Friday, December 31, 2010

One Funny Picture Says it All......

I was cleaning out my cupboards yesterday and I found these:
Well, forgive me, because I don't remember buying those......So I ask Will if he remembered.  He said: YES.  Hmmmmm....hopefully that was just a phase.  Maybe 2011 will be better.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Budget Decorating

I got this idea from  Emily Rose at http://www.simplyvintagegirl.com/blog/index.php/2010/11/27/the-thankful-tree/

It's almost time to take down those Christmas decorations!  Thinking back on the course of the year, I was pondering that controversial posts about what holidays Christians choose to celebrate.   One of my friends who chooses not to celebrate Christmas made a good point.  Why not celebrate Jesus every day? I agree.

So, off to the Thankful Tree~

This was great Thanksgiving idea!  I have friends who have made a whole Thankful Wall in their house.  I love that.  So we are going to leave this little tree up for most of the year and see haw many thankful tags we can add. 

Look at this one:

I know you can't read it.  But it says MOM!  Emma made that.  I am thankful for her too.  More than she knows.

The best thing about this is that it didn't cost me a dime.  My hedge row not only has evergreen, it has deciduous bushed too.  I used scrapbooking paper and the same ribbon that was in my bathroom for Christmas.  I had a heart paper punch that was a pretty good size for my tree.

Bring on Valentines Day!

New Years Resolutions

Sadly, I haven't even thought of the topic until today.  I hate New Years resolutions because they seem like they are just setting you up for failure!  Haha.  What I will not promise myself:

  • My house will be cleaner
  • I will be more orgaized
  • I will lose weight
  • I will eat less chocolate.....
No, no.  It's not that these things are not good things.  It's just that they are my weakest points.   I have been dealing with these things for 38 years!  But I thought about it, and I should have resolutions. You know, to better myself.  We all need that. Right?  So here they are:

  • I will live every day in the light of God's grace, knowing that I deserve the worst, yet He reserves for me the best.
  • I will tell as many others about this wonderful grace that God has poured out on me.
  • I will try to treat others with the same grace (Jesus....help me!) even when my feelings get hurt.  
  • I will remember that I am not good.  My opinion isn't the only opinion.  And I will try to love.  Always love.  
  • I will try not to complain so much!!!
  • I will be able to forgive myself when I fail any of the above.
I think that is enough. Sigh.  

What is your New Years resolution?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

With a Love That You Cannot Think of....

I got very little sleep last night.  I lay awake next to my little boy feeling the heat radiate off of his head.  He's been sick for 2 day.  I listened to his breathing and imagined the worst.  I prayed.  Not just for him but for all of the friends that I know right now that are struggling with sickness.  But when it is your child....

It is in these moments that I am awestruck of God.  I can't imagine anyone loving my child more than I do, yet He does.  I can't help but worry, yet I know he is in God's hands.  Because my love for him is so deep....it is simply unimaginable to me that the Creator of the universe loves me that much and more. I am humming...

I love you with a love that you cannot think of,
I am near you even though you feel far away....far away.
I rescued you and carried you and caused your world to stop,
Just so I could hear you say that you love Me too...

I do love You Lord.

Up and Running

Okay, my button is now up and running.  Feel free to share!

Under Construction

Wow!  I am learning so much about computers through this blog!  If you note the sidebars, I am working on a button with a grab box.  So far, I have not been able to get exactly what I want so please ignore them for the time being.  I don't want to erase all of the HTML codes.  :)  I have a friend helping me get it straightened out (thanks Andy!)  When it is complete, I would love for you to share my blog site with anyone you might think interested.  So for now......pardon my dust!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas my friends!  We will be taking this time to reflect on the greatest gift the world has ever received~ Jesus!  We celebrate this time of year because the God of the universe humbled Himself, temporarily gave up the comforts of heaven and was born a human child in order to redeem the children He loved.  We always remember that whatever we struggle through: sickness, death of a loved one, and even physical pain, He has felt too.  He loves us and desires us.  The one who made the stars and the planets loves YOU!! 

Have a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why Home School? Part 3 Teach Them to Love God

 DISCLAIMER:  I am not writing this to try to talk you into home education.  I Don't believe it to be the only way.  I have written this because of the frequent of question of why I decided to home school, and to answer the occasional criticism of my choice.  Home education is what I believe that God is calling me to do.  I am simply answering that call!


You might be asking yourself right now:  Does she think I have to home school if I want my kids to love God?   Most definitely not.  Parents who love God generally have children who love God.  BUT, when your child has so many things competing for his or her attention, where will God be on his priority list?  Where will you rank?

When children are taught in Sunday School that God saved part of our race through Noah, and then learn at school that there was never a word wide flood, confusion reigns.  Children look up to their teachers.  And why not?  They have a college degree in this stuff...right?  Well, the truth is, evolution and secular humanism reigns supreme in the public school setting.  Both are the equivalent of a religion, yet the are pushed as indisputable truth while the idea of an intelligent designer is laughed at.  Neither of the theories have be scientifically proved, yet the school system still shuns one for the other.  This doesn't have to be.  We can home educate our children about Darwin, evolution, and all of the world religions and still instill in our children a Biblical worldview.  But a child will most likely believe what the teacher is telling them to believe.  Therefore, is it not appropriate to place your children under someone who believes the same as you do?  My children have learned about Confucius, Buddha, and Muhammad just this year.   They learned to origins of each line of thinking and where it departs from Biblical Christianity.  They have learned that all of these religions have good things about them, but they are missing one thing...Jesus.

I am not saying that you can't teach your kids truth if you send them to school.  I am saying that without a doubt, it is much harder to do.  I have friends at church who say that they do not even have time to work with their kids on memory verses for the sheer lack of time and the mountains of homework the kids have every night.  God's Word falls to lower priority when you have to live on someone else's schedule.  But when you wake up and have your kids next to you, when you take them along with you throughout the day, when you spend your days and evenings with them, it is much easier to fulfill God's command in Deuteronomy 6:7 "You shall teach the diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."  It  is our responsibility to teach them.

And then there is the issue of friends.  1 Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits."    We know this is true.  Even adults are affected by those they keep company with. How can we expect our kids not to be?  So all of the time and energy that we put into our kids character training could possibly be sabotaged by the fact that they see their friends more than they see us.   Most likely, they will have a strong desire to be liked or fit in.  It is hard for me to remember that it doesn't matter what my friends think......it is much harder for my kids.

There is the common argument of "salt and light" among Christian families.  We are supposed to send our kids out into the world to be little missionaries for the Gospel.  Unfortunately, statistic show that more Christian kids are evangelized by the world than the other way around.  In the book Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can do to Stop it."  by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, it is estimated that some 85% of evangelical youth will leave the church at some time or another.   This really tells me that our kids are not being salt and light to the world, but rather, they are losing their "saltiness" and having their faith trampled by the world.  The authors of the book think that the solution is to teach science at church.  I sincerely disagree.   There are many great thinkers out there in the Christian community that disagree over certain areas of science, creation, etc.  For the most part, the things that they disagree on can never be proved.  But if we simply endeavor to grow our kids with a Biblical Worldview, then they will learn to filter everything through God' Word.   There are incredibly smart people out there doing research in the areas of creationism providing us with scientific data compatible with the Bible.

But far more insidious than creation versus evolution is the idea of secular humanism.  Secular humanism is the idea that man is inherently good, and can do without a God. It rejects (supposedly) anything that is taken on "faith" and only accepts that which can be proven by science.  It is a more subtle form of anti-Christian philosophy.   I say that it is anti-Christian because the Bible teaches the absolute opposite. We are all sinners, we are all separated from God, we all need a Savior.  Jeremiah 17:9 say that our hearts are desperately wicked.  Secular humanism also teaches that human life is no more valuable than any other form of life.  Man has dominion over nothing.  As you can see, this is very contrary to Bible teaching.  As a matter of fact, secular humanism rejects anything supernatural or based on faith.  For the Christian family, this is simply not an option.

If you still intend to send your kids out into the school system, I would encourage you to evaluate their beliefs closely and keep close tabs on what they are learning.  It is important to know that these subtle philosophies are creeping in. 

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."   Psalm 1:1-2

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Star of Bethlehem

We own the DVD that this website is about.  I encourage you to check it out.

How fascinating it was to find that the star was not a huge super natural astronomical event, but rather something the Magi found in the night sky.  King Herod didn't even know of the star's existence until the Magi told him about it.  The star was present to lead the Magi to the Messiah after his birth, not on the night of his birth.  The software the writer uses traces the date of the star to ......get this.... Dec. 25th! 

I wanted to share this website with everyone, and I highly encourage the DVD too.  As the author says, Such poetry!  God had written it in the stars! 

http://bethlehemstar.net/

God's Word says He loved us before the foundation of the world.  Amazing love!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Home School? Part 2 What About Socialization?

DISCLAIMER:  I am not trying to convince you to home school, or even saying that it is the only way.  I am answering the questions of those who have asked politely, and those who have criticized.  These are the reasons why I made my decisions.  I believe that God is calling me to this, and I am simply answering the call.

 It is an inevitable part of any home school parent's life.  I totally understand all of the questions.  I had them too at one time.  And let's face it, TV shows like Law and Order do their best to portray the darkest side of anything- including home education.  People tend to think of home school families as Amish-looking kids that neurotic parents hide away from the world.  When public schooling has become the "norm" it is normal for people to have questions for those of us who choose a different path.

So, this is the BIG question. "What about socialization?"  Almost everyone I talk to asks that question eventually.  I want to encourage you to look at the issue in a different light.

First of all, most home school families do not hide their kids away from the world.  They may socialize in different circles than you do making it seem like they never come out, but they do.  My kids have friends at our co-op, at church, and in our neighborhood.   They have even made "one-day friends" with a girl at the mall.  (We ended up having lunch with her and her mother that day-I had never met them before..)  My kids all go to the grocery store and anywhere else I need to go with me.  Chances are, they see much more of the world than their government educated counterparts.

A couple of years ago, I had a friend attack me a bit.  She was frustrated with the personalities of those around her and told me that I wasn't adequately preparing my kids for the real world.  She told me that they needed to deal with difficult people in order to survive.  I can understand her point of view, but I believe that it was quite short-sighted.  When I was young and had to deal with friend "drama," I didn't come home and share every detail with my mom.  I really had no constructive guidance on how to deal with issues when they arose.  We have all read Lord of the Flies right?  We do know what happens when kids are left to govern themselves.......right?  Without close parental supervision and intervention, even siblings can end up being the worst of enemies.  Oh....do I have stories to tell!


It doesn't have to be that way!!

I don't claim to have any magic formulas.   I don't know how to cook a kid so properly that they never argue or complain.  I do know, however, that there are people out there who actually enjoy their kids teenage years.  We are so accustomed to thinking of teens as moody, argumentative, and unpleasant, that when we see kids that aren't that way we think them weird!  I will tell you what I suspect is up.  Ask me in 8-10 years and I will tell you if I was right.  I have already said it.  Kids need supervision.  The don't grow up to be stellar people all by themselves.  But, if you are away from your kids 8 hours a day, 9 months a year, you might have very little idea what is really going on in their lives.  I can tell you from experience--my mom had very little knowledge of what was really going on in my life.  Only what she saw.  On the contrary, if you kids grow up with a wise parent guiding them through almost every situation, things might be a little different.  Before compulsory education, this was the norm.  We would be ignorant to say that respect and manners in kids have improved over time.  (what planet would that be on?)

There is another great irony beneath all of this.  I have had people tell me that their kids were failing 3 subjects in school because they do not care about their school work, all they care about is their friends, and in the same breath ask me "what about socialization? How do you socialize your kids?"   Really?  If we think about this, I should have been asking them, "what about education?"  Socialization can be negative at times.  I remember sitting in Mr. Sly's chemistry class in high school praying he wouldn't call on me, all the time thinking about what I was doing Friday night, what so and so said about me, I can't believe he likes her...etc..  I did terrible in chemistry and hated the class.  With my past and most of my friends behind me, I took a college chemistry course and got the highest grade in the class.  I could have done that in high school.  I just didn't care.  My social life was much more important.  I do wonder from time to time what I could have accomplished had I really tried. 

I have saved the most obvious for last.  My kids will never be exposed to drugs, alcohol, or lewd behavior in my home.  It is not that they won't understand what these things are.  We have already had a talk about Miley Cyrus and her "bong" incident.  They know Elvis and Micheal Jackson both died of drug overdoses. They know that alcohol affects your behavior and destroys your liver.   They know that this is not normal.  They know it doesn't glorify God.  It is most likely that they will not have friends who encourage them to try these things.  I'm not saying that they will never face the temptation, but hopefully they will confront it when they are old enough and mature enough to know that it doesn't matter what their friends think.  My prayer for them is the Christ will be their best friend, and that they will seek to honor Him. 

I realize that everyone is different.  I know there are home-school families with kids who have problems.  I will say with all boldness--it's not because they are home schooled.  I am honest enough with myself to know that when my kids behave badly it is a reflection of me.  In this day and age, people want to blame everything on a disorder instead of taking responsibility. (yes, there are real disorders out there.....no angry mail please...)  It is pretty plain to me that those who discipline their kids have well-behaved kids and those who don't--well, don't. I want my kids to be well-disciplined.  I want them to care about what God's Word says about their lives and how they should behave. 

All of this to say:  socialization isn't an issue.  Kids who have good role models by their side day in and day out will do just fine without all of the "issues."  So next time you tell me about your kid and their school, don't be surprised if I ask you.....what about socialization??

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is Christmas Pagan?

http://www.classicalastronomy.com/news/anmviewer.asp?a=246&z=13

I wanted to share a link with you that I found interesting.  I still believe that what we celebrate has only to do with what is in our hearts.  If our hearts are bent toward God, then we can celebrate Him whenever and however we want.  Almost anything in our line of view can claim pagan roots.  It is impossible to not be surrounded by symbolism.  But consider that God made it all.  It belongs to Him.  Satan has no day or season that belongs to him.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Home School? Part 1

 DISCLAIMER:  These posts are simply an attempt to explain to you why we chose to home school.  They are not an attempt to try to convince you to do the same, nor are they criticizing your choices.  This is God's call on my life.  I am answering it.


This is a question that I answer almost daily.  As you can imagine, when I meet new people, or when people I know find out that I home school my kids, I get a range of responses.  My favorite response is: " Wow!  That's great!  I admire you for that!"

I do get that from time to time.

But most of the time it goes more like this:  "Why in the world did you decide to home school?"  and  " I would rather have my kids in school, they would drive me nuts if they were home with me all of the time."  or " I just don't have what it takes to teach my kids everything they need to know." or my least favorite: "What about socialization?  How do your kids learn socialization skills?" 

I can surely understand all of these responses.  I probably had the same thoughts when I first heard of home education.  I try to take the time to explain my reasons, but there are so many, sometimes it is hard to know where to begin!

I think the logical place to start in my case would be a better education.  No, I am not so arrogant to think that I am better than all of you teachers out there who have studied the ins and outs of education.  But I will say with all of the confidence in the world:  I know my kids far better than you do.  I know their strengths and their weaknesses.  I am able to spend one on one time with them daily.  I know when a certain curriculum is not working.  I spend a lot of time trying to analyze learning styles and attempt to adapt my teaching style to each of my students.  You have to admit, this is impossible in a class of 30 or so.

Home education has come so very far in the past 25 years.  There are so many resources out there to help almost any parent educate their children effectively.  In fact, my Rainbow Resource catalog is bigger than my last phone book!  There are also resources for children who have been labeled as learning impaired, ADD, ADHD, Autism, etc.  These children can be extremely brilliant, yet not thrive in a school setting.  Each  and everyone of these kids need one on one instruction with someone who loves them and are firm yet extremely patient with them.  I have one child who could possibly be labeled ADHD if I would let the medical establishment get a hold of her, but I am also aware that she is extremely bright and needs a firm and patient touch.  She excels in areas of math and science, and I am proud to be able to encourage her on in her interests.

When I talk about education, I can't help but be a little greedy.  I am desperately enjoying teaching my children history.  I hated history as a child because I found it as dry as cardboard. History now happens to be one of our family's favorite subjects.  We make history come alive with maps, projects, and recipes from certain time periods and cultures.  I am learning so much ~right along side of my kids.  That is just priceless to me!

Many people ask what we do with subject that we do not feel confident to teach.  This is where the home school co-ops come in.  I know that there are mothers out there who have done a fine job without co-ops, but they can be a big help in some instances.  My children attend co-op classes once a week during the school year.  This year, they are both in art classes taught by a trained artist.  They are also each in science classes.  As they get older, they might transition to a high-school oriented co-op where they can take literature or science with the necessary labs.  It might seem like this defeats the purpose of home education, but consider the fact that they are home 4 out of 5 school days. 

Last but certainly not least is the time and training that my kids get in God's Word.  I have heard so many parents of school kids complain that they do not have the time to spend in the Bible with their kids.  Homework, extra curricular activities, parents work schedules, are all reasons they list for not being able to help their kids memorize scripture.  However, our first and foremost priority to our kids is to teach them about God.  The Bible commands that we as Christians instruct our children in the ways of the Lord!  How can we do this without spending time in His Word?  We love the AWANA program at our church and use it as a guideline for scripture memorization.  This is not our sole resource, but our kids enjoy it very much. 

Stay tuned for my next post when I will tell you what I think about socialization.  :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Christmas Gift

I heard this quote on the radio yesterday morning:

"Every relationship is a perfect storm without the Gospel"

I got to thinking about it, and I find it to be so very true.  Even with the Gospel (not taken seriously) our relationships can be quite tumultuous.  Two differing opinions, coupled with uncontrolled emotions can be quite disastrous.  The gospel message, however, should help us to realize that dying to self is important in any relationship.  If you are struggling in your relationships, maybe it is time to stop complaining and start giving.  Instead of complaining, stop and think about what you can do for that person to make them feel loved. You might be surprised at what you get in return.

Think about this:  Jesus Christ came to earth 2,000 years ago to save a race of whiny little brats who stamp their feet at God and proclaim NOT FAIR!   He could have said, Nah-they don't deserve me (we don't) but, instead He pursued us.  He loved us.   In the act of ultimate sacrifice, He gave His life for us!  A model of what perfect love should be.

Christmas is all about giving.  Relationships are all about giving.  Give the gift of yourself this year.  Especially if you are struggling in your marriage or any other relationship.  We can be thankful that Christ didn't give up on us, but rather, He gave it all for us.  May we strive to emulate His perfect love!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

I have been cranky with my kids today.  It has been a tough week, and I am tired.  It promises to get tougher in the next three days.

Life can be tough.  Things don't always go as expected.  In a perfect world, we would never struggle with finances.  In a perfect world, I would be able to stay home from work 100% of the time.

What have I to dread? What have I to fear?

But God is good.  All of the time.  He sustains me.  His grace is perfect, sufficient.

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

In the midst of struggle, He gives me a peace in knowing that this is not my home.  He is preparing a far better place for me.  In the meantime, He continues to provide day by day.  Maybe there is no excess, but by definition....excess is not needed!

I have blessed peace with my Lord so dear.

I have everything I need.  Thank you Lord for trusting me to be a mom.  Thank you for allowing me to be a wife.  Thank you for not giving me my every whim, but rather giving me what I need .

Leaning on the everlasting arms. 

Sing it with me!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

You probably already know what I think.  Well, if you have read this blog before, you know what I think anyway.  I was going to write a post, but I see Stacy McDonald at Your Sacred Calling beat me to it and did a fabulous job.  I couldn't add any more to this, so I will just share the link.  Enjoy!

God Loves You

My all time favorite Christian group is Watermark.  Ask anyone at my church.  50% of what I sing on Sundays are Watermark songs!  This song is a bit more obscure, because as far as I know, it was never released, but one of my favorites.  Very encouraging.  Consider these lyrics:

I have hidden you,
I've set you apart,
and saved the best for me.

I loved you that much-
That I would hold the things that you think you want,
And give you the things that you really need.

Don't you know, I know you.
Don't you know, I know where you are.
And all of heaven sings over you,
Because of the depths of My love.

I love you with a love-
That you cannot think of.
I am near you even though you feel far away.
I rescued you and carried you and caused your world to stop.
Just so I could hear you say that you love Me too.

Don't you know, I know you.
Don't you know, I know where you are.
And all of heaven sings over you,
Because of the depths of My love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So Much to Give Thanks For...

I am so in awe of all that God has done for us this year.  We have so much to be thankful for!  I wanted to just share a few things with you that have happened over the past 2 months.

Many of you know that Will's work has slowed down, both due to the economy and the season of the year.  I have to say that I was a bit concerned when he went 2 weeks straight without working.  Paying for 2 homes over the past 3 years has put us in a place where we have no reserves!  My first response was to panic.  My second response was wiser....simply to trust.  This is not the first time we have been in this situation, and the Lord has always brought us through.

A couple of months ago, our van broke down.  Will spent the whole day working on it and finally got it going...only to come inside and find that the washing machine was broken, and so was the vacuum cleaner!  My wonderful man went to work and fixed the vacuum, but the washer was a lost cause.  The parts needed were expensive!  All of this with the knowledge that we had car insurance, homeowners insurance, and property taxes looming at the end of November, beginning of December.  So I put a post up on Facebook asking if anyone had a washer they wanted to sell.  I got a response form my friend Jane at work.  My husband went to pick up the washer and Jane refused to take the money.  She said it had been a while since she used it, so take it home and try it out first.  It worked great.  I had forgotten the few times I saw her to give her a check, but it was in the back of my head.  Meanwhile, the vacuum cleaner broke for good, and Will's paychecks ground to a halt!

One day there was a knock at the door, and one of our neighbors wanted Will to do a side job for him.  Then my father wanted something done.  Then someone at church called about him doing a job for them.  It was amazing how God was providing these people (who didn't usually knock on our door...) so that He could provide work for Will.  What's more, he came home from work one day with a vacuum cleaner that one of his customers gave him.....he was going to throw it away!! I had been vacuuming the house with a shop vac hose.  Pretty funny to watch!  Around the same day, I was at work and I reminded Jane that I owed her money and requested that she not leave without a check for the washing machine.  She refused the money and stated that the washer was a gift!  Jane, if you read this, please know that God has used you greatly!  :)

God has used so many wonderful people to help provide for us.  Just to ice the cake a bit, Will had been wanting to get a food processor.  We just pretty much dismissed that one for now.  Not a need, just a want.  However, my sister had one in storage (I am not even sure she knew that we wanted one?)  and asked if we wanted it.  (free, of course!)  We have received (as well as given away) bags and bags of clothes for our kids from friends simply wanting to clear out closets.  I have been able to pick up weekend shifts at the hospital to bring in a few bucks. 

God has taught me so much about contentment in the past 14 years.  I used to wonder why we didn't have a fancy home, a nicer car, more electronics, etc..etc.. 
But He has shown me that I have everything that I need because I have HIM.  I do not need earthly possessions.  My eternity will last much longer.  With a view of eternity in my heart and mind, I intend to store up my treasures there rather than here.  I trust God that He will provide all of our earthly needs here.  He has never failed me before!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Decorating for Christmas on a Tight Budget of $0 Part 2


I finally finished it.  But I cheated.  Okay-okay, I spent $5.  That's it though.  No more.  I couldn't get my commissioned artists to work fast enough--so no homemade snowflakes.  Instead I went to Walgreens and bought 2 packages of glitter flakes, for $5. 

I find that little cheap greenery garlands can be spruced up with ornaments, figurines, etc.  I have had this garland for many years.  I made it sparkle a bit with the glitter flakes.  I suppose, if you were determined to spend nothing, you could make paper snowflakes and glitter em up.  I used sticky-tack to put some up on the mirror.  Not sure if they will stay through all of the humidity, I'll let you know.

When I first redecorated my bathroom, I decided to give my wedding bouquet a makeover.  Otherwise, it would have sat in a closet all of these years......So I replaced them into a pretty little urn.  Pretty easy to just tuck a few snowflakes in.

What a cute little boy :)

BEFORE         
Okay, so I had fun.  Now onto the rest of the house.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Star Wars Science for Kids: Learning About Friction

Have you ever wondered about all of the power that tiny little Yoda has?  Yes, yes....I know....small but mighty and all that... David and Goliath..and so on.  But really, could it all just be smoke in mirrors?  Could it be that he is really just a scientific genius?  Lifting ships out of swamps, pulling beams off of walls.  All of that could really be accomplished with a few well-place pulleys and some forethought.

Crazy?

Yes I am.  So today Yoda is teaching my kids the principle of reducing friction.  He looks so smug......

Well, you would be too if you knew what he knew.  Anyway, some of Yoda's friends decided to have some fun.   They challenged the poor little guy to try to use his body weight to pull them all in a box.  Probably a stupid party trick or something....




So how in the world can one tiny little Muppet move this big ole box of metal and plastic?  Hmmm, how unfortunate he is...most unfortunate.  (little Yoda laugh here)



Yoda pulls and pulls on the box...but, oh it must weigh a ton!  He COULD use to force, if in fact the force was real.  Or he could use science.

Yoda sizes the situation up like a small green MacGuyver.  Too much friction there is...hmmm  (little laugh again)  Must find way to reduce friction between friends and ground.....

Fortunately, there are some trees nearby.  And since light sabers ARE real, he pulls his out and makes short work of them into logs.....
 Seriously now.  Use your imagination!!!!

So He loads the "logs" up and rolls the ole box on top:

AND ZOOM!
Off they go!  Next lesson, however will be on gravity......

Poor little guys.  It seems that maybe a good science lesson for them prior to their party trick would have been gravity.  It pays to pay attention in science class!

It has been theorized that this could have been the method the Egyptians used to move bricks that weighed over a ton up ramps and onto the pyramids.  Simple machines make life....well...simpler.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Before the Throne in Humility

One of the things that I have to remind myself of day in and day out is that God desires us to seek Him in humility.  If anyone struggles with pride, they probably realize this.  Music can minister to the heart, and this song really speaks to me!

Clumsy
Chris Rice

You'd think I'd have it down by now,
Been practicing for 30 years.
Should have walked a thousand miles,
So what am I still doing here?
Reaching out for that same old piece of forbidden fruit.
I slip and fall and I knock my halo loose.
Somebody tell me what a boy supposed to do?

I get so clumsy
I get so foolish
I can get so stupid sometimes,
And then I feel so useless.
But Your saying you love me.
And You still want to hold me.
And that You want to be near me,
Because Your making me holy....
Keep making me holy.

Gonna get it right this time.
I'll be strong and I'll make you proud.
Prayed that prayer a thousand times,
The rooster crows and my tears roll down, again..
You remind me You made me from the dust,
And I can never, no,  never be good enough..
And that Your not going to let that come between us!

From where I stand Your holiness is up so high I can never reach it.
My only hope is to follow Jesus..

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh Gaze of Love, so Melt my Pride

What use does God have with a heart that is not broken before Him?  Lord, I fall on my face today and ask you to forgive me for my pride.  Pride that stands in the way of deep relationship with you.  Words cannot express......



Oh gaze of love
So melt my pride,
That I may in your house but kneel.
And in my brokenness to cry,
Spring worship unto thee...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Decorating for Christmas on a Tight Budget of $0

I have startling news for you:  we are in a recession.  Ha!  Well, unless you have been hiding in a cave for the last few years, that is not new news.  This year promises to be extra hard for us as my husband's work has dropped off early.  I am fortunate to have a job to fall back on, but we will once again be scrimping for the holidays.

I love decorating my house for Christmas.  My fondest memories of childhood include sitting in front of the Christmas tree listening to Elvis belt out "Blue Christmas" from our record player speakers.  I used to just sit and bask in the beauty of the lights and sparkling decorations.  The tradition of decorating is important to me.  I hope to pass on those traditions to my children, along with some new customized DEVINE family traditions.

A couple of years back, I bought a shabby chic shower curtain that I was in love with and redecorated my bathroom around it.  Unfortunately, I do not have to many Christmas decorations that fit in that color scheme.  I really wanted to go out and buy a few pretty decorations this year, but......    I decided to get creative!  I want to show you what I did and I would love for you to share any ideas you have with me :)

This is my undecorated bathroom shelf.  I pushed everything around to dust.  I found a white tin on top of it from Christmas last year that had some pretty pine cones in it.  That gave me an idea!  I headed out to the evergreen bush in the yard and cut some greens.....

Here is what I came up with.  Everything (except the Hallmark ornament) was on the shelf already, I just spruced it up with greenery.  As for the little tin with the pine cones.....

The pine cones had been spray painted white and tipped in gold glitter.  I bought them that way a couple of years ago, but they would be easy to make.   Next was this area......


My pretty little towel shelf.  See the picture frame with my petite little sweets in it?  I decided to download a Victorian picture from the internet and replace the pic for the holidays....

The flowers were ones I have had since I was first married.  I used to decorate my tree with them, but they have been sitting in a bowl in my bedroom for years...  If you are a mom, you most likely have art supplies lying around the house.  I took a cue from my pine cones and got out the glitter and the Elmer's glue.  (that Egyptian death mask project has paid off once again! )

Then, I was back out to the evergreen bush....


Here's the finished product.  Admittedly, I had the tree already.  Funny thing, it sat out in my kitchen all year and never got put away after Christmas last year.  :)  I have not pulled my Christmas decorations out this year yet!  I am just using things that I find around the house. 

Next I need to tackle this....


 I have commissioned my family artists (my husband and kids) to make me some paper snowflakes.  I guess I need to get my decorations out and see if there is anything packed away that I could use.  If you have any suggestions let me know!  I will be plugging right along, cleaning and decorating....cleaning and decorating...

History Meets Science: Making a Chicken Mummy

Two of my favorite subjects are history and science.  Needless to say, when I acquired the activity guide to our history curriculum and found a project called:  Make a Chicken Mummy---I was intrigued!  For the adventurous lot of you out there, I am including detailed instructions on how to make your own chicken mummy.  We named ours "Cluck-O-Patra."

I used to think that it took hundreds or thousands of years to make a mummy.  When I would look at the dehydrated remains of bodies, I naturally thought that it was just time that had dried them to a crispy crunch.  As it turns out, there was much more to it.  For older children, here is where the biology part comes in.  You know how people associate salt with water retention?  Well, it is a fact that water follows salt.  So, if there is a lot of sodium, there will surely be a lot of retained water.  If you put a human cell into a dish of salt water, the salt will pull all of the water out of the cell and the cell crenates, or shrinks.  Water will follow the salt in order to balance out the concentrations both inside and outside the cell.    This is one of the reasons why you can't just preserve a drop of blood on a microscope slide in a drop of water.  Pure water is hypotonic, meaning that the concentration is less than that of the blood cell, therefore, water is pulled into the cell and it ruptures.  But with the higher concentration of sodium and other particles outside the cell, water is pulled from the cell and it shrinks.  This principle was used in preservation of mummies.

Here is what you will need for your experiment:


Several boxes of cheap baking soda
Several cans of baking powder
One small whole fryer
Large freezer bags
Plastic gloves
Rubbing alcohol
Several boxes of salt---I found that canning salt was the cheapest.
Spices

You may want to finish off your mummy and keep it for a while.  If so you will need:

Various spices (cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg..)
Scented oil (recipe follows)
White glue and water
White linen strips (or any other fabric you have on hand)

1.  WEAR GLOVES!
2.  Remove the neck and packet with the liver, heart, gizzard, etc...  You can mummify these, but they smell!
3.  Wash your chicken in hot water.  Dry with paper towels.  Make sure you wash the inside of the bird too.  Wash the entire bird with rubbing alcohol, including the inside.  This will decrease the amount of bacteria on the bird .  Dry as much as possible with paper towels before continuing.


4.  Mix 1/2 box of baking soda with 1/2 can of baking powder and 2 boxes of salt.  The baking soda and powder increase the acidity of the mix and decrease the amount of bacterial growth.  Next I recommend that you add a teaspoon of a good-smelling spice, like cinnamon.  It helps combat the smell.   The mixture is very close to the Egyptian natron that was used in large tubs to preserve bodies.

Hannah smelling the cinnamon scented natron.

5.  Pour some of the mix into the cavity of the chicken until it is full.  Then pour some into a large freezer bag.  Put the chicken in the bag and add the rest of the mixture.  If the chicken isn't completely covered add more salt until it is.  Seal the bag.  Place into another freezer bag and seal that one too.

Ready for her journey into the afterlife

6.  Week 1:  Check the chicken every day.  If the salt is wet, PUT SOME GLOVES ON and remove chicken from the bag.  Dust off the bird and repeat step 4.  You will probably have to do this after day 1, 3, 5, so on.
7.  After week one :  Check the chicken once per week.  If the salt is wet repeat step four.
8.  At the end of week 6, PUT ON YOUR GLOVES,  remove the chicken from the bag dust off salt as completely as you can.  Wet a paper towel and wipe the remaining salt off of the bird.  Dry immediately and thoroughly with paper towels.
After one week, Cluck-O-Patra is pretty dehydrated.


At this point, you can see the major difference in your chicken.  The tissues will be dehydrated and the bird will be much lighter than when you started.  We actually saw dramatic differences in the first week.  The bird goes from that mushy feeling to a hard feeling quickly.  We stopped here and threw the bird away, but if you want to go that extra mile, you can continue to rub and wrap your bird as follows:

SCENTED OIL
A jar with a lid
oil (cooking oil is cheapest)
Spices-any combination of 3-4 good smelling spices

You might want to hit the dollar racks for your spices.  Fill the jar to the top with the spice mixture, then pour oil over the top.  Set in a sunny location for a week, shaking the jar 2-3 time per day.  Drain the oil.

Rub the fragrance all over the chicken, inside and out.  Stuff the inside of the bird with fabric or sawdust.  Cut your fabric into 1- inch strips.  Mix glue and water 1-2 parts water to 1 part glue.  Dip your strips into the glue and begin wrapping.  Wrap wings and legs separately.  The body should be wrapped in 2-3 layers.  Let dry completely. 

Mummies were not always made with the same technique.  It varied according to the time period.  Here is a good link that provides a short read of the differences:

http://www.mummytombs.com/egypt/methods.htm

separate canopic jars and keep them with your chicken. 

 I have a feeling that this is one of those experiments my kids will not soon forget!  :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Name Change

I decided to return to my former blog title:  A Lifetime of Learning.  I think it really describes me better.  I believe it is important to have a "teachable" spirit.  I know for a fact that I will never stop learning!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why I Love AWANA

Over the past 11 years I have been involved with the AWANA program at our church.  For those of you who know nothing about AWANA, it's name comes from the verse 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth."

A-Approved
W-Workman
A-Are
N-Not
A-Ashamed

Now you are officially in the loop :)

Anyway, AWANA is much more than just another youth group.  AWANA is a Bible club that focuses on the memorization of key Scriptures and principles. The average age group for a club is K-6th grade.  Some clubs go down to toddlers, and some as high as high school.  If your child attends faithfully K-6th grade, they will emerge with over 200 Bible verses committed to their memory. 

AWANA is based on real life principles:  you get out of it what you put into it.  Children work to memorize "sections" which contain memory verses, Bible searches, and some just for fun activities.  They are awarded according to the number of sections they do with AWANA bucks that they can choose to spend at the AWANA store as they wish.  There is also a devotion time when leaders speak truth into the lives of the kids through God's Word.  Last, but not least, there is a game time where kids are allowed to unwind and learn the principles of working together and sportsmanship.

For those of you who shy away from youth group settings:  take heart.  You can volunteer to serve as a leader and be there right along side of your kids to observe and guide them when needed.  I have watched my girls and been there along side of them throughout their AWANA  experience.  It has been a wonderful thing for them because they are forced to work together with others and accept their strengths and failures with the guidance of a loving parent.  Also, helping my girls memorize the verses at home has been valuable to my own spiritual growth!

Over the past two years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to share my heart with the 3-6th grade girls during devotion time.  This is such a blessing for me because of the struggles that I faced at their age.  My heart is for them to really love Jesus at a young age.  There have also been opportunities to encourage good social graces.  For instance, I have been able to encourage some of the more confident kids to reach out to the newer girls or ones that have fewer social graces.  I believe that it helps them to see beyond themselves into what is more important: good relationships with others.  It also helps them to look beyond outer appearances and see the beauty that is inside. I have been amazed at their willingness to give of their time and efforts to make others feel welcome.

Beginning at 3rd grade, AWANA boys and girls are separated so that the leaders can deal with gender-related issues.  Women teach girls, Men teach the boys.  I think that is another important point to be aware of because I am a firm believer in feminine girls and masculine boys.

If you are interested in getting your kids into this great program feel free to contact me.  If you are not in Northwest Indiana, it is simple to do a web search and find an AWANA club.  I will admit: a club is only as good as it's leaders, so get to know the ones who run it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dealing With Conviction

Let's face it: we have all had times when we got angry at someone for being judgmental.  I mean, we are only human, right?  Seriously, I can't believe she would let her kids wear that, or I can't believe he would watch that TV show.  It seems, though, that we sometimes have difficulty finding a healthy line between facing our own convictions, and walking away from inappropriate  judgments. At least I can tell you that I have this problem .  Maybe you don't *cough--denial*......

So how should we respond when we feel conviction in our lives?  Should we run from it?  Justify it?  Should we sever all ties with the ones who bring the conviction to us?  Should we find people who share our values to commiserate with? Should we find a new church with a pastor that preaches what makes us feel good?

Well, when you put it that way........


Let me just suggest to you that conviction is something that should be embraced. 
After all, why do you do what you do? What keeps you from doing what you are not supposed to do?  Is it your friends? Your church?  Your image?  In reality, it should be none of these.  Our desire and drive to live a life of holiness should come purely out of our love for Christ!  Stop and think about this for a second.  You are a sinner.  You deserve a death worse than Christ's sufferings on the cross.  Yet, out of love for you and me, Jesus took that punishment on Himself.  You don't have to suffer that way.  All that is required is that you believe.  Conviction is evidence of relationship.  It is proof that God is working in our lives to transform us to the image of Christ.  I say praise God for it.  When you are sitting under good preaching and you feel like the pastor has been spying on your life, and you want to crawl under the pew and hide.....GOOD!

I am not a proponent of works-based faith.  The Bible says that it is by the grace of God alone that we are saved.  BUT, I will say that I believe that when we are truly head-over-heels in love with and devoted to the one who saved us, our lives will look different from the world.   The indwelling of the Holy Spirit accomplishes some very supernatural traits in us.  At least, that is how it should be.  We know that the Holy Spirit is present with us with every breath that we breathe.  Maybe it would be beneficial to ask ourselves: If I could see the Holy Spirit sitting next to me, would I type that status update of Facebook? Would I be watching this show on TV?  Would I use the word I just used?

When someone challenges us, our tendency is to get angry and call them judgmental.  Our response instead, should be to ask ourselves: is my position Biblical?  It is a time to really dig into the Word of God and find truth.  Not digging in with the intent to justify ourselves, mind you.  Digging in with an open mind and a prayerful heart.  God, if this is what you want/ don't want from me show me.  I want to glorify you with my life.  I want integrity.  I want to be the same person in the privacy of my living room as I am at church on Sunday.  Show me what YOU have to say about this!  It may also be beneficial to seek out the person who has called you into judgment and work things out.  After all, we are called to love the brotherhood of believers.  If we are to look different from the world, then we must not be quarreling among ourselves.

The heart that is so full of gratitude is likely to share with others what God is doing in their lives.  The Bible says that "...Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."  Luke 6:45   When our hearts are so abundantly filled with Jesus, our mouths will frequently speak His name.  We will tell others what He has done and how our lives have changed as a result. Some will become angry with us. Some will praise God with us.  Some will call us judgmental and avoid us.  If we love the truth, though, a few detractors will not silence us.

The health of our walk with Christ can be gauged on how we handle conviction.  Will we choose to quench the Holy Spirit, or follow His leading?   Pride is hard for some of us (like me) to overcome.  But the truth is, if I really think about it, I should be falling on my face everyday before God.  I need to approach Him in humility and ask for wisdom.  Sometimes I am wrong.  Sometimes I am right.  It takes strength just to walk away from judgment without an argument.  But, the meek will inherit the earth.  Cool.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Apology

A couple of months ago, I posted a blog post out of sheer frustration and emotion.  I have since removed the post.  If you read the post, I apologize.  I do not want to boast in my works, and I have to admit that none of the things that I called sacrifices do I even consider a sacrifice.  They are things that do not matter to me.  I think now that it was inappropriate of me to try to elicit sympathy for any of my life choices.  Thank you friends!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Exposing the 7 major blind spots in Homeschoolers

http://www.familyministries.com/HS_Crisis.htm

A good friend of mine recommended this article to me.  It took quite some time to read through, but it was more than worth the time!!  If you home school or if you don't...this is valuable for all of us as parents.  We do not want children who seek to emulate Christianity--we want kids who LOVE Jesus and as a result live for Him.

WARNING!  Please do not skim this article.  If you do, it is easy to get the wrong idea about it.  The author NEVER advises against home education or strong family bonds, but it is easy to get the that idea if you do not take the time to read it fully and really try to understand what he is trying to convey.

ALSO, there is nothing in this article that I disagree with.  I think it is right on.  However, I have never read any of the author's books, therefore, I do not endorse them in any way.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Making Mosaics

We are continuing our study of ancient Rome this week with the life of Julius Caesar.  While mosaics were unearthed much farther back then Roman times, the Romans loved mosaic art.  My kids really loved thinking up a picture and finding kitchen ingredients to make their ideas come alive.



Emma's page used lentils, spaghetti, red kidney beans, and bay leaves.  I think that is a macaroni sun and a blue bead moon!

Hannah's sun used red kidney beans, macaroni, and spaghetti.
I am so excited!  We are only 8 lessons away from being done with The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times.  I have learned so much right along side of my kids this year.  I can't wait to start Volume 2!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Looking for Living Water

Today we studies the writing of Ancient China.  My kids were able to practice Chinese calligraphy!  They did a great job.  :)  One thing that struck me was that the first emperor Shi Huangdi was looking for a living water that was reported to bring eternal life.  This was 200 years before Jesus was born.  When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He asked her for a drink.  She asked Him why He would ask a Samaritan for such a thing and He answered her:

"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink' you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water."

Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."







Oh that forever dirty face!!!
I am forever thankful for the gift of eternal life Jesus has given me!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

It happens every year.  Right about this time.  Facebook is flooded with articles about the evils of Halloween and how Christian families should have no part in it.  Much of the reasoning lies in the origins of Halloween and the fact that "All Hallows Eve" is a high and holy holiday in pagan religions.  Jack-O-Lanterns were borrowed from a pagan ritual designed to scare away evil spirits.  Witches, well that's self-explanatory!  We are admonished to "avoid all appearances of evil"  as the Bible instructs.

So it is up to us to discern what the appearance of evil is.  Is it evil to dress up like Captain America and go door to door begging for candy?  I have to apply a little bit of logic to this.  I have given the issue a lot of thought over the past year.

Last year, I was introduced to some friends who do not celebrate Christmas.  My first thought was WHAT?  Why in the world would you not want to celebrate the birth of your Savior?  Well, as it turns out, my first thoughts were a bit judgmental and wrong.  The reason why someone who loves God would choose to remove Christmas celebration form their calendars is because Christmas is a holiday that has borrowed from pagan rituals.  There is not even proof that Christ was born in December!  The gift giving was taken from the Roman Holiday Saturnalia, which celebrated their gods with gift giving.  The Christmas tree has pagan roots also.  However, Christians have adapted these things as a celebration of Jesus birth.  I have heard the argument that "At least Christmas has some redeeming value because we use it to celebrate Jesus, Halloween has no redeeming value."  I have to say that logically, I cannot agree with that.  Both were holidays that were extracted from pagan culture and eventually celebrated to mean something different from their original intent.  I sincerely cannot see the difference.

 www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_tree.htm

So, the question now is do we attempt to remove all things that have pagan origins from our lives?  That would take a tremendous amount of study, as many of our traditions can claim some pagan roots.  Veils were used in the Bible as a means of modesty, but were also used in Roman culture to protect the bride from evil spirits.  Should we discourage the use of veils because of their possible appearance of evil?  There are many other customs that we observe that either shared origins with non-Christian cultures or came completely  from the non-Christian traditions.  Do we have the strength to search out all of these things and eliminate them?  Do we really need to?

I am going to give you my opinion here.  Just my opinion, so take it for what it is.  I believe that Paul dealt adequately with this in his teachings.  Colossians  addresses the fact that Christ's death of the cross has "disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."
He goes on to say "let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."  I know that most people who oppose Halloween are very familiar with that verse as an argument.  I don't see it as much of an argument for Halloween, but an argument that we are not bound by any of these things.  The holidays he mentioned were Jewish holidays that the devout Jew was obligated to observe.  He says you no longer have any obligation to them under grace. 

So in my opinion, it is not evil to dress up like Captain America and go trick or treating.  I personally do have a problem with zombies, vampires, etc, because of what they represent.  To trick or treat, in my opinion, does not mean that you are honoring or worshiping satan.  That being said, I have the utmost respect for those who choose not to participate.  I think that if we cannot participate with a clear conscience, then we should simply avoid it.  However, I do think that we need to keep in mind that BOTH Christmas and Halloween traditions started out with ungodly origins.  Christians have adapted Christmas into a beautiful celebration that honors the birth of God on earth.  We have the grace to do that.  I can put up a Christmas tree with a clear conscience knowing that I am not worshiping false Roman gods, but rather honoring my Savior.  In the same way, I can dress my kids up like the Knights of the Round Table (our family theme this year?) and take them trick or treating and know that I am not honoring satan in the process.

I know that there are many of you out there who will disagree with me.  I have no problem with that.  The only warning: I would not want to receive an admonition from you against Halloween and get a Christmas card from you two months later standing in front of your Christmas tree.  I believe when we teach against something, it is vital to examine our own lives before we judge to remove any "planks" that might blind our vision.

James 4:12 


Once again, I welcome your comments, disagreements, and insights.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review: Son of Hamas

First let me say this:  I am usually not a fan of spy thrillers.  It just so happens though, that this one is true.  I really loved this book.  Because of the nature of the topic, it was tough for me to read at times.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the seven founders of the Hamas organization.  You might have already guessed that he lived his entire life amongst considerable danger and violence.  But what I didn't expect was a rich tale of Palestinian family life.  On some level, I found myself really liking his father (despite of what he promoted or tolerated.)  This book put a human face on those we consider to be the enemy.  The depth of the book comes from the author's experiences living a life that most of us only hear about.  He gives a non-spun perspective of political figures and devastating decisions made by leaders such as Yasser Arafat. 

On the family path to become a terrorist, Yousef is captured by the Isaeli security forces.   After a less than comfortable stay in an Israeli prison, he is offered the opportunity to work for the Shin Bet as a double agent taking out suicide bombers in his Father's organization.  As the story continues, Yousef meets Christian friends and is given a Bible.  Throughout the book you can see the evolution of his heart from a terrorist into a born again believer in Jesus Christ.  Even before he could accept the fact that Jesus was God, he saw God changing his heart through His Word.  He had a love for Christ's teachings for some time before he actually became a Christian.  Killing became unthinkable.  Forgiveness became natural.

The thing that I liked most about this book (and actually surprised me most) is that it deepened my compassion for Palestinian people who are caught up in  the hatred and heated emotion of terrorism.  Not compassion in the sense that I believe that terrorism is ever the answer, but compassion for the very hearts of these people.  Yousef's father is a very passionate man who loves Allah with an impressive devotion.  Surprisingly enough, he is not a violent man.  Should he come to a relationship with Jesus, he would be the kind of man all of us would likely look up to.  It is encouraging to think how God can use Yousef's story to reach a seemingly unreachable people.

Yousef concludes the postscript of the book stating:  "Truth and forgiveness are the only solutions for the Middle East.  The challenge, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, is not to find the solution.  The challenge is to be the first courageous enough to embrace it." 

Jesus is the answer.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Carribean Pork Tenderloin w/ Pineapple Salsa and Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

I just can't seem to get away from Will's favorite dishes!  I was making a menu and a grocery list today and I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner over the next week.  It sounds like it will be a gourmet week for us.

This is a great fall dish because sweet potatoes are in season and I crave them!  Gearing up for fall dishes makes my mouth water!


Caribbean Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa and Sweet Potato Fries

2 Pork tenderloins 12 oz each
1T. Olive oil
2T Light brown sugar
2t.  Coarse salt
1t. Cinnamon
1 t. Cumin
1/2 t. Allspice
1/2 t. Ground pepper

Heat your broiler.  Rub the tenderloins with the olive oil.  Make a rub with the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and rub all over the pork.  Broil 15-20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 150 degrees turning halfway through.  Wrap in foil and let sit for 10 minutes

Pineapple Avocado Salsa

1 8 oz. can of sliced pineapples, chopped
2 Scallions, chopped
1 Avocado diced
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste. 

Mix gently.  Serve over pork...mm.mmMmmm

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

2-3 Medium sweet potatoes
1t. Cumin
1t. Salt
1/4 t. Pepper
1T Olive oil

It helps to get all of the sweet potatoes near the same size and thickness.  Quarter the potatoes and coat with oil.  Mix the dry ingredients well and sprinkle over the potatoes evenly.  Bake in an oven pre-heated to 450 degrees for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baked Steak with Tangy Tomato Sauce.

Okay, I have to admit, the first time I read this recipe, I was not thinking YUM!  Can't Wait!!!  The only reason I tried it was because I was beginning once a month cooking and I needed recipes that freeze well.  BUT, lo and behold, this is now one of our family favorites.  My husband gets a bit jealous if I make it for someone who is ill without making some for us!

Try it.  If you like it make a double portion.  It freezes really well.  Then you can keep in frozen for when you know someone in need.  Enjoy!

Baked Steak in Tangy Tomato Sauce

2lb. Tenderized round steak
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Pepper
3T shortening (or sub a healthy oil:)
1/3 C. Onion, chopped
1/3 C Celery, chopped (optional..I don't use this!)
1 Clove garlic
2T. Brown Sugar
2t.  Mustard
2T. Worchestershire Sauce
2t. Lemon juice
dash of Tobasco
1 Can undiluted Tomato Soup

Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides.  Brown meat, onion, celery and garlic in hot oil.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  If you plan to freeze this recipe this is the point where you would do that.  Place in a freezer bag with the juice and freeze.

Thaw completely on cooking day.  Transfer to a covered casserole with all of the juices and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 1 1/2-2 hours (until tender)

This is fabulous served with mashed potatoes because it has a gravy of sorts.  If you try it let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Sincere Question

I have been teaching my girls  1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  It is an important passage of scripture.  Many of us have read this passage over and over, but I wonder if we have ever grasped the full meaning of it? 

I pose a question to you this week and invite you to this blog site to give your answer n the comments:

Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

This part has me thinking.   Sure, we use it on our kids when we teach them not to tattle, but how far do the implications reach for us?  If I am out to "persuade" someone on my side of the argument, I am likely to point out the negatives on their side of the argument.  When does it go too far?
If I spend all of my time criticizing something to convince the world that it is wrong, is that rejoicing in wrongdoing?  
Let's use the obvious as an example.  If I am pulling for a certain candidate in an election, would it be right for me to persuade others by using the negative things the opponents have done?  Or is that rejoicing in their wrongdoing?

I am looking forward to hearing your perspective on this. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

A Visit with Indiana's Top Executive

I count myself blessed to be part of a home school co-op.  We have been part of one for a year now, and we are moving quickly into a new year with new topics, and new learning adventures!

Last year, Emma was part of a United Stated Geography class.  The class had completed a quilt of the 50 states.  We were not sure what to do with the quilt when we were done.  We decided to try to give it to someone in government where it can be displayed.  We contacted the office of Mitch Daniels office and were contacted right away about the opportunity to present the quilt to the Governor of Indiana.  Below are some pictures of our memorable day!

Governor Daniels spent about 20-30 minutes talking with the kids about their quilt squares and asking questions about what they learned.

The table in this pic was made by inmates at the correctional center in Westville, IN.  It was an incredible work of art!

The kids helped the Governor carry the quilt over to his couch where he said he would store and display it. 

Opening the "gift"



We had a wonderful day.   A BIG BIG thanks to Renee for coming up with the idea of making a quilt AND doing all of the quilting.  It looked great.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: Crazy Love Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

A while back I shared with you my thoughts on a book called Already Gone authored by Ken Ham.  I felt that Ham had a small piece of the puzzle of figuring out why so many leave the Christian Church as young adults, but that he wasn't grasping the whole story.  I think I am about to present to you the rest of the story!

Crazy Love is an amazing book.  It is not a "feel-good-about-yourself"  kind of  book.  It is a book that challenges the very heart of the believer.  If you are looking for something to lift you us and tell you that you are on the right track, opt for something else to read!  If you are looking for something that will take you deeper into relationship with Jesus Christ and challenge you to become all that Christ desires of you, read on!

Over the past year I have had conversations with several people of several religious persuasions about topics like politics, religion, etc.  One thing that I have noticed is that no matter how sincere your political opinion, it is sure to anger someone!  That is because what we argue is merely opinion.  It is of ourselves.  When we talk about religion, it can be much of the same.  Sharing opinion rarely makes an impact.  Sharing God's Word has a much greater advantage!  Why?  Because we, as Christians, need to realize that God's Word is the only truth we can claim as absolute!  When we insist on adding our opinion or perspective to it, it can off as unloving. Does that make holding an opinion wrong?  Certainly not!  Does it make attempting to share principles of God's Word to make a deeper impact on the life of the believer wrong?  Certainly not!  There is a time and place for all of that.

BUT, I ask you: why does that world look at Christians as hate mongers and intolerant?  We can certainly say that it is because they are blinded to the truth that we know.  We can say that.  It would make us feel much better about ourselves.  Right?  But we do need to ask ourselves, it that what it is really about?  Feeling better about ourselves?  Truly it is not.  Crazy Love challenges the idea that we are the "good soil" that Christ talked about in the parable of the sower.  If we truly are the good soil, then why is God's Word being "choked out" in America today?  Maybe we need to consider whether or not the message that we are conveying is truly one of love and self-sacrifice that Christ calls us to.

I challenge everyone to read this book.  Read Chan's profiles of "lukewarm people" in contrast to  people who are truly head-over-heels in love with God.  I will not lie to you and say that I felt good after reading this, but I will say that it has changed the way I look at my relationship with God, and  I pray that it will make a greater impact on those around me who need Jesus.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Personal Holiness

In previous posts I have shared with you details of my past and my personal testimony of coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  It has been quite a journey, and while I have always struggled with regrets I am thankful for where I am today.  My post "Embracing Brokenness" was inspired by a Beth Moore Bible study that I attended.  She taught that you simply cannot divorce your past from your destiny.  I believe this to be true.  People who knew me in high school will find a much different person today, but all of my experiences culminated into who I am today.  To try to sweep my past under a rug would be unfruitful.  Perhaps dishonest?  I have a heart for people who are struggling with feelings of unworthiness.  I have been there.  Sometimes I am still there.  But one difference today is that I know that my worthiness lies in Christ alone.  In  my faith in His finished work on the cross.  I do not have to struggle anymore.  I was unworthy.  He made me worthy.  What joy!

One thing that I want to clarify is my stance on personal holiness. I expresses my belief before that we cannot change ourselves.  We can't "clean up" our sins on our own.  We rely solely on Christ to cleanse us and make us worthy.  When we receive the Holy Spirit, however, we receive the power to see sin for what it is and turn from it.  I am constantly amazed at what the Holy Spirit is convicting me and  changing in my life!  Things that I might have never before seen as sin, He gently points out to me in His merciful way and timing.  God's love is a purifying, refining love.

Romans 6:20-23  "For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.  But now having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

We can't clean our lives up outside of Christ.  The Bible refers to our old selves as "slaves to sin."  When we come to faith in Christ He gives us the power to change.  A relationship with Christ creates in us a hatred of our own sin.  After salvation we are called "slaves to God."  You cannot serve two masters.

We are called to personal holiness.  1 Peter 1:15 "..but He who called you is holy, you will also be holy in all your conduct because it is written, be holy for I am holy."

The Bible is to be the authority in our lives.  I believe that means that we cannot ignore the parts we don't like and adhere to the parts we can live comfortably with.  There are things in the Bible which are clearly spelled out for us.  There are other things that take a bit more searching, praying and studying.  We are all at different places on our journeys.  I have experienced friends who have convictions about certain things that I do not feel convicted about.  It is not important that we agree on everything.  Paul addressed this fleshly struggle in his letter to the Roman Church.  He instructs us not to quarrel over doubtful things.    Romans 14:4 "Who are you to judge another's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand."

We are to encourage one another on to good works, and to grow personally in holiness.  The only heart that I can be responsible for is my own.  Failure for us to grow can be due to spiritual pride, which is sinful.  However, I believe that we  need to be careful to keep our admonition Biblical, and not allow it to be tainted by opinion.  Being able to back up correction, rebuke, and reproof with scripture takes the burden off of us and points others back to the Lord.

I am happy to share with you the things that God is doing in my life.  To me it is a sign of a real relationship with God.  Real relationship brings about real change.   1 John 5:4 "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith."  Are you overcoming the world? 



 
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