Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Find The Meaning Of Your Name

I was reading today in the Bible, Genesis, chapter 21 about the birth of Isaac. I was reminded of the meaning of the name 'Isaac' because we have a grandson with that name. The name 'Isaac' means 'laughter'.

   Before our grandson was born, I felt like he was going to bring laughter to the family. And he does! On a continual basis, he always does something new, something we never thought of before. Like the time we were listening to a message at a Good Friday service. My grandson is a great speller, and can take a word and tell you how it is spelled. The pastor was explaining that Judas was going to betray Jesus with a kiss. Well, that was all that my grandson had to hear for he could figure out how to spell the word 'kiss'. So, while we were listening to this message, a little voice a couple of inches away proudly announced, 'Kiss. K-I-S-S'. He was practicing his spelling out loud, during a message!

   What does your name mean? Some names are hard to find the meanings of. Others are obvious. Heather is a flower in Ireland. Pearl is a precious gem. Hazel is a color. But some have more hidden meanings.

   Many of our names, and names of our children, come right from the Bible. Any name that has an -el ending has a connotation of God in the name. For example, Michael means 'like unto God' or 'like God'. Samuel means 'Asked of God'. Daniel, I believe, means 'God is judge'.

   Some modern definitions of names could be far from the meaning. Some of these people who research names probably couldn't find the meaning of the name, so they attached some nice adjective to it. The name 'Rebecca' means captivating from the original Hebrew. According to the Urban Dictionary though, this name has its origin from the daughter of a goddess of beauty. It meant 'Shining Star'. Of course we know the Bible came before Greek or Roman mythology, so the more correct meaning origin of the name Rebecca would be captivating, or tie knot.

   You want to be careful in choosing names for your children. I have heard of names like Silence and Truth. I have to wonder if Silence was named in faith after the parents had a couple of children already!

   If you have a really bad last name, I believe you can go to court and have it changed. Sometimes, our last names give us trouble too. Bullies take advantage of names that rhyme with bad words, or that have similar letters to something stupid or degrading. It doesn't take much for kids to take a name, twist it around, add a few letters, and rename the kid they are bullying!

   Do a search on the Internet and find some accurate sources of the origins of your names. It might be quite interesting to find out where your name came from, and what it meant.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New and Unusual Family Activity - Hunting for The Dropped Pecans

   I am boring when it comes to playing games with my family. When my older girls were little, I played 'Huckle, Buckle Bean Stalk' with them. I hid the homemade bean bag and when the girls came back into the room, if they got near the hidden bean bag, I would say to them that they are getting warm. When they were really close, I would say 'hot'. This activity went on for a little while in our home.

   Then there was the game my husband played with all the kids. All the lights would be turned out and he would hide somewhere in the house. The kids would look all around the house and then when they found him, he would chase after them in the dark. It's a wonder that no one ever got hurt playing this game! But the kids remember this one fondly.

   Well, while we were on vacation in Georgia, we visited a place in Georgia called, Dahlonega. It is a quaint little town with a lot of History. Lots of people came here to dig for gold, or should I say, 'panning' for gold. But there were people here searching for something else.

   At first, it looked like people were looking for money, or maybe even something they had lost that needed to be found immediately. They were all inside this park. Then we were walking down the sidewalk and there was a man looking for something. It looked like the same thing. My husband had to ask.

   The man explained that he was looking for pecans. There were a lot of pecan trees on that street, so we decided to also hunt for pecans. It was a good way to spend our time while we waited for dinner time to come around.

Here's a good way to spend time while waiting for dinner!

Hunting for pecans can be fun and educational.
Just think, if we could have collected enough pecans, I would be able to make a pecan pie!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie

You can buy it at a store, or, you can make it at home. It is not really that difficult to make. If you want to make it with an already made pie crust, you can do that as well.

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (you can crush them using a rolling pin, or you can put them in a blender/food processor and grind them)
4 Tablespoons melted butter

Pie Filling:
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (I use coconut, but organic cane is good too)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

whipping cream
stevia, xylitol, or powdered sugar
chocolate sprinkles (optional)

  To make the crust, combine the melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs and pat into a pie plate (9" pie plate is good). Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or so. Make sure crust doesn't burn. Remove from oven and let cool.
  Make the pie filling by combining the pie filling ingredients in a blender or by using a mixer. Heat on medium or medium high, being careful to not let mixture get too hot too fast. When it comes to a boil, let it boil for a minute and then remove from heat.
  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Place in refrigerator and in the mean time, whip the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. (Stiff peaks look like a mountain that stands up when you pull the beater out of the cream). Add the sweetener of your choice and mix well. Place mixture on top of pie filling and add sprinkles if desired.

Here are some sources for some of the ingredients if you are looking for a good brand:

Amazon has this at a good price
I use this *all* the time!
I try to find coconut sugar for $5 a pound or less
I like the fact that this is made in America

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Making Christmas Traditions

   What do you think? Do you think having Christmas traditions is important? Some have simple traditions while others may have more elaborate traditions. It really doesn't matter because it is the meaning behind the tradition that counts.

   Some of our traditions are simple. When I was little, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my grandparents house, then of course, Christmas morning came at our house, and we celebrated there as well. My other set of grandparents came over in the afternoon. But when I got older, we moved away and we only celebrated Christmas with my parents and brother.

  We had a strange, but neat tradition also, when we were small. My grandparents belonged to a club called the 'Turner's Club' which must have been a club where adults go to dinner once a month and had dancing. I had never been to this club, but what they did every year was to invite the children or grandchildren to sit on Santa's lap, not to ask for presents, but to thank Santa for the presents he supposedly brought. We would thank Santa, and they would give us this stocking filled with strange items like fruits and a few small toys. In my selfish mind, I was thinking of how much better it would have been if they gave us an actual toy instead of fruit and small toys! That is how an unregenerate mind works at the age of 7 or 8! But it is a memory I will never forget, even if I missed the point of it back then.

    When I was 14, my dad decided to start a tradition of seeing the lights in a certain neighborhood in our city. Over 40 years later, my family still carries this tradition even though my dad has not been with us for 29 years.

   Some of the other traditions we adopted are; baking gingerbread cookies and cinnamon bread, and giving them out to the neighbors (which has been challenging since no one ever seems to be home), having some kind of Christmas party with our friends, having a surprise Christmas dinner with presents from Saint Nicholas, formerly of Turkey, going to see a lighted house every year a couple of miles away, and going to the live Nativity every year at a nearby church (My dad also started that one when I was a teenager).

  One other new tradition that I think is really helpful to the needy and also educational for children is to look forward to the Samaritan's Purse catalog, and go through it and find gifts to order for people in poorer countries. Some of these items help them to become sustainable so they can survive and live on their own. They even have toys for children in there to order for the children who live in these countries. The Christmas shoeboxes are the best though for kids. With this ministry, you can get a shoebox, or even a dozen, and fill them up with toys and necessary items for these children, and then take them to a drop off place. The boxes could end up in Uganda or Bolivia, or anywhere they are designated to go. They even have a tracking service so you can track your box and see where it goes. There are stories on Youtube showing children as they open their boxes and the blessings they receive from their gifts in the shoeboxes.

  There are homeless shelters around town which would gladly receive a nice dinner or gifts of clothing for people to wear on interviews. Lots of children will be blessed by small toys like balloons or frisbies. One day I would like to be a Saint Nicholas formerly of Turkey gift giver to children.

   Now that we are grandparents, we start Christmas on Christmas Eve morning with our children and grandchildren. This has been recent for about the last 5 years or so. We still celebrate Christmas Eve at my mom's house, just like we did at my grandparent's house years ago. On Christmas Day, we visit the other side of the family and exchange gifts there. Then we come home and play with our new toys!

   This year, we started what we hope will be a new tradition. We participated as a church in the annual Christmas parade. We also used it as an evangelistic opportunity. It was very cool.

   What are some of the traditions that you share with your family? What are some of the old traditions you share and what are some new ones that have recently been added?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today I Made Tomato Powder - A Long Desired Item To Have

   Years ago, when I was little, a truck used to come through our neighborhood, and what the truck drivers sold was Charles Chips Potato Chips. Of course, we would get them. I loved the barbecued flavor potato chips.

    When I got older, I would try to replicate the things I liked as a kid. But how do you make the flavoring that goes on barbecue potato chips? The only barbecue flavoring I am familiar with are the liquid barbecue sauces. Putting barbecue sauce on potato chips doesn't even sound appetizing to me though.

   I was able to replicate many things, but making the barbecue flavoring that goes on potato chips was a mystery to me. That is, until I learned how to make tomato powder.

   Months ago, I found some web sites that help me understand how to make tomato powder. The step was so easy I don't know how I could have missed it.

   All you do is to take a couple of tomatoes, put them in a slow cooker or Crock Pot and turn it on high for about an hour, or until the skins start splitting. Then turn off the slow cooker (I don't remove the tomatoes until they cool off.). When they are cooled, peel the tomato skins off. I use the tomato pulp for making tomato sauce. We eat a lot of pasta and the sauce goes quickly. But take the skins and either dehydrate them or put them in an oven, turn it on the lowest temperature and leave it on for about an hour or two. Take them out and see if they are dried. If so, they can be ground. It is hard to grind just a small amount of skins, so I would take the skins and put them in a clean jar if there is just a little amount of skins. Do this often and you will get enough skins to make a decent amount of tomato powder.

  Also, when I take the skins off, I place them on a glass, ovenproof plate to dry on. You can let them air dry, but if the air has too much moisture, mold could grow on the skins.

   Here is something I am going to try:

Spicy Tomato Powder

Handful of dried tomato skins
a few pieces of dried hot pepper

Grind both the tomato skins and the dried pepper. Use the powder on baked chicken, fish, meatloaf, roasted potatoes, etc. Sprinkle on salad to spice up a salad.

I have not tried this yet, but I think it would turn out really nice.

Here is a web site that has a recipe for making tomato powder using a dehydrator http://homejoys.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-to-make-tomato-powder.html

The recipes for making tomato powder on this site uses the whole tomato, not just the skins. There are also recipes for tomato sauce and tomato paste by adding water to the powder.

Here is the slow cooker I use. I like it because it is small, and it also has different temperature settings (low, high, or keep warm). I have two other slow cookers like this but they don't have any temperature settings available.

  They actually still sell the food dehydrator that I have. I bought mine many years ago and it still works fine. Amazon has several to choose from and I have heard good reports of Excalibur dehydrators, although they are more expensive than the others.
 You can use an oven for drying tomatoes, but keep in mind that the lowest temperature on most ovens is 170 degrees. 150 degrees is ideal, but ovens do not go that low on their temperature, so check your food often if you are trying to dry them in the oven.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Look What I Made! Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies are a delightful way to create a memory for loved ones to remember Christmases in the past. I have been making this recipe for years, and I believe it is a recipe either made by Hillary Clinton or a recipe that she likes. I came from a homemaking magazine, but I can't remember which one.

   Every year I try to make a couple of batches of Gingerbread men. Also, a new cookie I like is a chocolate chip cookie made with butter and cream cheese. These cookies turn out very large, even when I try to make them small! They remind me of the ones you can buy at the stands inside the malls. I can see why people would buy them. I made a batch and put them out at a garage sale, and sold all I put out, and one lady wanted one even though they were gone, so I went into the house and got her the cookie and she bought it.

   I have been trying to soak anything that is made with grains, but, I haven't found a recipe yet that will teach me how to make soaked cookies. Unsoaked grains can cause gas, much like the kind you find in baked beans. But for right now, I will pay a little extra money if I am making small batches of cookies, and buy organic ingredients, as much as possible.

   We used to make these and give them to the neighbors at Christmas time, but recently, the neighbors are never home, or perhaps they are, but won't answer the door. I will continue to make cookies at Christmas time to create a good Christmas memory, if not for anything else.

   Cooking is a lot of work, but it is worth it when you can make something worthwhile. Homemade cookies have less (if any) preservatives and other harmful ingredients compared to store bought cookies.

   Maybe when coconut sugar is less expensive and more available, we can use that for the 'sugar' that I hate to use in cooking or baking.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas Is A Time - Joy And Warnings

     Christmas is a great time to make family memories and to celebrate the event of the birth of God's Son. This is a time for rejoicing and celebration, but it doesn't happen that way for everyone. For some, it brings back sad memories. And for some of us, dangers could be involved.

    As I get older, I realize a new, dangerous habit I am developing. I will put some water on the stove, to get really hot, but not boiling, with the hopes of making a nice cup of tea. Unfortunately, I have walked into the kitchen hours later only to find a horrible smell and a pot that is almost ready to toss out.

   I can't tell you how many times I have done this, but it is getting to the point where I need to put a timer on to remind me to check the water. I haven't lost much if all my water boils away, but if I forget completely, I *could* end up burning the house down!

   I don't really like candles that much, probably because I know they are dangerous. Not only is the scent not good to breathe in, but I have cats and little grandchildren who could knock the candles over. And of course, the worse case scenario is that I would forget that I have candles lit inside the house and the tendency for me to forget that they are there could be great, as this happened a couple of weeks ago.

   My friend was over, and she is really good at decorating. Her home is very cute and attractive, and I enjoy having her make mine look like that too, when she comes over. I don't know how many candles were lit, and I thought we blew them all out the night before, but as I was sitting there looking out of the bathroom I spied a candle that was still lit. This was the day after the event! Can't believe I did that!

   Do you like to celebrate people's birthdays? When my children were little, it was fun designing parties for them. One time I had a western theme and used things around the house to make it look like we were out west. Since we were into homeschooling, we had lots of materials to help us understand what it would have been like to live out west in the olden days. Of course, we also played out the Prairie days with our Little House on the Prairie attire. So much fun we had in those days. But today it isn't all that different. We can celebrate the event of God sending His Son to live on earth and to eventually die in order to become the atonement we needed to have for our salvation. What a great event. It is the greatest event that ever happened on the earth.

   Imagine how surprised the shepherds felt that night when the angels appeared to them, while they were tending their sheep in Bethlehem! They may have been waiting for the Messiah to come, and having no idea what that was going to look like when it did come to pass, they obeyed the angels and went to see the baby that they were told about. Any of us would have been terrified as well, if we saw a group of angels rejoicing in the sky and telling us to go somewhere. When the shepherds got over their fear, they were able to think clearly again and went to the place where Mary and Joseph were, with the newborn Son who was the Creator of everything.

   What is interesting is that Jesus did not come to earth to become a sacrifice for fallen angels. Jesus only died for human beings, yet, angels longed to look into this for centuries. They were very excited when Jesus was coming to earth. Did you know that angels celebrate whenever a person comes to Christ? We celebrate our physical birthdays, but the angels celebrate when we are born again.

   We don't know if Jesus was actually born on December 25th, but it really does not matter. There are theories about when Jesus was born, and there are some clues that could lead us to believe that His birth could actually be around that very time. But whether it is on that day or not, or even if His birthday is in the summer, it doesn't matter. We know He came to earth and that is what we are celebrating. We don't know if it was snowing outside or raining, or maybe it was a nice, sunny day, but the fact that He came to earth is what we are celebrating.

    Sometimes, we don't get to celebrate our birthdays on our actual birth date because of work or school, or some other event that gets in the way. But many of us celebrate the occasion when we get the opportunity to do so, even if it is a month or two later.

   Celebrating a birthday is a way of honoring someone. We are recognizing their birth and by celebrating their birthday, we are acknowledging that someone who has been created in God's image, has been placed on earth, in order to live his or her life out, for the glory of God. We are respecting their lives and God's creation. This is different than worship. Worship is recognizing Someone for who they are and how they relate to us. God is the only one who is worthy of that kind of affection and trust. We honor God and we worship Him because He is God. We love and honor people because God tells us to and puts it into our hearts to love and serve others with the love of Christ.

   Christmas is a time to give and serve. It is one of the best times to teach our children how to be generous. We take the Samaritan's Purse catalog and pick presents out for those in need, who live in Third World countries. This is a good time to stretch our brains and come up with ways we can serve and evangelize. Did you know that elderly people love stuffed dolls? We could make a bunch and visit those in the nursing home, and bring the dolls with us to give out in the rooms. We can use these opportunities to make God's name known, as we rejoice at the birth of God's Son. The list of ideas is endless, and many need to be served during this season. The best gifts are the ones we give to others to make others happy and to meet the needs of the needy.

  So, have a Merry Christmas this year and be careful how you eat and spend your time and money. Blow all the candles out and don't leave anything on the stove if the stove is turned on. Keep the poinsettias away from the dogs! And don't let little babies play with toys that have small parts they could put into their mouths and choke on. Rejoice in the fact that God sent His only Son to earth, in order to live a perfect life for us, and then to die in our place, to take the punishment for our sins. Keep the focus on God, and don't let the world enslave you into thinking that Christmas is a time to build our material kingdoms, and to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Can Single Women Be Homemakers?

  Does being a 'homemaker' apply to women who have husbands, children, or both, or does it apply to every woman who is in Christ, whether she is single or not?

  The family set up was interesting in the Bible days. Families were literally closer. In homes where the woman was widowed, the sons, usually the oldest, took on the family responsibilities for providing and protecting. Many homes were multi-generational. We do have that here in America today, as well. But we do have a lot of single people who live alone, or with a group of other singles, which is something that I don't think happened so much during the Bible days.

   Let's take Mary and Martha, and use them as an example. They were single women. Perhaps they were widows, but, more probably, they never married. They lived with their brother, Lazarus. He was basically the head of the household. This positioning did not prevent Mary and Martha from being hospitable though. Martha must have been a pretty good housekeeper as she valued those skills highly, as seen during the time Jesus visited their home. Martha put too much emphasis on the details of how the house looked and if the roast was cooking right (I know, this is speculation). But Mary was the one who was actually the hospitable one. She was the one who gave her full attention to Jesus during His visit. If Jesus came to your home today, would you be more concerned about what your house looked like, or would you rather learn from Him while He is visiting?

  Mary and Martha had good homemaking skills. Their visitors felt welcome when they came to their home. But there were other women, as well, who served those in the church by using their homes. Lydia was such a woman. In Acts 16, we read about a woman named Lydia. Not much is told about her, except that she had a household. It doesn't appear that she had a husband, but it could be that he was there too. But as we read on, she invited the Apostles into her home. I love this. Here is the account from Acts 16:15 "And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us." ESV. Not only did she invite the Apostles over, but she 'prevailed' upon them. I would think the means something like when I would go over to my mom's house after I got married. "Here's some cookies. Have some. I can make you some bacon and eggs. Have a sandwich. Why don't you stay for dinner." I imaging Lydia was like that. "Come on Paul. You guys need to stay at my home. We have stuff to eat and places where you can sleep. Bring those with you.There's plenty of room for everyone. You can stay as long as you like. If you ever come back to our town, you know you have a place to stay." 

   Keep in mind this fact; If you want to show hospitality like that, you will have to keep up with your household chores. You can't invite people over if the pile of dishes has been sitting there all week, or the crust on the countertops is getting higher and is being enjoyed by the cockroaches. There are some basic homemaking skills that will have to be employed, if you want to have people over to your house. 

   God wants us to use our homes as places of refuge, safely, comfort, and hospitality. This job is primarily given to women. They are to run their households, whether they are married or not. Even if the woman lives with her mom, or her parents, she can still take ownership for many things inside the home. She can help out financially, but she can also help with the upkeep of the home. She can help keep the countertops cleaned off and clean the bathrooms for whoever will be using them, whether it be a guest or a family member. There is always laundry to do, and many household chores which end up taking a lot of time. Changing linens and airing out the house is helpful too. 

  One of the best ways that indicate homemaking skills are necessary, is in the area of hospitality. In the days of Early America, there were these places called 'Inns' and they were people's homes which were situated in areas where others would travel. If someone were tired and there was a nearby Inn, they could stop in and rest or even spend the night. It was like a hotel, but it didn't cost anything. People could wash up and sleep and get ready for travel the next day. Running an Inn does not happen by itself. It takes a lot of work to make the house ready for people to stay over. But that is what we are called to do. We are not all called to run Inns, but we are to open our homes to those who are in the church or in need. 

   I say this cautiously though, for today, we need wisdom and discernment. Obviously, a single woman is not going to house a man. That would be dangerous and could lead to ruin. We are not going to open our homes to just anyone because of the dangers of being raped, robbed, or kidnapped. We live in a society where many think this is just a normal, o.k. way of living, and will abuse those who are showing compassion. But there are definitely ways to show hospitality to others, by using our homes. And it doesn't required being married and having children to do this, although this is an important dynamic, it is not necessary to show hospitality with.

Our homes can be bakeries, restaurants, hotels, and places to have conversations. Single women can do this! If you are a single woman who knows the Lord, please don't assume you are not a homemaker! You are one, and you can use your skills to serve others in the body of Christ. 

   How many times has there been an event through the church that requires the use of a house? How many times have we been in a position where we could use someone's home for a meeting place? I have a friend who lives in a condo, who is a single woman with grown children. I love the way she is using what God has given to her, for his purposes. She rents out a clubhouse and has it available for women to meet and pray. She is being very resourceful with what God has given her. 

  So, I think there is a bigger part of the picture that we don't see. So many times, we miss God because we make assumptions based upon what we have learned and already know, and somehow we don't even think of all the possibilities there are out there for God to use us. 

   Let us not just think of our homes as a place where we take a bath at night, and sleep on a bed. There is much more that God wants to do in our hearts concerning our homes and homemaking abilities. For each woman, it will look a little different. Let God show you how you can use your home for His glory and in serving others in the church. 

An old, Early American ad for a woman to be hired to do
the domestic chores that the seeker is looking for. It must
be a very old ad, as the letter s looks like an f. That is how
the letters looked in the days when the King James Version
of the Bible was being printed. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Does Your House Match The Ones In 'Good Housekeeping' or 'Better Homes And Gardens'?

   I am so amazed at how Americans prize beauty so much. We love beauty and comfort, but at what expense?

  Take bugs for example. Both men and women hate bugs. Roaches are especially hated. And yes, some bugs do harm, and must be removed. But what are the methods we use to get rid of them, and is getting rid of all of them necessary?

  Our yards look like they have been to the beauty shop. In some subdivisions, there are even contests on whose lawn is the most beautiful. There are even ribbons put into the yard to show appreciation to the owner of the beautiful yard. But what are the trade offs? How does God see all this?

   Many women struggle because they don't think their house measures up to some certain standard. My goal for you is to set you free from feeling like you have to keep up a certain standard.

   For 25 years, I have been homeschooling my children. If you want to do homeschooling properly, your house is not always going to be clean. You see, your children have to learn, and they need to be in a house where they can learn and experiment. Even if you do not homeschool, your home is still your children's primary place of learning.

  If you are homeschooling or if you have children in your house, you have probably figured out by now, that your home does not match the pictures of the homes in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I hope you can be ok with that. I hope that you realize, that if you are in Christ, God accepts you (and your home) just the way it is.

   In some ways, your house is going to be like a laboratory. If you are aware of the many things going on in the food industry, you will realize the need to prepare your own food, and if you are really adventurous, you may even be growing your own organic garden. You are doing this because you love your family and want them to be nourished, and you know that if you open up boxes and cans of prepared food every night for your family to eat, that the trade-off will be the health of your family members. Your kitchen will not always be neat and tidy. There will always be activity going on inside of our kitchens and other areas of the house.

  God is a God of order, and I am not saying that a homemaker should be lazy or disorganized. But realistically speaking, it takes a lot of work to make a home, and to properly take care of those living in the household. Your piles of messes can still have organization to them, and when projects are finished, then they do not have to be left out. We use bins and containers, along with book shelves and storage places to make things look tidier and to keep things off the floor, so they do not get lost or broken.

   My house will never look like the ones on the cover of the magazines. I have different cultures growing in different rooms. I buy food in bulk and there is never enough room in the cupboards or shelves to store the food. The linen closets are small and only hold a small amount of linens. I can see that homes are designed for families with one, or at the most, two children.

   We have to compare our ideals with what the Bible teaches. Regardless of what people say when they believe culture is more important than what God says, God has the ultimate authority in our lives. Culture would teach us that a woman needs to have a career. Staying home with children is old fashioned and worthless. Instead of women having an identity with Jesus Christ, their identity comes with their career. Many women today choose not to have children because of the cost and inconvenience, but God's perspective is different.

   Today, we see a lot of adults that are (or appear) stupid. I am not saying this to be mean. There are adults who do not even know that they need to look both ways before they cross the street. There are men who have no idea that they should carry heavy loads for women, and many adults today do not even know how to say 'please' or 'thank you'. Could it be that these adults were children who were 'left to themselves' with very little adult supervision? Could it be that mom wanted that career so bad, that the kids got left out of the deal? Could it be that dad got custody of the kids while mom was out flirting with men, and now dad has to try to be both mom and dad, and burned out by trying to hold 3 jobs to make ends meet, while the kids had to be left alone for long periods of time? Moms, wives, homemakers, you need to serve your families first! You hold the key to your homes being in order!

  Back to the beautiful houses. Do you want your house to be on the cover of a magazine, or, would you rather have your family be served, so they they can be trained and equipped to minister to a lost and dying world? Can you let go of the bugs for a while, and take the time to work with your teenager as he goes through a crisis? Can you use your lawn to produce nourishing food for your family instead of putting poisons on it to make your yard look beautiful?

   If you are listening to God's voice, and following what He says, your house and yard will probably never appear on a magazine cover. If you struggle with this, you can ask God to help you see what is most important. You can ask God to change your heart and to be satisfied with those things that will have everlasting results.

'The grass fades, and the flower withers, but the word of God stands forever.'
'Whatever we sow, we will also reap'.
'Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart'.
' A child left to himself brings his mother to shame.'
'The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.' (not in the Bible, but still a good quote).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Can Your Family Make An Impact?

   Years ago,  I was going through a hard time with going through depression, and my husband did not know how to help me. We had only been married for a couple of years, and were very young in our Christian experience at that time. We were part of a church where people, even famous people, popped in for a while, at during this time a man named Charles McFeaters and his wife were part of this church. They moved away after this, to start a ministry in the inner city around Hollywood, ministering to those on the streets and drug users who wanted to be free and delivered. My husband asked Charles what could he do to help me. Charles' answer was amazing, and helpful to this day. At the time, it didn't really register, but now it makes perfect sense. The answer was also very simple. Charles recommended that I start serving other people. Instead of sitting at home brooding over things that were bothering me, I needed to serve people around me. What a new concept. Why didn't I think of that before?

   Both of our families moved to other places. But I will always remember that concept even if I didn't put it into practice right away.

    What I am writing here today is simple. It is a way that families can serve others together. It doesn't have to be just one member out of the family doing this kind of activity, although that is not wrong, and sometimes it just works out where only one family member is envisioned to do these things while others aren't quite ready yet. But, families can work together and enjoy serving others as a family unit. It will be one more way for the family unit to become stronger.

   I was reading through my email this morning, and this email came from 'Focus on the Family'. It gave some insights on how to work together as a family to serve, along with some practical suggestions. So, I will copy and paste what is written by them, here.

How are you making an impact?

Do you think of yourself as a "world changer?" Most of us want our families to somehow make a difference, but sometimes it's hard to know where to start. It helps to remember that even if we may not feel positioned right now to do much of a tangible nature, since we are all part ofsomething bigger than ourselves we can still be involved in helping to impact our world.

Here are a few brief ideas for purposefully developing a "world-changing" mindset as a household:
• Volunteer together as an entire family—regularly or even occasionally—with local church 
or civic groups that reach out to those in need in your community (soup kitchens, work 
days, etc.).
• Team up as a household to research and learn about the challenges facing people 
in other parts of the world.
• "Adopt" a missionary family in a foreign land.
• Become acquainted with Christian ministries that specialize in assisting those affected 
by difficult circumstances (poverty, persecution, etc.).*
• If your family resources allow, consider participating in Christian relief efforts—for 
example, committing to long-term sponsorship of a specific child in a third world 
country, or making periodic donations to humanitarian organizations. **
•  Even if you can't give financially, make it a point to pray regularly, as a family, 
for those in need "close to home" and overseas.

    * According to Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (When Helping Hurts), there is a 
difference between relief type of help and developmental/rehabilitative help. Many 
times, compassionate people offer relief type of help, when they should be offering 
rehabilitative or developmental type of help. The reason I am noting this is that when 
helping people, especially in the Third World countries, and whether they realize it 
or not, we are harming them and actually degrading them when we offer relief to 
them instead of giving other types of help which really will in turn help these 
people get back on their feet. Giving people handouts normally does NOT help 
them. It keeps them in a state of poverty and keeps them looking for handouts 
instead of work. The exceptions are when a country or area of the world has 
been hit with a catastrophe, such as a Typhoon or hurricane, in which cases 
they do need immediate relief. In those cases, we can help as families as well 
by providing funds or giving our time to help in a crisis. But most poverty 
situations are best helped by helping the communities to learn how to develop 
where they are. Families can help with the needs. I recommend the book, 
'How to Help' by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

** Tim Timmons, A Christian music artist, recommends Compassion 

International. His family has sponsored children through this organization 
which helps with the development of children in Third World Countries. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A New Activity For The Family - Worm Composting

  Gardening can be a fun activity, if you start out small, and take time to learn the ins and outs of it. It is enjoyable to watch a plant grow from a tiny seed, then produce food. Also, it is more nourishing than the store bought vegetables, because you can control what you use to feed the plant, and you won't have to worry about the produce having been around for too long either in traveling from farm to the store (which could take many days) or if it has been on the shelves for more than a couple of days. (Produce has the most nourishment when it is picked.)

  Organic gardening is even more fun! It can be an expensive hobby, or, it can be a simple activity if you want to grow one or two plants. Always start out small (I know, I never follow this directive, but I will tell others to, simply because I get in over my head when I do things like this)! If you start out small, you can manage your garden more easily, and as time goes on, you can add more plants.

    Gardening can be a fun family activity as well. If you have a large enough yard, you can build a few garden beds and give each child the responsibility for one of the garden beds. I know this could be a challenge if you have 10 kids! Start out small, and as you learn the ropes, add more garden beds.

    There are different ways of gardening. Some of the methods can be used together as well. I have used the Square Foot Gardening method most of my gardening life. It produces a raised bed, which helps with drainage. You add the specific ingredients the book calls for (Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew). You build the soil and add compost and other ingredients.


 I don't recommend using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, as those are toxins and are harmful for use to ingest. I remember one time, I watched a television show on the wheat the the big flour companies grow on their big farms. They showed pictures of people who were spraying the wheat with pesticides using their machinery. After that, every time I would buy flour from the store, I remembered that show. There were no alternatives back then (no one had ever heard of organic gardening) so I reluctantly bought the tainted flour. Of course, we always prayed over our food and trusted that God would protect us from any harm in it. Is it any wonder that so many people in America today cannot eat wheat products?

    There is also another gardening method that is fantastic. You can find videos on this type of gardening on Youtube. It is called, 'Back to Eden' Gardening. It involves using layers of newspapers, compost, leaves, and wood chips. You put those in several layers. I use the black and white newspapers (Omit the colored parts of the newspapers as they may have toxins). The man who invented this way of gardening, Paul Gautschi, is very successful at growing most everything he plants.


 Back to the worm composting. Whatever methods you use in gardening, your plants will need food. You need to choose a good, natural food for your plants. Miracle Gro, a chemical fertilizer,  is much like synthetic vitamins that we can buy at the store. You have really good growth for a while, but then it doesn't work well. Making compost is the best way to make plant food. Anything that ends up valuable, takes time to make.

   Years ago, we lived next door to a family who gardened. I also was learning how to garden. I tried to grow pea plants, but nothing happened, until one day, I got some cow manure and put some around the plants. Then they took off. But we moved away before I could get anything from them. But the man next door would take his food scraps and place them around his plants in his gardens. I thought that was interesting and had been doing that ever since, that is, until the raccoons and squirrels misunderstood and thought I was providing them with a midnight snack!

   I have a couple of composting bins in the house. I also have some probiotic stuff to put in them that contains microbes which will eat the food scraps and turn them into compost, if I do it right (and not make it too wet).

    But, I do have a worm compost factory (I think that is what mine was called). It is black, and has three trays. You have to put in some type of medium for the worms to live in, so I used coconut coir. I put my food scraps in the top tray and let the worms enjoy them. In turn, they make compost for me. The compost ends up on the bottom tray, and you scoop it out as you need it. (You have to remove the top trays to get to the bottom one!)

  Here is the url to the worm composting page that I made: http://gardens4all.blogspot.com/p/vermiculture-aka-worm-composting.html

  My grandson enjoys looking at the worms when I lift up the top tray. Worms do not like light, so they will scurry down into the medium to get away from it.

   The worms will multiply and there will be a lot of them, if they are fed right. What they produce that is so valuable is called 'worm castings'. In the video on the worm composting page, Uncle Jim shows a picture of what the worm casting looks like. That is what the food is that is so good for the plants.

   If you are homeschooling, this is a good project to work on. It teaches science to the children, and they get to see what happens with their own eyes. But even if you are not homeschooling, your children will enjoy watching the worms do their thing. Who knows. Maybe they will take the worms up as pets. And that would make it all worth it.

  And if you get really good at it and have a productive worm farm, you could even sell your worms. People use them for gardening, and also for fishing bait. You could have a family business as well!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Easy To Make Caramel Sauce or Caramel

   Several months ago, I was looking at recipes to make caramel sauce, but without using sugar. I found that you could make caramel by boiling down fruit juice, such as apple or pear cider. The first time I made this, I cooked it too long and now it is stuck in the jar!

   I decided that I would make it again using pear cider and with more careful observation. Instead of letting it boil though, it was on a soft simmer for a long time and nothing was happening. Finally, I decided to turn up the heat and let it boil down some more. Not wanting to end up with taffy again, I took it off the stove and poured it into a small Mason jar. This time it turned out more like syrup. It is extremely sweet though, and makes a good topping for ice cream or anywhere you want to use a sweet syrup with.

  Here's how to make syrup or caramel:

Take about 2 cups of cider (pear cider is good) and let it boil down on a slow simmer. Keep an eye on it as it boils by checking often. Don't do the mistake I did by letting it continue to boil over an extended amount of time. Nothing was happening, so I decided to let it continue to boil softly for a while more. By the time I came back to pour it into the jar, it was somewhat hardened. The sauce will become thick as it boils down.

Here is where I got the original recipe for this: http://www.greenthickies.com/how-to-make-caramel-syrup-honey-sugar-free-vegan/

Yes, now you can have your caramel and eat it too!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Time To Clean House!

   Whenever someone moves out of their home into another, and I have to help with cleaning, I am always reminded of the need to keep our houses clean.

   I am not talking about having OCD, but just to take the time, each day or every other day to keep up with cleaning. If a person does not keep up with keeping the house clean, guess what happens? First of all, dirt is harder to clean if it is left on surfaces. And if you are moving out, you are expected to leave the house you just came out of, clean! If it is not found clean, you will not get your deposit back!

   Let's talk about cleaning. There are two aspects of cleaning. One is the organization of our possessions. The other has to do with removing dirt from countertops, floors, toilet bowls, and bathtubs. You could have a very organized home, but with a crust of dirt 1 inch thick! Or, you could have a home where stuff is lying everywhere, but underneath all it is basically clean. The goal is to have some organization of the 'stuff' we have, and to have as much of the dirt removed as possible.

   I know there is a debate about the dirt issue, for if you continue to use products that will kill germs, you will kill both bad germs and good germs. If you kill good germs, then you will kill the germs that help build immunity. If you have bad germs around, then eventually, good germs will come around to fight the bad germs and that is how you build a good immunity. But, I reason that if you have some bad germs around that could cause you to be very sick, you might not have time for the good germs to come around to help build a good immunity system. So, you have to take the whole picture into consideration.

   The key to organizing 'stuff' is to have a place to put everything. That's where bins and bookshelves come in handy. Stores are big on selling bins, and we really can use them! That's something we didn't have in the olden days! But today, we can organize things better and not leave them out to get lost or broken.

  Why should we pick up after ourselves? It is part of being responsible. What causes us to not be responsible? The main reason is laziness. God does not want us to be lazy, but industrious. Let's say we just take off our socks and leave them on the floor. Is it any wonder that we can't find the right match to our socks when we need them?

   I just don't think we really know how to clean our houses today. When I was little, the houses we lived in were small and my mom spent a lot of time cleaning the house and ironing. I remember her in front of the ironing board continually. But I also remember other women coming over and just sitting there watching television. Maybe their houses were already cleaned or maybe they hired a maid to clean the house. I'm not sure, but there is a whole lot more for women to do than to just sit on a couch every day and watch soap box operas.

   A big issue with being clean is sanitation. There is a case of just being not overly clean, but it is another story when the house is filthy. People get diseases because of the unsanitary conditions in a home. Sometimes, children get impetigo or other diseases like ringworm. Being immaculate doesn't necessarily mean you won't get these things, but it does help. Being overly clean does not really mean you are more protected from germs though, as I already brought out in another paragraph. But there is a good balance of being on the clean side that is good protection and not extreme.

   One thing to note is that we do have to be careful about the cleaning products we use. Many contain bleach which is carcinogenic. I'm sure if we are trying to clean something really, really dirty it can be justified, but there are a lot of good cleaners out there that do not contain bleach or other harmful ingredients. Look for these products at the stores. You can also make homemade cleaning products that contain safe ingredients.

  Here is a list of suggestions of what to clean in a house:

1. Floors - can be mopped, vacuumed, or 'Swiffered' (A mop kind of implement with a duster attached, which can be moist or dry).
2. Kitchen and bathroom counter tops - Need to be cleaned often. Should not be left uncleaned as they are a haven for germs. Never leave sitting water on them. Use a different sponge for the bathroom and kitchen.
3. Toilet bowls - There seems to be controversy concerning how to clean these. There are toilet scrubbers that can be used for the inside of a toilet. If I am cleaning my own toilet, I just use my hand if necessary. Make sure hands are washed thoroughly afterward. All parts of toilet need to be cleaned, including the top and bottom of the seat as well as the outside of the bowl and tank. This doesn't have to be done everyday, but should be done often, or as needed.
4. Dishes - need to be washed after using. If you let food stay on dishes, it is hard to wash off later on. Some dishes can go in the dishwasher. Use a safe dishwashing soap. Put clean dishes away.
5. Sheets - Sheets should be washed in cold water because of shrinkage. They should be changed every week. Air drying sheets is nice to do, if your HOA doesn't have a fit about hanging laundry outside.
6. Towels - Need to be washed at least once a week. Check the label to see what temperature to wash them in. Fold and put away when dried. Have a place in a linen closet to put them in a pile so they will be easy to find.
7. Laundry - This covers a lot of things from towels, sheets, clothing, and underwear. Sort clothing out according to colors and temperatures. For example, wash light color clothing if the sheets are light colored and the clothing is supposed to be washed in cold water (check tags to see what temperature to wash at).
8. Cleaning up after preparing a meal - This is done often! Keep the crumbs off the counter unless you want ants to come and visit! It is not a good idea to leave dishes in the sink to be washed sometime tomorrow! Rinse them off and put them in the dishwasher or wash by hand and let them dry, then put away.
9. Cleaning the refrigerator and oven - This needs to be done, but not necessarily every day. Sometimes, there is a spill in the fridge and it can just be wiped up with a paper towel. Clean the refrigerator with soap and water. Clean the oven with soap and water as well. But use the automatic oven cleaner too. Be careful of using spray oven cleaners though as they contain harsh chemicals. Air out your house when you use the automatic oven cleaner.

   This is just a start of ideas of how to clean a house. You can probably add other things that need to be done. Please don't use nice smelling sprays to cover up bad odors. Air the house out and if possible, try to get rid of the cause of bad odor. Also, be careful in mixing certain household cleaners together, such as ammonia and bleach, as you could have a type of explosion on your hands!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Building Our Homes

   The Bible says that a wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman tears her house down. (Proverbs 14:1). I don't know about you but I certainly don't want to tear my house down.

  But you might ask, how does one 'tear their house down', or 'how does one build their house?'. What is the most common way to destroy something? It is with our words. Our words can destroy people. Our words can give life to people.  

  How do you think a child will grow up, if he hears words about himself that are degrading? What if a parent calls him dirty names and tells him he is worthless? Do you think that child will grow up into an adult who is functional in society? 

  Some of us, as women, want control and we want to make sure there is nothing to threaten our control of others, so we use our words as weapons. I have even seen families which were divided because a person set people up against each other, and gave names and labels to family members which may have been true, but to reinforce bad habits or even sinful weaknesses by labeling someone is a very bad thing to do. 

  Of course, we can go the other way and flatter our family members, but eventually, that too, will backfire. So, how do we encourage our husbands and children, without using flattery? 

   The key word in this whole thing is the word 'wise'. In order to answer the question properly, we must understand how one can be wise. The answer to this question is also found in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs 9:10, it says that the 'fear of the Lord' is the beginning of wisdom. 

  We can have two different kinds of wisdom. We can have earthly wisdom, or we can have 'wisdom from above'. In order to have wisdom from above, we have to fear God, and in order to fear Him, we have to know Him, and know what He is like. We have to know what the issues are so we can understand who we are and who God is in relationship to us. 

  God is different than we are because He is uncreated. He also is all-knowing, present everywhere, eternal, holy, just, loving, pure, all-seeing, and perfect. We are His created beings, although we are affected by the fall of mankind when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. We live in a fallen world now, and everyone is affected by sin. Every man and woman is basically self-centered and self-seeking now. We operate independent from God, and none of us will seek God on his or her own. We want to call the shots, and we want to be in control. And we operate in ways that hurt people because of this. 

   We all have pride that rules our hearts. I know there are some people who exhibit pride more obviously than others, but we still operate with prideful motives. That is why we use our words to tear other people down with. Our words are weapons that hurt others. We hurt others because we believe that makes us more powerful. In a sense, it does, but in the end, it bites. 

   When we successfully destroy our homes, we are the ones who lose. If we live long enough to be in a nursing home, we can't expect those whom we have hurt to come visit us, or take us in. I have seen this when I visit nursing homes and it is very sad. 

    But, when we fear God, God gives us wisdom. It is unlike human wisdom and it is not self-serving. When we acknowledge God in all our ways, and trust in Him, He will guide us into His truth. Then we will begin to understand the love of God when He sent His Son, to die in our place to make the payment for our sins that we rightly deserve. When we understand that God loved us and made the greatest sacrifice for us, the love of God fills our hearts and we will begin to love those around us. When this happens, we will think less of ourselves and more of God and others. And when we love others, especially those in our homes, we will begin to speak the truth in love to them. We will be less tempted to gossip and slander, and we will use our words to bring Christ to them. 

   There is a difference in speaking the truth in love, and speaking words that might be true in order to slander another. We can speak the words of life to our family members and as they begin to respond to God, they will be changed. The words of God can change people, and when they learn that they can trust God, they will be more willing to turn to Him in obedience. 

   So, we can look at our words and see if they are tearing our family members down or if they are building them up. Are we speaking the truth in love to our children, or are we calling them names, hoping they will change by our doing that? 

   Are we cultivating a relationship with God? Are we basking in His presence or are we spending our time complaining about the weather or the electricity that just went out? 

   The choice is ours, and the results will be ours as well. We will reap, if not today, one day, whatever we have sown. If we have sown words that will heal, we will have a healthy family. If we have sown angry, belittling words, we will eventually have a crumbling family. 

For more information on the Gospel and our relationship with God, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com or http://test4gp.wordpress.com


They've made me feel like a prisoner
They've made me feel set free
They've made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They've lifted my heart
To places I'd never been
And they've dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words by Hawk Nelson