Wednesday, April 29, 2015

May Day Will Be Here Soon

May Day Baskets from another year
Have you ever made and given out May Day baskets? It is quite fun to do. It is that time of year again so our house is in a bit of a mess as baskets and such are being worked on.

 May baskets are a fun way to spread a little cheer into peoples lives. It is a way to reach out to your neighbors and I do think that is super neat to actually know and be neighborly with your neighbors - unfortunately it is a bit of a lost art. It also is a great opportunity to do all sorts of fun and crafty recycling. It is a project that all ages can have fun working on.

Our goal this year is to share some at the nursing home when we go to sing and also with our neighbors and we will see if it goes any beyond that or not. 

May Day in 2008
I would love to hear your ideas for May Day. I will try to share pictures from this years projects sometime later.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why I Believe We Should be Baptized

This seems to be one of the more controversial subjects among those who profess to be Christians. I am not quite sure why. My goal is to simply take scripture plain and simply without any additions or corrections and without the need for oodles of explaining around things to make them mean something different from what it simply says. I hope that is your goal too.

  Here are some of the verses that make me realize baptism is important:

Romans 6:3-7 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we to might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so  that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin."

Galatians 3:27 "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

Matthew 28:19 & 20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15 & 16 "And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."

I Peter 3:21 "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you - not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience - through the resurrection of  Jesus Christ."

Colossians 2:12 "Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."

Acts 2:38 "Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

We also can notice in Acts (where the beginning of the church is told about) that every time there are details about a person becoming a Christian that baptism is included. Here are some examples of verses that discuss that: Acts 8:12, Acts 9:18, Acts 10:47 & 48, Acts 8:36-39, Acts 16:33.

Some things that we should notice as we read these verses:

  • Baptism is not discussed as a "work" or a way that we can earn our salvation. It is not. It doesn't any more earn our salvation than reaching out our hand to accept a million dollar diamond ring would cause us to earn that.
  • Baptism was something that people who knew what they were doing did. It says that those that were baptized also repented, had faith and believed. This is not something that babies can do. I do not see any reason from scripture to promote or endorse infant baptism.
  • Baptism means to be immersed, dipped or plunged into. That is what you will see if you look at the Greek meaning of the word - it is also what we see if we look at scripture. In Acts 8:38 &39 we see the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch and when he wanted to be baptized the found water and went "down into it" and "came up out of it". Also you will notice in several of the verses above it speaks of Baptism as a burial. That requires a covering up - we don't just get sprinkled with dirt when we are buried.
  • Notice from the scriptures mentioned that baptism is the point that we "walk in newness of life", "clothe ourselves with Christ", are "saved", get "forgiveness for our sins" and "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". 
  • Simply getting dipped in water does nothing. Baptism is something that is to be combined with our belief, faith, confession and repentance.
  • Baptism is not the ending point. It is the starting point for a new life with Christ. Elsewhere in scripture we see the need to remain faithful and live a new life.
This is a huge subject and one I feel passionate about. I would love to have you join in the discussion with any comments or questions that you might have!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Working on the House

 Siding the house is one of the big projects we have left and so we have been plugging away at it. Weekends are our best times to work since Ken is home. Today was supposed to be cold, windy and rainy too, I believe. It wasn't - it was a beautiful sunshiny day and nice temperature. Perfect for working outside. Ken and I spent much of the day working on siding. The kids and I did go off to go to a bluegrass concert this evening but Ken stayed home to work. When I got back (after 10 pm) I found him still hard at work with his work light on. He was working high up the side of the house.

   The kids worked today too. The girls really worked at getting out detached garage cleaned of all the remnants that were still left in there from our time of living there. The boys did some cleaning up around the yard and moving scrap lumber to better locations and such. There is plenty to keep us busy around here.

  Much of this week has been pretty chilly (we even got over an inch of snow) and so in the evenings we didn't go out to work on siding instead I finished varnishing shelves and then Ken got some put up. I am very happy to have some more shelves and a closet rod by my washer and dryer. Organization is coming. Yeah!

  We also got to the windowsill board put in the kitchen. It looks so pretty. I think that means that the kitchen is done. Hopefully I can have it spruced up and photographed and I will share it with you next week.

Some Things I Have Been Learning About Lately

I love to read. Do you? Learning is so fun I think. So I am constantly finding new books I have also enjoyed finding interesting things online to read about and learn. As we are working on getting our new homestead up and going and producing I have been reading and thinking a lot about that lately. I would really like to do things right the first time if possible since we are starting fresh. I thought I would share some little bits of things that I have been reading about and thinking about lately.

Some books I have been enjoying lately:

  • "Folks This Ain't Normal" by Joel Salitin - I found this book really fun and refreshing and not really what I was expecting. Where he talks about how everything (animals, soil, plants, bugs, us) are all made to work together it really just made me so in awe of how God created things perfectly. I hadn't realized just how wonderfully He had designed some things. The more I learn the more I am in awe of our Creator!
  • "The Self-Sufficiant Life and how to live it" by John Seymour. This book just reinforced what I had already been reading about how God designed everything to work together so perfectly!! Made me want to get a cow even more. 
  • The book of Deuteronomy.  This book is a neat one to go along with my homesteading thoughts. I have been enjoying the instructions that were given to the Israelite concerning creating and working on their homesteads and of course remember God in everything that they were to do. The reminder a couple of times to talk of Him as they walked, lay on their beds, tell their kids, etc. I really want to have that be how my life is.
  • "The Harvester" by Gene-Stratton Porter. This was a fun book to read but another one that enforces yet again how God created everything perfectly and with a purpose. I started reading this outloud to the kids but it ended up having to much romance for the boys taste and wasn't quite what I like to read aloud anyway so I ended up finishing it myself.
  • "In His Image" by Paul Brand. I have been reading this one aloud to the kids. It is so cool to read about how marvelously God made our bodies and how that it compares to the church - the body of Christ. 
  • The book of Acts. What fun to read about the very beginning of the church. This book never gets old. God was working then and He is still alive and powerful today!
  • "The Girl from Johnycake Hill" by Virginia Voight. This is the fun book I am reading to the kids now. It has been fun and reinforces our love of the old-fashioned life. 
Okay... I had better quit telling you about books (we do love to read!) and tell you about some of the other things that I have been dreaming about....

-Chicken Tractors.  We have a lovely chicken coop for our laying hens but we need something to keep the little chicks in that will be hatching in about a week. They will stay in big tubs for a while but then they will still be to little to integrate with the big ones and will need a place of their own. It is possible that they will go over to my parents but if possible we would like to make them a chicken tractor that they could live in and also work on getting rid of weeds and building up the soil in my garden area. Here are a bunch of photos of different Chicken Tractors.  Here is another post with links to chicken tractor plans. Have any of you ever made or used a chicken tractor? I would love to hear about it if you have.

-Vermicomposting (in other words - using worms to help with composting). I heard about this a long time ago but didn't ever bother to try it but I intrigued once again because I read that not only will they help you with composting your kitchen scraps but also they make great protein to feed to your chickens. They will multiply so you can then feed extras to the chickens. I do know that chickens love worms. We are looking into this more( I would really love to figure out ways to grow our own chicken feed. Here are simple instructions for making a vermicomposting bin. Here are some basic instructions for Vermicomposting.

-Aquaphonics The art of raising plants over fish with no dirt. The waste from the fish fertilizes the plants. One of our local grocery stores put up a greenhouse that used aquaphonics to raise food to sell. Aaron and I were able to go on a tour there yesterday and now we are dreaming of how to have our own small aquaphonics set up.

Here he is showing the roots that go down into the water.

Getting a milk cow, a pig, a dog and some rabbits. We need some more sources of good manure in order to grow a really good garden and we would also love to have our own milk and our own meat. This is very much still a dream but it could happen. We have to find somebody that wants to do chores when we want to go on vacation though. We don't want to be tied down completely and a cow could certainly do that.

Utilizing State land to it's full potential. We have a lot of state land around us. I am trying to figure out how all we can utilize this land to help towards our goal of not buying food but growing it or at least harvesting it instead. We know we can pick berries there and I think it would be fine to harvest mushrooms as well.

Baby Chickens and Ducks. This is actually not so much my dream but the kids. The boys have busily been saving eggs, caring for the incubator and excitedly waiting for their "babies" to hatch. They will be arriving soon!

What have you been reading or dreaming about?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ways We Have Saved Money Lately

I really enjoy reading how others save money. I find it inspiring and sometimes it gives me new ideas to help us save money as well. I find it very rewarding to be able to save money in some areas so that we can use it in a better way. Here is a random compilation of some of the ways we have saved money lately......
  • I cut all the guys hair.
  • My sister cut my hair for me.
  • I offered to review some books and therefore got new books for free.
  • I mended socks.
  • I cleaned up wood scraps and such from our yard and burnt it in our fireplace to heat our house.
    A recent cleaning up or our yard. All of it burnt nicely in our fireplace.
  • I made my own cream of mushroom soup.
  • I did a lot of looking to find a special birthday present and ended up with a wonderful deal.
  • I let my "fingers do the walking" as I called around to look for the typewriter and so saved money on gas as well.
    Megan enjoying her new typewriter.
  • I used a warranty insurance to get my money back on a camera that broke.
  • We have stayed home quite a bit which helps to save on gas.
  • We packed a meal to eat while traveling.
  • We brought water bottles on our trip and also to town when running errands. This makes purchasing drinks unnecessary.
  • We purchased cheese in 40 lb chunks from Bletsoe Cheese for a price much less than the store price per pound.
  • We have been putting siding on the house and working on other house projects. We could have hired it done instead but doing it ourselves is saving us a whole lot of money. It is a lot of work but it is fun and rewarding too.
  • We gratefully accepted hand-me-downs that were offered to us.
  • I used some coupons that my Mom gave to me and got a free towel at JC Penneys and also $10 off some needed items.
  • We took extra building supplies back to the store and got our money back.
  • Jonathan and I made a instrument rack for our music nook for $1.50. 
  • I boiled turkey bones after cooking (with a splash of vinegar to get extra nutrients out) it so that we didn't waste anything. Now we have lots of broth as well as the meat we already ate.
How have you saved money recently? I would love to hear about some frugal thing you have done lately!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why I Believe We Need to Repent

To repent means that we are sorry for what we have done and are willing to change and do things differently. When we repent of our sins - we are going to turn away from them and walk in a different way.

Here are some verses that tell us we need to repent:

"Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." Acts 17:29 & 30

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Cor. 2:10

 "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

What an important concept repentance is. Let's not be stubborn in going in our own way but be willing to turn around and go God's way. He really does know what is best!

Our Music Nook

 Well in the race for which room got finished first in our house - The Music Nook is the winner!
(Though actually I have to confess that there is still an outlet cover missing here - it didn't come with our order but it is behind furniture so I decided to let it pass for now. Hopefully we can get it pretty soon.)

 This is a well used and loved place in our house. Every school morning the kids and I gather around the piano to sing (and usually other instruments get played as well) I also teach around 20 students in this area each week and then we each enjoy spending time practicing our instruments too.

   Jonathan and I made the music rack (with 3 boards that I bought for 50 cents each!) and we have enjoyed having it so much. Not only does it display our instruments nicely - and we love the look of instruments- but it also makes the instruments so much handier for playing. That generally causes us to practice more which is a good thing!

  To make the rack we have one solid board across the back. Then we took another board just like it and measured and cut out places for the instruments to slip into. Then we cut some pieces from a 3rd board to be nailed on either side to make the rack sturdy. I then stained it with some stain we had on hand and then varnished it. The next step was to put a strip of foam (something I had saved from a padded box) into each cut out place to make the instruments fit in more snugly.Ken then helped me mount it on the wall.

 Our piano was my grandmother's. She gave it to my parents but they already had a piano and so they gave it to me as the one that I had was pretty old and kind of needed replacing. It is a good piano and we give it a lot of use. I am so glad that I have never had to live without a piano. I love to be able to play whenever I feel like it. It has been a great way to relieve stress for me - something I have done since I was a young teen. We love using it to praise our wonderful God!

  Down in the corner by the piano is my accordion. That is an instrument that I really enjoyed playing when I was a teen but the instrument that I learned on was loaned to us so as an adult I have not had one to play. A while back we were hosting a garage sale and another family from our church was getting ready to move so they brought stuff as well. They told me that if there was ever anything I wanted to just help myself. One day I was out and they had dropped a load of stuff off in front of the garage for the garage sale. When I came home my eyes were immediately drawn to the accordion sitting there. I was so excited!

  I had looked for an accordion in the past but found them to be rather expensive and not all that common to find. When I tried the accordion out I found that quite a few keys were stuck and so it was like you were playing a bunch of chords at once whenever you played. That was a little disappointing. But my brother-in-law came to visit and was able to fix it. It was so fun to be able to play the accordion again. I still have yet to get good at it again but it is fun to play and something that my family - especially Ken- really enjoys so that is fun.

 Under the instrument rack we also have a little bench that I am able to store music books and various things for my music lessons in. It is very handy to have that there.

 On the piano we have our wind instruments. Mara plays the Ocarina, the boys have harmonicas which they are learning, Mara also plays the penny whistle, Megan has a recorder that she needs to learn and I have an alto recorder that I am quite rusty on.
Aaron plays the Mandolin (which he just got in late January) and the Ukulele. He loves bluegrass music. He has discovered that he can actually pick up about any stringed instrument and get a tune out of it.
This shows a music gathering at our house a couple of months ago. Jonathan is my banjo boy (still learning - he just got it in February). I am on the violin, my dad on the mandolin, my brother-in-law Benjamin on the guitar and Mara playing the ocarina.

Concerning our other instruments shown above - I play the cello, the little violin was mine when I first learned. Currently no one plays it but I hope to teach Megan before long. Mara is learning on my big violin. The guitar belongs to Jonathan but he never got the hang of it so it hangs there and guests that don't happen to bring their guitar along will often pick it up even though it isn't the greatest. All the kids play the piano to some degree thought Jonathan wants to forget that he ever learned. Mara has advanced the farthest (which could be expected with her being the oldest) and Megan plays it the most.

 Music is well loved here. We are still trying to talk Ken into learning an instrument but he still maintains that trying to count while doing other things is more multi-tasking than he can handle. :-)
 What sort of music do you like? Do you enjoy making music? What instrument do you play?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Priorities When Homeschooling

Music is something that we enjoy and try to work on. It is a fun way to praise God!
   Last week a mother of some of my music students came over for a morning to talk about homeschooling. She has eight children and has homeschooled before but quit a few years ago because it was to overwhelming. She had asked me how we homeschooled at lesson time one week and after I briefly told her she wondered if we could visit more as our method didn't seem quite as overwhelming as what they had been doing before. I was more than happy to share our methods with her. I thought it would be fun to share here some of what I shared with her last week.

Science can happen anytime. What fun when we had a butterfly visit out of season
 and we were able to take the time to learn about it and it's habits. 
  The first thing that I have come to realize is very important is to think through and decide what is really important for your children. Here is what I came up with: My number one priority for them is that they would love God and try to serve Him. #2: That they would love others and be compassionate and seek to share God's love and truth with them. #3: That they would not be afraid of working hard and that they would actually enjoy it. #4: That they would love learning and know how to learn.

   I think it is very important to realize what is truly important to your family because sometimes in the hustle and bustle of homeschool life we can get caught up in trying to get a bunch of workbooks done and the parents are stressed, the kids are worn out and you haven't even focused on the things that are important to you. When I really thought through what we wanted for our kids I started spending a lot more time sharing God's word with them and we lightened up on the workbooks.

We love interesting books about science (not textbooks or workbooks so much.)
  So I think my greatest tip would be to truly figure out what you really want for your children and really focus on that and don't worry so much about the other things. There is no way that we can teach our children everything, we don't know everything ourselves nor does anybody else in this world. So our goal should be to teach them something on a regular basis and to help them learn as
they go on through life.
My dad and Jonathan getting the eggs marked for going in the incubator.
Besides setting goals some other principles that we try to really incorporate into our homeschooling is that Learning happens everywhere. Lately the boys (Aaron especially as he has been reading up on it) have been learning all about eggs and the growth and birth of baby birds. They have been saving eggs and now incubating them to provide our chicks for this year. This is a great learning tool. Embrace the learning as it happens - you don't always have to be the one coming up with the lessons.
 Another thing that I think it really important is having a lot of good books. Well written, fun to read but educational books. There are a lot out there but there is also a lot of rubbish and then just boring, dry textbooks too. Have GOOD books for your kids to read!

 Another homeschool highlight in our house this week was when some reporters came from our local paper to interview Mara and Jonathan since they had won some essay contests lately. That was a new and interesting experience for them.

 I hope to write more about this topic later but I guess this will do for now. :-) I would love to hear any homeschooling tips that you might have!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Birthdays - A Fun Time to Have Company

 This has been a busy week. The weather has been lovely which means we are trying to get more done outside and we have had various things going on - one of them being the birthday of  Megan! So that is why I haven't posted much and today I planned on doing another hospitality post and so this one is - kind off. This is really a post about Megan's birthday but birthdays are a fun time to have company so that goes with hospitality too.

   We have never done the traditional birthday parties where you have over a bunch of kids the general age of the birthday child. There are several reasons that we haven't done that one of them being that we just like to have family events usually rather than age segregated events and also I dislike hosting a party (at least for someone in my family) that causes somebody to feel they have to give something. So generally our birthday parties are pretty much family parties and we may include some others but they aren't necessarily of the birthday child's age.

   This evening we had our final party for watching "Cabin Fever" a reality show that my brother is in and so that and Megan's birthday were combined.

  Our family gives birthday gifts in the morning before breakfast. Megan has wanted a typewriter for a couple of years and this year I managed to find one (a used one in good condition for only $15 at a local thrift store). I was so excited! So was the rest of the family as they knew how much Megan wanted one. We were really looking forward to her getting it. She was definitely excited! Typewriters are the new rage around here. Both Jonathan and my Mom are now wanting one too. Everybody else had fun typing on it as well.

  Today Megan wanted waffles for breakfast. I made them (and they were pretty yummy!) and they used up 4 eggs. That left us with only 7 left (we have not had so many eggs lately as they boys were saving them to put in the incubator for hatching) and Megan wanted an angel food cake. The recipe called for 11-12 eggs. 3 eggs were collected at the morning chore time but one was a duck egg and I was told that one was still needed for hatching  (Aaron's ruling but Megan agreed - it would be better to not have enough eggs for the cake then to go without getting another duck). So the boys kept checking the chicken pen. Jonathan found 2 eggs but then one broke when getting washed. Aaron found another egg but then it was broken too (we don't normally break so many but I guess today was the day for breaking them. Finally Mara just went ahead and made it with 10 eggs. I found the whole saga of the eggs pretty entertaining.

 The cake didn't get super tall but it was yummy anyway.
Tonight my niece Jaten got to be on the TV show too (as did my sister-in-law Holly). What fun to see them on TV.

  We had a fun day celebrating Megan's birthday!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why I Believe We Need to Confess

Romans 10:9 & 10 says: "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus Christ is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

This seems to me such a clear and simple teaching in the Bible. We need to openly tell others that we believe Jesus Christ is Lord. Here are some more verses on this subject:

Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Luke 12:8 " Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:"

So, today's thought is very simple and not hard but obviously something that is very important to God. Have you made this confession?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Showing Hospitality to Strangers

I recently read through the book of 1 Timothy and was reminded yet again of how we are encouraged to show hospitality, not just to friends and family, but to strangers. In chapter 5 it talks about widows and a way to see if they would be worthy of receiving assistance from the church, here is what it says:

"A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work." 1 Tim. 5:9 & 10.

I would say that is something for all christian women to strive for (realizing that some will not get married or have children however). Here are some other neat verses about showing hospitality to strangers:

" I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35

"Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers." Romans 12:13

"Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:1

So, just how do we go about showing hospitality to strangers? Sometimes that doesn't seem all the easy. There are times when people are hesitant to come when you invite them. So don't get discouraged and don't stress over it but be ready when opportunities come.

Here are some ideas for ways that you can show hospitality to strangers:

  • Host an exchange student. This was something that we really enjoyed doing when I was a child/teen. We were involved with a program that arranged for kids from other countries to come to your house for 1 month in the summer. We made new friends that way, learned about other cultures and were able to share our faith as well. I would really love to do that now that I have teenagers too.
  • Host a neighborhood party.
  • If somebody new visits church invite them over to your house for lunch afterwards. 
  • When somebody comes to your church asking for help think about offering them a place to stay for a while. I will admit that this one takes a step of faith many times. I remember my parents doing this now and then and my sister has done it as well. Sometimes it isn't the most fun but it can be a blessing and then again we don't just do things in life simply because they are "fun".
  • Invite a new neighbor over so that you can get acquainted.
  • Find ways to befriend lonely college students (possibly especially international students).
  • Host a party (such as a game night) and let people know that they are welcome to bring others with them. This can be a neat outreach opportunity.
  • Invite a co-worker and their family over for a meal.
  • Do foster care.
  • Be the sort of people that others feel comfortable asking if somebody they know can stay with you. I can think of several of these situations with people I know- My sister and her family have housed various people, one being a man that was a friend of a friend and was going to be in their city fairly often for work and would need a place to stay. He stayed at their house on a pretty regular basis for a year or so. Other friends live near Mayo clinic and people will often ask them if so and so could stay with them as they visit there. What a neat way to minister to others!
  • If you know there will be a need for places for out of town people to have a place to stay offer your home. This is something we do when we have church retreats. It is something you could also do if a friend is getting married or if their is a funeral in the family and they will have a lot of people come in from out of town you could offer to host some of them at your place (we have been blessed with this in the past). Another instance that we have used this idea was with political candidates and people that travel with them. Several times people have been in our town to attend political events that we were involved with and to help them save some money we have offered to have them stay at our house. Sometimes we have met them before but not always. We have had candidates (and one's family) stay with us, staff members for the candidates and other political activists. It has been always a fun opportunity to get to know someone.
I would love to hear any ideas that you have for showing hospitality to strangers. I would also love to hear any stories that you care to share!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Working to Lower Our Sugar Intake Around Here

 Lately I started thinking about how I was feeling about sugar and realized that I seem to have gotten addicted to it again. I found that I was once before when for health reasons I went off of it for a time (and that wasn't easy!) And lately I have been feeling the same way. My body just has a horrible craving for sugary treats. And it wasn't like I had been going without. I hadn't. We had been having more of that stuff around here than normal. This isn't good!

    Sweets of any kind are best eaten in moderation but refined sugar doesn't really have much redeeming value at all. It is hard on our teeth, hard on our pancreas and pituitary gland, pulls minerals from the body during digestion, is addictive, stresses the liver and doesn't fill you up but just makes you want to eat more.

  We do need some "sugars" (that doesn't mean we need processed sugar) for our bodies. God made the sugar in fruit, honey and all that for a reason. It does give us needed energy (though to much sugar- especially refined- can just make us overweight, diabetic and sluggish.) and helps our thyroid to function properly.

  So my goal is to cut back pretty heavily (though it won't be completely) on refined sugars in our house and then truly work to have common sense with how much of an other sorts of sweets we eat too.

 There were several things that caused this to become an issue lately....

  • Jonathan as a growing teen loves to eat (pretty normal), that means he would like snacks on a regular basis. When I don't come up with a good snack solution (and he isn't fond of popcorn) then he quickly offers to make cookies. I like cookies too (but don't get so excited about making them) and so he has done a fair amount of baking lately. He does not cut down on the sugar as much or substitute natural sweeteners as often as I would do. My solution: Work at coming up with more healthy snacks so he doesn't feel the need for baking. Also write up a cookie cookbook for the kids with properly adjusted recipes.
  • Ken had extra candy from a business booth lately (he gives it out) and the boys came home with a bag of it. It was Snickers and Twix (so chocolate!) and we have enjoyed it but it isn't so good for us. Solution: Dole it out a little more slowly and then it will be gone so that is good.
  • We have been having more company lately. With company we often feel the need for dessert so either we make some or they offer to bring some. Solution: Don't feel like we need dessert every time. Show some self discipline and don't feel like I need to eat it just because it is there. Make a healthier dessert.
Does anybody have any good suggestions for non-sugary and good for you snacks?

Here is a list of some of my ideas but I would really love to hear yours as well!
  • Popcorn (easy and cheap)
  • Cheese slices
  • Apples and peanut butter
  • Other fruit -this week we did enjoy some blueberries we had frozen this summer as a snack.
  • Carrot sticks.
  • Chips and Salsa (I am happy to have found some organic corn chips on clearance this week so we will look forward to this snack)
  • Crackers and humus or liver pate. I really to get busy and make crackers again. Hummus too. The liver pate I have never actually tried but I have heard good things about it and that it is actually a yummy spread for crackers.
What are your thoughts on Sugar?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Why I Believe We Need to Believe!

So I think the title to my post sounds a little weird. To talk about Believing in my "Why I believe" series sounds a little redundant but I still think it is important. So on we go.....

This is another subject to which we can find verse after verse after verse. I have found some that I think are plain and get the message across well and I hope you are blessed by them too. I would of course love to have you share any verses that you particularly like on this subject as well.

 Talking about belief was a big part of Jesus ministry.  One example is the story of the man who brought his demon possessed son to the apostles who were not able to cast the demon out. He then asks Jesus to do it "If He could". This verse comes next:

"And Jesus said to him, "If You Can? All things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

The father then cried "I do believe; help my unbelief." And then Jesus cast the spirit out. Jesus wanted the people to believe in His power. He still wants that from us today.

Here are some more verses on the subject:

In John 14:1 Jesus said: "Do not let your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in Me."

Acts 8:36 & 37 "As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

1 Thessalonians 4:13 & 14 "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

Do YOU believe in Jesus?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Inside is So Close to DONE!

The house is getting so close to getting done. It is getting exciting! Of course we do still have the really big project of siding it but inside we are almost there!
Our contractor has been around some lately and he trimmed the kitchen windows and the last living room window. So now all our windows are trimmed and looking pretty lovely.

He also did more trim work on the stairs and put up some more railings. I got to stain and varnish all of that stuff. It is very nice to have that done too.

Ken got our living room window seat with compartments very nearly done. It is more usable now.

We are almost done siding the detached garage. Hooray!

We had fun making an instrument rack for our music corner. That area is about ready for a revealing. :-)

The electrician was here and got our basement all wired with outlets and better lights. He also moved some of our stuff to off peak electric so we can get better rates.

The heating guys were here and got our plenum heater going and our heat pump. Yeah! Lower heating bills will be great.

I am feeling very blessed!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Learning About Birds

We have been truly enjoying experiencing Spring while living next to the river. There are birds around here that we never saw at previous homes. Just this morning we figured out that some of the quite black and white ducks on the water are "Buffleheads". We found out what they were from our trusty "Birds of Minnesota" book. That has been a very useful tool in our homeschooling experience.

Learning about birds can be very fun and rewarding. It is always fun to explore a little more into what God has created and to become even more in awe of Him!

Feel free to check out these posts too:

A Learning about Birds post from 5 years ago

Geese and Swans out our Window this Spring

Do you and your kids enjoy watching and learning about birds?

Being Hospitable to Children

A blog reader, Nola recently asked a really good question concerning hosting families with children that are in different age groups or a different gender from your own children. How do you make the time enjoyable for a rough and rowdy boy if you have only girls (that don't play that way) and you are limited with space. Or what if you don't have any kids at all and you want to invite a family (with children) over. Or what if you have little kids and the family you invite over has teens? Or what if you have teens and you have a family over with toddlers? These situations can be tricky.

  I had fun thinking on this question and then also I talked to another friend who I knew had learned how to deal with these issues. So I have a few ideas that I am going to share but then I would really love it if all of you reading this would chime in and add any suggestions that you might have. I would love to hear your experiences.

So I am going to go over a few different scenarios and some suggestions for dealing with them: (thanks to Emily for some of these ideas!)

Our family has nobody that matches up with a.......

A Rough and Rowdy Boy (Could probably range in age from 3 to 12)

  • You might want to prepare your house by putting away any breakables that would be easy for him to get to. This can make life less stressful for you and his parents. I am not saying that you box up everything and make your house look undecorated but if it could easily be knocked or bumped and it matters to you then just make life easier for everybody and store it away for the evening.
  • Create as much play space as possible. If you can go outside (or maybe incorporate a walk to the park) as part of your time of hospitality that could be helpful. Otherwise see if there are ways to move some furniture to make an open play place.
  • Big exercise balls can be fun. They also aren't so easily thrown so they could cause damage. If you have a little exercise trampoline that could also be a nice easy way for them to expend some energy. Think through the things that you already have and think whether some of them might be enjoyable for a boy to play with.
  • Do you have nerf guns? Could you create a target that he could shoot at with nerf guns? Or maybe cut some holes in a cardboard box to make a target for bean bags.
  • If you have older children then you might visit ahead of time and put one of them in charge of working to entertain the youngster. Think together ahead of time what different things that they might be able to do - if there are games that you have that they could suggest or maybe you have Legos, Lincoln Logs or something of that sort that they would enjoy playing with somebody else. This might be something even a fairly young child could work on. I remember not long ago we were having over some friends and the children were all boys and the youngest one was an energetic 5 year old. My sons planned on entertaining the older boys but we put my 8 year old daughter in charge of the 5 year old. We talked about things they could do ahead of time and she did a great job.
Babies or Toddlers
  • Since we have this happen on a very regular basis (as I have music students come and often siblings are along to wait while the lesson goes on) I have a special toddler toy box that I have ready and waiting in the living room. At the last house I had decorated a little box for it and it could slide under a chair between times - at this house we made a toy area in our window seat. It is so nice to have this available to pull out.
  • If you don't have toddler/baby toys don't worry. Start pulling a few unbreakable things out of your kitchen like a big bowl, some measuring cups, spoons and such and they will enjoy playing with those often just as well.
  • If you have bigger kids it can be very helpful to assign some of them to either work to entertain certain kids (we usually do this before they ever show up and we don't announce the assignments to the visitors it just looks natural - we think anyway) or they keep an eye on certain areas of the house to make sure things are going smoothly,  kids are having fun, nobody is getting hurt and the house isn't getting wrecked.
  • Pre-think where would be an easy place for diaper changing, how you will deal with soiled diapers (I get out a plastic grocery bag to seal them up in and then they can go in the trash) and so forth.
  • Possibly keep (or get) booster chairs and other baby equipment for use when company comes. After my own kids grew out of them I still kept a booster seat and a pack and play and we have found them useful when we have company. If you have a vehicle booster seat you could also use it at the table. Or a telephone book (if you live in a city and have one considerably thicker than ours!) or other big book can also work to boost them up at the table.
A Prissy Girl (and you have a house full of boys)
  • Maybe you could set out some books that she would enjoy looking at.
  • Talk to your boys about maybe playing a board or card game with her.
  • Playing dress-up with old clothes and hats is something that I have found children of both genders but especially girls to really enjoy.
  • Realize that they might be most comfortable being a part of the adult conversation and you can work to make them a part of it. My friend Theresa is really good at this - I think she thinks ahead of time about the child/teen and the interests that they have and works to ask them questions and pull them into the conversation that way.
  • We have found some games like Dutch Blitz that both teens and younger children enjoy playing and can do together. 
  • If the adults play a game perhaps the teens can join in with that.
  • If you are still working to prepare a meal I have found that teens that don't quite know what to do at your house can feel honored to be asked to help in some way. 
I hope these ideas might be helpful in some way. Now I would love to hear your ideas and stories of what has worked for you as you are hospitable to families!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remembering to Use Raspberry Leaf

 Raspberry leaf is an herb that most people have heard of and for good reason. There are a lot of cool things that God put in that little leaf! It has a lot of Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Vitamin C and B-Vitamins. Another really nice thing about raspberry leaf (at least around here) is that it grows all over and is very easy to collect, dry and then make tea with. A free source of good things for our body - that is pretty cool!

  Some of the things that Raspberry leaf has been known to help with are:

  • Pregnancy (shorter labors and feeling better during pregnancy)
  • PMS - it can help this go away.
  • Leg Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Canker Sores
  • Cold Sores
  • Strengthening Uterine muscles.
  • Sunburn, eczema and  rashes (use it externally)
  • Healthy Gums
  • And more....
 The last few years we have really made an effort to pick harvest raspberry leaf and use it throughout the winter in our teas. I do it fairly often but my goal is to make it a daily habit. Both Mara and I have had some issues that I think this could help with and so I think it would be good to consume Raspberry leaf on a daily basis. So that is my new health goal.

   My other goals are going pretty well but I had better hurry and get to bed or that one won't go so well tonight! :-)

   Do you have health goals that you are working on? I would love to hear what ways you are trying to take better care of the body that God gave to you.


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