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Faith's Firm Foundation: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

At The Well: "Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil"

Gathering At the Well

     Today "At The Well" we're talking about showing discretion in what we write and read online.  Written Words.  Words are very important.  Words can change lives.  Does God care about words--my words?  God thought the concept and power of words so important He called His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word.  We, as women, have a really bad reputation with regards to our words. It used to be the phrase "there's a lady present" would be a purifying influence on the men around to "clean up their language"--to not be crude, coarse or vulgar.  One of the feminist movement's advancements was to gain "equality" in this realm, for now women feel free to be every bit as crude, coarse and vulgar as any man born, maybe more.  You may be thinking, Oh, well, yes, non-Christian women can be really bad and they should really watch their language.  Well, in the areas of coarseness and crudeness and inappropriate words, Christian sisters, so do we.  We must show discretion and modesty.  There is no place for coarse jesting or off-color inuendo; references to body parts or processes in a Christian woman's speech.  All through this post I will refer to writing and "speech," but every word applies to us as "readers" and "hearers," too.  We are responsible for what we read and hear, as well.  Ephesians 5:2,4,7--"Let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks...Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:...And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
     When you write something, you may feel you are writing for a small, or select audience, but written words and especially what is written on the internet, is not private.  My mother used to warn me, "Don't write it down unless you're willing for the world to read it."  That is especially true of everything we write online.  But what, or Who, should be first in our thoughts as we write: The One we seek to please, and glorify is: the Lord.  In light of that, here are 5 points to remember as we write or "speak," and as we read, or "listen."
  1. Fear of the Lord Comes First.  Our motivation: in writing, speaking--in life--should be a knowledge of "Thou, God, seest me."  David said, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned."  We live to please Him.  We are His representatives. What makes the internet different?
  2. Be a Leader in Lovingkindness.  Proverbs 31:25-26--"Strength and honor (goodly, glory, beauty, comeliness, excellency) are her clothing...she openeth her mouth with wisdom (knowledge, experience, insight, judgment--always used in a positive sense--which comes out of reverence for the Lord) and in her tongue is the law of kindness (teaching of lovingkindness.)  If we bash or speak disrespectfully of our husbands, friends or children, how does that line up with the above words and Proverbs 31:11-12--"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her...she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."  Proverbs has much to say about the tongue.  Are my words about others wise?  Are they "building up" or "tearing down"--edifying or falling into the category of Proverbs 30:32-33--"If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth."  Proverbs 29:11--"A fool uttereth all his (or her) mind; but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." And verse 20--"Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him."  Proverbs 30:17 talks about our words relating to our parents, and I would include our inlaws in this: The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it." (*As an adult married person, our relationship changes from command to one of counsel, however, we need to always respect.)  Are our words salt and light?  Be careful, also, of flattering one another. I love a glowing comment as well as the next person, and flattering is easy to do out of a pure heart, but the Word of God says, "A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet." (Prov. 29:5)  And 28:23, "He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue."  Instead, let's praise character or tell the writer how their writing benefited or challenged us.
  3. Speak with an Eye to Eternity and Recognizing we are in the Endtimes.  2 Peter 3:10-11--"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night: in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt, with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation (words and life) and godliness." 
  4. Compare Ourselves to Christ, Not Man and Be a Person of Integrity: Let's aim at being the same person in our writing as in person and not have the attitude that "everyone else is doing it."  2 Corinthians 10:12--"When we compare ourselves to ourselves we are not wise.  "Let such a one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.  For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves:  but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."  Ephesians 5:1--"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children."  Proverbs 30:5--"Every word of God is pure."  What should ours be then?  Proverbs 30:10--"Accuse not (hurt not with thy tongue) a servant (much less a brother or sister in the Lord) unto his master.
  5. Seek Peace and Pursue It.  1 Peter 3:8-12--"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile  (Guile=craft: skill in evasion or deception, duplicity, trickery, fraud, foxiness, slyness.)  Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue (or pursue) it.  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Words are powerful, for good and for evil.  God sees our thoughts, and He's reading our words. Let's please Him in all we do. "Whether in word or deed, do all to the glory of God."


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Marriage: Love and Respect

     As you know, we attended a marriage conference last weekend.  As my husband noted, after most marriage conferences the man comes home beat up and the wife thinks she's doing everything right and wonders when her husband's going to "shape up."  This marriage conference was different.  Viewing the DVD series on marriage entitled "Love and Respect" by Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs left the men in our group feeling understood and validated, and that is why, if you've been wanting your husband to attend a marriage conference, and he just hasn't been interested, this might be the one for you.  (However, Don't Go And Tell Him That!! Because he will feel disrespected, which is one thing we learned at the conference!)  You see, men hear through Blue Earplugs, Talk through Blue Megaphones, and Filter everything through that Blue!  Women hear through Pink Earplugs, Talk through Pink Megaphones, and Filter everything through that Pink!  Neither is better, just Different!
     Two points that I thought were important for me to remember: 1) Our spouse does not wake up in the morning thinking, "How can I make this person feel miserable and unloved/disrespected."  They are basically "goodwilled" people. (In other words, give them the benefit of thinking of them that way.  2) Generally speaking, men don't take things personally, and they talk to everybody they know the same way (spouse, other guys): so "Just drop it" means they're ready to move on with no hard feelings after a disagreement. Women, on the other hand, need to "Resolve issues" and come full circle: they need to hear you say you're sorry for your tiny percentage of the fault, they need to say they're sorry, perhaps have a good cry, they need to talk it over, know everything's alright, then have some light moment of laughter over something...then they can begin enjoying the activity you were doing together again. (This is, of course, my version and doesn't do the subject justice.)
     Eggerichs is a powerful communicator.  He can, at times, have you in stitches with his hysterical way of telling a story that "really hits home because it's so true" and then, the next minute, have you crying for the same reason.  Because of this, both my husband and I recommend that you buy the DVD version (rather than the book) of this conference, if possible--maybe you and another couple would like to go in on it together, or you could buy it for your church library. Once you've watched the conference, you're going to want to loan it out to others. 
     So, this is a "Book Review," of sorts, but more of a "Conference/DVD Review."  My husband, and many other men, came away with positive comments and we both, as well as many of the other couples with older children, want our kids to watch parts of this conference before they marry.  We think it is eye-opening and will help them to be better prepared for marriage. It helped us to understand one another better, even after 31 years of marriage, and we recommend it to other married couples.  Here is a very brief overview of what we heard, written by my husband.
"Marriage 101:  God created man--God made woman from man for man.  God made man and woman different and with different roles to play.  God made marriage by putting differences together intentionally.  God knew that there would be conflict in marriage (by design) because of this.  Marriage 201:  Man has a need to be respected which a wife can give toward satisfying.  Woman has a need to be loved which a husband can give toward satisfying.  It is not natural for a husband to give love and he cannot fully satisfy a wife's need.  It is not natural for a wife to give respect, and she cannot fully satisfy a husband's need.  God, the Supernatural, must fill our need for love and respect, (some of it through the spouse).  God established marriage to turn hearts to Himself for completion.  Marriage 301:  God designed marriage to be temporary--there is no marriage or marrying in heaven--it's not eternal.  As in all temporal things satan has a powerful influence--to distort, discredit, and destroy.  As in all temporal things, it will be swallowed up in death.  With all temporal things we are to look past them to the eternal.  When we give account before God it will be individually given.  (No couples/blaming allowed.)  Live life here amidst conflict; allow it to turn our lives toward Him for help and our hearts toward Him in hope."
     We heartily recommend this marriage resource for couples!  May you be blessed and your marriage strengthened.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009
We've been a little busy! No time for blogging...
So here are a few photos of what we've been up to!

Thanksgiving Dinner
Mom, Kelsey, Dane, Di, Ron and Jerry

"Sisters, Sisters--

There were never such devoted Sisters!"

"Time-honored Thanksgiving Traditions"
were observed, of course
...reading the sales ads...

...and watching the football game...

Friday's Family Project:
Painting Kelsey's Bedroom

"Chaos Central"

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Top Ten Thanks

Thankful Thursday:
Thanksgiving Day Top Ten Thanks Today

(To participate and read other thanks-giving, go to Grace Alone )

  • Salvation
  • His Marvelous Grace and Mercy to Me, the Worst of All Sinners
  • My Family: Jerry, Dane and Kelsey
  • My Home and Everything That It Means To Me
  • My Church: Everyone Who Is A Part of It and All That God Is Doing There
  • Health and Life:  Cancer-free for 7 years
  • Godly Friends Who Encourage and Love Me
  • God's Provision Through A Job and My Husband's Faithful Work
  • Health for All our Family and Safety Through Another Year
  • God's Faithfulness to His Promises; His Presence; and The Hope of Heaven, nearer every day
Thanks be to God!

Ps. 95:1-3--"O Come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise tot he rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods."

Ps. 26:7--"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all thy wondrous works."

Ps. 29:1-2--"Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.  Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
Psalm 100:1-2--"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's...
Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion:
Bless the Lord, O my soul."

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recipe(s) of the Week: Chex Party Mix and Cranberry Cashew Romaine Salad

"Nuts-and-Bolts" Prior to Baking

   I thought about posting the "Ghastly Guest" story today and I couldn't do it for two reasons, so if you were anxiously awaiting it, you'll have to wait another week because I couldn't bear to talk about something negative on the day before Thanks-giving!  And secondly, the Lord had different plans for my days yesterday and today, when I would have written it!  Yesterday, in His wise judgment, He allowed me to have the most "horrendous computer day" ever; and today, we are blessed to spend the day (mostly) with my mom helping her prepare for our Thanksgiving Celebration! I guess the Lord is teaching me Flexibility!
   So...I decided to post some recipes which are part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions, and which I think you might like to have as part of your recipe collection.

   Our family has a tradition.  Every year, right before Thanksgiving, we make Chex Party Mix.  But we don't call it that.  We call it Nuts-and-Bolts.  I grew up with Nuts-and-Bolts at Thanksgiving.  So, my mom probably used the 1950's version of the recipe, but she doesn't remember:)  Now, I make a version of the newer recipe, but we don't just make one batch.  We make a quadruple batch.  We take some to the Thanksgiving celebration with my family, and for many years, when we'd always spend Thanksgiving weekend, leaving the day after Thanksgiving, with my husband's family at the farm, we'd take one big Tupperware container-full up there, too, because his family loves it, as well. Then we freeze the rest in Tupperware containers, having it on hand for our skating parties and any unexpected guests who might drop by.  It's also nice when I need something to bring to unplanned-for parties over the Christmas holiday, too!
     I have changed the recipe a little.  I like to use Wheat Chex and Bran Chex, as well as Rice and Corn Chex, giving it a little more fiber and "health"--but I also put a whole can of mixed nuts and a whole can of cashews into the quadruple batch for "good taste"!  You only have Thanksgiving and Christmas once a year, you know!
     Here is the Original 1950's Recipe (right off of a 1950's cereal box), and below you'll find the recipe that I use.  Also you'll find one of my favorite recipes, Cranberry Cashew Romaine Salad!  Since it says Cranberry in the title, I thought some of you might like to make it as a side dish during the Thanksgiving Holiday, as it's so simple and goes so well with Turkey!

The Original 1950's Recipe for Chex Party Mix
(Makes 1 Batch)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
3 cups Wheat Chex square cereal
2 cups Rice Chex square cereal
1-1/2 cups peanuts
1-1/2 cups small pretzel rods

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Melt butter in a shallow pan. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and garlic salt (not garlic powder).  Add Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, nuts (peanuts, pecans or cashews), and pretzel rods. Mix until all pieces are coated with the butter mixture.
Place on a shallow baking pan with sides. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool...enjoy!

(Part of) The Finished Quadruple Batch
"Nuts-and-Bolts" (Chex Party Mix, My Version)
Makes a Quadruple Batch = About 50 cups (approx. 2 Large Tupperware-Containers-full)
It's easy to halve this or just make 1 batch--Try it!

12 cups Corn Chex cereal (one 14 oz box)
12 cups Rice Chex cereal (one 12.8 oz box)
12 cups Wheat Chex cereal (almost 2-14oz boxes)
(I substitute Bran Chex for part of the Corn and Rice Chex)
*1 can Mixed Nuts
*1 can Cashews
4 cups pretzel sticks (less than one bag)
*4 sticks of butter (you can get by with 3, which is 24 Tbsp:)
8 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
6 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
3 tsp garlic salt (or garlic powder)
2 tsp onion powder
*you can use 3 sticks of butter and less nuts for a lower fat version

   In 2 large oval roaster pans, melt the butter (half in each), at 250 degrees F.  My oven requires that I overlap the top edges of the pans to get them in side by side, but this doesn't matter to the recipe or the pans.  Also, you'll need to remove the top rack from your oven.
   While the butter's melting, mix your dry ingredients in two large Tupperware or other plastic bowls, (or do this in shifts).  Check your butter--you just want it melted.
   When the butter's melted, take the pans out and add half of the Worcestershire sauce (4 Tbsp) to each pan.  Then add half of the other seasonings to each pan, and stir it all up.
   Now SLOWLY add the dry cereal mixture, a large stainless steel spoon works best, so you can scrape the bottom of the pan, stirring after every little bit, to thoroughly coat it with the butter mixture, but not crush the cereal.  (If your butter mixture has had time to cool, put it back in the oven to heat it a little for easy pouring and coating consistency.  Otherwise it will glop onto some of the cereal, and not coat some, and you'll have burnt pieces, which makes it all taste yucky.)
   Now, put the pans in the oven at 250 degrees and bake for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.  If you're using roaster pans, you can put the cover on and holding both handles tightly, shake it up and down and around, to mix.  You'll still have to stir a little with a spoon to scrape the bottom.
   After an hour of baking, spread the mix out on paper towels or paper bags cut open and turned inside out, to cool.  When cool, store in airtight containers in the freezer for up to a month.  Enjoy your new tradition from Our House to Yours!

Cranberry Cashew Romaine Salad
Serves 6-8 (Use a Large Bowl)
1-1/2 heads of romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn, or chopped
1 large eating apple, cut into small square pieces just before serving
3/4 cup Craisins
1 cup cashews
1 cup Swiss cheese; diced
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup oil
2 tsp fresh grated onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp poppy seeds

Mix dressing ahead of time.
Mix salad just before serving.
and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Timely Tips on Tuesday: Being a Prayer Warrior at Heart

     One of my life goals is to be a "prayer warrior." On paper, I solemnly wrote this goal, as well as others, after becoming a Christian at the age of 19. It's a goal that's dear to me. Recently I was encouraged to better organize my prayer life, when I heard the story of a real prayer warrior and Godly mom. According to this woman's son, who wrote honoring her shortly after her death, this Godly woman was accustomed to praying for literally everyone she knew on a weekly basis. While going through some of her belongings after her death, he found his mom's prayer journal, and was struck by the faithfulness and endurance of her prayers. If someone had shared a request with her, she would pray daily for that request until given leave to stop or the prayer was answered. Someone had shared with him that, referring to something they'd asked her to pray about some time ago, she wondered if it would be alright if she were to move that request from her daily to her weekly list. At her funeral, virtually every person in attendance was listed personally by name on her prayer list.

     How did she do it? The first of the things we can learn from this Godly prayer warrior was that she was faithful in praying for requests daily, so she must have had a set and dedicated prayer time.  Also, her son noted that, in her prayer journal, she divided her long list equally among the days of the week. She seems to have kept an organized record of requests and answers, as well.
     My prayer organization has a long ways to go--I'm not in this Godly woman's league yet--but here are some of the ways I'm attempting to be more organized and faithful in this area, some of which are based on her example. (If you have found a way which really works well for you to record prayer requests and answers, please let me know.) I realize that this post may be a little intimidating, but please realize that you can implement as much, or little, of this as you can handle. The way I think of it in my own life is, if I follow this even partially, I'm praying more regularly in each of these areas and I am able to blanket these areas in a "cover of prayer."  I never completely follow this prayer schedule, and parts of it are still "under construction," (as I am), but the goal is always before me and makes me a more disciplined pray-er as I aim towards the goal of becoming a "prayer warrior."
     First, I divided up "everyone I know" (or at least everyone I intend to pray for on a regular basis) into the weekdays. Our church printed up a cardstock bookmark with each family listed next to a number 1-31, in order to facilitate praying for them. I keep this bookmark in my Bible, and during our Family Devotions, I try to remember to look at it and pray for the family or families according to the day. During my personal prayer time, I can look at this or our church's directory and so I only had to write down those names not associated with our church, according to the first letter of their last name. I pray for them according to this schedule: Monday: Last names beginning with A-E, Tuesday: F-J, Wednesday: K-O, Thursday: P-T, Friday: U-Z.
     I pray a lot for our teaching Elders: the men who lead our church, and their families. But, lest I slip in this area, on the day of the week (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) that relates to the first letter of their last name, I have a time slot written down to spend time praying for them and their families.
     Besides praying weekly for all the families in our church, I would like to focus on one family each week of the year. (This is a Prayer Goal for 2010.)  Some ideas for making this more personal are: Ask the "Featured Family" for specific prayer requests; put their picture on the fridge or in a prominent place as a reminder to pray for them throughout the day; invite them over for dinner to get to know them better, if they live near enough; send an encouraging card or note to let them know that they're going to be prayed for during the upcoming week, or that you've been praying for them that week.
     Next, there are eight missionaries that we are especially interested in, supporting and/or praying for and I have assigned a day of the week to each of them. On two days of the week there are two missionaries to pray for, but they're grouped together either because they are related by family--we pray for one missionary who's a retired widow and then, also, her daughter and her family, who are carrying on the work--or they're related by the focus of their mission work: (two of the missionaries work specifically with pregnancy resource centers, so I pray for them on the same day, even though one is in Israel and one is in Minnesota. (Speaking of which, the PRC in St. Cloud, MN is having a Pie Auction tonight at 7:00 p.m.!  Many of our church's moms and daughters contributed pies for this event, which will benefit the Pregnancy Resource Center.  Please pray for this event, and attend, if you live in the area!)
     Next, I pray for the salvation of our neighbors, family and friends. There are eight neighbors who we know and are praying for, who I've divided up on the days between Monday and Friday. On Sunday, when I have an extended time for prayer, I pray for our unsaved family and other friends.
     One day I realized that there are 50 states in America and 52 weeks in the year, and that this fact would make it easy to pray for my country in a more focused way throughout the year. There are many ways you can do this. I chose to pray alphabetically through the list, but you could also pray by region, or if you prefer, you could pray for 2 states per day, thereby praying through the whole country every month. On the back of the bookmark I spoke of earlier, I have written all 50 states, alphabetically. Praying for the states might encourage you, as an individual, or as Homeschooling families, to study more about each state. I usually pray for the leaders: governor, mayors, senators, etc., for their salvation, for wisdom, that they'll receive Godly counsel and that they will make decisions that will be according to God's will.  If I know of specific issues in their state, of course I pray for those, too. And I pray that the decisions and laws which they make will allow Christians under their authority to "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (1 Timothy 2:2)
     I have yet to institute a schedule of praying for the countries of the world on a regular basis, but you can do this alphabetically, or by region of the world, or by people groups or by religion--there are many ways to do this, and also, this would be a great Homeschooling project. We prayed for many of the countries one year as we studied World Geography, by studying and finding out about the people in each country we were praying for, studying them alphabetically within regions of the world, and using Operation World ( as a jumping-off point. Go to this link (*click "skip the ads" to go back to the country's info once a country is selected), for more information about each country, including what its flag looks like, a map of the country, its geography, history, population, president, and facts, figures and articles.
     Each week I also pray for these specific areas: Sunday, I pray for widows and orphans (James 1:27); Monday, the National Government and Tuesday, our State Government (1 Timothy 2:1-2); Wednesday, Missions around the world; Thursday, Our Church; Friday, Persecuted Christians around the world.
     So, I made a chart to help me keep track of who and what to pray for each day. I haven't figured out how to paste an Excel or Word Document into my blog, so I'll do this a different way. This is how it looks:
  • Sunday: Pray for 1 missionary; Salvation of family and friends; Widows and Orphans; the State and Family of the Week; and (optional) Country of the Week.
  • Monday: Pray for people with Last Names A-E; the salvation of 2 neighbors; one missionary; one Elder; the National Government; the State and Family of the Week; and (optional) Country of the Week.
  • Tuesday: Pray for people with Last Names F-J; 2 missionaries; Salvation of 1 neighbor; the State Government; the State and Family of the Week; and (optional) Country of the Week.
  • Wednesday: Pray for people with Last Names K-O; 1 missionary; 1 Elder; Salvation of 2 Neighbors; World Missions; the State and Family of the Week; and (optional) Country of the Week.
  • Thursday: Pray for people with Last Names P-T; 2 missionaries; 1 Elder; Salvation of 2 Neighbors; Our Church; the State and Family of the Week; and (optional) Country of the Week.
  • Friday: Pray for people with Last Names U-Z; 1 missionary; Salvation of 1 Neighbor; The Persecuted Church; the State and Family of the Week; and (optional) Country of the Week.
  • Saturday: Catch up and pray for other requests and things the Lord lays on your heart.
     You may also wish to fast and pray one or more days a week for a more concentrated time of prayer on these and other things which are near and dear to the Lord's, and your, heart.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

At the Well: Housekeeping Helps

Come, gather at the well today!

Gathering At the Well

     Today "At the Well," (click on the link above to participate and read) we're discussing the woes of Housekeeping!  When I read that title, I immediately groaned and became depressed! Housekeeping, though, is not going away in this lifetime, and we all have to do it...So, let's put this subject in a more pleasant perspective!
Let's remember:
  1. Housekeeping is Temporary, not Eternal!
  2. Housekeeping is due to the curse--Even We Will Return to Dust!
  3. Housekeeping is an opportunity to serve our Lord and our family.
  4. Housekeeping is God's training ground of our character and it's All About Attitude.
  5. Housekeeping is an opportunity for God to train our children through us: a) We need to train them by our attitude towards housework and b) We need to Train them in the skills to do it.
  6. Housekeeping is more difficult because we are Blessed with (too) many Belongings.
  7. Housekeeping is more difficult because we have bad attitudes.
  8. Let's Be Thankful for the riches God has given us: People to clean up after, and Things to put into place (and take care of and use for His glory).
  9. Let's Be Thankful for the body He has given us to do the work (and if we are able to do any work, let's thank Him for every bit we can do)!
  10. Let's Be a Good Steward of the Time and Possessions that God has given us, remembering that everything we have is really God's, and we will be called upon to give an account: a) By Learning ways to do the work we have to do more quickly and efficiently; b) By Using the things we have, or giving/selling them to someone else who will (or throwing them); c) By Taking care of the things we have so they will last longer.
Resources to Help Us Get a Handle on Housekeeping:
(under Home Organization below)
"Sidetracked Home Executives/From Pigpen to Paradise" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones (This book actually changed my life.  Pam and Peggy, the SLOB sisters, showed me a way that it was Possible for Me, someone who's not "born organized," to have a clean and organized home and life and still be me and be happy. They encourage you with their own examples and stories, because they're actually worse than you are, or they were until they came up with this system. And they are so funny, you'll "laugh til the tears are rolling down your cheeks"--I promise.)
"Get Your Act Together: A 7-Day Get-Organized Program For The Overworked, Overbooked, and Overwhelmed" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones (Written by the same sisters who co-authored "Sidetracked Home Executives."  Please read the reviews on Amazon for this book--you'll definitely buy this book if you do!  I hope it will change your life as it has others!)
"Speed Cleaning" by Jeff Campbell (This is a great, compact "how-to" book to teach exactly how to clean your house in what order and what way--FAST! I learned how to clean my bathroom in about 15 minutes from this book.)
"Is There Life After Housework?" by Don Aslett (Known for his humorous and helpful look at this timeless topic, he tells you how to clean everything in your house. Also includes spot and stain removal tips.)
"Do I Dust or Vacuum First?" by Don Aslett (All of Aslett's books and videos are funny and informative, and I recommend having these as resources on your bookshelf.)
"Houseworks: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm Chaos" by Cynthia Townley Ewer (This author's "Christmas Organized" forms and tips have helped me tremendously, so based on that I include her book here on organizing the Housekeeping area of your life, but if the reviews online are any indication, you'll be buying one for yourself and your daughter! Great shower/wedding gift idea!)
"The New Messies Manual: The Procrastinator's Guide to Good Housekeeping" by Sandra Felton (This is the new, updated version--My sister-in-law absolutely loved this book and couldn't stop talking about it! It gave her such hope! It will you, too!)
"Streamlining Your Life: A 5-point Plan for Uncomplicated Living" by Stephanie Culp
(Culp, a time management expert, gives ideas on how to declutter and simplify and the motivation to do it.  Examples of timewasters, how to eliminate them, and why. A no-nonsense approach and if you follow her advice, you'll be so glad you did!)

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Thoughts on Building A Strong Godly Family

     I was thinking the other day of the spiritual disciplines and habits which strengthen a life and a family, of things that I would say to a young wife or mom if I was sitting having tea with her in my home...things started to pop into my mind, like popcorn--this is the rough outline, although many other thoughts which would be points under the main points came to mind, too, but here's the "short" list. If anyone's interested, I may expound on these later. (I won't be posting this weekend, but after the Marriage Conference I may share some.  Speaking of which, pray for all of us (38) couples--if the rest of them have had the buffeting that we've had this week, it must be some powerful stuff that we're going to hear--pray that God will bear much fruit through it.)  So, until Monday, this is kind of a list of some of the principles and thinking that guided our raising of our family.  We didn't have Godly mentors and advisors when we were first married, so much of it came later, but if I'd had it to do over again, I would have lived this way from the beginning of our marriage. So here's the condensed list of "What We Did," and would recommend for you and your marriage and family.
  • Turn your hearts to Home
  • Stay Home
  • A Rare Thing: Someone else puts the children to bed
  • Almost Never: Go away and leave them with Anyone
  • Let your husband be the provider, completely
  • Children thrive on "routine"--Same thing every day/and every week:  It makes them feel secure
  • Make your Children Live out "Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends"(see book info at bottom of post): Children play together--all ages; Making forts under blankets, playing "store," puppets, skating, "Capture the Flag," Sledding, No church "programs," No sports "programs" (or very little)
  • Children take music lessons together
  • Simplify your life
  • Picture a Godly Grandma and Grandpa scene: Aim for that
  • Write out what you want your children to become (Biblical): Picture the Godly adult that you want them to be and describe him/her on paper
  • Build Spiritual Disciplines into your life:  1)Read the Bible Daily (Read through in a year) 2)Pray--Organize your Prayer Life; pray Morning, evening and mealtimes together 3)Go to Church Every Sunday--Don't Miss 4)Fast weekly 5)Tithe and Give Offerings 6)Honor Parents and Elderly--Be under authority as children and under Counsel as adults 7)Do Good Works (not to be saved, but because you're saved) 8)Be Baptized (Not to be saved, but out of obedience and following the Lord's example--encourage your children to be baptized by immersion soon after they're truly saved)
  • Read Edifying Books Aloud--as a Couple and later as a Family
  • Get rid of the TV
  • Listen to Godly Teaching (Tapes, Stories):  e.g. John MacArthur, Elisabeth Elliot
  • Listen to Fine and Godly Music: Put no vile thing before your eyes (or ears); Edifying melodic music, Excellent Classical music--e.g. Handel, Vivaldi, etc.
  • (Always) Go Places as a Family--Make this a Non-Decision--Love Being Together As A Family!--"We go everywhere together" (If you go places to get away from your children, your children will do the same for you when they enter the teen years)
  • Do Things Together:  Games, Puzzles, Field Trips, Serving
Why Serve?  Serving promotes a selfless attitude, becoming other-centered; it makes you aware of the needs of others, fulfills the gospel, gives opportunities to witness through words and actions, makes you aware of people you can pray for, and it makes you thankful!

Couple and Family Serving Ideas
(All of these ideas have been tried and tested out by a Family--Ours!)
  1. Widows: Find a grandma or your grandma--visit, sing a hymn, play your piano piece, make cookies, play a game, sit by them and look at their pictures, or color, or read a story; bring sandwiches and eat with them; bring daisies from your garden or the grocery store
  2. Do all the above at a Nursing Home (or go with a group and sing for/with them on a regular monthly or bi-monthly basis)
  3. Go to a Food Shelf and volunteer (probably good for ages 8+ or mature younger)
  4. Fare for All:  (If you have this program in your area) Volunteer (ages 6+ maybe)
  5. Meals on Wheels: Take the whole family, but, if you have a large family, rotate taking only some of the children to the door--take your little ones!
  6. Pray for the people you meet through your volunteering!
  7. Call your small town City Hall and ask if they need help in any way (ages 8+) (We did this and folded and stuffed envelopes with our mayor.  He learned something about Homeschooling families and he was impacted for Christ, we hope, and we had an opportunity to learn about him and also the history of our community, which he had grown up in, which was very, very interesting!)
Be counter-cultural!  Be different because you believe in Jesus Christ!  Cause people to ask, What makes you different?  Why are you doing this?  And then
Tell Them About Jesus!

*"Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends" by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally.
Titles that I wish I'd read earlier: "A Full Quiver" by Rick and Jan Hess; "Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot; "A Peaceful Home" by Elisabeth Elliot (video) 

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Mom's Thanksgiving Dressing

     This is my mom's recipe for dressing (stuffing) for stuffing your turkey (or chicken), which I have made many, many times.  I love it!  I'd rather pass on the turkey and have more of this dressing!  It is the moist variety, and very easy to make.  I love the taste of dressing which is roasted in the bird, but I'm also going to include a recipe for Crockpot Dressing. Some people have successfully used a different method for their Thanksgiving turkey, in which they make the turkey the day ahead, take it off the bone, and then reheat the carved meat, covered in broth, in an electric roaster on the Big Day.  This Crockpot Dressing might be perfect if you do the turkey this way.

Anyway!  Here is the Recipe for my
Mom's Dressing
1 cup minced onion
1 quart (4 cups) diced celery
1 cup butter
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
4 qts. firmly cubed bread
(or I use a package of Pepperidge Farm I think it is seasoned cubed bread)
1-1/2 cups broth or water (I have used bouillon cubes mixed with the 1-1/2 cups water)
   Cook onion and celery in butter in a large frying pan on the stove until the onion's soft but not brown.  Blend seasonings with the bread cubes in a Large bowl.  Add onion mix to bread mixture.  Toss ingredients. Pour the broth over, tossing lightly.  I usually make an 11-13 lb. turkey and I always have extra dressing after stuffing the bird, so I put the extra into a dish and bake it separately. You can make this dressing the night before, which is nice, and stuff the turkey the next day, but as soon as you have stuffed the turkey, roast it immediately, otherwise food poisoning can occur:).
   I hope you will try this recipe, as it is very easy, and always turns out beautifully!

OK, now for the
Crockpot Dressing
1 cup butter
2 cups onion
2 cups celery
1/4 cup parsley sprigs
2 cups mushrooms
12-13 cups bread cubes
3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram
2 eggs, well beaten
   If using seasoned stuffing mix omit herbs and salt.  Saute veggies in butter, pour over bread, moisten with broth.  Add eggs, mix well.  Pack lightly into crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 45 minutes.  Then reduce to low and cook for an additional 4-8 hours.

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Thankful Thursday: Encouraging Thankfulness in Children

     For the last six years, our family has been privileged to be part of a wonderful church family, led by three teaching elders, who I want to honor, saying I am very thankful for them this Thankful Thursday (click on this link to read posts from other thankful hearts).  These men and their families epitomize 1 Timothy 3:1-13.  My husband suggested that we express our thanks to them a few years back in a way which would also teach our children thankfulness. That year was the first.  At Thanksgiving time, each of us writes a note of thanks to each of the three men, specifically mentioning the character qualities, spiritual gifts and things they've done for which we're grateful.  Sometimes we include a money gift, (you don't have to give anything, but if you want to, some other ideas are a coupon for a meal or babysitting; a bookmark; or a grocery store, restaurant or Christian bookstore gift card.) Then we place these notes, written individually and in our own hand, in a Thanksgiving card and give them to our elders the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  People in leadership who rule well should be thanked at least.  1 Timothy 5:17 says, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine."  These men divide the Word of Truth rightly, patiently and lovingly shepherd the flock, rule their households well and are faithfully walking with the Lord.    

Thank you, Lord, for Mark, Mike and David and their families, and for the many ways you've blessed my family and the families of our church through them!
This Week's Thanksgiving Resources
(see past Thankful Thursday posts for other resources or scroll down to the bottom)

"N. C. Wyeth's Pilgrims" (Text by Robert San Souci.)  A wise friend and homeschooling consultant advised me when our children were young to choose books not only for their reading content, but also for their illustrations, artwork, and photographs. I took her advice, and we have been the richer for it.
This is a beautiful book by artist N. C. Wyeth, about the pilgrims which will help your children learn to appreciate fine art, by the illustrator who's best known for illustrating Treasure Island and Robin Hood.
"...If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620" by Ann McGovern.  This short paperback book in the "...If You" series helps children understand what it might have been like to travel on the Mayflower and live in that day in a short, sweet, easy to digest way.
"Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving" by Ann McGovern. This book gives children a "taste" of what it was like to be at the First Thanksgiving.
"If You the First Thanksgiving" by Anne Kamma. For younger readers, ages 4-8. 
"Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage" by Peter Arenstam. Photos from the Mayflower II. (Parents watch: The authors state that some things were taken from the Indians, and that the Pilgrims didn't have respect for them, without noting that Wm. Bradford's journal tells us that the plan was to pay them when they could identify the rightful owner.) Ages K-4.
"Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times" by Kate Waters.  Another in this series which utilizes wonderful photographs from Plimouth Plantation, this book tells the story of a young Indian boy.

Hand Turkey Placecards Start with a half sheet of white card stock.  Fold it in half.  On a piece of red construction paper, trace your child's hand outstretched like a turkey.  Cut out the hand, glue or tape it to the cardstock (it's alright if it sticks up at the top) and you or old enough children can write the names of each guest who will be at the table on Thanksgiving Day.  (You might want to have him or her practice on a separate piece of paper, or you can have them write the names on another piece of the white cardstock, cut them out and glue or tape them onto the hand "turkeys." (Options: You can change the colors of cardstock, construction paper and writing to coordinate with your table, or even use a different color for each of your children, or each guest.) 
Step 2: If you like, the children can write a special note of thanks to each guest on the inside of the card--these will be treasured keepsakes.

Make a small gift for your neighbors Candy corn and dry roasted peanuts mixed together make a fun and easy gift that even your youngest children can mix themselves to tell your neighbors that you appreciate them.  Scoop some of the mix into baby food jars, or canning jars, put a piece of pretty calico fabric on top with ribbon or rubber band; or scoop into little bags, and tie with colorful fall-colored ribbon or yarn.  You can write a short message of thankfulness for "good neighbors" or communicate your thanks in person as you go with the children door-to-door to deliver!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hospitality: Being a Good Guest--The Golden Rule

     In our continuing theme of that we're actually in a person's home as a guest, how should we behave?  First of all, we are instructed in the Bible to think about the way that we want to be treated, and then treat others that way.  Matthew 7:12--"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."  This is commonly referred to as the "Golden Rule."
     How does this play out inside another's home? This week and next, I will try to paint for you pictures of visits from two extreme examples of different kinds of guests: the first visit is from the Golden Guest and next week we will be visited by The Ghastly Guest. But let's meet the Goldens.
     Just inside your home, the Golden family enters together. Mom and Dad Golden speak quietly to their children as they take their coats off, the young children staying near their parents until instructed that they may do otherwise, especially since they are in your home for the first time.  The Golden children answer pleasantly and politely when spoken to, are not whiny, do not interrupt, and are cheerfully interested in being shown the toys that your children own and that they are allowed to play with.  They follow the girls/boys of your family and let your children be their guide/host as your children introduce them to their toys, bedroom or play area, and home.  Mrs. Golden inspects where the children will be playing, and makes a mental note as to how it looks when they arrive, in order to return it to this state before they leave.  She also notices any harmful objects or influences that she needs to remove out of reach or sight of her younger children.  She assesses the situation of their play area, and duly reminds her children of proper behavior, and with a smile, leaves them to their play.  (She will never be far away, and will check in frequently.)  The Golden children play carefully with their host's toys, and ask before taking anything else out, always putting one toy/game away before taking another out.  After the Golden children are closer friends with their hosts, perhaps they will take something off the shelf which they know is permitted to be played with, but there will be reserve and care in their behavior, for the Golden parents have trained their children to show care and politeness in the use of other's belongings.  The Golden children will come and ask for help, or instruction as to where to go, when they need to use the bathroom.  The Golden children have been taught the "interrupt rule"--they will come to their mother, putting a hand on her arm or shoulder. Without looking at them, she will put her hand on top of their hand indicating that she is aware of their presence, but she will listen if you are speaking, encouraging you to finish what you are saying, and finish speaking to you. The Golden children, not interrupting their mother's conversation, wait until their mother recognizes an appropriate moment, and looking at them, says, "Yes?"  They don't jump around or tug at their mother's arm or cause a disturbance in any way, but simply stand patiently waiting.  The Golden mother then will accompany her child to make sure that they know where the bathroom is, and help them, if they are young, leaving the room as they found it. The Golden children will not leave a mess, or their mother will quickly clean it up, with their help if they are able. When Mrs. Golden needs to change a diaper or nurse a baby, she quietly asks her hostess where she may do so out of the public eye.  She also asks where to dispose of dirty diapers and follows through to make sure they are not in the house anywhere they might be an offense. Mr. Golden is also responsibly watching the children, so that when Mrs. Golden is busy, they still know exactly what their children are doing.
     The Golden children would not think of opening up cupboards or drawers or doors to rooms which are closed.  The Golden parents have taught their children about public rooms and private rooms.  They will not enter rooms which are private without the host parent's permission.  They will ask their own parent before going where they are not sure it is ok.  The Golden children will not go into private rooms, and especially a parent's bedroom, even to follow after their host's children.  Only after they are much older, and if they know the family extremely well, and for reasons such as to help carry some items the parents have requested or need, will they go into a storage area, separate laundry area, etc. Even then, a parents' bedroom is considered by them off-limits, unless, for instance, instructed that the bathroom within it is for public use.  Even as older children, they would never enter a room if the door is closed, without asking the hostess, and then only for a very good reason.  If, when they are young and with their parents, they are allowed into the host parent's bedroom for some reason, they will not dream of touching anything.  In fact, the Golden children do not touch things that do not belong to them.  Whenever they are in another's home, the Golden parents remind their young children kindly, and with a smile, not to touch, "Just look with your eyes."  The Goldens talk about the beauty of what they see with their children.  Perhaps, at times, the Golden parents will ask permission to pick up an item and hold it for their child to look at while it is still safely in the parent's careful possession.  The Golden parents always model and teach, by word and action, respect for others, kindness, and care for all the things that God has allowed them and others to have, but especial care for others' belongings.  Their family is not stiff and formal, though, but warm and friendly, smiling, and cordial.  They are comfortable and easy to be around. They put you at ease. They take responsibility for their own children, whom they are teaching kindness and love, which is the essence of good manners. At home, they talk about good manners, and the love of Christ which is at the heart of it all.  They explain that, out of love for God and love for others, we act in certain ways, which we call good manners.  The Golden parents can be more and more at ease--though even the Goldens' children aren't perfect--because they have trained, not just taught, their children.  They know that teaching is just telling or explaining what is right or expected, but training is also telling what the consequences will be, and expecting a change in behavior following the teaching, and then following through with the appropriate and forewarned consequences and more teaching, as needed.
     The Golden mom and dad check frequently on their children.  They are even more careful and responsible for their children in another's home than in their own.  If anything is broken by one of their children, they will replace it, and the child will say they are sorry, and will work to pay for the item themself, if old enough.  The Golden family will graciously eat what's put in front of them, and the children will eat at least a little bit.  They may not like everything, but they will not complain or fuss.  They have been trained at home how to be polite.  They are still learning, of course, and their manners can't be expected to be perfect, but their parents are working at home on manners every day and they know not to be loud, to eat some of everything, to thank their hostess politely, and if they are old enough to go off to play, they stay at the table until everyone is finished, and then politely ask the hostess, "Mrs. ____, may I please leave the table."   Thanking her for the delicious meal, they will clear their plate from the table to the kitchen, before quietly going off to play again.  The Golden children (both their boys and girls older than 8) offer to help before and after the meal, and automatically get up and clear the table when the meal is over.  Mrs. Golden and her children always offer to wash the dishes, as well.  When they know the family well, the older children just go ahead and begin to wash dishes, and help get things cleaned up.  When it is almost time to leave--the Goldens neither leave too early nor too late--the parents give their children a 15-minute warning, and the children cheerfully begin to pick up.  Their parents help them get everything back into order, handing the little ones the toys to put into the containers and working with them, rather than doing it all for them, so that the younger ones learn to pick up after themselves and to leave things as they found them.  When The Golden Family leaves--quietly, joyfully, and not so late that everyone is crabby, having stayed up way past their, and your, bedtime--their host's home is pretty much picked up, so there is minimal mess for them to deal with. The Goldens remember everything that they brought with them, keeping it in a place by the door, where they will remember it.  Both the parents and their children thank their hosts warmly.
     When you have had the Golden Guest in your home, you feel blessed and wish to invite them again.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Timely Tips on Tuesday: Using a Master Grocery List and Menu Plan

     Do you run to the grocery store or convenience store frequently for ingredients that you need and don't have?  Are you always wishing that you could make this dish or that, but you can't because you don't have that one necessary item?  Do you stand in your kitchen at 5:00 p.m. thinking, "What on earth am I going to make for supper?" Do you end up spending money eating out or ordering in because you don't have a plan?
     Something that has helped me immensely is to make Menu Plans and to use a Master Grocery List.  I don't make a menu plan every week, or follow it absolutely, but I try never to go to the grocery store without my Master Grocery List. Over the years these tools have probably saved our family thousands of dollars.  The less that I am in a grocery store, the less money I spend on groceries, so I don't plan to go to the grocery store every week.  I like to do a main shopping trip twice a month and then, only if I have to, go to the store to buy fresh fruit, veggies and other perishables in between.  When we were still Homeschooling and taking piano lessons, we did our grocery shopping after lessons, as this was our "day out," and we were in the area. I like to see how many things I can accomplish at the same time--how many "birds I can kill with one stone."  When I am home, I try to stay there.  When I'm out, I try to accomplish as much as I can in one trip.  Therefore, I try to keep a stocked pantry at home, and to utilize the freezer.  I recommend, if you are a young couple, that one of the first major expenditures you make is to buy a chest freezer.  This will allow you to buy a hind quarter or side of beef and whole chickens directly from the farm, (if you don't raise them yourselves), so you will know where your food has come from and what's in it, and to buy in quantity when there's a sale.  You will also be able to freeze produce from your garden, and freeze leftovers, and even make "planned leftovers."  Many young wives find it difficult to cook for 2 (or even 3-4 when the children are small and don't eat much) without wasting a lot of food.  If you don't have a pantry, ask your husband to put up some shelves for you--they don't have to be pretty, but they do need to be sturdy.  I have a larger pantry in our storage area, and an upstairs "pantry" (not a walk-in) in the kitchen. The shelves need to be accessible and you need to be able to see what you have.  A list attached to the side is helpful, but not absolutely necessary.  Keep on these shelves staples and other items used frequently, and ingredients for dishes that you make often (in other words, for the recipes that you keep in your head).  Don't keep such large quantities that the flour becomes buggy or things spoil.  Also keep on these shelves extra paper products and cleaning supplies, if there's room.  Think of this as the convenience store in your house.  I keep one extra upstairs, and more extra downstairs.  When you run out of that thing you're using, you use the one extra upstairs, and then when it's convenient, you replenish it from downstairs.  And you put it on your list to replenish your "store" downstairs.  Now, when you "run out" of something, you don't have to run to the store--you are in control, you can go to the store in a time convenient to your schedule, and when you are already out for other reasons, and have planned it.
   As to the Menu Plan, there are many ways to organize it.  I use a monthly calendar, but you may want to start with one week at a time. Because many women find they keep making the same meals over and over and lack variety in their cooking, I'm going to give you a menu plan that, if followed, will avoid that particular problem.  The Menu Plan that I use is not the only one out there, but you can start with it, especially if you've never done this before--and you can always adapt it to your family, add on, and tweek it more later.  I have learned that everyone cooks and eats differently--no two homes are alike.  So your Menu Plan will be unique in some ways to your family. Some people plan all three meals. For our family at this time, I only need to plan the evening meal.  It is sometimes helpful for Homeschoolers to plan lunches, especially in large families, so that lunch doesn't end up becoming a huge interruption to your school day.  Remember that it's OK to have the same 2 or 3 things every week for breakfast, (and this is true for lunch, as well).  Find a plan that works well for you. Revise it when necessary, but you will find life becomes easier as a wife and mom when you're not constantly trying to reinvent the wheel.
   To start menu planning, look at your calendar to see which evenings you'll be eating at home in the next week and then plan three of those evening's meals.  If you are sure that you will be home for 5 evening meals, plan that many, however, you might want to start with three, for two reasons.  If you're just starting out in this, you won't get overwhelmed as easily, and secndly, you may have leftovers to use up or changes in your schedule that you didn't expect which will negate some of your plans.  You won't want ingredients in your fridge spoiling because you didn't make some of those meals.  What you can do is have ingredients on hand which will keep (in your freezer or on your shelves), in case your schedule changes.  A couple of notes:  In order to keep costs down and eat healthier, I include one non-meat meal a week, (you may want to plan more), substituting beans or a breakfast meal with eggs.  I also have a soup category.  Because we have people in our home frequently, I have one meal called a "Special Dinner" on my menu plan.  You don't have to follow this schedule religiously, but when you have a plan, you will be able to be calmer as the mealtime approaches and have a good healthy meal on the table for your family most nights.  Some of the advantages to menu planning are: saving money, healthier meals, more variety, less stress, a good example to children, and children and guests are able to help more easily because there's a plan.
(I am still trying to post my Master Grocery List and my file with Sample Menu Plans and a Blank Form.)

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Servant Leadership

This is a picture of the kind of leadership that we should all display in our homes as parents, isn't it? Humble, serving, meek.

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At The Well: Quenching a Thirsty Soul

   Today the topic At The Well (click on link) is The All-Sufficient One and the questions asked are, "In what areas of your life are you not allowing God to be your Soul Provider, the All-Sufficient One? What problems do you need to hand over to Him? Do you find yourself in a place of weakness right now? Is your soul thirsty?"
     These are questions that deeply touch my soul.  Like a skillful doctor probing for the answer to what is causing the pain that you're experiencing, these questions probe your soul for dry patches and dehydration--and the answers to why your soul is thirsty. Like physical dehydration, it only takes a little "under-hydrating" to produce "dehydration" of your soul.
     Is my soul thirsty? Yes, and here's why:
  • I haven't this past week disciplined myself to study God's Word and pray every morning. (Psalm 119:16--"I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word." Psalm 1:1-2--"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.")
  • I haven't been disciplining myself recently and have turned to food and other outside sources to make me "happy", fill my loneliness, soothe my nerves, etc. (Colossians 3:2--"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.")
  • I haven't been as firm with my mind and instead of taking my thoughts captive to the Lord and turning to Him in prayer, I have begun to worry and fret about future events over which I have no control (2 Corinthians 10:4-5--"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.")
  • I am under spiritual attack. My husband and I will be attending a marriage conference/couples retreat this weekend and satan is buffeting our souls to make us unprepared soil for the seeds of change and renewal which will certainly be planted in the garden of our marriage.
  • Due to lack of discipline and obedience to His promptings, I feel guilty and discouraged. (Psalm 90:8--"Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance." 1 John 1:9--"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.")
  • I have neglected drinking in deeply from God's Word lately and have not claimed the promises and victory that are mine. (2 Cor. 2:14--"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.")

     The diagnosis:  I am dry and thirsty.  The prescription:  I need to spend time in His Word and let the water of the Word cleanse me; I need to confess my sins, (Ps. 32:5--"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin"), forsake the idols which have robbed God of my time and attention, and turn over to Him the future unknowns (of loved ones dying without Christ, whether and to whom my children will marry, and where the money will come from for all the house repairs), (Philippians 4:6-7--"Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"), believing in Him, trusting Him, and relying on Him. (Ps. 4:5--"Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.") 
Psalm 42:1-2, 5--"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance."

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