Sunday, December 31, 2006

Better Marriages Make a Better World

As long as we are on the topic of resolutions and being focused, how about asking your husband his opinion of your resolutions? Ask him if there is one thing that he'd like you to do or do differently? How can you be more of a blessing to him? Ask him if there are any areas he thinks you need improving on. Let this be your number one resolution; become a better helpmeet to the husband God gave you. Perhaps he should be more of your 'focus'? After all, he is who you were created for! Of course you need to do all of this without telling him what he needs to work And don't become bitter at his comments, be open to the truth, and depend on God for grace. :o)

Better marriages make for better parents, which makes for better homes, which makes for better churches, which makes for better communities, which makes for a better world!

Staying Focused

The following is part of Cindy Rushton's Newsletter, you can sign up for it HERE. I thought I'd share it because it does help to write things down to stay focused. I have so many ideas going on in my head that it is hard to get anything finished, and I easily get distracted doing things that take me away from what I should be doing!

Daily, she (Mary Kay) kept a list of 5 things to do for the day. Each day the list changed. She wouldn't list the impossible. She just plugged away each day on 5 vital things.

I pondered that for a while. I knew that my biggest struggle was having bigger plans than I have hours to work on them. I decided to pray for my daily "5 things" for the day. Talk about a great secret for getting and staying focused! First, it keeps us from going day-after-day never getting "anything" done. You know that feeling?

It comes from a lack of purpose and direction. Keeping a journal with all of the stuff on your heart for the year is great. Then, we can look at our daily to-do's and add those other things into that list of five things. I try to add ONE THING per day from my journal, even if it is a little thing. Of course, there are days that I have to be realistic and limit myself to the demands of the day. I am OK with that when I have hope that I will not put off the heartbeats for years to come. Adding them into my "5 things" regularly helps. Also, on those days that I am blank or that I happen to have some extra time to myself, I go through my journal and work through some of the simple tasks that I can attack. It worked great this year!

Oh! On those days that I have 25 things to choose know that those days pop up constantly, don't you?...Well, on those days, I construct my top five for the day and add the others to my journal. It clears my brain and keeps me focused on working my plan. It helps me to accomplish much each day. And... keeps me focused. Give it a try! This year will be your best year yet!

Tonight I wrote out what I want us to accomplish as far as academic goals for the next semester, and a few thing I want to do personally.

Other ways to help keep me focused:

*Keep the house as unclutterd as I can.
Living in a small house things can become overwhelming very quickly. This is a constant battle. But if I let things mount up I just can't think clearly. I'm not a neat freak at all, but clutter in our home clutters my brain.

*Keep my schedule uncluttered.
Being over committed is another issue that can make life seem overwhelming. There are so many good things to be involved in, but with a family sometimes we have to choose just a couple of the best. Thankfully we are members of a church that does not draw families apart with a dozen different activities during the week. Jeff and I believe that it is important to be active in some way in the community. Jeff is a volunteer fireman. The girls and I belong to the community Ladies group, and we belong to the quilter's guild. All of these commitments take time from away from home. There are so many other things we'd like to be involved in, but we have to remember there are seasons of life, and right now we have to be so cautious about our time commitments away from home. There will come a day that all my children will be grown, then I can do other things, it will be a different season. When you are over committed with activities you can't stay focused on what is truly needful.

As we all contemplate this new year's hopes and goals, think about (and pray about) what is truly important, what is truly needful. Are you a mom with children still at home? They need you more than any club does. Are you setting an example of being content or do you need more activities and 'things' to make them all they can be? Some of the most sweet, well mannered, peaceful children I know live in families (some of them large families) where life is fairly simple. They stay home and work and play as a family.

We live in a fast paced culture...busy...busy...busy. But are we busy doing what really matters in the end. We watched United 93 today, what a sobering movie. It was a reminder about just how precious life is, let's not waste time doing things that really won't matter. Stay focused, and finish the race set before you, the race God has placed you in.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Word of Caution About Resolutions!

Be careful what you ask for!!! This morning as I was mediating and praying I was trying to narrow down my list of resolutions to ones that really mattered and that I thought I could actually attain.

I decided that my number one area I wanted to work on was to be able to remain calm, confident in the Lord, and peaceful when 2007's trials come my way, instead of getting anxious and fearful, which is usually my first response when the Refiner's Fire gets turned up. Either that or I want to jump in and fix everything...make everyone know, be the Holy Spirit. I was feeling pretty good about things, thinking about past trials and how God was faithful to bring me through them. How silly I was not to just trust Him. I just 'knew' I was ready for the next battle, that I wouldn't flinch and that I was just going to enjoy this present peaceful time.


About an hour later Jeff called me with news of the next trail. Isn't God faithful??? lol... He is eager to show me again how He is God and I am not! Yeah...I flinched...yeah, I have been wallering in self pity a bit today....but I know my Redeemer lives. I KNOW He has it all under control. How do people manage without Him?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Outline and Chronicle the Many Providences of God

This time of year we all tend to look at the past 12 months and reflect on what has happened in our lives, and then we look forward to new ideas and plans. With a new year comes a sense of hope and renewal.

The following is a part of Doug Phillip's blog for today.
Go HERE to read the whole thing, it is very good.


Every family will have a different set of priorities directing what they should record. In addition to recording the key events and Providences of the year chronologically, I try to take the time with my family to record some of the following information on separate bullet lists:

Where did I/we travel?
What were the titles and key texts of sermons I preached?
What books/articles did I write?
What significant household projects did we accomplish in 2006?
What were the most important meetings of the year?
What special friendships were made this year?
Which children lost teeth, and how many?
Who grew in physical stature, and how much did they grow?
Who learned to read this year?
What diet and physical exercise regimen did I maintain to honor “my temple”?
What books did I read? Did we read as a family? Did my children read?
What Scriptures did my family memorize?
What loved ones died this year?
What were the great personal/ministry/national tragedies and losses of the year?
What were the great personal/ministry/national blessings of the year?
What were my most significant failures/sins for the year 2006?
What unresolved conflicts/issues am I bringing into 2007?
What significant spiritual and practical victories did I experience?
In what tangible ways did I communicate gratitude to those who have blessed me and invested in my life?
What are the top ten themes of 2006 for my family?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Time To Organize History

Thanks to blogging, I do record more of our family 'history', but I find that I journal less. :o( The other night I copied and pasted most of my Blog entries for the past 2 years into Word, then ran them off. So now I have a hard copy. :o) I think I will try to do this every few months. That way if all of my blogging were to lost in cyberspace, I'll still have a bit of our history. When Jeff's grandmother died she left behind a massive, typed journal which is now treasured by her children. I'm not sure if I have anything worth saying that will be treasured, but maybe my grandchildren or great grandchildren can learn from my 'mess-ups'! :o)

I need to do this with my photos too, if nothing else get them all on cds. I rarely have pictures printed anymore, which is why my scrapbooks are 2 years behind.

Anyway...something to think about while most of us are on a bit of a year end break.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006

Joshua stopping to pose for a picture.

Granny in the apron I made her.
The girls bought Jeff a new saw!!!
He said he thinks he'll 'let' them work with him this next year too! $$$$$$ lol!
Quilted place mats and napkins I made for Mom.

Yes, our tree was pretty sad looking by this point. We cut it down along side the road, and only watered it once in 2 weeks. What is so cool is that our daughters have made a quite a bit of money this year working with their Dad, so they went crazy buying for everyone. They really enjoyed giving! I usually hang stockings for the kids, but this year Olivia and Emma filled stockings for me, Jeff and Granny!!! OH WHAT FUN! I think they will take good care of us when we are old.
Now that our children are older we don't have to get up so early to open gifts...or so I thought! Olivia came in my room this morning at FIVE AM, laid the 3 kid's stockings on my bed and said, "Mom here are our stockings for you to fill!" lol!
Josh now has his own place so he gets 'house things' he needs and clothes!!!
I said "Welcome to the adult gift world!" In this picture he received wash cloths and ice trays...heee heee One of his comments yesterday was, "The bummer about living on your own is you have to do everything for yourself!" LOL!!! I think he misses his sisters and mom!
Emma was thrilled to get a cowboy hat and guitar.
Olivia who LOVES to cook, got the roasting pan and some cooking supplies.
Olivia and Emma did all the cooking and served us....
well, Olivia did most of the cooking, but Emma made a mean green bean casserole.
My baby boy.
Olivia was threatening Josh's life if he picked out of the pan ONE MORE TIME!!!

Our Christmas Day ended with a surprise visit by our oldest, who has chosen the broad path for the past 6 years. She is 5 months pregnant and needs lots of prayer.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Son of God became man

to enable men to become

the sons of God.

- C.S. Lewis

Friday, December 22, 2006

Easy Place Cards

Use an evergreen leaf, a silver or gold metallic marker, some ribbon or raffia,
and voila...elegant looking place cards!

Have a few extras made up for
unexpected guest.

Creating Loveliness Where You Live

HERE is a wonderful article!

There is a big difference between living in a house and making a home.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

When Olivia was little, she LOVED baby dolls, and still played with them until just as few years ago. I use to love watching her cuddle and care for them as if they were real, it was beautiful. I could just see her being a great mom one day. (Emma was more into kittens and puppies :o), but still a nurturer.)

I guess because our children are older and we don't watch much TV that I really haven't a clue as to what is "in" and what's not, and the fact that I rarely walk by the toy department. The other night I saw this precious little girl, maybe about 4-5 years old, holding her doll. I was so shocked when I took a closer look at the doll, it was a Bratz doll. She was so trashy looking, nothing pretty, nothing wholesome. I was so sad for this little girl, this is the image of what she would like her baby to look like??? This doll did not need to be cuddled, she needed a spanking, her face washed to wipe away the ton of make-up, and to finish putting some clothes on.

Then I read THIS today. Where are our little girls? Where is the sweetness of watching a little one play Mommy? Where is the love for femininity and home? We have a generation of women, not ladies!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shabby Chic Aprons

My friend Kelly inspired me to make her an apron out of scrap denim. When another friend saw it, she wanted 2 of them! So here I am...a few days before Christmas, finishing up a dozen unfinished projects. :o) I thrive under pressure...I think...

Here is our lovely model, Emma wearing a special order Shabby Chic Apron, designed for those serious kitchen days!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Snowman Cheese Ball

Olivia made this for their 4-H party.

2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 pound of Cheddar cheese
1 T horseradish sauce
3-4 green onions
Chill in refrigerator a couple of hours.
Garnish with raisins, cranberries, carrot nose,
pretzels or bread sticks for arms.
Use a straw to help hold him up if you have to travel with him.

The Finished Quilt for My Great Aunt!
This has all her children and grandchildren on it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Out of the Comfort Zone

Jeff, or I should say "WE", have been self-employed for a little over a year now. We always wanted to work together as a family, for Jeff to work from home and through a hard circumstance God pushed us into our desire. It is difficult. We started this in our early 40's and carrying debt. It is hard because we have stepped out of our comfort zone, doing only what we knew to from pay check to pay check. We have had to make ALOT of changes (and still more to be made), and we've made ALOT of sacrifices. BUT! It is so worth it. What a difference it has made in the way we view everything, our time, our money, the way we can encourage others. And let me say, it will put your convictions to the test! :o) We are struggling financially, but I KNOW this will get better. We are learning as we go along.

One of the biggest blessings is that there is no middle man (a boss and a time clock). We are not working to make someone else successful. We get up earlier than we've ever gotten up before and we work harder than we've ever worked before (or at least I do ;o)). But we are able to adjust our schedule for what is best for our family. We are more available to meet the needs of others. Jeff is also a volunteer fireman, which means sometimes (not always) he can stop what he is doing and run a call if he is needed. Most of all, we are together. The girls go to work with him alot. They are learning so much, not just about carpentry, but about LIFE. Our focus is so different now. Would I go back to a more stable income and MORE income if I could? NO! Yes, it is tempting and we think about it from time to time, but the way we live right now is so fulfilling. We are learning to trust God in new ways and learning just how much we are dependant on HIM!

The rewards are not always material.
It is hard, but we love it.

I received this from Steve Beck (of Family E-Biz) the other day and it was confirming to what I have been thinking.

I see a day when the Christian community will have nothing to do
with social security, welfare, unemployment benefits and so on,
because we, as a tight knit community, will take care of our own.
But, we can only do this from a surplus and that will take
generating income beyond the mere essentials.

Jesus also said that he who is faithful in a few things will be
faithful in many. Don't kid yourself. If you can't handle money
when you have a small amount, you will certainly not be able to
handle it when you have a larger quantity. Or as one speaker at
the Entrepreneur Conference said, "money will only make you more
of what you already are." If you a complainer and a grouch now,
you will only get worse as you get more money.

On the other hand, if you are selfless and helpful, more money
will give you the opportunity to become more selfless and helpful
as you share your time, knowledge and resources with others.

We are about to embark on a new venture this next year. One of our daughters said, "What if you do all this work (producing our product) and it doesn't sell?" My reply was, "Well, at least I will know I tried and not just sat and dreamed about it. Several years from now I will not be wondering IF it would have been successful."

May the Lord continue to grow us in faith and resources to be able to minister to others and build His kingdom!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Olivia and Emma with Santa
note how happy Emma is to have her picture taken with him

Each year our Quilter's Guild host Santa in our cottage at Palisades Park.
You can drive through the park and enjoy the thousands and thousands of lights.

And no...we don't do Santa. :o) When Josh was about 4-5 years old, we were driving home from church (it was Easter time), and he said, "Mom, I believe in the Easter Bunny just like I do Jesus." My heart sunk!!! So we honest, God fearing, parents fessed-up to the truth about the Easter Bunny AND Santa, and we promised NEVER to lie to him (or the rest of the kids) again. I was responsible for taking the pictures tonight at the cottage. It was fun for the most part, but then I'd think about the disappointment these kids would one day have knowing that it was all a hoax! I remember when I was a kid and I 'figured it out', I was so sad. I felt cheated that my parents lied to me...and all for what? I don't criticize parents if they want to lie to their children, that is their business. BUT! The older I get the more silly it seems. hmmm Dad works like crazy to "buy a nice Christmas" (how's that phrase for an oxymoron?) and then we'll let little Johnny and Suzie think Santa brought it all...and why do we do this??? We tell them not to lie...and what do we do? How is that justified??? Does Scripture give an exception about lying when it comes to Santa??? We tell them that Santa can "see all that they do"...and why do we do this??? Why would we want to give Santa the same 'status' as Jesus being able to know if they have been good or bad??? But then we expect them to TRUST Oh well...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The quickest way to become discouraged about being a wife, a mom, a keeper of your home, or even being a Christian, is to start comparing yourself with others. Which by the way the Lord says NOT to do, but I think we all do it from time to time. Then the feelings of inferiority, and the pressure to 'keep up' can overwhelm us. I came across this on LAF this morning. What an encouragement just to rest in the Lord and to do just what He has given ME to do.

Homemaking is not about showing off or "having it all together." You aren't less of a homemaker if you don't grind your own flour, grow your own vegetables, sew all of your family's clothes, teach your children five foreign languages, paint watercolors, play the harp, plan a year's worth of menus at a time, head up the local organic food co-op, or send birthday cards to every person on both sides of your family (including second cousins twice removed!). There are various gifts, talents, and abilities in the Body, and the hand would be foolhardy to say to the eye, "Why don't you get busy planting seeds with the rest of the fingers?" Thank God for the gifts He has given you, cultivate the ones you find in reach, and encourage and praise others for the gifts God has given them. It will never profit me to be jealous of a sister who has an eye for photography, but it will profit me very much to keep her phone number handy when it's time for the annual family portrait!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For My Quilting Buddies and My Great Aunt Betty

While looking for a little inspiration, I came across THIS SITE that has alot of free patterns . Thought I'd pass it along!

I finally finished the second of the big challenge quilt I had. (I'm not sure if the links to my blog pages are working, I know they are not for my drop downs to the left...Blogger has been having some problems, and I haven't had time to mess with it.)

This week I am working on a memory quilt for my great aunt. She is 84 and she just finished her second battle with cancer. She still lives alone, drives (gasp!) and is sharp as a tack! ...well for the most part ;o) She is so funny! She is the opposite of my Grandmother (they are sisters), my grandmother is so meek and quiet, and my Aunt, wellllll lets just say she's not! lol... She's a real hoot! I hope to make one for my grandmother (age 82) next week. She will be coming to visit us from Upstate New York in a few weeks!!! I'm so excited. In the picture my grandmother and grandfather are to the left, and my great aunt and great uncle are to the right. They were both unexpectedly widowed within a few weeks of each other, 27 years ago.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.
Psalm 54:2

Friday, December 8, 2006

Hostess Gifts

The holiday party season is in full swing! A kind act of appreciation for your host can be ever so simple, yet speak a very big THANK YOU!

When giving a hostess gift do so discretely and not to draw attention, so that you won't make the other guest feel bad that did not bring something. If it is a food or drink do not expect it to be served at the party.

A host should try to open the gift in the presence of the giver, and be very grateful.

Keep in mind the host's interests. Do they like to cook, garden, etc...?

One of the best hostess gifts I ever received was this set of cloth napkins!

Here are a few ideas for hostess gifts:

A Small Plant
A Jar of Your Favorite Jam
A Beautiful Candle
A Special Book or Journal
A Guest Book
Chocolate is almost always a hit!
Spiced Nuts
A quick bread for the next morning's breakfast.
Flavored Coffee
A Crocheted Dishcloth
A Bottle of Wine
Hand Lotion
Cloth Napkins
A Potted Herb (with care instructions)

I think a small homemade gift is the best, but if you don't have the time or energy don't stress about it.

I keep a box with little gifts I pick up here and there, usually on clearance, along with some pretty ribbon or raffia. At the change of the seasons is the best time to hit the clearance racks for nice gifts. :o)

Gift Bags

Sew your own gift bags from fabric, or even old clothes. Above are gift bags I made from a velvet shirt Emma bought at a yard sale, she didn’t like the way it fit so I threw it in my stash of fabric. I used part of the shirt for some pincushions I made, and then today I made five small gift bags from it. Use a little lace or cord and it works wonderfully! In this one with the lace, I put a DVD. I have a much larger gift for one of my kiddos, so I used half of a flat sheet, and tied it off with a big velvet ribbon. We can save these bags for next year! No more wrapping paper to buy! Whoo hoo! I have a stack of upholstery squares (large samples) that will make wonderful sacks. The thrift store is a great place to buy great fabric also, so while browsing the racks look for good 'sack fabric'!

Then I was thinking I could do the same thing for shower gifts and birthday gifts. So now, I will keep my eye out for nice theme type fabric on the clearance racks, especially in a couple weeks when all that Christmas fabric gets marked down! :o) Lat year I made a bunch of bags that I gave out pumpkin and banana bread in, you don’t even have to sew a hem in the end, just tie it off.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

God and Evil

I came across this on What Shall We Say. Humble Amy's husband. :o)

"...the problem of evil in a universe created and governed by a good God."

First the declarative: Understanding this question is really a simple matter of taking God at His word. It is our lack of faith (or non-faith as the case may be) that causes us to question God's relationship to evil. What God says about it is pretty clear - what we do with what He said is where the waters get all muddied up.

Now the subjective: It is easy for me to say this right now because times are relatively peaceful in my life. It will not be as easy to keep this perspective when pain and evil enters in a more tangible way and it is at that time I will need my brothers and sisters to remind me of the clear word and the sure promises of God.

Back to the declarative: The Christian does not hope that the omnipotent God can turn all these bad things into good in the end. In other words, we don't say, "God did not have anything to do with this evil that happened, but He can use it for good." Our hope is in the fact that even the bad things that happen are fully under His control and therefore even the bad things, not just the end results, have a purpose. If we say that God is not in control of all things, including the bad, that God is just responding to the bad and making it good, we destroy any hope that they are purposeful and we diminish the glory of God. If there is anything in all of creation that happens outside of God's control we destroy any hope that we may have in the word of God because we cannot be sure that He can bring it about.

Read the whole post HERE.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Romans 12:12

rejoicing in hope,

persevering in tribulation,

devoted to prayer,

While enduring a present trail, I am trying to learn from my past mistakes. Last night instead of praying, "Oh, God, WHY??? PLEASE change this, please, please, please...why...why...why...", I started praying, "Thank you Lord for this. You said You work all things for our good. You work all things for YOUR glory. You made us the promise of... ... ... Thank you for what You are going to do. Show me what I need to change in ME. I look forward to seeing how YOU are going to work this all out." and so on...

It is amazing how it helps to take away that anxiety that is burning a whole through my stomach, and fills me with HOPE.

I know from the past that I have been in the middle of a bad situation and it feels like it will never will always be this way, etc... yeah, I would have been one of the complaining Israelites in the wilderness. :o/ But once God brings me to the other side of it...I take a deep breath and say, "Next time I'll do better God. I'll trust you as I should. I'll keep my eyes on you and rejoice in my tribulation." HA! Funny how He keeps giving me opportunities to live up to my promise of faithfulness to Him! Though each time I stumble, He is right there. He picks me up and WE move forward.
Psalm 112:6-7

For he will never be shaken;

The righteous will be remembered forever.

He will not fear evil tidings;

His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

I love this quote!

"Gratitude spanks anxiety. Being thankful wipes out whining. And, the Apostle Paul promised that when we don't grumble and complain, we light things up for the world around us." Light it up!

Bill Heid

The Fruit of Her Hands

This is not a very good picture...
but it is of our friends the Boyds.
Their baked goods were SO GOOD!

Saturday, our family and a few other families that we know took part in a local craft show. We all put alot of work into producing our goods. And I think we have all asked ourselves, "Is it worth it?" And if you look at the bottom line, the grand total, the ACTUAL profit, the answer may be no. But if you look at what we were teaching our children in the process, then it is more than worth it. They learn the value of hard work including the creativity, the manufacturing, the marketing, the investing and so much more!!! They also learn not to be idle, to be productive with their time and talents. It builds an appreciation for the skills others have.
This is the Lee's booth.
You can barely see Sherri...I think she was dodging the camera,
along with the other 14 members of her family!!! ???!!!

Then there is the whole aspect of being active in the community. The other families that we knew there have larger than 'normal' family size (one family has 13 children). This was so neat!!! They were all there with their products. All of the children were so well behaved. What a testimony to the community of God's blessings! Families working together and enjoying it (well for the most part ;o) )

Not pictured are our friends the Crawfords who own Nurtured By Nature.
(The BEST bath and body products!!!)

nor are the Travers pictured, who operate Turning Hearts Ministries.
I bought some beautiful greeting cards from their oldest son.

I received this from Steve Beck and I thought it would be fitting to add it here:

In Proverbs 31, we have a woman who manages her household so well
that her home can not contain her industry. Her family comes
first, but she look what else is happening:

She considers a field and buys it in verse 15. She is no stranger
to financial matters. She knows how to count the cost so that she
comes out ahead.

She invests the profits from her land transaction in verse 16.
She does not foolishly spend her profits. She invests them wisely
so that the whole household benefits.

She extends her hand to the poor in verse 20. She gives because
she can afford to. She is not burdened by excessive debt nor is
she relying on others for her basic needs.

She has a godly confidence in her ability to provide when times
get tough in verse 21.

She sells merchandise out of her home in verse 24. One assumes
that the garments and sashes she sells are well- crafted and
bring top dollar in the market place.

Her children call her blessed and her husband praises her in
verse 28.

All praise her in the gates in verse 31 and we are still praising
her to this day!

This woman has leveraged a small home business into a wonderful
blessing for her family, her community and countless people who
have read her story and followed her example. She is impacting
her culture in a godly way, even to this day. Oh, that more would
follow her example.

Warmly in Christ,
Stephen Beck