Saturday, February 27, 2010

So Long, Insecurity..part 6

I'm a bit of a control freak (before my dad starts laughing, the whole world should know that this is a genetic trait!). I'm realizing that some of my insecurity comes from the realization that there is a Power greater than me in charge of my life... and I don't know if I want to trust Him. Often, I would rather be "secure" in the fact that I am "in control" of a particular situation. Hmmm... a mortal secure in her control in things rather than finding security in handing those things over to The Immortal. Anyone else see a problem here?

It's amazing...really. I trust God with my eternity. I have zero doubts that I will spend eternity with Him. However, I won't always trust Him with the details of my short life here on earth. A bit pathetic, aren't I?

Here's a recent example (I'm sorry to all who are tired of reading about homeschooling on my blog...homeschooling is my life and so it is the basis of most of my real-life examples).... In years past, I have overwhelmed myself worrying about the incidentals in my children's education... Have I taught them enough? Should they be able to recite the Emancipation Proclamation? Do they know enough? Have I done enough? On and on the questions go through my mind.

A few years ago, I began praying "LORD, if I try to raise my children to love You with their hearts, minds, souls and strength and love their neighbors as themselves, will You do the rest? Will You please fill in the gaps that I leave behind?" I trust that He hears me and will answer me. I don't always think about HOW He may answer.

I feel like this year has been a year of ministry for our family. Often school has been interrupted at various times for various things. We've done a lot with the kids in reaching out to others. However, in doing that, "school" sometimes gets bumped. We've done a lot of learning various things but not a lot of structured school at home. Honestly, I feel like my structure (*read* my control) at home has been like a rug pulled right out from under me. Things are happening, taking my time and my energy, or my kids concentration, that are out of my control. As soon as these things happen, I become insecure in my ability to school my own children. The same questions rise... Am I doing enough? Is this good? Are my kids suffering? Are they going to hate me forever?

This quest of finding security has been discovering layer upon layer of where I am my own worst enemy. This is just another ugly layer. If I were to completely give up control of my homeschool to my God who is the greatest Teacher ever, would my children suffer? NO! In fact, they probably suffer more from my attempt to control than from anything else. Who else is better to teach them than their Creator?

I know I am a control freak. Honestly, it hasn't done me much good over the years to try to control things. I think I need to learn how to let go and let God.... and find security in knowing that He alone is in control!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

our co-op day...

Seven and a half years ago, we joined one of our local homeschool cooperatives. All these years later, we still love it! As I sit here this morning the sounds of co-op float around me. Children in various classes (the Kindergarten P.E. class just left the gym), moms visiting, and kids switching between classes every hour. Lately it seems like I've been asked a lot of questions of how our particular cooperative operates. Here's a bird's eye view of our co-op day....

We arrive at a local church a bit before 9 a.m. The morning classes will begin at 9 a.m. and end at Noon. Eric will have logic, history-"Famous Teenagers", and finance. Emily's morning classes are logic, cooking, and early American history. Ellen will go to Bible, P.E./health, and science. I will teach high school debate class until 10:30 and then enjoy an hour and half of visiting with other moms. At noon, we all break for lunch. Each week is different for our family. Sometimes the kids pack their lunch boxes, sometimes I go out and bring back McDonald's or Subway, and other days (like today) I throw a family meal into a grocery bag and assemble lunches while the kids are still in class.

Lunch time is a favorite time of the day. Though not everyone stays for lunch, most families do. We set up tables and chairs in the gym of the church and 25 or so moms and 60 or so kids all eat together. Usually there are footballs flying over head, wheels (as in ripstiks, skateboards, scooters, roller blades...) zooming by and babies crying because it's nap time. In the midst of the chaos, moms seem to enjoy the few minutes they have to connect with one another.

After lunch, our co-op day is only half way finished. The afternoon is an entity all to its self. People come and go and not all of the children are in class at the same time. The afternoon classes are "extracurricular" type of classes. Ellen does Girl Scouts, tumbling, and guitar lessons. Emily goes to 4H, Girl Scouts, dance and occasionally art class (if she has a project from an earlier in the week lesson that needs to be finished). Eric has 4H and occasionally art as well. However, if you want to find Eric, most often, he will be outside surrounded by younger kids playing ACFL (After Co-op Football League). During all of this, the moms take turns cleaning the building or sitting together and learning from each other. We usually finish up and venture home between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. tired but happy.

I had a friend once ask "Isn't 'Co-op' just Christian school?" at the time my answer was "Yes." Later, I realized our homeschool cooperative is a lot like a Christian school in some respects and quite different in others. We meet just one day a week to offer classes that would be an asset to our own individual home schools without reteaching the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic). We are purposefully a small group...usually 25-30 families which supports a community environment. We don't charge large fees nor do we get "paid" for the classes we teach....instead we share our skills and ideas with each other. Our children are not always with "same age" peers. Some classes are taught to children of the same age and others include several ages and learning levels. We don't require that members sign a "belief statement"... most moms are in close agreement on Biblical issues but sometimes we get some lively discussions over personal preferences. We require an application process...not to block people from coming in but to keep the number of families involved at a manageable number. Probably the biggest difference between Co-op and a Christian school is that by definition we are a cooperative where we all work together to accomplish a goal...rather than a school where different people have different jobs for different pay.

Today I heard my friend, Christy, say "if we wouldn't have had this co-op, I'm not sure I would have made it as a home school mom!" I agree! Co-op is one of the highlights of our homeschool experience. Though I'm tired, as I am every Thursday evening, I am so thankful for our cooperative experience!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

community conversations

I enjoy community conversations. I like sitting with like-minded people and learning from them. Even more so, I love bantering with those who aren't necessarily like-minded with me and gleaning from them as well. I've learned much just conversing with others.

I'm sure this love of community is deeply rooted in my childhood. I grew up in a family of 6. Conversations were abundant and meal times were especially raucous. It seems like most meals had at least 3, if not 6, conversations going on all at once. Of course, with four children vying for attention, we did not all agree on every conversation topic. Somehow my mother balanced the different conversations, spills and stories with ease. As we got older, meal time seemed to take on a life of its own. Laughter, lively discussions and lots of spills made for some pretty funny memories.

Of course, we all brought our prospective spouses into this mayhem. For the most part, they all seemed to do okay (I think we probably overwhelmed our dear sister-in-law the most). I will never forget one particular meal at my parent's farmhouse. All four of us were married and there were four little grandchildren joining in the meal. My ever-hospitable parents had invited a friend, Tony, to the meal as well. Fifteen people gathered around the table and no less than 10 conversations were taking place. Of course, those of us with little ones were multi-tasking the entire meal. My dad sat at the head of the table and participated in every single conversation! By the end of the meal, I think Tony's brain was on over-drive from trying to keep up with all of us!

Today, I was reminded of how much I enjoy community conversation times. While Ellen and I were waiting for Eric and Emily to finish their Spanish class at our library, another homeschool class was happening. After a short time, several homeschool moms had gathered around a table in the children's department (it's easier to talk in the children's's hardly ever quiet there...). Some of us had never met before but within a few minutes we were all sharing curriculum ideas, convention experiences and children's learning styles. Great homeschooling ideas were being shared while spiritual struggles were voiced. I don't think there were any less than 5 conversations taking place at any one time.

Of course, it doesn't take women long to find something to talk about.... I have found this type of community conversation at church, at reunions, at ball games, at MOPS meetings, at Bible studies and over dinner at friends' homes. I love when God blesses me with these community conversations. So many times I have been blessed by a statement made in the midst of the mayhem...a nugget I can take with me. Today was no different...thanks God!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

providing my wants and meeting my needs!

I just have to do a quick post as a THANK YOU GOD post! He is so amazing...all the time, so amazing!! He provides my wants as well as meets my needs...every single time!!

In our quest to live debt-free, I have had to give up a lot of "instant gratification" things. Over the last 3 years this has been the hardest thing for me. I had lived my adult life letting my credit card "bless" me and then paying off the "blessing" plus interest later. I discovered some not-so-pretty things about myself...attitudes like "I hate to wait!" and "But I want it NOW!" Self-control is not a strong suit of mine!!

In learning to have a new attitude, God showed me that He really does care about my wants. He just wants me to let Him bless me instead of going out and "blessing" myself and buying things I can't afford at that time. Over the past 3 years, He has blessed me with brand new Eddie Bauer clothes sent to me by a friend in Indianapolis. He has blessed me with incredible "hand me downs" from friends. And, He has blessed me with fun clothes at a fraction of their retail price. Today, He blessed me in that way!

In anticipation of our upcoming family photos with Marah, the kids and I stopped at Goodwill on our way to art class. Sometimes stopping at Goodwill is a complete waste of my time and other times, like today, I need more time than I have! We were a few minutes late to art class but we had so much fun being blessed today!

Check these blessings out....
an Aeropostale sweatshirt and Colts t shirt for Eric
an Easter dress, jean jacket and linen shirt for Ellen
a jean jacket and a pair of jeans for Emily
a Coldwater Creek blouse and jeans for me
...all for $35!!

Thank you LORD for knowing and providing my wants as well as meeting all my needs!!


It never ceases to amaze me how good feeling good really feels ( that sentence!)! Saturday I got bit by a nasty virus bug and spent Sunday and Monday feeling very puny. I had no energy, no endurance and every single part of my body hurt. At one point, even my teeth hurt. I kept thinking, "does this really hurt this bad or am I just being a baby?" Physically, I needed some serious restoration, revision, and renewing. Lots and lots of sleep, Tylenol and Advil later I feel like a renewed woman.

Gently, tenderly, lovingly, mercifully...God reminded me this morning that my spiritual life needs some restoration, revision, and renewal as well. I had allowed myself to drift further and further away from Him. It wasn't a conscious choice, at first. Though I can't remember what it was now that started the drifting, I'm sure it was probably a short night, a rushed morning or an "emergency" that needed my attention. However, as the days went by without me spending time at His feet in His Word, it got easier and easier to let my personal Bible study time slip by.

Sometimes God has to allow me to run into a brick wall before I will give Him my attention. Sunday morning I felt the brick wall. It was all I could do to the lift my head off of my pillow. I remember thinking "where did the brick wall, that I just ran into, come from?" I honestly think the brick wall was a gift from my Savior.

He allowed me to reach the end of my own self. When I had nothing left in me, He allowed me to rest physically and then He pursued me spiritually. Yesterday when my body felt like it was wasted, my spirit felt His gentle whispers to my heart...gently, tenderly, lovingly, mercifully.

He always welcomes me back! After a good time of Bible study this morning, my appetite for Him has returned. In fact, I'm not sure I can get enough of Him today. He has restored me. He has revised my spirit. He has renewed my love for Him.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

So Long, Insecurity..part 5

Here's another startling realization in this quest to overcome my insecurities... I am my own worst enemy! God has been uncovering some not-so-lovely thoughts, habits, attitudes and actions of my heart and of my life. I've realized, anew, that I truly am my own worst enemy. It's incredibly humbling and aggravating to face this!

Someday, I think I will calligraphy the slogan "just say no!" on my bedroom wall. Perhaps, I would be better off if it were on every single wall of my home. I have the hardest time saying "no" to people, events, things, etc. It is here that I am my own worst enemy.

I have been fighting a virus for the past couple of weeks. Today, I woke up with an intense sore throat again (it seems to come and go) and told Chad that I would just stay home from church this morning. For about 30 seconds that decision seemed like a great idea... then my brain kicked on. I thought of all the things I "needed" to do at church today...people I "needed" to talk with, children's church that I "needed" to teach today and the carry-in lunch afterward that I "needed" to help with. After a few minutes, I was exhausted just thinking about all that I "needed" to do!

This is where I am my own worst enemy. I take on WAY to much! As I thought of what I thought I needed to do, I really felt the Spirit whisper this to my heart..."do you really think you are irreplaceable? You are not God, I am!" Ouch! I'd like to say a resounding "NO! I don't feel that way!" but I think my thought process was proving otherwise.

My startling realization is that some of my insecurities are from taking on more than God has called me to do. It is so hard for me to remember that two letter word...NO. Years ago, a dear lady once said to me, "Heidi, there are many good things in life to choose from. However, just because they are good doesn't mean they are the best things for you or for your family."

Taking on more than I can handle is one of those not-so-lovely habits that my heart has developed over the years. I've heard various theories of how long it takes to break a habit. I've done this for so long that I know I can not break this habit on my own. I think this one will only be broken if God tattoos "just say no" in calligraphy across my heart. I need to remember, daily, that I only "need" to do what He has called me to do...nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

In doing only what He has for me to do, I would probably find myself being less and less my own worst enemy and more and more secure in Him.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So Long, Insecurity..part 4

During this journey of mine toward finding absolute security in my Father's love, I am amazed at the different ways He pursues me! I am finding such comfort knowing that He is actively, creatively, lovingly pursing me. When I look, I see Him. When I listen, I hear Him. When I reach out, I touch Him. He is endless in His pursuit of me!

Yesterday, Emily and I celebrated one entire month of an absolutely spotless room. She has amazed me. Not only has her room been picked up but everything continues to be organized, the floor is swept a few times a week and the trash can has been emptied often. I promised her that if she made it to the "one month" mark, I would take her out for lunch. Well, it ended up being out for supper but we had an incredible time. I love it when I take time to realize that each one of my kids is an incredible individual. Emme and I had a blast shopping for a bridal shower and then enjoying smoothies and cheesy baked potatoes at our local coffee shop. While we were enjoying our smoothies, we were able to work through two of her Bright Lights lessons. In a girl's devotional...God pursued me!

The title of her devotional was "How to Develop a Ministry." I smile now, thinking of how creative my God is. Here I was...a captive audience...working through my daughter's assignment while God was working on my heart. He showed me how I had allowed my insecurity to cripple my ministry at church, at home and with others.

Emme's devotional started with a comparison of the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. The Red Sea is a healthy, thriving ecosystem because it has an input and and outlet. The water flows through and sustains life for many species. The Dead Sea, however, has only an input. The water is stagnant. There is no outlet and thus, there is no life in the Dead Sea. The author of the devotional compared Christians to these two bodies of water. There are those who allow God to fill them and then allow Him to pour them out to minister to others. These individuals bear much fruit (John 15) for God and have healthy spiritual lives. Conversely, there are others who are filled by God but have no outlet. These believers are stagnant. Their lives produce little to no fruit as they have no ministry.

When I allow myself to give into my insecurities, or to be intimated by those same insecurities, a blockage starts at the outlet of my life. Eventually, if these insecurities go unchecked, a dam can be built in my heart and my life can become as stagnant as the Dead Sea. Instead of bearing much fruit for my God, my spiritual life becomes as lifeless as that sea.

Through Emme's devotional written for young girls, my God pursued me. I am so thankful for His unending creativity...His limitless love...His unrelenting pursuit of me!

So Long, Insecurity..part 3

The journey continues in this quest for security. I have to just crack up at myself! My precious LORD is revealing to me that often my own insecurity is my own fault. Let me explain....

Don't you just love it when something triggers a memory and you can actually hear the voice, in your head, of someone who offered you advice? Today the voices of both my parents are ringing in between my ears. This is what they are saying... "you have to develop thicker skin!" It wasn't until I was an adult (100 or so years ago...) that I realized my family has more euphemisms than most families do. For those of you reading this that don't have a clue as to the meaning of that parents were not wishing callouses on me, instead they were telling me to not let so many things bother me, especially things that people say to or about me.

I wish I knew where my desire to want to please everyone around me comes from. I know this is a huge component of my insecurity. I often live my life trying to please those around me. The sad thing is that it is often I want to please people who really don't matter in the larger scope of my life. What I mean by that is this... I don't only want to please Chad, Eric, Emily and Ellen, but I also want to make the grocery store clerk smile or make the lady at church thrilled with something I've done. Why? What does it matter what those people think?

Here's the rub... I pick and choose what I let bother me. A comment that is really offensive to me one day will most likely not bother me the next. Why? I don't know!! It's crazy, really.

Over the past 7 years I have endured a lot of comments about homeschooling my kids. Some of these have been less than nice and yet, they really don't bother me. I've realized, lately, that homeschooling is one area that I am more secure than insecure. I have days where I wonder what on earth I am doing, but mostly, I am confident that God has called me to this. I figure if someone really wants to tell me they think I'm screwing up my kids, they can take it up with God. As I sit here and think about this, I realize that I am so confident that God calls each of us to different things that I am confident that though He has called me to homeschool my kids, He has equally called my sisters to send my nieces and nephews to their local schools. This is the security and confidence that I long for in all areas of my life.

Lately, church has been a big struggle for me. For some reason, several women at our little church have decided to tell me (or tell others...) that they don't agree with something I've done. Writing this out helps me realize how petty this is but the pain in my heart doesn't feel petty. I've had women tell me that they disagree with how Chad and I spend our money. Isn't that crazy! We were actually helping a few families and they didn't think we should be doing that and have actually told me so! I've also had women tell me that they don't agree with me opening my home to offer a Bible study. The issue for them is that this takes me away from the women's Bible study our church offers.

Once again, God is using my writing this blog to work things through in my heart. If you were sitting here with me and told me this was happening in your life, I would laugh and tell you not to worry about them. They are not God, He is. If He calls you to something, obey without concern of other's opinions. I need a dose of my own advice, don't I? I think it is so much more than developing thicker skin, it is finding confidence that He is God, He has called me to obey Him and He will take care of the rest.

See how I crack myself up? By taking the responsibility of what these women think of what I am doing, I am feeding my own insecurity. Weeks ago, I should have surrendered all of these statements and more to Him...laid them at His feet and walked away. He alone is big enough to handle them and I would have lived the last weeks much more secure in His providence in my life.

Ah... I have so far to go....

On a lighter note, I have to share another way that God is working on my insecurities. When I blogged the last post on insecurity, I mentioned my insecurities even writing this blog. Yesterday I found out that I have no idea how many people are reading this and how it has ministered to others while it is ministering to me (I LOVE how God works!). I don't live in a big city but because of life circumstances, I have friends in town that I don't see often. My friend, Julie K, is that. She and I became friends at MOPS probably 10 years ago. While having lunch out with other friends, Julie approached me and complimented me on my blog. I had no idea she had even read any of it. Her encouragement to me showed me that God is willing to use me even with my imperfections. It was a great reminder to not be paralyzed by insecurity. Thanks Julie!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

thanks Judy!!

Thanks to my blogging friend, Judy, at benmakesten for sending me this great blogging award! Judy's blog has been an encouragement to me. She's shared a lot of GREAT homeschooling advice! She's an incredible mom who not only has a young one at home but she is also a grandmother... amazing!!

Now, as a recipient of the Beautiful Blogger award I must do 3 things.
1) Add a link and a note of thanks to the person giving me the award.
2) Pass the award on to 15 bloggers whose blogs I have recently discovered that I love
3) Share 7 things about myself

First of all, here are seven things about me, in no particular order...
1) I can not not read! I read all of the time. It's the source of great jokes by my dearly beloved.
2) I am blessed to be married to my absolute BEST FRIEND!
3) I have BA degree that I have never used.
4) I have lived in the same house for more than 15 years.
5) I would LOVE to have chickens and farm fresh eggs some day.
6) I would love to live in the UP of Michigan.
7) I am not old enough to be turning 41 soon...

I don't think I have visited 15 blogs lately. So, I'm posting the links to my favorite blogs and bestowing this award on the bloggers.
~in the details. This is my sister's blog. She blows me away with her honesty and vulnerability !
~donleyfarm. This is my cousin's blog. My heart aches for the journey she and her husband are on! I love her blog posts!
~athreeyearjourney. This is my dad's blog! He has written a Bible study for a three year journey through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
~keepingoftime. This is my real life friend (this is so funny to say but true..) Angie's blog. Angie does an incredible job documenting life at their house. She takes incredible pictures!!
~reviews&reflections. I just found this blog and I love the reviews! Heidi from The Old Schoolhouse magazine posts reviews on books and on homeschool materials. She has a wealth of info on her blog!
~D.A.I.L.Y Of the several blogging friends I have met during the last year, none have challenged me more in my walk with Jesus than Jess. Jess loves Jesus!!
~savedbygrace. Shawntele is probably my first ever blogging friend! She encourages me and is willing to check up on me when I'm absent from cyberspace. ; )
~ingodscaringhands. This is my daughter's blog. She blogs some writing assignments for school but to protect her, this is a private blog.
~amindfullofintriguingthoughts. This is my son't blog... it too is a private blog.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

let the games begin!

In the spirit of the winter Olympic games, my nieces and nephews created their own backyard Olympics. My sister posted great pictures of her kids competing in bobsled, downhill, luge, etc. with their own sleds and homemade cardboard skis.

My kids saw the pictures of their beloved cousins. Not to be outdone, they too set out to create their own Olympic apparatus. Last night my living room floor was covered in cardboard, recycled magazines, duct tape, scissors and old shoes. Unfortunately, their mom was busy getting ready to head out for an evening of coffee and encouragement. I had a great coffee evening that was long overdue, but I failed to get pictures and I didn't get to see the "test runs" that happened last night around 8:30 p.m.

However, as I was telling this story to my favorite librarian today (truth be told, I actually have more than one favorite librarian...), I realized that I needed to at least blog a description of this event. I hope I can do an adequate job of painting word pictures for you to get a glimpse of the fun had here last night.

Eric started the mayhem by bringing a large, empty box into my living room. He gathered scissors, duct tape and old magazines and wouldn't reveal his intents to his sisters. He took the box down and flattened it out and using a tape measure measured two skis. After cutting them out, he duct taped magazine pages to the bottom side for added slickness and speed. By this time, Ellen became aware of what Eric was doing and she found her own box to work on. As Ellen carefully cut out one side of the box, Eric found his old sneakers and duct taped those to the top of his skis. Ellen worked feverishly on her bobsled and Emily caught on to what was taking place and went in search of her own box. Ellen sat in the box to make sure she fit in her bobsled and then cut more cardboard into runners and duct taped these on the bottom of her box. Emily took down her box and flattened it and carefully cut out a shape of a luge sled. She took Eric's idea of the magazine pages and taped several to the bottom of her luge to make it faster.

Imagine, if you will, what my living room looked like in the midst of the mayhem. Three incredibly creative and happy children sitting among scraps of cardboard, ripped up magazines and tape. Of course, both dogs were lying on important parts and pieces of the various Olympic apparatus. At this point, I thought it necessary to leave them mess for quiet and coffee. Soon after I left, the kids donned their snow clothes, turned out the outside lights and tried their "test runs". It should go without saying that the magazine pages taped to the bottom of the skis and luge only lasted about half way down our little hill. The skis came loose from the old sneakers and the runners fell off the bottom of the bobsled. Apparently, the luge faired the best and all three Olympians tried it out.

These are the times that I want to remember. The times of my kids being creative and being children. These are also the times that make me wish that we lived closer to our cousins (5 hours one way and 3 1/2 the other way is a bit too far for our liking...). It would be so fun to have a backyard Winter Olympics. We could have the parade of the nations... Olson, Kreider and Young waving their flags. We could have curling in the driveway, figure skating in the yard, and all the alpine events on the hill. Let the games begin!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

a couple of pictures to share...

After some not-so-patiently waiting (by me, of course!), Eric's book arrived today! He loves it!! It turned out better than I had expected and hoped and I highly recommend for anyone who wants to make a similar "Ebenezer". Here's a cheesy picture of the boy and the book...
Emily's discipleship group, Bright Lights, had dad/daughter banquet last night. Emme loves dates with her daddy. Over the years, Chad has done all he can to set the bar high for the boy who wants to win Emme's heart. Every few months, he will take her on various dates and he has so much fun spoiling her! Yesterday he took her shopping for a new outfit to wear to the big event. They had a great time!!

So Long, Insecurity..part 2

Do you find yourself somewhat insecure about your blog as well? The whole point of my blog was to just release and spend time in His Word and I sometimes find myself wondering what people think! Ah, to be secure in His Love. . .I will be praying this for you! and myself!

I continue my quest to find security. I love this comment posted on my blog by my incredible flesh and blood sister. I love it because I want to shout a resounding YES! YES!! YES!!! to her question, only I don't feel somewhat insecure about my blog...I feel VERY insecure about it. I'll give you a few glimpses....

I started my first blog over a year ago and originally started it as a way to put children's Bible studies that I had written out into cyberspace. As I worked on that endeavor, I would also leave "ramblings"... posts on my blog that were just like this one, my thoughts on life, God, etc. I love to write and it seemed like a fun outlet. However, I started getting worked up... I worried that my ramblings were bogging down my blog. I became concerned that my ramblings weren't spiritual enough. I wondered what people thought of me after reading that I had a bad day. So, I let my insecurities of what people thought of me win and I deleted all of my ramblings on that blog. I gave in to insecurity and now those thoughts are gone. The ironic thing is that some of those ramblings were really good writing and I was proud of them...I gave them up because of my own fears.

I started this blog a few months ago as an outlet for those thoughts and ramblings that I just wanted to write. I know I could write all of this in a journal and it would be safe. No one would see or know it. I could hide behind it. However, it seems God only lets me hide if I'm hiding behind Him. So instead of hiding my thoughts, my concerns, my bad days, I'm posting them for all who want to read them. I find myself doubting most everything I write. I'm concerned that someone will misinterpret what I've written, judge me for my opinion or find fault in my grammar... or all of the above!

God has a way of making me face the things I fear the most instead of removing these fears from my life. He also has a way of drawing me closer to Him through my fears. One of my most compelling fears is people's opinions of me. I have always been one who wants everyone to like me. However, I also have always been one who puts my foot (all the way to my thigh) in my mouth more times a day than I can count. So this dichotomy exists in my life.... I want people to like me and yet I offend people all the time. Rather than remove my mouth (which I have asked Him to do!), God draws me alongside Him and has me face these stupid things that I say. He makes me face my fears and He makes me face the people I fear. I spend a great deal of time saying things like "I am so sorry! Once again, my mouth had an accident...all over you!"

Seriously, I thought this blog would be my outlet where I could run my mouth and not have to know or worry about people's opinions. I figured if I offended someone, I would never know. While this may be true, it's not how I have lived. Instead, I do as my sister questioned. I worry what people think. I write posts and delete them for fear of offending. I use my delete (backspace key on a pc) key more than any other on my keyboard. I let my perception of people's feelings dictate my responses on my blog.

As I said, God has a way of making me face my fears. It seems like every single day someone will comment to me about a blog posting, either here on the blog, on facebook or in real life. Guess what?! Every single comment to date has been positive and uplifting. No one has said "You're such a freak for saying that!" Most comments have been along the lines of "You are not alone. I feel that way too!" It's just like my God to use my fear to reveal my beliefs in my enemy's lies.

In this quest to find security in God and God alone, He is revealing layer upon layer of lies of my enemy that I've bought... hook, line and sinker! I know that I will never reach the root of my insecurities alone. I need Him to lovingly shed Light on my fears and reveal to me the Truth that dispels the lies. This will be a long process, I'm sure. There are almost 41 years of layers to peel. I'm not looking forward to the journey but I can't wait for the destination!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

when in doubt... throw it out!!!

It's been over a month since the dreadful day that Emily and I tackled her room for 8 1/2 hours. I am SO incredibly overjoyed to report that her room looks as good today as it did at the end of our cleaning marathon. Friday will mark the one month date of that day and she has earned lunch out with mom. She also earned a day out with Dad today. She has a Dad/Daughter banquet at Bright Lights tonight and so they are out having lunch and shopping. She left the house so light hearted today as she went with her dad. She actually saw how her hard work paid off as her brother and sister are now deep cleaning their rooms and she is done with hers.

It took me a month to get up the nerve to have another day of deep cleaning. I've had this hanging over my head for the past four weeks. This time it is the 13 year old's room and the 6 year old's room. So far, there have been no major emotional injuries to report (although I had to take ice to the 13 year old to get him out of bed "NO! I don't want to clean my room today!" sometimes we have serious issues with forgetting that we are 13 and not 3!).

Almost every single day I stand amazed at the difference in my children. Ellen, my six year old, tends to be most like me when it comes to cleaning her room. She had allowed her room to become a pig sty but when I told her yesterday that today would be no school but instead room cleaning day, she jumped right in and when I got up she was already at the job! She does a great job of organizing her stuff and she doesn't seem to get overwhelmed at the pile in the middle of the floor. She sorts through it as she goes and throws away what she doesn't want. When she is finished, she has done most, if not all, of the job completely by herself.

If you remember anything at all about the post a month ago, 10 year old, Emily, is the polar opposite of Ellen. She collects everything and easily gets overwhelmed at the mess. For Emme, life is easier if you just step over something than it is if you stop and pick it up and put it away. It seems as if she has a personal relationship with every single scrap of paper that has touched her fingers. Often, motivation is the only way to get Emme to be willing to tackle her room.

And, then there is 13 year old Eric, need I say anything more? His personality, right now, changes with the wind. Somedays he's "good boy Eric" (a term he loves to use thanks to his Aunt Gabe!) and other days...well, let's just say "not so good boy Eric". Though he saves a lot of stuff, he is relatively neat and organized. His room is the smallest room in the house and so I think he's organized by necessity. However, today getting this child to do anything today is harder than pulling teeth! He'll put two things away and wander out to ask me a question. I'm thinking he may be on track to beat Emily's 8 1/2 hour cleaning marathon time.

I wish I took the time, more often, to observe the differences in my children. I fall in the trap of treating all three of them in the same way. I think they should act in the same manner, learn the in the same way, and clean their rooms in the same style. I'm learning that most of my battles with them are my own fault. If I were a diligent student of each of them, learning who they are and how they view things, I think I would choose my battles differently and I think I would battle less and love more.

So, on this day when the mantra is "when in doubt... throw it out!!!" I think I will do some serious observing and hopefully learning more of who these incredible individuals are that came from me and live in my home.

Friday, February 12, 2010

So Long, Insecurity..part 1

Last week, I mentioned that I'm working my way through Beth Moore's book "So Long, Insecurity." I've actually read the book cover to cover once and now I am going through it more deliberately, slowly and surely. And, I will go through it again and again, until I can find victory in my life. I'm tired of giving in to something that only makes me feel worse.

One of the very roots of my insecurity is that I never want anyone to know I'm insecure. I've faked security for so many years, most people would not recognize insecurity in me. If you were to ask my friends of facebook if I were insecure, I would venture a guess that about 80% or more of them would say "no way!" Actually, now that I think about it, probably only my husband and maybe my parents and siblings would answer "yes-this woman is insecure!". Unfortunately for them, they've seen insecurity played out in my life too many times to count.

I've had two startling realizations since asking God to free me from insecurity and to make me a secure woman in Him (I'm betting that the further I get into this journey, the more "startling realizations" I'm going to have). First of all, I've realized that I need to be willing to be vulnerable. I've hidden my insecurities far too long and all they have done is grow deeper within my heart and spread like wildfire. Since I want to be done with this, I've got to bring them to the Light and let the Great Physician do some serious rooting out of these issues and some healing on my heart. So, here in cyberspace, I'm coming clean. If you are offended, please don't read. If you are embarrassed for me, please don't be. I am doing this for no one but myself and believe me, this is WAY harder for me than it is for you! If it were not for the fact that I truly believe God is asking me to do this, you can bet the farm that I wouldn't be revealing any of this junk in my life.

My second realization is that I put up a great front. This goes with the fact that I've hidden my insecurities relatively well. I think people see me as a strong fortress that is not easily shaken. I'm not sure if it is my physical size (that is it's own root of insecurity to be discussed at a further time) or my demeanor (yet another root to be pulled) but NOTHING could be further from the truth! I have had people say things to me (often I think to ease their own conscience) that are mean, hurtful and rude and think that it slides off of me like water off of a duck's back. I could only wish for that and I hope that someday it will be the truth in my life. For now, though, I internalize and analyze everything everyone says to me trying to fix everyone's problems and make everyone happy. You'd think, after doing this for decades, I'd learn that usually I end up making no one happy and creating more problems than I've fixed.

I want to be secure. I'm am dog tired of giving in to the insecurities that I know come from the lies from the enemy himself! Jesus said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". I'm ready to be free! So, for as long as it takes, I will be working through these issues and allowing myself to come to this blog with a naked heart from time to time as God purposefully removes root after root of insecurity in my heart and in my life.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

laundry soap recipe

One of the greatest parts of our homeschool cooperative, for me, is the time that I get each week to visit with like-minded moms and pick their brains on topics ranging from dinner recipes to landscaping to homeopathic remedies. Each week, as our children are participating in dance class, tumbling class, guitar class, piano class, 4H, Girl Scouts or art class, we moms have the opportunity to gather around a table and share ideas and prayer requests with each other. It is for this reason that I look forward to co-op days as much as my kids do.

Today was no exception. I had a great time sharing with Deanna and Vicki and I promised them that I would post my dry laundry soap recipe for them. I've been experimenting for a year and half on a recipe for laundry soap. I originally looked for a laundry soap recipe to save money. However, I found out that Emme's sensitive skin cleared up when I switched from commercial laundry soap to homemade.

When we were working hard to get out of debt, I started praying that God would show me new ways to make things at home and to save money. I soon learned that making things at home cost less money but more time. It's taken me a while to realize that my time is of value, especially considering I haven't figured out how to add more hours to my day. For me, somethings are worth the time it costs to make it and other things are not. Because we not only save money but Emme's skin is doing better, homemade laundry soap is definitely worth my time!

About a year ago, I had figured out the cost of making my laundry soap. I haven't looked at current prices and recalculated it. I would guess that one batch would cost around $2. A batch lasts approximately 10 days at my house and so I spend less than $8 a month on laundry soap. I now quadruple this recipe and make one month's worth at a time and it takes roughly 15 min of my time to do so. I have figured that I used to spend about $20 a month on laundry soap and so that 15 minutes has saved us about $12!

I used this recipe in my 17 year old Maytag washer. It doesn't suds and so I think you could use it in a front load HE machine but I don't know for sure. If someone tries it and it works, would you please let me know?

Powder Laundry Soap Recipe
1/2 bar of any soap (I use Dial or Ivory) processed in my food processor until finely grated
1 c. washing soda--NOT baking soda (I find this in the laundry section of my Kroger but not at Walmart)
1 c. Borax powder
1 c. oxygen cleaner (I use the off brand of Oxyclean)
Combine well and store in airtight container. Use a Tablespoon per load.
**so far, the oxygen cleaner in it catches most of my stains. On a really soiled load I will use a little more laundry soap and add a little more oxygen cleaner.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snow day

What is it about the promise of a snow day that is so exciting? My children lament (hear *whine and complain*) often when they know that their "traditionally schooled" friends have a snow day and they don't.

Yes, I'm the mean mom. I'm the mom who insists on pulling out our school books on snowy mornings and treating the day as any other school day. My rationale has always been, snow doesn't change our status. We can do school then and when May comes and the days are warm and promising, we can be done with school and enjoy those days free and clear of school work.

I guess every mean mom deserves a day of caving in now and then. Today is my day. I claim it as my "caving in day". While we didn't get nearly as much snow as the forecasters promised, enough snow fell yesterday to drift over night and cause the local school systems to cancel classes today. Right now, though, I'm looking out my window at a gorgeous day! The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the snow is sparkling. It's almost magical, if you believe in such things.

In the midst of chores this morning, the question arose again. "How come we don't get snow days again?" Yes, I'm sorry to say, my children suffer from some serious memory loss. It's term is Selective Memory Disorder and I've heard there is no cure.... At any rate, my kids are getting smarter even in the midst of their SMD issues. This time, they came prepared with an argument. "It's okay if we have to do school one day later in May." and "I won't be done when you and the girls are done anyway because of my outside class. So, it won't really matter if the girls have to do one more day with me." and the best one "Let's just take a day off!"

So, I caved. You know what, I'm actually okay with it. I remember the thrill, of my own childhood, of finding out that school was cancelled. I recall the excitement of a day of all play. I remember the joy of just being a kid enjoying a snow day.

All these years later, a snow day still excites me. I have a beautiful sunny, snowy day to stay home and enjoy my kids without the fights of grammar, science, reading and math. Incidentally, today is a day off for Chad as well. So we'll stay home and take a snow day together. Just thinking about it is exciting!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Molly's Money Saving Digest January 2010 review

I love finding more and more ways to save money around my home. A few years ago, as we were working our way out of a mountain of accrued debt, I decided my "job" was to find ways to save money here at home. I figured the more I could save or spend less, the faster we could get out of debt. What a journey! I wish I would have found "Molly's Money Saving Digest" then.

"Molly's Money Saving Digest" is an ezine sold through The Old This fifty page ezine is full of recipes, ideas, charts, educational tools and organizational tips. I am a sucker for any magazine or ezine that has recipes with photos and "Molly's Money Saving Digest" didn't disappoint me. I'm sure I'm not the only cook in the world who sometimes needs a photo to decide if a new recipe is worth trying on the family. The photos of the "tomato basil chicken" and the "zesty pork tenderloin" have convinced me I have at least 2 new recipes to try.

I am not a chart maker. Sometimes, though, I think charts would make life easier here at my home. "Molly's Money Saving Digest" has GREAT charts! Reproducible family finance charts, calendars, inventory lists and to do lists were in this issue.

My absolute favorite feature of this ezine was the "Feathering Your Nest-Frugally" section. Great decor is something my home is lacking. I think it's because I never want to spend a lot of money or time on this. However, today I learned a thing or two! I can't wait to try ideas I read about today.

Seriously, if this were not an ezine, I would subscribe today! The Old Schoolhouse offers this ezine for $4.95/monthly issue and I think it is very much worth the cost. The Old Schoolhouse editors offered more than enough time and money saving tips to offset the monthly cost of subscribing to this ezine. However, I am "old school" when it comes to reading. I love the feel and smell of a magazine in my hands while I am reading it. For me, an ezine isn't practical as I'm often carrying a magazine around to do various chores while I read. However, I would recommend "Molly's Monthly Saving Digest" to someone willing to read it on their computer.

Help Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschoolingl My High Schooler

The people at The Old Schoolhouse magazine have asked me to review an ebook entitled "Help Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler". I laughed at God's timing in having me read this ebook. This is has actually been my prayer over the past few weeks...Lord, HELP!

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of ebooks. I understand that the world is becoming more and more digital and that Kindle and iPad and other electronic devices are paving the way for paper books to become obsolete. For someone, like me, who loves to hold a book in her hands and feel it, smell it and read it, an ebook is not a first choice. Therefore, I highly doubt I would have read this book, if I had not been asked to review it. This would have been my loss!

I love reading "real life" stories. Stories that I can learn from of people who have journeyed ahead of me. This book offers that! Fifteen homeschool moms chimed in and offered advice, resources and assistance for those seeking to begin homeschooling high school. These different moms came from different backgrounds, different states and all had individual stories. Some worked through learning disabilities and some worked through personal health issues. Others worked through homeschooling while moving a lot, losing a home to a house fire and homeschooling bright and gifted children. While no two of the stories were the same, they were all similar in that all of the writers gave glory to God for their success in graduating their children from their own home schools.

Reading this ebook today was like a breath of spring air on a cold and snowy February day. My soul needed the encouragement and my brain needed the ideas these veteran homeschool moms had to offer. I found great encouragement in reading that my family isn't the only family that has three distinct learners with three distinct learning patterns and personalities. I learned, anew, that each of my children, with their strengths and weakness, is capable of great things in life. I am now looking forward to walking through high school with each of them and observing them as they discovered who God created them to be.

"Help Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler" is a great book full of incredible encouragement written by moms who readily admit they don't have all of the answers but they know the One who does. The editors also have included several pages of resources specifically designed for those homeschooling through high school. I would highly recommend this ebook to anyone struggling, as I have been, with the daunting task of homeschooling for high school.

God's timing

I just love God's timing and His sense of humor, don't you? Since Christmas break, I've been lamenting (read *stressing*) about homeschooling next year, 8th grade, and later high school. For some reason, I bought my enemy's lie that I can't do this thing called "home school". I know, I know... it's a little late to be thinking that, huh?! Seven years of experience and I'm still buying the lie... I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes!

As I have been questioning other home school moms and asking them how they do it, I've been praying that if God wants us to continue this education journey, that He would make our path clear and that He would teach me how to do this. I don't know why I don't always go to Him first. He is the BEST educator and He's taught me so many things. At any rate, I worried first, again, and went to Him secondly... again!

Yesterday, a good friend (who incidentally sends her child to our local elementary school) told me of an opportunity to register to be a "reviewer" of home school products. I jumped on the chance to get free curriculum and other goodies and sent in my application. Voila! I received word today that I have two things to review. Guess what the first ebook to review is titled?....
"Help Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler". This may not be very scholarly or sanctified but I think I can just imagine my LORD chuckling while I read this ebook.

For those of you who regularly read my blog and do not home school your children, please bear with me. I will be posting my review of this ebook and another as well as many more reviews, I hope (I think it depends on if the powers that be like my reviews).

I love how He loves me! I love that He wants to show me, time and again, that He has everything under control! I love that He hears my prayers and answers them in His timing.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

tailgating fun!

Once upon a time (like maybe 3-4 months ago) I promised my son that if the Colts were to go to the SuperBowl, then I would do a SuperBowl birthday party for he and his best friend, Ty. Well, since the Colts paid up, I figured that I had better pay up too!

Thursdays are our homeschool cooperative day and so I planned a tailgating party for lunch to celebrate Eric and Ty's birthdays. Here are some pictures of the fun...including an incredible cake made by my friend, Lori. Believe me when I tell you this tasted as good, if not better, than it looked!! I had asked for half the cake to be chocolate and half white. Lori surprised the kids and added food coloring to the white side. We had chocolate cake or blue cake! She's amazing!!

Over the years, we have amassed an amazing amount of Colts paraphernalia. Whenever anyone in the family wants to get Chad a gift, they usually get him Colts stuff. All of it came in handy when it came time to decorate! I didn't even dig into Eric's cache of Colts memorabilia.

I think Eric and Ty both had a GREAT time!! It was a fun and easy way to celebrate the big 13.

"ahhh" moments...

Ahhh... My home is quiet and for this moment of victory, my soul is quiet.

I don't understand all that I read in the Bible about Satan and his demons. I don't understand what happens in the spiritual realm that we mortals can not see. I do know, though, that I have been in an extreme spiritual battle. It took my dear friend, Rachelle, to remind me that my struggles are not against flesh and blood but against the rulers in the dark places (Ephesians 6:12).

Somehow, it seems, that Satan is one step ahead of me. I don't know if this is true and I don't want to get into a debate of Satan's abilities or lack thereof. I'm just saying that to my limited understand of the world around me, Satan seems to know what is coming and seems to attack when the going is getting tough. This very fact was my "ahhh moment" (picture, if you will, the lightbulb brightly shining above my head). Unfortunately, I am not the brightest lightbulb in the bunch and it took a day or two even after Rachelle mentioned it for my lightbulb to click on. Even with the delay, I'm happy to report that the lightbulb did eventually come on and I think I finally got it.

The peace, joy and quiet that I was so desperately longing for comes in the surrender to a loving God who is in control of ALL things. The surrender for me didn't actually come until I could let go of my anger, disappointment and hurt from mere mortals like myself. When I finally realized that my battle isn't against them personally but against an enemy who seeks to devour and destroy (1 Peter 5:8) I was able to see these people, some dear friends, as hurting people needing forgiveness...just as I am a hurting sinner in need of forgiveness. When I willingly surrendered this to my Jehovah LORD, He was able to release me from my anger, bitterness, hurt and disappointment and flood my soul and heart with love, joy, peace and quiet.

Here's the clincher though... when I finally surrendered to the LORD, I wasn't surrendering this particular issue. Instead, I finally had to face and deal with my own insecurities. I truly doubt that I've dealt with ALL of my insecurities...seriously, I can't even begin to number all of them. And, after 40 years, I know this isn't the last time He and I will have this type of conversation... but, God brought me face to face with one of the roots of my insecurities last night. When I recognized that God created me in His image with His specific purpose for me, I had to let go and ask forgiveness for doubting His wisdom in creating me to look like I do and be like I am. Amazingly, when I let go of that, a ton of other stuff fell off too....ahhh, moment #2.

Like I said before, I don't understand how Satan and his cohorts work. I know that only God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, so I don't want any one to think that I am attributing any of those incredible characteristics to Satan. However, I have to wonder in the timing of this particular spiritual battle. Right before Christmas, I learned that Beth Moore was coming out with a new book titled "So Long, Insecurities". This book was due to be released February 2, 2010 and so I asked for it for Christmas. Sure enough, I took my gift card out on Tuesday morning to get my new book. Seriously, it surely seemed like the heat was turned up in my life just as I was about to read a book on insecurities.... hmmm.... ahh moment #3.... perhaps Satan turned the heat up to keep me too busy to read the book.

There is SO much more I have to deal with and live with in my life. If I sit here to long thinking about it, I'll probably sink right back into the pit that I've climbed out of. So, for now, for today, for this very moment I am going to bask in the quiet of my house and in the quietness of my soul. For, my Savior gave me victory in my spiritual battle and my enemy will not leave me alone here. He'll find me and he'll attack again and again...ahhh moment #4... enjoy these moments of victory!

Friday, February 05, 2010

a look at my Ebenezer

My blogging friend, Jess, asked me if I would be willing to post pictures of my Ebenezer... my memorial to 13 incredible years with our son, Eric.

I hope I can do one better. I hope you will be able to click on the this link and preview the book that I made for Eric (this is only a preview, you won't be able to see all the pages). I asked friends and family to write him a letter giving him advice on being a teenager or to encourage him. I was floored. Eric got over 40 letters!!! I used and compiled all of the letters as well as different pictures of Eric and his friends into a hard bound book that he will be able to read over and over again.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of our family and friends who contributed to Eric's book. He is so blessed to have so many incredible people in his life! He read through the entire book this afternoon smiling and laughing and wiping his eyes the entire time. THANK YOU!!

Feel free to look at my Ebenezer, if you'd like. I am so proud to be this kid's mom! He is the incredible kid that he is all because of Jesus' work in his heart!!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

finding peace, joy, quiet in my soul

My heart is heavy and has been for days. There are so many mixed up thoughts, scrambled words and fragmented ideas floating around in my mind that the noise is deafening. I long for quiet. I long for peace. I long for joy.

My prayer for others has become "LORD, please grant peace and joy in their journey." I forget to pray this for myself. Right now, my journey has neither peace nor joy. There is no quiet in my soul. If I wasn't almost 41, I would highly consider running to my dad and climbing in his lap and asking him to make it "all better". Fortunately for him, I've restrained. I've even restrained myself from "dumping" all of this chaos in my soul onto my beloved tonight (although, I've definitely vented parts and pieces of it all week onto him).

I fled our women's Bible study tonight to come home to my sanctuary. My home. My place of refuge. Amazingly, the crap followed me. Isn't that the way it works? There is no running right now. There is no fleeing the scene. There is no hiding. There is no escape. For where I run, flee, hide or escape, my soul comes with me. I can't separate myself from the part of me that loves and feels hurt, disappointment, pain.

It is times like tonight that I feel like I can understand a small part of King David's psalms. David wrote many of the psalms while he was seriously fleeing for his life from psycho King Saul. Often, David called out to God, crying "where are you?"

This is exactly how I feel tonight. LORD, where are you? Are you here? Are you paying attention? Please tell me that You are in control of even this chaos. I need you LORD and I need you NOW!!

To explain where all of this is coming from is too much for me to expose tonight, even to myself. I'm frustrated. I'm hurt. I'm angry. I've been in the spiritual trenches for months and I seriously feel like instead of winning a battle, all I got was stoned by those more righteous than I.

So, tonight I surrender... again. I surrender my frustration. I surrender my hurt. I surrender my anger. I surrender my disappointments. My soul reveals names, dates, places and people to my Savior. He knows them all, anyway. I come before Him waiving the white flag...again. I've tried. I've failed. However, I know the One who never fails. He is God. I am not.

Rest. Peace. Joy. Freedom. These and more are found in the surrender. And, in the surrender, even at 40, I can climb in to my Father's lap and ask Him to make it all better. There, in His lap, under His wings I find refuge. It is here my soul quiets, my mind settles and my heart finds rest.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

my Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

I've been chewing on this verse and the passage that surrounds it today. 1 Samuel 7 tells us another story of the battle between the Philistines and the Israelites. It seems those pesky Philistines were constantly picking a fight with God's chosen people (ok, so maybe the Israelites picked a fight or two as well...). On this particular day, the Israelites were once again scared to death of the Philistines and ran to the prophet, Samuel, asking him to pray for them. Actually, they said "Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God on our behalf." Samuel offered a burnt offering and prayed for Israel. God heard Samuel and in a spectacular display of His awesome might, He threw the Philistines into such a panic that all the Israelites had to do was chase them out of town. After the battle was won, Samuel took a stone and set it as a memorial and called it "Ebenezer"; because, as Samuel said, "this far has the LORD helped us."

Last night I was reading through "Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenager." Author, Jodie Berndt, discussed this passage in 1 Samuel 7. As Mrs. Berndt was researching and writing her book, she spoke with parents of teenagers. She had several parents who were reluctant to compliment their children because they were afraid that it would be considered boasting. She interviewed other parents who afraid to speak positively of their teenagers because of the potential that they would make a mistake and "erase" all of the good things that they had done.

Now that we've entered the world of puberty with our children, I can certainly appreciate these parents' points of view but I would agree with Jodie Berndt, "Rather than cowering in worry or fear over the Philistines that lurk around our next corner, we need to stop and thank God for what He has already done in our teenager's lives. When God works in answer to our prayers, we need to raise our own Ebenezers, giving Him credit and honor for what He has done 'thus far'--and knowing that He will be there for us in the future." (p. 17)

In less than 48 hours, we will officially be parents of a teen. As a gift to our son, I've been working on my own Ebenezer. I can not wait to give Eric his birthday gift. I want him to know that I am so thankful for where God has brought him 'thus far' and I know that God will be there for him in the future.

Not only am I working on this memorial, this "Ebenezer", for Eric; I am doing this for myself as well. For I know how weak I am. I know that I will forget that God has brought us 'thus far' and I will need to return to this Ebenezer time and time again to refresh my memory. I will need to see again and again that God brought us through the first 13 years of parenting just as He, and He alone, will bring us through the next 13 years.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,  
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer;  
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
3. O to grace how great a debtor  
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
~Robert Robinson

Monday, February 01, 2010

challah and raspberry cream cheese cookies

I have had so much fun playing with the sourdough starter that Beth Anne shared with me. Today was a day with tons of laundry, which means a day to stay home and bake! I played around with three different recipes today and ended up making sourdough pancakes, two loaves of challah and one batch of cookies. Here are the recipes for the challah and cookies....

1 c. sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. warm water
2 t. yeast
1 T. sugar
1 small pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 t. salt
5 c. flour
1/3 c. melted butter

Combine starter, water, yeast, sugar and dry pudding mix. Add flour and knead for 8 min. Knead in salt for 2 minutes. Oil or butter large bowl and rub the oil/butter over the dough. Place in bowl and cover. Let rise for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.
Place dough on floured surface and cut into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 inch strip. Place all three strips side by side and beginning in the middle braid the three strips toward the ends. Tuck the ends under and place braid on greased baking sheet. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when you tap on it.
Remove from oven and brush melted butter over entire loaf. Cool and cut diagonal slices.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1-2 T. milk
1/4 c. raspberry jam
1/4 c. sugar, set aside to roll dough in
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add sugar and vanilla. Stir in flour until very coarse crumbs. Add milk 1 T. at a time until dough sticks together. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place balls on greased cookie sheet and press thumb or finger into dough to make a well. Spoon small amount of raspberry jam into each well. Bake 12-15 min or until lightly browned.