Sunday, May 29

Evan Sings

video

If you have the PBS kids show "The Cat in the Hat" fans in your house, you might recognize this catchy tune

Monday, May 23

ups and downs

So, I'm 24 weeks pregnant, and I am so grateful for a healthy pregnancy thus far. God is gracious, and my ultrasound last week showed perfect progress on track with my due date of September 10, and a beautiful, healthy baby (gender is, happily, unknown). We are so blessed.

But isn't it just like us to get frustrated in the midst of blessing?? I am starting to once again be frustrated by my maternity clothes. Anyone figured out a solution?? If someone could start a company with cute and appropriate maternity clothes, I would be so happy! (oh, did I mention inexpensive??)

Pants/Shorts: I have some jeans with a full, very stretchy, panel. They do stay up at first, but once I've had them on for a few hours, I feel them losing their staying power. Plus, that stretchy panel is HOT! The underbelly styles seem to creep down, too. I have this step-step-tug gait that is *just* as appealing as the late pregnancy waddle! And I need to find some shorts, pronto! I've been pregnant for 3 summers and still no shorts? EEK!

Shirts seem to be cut to show more than I've ever been comfortable showing - which would be fine if I didn't mind wearing 2 shirts but summers are sticky enough and sometimes it's just too hot!

A lot of the clothes this season are made from jersey - the clingiest fabric ever! Now why would someone want to wear clingy fabric when crazy things are happening to create bulges where none were there before? And who decided a stretchy band on the bottom of the shirts, under the belly, would be a good idea?

My solution so far is to wear more sundresses, and I do have a couple of skirts that are just stretchy regular sizes that seem to work well. The downside to this is figuring out how to play with and chase 2 active preschoolers and retain some level of modesty!

When I was pregnant with Evan I got so annoyed that I got out my sewing machine. And then proceeded to make a tent - ha! The pattern looked so cute and easy - but the result? um, not so much!!

I've had the best result shopping at garage sales and thrift stores, and even the "regular" clothes section for loose fitting tops and altering as needed. I know what I need to do is have a garage sale, sell a bunch of what I already own that I'm not wearing or that only "kinda" works, and shell out the extra for some basics. Then, just do more laundry. Or maybe I'll try sewing a tent again - I'll just grab some super cool and breezy cotton and make some of those mumu-style stuff our moms wore. I really think they were onto something.

Wednesday, May 18

quick and powerful

I'm continuing my reading in John 12

41Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

I'm not so very different from the Pharisees. God, help me love YOU, and be more concerned with Your glory than my own.

This song I learned at camp years ago keeps running through my head:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful of comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of Your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You.

copyright Hillsong United

Monday, May 16

lessons from Lazarus

OK, I know I'm still relatively young, but...how is it possible that I've been learning about the Bible for YEARS (at home, in Sunday School, Christian School, Bible College) and just now read the verses following Mary's annointing of Jesus' feet shortly after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead?

John 12:9-11
9When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

My (husband's) ESV study Bible had an interesting note on v10: "When the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death, it betrayed an astounding refusal to allow their beliefs to be changed by undeniable facts. They would rather destroy the evidence than change their minds. This is not rational behavior, but sin produces irrational action."

Sin produces irrational action. I'd say. When we are unwilling to admit that we're wrong, when we look facts in the face and choose to come to the opposite conclusion, it is indeed astounding.

I was struck with the fact that these chief priests were willing to take a life in order to remove the evidence that Jesus had performed an unbelievable miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead. Prior to Jesus, I imagine that these religious leaders taught about life being a gift from God, about murder being wrong - but when Someone dared to cross their traditions and beliefs, instead of facing the facts that Jesus might possibly be Messiah, they compromised in a big way with a plot on Lazarus - who wasn't "at fault" for Jesus' miracle at all - just a happy recipient!

So what truths do I ignore in the face of undeniable facts? Is there something - anything I hold more dearly than the truth? Do I hold "convictions" that are merely tradition? Do I value anything more than God's Truth and God's people? I hope not - I pray not! But if chief priests can plot murder when faced with uncomfortable truth, I certainly am more than capable of sinning along the same lines.

It's been good for me to ponder.

Sunday, May 15

pudding

So I had a hankering (hee hee) for some pudding the other night. I had extra milk from the farm and needed to use it up. And I wanted vanilla pudding. And so I went to my friend allrecipes for some help.

Found a 7-minute pudding recipe but it used the microwave, which sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. I could envision little chunks of scrambled eggs in my pudding. So I used the ingredient list and the suggestion of a commenter to dump all ingredients in the blender and blend for 1 minute, then heat over medium heat until thick. It worked beautifully and tasted fantastic. Yay for easy!

1/4 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla (I may have added more...)

Blend 1 minute in the blender then heat over medium heat until thick. I whisked continually. ENJOY!

Thursday, May 12

surprises

Something fabulous happened after church last night.

We got a wedding present.

One of dad's cousins came to our wedding, 8 years ago come December. We were so glad she could join us. And we certainly did not notice that she didn't bring a gift!

Anyway, through a slightly bizarre and still somewhat obscure (to my knowledge) set of events, this beautiful quilt was gifted to us. She did a beautiful job of applique and I just love the variety of colorful fabrics.

And really - this is the perfect time for wedding gifts - when the originals are starting to show their age!

Happy Wedding to us!

Wednesday, May 11

a little difference

Please check out the new button on my sidebar to see how your small donation could make a huge difference in the lives of expectant women in developing nations. My brother Nate worked with YWAM for awhile - this is a great opportunity! Check it out!

Tuesday, May 10

perspective

I'm halfway through Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel. I can't keep quiet any more - this book is awesome. I love the Biblical perspective on grace - love it.

I agree with the author that too often our understanding of grace stops with the saving grace provided by Christ on the cross - we forget that we need grace to live, grow, and be. Here are several of my favorite quotes so far:

"The most distinguishing part of the Christian faith is grace - that wonderful gift offered by God to undeserving people like you and me that makes us fall in love with the Savior. Grace is what attracts us to Him and what confirms His love for us over and over. God's grace has the power to transform the most hardened, indifferent soul into a person spilling over with kindness. If God our heavenly Father is the perfect Father, and the primary way that He deals with us as humans is through the power of His grace, it stands to reason that grace forms the best template for bringing out the best in our children."

"...raising [sic] safe Christian kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised [sic] in an environment that stresses safety are on track to be evangelical pushovers. They will end up either overly critical...or naive about the world system...Safe Christianity is an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp." Living your life sold out for Jesus Christ has never been a way to enjoy a safe life. It may be a way to enjoy a good life, but not a safe one. That's because Jesus isn't safe, but He is always good."

"I didn't want my children to grow up in a home where they felt that God's pleasure was determined by their behavior. Nor did I want them to feel that there was no latitude in how they lived out the different nuances of their personalities...We just didn't want arbitrary boundaries based on unsubstantiated Christian opinion. We wanted to rely on the boundaries the Bible clearly drew and then trust God to help us make balanced decisions when faced with the usual "stuff" that hits parents. I realize that many will want to criticize the basic tenets of grace-based parenting because it knocks the props out from underneath the teachings that say you can raise [sic] great Christian kids by simply putting them in the right environment and programming the right information into their heads. You can't."

"Grace based parenting works from the inside out. Fear based parenting works from the outside in. That's why I think so many of the superficial measuring rods of fear based parenting are so foolish - even destructive to our children's relationship with God (ie, how many verses they've memorized, how conservatively they dress, the fact that they listen to only Christian music, etc.)...As our children grow and mature in their relationship with Christ, things they need to adjust will happen far more easily when they are prompted by God's Spirit rather than coerced by their parents."

You know what? This is the first parenting book that hasn't sent up any major red flags for me. A lot of times parenting literature is WAY too crazy one way or the other. You know, let your kids out of the house in the morning and they'll come home when they are ready - OR - lock your kids in the basement and they'll have great character. You know?

And yes, I'm only halfway through - so take my glowing review with a pinch of salt - but for me, this is a much needed shot in the arm - a reminder of the perspective I need to have when dealing with my precious kiddos.

God loves me, despite my many shortcomings. He deals with me graciously, tenderly bringing me along. I'm sure there are many times I would have rolled my eyes at me, at my self-righteous attempts to "please" Him, at my audacious sinful behavior. But God continues to extend His grace. His love for me never changes - ever. He loves me equally when I'm pouty and selfish as when I'm sitting in church or worshiping Him with a full heart.

So. Why do I get so frustrated with my kids after God has dealt so graciously with me? Well, I'm human, and God is not. I fail, God does not. That's the bottom line. But I'm certainly not going to give up - I'm going to ask God for more grace. Wow. I'm unworthy of that. Just thinking about the stark contrast between my indescribably GOOD God and me totally blows my mind.

I kind of think that's the point.

Monday, May 9

kindergarten begins

Today is the first official day of kindergarten for Aaron. I finished my lesson plan for this week and we started right in. We're using Singapore Math - Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics (supplemented as needed) and continuing on with the Hooked on Phonics program I already have (supplemented as needed also). There will be science lessons from this website (gotta love premade lesson plans) as well as normal supplementation from life, and the answers to questions that Aaron asks constantly. Love this boy! Art, music, and Bible will also be a part of our days. At this point I'm shooting for 3 days/week of regular academic stuff and two days for the hands on and field trip type learning.

Why start now? Well, Aaron has been begging for school since Christmas time, and we've been doing HOP since then, off and on, but nothing formal enough for me to feel like we could call it "school." For starters, we desperately need more structure in our days or the housework and playing and errands and reading books and watching PBS and free play and sibling battles and unexpected cleanups and art projects and...well, the day, overtakes us and it's past noon before I know it. Writing down school plans and checking that off along with being consistent to make my regular checklist *should* help.

Also, we have a little someone coming in September, when other kids are typically starting school. There is no way I want to think about carting Aaron to school - ACK! And I don't think a new baby and a new schedule at the same time would be a great idea. So, now is the time. We might break from September through December, or I might just keep going so, you know, Aaron can graduate when he's 14 and be done with grad school at 20. JUST KIDDING.

Anyone else schooling through the summer months?

Wednesday, May 4

starting the journey - traditional foods

About a year ago, a friend of mine was working her Pampered Chef table at our local Taste of Home Cooking Show and was providentially placed next to an Amish farmer who was advertising CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares for the season. She thought it sounded like something I'd be interested in, so she grabbed a couple of flyers. The rest is history. A history that I've been starting to blog and running out of time - so here's a short, very condensed version.

As I was filling out the forms, writing my letter (that I had to send in the mail - gasp! that took some getting used to!) and recruiting people to join the group to cut down on the gas costs, I noticed some fine print on the bottom of the page - "herd shares are available for those interested in raw milk, butter, and cream." Being the curious person that I am, I sat down at the computer to search for the answers to my sudden questions - what is a herd share, why do you need one and what is the benefit of raw milk? To make a very long story somewhat shorter, I found the Real Milk website, and through the farmer, was introduced to our local chapter leader for the Weston A Price Foundation. I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I picked up produce share boxes for the rest of the summer, and as summer wore on, tried raw dairy and came off again at the recommendation of my nutritionist - my system wasn't ready for dairy of ANY kind yet - and then went back on. By the end of the summer, I was bringing back herd shares for 6 families. We'd purchased pastured fryer chickens from the farm, I was getting soy-free pastured eggs, farm fresh butter, and we were looking at making some changes in our diet. Since then, the route has grown. There are 20 families in our group, and I bring back herd shares each week. Raw dairy has been awesome for us.

We've also switched to a more traditional diet in some other ways - adding in traditional fats like butter, olive and coconut oil, taking out most other vegetable oils like corn and canola. *Trying* to cut out refined sugar and a lot of things we'd been eating that are in packages. Eating more meat products (yes, I said more) that are pasture raised, antibiotic free, fed things they were created to be fed. Fruits and vegetables that are local when possible, organic or pesticide free when possible. In other words, more traditional.

We are still on the journey - the BEGINNING of the journey. A friend and I were recently chatting about how food preferences can quickly get out of hand - and become an idol in your heart. She mentioned that when God provides something for her family, she is learning that it is pride for her to turn that down or throw it out because it doesn't meet her high standards of acceptable food. I can see her point, especially after my interactions with some super food snobs. :-) Balance is key, right?

In fact, while you will find large tubs of several kinds of coconut oil at our house, raw milk in our fridge and pastured beef in the freezer, you'll also find some tortilla chips and processed american cheese, coffeemate in the fridge door, boxed cereal in our pantry and mini snickers bars stuck way up in the back of the top shelf. I made gluten free pasta last night from a box. And added pastured ground beef. Irony, yes. Progress? Also yes.

This summer I am hoping to try a few new things - like making homemade lacto-fermented pickles (again) and cutting out even more of our processed go-to items. I'm really wanting to try sourdough bread (hoping gluten is soon a GO for me) and I'm definitely looking forward to our produce shares starting up again. We all do better when fresh veggies are delivered to our door - a new box each week to hurry and use up.

If you are interested in learning more about how traditional eating can benefit you, here are a few links to get you started.

Fat Head (a good place to start - some very good animations about cholesterol and diabetes)
Why Butter is Better (and there are more great articles on this site)
Real Milk (keep clicking the links down the left sidebar to learn more)

I'm quite sure that more of you are also on this journey, and have more great resources also - please feel free to share your experiences and resources in the comment section. I will remove nasty comments so - fair warning! :-)