Thursday, August 28, 2008

Submitting When I don't Want To

I have been going gung-ho in trying to declutter the basement and straighten it up for our company coming in late Sunday night thru Tuesday. It is a missionary family of ten, passing thru our area in need of a place to stay. We are very glad to do it, and had this family in for our missions conference last March and hit it off quite well. Now, back then only half of them came because the wife was due soon with a baby. This time they are all coming! I had started working in a basement a couple weeks ago, but was sidetracked with beginning school, etc. Now this week I have been pushing myself to get it done.

I can already see a big difference, and that is encouraging to me! I'm making a dent, but it is by no means near done. It will at least be usuable by the time company arrives, but not finished. There are lots of tools, leftover lumber, and apparatus that dh wants to go through. I wouldn't even know how to begin with that stuff!

I have been going through children's clothes, and am almost done. Then I will go through all the excess household inventory (aka.. "junk"), bedding, decorations, etc. It feels so good to just get rid of all the stuff we don't need, don't use, or don't have room for. Now understand, I am a "thrower" and dh is a "Packrat" though he has improved greatly over the last several years.

What I am having a problem with is dh's decree today.

Ever since we lost Aaron, I am prone to having what I call emotional breakdowns, especially when I am overtired. I just cry and cry and cry. The children's behavior has been heavy on my heart lately, and I have seen over the last year or so a general decline in how they talk to each other, respond to each other, and in their general obedience. There was a whole string of things this morning, and I just broke down and cried.

Last night I was so tired I was on the verge of tears all night after church. I really was THAT tired! You all probably think I am a basket case, but I am trying to accurately describe what has been going on. Iused to be able to work and work and work and though I was fatiqued, still be able to deal with things. It was never unusual for me to be up to 1 or 2am canning or cleaning up from a day of canning. Not that I liked to, but I could handle it, kwim? Now, I can't even fathom that. It is a good thing our garden has been pretty much a bust this year!

Most days I am feeling fine, and can handle the days ups and downs with confidence, but apparently not today. I was just bawling after a string of disobedience, lying, etc. and called dh. We conversed for a while, he gave me some good advice and said that he didn't want me down in the basement at all today, and to just deal with being a Mama, and schoolwork. I sputtered a bit and asked "WEll, if everyone settles in and the opportunity arises for me to work down there, would that be all right?"

Dh said "I would rather you didn't." Which is his way of saying "No."

I'm thinking... company coming, I can rest all I want after they leave.. now is the time for the big push and I'm finally making progress... I don't want to obey this, I want to go down there and work!

He did say we could work together down there this evening if I wanted to. But he wants me to have a lighter day today, and take it easy as possible until he gets home. But it was driving me crazy not to be using my most productive hours to work down there.

All day I unwillingly submitted.. at first. Funny thing happened is that after naptime, I didn't mind submitting. I was feeling the "rest" having good effects. Not that I sat around doing nothing, but doing the basics only and letting rest lie as it was.

One of the ladies who were praying for me enoucraged me to let my dh be my covering and protector in taking care of my body and its needs. So true! I sit here tonight feeling much, much better about the day, and glad I obeyed my dh in this. It was a wise thing on his part, and I am grateful for a dh who loves me, and is sensitive to what I need, especially when I don't take care of myself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Urban Homemaker Bargains

I don't know how many are familiar with the Urban Homemaker site, but I got an email saying they are starting their big book blowout. Some great reads!
(just copy and past that addy to your browser)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homeschool Resource

This is a site I've been visiting for a few years. They used to be the Homeschool Estore (or something like that) and are now Currclick. Everyweek they have a freebie download offer. This week they are having their "before homeschooling starts" sale. I am particularly intersted in the Proverbs paperdolls for my girls, and the homemaking notebooking pages. They have several designs to choose from. There are over 30 pages to browse through, so make some tea and enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jehovah Jireh!

This is more of a rambling post about nothing in particular. Just some thought.

I was thinking of all the Lord provides us, and thanking Him for His many blessings. You know, like in the hymn, Count Your Many Blessings? Well, this morning in Sunday school part of what dh was teaching was on keeping the Sabbath. I had just read this morning in Mark, about how "God made the sabbath day for man, not man for the Sabbath." (paraphrased). God doesn't want us to keep the one in seven formula just to obey Him. He gave us that command (and yes, its a command, not optional) for our own good! A bow that is never loosened will loose its strength to shoot arrows. We are supposed to have one day a week to unwind and rest, and yes, go to church. That is a spiritual and physical refreshing. But notice the flip side of that... the 6 days of work. Not 5 days, He says 6 days. Once in a forum I was in, I was posting a thread about homemaking, a "to do" list, if you will, for a Saturday. Some chirpie youngster mom came in with a comment "Oh, I get everything done during the week so I we can just spend time together on Saturdays and have fun!" Well, 'Rah, for her. I got thinking about that wondering if I should be endevouring the same, but realized for our family, and our schedule, that would be impossible. Then I remember the Scriptures saying 6 days shalt thou work. Well, okay then!

I have heard that many times... "Oh, the weekend! We can do lots of stuff together as a family!" I agree. We do yardwork, stack wood, cleaning, make bread.. etc. But what I mean to say is that Saturday isn't necessarily "Play day". If you can do that, fine. And yes, we do that every once in a blue moon. But usually Saturday is a very busy day for us. Dale goes out in the morning with one of the older kids soul winning. The rest of us clean, bake or whatever. Any yard work like weeding or mowing or what have you we try to catch up on on Saturdays as well. Now I also give piano lessons in the morning to some pastor's kids (no, not ours) in exchange for some math tutoring for one of our daughters. Saturdays are our busiest day of the week many times. I play catch up as best I can on things that got pushed aside during the week, we clean (I like the house nice for Sundays), do any preparation for Sundays I can, etc. When the Lord's Day comes, I am SO thankful for a day of rest! It is good to get up Sunday mornings to some coffee, with my Bible, knowing the day will be refreshing spiritually and physically.

That brings up the question on what should or shouldn't be done on Sundays. I think that is something each family needs to decide for themselves. That is one of those gray areas. I can say what our family tries to hold to, however. Basically, I plan healthful meals, that aren't hard to prepare. We use paperplates sometimes to help cut back on dinner dishes. We try and keep things as low keyed and simple. No horse play, no tearing around outside. We do what I call "quiet time" activities. The kids can read, nap, play games quietly. I have let them go outside to read, but today was too hot and we all stayed in by the AC. Sometimes I go for a leisurely walk. I do allow handwork, but not mending (that is work to me LOL). Sometimes we have company over, and that's fine. We try not to purchase anything on Sundays, though we do eat out once a year when Dh takes us out for Mother's day (his version of "cooking"). If someone is in the hospital and he needs to visit them, then he goes without hesitation. And of course, he preaches 3 times on Sundays.

Something else the Lord provides is our sustenance. We had a wonderful dinner today, and we were commenting on how many times the Lord provides a whole meal, or part of a meal for free. For example, a couple weeks ago when we had salmon, that was a very, very cheap meal for us. The fish was given to us. So was the zucchini, and part of the salad. A meal fit for a king, and it cost us very little! Today we were, just for the fun of it, figuring the cost of our dinner. We had a sausage/rice/ cheese casserole, a huge bowl of homemade cabbage salad, and yup, more zucchini, and peanut butter bars with frosting for dessert. The sausage, cabbage, and sausage were given to us. The whole meal, for 8 of us, including milk, cost around $4. And there were leftovers.

Tonight as we were leaving church the kids were asking for a snack when we got home, which is normal procedure for us. Just then our neighbor came over and said that they had lots of roasted corn leftover from a hot dog roast they had at their church tonight, and the family that grew it wanted to give it to us. Two, humungous bags of roasted corn, still hot, were delivered to our door. Guess what we had for snack?

These are the things you can't budget in. You just never know what a day may bring forth. The Lord provides as He sees fit. While I am all for financial responsibility, there are some things, some times, you just have to have faith about. Having children, for example. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard "But how can you afford all of those children?". I just say, "We can't, but the Lord can. We do our best with the money He provides, then trust Him for the rest."

Here is a little thing the Lord provided for us. I have been wanting to try to make our own kefir, but never knew how to begin. A friend online posted one day she was over run with kefir grains, and would anyone like some? Now that is a little thing, I know, but it just goes to show you that God truly cares for us, even in our little wishes that don't seem to make an impact on the big picture of things.

Those are just a few examples of how the Lord has provided for us in the last day or so. Try keeping track of everything, and all those "little" things that do add up, and you'll be counting your blessings from sun up to sun down!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Upgrading

New look.. new sounds... Okay, all good and well, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to move the "Cutest blog on the block" link to the sidebar! LOL. At first it was right over any new post's date and title. At least now it is in the upper right corner. If anyone has any ideas on how to move it out of the way, let me know. For now, I'm not messing around anymore with it.

It's the end of a very busy day here. We caught up on some school corrections that we missed doing yesterday, and washed bedding, finished up the cleaning, did some baking, and I taught piano lessons, then went for a walk after supper. I still need to do the ironing, and I never did so much as touch the baby quilt I am working on. I am so glad tomorrow is the Lord's Day!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pregnancy Update

I had an appointment with my midwife today. I always enjoy our visits. We chat a lot, and discuss, and joke around, drink tea or water, etc. Anyway, everything is well. After hearing a drive by beating, kicking, and movement and static (ack, does that mean the baby is radioactive???) we finally got a good heart rate count in, at about 160, good "moving around" count, as my MW puts it. My weight gain has been moderate, about a pound and a half a week over the last two months. My blood pressure was excellent... 110/70. We did some blood work.. an A1C and hemoglobin check. Next visit we'll be doing a glucose check, even though it will be a couple weeks early. I will be 22 weeks tomorrowish. ;)

After the appointment dh and I ran some errands and ate supper at Subway (eat fresh!). Wow, was it busy in town! College classes start Monday, so there was bumper to bumper traffic with the influx of college students, and Walmarts was PACKED!

We stopped for gas on the way home and were please to *only* pay 3.77/gallon. I never thought I would see the day when I would be excited over that price.

Now we are home, and I am tired! I never did get a nap today, and we did regular school, chores, ect. before I went out gallivanting with my sweet honey. This little Mama needs to get to bed.

Music To My Ears!

So, anyone notice anything different about my blog?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Garden Frustrations

I have to say that while I am thankful for what produce we got out of the garden this year, that overall I am disappointed and frustrated. We were able to get a goodly amount of green beans, and a few squash, but basically everything else was a failure.

The last three summers have been like that (since we moved). Our old garden was half the size, but we got at least twice as much produce out of it. Things grew very well. Not so with this garden! The soil is lacking nutrients, from what I can tell. I had hoped after a couple years we'd start seeing improvement. Well, this fall we are spreading compost and manure, letting it settle in, then adding another layer of manure in the spring (hopefully), before plowing. We tried some store bought fertilizer and that didn't do a thing.

All that time wasted is so frustrating! I could have been cleaning the basement, or repapering the kitchen, or redoing the living room, etc. Right now I am ready to say "forget it!" for next year, but I know come spring, I'll try again. If all the manure and compost doesn't work then I may very well give up except for peas, grean beans, and potatoes, which all usually grow well enough.

Our green bean plants are dying off, so I don't think we'll be able to get much more out of them. There are a few ears of corn, but not enough to freeze. Other than that, the garden is done. Maybe I should try mostly flowers next time? I know, you can't eat them, but the way our garden has been going, we can't eat most of that either. At least with flowers it will look prettier!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Ahhh... cooler, dryer air! C'mon fall! I love these end of the summer days when the air becomes more compatable with lung function. Yesterday was in the high 80's and soooo humid. I actually turned on the AC's, and was very thankful for them. Today was in the low 70's, and nice and dry. It was a beautiful day!

We took advantage of the cooler temps and caught up on some baking. Between the girls and Benjamin and I, we made:
~ A double batch of bread
~ A quadrouple batch of banana muffins
~ A double batch of chocolate chip cookies

The odors in the house all day were a constant tease, especially for the scholars, who do their work at the kitchen table!

This evening after supper Elizabeth and I went for a little walk. We collected some wildflowers to bring home. We listened to the birds singing, and the cows at a farm near us lowing over their hay. My they were loud tonight! It was the first time I have been on a walk in a very long time. I decided to start walking to help build up my stamina, and of course, for other health reasons. I am still lacking from my pregnancy, birth, and trauma after Aaron.

I didn't get any sewing done today, as it was a very Mama-Hands-On type of day with this child or that one. Like my dh has pointed out to me, sometimes all our plans have to go on hold for the higher calling of just being a parent. Amen to that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Trying to set a reasonable pace

As we start our second week of school, I am implementing a new and improved school schedule. I spent a couple hours at the computer refining what I would like our days to look like, generally speaking. It went smoothly enough, and I think, Lord willing, it will be fine.

I can never tackle Monday's pile of laundry without thinking of the Little House on the Prairie books, and how Laura described the work week. I can't help but wonder how in the world did women manage to do laundry only one day a week? I do a minimum two loads per DAY! Maybe it was the fact they had to wash everything by hand.. too bad if its dirty, washday isn't for another 6 days! Or maybe it was because they didn't have our over abundance of clothing. Maybe they wore things more than once, which makes me cringe when I think of what my kids many times look like after playing outside. Although, in the winter, I have to say, we've been known to wear outer layers more than once before a washing.

At any rate, none of that has anything to do with anything, it was just some pondering. I was tired by the end of the day today, but not overly so. In the last several days I have had a couple of boohoo break downs, brought on by fatigue I think. My dh says so anyway. ;) I should have planned school so we had a week's break between VBS and the start of the term, but I didn't. I didn't even think of it, to tell the truth. Last week was very tiring. So far, this week seems to be going better, thank the Lord. I'm learning to pace myself.

Among the schooling and chores and child training, I managed to work 15 minutes in the basement, finished attaching the tag to the back of the quilt, sandwiched and basted the next baby quilt. Laundry was done and folded and put away by a decent hour, and the children were done with school and chores by around 4pm, and were able to spend time outside playing. Supper was in the crock pot, so that wasn't hard to get around when dh got home from work and running errands. I wish everyday could be like this! The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the children seemed off the wall today! Not sure why, or what for, but they were just seemingly out of control. Maybe there is supposed to be a full moon tonight.

Okay, enough rambling for now. Time for this tired Mama to get into bed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sweet Slumber

Ecc 5:12 " The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep."

Amen and amen.

We were busy today! Piano lessons, yardwork, laundry, some cleaning, ironing, orginizational stuff for school next week, etc. There was nothing remarkable but as I was finishing up my last task after supper (yummy homemade pizza, thanks to Chef Benjamin ) all I could think of was "I am SO tired!". I am looking forward to getting a shower and reading before family devotions and bedtime.

But it isn't a bad thing, really. Have you ever noticed how much better you sleep after a good day's work? Yes you are physically tired, but I think part of it is peace of mind from satifaction of diligence in what God has given us to do. Thus the "sleep of a laboring man is sweet...".

Thank you Lord for times of work, and times of rest!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Baby Quilt Finished!

I finished this quilt the other day. Well, not *totally* finished. I am working on embroidering a tag for the back. When that is done, then it will be sent off.
Here's a pic of the front:

Here's a close up of the cute teddy bear fabric I found:

Our first week of school is done! I am soooo tired tonight. I am looking forward to bed but wondering how well that will go. When Jerusha got up from her nap she was running a fever and informed me just before supper her tummy felt icky. It is the same thing Caleb had last Sunday, and I had Monday, and Esther had Tuesday. Lord willing Jerusha will sleep well, and thus, so will Dale and I.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Great Salmon Caper

If you noticed the little category title at the bottom, it says "pregnancy". You may be wondering what salmon has to do with pregnancy, or afraid to find out.

First of all, no I'm not eating salmon with ice cream, or putting chocolate on it, or craving it or anything, so you can read on, assured it won't turn your stomach.

My midwife joins in with about 10 other families and every once in a while orders a bunch of fresh Alaskan salmon. It gets delivered at her house in 3 boxes, frozen. Well, the FedEx people "lost" a box for a while, and only delivered two boxes, the fish still frozen hard. So, she got two instead of one. She called and they found the lost box, but when they delivered it, the fish was mostly unfrozen, but still frosty cold. You can't refreeze it (the experts say) so she has been giving it away like crazy.

Changing scenes to our house today. I was in a mode of paranoia over the movement of this baby, or lack thereof. I felt the baby kicking gently last night in church (what is it about Dale's preaching that makes our babies kick? Maybe they are just inspired!) but hadn't felt any since then. So, around nap time I started thinking that maybe if I laid down for a while I would feel something. I even ate a couple of cookies thinking the sugar might get the baby going. Well, I didn't feel anything but panic. So, around 2:45 I called my MW and asked if she had time for a quick fetal check and she very obligingly said "I always have time for that!". I called our neighbor who was a sweetie to come over on very very short notice. Off I went.

Now, let me clarify here that I did NOT tell Dale I was going. I figured it was all *my* problem, and no need to worry him.

Well that blew up in my face. He called home, as usual, around 4, and I wasn't home yet. My neighbor told him where I was, and of course, that got him worrying anyhow. Meanwhile I left the MW's, and he called her while I was en route home, and got the update.

The update was this: everything is fine. We chased the baby around for a few minutes, heard the movement of the baby, then got a nice, strong heart rate. I about cried with relief. I could tell you where the heart rate clocked in, but then that *might* give away the gender, if you are a believer in that sort of thing.

Okay, what does all this have to do with the salmon? Well, a few minutes before I left, my MW suddenly said: "You know, I think the Lord wanted you here today." She proceeded to tell me about the salmon kerfuffle, and offered some for our family which I accepted gladly. There were 7 good sized steaks. So, supper tonight was baked salmon steaks, fresh zucchini (which another neighbor had given us this morning!), fresh salad, and tartar sauce. The price of the salmon alone made the trip to the MW's worth it! YUM YUM YUM!!!! There was one moment that would have made Martha Stewart cringe when my son, who was setting the table asked:
"Mom, can we use paper plates?"
I kindly replied, "Honey, when you serve salmon, you don't use paper plates!"

As for my paranoia, I have, with the Lord's help, put it behind me. I heard movement, but didn't feel it, and to me that said "it's okay not to feel lots of movement right now." This baby may not be as active as some of the other ones. I've had that happen before too.

Oh, and wouldn't you know it on the way home from the MW's I felt all the movement I wanted? . I also apologized profusely to my poor dh for the worry I caused him, and promised to be more forthcoming with my feelings in the future. Lesson learned. :)

Here is a pic of the salmon all prepped:

Here's a plate of food for dinner:

The meal was, needless to say, a hit with everyone. The kids couldn't get enough of the salmon! The nice thing about it is that salmon is a very dense fish (the meat, not the intellect) and it goes farther than you think it is going to go. We have enough in the freezer for one more meal for all of us, plus maybe a special dinner for dh and some night after the kids go to bed. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beans, Anyone?

We are blessed by the Lord with green beans this week! My oldest son went out this morning to pick. We have been playing the gardening equivalent of Dodge Ball in finding a time to pick beans. Then, after some school work was done, and after lunch clean up, we washed all the beans. After school work was completed we went to cutting them, and then I blanched them to put in the freezer. Esther was done with her school work first, so she got to the beans before anyone else.

Thank you Lord!

Freebie Contest!

Here's the link. Enjoy!

Win a Beco Butterfly Baby Carrier and Beco Toy Carrier from Along for the Ride.

Testing, testing, one, two, three testing....

Well, for some reason the comments thingie is messed up. I am trying to fix it today. Could any of you try commenting on today's or yesterday's entry? TIA!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Salads, Baking, and Books!

What a hodgepodge title! My mom and Grandmother were out here visiting over the weekend and my mom made a delicious and refreshing salad. It doesn't have a name to it really, but it consists of baby spinach, strawberries, and walnuts:

Just before you serve it you put some dressing on it. This is what we used:

Of course, we also had our VBS closing program Sunday night, and I made what seemed like a bushel of soft ginger snaps.

The highlight is that today was the first official day of school! Woohoo! That kept me jumping most of the day, especially since Caleb started. His work in more intensive for me since he doesn't know how to read yet. But that will come before we know it! Here's a pic of the scholars:

How To Save the Government $5 Million

(Dh sent me this email :) )

A president's pension currently is $191,300 per year.

Assuming the next president lives to age 80.
Sen McCain would receive ZERO pension as he would reach 80 at the end of two terms as president.
Sen Obama would be retired for 26 years after two terms and would receive $4,973,800 in pension.

Therefore it would certainly make economic sense to elect McCain in November.

How's that for non partisan thinking???

Sunday, August 10, 2008

P.S. to "Sowing, not Giving" Post

Just another thought on the matter that ocurred to me while doing my devotions.

"And the word of the Lord came unto [Elijah], saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there; behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee." (I Kings 17: 8&9)

God's leading is not always clear to us. Many times we are confused, or discouraged because we can't see what comes next. Think about Elijah here. I know some of the reality of this Bible passage is lost simply because we weren't there for it, but close your eyes and imagine being in Elijah's place. Elijah had to be supernaturally fed by ravens to survive, because of the drought at the brook of Cherith that Elijah had prophesied, no less. Instead of supernaturally providing water, God told Elijah to move a village in Zidon to stay with a widow.. a poor widow at that!

Remember Zidon? Zidon was the home of that infamous Queen Jezebel, Elijah's enemy at the time. He had to abide in her territory, and he had to so humble himself as to request that the poor widow would share what they both thought was her last meal. She, a stranger whom he had never met! Not only did he not know her, but she didn't know him, and had no way to confirm that he was indeed the prophet of God. What a strange way for God to deal with His servant!

Of course, we know the rest of the story, but Elijah and the poor widow didn't at the time, and had to act in faith and obey God. Can you imagine that scenario today?

God says "Give the last of the food in your house to God's man."

"What? You have got to be kidding. I already give as much as I can. He is YOUR man, after all. Didn't you hear what he said in his sermon last week? I didn't like his tone at all. Besides, he is better off than I am, at least it seems so." And on and on ad nauseum.

You also know that AFTER the widow obeyed, God permormed an amazing daily miracle of continuing to CREATE oil and meal for the widow, for as long as the drought lasted. She didn't know the Lord would do that. He never said "If you obey me, I'll provide for you." Elijah didn't know either. They both thought that meal would be the last. They were willing to obey to the point of starving.

It is easy to say "well, I would have done that if I lived in those times." If you won't trust Him now, you wouldn't have then either. Obeying God now, in your life today, can be just as exciting and just as rewarding.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Malachi 3:3

Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says:

"He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that, he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered,

"Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sowing, not "Giving"

A few weeks ago, in a ladies forum I am in, there was a discussion about finances and tithing. There were many wonderful testimonies of how the Lord had blessed different families when they tithed. Those blessings aren't always financial. Sometimes it comes in the form of good health, so less is spent for medical issues, or maybe your clothes don't wear out so fast, or maybe those tires on your vehicle last a little longer than you estimated they would. There are also spiritual blessings of peace, and knowing you are obeying the Lord, for example. The list goes on an on.

John Calvin pointed out a long time ago that "we are not giving, we are sowing" when we give financially to the work of the Lord. The Lord considers it as seed for the harvest, sown in the soil by men. Think about it. Our abilities are limited. We can't convert anyone, that is the Lord's job. We don't have infinite wisdom to see what is coming down the pike, or how our example will encourage someone else. The Lord's work effects people on so many multiple levels it is impossible for our minds to grasp.

Instead we get stuck on what we do know, which when it comes down to it, isn't really a lot, is it? We focus on OUR lives, our own little bubble, and if we can't see the "where" or "what for" or how it will all work out, we figure it is in vain. This post is specifically about giving finances, but there are many areas in our Christian walk that have slid backwards over the last few generations. Personal standards, for example. Or how about good old fashioned Bible reading? I touched on that before concerning mothers, and yes I still will be posting against some myths I have heard over the years, but that is another subject all together. ;)

Let me get more specific. God loveth a cheerful giver, not a conditional giver, not grudgingly, as per 2 Corinthians 9:7. Some excuses I have heard is: "We can't afford it." Oh yeah, we have been there and done that. True testimony from our own experience, and this is just one instance out of many. When we bought our first house, we were a young couple, and dh was making minimum wage at a cheese factory, and only working about 30 hours a week. We searched for a house we could afford, and found one that was being forclosed on. We went in to apply for a 15 year loan, and as the banker was looking over our financial statement, all but laughed us to scorn. There was no way in his eyes we could afford this house. Then he saw how much we were giving to "charity" (aka, to our church) and said "ah, there's the problem. I'm sure your church would understand if you didn't give for a while until you get on your feet financially." We bit our tongues and tried not to give him an earful. We WERE on our feet financially. We had absolutely NO debt at all. We had none of the usual expensive vices like drinking or smoking. We didn't own a tv.. no cable. In fact, at that time, we didn't have a washer or dryer, or even a phone. We knew we could meet the monthly payments by God's grace. It would be tight, but the Lord was leading us to this house. It wasn't a palace either, by the way. It was the proverbial House that Jack Built, and to tell the truth, he didn't do a very good job.

Back to the banker. I forget exactly what we said to him, but the point was that would the church mind if we stopped giving? No, no one would come after us, that is for sure. But we were giving UNTO THE LORD, not to man. Would the Lord rain hail and fire and brimstone on us? No, but we would miss out on some serious spiritual growth, some wonderful times of fellowship with Him, and increasing our faith. It would have been a wonderful opportunity lost for serving Him in that area.

The banker finally put the loan through, and we bought the house. We NEVER missed a payment, somehow. Looking back on it now, I know the Lord had to be working because there were many many many times when we looked at our bills, and knew there was no way the ends would meet. Yet somehow, the needs were always met. Sometimes mysteriously, sometimes through someone slipping us money, sometimes through making things last longer than they should have. We also always gave above and beyond the tithe... called "love offerings". This is seperate from the tithing. We gave to missions every week, plus squeaked out some for special speakers. I shake my head wondering how we ever managed, especially after the children started arriving. I know how... the LORD did it, not us. Yes, we try and be good stewards with what He provides us. But sometimes you have to step out on faith. That means there is prayer involved.

You can't outgive God. You just can't. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. His resources are infinite. What piddly little we can do we should be GLAD to do. If you love your father, you like to do things for him. If you love your husband, you do things for him willingly. How much more should we willingly give back to the Lord, what is already His anyway? He had much more to lose on the cross. For our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9).

We can't outgive God.. but we can rob Him. Malachi 3:8 says: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."

Tithes AND offerings. Many times when this verse is referred to the focus is on tithes. But God's Holy Word says... "AND offerings". Read on to verse 9 "Ye are cursed with a; curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." Remind you of anywhere? Someplace that has been called a Christian nation? Someplace that God lead Europeans to be the first of His Lights on darkened shores? How He blessed the firstcomers here! It is amazing how clear it was when He blessed the pilgrims and puritans with little sickness and bountiful crops, when they obeyed Him, and how that provision was withheld as the spritual condition decayed after only a couple generations. People look at the weather patterns and mutter how strange it all is. Is it? Is God showing judgment? The rain falls on the just and the unjust. This nation, as a whole has strayed very far from the mark. People don't go to church anymore. People don't give anymore. And certainly there isn't a repentant attitude when faced with preaching of a Holy God, our Savior.

But there is good news! Read verse 10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saigh the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

That is technically an "If... Then" statement. You won't receive the blessing from the Lord in this area UNTIL you obey. That is stepping out in faith.

This verse brings up another excuse.. the storehouse. That would be your local New Testament church. There are those whom I have heard say "well, we don't go to a church" or "we give to different people, not the church". There are different reasons for both, which I won't get into now. Suffice it to say that God wants us to give to our churches. Not to pad the pockets of our pastors (trust me, that is NOT the case! My dh works besides pastoring. There are no padded pockets here!). That is a sad take on the whole thing. Obviously there are those that might abuse the financial status of the church, and that is horrible and sinful. However, that is NOT an excuse for not giving to your church. Now if there is a misappropriation of funds, then yes, it should be investigated. But let's say there isn't. Someone might have been burned by that once, but it certianly isn't the norm for godly churches or pastors.

Of course, you can't give to a "storehouse" if you aren't part of one. I understand there are homechurchers in some places because there isn't anything close to them. But I have met several homechurchers who don't attend a local church because they don't like the pastor's style, or they disagree with a small point of theology, or the people aren't "godly" enough for them. I have gotten to know several of these families, and no offense to them, but basically it boils down to that the husband has a problem with authority. He doesn't want to be "under" anyone. You don't have to like the style of the pastor, or exactly how they do things in a church to belong there. But that is yet another post, and this one is getting long enough, eh? And please, I'm not saying that is the case with all homechurchers either.. I have met some lovely families who homechurch, though I do notice a trend that is a little concerning that the homechurch families tend to be "ingrown" in some ways. They don't outreach or interact with other families who don't live up to their "standards" for fear their families will be spiritually contaminated. Or their families come before God, which is just another form of idol worship. There should be a healthy balance, but some of these families take it to an extreme. All their children are learning is that they can just claim "family" and they don't have to do a thing for the Lord. Family is important, don't get me wrong, but "family time" shouldn't come before God.

There are many that are comfortable with what they are giving and how much, or not at all. Maybe it is time to rethink our attitudes?

"Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion," Amos 6:1.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Activities of the Day

Today I was able to get a couple of projects done. The first, and foremost at this point, was getting school stuff cleaned, sorted, and organized. Out with the old and in with the new! Here is a pic of "my" shelves at the computer area:

Here are this terms' books, and some of our reading books:

Here is a pic of where we keep our extra pencils and erasers, our glue, crayons, and markers:

This afternoon I tackled some ironing. This shot doesn't do justice to the mountain it was. I actually started this process yesterday afternoon. The ironing pile was almost twice as much then. It has been building up since early this spring and I started feeling the all-day sickness. Then, when I felt better I had other things I needed to catch up on, and was just ironing as needed. I decided I was going to catch up this week because of school starting next week.

After seeing that mountain of ironing I got out my weapon:

Here are the happy results:

Meanwhile, Jerusha kept asking me, "what can I do Mama?". All her playmates were outside. So I told her to go make something with the block. She "made" cakes, cookies, pies, and "uffins".

After all that baking the little baker needed a rest:

Now onto supper, which is thankfully done in the crockpot, and VBS tonight! Tomorrow we have cleaning to do for company coming in. :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More "Beesyness"

This morning I mowed around the church, and our yard. It wasn't that big of a deal as I did it all on the rider mower. Elizabeth, ever the diligent one, came out every 20 minutes or so with some ice water for me. Wasn't that sweet? Meanwhile, Benjamin was picking up the yard, Esther and Jerusha were a team folding laundry and then playing outside, and Josiah and Caleb were on for tidying up the boys room and help with whatever folding was left. Elizabeth's assigned job was kitchen work; making bread and washing the breakfast and baking dishes. She did that and then went above and beyond the call of duty and surprised me by mopping the floors! They were all good helpers but Elizabeth gets the honorable mention for seeing a job, and getting it done without being asked.

This afternoon after some quiet time work the kids will be picking up stick and branches in our neighbor's yard. She offered to pay them some money for the VBS offering. I told them they could as they were once again good helpers to me this morning.

I need to make an offering chart for VBS tonight (I knew I forgot something yesterday!) and maybe do some sewing on a baby quilt. Oh, yes, I got my free motion foot in yesterday so I can't wait to do the quilting! Woohoo! VBS last night went well enough, and we expect things to go even more smoothly since we did some ironing out of details yesterday.

We found out yesterday afternoon that the Catatonk Baptist Church ( a "sister" church near here) can no longer use their building. Apparently around 8:30 yesterday
morning a lady in a pick up truck drove partway through their church. She fell asleep at the wheel, her foot fell on the gas pedal, and she in the ditch, went airborne, and directly through a concrete wall, their fellowship hall and ended up in their nursery area. Thankfully it was at a time when no one was in the building. It would have been very tragic had it been Sunday morning and the church was filled with families. The whole building didn't come down, but obviously the part the truck went through is in ruins, and made the rest of the structure unstable. They are trying to figure out where to meet, and what to do. They WERE planning on adding onto the church, but I don't think this was what they had in mind. The driver was listed in "serious" condition last night. The pastor and his wife went to visit her in the hospital, and their church will be sending flowers and a card. It warmed our hearts to see how even though they are a little shell shocked from this, they are still making the effort to be a witness for the Lord to the driver.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Whirlwind of activity at the 'Hive!

Okay, fair warning: This post could make you ready for a nap!

This morning we did the following:
*Weeded in the vegetable garden
*Weeded the church walkway
*Weeded the memorial garden
*cut back some of the bushes and such
*Wash and hung out a TON of laundry
*Picked green beans
*washed green beans
*cut green beans
Not to mention the usual tidying up and kitchen clean up after breakfast. Oh, and that was all before lunch! It is gorgeous here today, 80's, low humidity, nice breeze. You know, the type of weather that makes you want to be outside as much as possible.

This afternoon is blanching and freezing the green beans, and doing a few little things left to do for VBS tonight.

What a contrast between this Monday and last Monday. Today the children have been very diligent in their helping. They got through their chores well, and were willing hands as we worked outside. They are rewarded with lots of free time this afternoon, which I hope they enjoy. They won't have so much of it when we start school next week. Mwhahahahaha!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fun Weekend!

Grandma and Grandpa Van came out to visit us this weekend. It was a fun-filled weekend with chess games, checkers, Scrabble, water fun, reading (I think Grandpa had a few of the children's books memorized by the time they left!), and of course, eating. I think we wore a few of them out, especially Jerusha. You have to understand that Jerusha is Grandpa's girl. She loves Grandma, but Grandpa is the apple of her eye. Of course, he doesn't mind . Both Dale and I turned into chopped liver as soon as they arrived, until the time they left. :)

Here are a few pics from the weekend: