Monday, September 29, 2008

A note....

My wonderful sisters, given to me in grace.....

You know, I seem to follow deep posts with lighter ones. :-)


You may not know that I do not have any biological sisters. I have a brother (whom I love DEARLY...he is definitely the golden son of the family :-) ). But I sort of have had a little desire to have a sister, especially in these later years.


But then I realized that I HAVE sisters. I have sisters in Christ. Now, to many, that is just words "Brother Joe and Sister Sue". But to me, those are NOT just words. To me, that is a promise, a blessing. I have sisters! I have many sisters!


I have Sisters in Christ who are also related to me in some way (Jeninlaw, Colastie, Precious Heart, among others). I have Sisters in Christ who are also friends of my heart. And I have Sisters in Christ whom I have never met, but who I still ponder and consider and pray for.

That makes me happy :-).

I made an incredible recipe the other day out of a cookbook called "Just 4 Things". I got it from Jo Anns (for some reason, craft stores seem to have great cookbooks that are cheap and colorful--my kinda cookbook!). It was a roast that used a lot of onions and then a Guinness Stout and cooked for hours. I used an arm roast, which is pretty tough I think normally (as far as I know it is anyway....i am SO bad about knowing which meat cut is good!). But this recipe made it literally melt in your mouth. It was altogether pleasant!

I am eager to get this book-type thing about anxiety disorders (OCD, panic disorder, and chronic anxiety disorder, etc) set up. I am going to try to get copies printed, but I also want to put everything on the web. The Lord healed me for free, and I want to provide the information He gave me for free to others. I am not sure if a website or a blog is better. I am not sure if it is better if I restrict it to those who pm me first OR if I should just leave it out in public. I am not sure if I should just have the website with no posting, or if I should have a forum as well (forums can be pretty touchy.). I have no idea how the best way is to present this information, and would gladly take input if anyone has a suggestion.

We got our first snow this weekend. Not enough to play in, but enough to let us know that winter is here :-). I am excited about building fires in the woodstove. I really love that! We homeschool in that room, and my sewing machine is there, so it is all tucked in and cozy, a room for the most blessed of homemaking and home keeping and home experiencing. I just need a (very small) loveseat to go in there because we do not have any really comfortable seating except a rocking chair.

Please pray for Colastie and The Colonel as they travel to get more tests done on Colastie. The Lord has been working in our lives with Colastie's illness for years, and the blessings have been too numerous to count! Please pray that He will continue to give her improving health for many years to come!

I cannot wait to try my tomatoes that we finished inside. I have some tiny transparent yellow ones, some very green (they are supposed to be green!) ones, a dark burgundy one, and a few red ones that are not smooth, but are sort of ...... can't describe it. Kind of pleated looking.

OH! And I went out and dug up potatoes! I use potatoes as bedding plants because they are cheap and big lol. Frankly I was about out of giggles for how un-summerlike this summer was, but TWS told me that I needed to go dig up the potatoes and see what there was. Yeah well....sigh....

So one evening, he dug up a few and he got several potatoes! Then i knew I was not getting out of this without me getting in there and digging up a few. So the other day I dug up as many as I could. WOWOWOWOOWOWOOWOW! What a bountiful harvest of yukon gold and purple potatoes! And digging for them was actually kinda fun :-). It was like a treasure hunt. Now, when you plant a potato, at least up here, the one you plant sometimes just turns into icky goo....ugh. So it was a high stakes treasure hunt--would I find a little purple gem? A bit of yukon gold? Or gooey toxic slime? I wore gloves lolol.

Mostly the dirt did not stick to the potatoes, so when you unearthed them, they looked so pretty! It was really a blessing. Now I have no idea what to do with them! I do not like mashed potatoes, and these are too small to cut into french fries. But I think I am going to dice them and oven roast them...the family likes that :-).

Ok, my dear sisters, it is time for me to get BUSY. I have some sewing to do! OH that reminds me! Many years ago I used to make and sell soaps, milk bath, bath salts, etc at bazaars around here. I dressed up in costume (the one I wore to the Victorian tea). It was fun but hard work. Up here there is a really independent spirit, plus not a lot of turn over in people. So after the novelty of you wears off, the same people who go to the same bazaars know what you sell and may not come by the table to see if you have anything new. We stopped doing this a couple of years ago. Just was not worth the hassel of doing the bazaars.

BUT I have one customer who has been faithful all these years. Her husband, apparently, does not want to use any soap but the one I make (it is REALLY REALLY moisturizing. I mean REALLY). So a couple times during the year, she buys whole batches of soap from me. :-). She just recently got a couple of other people buying the soap as well! I had also mentioned to her on the phone that I was going to do a bazaar. When I delivered the soap to her she was SO excited! She said "If you don't mind, I want to volunteer to sell the soap for you at the bazaar!". She had told lots of people that that was her plan! I felt so bad when I said "Ummm.....I am not selling soap at the bazaar, I am selling aprons.". She looked stunned! I said "But you are my only customer!". We had a good chuckle about that, and she informed me that I do not do a good job of selling my soap and that she needs to sell it for me because I am too modest about it, but she has no problem gushing over it to other people--she cracks me up! :-)

SO....it looks like I might be selling aprons at one end of the table and making soap for her to sell at the other end! She has so much energy, it will be a blast to have her keeping me company :-).

So I need to get to sewing the aprons. I am really excited about them because I have not seen anything similar, even online! We will see how they go at the bazaar! If they do not sell, people can expect a lot of aprons at Christmas lolol. :-).

Whew.....

My beautiful sisters.....

Yet again I have been absent for a week or two. First I had been working hard on that book. But then we have been buffeted by bad news the past week or so. We found out that TWS is set to deploy, AND he has had at least two MAJOR disappointments at work, and all of these things seem to be oddly orchestrated for reasons we do not know.

I will tell you, this has been quite a difficult time for us. Now, I am a military wife, I know the drill about deployments. My father was in the military, and he did not see my whole first year due to being deployed. Grandfathers, uncles, cousins, in laws, etc etc, are or have been military. This is not a new thing for us.

BUT we do not know why politics SEEM to be playing such a role (they might not, they just seem to be). It is not that he has to deploy (we accept that that will probably happen when we are in the military), but the manner in which this is coming up, as well as other disappointments in the job.

It is like TWS said to people who work for him "It is not that I had to tell her that I was deploying. It is that I had no answer as to why it was happening this way.".

If I may....TWS is one of the most honorable, patriotic men I have ever met. It kills him that he was not born on the 4th of July. He is GOOD with his troops, is one of those who does not sit back and watch work being done, but will jump in there to move crates or do anything else that needs to be done. He does not tolerate foolishness gladly, but is also VERY slow to anger. He is trustworthy enough that when we married, I insisted on having "love, honor and OBEY" in my vows, even though that wording raised an eyebrow or two. Being submissive to him is, thank the Lord, easy. He is just a good man.

Now, we have natural fear of him deploying--no one wants their loved one in harms way. But more than that, there are....questions about HOW and WHY these things are playing out. We do not know what is going on, only that it seems that we are being kept in the dark about many ....unusual situations at work. If they said "Hey, we know this is bad for you, but we really need you to do xyz, to accept abc because you are the man we know who can get this done. We trust your ability." then TWS would take one for the team. But even that small comfort has not been forthcoming. That hurts, to be honest.

I have to brag on my man though. He feels sure that he is being played. And yet, his focus is on making transition easy on the person to follow him and the person who is getting the job that he should have gotten. He is being altogether honorable and noble. He is putting aside his own desires and hurts and disappointments and is working for the good of others. I have never been so proud of him in all my life.

We have found out that the position he is to take is fraught with danger....more than we would have expected for his career field. I had to ask how they might let us know if he had been killed, who would come to the door. We might not get to talk much (I was kinda hoping for a lot of text messaging or im's!). There are even more frightening things that we have found out.

I will tell you, this is a spiritual attack. Every time I started to find ground, started to find my feet, another tidbit of scary or disappointing news would come to my attention with stupefying regularity. It actually had almost gotten comical. You ever have those times where so many things are going SO wrong, that the ridiculousness of it almost makes you want to laugh?

Of course with this comes added strain on relationships and on ourselves. I praise the Lord for a husband who is kind and gentle with me, when I am upset and frustrated. I am thankful for His presence that tells me exactly what I need to hear and do, even though sometimes I do not listen (bad mistake...ALWAYS listen when the Holy Spirit is trying to calm you down! If the Lord is interceding, trying to soothe you, then do what He says, even if it seems impossible. If He says "Praise Me" then do it. If He says "My grace is sufficient for you" then rest in that. If He says "Stop crying right now and go....be with your husband" then do it even if closeness is the VERY LAST THING you could possibly imagine right then.).

Truly the deeper the pain, the greater the grace that the Lord provides. There are times where I am just so weary, still licking the wounds of my grandmother being gone, my mother being sick. The sun is leaving and it has snowed already. We normally live such a calm, mundane, UN-dramatic life, but this month has been one of breath-stealing trauma.

The other day I was in the throes of despondency. I felt the pain of every second and every second seemed to stretch for an eternity. It was a bad night for both of us, discussing our fears, venting our frustrations, and the Holy Spirit urging me to do things that seemed TOTALLY impossible for me--praise, faith, joy and rest in Him. I left the room and went to another room and decided that I would just focus on Christ for a moment. After all, I have the rest of my life to weep and gnash my teeth, so I finally listened to the Holy Spirit and put everything aside to turn my focus FULLY to Jesus for just a moment.....

Ladies, it was beyond explanation or expectation. THERE is where I found peace. Right there in that moment. In that moment, literally in the blink of an eye, all those daggers that had been piercing my mind and my heart and my soul were gone. I smiled. I ACTUALLY smiled. It was like......the pain was instantly gone. It was like childbirth was over and there was just joy and rest. In Him. TWS joined me, the Lord had given him the wisdom to leave me alone for a moment. By the time that TWS came into the room, I was refreshed in my spirit and mind, joyful and at peace ONLY by the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Amen.

I had learned that lesson once when my grandmother passed. I remember being in the same position of wanting to leave Alaska, wanting to go to the south, being so discontent. But when I truly focused on the Lord, those feelings were gone, replaced by assurance and faith and GRACE.

I wish I could say the lesson stuck when I first learned it a few weeks ago...apparently I have the long term memory of a gnat (sigh). So I had to relearn that lesson. Please ladies, if you are in pain, try this. Put your human fears and wants and desires aside for just a moment to focus SOLELY on Him. Take down those guards that you have built up in your heart and mind. Be like Mary, not focused on what you think needs to happen to make your life go smoothly, but sit at His feet and LOOK at Him. Without expectation, just in worship. This is not about you in that moment, but about Him. I cannot tell you, when you reach that place, how sweet the moment is. It puts everything into perspective. It is everything you need, even if your circumstances have not changed. It is rest for your souls and light for your eyes. It is peace in your mind and joy in your heart. It is altogether wonderful to turn your focus on to Him.

I was telling Colastie about it. I like to use the analogy of faith like a horse in a burning barn. From what I have read, a horse in a burning barn will panic. A groom has to blindfold the horse to lead them to safety. Even if safe, the horse will become irrationally focused on the burning barn and might run back into it!!! The horse has to not look at the barn in order to be led to safety and then to be kept in safety.

So with us....when we look around us at the burdens and trials and fears in our lives, we forget that we are saved by the blood of the Lamb. We forget that He has promised us blessing, peace, joy, love, forgiveness. He has promised us He will work out even the worst things for our good. When we are looking at the fire, we forget that we dwell in the sweet, green grass of His pasture.

That is what I was doing. I was running back into the fires of fear, of discontent, of frustration, of selfishness, of discord. I was trying to tend to my own needs, not the needs of my dear, wonderful husband who needs to know that he is a hero, a good man, and that some people do not see that, but that does not mean that he isn't....it means that they are blinded.

I was still praying to God, make no mistake! I was praying LOUDLY and OFTEN. But I was not focusing on Him, but on the troubles and sorrows. I thought I needed delivery from the fire, but He had already delivered me from the fire. I just needed to look at Him, to listen to Him, to rest in HIS strength and decision, not my own.

Is anyone as hard headed as I am??

Sisters, this has left me in a bit of bind though as to how to speak to others about this. I want to be godly and bring glory to the Lord, but then sometimes I want to march up there and say "WHAT IS GOING ON?! HAVE Y'ALL LOST YOUR MINDS?!?". I mean, at some point I might be offered the chance to talk to some people at his work. How do I bring glory to the Lord in this? How do I use this as an opportunity to gently point out some very obvious flaws in judgement that we have seen made without seeming bitter (because I REALLY am not, the Lord works all things out for the good of those who love Him) or angry (I am not that either, the Lord is in control)?

I know that we will be victorious in this, that the schemes of men will be used by the Lord to bring glory to Him and that good will come out of it for us.

I have assurance that the Lord is working. I have assurance that there is something that is going to happen. I have NO idea what it is. I have what *I* want to happen, of course! I am totally blinded as to what it might be that the Lord has for us in this. But He keeps giving me a sense of assurance. I like to think that He is keeping me blind on purpose, so that I can learn to rest in Him fully. Maybe this is my blindfold as He leads me out of the burning barn of my continuing human weaknesses into even sweeter pastures of faith.

We still need your prayers. I am not naive enough to think the spiritual attacks are ceased. While I know that I am safe resting in Him, I also know that I am weak enough to fall back into habits of focusing on my self. TWS also needs your prayers of encouragement and safety. The people at work, especially, need your prayers, both those in charge and those who serve (who are seeing not just the stuff with TWS, but unrelated ridiculousnesses that are leaving morale ROCK bottom and allowing confusion to reign). Those in position need prayers for wisdom and discernment and good judgement. We need wisdom to answer everyone with the right words in each moment. I know my Lord provides wisdom for those who ask and who DO NOT DOUBT as per James 1:5, so I know that we will be given that wisdom. Please pray for the strengthening of those who do not know James 1 so that they learn they can ask for wisdom and that it will be given.

I hate to burden y'all. I know that you do not come to blogs to be weighed down with drama and trauma. But I am hopeful that the lessons I am learning blindly will be of some assistance if, God forbid, you have to face your own trials. I would much rather just learn the lesson for all of us and to post my failings and how He provides, than you have to learn these the hard way without anyone to say "Yes! I have been there! This is what He has shown me, use these lessons and be at peace.".

As one tagline that I read said "It might very well be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others" hee hee!

God bless you, my dear, sweet sisters in Christ. Know that you are in my heart and on my mind, but most of all are in His heart and on His mind.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A few other projects and notes....

My wonderful sisters!



Thought of a few other things while sitting at the desk (almost done printing Little Man's 3rd grade science things!).....



1) I realized last night how important it was to let Precious know about hormones. When women live in the same house, they tend to get on the same cycle. She is not "cycling" yet, but her hormones are very much in drive. The past few months, about the time of my cycle, she has become bewildered by why she is particularly anxious, upset, irritable. She did not understand why she is "suddenly" always on the edge of crying. It did not occur to me to give her a heads up when MY cycle is so that she can have some idea of what is going on. I find that once i can chalk something up to hormones, I realize that I do not HAVE to give in to them---the world is not coming to an end and my life is not really that bad, I am just feeling the effects of hormones and I can choose to indulge them or not.



Last night precious was beside herself with panic because she had spent the past three nights in terror of "what if I died". She did not realize that a)because she is growing older, she will be exploring issues such as mortality and injustice and fairness and such b)when either of us is on our cycle, the other's hormones will be affected and therefore we will be more likely to be emotional before we catch it.



When I explained to her that her thoughts were normal, when we talked about death and salvation, when she understood that what she was physically feeling (upset tummy, etc) was all part of physically overbreathing, when she realized that the severity of her emotions was due to her body reacting to mine, she was MUCH relieved, and I learned a very important lesson: keep her informed AND things are happening sooner than I thought they were!



So keep your daughters informed! Your hormones might be affecting their bodies more than either of you realize, and vice versa. Likewise, if there are sisters, they also might be playing a role in each other's emotions via hormones.





Projects:

I have a project I am fairly eager to undertake. I plan to make warm fur mittens for us this winter. I have discovered that fur really is the warmest thing to use. Thisulate, down, and sorel boots just are not enough at 40 below, at least for me. There are antique shops where my grandmother lived that generally carry old furs for mere dollars. I had my mother send some of them to me and I hope to make nice warm mittens, and maybe booties, for the children and me.



I also think I am going to wear bunny boots this winter. They are not rabbit fur, but rather are severe arctic boots that are white and are totally sealed. They are supposed to be extremely warm (if not fashionable).

Chocolate covered graham crackers....I made chocolate covered graham crackers the other day. WOW I am glad I did not discover how easy it was earlier on in my life....I would be another 50 pounds heavier! They are VERY nummy and SO easy! I mixed hershey bars and semi sweet chips in a bowl, micro'd them until they were melty, and dipped the crackers in there. I scraped off some of the extra chocolate, as it was a little cool and made too thick of a covering. I also dipped a couple of oreos in there, but TWS and I were not terribly impressed.

The egg roll I made last night seemed to be a big hit. It was so TERRIBLY easy as well: cook the meat (I used ground pork) in a frying pan, mix it in a bowl with a bag of premade coleslaw mix (I do not buy salad stuff at the store, but since this was being fried, I figured it would be ok), and add soy, pepper, ginger, salt, onion powder. I also added some sweet warm curry powder, but think I will forego that. I really like that flavor, but it is VERY cloying and overpowering. You could smell and taste that so much, even though I used probably half a teaspoon for probably 2o egg rolls.

Anyway, separate the egg roll wrappers and put about 1-2T of the pork and coleslaw mix in them and roll them up. Add more oil to the pork drippings and get it up to temp and fry the egg rolls. It does not take too long to fry them at all. They hold their heat VERY VERY well, in fact, there were some that were still very hot on the inside by the end of the meal.

My only suggestion would be to separate your wrappers before the oil gets hot. I was scrambling to keep the cooking egg rolls from burning while I wrapped the next batch. I would have been much better off taking the time to separate the sheets first.

Oh, during this time I also had put on a pot of rice, so we had that with the egg roll. I keep calling them egg rolls, but they were actually more like lumpia. I was using lumpia wrappers.

Supper tonight is supposed to be texmex soup with cornbread. Colastie gave me some White Lily cornbread mix (I will tell y'all about our family's obsession with White Lily flour some time!).

My wonderful TWS just came home, so I need to for now! God bless you my sisters!

Getting serious....

My beautiful sisters....

While I am here, I thought I would write.

I mentioned that I am turning over a new leaf, trying to be organized. Well I have a LOT of years of non-organization to deal with! So the next few weeks will definitely be playing catch up.

Right now I am printing out the quizzes and tests that the children have taken on SOS. I love that on SOS you can print the work (as well as quizzes and tests) with blank answers if the children are traveling. You can print out another copy with all the correct answers so that the teacher has a copy to grade off of, and you can print out the finished work that they have done on the computer.

I am copying the quizzes and tests, which I will keep so that I have a paper record, in case the computer gets messed up. However, it is going to take a bit.....be prepared for more posts as it prints too fast for me to leave, but too slow for me to just print and go. :)

I am also cleaning around my desk and decluttering my desk area. It is hilarious if you look at TWS's desk vs my desk...you can really tell how our brains work. His is MUCH neater, but I think mine has more interesting "stuff". His does have a jelly bean dispenser (which I bought him!) but other than that it is mostly business stuff. How can he THINK when he does not have anything nifty on his desk to get the creative juices flowing?! hee hee! I can put my hands on at least 10 ENTIRELY DIFFERENT projects from my seat.

Is anyone else considering making life changes? I can't be the only one who needs some serious organizational help. I need my dear friend Beauty Queen to help me get organized. She is amazing at it. In fact, TWS actually hired her to organize my closet many years back! When she visited me last, I kept catching her slip away downstairs to fold my laundry. I would call out "What are you doing?!?" and just like a child who was snitching cookies from a jar she would call back in guilty hesitation "Ummm.....nothing?". "STOP FOLDING MY LAUNDRY!" "I was just checking on the baby..." "Uh huh...get up here!!" "Allriiiight". hee hee!

BQ, come visit me and I PROMISE to turn a blind eye to any laundry folding indiscretions. In fact, just to show my unconditional positive regard, I will make sure that my closet needs a good cleaning too (hey, I just want to be supportive!).

If you are making a change of any type, post it! Let's see if we can support each other in these times where the Lord is moving us to self discipline in our homemaking and in our lives!

McDonald's Musing....

My beautiful sisters!

The other day we got McDonalds for supper. It has been literally months since we have done that. I am not adverse to fast food per se--fried chicken in any form (nuggets, strips etc) is one of my favorite things! And french fries!

However, something was very odd. Because we had been eating at home for so long, and because any eating out I have done has been either a local take out pizza place or an occasional meal at Chili's, my taste buds must have been used to home cooking.

The first thing that I noticed is that the food tasted odd. I am not saying it tasted different, I am saying it tasted ODD. Now, again, I am not a food snob--I LOVE fast food, though for cost it is just too pricey. However, honestly, the food tasted fake. I remember thinking "this tastes like it is food and then something else added to it.....something NOT food.". It was not that I was tasting different spices or seasonings. It was actually like eating food mixed with crayon or something. There was something out of place. Like eating food off of a soapy dish, or licking your fingers if you had used hand sanitizer or bug spray. Just that taste where you know that something is not food.

It did not taste BAD at all--in fact, I would have loved some more!! It just tasted....fake.


Then almost immediately after supper that night, my tummy got very full of air--so much so that it was visible (ok, even more so than usual! lol). It did not bother me much, but was just annoying. I took some gas tablets and everything got back to normal.

But I talked to TWS later and found that he found the taste was "fake" too. BUT he had eaten a chicken sandwich, not the nuggets. Again, neither of us are health food nuts in the least....in fact, there was a time of my life not too long ago where I thought poptarts should count as fruit (I was a big hit at the la leche league meetings lolol). so this is not "I am too good for McDonalds" but "Weird, wonder how long that has been going on and why I did not notice it before what exactly *AM* I tasting? Is it bad for me?".

As for the air bubbles in the tummy, I do not know about that either. TWS used to get indigestion when he ate burgers at Mc D's but never chicken. I am not allergic to much, and we eat fried foods quite often. In fact, fried tastybird chicken tenders and ore ida tater tots that I had had a few days before neither tasted fake nor inflated me like a balloon. So it is not that my eating habits are just SO healthy that my delicate system was not used to fried foods....we are from the south, we deep fry as much as we can!

This concerns me. Not the air bubbles, that could have been from hormones or whatever, but the fact that I could actually taste something that was not food. I wonder what it was, I wonder where they make their breading for their food, i wonder where they get the chicken and potatoes. I know that they, as well as most other food vendors or companies, use a company that makes fake food tastes. I read a VERY interesting article about it. They can make a million different tastes and smells from chemicals. I am not saying that the chemicals are all harmful, though I have no idea what they are. I am just saying that we might want to be careful about how much non-food items we eat.

I mean, surely it is not too much to ask that, when you buy food, that ALL the food is ACTUALLY food.

This also possibly answers why many kids only want fast food, no matter what sort of good homemade food you make. My fried chicken will never taste like fried chicken from places that do not use regular, actual food ingredients (I can even buy MSG, but I cannot buy the chemical flavorings that have been invented). It gives me pause to think about that.

Anyway, this is neither here nor there. Just thought it was so interesting, seeing as how I actually love chicken nuggets BUT after many months away from them, could very clearly taste something that seemed fake AND had tummy troubles as well.

Cooking plan

My wonderful, darling sisters!

I mentioned previously that I am trying to revamp my life (hey, nothing like biting off more than you can chew! hee hee!).

I had mentioned food, and, since most of us are foodies, and a fair amount of us dread the "what's for supper" question, I thought I would put what I am trying out....

In our family, when I am ill or weary, when the family is busy or the schedule is up in the air, or when I am lazy (blush), we have "Fend For" nights. That means "Fend For Yourself". I will nuke anything you need, but you have to decide what you are eating.

I HATE making decisions about what other people will eat. It is just a hangup of mine that I had developed without knowing it. Half of the time I have no idea what *I* want, and deciding what other people will eat is just dreadful for me. I know, it is silly.

So what happens is that I tentatively decide what is for supper, and then wait for TWS to come home and tell me if that is fine with him. He is not picky at all, but sometimes he has his own druthers about what he wants for supper. So that leaves me in a quandry--he will eat what I cook him, but I cannot stand to cook him something he did not prefer. Ramen noodles, anyone?

So we talked about this impass and we decided that I either need to make a menu (something I do not really like because I have NO idea what I feel like that day) or call him at 3 pm and verify. Well frankly the weekly menu provided the most benefits--I could plan my grocery list, we both have an idea of what we are having, and I do not have to make a decision EVERY day, just the one day where I make the menu.

I had written down all the dishes I know I make regularly, but then also picked TWO cookbooks and went through those. I have made the mistake before of going through tons of cookbooks, then be overwhelmed with the amount of recipes I flagged, so we just ate chicken tenders and tater tots instead hee hee!

This way I can try new recipes, then drop them if they do not work. Two cookbooks was manageable for me.

I am having "week" blocks of menus. My goal is to use left overs as much as possible, reduce the stress of decision making, save money by not buying food I do not get around to using, and be proactive instead of reactive.

I have two weeks of menus so far. I put the menu, where recipes can be found (recipe card, book and page, or "mine"--in my head, no written recipe), and any weird ingredients that I might not have on hand. The ingredients I put in italics so it is easy to see at a glance when I am making a grocery list.

I keep a stocked pantry (I think every woman should!), so I have staples.

I plan to add additional weeks of menus as well.

Now, I did not schedule any "fend for" or convenience or take out foods. I figure that there will always be days that pop up where we need to go the easy route. I am not stressing over being PERFECTLY on the menu EVERY day...the goal was to reduce stress, not be a slave to a printout! I showed it to TWS and he thought it looked great. He also thought it was good not to schedule easy meals, but to have them "waiting in the wings" for those days where we need them.

I tried to have a new recipe night, an involved recipe night, a moose recipe night, and bake a pie each week.

In case anyone is interested, this is what I have planned for two weeks:

Menu Week 1
Day Recipe Location Page

Monday Spaghetti w/sausage meatballs Card
Bread, buttermilk, Italian sausage, egg, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, basil
Breadsticks Mine

Tuesday Egg roll Mine
Wrappers, sausage from night before, ginger, coleslaw mix
Rice

Wednesday Pork (moose?) texmex soup Mine
Canned tomatoes, canned corn
Cornbread

Thursday Turkey breast
Hm noodles, cranberry sauce
Turkey breast, cranberry sauce, egg beaters

Friday Fettuccine alfredo with chicken (or turkey) and broc
Lo hm noodles, lo turkey, fresh parm, evap milk, broc

Saturday Hamburgers and onion rings, smoothies
Hm buns, onions, canned fruit

Sunday Beef braised in beer Just 4 things 82
3 onions, oil, beef (moose), 1.25 cups Guinness or stout
Tomato Bruschetta Just 4 things 30
Bread, 4 garlic cloves, diced tomatoes, olive oil for drizzling
Pie


Menu Week 2

Day Recipe Location Page
Monday Beef BBQ sandwiches
LO beef and onions from night before, rolls, corn and green beans

Tuesday Tagliatelle w/ ham Just 4 things 94
HM pasta, prosciutto, fresh parm
Basil green beans Lowfat country cooking 224
Green beans, onion, celery, dried basil

Wednesday Brat, beer, and cheese soup Card
2 brats, ½ cup each onion, celery, carrots, 8 oz potatoes, 3 cups chicken stock, stout beer, mustard powder, milk, sharp cheddar


Thursday Dirty rice with pork
Outback bread, smoothies


Friday HM pizza, breadsticks
Fresh mozz, tomatoes, olives, tomatoes


Saturday Bacon and biscuits
Corn, green beans
Canned corn, green beans


Sunday Pork Roast with homemade noodles or biscuits, pie

Hopefully I can get some pictures of these things! Any tips on food photography would be great, as I am a beginner with a camera.

May God Bless you today!!

New (School) Years Resolutions

My beautiful, wonderful sisters in Christ!!!

I have been thinking a LOT about resolutions and changes in my life. For me, new years is not a great time to make resolutions. First of all, there is no CHANGE at that point, no signal, save the calendar, to make a change.

For me, fall is the best time to make a change because there is a definite signal. The difference between December and January is not much here--both are mid winter. But the difference between August and September here is VERY much a change. August is green and rainy, with a few more warm days sometimes. September is cool, dry, and golden. The difference in the sun from August to September is also significant. In August, the sun was still up most of the day. In September, it is starting to get dark in the morning. The change in light is sudden and significant.

There is also hunting season. This allows me to have some down time with the babies while TWS (and sometimes little man) goes hunting. So for a week or two, I have nothing really asked of me. Supper can be popcorn if I want, because it is just me and Precious (she will have a burrito or something). I can stay up as late as I want, there is no schedule.

After a week or so of "freedom", I find that I long to get back into a routine. That is the PERFECT time to start turning over a new leaf or three! I have had a break from a hectic summer, the season is signalling change, the people around me are signalling change (back to school, end of vacations, etc). It is just a good time all around to start changes.

A couple of weeks ago, I had mentioned that my grandmother passed. I also think I mentioned a talk that TWS and I had had about how I was doing as a wife. I got praise and gentle suggestion fo what I can do to be better.

I wrote those down as he said them (both the good AND the changes I need to make), and made some decisions of my own. I am SUCH a project person, am interested in just about anything. But that means that I honestly do not have time to do all the things I want to do. It is simply not possible for me to clean house, homeschool, cook supper, bake bread, counsel a friend, write a book, paint a picture, crochet a sweater, shoot my bow, sew a dress, learn a new language, exercise, go on a field trip, do the laundry, write a cousin, post on my blog, snuggle my sweetie, watch the game, and paint my nails all in one day!

Now the problem with me and plans, is that I am overly ambitious and have very little organizational bent. So I have had a ton of plans and schedules but not stuck to them. This time I am actually praying BEFORE I work on things and letting the Lord lead my days. I have pared down my list of what I want to do, so I am not trying to do everything all in one day, and have put a few things on hold until a different time...maybe after Christmas or maybe in a couple of years.

I have my list of things that I am trying to work into my day, paring down the waste of time, and increasing the fruit of time. God willing, He will bless this list and make me fruitful!

Here is my list in no order per se, ('cept the Lord is always at the top!):

1) The Lord a priority--I do speak to the Lord often in the day. I do read my Bible, but I also get VERY lazy and start talking AT Him and not TO Him. I have been thinking of having standard prayer times. I am going to pray about it (hee hee--praying about praying just seems funny!). I also have a song that REALLY TRULY reminds me of Him, of His sacrifice. I get so caught up in my life, that I forget to just SIT AT HIS FEET and think about His sacrifice and salvation and blessings. I get anxious to go DO something, when the best thing I can do is just to sit for a bit and dwell in His presence.

2) Homeschool a priority--I am blessed with children and a curriculum that allows me to play bubble shooter all day if I want. Both the children and the curriculum are JUST that easy. However, the children are not getting the full benefit of homeschooling. They need field trips and projects, experiments (my fav!) and such. During those times where they are homeschooling, my goal is to be in the same room for most of the day, being proactive and setting up things they can do to enrich their experiences. When we have those days where they are just going to be doing work, my sewing machine is in the homeschool room, so i can work on that. The woodstove is also in the same room, so I can cook pancakes, fry bread, etc right there while they work!

3) TWS a priority--I am also blessed with a husband whom I really love and who really loves me. He is not perfect, neither am I. But he is my husband and deserves my respect and love and time. One of the things that he said that he wanted me to change was "timely taskers"....if he gave me a task, I need to do it immediately. I also need to be more sensitive when he needs to go into his "man cave" and decompress. His job is very stressful. In order to be the type of husband and father he wants to be, sometimes he needs to withdraw for a little bit in order to transition from "battleground work" to "home sanctuary". And I have also told him to let me know by making me look in his eyes when he wants to spend time with me and I am missing the cues. I get "task saturated" and tell him "Just one more minute...almost done...." for two hours!

4) House a priority--Frankly this is just my laziness. Starting with the "parlor mentality" (kitchen, living room, bathroom), I need to keep things clean and neat. I also am REALLY trying to stick with a menu (another thing TWS mentioned). Kinda cracks me up that I spent hours coming up with weekly menus, writing up a grocery list, went to the store.....and then we changed the very first meal to something other than what was on my list! hee hee!

5) Book-- Many years ago, I had panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, OCD and chronic anxiety. The Lord took me step by step through the sins that I was committing that enabled these. With His guidance, I was able to go from completely housebound, to able to jump on an airplane. I had long struggled with whether I should write this book. I would start, then stop. TWS told me to, but I was still hesitant (note: our husbands are the head of the household--we need to LISTEN!). The other day I was praying about it, again, and telling the Lord "Hey, whatever You want, just let me know". That very morning I had a message from a dear friend of mine asking if she could use a post I had made on the subject on a board. That was my signal that it was time to get serious about it.

6) Exercise. I would rather be beaten with a stick than exercise. I hate the way they keep changing how much you "should" do, I hate it when they say "Well, 8 hours a day of aerobic activity is ok....but you REALLY need to be doing 12...." (ok, that is a total exaggeration, but that is how I feel! lolol). But the other day I woke up and thought "I actually just feel like exercising today. NOT to be tiny, NOT out of "health guilt", but just because I wanted to do it. I PRAISE THE LORD for that healthy change in my thinking, because I have learned that the quickest way for me NOT to want to do something is to be told I HAVE to. lolol So, i am going to start exercising, on my time, in my way, for MY benefit. Not for guilt. Not for "have to". For the fun of stretching and moving and such. Besides I have Alton Brown cooking videos that I can watch while I exercise!

7) Misc projects--I have pared down my list of everything I ever wanted to do to these things that I will do now, with more to be added or dropped later. So, God willing, I am going to work on learning spanish, getting better on the dulcimer, sew more and learn to make more food from scratch (cheese is my next project!). I am also going to be painting. I am putting off a lot of interior decorating, instead focusing on making my house neat and tidy, ready for guest or project :-).

I want to have my chores done so that I can be ready for a friend who needs a shoulder, ready for a chat with my mom, ready for an unexpected guest. I want to be PROactive, not REactive. I mean, the laundry does get done, I wash the same pairs of socks, the same dresses and shirts every week. So why not have it done BEFORE people ask? If I am going to get it done on, say, Friday, why not adjust my thinking so that I get it done on Monday? The same amount of time will be spent washing clothing in a week, so why not be proactive and get it done?

Same with cooking. I am GOING to cook supper. So why not have a plan beforehand instead of waiting until 4 pm and being frantic? Either way we are going to eat. So why do I not just reduce stress and plan?

So really this is more of a change of thought, than a change of what I do. I am doing mostly the same things, paring down time wasters, and adding a few new things. But I am trying to be organized.

What about you? Is this a good time for you to think of changing your schedule in a big way? If you homeschool or if you have children who go to school, the schedule is changing anyway from summer. So maybe this is the perfect time to be "in for a dime, in for a dollar"! Maybe this is a good time to make New (school) Year's Resolutions!

Feel free to share what you are doing, what you have done, what you find works for you, and what you find your trouble spots are. Please take a moment and pray for every one of your sisters who need a little help in this area.....that is pretty much all of us! Please pray that God's will be done, that we each adjust to OUR family's individual needs! Each family will have different interests, different needs, but all families need less stress, more Lord, less clutter, more healthful behavior, less burden, more joy.

God bless you all!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More pictures from yesterday...

My beautiful graceful sisters!
Here are some more pictures from yesterday~

Heavy-laden sky


Green and gold


Snaps and bachelor buttons


More...


Yellow Snapdragon


Have a blessed day my sisters!

The Lord's majesty in autumn

My beautiful, wonderful sisters!!!

Auumn is HERE in Alaska. The leaves are falling like snow (making my kitty crazy!), and yesterday looked like a good day to take some pictures to show y'all. I am working on finding contentment and peace where I am, when I am, how I am, and this is part of it...by recognizing the glory of God all around me!

I wish these pictures had come out just a little bit better....I cannot describe the golden color here. When the sun is out, especially, it looks like you are walking in the heart of the sun, as everything is positively glowing with gold light. Even the white fence and trim of the house looks luminescent! Unfortunately, my camera skills are not adequate enough to show how truly beautiful it looks, but at least here is an idea :)


Spruce and paperbark birch


The moose trail


Autumn road


Strawberry plants in fall

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Watch your Bank of America credit card statement

My beautiful sisters.....

I wanted to bring to your attention something that some credit card companies are doing, particularly Bank of America. In the past, cc companies would up your interest rate if you were late on a payment, etc.

NOW however, some are upping the rate on those who have had no problems paying on time. You might not even know that the company has done this, unless you look VERY carefully at your statement.

This just happened to us. We had a card that went to almost 30% for NO reason at all. None. Thankfully I had happened to see an article about what cc companies are doing now here
http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/105587/10-Things-Your-Bank-Won

I sent that article to TWS and about that same time, he discovered that that is EXACTLY what BoA did to us.

Here is another short but REALLY good article about what cc companies do, but do not tell you about.

http://www.smartmoney.com/deal-of-the-day/index.cfm?story=20080723-credit-card-pitfalls

Also here about trying to save money on gas and what actually ends up costing you money:
http://www.smartmoney.com/deal-of-the-day/index.cfm?story=20080721-4-bad-gas-saving-deals

Of course we know that we should stay out of debt. While we are working on it, however, we are at the mercy of cc companies unless we are careful about checking our finances, fees, increases, etc. There are so many different banks and companies, you CAN go shopping. I have read that you can try talking to a manager, not just the customer service rep, at your cc companies and let them know that you will walk immediately. Apparently, sometimes they will work with you, especially if you have been in good standing.

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Up and down

My beautiful sisters....

I think it is good for all of us to share our struggles as well as our triumphs. It is heartening to see that someone struggles with the same sin we do, and to have them tell us how they succeed in overcoming. Plus we can pray for each other.

When I last wrote, I was feeling pretty good. I felt that the Lord was really working in my life, that the lessons were painful but productive. Then yesterday happened. Honestly I was in such an emotional morass that I could not even get my head above water. Thank the Good Lord for my sweet TWS who was patient and listened. (However, I DO know that if TWS was not there, the Lord would have sent someone else to help me, or would have helped me Himself....He never leaves us alone!).

I had spent another restless, sleep deprived night the night before, so I was running on empty anyway.

However, in the morning, we got a call that TWS might have to deploy. It is not a sudden deployment or anything, but it ripped out of my hand the barest of emotional control that I had at that moment. Again, everything came tumbling down. I was crying, spun up. It was not the deployment per se, I married a military man and we have been more than blessed in his assignments. I was just thinking "He has not even been out of the woods for 12 hours, I have not been sleeping, I am still fragile from the death of my grandmother...I cannot face this right now. Tomorrow I could face it, but not right now.".

Now, just to give you an example of HOW fragile I was.....we have old Andy Griffith episodes on DVD (we do not like the modern day sitcoms). Precious had been watching them the day before, but some of them were TOO STRESSFUL FOR ME TO HANDLE. Yep. There was just too much drama with Opie and Aunt Bea for me to handle....how pathetic is that????

To put THAT in perspective, one thing that I have handled beautifully in my life, thank the Lord, was when we were in Florida, a hurricane was coming, and TWS told me I would have to start preparing for us to evac (me, Precious, who was two at the time, one dog, two cats and no husband...he would have to stay behind). I must say that I handled that with excitement and determination, thank the Lord. We ended up not having to evac, but I was ready, calm, capable. I have "played camp out" in the closet with my young child during tornadoes, have ridden out a RIDICULOUSLY long earthquake with both young kids without panic, but with aplomb. So I REALLY CAN handle stressful things sometimes....but this week is not one of those times. I could not even handle Andy Griffith re runs.

Anyway, I also had a disagreement with my mom. It was not a fight at all, it was just a difference of opinion. But if I could not handle the stress of the election of a new city council member on Andy Griffith, I certainly could not handle thinking my mother was upset with me.

So I did something I should not have done....started looking at property where I want to be. I know, I know. That was STUPID. It was like a recovering alcoholic going to a bar. With all of that going on, I melted down. I knew I was never EVER going to win the battle in my mind. I WANT to be "happy" and cheerful and content, but I was convinced it was NEVER EVER going to happen. It occurred to both TWS and I that even if we moved somewhere warm, the mess in my spirit would still be there. I KNOW that is a fact because I finally figured out that the root of this problem is NOT my location or how far from family I am. It is not where I live or who I am with, because there are times when I FINALLY give to the Lord, FINALLY trust Him that I am actually FINE with being so far! I do not fear the cold or the snow...I do not even think about it! For a brief moment, i am content and my faith is strong.

No, the problem is not my location, it is my attitude. I was not trusting the Lord that He has a GOOD LIFE planned for me. His goal is not to make me miserable! AND He promised EVERY believer joy and peace. Now, if you do not feel joy and peace, it is NOT NOT NOT because you do not HAVE it, it is because you do not USE it. I knew that, but it is hard to remember when you are being attacked spiritually. The Lord has blessing and strength innumerable for us, like brand new cars in a garage that goes on forever, but WE have to drive them. WE have to make the effort to go out to the garage of our spiritual growth, pour the fuel of faith in the tanks, and hop into those cars and DRIVE them. They do us no good if we deny they are there, or if we will not use them.

Now, I know that there have been massive spiritual attacks on me, because the things that are piling on have gotten ridiculous. Have you ever had one of those days where you just stop and think "Ok, now THIS is getting ridiculous. There is no way that this much can be going this wrong at once."? Have you ever had those days where you are thinking "SERIOUSLY, xyz sin is not even one I WANT to indulge in! Not even a little bit! In fact, it is so utterly dispicable to me that it is not even a little bit "fun"...it irritates me!"? It feels so very unfair, like your best efforts to fight a sin are in vain. That is when the spiritual attacks are at their strongest, and that is where I was yesterday.

I poured my heart out to TWS and he brought up some very important points:
a) It is not all about me. No really, not everything that happens is about me! lolol
b) I needed to stop focusing on my "worst sin" and take into account the full balance of my life. NOW, that does NOT mean "Oh I am a pretty good person overall...." type thinking, but when all you do is stare at the worst of your life, you do not take the time to praise the Lord for His working in your life. The Lord gives me great grace in so many areas, but I do not think of those when I am focusing on my worst sin. I have to look in balance, so that I work on the things that I need to, accept grace on the things I need to, and praise the Lord for His work that He has accomplished in me already...things I struggled with at one point but no longer do.

So yesterday I decided that for the rest of the day I was NOT going to dwell on trying to battle that one sin of discontent. I was just going to focus on good things. It is AMAZING what happened. I told TWS that I was afraid I would get proud and haughty. I was afraid that the sin I was staring at would overwhelm me. In this case, neither happened. I spent the rest of the day in productive, kind discussion with TWS on how I could be a better wife AND what I was doing well (in the interest of "balance" ;-) ). That gave me good perspective: I had weak points and grace points so I could be thankful that my husband appreciated some points, and I was encouraged to work on my weak points. Then we cooked supper together and went to bed early.

And because I was no longer staring at my belly button (or the houses that are for sale where I would want to live!), the Lord was able to keep me from falling deep into the sin of discontent. In this type of sin, distraction can work VERY well. The Lord can do His work in my life without me constantly getting in the way. I am not sure if this makes sense or not, but it does to me in a weird way.

It is kinda like this: I read that a horse, led out of a burning barn, will run back INTO that barn, even if they are safely in pasture. They focus so much on the flames, that they are drawn to them. They jerk out of the hands of their caregiver and run back into the barn. This is how I feel in this.
There are some sins that one has to be FIRM about--action sins are ones that one has to DECIDE to do or DECIDE not to do, and therefore one has to be on guard to NOT do those. I have to DECIDE not to cuss, DECIDE to wear something modest, DECIDE not to flirt or to lose my temper or rob a bank.
But some sins, thought sins, sometimes need a change in focus, at least for me. The brain can only think about one thing at a time. If I am dwelling on fighting my discontent, I am still focusing on discontentedness. I am still staring at those flames, and ignoring the safe green sweet pasture that I dwell in. I am not focusing on my Father, but on myself, my discontent. I am not focusing on my blessings. It seems wrong to not be WORKING on my sin, but on the other hand, I guess I am.....I am working on it by NOT focusing on it, but by focusing on my blessings or what's for supper or anything else in the world. I am not giving the enemy a foothold, thanks be to the Lord. (btw, we have to be VERY careful not to let even a HINT of what MIGHT turn out to be discontent into our brains. For me, I cannot dwell on the fact that my feet are cold, because that will turn into "and winter is coming, and I hate the cold, and it will be dark and I hate the dark and we live in alaska and other people have warm weather, and all my family is in warm weather and I am all alone....!". NO! We have to be careful in every thought, make it captive to Christ!).

OH! And get this! Today's homeschool devotional from Alpha Omega spoke to EXACTLY what I was going through yesterday! Here is a bit: I'm feeling selfish today....I want to escape somewhere. My life seems like it's not my own, and I resent the fact that I can't do what I want, when I want. Homeschooling requires me to be so disciplined, and I'm starting to feel trapped. I want to take a break....I feel like a huge burden is on my back.

...you have to give yourself 100% and commit... Like the man who calculated the cost in building a tower or the king who assessed his army before he went to war (Luke 14:27-33), following the Lord's call ....requires giving your all. Yes, God knows when you need to rest and will show you how to catch your breath, but He also asks His disciples to carry their cross. So who will you follow today, yourself or the Lord? "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23b).

Lord, forgive my attitude and help me refocus on the call You gave.... Teach me again that Your will and Your way is better than any life I can conceive. I love You and thank You for my family. In Jesus' name, Amen."

The Lord is so good! He tells us EXACTLY what is going on in our lives! Now, I cut out most bits that talked specifically about homeschooling, because it does not matter if the problem is about homeschooling, about marriage, about where you live, about what you do. It is a problem of lack of trusting the Lord and focus on self and discontentedness.

OH, here is one thing to remember....I do not know about you, but I was stuck on the "But what if God wants me never to have what I want in this? What if I am stuck here forever?!?!?!". No, that is in error. We ask for what we want because we think that will bring us peace and joy. INSTEAD the Lord makes it to where we can have peace and joy, no matter what we have! Let me repeat that.....having what we want does NOT give us peace and joy, because peace and joy comes from the Lord**. He directs our life, sometimes not where we want it, AND gives us peace and joy! Doesn't that make perfect sense? He directs our paths, but knows that some of those paths are going to be different from our will. So He also provides us peace and joy so that we can walk the paths we NEED to walk to grow, and yet not get discouraged and lose heart! The path might be rocky, but He provides pillows for our feet!

We need to understand that the Lord provided us peace and joy, REGARDLESS of our situation....but again we have to embrace it! We can choose to ignore peace and joy that He gives, thinking we can only have it if we get what we want. But that is us thinking with our pitiful human minds....like a toddler who thinks they will only be happy if they get to eat every cookie on the plate. The Lord knows what we need, knows when we need it. AND AND AND AND He makes it that we can have peace and joy in the storms of our lives.

(**SHAW, my dear faithful friend, was trying to tell me this, get me to understand this for weeks. God bless her for a faithful, patient woman! He has been trying to get me to understand this through just about everyone I talk to! Praise the Lord that He has patience and has a lot of godly people who are willing to be used for His glory....and to be used to try to get me to pay attention....)

When I was in error the past weeks, I kept telling TWS "But it is like having a great life, but just broke your leg. No matter what wonderful things you have, your leg STILL HURTS!". That was my human mind, not understanding what the Lord's TRUE glory and TRUE grace is. When the Lord gives blessing, He adds no sorrow to it. My broken leg analogy was not a true analogy. The Lord is SO VERY faithful, that the discontent in our lives is actually removed, taken away, when we have peace and joy. The discontent is GONE when we are in peace and joy.
Yes, there are still painful things that happen in our lives. I am not saying that no bad thing will ever happen :-). I am referring to the mental sins we have of discontent and lack of trust in the Lord. I was not trusting that the Lord would provide PEACE for me while I lived in His will. I REALLY DO want to live in His will, but I was afraid that I would SUFFER in His will for years. If He chose for me to not get the things I desire most--living near family and being somewhere warm and humid--then I was afraid that I would NEVER EVER be happy...just be resigned.

But the Lord does not WANT us to be merely resigned! That is not a full, Christian life. We cannot bring others to the Lord by just enduring His will. THAT IS NOT A WITNESS and it is not what the Lord is wanting for us. We might not always be HAPPY, but He does want us to have JOY and PEACE so that we can minister to others, will praise Him, and will bring others to Him. So if there is a situation in our lives where we are discontent, the Lord HAS made a way for you to have PEACE AND JOY. It does not matter if you get what you want, because peace and joy are a gift from the Lord to believers, and you can have peace and joy in the Lord, even if you do not get what you want. God said that "godliness with contentment is great gain"....I think this is what He meant.

I tell ya, that lesson was nigh unto impossible for me yesterday until I stopped looking at what I was discontent about. THEN peace and joy could come. I could not have faith AND stare longingly at what I was discontent about. I had to turn my back on the fire of my discontent and stare at the sweet pasture.

I will tell you, this was not on my strength at all. I was a basket case. Seriously, I was a mental and emotional wreck. No, this was the Lord working in my life. This was Jesus's power being made perfect in my weakness. This was not me, this was Him! If there is any inspiration from this, it is from Him.....I did nothing at all to deserve or earn or make this happen. I simply followed what the Lord was telling me through TWS and through the Holy Spirit. I was being led through the barn and into the field.
I just do not want anyone thinking that I deserve any accolades or praise or was "good" in this. I was dreadful and disobedient. The only thing that I DID do--and frankly it was because I was too exhausted to do otherwise--was to allow myself to be led. I had no faith that it would work, I was just too tired to argue or think.

My dear sisters, pray for me. TBH, I am still afraid that this lesson will not stick and I DESPERATELY want it to. The thing is that when I am right in the Lord, when I have peace, I have PEACE! I get it! It makes sense! But it is hard to smell the sweet grass when I am focusing on the fire. I can't say "I am NOT going to focus on the fire" because that is still focusing on the fire. It is like telling someone "DON'T look down!"--well what is the very first thing they do? LOOK DOWN!

Please pray that I will turn my back to the fire and not be tempted to "peek"! Please let's pray for all of us, because we all, at some points in our lives, have this battle about something. It might be when we cannot find a mate. We might not be able to have children. We might be located somewhere we do not want to be. We might have a death in the family or be facing an illness. We probably all will find something that wears at our soul when we know we want peace and need peace. Lots of spiritual attacks, slings and arrows, will be focused on our attempts at resting in the Lord. Sometimes our battle is not to race in and fight, but just to stand, as it says in Ephesians.

God bless and keep you, dear sisters!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ok one more post... homeschooling

That was weird, apparently I hit a button and it published a blank post. sigh.... lol

Anyway, wanted to chat a bit about homeschooling and then I REALLY need to print off those records!!

We use Switched On Schoolhouse and L.O.V.E. it. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It has its bugs as it is software and computers have glitches sometimes. Sometimes something is marked wrong when it is right, etc, so I have to go back and recheck answers, especially if the children leave a note saying "I REALLY think I got this right!". 90% of the time they DID! But those occasions are not often.

I love that it is computer based (no paper!) and already organized (NOT one of my strong suits--in fact just last week, after both of us trying to get me more organized for 14 years, TWS said "Your brain is chaotic...go with it..." lolol).

Anyway, I had told Little Man that he could not go hunting until he finished his English for the year. I allow the children to work on whatever subject they choose to for the day. It works out SO much better. You know, some days I could not count to ten with both hands, but I could write pages. Other days I can barely form a coherent sentence, but I REALLY GET an algebraic equation and want to learn more.

The kids are the same way, and it makes sense. I feel it is better to spend the time to go DEEP in a subject. Your brain is forming pathways, literally "cognitive maps" of information, when you study and learn. Well if you stop that map halfway through, your brain can have a harder time coming back to it and picking up where it left off. Kinda like if you watch half hour of a one hour tv show one day, then come back and watch the second half the next day. Actually it is EXACTLY the same thing--your brain did not get to complete the cognitive map, did not get to form the whole picture of the story. When you came back the next day, you have forgotten some of the nuances and details of the story of the night before and THERE IS NO FLOW because you interrupted the information processing of your brain. If you had watched the whole tv show, you would have a greater understand of the whole story.

So kids are the same way in learning, IMO. They learn so much more deeply and thoroughly when they go to the point where their brain can form a complete map. Some days, their brain is ready for language, for creativity, for rhetoric and "fuzzy" stuff. Some days their brain is ready for math, science, logic and reason. So by allowing them to choose, they seem to be learning very well.

Now, I will say this, they are also learning that it is a REALLY bad idea to do each subject RIGHT up until the test, then switch to another subject ;). That means they have 3-five tests in a day! Precious only made that mistake once or twice.

Also, the first time they get to choose, they will start with doing the fun subjects first, their favorites, then have 20 lessons of their least favorite subject. They learn that it is better to either do what you do not like first OR do what you do not like AND what you do like. I am grateful that the Lord is teaching them diligence and responsibility and organizing their tasks with this!

I do not let them go to the next grade in anything, though, until they finish up all of their schoolwork for the year in the grade they are working on.

Anyway, both of my children read late. I mean REALLY REALLY REALLY late. I read at age five. I tried to teach Precious to read since she was 4 years old and by age 8, she was STILL only reading "cat, bat, rat". I was in quite a state of stress, let me tell you!

But you know what? The Lord was merciful and kind. She had been showing many signs of dyslexia, though at the time I did not realize it very much. Suddenly in the early spring when she was 8, the Lord reorganized her brain or opened a path or something. Her reading took off, and by the time fall came around, she was reading just above grade level. Now she reads at about 9th grade level. Her brain just needed time.

Same with Little Man, though I think his was more "will" than "skill", but the timing is very close. His reading is just taking off now, and he is skipping up the reading level charts. He just finished his third grade year, but is reading slightly into the 4th grade. About right.

I digress (again). Because he was SO late in reading (and therefore was not spelling either), we put English off til the end of the year (thank the Lord for flexibility that homeschooling provides!). BUT that means that he had WEEKS of nothing but English, his least favorite subject.

I told him that he could not go hunting unless he finished his English for the 3rd grade year. I must say that boy buckled down! We would count how many lessons he had left, how many days he had left, and figure out how many lessons he had to do. I led him to decision making ("Ok, well you have to do at least 4 lessons a day...but what if you need to take a break or something happens where you cannot work one day?"), and he would make choices based on what he had left. He did a good job of thinking ahead.

The final day he did...get this...THIRTEEN LESSONS. That includes a couple of quizzes and a test. He did not have to finish all 13 that day! In fact, he still had a few days left, he could have taken it easy. However, I think both of us were ready for it to be done. Poor boy was SO brain fried at the final test! His brain literally just sort of gave up about 5 questions from the end of the test, but he pulled it out. I think it was good for him to build up some mental endurance.

SO we can start the new year next week, after I test him to see what grade he can do in various subjects (I love that SOS has placement tests!!). Precious has been working on her new school year for the past two months...she got her work done earlier than he did. She is doing 6th grade history, 7th grade science and 8th grade math and english.

Speaking of SOS, I also love the fact that you only have to buy a grade level curriculum once, and can school many children on it. We bought grades for Precious, and can school Little Man on them, without having to buy different workbooks or anything (because it is all computer based). It is actually a very inexpensive proposition when you look at it that way.

So I am pretty psyched about this school year, thank the Lord! I know that there are always hurdles, but reading was the biggie for me so far. Now that they, thank the Lord, have gotten that in order, I am excited about how this year might go!

God Bless you sisters!

Sweeping up....

My beautiful sisters!

Whew, I tell you what, with me it is either feast or famine! :-)

I wanted to sweep up a few details, a few funnies, ask for a few prayers. Generally knot up the loose ends from this past couple of weeks....

First of all, prayers: please pray for our family. My mom, dad, aunts, cousins, uncles who are dealing with the passing of my grandmother. I think everyone is healing, is finding peace, but I am not sure. Please pray for them. Please pray that this is a situation that brings together, not tears apart, as deaths in the family can either make a family stronger or tear them apart.

And please thank the Lord for me and with me that my grandmother's passing was so peaceful. I really cannot tell you what a blessing it was!

Please pray for SHAW's sister as she is very sick and needs healing AND encouragement.

Please continue to pray for that veteran of a few posts ago.

Please pray for the Palin's, as they deal with the politics and the personal challenges they face.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the path of the hurricanes--wow they are lining up one by one aren't they? My dear, wonderful, beautiful cousin is working with evacuee children...Please pray for her, as she does not know how wonderful and beautiful she is, but she has ALWAYS had the most wonderful spirit. I miss her terribly.

Please pray for the safety of the hunters as our hunting season has opened in earnest and many of us up here are relying on hunting to provide food for our family. Alaska is very expensive to live, and the price of gas is NOT falling here, neither is the price of fuel oil. So hunting food instead of buying it is such a wonderful provision from the Lord. Please pray that all those who need the food can be successful, and pray that everyone is kept safe.

There are so many people to pray for! The unborn, the abused, the sorrowed, the lost. Please understand that our prayers ARE necessary and ARE doing something. Remember that our battle is NOT AT ALL against flesh and blood but against rulers and principalities in the heavenly realms. Please read Ephesians 6:10-20 and ponder it in your heart, especially when we tend to hurry our prayers or think they are not effective.


Ephesians 6 (Young's Literal Translation, one of my favorites, taken from Crosswalk.com)
6:10 As to the rest, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might;
6:11 put on the whole armour of God, for your being able to stand against the wiles of the devil,
6:12 because we have not the wrestling with blood and flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual things of the evil in the heavenly places;
6:13 because of this take ye up the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to resist in the day of the evil, and all things having done -- to stand.
6:14 Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about in truth, and having put on the breastplate of the righteousness,
6:15 and having the feet shod in the preparation of the good-news of the peace;
6:16 above all, having taken up the shield of the faith, in which ye shall be able all the fiery darts of the evil one to quench,
6:17 and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God,
6:18 through all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit, and in regard to this same, watching in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --
6:19 and in behalf of me, that to me may be given a word in the opening of my mouth, in freedom, to make known the secret of the good news,
6:20 for which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I may speak freely -- as it behoveth me to speak.

If this translation is difficult (I have seen it said that YLT is good in hebrew, but light on English, as this translation was actually striving to be VERY literal). It is important that we know that we are to pray, that our strength comes from the Lord and His might, and that the Spirit knows what we need to pray for when we do not. (We should do a study on prayer sometime. I will admit that while I do pray and often, I have not actually thought much about it. Hmmm....)



Ok, more sweepings.....
A couple of funny things....for some reason, when I was very upset about my grandmother, everyone tried to find things for me to do! Precious kept trying to come up with ideas, such as games and the like, and TWS suggested that I could redecorate the bedroom while he was gone (chuckle).

Now, I know what they were trying to do, and I DEEPLY appreciate it! They know that I am a project person and were trying to give me things to do to keep me occupied. It just kinda cracks me up :-).

I tell you what I DID do....

I played bubble shooter.

Yep, that is pretty much it! Ok, not really, I did more than that, but bubble shooter was SUCH a blessing to me (thank you Kayla!!! You have no idea how much it helped!). It is one of those games you have to be VERY careful with because it is a colossal time waster. No, seriously. DREADFUL!

BUT what it also was to me was something that required JUST enough of my brain so that I could not spin up into even more of an emotional mess. I could think and even pray, but I could not DWELL and be MOROSE. Yesterday I kept a game of bubble shooter open and an MSWORD document page open. I would shoot bubbles, and write to the Lord. Shoot more bubbles, write more to the Lord. Bubble shooting kept my emotions more at bay, because it was distracting BUT it was not so engrossing that I could not ponder things and pray. It was SUCH a blessing! I played until I could literally barely see from the eye strain.

I have spent a ton of time talking to my brother and sister in law. I have chatted with my cousin and my father and my mom. I have started a painting (see, I DID need a project!). I shot my bow. Precious Heart and I went to town and got conditioner and went to the candy store and to chilis for lunch. I watched the weather channel, preseason football, and live streaming video from a tv station in New Orleans for Gustav (thank the Lord that He blew the strength out of that one! I was praying!). I almost finished sewing a dress for Precious and cut out some more.

I think I am most grateful, and feel good that, I spent the first few days after my grandmother passed just doing nothing. I know that it worried people around me GREATLY, but I just needed a couple of days of no responsibilities, of no pressures, very little activity. Oh I could have kept that going and kept mourning and sorrowful for longer, but I was afraid that I would sink into a depression that way. I liked to think of it sort of like three days of darkness when Jesus died, then a new day. For some reason, three days of stillness, sorrow and full up mourning seems appropriate, then a gradual return to life. At least for me, at least in this situation. I still miss my grandmother, and I still get sad. But thank the Lord that I am not eaten up with her passing, but that the Lord put me back on my feet, gradually, and with me leaning on His arm. Each day my legs are getting stronger, and I am returning back to duties and responsibilities. I could almost cry as I see how He is being patient with me, giving me enough time to heal, but also gently urging me to get back in the game. He sat by my spiritual bedside for many days, being faithful (as always!) and kind, teaching me and comforting me. Now His strong arm is around my shoulder. He is actually too kind for me to even comprehend....I know that there is more, but my brain cannot actually wrap my head around it....like a math puzzle I just cannot understand. But I am thankful and eager that one day I will know as I am fully known!

Oh I did learn another thing--I keep trying to get grace on my strength not His. Oh my sisters, I will NEVER learn this lesson!!! Ok, I will learn it, but MAN I am hard headed!!! No wonder He brought me to the edge of the frontier--I am as distractable as a ping pong ball on drugs. :-)

Well I probably need to stop writing now...I have to start printing out records for the children's schooling. We school year round....not because of any reason but that I tend to want to take days off here and there, and I do not want us to fall behind. I want to be able to take a week for hunting, or a day because I would rather bake cinnamon rolls and read Trixie Belden mysteries :-).

I love you my beautiful sisters. Please take care of yourselves and your families and be heartened and cheered in the Lord. He is always faithful, we just sometimes need to pray for eyes to see His faithfulness :-).

My absence part 2

My beautiful sisters....

I wanted to continue my previous post, as there was just so much to say! How can one put the Lord's glory and provision in times of sorrow in ONE blog post? (smile)

So where was I? The Lord is breaking me down, day by day, but in the kindest of ways. I know that I get afraid of what the Lord would ask of me...and frankly I think it is best that I not know what He has in store for me in the future, because He will need to build my faith to accomplish whatever He wants me to accomplish.

If someone had said "Your grandmother is going to die and you will be almost entirely by yourself through it" two weeks ago, I would not have been able to handle it, or not understood the grace that He would provide. He had to walk me through, minute by minute. NOW I understand.

And do not think that I think that the Lord is only planning scary things for our lives! NO! I have found that even glorious, wonderful things are things that I am not ready for! In those times as well, He has to slowly lead me to the maturity and wisdom that I need to handle them! Right now I am like a toddler who keeps running off at the mall--as soon as I get some freedom or some praise, I run away from my Father's side and start exploring. He has to bring me back to His side (usually with a rebuke and chastisement) because it is not safe for me to wander. So even in good things, even in blessings, He has to walk me through step by step because I cannot handle the headiness of blessings any more than I can handle the sorrow of loss or have the courage required in times where I need to stand my ground.

So if you wonder why you are not being blessed with what you desire, there is a reason. He has His plans and they are NOT to make you miserable but to teach you and to guide you! Now, sometimes we do not get what we want. But even those should be times of praise because we THINK our lives would have been better if we did get what we want, but they would not have.

Here is an example or two. One day I could not find my keys. I looked and looked and they were no where! If I had had the choice, I would have found them. However, because I could not find them, I was home to take the phone call of a friend who needed me. The Lord orchestrated that situation to bring glory to His name, not mine.

Also, I was born with a birth defect and was teased quite mercilessly at times in my life. I was in agony and sorrow. BUT the Lord always provided me with one true friend, I mean a TRUE friend--one you could trust. I always wanted to be popular (don't most girls?), but I never was. Instead of many shallow relationships, I had very few, but they were deep and lasting and bonding.

Also, because I was teased, that "thorn in my flesh" changed my entire personality. I shudder to think of what I would have become without it. I would be even more vain, even more shallow, even more proud and haughty. My defect gave me humility, which is of great worth in God's sight. Now, understand that I am not THAT humble! I needed a very obvious defect to even bring me to what I am now! (imagine how intolerable I would be! lolol). Likewise He brought me to the ends of the earth, almost literally, in order to isolate me so that I would learn to lean on Him. He is always faithful, even during our most painful times, and uses those for our good.

BUT AGAIN, that does not mean that our lives will be nothing but painful! No! With the grace and the patience of the Lord, I am starting to understand what the Lord meant with Jesus and Paul and the thorn. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.". Then Paul said that he delights in difficulties, for when he is weak, then he is strong.

It is scary, but again, the Lord is not going to put us in things we cannot handle. It is kinda like this: when we are young, we dog paddle in the kiddie pool and ride a tricycle and trip over sticks. NO ONE would think of taking that young child and putting them in an Iron Man triathalon. That would be cruel.

BUT the Lord continues to grow us, to groom us, so that we can handle the ocean swim, the miles long bike ride in the hot sun, the run up and down hills. The triathlete does not have the mind of a child thinking "I am just in a kiddie pool! I cannot swim in the ocean!". No, the triathlete has been trained, slowly, over their lives, so that they can achieve greater glory safely.

Likewise the Lord trains us, slowly, so that we can achieve more for Him in spiritual and emotional safety. So do not be afraid of what He might have you do....He is not throwing you into the deep end of the ocean. He will train you, guide you, save you so that you are ready for whatever task or situation you will face. He might need to train you for something happy, like children or an inheritance or being a famous author. OR He might need to train you for something difficult like being a missionary, comforting the dying, or a weather tragedy. In any case, He will not give you more than you can bear, either good or bad. But you have to listen to Him. Someone cannot say "Well, I outgrew the kiddie pool, so i am definitely ready for a triathalon. They have to devote themselves to their Coach and be trained.

So do not worry about tomorrow, either good or bad. It wastes time to stress about what pain or stress you might face, and it wastes time to fret about what you really want that you do not have. He will show you what you need to know, and will give you what you can handle. What you need right now is what you have right now. His goal is to bring us to holiness and to bring others to Him so they may be saved, and our job is to glorify Him. We can do that in pleasure and in sorrow, but our witness is much more obvious in sorrow. It is easy to praise God to others when we just won the lottery....but people PAY ATTENTION more when we praise God when a loved one is sick or when we are standing in line for an hour.

I hope this is making sense. I am praying that it does and that it is neither too much nor too little. If anything I have said is stressful for you, do not let your heart be troubled. Remember, the point is that the LORD is in control, and He is not wanton or unkind. He is merciful and wonderful. He is patient and loving. He provides in all ways at all times. The point is to rest in Him and be at peace because He is guiding you. Soak every bit of wisdom from this moment, without fretting about what you want or what you fear in the future. Don't try to race ahead, and do not dwell in the sorrows, guilt, pain, or resentments of the past. Just rest at His feet and let Him lead you. He is faithful, He will do it.

Glory be to God in the Highest, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, our Counselor who right now dwells in the hearts of those who are called by Him, saved by His name.

My absence

Hello all of my beautiful sisters....

I just wanted to post a quick note about why messages are taking a while for me to post and why i have not posted anything in a bit.

My grandmother passed away last week. She had been terribly ill for a long time. She went very very peacefully...just sort of drifted away. She was saved, so she is with my grandfather in heaven.

But it put me in a bit of a tailspin. She was very upset when I moved to Alaska. I kept promising her that it would only be a short tour, 2-3 years. Then we ended up staying for going on our 9th year now. I know that the Lord knows that I want to go back to the south, and that He shut the doors. He is all merciful and all powerful, and thankfully He listens to His own will, not mine (smile) but it was still painful to know that she died and I never kept my promise to come home (we have visited, but not moved closer).

The first couple of days, I was a mess. I was mourning my grandmother, but even more, I was mourning my "home". I had never lived anywhere longer than three years and a week until we moved here, so where my grandmother lived was my home. My extended family always treated me like a returning lost child when I would go home...lots of love and "darling!" and "How beautiful you are!" and "Oh we miss you so much!". I had been bullied and teased for most of my childhood, so going there for a week was a balm for a year's worth of wounds.

During that time last week, my husband was planning his trip with my son to go hunting. They do this every year, and I love that my son has the chance to be with the men. TWS postponed a day, and said that he REALLY would not mind if I said that I needed them to stay home instead, but I could not do that. So they went.

Now, it might seem that he should have stayed here, but actually the opposite was true. The Lord used my many hours of quiet time, of still time, of down time to teach me, to lead me through this. My whole "main tier" of support was out of pocket at this time: my husband, my best friend (who was traveling across country), my mother (who was mourning the loss of her mother, I could not ask her to counsel me when she was suffering even more than I was!). He brought into my path a wonderful talk with my father AND talking with a cousin whom I had not spoken to in many months, and they both gave me messages from Him. This taught me that the Lord is REALLY my comforter and supporter. He will provide kindness and love and soothing through many people. *HE* is the comforter, not the husband, not the friend, not the child nor the parent. I mean, they DO comfort us! But it is because of the Lord. They shine the light of the Lord to us, those people who mean so much to us! But even if they are not here, He does not allow the light of His love to dim in our lives....He turns on different lamps!

I was never left alone in my spirit and sadness. Sometimes I was DYING for someone to call, to be on the phone, but when literally NO ONE was around (late at night, when people were sleeping, etc) He was there in Person, comforting and counseling me. He is altogether wonderful.

I am fine now. The Lord has taken this time of me being in quiet, of being weak and in mourning, of me being too tired to be strong on my own to teach me so many wonderful things. He will provide that for YOU too, but I found that I have to get rid of what *I* think I need and just lay my heart before the Lord. I mean literally go to Him and say "I have NO idea what to do, what to think. I am waiting for You to help me.". There were times where I begged Him to let someone call or be on instant messenger, but those where the times that no one was...I mean NO ONE! It was weird, because usually there is someone online. Again, He was showing me that HE is the provider of comfort, HE knows what I need and when I need it.

Oh, that reminds me. You might know that we homeschool, well the alpha omega company has a wonderful daily devotional. Even though the devotional message is slanted towards homeschooling, the root messages are Biblical and can apply to every day lives outside of homeschooling. Today the message talked about how the Lord leads us through our lives step by step, each day revealing more of His plan for our lives. He does not usually show us our whole path, but instead says "Take one step. Stay right there. Wait. Take one more step. Turn to the right. Wait.". His timing is perfect, as we humans could not handle all of His truth and teaching in one moment.

I want to encourage you to start today to peel off the layers and the defenses and make time for the Lord. Be patient, as some days are "wait" days and some days are "walk farther, farther, farther" days. You might think He is not talking, but just like in music, pauses are necessary for the whole symphony that is your life to make sense. He IS talking but sometimes He talks with quietness. Sometimes He talks with things you do not even consider, such as an offhand comment from a child or a burned supper.

So start your walk with Him today. Take this moment to STOP STRIVING and let Him lead you. He is faithful and He will do it.