Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Story for a Song - 3

Just For This Moment

A few years ago I read a book by Andrew Murray entitled "Abide in Christ". It really touched my heart because it fit in with what God was teaching me and then went a step beyond.

God had been teaching me about sanctification and what it really means. We tend to look at our lives in Christ and see His justification as something He does in and through us. We recognize that we have no ability in ourselves to come to Him or believe in Him. But when it comes to sanctification - the growing up in the Lord - we tend to see it as something *we* have to do.

We strive and try to be better people, berate ourselves for our failings, and beg God to lift us up again, only to run off and try to try harder in our own strength! Crazy, isn't it?

When we come to realize that sanctification is just like justification - it is something that *God* does, not that *we* do - there is a peace that comes and a freedom that abounds. It is not a do nothing kind of faith. It does not mean that we live just as we want and think God will change us into something better, although it can sound almost that way. His yoke is easy and His burden light! What it is, is a faith that finds it's focus in knowing and loving God. That's all. That's it. Not trying to be perfect parents/siblings/spouses/church members/people. Not *having* to wear dresses only or cover our heads or avoid television and rock music. Not finding a formula to live by.

Just loving God

Just delighting in Him

Just enjoying Him

Just abiding in Him

And when we do those things, *HE* works in us, changes us, makes us more and more like Him. We may wear dresses only because we *want* to. We might feel it's the best way to fulfil His command to be modest and feminine. We do it because He causes our heart to *want* to do it. And the same with any other kind of lifestyle change that can *look* like some kind of requirement to be godly. But it's NOT because it's some rule we have to follow. Not any of those things - just something that flows out of our relationship with Him.

But then comes the question of how do we stay there in that place? How do we keep our eyes on Him? How do we grow beyond the inconsistencies of a fledgling faith that keeps picking up the pieces of our lives and trying to fix them ourselves?

That's where the book helped me so much. Mr. Murry wrote about living in the *moment*. Just for THIS moment. Right now. I put my eyes on Christ. I trust in Him. I love Him. I abide in Him. I am not worried about how many moments are left in my life and how many times I'll fall. All that matters is the now. And right now He is here, within me, changing me and loving me, and growing me into all that He wants me to be. And I can trust that He will stretch those moments, from one into another, into another, until I am living my whole life IN HIM!

Here's the link for the song:


and here are the words:

Just for this moment, I abide in Thee.
My roots grow deep within the Vine and let Your life flow through me.
Just for this moment, I will cease to strive
To live my life in my own strength,
Oh, let all that is of me die!

Lord, I praise You that You're able
To work even in me!
Your strength is made perfect in my weakness
And Your grace is sufficient for me!
There is freedom in admitting
That there's nothing good in me.
For when I rest and let You do Your work,
You will change my heart indeed!

Just for this moment, I abide in Thee
My roots grow deep within the Vine
And let Your life flow through me.
Just for this moment - and when this moment's through,
May Your grace stretch this moment within Your embrace
Into a lifetime of moments in You!!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Recently I found myself very dis-satisfied with every picture I took. I've actually gotten some wonderful (at least in my opinion LOL) pictures in the past and considered myself a fairly good photographer. But I just couldn't get the look that I wanted and I couldn't figure out why. My pictures were either washed out

or dark and grainy

or super blurry

It was awful. I knew it wasn't the camera's fault. Then I remembered I'd had this problem before. It was wintertime that was the problem. So I started doing some research online on how to get good pictures indoors during winter.
It turned out my problem was light. There just wasn't enough of it. The shutter was moving slower (because of lack of light) letting my small movements show up in a blurry or grainy picture.
So I asked Mike, who is a much better photographer, for help and he showed me where to change some of the settings on my camera.

We tried changing the color settings, but I felt it was still kind of washed out.

A higher ISO made for a *decent* picture, although still just a little grainy in my opinion - and just not a *great* picture. I wanted pictures that popped! Pictures that looked *alive*!

Finally, one of my online friends suggested turning off the flash, waiting for a sunny morning, and using natural light coming in the windows.

Wow! What a difference! I finally had pictures that had life in them! Pictures that I wanted to keep and share with others.

What a difference light makes! And not just any light. I turned on my flash in several of those earlier pictures, but they still fell flat. It was natural sunlight - God's light that breathed life into those photographs. It was the play of light and shadow more than just having enough light that made the difference.

And then I realized it was another metaphor from God. :) Isn't He cool?! In my life, there are times of darkness - wintery times. Often, I've tried to force my own ideas of light into the situation, but although they may seem to help a little, they lack the power to tranform my life into something truly beautiful. It's just a flat copy of what could be.

But when God's light shines into my life, it makes even the shadows part of the beauty. A beauty that glows with true life!

p.s. For anyone who missed out on the free cd, it is available for purchase at http://www.daddys-little-princess.com/music.html

Friday, February 20, 2009

Story of a Song - 2

You Are My Everything
This was one of the first songs I wrote. We were stationed in Sicily and Mike had just extended for another year there. I knew it was the right decision to stay, but still I was lonely - missing family - missing friends.
God was just beginning to teach me in those days to really truly rely on Him, not on others, or wallowing in my feelings. He reminded me that He alone is there always with me. He truly is my all in all. This simple song of praise came out of that.
chorus: You are my God. You are my King. You are my Everything.
Oh, Lord, You are my God. You are my King. You are my Everything.
vs. 1: Oh Lord, I've come from the depths, not on my own part,
but only by Thy grace.
You've lifted me up and that's why I can say,
"I want You in my life. I want You as my Lord."
chorus: You are my God. You are my King. You are my Everything.
Oh, Lord, You are my God. You are my King. You are my Everything.
vs. 2: Oh Lord, may my life be always set before You
as a living sacrifice.
May the words of my mouth and thoughts within my heart
be pleasing in Your sight. I love You, Lord, my life!
chorus: You are my God. You are my King. You are my Everything.
Oh, Lord, You are my God. You are my King. You are my Everything.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Give-Away

Two of my recent posts have highlighted songs from my cd - "Little One" and "Shall We Dance". If you enjoyed those songs, you might enjoy my cd entitled "Make My Life a Symphony".

I will send this cd free to the first 3 people who put my blog into their bloglines feed, or post about it on their own blog and leave me a comment here with a link to your blog.
I pray it will be a blessing to you. :)
- Heidi

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Story of a Song - 1

Shall We Dance?

About 5 years ago, my friend went through yet another miscarriage. It was the 5th one in a row and more difficult than any before - both physically as she was farther along this time - and emotionally as she had felt sure God had promised her that she'd hold another child in her arms. It was a crisis of faith for her.

Praise the Lord, He brought her through it with her faith stronger than ever. (And the next year she became pregnant again and carried a precious daughter to term.) This is her story and her song.

My friend told me about a vision she'd had many times. In this vision, Jesus came to her and asked, "Shall we dance?" All through her life, in times of worship, in times of sadness, in times of joy, this vision would repeat itself - Jesus drawing her heart to His in the dance - letting Him be her ALL - letting the world and its problems fade into the background while her mind and heart were bound up in His.

After this fifth miscarriage she said the vision had come again. Jesus called to her and said, "Shall we dance?" When she refused, Jesus just waited and asked again, "Shall we dance?" I don't remember how many times this continued, but it was quite a while. Finally, finally, Jesus got through to her heart, reminding her that He was enough for her no matter what, that His promises were true even when it may seem to our human eyes that He is taking away a promise. (Very much like what "Much Afraid" had to learn in the book Hinds Feet on High Places.)

When I wrote the song, I was thinking of my own life when I wrote the first verse. Our church did confirmation in eighth grade, for which we wore white robes and walked up the aisle to the front of the church and said our vows to remain true to God and His Word for the rest of our lives. Even if your church doesn't do confirmation, you could see it also as a young person going up for the "altar call" and receiving Jesus into their heart at that time. The second verse was for every mom who's feeling worn out by everyday life. The third verse is specifically my friend's story - but it's true for all of us who have had to accept the apparent taking away of a dream or promise. Jesus Christ *is* All in All and He loves us so very much, how can it really be anything but a wonderful day?!


vs.1 - Excited and scared, I walk down the aisle.
13 years old, barely more than a child.
Don't know what's in store, but I mean what I say
As I promise in true faith to stay...

chorus - And Jesus says, "Shall we dance? Shall we dance?
For you are my bride and I am your one, true romance.
Oh, shall we dance?"
And the music sweeps in and the world fades away
'Til all I can see is my sweet Saviour's face.
He loves me so much, how can I not say
It's a wonderful, beautiful day?! It's a beautiful day!

vs.2 - I wake up tired. The rain's pouring down.
The baby's screaming. My head starts to pound.
The house is a mess and the children all fight
And I wish I could call it a night!

chorus - And Jesus says, "Shall we dance? Shall we dance?
For you are my bride and I am your one, true romance.
Oh, shall we dance?"
And the music sweeps in and the world fades away
'Til all I can see is my sweet Saviour's face.
He loves me so much, how can I not say
It's a wonderful, beautiful day?! It's a beautiful day!

vs.3 - An empty womb - an aching heart -
Broken dreams - my world falls apart -
I thought I heard Jesus promise to me,
So how in the world can this be?

chorus - And Jesus says, "Shall we dance? Shall we dance?
For you are my bride and I am your one, true romance.
Oh, shall we dance?"
And the music sweeps in and the world fades away
'Til all I can see is my sweet Saviour's face.
He loves me so much, how can I not say
It's a wonderful, beautiful day?! It's a beautiful day!

bridge - When nothing makes sense and life is too rough,
Just trust Him and know that His love is enough!
He calls you by name and asks you to join in the dance!

chorus - And Jesus says, "Shall we dance? Shall we dance?
For you are my bride and I am your one, true romance.
Oh, shall we dance?"
And the music sweeps in and the world fades away
'Til all I can see is my sweet Saviour's face.
He loves me so much, how can I not say
It's a wonderful, beautiful day?! It's a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Improvise, Overcome,and Adapt

Always an adventure! The week before last our wonderful (free) washing machine decided to get sick. The fill valve was mechanically stuck open and we ended up with a great deal of water on the floor! Praise the Lord there was someone in the room when it happened and we were able to deal with the problem before it damaged anything!
We found out that it would be almost $100 to fix and that hardly seemed worth it for a free washing machine that was held together with duct tape. LOL So we waited and and prayed - and God provided! We were only without a washer for about a week. During that time Terran and I took one trip to a laundromat where we did 4 loads and brought them home to dry. Then one day, Juli and I decided to step back in time and do at least the dish towels and cloths and napkins - which were desperately needed. We washed them in the tub. Juli had gotten a little washboard for Christmas and she graciously allowed me to borrow it. Then we turned each piece through the old fashioned wringer I'd picked up at a garage sale. No longer just a bit of decoration, it actually had a purpose again! A pop back into the tub for rinsing and then once again through the wringer, we were done. Definitely a longer process than putting everything into the washing machine - but it was fun! Maybe this summer we'll do it on a regular basis and hang things out on the line to really live back in time. :) In the meantime, I am certainly grateful for the new to us washing machine that God gave us!

Friday, February 13, 2009


A few weeks ago, I joined a decluttering challenge with a group of online friends. We've been encouraging eachother along the way as we work on making our homes a little more organized. So far I've worked mainly in two areas - a room we call the summer kitchen and the master bedroom. Here are some rather embarassing befores and some very enjoyable afters:
Summer kitchen:
this room is large but it has to wear a lot of hats. It is the laundry room, mudroom, sewing room, and computer room


You'll need to tilt your head sideways :) This is the corner behind the summer kitchen door. Kids' coats and snowpants in a messy pile.

After: hooks moved and added at two levels (lower ones for the little girls) make a place for coats and snowpants. Cubbies for boots. Two grocery style baskets hold all the gloves, hats, scarves etc. I suppose it's kind of still messy - hard to have that many and not be :) but much better!

Before: Laundry area - hooks for girls' coats originally too high - they couldn't hang up their own stuff - messy shelf, corner, etc.

After: organized shelf and top of dryer - straightened up corners and found homes for everything.

Before: sewing desk a total mess - no room to sew! (sorry it's another sideways one)


After: switched desks with girls' computer. It made more sense to consolidate areas of the room, so this is now the sewing area - sewing machine and serger on the desk along with my ott lite and organized bins, Lissa's sewing machine and the embroidery machine on the tv trays in the corner.

Before: computer desks - main computer, boys' computer, second picture: girls' computer


After: reorganized to put girls' computer in same area as other computers. Got stools to sit on which took much less space than all those chairs, plus saved bringing them back and forth from the dining room multiple times a day. Cleared off lots of extra junk ;)

All of which equals a room that we can actually use and enjoy! :)

Master Bedroom:

Area under shelf in corner of bedroom - so many boxes that just never got unpacked - girls' winter dress coats, etc.


After: no more boxes! Room to put beanbag chairs when not in use - big basket holds all the extra blankets that everyone likes to cuddle up in while watching tv. Eventually we'll have a woodstove so there will be a stove pipe instead of a towel stuffed hole in the wall. :)

Entertainment center before


Entertainment center after - Mike's chess set collection gets to show off on top - beautiful carved ship was made by my great uncle Mike as a wedding present for us. I got another dvd zippered case, so finally everything has a place - no more dvd cases all over the place.

Dressers before, also filled with boxes on top and around


Dressers after - cleared off and usable

Mike's comfy chair corner before


Mike's comfy chair corner after - - hmm, funny how you notice stuff in pictures that you didn't see in real life. A few things left to get out of there I think. :)

Bed before - windows were covered with blankets to keep off drafts


Bed after - I made a window quilt with Mike's old Navy uniforms. :)

Other nice changes that came with decluttering:

I added a border in the little girls' room - painted the vines free hand and added leaves in a couple shades of green with a leaf shaped stamp that I cut out of a sponge. Then I put up some Cicely Mary Barker fairy wallies here and there :)


The company Mike works for bought out another company. They acquired a conference table they didn't need and gave the table top to us. We took off our old table top and put on the new one - and voila! A beautiful table that easily fits ALL of us now!

Terran took a section of the old table top and made a wonderful counter for the kitchen! We had very little counter space before, so that was a real blessing!

We had no curtain for the bathroom window - just an old towel hung up to afford a bit of privacy. Mike picked up a bolt of some beautiful lace for $1 a yard when our Walmart decided to close it's fabric section. The bathroom window looks much better with it's new dress. :)

So, that's about it for the present. A few more things to do - of course there always are! And maintaining it is always the real challenge! But what a blessing it is to look around and see the little touches and usable spaces!

God does much the same thing in our lives too, doesn't He? I love how He works through our hearts, throwing out the junk that we've accumulated - adding touches of Himself here and there - letting His beauty shine through! And, just like I sometimes feel discouraged after I declutter and the kids mess it up again and don't care - how similar it must be for Him when I go back again and again to my selfish sinful ways! I have been learning through my decluttering that we are a busy, creative family, which lends itself to clutter. That's not going to change, so the goal is to create areas and organizing solutions that make it easier to put things where they belong. In the same way, God is knows I'm a sinner but He is changing the underlying person within me - drawing me closer to Him, making me more like Him, so there is less and less desire to fill my heart with that selfish clutter in the first place. Isn't He wonderful!?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Of My Favorite Things

In addition to our 8 special blessings here in our home on earth, we have three special blessings waiting for us in our mansion in heaven.
Victoria Ruthanne (Tori) born into heaven July '00
Sarah Morganne Laine born into heaven Mar '01
Stephen Matthias born into heaven May '03
One night in 2001, after I'd lost the first two children, the Lord gave me a dream in which I was able to go for a visit to that mansion the Lord is preparing for me in heaven. I don't know how biblically accurate it was, but I believe it was given for my comfort.
It was a beautiful house. :) I love to plan out dream houses, plotting floorplans on graph paper. This house was all of those dream houses and then some.
My Gramma was there. She went to be with the Lord in 97, the same year my Lissa was born, the day after her 80th birthday. She was a mentor to me especially in sewing and I've often wished she'd lived to see where the Lord has taken my sewing through Daddy's Little Princess. I think she'd be thrilled. :) In my dream she helped me sew for DLP. Wouldn't that be awesome to really be able to do that in heaven someday?
Best of all, all my children were there. I got to hold and nurse baby Sarah and snuggle up with her in a comfy chair. I got to listen to little Tori reading to me out of the Dick and Jane reader. One scene that stayed especially clear to me was in the kitchen. Gramma was sitting in my antique rocking chair, the light spilling in the french doors to the garden behind her. In her lap was a bowl of apples she was peeling as she planned to bake an apple pie with Tori - the same way she'd baked with me so often when I was little. Gramma looked just like she had when I was little - dark hair, pretty face, always wearing her apron. In my dream, little Tori leaned up against Gramma eating one of the apples, asking if she could help. It brought tears to my eyes, it was so beautiful.
I don't think I told anyone about the dream then - not even my husband, so it was with wonderfully surprised and happy tears that my dear husband confirmed God's comfort to me not long after on our anniversary, when he brought in a beautiful art print to hang on the wall.
The print is by Loren Entz and it's called Apple of Her Eye.

Isn't God Amazing!
It now hangs in a very special place in our livingroom. To me, it will always be a picture of Gramma and Tori making an apple pie in our mansion in heaven!

Here is a song I wrote a few years back, thinking of the babies we'd lost through miscarriage.
http://www.daddys-little-princess.com/LittleOne.mp3 I pray it might be a blessing to you or someone you know.

Unschooling Opportunity of a Lifetime

Guess what?!
I decided to do something crazy! About a month ago I heard a news story on the radio about something called, "The Best Job In The World". Maybe you heard about it too. It's a job called "Island Caretaker" - which in my opinion is really a terrible misnomer (sorry, Tourism Queensland ;) ) - but put simply, the Tourism department of Queensland Australia wants someone to come stay on Hamilton Island in a 3 bdrm vacation home for six months, do all the touristy things around the islands of the great barrier reef and keep a blog for the world to see - hopefully drawing all kinds of tourists to their area. For this, the chosen person gets paid about 100K - about enough to pay for all the touristy things you have to do and hopefully bring a little money home. Talk about an unschooler's dream!!!!!!! :) Of course the crazy part would be someone like me managing six months mostly without dh and with 9 children including a 4 month old. But then, I've always loved an adventure. (and I'd get to meet Linda from Hearthkeepers!!!) :) :) :) So, I decided to apply. You have to record a one minute video telling them why you think you're the best person for the job and a little bit about what you know about the islands of the Great Barrier Reef - and do it in an "entertaining" way. (Then I had to re-do my video when it was rejected because it was a fraction of a second too long. :) but it was really a blessing as I got to make a few slight changes I'd been wishing I'd done the first time.)
In any case, it's done and it's been accepted and it's up on their website now! You can see (and rate) it at http://www.islandreefjob.com/applicants/watch/PP0eT-O03Gk Granted, right now the ratings aren't really that important. Later this month, they'll drop it down to 50 people, and if I'm in that group, perhaps you all might be willing to go and vote for me. Anyway - I'd love it if you checked it out - and if I get into the top 50, please help me go visit my friend, Linda. :)

No, it's not real of course LOL. It's an image I created to use as part of my application.
They close applications Feb 22 (unless they get 30,000 before then and move up the date)They narrow it down to 50 by Mar 2 after which they have voting until the 24thThey'll pick 10 candidates and let the general public pick one wild card candidateBy Apr. 2, we'll know who those 11 people areMay 3, the 11 candidates travel to Queensland for interviewsMay 6 they announce the winnerWork starts July 1 and goes to Jan 1
The children and I would go. Terran would actually stay here with Mike for the first couple of months because he has an obligation for the summer, but then he'd be with us for the rest of the time (which is good since he's probably my most adventurous). Mike would plan to visit three times throughout the stay - the first at the end of Aug/beginning of Sep at which time Terran would come and stay with us. Then again around the end of Oct/ beginning of Nov, and third for Christmas/our anniversary. Then we'd go home in January. All the applications are on video, but there is a wide variety of video styles - from people just sitting in front of a webcam talking, to ones more like mine, to some that are a mixture of both. It's been interesting watching some of the videos as they go up on the islandreefjob website. There are a lot of people more qualified in the sense that they already have scuba diving and boating certifications and are very well traveled. My qualifications are more on the writing and photography and website side of things.
I am torn between getting my hopes up and knowing it's probably unlikely. I mean what are the chances they'll want a 38 year old mother of 9 who does NOT look good in a bikini? Still, it's in God's hands - and I pray that if it would be as good an experience as I think, that He will bring it to pass. :)

Waiting... waiting... waiting on the Lord

It's that time again. 3 weeks to my due date - maybe 4 given my history of late babies - maybe 2 if dreams have anything to do with it . You'd think by number nine I'd be used to the constant contractions that don't actually seem to do anything, the intense pressure on already sore hips, the lack of sleep (between the hips, the contractions, and the 2yr old who still wakes sometimes at night - though not as often anymore), the hormonal oversensitivity and overwhelmed-ness. I KNOW that God is in control and has a wonderful plan for us. His timing is perfect and the pain along the way is worth it. I want to trust Him more this time than in past pregnancies. I guess I am learning, but I get so disgusted with my tendency to pick the burden back up again instead of leaving it in His hands. This past weekend, after a great pregnancy up to this point, I very suddenly hit that wall. That familiar feeling of I can't DO this anymore!
When I was at this point with Manda, I wrote a note to myself that I wish I still had. I thought I'd try to re-create it today.
No more please, only thankyou - - Please prayers tend to turn into whine prayers, which only make things harder. So today, I'm choosing to say "thankyou"
- Thankyou, Lord for painful kicks in the ribs. At least for that moment I can be pretty sure baby is head down!
- Thankyou, Lord for contractions. Even when I don't see any signs that things are progressing, I know that you are using them to get my body ready for this birth a little bit at a time!
- Thankyou, Lord for 2yr olds who wake up sometimes in the middle of the night. I get the chance to snuggle with her and rock her, which will be a lot harder to do after the new one comes!
- Thankyou, Lord for allowing me to feel overwhelmed and weepy. In those times, You are the only one I can lean on, and You promise that You are always there, drawing me ever closer to You!
- Thankyou, Lord for sore hips. It means that we're going to be having a new member of our family!
- Thankyou, Lord for a super busy baby who turns cartwheels all day and night. He's letting me know he's healthy and happy!
- Thankyou, Lord for Your perfect timing for this baby to be born. You know what else will be going on in our lives at the time, Mike's work schedule, the midwife's schedule, the things that we still need to get ready, the best time for baby and for milk supply. You love us so much and You have all those things worked out already for our Good!
-Thankyou, Lord! Thankyou, Lord! Thankyou, Lord!

Oil and Flour - Chapter 2

So, we moved into our beautiful old farmhouse in October of this year. God started providing by sending many friends to help us in the moving process. My friends Emma and Shirley came over for a day of packing and brought along lunch and didn't even blink an eye at our very embarassing basement. Our dear friends, the Wormans joined us for a few days of carting things over to the new house and beginning the unpacking. The best part was just getting to fellowship for a few days!
God fulfilled our needs in so many miraculous ways. We needed a washer and dryer. We found a dryer on Craig's List for $25 and a friend of my brother in law gave us a washing machine free!
We had a set of triple bunks which had been the boys' and planned on using them in the downstairs bedroom for the older 3 girls, we had a set of regular bunks which we thought maybe the two younger boys could use if we got some plywood to make "bunky boards" so that their regular mattresses would work, but we'd need a bed for our oldest son. God led Mike to a rummage sale where he found a wonderful metal bunk bed with the double lower bunk and the single upper plus a double mattress and two ready made bunky boards all for $10!!!! Isn't God amazing?
Last of all, we needed a stove for the kitchen, preferably gas. We kept looking and looking and nothing was turning up. There was a possibility of one for about $350 which wasn't too bad and we were thinking that's probably what we'd end up doing.
The morning we were moving, our landlord and friend came over to talk to Mike. He happened to ask if we wanted to get rid of our couch. Mike laughed, no way. :) We bought that super comfortable leather couch 2 years ago and loved it. But when Mike and the boys got the couch over to the new house, God turned the laugh on them. :) There was just no way, no possible way that couch was going to go in any of the doors! Mike brought it back and asked our friend if he was still interested LOL and they worked out a deal to trade the couch for a wonderful gas stove! Too funny, how God works sometimes!
So, we were moved in, getting settled - we are still praying for a wood stove but God hasn't opened that door yet.. (at least not completely) I never thought we'd manage financially without one. Propane is so expensive and it just wasn't in the budget. But somehow, one moment at a time, God provided. We get a minimum delivery of 200 gallons and it lasts about 3 weeks, but somehow every time we need more, the money is there - nothing extra - just enough - but it's THERE! (about the "not completely" part ... We have been offered a little wood cook stove recently which Mike will go to look at and hopefully bring home this weekend. It's not enough to heat the whole house, but even if we can just stretch the propane to 4 weeks, that would help.)
We've had times when after all bills were paid, there was nothing left for groceries, yet somehow the pantry is always full and there's plenty to eat. We've even had a neighbor show up at our door with *gallons* of milk!
Someone commented on my blog post yesterday that living in an old farm house is an adventure. LOL Don't I know it! The list of opportunities to watch God's providing hand just keeps going!
So, before we moved in all the inside water supply pipes had to be replaced. That being done, we figured we were set for a while. LOL About a month after we moved in, we noticed that our water pressure was not what it should be. Mike kept watching it on the dial at the pressure tank and it spent most of it's time right around 10 psi. Not so good. Since the pressure tank had been replaced along with the pipes, we figured it probably wasn't that, but weren't sure of course. Finally, Mike decided to ask a plumber to look at it. Mr. Lewko checked it out and confirmed that the problem was not in the house itself but had to be either in the well itself or between the well and the house. I was surprised to find out that plumbers are so specialized with certifications for each different thing, and an indoor plumbing guy wasn't necessarily able to also be an outdoor plumbing or well guy. (With the cost of all the certifications etc etc, no wonder they have trouble finding people who want to go into plumbing!) So, we called the well guy - and the adventure began. The well guy told us they would need to pull the pump up out of the well (the likely problem) and see where the problem was. It would cost $500 to go just that far, and then we'd see. If the pump fell apart in the process we could be looking at digging a whole new well! Yikes!!!
God timed everything just right, both with weather and with finances. Mike's brother slipped some money into his pocket one day. After Mike got home and looked at it, it turned out to be exactly $500! So we scheduled the appointment to check it out. It needed to wait until the next week when we were expecting slightly warmer temperatures. During the wait, God provided another $2500! So we could pretty much just do what needed doing. God is so good!
Day one, they came and pulled up the pump. It was dying badly so they replaced that right away. Went and checked the water pressure and it was still around 10psi. Ugh! $1500 down and still not all better, there had to be a break somewhere between the well and the house.
Day two, they came back with a backhoe. The new pump helped diagnose the issue by having the strength to bring the water to the surface of the ground. A puddle right by the well told the tale. :) So they dug down right there, found a broken coupling, replaced it, pronounced the rest of the pipe to the house in great shape, checked the water pressure and - hooray!!! 45 psi! What a difference!! With the final cost coming in around $2500, that left just a little bit for Mike to get some desperately needed work clothes that we'd also been praying for.
There are more adventures just around the corner of course. Some we have a glimpse of and can expect, others, who knows? And right now there is NOTHING extra to be able to handle them financially. But we know without a shadow of a doubt that God will continue to provide - usually just the right amount at just the right time with nothing extra.
In the Bible, the widow in the story was asked by God's prophet to make him a little bread to eat. She told him there was just enough oil and flour to make enough for her and her son to have one last meal. Elijah said, "make some for me first, and the oil and flour will not run dry ." In faith, she did as Elijah asked, and God worked a miracle! Her tiny bit of oil and flour made bread for many many days until God sent rain again! And that is EXACTLY how He works in our lives so often. He asks us to step out in faith, to bring the tithe into the storehouse, even when we look at the checkbook and think there's no way we'll be able to pay our bills, have food in the pantry, have something to pay the doctor if someone needs to go or a mechanic if the car breaks down. It doesn't make sense. It shouldn't work. And yet, somehow, miraculously, God keeps our checkbook going like oil and flour. There's seldom any extra. I'm sure the widow at Zeraphath had those times too, when she looked into the flour barrel or the oil jug and thought, there's just no way. We won't make it. I'm sure there were times she had to remind herself that God had already done so many oil and flour miracles, surely He would continue to provide as He promised. If we look at the "what if's", it's easy to get worried. But when we keep our eyes on the Lord, we can see that there's no better place to be than right in the middle of His incredible providing hand, constantly leaning on Him and Him alone. Isn't God amazing?!?!

Oil and Flour - or the Adventures of Living in a 100yr old Farmhouse

God is so incredibly good to us. I'm not sure if I mentioned on the blog here (or if it was during my sabatical LOL) - First of all, the long story of how God brought us here and provided miraculously all along the way:
Back up to 2006 - May - we found out about an opportunity to rent a house in the country. We'd been thinking about getting out of town for a while and the rent was actually less than our mortgage payment. We believed it was God's direction and decided to move to the rented house and put our house in town on the market. We had most of our tax return from that year still in the bank so thought we had a couple of months cushion and could surely sell our house by then. God did use that house for His glory and He provided, often in miraculous ways, but it took a lot longer to sell it than we were expecting.July 11th 2008, we FINALLY sold the house we owned in town. We'd been trying for two years. Finally a couple came along that we felt God was saying were the ones to buy the house. It took 4 months and 4 failed closing dates, but it finally happened. Signed the papers and were so so glad to be done with that portion of our lives. We thought maybe we'd stay here in our rented house for a few years, try to get out of debt, and then look for a country house of our own.However, a few days before that closing date, our landlord's son started asking dh questions about our long term plans. We knew he was in the process of buying this house from his parents, but figured it would be a while before he wanted it. It turned out he was planning to court a certain special young lady. So, suddenly we had a different mindset. Maybe we wouldn't be staying here a few more years. At least we were open to the possibility. As we sat in the realtor's office, waiting for the buyers to sign their 200 some pages we looked through the big book of properties sitting there. We were surprised to find 5 or 6 properties with land in a reasonable price range. We almost passed this one by. The description said "as is" and I figured dh wouldn't be interested. Then the realtor came in and said, "did you see this one?". She started telling us about this house and we were intrigued. 5 bedrooms, 1 bath, almost 13 acres, bank owned, needing some work - especially plumbing, but only 111K. Dh and I decided to drive by it that weekend. We found it unlocked and decided to check it out. (we did tell our realtor about it after the weekend and she was ok with it and glad that we were the ones that found it and locked up for them) We fell in love. It was an old farmhouse. You walk in and it feels like you're stepping 100 years back in time. We could totally see our family living there. In the week or so following, dh drove by each of the other properties we'd noticed in the book, and each was rejected for one reason or another.Still, we were not at all sure it was the right thing to do. We weren't sure if there were many hidden things that needed more work than we could afford, we weren't sure if there was any chance of getting a mortgage with our current debts, and the landlord's son was turned down by his lady friend (poor guy). So we were holding it very very loosely and praying for God's clear direction. My uncle is a carpenter and general contractor and does house inspections. We contacted him and he agreed to come for a visit and look at the house with us. We specifically prayed that if it was God's will, that we would get a good report both from my uncle and from the man at the bank.Uncle Pete came and we had a wonderful visit. He walked through the house with us and pointed out the things that needed to be done. We were pleased to find no big surprises. As we walked around the property before leaving he said, "This is the perfect house for your family." Then even better, on the way home he offered to barter his help on the house in exchange for our boys' help with some of his projects. (talk about getting the best of both ends of that deal!!). Monday, dh talked to the guy at the bank and got a clear go ahead from him too! Not only that, but the realtor let us know that they'd dropped the price to 102K.We decided to put in an offer on the house. :) We talked with our realtor and decided to offer them 96K and ask them to fix the plumbing and test the well and septic. We didn't expect them to accept it, but figured it was worth a try. Dh said if they accepted it, it would certainly be God. They accepted with a minor difference - they would credit the cost of the plumbing repairs and tests rather than actually doing them. Yup, it was God. LOL So we had to go and sign their counter offer. It was a busy week for dh and we couldn't get in til Friday. The realtor called to let us know we needed to be sure we did it Friday as there was another couple scheduled to look at the house over the weekend. They were preapproved and something told her they would be making an offer. So we managed to get there Friday afternoon and sign the counter offer. Even then we knew it could fall through as that counter offer had to be signed by the sellers before it was binding. It could take up to 3 days for them to sign according to the paperwork, and if something better showed up before then, they could take it. We left it in God's hands. Monday came and no signature yet. The other couple hadn't placed an offer but were planning on it. Tuesday the other couple decided against putting in an offer. Wednesday the signed counter offer came back from the seller. The plumbing got fixed. The well and septic tested good. The seller asked to move the closing date up a week and we accepted. And here we are! Every door, God opened wide. Every step of the way, He was behind us saying "this is the way, walk ye in it." Over the next few weeks we would be sweeping, scrubbing, painting, and then MOVING!!

Depression and the Christian

One of the difficulties that seems to afflict us as women fairly often is depression. As we head into the darkest and coldest season of the year, it can be especially difficult to keep a cheery disposition. Yet God calls us to rejoice in all things!
It has been on my heart for many years to write a book on escaping from depression. As a teenager and young adult I went through some very dark times. I won't go into every detail right now, but I will tell you I went as far as attempting suicide more than once. When it got to be at its worst and God still did not allow me to die, I begged Him to heal me and allow me to help others who were in the same situation.
It was a long road, but one so worthwhile. Praise God, He has given me the victory today and I want so to let others who are still in the darkness of depression to know that He CAN heal you too!
"Every experience that comes to us in life, be it joyous or painful, comes sifted through the hand of God." Whoever said that was incredibly wise.
There will be times when God lets us experience pain. That's a given. It's hard to see the good that will come out of it when you're in the midst of it, but when we *wait quietly* for the salvation of the *Lord*, the good *will* come.
There are pains in life that we bring on ourselves - consequences of sin. But even then, God does not thrust us from his presence forever. Even the Babylonian captivity was limited, though the Israelite's sin of idolatry seemed boundless.
So, to us also, God promises He will not cast us from his fellowship and blessings forever. He is with us all through it! When life gets tough, we are tempted to despair, but despair and depression only keep us in bondage. Depression is a rock that closes up the pit that we have fallen into, closing off all hope of escape. But here is the key:
God may well have allowed the pit, but the rock is of *our own* making!
This doesn't mesh well with our generation's concept of mental illness being the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. I believe that chemical imbalance may well exist, but I believe it is a *result* rather than a *cause* of our thought processes.
According to the research I have done, when a child begins to learn how to walk or how to read, the brain does not at first know how to send the messages and utilize the proper brain chemicals to make the body or the mind do what it should, but as the child is shown and helped to do the right thing over and over again, the chemical pathways are laid down in the brain until the act of walking when he sees a toy across the room, or reading anytime the printed word is seen, becomes nearly automatic.
Human beings are creatures of habit. If we drive to work the same way every day or always have cream with our coffee, chances are we will again tomorrow. If we exercise our muscles in one way only, day in and day out, our bodies will show that imbalance in strength in one set of muscles but not another. And if we exercise our minds and thought processes in a specific direction, our minds will be built up in that area for good or for ill, until that direction of thought becomes so automatic, it is almost inexorable
Chemical balances in the brain CAN be restored, just as a balance in muscle strength can be achieved - through proper exercise (prayer) and determination.
The rock on top of your pit may be particularly heavy. You may have been building it up for many years, and your first attempts to move it may give you only a tiny glimpse of the hope God has for you. But God is able and willing to give you the strength to keep on "working out" until the bright star of His hope can be seen shining through a widening crack in your self-made prison. Then, one day you will push that rock completely off the top of your pit and be able to see the rope of God's escape plan hanging there where it was waiting for you all along!
I pray that you will see what I write as my heart for you who are suffering - not as a judgement. Remember that I HAVE been there. I had to come to see these things within me before I was able to break free. I know it is not easy, but God is able to work the changes needed within you.

Just Do It

This is the time of year for looking back over the decisions that we've made and planning ahead for the year to come. One of the things that I've been doing the last few years, as you know, is Daddy's Little Princess.
For the most part, I wouldn't change it if I had it to do over again. There aren't a whole lot of people in this world who get to do what they are passionate about and get paid for it!
If there's one thing, one message I could shout out to the world on this New Year's eve, it would be that you CAN do it! Whatever God has put into your heart to do, you can do it through Him! So many times I hear people say, "oh, I could never do that!" be it in regards to homeschooling, or a home business, or whatever. And that just breaks my heart! You are a daughter of the King! And like most Daddys, He wants you to succeed in all areas of your life. In everything that He calls you to do.
So, if you're a mom who is struggling financially and debating going out to get a part time job, or if you're feeling useless at home - desperately needing to get outside of yourself and give to others, consider starting a home business/ministry this year. It may be something that's been niggling at the back of your brain for a while and you think, oh, I could never do that - or I don't have any skills that anyone would pay for. Trust me, I used to think the same thing!
So first of all, tell the voice inside your head that says, "I can't" to take a hike! Then pray. First, ask the Lord to guide you as to His will for your life. First of all for His timing. If you are struggling financially, He may be calling you to start a home business or He may be wanting you to learn to rely on Him alone. If you are feeling useless at home, He may be calling you to start a home business/ministry or He may be calling you to accept your role and give of yourself to your children and husband. His guidance will be for you alone and for you specific situation.
Second, ask for His direction. Take an inventory of your gifts, talents, and passions. No fair saying, "I don't have any." That's a lie from the Enemy himself! Even if your greatest passion is something "unproductive" like watching old movies, you could write reviews and send them out in an e-newsletter, set yourself up as an affiliate with Amazon.com or a similar company that sells those old movies and build a website with links helping people to find a place to purchase those difficult to find, but family friendly black and white and colorized films. Perhaps you could even go so far as to provide a rental service through the mail as some have done, but just for old movies. Hard as it may be to believe, people will listen to YOU and to your opinions in the area of your passion. Sure, not everyone will agree with you. This world would be a pretty boring place if we all agreed with eachother, wouldn't it? But, in any case, whatever your passion, there is something that you can do with it. Don't believe me? I challenge you to stump me - write to me at hmschlrof6@yahoo.com. :)
Third, continue to ask for His guidance as you do some research. Check out the laws in your state. Do you need a business license? Here in Wisconsin, only certain businesses need a license. You will probably want a checking account in your business name. Your bank can help you with that. The easiest way to get started in a business is over the internet. "Rent" consists of registering a domain name and having your website hosted somewhere - much less expensive than a store front downtown! Also check into tax ramifications. It's not as complex as you might think, though. It may be in your best interest to set up your company as an incorporation or an LLC. I am pretty sure that is where Daddy's Little Princess is headed this year, but if I'd worried about that the first year I got started, it's a pretty good bet that Daddy's Little Princess would not be in existence today. I would have gotten scared and run far far away! :) But, it isn't very hard to call your business a sole proprietorship. Tax time consists of filling out a form called a schedule C which basically boils down to your total earnings minus your total expenses - which you file along with your 1040. Not too difficult!
Finally, network with other Christian families to get the word out about your business. Write to me and I will put an ad in this newsletter about your family friendly business. Put your web page address in the sig line of all your emails. Frequent bulletin boards and e-mail discussion groups. Usually you can mention your business briefly in those places or others can mention it for you. One great place to get to know others who are "crazy" entrepreneurs is on a site like that of my friend, Rhea Perry! Entrepreneurs at Home Most of all, dare to dream! You can do ALL things, through Christ, who strengthens you!

Take The Next Step

Many parents have asked me over the years about teaching their child to read. There are huge amounts of curriculum out there - fancy schmancy phonics programs with flash cards and progress charts or scripted - say this now - kind of formats. How much should we expect to spend on teaching a child to read? How much time and tears should be invested? Is this kind of a formal setting even the best way to teach your child to read?
I'll admit, I looked at my share of phonics curriculums, and even liked parts of each one, but in the end I had to ask myself, "why should I pay a lot of money for something I can do myself?" Does teaching a child to read even have to be a formal process, or can it fit into my overall homeschooling philosophy based on Dt. 6:7?
In the end, my first son pretty much learned to read on his own while I tried to figure out how to teach him! Well, somewhat on his own.
Just as we took the next step when he was learning his first words and his colors and shapes, so we took the next step in learning to read. The first step was simply to read to him - as much as he would let me. We made it a habit to read before bedtime from the time he was born, so that at least was one time each day when I knew I could get my active toddler to sit down next to me and listen to a story. As we read, I might point out a letter here and there. "Do you see this, Micha? This is an A. We made our own alphabet books with pictures of things he was very familiar with for each letter and used these as our bedtime story occassionally.
Maria Montessori explains the didactic steps very well in her writings... 1. "This is". Show the child the letter or object and say, "This is a..." and tell him what it is. Do this naturally as God gives you the opportunity in your reading together and in your life. There are letters all around us. Use them!
2. "Which is?" Show the child two or three letters and ask "which one is the letter A?" Sometimes a child may know the answer but still find it hard to articulate. This approach gives him the opportunity to see the answer in front of him and even answer without speaking. This makes teaching a toddler to read possible even if he doesn't speak yet! Sound surprising? I've actually seen it done. One of my younger sisters was taught to read by my mom before she was two. If you showed her two or three phrases and asked her "which one says..." she could point to the right one every time. You could even write a phrase such as, "Where are my glasses?" and she would go find them. So it is perfectly possible. But I digress...
3. "what is?" Finally, you can ask them, "what is this letter?" and the child can tell you the answer. The important points in all this are to keep the learning sessions as natural and as short as possible and to have fun! If the child does not remember that this letter is called A, tell him - not in a condescending - of course you wouldn't remember - tone, but as if you just remembered it yourself. You can point out some of the clues like the pointy top of the letter and the bar across the middle that looks like the end of the swingset in the backyard, but in the end, if he doesn't remember, that's ok. He'll probably get it next time. After all, he is still pretty little.
When my oldest son was 18 or 20 months old, we started pointing out the letters all around him. When I made up some homemade flashcards to teach him his letters, I was amazed to find that he already knew most of them. We did find a use for those flashcards, playing matching games. Index cards are wonderful things! We found pictures in magazines that went with each letter, some letters we had many pictures for, some only one, and we glued one picture onto each card. Now we could play "concentration" - turning the cards all upside down in a grid format on the floor, turning up two at a time and checking to see if they were a match. If the two cards were a letter B and a picture of a bicycle, (or a bicycle and a banana) it was a match and could be kept. We could also just lay the cards out on the floor and match them up without any specific game format. I still remember the cards my mom made like this when I was little and stretching them across the livingroom floor from A to Z with all the pictures that started with that letter next to the letter cards.
My son wasn't even two years old, and didn't know his alphabet song, but he knew the name of every letter like they were old friends. No curriculum did that - and no genius intellect in my son - although I consider him to be pretty smart - just a natural learning environment. One of my favorite homeschooling authors, Marilyn Howshall, says that if you want to teach your child anything - no matter what the topic - you should simply fill yourself up with it, become passionate about it, and it will naturally flow out into the lives of those around you. If you fill yourself up with good books, if you are excited about reading, if you have fun reading with your child, you will hardly be able to keep him from learning to read.
So, my son knew his letter names. Now it was time to take the next step - learning the letter sounds. In Seigfried Englemann's book, "Give Your Child a Superior Mind" (I know the title sounds terribly prideful, but the information in this out of print book is wonderful!) he lays out a logical progression for teaching children the letter sounds. First start with f,l,m,n,r,s,and x. All of these letters have their sound at the end of their name. If you say the letter's name and just hang on to the end - like effffffffff - you'll hear the sound quite clearly. Second, go on to the letters b,d,j,k,p,t,v,and z. These have the sound at the beginning of their name. You could make some index cards with pictures of 15 children with these letters on their shirts, read the story of the Sneetches by Dr. Seuss, and then play a game about the end sounding letters who thought they were better than the beginning sounding letters. After my children knew these fifteen letters well, I next went on to the short vowels. With a,e,i,o,and u we could start building and sounding out words. We had a little song that we sang when we were sounding out a new word - c,a,t, say it faster, c,a,t, say it faster, c,at, say it faster, cat! Now he could read the word on the bathroom door that said MEN and he did, every time we were at a place with public restrooms!
Finally, there are the letters that you just have to memorize, c,g,h,q,w,and y. These took longer to learn, but that didn't hold us back from reading lots of books and playing matching games with the upper and lower case letter flashcards. Whenever there was a word I knew my son could manage in the book we were reading, I'd ask him to figure it out. Eventually he realized that he was reading more of the words than I was. What a revelation! He could read! And I found that he knew those difficult letters too, just by seeing them over and over again.
By then I realized that we didn't need a curriculum to tell us what to learn and how to learn it. I got children's books from the library and an old Dick and Jane type reader that had been my husband's, and we simply continued to read together. I never made flashcards for the letter combinations like sh and ch and ing. When we found those blends and diphthongs in the words in our book, I simply pointed them out, just like we had pointed out the green truck when he was tiny. When we saw a word like eat, we talked about the two vowels that stood next to eachother and how the a made the e say his name, but we never filled out a workbook page, circling the diphthongs in all the words on the page! I still remember hating those phonics workbooks and how pointless they seemed to me, even as a first grader, even as a child who already knew how and loved to read. As time went on, my children needed fewer and fewer reminders.
One of the disadvantages I've seen of working with a reading curriculum is getting bogged down on getting a particular phonics rule mastered before allowing your child to go on. I've found in every area of my life that when God wants me to learn something new He will drop the topic in front of me, maybe just in some aside comment made by a friend. I may not understand it right away, but while life goes on, in the midst of everything, God will let that topic come up over and over and over again. I will be reading a book or talking to someone after church and out it will pop. Until eventually I start seeking out more information and reading more and more about it, and it becomes a part of me. Learning to read is just like that. Each new concept is explained, and then the real reading continues. It will surely come up again on its own. There's no need to harp on it. And after a while, that concept will be a part of your child's reading strategy and suddenly one day you will be surprised to realize that he's got it! This drastically reduces the time it takes a child to learn how to read. While one child is spending day three on the br combination, the other is reading real books. And then the parents wonder why my child can learn to read before he's even "school age" and love reading while their son struggles with and hates br?
The sooner we learn that life IS learning and how to ask the Holy Spirit what the next step is, and then simply take it, the better off both we, and our children will be.

Christian Trees

Have you ever noticed how many times in God's Word, He compares human beings to plants? Psa 128:3 Thy wife [shall be] as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Jhn 15:5 I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Mat 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Not to mention passages like "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." - which I have come to understand recently also has tree/plant connotations - training in the sense of training a young tree and pruning it as needed!
Last weekend, our family devotion centered on the idea of trees, comparing deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves each year) to Christians whose faith seems to wax and wane, and conifers (evergreens) to Christians whose faith is constant. It got me to thinking all over again about the many tree metaphors the Lord has shown me over the years.
The author of the devotion urged the readers to be conifer Christians, always green and growing. But is this a realistic expectation? It seems to me the normal Christian life IS a life of cycles and seasons, more like the deciduous tree.
Like the trees, we are called to go through seasons of emptiness at times. God calls us to let go of certain things, idols or pet sins. He calls us to drop these things, as the trees are called to drop their leaves.
Did you ever notice that there are some trees that seem to drop their leaves quickly and easily? There isn't much color change to these trees. It just starts to be autumn and they know it's time to let go. Other trees hang onto those leaves for dear life. The maples around here are some of the last trees to drop their leaves, and they are also the reddest.
In my morbidly poetic teenage years :) I imagined that red color to be the blood of the trees fighting against the coming winter. But I realize now that winter is not the demonic, terrible thing that I'd imagined. It is a season, created by God, a necessary part of life, through which the only true growth can happen. So we have a choice; we can obey God's calling as He makes it clear to us, and let go of the sins and idols of our lives quietly and quickly, or we can fight against God's plan for our lives, hang on, and suffer the much deeper pain that comes from that choice.
In the stillness of the winter, after the leaves have been dropped, God's moonlit snow and ice transforms the barren trees into creatures of true beauty. Beauty that comes from God, not from ourselves.
The winter is often still a difficult season to be in. Some winters are harder than others, but God is there with us through all of them. Just as when a tree has been cut down, you can see by the size and shape of the rings which years have been colder winters or dry years, so God promises that He sees every tear and has written them all down in His book. The coldness of yet another miscarriage, the dryness of a move to a new home where you don't know anyone yet - God sees them all and allows them, in the hopes that we will snuggle in closer to him and allow His life to begin to flow through us.
As His life flows through our veins like the sap beginning to flow through the trees, our growth will begin to show on the outside and a new greeness will come forth with the excitement of a spring breeze, showing God's handiwork to all around.
The spring is such a beautiful season to be in! Everything sings with a joy that can hardly be surpassed! The love of God for us and our love for Him can be almost tangible. God's lessons of the winter have begun to show in our growth.
As spring moves into summer, it is easy to feel this green fullness will last forever. The warm rains and sunshiny days of God's Word and fellowship with other believers begin to fill out the fruit that has begun to grow.
And then, the autumn comes again. First the fruit ripens, which can be small and sickly or large and juicy sweet, depending on how much good or bad has gone into the tree/Christian throughout the summer. It's probably no coincidence that it is in the same season that the fruit comes to ripeness and then the leaves fall again. Just as in the parable of the wheat and the tares, there have been sins and wrong thinking mixed in with truth and faith. After all, we're human. So after the fruit has ripened and been harvested, the wrong that must be weeded out is pointed out by the Lord yet again and the leaves of sin must fall. Most plants are pruned in the fall too. And God will prune away all of the dead wood and selfishness, to help us grow so as to produce the best possible fruit for our type of tree.
That's one of the other neat things about trees. Just as there are many different types of fruits, but none better than the others, so God has made us all to bear different types of fruit. I may bring forth apples while another brings forth pears and another olives. The fruit we bring forth is determined by God to compliment the variety within the body of Christ. I can't wish to be an olive tree if He made me to be an apple tree, but through His pruning and watering through all the seasons of my life, I can be the very best apple tree I can be.
So, can Christians be conifers? I don't think so. I think that the evergreen is the perfect symbol for God, the never changing, always loving, always just, eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But at least on this earth, I think Christians have to be content to be deciduous trees. The letting go of autumn and the starkness of winter may be difficult to bear at times, but as deciduous trees we can bring forth the most wonderful fruit!

Spiritual Band-aids

Yesterday morning, my five year old came up to me and asked for another band-aid. You know how band-aids just seem to be the cure- all for kids? Often it's for the tiniest little scrape. So I looked, and she had a fairly large scab on her ankle. It's actually been there a few days, but I noticed it was bleeding a bit again. She'd been picking at it.
I asked her, "honey, why are you picking at your scab?" She said, "I wanted to see if it was done yet. But God hasn't healed me yet."
Isn't that just like me! How many times God has promised me something, and I keep checking, "is it done yet?" - poking at it, "can I hurry things along?" Only making things worse in reality!
And maybe the band-aid isn't such a bad idea. No matter how small or large the promise that we're waiting for, perhaps putting it under a spiritual band-aid of sorts would help with the waiting process. It would be a reminder that, yes, God has promised this to me, and yes He is working on it. And it would keep my fingers out of the works, wanting to make God's promise happen in my own strength. Thank God for band-aids! :)

He Is Risen Indeed

Monday this week, I asked the children what this Sunday was about. I was dismayed to find that my 5yo couldn't answer that question. It wasn't like we'd never read the story, talked about it often, watched "The Miracle Maker", etc. Her idea of Easter was going to Gramma's house, getting presents and candy from Great Gramma, playing with her cousin, and eating lots of yummy food. So I told again the wonderful story of God's great love for us, how He sent His son to die on the cross in our place and how through faith, we are saved.
Tuesday this week, I asked my 5yo what Sunday was all about. I was met with silence. I think she remembered that the answer she'd given the day before was not the one I'd been looking for, but not what the right answer was. So I told again the wonderful story of God's great love for us, how He sent His son to die on the cross in our place and how through faith, we are saved.
Wednesday this week, I asked Abi again what Sunday was all about. "God?" was all the answer I could get out of her. So I told again the wonderful story of God's great love for us, how He sent His son to die on the cross in our place and how through faith, we are saved.
Thursday this week, I asked Abigail what Sunday was all about. "God dying on the cross." "Good, and then what happened?" Silence... So I told again the wonderful story of God's great love for us, how He sent His son to die on the cross in our place and how through faith, we are saved.
Friday this week, I asked my daughter what Sunday was all about. "Jesus dying on the cross." "Then what happened?" "They put him in the grave." "And then what?" Silence... So I told again the wonderful story of God's great love for us, how He sent His son to die on the cross in our place and how through faith, we are saved.
Saturday this week, I asked my little girl what Sunday was all about. She told me that Jesus died on the cross, went in the grave, and then came back alive. I was glad to hear she knew the answer, but there was no emotion or excitement in it. I asked what that meant for her? Silence again... So I told again the wonderful story of God's great love for HER, how He sent His son to die on the cross in HER place and how through faith, SHE was saved.
That evening we made resurrection cookies. She joined her brothers and sisters in beating the nuts just as Jesus was beaten by the soldiers, tasting the vinegar just as Jesus was given vinegar to drink while on the cross, tasting the salt of the tears shed by Jesus' followers, putting in the sugar to remind them of God's sweet love toward us, adding the egg whites as a symbol of new life, then beating the whole thing into bright white stiff peaks reminding us that our sins were made white as snow, stirring in the nuts and heaping the little mounds onto the cookie sheet, putting them in the oven and sealing the door with tape just as Jesus' tomb was sealed. (Well, technically they never did quite get to the stiff peak stage and they were more like rounds than mounds on the cookie sheet LOL but I hoped they'd work well enough to get the story across at least.)
Sunday dawned bright and early. Mike made a special breakfast and afterward we checked on the cookies, now hollow and empty just like Jesus' tomb. We had a special time of worship and Mike used the Resurrection Eggs to once again tell the wonderful story of God's great love for us, how He sent His son to die on the cross in our place and how through faith, we are saved.
We had a beautiful quiet day at home with yummy things to eat and pictures taken of lovely children in Easter outfits, talking often of Christ's work on the cross for us. Mike and I had some great conversations about what a celebration of Easter should be (and Christmas too). - having realized recently that the roots of some of our holiday traditions were a stumbling block to dear ones that we've been praying salvation for.
In the evening, it was bedtime for the girls and Abi's turn to pray aloud. A smile filled my heart to hear her pray, "Dear God, thankyou that you died on the cross for me and everyone and that you came back to life again and that you love us so much! I love you, Jesus! In Jesus' name we pray, Amen."
He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

Working Out a Metaphor

In her wonderful writings, Marilyn Howshall suggests that God speaks to us most often in metaphors. I too have found that occassionally something will suddenly come to mind - a little seed of an idea - a spark of understanding - a bit of a metaphor - and I have to work it all out, find the ends of the idea, pull it out until it breaks down. So forgive me while I think (type) outloud, for while writing to a friend in a dark spot today, God gave me a metaphor seed.

Looking down at the mire and focusing on the sin done to us, God's flashes of brightness and hope are only flickerings on the edge of consciousness, hardly noticeable - but looking up and focusing on God's love, those flashes are so bright and beautiful - like looking up at the sky knowing that the next firework is coming momentarily and expecting its beauty.

The idea of watching the fireworks has continued to pull at the edges of my mind. It's kind of neat really. We don't go to see the fireworks only to keep our heads down and stubbornly gaze at the earth. Can you imagine, someone walking along looking at the ground and the sky lights up with golden sparkles above his head, and instead of saying, "ooh, fireworks!" and turning to look up and wait for the next one, he only complains that the ground is so muddy and there are so many rocks. The flash of light was too short to do him any good, he thinks. He's still in this horrible muddy place.

Oh, does that sound familiar! Crazy as it sounds, I have a natural inclination to do that very thing. It's easy to see life in terms of the negative. Negative self-talk, negative experiences - the whole cup half empty and then some. The children may be arguing and fighting, full of selfishness and spite. Then one of them comes up to me with a kiss or does something helpful, and I hardly notice. I still see them as selfish, naughty kids. Lord, forgive me!

But, if I go to see the fireworks, EXPECT to see beautiful fireworks, and keep looking up, God does not disappoint! Each little spark is so exciting! The colors, the sounds, the lights - such lights!

And then, what's really neat - is after gazing up into the heavens watching the grand finale - all the wonderful things God is doing in our lives, then we look back at the earth, and there are echos of the fireworks on our eyes. Blinding us to the negative. Keeping before us the thought of God's goodness and love.

I love fireworks, don't you? :)

Wisdom From Heidi

no, not from me :) From the book by Johanna Spyri. I am reading this wonderful book aloud to my girls right now and am finding myself so inspired all over again. I'd like to share this excerpt that had me weeping tears of joy today. It's a little long - but so worth it!

Heidi looked about her first at one thing and then at another. The waving flowers, the blue sky, the bright sunshine, the happy bird - everything was so beautiful! so beautiful! Her eyes were alight with joy. And now she turned to her friend to see if he too were enjoying the beauty. The doctor had been sitting thoughtfully gazing around him. As he met her glad bright eyes, "Yes, Heidi," he responded, "I see how lovely it all is, but tell me - if one brings a sad heart up here, how may it be healed so that it can rejoice in all this beauty?"
"Oh, but," exclaimed Heidi, "no one is sad up here, only in Frankfurt."
The doctor smiled and then growing serious again he continued, "But supposing one is not able to leave all the sadness behind at Frankfurt; can you tell me anything that will help then?"
"When you do not know what more to do you must go and tell everything to God," answered Heidi with decision.
"Ah, that is a good thought of yours, Heidi," said the doctor. "But if it is God Himself who has sent the trouble, what can we say to Him then?"
Heidi sat pondering for a while; she was sure in her heart that God could help out of every trouble. She thought over her own experiences and then found her answer.
"Then you must wait," she said, "and keep on saying to yourself: God certainly knows of some happiness for us which He is going to bring out of the trouble, only we must have patience and not run away. And then all at once something happens and we see clearly ouselves that God has had some good thought in His mind all along; but because we cannot see things beforehand, and only know how dreadfully miserable we are, we think it is always going to be so."
"That is a beautiful faith, child, and be sure you hold it fast," replied the doctor. Then he sat on a while in silence, looking at the great overshadowing mountains and green sunlit valley below before he spoke again -
"Can you understand, Heidi, that a man may sit here with such a shadow over his eyes that he cannot feel and enjoy the beauty around him, while the heart grows doubly sad knowing how beautiful it could be? Can you understand that?"
A pain shot through the child's young happy heart. The shadow over the eyes brought to her remembrance the grandmother, who would never again be able to see the sunlight and the beauty up here. This was Heidi's great sorrow, which reawoke ech time she tought about the darkness. She did not speak for a few minutes, for her happiness was interrupted by this sudden pang. Then in a grave voice she said, -
"Yes, I can understand it. And I know this, that then one must say one of grandmother's hymns, which bring the light back a little, and often make it so bright for her that she is quite happy again. Grandmother herself told me this."
Let not your heart be troubled
Nor fear your soul dismay,
There is a wise Defender
And He will be your stay.
Where you have failed, He conquers,
See, how the foeman flies!
And all your tribulation
Is turned to glad surprise.

If for a while it seemeth
His mercy is withdrawn,
That He no longer careth
For His wandering child forlorn,
Doubt not His great compassion,
His love can never tire,
To those who wait in patience
He gives their heart's desire.

Through The Time Machine

Good Morn to ye! So were my daughters greeted this morning by a woman calling herself Goodwife Smith. ;) (aka Mom) They were then led upon a journey through a time machine to the time of the pilgrims A closet filled with belongings and quite a few people gave a bit of understanding to the experience upon the Mayflower. We talked of the darkness below decks, the seasickness, the lack of showers, oh my!, the time when the great beam cracked and God provided a way to keep the ship in one piece through a great printing press screw brought by one of the men.

Next we made our way through the time machine to just a few years into the future. Enough so that we were past the difficult times of starving and sickness, though we talked about how God had taken care of us even in those times. Now we had good safe homes and the children were invited to join us in breaking fast. The manservants, Terran, Micha, and Jeremiah had put together a lovely repast. We had johnny cakes and dressed eggs. While the children ate, Goodwife Smith read to them from a book that had come through the time machine with them - a "Landmark" book about the pilgrims at Plymoth.

As the day continued, we entered a sort of twilight zone of living half in the 1600's and half in 2007. :) I had a violin lesson to teach, then fed the baby and then we decided to learn how to knit. Since the girls had never knit before and the boys had not tried in years, we started with finger knitting. They had so much fun and were so proud of their accomplishments.

A lesson from a hornbook and reading from the Good Book (King James version of course) brought us up to lunch time which was a simple meal of bread and cheese. We had learned that the real pilgrims would probably have had their big meal then, but we wanted to save the big meal for when Daddy would be home.

Naptime is over and the girls are jumping into some more finger knitting and hand sewing. I hope to pick the book back up and finish it before we have to get super busy with supper preparations. We have beefsteak pie, sweetpotatoes and apples, sally lunn bread, and almond tarts planned for our menu.

What Would Ma Ingalls Do?

Are you one of those people who looks around and wonders how in the world you can ever get "it all" done? I sure am! Every day the to do list gets longer. Eight things greet me on the list in the morning. Three or four things get checked off, but everything takes longer than I expect, and then 5 more things are added to the remaining 5 for the day ahead! I've often looked back at the lives of our foremothers and wondered how they managed, especially without all the time and labor saving devices we have. I ask myself over and over, what would Ma Ingalls do?

I have a long long way to go, but here are a few things I'm learning...

1.Early to bed and early to rise...
I thought I was doing this, getting up at 5:30, but I've recently come to learn that some women get up even earlier - much earlier. Right now I get half an hour to myself in the mornings to spend some time with the Lord and get some things accomplished. Just think what could be done with 2 hours!

2. Go to the ant...
No idleness allowed. Always be doing at least one thing, preferably more. I am required to sit down while nursing the baby so that is when I allow myself to get online. I want to spend the evenings with my husband even if that means sitting in front of the tv, so hand sewing or preparing the children's lessons for the next day can get done during that time. Using a crock pot for meals is a great way to do more things at once if I can just get myself to think of it before it's too late in the day. Teaching children to be helpers is another way to get more done at once. My children help a lot, but I still sometimes get into the guilt mode where I feel like I'm asking too much of them. I'm sure Ma Ingalls never thought of that when asking her children to do chores and help out.
No laziness allowed. Yes, there's a difference. Most people would not consider me a lazy person. I keep very busy and do a lot. But laziness is very much in my heart. If I have a choice, I'll choose to do the chore that is more fun rather than the one that needs doing the most. Even if I would never whine out loud, in my heart I'm afraid it's sometimes another matter. Afternoon naps I have to admit are a point where my selfishness and laziness are evident. I've always required an afternoon nap of my children. I've always believed it to be important, and I still do - but it doesn't need to be as long as I've stretched it just to have "sanity" time. There are so many things that I would love to be able to do with my children - crafts, knitting, more time for music, taking walks - things that I've often said I don't have time for. When it's suggested that I shorten naptime - oh no! I need that time. When would I get done the things that I need to do alone? hmm, maybe if I followed number one?

3. The family that stays together...
God recently brought this one back up to me and I need to impliment it for real this time and keep it that way. All too often I've found myself doing some writing or nursing the baby and the next thing I know the boys have disappeared into their bedroom with the door closed, the older girls have done the same in their bedroom, and the younger girls are who knows where wreaking havoc. Just think of the time that could be saved not having to clean up the mess created by an unsupervised curious two year old! Not to mention the closeness of relationships found in a family that stays together and has worked out the kinks together. Mom is right there to notice and nip problem attitudes and button pushers right in the bud. This is hard for me. I'll admit there are times when the youngers are getting too rambunctious, one of the older ones is confused with math, a middle child needs to know how to spell a word, and my head feels like it's about to explode with the chaos. I need to learn to be prepared with quiet activities for the younger ones, and for coping strategies for the school time frenzy. I need to take the time to teach the children to be patient, to wait their turn, and to be understanding of others. God has given me the opportunity to teach them those things right here in the livingroom. I just haven't taken advantage of it.

Tis the gift to be simple...
Simplification is an ongoing process here. Simplification balanced with reality. I have a husband who is into computers and a son who writes computer programs. My own business, Daddy's Little Princess is computer based. We own 6 computers that are used regularly plus at least three more that are under desks and in corners here and there in various stages of completeness. That's not something I can change and probably wouldn't want to. But simplicity is more than paring down possessions to the bare essentials and living without modern gadgets. It's also looking at that to do list, praying over it, and then walking away to do the next thing whatever that is, without getting overly wrapped up in what's left on the list. It's spending time seeing the smiles in the little ones' eyes when the craft supply box is pulled out and not worrying about the mess it will make. It's sharing a cup of tea with a friend with a nursling on each of our laps, talking about the goodness of the Lord and what He's been doing in our lives. It's typing with one hand at a blog while nursing too. LOL And it's a reminder that as I work toward living as Ma Ingalls would, I need to also keep in mind that my to do list may not be God's and just walk in His rhythm for my day.

God is so good!