Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Then she presented me with this. A sweet little note that just totally made my day.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
These are the words of David in 1 Samuel 17:39. David, the great warrior and king who was called a man after God's own heart. He was just about to fight a major battle here, against none other than Goliath. He tried on Saul's armour but it just didn't' fit right, it wasn't it his size and he wasn't used to wearing it.
Now David may have been okay in Saul's armour for a bit, it may have even offered some protection against the enemy. But it probably wouldn't have lasted. That's because it wasn't made for David and for his battle. It was someone else's armour.
We cannot take on the armour of another just as much as we cannot take on the faith of another. To be successful as a Christ follower we must rely on our own personal relationship with him. We cannot depend on the faith of our parents or grandparents, or a spouse or friends, or even of a spiritual leader in our life. That faith may see us through for a time, but when the battle heats up the faith of others will always fall short. Our faith must be our own. When the battle gets intense and fierce we must be wearing our own armour.
When we go with our own armour we may feel vulnerable and exposed, but it will allow God to display his strength in us just as he did for David. God will allow us to encounter tough situations to strengthen our faith, our armour. That's why spending time with God is crucial, that unrushed quiet time before God is armour building time. The personal relationship we have with him is what builds our faith. It can't be done any other way.
Is your armour rusty? It won't protect you in battle.
But if your armour is shiny and strong it will keep you.
Ephesians 6: 10-14 reminds us: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Standing in battle in your own armour of faith is the only way to make it. How do we strengthen our armour? Simply by being with him, the best armour builder there is.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today is Earth Day. I've been talking with the kids, mostly Levi, about how we can be nicer to the earth.
For us it's not about any political agenda, it's about being good stewards of the amazing earth God created for us. It's the place that displays his beauty, that shows off his creativity and inspires us to draw closer to him.
Because of that, why wouldn't we want to take care of this precious gift?
So we've been trying to reuse, we've been working on consuming less and we also use reusable shopping bags. But the newest thing for us is to make our own household cleaners.
Part of this has come from our desire to rid our home of ucky chemicals and part of this is pure economics. Green household cleaners aren't very cheap. I love Mrs Meyers and Method brand cleaners but I don't always love the price tag.
I've found some recipes for household cleaners and we've been using them around the house.
- Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. I store it in a spray bottle and use where ever things need cleaning, kitchen and bathroom.
- Mix equal parts vinegar and water. This one smells like salad dressing, so I prefer the recipe above-it has no odor at all.
For glass cleaner we plan on using this: (waiting to use up the surplus we have, we also love Method's glass cleaner)
Mix in a sprayer bottle: 1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, l1 cup water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
For carpet cleaning:
Mix one cup of peroxide and 1 tsp of clear, odorless ammonia in a spray bottle. Spray over stained area and rub in, then blot off. This is amazing it works so well-it even took an old paint stain off!
We're also excited to try out homemade laundry detergents:
Liquid Laundry Detergent: 3 Pints Water1/3 Bar Fels Naptha Soap (Grated), 1/2 Cup Washing Soda, 1/2 Cup Borax, 2 Gallon Bucket, 1 Quart Hot Water. Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 2 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.
Liquid Laundry Detergent: 1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap, 1/2 Cup Washing Soda, 1/2 Cup Borax, 2 Tablespoons Glycerin, 2 Gallons Water (NOTE: This recipe originally called for 2 Cups Water)Mix all three ingredients together. Add glycerin and water. Use 1/2 - 3/4 cup per load. Best when used with cold or warm water.
Powdered Laundry Detergent: 1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap, 1/2 Cup Washing Soda, 1/2 Cup BoraxFor light load, use 1 tablespoon.For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.
I haven't tried any of these yet, have any of you? I'd love to hear how you make your own detergent if you do.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Yes, I made amazing three words-they are that good.
At our house we usually have breakfast for dinner once a week or so. It's easy, it's quick and everyone loves it.
My family loves pancakes, light and fluffy like the ones made by Bisquick. I love pancakes with a little bit of texture and some density. I also need pancakes without dairy, that's a must. Since most mixes aren't dairy free I usually make my own pancakes.
I searched for this recipe in the hopes of using up a box of Cream of Wheat. It's been sitting in the pantry for a long time. I knew I'd never make cream of wheat and I didn't want it to go waste.
This does not disappoint! It's so good and easy and hearty and good for you and all sorts of wonderful.
I'm sure you could easily substitute milk for the soy milk or if you want it totally vegan you could easily use egg replacer instead of the egg.
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose white flour
1/3 cup uncooked farina (Cream of Wheat Cereal)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups vanilla-flavored soymilk
1/4 cup applesauce
Chop walnuts and set aside.
Combine flours, farina cereal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt in medium bowl and fluff to mix.
In separate small bowl, combine soy milk, applesauce and egg. Blend well.
Combine both wet and dry together. Let sit 5 minutes while griddle preheats.
Mix briefly just before using. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto hot, greased griddle.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Flip when bubbles rise to surface. (This takes a bit longer than standard pancakes, but don't flip too early or they will stick.) Cook until done.
Serve warm or let cool and freeze airtight. Reheat in toaster oven. Makes 12 pancakes.
For more yummy recipes be sure to head over to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Well, that never happened.
I grew up and didn't become a superhero. I became me; a wife, a mom, a sister, a friend. A woman who sometimes gets very busy, a woman who has a lot do most days, a woman who wishes for superhero strength every now and then.
But there's something interesting about my desire for strength. That's something I want all on my own. Like Wonder Woman, I want to get through a day on my own strength. To get that list checked off on my strength. To be everything I need to be for everyone in my life on my own strength.
But that's so not what God wants for me. God delights in my weakness, he loves it when I admit that I don't have what it takes and he longs to be the strength I need.
Lately I've been hearing myself say "I can't do this." Life is just hard, raising kids is tough, being nice and loving all the time is challenging. And I wasn't meant to do it alone. I'm reminded of this in Psalm 46:1 where it says "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble."
God wants me to admit my weakness. When I do that he can turn it around to display his power and strength in me. I know that his grace is sufficient for me and his power is made perfect in weakness, when I am weak then I can be strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
How do I get this strength that God promises?
First, I admit that I cannot do it on my own. When I try on my own I may end up with momentary success, but it doesn't last. My own strength cannot sustain me through what God wants me to do. It's not supposed to be that way.
Second, I ask for His help. Isaiah 40:29 tells us that God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Finally, and most importantly, I go to the source of strength. God is the one who is our ever present help in times of trouble. He is our rock and our fortress, our strong tower. By going to him and dwelling there I will find the strength I need; the strength for each day, one day at a time. And when I go to God for strength I also find joy, even in the midst of struggle and trial. The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), by going to God I find his joy sustains and strengthens me through the hard stuff. I love what Oswald Chambers says about this in My Utmost for His Highest:
Where do saints get their joy? If we did not know some Christians well, we might think from just observing them that they have no burdens to bear. But we must lift the veil from our eyes. The fact that the peace, light and joy of God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well. The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine, but most of us only see the wine and not the burden...If your life is producing only a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out. It is definitely a crime for a Christian to be weak in God's strength.
When I'm feeling weak and when I'm overwhelmed I must step aside and let God step in. When I give God room to display his strength I'll be able to find joy and I'll also find the resources to do what he has asked me to do.
We were not meant to be Wonder Woman. We were not meant to do it alone. We are meant to rely on God's strength, and in doing so we will see his power rest on us.
Where are you feeling weak? Where have you realized that your just not enough? Have you been trying to do it all on your own? It's time to throw in the towel, raise the flag and surrender. God wants to come and display his strength in you. He's just waiting for you to ask.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16-17
For more on this and more motivation today, be sure to visit Sarah Mae at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Gardening is something I've grown to love. My Mom says I get my green thumb from Dad. I don't know, but I do know that this activity is something that's been therapeutic, relaxing and a great way to learn some truths from God.
Unfortunately, where we live we have a very short growing season. We live in the high desert, high as in high altitude (about 3000 feet) and desert as in pretty dry and arid. We love it; love our views of the mountains and how close the beautiful great outdoors are-rivers and hiking and biking and great running trails. But it does make gardening a little bit of a challenge, not impossible, but tough.
So we start seeds indoors. We started our tomatoes already, they'll be ready to get out in the garden on June first. Yesterday we started our pumpkins and zucchini.
I gather my little, eager helpers.
Round up all the leftover pots from last year's annuals. I've also used cleaned out yogurt containers (the big ones) and sour cream containers. Those work great and it's a great way to reuse what you might have on hand, just be sure to punch some holes on the bottom.
Stick your seeds in, mark them. For me, it's very confusing if I don't!
Then place the pots in a large plastic container. A Rubbermaid thing or even an over sized one from your Tupperware drawer. If you don't have one on hand you could probably cruise through Goodwill or The Dollar Store for one.
Water well and cover with plastic wrap. Set them in a sunny spot and watch for growth. I put mine in our kitchen window, it's a big window and has a southern exposure so it gets lots of sun. I did this with our tomatoes and within a few days we had sprouts. Right now they about six inches tall and getting thick. The kids love checking on the daily progress and because they're in the kitchen I don't forget to water them.
Having a garden has been so fun, so many great lessons here and last year we spent lots of mornings and evenings wandering through, watching for growth and being amazed at how God makes tiny little seeds into such great fruit producing plants. Kind of like us huh? A real life lesson on faith.
This was the garden in August last year.
This really is something that makes life beautiful for us.
To see how others are finding beauty this week be sure to head over to Melissa's today. She's also got an amazing giveaway-you don't want to miss this!
This is who took her place.
She's almost three.
She likes to wear pink lipstick.
Oh, look closely, she likes to dress herself.
A beautiful day with two beautiful girls.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
She's giving $50 for Lisa Leonard Designs. If you haven't seen her work you need to go check her out, I just love the necklace I ordered for my word of the year last year. She's got such talent!
This is on my list for mom's day-with a little L, C and A. (Yes, Zac-it's this one!)
And what Mama wouldn't love this for mom's day?
Head over to Kimba's to see how you can win something!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Praise redirects us, it motivates us; like a calm lullaby it soothes us and like a trumpet blast it leads us into victory.
Why do we praise?
- Because God is worthy, He deserves it. He ordained praise for Himself, "from the lips of infants and children you have ordained praise." (Psalm 8:2)
- Because praise changes things. "I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue...but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" (Psalm 66:17-20)
- Because praise leads us into battle and helps us to claim victory. 2 Chronicles 20 gives us a vivid picture of the role praise plays in battle. There the people Judah are facing war against a mighty army. They do not know what to do but ask for God to guide them, they stand before the Lord and there they find encouragement. On the day of the battle "they begin to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated." (2 Chron 20:22)
- Praise changes our perspective. When the psalmist was trying to understand why there is injustice in the world and why the ungodly succeed he turned to God. This is his response, "When I tried to understand all this it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God." (Psalm 73:17) Being in God's presence shifted his outlook.
We don't praise God only when things are going great, we also praise when things are bad. Praise takes our eyes off our problems and glorifies him instead.
We don't praise Him solely because He's blessed us but simply because He is good.
If we don't praise the rocks will cry out in our place. All creation testifies to who He is. When the disciples were praising Jesus, to the point of other's embarrassment, Jesus replied, "I tell you if they keep quiet the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40) He will be praised; I don't want my role as a worshipper to be taken by a rock.
God wants us to be worshippers because He knows the powerful role that worship should play in our lives.
How do we get our praise on?
- We blast the music. When we fill my homes with the sounds of His love and goodness the sounds of stress and frustration are silenced.
- We change our perspective. We make a deliberate choice not to dwell on the things going on around us, but choose instead to focus on Him.
- We see this as a fight we can win. Let's face it, we do have a real enemy who would prefer us not to praise and who doesn't want God to receive His due glory. When we engage in this fight there will be opposition, we must hold fast to the reminder that the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
I challenge you today to get your praise on, turn it up and sing it loud. Who cares what the neighbors think or if your children start to believe you really are crazy, just tell them you are fighting a battle that you know you can win.
Finally, something to think about today: This is your victory that overcomes the world, even your faith, and praise is the voice of faith. It is faith rejoicing for victories claimed in advance...This is the most poweful weapon you can use against [the enemy]. Frances J. Roberts in Come Away my Beloved.
Head on over to Sarah Mae's for more inspiration and motivation and a contest!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Yesterday I reminded myself of one of the most important things in finding beauty in life. I slashed my to-do list. I lowered my expectations. I took this fortune cookie advice.
It seems like it's so very easy to get caught up in getting things done, being busy. As a homemaker my lists are usually pretty long. And I love to get those lists checked off. But sometimes I do that at my kid's expense. What good is a completed to do list when the day has been miserable trying to get it all done?
Because my kid's don't care about my list, they want to play and have fun and just be kids. It's easy to neglect that a bit when I'm overcome by what to do. I forget to just be.
Just be, in our fancy shoes. Days are always better when you're dressed your best.
Just be silly and take time to play with each other, and good friends.
Just be messy and make something pretty, or just enjoy the process.
At the end of the day I didn't finish everything I had set out to do, there's always tomorrow. But the most important things got done. We played, we made some cool crafts, we read lots of books and we laughed.
By lowering my expectations of myself and going at my kids pace I walked through a day filled with peace and fun and beauty.
And, with my husband's help, I even got that run in.
To see how others are finding beauty this week, head over to see Melissa at the Inspired Room.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Remember my reupholstery adventures?
After it was all said and done I was left with a sheet of basket, the broken part that I removed from my storage cube.
Well, not one to be wasteful (at least most of the time) I wondered what I could cover with baskets. Then I remembered that I wanted to pick up some baskets for that barren land above our kitchen cabinets. The "new" white pottery just needed a little something more.
So I walked around in circles for a few hours. I can't be the only who does that when brainstorming, right?
I found myself in the shed digging through a box of used planters. You know the kind that come with your annual flowers. I had them saved for starting seeds, but a few of them found new life as baskets. Cool.
Here's what I started with:
Here's what I used:
Here's how I did it:
I just hot glued and rolled, and rolled and pressed and burned myself and stuff.
When it was all said and done this is what I had - plus a few blisters and some band aids:
I gotta say, my three new "baskets" look pretty okay up there, and my checkbook looks even better.
Now I know, most of you aren't really needing to recover a toy storage basket thing. And most of you may not have a flat basket thing laying laying around.
But maybe some of you do have some decorating issue in your house. Maybe you'd like a new curtain, or have an empty corner that needs to be filled, or you'd just like to refresh things. I bet most of you already have what you need to get the job done. Go ahead, think outside the box. Old sheets make great curtains, just use ring clips to put them up. An extra chair with a little plant or a stack of books fills a corner nicely, so does a floor lamp or a bunch of tall sticks. Take down all your accesories and move them around, place them in new arrangements or even in new rooms.
Ask yourself what you could do with what you have, if going out to buy new wasn't an option.
I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you come up with.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
That dummy would be me.
I have never reupholstered anything. But I did have a little basket like storage cube thing that was falling apart. Big time.
I guess the kids have jumped from it a few to many times.
Here's what I ended up with after the project was finished:
And here's what I started with:
I just used a staple gun and some quiliting fluffy stuff and some fabric; I mean an old curtain panel, I mean on old tablecloth that's stood in for all of those. It's resourcefulness at it's best here folks!
Then I pulled the basket stuff off. See how messy it is?
When I was done I was left with this wood-like lid.
So then I used the quilting stuff and eye balled how much to cut out. I stuck the lid upside down and started stapling.
Then I called my husband and asked him where to find more staples for the staple gun.
Then I called my husband again and asked him how to reload the staple gun.
And then I called him one more time to tell me how to do it again. By this time he was chuckling and feeling oh so glad that he wasn't home. I was too.
I did the same thing with the old tablecloth.
When I was all done this is how it looked:
For never having done anything like this I was pretty proud of myself. And I was even happier that I was able to work with what we had, instead of going out to buy an all new (and very essential) toy storage device.
I even got crafty with the leftover basket stuff I removed.
But you'll just have to come on back later and see.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
"Whoa, what's the smell?" That's a really good question. In our homes that question could make us smile or cringe. It could be a really good smell, or a really foul one. There's no doubt that smell has incredible effect on us, good or bad. Good smells make us happy, sentimental, energized or relaxed. They can even bring on feelings of nostalgia. But bad smells, well, they're just bad.
Our homes do have smells, unfortunately they're not always good. (Remember last week's fish? Ewww.) But sometimes, they're amazing. The scents that come from our homes can draw people in or push people away. I promise you, if I make cookies with the kitchen window open every kid in the neighborhood will be lining up at my door.
Yes, smell is important in our home and what it smells like inside can have a tremendous impact on everyone who is there.
What I'm realizing this week though is the biggest source of smell in my home is me. Now, before you go thinking I've stopped showering or something like that, let me show you what I mean.
I found a reminder of the odor I have in 2 Corinthians this morning. Here's what I read, "we are to God the aroma of Christ." Hmm, I have an aroma. It doesn't come from perfume, or my soap, or any other product I put on me. It comes from within. The reason I have such a big impact on the aroma around my home? Because this Mom sets the tone, this Mom determines the mood of her house with her attitude. I hate that, but it's true. I've seen it over and over in my home.
Is my attitude right, positive and loving? Then I will smell good, and so will my home. Is my attitude stinky, lousy, selfish or prideful? Well, you guessed it. My home is gonna stink it up too.
Just as good smells make people happy and draw them in; a happy heart and a cheerful attitude will act like a magnet to everyone around me. It will bring out the best in those I'm near; and even better it will point them to the source of the aroma, Christ. I must live my life so that others not only see Jesus in me, they smell him too. If I'm stinky, just like I smell after a long run, others will be repelled. But if I smell good others will be drawn in.
How do I make myself smell better as a Christ follower? Well, I'm asking God to help me to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit. If love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control are in me then what comes out of me through my words or deeds will smell good. It's something I cannot do on my own, but I've been learning that the Holy Spirit is the best air freshener around. And once I'm right with God, I'll be smelling pretty good. Because of that my home will too.
I so want my home and my life to be filled with the aroma of Christ and the fruit that comes by the Spirit. Isn't the smell of fresh fruit intoxicating? God wants that for us. I working on that, with his help. And you know what? It's making my home more beautiful and the people who live here really happy.