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Faith's Firm Foundation: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Timely Tips on Tuesday: Child-Training Tips From An Older Woman: Child-Training Tips Learned From Moms of Large Families

When I was a child, I asked my mom to play a game with me, while I was dusting.   I later read about this game while reading a book out loud to my own children.  The idea for the game came from the book, "All of a Kind Family."  The mother in the story hid buttons which, if the child dusted thoroughly, would all be found.  It made the work kind of fun!

I've learned a lot through reading, but also from moms I know, with larger families. Though I don't have a large family, I know very many who do!  Here is some sage advice which I have learned from them and others!  (Be encouraged, too, that every mom of a large family started out with just one.)

Julie McKim, mother of 13, says in her Time-management tapes, “The more you want to accomplish, the more scheduled you must be.”

“It is not where you are, but the direction you’re going, that's the important thing.” Betsy Tillman, mother of 7.

Train your children to do what they can, and not procrastinate because they can’t do it all. If you can’t complete the whole task or job now, do what you can—do a little. Doing a little at a time, eventually the job will get done. If every member of the family picks up 5-10 things now, the house will be picked up very quickly. If every member of the family spends 15 minutes cleaning now, it doesn’t take long before the house is clean.

Train your children to do the cleaning, laundry, load the dishwasher, etc. At 6 a child can put away all the plastic dishes, the silverware, even many of the plates, etc. At 8, a child can learn to do much of the laundry, and even do whole loads by himself! But don't wait until then.  At 2 years old, a child can help sort socks and fold washcloths, and practice skills such as color-recognition, counting and matching while helping you with the laundry.  Here is an excellent video that shows young children helping with the laundry.

At 8, a child can learn to wash a load of laundry.  To train them: (After you have explained and shown your child how to wash a load) write down the steps of sorting, putting in laundry soap and the settings of the machine on a small piece of paper, cover it with clear contact paper, punch a hole in the bottom and thread a long piece of yarn through the hole and tie it. The child will be able to wear this around his/her neck and read the instructions without coming to ask you and the paper and writing will not get ruined if it gets wet in the laundry area. Keep the instructions hanging on a hook in the laundry room.

Train your children to pick up one project/game before starting another.

Train your children to have a "Quiet Time" (a time when they are quiet before the Lord, reading their Bible, and praying) first thing every morning, and lead by example. Plan it into your morning schedule, before school, chores, or anything. Include Scripture memorization and prayer as they get older.

When home, after lunch, have all children (even your older children) have a “quiet” time of reading, thinking (if not sleeping) in their beds (napping for those who need it).

Train your children (very, very early) to look at your face when you say their name (we didn’t—wish I had) and, as they get older, to say, “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes, Mom.” (This assures you that they heard you if you gave an instruction, and is a commitment on their part to do it.)

The more children you have the more opportunity you have to serve others. If you have a large family, use it as an opportunity for more service, rather than complaining or using it as an excuse to get out of serving.

If you want to be encouraged, and have a chuckle besides, read this article, "10 Kids, 10 Minutes," from Homeschool World:  Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

No matter how many children you have, be diligent in training in obedience to the Lord.  Not only for the Lord's and your own sake, but for your children's sake.  They will rise up and call you blessed someday!

"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:8-10 (KJV)

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Monday, August 30, 2010

"What Were You Thinking, Lord?" (Part 2) Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday

Reading the book of Esther in the Old Testament, I see that she was an excellent example of a person who had to deal with the principle of accepting your design and she was used greatly by God in doing so. We may think, "Oh, sure, she was gorgeous, lived in a palace--what did she have to worry about!" But, every person--Every Person--has something that they have to accept about their circumstances or looks. In Esther's case, it wasn't her looks, but her circumstances, that she had to accept.  She was from a despised people-group, she was "invisible" and "powerless" because she was a woman; and she had a tyrant husband whose anger was legendary.

There were certain characteristics that God had prescribed for Esther, just as He does for each one of us--characteristics that were unique, and that couldn't be changed.  There are at least 10 of these which every person needs to accept as coming from God. In Esther's life, here were the 10 "unchangeables" she had to deal with:
  1. Parents: She had none.  Her parents were both dead and she was raised by an older cousin
  2. Time in History: She lived at a time when her country was besieged and her people were taken into captivity and they had to live under a ruthless king
  3. People Group: born in Israel (a despised people who were taken into captivity), born into the lesser tribe of Benjamin
  4. Nationality: Jewish (Jews were not highly thought of, often despised, and even persecuted)
  5. Gender: She was a female, which, at that time in history, and in that place, was very low, and insignificant, and powerless
  6. Birth Order: There is no report that she had any siblings
  7. Brothers and Sisters: none mentioned
  8. Physical Features: She was "fair of form and good of countenance" (In other words, she was a "knockout"/gorgeous)
  9. Mental Abilities: The Bible doesn't make a big statement of her mental abilities. Her strength came in obeying the counsel of her authority,  Mordecai, and in her wisdom, not her knowledge or reasoning ability.
  10. Aging and Death: She was young, but her life was very much in danger, so she had to accept God's timing on how long she would live and when and how she would die.
Being beautiful doesn't automatically mean that you'll be happy or that life will be a "piece of cake." It wasn't so in Esther's life. God used her gender, nationality, time in history and physical features to place her in the position of being used by Him to save her people. But she had to accept her circumstances and trust God in the midst of them. She didn't know how it would turn out!

We don't know how things will turn out either. Esther is a wonderful example of sweet, humble acceptance of the place and circumstances God places you in. And she shows us one of the important things we can do when God allows us to be in difficult circumstances. She prayed and fasted. Moreover, she asked others to join her and pray for her! That's a great lesson!

We can't always see the big picture of why God made us the way He did, or for what purpose He allows us to be in the circumstances we're in.  When Esther's people faced probable annihilation, and she was in the position of risking her life by going before her husband-king without being called for, her guardian/cousin Mordecai gave her counsel which may apply to us, as well.
 "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.
 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:13-14

God will accomplish His purposes, one way or another.  If you are not willing to be used by Him--to accept your design, and/or circumstances and be the vessel He has perfectly suited for His purposes--letting Him decide what kind of pot you will be and what you will be used for--then He will accomplish His purposes, but He may choose to use someone else who will  yield to Him to accomplish them.

There is another promise which should give us comfort.  God promises (if we're a Christian) to work all things out for our good and to use them to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:28-29 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

How did Christ respond to His "unchangeables"? and to His unpleasant circumstances? With meekness and trust, and with love for His enemies.

What does the Bible say about His looks?  Isaiah 53:2 "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." The family that God's given to us, the features we would like to change, the hard places we find ourselves in which we can't change are all the means of His character being formed in us, if we receive His grace to respond to them in a Christlike way, with patience, perseverance, gratefulness and contentment, seeing them as from the Lord. But if we fight against His plan, or take ourselves "off the easel" before He's done with us, we may miss out on the amazing things He wants to do in and through us; we may miss out on God's best.

Regarding trying circumstances, there's something that happens in us when we thank God for them.

James 1:2-4 says,
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

Trials and trying circumstances and trying people (these may include relatives and family members) are God's tools to form His character in us, so when we respond rightly to them, the character of meekness, patience, gentleness, and other qualities of Christ are formed in us. Sometimes we look at what God is doing in us, or how He has made us so far, and we jump off the easel thinking He's not doing a very good job and we could do it better. We must get back up on the easel and let God keep working--we don't see the picture the Master Artist is painting, and we must trust Him.

In Esther's life, when she faced very unpleasant (life and death) circumstances, the Bible records these words that her guardian, Mordecai, said to her: "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" And who knows what God will do in and through us when we respond in thanks and trust to His design of our lives.

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*Definitions taken from Institute in Basic Life Principles,

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"What Were You Thinking, Lord?" (Part 1) Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday

Read "What Were You Thinking, Lord?" (Part 2).
What if a pot could say to the one forming it, "You're making a mess of things!"  What if a painting could jump off of the easel when it disagreed with the artist's choice of colors?  Preposterous, you say?  Do you ever feel tempted to say to God, your Maker, "What are You doing?!" Do questions arise in your heart, such as, "Why did You put me here in this family?" or "Why couldn't I have her abilities?"  (or her kids? or her looks?) Do you question the way God made you, the color of your hair, skin or eyes that He gave you, the country or region of the world that He placed you in, the ancestry He chose for you, the parents He gave you, or the time in history you've been born into? Do you question His decisions on these or any other "unchangeables" and complain, "Look what You've done!"  All through the Bible we see examples of God sovereignly communicating to His children, "I am God.  Trust Me.  I know what I am doing. When I made you the way I did and put you where you are, I had a plan."  Isaiah 64:8  "8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand."

We see the Principle of Design illustrated over and over again.  "The basis of self-acceptance is knowing who I am in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We should be grateful in our God-given circumstances."* 
14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
 17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:14-21
 9Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
 10Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
 11Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.  Isaiah 45:9-11

  5Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:  6I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee...
Isaiah 42:5-6

7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.  Isaiah 43:7
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Food Friday: Recipe for Tortellini with Cream Sauce

The Trendy Treehouse
Making new friends and sharing great recipes go hand in hand!  Today I'm doing both! Participate with me and let me know you're following through New Friend Friday, Friendly Friday, or Quality Time! I'll be back to visit you!  To find out about these bloghops, or learn more about me and get suggestions of some past posts you would enjoy reading, go to my past blog post here! To learn more about my guest poster, Kate, go to Dancing About Architecture!
Friendly Friday
Quality Time

I'm very excited that Kate has agreed to do a
series of recipes here on Food Friday!

What shall we call this series? Passionate about Pasta?  Nuts about Noodles?  Making Simple Pasta Sauces Perfectly? Hmmm.  We'll have to think about that one, won't we? One thing you won't have to think twice about is whether you're going to love Kate's recipes!  Her recipe for Tortellini with Cream Sauce is "to die for"! If you missed her last week's recipe on Food Friday, click on Quick and Simple Fresh Pasta Sauce and try it out!  If you try a Food Friday recipe, send me a picture and/or what you thought about it, and I'll include it in a future post. Also, don't forget that you, too, can be featured here with a recipe or recipes!  Just email or leave a comment letting me know you're interested in guest posting, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!  I've sure enjoyed getting to know Kate better through this experience. (Did you know Kate's lived in Italy and many other parts of the world?)  I'm so grateful for her wonderful recipes and write-ups!  And now I'll turn it over to Kate!
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Hello everyone,

My name is Kate and I usually blog at Dancing About Architecture. Wendy was so kind as to suggest that I share a couple of my recipes with you in the next weeks. It is a great honor to be able to share some of my simple recipes on such a wonderful blog. I hope you enjoy the recipes. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any suggestions or feedback on the recipes I share.

When it comes to real Italian cooking, it can be difficult to find the right ingredients depending on where you live. If you have an Italian/ European supermarket around, it shouldn’t be a problem. But if you don’t live near one, check different supermarkets in your area. I even found all the right ingredients in one tiny regular supermarket in the Caribbean once, even though I thought that would be impossible.

That’s one of the reasons why I love to go grocery shopping: You never really know what your supermarket has to offer, what options are available until you have searched for things. I could spend hours in the different aisles just looking at the shelves trying to come up with different ideas to use the ingredients I see. It is actually one of my favorite things to do when I visit a foreign country: go to a supermarket and look at what they have to offer. Some things might be familiar, others I have never seen or heard of before. Sometimes I ask people passing by what something is used for, but in general, I just come up with my own ideas or write down the name and look it up online later.

The recipe I want to share with you today has been one of my favorites as long I can remember. I am usually not a big fan of white pasta sauce, but this one I really enjoy. Whenever I am asked what my favorite simple dish is, I answer "Tortellini with Cream Sauce." It’s probably my favorite Italian dish. It is somewhat heavy and I would strongly advise against eating it too often because it is, of course, far from being healthy or a low-calorie food. Still, I love the smell and taste of this dish.

Tortellini with Cream Sauce

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 16 oz. Full cream (or if you can’t find this or prefer less cream, you can also use Half-and-Half, just make sure it is plain cream/Half-and-Half without any sugar or flavor added.)
  • One onion
  • One package sandwich meat, either ham or turkey breast (ham is more traditional, but I usually use turkey breast since I am not a big fan of pork)
  • 8 oz. shredded Gouda cheese (The Gouda cheese is important for the flavor, but might be difficult to find. I have never tried it, but I guess Cheddar or Swiss could also work.)
  • Fresh chives
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Nutmeg
  • Two packages of Tortellini (I usually buy Barilla pasta, but any kind of Tortellini or filled pasta will go well with this.)


  • Cut up the onions, chives and ham/turkey breast
  • Fry the onions in oil until glassy
  • Add ham/turkey breast and steam a little
  • Start cooking pasta
  • Add the full cream/ half and half
  • When the cream is warm, slowly add the cheese
  • Stir until the cheese has melted
  • Add salt, pepper and nutmeg according to taste
  • Before serving, top with cut up chives

Enjoy your food!

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making Wise Choices--Part 2: Guest Post by Kelsey

We're taking a little break from the Love and Marriage Series, normally found here on Wednesdays in order to feature a series of guest posts by my very own daughter, Kelsey!  This is Part 2 of Making Wise Choices!
(If you weren't here last week, please go over and read her bio, which is on Part 1.  Read that and also get to know her a little bit; you'll find the link below.)
It's hard to express how excited, honored, blessed, I am to have my daughter, Kelsey, guest posting on this blog!  Everything she writes is straight from her heart.  I'm very proud of her. Her writing style is real, it will challenge you, and she has a depth in her relationship with the Lord which is way beyond her years.  In her 21 years she's been through some things, and they've caused her to grow in the Lord.  I know you're going to greatly benefit from reading what she writes, and thinking on it.  Please encourage her (and me) by letting us know what you think, and if you have any questions--either about her or what she's written, or anything else, for that matter, please feel free to ask!
Now, if you have not read Making Wise Choices--Part 1, please click on the link, and then come back over here and read Part 2!  I would love it also if you'd take a look around and read some of the other posts, if this is your first time here. If it is, Welcome!  I'm really grateful to the Lord for every person who reads this blog--you are all so special to me!

Practical Steps for Making Wise Choices

1. Fill your mind with Truth
  • Joshua 1:8-9
    8This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but 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.
     9Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
  • Deuteronomy 17:18-20
18And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
  • Psalm 1:1-3

     1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
     2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
     3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
2. Talk to the Lord.
     Talk to Him all day, every day, about everything.  He will become real to you, and you will realize He is with you all the time.  He sees when you are struggling and He will help you, if you will ask Him.
  • Romans 12:12
12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
...“continuing instant” means staying close to; tarrying with. 
  • Romans 8:26
  • James 1:2-5
    3. Obey and Honor your Parents.
         Not only do they have a lot of wisdom, God commands us to honor them and obey them, so it may be well with us, and we may live long.  They have our best in mind and will help us make good choices.
    • Exodus 20:12
    • Ephesians 6:1-3
    • Colossians 3:20
    4. Don’t listen to your heart.
         Don’t do things because they feel good/right.  Girls are easily ruled by their emotions.  Satan loves to use that!  The world says “follow your heart!”  God says “lead your heart!”
    • Jeremiah 17:9
    9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    • Proverbs 23:19
    19Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
    • Proverbs 28:26
    • Deuteronomy 11:16   
     16Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;  (other “gods” can be anything we haven’t given completely to the Lord) 
    • Psalm 51:10
    Ask God to help you.  God does lead us through desires He gives us.  (Like a desire to work with elderly people or children, or the desire to get married—that is beautiful and God-given, in His time.  We just need to be careful to not let the desires rule us, but rather give them to God.)

    5. Think in the perspective of eternity and what really matters.
         Really think about eternity and how long it is, to give yourself a perspective of how incredibly short our time on earth is.  There are so many people dying every day without Christ, so many people hurting or discouraged. 
    Am I using my time for valuable things? 
    Am I glorifying Him with my time, with my friends, with my music, with my attitude?
    • Psalm 90:12 
                12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

         A lot of people in this world think being rich, famous and beautiful is the ultimate goal of life.  They might not even realize it themselves, but you can see it in their actions.  People are obsessed with making money, looking good, and doing something that will make them famous.

         Singers, actors and athletes may have more fame or popularity now than a Jim Elliot or a Mary Magdalene or you or me.  But in Heaven, that won’t matter at all.  When the judgment day comes, we want to have chosen the more important things than money or beauty.  We want to choose the things that will last forever—we want to be very wealthy in the kind of treasure that is priceless and lasts FOREVER!
    This life really is just a blip.

         If you were given the choice of a single, brown M&M that someone found on the floor, or a King-size candy bar that is your absolute favorite kind, which would you choose?

    It’s not even a choice, is it?

    That’s a tiny picture of how ridiculous the applause and wealth of this brief life looks in comparison to the applause and wealth of Heaven for eternity. 
    They don’t compare!

         When we focus on our Heavenly treasures, and building up more of those to lay at our Savior's feet in Heaven, it will help us remember more clearly that this world is not our home.
    • Matthew 6:19-21
    19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
    • Matthew 12:34-36
    • Luke 12:15-21 (the parable of the greedy farmer)
    • Hebrews 11:24-26  Moses knew his Heavenly reward would be far greater than all the glory of Egypt, which was definitely considerable.
    • James 5:1-3 
    1Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
    2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
    3Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
      6. Remember Whose you are, and that Christ lives in you.
      • 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
      7. Examine the desires of your heart.
      • Psalm 37:4—this verse doesn’t mean that God will give you everything you want, it means that when you are truly delighting yourself in Him, your desires will line up with His will because you will want whatever He has planned for you, knowing that His plans are the best and He loves you.  Verse 5 ties in, too.
       4Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
       5Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
      8. Ask the Lord to open and close doors according to His will.
      • Judges 6:36-40  “Put a fleece out.”  I think the key to this, the most important part, is that you don’t try to manipulate God or have an agenda of your own.  Really trust the Lord.
      Our choices also affect others.  Let’s affect others for good and not for evil.
      “Father, make of me a crisis man.  Bring those I contact to decision.  Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” –Jim Elliot

      • Joshua 24:14-15:  “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 
            And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
                  Isn’t it amazing that the Lord gives us a choice?  He could’ve made us little God-loving and God-serving robots, but in His wisdom He didn’t.  The maker of love knew that true love couldn't be forced.
      Make your choice, but remember that if we are lukewarm, He will spew us out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:16)  We must either serve the Lord or serve Satan.  There aren’t any other choices.
           Romans 13:11-12:  “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
      ~~Kelsey :)

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      Tuesday, August 24, 2010

      Timely Tips on Tuesday: Homeschool Planning, Tuesday Tag-Along and Oh, yeah, It's My Birthday!

      I'm posting a normal post, but will check in later after I celebrate:) to see if you were here!!  Will you give me the gift of getting to know you, by following?  Thanks so much for celebrating with me today!

      Kelsey and I had the enjoyment and privilege of visiting with our friend recently, a young mom who happens to be from India.  She cooked a wonderful Indian meal for us for lunch.  What a joy to be with her and her children.  She is a Homeschooling mom and wanted me to help her with planning for her school year.

      (Though I no longer Homeschool because my children have graduated, I will speak in the present tense about the tools and planning which were in place when I was Homeschooling.)

      I showed her my school notebooks (one for each year), and my goal sheets for the year, and my weekly schedule, and other forms which help me:  my Master Grocery List and Menu Plan (monthly).  Though I don't rigidly follow my schedule, it is an indispensable tool for planning the school year.  Perhaps you've already begun your school year, but if you haven't thought about your goals in light of what God wants you to accomplish this year, and what character He wants to build or work on in your lives as a family and individual, then I would take a step back, and pray about that. Set some goals, and tweak your schedule, or rewrite it to reflect what the Lord wants for you this year. Plan ways to accomplish the goals you've set. (For example, if your husband wants your family to be serving others more, plan a weekly community service project, or time of ministry--see the ideas below.)  Integrate your goals into your assignments.  This is not as difficult as it sounds.  Let me show you!  If you're working on the character quality of humility, you could plan for that word to be part of your Language Arts program by looking up the meaning, writing out Bible verses relating to it (in your best penmanship), looking up synonyms for humility.  The older children could write a paper on, or read about, someone in history who exhibited this character quality, or your whole family could study someone in the Bible who was exceptionally humble.  In our Homeschool we would work on certain character traits each month and evaluate our children in those areas at the end of the month.  You see how you can integrate God's goals for your family into your school, and weekly schedule and assignments.  Then set up periodic "check points" when you'll evaluate how you're doing.  Perhaps you'll set new character goals, as we did.  Meet with each child at those times, and have them evaluate themselves on the character trait(s) they've been working on.  Give praise.  Write down the praise and progress that's been achieved.  If there are recommendations for the future, write them down as well.  Keep good records of what you've done in your school.  We made out a monthly report on what was accomplished academically, but I kept a daily notebook, with assignments for each child, as well.  Write a list of the books you've read, adding to it whenever you take books out from the library, or listen to a book on tape, or read as a family.  Record the places you've been, the pages in the textbook completed, the skills learned or practiced, etc.  You'll be amazed at how much you've accomplished!  No matter how you do it, just make sure to record your daily work--you will be greatly encouraged when you look back at all you've done!

      I told her to do these things (I am adding some, so if  you're reading this, Vijaya, here's more to think about!):
      • Pray (First and foremost, pray and ask the Lord what He wants for your year!)
      • Set goals for each child in the following areas:
      1. Spiritual:  For example: Read through the Bible in a year; or, memorize Psalm 23; or, memorize specific salvation verses to use in witnessing ("Romans Road" verses).
      2. Academic (list each subject area, and write a goal, even if it's just to "complete the book")
      3. Skills (these might be anything from learning to tie your shoe to learning to type 45 wpm with 1 error, to learning to keep your room clean on a regular basis.  Make the goals specific, and measurable.  "Be able to type 45 wpm with only 1 error" is measurable, while "learn to type faster" is not.)
      4. Community Service (helping in your community or ministering: delivering Meals on Wheels, helping distribute Fare For All, serving at the Local Food Shelf, Singing at a Nursing Home, helping at Operation Christmas Child--these are all things which our family has done.  Your family may also enjoy helping at a Gospel Mission:  distributing meals to the homeless, helping with Bible studies, or music, etc.)
      5. Character Goals: e.g. humility, patience, punctuality, orderliness, obedience, respect, discernment
      6. Mental:  e.g. Books to Read: How many and which ones
      7. Physical:  this doesn't have to be sports related, but can be
      8. Hospitality:  Families to Have Over; how you will reach out and when
      9. Ministry:  What will your family be involved in and how will your children serve
      • Once you have your goals set, write out a General Weekly Schedule (use pencil, you will be erasing a lot, until you find what works best on paper--then you will be tweaking as you actually live it out!)
      1. On your weekly list include everything, but only in general terms. "Morning List" for me means getting up, making my bed, washing my face, brushing my teeth, showering, doing my hair, etc. Quiet Time and Family Devotions mean time with the Lord in Bible and prayer, both as a family and alone.
      2. Plan your weekly schedule to accomplish your goals:  if you have a goal of weekly hospitality, and want to invite a family from church over for dinner each week, then decide when and put it on the schedule. You may decide to do it at a different time, but the time is slotted for it in your week.
      3. Place each thing on the schedule so your goals are accomplished naturally. If you're having people over on Sundays, now you know you will have to schedule the cleaning and grocery shopping to be done before the weekend.
      4. Write down the most important things first, such as time in the morning with the Lord, and also, the things which are unchanging, such as piano lessons, and church services.
      5. Remember Titus 2 instructs us to be "keepers at home," so plan most of your time to be there.
      6. Put on the schedule your cleaning, and cooking time, and grocery-shopping, as well as your school subjects (Math, Language Arts, Science, etc.), and blocks of time to do them.
      7. Plan for the preparation time needed to live and manage well.  Place on your weekly schedule a time for school planning, and time for your family to spend together just talking or being together, doing nothing special.  Plan when you will buy the birthday, shower and anniversary cards and gifts, etc.  Think ahead seasonally: is there a time on your weekly schedule for buying Christmas presents?  Do you have a time written down on  your weekly schedule for planning and thinking: make sure there's enough "margin" in your schedule for projects that will need to be done, whether it's fall cleaning, or Christmas shopping, or doing the crafts you love, like scrapbooking. Put it on your weekly schedule.)
      • You can make a small child a chart with pictures or drawings of what they're to do, and have them put stickers on when they complete; make it colorful and teach them how to follow a schedule.
      • Make a Master Grocery List and a Sample Monthly Menu (very flexible) on the computer (excel sheets)
      • Don't be afraid to tweak this schedule as time goes by:  it is a tool to serve you
      Did I overwhelm her?  Probably.  I realized as I was telling her these things, that being a "keeper at home" and following order and schedule in our homes, tells and teaches our children a million things, including:
      • That God is a God of order
      • How a wife is supposed to treat a husband
      • How a family acts, and what it means to be one
      • How to problem-solve, as a Christian
      • As we pray and ask Him for guidance, they, (and we) learn that everything we do is in dependence on God; we are not acting in our own strength or wisdom.
      • As we begin our day with the Lord and commit it to Him, they learn that everything we do is for His glory and in response to His commands or instruction.
      • That God gives each family goals and purposes to accomplish and how they order their home and lives is a reflection of that: how we schedule and plan and carry out His purposes for our family may be different from another Christian family's, but should still be orderly, exhibit peace, showing God's love to others--and there are certain commands and instructions which will cause all of us to look somewhat the same.   Because we are sisters and brothers in Christ--there will be a family resemblance.
      • And a myriad of other lessons about life are taught without saying a word!  Just by being a "Keeper at Home," loving your husband and loving your children.
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      Psst! It's not only Tuesday's my Birthday:) If you want to make my day even more special, leave me a comment and follow!  Hope you have a wonderful day!

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      Monday, August 23, 2010

      Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday: Losing Weight

      My family in 2003

      Have I told you that I lost 50 pounds about a year after I recovered from cancer? I thought you might find it interesting to hear how that happened. 

      First, a little background.  I have always wanted to lose more weight. Even when I was thin in High School.  During my high school years and the four years after high school, prior to marriage, things looked pretty good, but after marriage I gained twenty pounds right away, and never lost it again.  I went up and down over the years finally reaching a high when my children were approaching their teen years.  I wanted my teenage children to love and respect me and my example to be able to be followed (small children will love you no matter what you look like, but when they reach the age of understanding, they may lose respect for you as they start to evaluate things and judge them for themselves. Then they may discount what you tell them in spiritual areas, too. I had always wanted to be thin by the time they reached their teenage years, at least). 

      This motivated me and before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had lost about 25 pounds, but still needed to lose much more.  During surgery something happened. When I came out of surgery I was 20 pounds lighter than when I went in. (I don't think the football-sized tumor weighed that much!  That is, by the way, not my recommended method of weightloss:)  But the weight quickly came back on.  I live an ironic life, and of course, did not experience the one good thing about cancer: I was not one of those who became "very thin" and "had trouble" because I "lost too much weight" during cancer and chemotherapy!

      About a year later, I had been going through a Bible study on the Commands of Christ and studying Matthew 7, and reading commentary by different writers, when I happened to read the writing of a man who had lost an enormous amount of weight, and had kept it off.  He was a Christian, and as I read, his words convicted me to the core.  I was a sinner.  I was a glutton.  I broke down and wept right there at the computer.  I was totally broken.  It was a moment of truth for me.  I liken my response to a drunk pouring all his liquor down the toilet.  I turned from my sin and went in the opposite direction.  I began losing weight.  

      Here is what I did, as best I can remember:

      God worked in me to lose the weight!!

      • I cried out to God before every bite I ate, and asked Him, "Please give me the supernatural self-control to eat the right thing, in the right amount, at the right time, for the rest of my life, but especially right now, and until I get down to ___lbs."  (This was a range and varied at times.)  And then I trusted and obeyed.
      • I was very serious about sin.  God gave me eyes to see myself and my sin as very like an alcoholic who "had to have" his drink.  I would imagine myself standing at the kitchen counter or in front of the refrigerator, and I imagined myself looking like a pathetic drunk, almost shaking in the struggle to overcome my appetite for food, just as a drunk would fight the appetite for liquor. It was a vivid image and disgusted me.
      • I would spit out or throw away any bite of food if I suddenly realized I should not have taken it.  I would not swallow it!  I had a serious and deep fear of the Lord!  I felt that God had given me time after time of forgiveness and mercy, and I was presuming on His mercy, stomping on His grace to think that I could just keep on sinning, and expecting that He would forgive me and help me the next time.
      • I thought through and planned out exactly what I was going to eat ahead of time (including potlucks and eating out) and committed to not eat anything, if what I knew I needed to eat wasn't available. This didn't take a lot of time (at least after awhile). I asked the Lord to show me what I needed to eat.  The knowledge of what to do wasn't the issue. Obedience was.
      • I envisioned how I would feel after the event--the feeling of victory--and the joy and satisfaction I would have from doing what was right and not giving in to sin for the moment.
      • He answered my prayers, gave me the self-control, and that is how I lost weight!
      • He led me to a daily eating pattern (keeping in mind that I am a small-boned, short, sedentary person and had been not only a cancer patient, but border-line diabetic at one time in my life, and had gotten it under control through diet, so was familiar with the diabetic diet).
      My Daily Goals:
      1. Eat less than 1050 calories
      2. Eat less than 30% fat
      3. Eat no sweets, or white sugar
      4. Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables (goal to avoid the return of cancer)
      5. Eat three small meals a day
      6. Eat consistently (no splurges, or starving or skipping meals--just steady faithfulness by God's grace)
      Whenever asked, I gave all the glory to God, for I knew it was He who was doing it!  I could not!  I have no self-control, or at least not this kind.  During the 6 or 7 month period of time in which I lost the weight, I could count on one hand the bites of food which I had eaten which were not what I should eat.  I know that the clear conscience I maintained and the powerful testimony which God gave me caused satan to flee.  It became easier and easier to follow this pattern.  I felt as though I could eat this way for the rest of my life.

      Slipping Into Sin
      Unfortunately, I began to think that it was more my effort which was taking the weight off, not God answering my prayers and giving me supernatural self-control.  In my heart, if not in my words, I was giving God less and less of the credit.  

      After a few years of keeping the weight off, (which was miraculous for me) I began to gain just the littlest bit of weight. Up until then, I had gained not a pound (I still wanted to lose more weight).  I became panicky.  The next year I gained just a little more.  I didn't know what to do.  Nothing I did seemed to help.  I did not have a habit of exercise.  To make a long story short, after 7 years I have gained all the weight back.

      This is "Victorious in Christ" Monday. How does this message fit?  Well, I believe that God is faithful, and He still deserves glory for what He did in my life.  Do we not tell of His triumphs and victories, and His amazing power, because we fell into sin in a later time?  This is not the example in God's Word.  (Just read the Israelites' story all through the Old Testament!)

      God's power was amazing in my life!  I hope that my testimony will impact someone else to believe that God is powerful enough to change them!

      I also believe He will yet answer that my prayers, and am praying for a work in my life to demonstrate that power, and will give Him all the glory, as He gives me ability to overcome my besetting sins. (I believe that those who do not have this besetting sin, but who look at others with a condescending, proud, and belittling attitude, thinking that others should just be "like them" and are proud of what "they" have accomplished in their own power:  well, satan already has them, and may actually help them to lose weight and become more physically fit, because the besetting sin of pride is so entrenched in, and connected with their physical fitness, ability, beauty or prowess.)  It doesn't matter the sin, God has the power to deal with it.  Satan is a defeated foe.  Praise the Lord for His power, and I covet your prayers in this regard.
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      Friday, August 20, 2010

      Gotta Love A Mug

      Blessed Is The Man - Tree Christian Coffee Mug - Psalm 1:1-3

      Am I the only one out there whose coffee is very important to them?  I wasn't always a coffee-drinker.  In fact, my mother makes a point of telling everyone that I just started drinking coffee at 50!  About the same time that my husband quit, come to think of it.  I think there had to be someone in our home caffeinated at all times.

      I also am particular about the coffee cups I use.  I've always had a special place in my heart for a MUG.  A BIG mug.  Not too big, though.  I want to hold something that I can really wrap my HANDS around.  Not just hold in my dainty fingers, with my pinky up.  (There's a time for that, too.)  But, when I'm drinking my coffee, especially my morning coffee, I want to hold it, and breathe it, and close my eyes and ...EXPERIENCE IT!  What about you? Do you gotta have your coffee in the morning?

      I think that's the way God wants us to feel about His we want to climb inside and absorb it through our pores.  Have it coming out of us all day, like an aroma.  Like the effect coffee has on us.  Like the "gotta have it, can't get through the day without it, I'm gonna stop somewhere and get it if I didn't get some before I left home this morning" kind of obsession. I think that's what He means when He says, "Delight in the law of the Lord." Psalm 1:1-3
      What do you think?

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      "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
      nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
      But his delight is in the law of the LORD;
      and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
      And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
      that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
      his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
      Psalm 1:1-3

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