Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Motherhood and Service

God intended women to spend their whole lives serving other people. Young women serve their children, their mothers, their husbands, and the community at large. Older women train and assist the younger women, and in some cases become church helpers. Women are not called to pursue motherhood for five years, get a career, and thereafter live for themselves. We are responsible for keeping society healthy and human. And for this, we get respect.
Charity at home?
What an opportunity!
What a ministry!
From "The Way Home" by Mary Pride

(I do not endorse everything in this book, but it certainly did make me think! And I really liked this passage in particular.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

On Babies and Blessings

Meditations for Monday

Jeremiah 1:5 -
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.


God is SO GOOD!

A couple of months ago, I was sitting at my sewing machine working on a baby blanket for a friend. My friend was on a journey to adopt a baby. I've made at least a dozen of these blankets now, one for each of my own babies and for gifts, and Big Littles has seen me make several lately.

Being the curious one that he is, he asked, "Which baby is it for?" I said, "Mrs. S's baby." He said, "What name is the baby?" I answered that I did not know. Being in the stage where he asks 100 questions every hour, he continued to pepper me... Finally, I came up with just the right answer as the above verse from Jeremiah came into my mind.

"Big Littles, we don't know the name of Mrs. S's baby, nor do we know which baby it will be or when she will have her baby. God knows though. God is making a very special baby just for Mrs. S, and one day, God will bring Mrs. S her baby so she can wrap the baby up in this blanket."

He was satisfied. God's word satisfies... even the child of 100 questions. God is amazing like that.

Psalm 127:3 - Behold, children are a gift of the Lord... (NASB)

Babies are a blessing. Babies are ALWAYS a blessing. Each one is known by God even before He forms that little one in the womb. Each one is consecrated by God. Each one is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Saying prayers of thanksgiving today as Mrs. S holds her brand new baby.

God is SO GOOD!

Psalm 139:13-14 -
For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well. (ESV)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Jesus, I Come"

Sunday Hymn Post

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

by William Sleeper

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Desperation Dessert

Potluck Saturday


I keep my eyes open for sales on these three canned items:
  • mandarin oranges
  • pineapple chunks
  • mixed tropical fruit (don't buy the kind with bananas - canned bananas are nasty!)


Put it all together, and you've got a very tasty fruit salad that you can have ready to go in about 3 minutes! I reach for my pantry fruit salad when we have unexpected company or when I didn't manage to get my dessert together for a planned potluck as happened one afternoon.


My additional tip is to save the juice. You can use it to replace the liquid in muffins, you can just drink it (this is a real treat to the Littles who never get juice, mean mama that I am), or you can use it to sweeten your iced tea.

I love to make special desserts, but sometimes time and circumstances make something simple the best option.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Preparing for The Lord's Day

Sunday, The Lord's Day, is the busiest and most challenging day in our week. It also has the potential to be the most edifying. Waking up Sunday morning with no thought or preparation is a recipe for disaster and is sure to give a crushing blow to the spiritual strength I was hoping to gain that day. The more little ones we add to our life, the more needful serious efforts and preparation become. I had planned this post for over a month now, and ironically, yesterday the Four Moms (with 37 kids now) did a post on Getting Out the Door on Sunday Morning. They share some wonderful ideas, and a wonderful sense of humor, particularly The Deputy Headmistress. If you need a good laugh, definitely take the time to read her post.

But I'll share some of my tips and ideas for making the most of a Sunday by preparing for the day on Saturday.
  • Everyone has baths/showers on Saturday, and not on Sunday morning. We have one bathroom, so we even ask overnight guests to comply with this rule, though an exception can be made as long as they are showered and out by 7:30 am.
  • Clothes are all laid out Saturday night. Mine too. I try to buy things that won't need ironing, but every now and then a collar needs a touch up, so that is done the night before as well. Clothes, underclothes, socks, shoes... everything is laid out in a certain place. (Preacher Man prefers to take care of his own clothes, so that is all up to him.) I have a friend who has her little girls sleep in their slips, and their dresses are pulled on the next morning. Smart lady, she is!
  • Diaper bag is packed Saturday night. Since we do cloth diapers, I make sure we have plenty washed and ready - I try not to do laundry on Sunday. I also recommend carrying wipes of some kind no matter what the age of your children. I can't tell you how many Sundays we've all sat down on the pew when I notice someone has a very dirty face! Oops!
  • Bible class prep is taken care of on Saturday. Sometimes this is a bigger deal than others. I imagine it will be a bigger deal as the kids get older. Memory verses are practiced throughout the week, but there is extra polishing on Saturday.
  • Salad for Sunday's lunch is prepped and ready to go in the fridge.
  • One end of the dining room table is designated as the place to gather items to take to the meeting place. Bibles and class materials, diaper bag, glasses, etc...
  • Something new I am starting: I'm baking healthy muffins and preparing a breakfast meat (bacon or sausage) on Saturdays now. I will still scramble some eggs Sunday morning, but otherwise, a filling breakfast is ready to go. (We need lots and lots of protein, the littles and I, so our situation requires this. You may do better sticking with cereal, bagels, or some other easier breakfast.)
Sunday Morning:
  • Get up early. Even earlier than you would think. I have a much more peaceful Sunday if I can have some time to sip my coffee and have some peace before the craziness begins.
  • Turn on some music - hymns would be best. Start setting your mind on things "above".
  • If you have an infant, I suggest getting dressed in all of your under-things, jewelry on and hair fixed, and then walking around in a (modest) bathrobe until the last possible second. Throw on your clothes right before you walk out the door and hope for the best. I try to dress the baby at the last possible second too. I never did figure out if it was better to dress myself or the baby last. It's a bit of a toss-up. Either way, when you have a spitting up, diaper blowing out baby, plan for back up clothes!
  • We've drastically simplified our Sundays by having "Spaghetti Sundays" for lunch each week. I cover it more in the post I linked, but it really has made life easier for us, so I highly recommend it!
  • Plan to arrive VERY early. This way, if you are unavoidably delayed, which seems to happen more often than not, you still have a generous window of time to take care of the necessary delay. For us, we plan to arrive 20 minutes early! Might sound like a lot, but it is rare that we actually arrive 20 minutes early! I grew up with the saying, "To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be LATE!" Anyway, the Bible class teachers will be so very grateful if your family arrives early or on time. And if you are teaching, then it is VERY important to be early!
  • I already said that I do not do laundry on Sundays. While we do not hold strictly to the "no work on Sundays" rule as many in earlier generations, I think there was great wisdom in having a day of rest. By all means, wash your dishes from lunch, but you will have more peace in your heart if you take a day off from doing chores. Have a nap. Read your Bible. Take a walk outdoors. But do rest.
  • Then enjoy your time of worship and of fellowship. Edify and be edified in return. Learn and grow in God's word.
What suggestions do you have for making Sundays run smoother?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Beautiful Home

An excerpt from In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom that I found rather inspiring:

"Our house was not very big, but it had wide open doors. I don't think that many guests who came to the Beje ever realized what a struggle it was to make both ends meet. As Mother said, "We must turn every penny twice before we spend it."

We didn't feel that we were poor, however, and indeed we weren't. The words "we can't afford it" were not a part of our thinking, because as children we knew something about the status of family finances, and didn't ask for what we knew was impossible.

Many lonesome people found a place with us, where there was music, humor, interesting conversations, and always room for one more at the oval dinner table. Oh, it's true, the soup may have been a bit watery when too many unexpected guests came, but it didn't really matter."

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 - Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.(NKJV)

Monday, March 21, 2011

"I shall run the way of Your commandments..."

Meditations for Monday: Psalm 119:30-32

I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!
I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart. (NASB)

This passage fills me with such joy, freedom, and lightness of heart. Praying that you, too, find joy as you run today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sandwich Fillers

Have you ever noticed the cost of luncheon meat? Both in the deli and pre-packaged, it is quite expensive when you look at the cost per pound. What was once a staple in our household is now the very rare treat for a trip or an outing. For $4.99/lb I can either buy roast beef in the deli or I can buy steak! Coming to that realization was a bit of a shock. Eliminating luncheon meat from our repertoire required a significant paradigm shift, but now that we are there, we enjoy some wonderful options that are healthier, and in my opinion, are even better tasting as well!

As to why this is a "Potluck Saturday" post... one of my favorite things to bring to a potluck are little sandwiches made from dinner rolls. We have a nice bakery around the corner with inexpensive dinner rolls, but to make it even more economical, you can make your own.

Choices of fillers:
  • Pimiento cheese - these would be better served on regular sliced bread cut into little triangles than dinner rolls. This was a favorite of mine as a child!
  • Tuna salad - tuna is becoming more and more expensive though, which is sad, as it used to be a real staple in our house. Mix in mayo, celery, chopped boiled egg, onion, and pickle relish (I prefer sweet.)
  • Chicken salad - this is fast replacing tuna salad for us, as it is just so inexpensive and simple to whip up a little bit from a leftover roasted chicken. Mix in mayo, celery and craisins. Almonds and serving on croissants are a nice touch if you want to make it fancy.
  • BBQ Beef - I like to put a beef roast in the crock pot for a dinner. The leftovers are immediately shredded up and mixed with homemade BBQ sauce for sandwiches. Serve with a slice of cheddar either warmed or cold. BBQ beef is also nice in baked potatoes. Though we do it in an entirely different way, we also like to make BBQ pork out of pork shoulders. This would be a post of its own, but it is quite delicious and can be used in sandwiches or baked potatoes as well.
  • Corned Beef - got leftover corned beef from St. Paddy's Day? Shred it up for sandwiches! It's delicious, especially with a little mustard!
  • Leftover sliced ham is also delicious on little buttered yeast rolls. This is a wonderful way to feed a crowd!
  • In the summer we ADORE BLTs made with our fresh garden lettuce and tomatoes. A nice thick slice of mozzarella is also a nice addition.

So re-think the way you have been doing sandwiches and save yourself the trouble of standing in line every week at the deli counter!

Got any recommendations for me with some delicious and inexpensive sandwich fillers? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

God Keeps His Promises

Wednesdays With the Word: God's promise to Noah

Just a thought I've been tossing about in my brain: Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives lived on a boat roughly the size of a football field FULL of animals for a year. There wasn't much fresh air in that ark. I'm sure the food, the scenery, and the company got a little boring towards the end of that year. I've been trying to imagine what it would feel like to be Mrs. Noah. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting some more for that water to go down. Waiting. Sending out birds. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for God to say, "Go out from the ark...". Mrs. Noah must have had a degree of patience that I lack in my life. The Bible doesn't say much about her, but she must have been righteous for God to save her. Just some thoughts...

And I am also comforted and amazed reading the promise that God made to Noah:

Genesis 8:18-22 - So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."

Genesis 9:12-13- And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Egg Solution


I love finding a solution for a problem! I recently worked out a great one that solves several breakfast time dilemmas.

  1. We need protein + carbs for breakfast everyday. The importance of this fuel to 3/4 of us cannot be overstated.
  2. Our protein of choice is eggs. I buy several cases a week. Right now we eat 7 eggs a day just for breakfast. We could probably eat more, and I think it will be a matter of a couple of months before we are up to 8 a day.
  3. It is difficult to get a good estimate on how many eggs we need. Some weeks I do more baking than others, and we find ourselves running out of eggs more than any other grocery item.
  4. Even during busy mornings, and perhaps even more-so on busy mornings, we need this fuel. See #1.
And one evening, we were expecting a house guest with unknown morning plans. I started thinking I should make some muffins so if he needed to make a quick getaway in the morning, he could grab a couple to go. Then I started thinking perhaps a savory muffin would be better and more sustaining than the usual cake-as-breakfast variety, even though I tend to "healthify" these recipes considerably. So I trolled around on AllRecipes.com and I found this!

These were not muffins... not really. These were more like egg patties. So I started thinking and remembering other blog posts about freezing breakfast sandwiches, and I started working out my own version. I stayed up until midnight, but loved the results, and now we have a freezer full of delicious breakfast sandwiches that solve a multitude of breakfast time problems for us. Now yes, I worked on these for a couple of hours in an evening, but I calculated that it made enough for 5 breakfasts for our family, which is really pretty good all things considered. This could be drastically simplified by buying english muffins ready made or canned biscuits, and I admit they would be much less crumbly. They also wouldn't quite have the taste of homemade biscuits and would cost more, so just do what works for your time and budget.

So here is what I did:

Sausage Egg Biscuits
- butter
- 2 onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 oz. sausage
- 18 eggs
- 2 splashes of milk
- salt/pepper to taste
- 24 prepared biscuits (or English muffins)

Saute the onions in about a Tbs. of butter until soft. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Add the sausage to the pan and crumble it with your spatula while you cook it. Drain the sausage if need be. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the milk, salt, and pepper. Scramble with a whisk or a fork. Mix in the sausage. Grease two muffin tins very heavily with the butter. Put about 1/4 c. scoop of egg mixture in each section. Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes, making sure the eggs are set in the middle. After they have cooled a bit, loosen the edges and remove from the pan. Split each biscuit in half, put an egg patty in the middle, and wrap in foil. (Feel free to add a slice of cheese if it suits you.) Transfer the foil wrapped sandwiches to gallon size freezer bags. Label and freeze.

(We used foil because we plan to put these in the toaster oven. If you plan to microwave them, you can use a paper towel to retain moisture or plastic wrap.)

For my more visual readers, here are some pictures I took during the process:
Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast Sandwiches


Monday, March 14, 2011

Honoring the Lord with our Possessions

Proverbs 3:9-10 -
Honor the LORD with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine. (NKJV)

This chapter of Proverbs was written by King Solomon. He shares wisdom with his son on how to be a wise, Godly, and gracious king. We can use this passage for our personal benefit and our application would simply be how to be a wise, Godly, and gracious ________. Whatever our status, whatever our occupation, we can all apply it to our lives.

Verse 9 has always stuck out in my mind. Most of the common translations read, "Honor the LORD with your wealth". (ESV, NIV, NASB) For a king, especially considering the unsurpassed wealth of King Solomon, this is very fitting. Personally, I find it easier to apply the word "possessions" to my own life. I may be far from having the wealth of a king, but I can most certainly honor the Lord with the possessions with which He has blessed me!

So what does it mean to honor the Lord with my possessions?
I do not claim to have the answer. In fact, I would love to hear input from my readers on this. I just think it is worthy of our meditation.

Everything we have is not our own. Americans tend to have a strong sense of ownership. Home ownership is a common goal for most married couples and families. We all want our little patch of sod to do with as we please. The reality is, that we do not own anything. In the political sense, though the land we live on may have been passed down from father to son for generations, we all still have to pay property taxes on any land we own. Many communities have stringent deed restrictions and zoning laws. State and Federal laws also restrict what we do with our property, and if it comes down to it, if the government decides that they want to claim our property, they can. It's called "eminent domain". So do we really own our land? Besides, Who created the land we are living on anyway? God did of course!

Everything we have is a gift from God. We do not own anything. We are just using God's blessings while we dwell upon this earth. My Dad always said that you never see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it. Besides, if our sights are on heavenly things, why would we want to take anything with us from this earthly shadow?

If everything we possess is from God, it should be natural for us to want to give Him "the first-fruits". We are not under the law to tithe as the children of Israel were, we give offerings of our own freewill, as we have been blessed, from the heart. (1 Corinthians 16:2) Our giving to the Lord is not limited to a cash donation we make every first day of the week. We ought to be freely giving as we see a need, especially to those of the "household of faith".

Galatians 6:9-10 - And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (ESV)

We can donate time, food, transportation, Bibles, a place to stay, you name it. Did you know that you can buy paperback New Testaments for less than $1 each? Why not buy a dozen and hand them out? Recently, I've become more and more acquainted with the donation of mothers' milk. God gave me this "wealth" to nurse my baby, and there are those out there who are in need. Does this honor the Lord? Most definitely! When we live with the belief that all we have is a blessing from the Lord, it becomes natural to share our blessings rather than hoard them.

Preacher Man and I agreed long ago that when we saw a need, we wanted to be able to help. We live the way we do (frugally and trying to live debt free) so we can be wildly generous when we see a need. We have been blessed time and time again by others in ways that we can never repay. We have seen the following verse played out in our own lives so many times:

Luke 6:38 - Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (ESV)

We're just passing around God's blessings... or trying anyway!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Flee As A Bird"

by Mary Shindler, 1842

Flee as a bird to your mountain, thou who art weary of sin;
Go to the clear flowing fountain where you may wash and be clean.
Haste, then, th’Avenger is near thee; call, and the Savior will hear thee;
He on His bosom will bear thee; O thou who art weary of sin,
O thou who art weary of sin.

He will protect thee forever, wipe every falling tear;
He will forsake thee, O never, sheltered so tenderly there.
Haste, then, the hours are flying, spend not the moments in sighing,
Cease from your sorrow and crying: The Savior will wipe every tear,
The Savior will wipe every tear.

Psalm 11

In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul,
"Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"

The LORD is in His holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes see, His eyelids test the children of man.
The LORD tests the righteous,
but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let Him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the LORD is righteous; He loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold His face.

Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring Cleaning!

Yesterday, we had a gorgeous, sunny day in the 50's with no wind. When I heard the forecast that morning, I made the spontaneous decision to start spring cleaning. All of the downstairs curtains went straight into the wash and were hung out on the line an hour later. (I choose to have white cotton washable curtains in all of our windows, except the bedrooms which have blackout lined curtains.) I spent the rest of the day washing the windows inside and out and all around. (Whoever invented double hung windows was a genius!) Just for good measure, I washed the ceiling fans and light fixtures. Today I'll touch up the curtains with an iron and rehang them and the house is going to smell AMAZING! I just love that fresh smell!

I need to do the same process with the bedrooms, but that is a bit trickier since the Littles need naps and those blackout curtains are there for a reason!

Here are the rest of the projects I hope to do for "Spring Cleaning":
  • Shampoo the rugs and furniture
  • Wash the trash cans and boot trays
  • Clothing swap
  • Clean oven (need to choose a cold day for this!)
  • Clean shower head
  • Vacuum fridge coils
  • Wipe out kitchen drawers
  • Give the counters/backsplashes a good scrub
  • Dusting picture frames/books/display dishes
  • Wash duvets and air pillows
  • Swap humidifiers for fans/window ACs
  • Prepare for a garage sale in May
B.C. = Before Children, I took a week and devoted it to spring cleaning. I think when we have older kids to pitch in this may be possible again, but for now I just plan to chip away at these jobs over the next three months. Slow and steady wins the race, right? :)

How do you do spring cleaning, and what is on your list?

"Using It Up"

"Use it up, wear it out,
make do, and do without."

- a little saying from the days of The Great Depression

In yesterday's post, I talked about minimizing our food waste. Just thought I would share some resources that have been helpful for me in that regard.

All Recipes: Do an ingredient search for the little bits of food you need to use up. Very handy!

Love Food Hate Waste: A site from the UK that has some really good tips! In the Recipe section, there are little icons of a wide range of foods. Click on the food you need to use up for some ideas. Check out the food storage tips to make your foods last longer.

Remember that unless you are baking something special, recipes are merely suggestions. Feel free to be creative in the kitchen and make substitutions and additions.

Certain dishes are naturally accommodating. These would be: muffins, stir fries, omelets, quiches, soups, and smoothies.

Don't let your bread go stale! Make bread crumbs before it gets moldy. Store breadcrumbs in a ziploc in your freezer and use as needed. Cornbread also makes great breadcrumbs, but you should store it separately as you may want cornbread in some recipes, but not in others. Can you believe I used to buy breadcrumbs? See, I didn't just know all of this stuff. I've been learning as I go too!

Monday, March 7, 2011


It's that time of year again...

Cabbage is $.17/lb. In past years I have seen it as low as $.05/lb. as a "loss leader" item. Grocery stores are practically giving away this vegetable in honor of St. Patrick's day. Cabbage is a very economical vegetable to use throughout the year though. The regular price runs around $.40/lb. and that is CHEAP folks!

Now... how to use all that cabbage...

I didn't grow up eating a lot of cabbage. I learned how to make a pretty good cole slaw as a summertime potluck favorite, but other than that, my experience is minimal. Here are a couple of recipes I'm interested in trying out:

I have some friends who make lacto-fermented sauerkraut, but I've not tried it. There are wonderful step-by-step instructions with photos here on The Family Homestead. I hear it is simple to do, but takes a bit of practice to get it packed in the jars well.

Do you have a favorite way to fix cabbage? Please share!

The Precious Possession of Diligence

Proverbs 12:27 - A lazy man does not roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a man is diligence.

I am always astonished when I read through the Proverbs. I read one nugget of wisdom after the next and never fail to find something very practical to apply to my life. The above verse is one that I used to keep posted on an index card on my refrigerator. Does that sound a little strange? This verse was a continual reminder to me to curb my wastefulness.

Most of us acquire our meat and other groceries from the local supermarket. Some hunt, grow vegetables, milk cows, etc... but mostly by choice. Food is readily available and most everyone has access to a 24 hour store or restaurant. Perhaps if we really had to work hard to grow and preserve our food we would be more careful not to waste it.

In doing a quick google search, I found that Americans throw away an average of 14% of the food they purchase. No doubt, some are more guilty than others, but if you are like the average family, and you have a grocery budget of $100 per week (a little high in my opinion, but it's nice and round), you are throwing away $728 dollars every year.

Feeling a little twinge of guilt? Years ago when I read this verse in Proverbs, I felt it. I would buy food and bring it home, but because of my lack of diligence, I would not "roast it" and it would spoil. I'm not telling you to start eating spoiled food just so you don't waste it, I'm suggesting you are careful to only purchase what your family will eat, and then eat it! Make use of leftovers. Re-make leftovers into new dishes. Freeze portions for later consumption. Use creative substitution to avoid waste. Share food with those who will eat it.

This is one of those areas where habits will not change overnight, but you can start by opening your eyes to what is happening in your household and start making little steps to do better. Talk to your children as you work on these new habits. Talk about where food comes from and who has worked to bring it to our table. Talk about being diligent and not slothful. Most importantly, talk about the importance of being good stewards with our blessings and that food is a blessing from the Lord. We are blessed with abundance and we need to be deeply thankful.

Proverbs 31:10-11 - An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.

vs. 15 - She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.

vs. 27 - She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

vs. 30-31 - Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Be Present At Our Table, Lord"

Be Present At Our Table, Lord

Words by: John Cennick

Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored;
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.

We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food,
For life and health and every good;
By Thine own hand may we be fed;
Give us each day our daily bread.

We thank Thee, Lord, for this our good,
But more because of Jesus’ blood;
Let manna to our souls be giv’n,
The Bread of Life sent down from Heav’n.

I think this one would be particularly fitting to have posted wherever the family comes together to partake of their meals.

Matthew 6:11 - Give us this day our daily bread.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"The Children's Hour"

Perhaps you are familiar with Longfellow's poem...

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That is known as the children's hour.

You can read the entire poem here. This poem has such sweet sentiments. After illness and travels, we are finally settling down into more of a routine. We have one child that particularly craves routine and thrives on predictability. In our anything-but-predictable life, I am trying to do what I can to create stronger routines when and where we can.

Enter Large Family Logistics! My amazingly sweet friend, Erin, surprised me by sending me the book, and I have been using many of the ideas from the book to create routines in our home.

In the past, I've tried a very linear approach to daily routines - sort of like a time line. Strict times were a bit too strict for me, but even just having one thing after another has not worked well at all. Seems like once the train got derailed, I could never get back on track. The author of Large Family Logistics takes more of a block approach with mini-routines within certain blocks of time - Morning and Evening Routines, Mealtime Routines, Chore Time, "The Children's Hour", Bedtime Routine, etc... and I'm working on implementing these into our life.

So far, "The Children's Hour" has been my favorite and the easiest to implement. It sets the tone for cheerful evenings and is a joyful way to end the day when I'd otherwise be mopey and tired. Each family must find what works for them, and in our particular situation, evenings are when Daddy leaves to do Bible studies with other families. Most of the time he leaves right after dinner. In the past, we would all be a little sad that Daddy was gone and it was reflected in our evenings. Now, we eat our dinner together and I wash up the dishes and clean up the dining room as quickly as I can. I purposefully spend the rest of the evening just playing and relaxing with the Littles until it is time for bed. No chores. No computer. No TV. Instead, we play, read books, take a walk, take baths two or three nights of the week, play games, and just enjoy one another. This "pause in the day's occupation" is restful to my spirit.

Still working on the other routines... that Morning Routine is a bear! There is just so much that has to happen first thing and I'm usually stumbling around for my coffee cup for the first hour I'm awake! (I still have a little one waking too many times a night to count!) But I'm happy for the sacredness of The Children's Hour.

Luke 18:16 - Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

What do you do during the "pause in the day's occupation"?

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