Monday, December 29, 2008

A Daybook Entry


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (December 29, 2008)...

Outside my window...
the sky is brightening, holding promise of a bright, warm (for late December) day~ lovely!

I am thinking... about the need to persevere in prayer for the many things that are on my heart right now.

I am thankful for... my family~ all together right now. I am more aware as time passes what an incredible treasure this is, so fleeting. My heart is full with all I have been given.

From the learning rooms… no school this week! We are enjoying having Nate home with us from basic training in the Army right now.

From the kitchen... planning some batch cooking to replenish my freezers before we begin school once again next week. Lasagne for sure, not yet sure what else.

I am wearing... favorite floral overalls, white long-sleeved knit T, clogs~ comfy and warm.

I am creating... a new overall jumper (floral of course!) for me, and some new clothes for Abbie as well.

I am going... to the fabric store with Hannah and Abbie today or tomorrow. Hannah’s newest Regency gown turned out so nice; she has plans to make another soon.

I am reading... an excellent book to help me in my inductive study of Hebrews…

I am hoping... Praying, actually, for my dear Nana… I just found out that she has been taken to the hospital and might have had a stroke. Oh how I love her. She has been one of my biggest “cheerleaders.” In her eyes I could do no wrong. I am quite aware of my faults, more with each passing year, but it is nice to have someone in your life who thinks you are perfect!

I am hearing... the dogs softly snoring by the fire; small pops from the woodburning stove, and, amazingly, no children noises yet!

Around the house... lots of cleaning and organizing as we are not working on school this week… new pantry, new laundry area to arrange, etc.

One of my favorite things... an organized home. Probably because we so rarely achieve that status (with 11 children at home still!), however, it is a noble goal and one that we strive for! LOL! I do like “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

A few plans for the rest of the week: Sewing, cooking, cleaning, organizing, planning for the completion of the school year this spring, menu planning, and perhaps even some painting thrown in ( I have a large shelf that was given to me that I think would be adorable painted periwinkle blue for my new laundry room). So many fun things to do and so little time!

Here is picture thought I am sharing... Tom and Daniel sharing a hug and a laugh together...


Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Valuable Pursuit

God's Word and prayer. I have been sick for the last several days which is unusual for me, but it is always good when the Lord forces me to slow down. I have been able to spend extra time in the Word and praying too. I have been reminded not to be swayed from that which really matters.

My children could tell you that I am fond of reminding them that there are only three things that will last eternally: God, His Word, and people's souls. My challenge to you (and me!): invest in that which truly matters.

I have been gradually (read very gradually) working on an inductive study of Hebrews. This is so, so rich to me. A discipline? Yes. Absolutely. But worth it? Most definitely.

Check out the following video.... truly God's Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Gift for You.....

I just read the following story on on of my favorite blogs, Large Family Mothering, and I had to share it with you, my friends! Sherry wisely warns you to have many tissues handy for this one.

Read and be blessed~ Merry Christmas everyone!


I remember a day during one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold, our salary had not been regularly paid, and it did not meet on needs when it was. My husband was away traveling from one district to another much of the time. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing, and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and repatched, with spirits sinking to their lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well, and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

The people in the parish were kind, and generous, too, but the settlement was new, and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver. Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times, until I knew, as David did, “who was my Fortress and Deliverer.” Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer. My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral. Many times our breakfast was Indian cake, and a cup of tea without sugar. Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth, and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted -a nice large one, and insisted in praying for it. I knew it was impossible; but, oh! How I wanted to give each child its present. It seemed as if God had deserted us, but I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting-room cheerful with an open fire, and tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

The morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch -- it was the best I could do -- wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck, and then tried to whisper a promise, as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it. That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened to her prayer; she asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll, and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered tome: “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, mamma,” that I thought I could move heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone, and gave way to the most bitter tears.

Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots; the thin stockings slipped off with them, and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then, as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me, James had let go, too. I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand, and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God, and tell Him his promise wasn’t true; my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

There came a sound of bells, a quick stop, and a loud knock at the door. James sprang up to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came for you by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas; at any rate, they shall have it tonight. Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along, and these other things I believe belong to you. There was a basket of potatoes and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box, and then with a hearty good-night rode away. Still, without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket, and we saw that beneath was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he exclaimed; “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.” “James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this; I am to blame, I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.” “Wait a moment dear, I cannot talk now;” then he went into another room. I knelt down, and my heart broke; in an instant all the dark-ness, all the stubbornness rolled away. Jesus came again and stood before me, but now with the loving word: “Daughter!” Sweet promises of tenderness and joy flooded my soul. I was so lost in praise and gratitude that I forgot everything else. I don’t know how long it was before James came back, but I knew he too had found peace. “Now, my dear wife,” said he, “let us thank God together;” and then he poured out words of praise; Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving. It was eleven o’clock, the fire was low, and there was the great box, and nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles, and began to examine our treasures. We drew out an overcoat; I made James try it on; just the right size, and I danced around him; for all my light heartedness had returned. Then there was a cloak, and he insisted in seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him, and we both laughed like foolish children. There was a warm suit of clothes also, and three pair of woolen hose. There was a dress for me, and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us, and in mine was a slip of paper. I have it now, and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days so shall thy strength be.” In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee: Fear not, I will help thee.” It was a wonderful box, and packed with thoughtful care. There was a suit of clothes for each of the boys, and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarfs, and hoods; down in the center, a box; we opened it, and there was a great wax doll.

I burst into tears again; James wept with me for joy. It was too much; and then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pair of skates. There were books for us to read; some of them I had wished to see; stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy; a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread; actually a muff, and an envelope containing a ten-dollar gold piece. At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight, and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread, and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire; how we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life, and how sure a help God always proved. You should have seen the children the next morning; the boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates. Ruth caught up her doll, and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed. When she came back she whispered to me: “I knew it would be here, mamma, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.” “Look here, wife, see the difference.” We went to the window, and there were the boys out of the house already, and skating on the crust with all their might. My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box, and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since.

Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him; dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. Over and over again we have proved that, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” -- Christian Witness.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gluten Free Pizza Crusts

Almost three years ago now two of our children were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. For some great info on this incredibly under diagnosed autoimmune disease, look here, or here. I am planning on putting some great additional links on the sidebar of my blog soon. Basically, a person with Celiac Disease cannot digest gluten, and even worse, their body perceives gluten as an "invader" and mounts an autoimmune response. Gluten is found in many of the most commonly used grains in America, wheat being one of the primary culprets.

After some initial panicking and feeling overwhelmed when the children received their diagnosis, I shifted into research mode and began experimenting with many gluten free (GF) grains. GF grains are almost always considerably more expensive than wheat. We have ground our own wheat for many years and I prefer that for reasons of both a financial nature and for the added health benefits of freshly ground grains. My goal in learning to cook GF was to do the same thing with GF grains. I desired to use whole grains that I could grind (in a grain mill that was designated GF) and the grains needed to be relatively inexpensive.

We have experimented a great deal and have found that the cheapest GF grains for our family here in the midwest are long grain brown rice, sorghum and buckwheat. There are many other delicious GF grains that we use sparingly (due to cost), but most of my recipes utilize the aforementioned grains.

One staple that we try to keep in the freezer here are small "personal-sized" pizza crusts. I do cook 95% of our food GF, but I still make some things with wheat like our daily sandwich bread, grilled pizza, oven-baked pizza and pizza stromboni. On the days that I make these dishes, Joshua is glad to make his very own pizza by pulling a GF crust out of the freezer, topping it as he wishes and baking. Yummy!

The girls and I made a new batch of GF pizza crusts yesterday and we took pictures of the process for you!

Gluten Free Pizza Crusts

4 1/3 c. warm water
3 Tbs. yeast
1 cup olive oil
1 cup honey
3 eggs
@ 9 cups GF flour blend* (see below)
1/4 cup flax seeds, ground
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp xanathan gum

Combine the warm water, yeast, olive oil, honey, eggs and about 4 cups of the GF flour blend in a mixing bowl and blend. Let it sit to "sponge" for about 15 minutes. The yeast will react with the warm water and the whole mixture will bubble up nicely.

When the 15 minutes are up stir in the ground flax seeds (I use a small electric coffee mill~ never used for coffee beans to grind the flax seeds), salt, guar gum and additional flour blend. This will be a *very* sticky dough; not at all like a regular yeast dough.

The trick to working with this GF dough is water... we tried oil and also additional GF flour, but neither work. This is a super-sticky dough! The cookie sheets will need to be oiled or sprayed with a non-stick spray first. Using a spoon, plop a glop of dough on the cookie sheet, then wet your fingers in a small bowl of water and begin shaping and spreading the dough into a pizza shape.

Here's a picture of Abbie shaping the dough~ nice job Abbie!


Once the dough is placed on the cooke sheets we begin baking them in batches. At this point you will only be prebaking them. 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. They will be dry, but not yet browned. Once the ten minutes of baking are up, you will need to carefully remove these to cooling racks to finish cooling before freezing.


The crusts will still be pretty fragile, so you need to be careful when handling the pizzas. If you are short on cooling rack space as I am you can use clean towels also.


Once the pizzas have cooled completely I freeze them in gallon sized zipper freezer bags. It is important to place a piece of freezer paper between pizzas or they will stick together.

To bake a pizza from these crusts you do not need to defrost them first. Simply top them as desired then bake at 350 F. until lightly browned.

This recipe yields 10 8" crusts or 27 5" crusts. You see the smaller ones in the photos above.

*GF flour blend: a ratio of 3c. brown rice flour, 1c. sorgum and 1c. buckwheat flour.

I do hope that this will be helpful for someone! I have quite a few other Gf recipes that I plan to post as I am able. Stay tuned!

A Necessary Invention

Today we had our first "real" snow of the season. The children were thrilled to awaken to the fresh blanket of white in the yard!

There was great motivation to complete school in a timely manner. once the work was done, the great scramble was on to find matching mittens (or not matching!), a hat and warm coat or coveralls plus boots too.

We are blessed to have a built-in sledding hill behind our house right in the back yard of our little six acre homestead. A shortage of fancy sleds is no problem for our boys. Jacob seems to be able to create almost anything out of leftover scraps of wood. Here are Jake and Jon showing off their new inventions...


Ta-da! Sleds! And yes, they work! Here are Gabe and Caleb with their sleds.


You know, I'm glad that I don't have unlimited funds to purchase everything the world says my children need. Look at the proud satisfaction they would miss out on.

Life. Lived joyfully right where we are with what we have. This is good.


Monday, December 15, 2008

A Daybook Entry


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (December 15, 2008)...

Outside my window...
a cold and shivery yard. It is 16 degrees Fahrenheit right now! (yesterday morning it was 61 when we left for church!) A wide variety of birds are visiting the feeder outside of my kitchen window, grateful for the extra calories. Their presence is a happy reminder of the Lord's watchful care for me. If not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without His knowledge, how much more must he care for me?

I am thinking... of all of the plans we have for the week. School work to complete first, then we will get to devote our time to preparation for Nate's arrival on Saturday!

I am thankful for...

Advent. As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth I have had many opportunities to contemplate anew the tremendous gift that was given to us. Unmerited favor. God's riches at Christ's expense. My heart yearns to grasp the enormity of this.

From the learning rooms… Working hard for three more days of school, then Christmas vacation until the beginning of January! We are ready for the change of pace.

From the kitchen... a garlic smothered chicken in the crock pot dinner served over long grain brown rice. We are big garlic lovers here and I do believe that the aroma of this cooking all day is almost as good as actually eating it! mmmmm......

I am wearing... favorite cozy floral overalls and white mock turtleneck.

I am creating... Smittens, skirts for the girls and I, plus an ongoing work of a Christmas scrapbook. Then yummy kitchen creations later this week....

I am going... to take three of the children to piano this afternoon and plan to be happily at home the rest of the week until we head up to the airport on Saturday to pick up Nate! We are all counting down the days until that reunion!

I am reading... Luke, plus studying Hebrews.

I am hoping... to pace myself well and choose to do only the things that the Lord would have me do. I can so easily attempt *way* too many projects at once!

I am hearing... Abbie playing with our Great Pyreneese "Lance," Hannah putting dishes away in the kitchen and Jake working on mudding and taping the sheetrock in our old kitchen where the walk-in pantry will be. I am *really* looking forward to having that space finished!

Around the house... As mentioned above, completing work on our old kitchen, then planning to paint that room later this week, plus I believe that I will paint the hardwood floor in that room. We have hardwood floors throughout the rest of our house, but I have never painted any of them. This floor, however, is not in very good shape. It contains a variety of different woods and several different widths of boards, plus many small holes that we have patched in the past with wood putty. I am envisioning a base coat of black, then a coat of a terra-cotta-type color. I many stencil around the edges too~ we'll see. I love distressed things (as long is it is not *me* that is distressed!), so I am envisioning the black showing through the terra-cotta color at some point in the future.

One of my favorite things... color.... I find great delight in newly painted walls, in stacks of brightly colored calico fabrics and even jars of buttons (sorted by color, of course)! Okay, scrapbooking papers sorted by color is a happy thing for me too!

A few plans for the rest of the week: school, sewing, cooking, Christmas baking, wrapping gifts, and writing our Christmas letter.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... my little apron and gardening hat rack. The girls and love to wear aprons~ there are stories behind each one! The "amazing grace" sign and little birds were Christmas gifts from my parents~ thanks so much Mom and Dad! I smile each time glance at this...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

All I want for Christmas....

Jesus. There are so many distractions in this life. All that lasts, all that matters though in the end is my relationship with Jesus and how I encourage those that the Lord brings me in contact with to follow Him. I love the following tribute by Fernando Ortega to Ruth Bell Graham.

Ruth Bell Graham walked faithfully with the Lord her whole life, supporting her husband and joyfully teaching and training her children to walk with the Lord also. This is what matters. I love to bless my children at Christmas with gifts that will delight them. If though, I neglect to pass on my love for the Lord to them; I have failed.

Walk with the Lord. Love Him passionately. Let the cry of your heart be "Just give me Jesus."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Smitten by....


Are these too cute, or what?


These are on "sale" at Restoration Hardware for $40 apparantly, but $40 is still way too pricy for me, so I will create my own!

Kwik Sew have a pattern here. But I don't like that pattern nearly as much as Restoration Hardware's mittens, so I plan to have a go at making my own!

Check out this link for some great directions! I plan to simply modify them to create the shared mitten! Fun, huh?

Super, super fun gift idea!

A Daybook Entry


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (December 8, 2008)...

Outside my window...
It's dark outside now. A *very* busy day has zipped by already!

I am thinking... of laundry to do, Christmas plans

I am thankful for...

peace in our country and the freedom to worship freely. Such a high price so many have paid to secure this privilege for us.

From the learning rooms… plugging away at schoolwork for just this week and next, then it will be Christmas break! Hooray!

From the kitchen... lots of yummy things to cook~ gingerbread cookies, soups and lots of ground beef (just found out that I could buy it by the case from Sams Club). We will be cooking up taco meat and other batch cooking meals that use ground beef too.

I am wearing... ok.... I hate to admit it, but once again I am wearing my floral overalls! I was recently blessed to purchase some lovely light yellow floral (of course!) fabric on sale at Jo Ann's. I am hoping to have opportunity to sew it up later this week. Here's the pattern I plan to use.

I am creating... a Christmas journal.... see Ali's blog for some great free info. In addition to the jumper mentioned above, I am sewing some new skirts for Abbie and I, plus I am going to start on the "smittens" that I mentioned on my blog here.

I am going... to go battle the overflowing laundry pile in the basement now!

I am reading... Hebrews. And gradually studying it inductively too. BTW... here's one of my favorite links for inductive Bible study. If you are interested in studying God's Word, you won't believe the wealth of information found here!

I am hoping... to get caught up on laundry! LOL!

I am hearing... the boys playing outside with their new LED flashlights~ it's so warm out right now! 58 degrees!

Around the house... Christmas lights (white are my favorite!) and greenery are up~ so pretty!

One of my favorite things... creating something... doesn't matter if it is sewing for my family, quilting, scrapbooking, cardmaking, weaving on my triangle loom, canning fruits and veggies, or even painting a room. I find such great satisfaction in the creative process.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Cooking and sewing, as mentioned above. Plus trying to compile our "year in review" album. That is a daunting undertaking for me~ the photos are organized, but picking and choosing which ones to include is the challenge! Then there is the choice of album and format... ideas anyone?

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


Sunday, December 7, 2008

At the heart of Christmas is....


One God who, unexplainably, sacrificed His only Son for us.(Jn 3:16)

One mother who trustingly said, "Behold the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38)

Lowly shepherds who "went straight to Bethlehem... (to) see this thing which has happened which the Lord has made known to (them). (Lk. 1:15)

Men like Simeon, righteous and devout, who waited their whole life to "see God's salvation," and rejoiced in it. (Lk. 2:25-32

Women like Anna, a widow of many years who served the Lord in fasting and prayers. She thanked God for His sacrifice (Lk.2:36-39) and "continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jersualem."

One Savior, Jesus Christ, who said "yes" to His Father, lived a perfect life of complete and unreserved sacrifice and then sacrificed all
in beatings,
in scourgings,
in insults,
all without argument
as a lamb led to slaughter

and yes,
in death.

Praise God! That is not the end of the story! His resurrection is the best gift ever given to mankind.

How can I consider any sacrifice to be "too much?" Ah to say "yes" as Mary did, choosing to embrace a life of sacrifice. My little gift to Him, my precious, precious Savior.

(No, this wasn't taken this year! But still pretty, yes?)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

So Thankful....

Happy Thanksgiving all! To celebrate this year we were blessed to have both my parents and my grandparents with us. Unfortunately Micah and Joshua and Nate were not here. Perhaps at Christmas we will all be together!


The children wanted to post what they are thankful for this year....

Hannah- "for my piano."
Here's a picture of Hannah at her recent piano recital. What a blessing it is for me to have such beautiful music as "background noise" in our home.


Jacob- "for my parents homeschooling me." (No prompting on my part, honest!)He didn't choose this picture, but I thought it was pretty funny!

Gabriel- "that I have been chosen by God for salvation." (Col.3:12)

Abigail- "for my parents."

Caleb- "for Lance." (no, he is not a horse, he's a dog, really!)

Joshua- "for my swing"

Josiah- "for my new bike!" Josiah, our little preemie baby (born 13 weeks early) turned 8 last Monday.

Jonathan- "for being such good friends with my brothers..." (Jon is in the middle in the orange shirt.)

Daniel- "for our bantam chickens."
No, I don't usually have chickens in the house, but it was getting a little dark out for pictures...

Timothy- "for chocolate chip pancakes!" (ok, so this one's a little blurry, but so cute!)

Tom (the patriarch of our family)- "I am grateful for our boys being such a big help to me around the house." Here's a picture of Jacob jackhammering a hole in our garage for a sump pump. What a job that was! Four hours running a jackhammer is a big job!
In addition, today Gabriel replaced a GFI outlet in our rec room without any help (or trips to the ER!)

Now it's my turn. I suppose since it is my blog, I don't have to abide by my "choose only one thing to be thankful for" rule that I imposed on the children, do I?

I am so very grateful for:
  • My precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Truly I am more aware each day of how little I deserve and how very much I have been given.
  • My husband Tom, the most fabulous leader for our family. He truly leads by example, loving the Lord and serving his family with all diligence.
  • My twelve children, plus son-in-law Joshua! My heart is full to overflowing with gratefulness to the Lord for each one of them~ with their own unique talents, personalities and ways of blessing me.
  • My parents, Tom's parents and my grandparents~ they each contribute a richness to my life that fulfills me and serves as an example for me to follow.
  • Friends... all of you~ you have loved and encouraged me this past year in so many ways. "As iron sharpens iron, so one (wo)man sharpens another."
  • The many, many material things that I am blessed with here~ our beautiful old farm house, etc, etc. I find myself embarrassed to mention them as I know that so many in the world have so little.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I pray that your day has been as blessed as mine has been.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The toddler has drawn an amazingly Picassa-like picture on your freshly painted wall, the bathroom looks worse than a roadside rest stop, one child is discouraged while others are just plain silly during school time, the laundry monster threatens to consume you when you descend the stairs to the basement, the septic system is overflowing and, to top it off, you haven't planned dinner ahead of time! "Mamma said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this Mamma said..." It doesn't matter if you have only one child or a dozen, discouraging days are a fact of life.

As Americans I believe we often mistakenly believe that God is obligated to make us happy. Nowhere in God's Word is happiness listed as a right for us as believers. On the contrary, we are told that trials will come (James 1:2-4, I Pet.1:6-7). I am not sure that a bad day qualifies as a trial, but I know that my response to life's small difficulties can either glorify the Lord or not. Like a spoiled toddler, we can be tempted to stomp our feet at the Lord, demanding Him to make us happy, instead of embracing the joy that He offers in the midst of daily difficulties.

Want to experience joy in the midst of life's difficulties? Here are twelve tips to help when days don't go as planned.

  1. Spend time early in the morning in God's Word. This helps me to align my thinking with the truth of God's Word and equips me to handle, the difficulties and temptations that surely await me in the coming day. I have found that if I don't make time first thing in the day, the tyranny of the urgent often keeps me from ever spending time in God's Word.
  2. Scripture memory. This allows me to contemplate the truths of Scripture even when I don't have opportunity to sit down with my Bible. Believe me, if I can do this, so can you! I will share specifics in another post soon explaining how we have used a scripture memory system that has enabled us to memorize whole books... even my three and four-year-olds have significant portions of God's Word "hidden in their heart."
  3. Prayer My desire is that I would live a life characterized by 24/7 prayer. We are commanded to "pray without ceasing" ... I know that the Lord wants us to run to Him first in all of life's difficulties. It can be so easy for me to run to other things first... the freezer (those chocolate chips are calling me...), a phone call to my husband or a friend, or any other diversion that keeps me from clinging to my Precious Savior.
  4. Pray and humbly ask the Lord to reveal any area of sin in your life that you might be ignoring. Refusal to obey the Lord will surely remove the joy from your walk with Him. On a more practical note.....
  5. Plan meals in advance. When I preplan our meals, I am able to do whatever prep work is needed in advance (or delegate it) and glide into dinner-time without that sickening "what-am-I-going-to-feed-twelve-hungry-people" feeling. Batch cooking has also been a tremendous help for me. I will post additional thoughts and information about both meal planning and batch cooking in the future.
  6. Go to bed on time! Consistently getting 8 hours of sleep will cause anyone to become discouraged. As a parent of both teens and toddlers, I know how challenging this one can be.
  7. Rise early. When I rise early I am able to spend time alone in God's Word, throw a load of laundry in and get breakfast started before the children are up. If I don't, I feel that I am being drug through the day by a band of wild horses. If one of the little guys does get up earlier than I expect and "interrupts" my time with the Lord, I don't mind. I consider it a time for them to see their mother spending time with the Lord and I welcome them. I do require them to sit quietly nearby with a Bible story book of their own though. It can be a sweet time together.
  8. Exercise. Consistently spending time really working out has been huge for me through the years. In different seasons in my life I have exercised in different ways. My current favorite is bike riding. There is a 13 mile-long path near my house that I love riding on. When the weather doesn't cooperate though I will do step aerobics in the living room. It's pretty cute really... toddlers stepping right along with Mommy. At times I have walked or jogged. Find something that you can do consistently and just do it.
  9. Delegate. Step back from the things that are most frustrating you and pray and consider what the Lord might have you do differently. Many times I find that the fault is my own. I have not taken the time to joyfully and purposefully train my children in a certain area and I am reaping the fruit of my training neglect and haste to "do it myself." Children can do an amazing amount of chores to help lighten the load around your home. Plus it is fun to work alongside them.
  10. Tackle a small project that you have put off. The satisfaction of crossing something off of your "to do" list can be an encouragement to work on other projects. I especially enjoy working on an aesthetically pleasing small project.... like hanging a new picture or cleaning a window that I enjoy looking out of. Consider breaking larger, more unpleasant projects up into 15-minute bite-sized pieces. I might not be able to sort that mountain of summer clothes that I need to put away all at once, but I can make a huge dent in smaller 15-minute increments throughout the day.
  11. Listen to encouraging music. I enjoy music that reminds me of the Lord's loving care and faithfulness in my life. Hymns are fabulous as is a great deal of praise and worship music. Quiet instrumental music is most often my choice when we are working on school work, but even that can remind me of the great truths of Scripture.
  12. Remember that "this too will pass." If I were there with you, I'd give you a big hug!

Sometimes the most difficult thing about life is how "daily" it is. I believe that it is so important to glorify the Lord even in the small things that we do. Placing our hand in His and joyfully trusting Him in the midst of life's small trials not only brings glory to God, but is a wonderful example to our children too!

(If you are experiencing more than discouragement, I would encourage you to read Terry Maxwell's article on depression here. I found it to be full of excellent advice.)

Psa 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. Rejoice! You are loved with an everlasting love.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Daybook Entry- Nov. 24 entry


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (November 24, 2008)...

Outside my window...
the eastern sky is brightening... doves are already gathering under the bird feeders. The skeleton trees are silhouetted against a baby blue sky.

I am thinking...of plans for a busy and fun week. Josiah turns 8 today! I can't believe our little preemie baby is so big and healthy now. Lots of cooking and baking to do this week~ fun!

I am thankful for... Micah and Joshua are going to be in town for a few days~ they will be here for Josiah's birthday party! So grateful for a large family to cook for and serve in other ways too.

From the kitchen...a gluten free birthday cake, plus pre-Thanksgiving baking too.

I am wearing...floral overalls, white mock turtleneck, white tennies.

I am creating...mostly food this week... but plans for Christmas crafts for the children, several sewing projects.

I am going... to the library and to Nature's Pantry to pick up a bulk food order, then home for the rest of the week~ hooray!

I am reading...James, contemplating faith and works...

I am hoping... to check lots of things off of my to-do list this week as we take a week off of school.

I am hearing... George Winston "December" playing, little boys discussing their plans for the day, the drier making little rhythmic "clinks" as a load of the boys jeans dry.

Around the house...cozy, homey, winter plans. I *love* this time of year~ woodburning stove warmth, soups simmering on the stove, secret plans for gifts afoot!

One of my favorite things...a snuggly little boy sitting on my lap, still nestled in his blanket sleeper and not fully awake yet.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Thanksgiving baking and delightful family together time.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... a shot of one of my kitchen sinks... bountifully full of freshly washed eggs and a 15 bean mix for soup ready to be rinsed.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homeschooling benefit #127

I love it when I "catch" my children helping each other! When I walked in the kitchen on this particular afternoon, I found Jacob helping Caleb open a (very large) Sams size can of crushed tomatoes. This makes me so happy!


Our days frequently contain scenes like these..

I have been sorting some photos and realized that these pictures of the children helping each other mean so much to me. They speak volumes of the character development that is going on "behind the scenes" as we live, work and learn together here at home.


Here Caleb is helping Jon use chopsticks! My dear Mother likes to come by when she is available and teach the younger children. They had just finished studying a book about Japan, hence the chopsticks! Fun!



and sisters....


learning to work together and enjoy each others company.

I love catching my children doing things like this....


Don't you?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sacred Oughtness

Tom was sharing with me this evening an excerpt from a book he recently began to read. I found the author's thoughts to be so "on" that I originally typed it up to send to Nate as I know that he will find it to be a confirmation of what he is experiencing as he shares Christ with other young men in the military. I felt compelled to share this here also. Please take a minute to read this. I promise you will be challenged and blessed.

Sacred Oughtness

You can’t escape the sacred oughtness. You can neglect it, suppress it, even abandon it, but you can’t break away from it. It gnaws at your soul, seeps in through your activities, makes a background noise in your conscience. You can’t run away from it, even though like Jonah you tend to run away in disobedience. Instead, like the Lord Jesus, who sensed he must go through Samaria to reach one person, a tabloid-headline-prone woman (cf.John 4:4), you sense a ministry necessity. Jesus transfers that oughtness to us. Notice the plural pronoun accompanied by necessity when Jesus says, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me” (John 9:4). That’s why Paul writes, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:16).

If you are highly committed to evangelistic preaching, you must be deeply convinced that anything other than pursuing God’s calling will be less than the best. You wouldn’t give a serious thought, at your saner moments, to looking back after laying your hands on the plow. If you look back, you’ll only remark, “You mean God did that through me?” How risky to have walked that scraggy edge of a ministry cliff to survive with perfect hindsight about “the one who is faithful who called you (not only to salvation and sanctification, but also to service) and who also brought it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24, author’s interpretation). There is no full-blown empirical proof that explains your convinced oughtness, only an interior sense of summons and necessity, observable but not describable by others, contagious but not infectious, for it is too personal.

Richard Ramesh Preparing Evangelistic Sermons

I pray that none of us will neglect our "sacred oughtness."

Simple Woman's Daybook- Nov.17 edition


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (November 17, 2008)...

Outside my window...the sun is rising... it comes up late in the little valley we live in. I believe it is going to be a sunny, but chilly day.

I am thinking...about Heb.12:4, "You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin." I read in Hebrews this morning in my quiet time and was convicted about being wholehearted in my devotion and walk with the Lord. Am I willing to strive to resist in even "small" areas of sin in my life that I can tend to "wink" at?

I am thankful for... all of the little (and big!) noises in my house this morning~ I love having a big, busy household!

From the learning rooms...we will be focusing on finishing strong this week in school. We will take next week off for Thanksgiving~ hooray!

From the kitchen... basic foods on a busy homeschool day... oatmeal for breakfast, baked potatoes for lunch and a crockpot meal for this evening.

I am wearing... favorite floral overalls, white long-sleeved T-shirt and new white tennis shoes.

I am creating... black velvet dresses for Hannah and Abbie who have a piano recital on Friday this week. Plus beginning plans for some "year in review" photo albums which will be gifts (shhhhhh.....)

I am going... to take some children to piano later this afternoon and then should be home the rest of the week! Yay!

I am reading... the books listed on my blog home page, plus spending time in God's Word in little breaks in my day. I am aware that when I am not desiring to spend time in God's Word, I am in danger of becoming complacent in my walk with the Lord.

I am hoping... to complete our school work in a timely manner today. I really run out of energy for school after two or three pm!

I am hearing... Donut Man music playing in the kitchen as the children eat breakfast.

Around the house... cleaning and planning for Thanksgiving next week.

One of my favorite things... how cozy and warm our house is with the woodburning stove on winter mornings.

A few plans for the rest of the week:sewing, school, other Christmas crafting, baking for Thanksgiving, piano recital on Friday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


Sunday, November 16, 2008

On trusting God, and His faithfulness

I received an email from my father that I would like to share with you. Here's what my father had to say: (he gave me permission to share! ; ) )

Susan - I've been thinking about the economy and it's impact on the lives of people in the near to mid term future. I thought I'd share some of my contemplations with you in the hope that as you interact with others you might be able to give them some guidance. Everything I say is with the caveat that no one knows what the future holds and the surprising events in the recent economy prove beyond a doubt that God is the only one who knows the future. All of the disclaimers are out of the way so here goes.

I'm increasingly convinced that this downturn isn't a short term deal. It appears to me that there is a strong likely hood that we could see several (maybe 2-3?) years of major retraction in the economy. What that means in a practical sense is that we Believers should prepare for a lengthy term of difficult economic times. That means such things as:
- avoiding debt at all cost. Pay off all old debts and don't take on new debt for anything (except maybe a house)
- keeping your job as secure as possible. I don't think now is the time to take on risky new ventures.
- downsizing our vision of keeping up with others. Other people are broke; don't try to keep up with their image
- it's no shame to simply hold a plain old job (or maybe two or three part time jobs).
- people need to be on a budget. I really think every church should teach budgeting to it's members.
- If you were advising friends as to a career path right now I think the best field is health care. By that I mean direct health care, nursing etc., and indirect health care such as hospital administration.
For the next few years health care looks like the most secure field in which one can be employed.

Unfortunately people in America have been living beyond their means for too long. The good thing about what is going on now is that it will force some people to more realistically deal with their personal finances. We have had our image of success defined by advertising. Folks think they need a new car (with the debt that goes with it) rather than an older (or even a simply old) car that was paid for with cash. Advertisers try to convince us that if we are really successful we will have a BMW and a $600/mo payment rather than 7 year old clunker without any debt. Advertising has defined far too much what success should look like.

I believe that people are going to be under a lot of financial pressure for a long time and they really need to get control of their income and expenses so they aren't overwhelmed by the events that are unfolding.

These are probably not new thoughts in any meaningful sense but they have been on my mind so I thought I'd share them with you. You have influence with lots of people. Maybe you can share them with others in your circle of friends and church members. You have demonstrated most of these things already.


My father has been a christian for many years. He has both an engineering and a seminary degree. When I was young he was a pastor and then owned and ran a business making large wooden spools for wire rope. He recently sold his business in order to retire. He and my mother now spend their time investing our family's lives (with an occasional trip to Arizona or other beautiful destination thrown in). I count it a great privilege to have grown up in such a godly home with such wise and God-fearing parents.

I do believe that there is a great deal of wisdom in my father's email, so I wanted to share it along with some additional thoughts that I have had.


One of my favorite old hymns is "His Eye is on the Sparrow." Click here if you are not familiar with this dear hymn and would like to hear it. I have been thinking of my precious Savior's love and care for us and how it related to our use of finances. I believe that we get into trouble when we forget His compassion for us. When we want something and must have it now, even when finances clearly aren't there, not only do we challenge God's plan and timing for our lives, but we also miss out on seeing Him provide for us.

Tom has been a policeman for the last 18 years and while we make a nice salary and have good benefits (I am grateful!), it has been a challenge to raise a dozen children on a single income. We have been able to stay out of debt (except for our home~ which we are now working to pay off early). But there have been many times that I have gone months in a row with no money for "extras" in our budget. I can remember quite a few times that I did not have the finances to buy fruit for the children or new shoes, etc.

But oh the stories I could share with you of the Lord's provision in our lives! Truly He has been so, so good to us to provide much much more than we ask or even dream of! Just recently we were given huge quantities of almost new clothing for the boys...

(Here's Timmy showing off one of his new outfits.)


a truck load of pumpkins~ for our goats, chickens and us too!


A tree full of apples was given to us also. We dehydrated, canned and otherwise preserved them. Here are some of my helpers with the fruit of our labor!


We heat with wood and Tom and the boys went last Saturday to a yard waste recycling center nearby to look for wood that had been dropped off. Before they left home, they prayed that the Lord would provide them with wood. When they arrived, the prospects were disappointing... only brush and leaves had been deposited that day. Sadly, they began to pull out of the recycling center. As they started the truck not one but two pickup trucks pulled in with not only cut, but split wood! They arrived home with wood for the stove and boys who had seen God answer prayer.


More recently, as I mentioned in an earlier post this week, we were blessed with many, many pears! We put those to good use too.


My conclusion? Wait on the Lord. As some good friends like to tell me "They who wait on the Lord will receive it free or at a greatly reduced price!" (Thanks Dickersons!) Just because you have the funds doesn't necessarily mean you should spend it, but I know that if you don't have the money the Lord has other (and often better) things in store for you! Rejoice in what He has given you and in His timing and be content in all circumstances. Phil.4:11b,12 "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity."

I am still in the school of learning contentment, but hoping that I can encourage you as I document His faithfulness in our life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


School days are full, full, full here. We begin classwork at 8am and work hard until our noon break. After lunch the younger children are usually almost done with their work and the older children have only independent work to do, so I can sometimes sneak away at about 1 or 2pm for a little excursion...

Autumn is by far my favorite time of the year, and today was classic. 57 degrees won't last long around here in November. A bike ride was definitely in order. Biking is my very favorite form of exercise right now. It gives me time to not only work out, but also enjoy the outdoors and have some uninterrupted prayer time.

There is a lovely park near my house that I frequent as often as possible for the delightful 13 mile path there. ZMany times one of the older boys will go with me, but today they were busy, so it was just me. It usually only takes me about 45-40 minutes, but today my camera tagged along also, so I won't say how long it took! LOL!

I thought you might like to see how lovely my afternoon ride was:

It was cloudy when I started, but the blue sky was peeking out... absolutely beautiful. After a few minutes the sun came out.

I don't know if you can see it in the photo below, but there are whitecaps on the lake. That always means tough going at least one way on the ride for me. Fortunately I faced the wind on the way out today and had it helping me on the way back!


I wish I could post the sounds that I heard.... the wind whistling through dried grasses, birds calling and even some insects still making insect noises!


This is what I love about taking pictures, it allows me to see, not just look and to observe the beauty around me. I can celebrate the "everyday" and rejoice in the simplicity an beauty that the Lord has placed all around me. My camera slows me down and forces me to evaluate and enjoy the moments that pass way too quickly.





When I walked in the door after my ride, I was greeted by the little boys singing "We love you Mommy, oh yes we do, we love you Mommy, oh yes we do!"


Life. Simple and so good.

To top off my day, our oldest son Nate called home this evening. He is away at basic training in the Army at Ft. Benning GA right now. It does my heart good to hear his strong voice. Each time he calls he has new adventures to share. Best of all, many involve his input spiritually into the lives of the other young men in his platoon. He has had many, many opportunities to share the Gospel there and as a result has quite a few of the men reading their Bible in the free time that they have in the evening. "Send more Bibles, Dad," is music to my ears! Truly I have no greater joy than to see my children walk in the Truth. (3 Jn 1:4)