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Faith's Firm Foundation: May 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Song: Thank You Soldiers!

Thank you to Ron ("The Old Geezer") for the heads up about this wonderful video! It is very moving. I will learn the words, and sing along. I applaud the teacher who wrote this song, and taught it to her 3rd grade students. I don't want to miss this opportunity to honor and to thank my Godly 3rd grade teacher, Miss Eleanor Dahlquist, who did just this kind of thing and taught her students patriotic, God-honoring songs, and whose faith was such an example to me--you are one of the reasons I am a Christian today.
Watch this video as a great reminder of why we celebrate Memorial Day in the U.S.A.! And thank a soldier this weekend.

I would like to personally thank my husband,
a Vietnam veteran, and remember and honor all
the soldiers who have guarded and protected us
and our dear country throughout history.
"Thank you!" from the bottom of my heart.

Let me know what you thought of this video.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Food Friday: Picnic Foods and I'm Being Featured!

Today I am being featured on Fabulous Food Friday at Between the Lines, Kel's blog!
Please go over and check out my recipe for
Mandarin Chicken Salad,
and let Kel know you came from my blog!
Oh, and let me know what you thought of the recipe!
It's a fabulous Picnic Salad!


Between the Lines

It's Food Friday, and today, since it's Memorial Weekend, I thought many of you may be going to a picnic!  So, I am posting two recipes, which are old-fashioned picnic fare, and comfort food, for sure!
Oven Fried Chicken and Bow Tie Pasta Cheesy Bake

Oven Fried Chicken
Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup dried chives
2 Tbsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper

How I changed this recipe: I used a package of assorted pieces of chicken (a large thigh, breast, large rib, couple of legs, something like that).  I skinned a couple of the pieces, as we generally eat it "skinless".  Also, I didn't have chives, so I used minced onion and onion salt.
 
Directions:
Melt butter in bottom of 9x13 inch pan; rinse chicken.  Shake chicken until coated in the remaining ingredients.  Place skin side down in pan.  Bake uncovered in 425 degree oven for 35 minutes; turn and bake until done, about 15 to 30 minutes more.
I used a gallon zippered baggie which worked well, doing a few pieces at a time.  With larger pieces of chicken, you may need to bake them a little longer, while keeping the other pieces warm.

This tasted so good!  And it was really easy. This reheats well, and tastes good cold, so will make a good picnic food.

Bow Tie Pasta Cheesy Bake
This is a recipe I got off a Creamettes Bow Tie pasta box, and modified. 
Ingredients:
3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 tsp ground mustard
3 cups of milk 
2-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup of cooked, cubed ham
Whole kernel corn
Here's how I made it, pretty much: (I threw away the box, and this is how I remember it, with my adjustments:)  It came out tasting very good, but it obviously is a forgiving recipe, as you will see!)
Make the box of pasta according to the directions on the box.  Make a white sauce by melting butter in a medium pot, then add the flour, and the mustard; stir.
Then slowly add the milk, on medium heat, constantly stirring until it's pretty smooth and it bubbles. Add 1-1/4 cups of cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
Add the other ingredients to the sauce. I transferred this to a large microwaveable dish before adding everything.  Then they say to bake it for, I think, 30 minutes, at 350 degrees.  I didn't have time, so I put it in the microwave for about 10 minutes on high, covering the dish with plastic wrap.

After I was all done, I noticed it called for 2 teaspoons of ground mustard, and I had put in 3 Tablespoons!!  Also, I noticed it called for a total of 2-1/2 cups of cheese, adding the extra 1-1/4 cup of cheese after baking; I didn't have any more cheese, so I left it out.
So, you see, you can make things work out, even though you "make mistakes"--which I do often:)
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Friendly Friday! I'm Really Glad to Meet You!


Last week was the first week of Friendly Friday--I hope you met some great new friends, and gained new followers!
Our hostesses are:  Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier! Christi at The Frugal Novice and Charla at  Healthy Home blog
Click on their links to go to their blogs.  Thanks, so much, ladies!
Please go over, meet them, and read all the details of how to get in on this wonderful way to meet new friends, and gain followers!

Welcome, if you are new!  Please get a cup of coffee and sit down for a while!  There's a lot here for you to read and check out!  Please don't be shy--it is such an encouragement to read your comments!  I hope you'll follow me or subscribe and that you'll visit often, cuz that's how good friendships happen!
I am a stay-at-home wife,  and a Homeschooler, though my teaching days are completed, as my "children" are now 24 and 20.  We are blessed to have them still living at home with my wonderful husband and me.  My passion is to help and encourage young women, wives and moms to fulfill their God-given role, and I love to write, so this blog is my way of doing it all.
Specific themes that I have written on which you might enjoy (click on the links):
  • Love and Marriage (Mondays Now on Wednesdays) Series: "Belittling and Henpecking", and "Doing Those Little Things Around the House", and "Bitterness by any other name" are recent posts; also, you'll find interviews; How and Why the subject of Courtship applies to you as a mom of little ones; Ways to teach young children about Godly love and marriage and great resources to use.   (Grab my button on the sidebar to let people know about this series!)

  • Timely Tips on Tuesday  (Everything helpful: from organization, to scheduling your prayer time, to child-training, to running a home, to tips for you as a mom to littlees)

  • Food Friday (Clicking here will take you to all my Recipes: Every Friday I share a tried-and-true recipe that you'll love! And don't miss Rob Barrett of "Cooking for Dads"--you'll love his cooking show, and recipes--here!) 
So, get a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of lemon water, and click and check out what all there is here. 
  1.  Please let me know you came by and tell me what you're thinking.
  2.  And, last but not least, please Follow or Subscribe, but only if you really value what you read here. Put my button on your sidebar and tell your friends--Thanks!

The gals behind Friendly Friday will be extending the hours a little to make it easier to link up, and also are featuring three blogs at random who they will also do a write-up on, so after you're done checking out things here, go over and read about them, as well.

I'm excited to tell you that I am also being Featured Today on Fabulous Food Friday over at Kel's blog, Between the Lines!  Thanks, Kelly!  So, stop on over there and check out my recipe!

Thanks for stopping by!  I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you!
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Modern Medications


As some of you  know from reading yesterday's header-note, I have been suffering with a bacterial ear infection this week.  I was pretty miserable.  It's not really like me to put off going to the doctor, if I really need to, but I realized that's exactly what I was doing, and with the long weekend ahead of me, I knew I'd be in trouble if I put it off any longer! So, today I went in, found out that it was indeed an ear infection, which can be sometimes, and had been earlier this week, in my neck and shoulders.

What I'm so thankful for today, this Thankful Thursday, (oh, and thank you, Laurie, at Women Taking a Stand, for hosting this month!), what I'm so, so thankful for today is that modern medicine has made it possible for me to take a pill, and feel great relief from pain almost instantly.  I'm still feeling pain off and on, but I can definitely say the medicine is working!  Thankfulness wells up within me when I think of all the benefits that I enjoy from living in this free country of mine, and in this time of medical advancements, and with the resources to be able to pay for medical treatment, and for the provision of work which God has graciously provided to my husband for so many years, and for the medical insurance that we enjoy, which paid for my medications. Many people complain about insurance, having to pay for it, and I know our insurance situation may be changing, and become more and more expensive, but I want to thank the Lord for how blessed our family has been to have great insurance up til now.  It wasn't as if we said one day, "Let's find out just how good our insurance really is!"  But we found out whether we had decent insurance or not.  You know, you pay and you pay, and sometimes you feel like all you do is pay: but be grateful if you never have to use your insurance! You don't know how good your insurance is until you are diagnosed with cancer and go into the hospital for surgery and a 5-day stay! That's a pretty good test of how good your insurance is!  Well, I give God all the glory, and thank Him that our insurance is fantastic!  Words kind of fail me.  Our bill for the hospital stay, not including the doctors, surgeons, etc., was $32,000!  That is peanuts compared to the experience of many of you, I know, but 8 years ago, it was an enormous amount of money to us, let me tell you.  How much do you think we had to pay of that $32,000 bill?  Well, we had to pay $100.  One hundred dollars.  That's it.  I am so grateful to the Lord for all the medical mercies He has extended to us over the years.  And today, thank You, Lord, for antibiotics and pain killers, when you need them.  I don't like taking them, but when I needed them, praise God, they were there!
(Go visit Laurie's blog, Women Taking a Stand, to read other thankful posts!)
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Love and Marriage: Bitterness By Any Other Name


(Hello all: I'm sorry that I didn't post my usual Love and Marriage post earlier today, but here is a partial repost of something I wrote months ago, but it is always good to hear again: how to stop being bitter.)

We often don't realize that we're bitter. One of the signs that we might be harboring some bitterness in our hearts is if we find ourselves going over and over in our minds that thing our spouse said or did that hurt or offended us. It's a little like when you have a rough jagged edge on a tooth and your tongue keeps on finding its way over there and going over it again and again.

Let me illustrate another sign that you may be bitter.  Imagine that we all have a little "house" that's "me." Sometimes the windows are wide open on my "house", with a beautiful warm breeze wafting through the open windows, lifting the curtains in jubilation. I had a lovely little "house" just like that, but when I became bitter, it was as though, in order to "protect" myself, (which I rationalized was perfectly natural and normal) I went around my little house and closed all the doors and windows.  I battened down the hatches.  I climbed inside and closed up all the shutters on all the windows. And now I was safe. Or so I thought.  But when you close up to protect yourself, you may have "protected" yourself from your spouse or that person who offended you, and you think that now you are "safe", but it's dark and lonely in your little house, and you can't see the Son (Jesus) and you can't breathe the fresh air of the Holy Spirit very well in there. And, while you're busy closing yourself off from the person who offended you, you're also closing yourself off from others as well, and from God.  You're effectively saying to God, "You aren't capable of protecting me, so I'm taking matters into my own hands."  Little by little you become very hard, brittle, cold and unloving. And, well, more bitter.

People who are bitter often say things like, "No, I'm not bitter, I'm just so hurt."  Or "I'm just very disappointed (or offended)."  Whatever you are calling it, there are steps to take to overcome it.  Because, Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, 
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

That's pretty serious stuff.  And I think Jesus knew that bitterness not dealt with, will eat away like a canker, and destroy the person who's bitter, as well as their relationships.  Whatever you call what you are feeling (it took a long time for me to acknowledge that I was bitter), here are four steps to take which will help you to open up the windows of your little house, and let the Son shine in and the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit waft through again.
 
1. Confess the sin of bitterness. 
(Or confess to God your deep hurt or how offended you feel--whatever you have been calling it). 1 John 2:9--"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." But, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
2. Ask God to regain any ground you may have surrendered to satan. 
This is territory of your soul which you have allowed satan to get a foothold in, by becoming bitter.  Suffice it to say that when we get bitter we give satan permission to harass or "torment" us and we will have a battle in our soul (our mind, will and emotions) going on. Doubts, fears, depression, surges of anger, pride ("I deserve better than this") are some of the things which may torment us.
3. Tear down strongholds with truth. 
Though God has to regain the surrendered ground, we have weapons to fight with to tear down strongholds that satan builds. A stronghold is a false idea from the devil. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:4 You will have to fight against the lies that satan tries to tell you, (like insisting you retaliate) if you have let yourself become bitter! The method we use to do this is to build up "towers of truth"! Read God's Word ("Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." John 17:17), memorize God's Word ("Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalms 119:11), and meditating on God's Word. And thrust that "sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" in for the kill by repeating God's Word out loud (loudly)! when false ideas come into your mind.

Ephesians 6:11-18 "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

4. Show mercy by forgiving your offender. 
Obviously, anyone who's been bitter knows this isn't easy. In fact, it's impossible, without the power of the Holy Spirit. Unless God gives you the ability to do it, you can't. Pray and ask Him to make you want to, first of all, then ask Him to make you able to.  Here are some verses that have some "ouch" in them, meaning they tend to be convicting, to me, at least.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 6:14-15
"Shouldest not thou also have had compassion
on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to
the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due
unto him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father
do also unto you, if ye from your hearts
forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
Matthew 18:33-35
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,
and clamour, and evil speaking,
be put away from you, with all malice:
and be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake
hath forgiven you." 
Ephesians 4:31-32
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Children's Work Is Only Begun: Learning to Play, Playing to Learn (Part 2)


(Above image is from PreKinders.com where you will find Preschool teachers' resources.)
You'll remember that about a month ago I shared Part 1 of the wonderful Learning Activities and Teaching Ideas for Preschoolers (click on the link to read the first part of this series) which Bonnie Anderson shared at "A Mom Thing".  Bonnie is a dear friend of mine who is extremely qualified to talk about creative learning activities for small children!  (Read "About Bonnie" at the bottom of the page.)  When I invited her to be our guest at "A Mom Thing" last month, I asked her to share activities and teaching ideas for little children, especially activities they could do independently while Mom is spending one-on-one teaching time, or other one-on-one time, with an older child.  She shared with us so many wonderful ideas!  Here is Part 2 from my notes: 


Bonnie emphasized that these were activities that your child would be able to do independently after a very brief teaching and introduction time by you, thereby allowing you to work with your older children without distraction, as needed, during your school day or whenever.  Doing these activities will give your child a feeling of achievement and confidence because they've learned skills and are able to complete the activities by themselves. They'll gain a sense of independence, in the good sense of the word.
Remember, Bonnie talked about "contracts" which are the "work" which your preschooler is assigned to do during the time frame allotted.  On an 8-1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper, indicate using pictures, the activities which they are to do.  For example: a picture of a squirrel, might direct them to a cupboard or shelf with a squirrel on it, where the next activity would be located.  Having already done the activity with them, they are able to do it by themselves.  They mark (in any number of ways--you can be creative) on the contract when they have completed the activity. They do the activities in order. 
Bonnie said she would prepare a number of "contracts" during the summer and then as she used them during the school year, she would rotate the contracts about every two weeks. (If you have not read Part 1 yet, go back and read Bonnie's ideas and explanation of "contracts" there.)

Matching and Categorizing Skills
Patterned swatches of fabrics (each affixed to a piece of paper):
  • Stripes
  • Checks
  • Plaids
  • Prints
  • Polka-dots
  • and Plain
A larger piece of paper with the different patterns drawn on squares (you can draw them in black and white).  Your child can place the swatches on the square that they match.

Cards displaying different kinds of cars and furniture (use magazine photos):
Goal: To categorize and put them together with the other cards they go with.

Organizing Skills:
Sequencing:
  • Story Puzzles: Place the pieces left to right in the order the events took place
  • Pictures: e.g. 1) A whole ice cream cone 2) a partially eaten ice cream cone 3) a completely eaten ice cream cone (or just a little cone left)
  • "Media Materials": 4-scene sequence cards (non-reading)
Math Skills:
Use LARGE numbers and make a number line to put on their bedroom wall (Just to Look At) or the Alphabet (use butcher paper)

Continuing a Pattern:
  • A pattern of shape and color: They have to follow the pattern laid out on the card. e.g. a blue square followed by an orange circle followed by a red triangle. They place the appropriate colored pieces in the continuing pattern.
  • Beads and string: they put the beads on the string to continue the pattern begun. (Other Preschool Games and Learning Activities here)
  • Coloring the next shape in the appropriate color/pattern 
  • Egg cartons: Write numerals on the bottom of each compartment of the carton.  They have to find something that there's that number of: You provide, for example, 3 shoelaces, 2 bandaids, 1 pingpong ball, 4 buttons, etc. or larger items, and more colorful, for younger children.
Make cards with the word for the color: e.g. "Red", and then when they turn the card over they see the color red.
Make sample pictures and shapes which they can make by placing craft sticks/tongue depressors on the lines.
Using cards with the colored shapes printed on them, they have to place the colored block into the appropriate shape (Discovery Toys)

Learning The Alphabet:
  1. Cut-out mittens (colorful) with the Uppercase letters written, one letter on each mitten; they have to find the matching mitten with the lowercase letter on it.  Use plastic clips to attach to a piece of string hung between two points, like a clothesline.  Again, go left to right. (Preschool Tracing Worksheets here)
  2. "Wiener dog" puzzle:  Draw the back and front ends of the "wiener dog" and the object is to "Help the Dog Grow".  The front of the dog has the letter "A" on it and they place the pieces (construction paper with the letters of the alphabet) in the order they go in (left to right). 
  3. Have a "B" day
  • Make little "bugs/beetles" and place around the outline of the letter
  • Make food that starts with the letter "B" (bananas, bread, butter, beef, biscuits, etc.) 
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Learning Activities and Teaching Ideas for Preschoolers! 


About Bonnie:
Bonnie Anderson is a gracious and creative woman with a big heart, an infectious laugh and a desire to help families succeed in raising and teaching their children.  She has been a Home School consultant with Teach Institute and Accreditation Association for 25 years, helping families achieve their goals. She is a former Kindergarten teacher, whose mother and father were both teachers. Bonnie has also taught Art to elementary-aged children in a private school.  She loves to use her creative and artistic talents to make the subject she is teaching come alive! Besides working with other families and children, she is a wife to husband, John and a mother to two grown sons, Ben and Dan.  They welcomed a daughter-in-law into the family this past year when Ben married Kari.  Bonnie and John Home Schooled their sons, and are on the board of the Teach Accreditation Association.  Bonnie loves reading and owning "living books", and has a personal library in her home of over 20,000 titles.  Though she specializes in historical fiction, the loft of her library is filled with picture books for younger "readers".  She especially enjoys collecting the stuffed animal or doll which depicts the character in a particular book or children's series. Since she is constantly on the lookout for the best children's literature out there, especially the old beloved out-of-print books, she sells duplicates of the best of her collection through her business, which she calls Bonnie's Books.  Realizing that children can remember the events and characters in a book just by looking at the dust jacket, she came up with a Timeline of History based on this idea.  She has done all the work of finding the best books for a study of each century of history, and has put together timelines for different age groups, including a list of books they can read in their literature-based study of history.  The timelines have the pictures of the dust jackets of each book the child will have read.  One look at the dust jackets on the timeline, and a child will remember all the facts, events and people contained in the books he has read.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

How To Endure Trials: Manage It (No, Victorious in Christ) Monday

The Trials of Life 
Today is the 8th Anniversary of the day I had surgery to remove a football-size, cancerous tumor from my body, which was threatening my life. I had ovarian cancer (click on the link to read my testimony).  In the subsequent weeks following successful surgery, I received three rounds of chemotherapy, and then 24 weekly treatments of a lower dose of chemo, while participating in a voluntary scientific trial.  Following that time, I have had tests and checkups which have continued to declare me to be "cancer-free".  I am grateful to God today for life and health.
For me, this anniversary, and time of year, transports me back and I relive so many events from the past and I remember the feelings associated with that experience. For me, this is an emotional time.


Friendship 
Especially so, this year, on this anniversary, for we have just found out that our dear friend, who has battled breast cancer for 15 years, learned this week that her cancer has spread to all of her organs, and even broken a vertebrae in her back.  She is in intense pain.  I am deeply moved by my friend's situation, and concerned for them.  Our prayers go up to God for her and her family, and our thoughts are continually with them.  Yet, we give praise to God, for we don't want to withhold any of the praise and thanks that is due to the Lord, for another year of health in my life.


This morning, during my quiet time, feeling it might be helpful to listen to some solid Biblical teaching from an old familiar friend, I listened to the first sermon by John MacArthur, "Trouble to Triumph", in a series called "Benefiting From Life's Trials", a study from the book of James. (You, too, can listen free of charge to all of the sermons in the archives of John MacArthur's preaching.  You can also choose to download them onto your MP3 player, if you want, or read the transcripts. It's all free!  I enjoy hearing his voice and how he says what he says, so I like to listen through my computer.)


How Can a Christian Endure Trials?  
Quoting from the end of the sermon:
"How can a Christian practically endure trials? What is the practicality of trials? That's what James wants to hit.  It's not enough to say, 'I must persevere.' Tell me how! How do I persevere?
These are the pragmatic aspects to a persevering faith--several things are required:
  • A Joyous Attitude, vs. 2:  "Count it all joy."
  • An Understanding Mind, vs. 3: "Knowing this."
  • A Submissive Will, vs. 4: "Let patience have her perfect work."  Let it do what it's gonna do.  Accepting it from the Lord, getting under it and learning what He wants you to learn.
  • A Believing Heart:  Don't have wavering faith, vs. 6, but ask in true faith; vs. 8, don't be double-minded. A believing heart that never wavers in faith.
  • Then in verses 9-11, A Humble Spirit, that is willing to accept anything.
The way to go through trials victoriously is with a joyous attitude, an understanding mind--perceiving the reality of the trial and the purpose in it; a submissive will--accepting it from the Lord, getting under it and learning what He wants you to learn; a believing heart--that never wavers in faith; and a humble spirit, that is willing to accept anything.



That's how you handle your trials."
(My goal was to strengthen myself in the Word and be encouraged; maybe it will do the same for you.  To listen to the rest of the series, click "trials".  You may also enjoy John MacArthur's series:  "7 Steps to Spiritual Stability" or other resources at www.gty.org)


"Thou shalt find thy hopes were just,
Jesus is my hope and trust."


Trials strengthen faith and trust, for the believer.  As I get older, I can look back and say, the Lord has been with me in the past through every trial, small and great, and He will be with me through whatever trials I'm going through now, or may have to go through in the future.  He is faithful. Rejoice with me and be glad. Trust in the Lord, for He is good.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

A New BlogHop: Friendly Friday: Come and Make Friends!


Something new has come to Blogville:  Friendly Friday!  Last week, as you may know, was the last week of Friday Follow.  I received an email this week from Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier, inviting me to join three moms who have taken the initiative to start up a Blog Hop that they are calling "Friendly Friday"!  I am including their bios below, knowing that you will want to meet them.


But, first, let me tell those of you who haven't met me yet, who I am!  If you know me well, you can skip down and read about our three hostesses below!

I'm So Glad to Meet You!
I am a SAHM, wife,  and Homeschooler, though my teaching days are completed, as my "children" are now 24 and 20.  We are blessed to have them still living with my wonderful husband and me at home.  My passion is to help and encourage young women, wives and moms to fulfill their God-given role, and I love to write, so this blog is my way of doing it all.
Specific themes that I have written on which you might enjoy (click on the links):
  • Love and Marriage (Mondays Now on Wednesdays) Series: "Belittling and Henpecking", and "Doing Those Little Things Around the House" are recent posts; also, you'll find interviews; How and Why the subject of Courtship applies to you as a mom of little ones; Ways to teach young children about Godly love and marriage and great resources to use.   (Grab my button on the sidebar to let people know about this series!)

  • Timely Tips on Tuesday  (Everything helpful: from organization, to scheduling your prayer time, to child-training, to running a home, to tips for you as a mom to littlees)

  • Food Friday (Clicking here will take you to all my Recipes: Every Friday I share a tried-and-true recipe that you'll love! And don't miss Rob Barrett of "Cooking for Dads"--you'll love his cooking show, and recipes--here!) 

  • Look for me to be featured next Friday, May 28, 2010, with a recipe on Fabulous Food Friday over at Kel's blog, Between the Lines!
  1. So, get a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of lemon water, and click and read some of what is on this site. 
  2.  Please let me know you came by and tell me what you're thinking.
  3.  And, last but not least, please Follow or Subscribe, but only if you really value what you read here. Put my button on your sidebar and tell your friends--Thanks!
And now, here are the bios of our three hostesses:



Thanks, Mail Carrier!  Well hi, I'm Xenia. I apologize right off the bat that your brain is wondering how in the world to pronounce my name, but I'll just blame my mom for wanting me to be unique. Try not to let the X throw you off, it's Za-knee-a, with the stress on the second syllable. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, it's nice to meet you! Here at Thanks, Mail Carrier, my wonderful husband, 3 and 1-year-old daughters and I love the vrooooom sound the mail truck makes when it heads down our block. Who doesn’t get excited about receiving mail and wouldn‘t like to know what the best products are that they could have their mail carrier deliver right to their door? I love knowing that the information I give to readers helps peak their interest and hopefully aids them in becoming a better consumer and I take a lot of pride in my thorough, honest reviews of items of all kinds. When we're not trying out great new products, my girls and I love to spend time with good friends and fit as much laughter into the day as possible. Stop by anytime and say hello!

The Frugal Novice  Hi, I'm Christi. I'm 28 years old, and have lived in Texas all my life. I'm a Christian and love the church family we've found in our town. I do advertising sales and design, and do a lot of freelance work on the side. I'm married to Brian, a graphic designer, and we have two adorable little boys - J, who will be 3 in August, and C, who turned 1 in April. My other "baby" is our 6-year-old miniature dachshund, Josie. I love spending time with my friends and family, baking, crafty things, shopping (for bargains), and working on fixing up our 1972 house bit by bit. I've had a family blog since 2007 when J was born, but started The Frugal Novice more recently after my mom encouraged me to give it a try. I love blogging and all the friends I've made through the process. I started my blog focusing solely on ways to save money, but quickly decided that if I'm going to write I want it to be about all sorts of different things I love, so it's expanded a little since its start. :)

Healthy Home blog  Hi! I'm Charla, definitely the oldest of the three. In fact, I'm Christi's mom, and I can tell you that it's such a blessing to have a daughter who is also one of my best friends. Here are some things about me: I'm not only a Christian wife, mother of two, mother-in-law, and grandmother to Christi & Brian's two precious little boys, but also a teacher. I taught school in the Texas public school system for 19 years, and this past year I've been doing substitute teaching, hope to get a full time teaching job again in the fall. I was encouraged and motivated by our son (who's a college student) to start blogging back in the summer of 2007, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure, the money helps out, but what I value most is the connection to all my blogger friends. :) My favorite thing to do? Spend time with family!

Of course, you have to be discerning, as always, but from a cursory look at these three ladies' blogs, I really appreciate their emphasis on being moms, and I have looked at some of the products that Xenia is reviewing and I can see that they will especially appeal to wives and moms at home, and you will like Charla's recipes, and Christi, her daughter, is a mom of littlees just like a lot of you.  So, check this new bloghop out and see if it's a good thing! 
I hope that we will all get to meet a lot of new friends!
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Food Friday: Tips for More Peaceful Potluck Preparation

Faith's Firm Foundation and a recipe of mine will be
featured
at Between The Lines, Friday, May 28th!
Mark it on your calendar!
(This is a correction--not May 25, as I earlier stated!)
Does the thought of an upcoming church Potluck throw you into a tizzy?  Does your Sunday morning that day resemble a tornado?  Here are some tips that Berean Wife shared recently, that might help you, as they did me:  Potluck Meal-making Tips. 
Having just had a potluck on Sunday, this subject is fresh in my mind, so here are some additional suggestions, or:
Practical Tips for A Peaceful Potluck Sunday
  • Use a crockpot to completely cook your dish while the service is going on:  This works especially well if your casserole uses cooked, chopped chicken, and/or items which are already cooked.  You can leave the crockpot plugged in on the church kitchen counter. (Setting it on Low is equivalent to approximately 300 degrees F. in the oven and the High setting is equivalent to about 350 degrees F.)  Undercooking the ingredients slightly before placing them in the crockpot will help if your dish will be sitting in the crockpot a long time--then it won't get dried out and overcooked.
  • Keep the ingredients on hand in the freezer and/or pantry for your "Standard Potluck Dish", if at all possible. My SPD ("Wild Chicken") uses all ingredients I can keep on hand.  (It's very fun to have people come looking for your dish, because they recognize and can "smell it"--"Is that your chicken and rice dish I smell?!  Mmmm!"  And another, "Where's Wendy's (dish) (looking down the row)?"  Believe me, I'm not that great a cook!  I just have found a winning recipe and make it every time, so they're looking ahead to eating it--and that's a fantastic feeling!
  • Don't be afraid to be a little creative when you're out of an ingredient (assuming you know the recipe well):  I was short one box of Long Grain and Wild Rice for my Wild Chicken on Sunday, (and I was too lazy to go to the store!), so I substituted brown rice, and I actually liked it better!
  • Choose a dish that is low-maintenance!  For example, don't choose an ice cream dish on a 100-degrees-in-the-shade day! You're just asking for trouble!  If you can use the church kitchen's fridge, a nice tossed salad with baggies of toppings, (such as carrots, orange segments, craisins, chopped nuts, etc.), chopped and ready to add at the last minute along with a bottled dressing, (or your homemade, if it's easy) works great!  There are plenty of high-fat, high calorie dishes on the table, so your salad will be greatly appreciated!
  • No Time to "Cook"?  Please the "little ones"! (and make it easy on yourself)  Just make PB&J sandwiches, cut in quarters or halves, and place them on a tray or platter.  Easy, and very much appreciated by the younger set!
The above experience with the rice will come in handy for me in the future, (a lot of great new recipes happen this way!) for I accidentally put all the ingredients into one pan at once!  I placed the ingredients from the box of LG&WRice, along with 2-1/4 cups of water, as called for, and also 1 cup of brown rice and 2 more cups of water in the pan altogether, and it was too late to undo it, so I cooked them together until the rice was tender!  It worked great, and saved a ton of time! It usually takes me 40 minutes to cook brown rice, but I have recently found out that you can cook it just like pasta, in about 10 minutes!  Why did it take me so long to find that out?!
I hope that the tips over at Berean Wife, and my musings, will help you to have more peace in your heart the next time you hear these words, "We're going to be having a Potluck...."
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learning New Things and The Fear of Failure

Learning Blog designing on my own has certainly been an adventure!  I am sure that there have been some interesting sights to behold while elements at times were flying out of control.  I've learned a lot, though, and I really love to stretch myself to learn new things, and not be afraid to fail once in awhile.  I have tried to instill this quality in my children, of not being fearful to look foolish or to perform less than perfectly, or to be humbled, when you're sincerely trying to do something that's new to you. It's a hard one, because we all want to appear at our best to others, to be thought well of, especially by those we admire.

Sometimes we parents analyze too much.  I'm not big on psychology.  I prefer to look in the Bible for my answers. But when I found these tips in an online article in Parent Map, I thought they were very helpful, aside from the label placed on the behavior. (Side note: Personally, I don't want to be put into a box, preferring to believe that God is changing me day by day into a faithful and not a fearful person.) So, may I suggest a new title for these suggestions:  from "Tips for helping the risk-averse child" to "Tips to help your Child be Courageous, Confident and Faithful".)
What can parents (and teachers) do to help risk-averse children meet new challenges? Chris Ladish, M.D., offers these tips:
  • Emphasize effort as much as outcome. Praise the fact that the child tries. Help lay a foundation for the child to develop a self-appraisal that is defined in terms of effort and willingness as much as in the end result.
  • Take breaks. None of us are at our best when pushed beyond our limits. Taking a break and then coming back to a task can help a child regroup and feel more energized to return to that task.
  • Try to end on positive notes. Divide complex tasks into smaller, more doable segments, and celebrate the completion of each.
  • Create a healthy balance between challenging projects and tasks, and easy ones.
  • Review the day with your child. Spend time talking about success.
  • Catch the child doing "right." The more a child hears and receives praise for positive efforts, the more that child will come to internalize that message. The expectation is that this will contribute to an increased willingness to keep trying.
  • Embrace failure and assist the child not to fear it. Failure or lack of success is an essential element of learning that helps us shape our future strategies to challenges. All of us had to fall many times before we learned to walk.

The Bible is replete with examples of how God used "failure" in a person's life to teach them spiritual lessons and to bring them to where He could use them in a mighty way.  Help your child see that there are lessons to learn from failing.  Turn him to the Word of God, and encourage him to try again.

Do you have a story of success in this area? How have you taught your children, or yourself, not to be afraid of failure--and to try, and learn, new things?
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My Blog Woke Up Feeling "A Little Off" This Morning

When I went to sleep last night, everything was fine. You know how it happens:  sometime in the night "your baby" becomes sick--you're not sure what happened, but they're definitely not "well"!

That's what happened to "my baby"!  Overnight my blog took a turn for the worse! We're consulting with "experts" and trying "prescriptions"--please pray that "my baby" will recover very soon, and forgive her "appearance"--she's "a little off" today!!

*Update* My "baby" seems to be alright now, but we'll keep her under "observation" for 24 hours!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Love and Marriage: Doing Those Little Things Around the House


Today I am not going to write about Love and Marriage.  Rather, I am going to try to "live out" Being a Good Wife!  And practice what I preach.  It may not seem like "marriage work", or "Marriage Tips", but the areas of housework, laundry, and wifely duties in the home are very important to the stability, peace and love in a marriage!  An organized, well-ordered, well-managed home brings about love and joy.  So, specifically, today I need to spend some time on the laundry and cleaning up our bedroom, which will make my husband happy. 

May we daily think of ways to please our spouse, removing those little areas of irritation that we know cause needless frustration and strife.  May we do (and not resist doing) the little things that we know cause peace and harmony and a joyful atmosphere. Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most.

I hope that as I blog about Love and Marriage, I will be a doer of the Word and not a writer of it only (nor a hearer).
"But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
James 1:22
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Homeschoolers: How To Begin

Are you thinking about Homeschooling, or have you just started out and you're feeling lost? Wondering where to begin?


Start here:
  • Go to HSLDA's website (www.hslda.org) where you will find the current laws by state.
  • Click on, and read, the section there on You Can Homeschool--Start Here (How To Do It for New Homeschoolers)
  • Go to the  Teach Institute website, which contains encouraging and helpful videos specifically for new Homeschoolers; also peruse and read some of the articles in the archive of Newsletters, which are a wealth of wisdom and edifying encouragement.
  • For curriculum choices:  Let me comfort you and quiet your fears:  You are not going to ruin your child by choosing the wrong curriculum.  I don't recommend any one curriculum. I encourage you to pray, do research, and try something, starting with the basics of Reading, Writing and 'Rithmatic (therefore, don't spend a lot of money on anything). If your children are in K-2 that's all you'll need for now, plus library books.  Discerningly use the library extensively for reading.  Get a good Math curriculum for your child.  ABeka and Bob Jones are known classics and have strong programs.  ABeka is about 6 months ahead of grade level, meaning if your child is able to keep up he'll be doing very well, and no need to worry on standardized tests.  It is excellent, but known for repetition, so once the child has the concept, go on, and don't do all the problems.  Bob Jones is really good for learning to do story problems.  You don't need a teacher's guide for anything.  Don't buy products out of your insecurity.  Pray and ask the Lord and your husband. These are your children.  No one knows them like you do. God will lead you. I believe that your family's and your child's needs will change somewhat from year to year.  You'll see a gap or weak area, and you'll need something to address that need.  At that time, look for the best and most appropriate resource, for the cheapest price.
  • Think and pray very long and hard before having others teach them anything.  That teacher is teaching them a worldview, not only a subject. Will you have to unteach, deprogram and deal with the results of that teacher's teaching and influence for the rest of your life? It's not worth it.  You don't need co-ops.  The disadvantages outweigh the benefits.  When people ask you, "What about socialization?" answer them, "Yes, that's one of the reasons why I'm Homeschooling."  You don't want the negative socialization.  Make your children each other's best friends.  Learn with your children.  They're going to have strong subjects and weak subjects, just like you did.  That's ok.  They're not going to remember everything they're taught, just like you don't. Make your foundation the principles of God's Word.  Major on character.  Teach the basics, and make sure they're strong in those: the 3 R's.  Then add in other subjects, skills, etc. 
  • I believe that you will use and need different resources and teaching materials than any other Homeschooling family, because you are not them.  Each individual child in your home will need their Homeschooling tweaked for their individual learning style and strengths and weaknesses.  Designing your child's education to his individual needs, one-on-one interaction and family interaction, and flexibility are the wonderful blessings of Homeschooling!
  • Warning: Don't try to bring school home.  I don't recommend having a "schoolroom" because I don't ever want to communicate that learning only takes place there.  Did we start out having a schoolroom? Yes.  Some things you have to learn yourself.
  • I do recommend reading "living books" (a "living book"--the term coined by Charlotte Mason--is one in which, when you stop reading, the child begs you to read "just one more"! One more page, one more chapter...); and, for Unit Studies, KONOS can't be beat!  (Read my post on KONOS to get an idea of what kinds of activities you might do with your children in a Unit Study on the character quality of Attentiveness and the study of the Ear.) You will have to supplement some subjects later, such as Math, and Art, and lessons in music.
  • As a Homeschooler, you will gain knowledge of your craft as you go along. One valuable resource is The Old Schoolhouse magazine, a favorite of moms. (Clicking the magazine's link will take you to the review of KONOS curriculum that was published in their magazine).
  • The Three R's, by Ruth Beechick (K-3) is a must have for beginning Homeschoolers.   Ruth Beechick is a gem.  She's like the grandmother who understands what you're going through, and the professional who knows what to do about it, in one.  The Three R's contains ideas you can put into practice while you're making dinner!  You may find these sold as three separate little books, but now they have been published together in one.  What I love the most about these three little books:  She gives easy examples of teaching in the everyday moments of family life at home, like her example of teaching "math" by counting the number of forks and knives as you set the table, asking questions using "math terminology" such as "how many more" do you need.  The book is very affordable.  You can get it at the link to Amazon.com, or you can find it also on SonLight's website above.
The 3 Most Important Things To Do When Starting To Homeschool Kindergarten:
  1. Know that you can do this, and you're not going to ruin your child(ren).
  2. Pray and ask God for help. And listen to God and your husband.
  3. Read, read, and read to your children ("living books" and the Bible)!
Mom:  Top 3 Things To Do For Success in Homeschooling:
  1. Love and Respect Your Husband.
  2. Fear God and Obey The Bible.
  3. Discipline appropriately and Train Your Children Up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord.
5 Wonderful Ways To Enjoy Being a Wife and Mom and Homeschooler in one:
  1. Train your children to pay attention to you, and to obey.
  2. Spend lots of time together as a family:  laughing, working, and serving the Lord together.
  3. Read the Bible together, and memorize it. (For young children, memorization is done without effort, by simple repetition!  It's we parents who have to work at it!)
  4. Be, and teach how to be, "A Lover of Learning".  Ask questions about what is going on around you, and find out more about what interests you and them.
  5. Make the most of "teachable moments" when they're asking questions and want to know more!
An additional note regarding curriculum:  I don't recommend a comprehensive packaged curriculum for K-1st grade, especially. (Some "veteran Homeschoolers" recommend buying a packaged all-in-one curriculum when you're starting out, just to get you going when you're lacking in confidence and don't know what to do.)  It's not wrong, but the drawback to this is you may get locked in to that mode, and I feel you miss some of the blessings and benefits of Homeschooling when you do that, such as spending time together with your children, seeing the excitement of hands-on learning in their eyes, the freedom to participate in everyday-life-learning, and flexibility. Whether you use a pre-packaged curriculum or not, you needn't spend a wad of dough on Homeschooling, and especially in the early grades.


Teach your child the skills needed to read:  Recognizing the letters, and knowing the sounds the letters make, and then connecting those sounds together.  That's reading.
Teach your child to love learning.


The most important thing you can do with your children is READ excellent books--living books--to them, and teach them to love learning. If you are excited about learning new things, they will be, too.


Click on the Homeschooling and Child-Training topics on my linkbar at the top of my blog, for additional information and encouragement.  I hope this helps any of you who are new to Homeschooling, or who are thinking of starting next year.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you have, either in the comments, or you can contact me by email at faithsfirmfoundation@embarqmail.com.  If I don't know the answer, I will try to get it for you!
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Monday, May 17, 2010

National Center for Family-Integrated Church (NCFIC) is Coming to a Location Near You!

 
We have come full circle over the last 20-some years from being involved integrally in the start-up of two seeker-friendly/sensitive churches (involved doesn't begin to describe our immersion in this) to the place we are now:  part of a Family-Integrated Church, which is elder-led, family-building, Homeschooling and large-family encouraging, missions-supporting, and disciple-making--Cornerstone Church--which we have called home for the last 7 years. One of the tools God used in our lives to bring us to this place was a set of messages from an NCFIC (the National Center for Family Integrated Churches) Conference (messages in a set called "Uniting Church and Home", which we purchased through Vision Forum).  These CDs bolstered my husband's confidence and helped him take a firm stand as the spiritual leader of our home and family, and strengthened his resolve to guard, protect and unite us upon the Word of God, while obeying the Biblical command to go into the world and make disciples.

Because of our experience and the benefit that we have received from the NCFIC, I am excited (excited? no, thrilled is a better word) to tell you about an unprecedented opportunity that is coming your way, literally!  An opportunity for you and your church to get a new vision for your family and church:  to strengthen your marriages and unify your families within the context of church!  NCFIC is hitting the road and will be traveling across the U.S. bringing a message that, I hope, gets you as excited as it does me!  Quoting from the NCFIC website:


"We will address how obedience to God’s commands regarding family life blesses the church, how obedience in our marriages models the love of God for the church, how obedience in discipling our children preserves the rising generation of the church, and how obedience in brotherly love, hospitality, and evangelism creates a church body life that builds up, strengthens, and grows a true Church. We will exposit the Biblical directives for leadership, discipleship and preaching in the church. We will show the difference between law and grace and how they work in harmony for the building up of the church. In summary, we will cast a vision for a unified life of reformation in the Church and the family. Our goal is to leave behind a rising sense of the glory and beauty of church and her importance in God’s plan of redemption."


So, here's what to do:
  • Go to this link (NCFIC)
  • Find a location near you
  • Invite key leaders in your church and/or community to go with you
  • Attend a presentation
Then, go home and tell everyone you know what you heard, and pray about, and act on, what you hear.  I guarantee you will not be the same, and neither will your church! 
*"The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches seeks to encourage unity between church and home through family-integrated worship and promoting the role of fathers in the life of the church and home. Special emphasis is placed on the sufficiency of Scripture for faith and practice." (from the Vision Forum website)

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