Thursday, May 29, 2008

because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16)

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 127:3-5a

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20

(ht Stacy McDonald)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I checked in on Lizzie this morning and her post made me smile as I remembered a lesson I learned what seems a lifetime ago.

Way back before we were married, my husband and I were shopping for groceries to make dinner for his folks. He picked up a pack of chicken at the market that started to drip. I corrected his carrying procedure and went about mopping him off. He graciously waited until we were out of the store to firmly but lovingly tell me that he was not marrying me to be his mother and that my behavior emasculated him. While his correction embarrassed me, I so wanted to please him that I became keenly aware of how I spoke and acted. It turns out that rebuke has been one of the best things for our marriage.

For sure I slip back into my old ways at times, but over the years I've been purposefully cultivating the habit of seeing the strengths in my husband and praising him for them. Sure there are things in which he's not skilled and he makes mistakes, but it is not necessary, and surely not kind, to bring those up. The practice of using encouraging words both in and out of his presence builds confidence and security that are re-bar rods in the cement of our marriage.

The following scriptures come to mind:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phil. 4:8

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Eph. 4:29

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph. 4:1-3

Don't get me wrong, I have not arrived. Humility, gentleness, and patience are difficult because they require laying down my pride. But,as they say, practice makes perfect--and not me, my husband! He looks better and better in my eyes the more I focus on his strengths rather than his weaknesses. Every time I choose to lay down my own selfishness and high opinion of myself our relationship is strengthened and our marriage better reflects the love of Christ.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Trimming the Fat

With the continuing increase in the price of groceries and gasoline, I'm getting rather concerned that our income isn't going to sustain our current budget's outflow. I don't think that we need to increase our standard of living--we've intentionally chosen our frugal lifestyle so that I can stay home with the kids and my husband can serve the Lord full-time with a nonprofit para-church organization--but I do think we're going to have to re-evaluate our current spending.

For the past seven or eight months I've been getting two Sunday newspapers for the coupons, scouring the ads, and utilizing helpful websites like Money Saving Mom to find the best deals. While I've saved quite a bit on groceries and gotten many of our toiletries for free, I've traveled thither and yon to collect it all. Now that gas is hovering at $4 per gallon, I'm starting to wonder if I'd do better to do most of my shopping at Aldi and limit myself to the closest drugstore.

I am humbly reminded with every paycheck that God sustains us through the generosity of His people, and that He is truly good to us. Now I want to make sure that I am honoring Him with my spending in the leaner times, using what we have to do my best for my family to be generous with others, and not grumbling and complaining about it.

So how do you do it?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Police State Shopping

Yesterday I made a trip to my favorite thrift store. They've taken to putting those bulky theft prevention tags on things they deem "nice." I found one of those "nice" skirts, clumsily tried it on under the skirt I was wearing, found it fit quite "nicely," and proceeded to the check-out with it. The clerk couldn't get the tag off. As the line behind me grew, another clerk attempted to help her with it, finally removing the tag and leaving a hole in the waistband of the skirt. Now the skirt for which I was willing to pay a whopping six-dollars was ruined. Needless to say, I left it there.

What is most perplexing about this account is why the thrift store is using theft prevention tags in the first place. The entire contents of the store has been donated to charity, and I am very grateful for the part that is extended to me. You have to leave all bags at the counter upon entering the store, they have no dressing rooms, and employees roam the aisles stocking and sorting the displays. The only thing left to institute is a strip search. How much could they possibly be losing to require this kind of security? Admittedly I do not understand the mind of a thief and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but if people have been reduced to stealing from a thrift store maybe they need our charity as much as the AmVets.

"...Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God." ~Proverbs 30:8-9

Monday, May 19, 2008

You can't judge a book by its cover

When I was in elementary school I ordered this book from the Scholastic Book Club flier.

Being wary of any book with the word "witch" in the title, my mother confiscated it and deposited it in the round file before I even had a chance to read the first chapter.

Now 25 years later I've finally read the book. The kids and I listened to it on audio tape during our drive to visit my folks. It is a well written, thought provoking story not about witchcraft, but about how hate and distrust can make Christians act more like the devil than like Christ. It reminded me once again that Christ is seen in me not by what I profess, but by what I do.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!

I'm rather fickle about food. Today's favorite recipe is not safe from tomorrow's tweaking or even replacement by something easier, healthier, or just plain tastier. Hence I'm always scouring other peoples' sites (maybe even yours) for their favorite recipes.

Here are a few sites exclusively dedicated to what goes on in their bloggers' kitchens:

The Nourishing Cookbook --We use the pizza dough recipe every Sunday night. This site also has a lot of recipes for make-it-yourself household products.

The Full Table --Don't miss the Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies. They're to die for!

Delicious! --The Lovely Log is the best appetizer on the planet.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death." ~Psalm 68:20

In its original context this verse is talking about the physical deliverance of Israel from its enemies, but what got me when I read it this morning is how we've demoted God from a God of power to a god of niceties. We have a puny god of "Play fair," "Don't hit," and "Be happy." Do we act like we even need a God who saves? Do we have the slightest idea Who this "one Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12) even is?

(photo by Jean Guichard)

It reminded me of the photo above along with a quote from essayist Annie Dillard:

"On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return."

~excerpted from An Expedition to the Pole, in the book Teaching Stones to Talk

"Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
and whose power is in the skies.

Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
the God of Israel--he is the one
who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed Be God!" ~Psalm 68:34-35

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Love of Christ Compels Us

My husband leaves early Saturday morning on his second trip to Cuba. God has provided a wonderful opportunity for him and some of his colleagues to train Cuban pastors how to counsel their flock from the Scriptures. As I'm sure you know, You can't just waltz into Cuba as an American these days! But God has again provided humanitarian/teaching visas and they're on their way.

This is a harder trip for all of us than his other international travels not because of the hot weather and cold showers in Cuba, or because Mama might go mad as a single parent, but because we will not hear from him until he arrives back in North America. He has no phone or email while he's there. And there's always the Cuban prison scenario looming in the background!

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm afraid to travel internationally. But when I see these pictures from his 2006 trip it makes me hunger to go with him. The people of Cuba do not have the freedoms or opulence that we have here in America, but the believers there love the Lord with the generosity and graciousness of the widow and her mite in Mark 12. They are beautiful to behold and often put us to shame.

Would you pray for us in these ways?

1. Pray that God will use my husband and his co-worker to communicate His message to His children.

2. Pray that they would make it into (and out of!) Cuba and through customs without any hassles.

3. Pray for their health and safety in a hot and humid climate. (His co-worker is in his 70's and has some health issues.)

4. Praise God for the wonderful coffee and a great translator!

5. Pray for the rest of us as we hold down the fort while he's gone and travel to visit my folks for a few days.

6. Pray that my children would be thoughtful and that I'd be godly in my single-parenting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Umbrella Drinks for the Baptists in your Life

We served up these tasty drinks from the Aldi Meal Planner for Mother's Day. They were a hit all around.

(Learn to make the snazzy little umbrellas at

Frozen Peach Daiquiris Southern Baptist Style

1 (29 oz) can sliced peaches in juice or light syrup, chilled until very cold
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 of a (12 oz) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
3 cups crushed ice

Add all ingredients to blender container. Puree until smooth. Pour into glasses.

Serves 6

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Recession Worthy

Bring on the economic stimulus checks before Ace starts selling divining rods.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Design Carnival

Design Inspiration Carnival

Let me say upfront that I have NO talent for decorating. I am not fashionable or stylish--my living room had absolutely nothing in it but a piano for years--but when I saw on Monica's blog that Mary at Not Before 7 asked about decorating ideas, I just had to add my two cents' worth. (Are you surprised?)

My big revelation is that decorating does not necessarily need to be expensive. My style is "late grandma"--and I do mean late grandma. Most of the things we have in our home come from a relative that has passed on to a place where they no longer need furniture and accessories! This works out very well because I love the beauty and the stories that come with old things and it just so happens that our budget can't handle new ones.

So here are my ideas especially for those on a low budget:

1. Utilize the gifts (or trash) of others. Much of our furniture is cast off from others, including our dining room table and chairs that were pulled from a neighbor's trash. This is my living room:

Most of the furniture came from my husband's grandmother. The mirror was his mom's from way back, the piano was purchased for me by my parents when I was in the first grade, and the accessories came from various grandmas. The only things we've added are the rug that was purchased with a gift card from Kohl's and the curtains from Walmart.

2. Scour your grandma's attic. The cabinet below was made by my great grandfather out of a peach crate. I guess cheap is a family trait! I decked it out with old tea cups. The fan was found wrapped in newspaper in my great-grandmother's attic.

3. Visit thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and discount stores for things that are beautiful and useful. The plates above the mirror in my living room are old Stangl dishes I found at a flea market for about $3. I love pitchers. The one at the bottom was purchased at a thrift store for $.75 and we use it for our cereal milk in the morning. The top one came from Williamsburg Pottery Outlet--a store you can't miss if ever you're in that part of Virginia. The little people belonged to who else--grandma!

4. Utilize your family's talents. I have pricey taste in art and love real paintings. Lucky for me my dad is an artist. I went through his stacks of watercolors, picked ones I wanted, and then took them to Hobby Lobby to find in-stock frames on half-off day. I believe this one was matted and framed for less than $20. The green pottery pitcher on the table next to my couch was made and painted by my grandmother.

My mom made this quilt hanging for our family room which has a cowboy theme. The Fiesta Ware came from thrift stores.

One of my great grandmothers did these needlepoint birds that hang in our dining room.

5. Find someone who has a Woolie Roller you can borrow to paint your walls; it uses very little paint and covers a multitude of wall imperfections. When we bought our 35-year-old house everything inside and out was painted a dull blue-gray. I was able to paint the living room, foyer, and hallway in a little more than a gallon of paint without having to prime. The brown you see above is a mixture of a creamy yellow and a fudgesicle brown.

So there you have it, a frugal girl's guide to sprucing up your pad!

Friday, May 2, 2008

All that sort of rot

As part of my attempt to grow a crop of produce this year I needed a compost bin in which to create my own soil enhancing dirt. It thought I wanted one something like these folks

but the cost of material came close to buying a fancy pre-made bin. So a couple weekends ago my doting husband took on the challenge of fashioning one out of some of the scrap wood lying around our little homestead--the previous owners left us a lot of stuff we've yet to pay the garbage man to take away. He measured and sawed and hammered, and that's when things went bad. About 1/3 of the way through the project his pointer finger got between the wood and the hammer. Bless him, only a few of those nasty expletives sneaked out in front of the neighborhood children! Boy, can he swing a hammer: both the nail side and the pad side of the finger were burst open. What a mess.

Needless to say, he was not ready to start up the project again and I didn't want to wait for the finger to heal, so I traded my desire for the bin that would tell the neighbors, "This girl's serious about dirt," for instant gratification. Besides, I'm told, any container will do. So, thanks to these folks, this is what we've got:

We bought a 32 gallon trash can at the local farm store for about $10. My husband fitted his drill with a very large bit and cut numerous holes on the bottom and sides of the container. So far we've added some leaves, shredded paper, coffee grounds, egg shells, and fruit and veggie scraps. Turning it is pretty easy with a pitch fork. Maybe someday I'll get my fancy bins, but for now we'll make due. And who knows, I might decide I like Rubbermaid better.