Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aaahhh, Summer Relaxations!

My daughter, Mary, thought this was a really neat picture. I think she has a really good eye. Oh, and the relaxation part? We got to cut all that hay after she took the picture.
Cinnamon rolls the size of a large man's hand. I made these and they are excellent. (If I do say so myself.)

More bread that I made, all packaged and ready to go.

My Sunflower Bread, as it cools. What a fun, creative way to make a loaf of bread. I have been selling bread like this and the last two pictures at our local farmer's market each week and I am loving the whole experience. I start baking at around 4 am on Friday, go until about 11 pm. Then I get up between 3 and 4 on Saturday to finish up. We sell on Saturday mornings. Today, I brought home one lonely loaf of raisin bread and a few sweet rolls. Relaxing, if you don't mind all of those dishes, the back pain and the lack of sleep.


Laura got a new puppy, Salem. Smart dog. No. Really. He is pretty smart. Even for a dog. It's so relaxing.




The Squirt turned six and had a banana split birthday. She had originally wanted banana splits, with a banana cake and banana chips but we narrowed that down to simply (probably not the word I am looking for...) banana splits. We had the whole works. Turned out, she really only wanted ice cream, a banana, and some chocolate syrup over it. The rest of us enjoyed "the works" part. And some relaxing. Sort of. Are parties ever relaxing? I wonder.....






I gave Cari and Shannon a hair cut. It looks nice, but when I cut Shannon's hair, I wanted to cry. But, as she kept reminding me, it's her head. I will have to post those pictures later.
Anyhow, so far for me, it's been anything but relaxing. I think all of that is about to change. We are going camping this weekend with two dear families and we are so excited. We'll be camping on the river with swimming, fishing, blueberry picking and some real relaxation. I can't wait.
Until next time,
Take Care,
Elizabeth





Sunday, May 17, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

At my home, where I love to be, there are flowers blooming everywhere. Here one of our many rose bushes is in bloom over a basement window. Shannon took pictures of our flowers and it has been a joy to me to be able to give some of these beautiful blooms to loved ones who have popped in for a minute or two over the last couple of weeks.

The youngun's enjoying a day in the sun. We have had much rain lately, but as you can tell by the dogwood in the back of the picture that the rain has been good.

My dear, handsome, strong and amazing hubby and me. This was the background that my mom painted for a formal dinner and dance that we held in honor of Amanda and her home school graduation.
We have been pretty busy around here lately. We've had two graduations, finished up another year of home school, been serving in our community, planting bits and pieces of our garden and I have been loving being home.
Our garden is well on it's way. We've already been eating the lettuces from it and soon we will be chomping away on the broccoli that has little baby heads out there. Our cabbages are huge, our peas are blooming. We have four kinds of squashes up, two kinds of cucumbers, green beans, potatoes, various herbs. We have planted pumpkin and brussel sprouts, have the tomato and pepper plants ready to go in, turnips going crazy, and we are almost ready to plant our corn and pole beans. The only thing left is the okra. We have been eating very well from our "forest foraging" that we do each spring. The paw-paw trees look like this will be another bumper crop year. I found a book with recipes for the paw-paws and also persimmons which I had to let go last year because I didn't know what to do with them. The peaches are already the size of golf balls here, too.
Inside, the Lord is finally answering my prayers for helping me learn to be diligent and get things in better order. Much of that, I believe, is that I am feeling better due to the supplements I have been taking and I have been running. Not errands, but actually running four miles about three times a week. Who knew that I could love running? Anyhoo, feeling better is helping me do better in other areas. And more and more, I start feeling like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. She had to go places, do things and meet people before she found the value of home. I find myself happily cleaning the kitchen, clicking my heels together and saying "there's no place like home, there's no place like home!" How I praise the Lord for this home, my hubby, my children and my place in life at this time.
I hope all of you are enjoying spring as much as I am. Oh, by the way, it's good to be back here in the blogging world. I would love to hear from all of you!
Take care,
Elizabeth

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Active Love

Just thought I would share a few of the moments with you that we have had over the past couple of weeks.
We are so busy with life, but one thing that I am very thankful for is a home that is permeated with love.
We share laughter, tears, frustrations, triumphs, prayers and simply time together. But it wasn't always so.
We have cuddle time, work time, school time, dinner time, play time, and it's ALL the time.
We have friends, family, neighbors, and, at times, I believe there have even been "angels unaware".
So, to follow up on my last post. I wanted to share four "A's" that the Lord showed me several years ago. To say you love someone is generally not sufficient. I know with all of these young un's around here, it takes more than that. But, as I pointed out earlier, this did not come naturally to us and our happy peaceful family used to be one of strife and difficulty.
How did we change that? We didn't. God did. He began to show me how much He really loved me. He began to gently heal the scars of my past with His tenderness, gentleness and compassion on me. He used wonderful people in my life, my husband and His Word. He is so good to me.
The foundation for a loving home starts with Him. After that, our active love is as easy as A, B, C. Well, actually, it's A, A, A and A. And you will see that before we can do these A's, we must have that foundation within ourselves.
1) Appreciation: How many times a day do you find some reason to appreciate something about those around you? Is it hard for you? For me, it started with actively looking for something to appreciate. Did your children play nicely together? Thank them. Did your husband go to work today? Thank him. Did your friend call you to check on you? Thank her. Look around. Being able to appreciate others is a wonderful first step in being able to love them.
2) Acceptance: For most of us moms, it is really easy to accept our infant. I mean, they are so cute and cuddly! Who doesn't love a sweet smelling baby? But as they grow up, we tend to grow away. When they are older and they make choices that we don't approve of, it becomes easier and easier to criticize, to condemn, to belittle. O, sisters, this ought not be. Accept your children for who they are! Accept your husband for who he is! Accept your neighbors, acquaintances, extended family, etc. Are you perfect? Are you without fault? No. Does your Creator accept you? Yes. You are accepted in the beloved. So are they. You were created in His image. So were they! How it must grieve the One who accepts us, when we will not show acceptance to those around us. Your job is not to act as the Holy Spirit for those you spend time with. God already has someone to do that job. Your job is be His hands, His arms, His feet and His mouth of love. Don't criticize; accept.
3) Affirmation: The Scripture tells us that every word we say should be used to build the listeners up. ( Note: listeners would include those you may not even be speaking to. But that's another message.) What have you said today to affirm someone around you? Did your words build up or tear down? Every wise woman builds her home but the foolish tears it down. Your words of affirmation are a necessary part of building up your home! Find something, ANYTHING, good to say to those you meet today. Compliment their smile, their eyes, their hair, their sweater, a choice they made, a positive attitude they demonstrated, something. There is always something good that can be said. Start small. As you develop these habits, they will come easier and they will get better. But start.
4) Admiration: Admiration is different from affirmation. Affirmation involves your words. Admiration involves your face. As you find reasons to appreciate, accept and affirm, allow your eyes to sparkle. Let there be a smile on your face. Use your arms to hug, your hands to pat, but train yourself to sit back and admire. Use your face to show how you love. Stop your frowning. Who wants to spend time with someone who frowns all the time? It's depressing! You can make a difference, just with your face.
Maybe you wonder why you should be responsible for all this effort? Did not God give you this ministry? Did He not allow these people to be a part of your life? He sees the beginning from the end. He knows. But, He wants you to be His "messenger in the desert place". People are hungry for love. Christians used to be identified by their love for each other. We are supposed to be set apart, a peculiar people. Let's be "weirdos" by loving.
Take care,
Elizabeth

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My God is So Big!

Good morning,

Just wanted to share this very sweet moment of training that occurred in our home a couple of nights ago. God has entrusted two dear little ones to our care on a part time basis and we are loving it!

video video

I read an interesting article this morning in a recent "In Touch" magazine. The article was written by Gary Chapman and was talking about true, Christian love. We all know the Scripture that says "love your neighbor as yourself", but he re-worded it a bit and said, instead, "love your neighbor as you would your own family". Wow! Just a few changed words and yet, what an impact that had on me.

Do we, as Christians, set ourselves apart from the world by loving those around us as we love our own families? That's quite a challenge in this modern day world. We are told that to be politically correct means to essentially mind our own business. We make a habit of not assuming eye contact with passers-by when on the street, we don't speak to our next door neighbor beyond a polite greeting when out at the same time, and we certainly don't speak to strangers!

Remember in scripture it says that by "this" all men will know that you are my disciples? What was "this"? It was love. Scriptural love. The kind in which we love our neighbor as our own family. I want to be known by that kind of love. I want the love of Christ to pour out over those that I come in contact with.

Of course, that kind of love isn't really in me. WHAT? If it isn't there, then how do I share it? By recognizing God's great love for me. I am accepted in the beloved. I was chosen before the foundations of the world were laid to be called by His name. I am a sister to Jesus Christ and an heir to the throne. All for love. Unless I have His love in me, full and overflowing, I cannot love those around me.

Sisters, would you please take time today to bask in the wonder of His love for you so that you might be able to share it with those you meet, work with, live with, pass on the street? Because only then, will others know that you are a true Christian.

I will return later with some practical ideas for loving others as you would your own family. Until then,

Take care,

Elizabeth

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rip Tide

There is an ominous activity that occurs in the ocean. It's called a rip tide.
"Rip currents can be recognized by unusually calm waters, caused by the channel of water flowing out. Rip currents can be extremely dangerous, dragging swimmers away from the beach and leading to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted." (Taken from Wikipedia.org)
These things are devastating! So, why did I choose to blog about them today?
Here's why:
As a woman, my heart's desire is to be pleasing to the Lord in every area of my life. I am daily asking the Lord to grant me His "peace that passes all understanding" and for that "meek and quiet spirit which to Him is of great price". This week, He gave me a wonderful word picture to help me with this peace.
Many times, we can "force" ourselves to appear peaceful. We will put on an outer image of having it all together, of maintaining our composure, of being at peace. But inwardly, we may be stewing, simmering, seething. We are playing and replaying an episode of an argument we may have had with our dear hubby this morning. We are inwardly complaining over our circumstances or the way "she" treated me. Whatever it is, we are not peaceful in our souls. When God tells us women to have a "quiet spirit" this is what we are to fight against, this inner turmoil that robs us of our peace.
Well, we might argue, nobody can really tell what is going on inside of me, so what does it hurt? So long as I appear to be peaceful, I am good. Right?
Wrong. Look again at what Wikipedia says about a rip tide or current. They are found when the waters appear to be calm. An uninformed swimmer shows up at the beach, the water looks great, he jumps in. Before he knows what is happening, he is being dragged out from the beach. Farther and farther he is pulled until he drowns from exhaustion. There is a danger in those calm looking waters.
It's the same thing with us. We may appear to be calm, but under the surface, we have a major rip tide waiting to pull us out to sea. Satan is at work in this inner rip current. He would love to see us destroyed. He would love to see us pulled so far from our Saviour, our husband, our children and our home. He would love to see us give up from the exhaustion. The problem lies with the fact that we deceive ourselves. We believe that so long as we look good, we are going to be okay.
God wants to give us that inner peace that keeps us safe, keeps our family safe, and keeps our homes safe. He doesn't care what we look like! He sees the heart! He knows our thoughts, our motivations, our attitude more than we know ourselves. Shouldn't we yield ourselves to His plan for us and allow Him to be at work in us, producing this peace and quiet spirit? Yes.
Let this be your prayer today:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Don't let your spirit be destroyed by the rip tide of no peace.
Take care,
Elizabeth

Friday, February 13, 2009

Miracle Product!

Ok, ok. So this is a little off topic, and rarely do I sing the praises of any one particular product, but this one deserves a song and dance.

My parents picked this wonder up for me and yesterday I decided to see what it could do. I have been so absolutely impressed that I spent hours using it, all over my home. It got to the point where four of five of my girls were watching with wonder and amazement as well. Amanda commented that this was "better than tv".

I used this stuff on an old armoire in my room. This armoire had been rescued years ago from the trash by my frugal hubby. It was in bad shape years ago. But I just wiped this stuff on and that old armoire turned into a beautiful piece of furniture in a matter of minutes. Same thing with an old chest o' drawers. I used it on my coffee table, a side table that was covered in scratches, and then the front door. I have pictures of the effects on the front door which I will post later. In the meantime, would I recommend this product to a friend?

That would be a hearty "YES!!!"

Take care,
Elizabeth

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who are You Following?

I imagine by the time I lay out all that God has put into my heart on this subject, it will have many parts to it. But, this is the beginning. So, I start with a short story.






A man and his wife were attempting to drive their two cars home late one foggy night over a very curvy WV mountain road. The man was leading and he told the wife she would follow. It was incredibly difficult to see where he was going, but the wife simply had to follow the tail lights in front of her. Next thing she knew, to her amazement, she had followed him right over the side of the mountain, off the road. He jumped out of his car and started yelling at her, "why did you drive off the road?" She smiled at him and said very demurely, "Well, you told me to follow you."

Now, before any of you women jump on some sort of band wagon with this, there is no proof in this story as to why you shouldn't follow your husband. So, don't go there. Just don't.

We are all following somebody or something. Many of us follow a particular newscaster. Many follow all the latest trends. Most of us know all the latest details about the galaxy of stars in Hollywood. We follow a sports team, or the government, or our pastor, or a particular denomination. We are always following.

From the time our children are able to walk, we teach them to follow. We teach them to follow us. We teach them to follow their classmates. We tell them if they will stand in line at school and not question the teacher, then they are good and obedient. We instinctively teach a "herding" mentality. Think about it. When we are in school, we are herded from the class room to lunch, to the gym, to the playground, to the library, to the auditorium, and back to the class room again.

As our children grow, we give them the latest gadgets, MP3's, cell phones, hand-held whatever's, and they follow their peers, they follow the latest gossip, they follow, follow, follow. I mean, this is what we have been trained to do all of our lives, right? What else is there?

As Christians in a nation that is quickly losing interest in real Christianity, isn't it time to lead? Shouldn't we follow the Shepherd? Aren't there any better options? There are. I'm tellin' ya.

But how do we find these options? Do we watch the latest news report to find out? Do we ask our friends? Do we write a letter to "Dear Abby"? Nope. All this does is put us right back where we were. Following.

Be quiet.

Yep, you heard me. Be quiet. The scriptures tell us to "Be still and know that I AM GOD." He tells us over and over again to meditate on His Word day and night. He tells us to hide His Word in our hearts. Can you do that over the blare of the tv, the computer, the cell phone, the radio, the cd, the __________?

We can't. So, with all of this cacophony around us, we follow in paths that lead us over the side. The constant noise pollution clouds the vision of our path. The inability to be still and meditate allows us to lose our way. Of course, all of our friends and the friends of our children are also lost, so like this big group of dumb sheep, we are being herded farther and farther from truth, from our Father, from fulfilling all that He has planned for us in advance to do.

I will stop there. For now. But I will be back. In the meantime, ask yourself: Who are you following?

Take care,

Elizabeth

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

Well, here goes. My good friend over at "This Present Valley" has tagged me with this fun little game.

I was supposed to go to my 5th picture file, find the 5th picture and then blog about it. So, if you will look below, you will see the funny ice sculpture.

We have a neighbor who has a waterfall right in their back yard. Last week when it was so cold, the girls were outside playing and found this unique piece of art. They brought it in because it looked like the spine of some crazy ice creature. The brown stuff in the middle are leaves frozen to the the "spine". It was curved, but had all of the features of a spine of an animal or even human.

Now, as a favor to all of you wonderful bloggers out there, I am supposed to "tag" five people. I have no idea who I should tag or who would like to be tagged. So, if you are desiring more people in your direction and you think I could possibly help you in that area, leave a comment and I will publicly tag you. I am so popular, you know. ~sniff~

Seriously, now, may I just quickly say a word about the graciousness of our loving Father? I am still sick. I cannot remember the last time that I was this sick. Sick enough that I am heading off to the doctor this afternoon. But, sometimes when we women get sick and tired and just plain frazzled, we just want to curl up and be catered to. As mothers and busy wives that isn't always feasible. So, do we get selfish? Do we demand that somebody cares for us? Do we get ugly with our children or husband? Do we rant and rave?

OK. Where exactly am I going with this?

Here: My Father knows that I am dust. He knows that I have weaknesses. Yet, He wants me to obey. He wants His love in me to pour out continually on those around me. But, in His great graciousness, He knows that in myself, I cannot do that. So He allows His Spirit to be at work in me, helping me to continue and be steadfast.

I have been so overcome in the recent months to think of God in this way. He expects obedience, but He know I can't obey. So He allows His helper to do the work in me. He expects joy, and helps me to have joy. He expects a quiet spirit, and He teaches me to have a quiet spirit. As a mother loves her child, so does my Father love me. He cradles me and speaks soothingly to me, He caresses me when I need it and He holds me close to Himself in order that I might be comforted, strengthened and taught.

He is so good to me. I want to praise Him for His faithfulness to me. His mercies are new every morning, aren't they?

Have a wonderful day in the Lord.
Elizabeth

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Quick Update

Just wanted all to know that God was watching out for me in advance with this menu plan. We have completed a full week and are starting on week two. However, Friday night I got sick and have been in bed since. (Except for right now, which is the first time I have been up for two days.) What a blessing to have all those meals planned for in advance. My girls looked at the menu and were able to just keep things rolling. My family doesn't need to suffer just because I am. ~sniff~

Anyhow, wanted to encourage you all to plan ahead. It has been wonderful and well worth the time and effort that we put into it last Saturday morning.

By the way, 5 year old Evie decided to "entertain momma" yesterday. She brought the SORRY game to my bed and we played two games. She beat me. Both times. It was pitiful. My husband thinks she simply took advantage of her poor ole' momma and her weakened condition. (I wish.)

Take care,
Elizabeth

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dear Anonymous,

I just went through and looked at a few comments that had been left on another posting.

I read a post from Anonymous that I would like to address.

God has really been working on me about His will for my life. Ask my kids. I have been on this kick for quite a while.

When I was young, I wanted desperately to know what God's will was for my life. I was about to graduate from highschool, head off to some college and do something with my life. I was scared. I wanted to do what was right. I wanted to head in the right direction. So, I went to some people that I truly respected and believed knew the answers to life's big questions. And I said, "How will I know what God's will is for my life?" Each adult, without exception, gave me the same answer: "O-o-o-o-o-h-h-h-h! You'll just know!" Now, what kind of answer is that? No kind, that's what.

But, God in is his great compassion for my thick head has been so good over the last twenty years to teach me what His will is. You see, I am married. I answer to my husband. Whatever he says, goes. So, where I live, where I go, how I spend my time is not truly up to me. (Disclaimer: My wonderful husband is not an ogre. He is a godly man, and a very strong man and I treasure his protection over me. Otherwise, I could hurt myself.) And for me, the direction that my husband leads me IS God's will for me. I tell my children that where they live, who their siblings are, who their parents are, how they are educated is God's will for them. As He leads and opens opportunities for them, that is further direction from God towards His plan for them.

I say all of this because sometimes we can look at another person and see their life and long for something different in our own. You have the life that God has allowed at this time. If your children go to school, whether secular or private, and that is what your husband wants, that is God's will for you. Be thankful. Your Jerusalem may be far greater than mine will ever be. You are getting out there, influencing other children and ultimately other families. How you influence them is up to you. I don't necessarily have that opportunity. God gives each one a work to do.

So, you have carpet in your kitchen? Great. Your kids are probably less likely to break dishes than mine are. Your feet don't walk across a cold kitchen floor and catch missed crumbs that are still laying about. What a blessing!

Beyond all that I have shared, what is God's will for your life? "In everything give thanks, for THIS is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you." "I have learned in everything to be content." "Continually offer up that sacrifice of praise" "Do all things without grumbling and complaining" "Do your work as unto the Lord and not unto men for in this you will inherit a blessing."

When you are riding in the car with your children on the way to school, spend time singing together. Point out the beauty and creativity of your Father who loves you. Talk to your children about how good God is. Tell them how He is at work in your life. Travel time is excellent. You have a captive audience to share with. Let you children see you taking delight in life, in your relationship with your Saviour, in your husband and in your children.

When you are vacuuming your carpet in the kitchen, sing. Use it as a time to worship. Use it as a time for prayer, just you and Messiah.

I cannot stress enough, you don't wake up each morning ready to praise God in every circumstance. You train yourself by doing it. It is a habit that you can create in yourself.

I will be praying for you. My heart is filled with compassion for you and your family. May your heart be filled with joy and with a quiet spirit. May you be blessed with that wonderful, amazing peace that passes all earthly understanding.

God bless,
Elizabeth

Mid-Week Update

Well, today is Thursday and I am pleased with how this whole menu thing is working. I mean, it is really working.

Doing all of that prep work last Saturday helps quite a bit. When we are ready to start dinner, we just put the fixin's all together and we have a wonderful meal. Even my dear hubby has enjoyed it.

I made my bean bread yesterday. Amanda didn't realize that this same bread that she has been eating and enjoying actually had pinto beans in it. HAHA.

Now, really, the base for this bread is pinto beans that I put through the blender with a bit of water. Then I add regular stuff, like yeast, sugar, salt, flour and I do actually put in whole wheat gluten, but I use white flour. This makes the bread light and fluffy, but because of the beans, it is still high in nutrients and definitely high in protein. And no, it doesn't give you gas.

Now, tonights dinner is General Tso's Chicken with stir-fried rice. This happens to be one of my very favorite meals. I got the recipe from the internet some time ago. And since it was free to me, I will share it with you.

Keep in mind, that my chicken is already cooked and cubed, which will save much time and trouble in the preparation of dinner tonight.

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut into chunks
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups green onions, sliced
8 small dried chilies, seeds removed

Sauce:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
14 1/2 ounces chicken broth


1. Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. (They mean for you to shake the jar, not yourself. Just in case.) Refrigerate until needed shaking (it) again when are ready to use it.

2. Mix soy sauce, egg and cornstarch well and add chicken, tossing to coat.

3. Deep fry 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time in hot (350 degree) oil until chicken is crispy.

4. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all chicken is fried.

5. Place a small amount of oil in wok or large skillet and heat to 400 degrees.

6. Add green onions and hot peppers and stir fry about 30 seconds.

7. Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water.

8. Add chicken pieces to sauce and cook until all is hot and bubbly.

9. Serve over rice.

Now, just fyi, I have not used the white vinegar and sherry wine mix. I have simply substituted 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar for the two. Also, in the past, I haven't had green onions, I just use white and if I don't have cornstarch, I just use flour. And once, I didn't have dried peppers, so I just used pepper flakes like you buy in the spice section of your grocery.

So, it really is quite simple. And it is excellent. And when I told dear hubby that we were having it tonight, he was decidely looking forward to it.

So, I hope your day is going well.

Take care,
Elizabeth

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday Chicken and Dumplings

Ok, I meant to take a picture of our delicious dinner, but when you are busy feeding a hungry group, you tend to forget silly things like that.

Anyhow, dinner was a success....to a degree, but I will get to that.

Here is the recipe for our Chicken and Dumplings

1 whole fryer chicken
1 10.5 oz can of cream of mushroom soup
1 10.5 oz can of cream of chicken soup
1 14 oz can of chicken broth
handful of diced onion
handful of chopped celery
salt and pepper to taste
6 lg tortillas, cut into 1 1/2 inch squares

I put the chicken into a large baking dish with a lid. I put both soups and the broth into a mixing bowl, stirred well and then poured over the chicken. I tossed in the veggies and the cut tortillas.

I put the lid on the pan and baked it all morning in my oven at 250 degrees. When we came home, we heated up canned green beans, sliced some bread and enjoyed our dinner. We could have added a salad, but we were especially late getting home from church and I was too tired (ie lazy).

Now, the comment above regarding to a degree...the girls and I didn't mind the funny little dumplings. However, my husband thought they tasted like the consistency of "chicken fat", so we may change this a little the next time we make it.

After dinner, I deboned the rest of the chicken, added a few more veggies, the left over green beans and two pints of my already cooked rice. I added one more can of chicken broth and rinsed it with water, also adding that to the pot. I put the lid back on, put it back in the oven and we had a ready made supper later in the evening.

Today's menu is beans, cornbread, fried taters and pork chops. I am currently cooking 8 cups of pinto beans. We will eat all we want tonight, have refried beans for tomorrows taco salad and I will still have enough to make bread with.

Hope you are being inspired to be a prudent keeper at home.

Take care,
Elizabeth

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Saturday Well Spent

This photo (which is admittedly, very poor quality) is photo of the list of things we needed to do today. In my ongoing effort to be a good and prudent wife, I am implementing more ideas for staying on top of healthy meals for my family, without breaking the bank or my back. We girls worked this morning to do much of the "prep" work ahead of time so that putting together dinner will be a much smoother and efficient process.

This is a picture of all that needed to be done. You will see vegetables that needed diced, chopped or grated. You see large packages of meats that needed to be separated, cooked and frozen.


We grated the carrots, enough for five meals this coming week.



We chopped celery, enough for four meals this week. Notice my fancy and expensive "tupperware" that I am storing my chopped veggies in. I even splurged and got the matching lids! ~smile~



We don't want to waste the precious resources that the Lord has blessed us with. So, all my vegetable "scraps" go into a pot. I later added water and some salt and these are now simmering on my stovetop to make a vegetable broth for soup this week. Once I have finished simmering these, I will strain the broth and these will go into our compost pile for the garden beds this spring.



When I am able, I try to buy in bulk. This is usually the less expensive way to go. Then we just separate the meat into portions for later.


We made hamburger patties, enough for tonight's dinner and enough for next Saturday's dinner. The ones for the freezer were stored in a plastic container with freezer paper between each pattie. When we are ready to use them, we can just thaw them out and toss them on the grill.


Here is my beautiful daughter, Shannon, helping make the patties. She later browned the rest of the roll you see on the left side of the picture to be divided for four other meals, two this week, two next week.


We had five happy girls when we served macaroni and cheese with hotdogs in it for a quick lunch. Most of us also had a pickle. Ok. I know. This is an unusual combination, but we are an unusual group of girls.


We cooked up boneless, skinless chicken breast and then dice it and divide it for two meals this week and two meals next week. This saves a lot of hassle and time later. Especially when we use the meat for our General Tso's Chicken.

So, what will we do with all of this food? Well, here is a copy of our menu for the week. We will use the same menu next week, as well.

All breakfasts will be boiled eggs with either toast or biscuits. The exception is Sunday breakfast when we will have cereal.
Saturday lunch: Mac & Cheese with hotdogs and pickles
Saturday dinner: Hamburgers on the grill, baked beans, salad
Sunday lunch: Baked Chicken and dumplings, green beans, salad
Sunday dinner: Chicken and rice veggie soup
Monday lunch: Mustgoes ( in other words, odd things in the fridge must go)
Monday dinner: Pinto Beans, Pork Chops, Fried taters, cornbread
Tuesday lunch: Baked potatoes with the works
Tuesday dinner: Taco Salad
Wednesday lunch: Mustgoes
Wednesday dinner: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
Thursday lunch: Veggie soup and biscuits
Thursday dinner: General Tso's Chicken over fried rice, salad
Friday lunch: Cheesy Chicken and rice casserole
Friday dinner: Black beans and rice, salad
I hope this inspires you to start planning ahead and doing what you can to make your home run more smoothly.
Remember: We do all things to please the Lord, not men, because from the Lord we will receive a blessing.
If I am able, I will post pictures of the finished products. I will even be happy to include recipes for those who are interested.
Thanks for sharing my Saturday morning with me.
Take care,
Elizabeth





Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Pursuit of Purpose

I want to share with you all a little of what God is teaching me. This past week, God has brought me to the point of brokenness. What a wonderful place to be. Maybe you don't really think so, but when we finally reach the point of being broken by God, then He is able to do a new work in us. I found myself on my knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. Now, I have a wonderful large kitchen and a very weak body. It took me two days to scrub the entire kitchen floor. So, I had a lot of time on my knees. And while I was there, I have to admit, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

Frankly, I don't enjoy scrubbing anything, much less the kitchen floor. However, God in His great love and mercy is re-training me, but I am getting a little ahead of myself. My prayers were going something like this: "Why does he (my hubby) think my whole purpose in life is to clean his house? Doesn't he realize that I have "ministry" opportunities? Doesn't he know that God desires to use me for some great work?" Ever thought like that? I feel rather confident in assuming that you have. For these thoughts come from the very heart of pride, which we all struggle with.

But God, in His great mercy for me, said: "What if I created you for the purpose of scrubbing floors? What if I have nothing more for you than to scrub the kitchen floor? Is this not good enough for you? Do you have a better idea than mine?"

Whoa.

Ever had the breath of God rush over you and you knew, you KNEW, you had better get your thinking back in line with Him or else?

Ok, so what if God created me for the sole purpose of scrubbing floors? Could I not find complete joy and satisfaction in doing that? Could I possibly find myself enjoying scrubbing floors?

I was quickly brought back from my pride and arrogance to the point of wanting what God has planned for me, not what I hope to accomplish. To continue believing that I knew better than God, that I should be used in some great ministry, was to bring discipline to myself, my husband, my family, my home.

I don't believe my only purpose on earth is to scrub floors. I am a wife, mother, teacher, home manager, helper, private nurse, chef, baker, discipler, taxi-driver, lover, enabler, nurturer, etc. But, at this moment, if God wants me to scrub the floor, then I will do so with great joy and peace in my heart. He has already equipped me with every good thing I need to accomplish the task set before me. I can have joy and contentment in doing what God is purposing me to do. I can go about my duties with singing and laughter.

Why? Because, it is a delight to God to be joyful in my work. Because I am to give thanks in everything. Can't find a reason to be thankful? Do you have a kitchen? Do you have floors? Do you have a home? Do you have children who are observing you and learning from you how to have a servant's heart? Do you have a husband who appreciates clean floors? Do you have the strength and the ability to clean those floors?

Still need help? How about offering up that sacrifice of praise to the Lord? Think about that. A sacrifice of praise. Not an easy task. But as you go about your work, start singing. Start thanking Him for His Helper who is enabling you to do the task at hand. We don't acquire a joyful spirit and then start the task, we practice our way into a joyful spirit. We aren't automatically content in every situation, but we practice being content.

In scrubbing my kitchen floor, I found that God has not purposed me to scrub the floor but to be able to praise Him, thank Him, worship Him, be content in Him, find my joy in Him, and be blessed by Him.

How I am enjoying this pursuit of purpose.

Take care,
Elizabeth

PS By the way, I found myself truly enjoying scrubbing the kitchen floor. In fact, I hope to do it again today!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Christ Alone

Just wanted to share with you today:
Romans 15:13 (niv)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


God bless you on this beautiful day that the Lord has made,

Elizabeth

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dressing Your Girls Modestly and Inexpensively

My five year old has been growing like a weed. She had gotten so tall that many of her dresses were shamefully short. Through a series of events, I remembered how years ago, I had made t-shirt dresses for my other girls. They were long, comfortable and inexpensive. So, I decided to make long sleeved t-shirts dresses again for Evie. The only problem was, she didn't really have any long sleeved t-shirts, either.


I headed out to do some shopping, wanting to spend as little as possible. Now, I don't typically shop at Wal-mart, but here in WV your choices are limited. So, to Wal-mart I went. I happened to find 3 long-sleeved shirts for $3.50 and one turtleneck shirt for $3.00. So, I picked those up and headed over to the fabric section. I went through and chose three coordinating fabrics for each shirt. I tried to stick with fabrics that were $2.00 a yard or less. With my 12 bolts of fabric, I went to the cutting counter and got 1/4 yard of each.

These dresses are for winter, so I picked up a spool of black thread to use with all four dresses. At the check out, my total purchase was right at $20. I came home, eager to get started. I made the skirt to each dress first, and then attached it to the t-shirt. I first stitched the skirt on with the right sides together but with the bottom of the skirt up toward the neckline of the shirt. Then, I pulled the skirt down so that I had a completed looking dress, but on the outside of the skirt, I stitched the skirt down again.

I did this, because years ago, when I made the first t-shirt dresses, the fabric was often too heavy for the t-shirt and would eventually start pulling away, ripping the t-shirt and not looking very nice at all. With the skirt stitched on twice, it is very secure and I didn't have to worry about finishing the top edge of the skirt as it is now hidden under the second row of stitching.
As you can tell, these were some pretty colorful dresses, but they fit the personality of my youngun'. There was probably a cheaper way to do these dresses, but when you are the youngest of six girls to have "brand new" dresses can be pretty exciting. And I didn't feel that $20 for 4 dresses was a bad deal.

Hope this inspires you to give the idea a try. Let me know how it turns out for you and have fun!
Take care,
Elizabeth
PS There really is a fourth dress. It's in the laundry.



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Grace for Today


Well, okay. Not one of my better pictures, but we had a very beautiful full moon here a few nights ago. It was gleaming brightly through the clouds that were rolling in, bringing in this latest winter storm.
I have been enjoying a brand new experience on this brand new year of 2009. Once a week, I am calling my dearest friend in the world at 6:30 am and we are spending about 45 minutes together in prayer. What might we be praying about? Well, we pray for our homes, our hubbies, our children and ourselves. We pray for strength to be the women that God intended for us to be.
This morning, my dear friend prayed that I would start a remembrance book of all the things that the Lord has taught me and continues to teach me; of all the victories he has granted and strength and grace to get through the lessons he is teaching me. What a great idea! A remembrance book.
Now, this may seem a little off topic, but stay with me for a minute. Tomorrow evening, we are hosting a simple pot-luck party at our home. I made out invitations and titled them "By God's Grace". Tomorrow, January 16, 2009 will be the ten year anniversary of when the Lord granted my girls and me safe passage to return home. BUT...when I returned, I felt my life was over. I felt that there was no hope for me. I felt that God had picked me up and laid me right on his spiritual garbage heap. My life had been for nothing.
But, ten years later, I look back and see how good and loving and gracious my Abba, Father has truly been to me. Yes, we struggled. Yes, I wanted to quit life entirely, throw in the towel and walk away. But, God in his Great Grace was leading me through the "valley of the shadow of death" and brought me out in "green pastures, beside still waters". Does this mean my life is all hunky-dorey? Nope. Not even close. But, reaching this ten year milestone in my life and being able to look back, I see with more clarity how God was using the trials in my life for his own purposes. He said in 1 Cor 2:9 that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has purposed for those that love him." His purpose. Not mine. His plan. Not mine.
Would I really want my own plan? Nah. Look back and see what God has done for you. Compare that to where you thought you would be. Would you really want your plans for your life over God's? Seeking my plan, I probably would not be married to the awesome man that I am, would not live in this beautiful home, would not be ministering in the special ways that God intended, would not have the blessed children that I have.
I have struggled. I have wept, been in pain, in agony over the trials that I have endured. But with all that God has blessed me with, I would go through it all again to come out in the same place, with the same perspective.
A little tune that the Holy Spirit has given me for today:
"Something beautiful, something good. All my confusion, He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife,
but He made something beautiful of my life."
Keep your eyes on Christ, the author and FINISHER of your race. Let His plan be your goal. Yeah, it's scary at times, but so very well worth it. It's worth remembering. Maybe I will start my remembrance book with that.
Take care,
Elizabeth

Saturday, January 10, 2009

January Lights

This year, after Christmas, I was taking down all of our beautiful Christmas decorations and thinking about how bleak and dreary January can sometimes be. Longing for a way to brighten the month in my own home, I decided not to take down the tree but instead I re-did the lights and left them on the tree. As I was thinking and praying about what else I could do, and ever desiring to be a prudent wife and use what the Lord has given me, I decided to cut out paper snowflakes.
I started by cutting a sheet of 8 1/2" x 11" paper in half, then folded and cut. But those were awfully large. So, I cut the paper into fourths and went from there. Well, that was nicer, but then I decided to try 8ths of the paper. Before I knew it, I had beautiful little snowflakes that were an inch square.
I did manage to make a few snowflakes that measured 1/2" by 1/2", but I felt I was becoming slightly ocd, so I quit after four of those.

Anyhow, the effect has been delightful. I left a few little snowmen on the tree and the evenings are still graced by the lovely lights and green tree.
You know, speaking of lights, we live in a dark time. There are days when sin seems to be gaining ground all around us. Or maybe we suffer from darkness within our hearts and minds. I know how to dispel that darkness, do you? Jesus is the light. He didn't just come for Christmas and Easter, He came to be a light that would shine in darkness for the whole year. Somebody onced posed the question: "have you ever attempted to turn off the darkness?" You cannot turn off darkness, you can only turn on the light. You reach for the switch, give it a click and Voila! light.
We have a responsibility as his children, loved and chosen before the foundations of the world by our Creator and Savior, to share that light. Can you ask the Lord to help during this dark time of year to be a light, to share the light and allow Jesus to dispel the darkness in your life and those around you? I hope you will.


Just one more quick picture of one little corner of my living room. I left my "believe" stars out and added them to some warm, homey feeling items to keep the life in my home.
Ladies, I want to encourage you to do all you can to bring light, warmth and coziness into your home. This makes you feel better, makes your family enjoy home just a little more and will cause others who come by to feel welcome. May your home be a place of grace this coming year. May it and you glorify the Lord.
Take care,
Elizabeth



Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'M BACK!






Just in case you have been wondering what was keeping me so busy....
We had puppies!
Well, okay, we didn't have puppies, our dog did. But, they still are getting me up at night so they might as well be my puppies.
Our dearest friends are visiting us this weekend and will get to make the first choice and after that, I am looking for other poor suckers..I mean, wonderful people who would love to have a puppy to love, to cuddle, to feed, to clean up after, to stay up with at night... you know, all that fun puppy stuff.
I totally missed out on all of the blogging stuff for Christmas. Instead, I was napping, eating bon-bons, being lazy. Not really, we had concerts and performances and company and parties and all of the usual hub bub of Christmas.
New Year's was a much quieter affair unless you count my girls and their cousins running through the house screaming at the top of their lungs. But that was only for a few hours.
Okay, my seventeen year old would like for everyone to know that she did not run through the house screaming. She went through the house saying "please, make them stop!"
Anyhow, my wonderful husband has finally gotten me hooked up to speedy internet workings again and I hope to get back into the swing of things here.
Thanks for bearing with me.
Elizabeth