Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Precious in His Sight

How little we know of life, let alone of God, when it comes without suffering. This week I've been overwhelmed with the trials given by God to many faithful people I haven't had the honor of ever meeting. People who understand what it means to live daily on their faces before God, who have had the comfortable parts of their lives destroyed by an ever loving, ever gracious, ever omnipotent Heavenly Father.

I've read their stories. I've wept and asked God "why?". And yet the strength of their resolve to praise the Lord at all times compels me not to value my own safe little life but to grapple to know the All Consuming Fire that sustains them. Their stories have become for me a modern day Hall of Faith:

"Now faith is the assurance of the things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible..."

"...These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."

Take some time today to read Hebrews 11. Add Nate and Tricia and Gwyneth, The Stanfields, The Hostetters, and the Davis Family to the list of the patriarchs who take God at His Word. And wonder with me---with much fear and trepidation--if we would also be found worthy to suffer for Him as they do.


The refrigerator shelves are looking a bit empty as we approach shopping day but I was looking for something hot for our supper-sans-daddy tonight. The kids and I made a big batch of waffles and cooked them in the new waffle iron we got for Christmas. (Thanks, Gramma!) We had plenty to eat and some for the kids' breakfast tomorrow.

Sunday Night Waffles
(from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking)

2 eggs
3/4 cup oil
2-1/2 cups milk (we sour ours with 1 Tbsp. vinegar per cup)
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder

Combine eggs, oil, and milk in mixing bowl and blend thoroughly. Combine dry ingredients and add to egg mixture. Beat until well blended. Bake until golden brown.

And for those of you who are into Mrs. Butterworth or are, like us, cringe while watching a child cover his plate with pricey pure maple syrup, I found a very tasty and inexpensive alternative made from things already on hand.

Homemade Pancake Syrup
Sheri Graham)

2 cups warm water
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups white sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. maple flavoring

Combine water, sugars, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and take off lid. Let sit for 15 minutes. Stir in maple flavoring and store in a clean jar. Makes a little more than 32 oz.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wonder Woman

Yesterday Beth at Go Ahead, Tell Me I Can't posted an "advertisement" for Titus 2 women along with the following question:

"Do you think many of our older Christian sisters in Christ would reply? Or are the majority too busy enjoying their lives now that they have time to themselves?"

The answers she got were both thoughtful and gracious: maybe older women are afraid or feel inadequate. Maybe they don't know you well enough. I'd like to add another "maybe" to the pot--maybe they haven't been trained up themselves.

The women who are now a generation ahead of me were becoming adults in the 60's and 70's--the time of feminism, hippies, women's lib, free love, the pill, no-fault divorce, and Roe v. Wade. They were bombarded with the ideas of Gloria Steinham and Betty Friedan who set out to liberate women from the exact things Titus 2 says they needed to learn. (For more information on feminism's Marxist roots, you can wade through the articles at Ladies Against Feminism or read So Much More.) And sadly enough, these ideas have not been barred from the church. Let's face it, a preacher takes his life (or at least his day job) into his hands these days preaching from texts like Titus 2:3-5, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, 5:3-16, or 1 Corinthians 14:34-36! Maybe a lot of older Christian women simply don't know much about what they're supposed to be teaching.

This leads me to my second, and much more personal thought: If these ladies do exist and came out of the woodwork of our churches, would we be willing to listen to them?

I am a child of the 70's. My mother's generation has empowered me. I can be all that I can be, even in the army! I've grown up understanding that children can be killed before birth and old people are burdens. I've been taught to follow my feelings and that everything is relative to how I think about it. I can have it my way, right away. I deserve a break today. I'm worth it! And I believe the Scripture calls me a stiffnecked fool.

With teaching and training comes breaking. (Ask those folks in the army.) I don't want "yes mams" for coaches, but women who will teach me God's Word even if it hurts. But my own ideas of how things should run have to be laid down in order to ascribe to something else. And I find this dying to self thing very difficult.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vision Forum Giveaway

If you like contests like I do and get giddy at the opportunity to pick up some really great resources, click over to Biblical Womanhood for their $100 Vision Forum Passport Giveaway. All you need to do to enter is visit Vision Forum's Site and then leave a comment on the Biblical Womanhood blog about how you'd spend the $100.

Here are my recommendations:

1) Don't pass up the chance to own Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald.

2) I've been looking at Balancing the Sword Volumes 1 and 2 for a comprehensive way to take my kids all the way through the Bible.

3) Even if (or maybe especially if) you don't consider yourself a militant anti-feminist, So Much More by the Bodkin sisters will make you consider a different way of looking at what your believe about the feminist movement.

4) I haven't yet read but would like to read Raising Maidens of Virtue, by Stacy McDonald.

5) There are many family friendly films available through Vision Forum. We like the Moody Science Videos and Treasures of the Snow. I'm interested in seeing Return of the Daughters and Still Standing.

Off I go to enter!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blogging with a Purpose

Monica at Shine Again paid me a lovely compliment by nominating me for the Blogging with a Purpose Award. She has become a quick blogger buddy and I am thankful to the Lord for her and humbled by her kind words.

Now it is my turn to pass on the blessing. I'd like to point your attention to some worthy bloggers with purpose:

Lizzie at A Dusty Frame blogs to not only tell her story of God's faithfulness, but to be an encouragement to to others. While our circumstances are different, I consider her kindred in heart and a sister through Christ.

Anika at I'm Growing in Grace is as close as a sister to me as a girl can be without coming from the same lineage! She's had the chutzpa to face me with my sin and help me through it, has seen me at my best and worst, and loves me still. She blogs from a heart's desire to please the Lord with all that is within her.

While I've never met her (save being in the ladies' room at the same time during a conference) Stacy McDonald at Your Sacred Calling is one of the "older women" in my life. She encourages me and teaches me to love my husband and children and be busy at home.

If you are interested in bestowing this gift on others, see the official rules here.

Thanks again, Monica!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Most of us live rather easy lives. We have comfortable existences with little fear, our most pressing choices being what's for dinner and what's on TV. But the truth is, tomorrow hangs in the balance for all of us. Whether we are 9 or 89, the future is not promised to us. God can choose to take me home in an instant, healthy as I am, as quickly as He can take someone who suffers with a terminal illness. He alone numbers our days.

Sarah directed my attention to the current situation of Tricia and Nathan Lawrenson through a sanctity of human life post on Nathan's father's blog. Reading of their faithfulness has humbled me, showing me how little faith I really have in this God Who supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory. I encourage you to read their story, be in prayer for them, and learn a bit more about trusting God from them.

And please, sign the back of your driver's license. People die waiting for transplants not because there is a lack of corpses, but a lack of donors.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Beauty Rest

It's here, the 7th Edition of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, and I'm taking a bit of a hiatus to read the 1,167 pages of frugal informed shopper bliss for the girly-girl.
I love Paula Begoun's (aka the Cosmetic Cop) no-nonsense approach to reviewing cosmetics. She systematically dissects both skin care and color products, informing her readers of the effectiveness of their components and the validity of their marketing claims. She then makes nice and neat lists of her "Paula's picks"--the best products out there--which you'll be surprised to know, contain items from the cheapest of the cheapest at the drug store to the very pricey French-sounding items from the cosmetic counter at Neiman's.

As is true to form, I'm making my list of the Paula's Picks that can be snagged at Walgreen's or CVS for pennies. And, of course, I've borrowed the book from the library so I've got to work quickly--don't want a fine, you know!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Very Good Place to Start

I am passionate about being a housewife. Yes, I have a college degree, have worn suits, and carried business cards, yet my personal experiences of being a stay-at-home-mom and growing up with one combined with my understanding of God's big picture for men and women have convinced me that there is no better place on earth to be than home.

I finished reading Passionate Housewives Desperate for God this weekend and was further challenged in my pursuit of success in this dream job of mine. The book is not a how-to manual but an encouraging look at the value God places on women at home. Jennie Chancey and Stacey McDonald do not come across as expert superwives but humble, intelligent, growing servants of Christ who have taken on the task of stripping away another layer of the "it's all about me" fallacy that has entrapped God's people since Eve contemplated the forbidden fruit. And if I'm truly going to examine the biblical evidence for the claims made in their book, with Eve is where I need to start. I need to know where I've come from and what my Creator's "big picture" purpose is for leaving me here in the first place.

Our church has been talking a lot about mission and purpose recently and our pastor introduced us to Two Ways to Live. It's a wonderful presentation of the gospel that takes its audience back to the beginning--which, as we know, is a very good place to start. The fact that God made us and has authority over us is crucial not only in our understanding of our need for salvation but in the way we choose to live our lives from day to day. In the very first chapter of Genesis God gives the man and the woman what is known as the dominion mandate:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28

We are God's image bearers in the world as we take it over, both by filling it and cultivating it, and as I see it, God fairly divided the labor and the laborers for the task. Together my husband and I have reproduced three little people--we are filling the earth. Now as my husband goes out into the world to develop it and bear God's image in it, I have the honorable task of training up the next generation of dominion takers and image bearers.

Well, I've gone on long enough. If what I've described intrigues you, enrages you, or encourages you, you might want to pick up Passionate Housewives and examine it for yourself. As for me, I found it a wonderful reminder of the great task God's set before me and the even greater grace He gives to accomplish it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Frugal Friday

In a helpful article called Managing God's Money, Randy Alcorn points out a misconception many people have about saving:

Saving is setting aside money for a future purpose; it stays in our wallet or in the bank. It can be used for other purposes, including our needs or the needs of others. Money that's spent leaves our hands and is no longer at our disposal. If we buy an $80 sweater on sale for $30, we've spent $30. If we think we've just saved $50, we simply don't understand the concept of saving. If we keep "saving" like that, we'll soon be broke!

With that in mind, and inspired by Chris's year off from shopping I offer you my 5 easy ways we saved $100 last year:

1. I cut everyone's hair but mine. (You're now saying, I thought that family looked funny!) A few years back I ordered the book Cutting Your Family's Hair and purchased scissors, clippers, and a cape. It has truly saved us a bundle.

2. Another "mane" savings is that I am willing to go gray. Hair color is expensive, and it's even more expensive to have it professionally done. Besides, isn't gray hair a crown of splendor?

3. We ditched the TV. There is no local television reception in our area and when we moved here six years ago we decided we weren't going to spend the money for cable. We haven't missed a thing.

4. We love our local library. It's a treasure trove for movies, books, magazines, and audios all for the bargain price of local taxes.

5. Redbox. Quite a few people have mentioned this one lately, but the video vending machine has been great for family nights and date nights. If you do pay for them, it's only $1 per night, but they've actually sent us more free codes than we've had time to use.

Those are my five. What are yours? Be sure to stop over at Biblical Womanhood and see what others have to say.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Just another day at the CVS

For those of you who haven't yet tried bargain shopping at the drug stores, here's another trip's bounty laid out to try to convince you that it's both worth the effort and quite fun!

I did fairly well at the CVS this week. I bought:

1 Garnier Fructis Hair Gel
2 bottles of Palmolive Dish Detergent
4 Reese's Whipp Candy Bars
1 Simply Asia dry soup
2 bars of Johnson's Buddies Soap
4 Rubbermaid Take Along 2 Packs
3 Colgate Toothbrushes
2 tubes of Colgate Toothpaste
1 box of Excedrin Sinus
1 tube of Neosporin Lip Treatment

With store sales, manufacturer's coupons, CVS coupons, and ECBs I paid a whopping $0.38 out of pocket and got $16 in ECBs back to spend on my next trip. Not too shabby.

The only thing that wasn't a great deal was the Neosporin Lip Treatment that I needed for my son's desperately chapped lips. And of course I realized when I got home that I had two additional $1.50 CVS coupons for the toothpaste that I didn't use. Oh, well! It no longer ruins my day. (I guess the fact that it did once is pretty sad.) Also Money Saving Mom pointed me to a free bag offer from Colgate to top it all off.

So far this coupon shopping is making my husband very happy!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

How Do I Love Me Thee?

Just like many others at this time of year I've been contemplating my roles and goals for 2008. What hit me like a thunderbolt was not who am I and what do I need to do this year, but rather are the things I need to do more important that the people for whom I do them?

I am a disciple of Christ. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a housekeeper. I am an educator. But as my husband gently reminded me, I grow and improve in every role only as I grow as a disciple; and I grow as a disciple as I am a servant in every area of my life. Herein lies my problem: I like to get things done and often the people are less important to me than the task. Much of what I do is not for the love of God and His people but for me to put a check mark on my list. The truth is I love me and I love others only as they love me, too.

God is seriously challenging me with this as I mother and educate my kids. I'm realizing that I've had a very conditional love for them. I love them most as they embody what I desire for them--quiet, happy, obedient, self-controlled children. When they are loud, morose, disobedient, out of control kids, I don't want to be with them. I've seen parenting as a systematical method of command and discipline outlined by this book or that guru. I have failed to see my children as made in the image of God and given to our particular family to be bathed in compassion and taught with kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. God forgive me for seeing them as clay to be molded into my image!

This year through the grace and mercy God's shown me I desire to step off the road to perfect children and truly love mine. I want to cherish their oddities and their interests and hold them when they've been desperately wicked. I want to talk with them, pray with them, laugh with them, and cry with them. I want to make messes with them instead of being irritated when they haven't picked up. I want to go out to play with them instead of staying in to do my house cleaning. I want to eat hot dogs three days in a row because we're engrossed in reading something I'd have never chosen to read.

Children are, after all, a heritage, a blessing, and a gift, not as they should be, but as they are.

Friday, January 4, 2008

We have a winner!

After much deliberation I've decided to buy a Hoover Windtunnel Bagless Canister at an online store from whom I purchased my last machine 10 years ago. I researched all of the ones you suggested. Like Lizzie, we have mostly hardwood and I decided I wanted a light weight mid-priced canister. The search did turn up a very interesting site-- Consumer Guide on howstuffworks.com. Check them out if you're considering investing in any type of appliance or tool.

As for my little contest--after removing my own name and my mom's (don't worry, she got an entire bottle for Christmas!) my three assistants pulled the following three names out of the bag:

1. Eureka (I don't have your email and need your mailing address.)
2. Beth
3. Sharon

So you folks are technically the "lucky" winners. However, in God's providential oversight, I have enough Ken's Railroad Chili Seasoning samples that I'm sending each and every one of you a packet! So Molly, Rebecca, Lizzie, and Monica, one is coming your way, too.

Thanks again for all your help!