Monday, July 27, 2015

"The Making of a Man" {Book Review}

I read the book "The Making of a Man - How men and boys honor God and live with integrity" by Tim Brown. Tim Brown is a Heisman Trophy Winner and Notre Dame and then went on to be a star in the NFL. In this book Tim shares many stories of his growing up along with telling about life as a football player and then as a dad and husband. He tells of his faith and his struggles in his relationship with God and of some of the temptations he faced and some of the ones that he gave into. Tim is quite open and honest in this book.

  Mixed in with the stories are a lot of good lessons about what a man should be. Here are some of the messages he shares:
  • A Man is Thankful
  • A Man Uses His Skills
  • A Man Needs to be Humble
  • A Man Takes Responsibility
  • A Man is Mentally and Physically Strong
  • A Man Overcomes Temptation
  • A Man Knows His Priorities
  • A Father Leads His Children
  • and many more....
I enjoyed reading this book. It is written in an interesting way and gave me insight as I raise my boys. When I requested this book to review I thought it might be a good one to give my son or nephew but after reading it I did decide against it. Though there are a lot of good lessons in it one of the big things that Tim struggled with was sexual sins and so that plays a large part into the book. If I knew a young man that was already struggling in that way I would give this book to him in a heartbeat but to make a young man that doesn't have these issues read a book where it talks about it quite a bit - I didn't know if that was wise.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book for purposes of reviewing but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why I Believe it is Wrong for Me to Drink Alcohol

This post is about why I believe it is wrong for me to drink alcohol. Notice I did say "for me". I don't think this is a truly black and white, wrong or right issue in the Bible but because of various verses on this subject in the Bible and various other biblical principles I am convicted personally that it is wrong for me to drink alcohol. Not knowing what my various readers believe on this subject this is just to challenge you to look deeper into what the Bible says.

Here are some various verses that do speak of alcohol....

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit," Ephesians 5:18

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." Proverbs 20:1

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long over wine;
    those who go to try mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it bites like a serpent
    and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
    and your heart utter perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
    like one who lies on the top of a mast.
35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
    they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
    must have another drink.” Proverbs 23:29-35

"It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." Romans 14:21
This the main verse that decides things for me. I don't know of anyone that would stumble spiritually from my eating meat (and I don't eat meat sacrificed to idols which was one of the challenges to the people this was written too - that isn't really an option around here) but there are people all about me that could stumble from my example of drinking alcohol (if I did). I have sat in a couple of court sessions in our time (seeking to give support to a young lady I was reaching out to) and I found it very interesting that nearly all of these little cases that I heard involved alcohol. There are so many (maybe around here especially - I don't know) whose lives have been ruined partly because of their use of alcohol. I don't want to ever through my actions encourage them in something that may wreck their life.

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!" Isaiah 5:11

"Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain." 1 Timothy 3:8

"(No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)" 1 Timothy 5:23
I didn't want to skip this one because it is one that many people like to use. Again, I don't think that drinking alcohol is forbidden I just think it is very unwise and I am convicted for me it would be wrong. To use medicine with some alcohol in it however I don't have a conviction against.

The Bible is quite clear in the message that we are not to be drunkards...

"Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:21

"Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:10

"Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags." Proverbs 23:20-21

 The Bible does have more verses than these on this topic but I think these will do for now. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Our Log Mantle is in Place

 We have a real mantlepiece now! I am pretty excited. My older brother Peter whose profession is building log homes (who also last year got to be on a reality TV show - "Cabin Fever" - and was labeled "The Artist") had offered to make our mantle for us. The biggest trees that we had to cut down on our property we had taken (in lengths that fit on a big trailer) over to my Dad's where they were cut up on his sawmill. Peter and Travis (my brother-in-law that made the fireplace) cut one piece up to make this mantle.

  Today it was plenty dry and so Peter cut it to the right length, planed it and sanded it and brought it over here.
 Once here he had to carve out areas on the underside to make it fit right on the rocks that were placed to support it.
 Doesn't it look nice?

It isn't fastened down yet. We will remove it and varnish it before long. But it doesn't move very easily - it's weight keeps it in place. After varnishing it we will plan on putting a heavy duty adhesive between it and the support rocks to make it stay on even better.

That was one of the fun happenings of the day. We also had fun burning up some of the brush and punky logs and scraps left over from building. We roasted brats and hotdogs and made s'mores and Peter and family and my sister Keren and her husband Benjamin joined us.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Wall Hanging made from Pallet Boards and Birch Bark

 I had fun making a wall hanging from old pallet boards and birch bark recently. I was wanted to put something on a fairly big wall in our living room but nothing we had already seemed quite right. I didn't want to go out and buy some expensive picture and I really liked the idea of having something homemade and original. What should we do?....

 I had made a small tree from birch bark a while back and I liked it an had received many compliments on it and so I thought it would be fun to do something of that nature just on a larger scale. As I was considered this idea I decided I wouldn't be able to get a piece of birch back as big as I would want for the base so I would need to figure out something different. I decided that old pallet boards might look neat. So this is what I did:
I found the stack of boards that we had (that had originally been pallets) in a stack from the tearing down of our outdoor shower. My first step was just to kind of lay them out and see what would work.

Then after figuring out what width and height would work I started cutting the boards to size.
Next step was to wash the boards up a little and then I nailed them together.
I had decided that it would be neat to have the first chapter of Psalms on it as it talks about being like a tree planted by streams of water. I thought it would be fun to have scripture on our walls like that and I also liked the reference to a river. My first step in putting the verse on was simply to look it over and kind of plan it out in my head and then I wrote it on (free hand) with pencil. Painting the words was the next step. I think that is rather fun - but not as fun as the next step!
This picture shows a little better how I wrote it and then painted it.
 The next step was to add a tree (or trees) made out of birch bark. I just needed to cut them to shape and then I used hot glue to stick them on. I ended up having to piece together different sections of the tree.
 Next step was to add leaves. I went out and picked a leaf to help me get the shaped right. After cutting a bunch of leaves I stopped worry to much about the shape though. I also added some lichen to the tree - especially around the base.

 The leaf placement was challenging.
 We are pretty happy with the finished product though. I am going to enter it in the fair and then hopefully we can get it hung up.

 While I worked on that Mara worked on making a picture frame from pallet wood to frame a picture she took. We plan on hanging that in another place in the living room (After it goes to the fair as well).

 Do you ever make things from pallets? I would love to hear what you do!

I will be linking this to Funky Junk Interiors.

A Story that God Brought About {and what it is causing us to learn)

I want to share with you a homeschool highlight from this past week but first I want to tell you a story. It is a story that has reminded me just how much God is working.

  First I want to start the story by sharing that one of the burdens of my heart for many years has been especially to reach out to my neighbors. To make sure that each one of them has heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. To that end I do try to get to know my neighbors to be a good neighbor with God's help and to always be on the alert for an opportunity to share about Jesus Christ. So that is a passion of my life and because of that around a month ago I did go over to some neighbors that had moved in not long ago to meet them and to share some bread and honey butter with them. I met the lady of the house and her son who was a college student and was deaf.

 What I didn't know was that this young man had been earnestly studying his Bible (I don't know what prompted him in that direction) and he had also (right around the time I met him) started calling my Dad (His phone number is listed for our church) to have over the phone Bible studies with the help of an interpreter. Last Saturday he had arranged to meet with my Dad because he had studied enough that he saw his need for baptism. So after studying a bit more in person (with an interpreter) they started to figure out the details of the baptism. This young man thought it would be neat to be baptized in a river since Jesus was baptized in one. So my mom called me up wondering if it would be okay to come and do it at our place.

Of course!

Then my Mom started giving directions to his mom (who had been the interpreter and driver) to our place and she said "That's how you get to our place too!" (they also live on the river but I guess the river there is super mucky). So they figured out that we had already met. We could just say that is is a small world or we could see God's hand in all of this. The picture above shows them just after he came up out of the water from being baptized.

  The young man rode with us to church on Sunday morning. He was a little unsure of going without an interpreter but we tried to communicate to the best of our ability with pads of paper, a tiny bit of sign language and also the preacher had a power point for his sermon and did also write up some stuff especially to give to him. But we are really feeling the need to learn sign language!

  How much nicer communication would be if we knew sign language (I will from here on say ASL which stands for American Sign Language) not only for casual visiting but also so we could interpret at church for this young man and any others that might come in the future and we could also use it throughout our lifetime with people that we might meet. It just gives us more opportunities to be able to share the gospel with others.

  All of the kids and I are now working to learn it. We have found that there are some good learning tools online and as we progress we may look into classes too. Here are some of the helpful videos that we have found:

Here is a link to a printable ASL alphabet sheet.

Do you know ASL? Do you have any tips for us as we try to learn it? I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Freezer Cooking Makes For Easy Preparations When Company Comes

 Have you ever followed one of those once a  month cooking plans before? Well my friends Lyndi and Mindy and I were at a homeschool ladies day some months back and the speaker really encouraged the idea of doing it. I have put meals in the freezer before and I really like to do that when I get organized but I had never devoted a whole day to that before. Nor have I ever gotten together with friends to do it before. But anyway - we thought it sounded like fun so we decided to give it a try.

Lyndi, me and Mindy - I look a bit tired - we all were (I'm just the one that looks that way!)

Mindy had a cookbook that had a 2 week freezer cooking plan and Lyndi got us organized and we decided to give that a try first. We decided we would do it in my kitchen.

   It was a fun but quite tiring day. There are quite a few things I would like to change (many of the recipes weren't all that healthy -I tweaked some of them- and more expensive than my normal) but over all the concept is pretty neat and I think we could come up with a plan that would be better suited to our needs. So that is still a work in progress but it was a start.

  I am loving having a lot of easy meals in the freezer. When we had company at our place and we wanted to go berry picking and had other busyness going on it was super nice to just pull a meal out of the freezer. Whatever you method of putting them in there I think have some food that is very easy to prepare (main dishes that just need to go into the oven, cookies, muffins, etc.) is really nice for when company comes and life is busy. I recommend it!

  I would love to hear about any experience you have had with freezer cooking! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Filling our Home with Flowers

 As long as I can remember I have loved flowers. I think that is pretty much a natural instinct that God put in all of us but it is one that I have encouraged and strengthened in my life. When I went to Bible college I purposely applied at all the floral shops to see if I might be able to get a job where I could work with flowers. I did get that job and it was a big blessing to me. Now I have my own little Wedding Flower Business (started in 2007) and so I still get to make money working with flowers (how fun!) but more than doing it as a business I love bringing flowers into our home to make our life a little more beautiful.

  Decorating with flowers isn't hard to do but there are a few little tips that will help your flowers stay nice a little longer.

 I like to save money so the majority of the decorating that we do with flowers is with flowers we pick from the wild. God made so many different beautiful flowers and many of them just grow on their own - what could be easier than that. This year has been super fun for me as we have been able to do more canoeing and I was just overwhelmed by the beauty of the blue flag iris that were all over around our place. I think they are so beautiful! It was fun to be able to pick some for the house without even seeming to make a dent on what was blooming near us.

 Vases are not hard to come by (second hand stores often have them for very little) but you don't have to have a vase for your flowers. Old jars like these olive oil jars work fine too. Jars work well for giving flowers as gifts because you don't have to be concerned with getting them back. The arrangements above were with leftover flowers from a wedding that I did flowers for. It was fun to be able to share them with others.
 To make your arrangements last as long as possible:

  • Try to pick your flowers in the morning or anytime on a rainy day when they have plenty of moisture in their system.
  • Cut the flowers off and put them directly in water.
  • If you do pick a bunch and then bring them in and then put them in water by sure to cut their ends off again before putting them in water. The stems will clog up and not suck up water so cutting their ends helps them to be able to suck up the water. This is very important. You also should re-cut the stems every couple of days.
  • Flowers like clean water. Try to change the water every couple of days.

 A while ago my sister asked if I would be interested in some Patron bottles that they had found in the woods near their house. I thought they sounded cool (as I love unique bottles for using for vases) and so I said yes but I do now understand why she got rid of them. We don't drink alcohol and don't want people to think we do either and so though I think they are pretty fun vases it is a concern at the back of my mind that somebody will think I drunk the stuff in it first. :-)
This cute arrangement above was the work of Jonathan and his little second cousin Cody. When they were visiting recently they came in from a canoe ride with the water lilies and found the jar and did their own arranging. I'm so glad that all my kids (even the boys) enjoy flowers.

  Do you often have fresh flowers at your place - at least during the summer? It is a really fun activity to do with your kids - go collect some wild flowers from the ditches and decorate your house!

Friday, July 17, 2015

It is Berry Picking Time!

 In just a little over one week we went strawberry, honeyberry, blueberry, raspberry and cherry picking. We are so blessed to have all those different types available and all but the strawberries we were able to get free for the picking.
 A week ago Thursday we took around a 45 minute drive to go over to a U-pick strawberry patch. That was fun picking. Since we had to pay per bucket I did limit the amount we picked otherwise we would have been happy to pick there for hours. They let Megan (because she was under 10) pick a lb or so (they give the little kids their own special basket) for free - they also encouraged us to go ahead and eat while we picked so we gladly did!
 Then we drove about 2 miles from the strawberry place to a Honey Berry U-pick place. The lady that owned it had told us about it the week before and said that she had a pick and share deal. We could pick for free if we wanted- we would just need to let her have 1/2 the berries that we picked. That seemed like a good deal to me so we decided to make a day of it and do both the strawberries and honey berries the same day since it was a bit of a drive. We pack a lunch to take along.
 Honey berries grow on a busy and are the color of blueberries but have a very unique shape.
 They weren't super fast to pick but we still go a fair amount.
 They reminded us a little of blueberries in flavor but quite a bit tarter. Somewhat like a wild grape. They worked well in muffins but I don't really care to eat them plain.
The strawberries however were very delicious for eating plain!

   We went blueberry picking with friends on Saturday but that was a disappointment as they seem to have all frosted out or something like that. The patch we normally go to on state land had hardly any berries at all. We did get enough to put in muffins the next day along with some honey berries.

 This Thursday we went over to my parents to pick raspberries and  (tart)cherries. On our way their it started to rain - actually pour. I did lighten up some after we got their so we decided to go out and pick. We got probably a gallon and a half and then the rain came pouring down again and we were drenched (it was just Mara and I left out their at that time - the other kids had reached the melting point earlier) and so we gave it up for the day but hope to get back there again soon. Aaron and Megan had picked about a quart of cherries which I made into juice which I think I will make into Jelly.

   I did make both strawberry and honeyberry jelly which are quite delicious.

   We are still waiting for the Juneberries, elderberries and highbush cranberries to ripen and then we hope to pick them. I love berry picking!

   It is so fun to watch our freezer start to fill up again as we put the containers of berries in it. The canning jars are beginning to fill as well. We are so blessed!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Our 4th of July Picnic

 One thing I do think is quite fun when we have company is when there is the occasion to decorate according to a theme. This is totally not a necessary part of hospitality but to me it is very fun. I especially love to see how we can do it while using primarily things we already have. I thought it would be fun to share with you our 4th of July celebration.
I went on a hunt for flags to use for decorating with. I didn't find as many as I thought we should have (but we are still dealing with some things still being packed away) but then I remembered that a friend had given me some fabric that was really a bunch of flags all together. All we needed to do was cut them apart. That was really fun to use to make some garland with which I used on our front porch and also in our back yard. We also attached some to sticks and stuck them in our vases of flowers and then I put some on wire which Megan then stuck in our shoreline.

I was trying to figure out what sort of patriotic looking dessert I could make for the occasion and I found just a few blueberries that we had left from our picking last year and some raspberries (nearly the last of those too) and I stuck them in a white cake like picture above.
 After baking my flag cakes were a little messy but still gave the idea.

 We set up card tables and found Megan's little table. I was delighted to find that I had 2 red and white tablecloths and 2 blue and white ones. They looked so festive!
 I had the girls pick some wild flowers to put on the tables which we then added the flags to.
 We hung up another flag garland back here.
 Ken made horseshoe pits for the occasion.
 I picked up our friend Wayne and SuSan. They had fun trying out playing horseshoes.
 My Mom and Dad came looking very festive in their red, white and blue.
 Mom brought a rhubarb crisp to share. Though I told everybody that they didn't need to bring anything most of them did anyway. We had plenty of good things to enjoy.
 We were blessed to have our neighbors join us. They didn't have any family in town that day so we benefited instead.

  Some of the traditional 4th of July food we had were:

  • Hamburgers
  • Hotdogs/brats
  • Potato Salad
  • Baked Beans
  • Lemonade. (Megan thought we should make some but I didn't get it done but then my brother brought some cans of it so that worked.)
  • Watermelon.
It was a fun picnic. Afterwards some of us played music, some played horseshoes and others listened. Then some went to watch the fireworks. Aaron and I ended up staying home as he was fighting Lyme's disease (we didn't realize it at the time) and he thought it would be best if we just stayed home and went to bed in good time. I figured that if he thought he needed that - then he probably did. The others thought the fireworks were fun though.

Did you have a fun 4th of July? Did it involve hospitality? I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fishing For Our Supper

 One big benefit of living on the river is the easy accessibility to fishing. The boys have really been making use of this opportunity this summer and we have been blessed by it.

   Fish is quite good for you and most of us (Ken not so much) enjoy eating it very much. Having the kids catch fish is a great deal with meat being so expensive.

   The boys have been able to catch fish from the bank, in the canoe and also have been able to go out fishing with our neighbor in his boat a couple of times. Our neighbor has also blessed us with fish a couple of times from his catches as well.

This was Aaron's first fish caught in the summer. He caught it while out with our neighbor Merle.
Merle helped him clean that one but Jonathan has taken care of the cleaning ever since.
Jonathan caught one a couple of days later just as the kids were heading down to a river campsite for a picnic. They took it along and cleaned it there and cooked it over the fire (on a leaf!) and they thought it made a very tasty addition to their lunch of hotdogs.

I am so glad that Jonathan seems to enjoy the cleaning of the fish as well as the catching.

 In late June the boys friend (and 2nd cousin) DJ came to spend about a week with us. He loves to fish and the boys spent many an hour fishing.
They caught quite a few too. We were able to feed a bunch of people fish on Father's Day thanks to their fishing. (And also what Mara and her group had caught - and we had frozen - from the "Take a Kid Fishing event the kids went to.)

The boys worked together to get them all cleaned. It is so cool to have a fun and handy way for the boys to work at adding to the feeding of our family. This addition to our diet makes for one more thing that we don't have to go out and buy. Pretty cool!

 One thing that I have been meaning to pursue more is the use of the fish parts we don't eat. So far we have just been digging a hole and burying them but old stories of course talk about them making good fertilizer and then I have been thinking about cooking them and then feeding them to the chickens to stretch their food. So many things to think about but I don't always have time to do it all so we do what we can.

 Does your family like to fish? Do you have any favorite ways of cooking/eating fish? I would love to hear your tips!


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