Monday, January 22, 2018


  I have been thinking about neighbors a lot lately. We are blessed with some of the best neighbors a person could wish for. But though I love the ones that I know there are still a lot of people on our street that I do not know and some I haven't even met. I would like to change that. That is one of my goals for this year that I can make some measurable progress in getting to know and showing love to my neighbors.

   I have been thinking about some Bible verses about neighbors and figured I would share some with you. While I realize that the Bible clearly teaches that our neighbor isn't just the people that live next door or in our neighborhood - it is whoever should cross our path - I still think that our physical neighborhood is not a bad place to start as we try to follow these verses....

Romans 15:2
"Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. "

Proverbs 27:10 and 14
"Do not forsake your friend and the friend of you father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you - better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away."
"If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse."

Matthew 19:17-19
"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." "Which ones ?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself."

Romans 13:9 and 10
"The commandments, "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet" and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule; "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

Galatians 5:14
"The entire law is summed up in a single command; " Love your neighbor as yourself."

It is my desire to truly get to know my neighbors better this year.

Why do I want to know my neighbors?

  • So I can truly love them the way the Bible says I should.
  • So I can share the gospel with them.
  • Because it is fun.
  • Because it is very helpful to know your neighbors - to be able to help and share with them and they do the same for you. For the neighbors we do know and have known through the years this is truly a wonderful thing.
  • For safety's sake. If we know each other and a little of what is going on in each other's lives we could see and prevent a break-in or something like that. Also in emergency situations of various sorts it can be super helpful to know your neighbors and be able to help each other.
What is my plan for getting to know them?

  • I am hoping to host a neighborhood party this summer. We will probably see if our super sweet next door neighbors want to co-host with us.
  • When we have the party I plan on hand delivering the invitations and trying to meet people in the process.
  • I hope to have our neighborhood party early enough the we can then afterwards invite them to come to our 4th of July party as well.
  • I am thinking that maybe we will do May Day baskets for the whole neighborhood this year.
  • Inviting people that we do meet and feel at ease with over for a meal on a more one on one basis. I especially have the goal of making that happen with our next door (seasonal) neighbors on the other side (on the one side we have gone back and forth quite a bit.)
I am looking for more ideas on how to get to know and develop deeper relationships with your neighbors. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Homemade {Colorful} Cleaner

Lately I had really wanted to have a spray cleaner in every bathroom (before I had been carrying one around to each one but I wanted a little more convenience) so I went looking and found that I did have some extra spray bottles saved. Yeah! I use spray bottles over and over again and have at times rescued empty ones from the trash after cleaning at the church building. I have hardly bought any spray cleaners for years and years.
    Anyway, I quickly put together some white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water and had them all ready to go. I just lately discovered the nice addition of rubbing alcohol. It helps clean mirrors and windows nicely and also dissolved some sticky stuff. I was working on making labels for them when Aaron came along and wondered if he could "color them". Since I was working on the labels I assumed that is what he was talking about (and I think that was his intent) and I said sure and went off to teach Megan a piano lesson. He didn't finish labeling them but then I looked over and saw that he hadn't just colored the labels - the cleaner was all colored too. Food coloring at work.
  He was pretty tickled about his project and making my natural cleaner not so natural anymore. He thought they looked just like store bought now. Oh my silly boy!
   They seem to still be working fine but I will be a little more careful where I use them for the time being.
   Do you make your own spray cleaner? What do you use?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Priorities, Family and Doing God's Will

Our precious children
This Sunday, Ken and his Dad were watching the Vikings/Saints game and Mara and I joined them for the last minute or so of the game. Though I am not really into professional sports (Ken has been so happy to have his Dad move here and watch games with him) it was fun to watch "our team" win in such a dramatic way.

  But something I enjoyed much more than the game (I am a people person after all) was seeing a brief interview of Case Keenum the guy who threw the football. They were asking him what he thought about this moment and I loved his response. I couldn't find the exact quote but basically he said that this winning moment was 3rd on his list of great moments. 1st was when he gave his life to Jesus Christ and 2nd was they day he married his wife. It brought tears to my eyes that in an emotional career high like he was experiencing he was still able to remember what his right priorities were.

  Priorities can be challenging and it is something I have been thinking about lately. We are getting ready to host a Retreat at church at the end of February and the topic this year is centered around the family. As I have been thinking about that to prepare my mind and also helping to get decorations made and various other things ready for the Winter Retreat I have thought about the various priorities that many people have concerning God and their family.

   I think there are some wrong concepts out there concerning raising a family and serving God in a big way. It seems like some people think that they are called to ministry (whether it be going to the mission field or working here at home) and so even if they have to "sacrifice" their family in the process that is what they need to do. And I don't think they truly feel like they are sacrificing their family but I know that some kids that have been left in boarding school while their parents go to the mission field often feel quite a little sacrificed. Or let's bring it a little closer to home in these modern times - A wife who is left home so very often while her preacher husband goes off to preach at yet another camp or rally or is just gone nearly every evening leading this or that Bible study or counseling somebody. She can feel rather sacrificed. Especially when all that time apart from your spouse and with others leads to adultery -which I have known of happening far more than I care to think about. When any parent is involved in "ministry" so often that it causes the children to be shoved aside I think those children often feel and end up being rather sacrificed.

  I am not the only one who has seen these issues - others have too and I am noticing that sometimes there is a big pendulum swing. They don't want to happen to their family what I mentioned about so they vow to care for their family and make that their top priority. Sometimes they start leading a rather reclusive lifestyle and simply focus on their home with no outward focus at all. The problem is - family shouldn't be their top priority, God should. Don't get me wrong, family ranks super high on the list but our life isn't about our family (at least not for Christians) it is about God and seeking and doing His Will. When we read scripture we can clearly see that taking care of our family (1 Timothy 5:8), Loving our spouses and carefully training (Proverbs 22:6) and caring for our children is God's will. So we can follow God with all our heart and give our lives to His service (doing whatever He should see fit) realizing that in whatever we are doing if we have a family it is God's will that we love and care for them too.

 God does not ask us to do two different things that don't work together. In the Bible (which has in it God's revealed will for us) we find that it is God's will that we share the gospel with others (Mark 16:15 & 16, 1 Peter 3:15-16, 2 Timothy 1:7-8, etc) and we also know that we need to love and care for our family. Those have to be able to work together. We don't just choose one or the other (unless we do choose to stay single for the purpose of being able to devote our time to God without any distractions which is perfectly okay though not what God has planned for most people) - they can go hand in hand.

  The Bible clearly gives directions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33 and many other places as well. The husband is to love his wife like Christ loves the church and the wife is to submit to and respect her husband. I don't think that if a couple is following this scripture (and others like it) that either spouse is going to feel sacrificed or neglected.  1 Peter 3 also is a great chapter that addresses marriage relationships. Ephesians 6 has some good verses about raising children. The book of Proverbs is also full of advice concerning raising children. Raising children to love Jesus Christ takes time it isn't done in just a few minutes or even a day here and there.

   I hope I haven't just rambled on and on and not made sense. This is something I feel passionately about - that we as Christians were put here for a purpose and that is to seek His will and to do it and to glorify Him in everything. He has given us the job of sharing that Good News with others. If we are blessed to have a spouse and children it is also His will for us to love and care for them and train up our children. I fully believe that these two activities can both be done.

  I believe that working together with our spouse we can in fact accomplish more for the sake of the gospel. I believe that working with our children (even when they are little) we can find opportunities to share the gospel. Our families can be an asset - not a hindrance. When we can serve God together it causes all of us to grow and is a bigger light to shine to share the Good News.

   Here are just a few ideas of things we have done or I have seen others do to spread the gospel  along with your family.....

  • Invite others into your home, it could be just for a meal where you visit and encourage, it could be a Bible study or a time of prayer. We have also been blessed to have people come to our place to use our area of the river for baptisms.
  • Write. Letters, e-mails, blog posts, etc. These can be done with children around and sometimes they can even join in. These are opportunities to share the gospel and to encourage.
  • Help at a Bible camp. I have seen many families that go together to help out at camp.
  • Help at an church event. It is much easier to do things with my children's help than alone.
  • Serve at a homeless shelter. The whole family can help.
  • Sing together and for others.
  • Serve others together - you never know what opportunities you may have to share the gospel with those you are serving.
  • Spouses working together to do counseling.
  I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!


Friday, January 12, 2018

Our New Youtube Channel -Let Me Tell You About Jesus-

My son Jonathan has been working on learning how to edit videos and create YouTube channels so lately he has been recording a song at our morning music time. Mara has been working lately so she hasn't been in many of them. We still have a lot of room for improvement but Jonathan decided we couldn't wait until we were perfect to start sharing.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Seeking to Simplify - 2017 Recap and Ready to work on 2018

In 2017 I made the goal of getting rid of 5 things every day (Monday-Friday) and cleaning out/sorting through a space every day (Monday-Friday). I am really happy to report that I was indeed able to get rid of the 25 things a week that I had wanted to do. I actually did that plus a whole lot more. That means I got rid of well over 1300 items! Some of them were small - a dried out marker counted. So did a letter that I had been saving. So each item didn't always make a real noticeable difference but some of them did and together they did.

  I didn't quite manage to go through a space every day, Monday-Friday all year long but I came very close. I ended up only lacking a couple of weeks worth of spaces. That doesn't mean that I don't have cupboards, shelves, drawers and closets that don't need clean out (we do have a lot of "spaces" when you think about it) but they are in better shape than if I wouldn't have made that goal.

  With getting rid of stuff I have heard people say two things "You'll regret getting rid of that later" or "You'll never miss the stuff you get rid of" I have decided neither of those are always true. I am so happy to have gotten rid of most the stuff and I don't even remember much less regret getting rid of the majority but I have been missing something the last couple of days. I decided to get rid of some snow pants that were to small for my children and as some children have come over to play in the last couple of weeks without proper snow gear I have kind of regretted getting rid of them. I do still need to look through our stuff some more though because maybe I have another pair stashed somewhere. Or I could just keep handy some extra sweatpants that they could layer on. Now I am wondering if I should keep the boots that Megan has outgrown - just in case????

  I made the goal of selling one item a week and I think I did double that goal - which was nice. Most of it came from have a garage sale and then craft sales. I would have loved to triple or quadruple that goal but I don't think that happened.

 Just having the mindset of not buying anything to bring in but always looking for ways to bless others with our excess or make some money off of it was really quite fun. I also really love how having less makes areas so much easier to clean. I am not a minimalist yet but we are working that way. :-) 

 When making things for our craft sale this fall we bought nothing to make things with. We simply used what we had on hand except for picking up some free pallets for making signs with and picking evergreen (for free at a friends).
 It was nice to be able to make some money with things that we already had on hand.
As far as other simplifying goals. I had hoped to go through 5 photo files on my computer each day and delete things that we didn't need. I did very well at the beginning of the year on that project and then took a big break through the busy summer. I did make progress however so that we good.

 I also planned to empty my e-mail in box every day. That went much better but then I go lazy on that too but yesterday I got it cleaned all out again so we have a fresh start on that project.

  I do truly love living a bit more simply. I am still working to get even better at this. So, I think last years goals will continue on for this year and hopefully they can even more become habits.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Medieval Girls

I haven't been writing on here very much and so there are so many different things that I would love to tell about that it seems like my posts could get a little jumbled.

    I don't know if I have told you before or not but this year our homeschool co-op is going with a Medieval theme. That means that we have been doing a heavy concentration on learning medieval history around here. It has been rather fun. When we study a period in history we also tend to enjoy being able to dress that way if we so desire so some sewing has taken place as well. Some pieces of clothing tend to span many centuries - things like capes. Mara fell in love with the idea of having a cape several years ago. So, she ordered a couple of wool blankets and made herself a cape. This past spring I was able to use some "velvet" fabric that we had for Megan. Just recently we got busy sewing once again and made capes for a couple of nieces who also enjoy medieval times and had made medieval dresses for themselves. Megan made herself a Medieval dress this past spring and Mara is currently working on one (sewing it by hand out of wool cloth and linen thread and working to make it completely authentic).

 My sister and her family (who recently moved from Wisconsin to less than 2 hours drive away from us - Hooray!) were able to come for Christmas this year and so on Christmas day with the temperatures well below zero we headed out to take pictures of girls in their capes.
 If it had been a little warmer I make have worked a little harder to get some better pictures.
 But I think you can get an idea of their capes that we have made. For my nieces capes I even tried my hand at dyeing fabric as I didn't like how the lining fabric that I had looked and I had some dye on hand. That was great fun!
 Heidi and Megan wore their medieval style dresses that they made on Christmas day. Aren't they pretty?
All the girls in where it is warm.

 We had a wonderful Christmas/New Years time. We were blessed with family and friends being able to spend time with us and just loved the time to relax and enjoy our small family as well. I hope the holidays were a blessing for you as well!


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