good speaker. God showed Moses that He would be with him and use him.

Verse Parallel: This was the verse on my oldest child's birth announcement. It is one of my favorite reminders that God makes no mistakes and designed us to His perfection.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16

Monday, March 19, 2012

Living Water

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

I was sitting at a restaurant table surrounded by several girlfriends who were all in conversation. I was surrounded with these friends, but I felt so incrediably alone. I remember the moment so vividly. It was then that I realized I was thirsting for more in my life. More importantly, I realized God desired more for my life.

At the time, I was a Christian who went to church and believed in Jesus as my risen Savior, but I was lacking a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I was lacking real purpose in my life. I had not sought to know God or who He created me to be. At that moment of realization, it was as though I woke up.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-2 

Over the years, this verse has inspired me more than any other. It has taught me to put death to my flesh for His glory and renew my mind to be pleasing to Him. That night at the restaurant, I realized I was not of this world, but I was His. I realized God had more for me, just like he does for all of His children. This past weekend, I attended a Women on Missions workshop at our church where we studied the story of the woman at the well in John 4. Our theme was come as you are, but don't leave the same way. I see that it was only when I turned from the worldly things and turned to Him and only Him, that my thirst was quenched. Still today, I thirst no more.

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Than Just Chickens

Last May, I finally dove into the world of chickens. Well more like, I tiptoed into it. We bought two little biddies for $2.50 a piece. Two itty bitty things at $5, I thought no big deal, we can do this. I knew nothing about raising chickens, but figured I would find my way.  Our children's librarian actually had chickens, so she helped me immensely. I knew if all else failed, I could always call my 90 year old Mama Du, because she knows everything. She was my Google before Google existed. So we set out with our two little chicks named Aunt B, a Buff Orpington and Aunt D, a Red Ameraucana.

I have to say those first few weeks were so fun. It was amazing to see the natural instincts God designed in these little creatures. If anything even remotely sounded like a hawk, they took cover. We saw the whole pecking order business, as Aunt B took the dominant role. Their personalities were so inquisitive and fun. We would just sit out in the grass in the evenings and let them hop on our legs and shoulders. They were exploring us just as much as we were exploring them.

After six long months of anxiously waiting, we had our first egg. I had looked out the back door to see only one girl. I knew something was different, because they never separated. I went out to find Aunt D making her nest. I have to say watching her build her nest and lay an egg for the first time was just amazing. I realize some, including my husband, will never have the same enthusiasm as I did, but it was probably the neatest thing I have ever seen. I love to see God's very specific and detailed design in his creation and this was it! She carefully moved the twigs and leaves around building her nest. She moved around until things were just so and then after a few minutes...there was the prettiest blue egg I ever did see. Actually, it was the first blue egg I had ever seen. The kids were just as excited as I was, because they had a new chore of gathering eggs. Eventually, Aunt B finally started laying her beautiful extra-large, brown eggs and since then we have been thanking God for his provision of eggs everyday.

The reason I share all of this, is that I think this has been an awesome opportunity for the kids (and myself) to watch one of God's creations grow and start fulfilling its purpose. It is through that purpose, that He is providing for our family. Most days when they bring in the eggs, we try to stop and acknowledge where those eggs comes from and offer thanks. We live in a country where most of us have food to eat beyond three meals a day. It is easy to take that for granted and forget just what a blessing it is to even have food. It is a gracious cycle, God provides for His plant and animal creation and through His creation, He provides for us. Here are some Psalms of praise I love:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
Psalm 8:3, 4, 6-9

These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; 
when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
Psalm 104: 27-28        

So while we started out getting two little biddies for $5, we have gotten so much more out of this experience. The best part is it isn't over yet. We now have a rooster (pictured above with Aunt B. We still have no name, so feel free to offer one.) and will hopefully begin the reproductive process. I will use it as a science experiment to explore God's creation, so be on the look out. Yet again, I have absolutely NO clue what I am doing, but I know we are going to get there! After all, it is His creation. We just have to sit back and enjoy the beauty of it. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Blend or To Shine?

The kiddos and I did a science experiment (again from our favorite The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book) studying God's neat design of camouflage in animals. We were learning how the eye notices contrast in colors more quickly than similar colors blended together. To put this to the test, we cut up three different sheets of construction paper into small squares (blue, purple, and orange.) One kiddo would place the three different colored squares on a large piece of blue construction paper, while the other was blindfolded. Once ready, the blindfold came off and that child would have five seconds to pick up as many squares as they could. Each time we tested this, the kiddos picked the orange and purple squares over the blue. So it proved true, thier eyes gravitated toward the squares that were of different color instead of the blue that blended with the background.

We discussed several examples of animals that have the ability to naturally camouflage themselves and blend in with their surroundings. We discussed how this helps protect them from their predators and helps them hunt their prey for food. I told them that God has a different idea for us as His children. He tells us in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before others." One of our favorite songs went along great with this lesson. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...."

I encourage you to take the time and do this little experiment. The kids will love preparing the materials (getting to use scissors is ALWAYS a big event in this house) and they will love seeing the outcome of the experiment. It is a simple way to explain how God designed some animals with the ability to blend, but more importantly about His plan for us to contrast the world and SHINE!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Living Books - Blueberries for Sal / Follower Friday

Today, I am sharing another living book and our absolute most favorite thus far (At the bottom, I am asking you to share your favorite children's book.) If you have not read Blueberries for Sal, it is definitely worth a trip to your local library for the weekend. We will most likely purchase this book for our own library, because the kiddos love it and it has so many teachable moments. It has comparisons, home economics, math, cause/effect, animal science, senses/observations, and is a great example of God's design and provision for His creation.

Summary: Little Sal and her mother are picking blueberries to can for the winter. Little Bear and his mother are eating blueberries to store up for the winter. Somewhere along the way on Blueberry Hill, Little Sal and Little Bear both get lost. While they search for their mothers, they go on an adventure and experience new things.

Lessons: There are so many lessons that can come from this one book. Continuously throughout the book though, the theme of God's provision and preparation for the future is emphasized. It is similar to God's provision of His Son, Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity to take (accept) that provision, which will prepare us for our future and eternity.

What would happen if Little Sal's mother and Little Bear's mother did not prepare for the future? Would they and their family be without? This is an important lesson for us as parents. It is our responsibility to be examples and show our children how to be prepared for their eternity.

We can teach the theme of preparation by using opportunities like budgeting allowances, grocery shopping for the week, or preparing clothes for the next day.  

Bible Parallel: The story of Joseph who stored up grain for the years of famine that would come. Because he was obedient to God's direction, he saved himself, his father, and his brothers.

I have learned over the last few months that there are so many great books out there. We could have easily missed out on them, just as I am sure we are missing out on some right now. This is where you come in. I am asking you to share (in the comments below) your favorite children's book or books you read as a child or that you read to your children or loved ones now. Every time we open a new book, it is a new world, a new adventure. We want to know yours!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

I had a request for my chicken noodle soup recipe, so I thought I would share it with the world. I actually just cooked this for the first time a few weeks ago and I have to say, it is so good! I am not one to eat soup, but I have now made it three times. In this house, it is the ultimate go-to comfort food when sick, but has become more than that.

DISCLAIMER: I absolutely stink at writing my own recipes, because I never know how much detail to give. I want it to be helpful for those who might be starting out in their cooking ventures, so I try to be specific. If I left anything out, just ask!

1 whole chicken
Season Salt
1/2 stick of butter
3 cloves of garlic
4-5 whole carrots peeled
3-4 stalks of celery
Yellow onion diced (small to medium)
2 cans Swanson chicken broth
Half package broad egg noodles

Some people boil a chicken for soup and dumplings, but I alway prefer to bake it for a richer broth. I place my chicken in a cast iron dutch oven and sprinkle with Season Salt. Bake covered at 350 degrees for an hour and a half to two hours depending on size of chicken. I go by what my mom says, "if the leg pulls away easily, your chicken is done." You can always use a meat thermometer though, USDA states 165 degree internal temperature is safe.

Once the chicken has cooked, remove your chicken and broth, keeping the broth because you will use it. In the same dutch oven or any large pot that can go on stovetop, sautee your sliced vegetables in a 1/2 stick of butter for 10 minutes. Add the broth from the baked chicken and the 2 cans of chicken broth. Boil sauteed vegetables in broth for 10 minutes. Add your egg noodles. If you need more liquid, you can add water or more canned broth. I even add water back to my chicken bones and skin in a separate pot then reboil for more broth. (That may seem totally gross to some, but my grandmother who endured The Great Depression has taught me to use things to the very last ounce and so I try.) Boil until noodles are cooked to your liking. I usually prefer them slightly firm, because they will continue cooking and soak up more broth while it cools. Add your shredded or cubed chicken and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Living Books - The Carrot Seed

Through researching home school materials, I have learned about Charlotte Mason's method of teaching. Simply, she emphasized being outdoors and experiencing God's creation firsthand. She also encouraged "living books" that come alive to the reader, teaching valuable lessons along the way. There are tons of book lists online, so each week at story time I have been combing the library shelves in search of these living books. What treasures we have found! I hope to share some of our favorites over the next weeks and the lessons we are learning from them. The first is:

Summary: A little boy plants a carrot seed, but his family repeatedly tells him that it will not come up. He continues to care for it by pulling weeds and watering the ground, even though he cannot see any growth. Then eventually one day, it comes up!

Lessons: Despite discouragement, continue to believe and work toward what is within you. At times, people may say "there is no God, you cannot see Him." If you continue to believe and nurture the seed of belief He has planted in you, one day you will reap the reward.

The lesson I learned for myself, was that if God has given me a dream, I should continue to believe and work toward that dream (even if I don't see the fruit yet.) Just like the little boy; he believed, worked, and after time, he reaped. What a lesson for the young and old!

Bible Parallel: The story of Noah who continued to work toward what God called him to do, despite ridicule. His faith and hard work saved his life and his family.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Two Words: Pound Cake

This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman's website. If you have never ventured into her world, you need to!  Among her stash of great recipes, lies this pound cake. It is so moist and delicious, but icing on the cake is it is a one bowler. You must try this cake, you will not be disappointed.

3 sticks of butter (room temperature works best)
3 cups of sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
2 teaspoons lemon flavoring
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Sprite

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix your butter with one cup of sugar at a time, mixing well after each cup. Same with the eggs, add one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add your flavorings. Add your flour a cup at a time, mixing well after each cup. At this point your batter will be on the thick side, add your cup of Sprite and mix. Scrap sides and mix again. Pour into a well greased bundt pan or sometimes I use regular bread pans to make several smaller cakes. Bake for 1 hour to an 1 hour and 10 minutes, until it is firm. Invert and let cool. Thanks to The Pioneer Woman, we now have the best pound cake ever! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Capillary Action

The kids and I have started working through a cute book called the "The Everything Kids' Science Experiment Book" by Tom Robinson. (Our awesome library had it in their cooperative system, but it is very inexpensive on Amazon and definitely worth the purchase.) Our first science experiment was on capillary action. It is amazing how when you look, you can see God in all of the small details, especially when it comes to His creation and design. Well we placed a stalk of celery in a glass of water with red food coloring. Eventually after a few days, the leaves began to show a hint of red around the edges. The lesson was that the leaves receive their nutrition and water from thier roots and stems by means of capillary action. I was teaching them that when you water a plant, you water the ground and not the leaves. When you think about it, it is the same way with us as human beings. Whatever we are rooted in and being nourished by, is what eventually shows on our outermost parts. As Christians, it is important to be rooted in a relationship with our Father and our foundation built on His Word. I see it in my own life. When I let things distract me from studying God's word and being in continual communication with Him, I begin to see the difference in my actions and words. I struggle, in essence, I am losing my nutrient supply. So anytime you might struggle like I do, remember what Jesus says in Matthew 4:4: "It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Open the Bible or use that Bible app. Talk to Him thoughout your day. We are promised in James 4:4 that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. It is then that we will exude the full beauty that He has in each of us.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Recipe of Inspiration: Homemade Yeast Buns

So after two attempts, I finally baked the perfect yeast bun for bbq sandwiches (could be used for hamburgers as well.) The recipe is quick, actually giving you a soft, yeast bun in less than an hour. In my life, if you can bake anything from scratch with common cupboard necessities in less than an hour, saving you from hauling all kids to the grocery store...then you have hit a pot of gold. (Recipe came from but has been altered to perfection.)

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water plus
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 -3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add oil and sugar to yeast mixture, let is sit for 15 minutes. Add egg, salt, and flour. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Divide into 8 pieces and shape as desired. Flatten them for larger buns. Place 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Cover with tea cloth and let sit for 20-30 minutes or until double in size. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

UPDATE: I had several of these left over and they worked perfect for personal size pizzas. Just slice and let the kiddos have fun adding pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings.