Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Decluttering my Email Inbox

I have such a great feeling of was only my email inbox, but it was a cluttered mess. I read a very helpful post by The Lazy Organizer. In her post, she said that she added three more folders that have cleaned up her inbox for good. Well, me too!!

I was always scrolling back and forth through emails that needed attention. So, why not make a "Needs Attention" folder? In all, I created 3 more folders (I already had my family, friends, homeschool, etc. folders in place.) Mine are titled slightly different than The Lazy Organizer's are.

Needs Attention today
Needs Attention 1 week
Future Interest

Each day I will place emails that I need to answer today in the Needs Attention today folder. Clever, huh? I must empty this folder each day.
Each week, starting with Sunday, I will place emails that I need to handle within a week in the appropriate folder. This folder must be viewed and managed on an almost daily basis, so that I don't miss anything.
And the Future Interest folder for things I'd like to look at, or think I might use, but not now.

So, for the exciting news, I started this morning with over 300 emails sitting idle in my inbox. Right now, at this very moment, I have 8. 8, yep, that's all. I love this new system; I don't think I will dread getting new mail anymore. And visually, it's all so freeing. I can breathe.

Today, my email inbox, tomorrow, my house. :)

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quiet Strength

I've been reading a great book called Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy. I picked this book up at the library randomly because the spine caught my eye. I suppose really it was the title--Quiet Strength. Now, I'm not a football fanatic...although I do like to watch it and I follow a favorite team or two. He gives a lot of detail about players, games and seasons of football that I didn't exactly follow. On the other hand, he shares so much about his firm, deep faith in God and how his faith affects everything he does. He is sure to point out that he "doesn't have the strength or wisdom to get through a single day without guidance and grace from God." During the good times, he praises God and during the bad times, he does no less. He also points out several times that football head coach is what he does, not who he is. Listen to this:
The competing views of success in our world often create an interesting tension. Society tends to define success in terms of accomplishments and awards, material possessions, and profit margins. In the football business, winning is the only thing that matters.

God's Word, however, presents a different definition of success--one centered on a relationship with Jesus Christ and a love for God that allows us to love and serve others. God gives each one of us unique gifts, abilities and passions. How well we use those qualities to have an impact on the world around us determines how "successful" we really are.

If we get caught up in chasing what the world defines as success, we can use our time and talent to do some great things. We might even become famous. But in the end, what will it mean?

What will people remember us for? Are other people's lives better because we lived? Did we make a difference? Did we use to the fullest the gifts and abilities God gave us? Did we give our best effort, and did we do it for the right reasons?

God's definition of success is really one of significance--the significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others. This significance doesn't show up in the win-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels. It's found in the hearts and lives of those we've come across who are in some way better because of the way we lived. (Taken from pages 145-146)

I'm so thankful to have read this book. I'm thankful for professional sports players who are sold out to living a life pleasing to God. Dungy's integrity, humility, faith and winning attitudes are a lesson to us all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Homemade Ranch Crackers

Years ago, a good friend of mine had a bunch of us ladies over to her house for a weekend retreat. It was such a relaxing, delightful time. We exchanged recipes, talked about homemaking, shared meals together, took a walk and grew together as sisters in Christ. I cherish that time.

One recipe that I received at that weekend retreat was this one for make your own seasoned crackers. They are yummy and addicting and as some famous brand can't eat just one.

We had these crackers this evening with Golden Potato Soup.

Cracker Snacks

20 oz. oyster crackers
½ t. dill weed
½ t. lemon pepper
½ t. garlic salt
1 package original ranch seasoning
¾ c. oil

Mix all dry ingredients and pour over crackers. Pour oil over all and toss intermittently for one hour. Store in Ziploc bag or in glass jar with tight fitting lid. Best if served 24 hours later.

I reduced the amount of ranch seasoning (didn't use the entire package) and also reduced the amount of garlic salt. My kids love these crackers and they are very inexpensive to make. (I bought the oyster crackers at Aldi.)

Do you have any frugal recipes that you'd like to share?

Check out Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday ideas.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Wonderland

We have snow! My kids were thrilled yesterday when the snow was deep enough to go out and play in. They bundled up and had a great time building a snow fort. Warm hot chocolate awaited them when they came in with rosy cheeks and wet snowsuits.

Today the temperature was too cold for them to go out and play. So they had fun playing inside. In this picture, Trenton is reading one of his favorite stories to Bethany and her baby. T loves the story of David and Goliath. We've read this book to him so many times, he's got it memorized. B thought it was neat that he could "read" to her.

You all know that T is my little character. Tonight he declared to me while in the bathroom (he was washing up) that he needed his privacy. Truly, I don't make this stuff up.

He held the shower curtain around him! (Excuse the bathroom floor which we are re-doing.) That boy; I don't know what he'll come up with next.

Stay warm cuz baby it's cold outside!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Works for Me: Encouragement

My love language is definitely words of encouragement. I love to give words of encouragement and I love to receive words of encouragement.

Last night at our local homeschool meeting the speaker was a veteran homeschool mom. Her children are now in their 30's homeschooling their children. I smiled when she said, "We homeschooled when homeschooling wasn't cool." (After the country/western song by Barbara Mandrell "I was country when country wasn't cool.") She encouraged us that in homeschooling our lives become training fields for our kids. They watch us and model themselves after us. What a big responsibilty and a challenge to live our lives according to God's Word. She also encouraged us to know the strengths and weaknesses of our children. Give them opportunities to explore what they are good at. She said that it was the times of play and free-time that solidified what her children became. For example, her one daughter always loved to dress up in homemade costumes and put on plays. Today she writes children's Bible curriculum--turning Scripture into plays for children. Our speaker wrapped up her talk by reading a story called "The Invisible Mom". It is kind of long, but it has a wonderful message.

Here are some links that offer encouragement:
Jeannie Fulbright has a list of encouraging articles, mostly related to being a wife, mom and homeschooling parent.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a wonderful bunch of articles on a wide variety of topics. Click on "Grow" on the left-hand side bar.

Go visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas.

14 Years of Weddedness

Today, my hunny and I celebrate 14 years of being married. I'm so thankful for him and more importantly I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy on our lives. Without God, I don't know where we'd be. God is the foundation and center of the very fabric of our lives.

Happy Anniversary Hunny!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Make your Own Worksheets

My hunny is teaching a homeschool high school psychology class this winter. Tomorrow will be the second class and so far, he likes it. He enjoyed getting to know the kids a little bit and seeing all their different personalities (I think there are 7 or 8 kids in the class). Anyway, I'm helping him prepare (call me secretary, I suppose). He is trying to make it interesting and help the kids remember what they've read, learned and studied. So, tonight I made a crossword puzzle for the vocabulary words. I searched for a free site and wanted to share the results of my search. I think I may start doing this for some of Marissa's review sheets.

Free Puzzle Maker is the site I used to make the crossword puzzle. I didn't choose the pay option, only the print right now option. It also has a solution you can print out. I liked this site because I only had to type in the words and the clues, click "create puzzle" and walaa, the puzzle was done.
Billy Bear 4 Kids has worksheet templates--obviously from the name this site is for much younger kids. I'm thinking my Bethany might enjoy some of these.
The Teacher's Corner has a crossword puzzle maker and also puzzles that are already made on different topics.

I hope the class goes well for him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Big Sis!

Today is my sister's birthday. She is my oldest sister and over the years we've bonded beautifully. She loves my family and spoils my children whenever she has the opportunity. She has a classic style and works hard at whatever she puts her mind to.

Currently she is working at her own business, In a Flash by Christine. She has an eye and passion for photography and an even bigger passion for making people smile.

Happy Birthday Chris! I pray that you have a great day today and a great year!

Photo Note: I'm the younger one in front. I'm not sure if you can see it, but she has on a newspaper print shirt. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Give-Away Winners!

Well, I was hoping that having a give-away would draw out the sweet folks who read my blog, but don't ever post a comment...hmm...didn't work. That aside, we have TWO winners, yes, folks the two of you that posted on my blog give-away will be receiving a handmade set of crocheted coasters! I still don't have the picture posted, but will do that before I package them up.

Congratulations Deb and Birdie! Thanks for reading Lily of the Field. And for everyone else out there, thanks for reading and be sure to post a comment!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Epiphany is the day we celebrate the Wise Men coming and bringing gifts to Baby Jesus. The story is recorded in Matthew 2 and prophesied in several Old Testament books. I am going to read this account to my kids today. I found a few activities and coloring pages to go along:

Kingskidsstuff has an explanation and a list of related links.
Little Blots has a long list of related links, coloring pages, activities, etc.

Okay, I've got to go...the day is up and running. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 in a Word

Finally the revealing of my one word focus for 2009


That's it. I am determined. Last year my word(s) were Obey and Joy. These words were a wonderful focus for me. They helped me in times when I didn't want to do what I know I needed to do. And it helped me do it joyfully.

I suppose in some ways, this year's word is related to those same themes. I am determined to do what I know I need to do.
  • Determined to read my Bible and spend time in prayer. I was reading another blog today and she had linked to a one year Bible reading program. The neat thing about this program is that it is only 25 days, so if you (I) get behind then I have a couple days to catch up. I'm not sure if I'll be determined to read through the Bible in a year (although that's a fine goal). My determination is to spend time learning more about Him and listening to Him. (Note:I know nothing else about this church/website except for the Bible reading program that I mentioned.)
  • Determined to choose joy in my heart (and on my face).
  • Determined to spend time with my hunny and kids; making my time with them intentional and purposeful. I want to spend time with my family (and friends) doing the things that we want to do and having fun doing the things we need to do.
  • Determined to make healthy choices in my eating and exercising.
  • Determined to make strides toward preserving our memories in scrapbooks and photo albums.
Just determined.
You'd be amazed at how this one word focus has propelled me forward--from a place of not-doing to doing, from a moment of indecision to a moment of decision, from an almost wasted block of time to redeeming that time. Determined.
There you have it.
I'd love to hear your one word focus for this year.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

300 Blog Post Give-Away

Hello Everyone!

Not only am I celebrating my 300th post, but also my 2 year Blog-iversary!
Cel-e-brate good times...with a fun give away!!

To enter, just leave me a comment. On Friday evening, January 9th at 9 p.m. (E.S.T.) I will close comments and randomly chose a winner! Spread the word, tell your friends...

I will be giving away a set of 6 homemade crocheted coasters. (I will try to update this post with a picture of the prize.)

Dog Rescuerers

We heard you barking in your yard. We didn't know who you were, but we heard you. Oh, yes, we heard you, whining and whimpering. Finally at 11:15 at night, we couldn't take any more. Were you hurt? Were you scared? We had to find out.

You were at the neighbor's house in a kennel. No you weren't hurt, but you were scared and cold, having to be outside for the first time in your little puppy life. Due to circumstances beyond their control, the neighbors couldn't keep you. She asked, did we want you?

We took you in, loved on you and put you to bed. So tired after your long ordeal, you slept peacefully all night. Quite impressive for not even being 3 months old.

We told ourselves we shouldn't get attached, 2 dogs in our small house is too much. We will find you a good home. Find it, we did and now we miss you, Little Bandit. We got attached, how could we not, you cute little thing?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Civil War Unit Study

In between decluttering the living room, I am working on lesson plans. I'm currently working on a Civil War unit study for a good friend in Michigan. This unit study will be for her 6th and 7th graders. So far here are the resources I've gathered:

If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War by Kay Moore
The Civil War: over 100 questions and answers to things you want to know by Jason Hook
Kid's Discover: Underground Railroad January 2005 issue
Civil War: A Library of Congress Book by Martin W. Sandler
Civil War: Activity Book, Hands-On Heritage, EduPress
Civil War: Thematic Unit, Teacher Created Resources
The American Civil War: American History Series by Cindy Barden
The American Civil War: History Pockets, Evan-Moor; my FAVORITE resource for this study
Story of the Civil War Coloring Book by Peter F. Copeland, a Dover Coloring book

With all these resources, I'm not going to do too much research online. I need to put the study together and any holes, I may fill with online goodies. I'll update this post if I find some good websites.

My friend's younger two children (K and 2nd) will be reading The Magic Treehouse: Civil War on Sunday. They will be doing a few activities to help them remember key parts of the war. I will be using this website as a resource.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Forward! March! Organization!

January screams ORGANIZATION to me. I must answer it's call.

Some ideas to get me going:

Books I borrowed from the library. (You'll notice a theme here.)
A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity by Deborah Taylor-Hough
How to Simplify your life: seven practical steps to letting go of your burdens and living a happier life by Tiki Kustenmacher
Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

Organized Home has a household planner that you can print...for free. The list of printables is outstanding. In my organization frenzy, I'm also working on monthly meal plans. The printable at this site will help with that. And a Pantry tracker?? Be still my heart. How many cans of cream of mushroom soup do I have to buy at Aldi before I start using a Pantry tracker??

This site has some tips for decluttering once and for all.

And any organizing post would be remiss not to mention The Flylady. Tomorrow I'm going to declutter the living room...I don't know if I'll find 27 things to throw out, but we'll see.

What does January say to you? Do you have a great freezer meal that your family loves? Share, won't you?