Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday - Grocery Day

I don't like grocery shopping. Nope, no I don't. I have to plan, I have to go, I have to spend, I have to put away in a half organized fashion. However there are a great many things in life that are much worse and it's not doctor appointment sort of misery or anything like that. Our grocery day is currently on Friday which also happens to be produce day.

Here's a glimpse of grocery day. Hopefully I've checked the sales at Winn Dixie and Publix on the internet on Thursday and finished my list mostly if not totally. Often, however, I haven't and I have to do that Friday morning. Then we load up in the car and set off for the three stores we visit. We go to the one furthest away first JUST in case I feel the desire to quit after the first and closest store. Last week I wanted to quit before we GOT there. Yeah.

Publix is usually the first store. I usually spend the least there because we ONLY hit the sales there. Even buy one, get one sales are often more expensive than the generic brand at Wal-Mart and unless it's something that we just can't have substitutes for, we don't get it. But you know, I enjoy Publix. The people are nice and even the customers are nice! You really feel like you've been to your neighborhood grocery store. Of course, NO trip to the store would ever be complete without a comment or two about our crowd. This is normal...the comments started when there were only two but obviously there's a few more exclaimation points on the end of people's comments now. Today we had three people say something about the number of kids in our family from the start to finish of Publix. When we got in the car (the last guy poked his head in my car as I was loading everything/one up) my kids commented on the number of people who said something today. It's so precious their point of view. As they are wondering why so many people say things to us, one suggested it's just because they like our family. When I pointed out that most people only have 2 kids (give or take) and they just don't see families with more very often, one of my kids said "It must be hard to have two kids." That one definitely made me smile.

Next is usually Winn Dixie. They generally have great meat sales but today there weren't too many things we were needing from there so it was a quick run. I will take this time to say, one of the reasons I don't really like doing grocery shopping is the getting in and out of the car. Not a huge deal, of course, but slightly bigger when you have to buckle people into carseats and deal with people discussing the pros and cons of sitting in the front seat and how just it is that one should sit all the way here from home, while another only sits from one store to the next and so on. And yes, if I only went to one store, it would indeed cost me more to shop.

Now, the Winn Dixie part reminds me that I really have to share that another reason I don't like grocery shopping is that it's not as calm and orderly as people perceive. On a number of occasions I've had someone from church say that they saw us at the store and the kids were so well behaved and I looked so calm and when someone else came down the isle the kids just moved to the side without a word from me and so on. I try not to look TOO shocked when people say this to me. That they would have that impression is miraculous to me. I won't go into great detail but suffice it to say, sometimes I feel like I have a small tornado whirling about me as I walk up and down those isles. A lovely, joyful tornado, but still a tornado.

Today, standing in line and following a little tug-of-war with Abby over the blasted, strategically placed candy during which she shrieked her piercing, glass breaking sort of shriek followed by a whine (only quieted by the threat of calling Dad, *sigh* at the lack of influence on my part), two of my kids crowded into the little area where the cashier would stand for the line next to us and they turned on the conveyor belt. Folks, I've never worked at a grocery store and I have no idea where they turn those off and on. For a brief moment I thought "Maybe I can ignore that and we can check out and leave and be long gone before anyone realized this conveyor belt is running." But no, I wouldn't want to do that AND of course, my kids would spend the next five minutes trying to turn it off and in the process they would turn on the light, turn on the speaker (price check on isle 4 please), and who knows what else. Luckily, I am not altogether lacking in intelligence and mostly good at undoing things that shouldn't have been done in the first place and I was able to turn it off without too much delay but it's just one of those things. After you've walked through two stores with little boys bouncing off of each other and a little girl having a fit when her shoe falls off and trying to stay out of people's way, that's just not something you've got a lot of patience to spend on.

Finally there is Wal-Mart. There are always too many people in the isles and I always wonder how I spent as much as I did and by that point I'm really ready to be done. When I go to Wal-Mart, I walk FAST. It's a huge store and I always need something at both ends so, to make up for the fact that I have to cover the whole thing and that I'm ready to be done, I walk fast. Apparently I'm the only person in this store to do this because I'm always getting behind those who stroll. Argh, matey!! Me thinks they should stroll the plank!! Today one of my little guys asked why we were running. I pointed out that I was walking (see my legs...they're longer than yours and THIS is a walk) and that HE was hopping (which is what he does anyway) and so his question wasn't a valid one. So, got our goods, loaded in the car, realized we forgot cereal, went back to get it. Took it home, loaded the fridge, got back in the car to go get the produce (got 3 avacados which we've never gotten before and guess what I bought at the store today? yep), dropped by a friend's and visited for a bit, went home, threw people in bed and went to work on the horrid mess that this day creates in my home.

And that, my friends, is a more-than-you-wanted-to-know post on grocery days.
I am not spell checking because I've got company coming and still have a mess to finish working on.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Favorite Baby Carriers

My last post was talking about cooking which I am not an expert in. I figured that this time I would share about an area where my experience exceeds the experience of the average mother in my country.

In my nearly 9 years of continuously mothering little babies, there is one thing that I think is absolutely indispensable. A good baby carrier. I'm a baby carrier junkie, so I'll share my top three.

My first carrier was a sling called The Over The Shoulder Baby Holder. My sister in law gave it to me when my first was about 3 or 4 months old. The first few days I didn’t think I’d ever figure it out and during the time I couldn’t figure it out, my little Wee Boy was not enjoying it. However, I didn’t give up and then it became a part of my life. I also found that USUALLY it depends more on the mom than the baby. I've demonstrated sling wearing a number of times to mothers who have been unsuccessful with theirs (I think everyone has a hard time right at first) and the baby does just fine so I really think that once mom figures it out, baby is good. Usually. Anyway, I used that sling for 4 children and can’t imagine what I would have done without it!

When I was pregnant with my 5th I got a new sling. A Maya Wrap. Because I’m the one who wears it and I’m the one who takes pictures, the only picture I have of it is not me wearing it but it IS my baby in it.

Crying babies were always easily calmed by carrying them in the sling while I went about doing whatever needed to be done around the house. One baby napped in it because he had reflux and couldn’t sleep any other way (until I defied doctors mandates and laid him on his tummy). They were always perfectly content on hour long grocery shopping trips, often falling asleep. Because they were used to being held in a sling they would always sit contentedly in them while holding them in my arms would be like holding a crazed monkey. I used a sling every where…the park, sightseeing, church, the mall. Even now that I have a different “most used” carrier, I use the maya wrap frequently. I always use it for church, I usually take it along if we’re going out to eat… I use it for anything where I’m going to need to have it on and off quickly or frequently. One big plus to the maya wrap sling is that it’s also a nice cover should the baby need to eat while we’re out and about. I think I bought it for about $45 on ebay. It has definitely been worth the money.

Now, my current most used carrier is the Ergo. Again, pictures are limited for the same reason as before AND the fact that when we take pictures I usually get her off my back so she can be IN the picture! In this picture
you don't really get a good look (you could of course go to the official web site but here I am wearing our teeny tiny at Disney. She's leaning back to look at the carosel we're about to get on.
This carrier was more expensive. I'd heard about it for a while but the price turned me off. However, with Christmas money in hand and testimonies of friends, I decided to look and see if I could find one a little cheaper than a new one. My dear SIL that got my first sling found one for me on Craig's list in her area for $70 I think. Again, way worth the money in my opinion. This carrier is the most comfortable one ever. I can wear a 20+ pound baby in it ALL DAY and not feel it in my back because the weight is carried around the waist. With a sling I have a limit of maybe 1.2-2 hours at a time The awesome thing about this carrier (other than the comfort) is that with the baby happily on my back I can easily do laundry, lean over students while we're doing school work, do house work, wash dishes, start dinner, pick up another baby and a great number of other things that are difficult with a carrier that has the baby in the front! And my two smallest people who often get crabby in the evening when I'm busy are VERY happy to be carried on mommy's back. One at a time of course.

yellow squash patties

Since I have a lot of posts about cooking, I figured I should share that I'm not what one would think of as a good cook, really. I'm not doing this to show people how to cook or anything like that. Good heavens, no. don't come to me asking for cooking help! It's really just lately that I've been trying lots of new things. Some of this is due to the fact that I'll have a few things that I cook regularly and at one point my husband will say he likes them or at least he'll eat them with no apparent objections and then he'll say he doesn't really like it, that he's tired of it (once every two weeks is frequent for him and left overs are definitely not his thing) or that he likes it a different way (that I don't like). It seems that recently there were lots of things that my dearly beloved wasn't so tickled with. So, rather than try to tweak the recipes and too often, not being successful at pleasing his tastebuds, I tend to dump the recipe nearly altogether and look for something new.

Also, of course, there is our weekly supply of produce pushing me to try new things in order to use up what we get. So, if any of you guys every have a recipe for anything that I mention, please share it with me!

In our produce we've been getting lots of yellow squash. One thing we really love is a squash casserole recipe that I got from my aunt. However, we've gotten enough squash to have at least one a week if not more often. I needed a new recipe! Plain ol' steamed squash isn't a real big hit so the other day we tried some squash patties.
We used about 6 medium squash, shredded
1 small onion shredded (which was a pain, using the shredder, maybe should have used the processor)
1 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 table spoon olive oil
We were supposed to let the shredded squash sit in a strainer for 30 minutes, letting the liquid drip off but I didn't and it went alright anyway. Here's my little chef, shredding the squash for me. He did every bit of it except for half of the first one! What a diligent little man!
We mixed the squash, onion, salt, flour, egg and cheese in a bowl and then dropped it by the serving spoon into oil in the skillet which was on medium heat. We cooked it for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. I think I might add a little garlic next time but it was yummy and even reheated the next day the left overs were good!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bell Peppers and Rice

Once again, our produce co-op has prompted a new dish. This past week we got several red and yellow bell peppers. In past weeks we've gotten lots of green bell peppers and while I've used some, I ended up slicing many of them and putting them in the freezer. I decided to use some of those peppers today!

Here are some of the main ingredients we had for lunch. Frozen green bell peppers, fresh red and yellow, red onion and cilantro. I used one of each (no, it's not all pictured here). For the cilantro, I used about twice what you see here.

After starting a pot of brown ride and after chopping the vegetables all up, I dumped them in the pan with some olive oil and cooked till the veggies were soft. Doesn't it look great?! I think I'm going to try putting the same ingredients in a food processor, fresh with a fresh tomato and see how that is for dipping corn chips!

Once it was done, I took two tomatoes, one red and one yellow, chopped then up and threw them in and cooked for a few mintues longer until the tomatoes were warmed up. Here is the end result along with the brown rice. It was delicious! My little bitty girly even ate a little bowl full!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cutest Cook

This is my little cook. He always helps me and apparently he's burnt himself (nothing of any significance, mind you) enough times that he's decided that he can only help using oven mits. Of course, he has been known to touch things to see if they're hot. All part of the learning curve I suppose. Needless to say, the mits are quite limiting.
He decided (after wearing my apron around for about an hour) that he would like his own apron. So, tomorrow when we go grocery shopping I guess we'll get some apron fabric for the little man.

Lots of Onions

A few weeks ago in our basket of produce, we got a bag of small onions and we usually get a couple of large onions every week to boot. I like onions but I've just not been able to use them all. Yesterday I decided to use some up in a recipe that would be most fitting for my Dad (tomatoes and onions, baby!). First I chopped some onions up and threw them in a small pan with a bit of butter. Mmmm! My house smelled great!

Now I tried to tomatoes two different ways. The first was to put them in a pan with a touch of olive oil and cook till they're a bit soft. Or rather, softer than usual for a tomato! I also used them freshly sliced...either way was good.

I toasted some bread. you could use a nice looking bun of some sort but all I had was sliced bread. I spread a bit of mayo, loaded one side with the onions.

I put a slice or two or tomato on each sandwich, covered it with mozzerella cheese and sprinkled it with some basil. On the basil note, I've read that dried basil keeps it's flavor better if stored in larger pieces. I will say that my basil that I've just recently dried and stored as whole leaves (more or less) in a spice jar seems to have more flavor than the basil I've bought already broken into tiny pieces. I will also say that the extra flavor of the basil really made this for me. I popped it in the oven to melt the cheese a bit. I also tried the microwave and didn't observe a huge difference.
And here's the end result. I recommend just a touch of salt.

It was quite filling, 3 of my 4 boys liked it (one didn't like it because of the veggies included, of course) and my husband liked it in spite of the large quantities of onion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Favorite for Cloth Diapers

From time to time, I use cloth diapers on my smallest baby. In the early years I'd do it because money was too tight to get a pack of diapers for the week or it was close to being to tight for that. Sometimes I'd just do it because it felt good to my numbers self to be able to count up how much I wasn't spending on something my kids were just doing to do a number on. Chuckle, giggle, snort... I amuse myself. Anyway. I also read dismal stats on how the planet was going to be covered with disposable diapers (think Wall-E with skyscrapers made of 300 year old diapers) by the time my grandchildren are around and so it feels nice to keep just a few of those ol' sposies out of my grandchildren's future. The list goes on. There are enough things that appeal to my personal interests and not the least of these is that truth be told, I like wrapping my baby in cute things and the latest finds are cute!
For the past year, I've used the cover and snap in liner of gDiapers. So cute!! These aren't REALLY cloth diapers. They're partly a cloth diaper and partly a biodegradable/flushable diaper if you use them as intended. I bought the sample which includes 10 flushable/degradable liners along with the two covers and 4 snap in liners (because sometimes the liner gets dirty but not the cover so you can snap in a new one). After using a few with the disposable, I decided that I really preferred to use a cloth diaper insert. I love the way the diaper fits. I like that they aren't as bulky as other cloth diapers I've tried. They're also better about leaks than several I've tried.

For those who are interested, here's the line up. Diaper cover, snap in vinyl liner, flat fold diaper cloth folded to fit with an extra soaker pad on top made of flannel and fleece (fleece is supposed to keep the baby's skin drier).

And here's the fit. It took 5 minutes to get this shot (not the best, but sufficient after chasing her around with my camera - boy didn't I look silly). Just TRY taking a picture of a 15 month old's moving back side! If you're wondering what the white squares are, that's part of the hook and loop closure (aka Velcro). They close in back...that supposedly keeps the baby from removing the diaper on it's own.

They have a variety of other colors and even some striped ones that are super cute. One day when I'm rich, I'll buy some more.

The Blessing of Family and a Father's Prayers

A week or so ago we went on a mini vacation with some of our family. My brother-in-law was running a marathon at Disney World over the weekend and we all were able to go down there for a few days. My kids have never been, so we were really looking forward to it. I was a little nervous before we went, not sure about all day at a theme park with one baby who still takes 2 naps a day and one who needs one 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. The trip turned out GREAT even with missed naps! And really, the best part wasn’t so much the theme parks, although those were really fun. The best part was spending time and making memories with extended family. The only drawback was that Matt’s sister and her family weren’t there with us.

Here is my family at Epcot:

And here are 5 of our kids (one is on my back as I'm taking the picture) and 2 belonging to Matt's brother.

On this trip I was reminded again of how blessed I am with the family I married into. I will say that it's not 100% wonderful all the time and there have been a few rough patches here and there to work patch in particular was really hard, actually. BUT, all in all, I can say that from my personal view point, God has blessed me incredibly.
I grew up in a conservative Christian home (family devotions, certain standards for dress, music and more), had a big family and I was homeschooled some and went to a Christian school some. Growing up in my family, I don't recall a time of not knowing about Jesus' love and sacrifice for us. Those are all things that I wanted to carry with me into my own family. My husband grew up in a bit of a different background. Pretty much different in every area. Growing up, he wouldn't call his family a Christian family and he didn't know about Christ and what He did until his 20's. His family was smaller with him and two siblings, his parents divorced when he was in his early teens and he went to public schools.
Who would think that his family would be such a awesome blessing to me?! One that shows God holds all the strings in His hands and arranges even the smallest details. His mother and step-father have been absolutely supportive and encouraging about homeschooling, of our growing family and especially of teaching our children about God and His ways. My husband's sister ALSO had 6 kids (and counting?) and she's done a bit of homeschooling with them as well. My husband's brother and his wife will be homeschooling (their kids are preschool age right now), they would certianly like to have a larger family and they plan to be missionaries so there's definitely a Christ focus there. I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who understand where I'm coming from and have similar goals and values. It has made living our convictions so mcuh easier than it might be if his family thought we were just wierd, you know?
You know what I think? I think that the prayers that my Dad prayed for my future husband every night when I was growing up were answered in ways Dad couldn't imagine. ;o)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Brussels Sprouts and a new Chicken Dish

I've mentioned before that we're part of a co-op that gets vegetables from the farmers market on a weekly basis. Recently we got some Brussels sprouts which I personally don't recall having before. Perhaps I have, but they have not been regulars in my house so I had to find a recipe for them and YUM!! I ate all but one myself! Pig, I know.

Garlic Brussels Sprouts

1 1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons butter divided
2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cut an X in the core end of each brussels sprout; set aside. In a large saucepan, saute garlic in 1 teaspoon butter and oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Add sprouts; toss to coat. Add the broth, salt and pepper; cover and cook for 12-14 minutes or until sprouts are tender. Drain; add the remaining butter and toss until melted.

I didn't add the salt and pepper until after they were cooked and I just used my own chicken broth that I freeze when I boil chicken. It was delicious! And Nathan liked it, too! So I'm looking forward to the next time Brussels sprouts come my way!

The chicken is called Herb and Chicken Pasta but I have other similar dishes so I think this one needs a more original name. I've gotten a lot of basil in our produce lately and really hadn't used much of it so I ended up drying it. I've filled two little herb containers with it so I figured I'd find a recipe that called for some basil and some onion (because we got lots of onions a couple weeks ago as well).

1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (optional)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and reserve.
Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper, basil, rosemary, Cajun seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add chicken and cook until browned. Remove chicken from skillet and stir in garlic and onions; cook and stir until clear.
Return chicken to skillet over onion mixture and add broth. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside; spread mixture over pasta and serve.

Everyone liked it and Matt even specifically complimented it so it went over well. Although, I have to say that I'm beginning to get suspicious of Matt's sincerity. He's complimented far too many new meals lately and he doesn't usually. Is this a new years resolution or something?! It's fine by me, as long as he really means it cause there's nothing as annoying as making a meal someone said they liked only to find they don't really like it that much, you know?!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do Unto Others

As a parent with several children, I spend a lot of time working on how people are to interact with others. As a parent who is in the process of raising little Christians or servants of God, I have to focus some on the practical side of teaching them how to serve God and others. Next to having a personal relationship with God, the way Christians actively love or serve others ought to be one of our main identifying characteristics.

God has been using a number of circumstances lately to remind me that putting others first is very important. While many Christians will agree with that, I think that we easily slip into putting ourselves first and from there it's easy to teach our children to put themselves first, by example, if nothing else. I can think of cases where we have done that.

Sometimes we teach our kids using the 'put yourself in their shoes' line of thought. But sometimes it's a little off. Some use this one: "I wouldn't want to have to do that, so I won't require my children to do that." Sharing a new toy, for instance. We might think, I wouldn't want to have to share something I JUST got when I'm really wanting to play with it so I won't require that they do it. Giving up something, anything, we feel entitled to for the sake of someone else is something that we sometimes struggle with. How we feel about it varies according to how much we want it ourselves. You see, WE are selfish by nature and if we gauge what we and our children should do by what we WANT to do, we'll be way off base. If you're going to use the 'put yourself in someone else's shoes' line, it should be approached from the receiving end. Often we might not want to give or put ourselves out for the sake of someone else, but wouldn't we so appreciate it if someone got something brand new that we really wanted to check out/ look at/ try and they gave it up for a bit just so we could try it and did it with an attitude that indicates they are really glad to share with you?!

Hospitality is built on this idea of putting the comfort and needs of someone else at the top of your list. Not making them feel like their visit or whatever you're doing for them is a burden to you but instead making them feel you're just delighted to have them or to be able to do something for them and you're not thinking about how to avoid mess, work or trying to figure out ways to profit off of their presence. If people get the feeling that you're anxious to avoid the mess their visit will produce or that you're terribly busy and their "intrusion" is taking up your valuable time or whatever, they'll simply come away feeling bad, NOT feeling blessed by you.

Friday, January 9, 2009

And so it begins!

I don’t even have teenagers and yet, I’m already being introduced to the wild world of secretive, unapproved meetings that would certainly be undesirable from the parental view point. Right under my nose in my very own back yard!! The culprits?

This is our Smokey.

This is his friend who found a way into our yard last night. Cute, but we're not sure about the character. I mean, what am I to think, sneaking in during the night?!

And has spent enough time here to dig this under Smokey's cage (which I JUST moved before bed last night so I KNOW this was done since last night). Apparently QUITE interested in hanging out with Smokey. A little forward, don't you think?

We will be speaking to the parents of Smokey's friend about this!!

I've Been Tagged!!

Here are the rules to receiving this award:
You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous bloggers in a post.
You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.
On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them.

I was tagged by my friend Stephanie at

In turn, here are some blogs that I enjoy and think are tag worthy!

Bethany (whose blog inspired me to keep up with my own) at
She's wonderfully creative, likes homemaking and is artsy... all things I love! I could browse her archives all day!

Carisa at
This one I enjoy specifically for fun teaching ideas and inspiration. I specifically like her lapbook ideas! At the very least, I'm reminded to keep learning fun.

Sarah at
She's the wife of a friend I grew up with and her blog is specifically interesting if you're looking to save a few bucks. I started reading her blog to figure out how to do the CVS thing, where you use sales, coupons and extra care bucks to save yourself lots of money. However, apparently everyone around here caught onto that and when I went to CVS they'd never have any of the good deals left so NOW I go to her blog for the Publix deals/coupon information. She has coupon links and all sort of good information there.

Those are my 3 fabulous additions. I'm afraid I don't have five at this point in time.
Sorry not to be able to follow through with 5. I'm not a huge blog reader and while I could choose some random blogs, those are the only ones that I know of and feel are definitely worthy of a look-see.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My New Apron

Okay, first let me say, I've never been an apron kind of person. Actually, I've never in my years until recently (when I got a kitchen bigger than a bathtub) been a 'spend time in the kitchen' kind of person. My little sister, 10 years younger than I was known for her bread making skills while I was still in college without bread making skills. A little embarrassing that she would be able to do that and I would not, but I didn't let it get to me. I still don't have bread making skills but I have a bread machine so that's how I take care of that problem. Another sister is known for her baking. Or at least, before she was doing the college thing she baked more frequently that I personally would ever do. A sister younger still is known for her green beans! Ha!! Well, not really but once she put a JAR of green beans in a pot because that's what mom told her to do. It's one of those stories that you wish would die but your family will remind you of forever and even blog about it! Suffice it to say, she now knows how to cook green beans without the jar.

Back to my point. I've not been known for just loving to cook and no one ever got me cooking things as gifts prior to my wedding (when everything is about cooking) because WHY would I want that?!

But being a wife and mother 6 times over has had an effect on me. You might as well embrace what you have to spend a lot of time doing, huh?! Maybe having a preschooler who is addicted to cooking shows has had an effect. And maybe having a good friend obsessed with healthy eating has had an impact... I guess a lot of things have come together to give me a greater interest in cooking/food preparation. But still, does one HAVE to have an apron to do this? Well, no, but I personally am not the neatest cook! I have grease stains on most of my shirts (ALL of my maternity shirts) and it's quite frustrating. So, I need protection for my shirts AND I need big pockets. My mother says that my pockets aren't for collecting all the toys in the house but I must explain. My boys have many toys with small pieces that always end up "wost and awone" far away from their place of residence. What happens is that I pick them up and put them in a nearby mug, basket or some other small container because at the time I'm doing something and can't go to the other room to take some tiny toy everytime I find one. So, my apron pockets are for collecting these things as I go and depositing them with their family when I get around to their place of residence, whenever that may happen.

After talking about wanting an apron for a year or more I finally made one over the holidays. I found the perfect fabric. Mary Englebreit ( fabric that has tea pots and tea cups and watering cans and cherries (of course) and little houses and cute little sayings like "Bloom where you're planted" and "Home sweet home" and "Nurture all you love" and "Home is where the heart is" and other things that are perfect for an apron when you consider that you're wearing it as you go about your home trying to make it a lovely place for your family. I've loved Mary Englebreit's artwork for a long time. I love that it's bright and cheery and that she uses LOTS of colors (because all colors are my favorites!). Ah! I love my apron!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Holding Grudges

I've been reading a book called Created for Work by Bob Schultz. Today I came across a little section about grudges that stood out to me, not because I have a grudge against anyone but because I'm a witness to a monstrous and nasty grudge and the truth of these words seem like something every grudge holder should consider.

"A grudge is the inward reluctance to give. It's the unwillingness to benefit the people you resent. When you have a grudge against someone you cut them out of your life, even when they are in the same room with you. You don't smile and only talk if absolutely required. A good grudge holder doesn't look at the person. He refuses to acknowledge their presence. He can be pleasant to everyone else, yet carefully avoid the target of his grudge...

Grudges require work. Emotionally, you must keep the sour feelings. Mentally, you must remain alert not to smile of look kind. A day of grudge holding is physically exhausting. However, with training, some people are able to maintain an intense grudge for years.

God desires to benefit the world through you. He designed you to be a vessel in which His Spirit grows and bears fruit. He wants to display His mercy, forgiveness, and goodwill everywhere you go. You are like a pipe He wants to use to pour goodness into the world. The only hindrance is that we have the ability to clog our own pipes."

Sometimes people seem to think the grudge impacts only the person they're holding the grudge against. Not so. The grudge I'm thinking of seems to have a greater impact on the "favored" people on the fringes of the grudge than one might imagine. They feel awkward to be favored when the other person is being carefully left out, they feel the injustice displayed towards the object of the grudge, they have to choose words carefully and hide information because they know that giving further evidence of the grudge would seriously hurt the feelings of some while raising the ire of others. The grudge holder seems to think nothing, now, of this habitual practice and apparently plans to continue this to and beyond death. Yes, the object of the grudge DOES feel it acutely. But others, also feel the sting of it, struggle to grasp how the person they love can act that way and struggle too, to be loyal to both parties. A grudge is a nasty thing.

I'd like to ask, WHAT is the value of a grudge well held?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Equipping Missionaries

Acts 20:33-35 says;
"I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that be working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3) and, according to this passage, he didn't depend on others to provide for himself but rather, he provided both for his own needs through his own hard work and he helped others with his hard earned wages.

From this and from reading a number of biographies of missionaries, I see that it's very important for missionaries to be equipped to do more than just preach. Many missionaries equipped themselves, prior to going to the mission field, by learning about medicine, by learning construction skills, by learning about gardening/farming and anything else they thought would be useful in serving. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The people see the missionary applying God's Word to working, which they all have to do to live, they see the missionary serving them and meeting some of their needs through some practical skill and from that learn about serving each other, not to mention that they see love in action. What a blessing we can be to others when we have a practical skill that we can use to meet a practical need while we're sharing God's love. It's where words and action meet. It just makes sense that someone should have skills beyond that of teaching God's Word (which any child of God should be able to do) as they go into ministry. Those in "the ministry" should not be the least skilled people around!!

With that in mind, it's my desire to give my children, in addition to a working knowledge of God's Word, some practical skills to equip them for serving others in practical ways.

Growing Missionaries

I love reading and my favorite thing to read these day is biographies of missionaries. When I was younger I found their stories interesting and entertaining but now I find them amazing and inspiring!

The first missionary story to make a really significant impact on my life was the story of Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China. At the time that I read it (actually re-read because I had read it before), I had two little babies and I was feeling like I wasn't accomplishing much in life. Staying home, not coming into contact with other adults much at all, really not fitting into the churches we tried even though I'd make the effort to get involved. The only adults that I talked to about life, other than my husband, was my mom (by phone) and his mom! I was feeling a bit depressed about things when I read that book.

A small part at the beginning of this book permanently changed my perspective on my job. I read about Hudson Taylor's parents praying to God before he was even born, that their child would take the gospel to China. He never knew about this until he was a missionary in China as an adult. Suddenly I realized that God used those parents to change the eternal destiny of multitudes of souls in China! Not through going out and doing amazing things that everyone could see and call amazing, but by doing the quiet little thing of raising their child for the Lord! It's not a job with lots of glory, but when you look down the road and see what God could do with your service... Wow!!

To me it would be a great thing if God chose to use one of my children as an overseas missionary. Not that I would like my children to be far away, but I would definitely love to have my children play a part in spreading the gospel to all the world. At the same time, I pray that God will use all of my children in a significant way, drawing others to Christ and supporting other missionaries, no matter where they end up.

With that in mind, I've not had another day of feeling like my job was pointless. I'm preparing little missionaries to love and serve the Lord. No other job could have greater, longer lasting significance!