Monday, September 30, 2013


I didn't get a scripture posted yesterday as is my usual (We had church, a 14 year old girl's birthday to celebrate and some pears getting mushy fast that needed attention so I ran out of time) but I didn't want to start the week without sharing something from the Bible with you.

  I have been reading in Proverbs lately and this verse is one that I enjoyed reading:

  "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul." Proverbs 29:17

This just reminds me of the importance of carefully training your children. That is something we have tried to do and I am comforted and delighted by my children over and over again. However, I am far from perfect and my child training has been far from perfect as well and I do at times see the result of my failures. However this verse encourages me to keep going, to be diligent, to correct and train my children when they need it and to pray for wisdom in that area on a daily basis!!

  I hope this verse is encouraging to you as well. If you are just starting out in parenting - it is hard to see a lot of results for a while but don't give up!!! The rewards of parenting the way God says to are huge!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Enjoying Our Tea

A Honeybee on Catnip
 I love growing herbs. They generally grow quite easily, they smell good, they look pretty and all the different flavors they can provide is so much fun!

  We do grow herbs for use in cooking but our main use of herbs around here is for tea. We drink tea for the pure pleasure of it and also for the health benefits. Most of us (Ken and Megan aren't really tea fans) crave a cup of tea when we aren't feeling to good.
Mara collecting herbs to dry
This week has unfortunately been one of sickness around here (though in the midst of that we took a trip anyway- maybe not so wise but it was fun) and the kids have developed some nasty coughs, tea has been the requested drink many, many times this week.

  To make our tea I simple bring a pot of water to a boil and then turn it off and drop in my fresh or dried herbs and let it steep for several minutes. Then we pour a cupful (There is a strainer in the spigot) which we then like to add milk and honey to. Yummy!
Peppermint is our favorite but we also use Catnip, Echinacea, Horsetail, Red Raspberry Leaf, Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Mullein and Borage (as well as a few others not so often).

   Do you like to drink herbal tea?

Would you like to win some of the herbs for tea that we have dried from our garden? I would love to share some with you.

  If you would like to win please leave a comment telling what type of tea you like and which of the ones highlighted above that you would like to try. (I can either send you a blend or some individual herbs). Please leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you should win.

  If you would like a second chance at winning then please become a GFC follower of my blog or subscribe via e-mail and leave me another comment letting me know that you do so.

  This giveaway will go through Oct. 1st at which time I will randomly select a winner.

And the winner is: Tiffany! Congratulations!

Don't miss the other giveaways that I have going on right now:

~ A Fabric Flower Barrette

~Handmade Soap

~"One Thousand Gifts" Book


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Focusing on my Family

 Do you ever find yourself getting caught up in this long list of things that need to be done and that relationships end up being neglected? I do at times. I have been noticing a struggle with it lately.

  I can get caught up in blogging or other online activity and fail to really communicate with those that are right next to me the way that I should.

  I can get caught up with the healthy eating ideas and fail to realize that my husband isn't really enjoying meals at home so much anymore. Healthy eating is good but if my husband doesn't feel like he is the King of his castle then there is a problem. Balance is necessary.

  I can get caught up in organizing and preparing outside educational activities that leaves me lacking in time (and henceforth stressed) for taking care of HOMEschooling.

  I can get caught up in volunteering to the point that I just can't handle everything and guess who sees the struggle? My family.

  I can get so caught up in all the fun homesteading activities that I can't keep up with the simple homemaking activities like having a clean bathroom.

  I can get so caught up in a certain challenge (like not buying gifts for a year and making them instead) that Birthdays suddenly become overwhelming (since I am super busy) to me rather than fun.

  I am the type of person who loves to try lots of things, I have a hard time saying "No" and I find it hard to ask many people for help (I don't have trouble with those I know very well- but beyond that circle I struggle) so it seems like every so often I have to remind myself to step back, let go of some things and focus on the things that are truly important.

   I figured possible there are others of you struggling with focusing on what is important too so I hope to encourage you to step back and refocus as well.

  Let's concentrate on relationships - God first, then family, church and friends. Our marriage will be blessed.

Since I am doing giveaways this week I thought I would add one to this post too.

 Would you like to win a fabric flower barrette that you can wear to help you look nice for your husband?

 This flower barrette was made by my daughter Mara and has a mauve flower that is accented by feathers.

  If you would like to win please leave a comment and be sure to leave me some way to contact you should you win.

And the winner is: Elizabeth! Congratulations.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Soapmaking! {Without expensive oils}

I have wanted to learn how to make soap for quite a number of years. There were actually quite a few reasons that I wanted to make my own soap. They were:
  1. I always enjoy being able to make something instead of buying it if I can.
  2. Whenever I have tried homemade soap it has been so much nicer than anything that I can buy at the store.
  3. I prefer to use bar soap over liquid soap so that I can avoid the Sodium Laurel Sulfate.
  4. If I did it the old fashioned way, I could use ingredients that were basically free and extra from meat processing. So I could save money with soap making too.
 In my quest to make soap however I started to feel a little discouraged with learning how to actually make old fashioned soap. Soap making is a popular hobby now but pretty much all the information I could find on it, whether on blogs or in books, was using expensive oils like coconut oil, cocoa butter, almond oil and so forth. Not that I have any problem with soap made out of those oils - I have tried some that others have made and I really, really like them. My problem was with the expense of it and also because one of the reasons I wanted to make soap was so that we could cross one more thing off the list of things that I needed to buy.
   I did however go over to a friends a couple of times while she was making soap (from purchased oils) and watched and helped her with that so I could get the general idea and then I found out another friend made soap and she made soap with things that I could easily get and which where basically free to me. Yea!!! She shared her recipe with me which I ended up tweaking slightly (after doing quite a bit of research) and so I will share that with you.
 Goat Milk, Peppermint and Oatmeal Soap
~12 oz. lye flakes/powder (I bought mine from Amazon - it was labeled as a drain opener)
~ 3 pints goats milk (most of this should be frozen in ice cube trays or something so it can be made into a frozen slush)
~5 1/2 pounds of Animal fat/tallow (I used beef and goat tallow) This should be clarified and lukewarm (around 100 degrees)
~ 4 heaping teaspoons borax (optional)
~ 2 cups oatmeal either whole or finely ground (optional)
~ 2 cups dried peppermint leaves (optional)
~ Peppermint oil (optional)
 1. Weigh and melt your fat. I used Ken's old postal scale. Someday I suppose it might make sense to buy a digital scale but right now I am trying to avoid buying anything. It worked!

 2. Put your goat's milk (frozen and unfrozen) together in a pan and try to make into a slush. I should have done this a little more before I added the lye. The purpose of having the milk really cold is because the lye will naturally heat up as soon as it hits liquid and it can heat up so fast that if your milk is all liquid it can cause it to burn and turn a funny orange color so I hear.
 3. Weigh your lye and carefully add it to the milk. Lye is a dangerous substance so I did choose to do all the working with lye outside (there are some fumes) and I wore long sleeves, pants, gloves and goggles just to be cautious. Lye can truly burn. I guess vinegar can neutralize the burn so just in case I also kept some vinegar handy.
 4. Stir the lye and the milk carefully together. It will heat up naturally.

5.  When the lye mixture is warm (feel the outside of the pan or use a thermometer that is just for this) and a similar temperature as the fat/oil then add the oil to the lye and milk. Stir while combining if possible.

 5. Add the borax.

 6. Stir, stir, stir (for probably 15-30 minutes) until your soap traces. Trace is when you soap thickens and I believe the saponification is happening at this time too. A bunch of chemical stuff that I don't truly understand. If you make gravy or pudding then I think the trace won't be that hard for you to figure out either.

7. At trace is when  you start adding additional ingredients like oatmeal (which is good for your skin), peppermint (I love the smell of it and thought it looked kind of cool - but it didn't add as much scent as I had hoped.), and any essential oil. With my batch I did add around 10 drops of peppermint oil along with the dried peppermint but it didn't nearly have the peppermint scent that I had hoped for. A soap making friend told me later that when you add essential oils you need to add tablespoonsful not just drops if you really want to smell it. I don't know if I will ever do that or not as essential oils are expensive. The soap does smell nice anyway- I think everything combined made a nice smell just not a strong peppermint one.

 8. The next step is putting the soap into "molds". In researching I found that many things could be used as molds - there is really no need (at least from a practical standpoint) of buying or making expensive molds. We used all sorts of plastic containers. When it was in something like the dish soap bottle above I did have to cut the whole bottle (making it useless for being a mold another time) in order to get the soap out but that didn't bother me as it was "trash" anyway.

9. Put all your molds in a rather insulated spot where they will stay warm and not harden to fast. I put all my molds in a cardboard box, wrapped in a towel out on our hot deck.

10. Check them every so often to see when you will need to cut them. My friend was able to wait until 48 hours later to cut them. We ended up cutting them only 8 or so hours later as they were already hard. There is a danger of them getting to hard and being very hard to cut. Because of our variety of "molds" we ended up with soap in all shapes and sizes. We even dedicated a few old candy molds to soap making so we ended up with some pretty little sunflower soaps too.  When cutting the soap I would advise wearing gloves. I didn't and it wasn't any big deal but the girls who were helping unmold the soap too found that their hands felt a little irritated. This batch made around 30 bars of regular size and 8 small bars.

11. Let the soap ripen for 3 weeks or more in a moderately cool, dry and airy place.

I have now been using our soap for around a week and I like it quite well. We are using it in the shower/bath and I have also started using it for my dish soap. I hadn't thought of doing that before until I was reading in Carla Emery's book (The Encyclopedia of Country Living) and she mentioned that she used bar soap for dishes and then I realized that my friend who makes soap only had that available for dishes (at least that I could see) at her house too. Lye soap is supposed to cut grease well.
I am rather excited to be able to make not only my own soap for cleaning us but also for cleaning our dishes. I can cross 2 items off of my buying list! At this point the only thing I bought for soap making is lye and then the oatmeal (but we already have that on hand for eating) but I have been reading up on making lye (from ashes) so that is something I plan on trying sometime.

 DISCLAIMER - this post contains information on how I made soap but I want to make sure you know that I am no authority on the subject. This was the first time I made it all by myself. Lye is a dangerous chemical and it does need to be treated with respect. If you want to make soap please do quite a bit of research and familiarize yourself with the process and the risks involved. If you make soap using these instructions you do it at your own risk.


Would you like to try some of our homemade back the basics soap? I have decided to host a giveaway of one bar of our soap.

   If you would like to win.....

1. Leave a relevant comment on this post telling me why you would like to win this giveaway or tell me some soap making tip or story. Please be sure to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you if you should win.

2. If you would like a second chance at winning then please become a follower of my blog via Google Friend Connect or subscribe by e-mail and then leave another comment telling me that you did that.

This giveaway will go through September 29th. I will e-mail the winner at that time to get their mailing information.

AND THE WINNER IS: KIMBERLY IN NC - if you haven't heard from me yet please e-mail me with your mailing information.


Don't miss my other giveaway going on right now: "One Thousand Gifts" book.

I am linking this to:

monday's homestead barn hop

and the Chicken Chick's Blog Hop


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Giving Thanks for God's Gifts {One Thousand Gifts review and giveaway too!}

"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" Ephesians 5:20

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Is that your life, saying "Thank you"? Do you really give thinks for everything? Do you truly do it in every circumstance?

   I have long thought being thankful was a very important part of my life. I have for quite a lot of years kept a prayer journal and in that journal I start out my prayer time with praise of God followed directly by a list of things that I am thankful for. So yes I am thankful, but I still have a long ways to go to get to the point of naturally thanking God for everything and in every single circumstance. Well, the more I practice at it the better I will learn to be!

  Several years ago I heard about a blogger name Ann Voskamp and became acquainted with her blog: A Holy Experience.  I read her blog, enjoying her gorgeous pictures and words and her gift for making you think and her focus on Thankfulness and Joy. I enjoyed joining at times her blog party where you post a list of the things you are giving thanks for in an effort to count 1,000 gifts.

   I had heard of Ann's book "One Thousand Gifts ~ A dare to live fully right where you are" and have wanted to read it and so I was delighted when I was contacted recently wondering if I would like to review it (and host a giveaway of it!). I said "Yes, Yes, Yes!".

  The book did not disappoint me. Ann has a wonderful writing style and a wonderful message. She shares the story of a trouble childhood and struggles even in adulthood and the healing that comes when you learn to thank God even in the midst of troubles.

  She shares how gratitude can help us to have right priorities/focus in our life. She shares how important it is if we want true communion with God to give thanks for what He has given us. She writes about this in a way that I have not heard before but that makes perfect sense.

   She talks about the importance of trusting God (I mentioned how much the book encouraged me in this area here). When we are truly thankful for all that He has given and when we realize that all good gifts come from Him and that He knows our every need then we really don't need to worry any more.

  I really, really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading it all over again! I highly recommend it to you if you would like to live life more fully!

  Would you like to try winning this book?

I am blessed to be able to host a giveaway - If you wouldn't like to enter please:

1. Leave a comment telling my 3 things you are feeling thankful for today. Please leave your e-mail address in your comment so that I can contact you if you should win.

2. If you would like a second entry please become a follower of my blog via google friend connect or subscribe to get my blog posts delivered to your e-mail. Then leave me another comment telling me how you follow my blog.

This giveaway will go through September 29th. Stay tuned - I have other giveaways lined up for this week as well. It should be fun!!

  Disclaimer: I was given this book for purposes of reviewing but all thoughts are my own.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

What's Cooking?

Homemade Egg Rolls
 Do you find yourself spending a lot more time in the kitchen in the fall? I do. First because I am putting up all the bounty from the garden and also because the heat of summer is over and I don't mind having the oven heat up the house a little and also because this fall weather just makes us hungry.

  I just uploaded my pictures from this week and noticed a lot of food photos so I thought I would tell a little bit about what has been going on in our kitchen.

 With plenty of cabbage available (my parent's have huge cabbages and we have a few that have done well too) egg rolls sounded like a fun meal. This isn't something we make often since it is deep fried but it is something that is enjoyed -especially by Mara and I. We make our own wrappers (it is super easy!) and then for the filling I try to use whatever garden produce we have on hand. Into these went cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, green beans cut small and grated carrot for veggies. Both the beans and carrot were from our garden and the cabbage was from my parents.

   What I actually found the most exciting about these egg rolls is the meat. I had asked for the beef heart too along with the rest of our beef when we got it and then I had no idea what to do with it. A friend suggested that it worked well in stir-fry so I shaved some off one day for that but I still had a lot left so I decided to use it in the egg rolls as well. I cut it up in chunks and then ran in through my food processor so it was ground up. It worked wonderfully in the egg rolls. My family had no idea that it was heart (after eating tongue Ken informed me that he would really rather not know when something weird like heart or tongue is being served). Also this week I used up the last of the heart in another hot dish and again the family enjoyed it.  To complete the using what we have to make these egg rolls - I fried them in tallow which really worked quite well.
 Another kitchen experiment this week was to make dill green bean pickles. I found this recipe. I am looking forward to trying them out but I need to let them sit for 3 weeks or so first. Have you ever had dill green bean pickles? Are they any good? The reason I decided to make them is because my parents have had an abundance of green beans and I already have a years supply of the regular green beans put up so I decided it was time for some variety.
 Today I have had spaghetti sauce simmering in my crockpot. I am trying out this recipe (with my own little adjustments of course!).
 Vinegar making was one of the things that I got down today. Not that the vinegar is done but at least it is started now. I am making apple scrap vinegar and also I am trying to use some strawberry jam that fermented to make vinegar as well. I was excited to find a good use for my lovely pottery pitcher that had lost it's handle.
 And this didn't need any cooking but we sure enjoyed eating it! Lovely, ripe watermelon from our garden! Some years we don't get any melons that ripen and then sometimes we pick them at the wrong time (we already ate one that really wasn't very ripe this summer), but this one was perfect! I tasted so good!

What is cooking in your kitchen?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

American Phoenix by Jane Hampton Cook {A review}

This summer I enjoyed reading American Phoenix by Jane Hampton Cook. It is about John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the exile that saved American Independence. With the book being over 500 pages and being somewhat deep reading and since I tend to read quite a few books at once, it did indeed take me most of the Summer to get it read but I truly enjoyed the read.

   I have long had an interest in the Adams family. Mostly because I shared a name with Abigail Adams - John Quincy's mother. So when I was young I was given a book about her and have read whatever I can find about her since that time. A few years ago we were given another hugely thick book about John Adams and I enjoyed that as well so I was happy to have the opportunity to learn more about John Quincy and his wife Louisa.

   I knew John Quincy had quite the resume from being secretary for his father when John Adams was a minister to other counties, and then going on to representing the United States in foreign countries on his own, then being a Senator, President and a Member of the House of Representatives (the only President to do that after being president) but I didn't know much about the man other than some things I had heard about his study of the Bible and other books.

   This book had oodles of information that we very well researched and written out about their time in Russia and his large influence on ending the War of 1812. The Author was able to write in such a way that would make me put myself in his or Louisa's shoes and think what things would have really been like. I suppose it helped that I am involved in politics and that after visiting with congressmen and those that have run for a seat I had already thought about how much politicians sacrifice in order to serve their country (One that I visited with was able to spend time with his family every other weekend - I would really not like that!). However what current politicians sacrifice is pretty much nothing compared to what people like John Quincy went through. He decided to leave their older children in America while they went to Russia so that they would have good schooling (against Louisa's wishes) hoping that he would be home again in less than a year but it ended up that they didn't see their children again for years! (6, I believe). I can only imagine how hard that would be. They also went over to Russia on their own money and weren't paid for months and months and meanwhile were face with a very expensive lifestyle expected of them in Russia.

   If you enjoy American history I think you would enjoy this book which peeks into a story that is not very well known.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sharing your husbands dreams

Last week I wrote about learning to trust both my husband and God concerning the idea of moving. Trusting has been going well and so this week I have been thinking about how much better it is when I share my husbands dreams. There are many dreams that we do share in life but there have also been some we didn't share.

  One of those was the dream of living on the shore of a river or lake (not my dream because it would require moving - not because I am opposed to water) and another dream of Ken's that I can think of at the moment that I don't share is the dream of wanting to own a convertible and drive around in it when we get older (like when the kids have left home).

  As I have been thinking and praying about the moving situation I have been trying to share Ken's dream in that and it is actually rather happening. I am starting to see all the fun things there would be about living near water, the benefits there could be in a new home (especially if we end up designing and building) and so forth. I am actually starting to feel excited about it. Now I won't be unhappy if it doesn't work out and we stay here instead but for now I am having fun dreaming with Ken about houses and property and such like.

  I don't know about you but with me when there is something Ken wanted that I felt would negatively affect me I would tend to hope and probably sometimes even pray that it wouldn't work out. Instead of working to change my attitude about it I would hope that he would change his. Thankfully that hasn't been a lot of things in our life together but there have unfortunately been a few. I am hoping that since I have started to realize what I was doing that I will be able to make a change with the help of the Holy Spirit and not act like that anymore.

   Now concerning Ken's dream of a convertible....
I don't think I am to the point of dreaming about that yet but I have started to realize that some of the reasons I didn't want one were rather lame and really didn't matter that much.

  Do these thoughts make sense to you? Can you relate or share tips on this subject?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Harvest Time {Thought and tips on putting up food for winter}

 This last month has been pretty heavily focused on getting food put up for the winter. I really enjoy the lifestyle that we live where we raise and process our own food as much as we can. I know that is not something everybody wants to do but for others that are interested in this lifestyle I thought I would share a little about how we do that frugally and while running businesses, homeschooling children and many other distractions.

Why do we put up food?

There is plenty of food available at grocery stores, why do we want to put up our own instead?

  • We can have healthier foods. I try to make sure that the foods that I put up are basically organic and gmo free.
  • We save money.
  • We always have a good supply of food on hand which prepares us for emergencies.
  • We enjoy being able to know very well all about our food. I am not sure how to describe it but when we can raise and make our own food and other things then life feels more connected to me.

Canning fish this year for the first time.
 Where can you get the food to put up?

  • Your own garden. This is probably most people's first thought and it is a great one but it is not the only way to put up good food for winter.
  • Picking wild foods on public land. This is how we get our blueberries and juneberries and things like that.
  • The generosity of other gardeners. Gardeners are often generous people especially when they know that you will use it and not waste it. When someone offers us produce I usually say "Yes, Thank you!". My parents tend to give us a lot of stuff as they have been able to grow it well and know we appreciate it, other friends have also given us some of the abundance of their gardens at different times. When this sort of thing happens my goal is to always show my thankfulness, to offer to help pick or help in other ways if possible and to be sure to offer to share when I have abundance as well.
  • Gleaning. We get our potatoes every year by going to fields that grow potatoes after they harvest and then looking for the rejected potatoes in the field. I am sure there are many ways you can glean. Just be sure to check with those who own the place to be sure that it is okay.
  • Picking at a U-pick farm. This is how we generally get our strawberries but we also got a bit of corn that way this year as well. It depends on the area you live in what is available and whether or not it is good prices.
  • The farmers market. I have not actually ever bought stuff from the farmers market for purposes of putting up as it has seemed to expensive and we grow our own garden but I know some people do. A friend of mine who lives in a bigger city has gone just as they were about to close up for the day and gotten some pretty good deals on large quantities of veggies.
  • Ordering from Azure Standard or buying lugs of fruit from other sources. When you buy large quantities in season on things like fruit often you can get some pretty good deals. I have pretty much never done this as we have usually had plenty of our own but I know friends that do this.
  • Raising your own animals for meat, eggs and dairy products.
  • Hunting and fishing.
  • Buying from a local farmer.
  • Keeping your eyes and ears open for times when people want to get rid of animals that could be butchered. I know I have seen ducks and roosters available for give-away before, my parents are regularly given fish and my dad has also butchered a pot-belly pig when it's owner grew tired of it.
  • Raise bees.
Part of what Mara picked one day at my parents. She picked for both them and us.
 What methods can be used for preserving food?

  • Water bath and pressure canning.
  • Drying.
  • Freezing.
  • Smoking.
  • Fermenting.
  • Cold Storage.
Pesto making.
 How can I do these things without spending a lot of money?
  • Realize that you don't need to buy a lot of fancy equipment.
  • Buy used equipment such as canners, canning jars, etc.
  • Buy Tattler canning lids that can be reused year after year.
  • For drying herbs just tie bunches together and hang them upside down until they are dry.
  • Save bags and containers all year long (cottage cheese containers, peanut butter jars, bread bags, etc.) to use for freezing stuff in and storing honey in. I also use repurposed containers to store my dried herbs in. If you don't get enough of your own containers I have found that friends (who do buy more processed stuff) are usually quite happy to save them for you especially when you share a jar of honey now and then! :-) When we are butchering and packaging meat we will often use a grocery bag for the second layer of wrapping. Many people (though not me as we use cloth grocery bags) have an over abundance of these.
  • For cold storage if you have an empty room in your house simply shut off the heat, keep the door closed and use it to store things like squashes, cabbages and so forth. We have never really had that available but my parents do that all the time.
  • Figure out how to make needing equipment or make do. With honey extracting I was very blessed to have my dad and brother make me an extractor instead of having to pay hundreds of dollars to buy one. Instead of a heated honey knife I have made do with knives and a hot plate. Instead of buying a cheese press I intend to make one using things that we have.
Canning at our homemakers group.
 Putting up food for the winter can be a LOT of work, especially in the fall but I think it is worth it. Having all the food put up sure makes shopping and cooking a lot easier for the rest of the year. Also the satisfaction that it brings is very, very fun to me. My family is learning to really enjoy it as well.
A honey harvest.
Are you in the midst of harvest and putting up too? What tips do you have to share on this topic? I would love to hear your thoughts or questions!

Jackpine Retreat

A panoramic view of church this morning
This afternoon we got back from a fun weekend  of camping in Northern (way northern - almost to the border) Minnesota. We went to Jackpine Retreat which is a Rustic Christian Family Camp. I have gone ever since I was a baby and it is something I have always loved and my family loves it too.

  I enjoy spending time with friends and family all of us tied together through Jesus. The fellowship time is always wonderful. I enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors in God's creation, singing together, God's word being shared, game playing, cooking outside and much more. My kids love the freedom to roam, stay up late, get dirty and do a lot of playing.

Here are a few pictures of the weekend:

Some of the girls were running a restaurant on Saturday afternoon and wanted many of the adults to come to their restaurant.  A couple of my friends and I were the first ones to go. We were "fed" all variety of food and had wonderful service.
 A bunch of cousins and a friend shared this tent which got all fixed up pretty.
Singing around the campfire at night.

 Cousins at church this morning.
 Walking on spools is a special Jackpine Retreat sport. We also had a race on them.
Some new and old spool walkers.

We were glad to get home to showers and a warm house but truly loved our weekend there! (Though as far as showers go I did actually get a hot one up there this year as a friend got it fixed.)

 To any of you who live around here you should think about joining us next year! (And for those friends of mine that used to come - it is still worth the trip even if you might live farther away. We sure would love to have you come!)

Good instruction for life

Today in my Bible reading I appreciated the words of this verse:

   "He who gives attention to the word will find good,
and blessed is He who trusts in the Lord."
Proverbs 16:20
Over and over again I am struck by how useful and life changing is God's word. The Bible is the inspired word of God and in it He has given us what we need to know to be prepared for this life and for eternity. I encourage you (whether you never have or you do all the time already) to dig into God's word and believe it and obey it!
   This verse also talks about trusting God and how we will be blessed if we do. That is so true and something that I need to remind myself of regularly. In every big or little thing we can trust God and we will find ourselves blessed when we do.
  May you have a blessed week, one where you spend time in God's word and practice trusting Him in all things!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Choosing to Trust

I have been thinking about trust lately, here is why....

  On Labor Day weekend our family (along with some others) decided to go on a little canoe trip on the Mississippi not far from home. While we were canoeing along we started noticing "For Sale" signs every so often on homes or property along the river. Ken commented "wouldn't it be fun to live on the river" and "I think I will check into them". We visited about it and I did think it would be fun in a way and if we were to move I would rather do it sooner than later as I would like to get fruit trees planted (again!) and so forth.

   Really though, I was hoping that he would just forget about the idea which Ken does realize. I have this big thing about putting down roots, I love the fact that in my life that I can go visit my parents and when I do that I am also visiting the only home that I ever remember from growing up (I was born elsewhere but my parents moved to their current house before I was two- I believe), also when I go visit my Grandpa in Nebraska I am going to the place where he was born and raised and where my Mom and her siblings were raised. My Grandpa did build a new house but the old one is still there too. Anyway having a sense of permanency is something I really enjoy. I also like to be able to work on our land with things such as planting things, improving soil, making our home and yard just what we want and so forth.

  So anyway after that little conversation it made me realize yet again (we have talked about this before) that Ken isn't quite so into this whole putting down roots thing (he moved all over the place as a child and moving is normal for him) and also that Ken just might not ever be truly content living here in Northern MN without having a home on the water.

 So I went home from that fun little canoe trip and I will admit I had some rather turbulent thoughts and feelings. I wanted Ken to be happy but I also really wanted things to go my way. Oh, that sure sounds selfish but it is quite true. Not only did I have the reasons that I already mentioned but I also realized that if we decided to buy a new home we would also be getting a larger mortgage - one that wouldn't be paid off nearly so quickly and I would dearly love to get our mortgage all paid off (the sooner the better in my opinion!). Anyway the more I thought about it the more I hated the idea of moving. I could think of all the things that we would need to fix up before we could sell, all the things that a new property would absolutely have to have if I was to make a change and so forth. After a morning of thinking about it my stomach was practically in knots and I felt like crying.

  That afternoon when we took our rest time I was blessed to be reading Ann Voskamp's book "1,000 Gifts" and I believe the chapter was about trust - whatever it was about it made me think about trust and how I really needed to change my attitude and be willing to trust both God and my husband. First of all, God can see the big picture. He sees things that I cannot see. He knows what is truly best for all of us. He can open doors and He can close them. He can work this out however it should be worked out to glorify Him if we are willing to let Him work. Also I can trust Ken. He too wants what is best for our family. He doesn't want any of us to be unhappy. He also doesn't want us to make stupid financial decisions. It is true Ken might make mistakes but no mistake he can make can effect eternity for me so it doesn't really matter.

  After some thinking, reflecting and prayer I have felt so at peace over this whole issue. God has truly helped me to learn to trust. When I am willing to let God be in control I can be happy and at peace and He can work things out far better than I can imagine.

  And yes, we do have an appointment to see a house on Monday night. Only God knows if anything will come of it - I can trust Him!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Harvest Time

High bush cranberries picked on our canoe trip
 I read these verses lately and I feel like I can really relate just now so I thought I would share them today....

Go to the ant, O sluggard,

Mara in one of my parents gardens

Observe her ways and be wise,

One of the big cabbages at my parents

Which, having no chief, officer or ruler,

Watermelons growing is always exciting

Prepares her food in the summer

The peppers are doing well this year

 and gathers her provisions in the harvest.

I think purple cabbages are beautiful

 Proverbs 6:6-8

High bush cranberry juice and grape juice- they are beautiful too.

 God has provided plenty of good things for everyone but His plan does include us doing some work. I think it is so cool that He gave us little things like ants to be an example for us. May you enjoy a week of hard work and one of experiencing and thanking God for His many blessings!


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