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Faith's Firm Foundation: January 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I would like to ask my readers' forgiveness for having put some items in my store this past month which, though there is nothing "wrong" with them, would not be purchases which I could, in good conscience, advise a "friend" to make. I hope that all my readers will think of me as their friend and one who they can trust implicitly. Please forgive me.
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold."
Proverbs 22:1

Friday, January 29, 2010

Food Friday: Recipe for "Wild Chicken"

"Wild Chicken"


1 package (6 oz.) Long Grain and Wild Rice
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 Can or Pkg. (10 oz.) Green Beans; drained
2 cups Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless); cooked, chopped
1 Can Cream of Celery Soup
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 can (8 oz.) Water Chestnuts; sliced, drained
1 can (2.8 oz.) French's French Fried Onions; cut up

Cook and chop chicken.  Make rice according to directions on package, except replace 1 cup water with the 1 cup chicken broth.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together (reserving 1/2 of French Fried Onions.  Sprinkle remaining onions on top.  Bake in 2-quart round casserole or 9x13 pan for 30-45 minutes.  (Potluck prep: Double recipe and place in 6-quart crockpot on low to keep warm. You can also prepare it in the crockpot on low for 2 hours, or high for 1 hour.)

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What Does Homosexual Marriage Lead To?

Legalizing homosexual marriage will lead to...?
Well, Tom Pritchard, of the Minnesota Family Council, writes in a disturbing article that people think he's being alarmist when he has stated that it would lead to polygamy.  That's only the beginning, folks. Polyamory (Poly for short) is the latest trend.
"Framing it in broad terms, (Jay) Sekora, one of the three founders and acting administrator of the 500-person-strong group Poly Boston, says: 'There’s monogamy where two people are exclusive. There’s cheating in which people are lying about being exclusive. And poly is everything else.'”
When anything goes, sin leads to more sin. Click Here to read the article by Pritchard, where you will find the link to the Boston Globe article on Polyamory, quoted above, by Sandra A. Miller (1/03/10).

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday: "Love and Marriage"

Today--again--I'm thankful for a solid marriage. I would *like* to take credit for having a marriage to be thankful for, but instead I give all the glory, with amazement and gratitude, to my wonderful Lord and God and thank Him for leading me ("No, not that, no, *this* way...yes, that's it") with infinite patience to be where we are. Pride says to Self, "You're being hard on yourself; you did much to build, little to tear down," and sends my mind on a search of the files of my memory, to find proof. I am humbled that there has to be a search, and the proof isn't laying out in the open everywhere for all the world to see.  I did some building--I could have done much, much more.

I'm grateful, also, to my "straight arrow", consistent husband.  Many of the character qualities which my hubby possesses make it possible for us to have a strong marriage, and put me in a "recommendable" position.  We are polar opposites.  We had a pastor when we were dating, who, as a matter of course, took engaged couples through "premarital counseling" including a battery of personality tests. Everywhere the line on the graph went up for me, my fiance's went down. Every time his line went up, mine went to the same degree, down!  We were different as night and day!  One week before our wedding, our pastor gave us this "encouraging word": "You can still call it off."  The golden wisdom he left us with, truly gold, was when he dismally predicted, "The only way you're going to make it is with Jesus."  Friends, I'm so thankful I was told that's the only way we could make it!  For that's the only way *any* couple can make it! And it's the only way I would want to make it!  Praise God, it wasn't easy, but with Jesus we've "made it" this far!

When I was single, I was looking for a man with some of his qualities, but I didn't have the good sense or wisdom to be looking for other qualities the Lord lavishly threw in, which I had no idea were important! God is so good!  I "happened" to marry a man who came from a very Godly heritage: parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents who loved the Lord.  I had no idea how important that would be, when I was 20!  He is a man who is steady (I wasn't even aware I needed that), extremely hard-working, reliable, (kind of took those things for granted) and I can *count* on him.  I know that, though I am not easy to live with, and have my ups and downs, he's not going anywhere--he's totally committed to "til death do us part" and that is a very secure and wonderful "knowing" to have.  So, today, these are just some of the things that make me thankful for my marriage.  It's not "fireworks" after 32 years of marriage, but I'll take "rock solid" any day.

(Look for my new weekly series on "Love and Marriage" beginning this Monday, February 1, with topics including A Comparison of
Dating and Courtship, Interviews, What to Look for in Mr./Miss "Right", A Look at "Love" from 1 Corinthians 13,
Safeguarding your Marriage, Hazards to watch out for
in each phase of marriage, Forgiveness, and more.)
Oh, and come back and grab the button above!

It's Thankful Thursday, and thanks go again, also, to Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for hosting TT this month! Go to her site to read other thankful posts and participate.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Note to Homeschoolers about Mindmapping

One more dot to connect: Mindmapping is a great tool for you Homeschooling moms who may have a child that thinks outside the box, or maybe you feel like they're "not getting it" at all!  Mindmapping may help them.  This gets into the whole area of Learning Styles, which is another post for another day, but it's really, really important. If you haven't already heard about Learning Styles, finding out what yours and your child(rens) Learning Styles are can turn them into excited learners as opposed to "not getting it" and tuning out.  It's worth checking out, and also mindmapping.

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Connect the Dots

I love planning!  Dinners, Days or Room Designs--it makes no difference.  When you're planning on paper, it's impossible to make a mistake!  If you don't like what you wrote, you just erase it or cross it out and write something new in its place.  Planning sparks my creativity.  The possibilities are exciting.  I love the feeling of pen in hand (my preference is blue, medium point) and notebook in front of me, and visually seeing the plan develop on paper.

A few years ago, I learned something about myself from my brother.  In some ways, my brother and I are very alike. Not all ways, but at times it can be quite insightful about "me" to be around him.  As we talked over our plans for the two weeks that he was visiting, he took out paper and drew a calendar. Then he took out his bright-colored markers and began to tie different events together with color, and highlight activities.  I got really excited.  Fireworks were exploding and I felt tingling in parts of my brain I didn't know were there!  All in response to COLOR!  As he animatedly explained why and how he uses colored pens and markers--in his work and in his life--I completely related to how it helped him visualize ideas.  I promptly went out and bought myself some bright-colored pens.

I love planning and I love color and that led to my love for...mindmapping.  If you are not familiar with mindmapping, watch Tony Buzan, who is credited with coming up with the idea, explain it in the video below.  Until I knew about mindmapping, I loved outlines.  Well, actually, I still love outlines.  You know, Roman Numeral I, followed by Capital A (indented), etc.  I love a perfectly lined-up outline.  Aaaah.  I can still remember exactly where I was when I learned to outline. I was in Mrs. Ausen's 4th grade class.  The classroom was set up, as I recall, in a wide U-shape with 2 or 3 rows of desks going all the way around the U.  I sat straight out from her desk, in the second row, in the middle of the U. Jeff M., Cheryl S., and I had so much fun passing notes back and forth that year.  But I digress. Outlining. It was incredible.  An outline was this...Miraculous Tool Thing...that brought my disjointed wild and random thoughts and ideas into ORDER!  But Mindmapping is brilliant when even an outline won't bring order to my thoughts and ideas!  Mindmapping helps me see connections.

Did you ever play "connect the dots"?  I did.  I loved connecting the dots when I was a child.  I was good at connecting the dots.  I loved taking a page full of random black dots and turning it into a PICTURE!  Planning is related, but planning is taking the finished Picture in my head and "numbering the dots", so I can then connect them. I think of Mindmapping as being at the beginning, when I'm not even sure what the Picture is of, and nothing is numbered.  Maybe I even have more than one picture's dots in front of me!  I can't number them, until I know how they relate and what goes with what.  Mindmapping encourages my creative thinking.  It helps me visualize which random dots go with which picture, and helps me recognize what the picture is in my head.  Mindmapping helps me see how it all fits together and what the picture may look like when it's finished. Its specialty is showing where there are relationships.

Mindmapping helps me organize the dots of different ideas in my brain, that seem to be unrelated, but sometimes aren't. And color, well, color groups like things together and makes relationships jump off the page, which makes processing information in my brain go lickety-split, which reduces brain-strain. I love mindmapping and I love color. But, most of all I think I love planning!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wendy's Helpful Hints, (Part 1) Timely Tips on Tuesday

General Hints for Saving Time and Money
and Specific Helps for Honoring Special Days such as Birthdays and Anniversaries

1. Write the person’s name at the top of the day of their event (Birthdays/Anniversaries) on your calendar.

2. To save money: Buy greeting cards at thrift stores, or make them, or use note cards and write your own sentiment or poem on the inside.

3. To save time and gas, plan all errands, etc. on one day of the week.

4. Whenever possible do two or more things at once: e.g. while riding in the car do handwork or write letters or do planning in your planner; while the family is listening to a read-aloud-book the girls can do handwork/knit/crochet or do artwork/drawing; while watching a video have the washing machine going or sort laundry; while listening to an audio book on cassette for school do baking/cooking/cleaning in the same area.

5. Have a “Gift Shelf” somewhere in your home: a closet works well: when things are on sale buy items for future gift-giving such as baby clothes, or toys, in both blue and pink for upcoming baby showers, books for grads, misc. small items for giving as hostess gifts, frames or small photo albums or glass serving dishes, which may be found at outlets, for bridal showers, etc.)

6. When you buy a person’s birthday gift, also buy their Christmas gift (and vice versa). This spreads gift-buying out over the whole year instead of having all the expense at once; it makes gift-buying easier:  because you’re already thinking of the person’s likes, colors, size, and you can also buy items that will go together (the shirt for his birthday, the tie for Christmas; the plate for her birthday, the matching cups or bowl for Christmas).

7. To save money and yet give something very “special,” you can make Christmas gifts, but you will need to start early, perhaps even in January (you can work on handwork gifts while listening to reading or while riding in the car).

8. Buy Christmas and other gift-wrapping paper and bags at the end of the season, or when on sale. Have a Gift-wrap center in a closet or on a shelf, if you don’t have a special organizer.  Keep these items there:  gift-wrap/bags, tape and scissors, as well as ribbon and bows, etc.

9. Have a box or desk drawer where you specifically keep your greeting cards to send (sorted by occasion); keep a supply of note cards on hand for thank you, thinking of you, praying for you or get well occasions; have stamps and return address stickers in an envelope or nearby in a desk drawer or another box.

10. Put an X by the person’s name on your calendar when you have sent the card, gift or thank you note.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

At The Well: Goals

Gathering At the Well

If you're from Minnesota, as I am, you might be thinking about a different kind of goal today!  In the aftermath of last night's game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, it's not only the Vikings and Brett Favre that're feeling beat up!  Fans have had high hopes dashed once again, as the Vikings fumbled the ball, missed opportunities, and made too few goals!  In football, it's all or nothing. You make goals or you lose.  And "that's all she wrote".  But, fortunately for us as Christians, God doesn't look at making goals that way.  On December 31 God doesn't look back at our New Year's goals sheet, see how many of our goals we made, and if we didn't make them all, do a "thumbs down," accompanied by a long B-e-e-e-e-p, which communicates, "Sorry, you didn't make it, you lose"!  If you're a Minnesota Vikings fan, and you think goals and winning the Super Bowl are everything, you're probably more than a little depressed today. Fortunately Faith and football are not the same. God does not judge me by the number of goals I make, or whether I make any, I don't think. But He is communicating with me, "coaching" me, you could even say, and I want to run His plays. The goals I write down are my thoughts on the plays I think He wants me to run.

I set goals in faith every year, but some of them are more like "guidelines" and others are more like "dreams."  After much prayer, I pencil in something here, and something there.  Some of them I set high, like memorization goals, and reading-through-the-Bible-in-a-year goals, knowing that everything I do along these lines will be going in the right direction:  it's not the reaching the goal that's the important thing, but what working at the goal accomplishes in me that is important.  Other goals are what I believe God is directing me to do, like ministry efforts I feel led to start, or saving and giving goals.  But, being married, these goals have to be confirmed through agreement from my husband, and the circumstances and provision that the Lord gives throughout the year.  Other goals are like a mountain peak which I can see way up high, that seems very far away right now. Only a combination of God's enabling, great effort and faith will bring it within reach. These goals are faithbuilding when accomplished, for they seem so impossible to achieve, but if He puts the dream in your heart, and you keep your eyes on Him, your Guide, at all times, He can make the impossible, possible.

This year of 2010, goal-setting went a little differently than other years.  Instead of charging into the New Year with goals under my belt, I took the month of January to seek the Lord, pray and ask for more direction.  Here are some of the things I believe He said to me:
  • A Deep relationship with Me is of Prime Importance: Deepen your relationship with Me by digging into My Word; Go Deeper
  • Regain the discipline you've lost: Reclaim Lost Ground that you've given over to satan, and be an example of all you believe and preach
  • Turn the other cheek and Forgive
  • Have Faith to pray specifically and Ask Me for Big Dreams
  • Step Out in faith and Don't Judge Your Success or Failure by what you can See
  • Trust your loved ones with Me and PRAY fervently for them
  • Get your eyes on ME and off others
Ideas/Goals I have that have come out of that are:
  • Starting a Young Moms' Group where struggles can be shared, questions can be asked, burdens can be lifted, prayers can go up and masks come down.
  • Changing my schedule and prioritizing better, with consistency maintained.
  • Keeping a Prayer notebook, with recorded requests and answers.
  • Witnessing and discipling more boldly, with spiritual antennae up for the Holy Spirit's direction, while leaving the results to God
  • Spending the time necessary in the Word, prayer and memorization to have a close relationship with my Heavenly Father and to recognize His voice when He speaks.
  • Not comparing "My Assignment from God" with anybody else's
  • Believing that God will answer my prayers to be spiritually fruitful, skinny and published this year (I'm being really vulnerable here folks)--Stepping out in Faith and Dreaming Big Dreams for God's Glory (and willing to do my part in their accomplishment).
These Ideas/Goals have to be discussed with my husband, then, if ok'd, broken down into smaller bite-size chunks (something like quarters and 1st downs) which are measurable: weekly and monthly, smaller goals.

I'm thankful that Faith is not like Football, and it's not how many goals are made that's important, but knowing the Head Coach and running His plays. You can never lose being on His winning team!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Do You Allow to Stand Before You?

One of my husband's favorite sayings to us is:
"Be careful who you're allowing
to stand before you: to teach you,"
to influence you, as an example for you and your family. 
Everyone you read or listen to, the blogs, on facebook, twitter, the music, the videos, DVDs, movies, magazines, MP3s...every one of them is a "Teacher."  Are they "edifying"?
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace,
and things wherewith one may EDIFY another. (Romans 14:19)
EDIFY = To construct, build up or establish.

ED'IFY, v.t. [L. oedifico; oedes, a house, and facio, to make.]
2. To instruct and improve the mind in knowledge generally,and particularly in moral and religious knowledge, in faith and holiness.
Edify one another. 1 Thessalonians 5.
3. To teach or persuade. [Not used.]
Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

1. To instruct; to inform; to communicate to another the knowledge of that of which he was before ignorant.
He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. Isaiah 2.
2. To deliver any doctrine, art, principles or words for instruction. In vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15.
3. To tell; to give intelligence.
4. To instruct, or to practice the business of an instructor; to use or follow the employment of a preceptor; as, a man teaches school for a livelihood.
5. To show; to exhibit so as to impress on the mind.
If some men teach wicked things, it must be that others may practice them.
6. To accustom; to make familiar.
They have taught their tongue to speak lies. Jeremiah 9.
7. To inform or admonish; to give previous notice to.
For he taught his disciples, and said--Mark 9.
8. To suggest to the mind.
For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that same hour what ye ought to say. Luke 12.
9. To signify or give notice.
He teacheth with his fingers. Proverbs 6.
10. To counsel and direct. Habakkuk 2.

Edifying = "Building up in christian knowledge; instructing; improving the mind."

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A Penetrating Question

 Is Your Quiet Time with God:
M = Moving
O = Organized
R = Renewing
N = (K)nee-bending
I = Involved
N = Normal
G = Growth-producing


E = Essential
V = Vital
E = Exhilarating
N = Necessary
I = Intrinsic
N = Needful
G = Gladsome


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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Spiritual Spinach

It's Thankful Thursday and I had so many options to post on, I had a hard time deciding!  I truly feel blessed.  First, my wonderful Godly father-in-law is staying with us again for a week, and when he makes a visit, it's as though God says to me, "Here is a special gift for you--to let you know I love you."

Related to, and because of, his visit what I am especially thankful for today is Christian radio!  My father-in-law is accustomed to listening to a particular Christian radio station, and certain programs, during the day.  He is anything but demanding, which is why it took me until Thursday to realize this and receive the blessing from it.  I tried to find this station on the radio, but we can't pick it up. Our old computer was too slow to listen to a program without a lot of frustration, so I haven't been listening to Christian radio as much, since our boombox broke.  But I realized today that we've recently bought a new computer and so we tried it and what a blessing!  We listened to Biblical preaching, teaching, exhortation and encouragement!  We heard commentaries and discussions about the latest world news from a Christian informed worldview, which gave me much needed direction for my prayers.  Most of all, I was strengthened spiritually! The programs today were like spiritual spinach for me!  I feel encouraged, fed, prepared, and strengthened to meet my enemies.  We are responsible for what we eat, both physically and spiritually.  We can be so preoccupied with whether our physical food is healthy, but what about the spiritual food we're feeding ourselves?

This week I invited my wonderful Godly father-in-law into my home, and because of him, throughout the day today I ate a nourishing and healthy diet of spiritual food, and ran in the fresh air of God's truth, being exercised, inhaling deeply and cleansing my soul.  I have knowledge and the memory of how good that feels and am encouraged to continue in this healthy spiritual lifestyle.  And I am so thankful for the blessing of Christian radio.

Thank  you, Lynn, for hosting Thankful Thursday this month!
Please visit Lynn's blog to read about her "stinky" day (pun intended), to participate and to hear from other thankful hearts!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sow Bountifully, Reap Bountifully

I received a gift from the Lord last night: a reward for being obedient many years ago.  One day about 10 years ago, while sitting in my home one afternoon, a very strong prompting from the Holy Spirit came over me to call a certain young woman from our church and invite her to come to a small study in my home--just her, another young mom and me.  As I remember it, I had been praying about what God wanted me to be "doing next" specifically.  When I felt this prompting of the Holy Spirit, instead of waiting, thinking and praying about it, as I normally would have done, I got up, walked to the phone and called her!  There were multiple reasons why this was so unusual!  1) I hardly knew her!  2) I didn't have any idea what the Lord wanted us to study! and 3) I told her we would start almost immediately!  The most amazing thing was that she said yes right away! The Lord had obviously prepared her heart, for she was genuinely excited!

Now, years later, I am reaping the great rewards of obedience that day! Everybody would like to have a "disciple" like her.  First, when I called her, it really was because God was answering *her* prayer!  She had been down on her knees praying for someone to disciple her, crying out to Him, right in her kitchen!  The fact is, I've learned at least as much, if not more, from her life as she has from mine!  Second, she was ready, with a capital R, to hear everything I had to share and very, very teachable.  She was so excited about growing in the Lord, and God had made her thirsty and hungry for more of Him.  Third, my friend always came with questions. And so I was not feeling that I was forcing her in a certain direction, but her questions tied in perfecly, (of course I know that it was the Lord powefully weaving all beautifully together), because the Lord was convicting her to make changes in areas which I'd never said a word about, but they were subjects that I planned to address. Her humility and sensitivity to hearing from the Lord has always been such an example to me.

When we met 10 years ago, her children were about 2 and 5 years old (our children babysat them while we had our study). She and her husband were planning to enroll them in public school.  After a short stint in the local elementary school, they brought their daughter home and they've been Homeschooling ever since. During the time their daughter was going to public school I prayed fervently for them to Homeschool every time I drove past the school which is near our house.

Last night we were privileged to have their family in our home for a meal again.  We are also blessed to have my father-in-law staying with us this week.  My friend's children are now 14 and 11 and have grown so much, in every way. When we have company, we always enjoy sharing musically, and having our guests play for us, if they're willing, so, knowing that these children play the piano and violin, and are taking a speech class, too, I had phoned my friend and asked if her children would like to share something.  I knew that Grandpa would really be blessed by hearing them, as well!  Near the end of the evening, their children favored us with a mini-program of a recitation and duets on the piano and violin, followed by a trilogy of old familiar hymns, played on the piano by our daughter.  It was such a delight!  The recitation of Pilgrim's entry through the Pearly Gates (from Pilgrim's Progress) was being prepared by this lovely 14-year-old for a contest, and she did a beautiful job.  I was especially enthralled, however, by the musical numbers they played!  They obviously both have some real natural talent! (This was a particular delight hearing just how beautifully they play, as I remembered with satisfaction that we introduced them to their amazingly gifted piano teacher, Mrs. Schloner, who was also our teacher. I know that she works with both of them on preparing their duets.)  However, it was the gorgeous tone coming out of the violin which really took me by surprise!  I hadn't heard their son play before, and it was such a pleasant surprise and pure bliss to listen to him. And he's only 11!  Watching them, I felt this was definitely one of the deep blessings of Homeschooling, and one of the rewards of discipling for me.  Homeschooling, having your children gain confidence, as these children obviously have, through speech and music lessons, is something that *perhaps* they could get through public school, but the joy of the closeness of the relationships of brother-sister, of mother-daughter, and father-son are "homegrown", requiring much time together, and being out of the world (and are "out of this world"!) and the pleasure they receive of hearing skilled music in their home daily as the children practice together, and hearing the laughter as they work and play together, becoming each other's best friends--well, there just wouldn't be time for it all if they were public-schooled.

The Lord has blessed me bountifully for the little sowing that I did.  He multiplied my meager efforts, as He always does.  I'm reminded of the verse we read this morning in family devotions:  2 Corinthians 9:6--"He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."  However, when I "sowed" (even a little) love, time, prayer, and the Word into her life, I had no idea what a bountiful harvest of blessing I would receive through the years:  her friendship, the joy from seeing her family walking with the Lord, receiving from her at times counsel in some area I needed correction in, and now I have almost a "parental pride" in her life. I'm grateful that, on that afternoon, I obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and also that she asked lots of great questions about subjects such as: how to dress modestly, how to foster close Godly relationships with her daughter, how to submit to her husband, Homeschooling questions and many, many more!  I have reaped so abundantly more than I sowed, but I am so very grateful for God's gift of a bountiful harvest of blessing.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Timely Tips on Tuesday: "Don't Let It Slip!"

"If we want to have an impact on others and to minister to them, we must be living, dynamic demonstrations of God's work in our lives. This comes because of disciplines which are present which God promises to reward."  God was talking to me.  Yesterday was the first session of the Advanced Seminar (click Here for more information) which our church is hosting.  You may recall that we hosted the Basic Seminar this past fall. It's the first time for our kids, but my husband and I have attended before, though not for a few years. I marvel at how the Lord can take familiar information and "make it new," causing it to challenge me!

Yesterday, I heard again "for the first time" about God's Rewards for Scriptural Disciplines.  I've been slipping.  Not a lot. Not horribly. Just letting some "disciplines" (like reading through the Bible in a year) go by the wayside.  And fasting every Monday.  "It doesn't really matter if I do it every week, does it?  I can start up again any day!"  So I say, and, pretty soon, something that was a great benefit and boon to my spiritual life has dropped completely out of my life.  The words discipline and disciple are closely related!

What about you?  Are there any spiritual disciplines that you used to practice, that, "now that you think of it," really strengthened your walk with the Lord.  Is there a spiritual discipline that isn't disciplined anymore?  Yesterday, I was encouraged to reinstate some dropped disciplines, and maybe start some new ones.  Here are some Scriptural Disciplines to practice and the rewards which God promises.

  • Daily Bible Reading produces Spiritual Growth.  Sometimes when you hear the most obvious truth, it really hits you between the eyes!  1 Peter 2:2 Like a child needs more food as he's growing, and we are to "desire the sincere milk of the Word" like a baby, so I need to "eat up" God's Word and I will grow spiritually!  Of course!  If I want to GROW in faith, in power, in boldness for the Lord, in spiritual maturity, I need to feed myself the Word of God!
  • In memorizing God's Word, He promises Purity Psalm 119:1-11 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
  • Meditating on God's Word leads to Success.  Joshua 1:8 "Thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Psalm 1:2-3; 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Making analogies and applying God's Word in my life brings the reward of Answered Prayer.  Joshua 1:8; John 15:7 "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." As I apply the Word to specific situations in my life, I'll be changed, I'll see things in a "new" way. It's as though He's drawing me to His side, and with one arm over my shoulder, He points and says, "Look there!  Do you see what I see?" and causes me to see something completely "new" and wonderful in the Bible.  I can apply it to every area and every problem! Applying His Word causes my prayers to be more in line with His will, and He promises to answer those. 
  • Fasting regularly and secretly, has many rewards, including health, longer life, bringing hormonal systems back into balance, but most of all it produces a Spiritual Alertness and Awareness. Isaiah 58 Fasting is a wonderful discipline for, among other things, bringing the lust for food under control and I was very interested to hear also that it is useful in regulating our hormones.
  • Praying is rewarded by Power. James 5:16
  • Giving is rewarded with Blessing. Malachi 3:10 "...prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
  • Early Rising is rewarded with Productivity. Psalm 57:8; 63:1 This is one of the disciplines which God asked me how long I'm going to keep fighting.  Even though I get up early, I've been doing it grudgingly, and waiting til the last second to get up.  God reminded me of the rewards He has for me if I'll seek Him early and joyfully, and be disciplined about it.
  • Reading Revelation is rewarded by Blessing. Revelation 1:3
  • Witnessing is rewarded with Eternal Fruit.  Proverbs 11:30
  • Honoring the Sabbath Isaiah 58
God's Word is filled with promises of blessing when we obey Him.  He's not trying to make my life miserable.  He reminded me how He's blessed me in the past when I practiced some of these Scriptural disciplines and I was encouraged to practice them once more.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Marlow and Frances Cowan's Mayo Clinic Piano Duet and Interview

The Duet by The "Sweetest Couple"

Followed by an Interview with The Cowans

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A Poem for Parents Who Have Lost a Child

There are a lot of hurting people out there today.  One of the most painful experiences anyone can go through is to lose a child.  It's not right, somehow. You never think you're going to have your child die before you do.  These are some of the responses that others have shared with me about losing their child. It doesn't matter how old your child is when you lose them, it's always hard.  Never say to someone, "Well, at least you had them for ____ years."  Or the other extreme, when someone loses a child through miscarriage, "Well, at least you never really knew them--that would be worse."  Miscarriage affects millions and can be devastating to parents. (Click here for Miscarriage statistics and helpful information.)
Sometimes well-meaning people make things worse by playing down the loss.  In 1987 we suffered the loss of our child through miscarriage. (I believe that I may have miscarried numerous times before this, but we won't be sure until we arrive in heaven and meet "our children").
The Lord gave me the words to this poem as I grieved.  I dedicate it to you moms and dads whose little one is in heaven with Jesus now, running and jumping and playing, while you are here on earth.  I pray that it will minister to your heart, beloved hurting friend.
My Child Died Today
My Child died today.
Is anyone aware?
My Child died today.

Does anybody care?
My Child died today.

Dear God,
Are You up there?

My Child died today.

The pain is more than I can bear.

I cried out to the LORD in anguish
"How could You do this to me?"
I could not comprehend at first
These precious gems of truth learned slowly
But I felt His presence surround me
And His soft voice say,
"I feel your pain and I do care,
You're not the only one,
You see, two thousand years ago,
I also lost a Son.
I suffer with you, know your sorrow,
Understand your fears.
For back what seems only a day
A debt there was to pay:
To give to you Eternal Life
I tried to find a way
So you could live, I chose to say
My Child Died Today."
© Wendy Trachy Gunn 1988

If you know someone who is hurting and would benefit by receiving a copy of this poem,
it is available for purchase through Scribd, under my profile Titus2woman.
My prayer is that it will help bring healing to many who are hurting from the loss of a child.

These books both received an average of 5-star ratings in many reviews.  Reading some of the reviews and from what I could ascertain online, they appeared good.  However, I can't guarantee they are good or that they will definitely be a help to you, in this case, as I have not read them, (it's always dangerous to recommend books without having read them, so, please let me know, if you have read them, what you thought of them or if there is something objectionable.)  Also, I would love any of your book recommendations of Christian authors who've written on miscarriage and losing a child, especially books that are including Scripture.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Heart: To Impact the World for Christ

I've always been a networker who loves making connections with people and between people, and between people and well, anything that will help them!  So, years ago, BB, Before Blogging, I would introduce you to someone who I thought you were especially gifted to disciple, help, befriend or lead to Christ. Or I would find someone to help you, if you had a need. I made sure that "Strong-and-faithful-steady-Christian-who-was-a-magnet-for-pour-lost-souls" met "Needy-soul-who-needed-to-be-saved."  Or I would introduce one of my friends to another of my good friends because I knew they would just "click".

Later, when I started Homeschooling, I began connecting Homeschoolers with resources that would benefit them, and we connected experienced Homeschoolers with Newbies, and Wannabees.  We even hosted informational desserts in our home for those interested in Homeschooling or those new at it, so they'd be able to sit and ask questions of  "seasoned" veterans.  This is definitely one of my favorite things to do! I love connecting people!

I invited women to my home to listen to teaching tapes and watch encouraging and inspirational videos which had been especially helpful to me.  I also kept a small "library" of the best-of-the-best resources (books, videos, audio tapes, etc.), the ones which had been "life-changing," and I loaned these out to women who came to my Home Studies, and to others who were asking good questions, who were yearning for something "more"--to go to the next level in their Christian walk and in obedience to Christ.

When a woman shared with me her struggle in being submissive to her husband, besides listening to her and sharing with her from the Word, I would many times send some resource home with her.  If she expressed frustration with training her children to obey, I might loan her a book, article or tape which had helped me.  The Lord taught me and discipled me using solid Biblical teaching I heard in audio sermons, and through books and through meeting people, and learning from them. I wanted to help others by getting these same wonderful resources into their hands so God could use them in their lives as He had used them in mine.  For just about any issue that a wife or mom was concerned about, there were Godly resources that I could share with her.  I kept a couple of large boxes ready to bring out when "my ladies" met, or others came to me.  This has become almost what I would call a "ministry" for me, and I love it!

Now, it's only natural that I want to do the same exact thing with every person who visits my blog!  I want to keep sharing resources with people which will help them.  And that's my motivation for being an Amazon Associate, and selling through an aStore.  I've tried really hard to make sure that the things I pick are going to help you; they're resources or items that I would loan to you, give you or encourage you to buy if you were a friend sitting with me talking in my home.  There are so many amazing resources there for you.  And I hope to add more and more.  It's just like my "large boxes" filled with books, tapes and videos which I used to bring out when people visited my home.  Since you can't come to my home, I've made a store for you.  Maybe you don't know about it or realize that I get a small commission from the sale of items from the store as long as you order through my site and it's within 24 hours.  I know that many people like to help stay-at-home moms by buying from them, when they can. This is not the main reason I put the store on my site, however. And that's why I wanted you to know my motives.  I love helping people grow in their faith and I am thrilled when I can help Homeschoolers by introducing them to an author or book which they perhaps never would have found any other way or haven't heard of yet.  I've also tried to find ways for you to save money and still get your hands on certain items, and when there were multiple choices of the same item, I've handpicked certain ones, wanting you to have the best.  That's another reason why I encourage you to buy it here, but the most important reason is that these resources are going to bless you and your family.  I want to get them into your hands because they're wonderful resources and the Lord's going to use them in your life!  They're books, and other resources which you should have in your home library, even if they don't necessarily apply to *you* or your stage of life, they will help someone you know!  I want to encourage you to be a tool in God's hands to help those in your sphere of influence. I encourage you to buy resources that you can loan out to others who you know! Also, perhaps your future sons, daughters and grandchildren will be blessed by them and if you wait to buy them, they may not be available then!  I would be so thrilled if hundreds and thousands of people were being blessed by these, well, many of these books are like old friends, they're so special to me.

It's the deepest desire of my heart that my life would impact others and bear fruit...not just a hundredfold, but a thousandfold! And, if through sharing with you something which has greatly impacted me, I can help you, perhaps encourage fruit to grow in your life, and then that can spread to all those you influence--Oh! how amazing that would be!  I hope you can see my true heart and motive, and feel my excitement over the possibilities of what God can do.  That's what I'm trying to share with you.  I hope you will look at the things in my blog and store, which I encourage you to buy, in that light. Thanks for letting me open up my heart to you.  You're extremely special to me, every one of you.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Awards! Thank you, thank you!

Thank you to "Katherine Sophia" at Seek Him First for giving me the "Princess Award" and Nancie at More Than Conquerors for giving me the "More Than Conquerors Award"!  I love awards and these are significant because they represent to me what I am in Christ: as His daughter, I am a child of the King = a Princess; and, through Christ (alone), we are More Than Conquerors.
It's Thankful Thursday and I am thankful to you both for these wonderful awards and reminders of who we are in Christ!  If you would like to share what you are thankful for, please visit Lynn's site, "Spiritually Unequal Marriage" to participate. (Thanks again, Lynn, for hosting this month!)

First, the terms of the "Princess Award":  I hope this will help you get to know me better?! Secondly, I hope you will go to this link,  More Than Conquerors to visit an amazing lady, and check out her gorgeous photography and freebies, but most of all, to meet Nancie and read her story (thanks again, Nancie)!

Princess Award:
1. Thank the person that gave it to you:
Thank you so much "Katherine Sophia" at Seek Him First!  I love it!

2. Name an author you love: 
Elisabeth Elliot

3. Name an author you hate:
I try not to read authors I hate, but I would have to say I get infuriated every time that I have *attempted* to read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  (The why of which is for another post and another day:)

4. The book you love:
Oh, soooo many, how does one choose??  Let's see...well, any book that has changed my life, so, all of the Isabella Alden books! (Oh, I guess I should have listed her as a favorite author, too!)  And In His Steps has been so influential in my Christian life.  Those are the "classics."  I have new favorites every time I read a really great book which God uses to change me. 

5. What always moves you, or what makes you feel excited?
Oh, my.....Well, I get excited when people "become on fire" about the Lord (especially if I have had any part in that) and when they become passionate about their life with Him and serving Him and living for Him and telling others about Him.  (I also get excited when spring finally comes after a loooong winter:) And I get really excited when I hear that two people who I've been praying for and I *KNOW* would be perfect together figure it out and start courting!! (Ok, I'm a matchmaker at heart.)

I get really moved and always cry and can hardly get through it whenever I pray out loud for the salvation of my family.

6. Something I hate:
My mother always taught me not to "hate" because she said it was too strong a word:)  But, I *hate* when people ignore me when I'm speaking to them (alright, especially my "children"), and I *hate* being falsely accused...   (Does anyone else see a pride problem here?) .....

7. Give the award to 7 blogs.
So, I award the following sites the "Princess Award" (drumroll please), to be given to some of my favorite blogs which exemplify and lift up our Heavenly Father--the King--the most, to me (not listed in any particular order):
Berean Wife
Lisa at Extravagant Grace
Amy at Raising Arrows
Amy at Pressing Toward the Goal
Alyssa at Days to Remember
Ana at Everything Good
Nancie at More Than Conquerors

Blessings on you all!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Becoming a Titus 2 Woman

The purpose of my blog (at this time and as I understand this command from the Lord) is to be a Titus 2 older woman to younger women.  I know there may be men visiting this site, and I welcome them as well, but my primary audience and target is women.  I'm not quite "aged" yet (even though some days I feel like it!) but I think, in other ways, such as having all my children grown, I probably qualify.  The Scriptures also tell us to go and make disciples, and humbly recognizing how inadequate I am to do either I seek to obey, knowing that only He can accomplish it through me.  This leads, then, inevitably to my asking, "What exactly does it mean to be 'a Titus 2 woman'?"  And, what does it mean in our culture?
What does it mean to be
"A Titus 2 Woman"?

Initially, let's discuss the phrase "in our culture."  "Our culture" doesn't dictate what the Bible says or means, because the Bible is Truth, and therefore must dictate, but having said that, the cultural conditions may affect how an older Titus 2 woman teaches, for women will perhaps be taught differently (indicating the means and methods of teaching) in different times.  Additionally, the culture may affect the teaching, not the substance but the focus, because older women may be teaching against specific attacks to God's plan which appear in a different form in today's culture than in former times. It's vital to remind ourselves, at the same time, that God has already defeated the enemy, so there is "nothing new under the sun" in terms of his attacks, and satan has no new tricks, but in his last-ditch efforts only tempts to the "same old" sin, just wrapped up in a different package).

Turning once again to the foundational question, "What does it mean to be a Titus 2 woman," let's first take a look at the text.  I believe that the two verses just before God speaks to women are indispensible to understanding the rest of the passage:
Titus 2:1-5--"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine; 2That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  3The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
First, God speaks through Paul to the aged men (aged is usually understood to refer to persons who are 60 years old and older) to speak the things which "become sound doctrine."  Next, he explains what that means, with these descriptive words and phrases: "be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience."

Continuing, he turns in verse 3 to address the women, and begins with the "aged women."  What is the first thing he says?  Do "likewise".  We must go back to study the previous words and phrases in order to understand what the aged women are to do, based on what he has already instructed in his words to the aged men. Each of the words in his instructions is rich in meaning and significance, and, unfortunately, in this overview I won't be able to plumb the depths of their meaning.

After going back, and as we go forward once more, we see summed up in one neat package tied with a bow, the key to being a Titus 2 woman, old or young: "in behavior as becometh holiness."
The rest of the text opens the package and takes out, one by one, each individual quality inside, or in another analogy, it fills in the color and detail where there was only an outline of a woman.  Speaking of which, outlining this text made its meaning jump out to me.  Repeating:
The aged women likewise:
I.  In Behavior (Life, actions, works, lifestyle, choices: must be of what kind of behavior?)
     A.  As becometh holiness
     B.  Not
          1.  Be false accusers
          2.  Be given to much wine
     C.  (But) Be Teachers:  (Teachers of what?)  Teachers Of Good Things.
          1.  ("Be Teachers" means what?  That they may "discipline and correct" (or "make of sound mind")  This is the meaning of the Greek word translated as "teach"4994  in verse 4.)
          2.  (Teach whom?)  "Young Women"
          3.  (Teach what?)  Teach the Seven Quintessential Qualities of a Titus 2 Woman, which are:
  • To Be Sober: "Disciplined and Correct; of a Sound Mind ("sober"4994 is the same word used in verse 4 which is translated "teach" 4994 at the beginning of the verse, and means to "discipline and correct or make of a sound mind"--hence, the aged women are to discipline and correct the younger women to help them to become disciplined and corrected, and to become women who have a sound mind."
  • To Love: (Whom? Not everyone, But:) Their Husbands and Their Children
  • To Be Discreet
  • To Be Chaste
  • To Be Keepers at Home (yes, we have to be taught to be keepers at home, and what that is, and how to be one)
  • To Be Good (We will explore later what that means!)
  • To Be Obedient (Obedient?! Well, that's what it says, so if you don't like it, I guess you'll have to take it up with the Lord. Obedient to whom? Not all people, or even all men, but:) To Their Own Husbands
Here, then, I have set forth a brief overview of "What it Means to Be a Titus 2 Woman."  I will attempt to include in my blog teaching which lines up with Titus 2 and what it means, and as God helps me, to be in behavior as becometh holiness, though I know I fall so very far short.  We are all, as women, in a process of sanctification and becoming Titus 2 women, as we seek to love and serve the Lord and obey His Word. 

In conclusion, there is but one purpose for which we are to obey these commands:

That God's Word...His Word also means Truth, and "the Word" is also another name for Jesus Christ...that God's Word, His Truth, Jesus Christ and His Way...Be Not Blasphemed.

Please join with me in studying "Becoming a Titus 2 Woman in 2010."

Extravagant Grace

To participate, visit Lisa at Extravagant Grace.

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A Smile Can Change Everything!

Dear friend, Are you discouraged today? Maybe even slightly depressed? Are you 12 days into the new year and already you wonder why you ever tried? Do not be discouraged, dear one. His mercies are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. Confess your faults one to another. Be encouraged and thankful.  Know that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  Remember that each day is new and a smile can change everything!

   So...go to the mirror and Smile at yourself. Extend the same mercy and grace to yourself that God extends.  Spend some time in the Word this morning, and pray. Confess and Commit your way to Him. Put on some Godly encouraging music or hum a hymn yourself.  Don't look at obstacles as symbols of failure or as communicating that you are on the wrong path.  Press on.  Did you remember to put on the whole armor of God this morning? Go back and do that now, if you forgot, and keep raising that shield of faith when you feel under attack.  And keep smiling: at your family, those strangers you meet today "out there," and at yourself! A smile can change everything!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Tongue

James 3:5-6  instructs us, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell."

Do you ever come away from a party or gathering, or even church, disgusted at yourself for what you said or how you said it? Do you ever say something to someone, and they react in such a decidedly offended way, that you wonder what on earth they *heard* you say, because what you *meant* was nothing at all like what they thought you said!  Well, I do.

I read this interesting piece sometime back:
Wisdom from a hundred years ago...
"A holy man used to say when he returned home from a night of table-talk that he would never accept such an invitation again, so remorseful did such nights always leave him; so impossible did he find it for him to hold his peace, and to speak only at the right moment, and only in the right way.
   And, without his holiness, I have often had his remorse, and so, I am quite sure, have many of you.  There is no table we sit at very long that we do not more or less ruin either to ourselves or to someone else.  We either talk too much, and thus weary and disgust people; or they weary and disgust us.  We start ill-considered, unwise, untimeous topics.  We blurt out our rude minds in rude words.  We push aside our neighbour's opinion, as if both he and his opinion were worthless, and we thrust forward our own as if wisdom would die with us.
   We do not put ourselves into our neighbour's place.  We have no imagination in conversation, and no humility, and no love,  We lay down the law, and we instruct people who could buy us in one end of the market and sell us in the other if they thought us worth the trouble.
   It is easy to say grace; it is easy to eat and drink in moderation and with decorum and refinement; but it is our tongue that so ensnares us.  For some men to command their tongue; to bridle, and guide and moderate, and make just the right use of their tongue, is a conquest in religion, and in morals, and in good manners, that not one in a thousand of us has yet made over ourselves.
   [But Christ was such a one.]
And much as I would have liked to see how He acted in everything, especially would I have watched Him how he guided, and steered, and changed, and moderated, and sweetened the talk of the table."
Alexander Whyte

Friday, January 8, 2010

Homeschooling: A Day In the Life

While Homeschooling, January through March was the most productive time of our year.  We were past the adjustments of fall and a routine had been established, we'd scaled the mountain of Christmas and were on the other side, and there were no major holidays to get in our way until spring.  Reviewing my written goals for our school year was an essential strategy as I planned our major winter attack.  Like a good general, I would map out for my "troops" how far we'd come, which battle strategies had succeeded, and the plan of attack for the battles ahead of us in order to "win the war" and finish school on time, or even early!  I enjoyed calculating how many pages were left in the math book, dividing the number up into the remaining days and casting a vision for my children of success if they just completed "x" number of pages a day!  My pep talk was convincing, and partly for me, and it worked!

Another strategy which was very effective was rewarding ourselves for getting the bulk of our schoolwork done in the morning.  We would do the "hardest" subjects first and get them out of the way.  (This was Dad's idea: he's a "morning person."  But it worked!)  After family devotions, the children would have time to do their "list."  This consisted of things like making their beds, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, etc.  Then they began their schoolday:  while one did Math, the other practiced piano, and then they switched.  Then there was Language Arts, and Science before Lunch.  Now, we figured, if interruptions came, we'd already accomplished the bulk of our schoolwork.  Promised rewards for them of time to build snowforts outside, and drink hot chocolate inside, while listening to mom read, were all the motivation they needed!

Cold winter days in Minnesota are cozy times when afternoons are filled with "just one more chapter" from a living book--our favorites were historical fiction--which not only whisked us away to another time and place, but also satisfied the State Education requirement for both history and language arts, and was a part of a fascinating Unit Study!  Our local librarian and I saw a lot of each other in winter!

For me, a supremely satisfying day was when we actually accomplished all that I had planned (maybe even more!) and I experienced the thrill of igniting a fire of desire to know more about a subject and saw the love of learning on my children's faces.  What was most fun was when Dad would come home and they couldn't wait to tell him what they'd learned and accomplished that day!  Dad would ask appropriate questions, and get excited himself, maybe suggesting an experiment or activity which would complement our study, while I, smiling, listened as they fell all over one another in their exuberant excitement to be the one to tell Dad each detail of what they'd done and learned.

Today, the sun is pouring in my window on this cold January day, and both my grown children are home, and I'm enjoying being together: a rarity, it seems, these days.  I'm reminiscing about the "good old days" of Homeschooling and grateful for every single one of them.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thankful Thursday: The Word

Blogging.  Getting to know the people who are "out there". Hearing their stories. "Meeting" some special women.  It's an amazing thing, blogging, for which I'm thankful.  Those who aren't part of the blogosphere cannot seem to understand.  There is such a power in words to connect people.  We can feel what they're feeling through their expression of words.  We can feel that we are not alone through another's words.  Friendships are formed without ever meeting!  Words can bring people from different worlds together.

This reminds me that Jesus was called "the Word."  God could have decided to call Jesus, "the Act" or "the Thought" but He didn't.  He called Jesus the Word.  It's a powerful concept, and makes me even more mindful of what I write.  God's making His Son an analogy of words illustrates that they are powerful and influential as a means of communicating God's love and in some way, must be...everlasting. It makes you think, doesn't it.

If you would like to participate in "Thankful Thursday," click here

for hosting Thankful Thursday this month!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Living Intentionally Together Week"

Extravagant Grace

eLisa at Extravagant Grace has something good going on, Living Intentionally Together Week, January 1-7th, talking about goals and 2010 and listening to the Lord for what He wants to do in you. (Due to the fact that I took some time away from blogging/computer, you'll have to act fast to participate, but you can also just go and be inspired and challenged by what others have had to say.) Take a look.

I'm learning this New Year to be alright with taking more time to finish my goals sheet and to wait on the Lord, listening--maybe I will set aside the whole month(!)--to be "intentionally" focused on what He is saying to me as I write goals for 2010. I have been praying more, listening to specific sermons, reading the Word.  Obeying as He sheds light.

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Tips for Saving Money: Significant Savings for Stay-at-Home Moms

As a stay-at-home mom, you can be a huge asset, pun intended, to your husband and family! Here are ways you can contribute significantly to the financial status of your family without getting a job.

I. Eliminate hiring others to do services for you. (In other words, try not to pay someone else to do what you can do--or learn to do--yourself.)

A. Eliminate going to a hairstylist or barber.  By learning to cut your family's hair yourself (especially your men's) you can save a substantial amount of money each year. Over the years, and in large families with many boys, this savings can really add up! You can also learn to do your daughters' haircuts--layering, etc. though it's a little trickier. Buy a few basic tools (scissors, cape, brush for cleaning up, spray bottle, and a good rat-tail comb) at your local beauty supply store, and get a book from the library or look online for instruction. I think I learned by watching our stylist and by trial and error, and I have been cutting my husband's and son's hair for years. If I can do it, anyone can, believe me. I have not felt confident enough to try my daughter's hair and so she and I presently go to a stylist. Recently, however, a friend arranged for her stylist to come to her home and teach a group of women and daughters how to cut girls' hair.  If my daughter were much younger, I would definitely do this.  Calculate the savings and think what you could do with the money you will save.  Moms, try this! With more than a couple of children, the benefit is huge, especially as the prices for this service just seem to go up and up. 

B. Clean your own home.  In my part of the world, and in modern times, it's been pretty much unheard of for someone who didn't work outside the home to have a maid or help with the housework, until recently.  Sometimes I wish I lived in Bible times, because they often refer to one's "servant girls", as in Proverbs 31.  What a lovely idea!  But, for a Homeschooling stay-at-home mom, housecleaning is one of the areas where Homeschooled children can become a big benefit.  Your children are a great in-home workforce. They can clean the house for you, and in the process learn a valuable skill and be trained in a good work ethic.  Even if you don't Homeschool, though, it's an area where the savings can add up fast.  I have hired housecleaning help in the past, but because it cost me a lot to have someone else clean my home, even once in a blue moon for help with spring cleaning, for example, it was a huge motivation for me to become more organized, and do it myself.  If you do need some extra help now and again, see if there's a young Homeschooled girl that you know of who would be interested in a ministry to another family.  I know of a number of young ladies of various ages, who alone, or with their sisters, have gone to help another family by doing a variety of "services".  They may go on a regular basis for a few hours once a week, or they may go and stay at the family's home, especially if it's a distance away, and help in many ways for a period of a few days or more.  This is especially common after a baby is born.  Bartering for services is a great alternative:  It may be possible for you to do or give something other than money for this service.  Be creative, and you will find many ways to save money. 

II. Stay home as much as possible.

A.  Gasoline is expensive. When you go somewhere, plan your trip in order to accomplish more than one thing. Think of the area you will be travelling to and businesses you will be passing by.  Are there other errands you could get done, with very little extra effort?  Remember to figure in the cost of maintenance to the car when you're thinking about going somewhere or doing some activity. Try not to have to run out and make a special trip, to get or do some small thing, that can wait for a time when you will be out already. Do you know how much you are driving, and how much you're spending on gas?  We keep a small spiral bound notebook in the glove compartment of each vehicle in order to record gas purchases. (At the top we write these column headings: date, location, odometer reading, cost, number of gallons and MPG for miles per gallon.) You can then calculate how many miles per gallon your vehicle is getting, and see how much you're spending on gas. You might be surprised!  Speaking of the services that can be eliminated by doing them at home, if you have a husband who is able to fix your vehicles himself, thank him with a big hug and kiss tonight! I am extremely grateful for my husband, who received two years of training at a tech school in auto mechanics, because he has saved us thousands and thousands of dollars over the years in automotive repair costs! But, even if they don't have the benefit of tech school training, all young men should learn to do some basic car maintenance themselves, for it will help their budget immensely. You can keep track of maintenance done on each vehicle, and the cost of parts, in the same notebook where you keep track of gas expenditures. Keep a separate notebook in each vehicle, and teach your family members who drive to use it. If you don't know how much you're spending a month in this area, definitely calculate it--you will be amazed! We stay-at-home moms seem to be away from home an awful lot!  This is one area that we can make a significant difference in the family budget, because cars and gas have become such a huge expense. Lastly, if your family can consider a reduction in the number of cars you own, this will result in the most savings!

B. Cook and eat meals at home instead of eating out. Now, I don't consider myself a culinary genius--Betty Crocker, I'm not! But if you, like me, don't feel very capable in the kitchen, do what I have done: take a class, and ask a friend who's skilled in this area to give you some pointers. Mostly, you will become more and more skilled by practicing. Start asking for the recipe when you taste something superb. And don't be shy about asking for any little tips the cook has for making it "taste so good"! She'll be delighted you asked! Today, it seems that everyone is into "healthy" eating. Eating healthy home cooking will benefit more than your finances. Learning to cook healthy meals will prolong your family's life, also, and save you money and much more. Collecting excellent basic recipes, and following them precisely, is the first step. Then there are many fun cooking shows, books, videos and online tutorials available, so jump in and learn. The better you become, the more you will enjoy it, and you'll find many inexpensive ways to give your dishes pizazz!

III. Be Willing to Buy Second-Hand Items

A.  Clothing: You can save a bundle if you are willing to buy your clothes at thrift stores, and garage sales.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other local thrift stores often have name-brand and like-new clothing that others have outgrown, or tossed aside, for a fraction of the new price.  Also, try networking with other families at church or in your local Homeschool circle, and hand down the clothing that your children have outgrown.  Let it be known how grateful you are to receive these hand-me-downs, and others may think of you the next time they have a bag or box to get rid of.  Also, do the same for others.  At our church, there is a table in the back where families can place items which are free to all.  This is a blessing to both giver and receiver. To eliminate extra cost, plan ahead for those "events" so you aren't having to run out and buy something on short notice, which usually means "new".  With enough time, you can usually find even that "special" dress at a thrift store.  When our daughter needed a formal dress for the Honors Concert she had won the privilege of participating in, we prayed and kept our eyes open at our favorite thrift store.  We were thrilled to find the dress we'd prayed for: right color, right size, right style...and even more delighted when God also answered our prayer that it be under $20!  Look for larger household, family and baby items such as furniture, appliances and tools at garage sales and thrift stores, too. A note for new moms: Finding like-new baby clothes, strollers, cribs and other needs at garage sales is easy, because so many people these days have only 1-2 children, think nothing of buying everything new for the baby, and then, just a short time later, sell their barely-used items. Drive around and look for new developments that have a lot of young families. Additionally, Craigslist has become a great resource for connecting with people who want to sell just what you're looking for, and with persistence, you can usually find items at the price you want, too.  Lastly, when you do buy new, watch and wait for end-of-season sales and when 50-90% discounts apply.

IV.  Learn, and teach your daughters, skills which will save money, so they can stay at home with their children, too.

A.  One of these skills for young (and older) ladies to learn is sewing your own clothing and household items, such as curtains, pillows and decorative items. Many women make beautiful gifts using this skill, as well. Again, a class, book, friend or online tutorial can help you.  Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.  When I had a picture window to cover and found out how much buying a new valance was going to cost, invention kicked in and I was surprised to find out how really easy it is to make one, and I was very pleased with the results.

B.  Making gifts and decorative items for the home with your hands, whether it be by painting, knitting, crocheting, sewing, handwork, calligraphy or some other means, is a way to bless others and save money.  It used to be true of every "accomplished" young woman that she could do beautiful handwork.  Now, it is a skill which a woman can use to gift her friends and family and still stay within her budget.  By resourcefulness and thrift, she will be able to make some items for almost nothing which will be treasured forever.  The cost of greeting cards has risen astronomically in recent years, and yet showing love to others through a note or letter on their special occasion, or just as a means of comfort or encouragement, is still a very needed ministry.  Making your own cards is one way to make this ministry possible on a limited budget.  Other ways are to buy your cards at thrift stores, to buy your cards from others who make them, to salvage and re-make cards, and to buy cards at half-price or less, as in the case of Christmas cards, at the end of the season.

I hope these tips have sparked your creativity to think of many other ways that you can save money, for I have only listed a few, using the creativity that God has given you for His glory!

You are speaking volumes to your children and influencing others around you more than you know when you practice good stewardship, making thrifty choices which contribute to your home and family financially.  You will experience the rich feeling of satisfaction, as well, when your actions result in significant savings, thereby multiplying what the Lord has given you, and you are able to stay at home.

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