Friday, November 28, 2008

Definately Winter

I realize Canada is known for the snow...but do we really have to live up to that reputation? These are shots around house from Wednesday's storm.

What do homeschool kids do for snow days? Get started on the annual snow fort, of course. Why should public school kids be the only ones to get the day off?

It may look like it took awhile to find the car, but that's all part of the fun!

This is the view looking down the hill from our driveway. You will notice their aren't too many people who attempt to drive in this weather even after the plow has been by the street. The stop sign before the green house is the challenge for the season. And how is your weather?

For more Show and Tell, go see Mary.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Was I Thinking?

When I was making the transition from full time, oustide-the-home employment to being full time in the home, I had some strange thinking patterns.

a) I used to think it would be great to sleep in whenever I wanted. Now when I do choose to sleep past 8:30 a.m., I pay for it all day long playing catch up,

b) I used to think, "what will I do with all my time?". Now I look at the clock at 3 p.m. and wonder where the time went,

c) I used to think my husband would never be able to handle all the responsibilities afforded to him as the head of the house. Now I praise him for his accomplishment and give thanks that he is willing and capable to do it,

d) I used to think that boredom would be a problem for me as a SAHM. Now I covet moments where I can 'do nothing', even for a few minutes.

e) I used to think I would appreciate still having a part time job outside of the home to get away. Now I find any amount of time spent working outside of my home is inconvenient and interfers with the routine and organization of my home,

f) I used to think that my executive experience would lead me to be efficient, organized and on top of all my home and school plans. Now I know I can't treat my husband and daughter like my employees and I need to be more flexible with my plans,

g) I used to think that 'housewives' must have limited intelligence. Now I struggle with fixing kitchen appliances, grade 4 math, and cooking a turkey safely - never mind remembering to get the garbage out to the curb on time,

h) I used to think I had everything figured out to be a success as a SAHM. Now I know I will never know it all, there will always be something more to learn and improve on within myself.

i) I used to think that if being a SAHM became unbearable, I always had a career to fall back on. Now I know my life as a SAHM will be what I make out of it - and I take that challenge to build my home very seriously.

For those who are just coming home full time, or those who have been there for awhile, I hope you share in the desire to persevere, to learn and to grow as wives, moms and women.

So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.
Proverbs 90:12

Friday, November 21, 2008

Growing Gracefully

Claiming to be a Christian comes with alot of responsibility on our part. We are called to be peculiar people - that means we should be different. Different in the way we behave, the way we raise our children, the way we manage our marriages, and so on. It also means we, as Christians, should be analyzing ourselves for areas in need of change for God's glory (Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31). And, let's face it, there is always going to be something in our lives that has room to change and grow. It really is a necessity.

The book of Ephesians, as a whole is a great book to study the subject of change. To take each chapter, each verse and pull it apart can be tedious, but it is worth it. Paul wrote this book when he was imprisoned. His God-given wisdom surrounding the need for change is given with first hand experience. In chapter 2, Paul describes the conversion experience in which all Christians share.

And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:1-5 (additions mine)

This conversion, this change, is the saving grace from God. We have no choice in the matter (John 21:18). God does the changing in us, for us.

Our eyes have been opened so that we may see outside of ourselves. Paul talks about the standards to which Christians should hold themselves up against in chapter 4. Specifically, we should have change from our former life.

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But ye have not so learned Christ; (before salvation)
Ephesians 4:17-20 (additions and emphasis mine)

Going right into verses 21 & 22 clearly states that now we are hearers of the truth. Therefore seeing and hearing the truth should cause us to want to change our lifestyle for our Saviour's sake.

If so be that ye have heard him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (after salvation)
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Ephesians 4:21 & 22 (addition mine)

Let's talk about the free will we are given. The term 'putting off' in verse 22 is talking about an act of change that we must do ourselves. This is where true 'free will' comes into play - AFTER we are saved. We must decide to follow the will of the Lord.

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Ephesians 4:23

If we are to be renewed in our minds, we must consider what we are choosing to feed it. Are we choosing to read, watch and speak Godly things? Or, do we choose to continue to read, watch and speak worldly things. Because after all, we should 'put on the new man':

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Ephesian 4:24

AND, we should be prepared to work hard at the changes. How?

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 7:7&8

God is faithful to lead us if we constantly seek His will in every area of our lives. Why should we seek His will?

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in therat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Matthew 7:13-17

To whom are we choosing to read, watch and speak? If not God, who are we choosing to follow?

Turning back to Ephesians 4, verse 27 should be like an arrow to the heart of Christians choosing to keep one foot in worldly ways.

Neither give place to the devil. (4:27)

The devil only needs a small crack in a Christian's life to create a huge chasm. Satan picks and chisels away at that crack so as to be unnoticeable. For example;

Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world:
Philippians 4:14&15

Perhaps as a Christian woman, I am obeying in appearance by serving in my church. However, my spirit is grumbling about it. That grumbling will make it's way to the surface for all to see. Whether it is the bitter look on my face or the misery of my attitude. The witness I should have as an obedient server is destroyed by the grumblings. Satan chipped away at that crack until the glory for God was destroyed.

Going back to Matthew 7:17;
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
What does our tree look like? In our 'free will' are we choosing to follow the world's way or God's way in the different areas of our life? Is there noticeable change on display for God's glory?

Let him that stole, steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:28-32

Choosing to be different is our witness. Choosing to change is the standard. Philippians 2:12 tells us to work our your own salvation with fear and trembling. Why? Because the change is our choice; choosing to seek God so that He may worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Repeat - His good pleasure, not ours.

How do we start? With verses like Ephesians 4:28:

Let him that stole, steal no more

And applying it to our specific needs:

Let her that gossiped, gossip no more;
Let her that manipulated, manipulate no more;
Let her that dishonoured her husband, etc.

Christians can fit into two categories. Those who choose to seek Him and those who choose to nail Christ to the cross repeatedly. Those who fight through the trials and temptations and choose righteousness, and those who choose to sit back on the assurance of salvation and avoid change. Saying "God will forgive me" is not an excuse for willful sin (Romans 6:1-6).
God does not turn a blind eye to those who choose to struggle. He provides them the strength to fight (Phillipians 4:19). And, of course, there is a reward.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1 Peter 1:7

Growing in Christ isn't easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Choosing the hard things, choosing the narrow path, is truly a glory to God. Examining our lives daily, dissecting our choices, and refusing the world's way is a standard for which all Christians should reach.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
For if any be a hearer of the work, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and staightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
James 1:22 - 26

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Easy Recipe

Not too long ago, I told everyone about our household use of kefir. I use it in pretty much any recipe as a substitute milk, yogurt and sour cream. So, I thought it would be appropriate to show off one of the more popular items on my monthly menu. It is easy to make and well liked by all ages - so far.

Broccoli Fettucine:
1 bunch of broccoli
2 tbsp. margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup plain yogurt (or kefir)
6 cups cooked fettucine

1) cut up broccoli in bite size pieces and steam:2) saute onion and garlic in butter, add soup and pepper here;
3) add both cheeses, mix until melted;4) stir in yogurt (kefir), broccoli;

5) finally, mix all in casserole dish with noodles;

Bake covered casserole at 350 degrees F x 30minutes (until bubbly).

My husband is not a vegetable lover, but he often requests this supper. Add some garlic bread to the plate and no one will leave hungry!

For an excellent dessert using kefir, click here.

Happy cooking!

For more Show and Tell, go here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Christian Dog

Okay, obviously I'm being facetious - but Pokey's favourite day is Sunday. Now there are many comparisons to a Christian that I could make with my dog - his unlimited and unconditional love, his longsuffering with children, his habit of joining us for family prayer, not to mention his inability to fight temptation...but today let's stick with his love of the Lord's day.
Pokey knows that Sunday is the day that everyone is going to be home together for most of the day. In fact, he seems to know from the time the day breaks that it is Sunday. He sleeps in with us and then after he has done his morning 'business', goes right back to bed. He takes the fact that it is to be a day of rest very seriously.

In our home, we attend both the morning service and the evening service. So when we arrive home at noon, Pokey is bright eyed and ready for an afternoon of pajamas, snacks and naps - right up his alley. When we start getting dressed for the evening service, he keenly watches from his spot on the bed - again, he seems to know the routine.

Sunday evening is the best part for all of us. Snuggled into our spots in the livingroom. Sometimes we read, sometimes we watch movies. Pokey is right with me in my recliner - his spot is on the raised footstool. Snoring ensues from this little furry body as he is blissfully content in his home. Remembering to keep the Sabbath day holy one commandment he could actually preach on with zest!

Ah, the life of a dog. Especially on Sunday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Something's Missing

One of my favourite hobbies is digging through recipe books and magazines in order to find new ideas for our menu. For some reason, that part of me has never made it to the blog. Today I will rectify that oversite! And where else would we start than with chocolate?

This cake is a no-fail dessert. It is moist and chocolatey - more so than any other recipe I have tried before. Enjoy!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar 2 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour 1 cup milk (or kefir)
3/4 cup cocoa 1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp baking pwdr. 2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. salt

- combine all dry ingrdients in large bowl,
- add all wet ingredients EXCEPT boiling water and beat x 2 minutes until smooth (batter will be thick)
- stir in boiling water (batter will become thin)
- pour into greased cake pans (2 x 9" round, or 2 x 8" square, or 11 x 13 pan)
- bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit x 30 minutes (use knife test to check middle)
- cool completely and frost

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup hard margarine
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk (or kefir)
1 tsp. vanilla

- melt margarine and stir in cocoa
- take off heat and add icing sugar, milk and vanilla
- beat until smooth, adding additional milk if needed
- cool slightly for thickening

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Calling All Blogger Experts

Okay, today I'm doing something a little different for Show and Tell - I am showing and telling you of my ignorance!

Please, please, please tell me what some of the short form texts mean. Often I read blog posts, and then the comments, but the short form text messages leave me wondering what I'm reading!

I have figured out some of them (e.g. LOL - laugh out loud, BTW - by the way) but my knowledge is limited. Also, I am hesitant to use any of them as I do realize that some could be profane.

So, I am humbly asking for the more experienced bloggers to let me in on the lingo - please?
For more S&T, visit here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Taming the Tongue Is Only the Beginning

For a long time my tongue was my worst enemy. After many years of using sarcasm as a defense (and an offense), the wall of tactfulness between my brain and my mouth no longer existed. As soon as snide, biting comments reared their ugly head they automatically escaped my lips. There wasn't an argument I couldn't win with harsh truths and back handed insults.

Even after being dragged out of 'old man world' into salvation, I continued with this character trait. It was the truth I was speaking after all - the cold, hard truth. If others were offended by the truth, well 'that was their problem, not mine".

My husband was the first to start giving me some of my own medicine. Pointing out how offensive my mouth could be to others. Like alot of husbands, his wife's harshest 'truths' were reserved for him. I would say discouraging and critical things to him...all in the name of truth. One day he deflated me with a simple statement, "You may be right, but it would be alot more helpful if you were my cheerleader rather than my coach." Ouch.

Being right and speaking the truth was hurting the hearers. At which point, no one was listening to me anymore. I began to pray and study over the passages I found in scripture regarding the tongue, i.e. Proverbs 15:1,4; Proverbs 17:28 and alot more!

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1 Cor. 13:1
Slowly I learned to hold my tongue. There have been successes and failures. But God is merciful and He is faithful to finish this good work He has started. There has been a significant change in my conversation and a much improved ability to hold the sarcasm back from my lips. The sounding brass and tinkling cymbal was muzzled.

Then, recently, He had me read the verses that followed:
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1 Cor. 13:2&3 (emphasis mine)
Rats! Still more learning to do. Now, not only do I need to tame my tongue, but the heart behind it, as well. It isn't enough that my mouth is clamped shut if the 'sounding brass' is still resounding in my heart. I have had to realize that the action of obedience without the love, holds no glory for Him. The lack of love is also transparent to those around me - if not right away, in time. My witness is affected by the lack of love in accomplishing the duties of a Christian woman.
I continue to work toward allowing the love that the Lord and His Son have given to me (freely and without hesitation) to be shown to those around me. Surely as I study His Word and grow closer to Him through His Son, the love I continue to receive will overflow - as it is meant to!
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

Twenty years ago I could play the piano.

Yes, I took lessons and did accomplish a 4th grade diploma in the Royal Conservatory of Music (that's actually pretty high). Yes, I took part in recitals and dallied in a garage band. But, more than that, I could sit at the piano, look at a piece of music and play it after only a few minutes of study. My teachers always commented on my natural talent; fellow music students expressed their envy of my abilities.

Then I quit.

Just stopped playing the piano altogether. There were better things to do with my time than sitting at the keyboard (none of these better things fit into the category of godly pursuits - and that is the most detail I will put into that). But, I found no joy in the playing - it came too easy without a purpose. My vanity in the ease of playing led me to walk away.

Now, at 30-something, I am trying to teach my daughter to appreciate the natural talent she appears to have at the keyboard. Problem is, I can't just sit and play anymore. Now, with the obvious loss of a multitude of brain cells, I must sit and study and practice - and then study some more. I even became excited one day at a thrift shop because I found some Royal Conservatory of Music books, "Great! This will help me get back on the horse." Not quite that easy. Not easy at all.

How can something that was second nature to me then be so foreign to me now! The notes that my eyes recognize just won't come out of my fingers like they used to come out.

I started to think that this isn't just about age, although that does have something to do with it. More than that, it is about what I put my energy into. The things that come naturally to me are still things that I practice simply by repeatedly doing them. I played the piano everyday, sometimes several times a day. But this isn't just about playing an instument.

This can also be applied to behaviours. I can be pretty good at grumbling and complaining because I repeatedly did it over the years - practiced it we could say. In the book of Proverbs we can read about women who are brash, argumentative and just plain nasty and it reminds me of how easy it is to be that woman because I have practiced these traits over the years. Thankfully these days, because God has shown me my sin, I have seent the need to practice NOT grumbling and complaining and NOT being the nasty woman described in Proverbs. It is only with this practicing that I will ever be the Proverbs 31 woman - the Ruby.

As a closing note (no pun intended) the piano is coming, very slowly, with a lot of retraining. My husband has commented a few times about enjoying the hymns that are now recognizable.

So now, even with the hard work to re-learn this skill (or maybe because of the hard work), we have determined that our piano and the music that comes from it will be to His glory. I can no longer accomplish this skill in and of myself, now I can heartily give the glory to God for any and every achievement made at the keyboard. That is the only way to succeed in all areas of my life as a child of the King.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful singing.
Psalm 100: 1& 2