Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Review: The Betrayal by Douglas Bond



The latest work of historical fiction by Douglas Bond is a phenomenal read! It is the first I have read by the author and it did not disappoint. Eager to learn more of the life of the great reformer John Calvin and having difficulty grasping much of the non-fiction I've been reading (due to first trimester fatigue ;), I decided to turn my attention to a bit of fiction which requires less of my mental faculties. Tim Challies of Discerning Reader had reviewed this book favorably, and P&R had significantly discounted a few copies, so I ordered one for my personal library. I am so glad that I did! Bond holds the attention of his reader well with the suspense sprinkled throughout the text. Reading this work has helped me better grasp the climate of the time of the Reformation throughout Europe, the persecution that was so prevalent, and the enduring faith of the saints that have gone before me. I was reminded afresh that there are many who are currently enduring persecution just as the men and women of this time period, and I was stirred afresh to pray for my brothers and sisters. The book also stirred me afresh to memorize and mediate on Scripture that I might always be prepared to give an account for the hope that is in me (1 Pt. 3:15).

I have a lot of respect for Calvin and the way that God has used him to shape our modern-church. Though he was not a perfect man, just as we are not perfect, there is much to learn from his life.

"Christ came to save sinners...And only those who believe that they are great sinners will be saved...You...are a great sinner. Yet is Christ a far greater Savior. Flee to him alone" (Douglas Bond, The Betrayal, pg. 371).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Win A Baby Carrier

11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven is giving away a gorgeous Hotslings baby carrier!



To enter click HERE.

Momma's Joyful Little Helper



What a blessing it is to have happy helpers! I think somebody needs a pint-size apron! ;)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cost of Giving Birth

So lately I've been doing some number crunching as I consider various options for bringing our new baby into this world...not that numbers are everything...there are many other factors to consider, but numbers are more objective so I don't mind sharing that data ;)

These are the charges for Harrisonburg OBGYN, Labcorp, Rockingham Memorial Hospital, and Valley Children's Clinic (who sees the newborn in the hospital):

Harrisonburg OBGYN: $2,500
Initial Ultrasound: $ 165
20-week Ultrasound: $ 265
Lab work (minimum): $1,159
RMH Room Charge: $3,995 (1 day)
Pediatrician: $ 175

Total: $8,059

With the lab work, I have excluded many of the tests (i.e. HIV, many STDs, Triple Screen, etc.)

I've also had to factor in gas as I live over an hour away from the doctor's office. At 46 miles each direction, figuring about 20 miles per gallon, and current gas cost at $2.85, gas would cost $170.43. Not to mention other wear and tear including replacing brakes and changing oil as a result of the extra 1200 miles I would be putting on my vehicle.

So...with a 20% co-pay and gas, we have $1,822.23...add brakes and an oil change, as well as the other miscellaneous items that I haven't taken into consideration and you've racked up quite a bill. Note: this is not including any drugs...not for induction, pain killers, or anything. If they give you pitocin, pain meds (including ibuprofen), you will be charged extra for those things.

This is the first time I've had a co-pay so the data is very enlightening. Every hospital is different, but this is an approximate figure in 2009 for a standard vaginal birth with no complications at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA (pretty much the least expensive birth you can have ;). Hopefully, somebody else will find this helpful. Please share if there is anything that I have failed to consider as I am trying to get the most accurate figure that I can. ;)

(For those of you who might be wondering about Grant Memorial Hospital, I am still waiting on a return call to find out what the room charges there are, but so far, everything else is comparable (some things a little higher, some a little lower, but pretty much coming out the same in the end ;) It is a little closer, so mileage would be cheaper and there is no mountain so probably less wear and tear on your vehicle...but anyway, I'll let ya know what I find out there too ;)

Update: Never could get the data from Grant. Sorry folks!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christian Audio Sale



You can download the ESV Hear the Word Audio Bible for just $7.49 (that's an 80% discount) between now and December 4 at Christian Audio.com. For those of you who like this format, that's a pretty nice deal ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Little Plum


Week 12: Plum
Average size: 2.1 in, .49 oz

According to The Bump, this is the approximate size of our little one about now. It's hard to believe that something so tiny can make you feel so different!

Friday, November 13, 2009

She Sings

Many have asked us if our three-year-old talks since she is so quiet when people are around. I can assure you that she is a perfectly normal three-year-old, albeit a bit shy. She was singing this morning so I decided to capture a bit of it for ya ;) Not only does she speak, she also sings praises to God...at home :D


Friday, November 6, 2009

Blueberry


Okay, last week, the crazy picture of the pea was larger than life since I snagged it from another site. When I actually pulled a pea out of the freezer to show the children, it was surprisingly small in comparison. So this week, I got my own picture...not a great one, but one I can claim. Little baby has about doubled in size in just one week going from .25 to about .51. Amazing! So we've gone from a pea to a blueberry, according to the folks over at The Bump. Also, according to scientists, baby is "generating" about 100 new cells every minute! I'd say God is knitting this one together mighty quickly! ;)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Little Sweat Pea

According to The Bump, my little one is about the size of a sweat pea this week...about 1/4 of an inch. And baby's heart should have started beating around about this week...depending on how accurate our calculations are :D



Week 6: Sweet Pea
Average size: .25 in


Anyway, interesting little tidbits...last week baby was only about the size of an apple seed....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Baby Bear Discovers the World

This is a wonderful little book about a baby bear who goes off to discover the world...without his mother. All the while, other animals ask baby bear why he is exploring without his mama. He assures everyone that he is big enough to be exploring on his own...until he finds trouble. This book has great wildlife pictures and can be used as a springboard to discuss pride and wildlife with your little ones. (Although the author doesn't directly mention pride, it is portrayed in a negative light.)

We found this book at our local library, but I think it would make a great addition to any families' personal library.

Happy reading!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Drafts

For those of you who are wondering where the posts have gone...I have many drafts, but my thoughts aren't quite coming together. They make sense to me, but I doubt I'm connecting the dots in a way that they would make sense to you. So...I'm pondering and editing and maybe, one day, I'll post something again that will hopefully make sense and benefit those who read here ;)

Thanks for reading and being patient with this inconsistent blogger!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Jesus Storybook Bible



Great News! The folks at Zondervan are printing a deluxe edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible. Our family has thoroughly enjoyed this Bible story book, and some things have even been made more clear to me as a result of the author's re-wording of familiar passages.

Check it out!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mull It Over, A Bit

Commenting on the lost art of reading, an LA Times article states: "Today, it seems it is not contemplation we seek but an odd sort of distraction masquerading as being in the know. Why? Because of the illusion that illumination is based on speed, that it is more important to react than to think, that we live in a culture in which something is attached to every bit of time."

Sometimes, we must detach and contemplate. Often, it is not in reading blips (ex. blogs, tweets, etc.) that we grow, for we do not take the time to ponder them long enough; rather it is in the reading of books where we become so absorbed by a concept that it begins to seep into the fabric of our life. This is why we do not merely read the Scriptures, but we meditate on them day and night (Joshua 1:8, Psalms 1:2)!

On what are you meditating lately?

Monday, August 10, 2009

He Loves Me!

I recently tripped over Sam Storms' book The Singing God: Discover the Joy of Being Enjoyed by God. I really like other things that I've read by Storms, but I completely blew this off. I was afraid that thinking about how much God loves me might cause me to become proud...or something (I now see the foolishness of that thought because it's not that He loves me because of something I have done but because of what Christ has done so there really is no room for boasting anyway).

After reading Mark Altrogee's post today, God brought to my mind this thought: "We love because He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19, ESV). Thus we should be able to grow in our love for Him by focusing on His love for us. Anyway, it did persuade me to order the book.

The weird thing is...this isn't the first time I've had this thought...I remember writing in the corner of a bulletin not too long ago something about growing in my desire/love of God by focusing on His love for me with this very same verse! -- I just can't seem to keep it in my mind. Surprise, surprise...it's like the Garden of Eden all over again. Satan essentially caused Eve to doubt God's love for her. When we truly believe that God loves us, obeying Him will be pure delight because we know that He wants what's best for us. As Storms says in his book More Precious Than Gold, "What we so often fail to see, however, is that God has commanded nothing but what is conducive to our maximum spiritual satisfaction. He forbids us only that which would diminish our capacity to enjoy him to the fullest" (pg. 255).

So...how do you keep God's love for you fresh in your mind on a regular basis?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Separation

As I was reading in Isaiah this morning, the words weighed heavy on my heart:

"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).


The passage continues with its sad tune describing my heart and my situation before God:

"Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.


I had to stop there with my reading as household duties called, but God was kind to bring to my mind Scriptures to keep me from despair:

"...remember that you were at one time separated from Christ, alienated from the common-wealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:12-13, ESV).

As I consider these words, my heart swells with joy!

Alas, when I could come back to this chapter, great hope lies within it as well:

"The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him...'And a Redeemer will come to Zion to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,' declares the Lord" (Isaiah 59:15-16, 20-ESV).


Those who were in darkness have seen a great light! Praise be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord that I am one of those who has seen a great light!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: Peacemaking for Families

I recently borrowed Peacemaking for Families from a friend. The question that I was asking myself was, "Is it really necessary to get this book if I already have The Peacemaker by the same author, Ken Sande? Does this book add anything new?" What follows are my discoveries upon comparing the two books.

Peacemaking for Families (PFF) does indeed make a valuable contribution to the Christian bookshelf, even for those who may already own The Peacemaker (PM). The book is divided into four parts and totals twelve chapters. The first half of PFF is essentially an abridgment of PM with practical applications made to family life. Parts of the material are taken from PM verbatim while other parts are summarized. Depending on your personality, you may prefer one or the other.

(I must confess, I have not read either of these books in their entirety. I had borrowed both from a friend but found PM at a book sale shortly thereafter. As a result, I began reading PFF first so that I could return it to my friend. However, I did not want to re-read portions of the book that I would later be reading in PM. Thus began my comparison.)

While all of PFF is worth reading (especially if you don't have PM or haven't read it in a while), I found it particularly helpful starting with Chapter 7. Following that chapter, the second half of the book moves into practical application of peacemaker principals including:

Teaching Children to Be Peacemakers (Ch. 8)
Making Peace with Children (Ch. 9)
Conflict Between Adult Family Members (Ch. 10)
Getting Help for a Troubled Marriage (Ch. 11)
Insurance Policies for a Healthy Marriage (Ch. 12)

Here are a few quotes that were particularly meaningful to me:

"...if a child becomes resentful, sullen, or angry when not getting what he or she wants, it is evident that a worldly desire has taken control of his or her heart. In biblical terms, the desire has become a functional god or idol that is temporarily ruling that child's life" (Peacemaking for Families, pg. 117).

"The fact is, every time we have a conflict with a child, we have a choice to make: Am I going to make much of my child's sin, or am I going to make much of God's redeeming grace? It's one or the other. We will either 'glorify' our child, or we will glorify the Lord.

The more you focus on your child's behavior, the more likely you are to be controlled by bitterness, resentment, or anger. The more you focus on God's love and promises, the more likely you are to be led to repent, confess, forgive, and change.

Therefore, when you find yourself in a conflict with your child, develop the habit of pausing for a moment before you speak. Reflect on who you are in Christ--redeemed and forgiven--and remember that God's covenant is not only for you but for you child as well (Acts 2:39). Quietly thank God for all He has done for you and your child through Christ and for all He is presently doing for both of you through the Holy Spirit" (Peacemaking for Families, pg 132-133).

"I want to emphasize again the importance of always ministering the gospel when confronting others…Jesus died for your sins as well as mine. He paid for all of them on the cross. He has come into my heart and forgiven me of my selfish, prideful desires. With His help, I am determined to change my attitudes and behaviors toward you and everyone else in the family. And He can help you to do the same…" (Peacemaking for Families, pg 159-160).


I'll stop there on account that the book is copyrighted! However, if you'd like more of a sampling, check these out:


Teaching Children to Be Peacemakers - Twelve Principals



What It Takes to Teach Children Peacemaking Skills


Appendix F - The Cross and Criticism by Dr. Alfred J. Poirier (A Phenomenal Article!)

You can also find the Table of Contents and part of Chapter 1 at Christian Book Distributors site.

Happy Reading!! I'd love to hear your comments if you've read this book or read this material!

Warmly,
Mrs. David Hankins

Saturday, July 25, 2009

S'mores

For those days when you want some of the above yummy goodness yet find the fire pit waterlogged, may I present to you the toaster s'more:


Oooooooooo! Aaaaaaaaaah! Beautiful!

BTW---Past experience has taught me to guard the timing of the toasting very carefully as marshmallows begin to smoke once the top starts to brown. They are flammable ;)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Solid Ground Christian Books

In a recent post, I told you that I was ordering the book Womanly Dominion from Solid Ground Christian Books. I also told you that I would share my first experience with this book store since they do offer competitive prices.

They promptly mailed me an invoice for my order which was postmarked the same day that I placed the order. The invoice stated that my order would be dropshipped from Calvary Press. The man that I spoke with when I placed my order had told me that shipping usually took three to five days so I anxiously waited to see if this company would fulfill their order. After waiting nine business days, I called the company to inquire about the status of my order. The man who answered the phone politely told me that he would check with the publisher to see if it had shipped, and would ship it priority mail if it had not yet shipped. Shortly after our conversation, I received an e-mail with a tracking number. The package was delivered within a few days.

All that to say, the company was courteous and helpful. I ordered my books on the 7th and received them on the 24th...just a little over two weeks. I would do business with them again...keeping in mind, of course, that it might be helpful to make a follow-up phone call if I have not received my books a few days after their expected arrival.

One other tidbit that I would like to explore in the future is Calvary Press' reseller discounts. If I knew of a book I wanted to order, I could probably have my church order it for our bookstore and still get a fairly significant discount off of the regular retail value. Of course, this publisher was likely to blame for my delayed order so I would definitely make sure that it was a book that I did not need immediately and also something inexpensive, just in case.

I hope that this information will be helpful for you and your family. Stay tuned for thoughts on the content of the book in the future. ;)

Warmly,
Elizabeth

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is Your Tent Waterproof?

About two weeks ago I would have said, "Yes". I mean, my wonderful Ozark Trail tent that I purchased years ago from Walmart has a rain cover and has faithfully gone through a few mild drizzling every now and again. This past weekend was our church's yearly picnic. We usually gather down at the local lake and enjoy a time of worship, message and then BBQ Chicken and pot-luck sides and desserts. We try every year to enjoy this retreat time and go camping. So Friday night we set out and enjoyed a great time of fellowship with some of our closest friends. The Bowman's with their 4 children and the Hersey's were out there with us. Saturday, Caleb stopped by to enjoy breakfast with us. Afterword we went for about a mile hike (with 8 kids it was quite far) and then went back to camp for lunch and some rain...

Kenny jinxed us I think because when we told him that we purchased our tent at Walmart he told us that our tent was going to leak. I didn't believe it at first, I figured a tent is a tent and besides, we had the handy rain cover on it. So after the rain had been going for some time we decided that we would go hang out in the tent and try to let the kids take a nap before swim time. As we got into the tent we realized that there was moisture on the inside of the rain cover. Worst yet, it was dripping right along the center line of our tent all the way across. We rolled up all our blankets and pillows into our sleeping bags and placed them in dry spots around the tent. After that we went back to our friends camp and hung out down there until it stopped raining.

We decided to go for the swim and allow some time for the tent to dry out a bit. Katherine, Matt and Grace all loved the water. Matt enjoyed playing in the sand more than actually playing in the water. Katherine was okay in the water as long as her feet touched the ground, and Grace only wanted Daddy to pull her around the lake. After that we went back to camp, grabbed some changes of clothes and went to the shower houses. That part went pretty well except my only pair of shoes I brought also somehow ended up with more water in it than what was coming out of the shower head.

Back to camp we went to check out our tent. At first inspection it looked like it might be salvageable. We started cleaning up a bit but as we unrolled the sleeping bags we realized that our blankets had been wet and it caused everything in the bag to be damp, wet and smelly. During this time frame we also found out that we had forgotten to pack the most important item for the camping trip, food for that night! It was about 8 o clock and I was hungry, my pillow and blanket were wet and the kids were crying. I made the call and told Elizabeth that we would wrap up and sleep at home Saturday night and come back for the tent on Sunday. I think our friends were a little upset at the fact that we were not out there that second night with them. I wished we could have stayed but things just were not working out.

After we got home and ate dinner (the food we forgot to bring with us) the kids fell right asleep. Elizabeth and I unpacked the camping gear and when we sat down for Ice Cream we heard a couple of loud crashes and bright lights flashing. Immediately I thought that the North Korean's were nuking WV! My wonderful wife jumped right up and said "Fireworks!" So we sat on our front porch watching an amazing fireworks show eating Ice Cream, looking forward to sleeping in our nice cushy warm bed while wondering how everyone was doing out at camp. Amazingly enough, the kids never woke up to the thundering boom of the fireworks either!

So that next week I went to Ace Hardware and found some Silicone tent waterproofing in a spray can which I paid around $5.99 for. I sprayed it on the rain cover of the tent and let it sit outside for about 3 days. On the third day it rained and it appears to again be waterproof. We are now set and ready for the next camping trip. Lessons learned on this one was:

A. Always double check the food situation

B. Just because you have a rain cover does not mean that your tent is waterproof. Spend the extra $6 and waterproof the tent.

C. If you have to go home early, you may get to enjoy an amazing Fireworks show and have a quiet evening with the love of your life.

Thanks for camping with us!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

War

As I watched a movie with my husband the other evening, a Biblical thought became more real to me. An individual was being pursued by an assassin who was hired by the government. It is a typical plot, but the thing that stood out to me was the intensity of the pursuit. I've seen it in a lot of movies. You always come away with that intense feeling and a bit of caution as if you too were about to be pursued as well. (At least I do, maybe I'm weird.) However, if you're a Christian, you are being pursued. 1 Peter 5:8 says:

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (ESV).

Furthermore, Ephesians 6 reminds us:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm...."
I recommend continuing on through the passage, but I won't put that all here now. The point in posting this is to provoke your thoughts as the Lord has provoked mine. Are you living with a wartime mentality? Are you keeping these things fresh in your mind each day? It is challenging. I recall the disciples with Christ before He was arrested. Christ told them:

"Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Luke 22:46, ESV).

May we all rise, pray, and take up the full armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil! Friends, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." May we never forget!


Thought for the Day

As I came to my Bible reading this morning, I found myself longing to turn to the New Testament as I've been reading the Old Testament since the new year. However, God is faithful to reveal Himself in the Old Testament just as He does in the New. How can I be ungrateful for any of these God-breathed words? Here is where God met me and spoke to me this morning, by His Spirit...

"Have you not sins of your own against the Lord your God?" (2 Chronicles 28:10, ESV)

Background:

Ahaz became king in Judah and did evil in God's site so God gave him over to the king of Syria and the king of Israel. The men of Israel took 200,000 men from Judah to make them slaves. These were their neighbors; their kin. Sure, the kingdom was divided now, but these were still God's chosen people. So, God sent a prophet with a message to Israel, part of which is the line above. God was calling them to be merciful just as God had been merciful with them.

Fortunately, the chiefs of Israel cared about what the Lord said. "They clothed them [the men of Judah], gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees" (2 Chronicles 28:15, ESV).

What about you and me? Although this prophet was speaking to Israel, Jesus said: "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36, ESV) for much the same reason. When we consider our own sins against God, how can we be anything but merciful to others? Few days go by when I am not impatient toward someone or something.

Who do you need to grow in mercy and grace toward in this season of your life?

How do you plan on expressing greater mercy and grace toward that individual?

I'll be seeking to grow in mercy and grace toward my children. I'm with them all day, every day. I get impatient when they disobey...again. Today it was getting into the baby wipes...again. I'm glad the God doesn't speak harshly toward me when I overeat...again and again and again. He is patient toward me; I must grow in patience toward others. How will I grow? I will meditate on these couple verses, and I will commit to praying daily that I will grow in grace and mercy. May you too grow in grace and mercy toward others!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Life...

The line, "This life is the worst it will ever get" on The Blazing Center was particularly encouraging to me today. My sin will never be worse than it is now. My sorrows will never be greater than what they are in this life. My trials will never be greater. My joy will be infinitely greater! Thought it might encourage you as well. Not that things are all that bad today, but life has its ups and downs...even if it is mostly a matter of perspective (and when it's not ;)..."This life is the worst it will ever get" HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Womanly Dominion

If you're considering joining the Girl Talkers for their summer reading, you may be interested in whetting your appetite by listening to the Iron Sharpen's Iron (by Monergism) interview of the author. You can find a lengthy preview of the book at Calvary Press Publishing's web site. The best price that I have found is through Solid Ground Books out of Alabama ($10.95), however, this will be my first time ordering through them. They seemed friendly on the phone, but I'll let you know how the order goes.

How about you? What are you reading this summer? Where are your favorite "places" to buy books?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Free Audio Book

I'm not a huge fan of listening to books because I enjoy interacting with the text on paper. However, this is a book every believer ought to interact with on some level, and it's a free download all month at Christian Audio.com - It's called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I'm half-way through it so I'll let you know how the other half goes. The first half is very convicting. I'm looking forward to getting into more application points.

If you check it out (or have already come in contact with this book), let me know what you think of it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's All Greek To Me

I came across this neat site for teaching Greek to kids today. Looks very do-able, and it is free until September 2010 as it is in process. However, it looks like it might be worth paying for...depending on what the cost will be.

**Interesting tidbit: "There are 5,437 different words in the New Testament. They occur a total of 138,162 times....319 words account for 110,425 word occurrences, or 79.92% of the total word count, almost four out of five....The point is that if you learn these 319 words well, you can read the bulk of the New Testament....Most introductory textbooks for other languages have about 2,000 words" (Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, William D. Mounce, pg.18).

So you see, learning Biblical Greek is not nearly as hard as you might suppose. For example, learn the word "kai" which is the Greek word for "and" and you know 1 out of 10 words in the New Testament! Awesome stuff!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Courage to Stand

Modestus: "I can take everything you own, exile you, torture you, or kill you."

Basil: "Is that all? Those things don't scare me."

Modestus: Of course they do. Don't try to impress me with your false courage."

Basil stepped forward and looked straight into his interviewer's eyes. "You cannot take from me what I do not have, unless you want these tattered rags I wear and a few books. You cannot exile me, because every land belongs to God and I am his guest no matter where he takes me. And torture!" Basil threw his hands in the air with a laugh. "Torture is nothing. Torture is the friend who delivers me to my Savior in death."

(Peril and Peace, pg. 125)

May God grant His believers courage to stand as strangers in the world!! May we count this world and the things within as nothing compared with the far surpassing greatness of knowing and serving the Christ who died for our sins!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Proverb

Where there are no children, the house is clean (peaceful, etc), but abundant blessings (happiness), reward, and heritage come by the multiplicity of children. (My proverb based on Proverbs 14:4 and Psalm 127:3-5...All rights reserved!! ;)


I edited this after my morning to include the peaceful bit because my children have been arguing quite a bit today (and lately). God knew just what I would need to encourage me through the day! May our family bring glory and honor to His name by His grace!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Men's Conference

Calling all men!! Looking for an opportunity to be encouraged??? This year's theme is Rescuing Ambition. The flier says, "Scripture makes it clear that ambition is not the problem, selfish ambition is. The problem is our aim. Time to aim higher"

Who?: Dave Harvey
Where?: Lynchburg, VA
When?: September 17-19, 2009

They even have a Father's Day Special...register May 31-June 21 to qualify for reduced rates! Check out the site for more information ;)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Generosity

What do you do when you have lots of diaper boxes around the house? Our area doesn't recycle and we truly hate to throw the boxes in the trash as that would not be very resourceful. We've used them to store clothes, toys, and books, but we're out of stuff to store. So...here is what we have determined...

We can use these boxes to ship useful items to friends and family...to bless them. Here is our first subject...

First, carefully pack the contents into the box.



Next, close and secure the contents of the box. Be sure to leave breathing holes for living gifts.





You may have to label the package, "Handle with care. Temperamental battery operated toy inside."

I won't say where this one is headed, I wouldn't want anyone in our family to reject their package! :D

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

May Pics

It has been forever since I've posted here...such is life. I've been doing lots of reading lately and haven't made time for much here. However, for the enjoyment of my family, I'm posting some pics from our recent trip to Jersey. It was such a joy visiting with all of you!! And we look forward to visiting with the rest of you soon ;)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking for a House?

Okay, I know I haven't posted for a while again...I'm very busy reading here lately. I'll post more on what I've been reading soon. However, I thought I'd pop in here just to let my faithful readers know that my friends are selling their house...just in case you ever wanted to move to the mountains ;) It is a nice, well-cared for home worth checking out. :D

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dare Devil

Grace has been learning how to ride a 4-wheeler. This is today's result.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You meant it for evil BUT...

But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50: 19-21

As I was reading this verse this morning, I was struck by Joseph's faith. In a time of uncertainty in our country, at least two things are certain:

1) God will work all things together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose, and

2) God will be glorified!

How sweet is the peace that comes when our hope is in our risen Lord! He took care of our most desperate need, how will He not freely give us all things?

Praise God!! - we don't have to be concerned about uncertain times like the rest of the world for our hope is certain!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tree and Shrub Order




Well, I finally ordered my trees and shrubs (since the deadline at the one place is the 13th). Here's what I ended up with:

1 - Blueberry, Lowbush and Sunshine Blue Blueberry (supposed to be an evergreen variety which I think will add character to the landscape ;)
2 - Reliance Seedless Grape
3 - August Red Raspberry (A rare ever-bearing variety) (There will be 10 of these.)
4 - Seascape Strawberry (Also and ever-bearing variety. This will produce this year...all 50 of them! :D)
5 - Asparagus - Purple Passion (supposed to be sweeter and less stringy than traditional asparagus)
6 - Allegheny Serviceberry (similar to blueberry and native to my area)
7 - Regent Serviceberry
8 - Siberian Peashrub (a nitrogen fixer that I'm testing ;)
9 - 2 Pawpaws
10 - Hazelnut, American
11 - Red Fortin Hazelnut
12 - Blue Bean Shrub (another interesting experiment ;)
13 - Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (has bright yellow flowers for 3 weeks in spring...flowering even before forsythia :D It also has edible fruit.

I'm praying that these things do well and that I'll be able to add more to them next year. We shall see. I still have to get some barrels so that I can collect rain water for these plants and put up a fence to keep the deer away. I also have to track down another load or two of manure. I'm going to try to talk to some folks and see what planting advice they have. The company will ship my stuff sometime between April 8-20 which is supposed to be the ideal planting time for my area. So I will be very busy when that delivery gets here. Thankfully, my husband said he would help...maybe he can take a personal day :P

Anyway, do you have any experience with any of these things? Are you planting any perennials this year?

Click here for more Thursday Thirteen.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

About a boy and a fish...



We went down to the local sports shop yesterday. It's always nice to visit friends :D While we were there, the kids were fascinated by the fish tank full of minnows. After watching them for a bit, the owner's son came over to the tank and got one out for our four-year-old son to hold. My husband and I were up front talking to the owner when the owner's son came around the corner and said to my husband, "You're son is just like you." We said, "What do you mean?" and headed towards the fish tank. Apparently, our son very quickly dropped the fish that he was holding and stomped on it...it was very flat and gooey with little splatters of yucky stuff...ewwwwwwwww.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Butter and Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream

Butter

The easiest way that I make butter is with a stand mixer. Simply put the cream in the mixer and turn it on low. Gradually increase the speed just as high as you can go without splattering cream everywhere. Stay right there with the cream as it will begin to thicken and you will need to continue to increase the speed. Within five or ten minutes (depending on your mixer and the temperature of your cream), the cream will separate into a chunk and whey. You really want to pay attention because you'll want to turn the mixer down again so that the whey does not splatter all over the kitchen. The chunk is your butter. Put it in a bowl and clean the excess whey off by running the butter under cold water and pushing on it with a spoon. Do this until the run-off is clear. If you want your butter to keep longer, simply salt it and store it in the fridge or freezer.

The Long and Fun Way


1) Put the cream in a jar.
2) Allow it to come to room temperature (which makes the cream separate more quickly ;)
3) Shake the jar until the cream separates.

Depending on how fast/hard you are shaking the jar, you should have butter in 15-20 minutes. However, it might take longer if you're letting your kids shake ;)

Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream (from Breadbeckers Recipe Collection)

To 1 cup of cream (can use fresh or whipping) drizzle 2 Tbs. mild honey (Tupelo or Clover) and a 1/2 tsp. vanilla while whipping.

Just like the butter, it does work if you want to whip it by hand, but it is much faster with a mixer. ;)

I recommend making this for use right away as it will begin to separate upon sitting.

Ricotta and Yogurt

Here are some of the things that I do when I have excess milk. (Ricotta and Crockpot Yogurt)

Zazi's Ricotta

1) Heat a gallon of milk to 180 at about medium high in a large pan. (Rinsing the inside bottom of the pan in cold water before starting will help keep the milk from sticking to the bottom ;) You don't want to heat on high because you don't want this to come to a boil and scorch the milk.

2) Stir in 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar. You will begin to see the milk separate into curds (ricotta) and whey.

3) Use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds out into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a thin hand-towel. This strainer should be sitting in a bowl so that the whey has some contained place to go ;)

4) Let the whey drain from the curds that you've scooped out. I do this by bringing the corners of my towel together, tying them with a rubber band, putting the rubber band around one of the kitchen cabinet handles, and letting it hang for ten minutes or so. There are a lot of ways to do it though; you'll have to find out what works best for you. (Some would gather the ends of the cloth together and tie securely with twine. Then, tie the bag to the handle of a large spoon and lay the spoon across the top oven rack with a bowl underneath. I just didn't want to leave my oven door open with four kids running around the house :P

As I understand it, this is not actually true ricotta as ricotta means "recooked". You can find "real" ricotta instructions with pictureshere.

For a wealth of information on various unique homemade things (including root beer, other cheeses, etc.), visit this page.

This professor also has a number of other cheese making instructions (complete with pictures).

I prefer this crockpot method for yogurt making.

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Computer Issues?

Ever have computer issues? My husband has recently set up a blog with a couple of his friends that deals with specifically with computer technology. They're still working on getting it up and going, but I think you'll find today's article helpful and informative. It deals with malware and since one in four computers gets infected with malware, I'd say it's worth a read.

Eventually, these guys hope to set up a forum for questions and whatnot, but if you have any thoughts, you might consider sending them an e-mail to let them know what you would find helpful.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Beware of Freebies

My friend has a blog with a couple other bloggers. On this blog, they routinely have a freebie roundup in which they list various free samples and the like. Unfortunately for my husband, I am a sucker for freebies (hence, my inbox is now swamped with spam ;) It seems a small price to pay for a mailbox full of goodies...most of the time.

You see, today, my husband called me to say, "Honey, do we REALLY need absorbent underwear? Why!?! Did you know that the kids are off of school today?" (Me-Uh, yes. Why do I need to know that.) "Because! They're all walking down the street as I'm carrying this huge pink and purple package that has absorbent underwear written all over it." (Me--ha ha, really! That is soooo funny! Well, you never know when you're going to need that...it was free!)

So next time you order freebies...make sure you warn your husband...especially if he is prone to walk through a small town where everyone knows you...with the mail. Or you could just savor the free embarrassment and pray he isn't the vindictive type :D

(I love you, handsome!!!! I am sooooo soooooo sorry--rofl ;)

Here's the picture of the absorbent underwear package. It was a Pampers UnderJams sample-lol.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gardening Journal

I answered another bloggers questions today and realized that my response was long enough to be a blog post...so here is some of it...

I've only been gardening for a couple of years now, but here is what I am up to:

Question 1 - What are you doing right now to get ready for
the growing season?

Currently, I am putting clear greenhouse plastic over the part of the garden that I intend to plant in the spring so that I can begin to defrost the ground. Later, I will use this plastic to cover plants that I put in early. I got this idea from The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. She recommends starting the spring seedlings indoors Mar 1 and putting them out (in your defrosted bed) April 1, with the intent of covering them, of course. I'm starting some of the cold weather crops (like broccoli) indoors while seeding lettuce, spinach, garlic chives, and onions outdoors in a cold frame. You can see Carla's Early Spring Garden Plan here. As for the things I'm seeding in the cold frame, I am following the recommendations in our local extension office's annual Garden Calendar. For folks in my area, the extension agent recommends adjusting the dates on the calendar by a week or two for our part of the state (later rather than earlier ;). You may consider contacting your local extension office to find out if they put out a calendar for your area ;)

I'm also getting and installing solar electric around our garden area so that the deer will not destroy everything. I'll put peanut butter on the fence so that they will all come and have a taste, experience the shock, and stay away from the garden. I want to get the fence up now so that they do not get into the habit of coming to the garden. It is very hard to discourage deer when they know how good the stuff inside is.

I'm also getting ready to order perennials (just a tree, some berry shrubs, and some strawberries...probably). Fedco will ship them at the appropriate time for my growing season, but the order deadline is Mar. 14.

These are all new things that I am doing this year, but I am taking the advice of seasoned gardeners.

What are you doing in your garden right now?

Happy Gardening!

Warmly,
Elizabeth

Friday, February 27, 2009

Edible Landscaping

It seems as though I'm constantly researching something on the internet. Here are todays finds:

Edible Landscaping Primer
- A nifty site with information about planning an edible landscape including trees, shrubs, and vegetables. I really appreciated the information on this site because it talks about different plants to plant so that you constantly have some sort of fruit being harvested. It also talked about approximate yields for various shrubs which will be helpful in planning.

Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance
- Pretty self explanatory title, huh. ;)

I learned that there are strawberries that don't put out runners and like shade. This could simplify the strawberry patch a bit. :D

Anyway, hope you enjoy some of these links. I've done a lot of reading today so my brain is a bit fried. Time to give it a rest.

"From there to here. From here to there. Funny things are everywhere." (from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss ;)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thirteen Things



Okay, I'm shooting for my very first Thursday Thirteen. Since I said I'd let people know what I was planning on planting this year, I figured that'd make an easy thirteen. Here goes:

1) Provider Bush Green Bean
2) Jackson Wonder Bush Lima Bean
3) Golden Gopher Muskmelon (and Schoons Hardshell Muskmelon)
4) Verona Watermelon
5) Laurentian Rutabaga
6) White Egg Turnip
7) Bronze Mignonette Lettuce and Pablo Lettuce
8) Golden Acre Cabbage and Danish Ballhead Cabbage
9) Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage
10) Cajun Jewel Okra
11) Garden Peach Tomato, Soldacki Tomato, and Goldie Tomato
12) Be My Baby Gene Pool Cherry Tomato
13) Genovese Basil

I have seed leftover from previous years that I'll also be planting, but these are the newbies this year. (Yes, I know the viability of previous years seed is not as good, but I have had success with many of them sprouting anyhow ;)

Have you tried any of these varieties? If so, what did you think? If not, what are your favorite varieties?

For more Thursday Thirteen, check out: Happy to be at Home. Enjoy!

The Garden Adventure Begins

I have toyed with the idea of allowing each of the kids to have their own garden space this year. I asked each of them what they would be interested in growing. Here is the reply:

K (age 6):
Watermelon
Cantaloupe
Peppers
Peas
Corn
Green beans
Tomatoes

Me: Okay!

M (age 4):
Watermelon
Marshmallows
Carrots
Cereal
Juice

Me: Hum...getting more creative here...still doable though...I think he'll be disappointed ;)

G (age 2):
Marshmallows
Marshmallows
Marshmallows

Me: All smiles :D

I did place an order for my seeds already (probably post more on that later), but I guess I'll have to order the marshmallow and cereal seeds separately--lol. I wonder what type of cereal we should grow...oats, millet, amaranth...what grows best in small spaces? I bet he'd like the elephant head amaranth :P

What is your family growing this year? Do you give your kiddos their own space? Do you have any creative layout ideas?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Grace

We sang "It Was Your Grace" on Sunday morning. In case you are not familiar with the song, the lyrics are as follows:

It was Your grace that drew me to the cross
It was Your grace that gave me faith
It was Your grace that reconciled me to Yourself
Though I had sinned in every way
You disarmed me of everything that I would lean on
So I would lean on You
And You stripped me of everything I would depend on
So I’d depend on You

In You alone my strength is found
In You alone my hope abounds
In You alone my strength is found
My life is bound up in You

And in my weakness give me still more grace
Grace to cast myself on You
In every trial let me find Your peace and joy
And grace to humbly walk with You
O disarm me of everything that I would lean on
So I will lean on You
Jesus, strip me of everything I would depend on
So I’ll depend on You

Give me more grace
Give me more grace
And new mercies every morning
Give me new mercies


By Mark Altrogge

These lyrics accompany the song "It Was Your Grace" from the Valley of Vision
album.

At some point I was struck by how much my heart really did not want what was coming out of my mouth..."disarm me of everything that I would lean on, so I will lean on You...Jesus, strip me of everything I would depend on, So I'll depend on You" -- no...in that moment, the implication of what that disarming and stripping of me could mean was weighing heavily on my heart. For a moment, I forgot all about God's goodness and kindness towards me and truth be told, I was fearful. You see, I do not want those other things on which I lean to be taken away...things like my husband, my children, my health, my home, etc. I know God is good, but I don't want to have to rely on just Him; I like it when He provides through other things (like my husband). I had to quickly whisper, "Lord, I believe that you are good and that I can depend on you alone...please, please, please, help my unbelief!" I continued to sing and my heart was truly in it; "Give me more grace, give me more grace..." Oh Lord, You've given me so much grace already, but PLEASE, give me more because I just can't believe enough; I can't hope enough on my own; I can't hold on to the hope like I need to...please, please, please give me more grace. And then the comfort and peace overwhelm my soul as He tells me, "Yes, My child, I love you, and I will give you more of my grace. I have begun a good work in you, and I will be faithful to complete it." Thank You, Lord! My worship comes full circle...by His grace. My heart is not perfectly where it should be, but one day, it will be...by His grace alone.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Productivity

I told myself that I was going to have a super productive day today, but my two-year-old accidentally poked my eye this morning...hard. If you've ever experienced this, IT HURTS!!! All you want to do is keep your eye closed and go back to bed. But alas, four kids need my attention and direction so we can't do that. So...onward we plunge...off to have a super productive day...with one eye :/ To God be the glory!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Food Expenses

Lawanda has a paragraph towards the bottom of her blog highlighting a Time Magazine photo article on "What the World Eats". (Thanks for sharing, Lawanda!)The pictures are taken from the book, "Hungry Planet." I'd seen something similar to this before, but decided it might be enlightening to do a bit of number crunching. Here is what I discovered:

Country Family
Size
Weekly
Expenditure
Weekly
cost/person
Cost/
person/
meal
Chad 6 $ 1.23 $ 0.21 $ 0.01
Bhutan 12 $ 5.03 $ 0.42 $ 0.02
Ecuador 9 $ 31.55 $ 3.51 $ 0.17
Egypt 12 $ 68.23 $ 5.69 $ 0.27
Mongolia 4 $ 40.02 $ 10.01 $ 0.48
Our Family 6 $ 75.00 $ 12.50 $ 0.60
Kuwait 8 $ 221.45 $ 27.68 $ 1.32
Poland 5 $ 151.27 $ 30.25 $ 1.44
Mexico 5 $ 189.09 $ 37.82 $ 1.80
China 4 $ 155.06 $ 38.77 $ 1.85
United States 4 $ 159.18 $ 39.80 $ 1.90
Italy 5 $ 260.11 $ 52.02 $ 2.48
Great Britain 4 $ 253.15 $ 63.29 $ 3.01
Japan 4 $ 317.25 $ 79.31 $ 3.78
United States 4 $ 341.98 $ 85.50 $ 4.07
Germany 4 $ 507.00 $ 126.75 $ 6.04

I thought the breakdown was very interesting. There are several things to keep in mind, some of which are:

1) Prices vary by region,

2) Each family depicted may or may not accurately represent their region (you can see this by doing a quick comparison of your family with your country),

3) Some governments subsidize food, offer free food, etc. (We even see food subsidizing in the U.S. even though we still spend a good deal more on food than other countries that do this. Ironically, most of the food that is subsidized in the U.S. is food that is used in processed foods which is why it is often cheaper to buy them than it is to buy "real" food.)

I think it is interesting that the larger families spend less money on food. I wonder if that would hold true within each of the "developed" countries.

When looking at the pictures and the cost breakdown simultaneously, I can see that our family, has room to grow. We fell in between Mongolia and Kuwait at $75 per week for a family of 6...just $12.50 a week per person and $0.60 for each meal. It doesn't break down quite like that for our meals or our food as much of our grocery budget is dedicated to diapers, paper products (including toilet paper, paper towels, etc.), and toiletries which the TIME photos didn't seem to include. Maybe our family is doing ever better (I think spending less would be better ;), but when I see the differences in food, I still see much room for improvement.

How about you? Do you see room for changes in what you eat? Do you set goals for growth in this area? How has your family cut costs in this area?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kid Questionaire

Here's something interesting that I saw on a blog the other day...thought I'd do it too, just out of curiosity. Let me know if you decide to do it too; I'd love to read yours :D

1. What is something Mom always says to you?

A: Smiles.
Me: Hum…I don’t think she’s ready for this yet…
G: Banging (Which is actually what she is doing right now ;)
M: I don’t know.
K: To read good books. I mean, to read the Bible every day.

2. What makes Mom happy?

G: God
M: Not to get into things.
K: Keeping the house clean.

3. What makes Mom sad?

G: Jeff
M: Getting into things.
K: When we disobey.

4. How does your Mom make you laugh?

G: Jeff (are we seeing a pattern here???) I think I’ve got another one that is too little for this one.
M: By tickling.
K: By tickling us.

5. What was your Mom like as a child?

M: Playing in the bathtub.
K: A little kid.

6. How old is your Mom?

M: 5
K: 26

7. How tall is your Mom?

M: *Stretches his arm up very tall and says, “This tall.”
K: 26

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

M: Playing in the bathbub.
K: Ummmmm…snuggle with your baby.

9. What does your Mom do when you're not around?

M: Get into trouble.
K: Get into junk.

10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

M: Junk. (Inspired by his sister.)
K: Junk.

11. What is your Mom really good at?

M: Taking the baby away from the scissors.
K: Junk.

12. What is your Mom not very good at?

M: I don’t know.
K:Junk.
Me: Laughing, okay, it’s time to start answering again.
K: I know! You’re not very good at…um…watching your kids…
Me: A disappointed look on my face…
K: (seeing my face, continued to offer an explanation ;) …because they keep on getting into stuff.
Me: Let’s go back to the last one.
K: You’re very good at doing school with me.

13. What does your Mom do for a job?

M: Cutting things.
K: You clean the kitchen and do dishes and watch the kids and do school with me and stuff like that.

14.What is your Mom's favorite food?

M: Um…like…jelly beans.
K: Carrot casserole.

15.What makes you proud of your Mom?

M: Jelly beans.
K: When you read to me.

16. If your Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

M: Jelly Beans.
Me: No, think of something else.
M: A helicopter.
K: Mommy.

17. What do you and your Mom do together?

M: I don’t know.
K: Cook together and stuff like that.

18. How are you and your Mom the same?

M: I don’t know.
K: Because we’re both girls.

19. How are you and your Mom different?

M: I don’t know. I don’t know about this stuff.
K: Because Mommy is big and I am little.

20. How do you know your Mom loves you?

M: Um…by um…by getting into junk one day.
K: Um…by you kissing me and hugging me.

21. What does your Mom like most about your dad?

M: By watching movies.
K: Ummmmm…you like kissing him and snuggling him and hugging him.

22. Where is your Mom's favorite place to go?

M: To care group.
K: Ummmmm…to the library. No, I mean, to the church.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gospel Mis-Understanding

We had two baptisms at our church today. So, it was no surprise that our five-year-old daughter inquired further about the subject at the dinner table. She started by asking if Mommy had been baptized and then if Daddy had been baptized and lastly if she had been baptized. When we told her that we had and that she hadn't she wanted to know why. Daddy began to explain that she needed to have a good understanding of the gospel. At which point, our four-year-old piped up saying, "I understand the gospel; Jesus Christ died on the cross for his sins."

After a bit of laughter, my husband corrected the error....so close...yet so far away.