Thursday, November 29, 2007

Keeping Christ the Focus of Christmas

I recently did some research for an article for our local homeschool newsletter. With all the commercialism of Christmas, how do we keep Christ our focus? Here's some of what I found, along with some things we do as a family.

Little Acorns Treehouse has a great post about learning about Advent and Christmas.

Noel Piper has written a wonderful book entitled Treasuring God in our Traditions. In the book, she says,
“Christmas is only one small part of a whole year of living, working and ministering in our churches and to our neighbors, of meeting our family’s physical needs, of teaching our children. Just one small part of the year—but with our hearts and spirits open in anticipation and excitement, what an ideal opportunity for remembering and teaching.”

Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in your holidays and special occasions and Family Celebrations at Birthdays and for other vacations and other holidays and Family Celebrations for Christmas all by Ann Hibbard

Some of the things we do in order to keep our focus on Christ during the Christmas season:
  • Set up a nativity scene--a wooden one the little ones can play with
  • Set up and celebrate Advent--with a wreath of candles and selected Bible readings
  • Attend local Christmas programs at other churches
  • Sing carols at a nursing home
  • Give a gift to a ministry such as a crisis pregnancy center
  • Participate in Angel Tree or other giving ministry
Our desire as parents is that our children will see and experience that Christmas is about Christ--that He came down as a baby, gave His life to satisfy the wrath of God for OUR sins. That is the greatest gift!!

What traditions do you have in your family that keep the focus on Christ?


We were gone for Thanksgiving--we headed east--12 hours east. We went to see my PopPop, Uncle, Aunt and family. The car ride was long, but good. The kids did great. Baby Boy had one major melt-down where he screamed "OUT!" "OUT!" for a loooonnnggg time.

I ended up getting an ear infection while I was there--I have no idea where it came from. I don't even remember the last time I had one. Anyway, there it was, major ear pain 12 hours from home. I did okay though. Tylenol and motrin kept the pain away.

It was great spending time with family. The cousins played well together. Now that we are home we are trying to get back into some sort of routine. Easier said than done. On Pleasant View Schoolhouse, I read a post about deep cleaning one room each day. You can go here to see her method. I used a little of her method and mixed it with my own and today we deep cleaned the living room. I made 3x5 cards one for each room of the house. Each card has a list of the things that need to be done in that room. Then each day, one of the girls picks a card (without looking) and we clean that room. After the room is clean, I made a "Reward Chart" and the girls get to put a sticker for the room we cleaned. It worked. My living room is clean and sparkling. It almost made me want to just go ahead and clean the rest of the house! However, that's not a wise choice considering all the other things I need to get done in a day. Hopefully we will be able to keep the living room clean and then every day add another one to the clean side.

I used Pleasant View's idea about using fragrant cleaning water and furniture polish. I used a lemon~oil polish and lemon scented liquid lysol. For my windows, I just use hot water, a microfiber cloth and lots of elbow grease. I also make sure I dry it thoroughly with a cotton cloth. The girls took care of the walls and baseboards with the lysol water. We all put forth a lot of effort and Baby Boy did his part by putting toys away (and by getting into the tub and pouring shampoo over his hair--but we're focusing on the positive here).

Well, at the current schedule, we'll be done the whole house Wednesday of next week. Yippee!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Homemade Applesauce

Do you remember the abundance of apples I told you about last week? Well, the girls and I made applesauce and put it in the freezer. It was very easy and fun to do together.

We peeled and cored all the apples, then we sliced them very thin. Bethany's job was putting them in the large pot. I put about 1/2 cup of water in the pot and turned it on med.-low until the apples were soft and gushy. Then I blended them in my blender, poured into 2-cup containers and placed them in the freezer.

It was fun and it tastes so good.

Stuck on the Holiness of God

I've been studying about the holiness of God since Sunday. Really only 3 days now, but it's been a long 3 days.

Anyway, I'm reading RC Sproul's book called "The Holiness of God". I read (I think it was in the study guide) that as one studies the holiness of God, one realizes more and more clearly her own sinfulness. I have been praying that my heart would be open to learn more about who God is and what it means that HE is HOLY. It's sort of like praying for patience--the way you get it is by practicing patience...meaning, you are put in situations that demand your patience. SO, I'm praying that I'll learn about His holiness, which in turn will show me more of my sinfulness.
This is tough stuff.

Here is a quote from the first chapter of Sproul's book. It is kind of long, but worth the read.

"How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives. It affects far more than what we normally call the "religious" aspects of our lives. If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe. No part of the world is outside His lordship. That means no part of my life must be outside His lordship. His holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance--everything with which we are involved.
God is inescapable. There is no place we can hide from Him. Not only does He penetrate every aspect of our lives, but He penetrates it in His majestic holiness. Therefore we must seek to understand what the holy is. We dare not seek to avoid it. There can be no worship, no spiritual growth, no true obedience without it. It defines our goal as Christians. God declared, 'Be holy, because I am holy.' (Leviticus 11:44)
To reach that goal, we must understand what holiness is. "

For now I'm stuck on the holiness of God and I think that's right where I need to be.

Monday, November 19, 2007

God's Holiness and difficult Mondays

Today has been a hum-dinger of a Monday. Little boy has given me such a hard time today--all day. Since this morning, early this morning. I'm worn out. I've tried my best to be consistent in discipline. On top of him, the girls have had an equally hard day. I'm really worn out.

I'm looking forward to my Hunny coming home.

Yesterday in church, however, we were ushered into the throne room of God, and there we reverently took a glimpse of His holiness.
Revelation 4: 8b

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.

We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin
We fall down
We lay our crowns
At the feet of Jesus
The greatness of
Your Mercy and love
At the feet of Jesus
And we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy
Is the lamb

I've been trying to make sense of today, especially in light of God's holiness. I feel awfully defeated and honestly far from God's holiness. I do realize apart from Him, I can do NOTHING. And I'm sure He's the only reason I haven't snapped today.

Above all, I believe He is good, faithful and yes, holy. And not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

2:30 a.m. Search for Tooth

My sweet Bethany lost her second tooth yesterday. She proudly and promptly put it in a ziploc baggie and wrote her name on it. Then because she wanted to share the joy, she took it to church last night to show her AWANA leader.

In the middle of the night, I awoke to find her at my bedside. She couldn't find her tooth. The baggie was there, but no tooth. She was sad. She'd wanted to put it under her pillow and forgot before bed. Now was as good a time as any, hence the need for the tooth.

I told her I'd put my glasses on and be right in to help her look for a teeny tiny tooth...lost who knows where. She was sincere and so sad, which just melted my tired heart into a puddle of love for her.

I found my way to her room and gazed in the baggie...only to find...

the missing tooth!

It wasn't missing at all. It was hiding behind the letters of her name. All is well. My little girl was able to go back to sleep with a smile on her face and a tooth in a baggie under her pillow.

She will awaken this morning to find that her daddy replaced the tooth with a coin.


The Reason for Blogging

CitizenLink had an interesting article about how blogging can be a way of communicating the truth of the gospel to people who otherwise might not listen to it. There was a conference for Christian bloggers called "GodBlog". It's purpose was "to assist them in taking advantage of new media, understanding its impact on society and engaging the culture for Christ".

The article also commented on how the messages need to be "communicated with authenticity, intelligence and a fair share of common sense" in order to be heard.

I hope that's what you find here...the truth of God's Word being communicated with authenticity, intelligence and a fair share of common sense. Not that every day I will be talking specifically about a Biblical truth, however that the tone and underlying principles are a representation of my relationship with my Savior.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TMJ Relief

Okay, so I grind my teeth at night. I know, a bad habit (I could have added it to my list yesterday). It's the kind of bad habit that I'm unaware that I'm doing it. As opposed to the bad habits that I do in full awareness (eating chocolate chips right from the bag, just as an example, not saying I do that or anything, uh, umm).

Years ago a dentist fit me with a very expensive mouth guard that I bit through in less than 5 days. Glad that worked.

A couple months ago I purchased a mouthguard from Walmart's sporting goods department...for $2.88. I followed the directions, boiling it, fitting it to my mouth, and now wearing it every night. Let me tell you folks, relief! Relief like I never felt. Almost NO popping of my jaws, no lock-jaw and whatever other wretchedness came upon me each night. Relief.

Relief has come. But not without a price. And no I'm not talking about the $2.88 I spent at Wallyworld. Look at the's hideous. I had to take a picture of it because you wouldn't have believed me otherwise. What's that you say, couldn't I have found a clear one or some other fashion color?? No, not me, although I did try. This one is double cushioned and apparently I need that extra cushion because I haven't bit through this one...yet. I do see evidence of much wear and tear, but for now this is working for me.

And my hunny, well, he's gotten used to sleeping with Frankenstein. I've got one understanding man and boy am I thankful.

Run right over to Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas.
And, just for the record, I don't store my mouthguard in the kitchen with the abundance of apples.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Let's Get Real

What is one good habit that I have?
I love to encourage others.

What is one bad habit that I have?
I don't stick to my routine whether it be cleaning, exercise, Bible reading, eating well, etc.

What is one habit that I would like to cultivate in my life?
Sticking to my routine!

There you have it folks. My habits~for all to see. If you'd like to participate or see others' habits, visit Randi at "I Have to Say". Randi also has neat crafts and tutorials. Go visit her!

Apples in Abundance

A friend of ours called yesterday and said he had a bunch of extra apples. He asked if we'd like some...would we? Yes, indeed. So, I made an apple crisp for dessert last night. This is the recipe I used:

Apple Crisp

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or spray an 8 or 10 inch baking pan or 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish generously.

2. Place in pan or casserole dish:
4 cups sliced apples, peeled and cored

3. Blend until crumbly; spread evenly over fruit slices:
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole wheat flour)
1/2 c. quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked
1/2 c. cystalline fructose or Sucanat (I used brown sugar)
3/4 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. nutmeg
1/3 c. soft butter

4. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until apples are tender.

This recipe is from Sue Gregg's Cookbooks "Desserts" This recipe book features lowfat and allergy alternatives.

My Hunny came home to the luscious smell of warm apples and cinnamon. That's quite a welcome home if I do say so myself.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Baby Bliss

Yesterday I went to a baby shower for a dear friend and her two week old sweetie pie. Oh, the bliss of holding a new baby, a peanut snuggled in your arms. oh my. Caleb, the baby, slept most of the time--even with different people getting their love-tanks full of him. This sweetie is an amazing answer to years of praying...a living testimony to God's faithfulness and greatness. baby bliss.

I love this quote by Elizabeth Prentiss:

Here is a little mouth to kiss;
here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery.
Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is abode of a kingly tenant.
I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all.
Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers!
Oh how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!
We love you Caleb, and your parents too!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ollie's Bargain Outlet

I love a good deal. And today I actually found some good deals at Ollie's Bargain Outlet. The store isn't close to our house (good thing), but I had some other errands to do in that vicinity so what's a girl to do but stop!

One thing I really love to browse through are the books at Ollie's. The books are new and usually I can't find any thing wrong with them...and they are cheap!

I found these two books for Trenton for Christmas...for 99 cents each. Yippee! The Story of Gettysburg and The Story of Benjamin Franklin both by written by Patricia A. Pingry and illustrated by Stephanie McFetridge Britt. They retail for $6.95 a piece and I've linked you to Christian Book Distributers (CBD) who sells them for $5.49 each.

Marissa found some Mandie books also for 99 cents each. They usually sell for around $5.

The other fun thing about Ollie's is that you don't really know what you'll find there--it's like a treasure hunt every time. The store sells a host of other things also, however usually I spend most of my time looking through the books.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Works for YOU Wednesday

Today is BACKWARDS Works for Me Wednesday. Instead of me telling you some clever tip, I'm going to ask YOU a question and you leave me clever tips. Thanks Shannon for hosting! I have lots of questions, like this one about a frying pan, however today I'm wanting new ideas for frugal Christmas gifts. You see how many people responded to my question about a frying pan (zero, zilch, nada); I sure hope this question gets a better response.

Our budget doesn't allow for much gift-giving, so mostly we get a few things for our children and we try to get something for our nieces and nephews. So, I'm looking for ideas for children,15 years old and younger.

Over the next couple days I'll share what ideas I've done in the past few years, but today I want YOUR ideas.

Thanks!! And visit Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday--BACKWARDS.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm just not up for the challenge

I know all one of you have been waiting for the update on the Fall Organizational Challenge that I said I was thinking of participating in. I just can't do it. Can't muster up the gumption to partake this time. I'm not even sure why...just can't that's all. Maybe in the spring.

However, if you are so inclined, hop on over to Laura's and join the challenge. And let me know you did. I'll cheer you on.

At Home

We have been home now for a couple days with no outside appointments or places to be. Very nice! Especially since we are sharing one vehicle...the days that I don't need to go anywhere, my Hunny can just take the van to work. So we've been tackling school one day at a time. Overall, things are going well and the girls are doing very well in their schoolwork.

Here is Marissa at the table doing her math.

Here is Trenton singing "My God is so BIG!" How cute is that? Yes, he is standing up in his chair, but right after I snapped this picture I made him sit down.
Here is Bethany making her Thanksgiving Turkey. And below is the finished work. The turkey's body is her foot and of course the feathers are her hand prints. And I even remembered to put the date on the back. :) Bethany has her apron on because she helped me bake some lemon bars (from a box mix). My sister, Sara gave me quite a few boxes of these lemon bars. Guess we just aren't lemony people because none of us like them. However we had a fun time making them.
Hope you all are having a good day!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New Sidebar Links

I love this time of year. The fall weather is beautiful.

I added a couple links on my sidebar. My sister has started her own photography business; so if you live in Maryland and need a photographer--give her a call. And my Uncle Tim has his own business--he coverts 8mm movie reels to dvd's. He also sells homemade birdhouses, walking sticks and decorated miniature hay bales. I'm hoping to post a picture of my birdhouse soon--I love mine. He also lives in Maryland, but can operate his business through the mail.

Well, I've got to catch up on housework.
Enjoy your weekend.