Thursday, March 31, 2016

Encouragement and Help in Raising Your Children

I read an article that I really enjoyed this evening and I wanted to share it with you. It is by Joshua Becker who has the blog "Becoming Minimalist" and the post is called : "35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget." Some great ideas on "giving gifts" that don't include cluttering up your home. It inspires you to think about things that truly matter.

I went to his blog tonight to read "Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids" to which I wholeheartedly agree. It is another good article.

I thought you might enjoy them too.

I had fun finding a few old pictures of ours that went along with his posts.
 A trip where we had lots of fun finding beauty, learned a lot and appreciated nature.
 Creating with my girls. Art is always fun!
 Life long learning and nature again. Mara created a very cool fair project about trees.
 No toys needed to have a lot of fun! Imaginations at work. Creativity helps with costume making.
 We aren't quite minimalists truly but we do fully embrace the idea that it isn't stuff that makes us happy.

  I would love to hear your thoughts on toys and children.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Challenge

I hope you are having a lovely Resurrection day! We are having some beautiful weather, had a good morning at church and are enjoying some of the kids friends here for the afternoon with the whole family due to come for supper. We feel blessed.

 We try to remember Jesus' death, burial and resurrection on a regular basis - weekly with communion every Sunday and then just often on our own - thinking in thankfulness at the wonderful gift God gave. As we read our Bibles it does help us to remember that gift regularly and to celebrate in the power Jesus has over death! In my reading this past week it was fun to notice how often Jesus' resurrection was mentioned. It is a critical part of the Gospel message and truly something to celebrate.

Here are some of the favorite verses from my reading this week....

What caused me to worship God more?
"O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before,  and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it." Psalm 139:1-6

When I want to be reminded of how God knows me very personally and loves and cares for me - Psalm 139 is a chapter I will quickly go to. The things this chapter tells me about my God causes me to worship Him even more!

What scripture touched me?
"...but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive." Acts 25:19

"And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made be God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? Acts 26:6-8

Reading about Paul's time on trial  was very interesting as I noticed how often he referred to Jesus' resurrection. reading the Roman's view point: "About a dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive" really touched me when I think how what we know to be true about Jesus might look foolish to the world if only they would see and believe too.

What scripture inspired me to action?
"How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.... For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God." Acts 20:20, 21 &27

Seeing Paul's example inspires me to also be more bold. To share God's word with others more. We need people to realize the importance of repentance and faith and understanding God's will for them.

Interesting Fact:
"That the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. Acts 26:23"

It is because of Jesus' suffering on the cross and His Resurrection that can walk in light. How wonderful!!!

What nuggets have you found in God's word lately?

I started writing this post on Sunday but didn't finish before company came and then they were there til late and so I didn't get it posted and yesterday was busy with cleaning, schoolwork, teaching piano lessons and traveling to help out at an endorsing convention and getting home late so I finally have it going up today. :-)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Frugal Friday

 Did you have a good week of saving money? We did much of the time but we also spent some as well. But that is how life goes.

  I ordered my bees for the year and spent more on them than I ever have before but I am hoping that it will help me to save money in the long run as I got a different kind of bees - ones that are supposed to be hardier and people have reported better success at keeping them alive through the winter around here. So if that works I should save a lot of money in future years. So far in my bee keeping experience I have always kept Italian bees and any time I have tried to over winter them I have been unsuccessful. This time I am getting Carniolan bees. Just for interest sake - I am spending $260 on bees (for 2 hives) this year and am getting packages. Before I have always gotten NUCS and when I started I paid I believe $85 per hive. This year I would have been spending $250 for both hives as they have gone up to $125 each. I do generally get around 300 lbs a honey a year so it is still pretty inexpensive honey but it is a lot of money to shell out at one time. Anyway - I imagine I will write a "bee post" when I actually pick them up but I will get back to my more general money saving topics now....

One of our fun frugal activities this week was playing a game. Game playing is a nice frugal fun family activity but that isn't why I called this one frugal. This one was frugal because we wanted to play a game we had learned but instead of buying the game we figured out ways to use things we already had to play it instead.

   The game that we had learned when a bunch of family was here last month is called "Telestrations". It is basically a combination of the old game "telephone" and drawing pictures. It is fun, causes you to be creative and can get very funny.

 When you play the game each player gets a little dry erase "notepad". A friend had recently given us a bunch of scrap paper notepads about the size of the dry erase pads from the game and so we used those instead. You also get a writing instrument and you get a card that tells you what to draw. For our frugal game we used cards from "Taboo" a game that we already owned. You need to be timed when you are drawing so we pulled out the Boggle timer - that did end up being to long so Ken used his phone timer instead. We did also consider using a teeth brushing timer. Everybody puts there name on the front of their notepad.
  Then everybody picks a card and writes the word on it into the front page of their notepad. The next step is for them to draw a picture of that word. The photo above and below shows the progress of one word from our game (one that we found rather funny). Mara had the word "Convention" so she wrote that on the first page and then on the next page drew a picture. It was of a guy giving a speech and there is a picture of an Elephant (we are Republicans here and that is the type of convention we go to so it makes sense). After drawing the first picture everybody passes their notebook on to the next person and they look at the picture you drew but not the word you wrote and then write what they think your picture is. Jonathan's conclusion on Mara's picture was "guy giving a speech about his African safari".

Ken got the tablet next and he gets to look at Jonathan's conclusion but nothing else and then draw a picture of that. He draws the picture in the top left which was obviously somebody giving a speech but I didn't recognize his Elephant, lion and Africa so when I got it next and looked at the picture my conclusion was "Giving a speech about germs or monsters". Megan got it next and read what I wrote and then drew the bottom left picture to which Aaron decided that it must be "A weird guy".

  Anyway - we had fun (though we have found the game to be even more fun with more than 6 players. 10 or so generally causes things to get quite mixed up and then sometimes they can even make it somewhat back again.

Other frugal things....
Creamed Eggs on Toast.

  • I had company for lunch and also served lunch today at a church activity and made soup (chili on Monday and split pea and chicken noodle today) both times. Soup is both an inexpensive, easy and well received luncheon meal to make.
  • I organized an event today where we organized and fixed up one of the classrooms at the church building. We are (I have to finish tomorrow as the paint was still drying) putting up new shelves that are painted a pretty light blue green, adding a toybox and a rug for playtime, have nice fabric covered boxes for Sunday School supplies and I repainted a little chair to match the shelves. I spent less that $20 for the fix up (for shelves and brackets) as I had everything else we needed. I had been given paint and fabric. I had hot glue on hand and various people saved boxes for us to use. I am making the rug from fabric scraps and we could just use a lot of things that we already had on hand. Hooray for re-purposing and for having neater classrooms!
  • We have been getting a lot of eggs so it has been fun using them a little more heavily in our meals. We can save money on meat that way. Mara made some yummy creamed eggs (a white sauce with boiled eggs cut in) over toast earlier this week and this evening I made an omelet of sorts with eggs, rice, veggies and a little meat. 
  • Megan was needing a new spelling book. I was able to look through things passed down to me from my mom and find one that would work for her. I am amazed at how little we can spend on school books and supplies.
  • We have saved a lot of scrap paper from things leftover from caucus and then from going through shelves today at the church building. We will save anything that has a blank back and that works perfectly for the kids to use for scrap paper for working on their math also it works great for all of Megan's drawing.
  • I washed aluminum foil to repurpose it.
  • I used old spaghetti sauce, salsa and jam jars to can our maple syrup in.

I would love to hear about any frugal things you did this week!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

God's Giving

In my papers recently I ran across a poem by Helen Steiner Rice which I really love. It is so true and a great reminder. I want to share it with you.....

"More than hearts can imagine
or minds comprehend,
God's bountiful gifts
are ours without end.
We ask for a cupful
when the vast sea is ours,
We pick a small rosebud
from a garden of flowers.
Whatever we ask for
falls short of God's giving,
For His greatness exceeds
every facet of living."

~Helen Steiner Rice

Monday, March 21, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Challenge

Did you dig into God's word this past week? What are some of the jewels you found?
Here are some of my favorites (sometimes it is really hard to choose!)....

What caused me to worship God more?
"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,  and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake,  so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." Acts 16:25 & 26

There are a couple of things in here that cause me to worship God more...

  • The example of Paul and Silas to praise and worship God even when bound in prison. If they can worship even in the midst of trials then I can too.
  • The example that we see of God's power and His ability to fix even the seemingly impossible situations. 
This year I have felt burdened more than ever before to pray for this presidential election. I feel that the stakes are pretty high - that we have various candidates that do not respect God or our constitution and if I am not careful when I look at how well they are doing in the polls and primaries it can cause me to worry. But instead I have been really working to pray. I am thankful for examples like this that just shows us that God is not bound in the same way we are. He can do things that we might never expect. Knowing that we have a mighty God is certainly a reason to worship and to quit worrying!

What Scripture touched me?
"Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22

The Christians in the early church had to often go through a lot of persecution but they were faithful. We want to be faithful too even should times get hard. People have done it in the past and we can do it too.

What prompts me to action?
"Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

I think this is such an important example for us to follow today. We have many, many false doctrines being preached. Even among people that are Christians there may be someone who mis-speaks and teaches us something that isn't quite correct. Even in blogs that we read. :-) We need to ALWAYS compare what we are taught with the Bible. 

What interesting fact did I find?
"In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." Acts 14:16-17

I think this verse is pretty cool and a reminder to us  that whenever we see rain, gardens, truly anything that God made it is a witness of Himself and a reminder to worship and serve Him.

I would love to hear what you gained from your Bible reading this past week. Please share in the comments!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Farewell to Winter

Looking up our lane.
 God gave us a most beautiful goodbye from Winter this week. We had such a pretty, sticky snow that was all over the trees and the ground. It was beautiful to look out and rather magical to drive through some of the roads around here where the trees rather go over the road. I had fun going out to take a few photos at our place.
Our house in the Winter Wonderland.

The branches were heavily laden.

The river is nearly open and looking very pretty.
Since the river has opened up we have had so much fun watching all the swans, geese and ducks come floating or flying by. We have also been regularly seeing an immature eagle diving to try to catch a meal. One lunch time we had such fun watching 4 otters out on the ice diving in and out of the water. God has made so many different things. I am totally in awe!

 The last two days has caused the snow to melt again so we are properly ready for Spring. Tomorrow after church we are going to celebrate my dad's birthday at lunch and then start the boiling down of maple sap. What a wonderful way to start Spring!

 I still think we will quite likely get more snow (which would be good for the Maple sap season) but we shall see.

Feeling Frugal

 So here is another week where I failed to get a Frugal Friday post written. I thought I would get it done this week but the company that we had over for supper last night stayed until 9 pm (which was great fun!) and then I needed to get my seed order done which took longer than I thought and then I was falling asleep at the computer and I decided that I would have to skip it yet again. Oh well.

   But as I have been having fun thinking about the various ways we have been frugal in the time since I last wrote about it I thought I would share some of those things today anyway (when I finally had time to blog after taking care of Homeschool co-op business and letting my kids have their turn on the computer working on a skit for our homeschool co-op).

~ I have had some fun with chalkboard paint recently. The chalk board paint was leftover from my door project so that didn't cost anything and all the things I painted were things we had on hand. I made:

  • 10 Slates for a general store at our homeschool co-op.
  • Chalkboard vases using old olive oil bottles. I painted them and put twine around their neck. I used them for decoration at the Bridal show and also sold two to a bride for her wedding.
  • I make chalkboards out of some wood slices which I used for decorations at the Bridal Show and will also sell some.
  • I also fixed up my little lunch box which is my flower fixing kit by painting it with chalkboard paint.

 I have really been enjoying chalkboard paint.

~I cut the boys hair (I know I say this often, but truly I am excited about how much money we have saved through the years by doing home haircuts.)

~I have been using water instead of milk a lot in recipes as it often doesn't change it much and it is much cheaper.

~I have been using beef tallow that I processed instead of oil sometimes in recipes and for frying.

 ~I made curtains for our bathroom (a much needed addition!) using fabric that I already had on hand. I had thought I had already bought a suspension rod but I haven't been able to find it (I think I must have just looked at them -not actually bought one) but I didn't want to go out and buy one in case I did have it somewhere so I cut a piece of wood (a poplar tree that Jonathan had stripped the bark off of and dried) to size and then to make it fit firmly without scratching up the window frame I cut some styrafoam from an egg carton and hot glued those circles onto the ends. It works perfectly.

~Mara needed new jeans and I was able to find some nice ones at the thrift store for 50 cents each. Score! I also found her another pair of pants that will work well when we go back packing this summer for $1 and another pair of cords for free.

~While at the thrift store I was able to pick up a few neat books and a couple (of dirty but cleanable) vases in the free section.

~I needed vases for an event I was taking flowers to and I found what I need for 50 cents each. That is much cheaper than buying from the wholesaler and you can't tell that they were used.

~The girls and I went with a friend this morning to a neighboring town to a fabric outlet. I am helping my friend to make valances for her house. She got fabric for valances for 4 windows and some beautiful heavy upholstery fabric to recover a chair for just $35. I am planning on helping her recover the chair as well which will save her tons of money. She was quoted $700 to have it done. I think maybe I should go into that business! The girls and I found some deals too. We got some pretty fabric for curtains for Mara's bedroom windows, fabric for the windows in our master bedroom (I think I ended up with over 10 yards on that bolt so I have way more than I need), fabric for my office curtains and some other remnants that I just thought looked nice to have on hand. That came to under $25. All of the flat fold fabric that you see (and some of it is pieces that are over 2 yards long) came out of the free bin. We have all sorts of fun stuff to make bags, costumes, pillows and such with. It was a fun trip. We did splurge then by eating out because some of our party (everybody but me) was very hungry.

~I have been having fun making a bunch of jump ropes for our general store using old t-shirts which I cut in strips and then braid together.

~I also made some doggy toys for Kitchi from t-shirt scraps. He has really enjoyed them. I tried to get a picture of him actually playing with one but he was terribly wiggly so they turned out blurry. :-)

~I bartered a some music lessons to a family for them to take Aaron to his air rifle/air pistol practice each week. It saves me 45 minutes each week plus gas but it isn't that far out of the way for them as they are leaving my house anyway (I teach 4 kids in that family) and so it was a win for both of us.

~I ordered seeds from Fedco Seeds last night. They are the best place I know for having good seeds that don't cost an arm and a leg. We should be amply paid back for this cost in veggies a little later this year. Also I ordered seeds for quite a lot of flowering herbs that we want to use heavily in our landscaping around the house. This saves a lot of money over buying shrubs and such.

~I used Ebates for a recent Amazon purchase so that I can earn cash back.

~Friends gave us some hand-me-downs and in them we found some jeans for Jonathan (who just keeps on growing!) and Aaron and some "new" snowpants for me (mine were getting holey). There were also not so nice pants in there that we could use to cut into strips for our rug.

~I got free holey and stained jeans at the thrift store for my rug. We had used up all we had on hand for that.

How have you saved money recently? Isn't it amazing how well God provides?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Challenge

How was your Bible reading this week? Did you find it encouraging? Where you able to do it every day? Are you working to read through it all in a year?

  I have really been enjoying the book of Acts. This book tells so much about the early church and I really enjoy reading it and looking to it for examples to show me how I also should live. Most of my favorite verses this week were from the book or Acts. I have been reading it on my own  each morning in the NAS version and then I am reading it to the kids after breakfast in KJV. It is fun to see the differences. I am also reading through Psalms (after lunch with kids) and Leviticus (naptime - just me) this month as well.

What scripture this past week prompted me to worship God more?
"Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." Acts10:34-35

The blessing of God wanting all nations is so very wonderful. That means He wants me!

What scripture touched me?
"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." Psalm 127:3-5

I know this is true and I find it wonderful!

What scripture prompts me to action?
"So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church of God." Acts 12:5

I want to grow in my prayer life and I really appreciate how this one shows the power of prayer. Peter was in prison and I don't think the outcome looked very good but the people prayed and God is much strong than any heavily guarded Roman prison! God is still strong today. He can do amazing things - maybe He sometimes simply waits for us to get serious about praying.

Interesting fact:

Speaking of Peter getting out of prison.... that is a pretty cool story. Here are some neat facts:

"When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gates that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street,  and immediately the angel departed from him." Acts 12:10

I love how God made the gate open by itself. How cool is that?!

  What did you gain from you Bible reading this week? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

It Feels Like Spring!

Our family enjoys winter. In fact on Saturday Ken, the boys and I celebrated our enjoyment of winter with a day of skiing in Duluth. It was a beautiful day, just below freezing and the slopes were so fun!

 But as much as I like Winter I kind of really love Spring! Though Spring isn't officially here it feels like it is. It also has been sounding like Spring with the dripping of snow melting off of the roof and the call of the geese as they land out on the river by our house.

Here are some other signs of Spring:
 Tapping Maple trees over at my parents house.
 Boys going out without a coat and loving it.
 Beautiful sunshine creating big holes in the snow.
 Sap running.
 Baby goats sitting in the sunshine.
 Rivers in our driveway.
 "Logs" floating down the river. It is a log drive you know.
 Playing outside for hours.
 Creating more rivers in the driveway to help it drain. Fun that can keep our kids and music students busy for hours.
The real river getting holes in it's ice. Just up river from us it is quite open already. It will be soon here as well.

Lots of talk of weddings and flowers. I am gearing up for another season of doing wedding flowers to that means a Bridal Show on Saturday and plenty of consultations and quote writing.

 I figure we might get winter back again still this year - it is early after all. But we shall enjoy whatever God gives us and right now He is giving us Spring - mud and all and we are loving it!

  Yesterday was a super sunshiny warm day and it made me feel so happy and energetic. We have had so much going on lately that I have been really tired and that was just what I needed to get going again!

  Does it feel like Spring where you are too? What is one of your favorite things about Spring?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Challenge

Did you enjoy reading your Bible this past week? Did you find it interesting? Did you learn anything new? Did it motivate you to live life differently? I would love to hear how reading God's word is affecting your life!

This month I am reading the book of Acts along with Psalms and Leviticus. I really enjoy the book of Acts. It is so exciting to read about how God used normal every day people to get His church started. Reading about the growth (and struggles) of the church inspires me as try to do my best to serve His church today.

What did I read this past week that caused me to worship God more?
"Men of Israel, Listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know - this Man delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,  you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." Acts 2:22-24

There were at least a couple of things here that cause me to stop and worship:
- God knew what would happen to His Son Jesus and yet He sent Him to earth anyway!
-Jesus could not be held in death's power. This is very unique and amazing and completely wonderful!

What scripture touched my heart?
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ - this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they  heard this, they were pierced to the heart,  and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent,  and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off,  as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." Acts 2:36-39

Isn't that so neat?!? The Holy Spirit has been promised to us and to generations behind us. We simply need to obey and do what God tells us to do.

What can I apply to my life?
"They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus,  and then released them. So they went on their way form the presence of the council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day,  in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." Acts 5:40-42

This reminds me to speak more boldly about Jesus. It also reminds me that no matter what happens in life I can still stand firm on Jesus Christ.

Interesting Fact...

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

This states very boldly that Jesus is the only way to salvation and heaven.

What did you find especially interesting in your Bible reading this week? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Do You Care About Our Country?

 I feel very blessed to live in a Country that was founded on Christian principles. It was designed to allow people to live freely without an oppressive government and many rules that might prevent us from Worshiping God or being able to work and provide for our family.

  Our country was also designed so that ALL OF US - every common everyday citizen of our country (that is of age) could have a say in how our country is run. We are to be the ones in leadership and we are the ones that those elected to leadership represent.

  Unfortunately our country has been majorly straying from it's foundation of Christian principles. I also find that many people don't care to be involved in the process of electing leaders and holding them accountable. I believe this needs to change!!

  A couple of weeks ago I held an educational event for anybody who wished to come (but specifically targeted at Homeschool families) to help people to understand how our election process works and how we can truly make a difference. It was a really fun day and I felt very blessed with the turn-out and the interest that people showed. I believe that people do want to do what they can to help return America to it's founding principles but many didn't know how.

  Is that possibly true for you as well?

 Today in 13 states (Minnesota being one of them) we are holding either caucuses or primaries to choose who will be the nominee for each party.  This is a very simple way to get involved. It is also super important. We candidates who are very different from one another. Their are some who I think would be truly God fearing, would honor the constitution and try to live their lives according to what they read in the Bible. There are others that don't have any moral compass to guide their lives and so could make decisions that would take our country even farther away from God.

I encourage you. I beg you. Please go out and vote for someone who stands by God's word and the Constitution!

 Some of you need to go today, some of you will be next week or even later and a few of you live in states that have already had their chance. If you still have a chance- please go! Even if you don't know how a caucus or primary works just go - their will be volunteers there (I know I am heading off to volunteer in just a few minutes) that will help guide you through it. It really isn't that hard.


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