Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Celebration

Each year, being the 'foodies' that we are, we make something fun for our family time together on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. We stay home and celebrate as a family. On New Year's Eve we play games with the littles (and bigs) and then we watch a movie with the bigs later in the evening. We used to stay up late, but the addition of numerous children and the aging of Mama and Papa have changed that a bit ;-)

Our New Year Day menu is called our "Junk Food Day", which is funny, because part of it has always been veggies and dip and fruit and fruit dip. This year we have tried to make our already pretty healthy "Junk Food Day" and make it a nourishing, healthier, healthy Junk Food Day! Are you still tracking with me??

Our Menu, past & present:

Past: Hillshire Farms Lil' smokies, half in HFCS laden BBQ sauce and the other half in horrible for you crescent rolls.

Present: The healthiest hot dogs from Costco, nitrite/nitrate free, all-beef, cut and put into a homemade BBQ sauce and a soaked recipe for whole-wheat crescent rolls.

Past: Veggies and chemical laden and hydrogenated fat filled Dill Dip

Present: Veggies and Homemade Yogurt Ranch dip, made from yogurt that we made from our raw organic milk. No chemicals!!!

Past: Fruit and Fruit Dip that was made with chemical filled Cool Whip and sugar.

Present: Fruit and Fruit Dip made with our own homemade yogurt ( I LOVE this way of making yogurt!!) that has been strained into a cream cheese and sweetened with raw honey. Tastes like cream cheese frosting, only very good for you!!

Past: Horrible for you Summer Sausage made out of only God knows what! Seriously, that bad, and filled with chemicals like nitrates, MSG, ect. Served on Wheat Thins that have HFCS and toxic fats.

Present: Summer Sausage made from grass-fed, organic organ meats from U. S. Wellness Meats. I highly recommend them. We buy our organic ground turkey from them also. Served on either gluten-free crackers from Costco or homemade Grain-free Almond and Rosemary crackers for us grain-free folks.

We will be attempting to make our own potato chips and sweet potato chips fried in organic beef tallow. I will let you know how that goes ;-) Also, I will be attempting a cheese ball, which is a favorite of Brian's that is going to be made out of our own 'cream cheese'. I wish I had remembered to pick up some raw cheese when we got our milk this week, but I can't remember everything, right?!

Boy, have we come a long way in the past couple of years! I praise God for leading and His wisdom on the best way for me to nourish and feed MY family. I do believe, as He is all wise, He knows exactly what will work best for each of our families.

One more thing; you all know my heart, right? Please don't take this as condemnation or something to overwhelm you. Just let it inspire you to read the labels, eat as close to how God made food as possible, seek HIM for how best to feed your family, research and ONLY take on what the Lord would have you take on, not some woman in blogworld, okay?

BTW, if this sounds like a lot of work, it is, but I do have a houseful of helpers! And, once you start incorporating these changes, it becomes so much easier, really!

The Closing of a Year

Today marks the closing of the year 2009. I’m always a little sentimental at the end of a year as I look back and see all the Lord has done in my life. I marvel at the endless mercy He provides each morning. I’m humbled that His grace has carried me through yet another year. I love to look back and remember the tears, the joys, the pain, the laughter, the sin, the grace (abounding grace ;-).

I’m thankful that He leads me and seems to almost stretch me too far (in my opinion), yet He knows my frame and remembers that I am but dust. I’m in awe of how perfectly He “Fathers” me; disciplines me and loves me. I am forever amazed at how He skillfully blends joy and sorrow to make and mold me into the image of His Son.

O Lord, wonderful are Your works and that my soul knows well. O Lord I feel as though my very heart could burst with praise, love, thanksgiving, and adoration.

Great and mighty is the Lord – Praise Him all you peoples – Praise Him – Come magnify the Lord with me!

Tomorrow, a look forward!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Praise Through Tears

photo credit: Reap the Harvest Ministries

As I sat there with such heaviness of heart, such a feeling of hopelessness and sense of being completely overwhelmed, the tears flowed freely. The despair seemed to pick up strength with each passing second. How was I going to stop this? How do I go out and be a mom today? I'll be of no use to anyone. I've got responsibilities today.

I cry out, "O Lord, be the lifter of my head".
I pick up my devotional today and read:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
"Sing on, dear child. I hear you and I am coming to deliver you.
I will carry that load for you. So just lean hard on Me,
and the road will get smoother by and by."
( Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman)

How do I rejoice? How do I sing?
I sense I have a choice here, the course of my day may just hang on what I do in the next few seconds. I can almost feel knots in my stomach as something in me wants to resist. Through a heavy stream of tears and sheer determination I begin to sing the only thing that comes to mind . . .
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow . . .
I wipe the tears and begin to write . . .

So I praise You through the tears, the heaviness, the darkness. I praise You because You alone are worthy of all my praise. You alone are God. There is none other besides You. You alone are my hope and my salvation. Bless the Lord, O my soul, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord with all that is within me, bless the Lord. Forget not one of His benefits~Who heals all my diseases, Who redeems my life from the pit, Who crowns me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. Who satisfies my mouth with good so that my youth is renewed like the eagles.

O Lord my God, You are very great! You are clothed with honor and majesty~I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; as for me, I will rejoice in the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul!
The tears cease. My heart feels lighter. Hope peeks out from behind the clouds. It is not huge, but definitely lighter. Once again, He is the lifter of my head. Once again I see that praise really is a spiritual weapon that sends the darkness away and the enemy running.
It doesn't matter what the source of your discouragement or despair, the answer is the same. Praise! If nothing else, it takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them on HIM! It can definitely be a choice of the will with no 'feelings' involved, but it works. Offer up to Him a sacrifice of praise today, you won't be sorry.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Your Will, Not Mine

I am a planner, a 'doer', an organizer, a 'let's get going' kind of gal. I've got things I would like to do, lots of things. I feel it even more so, this drive to do, to accomplish, as it feels as though these last five months have been 'on hold'. I don't know if I am physically or mentally up for more, but it seems like something should get going here. Something should be scheduled or added back in or at the very least, there are so many things to be addressed. Right, Lord?

As I seek Him, looking forward to the new year, as usual my head is overflowing with all the ideas, the 'shoulds' the 'have-tos', the 'I'd like tos'. It is feeling a bit familiar. I am excitedly running ahead again. I am letting my thoughts, opinions and will rule my mind and heart.

I hear Him calling me back, slowing me down, saying, "Breathe, My child, breathe. Do you want to run off with your will or walk with Me doing My will?" I stop. I breathe in. I breathe out. Humbly I bow and remember a favorite hymn.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Adelaide Addison Pollard

Is this not what I want? Him having HIS way in me?

At His feet, I put down all of my ideas, thoughts and plans, and whisper, "Have Thine own way, Lord."

Christmas Health Update

Click on the here for update.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

All my (our) wonderful blog friends,

We pray this letter finds you well. As we send our Christmas blessing to you, we want to share something that the Lord has made so real for us this year. It is the fact that out of darkness comes great treasures.

This year has been particularly trying and many days have seemed so dark. But what is so comforting is that our God will bring great treasures out of our darkness’s. Joy does come in the morning. (Ps. 30:5) He does give beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61:3)

Life here on earth can be so difficult, so dark. It doesn’t matter what the source of darkness, we all experience it. It might be severe financial hardship, and you wonder if you will be able to pay the bills at the end of the month. Or loneliness so deep it gnaws at your very gut. Heartaches and disappointments that seek to rob us of all joy and hope. Debilitating health issues that leave you weak and in fear of how to deal with them. Maybe there are rifts in relationships in your own family that break your heart. Marriage broken by divorce, children confused and hurting. Yes, life can be so hard, but there is hope, a Light.

His name is Jesus: Emmanuel (God with us), Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Lord of lords, King of kings, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

The truth about this Jesus that we celebrate at this time of year, is that it is He Who brings great treasures out of darkness.

Put your hope afresh on Him this season! That’s what we’re doing, how about you?

Below is a brief year end update on our children.

Matthew, 22, doing his best to take care of Danniel and Levi (our precious first grandson, who is adorable, by the way :- )
Luke, 19, working on a paralegal degree from Davenport/our right-hand man!
Joshua, 18, finishing his senior year/ takes great care of his Mama
Victoria, 13, all things crafty and a huge help around the house
Isaiah, 12, all boy, loves all things wood/very gentle young man
Sarah Grace, 8, learning to knit/ sweet as pie
Isabella, 6, learning to knit and read/gentle and quiet
Josiah, 5, resident ‘smiler’ and ‘hugger’/diligent worker
Elijah, 2, pretty much rules the house/so delightful and extremely smart!

*We mourned the death of our unborn baby this past fall. We are so blessed to have six babies in heaven waiting for us! While we grieved, we also rejoiced, for this baby was a gift, if even for a short time.

May the Lord keep you and bless you this coming year. Beloved, we pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
(3 John 2)

Hoping in Him,

Brian and Michelle and children

P.S. You women are so awesome and I so appreciate you. Your encouragement and prayers means so much to me. I count myself all the richer for having 'met' you all! Sending my love and hugs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If Only For a Moment . . .

Stop the baking, cooking, planning, shopping, wrapping, decorating . . . just stop!

Now, breathe . . . breathe in deeply . . . breathe out deeply

Close your eyes and sing with me . . .

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Sing it again, slowly, breathing in the very Jesus we celebrate.
Let's not lose sight of Him!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Here are two very easy gifts and inexpensive too. I did order some of the products from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I suppose you could find them at the health food store.

One is Handmade Lotion. It is so easy, literally five minutes! I make mine with coconut oil and/or olive oil. I scent it with lavender. I put them in little jelly jars.

Chai Tea Gift Mixes. I made these up over the weekend. I really liked this recipe.

Homemade Herb Seasoning. I love the flavor of this. It is so easy to make up. I suppose it wouldn't be frugal if you didn't buy the herbs in bulk though. I did order mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but my health food store sells bulk herbs for a pretty good price. You really don't need much of each kind, so little one ounce packets might be the way to go.

The recipe for Yummy Granola that I shared during our Breakfast Challenge is a great healthy gift too. I like to add chopped nuts and dried fruit and package in a Mason Jar.

Do you have any last minute gift ideas? Please share.

One last thing in case you have not seen these really cool snowflakes! We made these a couple of weeks ago and have them hanging over the mantle. They are really easy. (assuming you don't have adrenal fatigue and can't think straight sometimes ;-)

Devotional Material For The Littles!

I was blessed enough to be able to get back to a small portion of our morning circle time. One of the things we do (or did before I got sick ;-) is read from the bible while the littles color the appropriate color sheet. We have used these off and on for the last several years. We have, at times, just read from the beginning. We have read certain 'stories', for example, the Passover Story. We have done the Easter Story, and now we are working through the Christmas Story.
We color a certain amount and then staple them into an empty file folder. The children now have a 'book' containing their pictures and delight to retell them to Daddy!
Here is the link for the New Testament and the Old Testament.
I just print up enough copies for each child to color, but you have options of crossword puzzles, questions and word searches for each story. We love these. I use these for my twelve and under children. The twelve year old and thirteen year old are getting a little 'bored' with the coloring. One free hand draws the picture for the story and the other rewrites (narrates) the story.
Hope this helps. It is so easy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Health Update 12/10/09

One Year Blogiversary!

I can't believe I have been doing the for a whole year! I never knew when I started it would grow into what it has. And I certainly never knew I would be SO blessed by this blog and the amazing women I have met!!!

When I began this blog, my desire was to chronicle things the Lord put on my heart regarding all things 'womanhood'. My hope is that my daughters will be able to print up each section (chapter) and put together a 'book' from there Mamas heart. My struggles, my failures, my successes, but most importantly, the work of God's grace in my life.

It has grown into a ministry beyond what I could have dreamed. And the most amazing thing is how blessed I am through it. God does that kind of stuff, you know?

I can't tell you how many times I have had the thought to just let it go and the Lord sends someone along to encourage me and remind me why I am doing this. It wasn't something I just decided to start. It was with much prayer and waiting that I started this blog. I did not want to add 'one more thing' to my already full life if it was not from God. Both Brian and I prayed and knew that this is what the Lord was allowing me to do right now. It is with open hands that I hold on to this blog, trusting that if the Lord closed the door, I would lay it down. (hopefully without a struggle ;-)

I am thankful, humbled and thrilled to be able to share my heart, AND that anyone out there cares to read it. Thank you so much to the readers of this blog and to so many of you who pray for me and encourage me through email! I so wish we could meet in person, I promise, I might just hug your neck off!

So, two songs I leave you with:

Happy Blogiversary to me
Happy Blogiversary to me
Happy Blogiversary to meeeeeee
Happy Blogiversary to me!


Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Questions on Nutrition and Recipes

My sweet friend Elizabeth sent me an email asking a few 'nutrition' questions and it occurred to me to put my response in a post to possibly benefit others. So here goes.

I have a couple questions for you. We recently bought a grass-fed cow for healthy beef. I want to learn from you how you use it.

Elizabeth, I am so happy for you! We love our grass-fed beef and can't imagine going back to eating 'slaughter house' beef, especially with all we have learned! We pray the Lord continue to provide this for our family. I won't go into the benefits of eating grass-fed organic beef seeing as how you already have it. It is something that is easy to research.

Tonight we had a chuck roast that I seasoned with Lipton onion mix and a can of cranberry sauce and cooked in my crock pot until it fell off the bone. It was really delicious!

First, let me say that I would try to avoid the Lipton onion mix, it is full of MSG and the cranberry sauce probably has high-fructose corn syrup in it. Let me tell you how I have found ways to make it just as tasty and better for you. I too used to use Lipton onion soup mix as well as Worcestershire sauce and beef bullion too! Yikes!

***Whenever I make a roast, or stew meat or round steak, I always sear it in a frying pan (not Teflon), with some oil (coconut is best for this purpose, but EVOO will do) until it has great color on both sides. Remove from pan. Then I saute sliced or chopped onions, garlic and salt and pepper in a little more oil until beginning to brown. Then I deglaze the pan with some water, about 2 cups, making sure to scrape the yummy-yums off the bottom of the pan. ( you could use wine, or wine/water combo) I then dump the meat and this mixture in the crock pot and cook as usual. You would not believe how tasty this is! The browning really adds flavor. I used to need to use MSG loaded bullion cubes or beef base to make a good roast and gravy, not anymore! ***

Another important point is to season the beef liberally with good salt (sea salt) and pepper before searing. I season the beef and the onion mixture. I have learned to season each layer of my meal, which makes for a well seasoned dish versus a salty or under seasoned dish at the end.(see, watching TV is good, I have learned a lot from Food Network!)

The 'juice' from the roast is so good I usually just have to thicken it up with a little arrowroot powder (better for you than cornstarch) and water slurry. Serve over rice or potatoes or whatever.

The main cuts we use from our cow are chuck roast, stew meat, round steak and ground beef. Of course we enjoy the steaks and speciality cuts, but these four cuts make up our main menu.

We eat a beef meal twice a week, on Monday and Thursday. Oh, we always have burgers on Saturday, so that is three meals, isn't it? ;-) (We have Roast Chicken on Sunday, a Leftover Chicken meal, from Sunday's chicken, on Tuesday, and Beans/Grains/Meatless meal on Wednesday and Friday.)

Stew Meat:

*Prepare as above*** and serve over 'soaked whole-wheat pasta' or rice pasta. I call this 'Sirloin Tips over noodles' ;-) (shhh, don't tell anyone;)

*Marinate in an Asian marinade, for example Tamari, garlic, rice vinegar, fresh ginger and ground pepper. I let this marinate over night, dump in crock pot, cook all day and serve over rice with veggies on the side.

*"Chop Suey" (that's what we call it) Prepare as above***, cook all day in crock pot with chopped carrots and celery. The last few minutes add in a couple of cans of bean sprouts and serve over rice.

Round Steak:

Prepare as above***, but add in a HOMEMADE cream of mushroom soup (please don't use canned which is loaded with MSG!) I use this base recipe for everything I might have used cream of mushroom/chicken soup for! I used to use it a lot. This takes a little more time, but it is far superior and again no MSG! Add mushrooms also. Serve over rice, pasta, or potatoes.

I recently made 'Chicken Fried Steak' with our round steak. Be sure to fry it in a healthy fat, like beef tallow.

I use both the round steak and the stew meat for various soups. The one downfall to this is having to have homemade beef stock which I make way less than the chicken stock I make bi-weekly. I have asked for all the extra bones from our cow and have made batches of stock with them, but no where near as frequently, so we eat less beef soup than we used to.

Besides the obvious roast variations, we make shredded beef barbecue out of our chuck roast. Make sure it is a homemade or healthy sauce, most store brands are loaded with HFCS and chemicals you don't want.

I recently came across this blog and have since bought her book. It has a ton of 'better for you' crock pot recipes, all gluten free. The problem I find with most Fix it and Forget It type cookbooks, is that the recipes might be easy, but are usually very unhealthful. I am happy with this cookbook, though I think you could probably get by with just printing off the recipes you want from her blog. I wanted to support her, so I bought the book. You can search 'chicken' or 'beef' recipes and come up with a lot of 'not your run of the mill' crock pot recipes.

Now, I'm wondering if I can cook that bone in the chuck roast for broth and can i put it back in my crock pot to do so?? Hoping that the answer is YES, I just did it! :) I covered the bones in water, put in some chunks of carrots, celery and onion and thyme, salt and pepper. Does that sound good???

I have not tried this, but think it might work. I have saved all my bones over the months (in the freezer) and when I make stock, I dump them all in. Here is the best link for making stock. I know I have posted it before, but here it is.

Hope this helps! Anymore question?? Anyone??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Am Only Passing By This Way Once . . .

Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me,

I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me.

(Matthew 25:24-26)

After reading this scripture, this lovely post at
this post from
and a few other devotionals, the Lord has been stirring my heart, this is the message that is coming through loud and clear.

I am only passing by this way just once. I don't know if I will have the opportunity to love, hug, or encourage this one again. People are hurting, confused, battered all around me, even in my own home, but also extending out to family, friends, people I pass by at the store. What will my response be to the hurting, the hungry, the wounded, the needy?

Could it be that child causing so much strife is just hungry for the love of Christ available in a hug from me?

The daughter that seems to butt heads with me as she struggles to find her place, her purpose . . .is she thirsty for approval or encouragement?

That family member that seems to be such a drain on me emotionally . . . are they hungry for love? Are they just a little scared to see their life fading away, and just need to know they are cherished, important and that, yes, they do matter, and their life counts for something?

The quiet old man who walks with his head hanging low, seemingly so sad and alone . . .?

The frustrated and weary young mama with a crying baby in her arms and two screaming toddlers at her knees . . .?

Yes, I might only be this way just this once, what will I do?

Will I feed the hungry? Give drink to the thirsty? Welcome the stranger? Visit the prisoner?

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the needs around me. Fill me so full of Your Spirit that Your love oozes out of me. As I go about my day, may the hurting, the hungry, the broken, the wounded be comforted and loved with Your loving Spirit in me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why Did You Not Tell Me?

My husband is reading a book to us called,

Missionary Patriarch: The True Story of John G. Paton.

There was a story in the book that touched my heart and convicted me at the same time. Swallow hard and read on. Below is a quote from the book:

Shortly before his decease he said to his parents, "I am going soon to be with Jesus; but I sometimes fear that I may not see you there."
"Why so, my child?" said his weeping mother.
"Because" he answered, "if you were set upon going to Heaven and seeing Jesus there, you would pray about it, and sing about it; you would talk about Jesus to others, and tell them of that happy meeting with Him in Glory. All this my dear Sabbath School teacher taught me, and she will meet me there. Now why did not you, my father and mother, tell me all these things about Jesus, if you are going to meet Him to?"
Their tears fell fast over their dying child; and he little know, in his unthinking eighth year, what a message from God has pierced their souls through his innocent words.
'Nuff said?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Look What We Woke Up To!!!!!

I love the snow! I love winter! I pray for snow all the time in the winter!
It snowed all night and we woke up to this beautiful sight.
Brian is home for the day, we are having a date "36 hours"! My Mom and her husband are home from Florida for 10 days and we get alone time!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gluten Free and Low Carb Yumminess!

I have been experimenting with gluten free recipes as one of my children seems to have a sensitivity to wheat. I have found plenty of acceptable muffin/quick bread recipes. I have even found a satisfactory gluten free slicing bread recipe, though I haven't made it in a long time. I'm not even sure where it is to tell you the truth;-)

One thing that I have been unhappy with until now, is a substitute for pizza crust. Most recipes take way to many recipes to mess with and I am not happy with the results.

Enter my two new favorite gluten free pizza crusts that just so happen to be low carb! I personally am trying to avoid all grains and beans during this healing phase of adrenal fatigue.

I will give you the links to the recipes instead of posting them here. I made them exactly like the recipe directed and both of them were delicious! I think I liked the first one a little better, but it was more work. I like easy!

Tonight we had our wonderful 'Pesto Pizza'. I top our crust, home made whole wheat for most of the family, with homemade pesto, though store bought would be fine. Then leftover cooked chicken from Sunday's dinner, mozzarella cheese and sauteed mushrooms and onions for Mama and Papa. It is like gourmet pizza, I am not kidding!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Good Days and Bad Days

Lest some of you think everyday I am just sailing through these spiritual trials, let me assure I am not! Today was a perfect example of when I am not! When I write posts like Out of Darkness Comes Great Treasures, I must be having a 'good' moment. I am also trying to encourage others, because truth be told, even the trials and afflictions are good. So often, though, they do not feel good, nor do they bring out the best in me.

Today was one of those days when the weariness of the trial becomes so overwhelming that I just want to quit! In my journal this morning I found myself almost yelling at God. All the exclamation points gave it away! Not in a disrespectful way, just passionate ;-) I am sure on the inside my arms were folded, my bottom lip out and I was stomping my feet.

A peek inside my journal:

Nothing appears to have changed! I think I am resting in You or surrendered only to be stressed and striving! I am tired of it and I don't know how to stop! You keep telling me the same thing over and over again, but I don't know how! I feel like it is telling a person with no legs to walk!

I feel like maybe You are wearing me out until I finally give. I don't want to care so much, I just want it to be done! I am tired of fighting! I am tired of not knowing, I am tired of the struggle in my mind, I feel like I am going crazy! I can't seem to do anything, I can't even stop, rest, surrender! I just want to quit!!!

Super spiritual, huh? Then I read a line like this:
"They ( the martyrs) kissed the stake at which they suffered such cruelty."


His sweet word to me yesterday:

"Rest, My child. The battle is not yours, it is Mine. I appreciate your desire to work and to do, but it is not your work, it is Mine. It is grace, My grace, not your works, that bring about the things you desire. I have told you to return to Me, rest in Me, but you go off and speed your own course. Here I sit, waiting for you to realize you have once again run on ahead. You wear yourself out trying so hard on your own. I really mean it when I say " I am your strength, I will fight your battles." Return to Me, rest in Me. It is not longer you, Michelle, you have died, it is I who lives in you.

This He gives me one day, and the very next day I am throwing a temper tantrum! Can you believe His long-suffering and mercy?!
How's that for a dose of reality?

Each Moment is Ripe With Eternal Destiny

Each moment I have with these children.
Each moment I have to honor and submit to my husband.
Each moment I am given to love and serve another.
Each moment I pray or sing or praise.

Do I realize that each and every moment in time is ripe and full with eternal destiny? Am I going to continue on with my frenetic pace or am I going to slow down, be aware of the moments?
Is it worth speeding through the moments of life just to get one more thing accomplished?
I’m tired of missing out on the awareness of the eternal destiny in these moments, because there is so much to do.

Whose voice am I listening to when I hear, ‘accomplish more, be better, get more?’ Go, go, go!? Have I bought into the American lie of ‘you can have it all?' I wonder at what cost? What does it cost me to have it all? Does it possibly cost me my health, my children, relationships, the eternal destiny of each moment?

Does Jesus drive and push me to do more? Or is that the voice of the enemy? Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. He walked everywhere He went. He wasn’t too busy for ‘interruptions’ like people needing healing or teaching.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters . . . In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved in quietness and trusting confidence shall be your strength . . . Come to Me all you who are weary, I will cause you to rest.

No, I don’t believe Jesus is behind this crazy pace. Am I willing to listen to the Voice of my Good Shepherd instead of the voice in my head, or the the voice of our culture?

Lord Jesus, I don’t want to accomplish so much that I miss the ‘eternal destiny’ in each moment. I really don’t know how to slow down. I don’t know what to just let go of. So Jesus, teach me, lead me, cause me to rest. Open my eyes to the eternal destiny in each and every moment.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thank You!

Brian and I wanted to thank you all so much for your prayers these past few weeks and months! We really appreciate them and they mean so much to us. The Lord continues His work in our hearts.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Out of Darkness Comes Great Treasures

Do not fear the darkness, for great treasures come out of darkness
Darkness was upon the face of the earth . . . And God said, 'Let there be light . . .' (Genesis 1:2)

. . .great darkness has come on . . .behold a smoking oven and a flaming torch . . . He made a covenant with Abram. (Genesis 15:12 & 17)

. . . thick darkness was under His feet . . . He made darkness His secret hiding place . . . the Lord lightens my darkness. (2 Samuel 22:10, 12, 29)
Light arises in the darkness for the upright . . . (Psalm 112:4)
I still feel like I cannot even grasp, never mind put to words all the Lord is doing in this dark season of my life. It has been a little over four months now, and I feel like its only just begun. I feel so "not done" yet. (I know I never will be 'done' until glory) Just when I think I might be coming up for air, another wave rolls over me.
I don't mean to paint a depressing picture here. It is not that at all! It is amazingly wonderful to be in this place with the Lord. Yes, there are many times it is overwhelming and I feel like I am drowning and am terrified, but there are also times of sweet, intense fellowship with Jesus that are beyond description.

I cannot wrap my mind around how deep the work He is doing in my heart . So much revealing and so much healing. I wonder why so much all at once. I have been through a few very, very trying times over the years, but they all seemed so focused on one particular thing or lesson. This feels so different, so multifaceted. He seems to be coming from so many angles.

In the darkness, when he shines the light of the Holy Spirit on the deep recesses of the heart, things tend to shine quite brightly. Trust me ;-) It is not aways pretty. Well, most often times it's not!

This time of darkness has unearthed many precious treasures. For even the sin and weaknesses, when exposed and repented of, become treasures.

I marvel at the amount of self He has revealed. Self-will, self-love, self-focus, self-consciousness, meaning being so conscious of one's self.

The lack of surrender. Many things on the surface that looked surrendered, yet when examined closely, I was holding onto with both hands. (tightly!)

Many fears, hurts, unresolved heartaches, and most recently, a few 'golden calves' thrown in for good measure.

Out of this darkness has come many treasures of healing, comfort, encouragement, hope, strength and love.

I have no idea how long this intense time of darkness is going to last. There are days I want it to be done, then still others, I don't want it to end.

I am learning so much, about Him, (that's the fun part) and about me. (the not so fun part ;-)
His darkness doesn't always come so intensely, wave after wave. More often, I think it can come to us here and there, little by little. I just want to encourage you not to fear the darkness no matter which way it comes.
Remember, Who it is Who brought the darkness, Who is there with you, and Who will bring you out of it. Trust there will be great treasures that come out of the darkness!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Visit Me "At the Well"

Hi Ladies!!

First, let me say, "I miss you!!!"

Just peeking in to let you know that I have a post up over At the Well. It is entitled Powering Down. I hope you enjoy it.

I also want to share a little prayer I read today that was beautiful.

“All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired of starshine or moonlight or sunrise. The sullen blackness gloomed above us as if it would last forever. And out of the dark there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed some wild thunder peal to break the torturing stillness of that over-brooding night.

“But Thy winsome whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across Aeolian harps. It was Thy ’still small voice’ that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain.”

"Be still and know that I am God"

Wishing you a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! Reminding you to slow down, take time to be in His presence, be still and listen for that still small voice. Even in the possible busyness, keep your eyes and heart on Him, the Giver of all blessings in our lives!

At the Well Blog Button

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Time For Rest

Okay, so I went to the doctor again this week. I expressed my frustration with how sick I still am and that I didn't even want to be there. I just wanted to quit! And, to top it all off, I have gained a little over ten pounds since all this started four months ago, and it seems to keep going up! After fighting so hard to lose a significant amount of weight earlier this year, this was just too much! My doctor is addressing the weight gain and believes that my pituitary and thyroid are 'tanking'. (His words) This explains the sleeplessness, weight gain and increase in depression of late. He has changed my diet and made some significant changes with my supplements.

As we talked and he tried to figure out what might be going on, he asked if there were any other stresses that he didn't know about. He was shaking his head because it seems I should be getting better. Something is still causing serious drain on my body.

Brian said, "the only thing I can think of is her passion to learn, which seems to get her jazzed." When I want to know something or the Lord puts something new in front of me, I attack it with a vengeance. I can spend hours researching, printing, reading, ect. For example, when I came across a wonderful book on the rest of God, I ended up buying five or six books on rest and tried to consume them all at once. This is just how I operate ;-) The ironic thing is they were books on REST for crying out loud! I even attack learning how to not attack.

My doctor looked at me and said, "no computer for two weeks!" Brian and I were almost in tears as we both secretly felt the Holy Spirit's leading in this. My doctor has no idea how much or how little time I spend on the computer or even what I do on it.

So much of all the things I love to do, things I have found my significance, in have been removed from me during these past four months. Homeschooling, homemaking, being a cheerful and helpful wife, being a good friend, daughter ect. At least I was able to still pursue healthy ways to nourish my family, new recipes, new ideas and projects, help other women, ect. All this while not at all recognizing the stress I was causing my body.

I have learned a lot about stress and our bodies during this illness; things I think one can probably only learn by going through it, for which I am thankful. Our bodies are bombarded by stresses each day without us even knowing it.

For example, my husband goes to the doctor for a routine check-up. He doesn't seem nervous and doesn't even feel nervous. But his blood pressure is up significantly without him even knowing it.

Seeing an old friend and being all excited to see her, even though it seems like a good stress, your body still goes through significant hormonal changes to deal with the situation.

Other seemingly insignificant things which might cause stress would be a frustrating morning with your children, multi-tasking (this is a future post topic), or hearing of a tragic story in the news, or watching an intense movie (which I don't recommend;-) All these call on our bodies to handle the incoming stress. For me, having had my ability to deal with stress basically removed from me through this adrenal fatigue, I am able to feel things that wouldn't even phase another person. (or me for that matter, six months ago)

So, I say ALL of this to say that I am going to be taking a computer break for two weeks! I am extremely excited because I believe this is the next step in the major work the Lord is doing in my heart. I believe this is, in part, an answer for balance and rest in my soul. I believe He wants me alone with Him. I believe I have let my passion to learn and to help others become a replacement for the significance I need to find in Him alone. And, I can only guess, that my limited mind can only think of a small portion of what He is really doing.

If I am being honest though, I am also sort of scared. I don't know what I am going to 'do' instead. Notice the need to 'do' something. I use the computer because I just don't have energy for anything else. I might just need to be quiet, alone with Jesus and my own heart and my own thoughts. I will miss it, I am sure. I will miss hearing from you very amazing women almost daily. It is hard because I have several posts already written out that I feel the Lord has given me, with several more ideas floating in my head. But I will trust His timing. Maybe this will be a time of writing.

Would you mind praying for me if the Lord puts me on your heart? I would appreciate it. I have no reason to think He won't give this back to me. I think that it will probably be in a more balanced way. I tend not to be a balanced person ;-)

I still plan to check my email for important matters. I will be praying a lot during this time and if there are any urgent needs that you would like prayer for, please let me know. It will not be a bother, but a huge blessing to me! Okay, now I am crying. I'm going to miss you ladies, but it's only for two weeks right?

My prayer for you,

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus' feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life's perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love's banner floating o'er you,
smite death's threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Families Health Plan

I thought I would share what we are planning to do during this cold and flu season, beside trust in the Lord of course;-)

The following is what I have come up with all the research I have done. I am in no way an expert and couldn't begin to explain how I came to these conclusions. I will provide links where I can so you can research and come up with what is best for your family. Okay?

Elderberry Syrup

Maybe you have heard all the buzz these last couple of years of the benefits elderberry syrup. All you have to do is google it and start reading. It is quite expensive at the health food store so I was thrilled to find a way to make it. With 10 people taking it, I needed a frugal alternative.

I bought my dried elderberries from The Bulk Herb Store, but I think Mountain Rose Herbs actually has them cheaper. You can make a syrup or even a tea out them. We plan to take a tablespoon or so a day to build our immunity and will take it up to every hour if needed if we get sick.

This is the link for How to Make Elderberry Syrup. It is so easy and cheap!
This is one of the many links explaining the benefits of elderberry.

Cod Liver Oil

I cannot even begin to go into the benefits of Cod Liver Oil, nor will I try. I have become beyond convinced of the benefits over the past couple of years. I take it daily, year round. It is even more important during the flu season.

Here is a good place to start for information on cod liver oil. You can google it also, if you need more sources. I do have to say that with the most recent information about how it is processed, I would never buy any other brand than Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I am almost positive that all other brands strip the natural vitamins and add synthetic back in. And, most, if not all of them are highly refined. Also, the 'fermented' part of this CLO makes it more digestible and makes the vitamins more available. This article might help convince you.

The plan is to take it daily and if we get sick we will definitely increase our dosage.

Vitamin D3

Surely you have all the buzz over vitamin D3. Make sure it is D3! Google vitamin D3.

We take about 2,000 to 5,000 IUs daily. If we get sick I plan to go up 10,000 IUs daily for a few days.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, need I say more? I have Emergen-C in the house for the little children and TwinLab C-plus Citrus Bioflavonoid Caps for the rest of us. The Emergen-C is a yummy drink for the children. The reason I chose this particular Vitamin C for the rest of us is that it probably has the highest amount of bioflavonoids I have seen, which is very important to make the Vitamin C more usable.

HOMEMADE Chicken Broth

I personally would not make broth with regular store bought chicken, but that's just me. I make a really rich chicken bone broth every other week and we incorporate into our weekly meals. If we get sick, we will be drinking lots of the broth. I plan to add extra garlic!

This link is an excellent recipe and the reason behind the benefits. This link I have shared before, but it is great for explaining the benefits to homemade bone broths.

Herbal Remedies

Double E Immunity Booster

I got this from The Bulk Herb Store, which is a phenomenal resource for all your herbal needs. I learned so much! I am 'brewing' my very own Double E Immunity tincture right now. I am so pleased with this, they made it so easy. You could spend hours and hours learning on that sight.

This post by Passionate Homemaking is a great resource.

This post by Keeper of the Home is also great.

Ten Ways to build your immune system by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Natural Remedies, also from Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Home Remedies for a Cold. . . This has amazing information in the comment section. Don't miss it!

Nourishing a Sick Child from Nourishing Gourmet

Random tips:

Cut out all sugar and lower carbs, especially refined carbs.

Get plenty of rest.

Reduce stress. (I know, that's a funny one ;-)

Need I mention to diligently wash hands, cover mouth when coughing, and sneezing into your arm?

We personally choose to avoid over-the-counter medicines, but do use them if absolutely necessary. They only mask and often times only hinder natural healing. We also try not to reduce fevers with Motrin or Tylenol because I believe it is the body's natural way of 'burning out' the bug. Now, if I have an absolutely miserable child, I do give them some 'mercy'
Motrin ;-) After I have tried to make them comfortable in other ways.

There are other things we do and use, but these are the most important one. Please share any health remedies you have and use!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Random Fun

I just thought it would be fun to share some of the goofiness that sometimes happens here.

The kids were jumping rope this afternoon in the house. It was fun, the older boys competed to see who could jump the most. Son number 3 jumped 50 jumps. So of course, Son number 2 jumped 100! He is very competitive. The cute part was watching the baby 'jump rope', which really was just holding the jump rope and jumping up and down. We counted thirty for our little man.

Tonight, after devotions, we decided to involve Papa. Brian jumped just about 50 times. Yeah, Papa. I decided I should try it. Now, it has been many years since I last jumped rope, and dare I say several children ago. I got about 10 jumps in and . . . let's just say a mama who has been pregnant 15 times, has given birth to nine babies, and doesn't do her Kegel exercises nearly as much as her midwife would like . . . well, maybe she should just watch! LOL If you know what I mean. (wink, wink) I was laughing so hard I had to sit down and cross my legs.

One other silly story. . . Brian and I were at an Antique Store in an old warehouse. It was very crowded with junk, I mean antiques. There was a doorway with a sign above it that said "No hilos beyond this point". Being the ditzy person that I am, I whispered to Brian, "is 'hilos' (heelos) Spanish for children or something?"He cracked up! It is hi-lo, as in the piece of machinery. After he told me we laughed so hard! I just assumed that part of the store must be off limits to children or something. Apparently it was an old sign from back in the day when it was actually a warehouse. Who knew? Oh, and I never had a day of Spanish lessons in my life, can you tell?
They say laughter is the best medicine for adrenal fatigue. I sure got a healthy dose this past week! Okay, now you know, I can be extremely ditzy. Do you still love me?

How to Know God's Will

I read this today in my quiet time and was slightly challenged by it. Mostly because I seem to get stuck at number 1 with many of the things I really care about! It is easy to surrender the things I don't care so much about, but then again that isn't surrender is it now?

1. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in a given matter. When you're ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be, nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome.

2. Having done this, I don't leave the result to feeling or simply impression. If I do so, I leave myself liable to great delusion.

3. I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.

5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.

6. Thus, through prayer, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment, according to the best of my ability and knowledge. If my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. I have found this method always effective in trivial or important issues. (George Muller)

How about you, do any of these 'trip' you up?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Power of Praise

The Lord has been speaking to me even more lately about the power of praising and thanksgiving. I say 'even more' because it seems like this message is a constant for me.

What I am wondering is, 'Might there just be a powerful spiritual principle to this praising the Lord?'

One of my favorite Old Testament stories on the power of praise is in 2 Chronicles 20. Please read it if you have a chance to get the full effect of the story.

The verses that speak to me today are:

2 Chronicles 20:21,22

When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy [priestly] garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were [self-] slaughtered;

When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments against their enemies!

For me, when by His grace, I am able to praise and thank Him for all He is in my life, all the blessings, all the mercy, the darkness flees! It is so easy to forget this when I feel so swallowed up by the concerns of life . . . the overwhelming task of discipling these children. . . health issues . . . loving the unlovable . . .hurts and heartaches . . . disappointments . . .

The last thing I feel like doing is praising God, and He gently reminds me of the power of praise. I choose praise, and even when I can't seem to, I pray for grace to praise. The darkness lifts, my heart feels lighter, and hope and joy return.

I think all we truly need can be summed up with one word. JESUS.

Psalm 100:4

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

It is by praise that we enter His courts.

Somehow, praise brings Him to the forefront. We know He never leaves us nor forsakes us, but somehow praise seems to instantly bring an awareness of Him. Most likely because my eyes are now on Him instead of all my troubles.

Below are a few quotes I have read in the last week alone. They are from a devotional called Daily Moments In His Presence.

"Praise Me out of a heart full of love. Praise Me for every blessing and every victory. Yes, praise Me when the most difficult thing to do is praise. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even your faith, and praise is the voice of faith."

"So praise, My children, and never cease in your praising, for in the midst of it I will manifest Myself, and you will understand that when I demand of you your praises, it is for your highest good. Praise will transform the humblest dwelling to a hallowed haven."

"Praise Me, and rejoice while I work it all out for My glory."

Lift up your eyes and begin praising Him right now!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amazing Gift of Marriage

Today, I want to praise and glorify God for an amazing gift He has given me. You see, besides the incomprehensible gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, for which I am so thankful, the gift of marriage is the biggest and most wonderful gift He has given me.

1 Peter 3:2

". . . your [a] reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him--to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. "

As I attempt to praise, honor, esteem, appreciate and adore my husband, let me preface it all by saying I recognize that anything good or worthy of praise in him is from the Lord. And let me tell you that Brian would be the first to tell you "it's not him, it's the Lord". So, all praise and glory goes to God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.

When I met this man I was a scared and hurting little girl in a grown up body. I had spent several years chasing after and longing for love. I desperately wanted to be loved and cherished. I made countless poor choices that left the wounds in my heart only deeper and the ache only stronger. A very broken person.

Brian, equally broken and desperate to be loved, took notice of the 'cute little waitress with the beautiful smile'. (his words) He pursued, I feigned ambivalence. I was unwilling to reveal my attraction to him for fear of falling into my old patterns. It didn't last long though, it became apparent very quickly something huge was growing.

As we look back, we see how God took two broken individuals with unique and jagged edges and put us together to make us ONE. One whole from two broken, so perfectly fitted together.

There is much grace and redemption woven throughout our love story. I hope to someday write it all down, it is beyond beautiful. Praise to the Lord.

Today I want to share just a little of how God uses this man to love and heal and mend that little girl's wounded heart.

Brian truly lays down his life for me everyday. He serves me, loves me and encourages me.

He listens to my heart, really listens. I talk a lot! We share everything with each other. There is nothing we don't talk about. No matter how 'personal', how intimate or vulnerable, no topic or feeling is excluded in what we talk about. He not only listens, but he really hears my heart, and he still loves me.

I came with a lot of insecurities about myself physically and intellectually. He has adored this body of mine through numerous pregnancies and many ups and downs on the scale. He even loves the road map of stretchmarks and c-section scars, assuring me that they represent our love manifest in each one of our children. When I wanted to hide, he pulled me into the light and assured me of his love and acceptance.

When I felt so dumb compared to others and even him, he believed I was smart and would tell me so. I've grown to believe that I am not so dumb after all.
He protects me from others and even myself, when needed. He defends me fiercely and guards me vigilantly. When he sees me choosing a path that could harm me, he gently lets me know and encourages redirection.
He serves and blesses me in so many ways. This man 'draws' a shower for me every night, makes sure I have towels, and while I shower, he fills my cups that hold my supplements for the next day.

He puts toothpaste on my toothbrush each morning. Most mornings he prepares my tea and makes sure I get to my quiet time. Which, by the way, he recognizes as essential to my well being and always encourages it and lets me have as much time as I need. I feel, at least in part, this is him 'washing me with the water of the word'.

Through many pregnancies, births and surgeries he prays for me, holds my hand, wipes my brow, even showering me after my surgeries when I am in too much pain to do it myself. He prays for me each morning, with me before he leaves for work, and anytime I am crying, in pain or just plain losing it!

He is such a man of his word. His integrity is something I have admired since the day I met him. He is my 'steady' man, strong and faithful. He bears my burdens with me. He picks me up when I have fallen.

He will be very uncomfortable with this post because he will be saying "yes, but . . ." at each paragraph. He is well aware of his shortcomings and weaknesses. I am aware of them too, I am not trying to say this man is perfect, he is not. But, I will tell you that he is perfect for me!

As I read back over this post, what keeps coming to my mind is 'husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church'. This is what this flawed husband seeks to do, and does very well, everyday of his life. I see so much of my Father's character in him, love, acceptance, strength, wisdom, faithfulness. . .

I am at a loss for words to describe the depth of my thankfulness to my merciful Father for the gift of this marriage. I fall to my knees, remembering that scared and wounded little girl, who still, in part, resides within me, and praise and worship You, O Lord, for Your goodness poured out to me in Brian.

This is by no means an exhaustive description of the wonder of this man to me, just a little glimpse into the beauty of this amazing gift of marriage.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. I love you . . . ALWAYS!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Special Kind of Love Works!

It is working! If you remember, we were having great troubles with our youngest. We tried everything we knew to stop his screaming and nothing worked. Well, God spoke to me to just love him. He had 'special needs' right now, and we were to love him however he needed to be loved.

Either he is a different child, or we see him differently, but things are significantly better! We still train him regarding obedience, but we love and distract through the screaming. Sometimes in the middle of a rant of his I will start singing, "if you're happy and you know it . . ." everyone joins in, he sees the fun and forgets the screaming.

Or, I'll just scoop him up and start showing him something else and he slowly forgets what he was screaming about. Other times, some love and compassion are all that he needs, not a firm hand and demands to stop screaming.

Brian and I are much less stressed since starting this new approach! We are back to enjoying this little man who, we knew would bring great joy to our family since the moment we found out we were pregnant with him.
Note to self: God's ways are always better than man's ways. ;-)

A few other adorable things about this little guy, if I may.

I often sing hymns to him whenever he lets me snuggle (which isn't nearly enough) and he has taken to singing with me. Most times through his pacifier and never a discernible word, but just a sing-songy sound coming from his heart. This past Sunday during our time of worship, we were all singing from the hymnals and he wanted to join in. He climbed up on Papa's lap and grabbed a hymnal and began to sing with us. It was so precious!

He joins us in prayer by folding his hands, (or holding ours) bows his head, and squeezes his eyes shut tightly. Very adorable. This past Sunday, while we were praying, he spoke out the words, "Jesus . . .Mama". He was praying for me! Such a gift!

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

60/60 Challenge Begins Soon

Just wanted to remind those of you who want to join in the 60/60 challenge. We are officially starting
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I am loving this! It is so amazing to turn my heart towards Him all throughout the day.
* I am able to get my heart back to a place of peace
* Scripture is ever before me
* Finally feel like I am really praying for others consistently
* Children tend to drop everything and join me in prayer (w/o prompts from me)
* My almost 2 year old bows his head, folds his hands and closes his eyes at the sound of the timer. (can you imagine the benefit what this could mean for this little man?)
* I can only imagine what goes on in all their little minds as they see mom stop to pray or meditate on scripture all throughout the day.
This is the watch that I have, which, by the way, does have an hourly chime I am told.
Silly me ;-) (I bought this a long time ago and paid A LOT more for it.)
I am not sure how to make it chime every hour, and I am not sure I want to. If I forget to set the timer for any amount of time, I feel like I miss Him so much. For now I am going to stick with every 3o minutes. I think I need it!
Let me know if you are joining in.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When God Whispers

I had pushed too far, physically. I was a wreck. I needed to just get quiet and sleep. I couldn’t, though, my mind was racing with thoughts of hopelessness and doubt. The thoughts attacked my mind relentlessly.

I fought the tears, which felt an impossible task, knowing they would only delay my rest and would not profit me.

I kept saying over and over in my head, "be still". My mind would run away again and again. I fought with all I had to reign in my thoughts, to stop the incessant chatter. "Be still", I would say, "be still", repeating the words hoping they would drown out the invasion taking place in my mind.
Suddenly, as I said, "be still", I heard ‘and know that I am God’.
I immediately sensed His presence and my desperate chanting "be still" melted into His
"Be still and know that I am God"
Softly, gently, He whispered, ‘be still and know that I am God’ as His tired and weary child found comfort in His embrace.

‘Be still and know that I am God’ He breathed into my very soul, until all worry, fear and doubt melted away under His omnipotent words of ‘be still and know that I am God’.
I found rest, at least in that moment, as my Father held me in His embrace, breathing peace and calm into my soul.
What is troubling your soul today?
Listen for His voice whispering,
"Be still and know that I am God".
He longs to comfort, to love, to bring peace.
Shhhh, quiet your mind, softly He says, "be still and know that I am God’

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gratitude Journal

Have you heard of Ann Voskamp's Endless Gifts and her Visual Journals? If not, you really should go check them out. I read about them and was so taken with them I just had to join in. Her journals are so beautiful and inspiring.

The Lord was speaking to me to purposefully notice blessings in my day to help with the depression I was struggling with. I would do it, when I remembered, but more often than not, I forgot. This is when I read about Ann's Endless Gifts and her Gratitude Journals, I knew it was the Lord encouraging me to join in.

I was determined to not over think this and jump right in, very hard for me to do. ;-) I went to Hobby Lobby and Michael's to find the perfect journal. I'll share some thoughts with you that might help you.

1. You want at least 60lb paper, but 70lb would be better. I still have some ink bleed through with 60lb.

2. I usually always go for spiral bound journals, but in this case I went with a bound book. The reason is when I have the book open and want to enjoy the full spread, I didn't want the white or black binding to interrupt the space. Spiral bound is always easier to write in, I think, but as long as the book opens flat, I am happy with my choice.

3. I went for a full size journal as opposed to a 5 x 8 size, and I am glad I did. Many of the pictures I cut out of magazines would be too big for the smaller pages.

4. I jot ideas down to put in my journal all throughout the day on a sticky note. When I have some time at night I write them in the journal.

5. I only 'decorate' a few pages ahead. I don't know if my mood will change, or the season, so I didn't want to fill in too many.

I knew as soon as the kids saw what I was doing they would want to join me. Sure enough, sneaky mom wins again! I tend to have all these grand plans that we start and never finish and I didn't want this to be another one of those in their minds. They really wanted to do it. My 13 year old has really gotten the hang of it and has made a beautiful journal. She fills it with scripture, quotes, poems, as well as her 'thankful list'.

One day a week I sit down with the littles and we work on decorating their journal. I gently encourage them on placement and picture choice, ;-) (Hard for this type A mom to just have fun) Each day, as I remember, I ask them if they have anything they want me to write down for them. I'm gently teaching them to look for 'gifts' from their Father all throughout the day. I am hoping that they will catch on and not need gentle prompts from me.

I just love when something is His idea. He is the one that makes it happen, not me. I marvel how He has drawn my heart at the perfect time each time I have worked on it with the children. You also need to know that I don't 'naturally' sit down with my littles and do 'crafty' things! Don't you just love it when it's Him?

Here are some other links for 'visual journals' and Endless Gifts

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Practical Way to Practice His Presence

Ever since I read Brother Lawrence's Practicing the Presence and several of Andrew Murray's books about 10-12 years ago, I have longed to 'practice His presence' or ' abide in Him' in a greater and more consistent way. I have amazing quiet times with Him, but often times feel like I leave Him in my room as I chase off into my day.
One of my all time favorite verses is Psalm 27:4

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.

Oh, I just love that verse! Dwelling in His presence, all day, beholding and gazing upon His beauty! I know He is always with me, that's not what I mean. I guess I somehow mean a more tangible and focused way.

While reading Susan's blog, I came across this post on "Cultivating the Discipline of Prayer". Finally, a practical way to practice His presence! Have you heard of the 60/60 challenge? Here is her quote:

"Here's the challenge: Set your watch to chime every hour and use that small prompt to turn your heart and thoughts heavenward. The second part of the "60/60" refers to the duration of the challenge~ 60 days"

I have been practicing this lately and love it! My watch can only be set for 30 minutes at a time, so I guess God wants to hear from me a little more frequently. ;-) I think, starting November first I am going to start the challenge, but will 'practice' until then.
Want to join me? Wouldn't be wonderful to spend a few minutes of every waking hour with your heart turned towards the Lord for the rest of the year?

I am combining this idea with another idea I read on her blog and that is carrying around scripture on a 3 x 5 card to pull out of your pocket and meditate on it throughout the day. I loved this idea too, as I love all the verses that talk about 'meditating on His word day and night', but again, how to make it happen? I have tried this before, but at the end of the day found my card still in my pocket untouched since I wrote it. :-(
My pants or skirts don't always have pockets, so I snatched one of my children's 'chorepak' holders, which we aren't using. ;-) I put my scripture in it, and hooked my watch on it. I just clip it on and away I go.
(If you are wondering why I don't wear my watch, I like my gold watch better)

I have even taken to stuffing prayer cards that I pray for my husband in there. Praying every hour, or thirty minutes in my case, you can cover a lot of ground! I am loving this. It doesn't have to be a long and drawn out process. It can be as simple as just turning your heart towards Him for a few seconds. Or, you can pray, or read your scripture card, or go through a prayer list, or just take a few mindful breaths and say Jesus.
You can make it whatever you want it to be. Each of my prayer breaks look differently depending on what I am doing at the moment the timer goes off and how the Spirit leads me.

I like the idea of a watch timer, I can assure you if I had to get up off my buns to set a new timer I might not do it. Just being honest here. I might eventually get a watch that I can set a 60 minute timer, but for now, I'll just enjoy Him twice as much.

Brian had the idea of using a lanyard to wear around your neck if you don't have one of these handy clippy thingys. That is of course if you don't have pockets.
I have already seen many benefits from this.
*I find myself checking my timer as it feels so long since I last prayed.

* The children are seeing this and are intrigued. I thought it better to just quietly be an example instead of forcing them to join in. If there are some children by me when the timer goes off, I say, "let's pray together" and we'll hold hands or get on our knees at the couch and pray. Nothing forced, just fun. They seem to be enjoying this. I have even noticed my older boys bowing their heads, unprompted by me, when the timer goes off.
*Imagine what this is teaching the children!
*I find myself with time to pray for more people than usual.
*I finally 'feel' like I am with Him all day.
What do you think!? Want to join in?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Special Kind of Love

Do you see that sweet little face? Adorable, isn't he? This is Elijah. He is 22 months old. In this picture he is showing off the make-up he got into that day. While he is adorable and I don't mind showing him off, there is more to this post then how cute he is.

You see he has an itsy-bitsy weakness. Well, it is not so small, it is huge and has caused a great deal of stress in our household. You see, he screams. He screams at and about just about everything! Now some of it is not his fault. He does have several other siblings poking and prodding him all his waking hours. That, and he has a sin nature like the rest of us.

This screaming has been so hard on us, especially because no form of training or discipline seems to work. We have been praying for wisdom for months. We have been praying that he would just stop SCREAMING, to no avail. It makes me laugh how God will not let some 'method' work sometimes, well most times.;-) When we put our hope in what some book says or some expert's "three easy steps to get your child to stop screaming" He is bound to let it fail over and over. You would think we would know this by now.**

Today, as I was crying out to God continually on this matter, I felt He spoke something to my heart that gave me fresh perspective. I have often thought that if we ever were given a 'special needs' child, by His grace, I would have to stop everything and give that child my all. I would have to learn to love that child however they needed to be loved. (I know this is easy to say when you don't have a special needs child, and I do not mean to minimize how hard it must be)

The Lord showed me that my little Elijah has special needs right now. Yes, there is a place for discipline and training, but he needs some special kind of love right now. If he was a true 'special needs' child it would be so inappropriate for me to get frustrated with him and to expect so much from him. What makes it okay right now?

Can I give him my all right now? Can I rely on God to give the grace to help me meet his needs right now? Can I stop relying on man's methods and look to Jesus each step and with each situation?

I say often that he is so lucky he is so darn cute! He is so precious and has the cutest personality. He is so smart for his age. I repent of my foolishness for relying on 'methods' and for being so impatient and 'un-loving' towards this creature!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

As I read these verses, it makes me cry, I am sad for the lack of love I have extended towards this little man.

Thank You, Lord for Your mercy and forgiveness. Thank You that Your love is shed abroad in my heart. Enable me to LOVE with your love.
**I would like to add that I am absolutely not opposed to parenting books and the like. I have and recommend quite a few. What I am referring to is putting our hopes in a method rather than on God. While these types of books have great 'practical' advice, they are not the end all. Our hope must be in God and His word alone. Capiche?