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?)