Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mama Stuff

Stacy at Your Sacred Calling has a great post up today about Kiddos in the Kitchen. Before you read on here, I'd love it if you'd go take a look, and be sure to read the article she links to at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.

Done? Good stuff, wasn't it?

The whole "Did he know what He was doing when He gave them me?" question resonates with me (and probably most moms) deeply. I've spent a lot of time beating myself up for my failures instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in HIS strength. But He keeps working on me, and it's wonderful to know that His grace covers my mistakes, failures, impatience, etc.

On the kiddos in the kitchen business...
I have long admired and desired the parenting "model" that brings your children alongside you as you work through the day. It made sense and it sounds so lovely (two links there). But man oh man, it seems so hard to do! (Listens for the Amens) So I continue to desire to live with my children alongside me, and keep looking for ways to make that workable for me.

Here's how my efforts have often gone in the past. I have something to do, think it would be something with which the Blessings could help. I gather them around, thinking what a fun and bonding experience this will be. 30 minutes later, the project is complete, I feel like I should be half bald from pulling my hair out, and I go to take a nap wondering, "Why do I even try?" A couple months later, I might get the courage to try again.

That probably doesn't sound at all familiar, does it?

Well, first of all, I've been working lately on my heart attitude toward my Blessings. You know I don't call them that just because I think it's cute, don't you? The world around me needs to know that my children are viewed as Blessings. And me? I need the reminder! Yet it is so easy to fall into viewing them as burdens instead of blessings, and I'm continually needing to ask the Lord to give me HIS heart toward my children.

Another very practical thing I've realized is that it just doesn't work to bring all seven of my Blessings alongside me at the same time! The goal of bringing them alongside as I work dovetails beautifully with my (also often unrealized) goal of spending time with them one-on-one. So lately, I've been working on remembering to call them to me one or two at a time to help with something.

This has been a great help when it comes to special projects as well. We made gift jars for Christmas presents this year (something I plan to post about separately), and I had them help in teams of two. Each team helped me put togetehr a batch of 6 gift jars. Stephen "helped" on more than one team. Similarly, when we made edible Christmas trees, it was just two or three at a time at the counter.

So while this is a cute pictures of the Blessings and their trees,

I realized while reading the aforementioned blogs that they're not a realistic view of how those trees happened, and I don't want to add to anyone's Mama complex by presenting a false view!
They happened like this:

and this:

one, two, or (at most) three Blessings at a time. Then when they were all done, time for a fun picture, then the eating!

So what I'm trying to say through all my sputtering is this: Take heart, fellow Mamas! Keep stepping along with baby steps, seeking the next thing you are to do, treasure your Blessings, and know that God's grace covers you and them when you fail. And don't forget that one of the greatest gifts you can give your cbildren is for them to see you honoring, respecting, and loving your man!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Day Fun

Here are some collages of our Christmas day fun. A few things I wish I had pictures of... our times together reading the story of Christmas and singing, the lovely Winterberry teapot that Dad and Mom Smith bought me, and evidence that our dear friend Georgia had Christmas dinner with us. It was a lovely day!





Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Christmas Week to you!

Here it is, the week of Christmas. We are done with schoolwork until 2010 and I am looking forward to enjoying a couple weeks of fun and play.

I haven't written much about our Advent/Christmas related activities this year, mostly because I've been busy living them. But now that we're on vacation, and I mostly have fun things on my to-do list (like Make more Jar Gifts, Play with Ribbon and the Trimmings from the bottom of the tree, sew for the Blessings, etc), I feel like I have time to post a bit.

This season has presented many opportunities for me to learn contentment with the not-perfect. And I'm thankful for that, which is another God thing.

A few example of my opportunities:
I've felt several steps behind for the last few weeks, greatly because I came out of my first trimester fog in mid-to-late November and had lots of catching up to do before I felt like I could focus on Advent/Christmas. What a wonderful reason for needing to skip some things!
We didn't manage to do the Jesse Tree this year, which I miss, but it just wasn't doable, and I'm ok with that.
Our Christmas decorating started late, but the house looks lovely and the Blessings helped, which is a treat for them and for me.
We had some unexpected emergency repairs that needed to be made to the van (to the tune of +$700), which put a cramp in what we thought we were doing for the Blessings for Christmas. But we try to not focus on the gifts anyway, and this has actually made that easier, as well as giving me the chance to get creative with the fabric we have on hand!

We were late to start our Advent Wreath, but have loved our times of sitting around the table reading Scripture and singing hymns and carols by candlelight. The Advent Wreath has become one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. The hush of our hearts in worship, the sound of our voices singing beloved songs together, the flicker of the candles... oh how I love it!

I'll close this somewhat random post with an article that Jonathan and I wrote on behalf of our chapel that will be published in the mid-week Missourian:

As we anticipate Christmas, our thoughts turn to shepherds, stars, angels, Mary, Joseph, and especially to that baby born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1.15), born in human flesh, he was fully God and fully man. We sense the wonder of Emmanuel, God with us, and our hearts are filled with thankfulness and joy.

Yet, in the midst of our Christmas celebrations, how often we forget why He came. The goal of the incarnation was not simply to have the Son born as a baby, to give us thoughts of sweetness and light. No, the goal of the incarnation, established before the world was formed by the very words of God, was for the Son to be slain to pay the penalty for the sins of the creation that would turn against the Creator. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5.21) We know that victory also lay in the path of that baby born in Bethlehem – Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day to show that the price had been paid, that sin and death had been conquered. But first, the anguish of the cross for our eternal life.

So as we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, may we keep in mind that, as wonderful as it is to contemplate, it was not His birth that brought us the hope of salvation. He was born to die, so that we might live forever. May you come to know Him in a fuller way this Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finished Siding!

Once upon a time (last fall), the Lord worked things out for us to rent our current home from some friends. It was a two bedroom home, however, and it was agreed that we would do the labor while they paid for materials to convert the two-car garage into living space.
Here it is before we started working on it:


The once-garage is now our bedroom/office/room-to-hide-the-tv, and we love it.

Here are some along the way shots of the outside of the house...
In June. See the raw wood?


Also in June, but after I painted the wood white so that it would blend better:


And the beautiful finished product, with the siding done today by the siding experts:


Me like!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A giveaway!

MoneySavingMom is having a terrific giveaway! In her words:

ShopAtHome, an online cashback site that I've mentioned dozens of times, is generously buying a $100 gift card for five different readers here. But get this: if you win, you'll get to choose what store you want your gift card to be to. You can choose from any of the stores listed here. How fun is that?


Go check out MSM's post

The Story

I wanted to share the verses I'm going to be reading to the kids today at our Good News Club Christmas party. It's all so amazing and overwhelming to me that it's hard to read without tears. That my Creator came so humbly, for the express purpose of dying on the cross 30-some years later - to pay the eternal price for my sin. Behold! What Love!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:1-20)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Col 1:15-17)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Phil. 2:5-11)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2Co 5:21)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Blog Reading Tools

This morning, the Nester posed the question How Do You Read Blogs? I found it interesting that by the time I got around to commenting (#30-something), no one had mentioned my favorite blog-reading tool. So I did my best to explain it in my comment. Then I realized I should also share this niftiness with you!

I love Google Reader and have used it for a long while now. It saves me much time by letting me know when one of the blogs that I read has a new post, so I don't have to go clicking through bookmarks to check blogs that may or may not have updates. Plus, if one of my bloggy friends disappears for a few months, I automatically know when they come back!

My one frustration with it was that if I wanted to see the actual blog, or if someone didn't have their whole post go to the feed, I would have to open the link in a new tab.

But google has added a new wonderful feature that solves this frustration! Shawna told me about it and I'll try to explain ... the NEXT button!

The "Next" button is a link that you can drag to your favorites bar. When you click it, whatever tab you are in will automatically go to the page of the next post in your reader. It's the handiness of google reader without having to miss out on the beauty of the actual blogs - nifty!

Here's how you can get it: Go to your Google Reader and hit the Settings link. There will be several tabs across the top... go to Goodies. Under "Put Reader in a Bookmark," there is a link that you can simply drag to your favorites bar to add the Next button.

One other note: those of you who have been with me for a while know that screen "real estate" is valuable to this claustrophic woman. I hadn't had a favorites bar at the top of my browser since I found out I could make it go away! But I put it back to give the Next button a trial run, and yes, this tool is handy enough that I'm willing to give up that precious piece of screen real estate to have it.

Give the Next button a try and let me know if you like it!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thankful!

This afternoon I had a wonderful visit with my lovely midwife. As I went to update my Facebook status, I was struck by just how rewarding & fantastic it is to be planning a home birth in Missouri with a legal midwife, instead of planning to leave my kiddos & travel 8 hours away in order to work with one legally??

THANK YOU so very much to all of you who spent countless hours making this possible. Tears of joy overwhelm me...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thoughts

I mentioned to a friend the other day that I have so many things floating around in my head about which to post, that I end up not posting because I don't have time for everything. Silliness!

So here are some miscellaneous thoughts, mostly Advent focused (thanks, Tracy, for prompting me to get some of these thoughts down... there'll be some familiarity for you here):

I've gotten almost no Christmas decorating done yet, which is unusual for me by this time. But, my Christmas boxes are in the attic (where I don't venture) and my man has been very busy with work (thankfully!). I'm hoping he'll bring them down tonight. I've been working on getting the house cleaner. Some people are motivated to clean by Spring... I'm motivated by Christmas! Can't stand the thought of decorating dirt and clutter. :-) I have a spot all cleared out for the tree and hope we can get one this weekend.

Being still in anticipation... something I think He's working on teaching me. The calm and overflowing joy instead of the frantic doing. I want my heart and mind to be more aware of Him and less focused on the going, the glitter, and the getting.

The Christmas season brings so many memories to me, not only of family (precious!), but also of dear friends that, in my school years, I would often only see during school breaks. Sweet memories.

I'm hoping to start our Jesse tree tomorrow; that's something I can start without the Christmas boxes, so I've no excuse. :-) And I'm so looking forward to our quiet times of worship aided by the reminder of the advent wreath.

We had a neat time over Thanksgiving with the families with which we usually celebrated Thanksgiving when Eric and I were growing up. Our "fake family," as Beka lovingly refers to them, are dear to us, and we enjoyed celebrating with them again (with many more than there used to be!).

I have lots of Gifts for which I've noted my Gratitude mentally that I need to get written down or posted.

Sometimes when I've been away from blogging, I need a misc. post like this to get me back in the saddle without feeling like I have to catch up chronologically. Thanks for bearing with me. :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A "Wish List"

I'd never done this before, but I've added several things to my Amazon Wish List, and besides posting it here, I'm adding a link to it on the side of my blog.

I'm usually the person that, when asked what she wants for Christmas/birthday/etc, doesn't have any ideas. But right now, there are quite a few things that I could rattle off to someone interested in my interests, and I thought I'd make it easy for them. You're welcome, Mama! There might be others who would like to know about such a list, so I'm doing something out of the ordinary and a bit uncomfortable for me and posting it.

/deep breath

Thank you, and have a lovely day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Update - almost 14 wks, ultrasound

Warning to my few male readers: This post covers reproductive-parts topics, so proceed at your own choice. The short of it is that baby and I are both fine and doing well.

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In seven pregnancies, the only ultrasound I had performed was a brief one to confirm that Katie's tranverse/frank breech position in labor. The lack of ultrasounds was not by accident or laziness, but due to a decision to skip procedures that were not truly medically indicated. Ultrasound technology can be a great tool, but it is a tool that is greatly over-used in U.S. obstetrics without good evidence to back up its nearly ubiquitous employment. So we chose early on to only use it if there was a good medical reason.

Well, I've had a new and strange pain this pregnancy in my lower right abdomen. It has at times brought me to tears with its intensity. I could feel a swolleness that seemed to be in the area of my right ovary.

At my 13 week prenatal (last Monday), B. was able to feel the swollenness in the tender area. This is why we decided to go ahead and listen for hearttones with the doppler, because though it's rare for an ectopic pregnancy to make it that far, it is possible. Finding hearttones (at last!) confirmed that there was indeed a growing baby in my uterus, though it didn't explain the pain.

Over the weekend, my pain "pattern" changed, and on Monday I called my primary midwife, Mary. Jonathan and I agreed with her that it would be good to get an ultrasound to see if we could find out what was going on. We had several possibilities I was going to look into for where to get the ultrasound. I procrastinated through Monday, though, and Monday night was in quite a bit of pain.

Tuesday morning I called the number Mary had given me for a wonderful OB that she's gotten to know recently. I talked with her late Tuesday afternoon, and by the end of our phone call, she said she would call the hospital closest to me Wednesday morning and see if they could get me in for an ultrasound on Wednesday. On the list of possibilities were ovarian cysts of various types(that might be causing torsion, a twisting of the ovary on its "stem" that could lead to the death of the ovary), ovarian cancer, and an ectopic pregnancy (in addition to the growing little one).

Wednesday afternoon found us at the hospital. At the welcome desk was a huge bowl of apples. I asked Jonathan if he thought they were to there to keep the doctors away.

The ultrasound tech who worked with us was extremely nice and she really helped put me at ease. She did both a trans-abdominal and a trans-vaginal ultrasound. I had a lot of mixed emotions about the whole thing... wishing that we didn't need to do it at all, delight in seeing the tiny person growing inside me, and concern about what they might find. Alex, the tech, asked if we minded if she printed us a picture of our baby. Of course not! Though I would have preferred to not need the ultrasound, I figured I might as well get a baby pic out of it!

The long and short of the ultrasound results are that the radiologist didn't see anything out of the ordinary. When Mary told me this over the phone last night, I wailed, "Well, then what's wrong with me??!??" But I have to admit it's much better than finding out that I need to have surgery, etc.

I don't know if the Lord has chosen to heal whatever has been causing me pain (I haven't had any significant pain since Monday night and can barely feel the swollen spot), or if there is some other cause than my ovary for the pain. For now, we're moving forward in faith and trusting that if there is anything that needs to be dealt with, it will be made clear.

In the meantime, I keep coming back to this precious souvenir, which has greatly relieved my sense of surrealness about this pregnancy. There really truly is a baby in there and I'm so thankful!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gratitude Challenges

I've been thinking lately about gratitude. Mostly because it seems the Lord keeps bringing it before me. Repeatedly. He's good at things like that.

Several years ago, Ann Voskamp made a choice that would change her life. She chose to focus on gratitude, and began her list of One Thousand Gifts. In the years since, it's become the endless list, because she didn't stop at one thousand.

In this post, Sarah challenges us to give thanks when it's inconvenient, for the hard things. A clip: And I should be grateful that He thinks enough of me to carefully craft difficulty to edge me toward beauty, kindness, and grace with pressure. I don’t want to just be thankful for the easy. I want to be grateful for the hard. And that involves a choice...one I'm making today.

I'm going to make the choice. I'm not sure yet what form my list will take, but I'm going to become more deliberate in choosing to be thankful. At least some of my list will be shared here, but I don't yet know how much. We shall see...

For starters, I give thanks for:

1) The pain God uses to draw me to Himself, to teach and mold me. I do not understand why the answer to my prayers cannot yet be "Yes," but I thank Him in the pain, for I know that He is good.

2) His love endures forever

3) that two year old little man, perched on his stool in the kitchen, patting out biscuit dough and cutting biscuits with me

4) the hard work my man puts in to support our family

5) parents who are two of my best friends

6) naps to the sound of rain outside my window

7) midwives

8) the myriad of colors in our sweet gum trees this fall

9) the comfort of my husband's touch in the night

10) pie pumpkins lining my hearth

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some Fall Blog Color at Last!

I finally got around to finding a fall/Thanksgiving background. That light blue was just a little to spring-y for the season.
In other bloggy news, I did get pictures uploaded to Yesterday this afternoon.

Without Wavering

This post from Heather blessed me this morning.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baby Update - 13 weeks+

Monday morning, I had a prenatal. I've been a little uneasy about this pregnancy, which has seemed almost surreal to me at times for some reason. Though we don't generally opt for the use of a doppler during prenatals, preferring to wait for hearttones until a fetascope can detect them, I was more than ready to hear this little one's heartbeat on Monday.

After some discussion (because I hadn't talked to Jonathan about my perceived need to hear the heartbeat), B got the doppler ready and started looking. And looking... and looking. Since I was already concerned, it seemed like an eternity. After a couple minutes, B suggested that she try her other doppler (that's more sensitive, but has some battery issues). One she got it powered up, she went back to looking for a heartbeat. It was obvious it had a better signal, but still... looking and looking. I just closed my eyes, waiting and praying. I could feel the tears pricking at my eyelids. I never thought the beat of my own heart would be a sound I wouldn't want to hear. And then, the most beautiful song in the word - the beat of my little one's heart. My eyes flew open and met B's, both sets full of joy and relief. Sweet little heart, pumping along in the 140's or 150's. Bliss.

A friend of mine was a couple weeks further along in her pregnancy than me. It was kind of neat to have a buddy at almost the same stage as myself. Until last Friday, when they found out that their little one had died. She birthed him at home early last Saturday morning. My sorrow for my friends has been a thread running through my emotions all this week, and they are in my thoughts and prayers regularly. Even in my joy, they are in my thoughts. What a complex mix our emotions can be.

I'm starting to gain more energy and am hopeful that I'll get back to blogging more regularly soon. I have lots to tell you!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Compassionate and Gracious

This morning, when a friend mentioned on Facebook that she was praying for "strength to get through this day with grace and kindness," I was reminded of Psalm 103.8, "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness." It's one of my most and least favorite verses, especially when it comes to parenting!

When I went to find the reference at biblegateway.com, I was reminded of how that expression is repeated in Scripture. Here are the four uses I found:

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished...
Exodus 34.5-7

"But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments. They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt
But You are a God of forgiveness,
Gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.
Even when they made for themselves A calf of molten metal And said, 'This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,'..."

Nehemiah 9:16-18

He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

Psalm 103:7-9

"Yet even now," declares the LORD,
"Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments "
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil.

Joel 2.12,13

"...for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity."
Jonah 4.2

May I be a woman/wife/mother/daughter/friend/sister/etc who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I Have a Shelter

Shawna recently shared a wonderful song with me. Here are the lyrics:

I Have a Shelter
I have a shelter in the storm
When troubles pour upon me
Though fears are rising like a flood
My soul can rest securely
O Jesus, I will hide in You
My place of peace and solace
No trial is deeper than Your love
That comforts all my sorrows

I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation

I have a shelter in the storm
When constant winds would break me
For in my weakness, I have learned
Your strength will not forsake me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
The One who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven


Isn't that beautiful? Sovereign Grace Music has made a free download of the song available here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Everything Sad is Coming Untrue - Review

I've been listening to Jason Gray's new album for so long that the folks at Centricity Music probably think that I've forgotten I promised I'd write a review if only they'd let me have a copy. There's a lot to this project, and it has taken me a while to absorb it enough to write a review. I'm not a professional reviewer, for that matter, which I'm sure makes it more difficult. :-)

The short version:
Jason Gray's "Everthing Sad is Coming Untrue" (ESICU) is a purposely "pop" album that loses no depth to its playability. I find myself singing the songs repeatedly; the music is catchy and singable. And the lyrics are worth many a listen; the depth reflected there is rare in a pop Christian album. Like a thread running through the album, the work of God to make all things new shines as a hopeful theme. In short, ESICU is a musical investment that will challenge and encourage you - and leave you with some great tunes running through your head.

The extended play version:
From the first song, More Like Falling in Love, Jason challenged my thinking. Lyrics like, "It's gotta be more like falling in love than something to believe in, more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance" caught me off guard and made me uncomfortable. I mean, aren't we supposed to be belieiving and surrendered? I'm someone who doesn't like the whole "falling in love" idea to begin with, because I think it's reflection of a culture that takes too lightly the commitment that is love. It took me a while to get past my prejudice to hear the heart of Jason's song, at which these additional lyrics give a peek: "I need a truth that lives, moves and breathes to sweep me off my feet. ... It was love that made me a believer. More than a name, a faith, a creed, falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me." The love of the Lord Jesus has swept me off my feet more times than I can count, and for that I am deeply thankful.

Jason's music also challenged my actions. Fade with our Voices asks if our worship has hands and feet. "Does it stand up in the face of injustice? ... Is it more than a song that fades with our voices?" As you can see in the video I've embedded at the bottom of this post, the idea of our actions being part of our worship has become an important part of Jason's life and ministry. In Holding the Key, he addresses one of my hot buttons - the need for us to be both real and approachable with each other: "We were made with these hearts, meant to be open, and we lock them away, afraid of being broken. But we're given each other to set it free - and you're the one holding the key. ... your listening ear is the grace of God." Another challenging song, Better Way to Live, talks about "when we step aside from the center of our lives, and learn to love mercy more than being right." Some of Jason's lyrics hug (perhaps even cross!) the "meddlin'" line ... and I've been blessed by his boldness.

Then there are songs whose lyrics reflect the cry of my heart. Lyrics like "Jesus I come, come to You again, like it was the first time I came to you for new life... believing, help my unbelief... I need You now as much as I did then, I need a new beginning... take me back so I can move ahead" from For the First Time Again. For someone who is a "runner," and who longs to learn to run in the right direction, Hold Me Back resonates strongly: "Father please hold me back, be the strength I lack, 'cause it's just like me to run from the One that I need. You hold me back... it's just like You to run to the one who needs You... with the love that won't let me go before it makes me new."

Some of my favorite pick-me-up songs from "Everthing Sad is Coming Untrue" are Help Me, Thank You ("the two best prayers I know"); Jesus Use Me, I'm Yours ("my dreams, my plans, my heart, my hands"); and I Am New ("I'm chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved, I am new... the One who is making everything new doesn't see me the way that I do"). Everything Sad is Coming Untrue (Part 1) holds the promising lyrics, "life is coming alive, death is destined to die... when we learn to live again and let forgiveness win, there's no wound that Love won't mend and finally redeem."

The last song on ESICU, like the first, challenges my thinking. Everything Sad is Coming Untrue (Part 2) takes a deeper look at some of the heartbreaking realities of our world and dares to ask "how could it be that everything sad is coming untrue?" Yet deeper still, we have the assurance the He will make all things new. "Broken hearts are being unbroken, bitter words are being unspoken, the curse undone, the veil is parted, the garden gate will be left unguarded. ... Oh I believe that everything sad is coming untrue in the hands of the One who makes all things new." Though we may not see everything sad coming untrue at present, we do have an eternal hope, based on the victory of our Lord Jesus, the One who makes all things new!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free math worksheet generator

For those of you who use math worksheets for your children, I have recently discovered this free worksheet generator. I went looking because it's difficult to find drill sheets for the +11 and +12 addition facts and this way I can create my own. They have quite a few different types of worksheets,and you can set your own parameters. I hope it's helpful to some of you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Your Father Knoweth

Your Father Knoweth..

Precious thought, my Father knoweth,
In His love I rest;
For whate'er my Father doeth,
Must be always best,
Well I know the heart that planneth
Naught but good for me;
Joy and sorrow interwoven-
Love in all I see.

Precious thought, my Father knoweth,
Careth for His child;
Bids me nestle closer to Him,
When the storm beats wild,
Though my earthly hopes are shattered
And the tear drops fall,
Yet He is Himself my solace,
Yea, my "all in all!"

Sweet to tell Him all He knoweth,
Roll on Him the care,
Cast upon Himself the burden
That I cannot bear;
Then, without a care oppressing,
Simply to lie still,
Giving thanks to Him for all things,
Since it is His will.

Oh to trust Him, then, more fully!
Just to simply move
In the conscious, calm enjoyment
Of the Father's love;
Knowing that life's chequered pathway
Leadeth to His rest;
Satisfied the way He taketh,
Must be always best.

(author unknown)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Love that winter squash!


Here is the majority of our winter squash harvest (some have already been eaten). Four cookie sheets of pie pumpkins are baking now; I plan to bake, puree and freeze most of them over the next week or so, saving some seeds for next year and roasting the rest. What a great result from $6 in heirloom seeds! Kudos to Baker Creek Seeds.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

BBC Weekend Family Camp

Last weekend, most of the folks from our chapel headed to Dayspring Bible Camp for a weekend family camp. Things didn't officially kick off until Saturday morning, but we and Jonathan's parents went down Friday night because that's easier (and more fun!) for us than getting up way early Saturday morning and driving a couple hours. We made a little campfire and cooked hot dogs/braats over the fire, ate apples and chips, sang, etc, while we waited for Dad and Mom Smith to arrive. After they got there, we wound up at our cabin playing canasta till about 1 in the morning. Fun times!

Saturday and Sunday were full of fellowship, fun, canoing, fishing, learning, etc.





Our speaker for the weekend was Dr. Don Patten from Emmaus Bible College (where I attended a couple years of college). He taught on church history, specifically early church history. I found it fascinating and am inspired both to learn more and to provide opportunities for my children to learn. Upcoming post on this topic!

It was a great weekend and we all had lots of fun, even with little adventures like Stephen putting his hand on top of G'pa and G'ma's heater and Jonathan overturning into the creek. We are thankful for our chapel family and love this weekend to spend lots of time together!

Bad Blogger - 9 weeks along

I have multiple posts going in my head, but between feeling naseaus and having trouble with our internet, blogging keeps getting bumped to the bottom of the list.

I'm looking forward to hitting that 12-14 point of this pregnancy, which is when my "green" feeling usually fades considerably. In the meantime I'm working to maintain the balance between 1)forgiving myself for not being very "productive" and 2)embracing slugdom. It's a fine line!

Things seem to be going swimmingly with the wee babe. I've had some new aches and pains this go 'round, but I think I just need to get to the chiropractor. I had my first pre-natal today with a dear friend of mine who is now a CPM who can legally practice in the state of Missouri. I can't express how meaningful that is, after all the years that we (the team of Missouri consumers and midwives) worked to legalize midwives here. It is sweet, to say the least.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gaming

Hello. My name is Laurel, and I'm a gamer.



One of the interesting things about my life that I don't mention very often is that I married a gamer. Jonathan loved the arcade as a kid, and thoroughly enjoyed console (think Atari, Nintendo, etc) and computer games as they emerged. He's always particularly enjoyed role-playing games, where you build characters and develop their skills. In college, he discovered a role-playing game that you could play online with people all over the globe. It was completely text-based (i.e. you typed S to go south, etc, with no pictures to guide you), and even to watch him play was beyond my spatial skills. I tried to play with him a couple times, but he had to tell me every step to make!

As time has gone by, technology has made great advances in this area as it has in so many others, and the games available online today have incredible graphics and flexibility. But I get ahead of myself...

In the summer of 2003, in the interest of sharing my man's hobby, I decided to give his current game a shot. Notice it took me almost 8 years of marriage to be willing! Asheron's Call 2 was an MMORPG (massively multi-player online role playing game) based in an imaginary world called Dereth. Jonathan's character was involved in a large and social "allegiance," a group of people who played together and helped each other, aided by an ingame chat system that allowed chat amongst large groups of people. The people aspect of it was what I enjoyed the most and what drew me in. I got to "meet" people from all over the country and world, even getting to hear their voices with a special voice chat program called Ventrilo. Many evenings after the children were in bed would find Jonathan and I (aka Beren and Luthien) in Dereth, helping our friends and fighting bad guys. Somewhere along the line, I realized... I had become a gamer. I think it might have been the night I dreamed about being in Dereth.

Sadly, the folks at Turbine eventually reached a point where they had to close down Asheron's Call 2 (Dec 2005). We were very dissapointed and spent months trying out different MMORPGs. We knew then that Turbine was going to come out with an MMORPG based on Tolkien's works, which we love, so we really just found something to play while we waited for Lord of the Rings Online.

In the spring of 2007, the world of Tolkien opened up to us in a whole new way. Turbine has done a terrific job of bringing Middle Earth to life, and we have thoroughly enjoyed playing Lord of the Rings Online. Since we moved last November, our internet connection has not been very good, and we find ourselves playing less than we once did. Maybe someday we'll have a good ISP again...

So, where did this post come from? I took some great "pictures" in game the other night and decided to use one of them in my photo blog. I started explaining the picture, and wound up moving that portion of the post over here to Grace and Glory.

A few misc. thoughts on gaming...
~ I'll just say straight up that lots of people neglect their real lives and responsibilities because they get so into online gaming. I'll not say we've never been there. More than once we've had to back up and re-establish boundaries for ourselves. The people in our physical world (especially our precious children) are so much more important than a game. Online gaming can be a lot of fun. It's like many other hobbies, I suppose. All things in moderation.
~ Real people play online games. People who have the ability to hurt me with their actions and words. Just like the people I see face to face on a regular basis.
~ Real people play online games. People whose lives I have an opportunity to touch for the Lord. Just like the people I see face to face on a regular basis. It has been a blessing to be a witness for Him and an encouragement to others. In one very special friendship I've made in LoTRO, I believe the Lord has used me to help give another Christian mom the lift she needed to start home schooling her kids, and to encourage her in her daily walk. Any praise for that goes to the Lord, not to me. It's just neat to see this outlet as an opportunity to encourage and bless others in a lasting way.

Hope you've found this little peek into our hobby interesting!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thoughts on Fruit

In the spring, we had a Mother/Daughter Tea at our church, the theme of which was the Fruit of the Spirit.

Here is the "fruit" passage, Galations 5.16-25:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Our speaker pointed out in her talk that the word "fruit" is singular. She spoke as if this were significant, but, as far as I could tell, she did not explain why. So it niggled around in the back of my brain for months. We speak about the fruit of the Spirit as if it were multiple fruits. For example, I've been part of a VBS program where we used a different fruit to symbolize each fruit of the Spirit. My kitchen, which has a "fruit of the Spirit" theme, is filled with various fruity items.

So what's the difference between one fruit and mulitple fruits? Is it just semantics or does it have a practical application? After several months of mulling it over, I think the Lord has brought to mind a picture that brings some clarity of thought to me, and in hopes that it will be an encouragement to others, I'll share it.

Think of and describe your favorite apple. Mine is a Gala, so I'll use that as an example. Gala apples are sweet, tangy, firm, juicy, mellow, long-lasting and crisp.

The fruit that grows in our lives when we live by the Spirit can be described similarly... it's loving, joyful, etc.

Does it matter whether it's one fruit whose various attributes are described or multiple fruits that the Spirit produces in our lives? Perhaps not, but here's the difference it makes in my thinking...

When I think of the fruit of the Spirit as one fruit with multiple attributes, it heightens my desire to be transformed in all these areas. I have found a tendency in myself to think along these lines, "Well, I'm not very self-controlled, but that's just a fruit the Spirit is still working on in my life." On the other hand, if one of the attributes of the (singular) fruit of the Spirit is self-control, than my not letting Him produce that in my life seems much more significant. A mushy Gala apple with a sour taste isn't a very good specimen of a Gala apple, is it?

Obviously, the fruit of the Spirit will not be perfected in us until we are perfected. Though saved by grace through faith, there is a lot of growing and changing to be done in us. We are all in desperate need of practical sanctification!

While He continues His faithful work in me, I find it both encouraging and challenging to think about what sort of a specimen of His fruit I am allowing Him to produce in my life. One thing I love about Gala apples is that they are all distinct and individual, but there are attributes that are consistent from apple to apple. Similarly, the fruit He produces in us will be unique and yet consistent as we let Him work in our lives.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bubbas

Last night, our four oldest Blessings went home with Dad and Mom Smith to spend the night and help them work on their yard today. They left after Stephen had gone to bed, but before he fell asleep. We could hear him crying in his room as they drove away.

I went inside and headed for the boys' room. There was a heartwrenching cry of "Bubba!!" as I walked down the hall. Stephen was standing on his bed, looking out the window and sobbing. I went in to hug and comfort him, but he seemed heartbroken and despondent. He finally started to calm down when I reassured him that his bubbas would be back the next day. I really think he was worried that they were sneaking away in the dark of night to desert him.

The whole incident got me thinking about how precious relationships with siblings can be. It reminded me how thankful I am for my own Bubba and reminded me what a blessing it is that my children love each other.

It also caused me to think ahead a few years to when Stephen might be waving bye-bye to his brothers as they head off to college, marriage, etc. I hadn't given much thought before to the fact that his closest brother is 8 years older than him. Someday, he will likely be the oldest boy at home.

Mindstretching, to say the least.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And speaking of anniversaries...

It's our 14th!

Happy Anniversary, Babe! I'm so glad to be yours, and thankful you love me even when I'm seven weeks pregnant and horribly emotional. :-)



For some reason, I can't find songs from our wedding on youtube, but here are a couple from our reception...

Andrew and Amity sang "Two Sets of Joneses" for us:


And Lynn surprised us with "If You Could See What I See." I couldn't find a video with Geoff Moore in it... the best I could find is this one with shots from the TV show Beauty and the Beast (loved that show, btw):


Someday, I'll like to get digitalized the video of Andrew and Daniel singing the song Daniel wrote for us.

The song I most would like to find to embed is Steve Green's "God Causes All Things to Grow." Debbie Smith sang it at our wedding, and it is still such a blessing to me. Here are the lyrics:

Dreams dressed in white
Vows made by candlelight
Hoping to find out what true love is all about
A quiet fear
Where do we go from here
So many wake and see love slowly disappear

Chorus:
God causes all things to grow
Through every season we know
He will guard the life
That He's planted in our souls
And when we feel the cold winds blow
We'll hold to what we know
God causes all things to grow

You know where I've failed
My weakness has been unveiled
And yet by grace you choose to love and to forgive
So come what may our home is here to stay
A witness to the lasting promise He has made

And we know God causes all things to grow
Through every season we know
He will guard the life
That He's planted in our souls
And when we feel the cold winds blow
We'll hold to what we know
God causes all things to grow

A Special Day for Special Friends

On Saturday September 12, our friends Gerald and Dee celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. It was sweet, short, and simple - wonderful! My Papa performed their first marriage ceremony, and they actually held their anniversary vow renewal about a month early to save Papa and Mama an extra trip up from Florida and have them be a part of the celebration.

Shots from the "ceremony" on G&D's deck (they live rightnext to the Missouri River; it's gorgeous):


The reception:


And at the glassblowers there in New Haven - such a neat experience!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Numbers

We interrupt this season of catch-up blogging with a special report:

Jonathan and I have recently learned that Seven is not always the number of completion.

We have discovered, that though Seven was Spiffy,


Eight is Great!

We're looking forward to meeting Blessing #8 in May of 2010.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Other Kansas Stuff

Our van has had a vibration for quite a while and we've been putting off fixing it. On our drive to Hutch, it became very evident that we could not put it off any longer. Dale was gracious enough to find parts and help Jonathan do the needed repairs on Monday morning. Praise God for Dale!

We dropped by our old house in Nickerson Monday after we left camp, just to see it again. It apparently had been foreclosed on and (we found out after we got home) has a new contract on it. We loved that house, have so many memories there, and it was fun to see it again.


We spent Monday night at Nate and Becki's. Becki cooked us a fabulous meal (of course!) and we had a fun evening visiting. Mom Yount was there for dinner as well, which was fun. The older kids enjoyed trying out a Wii for the first time, Luke and Stephen played in the tub, Jonathan and Nate did manly stuff, and Becki and I gabbed around the frequent interuptions (as moms will do). Great time with precous friends!


Tuesday morning we left Nate and Becki's about 7am and headed to Cooper tire in Hutch to replace two tires. The service was amazingly fast. After the tires were done, we splurged on McD's for breakfast. The real treat was that Bethany, one was one of the attendants at Stephen's birth, met us there and we got to visit for a little bit. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures!

All tired up and fed up, we picked up Papa and Mama from Jim and Joy's where they had spent the night and hit the road for Missouri. It was a wonderful trip home to Kansas!

KBC Work Retreat, Sept. 4-7 2009

There was lots of hard manual labor going on Saturday at camp, but for some reason I mostly took pictures of the sewing projects and the kids. Mama Byrd, myself, Mom Yount, and Becki worked on sewing mattresses in need of repair (a disproportionate number of which came from the boys' dorms... I'm just sayin'). It was fun to work together again! I also caught Willow and Autumn sewing up the trampoline and volleyball nets.
(Click to enlarge the collages)

Another treat was getting to see the new generation playing. I'm sure more times than I can count over the years that I worked at KBC, staff friends talked about when their children would come to camp together. Most of this gang is too young to be campers, but oh, how fun to watch them play!

Here's an extra picture of Stephen playing in the Prophet's Chamber, which was a playroom for the weekend. Besides the fact that I think he's so cute, I'm including it so that those of you who haven't been to camp for a while can get a little glimpse of the refinished dining room floor.

Sunday afternoon there was a rocket launch on the ball field - a good chance to get pictures of friends.

And a few shots from Monday, the last day we were at camp.

Enroute to Kansas Bible Camp

On Friday, September 4th, Jonathan & I, the Blessings, and Papa and Mama Byrd (who had driven in from Florida the day before) headed out for Kansas.  There was a Work Retreat at KBC, and we were all looking forward to it.  Jonathan and I were especially looking forward to being home in Kansas.  It had been over two years since we had been back for Stephen's birth.  The Lord blessed us with a beautiful day as we drove toward Hutchinson.  Here's a sampling of the beauty He displayed for us in Kansas



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

August/September Birthdays

Jonathan's requested birthday dinner was potato soup, salad, and chicken pot pie. His Coffee Cake-Literally birthday cake was a critically acclaimed surprise. He received a penny whistle and a harmonica (with Mel Bay manual) from his parents and fancy pipe tobacco and some mad money from mine. Alas, I have not yet managed to get him a birthday present... though I did take him to see the Steve Miller Band with my birthday mad money. Surely that counts?

Here's some pics from J's bday:


Josiah and Elanor had an interesting party arrangement this year. Ellie's birthday was the day before we left for our Kansas trip; Josiah's was the day we drove back. Ellie had her chosen birthday dinner on her birthday, but wanted to save cake for their official joint Bday party. Josiah had his Bday cake the night we got back from Kansas (Gpa and Gma Smith even came over at 9pm to be there for the cake!), and he chose the dinner for their joint party. The presents also happened at the joint party. Crazy planning, but it was a lot of fun.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bloggity Update

I'm still needing to write about the last week or two, but I did manage to update my photo blog with a bunch of pictures. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget...




... and say thank you to our troops whenever you have the chance.

Friday, September 04, 2009

There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home...

We are headed to Hutchinson, KS in the morning with my folks (who have driven up from Florida). There is a Staff Work Retreat (aka - Reunion!) this weekend at KBC and we are so looking forward to going home for a long weekend. We haven't been since we were there for Stephen's birth two years ago. Too long!

Life has just been moving along too quickly for much blogging lately. And this late at night isn't time to catch up in a wordy fashion. However, I did catch up in pictoral fashion by updating Yesterday. So if you'd like a peak of what's been going on with us, that's the place to see.

More next week...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hope Chest Traditions

A little over a month ago, I began doing some freelance work for an online studio. For my first assignment, I accidentally did the wrong title. Ha! (I realized it was the wrong title before I turned it in, don't worry.) It was good practice, and it was about something in which I'm interested, so I don't consider it a waste of time. But I thought I'd go ahead and post it here, so it doesn't just sit in my file. Hope you enjoy it!


Hope Chest Traditions


Overview
Spanning centuries and continents, the hope chest has traditionally been a place to store the treasures of young women awaiting marriage. Popularity has waxed and waned, but an online search will quickly reveal that hope chests are still desired and used today.

History
Hope chests were used to collect and preserve a woman's trousseau as far back as the late medieval times. In some cultures, hope chests contained the only possessions a woman actually owned.

Function
Traditionally given to young women by their parents, hope chests were filled with the goods needed to set up a household, often items handcrafted by the young ladies themselves as they matured.

Geography
In different countries around the world, hope chests have had various names and forms; the Italian cassoni, the Dutch kast, the German schrank, and the English glory box are examples.

Features
Cedar is commonly used for creating hope chests, due to its resistance to bacteria, fungi, and decay, as well as its insect repellant properties.

Fun Fact
Sulfur inlay is a decorative technique, used the late 18th and early 19th centuries by Pennsylvanian chest crafters, that involves filling carved channels in the wood with molten sulfur.


photo by RichinMN, CC BY-NDW 2.0


Cedarwood Furniture - Cedar Facts

Wright Kids Stuff

Cedarwood Furniture

Friday, August 28, 2009

A New Addition

We've been considering the possibility of getting a dog for the last several weeks, after losing 5 chickens in about a week's time. On Tuesday, thanks to some amazingly generous friends, we brought home a new addition to our family.



Juilin is a full-bred Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie). He's almost five months old, and has a very sweet disposition. Most of us have totally fallen for him, and Jonathan thinks he's pretty okay for a dog. His name is pronounced jew-linn; he's named after a "thief-catcher" in a series of books J and I enjoy. We're hoping he stops our chicken thief, though we doubt he'll "catch" him!

I was planning to tell you more about Juilin, but right now I think I need to go out and let him run around some. More later!

God, the Cosmic Janitor - from Molly

from Molly at Adventures in Mercy, a passionate and well-written post reminding us that
There is no such thing as a Cosmic Janitor. There is such thing as a God who sits down for supper with a harlot and has put His gentle hands on scabby-skinned homeless rejects.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maker of the Universe

I have so much to post! But I must go fix supper. So I'll tell you about our new puppy, etc, later. But I had to take the time to post this wonderful video. I hadn't heard this song until today, and it just... wow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Full Day, Full Heart...

Mom Smith, Davey, Barak, and I were at Child Evangelism Fellowship International Headquarters in Warrenton, MO today for a day long workshop in preparation for this year's Good News Clubs. Dad and Mom Smith have been doing clubs for the last three years, and I'm prayerfully planning to join the team this year. We'll see what the Lord works out about a work vehicle for Jonathan so I can take the van/kids to Club with me. :-) Anyway, it was a day full of learning, and very profitable.

As is usually the case, spending all day thinking on the gospel message gave me such a thankful heart. That the Creator of the universe would love me so much that He sent His only Son to take my place, to pay the price for my sin, is overwhelming. That He not only died, but rose again triumphant and is seated at the right hand of the Father - wow! What a joy to know that the price for my redemption from the sin that separated me from God and doomed me to an eternity without Him, has been paid for, and that because of His precious blood, I have eternal life!!

I have several friends, from two families, who are facing the possibility/likelihood of loosing their earthly fathers in the near future. With them on my heart, and my heart so full of thankfulness for my Saviour, these two precious hymns came to mind tonight...

O That Will Be Glory For Me
by Charles H. Gabriel

When all my labors and trials are o'er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the Lord I adore,
Will thro' the ages be glory for me.

CHORUS:
O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me;
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.

When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face,
Will thro' the ages be glory for me.

CHORUS

Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet, just a smile from my Saviour, I know,
Will thro' the ages be glory for me.



and another favorite...

Nothing But the Blood
by Robert Lowry

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain:
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


and finally, a wonderful song shared on FB that was a blessing. I'd never heard it before...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Making Powdered Laundry Soap

I made laundry soap this morning and decided I'd try taking pictures of my work, both for the sake of having pictures for a tutorial and for the sake of trying to hone my meager photography skills. I've posted more of the pictures here and would love any input on the photography aspect of my project in the comments.

And now, on to the laundry soap!

I realize some of you already make your own laundry soap, but I thought a tutorial would be fun and hopefully helpful.

Ingredients:
1 bar Fels Naptha (I have friends who use whatever soap is on sale, but my results increase exponentially with Fels Naptha, so anymore, I don't do subsitutes)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax


Instructions
Grate the Fels Naptha. If you have a food processor, I highly recommend using it. I use the fine grater on my Cuisinart.

I then pour the grated Fels into a bowl (isn't it gorgeous?!),


put the chopping blade in the processor and replace the Fels.

Pulsing with the chopping blade for a bit takes it from this:


to this:

which I think has to be faster to dissolve.

Add the borax and washing soda and mix:


Then transfer to jar, or whatever works for you. I personally love the look of my laundry soap, so I like to keep it in a glass jar.



I made a double batch, which fits easily in a half gallon jar. It's actually a little over 5 and half cups of soap. I use about 4t per load, so I get 65+ loads out of it. I need to use less now than I did before Jonathan installed the water softener, so if you have hard water, your loads/batch may vary.

Another Rendition

... of the Hallelujah Chorus. Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Guineas

I realized this morning that I have only imagined posting about the guineas that we've had since the beginning of July. This just goes to show that not all the blog posts that start in my head end up online.

I posted a picture of the guineas over the weekend on my photo blog and my mom commented, "When did you get these??" My first thought was, "Mama! I thought you read my blog..." Then I went back through both the photo and regular blogs and couldn't find anything about guineas. Ha!

Here's the tale of the guineas... Linda (our fabulous neighbor) got a batch of guineas in late June and we bought some from her. I think we brought our six down to the house on July 1st or 2nd. We lost one when we moved them outside to what used to be the ducks' pen, because we didn't get the ducks' water tub out at first. Sad. But the other five are doing great. We now let them run around in the fenced garden all day, eating bugs. Come evening, they fly out of the garden and run around the yard until we herd them into their pen. Hopefully soon they'll fly out of the garden and into their pen in the evening on their own.

And here they are, in case you missed them on Yesterday:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dimple

Stephen has had a tiny dimple near his left eye for quite a while. It's cute, but doesn't show up that often.

Here's Stephen on July 5:

Very cute. But no dimple.

Then on July 9, he got in a fight with a cabinet... and lost.
See the deep bruise showing up on his cheek?



And here he is on July 29, with his new dimple in full bloom:


Fascinating, eh?
I don't know how long this dimple will last, but I think it is adorable!