Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Warm Day...Long Hike...and His Gifts

Today dawned sunny and crisp and was proving to be a beautiful day. So after all the cold or rainy weather we decided to take the time for a short walk in the pasture before lunch. We set out ten minutes before lunch and was only planning on a short stroll. We ended up walking out to the edge of the woods and telling the boys that at the bottom of the steep hill in the woods was a creek. The boys immediately wanted to see it. So Chris said there used to be a fairly clear path at the back of the pasture along the power lines. We headed for the power lines and found the path overgrown. We decided to make our way down anyway and through small pines, vines, and a steep rock embankment. We found the creek, full and flowing because of the recent rain.

We decided to walk the creek and climb the hill into the pasture later instead of climbing back up the rocky embankment. The woods were cool, the sun was peeking through the trees and the creek was making music over the rocks. It was a beautiful time to enjoy one another and God's creation.

Our short stroll turned into a 3 1/2 hour hike with no lunch, water and an interrupted nap time. The little ones were amazing. They hardly missed lunch and my nursling took a nap laying on mommy in the shade of a tree while the boys played in the creek.

When we finally got home our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were like a feast. The ice cold water was wonderful and the warm bath to relax was so refreshing. The boys are napping now. Little legs exhausted.

a newborn calf...black as midnight...mother's love protecting

turtle shell...white with age...under the flowing water...God's geometric designs

little one...eye's heavy with sleep...snuggling close to mama...her body warming mine in the shade of the giant trees

watching boys and their daddy...play at the edge of water...then rest in the shade

Bo...such a little man...hiking hungry with hardly a complaint

the warm sun peeking through the trees...shimmering on the water as it rolls down the rocks

Boo...a much improved hiker since last March...quickly becoming a little man

Daddy...so patient and loving with the our new inexperienced hikers

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Brokenness over sin...

Since I have been a mommy, God has continually used my children to bring me to my knees and to teach me more about his love, grace and character than anyone else. Today was no exception.

Bo aggravated his brother this morning with a warning from me that he was not to do that specific thing again. A couple of hours later...it happens...again. In this home we use The 21 Rules of Our Home. These rules have become the foundation of the order we expect in this home. The rules are based on scripture. I reference a scripture for each rule we memorize. Rule 21 is In this home, when we forget or disobey any of the 21 rules of our home, we accept discipline and instruction. So Bo had to be corrected.

After the correction, I went out to help Boo close the chicken coop. I came back in and Bo was weeping uncontrollably on the couch. I picked him up and just held him asking him what was wrong. He said, I thought something I should not have thought. I rocked him and sang to him. I asked him to tell mommy what he had said. After about 20 minutes he finally told me he thought a mean thought about Boo. I should not have done that mommy and I am sorry. We prayed, I told him that:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9
He prayed..he asked for forgiveness...he began to clam down and return to the happy little boy I know. But, I will never forget that brokenness. I have never seen him so convicted...so uncomfortable..and I thought I need some of that.
After years of dealing with sin, I guess I've become a little hardened to it. When was the last time I sat down and wept because I has a harsh thought about someone? When have been so broken over my own sin that I couldn't get it out of my mind until it was dealt with. I pray for a brokenness like my sweet Bo. A heart so tender to wrong...a heart knowing he had disobeyed God...a heart out of fellowship longing to return.
Give me a heart like a child...
Still Learning,
Holli

December Gifts

cold blustery day..boys red-cheeked from the cold...steaming mug of hot chocolate...warming hands and hearts...talking at the table together...brown mustaches over mouths...

two boys and their dog...walking...running...exploring...enjoying life together

brothers...walking up the drive...mommy watching from the porch...arms around one another...heads together talking

sweet little girl...practicing mommy gentleness...rocking and singing to the kitty

Boo offering his help with lots of chores today...getting ready to be that provider God has called him to be

fire in the fireplace...crackling logs...flames dancing off the walls...warming our hands...drawing us together.

hiding advent reminders...boys excitement...using the flashlights to find the box

Christmas stories...basket full under the tree...snuggling on the couch reading one after another.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Celebrating Advent 2008

This year I did not make a plan of our advent activities like last year. With the move, advent time seemed to arrive a lot sooner than I had anticipated. Last year I had planned to many activities for the ages of my little ones. So this year we are using the proclamation ornaments that we used last year.

There are 25 ornaments that we hang on the tree. One each night counting down until Christmas. Each ornament contains a prophecy about Christ in the old testament and its fulfillment in the new. We started this tradition on Bo's second Christmas and the little ones look forward to hanging a new ornament each night.

The most exciting advent countdown we do with the children is hiding the small items each night that they then look for with their flashlights. Each item has a corresponding bible passage to go with it and the boys love to find the box containing the item with their flashlights.

This year I am ordering some of the Samaritan's Purse charity gifts and wrapping a picture of the gift and placing it under the tree with "To: Jesus" written on it. We will open the gift on Christmas and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. This verse will be written on the card:

...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40

Monday, December 1, 2008

Big Change

Well, we have moved. We rented to own our house and we are back in the little farm house on the mountain where I have really wanted to be for a long time.

Moving was stressful, but I am so glad to be back on the dirt road and farm. We are almost completely unpacked and we have gotten rid of a lot of extra stuff.

The boys share a room and are using bunk beds. It seems to be going really well so far.

Lora sleeps in her crib in the room with Chris and I. I guess we will be investing in a king size bed when the baby arrives.

I am still a little disorganized, but I am looking forward to getting back on our schedule soon.

I made a job chart for the boys today, they were really excited about moving the clothes pins to the completed jobs. I really hope the excitement continues.

Holli

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Need Encouragement?

Here's a powerful post on the high calling of being a mother over at Holy Experience.
This post was encourageing yet convicting, reaffirming yet challenging.

Hope you are changed...
Holli

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That don't make no sense

"That don't make no sense." -Boo 3 years old

I was explaining to the boys about what Jesus says about turning the other cheek when we are wronged by someone. I went on to explain that Jesus was our perfect example because when he was beaten and crucified the Bible tells us that:
"
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7

I was hoping that this example would make a deep impression on the boys. Just as I was thinking that maybe this had made them think about turning the other cheek Boo made this statement:

"That don't make no sense."

At first I was a little irritated and at this point I don't even remember what I said to him about it. But that little grammatically incorrect statement by my three-year old has stayed on my mind. You see children speak the truth as they see it and the fact is he saw this very clearly.

You know what? It doesn't make sense. The extravagant, rich, far-reaching grace of God does not make sense! How he could love me enough to suffer does not make sense. But it is this extravagant love he has for me that makes me run after him each day.

"While we were yet in weakness at the fitting time Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

"But God shows and clearly proves his love for us by the fact that while we were sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"...But where sin increased and abounded, grace has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded." Romans 5:20

Christ chose to do something completely senseless to me. At the fitting time, Christ willingly gave his life for me. And this sacrifice that doesn't make sense demands my life, my all.

"I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1

Still Learning...(from my children)

Holli

Gifts

snuggling close in the dark...three-year-old warm breath on my face...little hand touching my cheek in the dark...checking to see if mommy is still there

early morning snuggles from baby girl...her fingers gently touching my eyes, ears nose and mouth

three warn bodies laying beside me in the early morning...four-year-old observing..."we are a family"

new life growing within...being knit together day by day...by the hand of God

time with Chris last night...snuggling on the couch...breathing in that smell of his

listening to my boys sing praises to their God

the smell of supper cooking on the stove

Basking in his gifts...
Holli

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Someone New is Coming in May...

Just wanted to let everyone now that God has seen fit to bless us with another child.
I went yesterday for my first visit and a heartbeat check. We couldn't hear a heartbeat but a quick ultrasound revealed a tiny baby with a beating heart! I am 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant and we are due May 16.

Holli

*Weeks 5-9 were the most difficult of any pregnancy in respect to the all-day nausea. I usually have no nausea at all. But this time I've been nauseated and craving every fast food imaginable.

*Chris is convinced that we will be having another bouncing baby boy. So convinced that he says we don't even need to think of any girl names.

*During circle time we have been learning about Christians in different countries using the Samaritan's Purse prayer guide. One of the Christians was a pastor in Pakistan. When we asked Boo what he wanted to name the baby he said Pakistan.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Family Vision

Where there is no vision the people perish... Proverbs 29:18a

If a group of people can perish without a vision for the future, so to can a family. God prompted our hearts a couple of years ago to pray about and discuss a vision for our family. We had always had certain dreams for the future, but a family vision seemed to give us a road map to follow.

Here are some of the visions we have for our family:

1. We believe we have been called by God to educate our children in the home.
2. We desire to move to a home with several acres of land, so that we are more able to grow and produce our own food.
3. We want Chris to be able to work form home with the family.
4. We desire to raise our children so that we convey to them that their chief purpose in life is to glorify God by living a life of obedience, holiness and conformity to God's perfect plan .

Now having these visions clearly outlined helps us make decisions from day to day. When we are faced with a choice we have some guidelines to help us answer these questions. For example, when we are asked by people if Bo is going to pre-school or isn't he almost old enough to go to school? We can confidently answer no we have chosen to homeschool. Now, I would leave it at that with most people, but if questions persist, I can say with confidence that sending him to public school or pre-school does not fit into the plan we have for our family.

Chris recently had the opportunity to go on an alternate schedule at work. It was a hard decision, but ultimately, more time at home seemed to win out. This decision fit perfectly with the third vision for our family which is Chris being able to work at home. It is not fulfilling this vision, but it is a step closer.

Lastly, we made the decision to not have a television in our home (only for a few pre-selected movies). This fits in well with the fourth vision for our family. Television seems to be one of the biggest time wasters in most homes. Before we got rid of our television, we would sit in front of it for 3-4 hours per night. Let's see 3-4 hours of the worlds standards being pumped into our homes or 3-4 hours spent with our children playing, having family worship and reading. There really is no comparison. Television would have stood in the way of our fourth vision. If we were constantly watching shows that glorify sin, make jokes of God's perfect plan for man and woman and advertisements that develop a must-have attitude we really would not be instilling in our children a healthy respect for obedience to God, a realization that life is about holiness not happiness and an understanding that God's plan is perfect, not the worlds.

So having a vision based on the Word of God really helps guide our daily decisions. If a decision comes up all we have to do is search God's Word, pray and consult the list of visions God has given for our family.

Still Learning...
Holli

Happy Anniversary

It was eleven years ago this month (October 18, 1997) that Chris and I married. With each year that goes by, life with one another gets sweeter. We have grown from two individuals into one as we share the same vision and goals for our family.

I am honored to be the keeper of Chris' home and the mother of his children. There is no place I would rather be than in his arm's surrounded by our little blessings.

I love the way my heart still pounds when I see him turning in the driveway after work.

I love the way he leads us in family worship.

I love the way he loves our children.

I love the way he can always make me smile.

I love the way he can fix anything that is broken.

I love you Chris!

Yours,

Holli

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gifts from above...

chubby legs...determined...arms reaching...pulling up the ladder...giggles...hurrying to the slide...weeeeee...she squeals

big brothers...hovering...helping baby sister along..catching her when she falls...learning how to protect

little ones...surrounded by God's creatures...lambs...goats...geese...chicks...kittens...puppies...mesmerized by the soft fur and wet noses...little fingers...gently stroking...enjoying

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thrifty Grocery Shopping Challenge Report

I managed to stay within my budget of 550.00 for the month of September.

I didn't have to take an extra trip to Wal-mart. I managed for 4 weeks and 2 days with only spending 100.00 there.

I wasn't so lucky this month I was out of a few more larger items and budgeted 150.00 for Wal-mart I made it out spending 170.00 I still have about 200.00 left for the month. After Wal-mart, co-op order, 2 milk runs and 2 PW trips.

Our calf is ready at the processors. I always look forward to another freezer full of meat.

Holli

One step closer...

We are one step closer to our dreams of farm life. We have added nine laying hens to our family. We are only getting one egg a day now from the oldest hen. We can't wait for the others to begin laying soon.

Houses up for sale... Slow economy...uncertainties....

So, we just decided to make a few steps in the direction of farm life at our current location. So we have nine laying hens in a movable coop. They are fertilizing the ground for my next years garden if we are still here.

Hmmm, wonder if I can talk Chris into a milk cow and lamb?

Still Learning...
Holli

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thrifty Grocery Plan Menu September 22-28

Here is our revolving breakfast menu. I never thought I needed a breakfast menu, but this makes mornings run smoothly. I did not realize how much thought I was actually giving to what was for breakfast. My mornings feel much more organized now.

Monday: eggs, fruit
Tuesday: oatmeal
Wednesday: muffins
Thursday: eggs, fruit
Friday: oatmeal
Saturday: biscuits, fruit
Sunday: yogurt, granola and fruit

Dinner Menu September 22-28

Monday:
pinto beans, cornbread, turnip greens, okra

Tuesday:
homemade pizza, and cheese sticks with sliced veggies

Wednesday:
chicken stir-fry stew with rice

Thursday:
leftovers

Friday:
pancakes, eggs, grits, fruit

Saturday:
BBQ roast on homemade buns, fries, sliced veggies

Sunday:
chili

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mid-Month Thrifty Grocery Spending Update

So we are over half way through with the month and we are making it very comfortably on our 550.00 food budget.

As I reported earlier, a good amount of the 110.00 allotted for Wal-mart went for non-food items.

We have no more money in the Wal-mart and Piggly Wiggly budgets as of today.

We have no co-cop money left because we received and payed for our order last week. We have about 15.00 left in our milk budget and 100.00 left in our market budget. I over-estimated the market budget because I had been buying extra fruits and vegetables for preserving. This month I have not been buying extra. I will transfer a little of the market money to other areas next week to finish out the month. I should come out under our budget of 550.00. Which is good, beacuse I do not buy meat from week to week. We buy a whole grass-fed calf for the freezer each fall as well as some chickens form our local sustainable farm. I can now add our meat cost in and hopefully come close to the 550.00 budget.

To make things stretch further this month I began making a breakfast and lunch menu. The breakfast menu really helps because the boys would eat eggs every morning. But with a menu we now eat eggs only two mornings per week. Eggs can get expensive at $3.00 per dozen.

I have gotten lots of pears from our tree in the backyard. I have made lots of pear sauce. I have gotten apples from people with trees in the their backyards. I boiled the cores and peelings with water the other day and used that for apple juice.

I have also been trying to cook at least one meat-less meal per week.

I water down our milk if I am running low and water down the milk I am cooking with as well.

Still Learning
Holli

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What does it mean to be "pro-family"?

With all of the talk about "pro-family" values swirling around the media, I thought I would break down what it means to be pro-family according to God's unchanging word. You see the God who created man and woman and instituted the family is the same God we serve today. He has some specific guidelines for families and when families begin adopting these guidelines God's beautiful plan for families begins to be revealed to a hurting world.


Just because someone is pro-life does not mean they are pro-family.

Just because someone has children does not make them pro-family.

Just because someone claims to be a christian does not make them pro-family.



To be "for your family" you must first understand how God has designed the family to function.



First and foremost God has designed the father to be head of the home. He is to embrace this calling wholeheartedly as protector, provider and spiritual leader.



"For the husband is head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church..."
Ephesians 5:24
"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:24
As a wife I find great comfort in the fact that I am not the head of my home. I try to embrace my role daily as Chris' helper. I enjoy praying for him, encouraging him and being a trusted counselor when he asks my ideas and opinions.
God's hierarchy of authority does not offend me in the least. Our God who loves us and knows us better than anyone saw fit to place the father's as the head of the home. I trust my God's decision in this area.
But, trusting my God's decision is not enough. I must next embrace the high calling he has given me within the family unit. I can say God knows best, but if I do not daily seek to obey him in regard to my role in the family I would be living as if I knew what was best. God's word is very clear when it comes to the purpose he has for young women.
"That they may teach they young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5
Titus is very clear that a woman's role within the family is to love her husband and children and be keeper of their home. This role is to approached with the utmost care and attention. For to love my husband as he provides for us and seeks to lead us spiritually is a wonderful way to show our children how wonderful their daddy really is. To love my children and seek to make our home a safe haven from the world will have more impact on the next generation than any career I could strive after. If I am not successful in the role God has given me in my home and family it would never matter how successful I was in any career paths.
Not only does being "pro-family" embrace the roles God has given man and woman, but an individual who claims to be pro-family must love their children and invest in their lives daily.
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:and the fruit of the womb is his reward."
Psalms 127:3
Children are a reward from God. We must accept the rewards God bestows with humility and seek daily to raise them up as a godly heritage. It is very hard to raise warriors for Christ if our children are involved in everything that the world deems valuable. From government schools to little league to television, if children are receiving the majority of their training from others we can expect them to display the values and priorities that they see being lived before them. A few verses to consider in light of the educational choices and activities in which we allow our children to be involved.
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Psalms 1:1-2
Are my children daily sitting in the seats of the ungodly for education and counsel? Do my children have the opportunity to meditate on his word day and night? or Are my children so busy with the things of this world that they only have time to consider God on Sundays when they are sent to Sunday school and their teacher teachers them a 20 minute lesson?
"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto they children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when thou risest up." Deut. 6:7
God's word is very clear that we as fathers and mothers are to teach our children his truths, the responsibility falls on no one else.
So the next time someone talks about being "pro-family" consider their claims against the truth of God's word.
Still Learning,
Holli

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thoughts on the McCain/Palin Ticket

Here are some links that say much better than I ever could what Chris and I have been feeling in our hearts at McCain's choice of Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.



Evangelical Two-Step
Palin a Pro-Family Choice?
Framing the Abortion Debate
Waking Up the Sheeple
Doug's Blog


Still Learning,
Holli



Monday, September 8, 2008

A Natural Awakening

When we decided to provide our children with plenty of quiet growing time outdoors, I often wondered when their natural curiosity about learning to read and write would begin to surface.



Lest anyone think we have only played outside and not enjoyed any learning that would be an inaccurate perception. Here's a better look at what I have been doing with my children



Reading has always been an enjoyable activity for us as a family. My Bo especially loves to read and would listen to story after story. He began to love to listen to chapter books around 3 1/2 years old. I have read the Boxcar Children, Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte's Web, and we are currently reading The Burgess Seashore Book for Children.



Bo has many favorite picture books as well. I have tried to get rid of all stories that relate to any television or Disney characters. I have gotten rid of over half of my books from my school teaching days. We have chosen to include many of the books from the Ambleside Year 0 list on our bookshelf.



We have also enjoyed drawing together with our crayons or pencils. As I draw things I will always label them. Bo and Boo will ask what that word says or what is that letter. Bo is left handed so he has never seemed to have very good fine motor skills. We decided to never push him to hold a pencil or try to write or draw. So I have been waiting patiently for Bo to display an interest in writing.

During family worship couple of weeks ago Bo said he wanted to learn about Abraham and began drawing a stick figure to represent Abraham with lines going out as in a family tree and he added Ishmael and Isaac. The figures were so cute that tears welled up in my eyes. Chris and I were so proud. That was the first time he had really drawn anything discernible.

He has now began to write letters. that are recognizable and he is trying to write his name. His interest in letters and their sounds is increasing rapidly. The other day he wanted to now what my name would be if we took the h off of the front. We said olli and he laughed and laughed. He had gotten a pack of Skittles at church and wanted to now what it said if we covered up the s and then the k. Kittles and ittles made Bo laugh as well.

All of this major interest in letters has surfaced within the last month or so. It is a culmination of the gentle exposure to books that he loves to read and paper and writing utensils for exploration that has brought Bo to this point.

I am so glad that I have not pressured him to memorize letters and try to write them. It is fascinating to watch him develop at his own pace.

Still Learning
Holli

Coming soon a look into our daily routines and circle time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Gifts in Pictures

Brilliant orange...pushing its way up through crunchy brown leaves...the morning sun shining...revealing new life


chubby fingers...rubberband wrists...feeling the sand...fingering the shells...for the very first time

rainy rainy days...brothers finding mud puddles...painting one another with the colors of the earth


Magnificent weaver...brilliant web...yellow...black...the promise of more beauty next year in an egg sac




weathered skin...experienced much life...holding fresh soft babe...just embarking on life




chubby cheeks...pursed lips...hair curled on cheek...grinning at the sun


baby girl...daddy's strong arms holding up high...she's taking in the wind and waves...he's taking in those cheeks and eyes
So thankful,
Holli

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gifts from His Hand...

little hands strumming imaginary guitars...little hands lifted in worship...little voices singing praise to our mighty God

wobbly legs...holding baby weight...the first tentative steps...soon she will be running after her brothers

the smell of homemade biscuits cooking...rising in the pans...homemade blackberry jelly waiting to be slathered on

pear tree limbs hanging heavy with summer's bounty...growing here in our yard...free for the picking

pears mounded over in the sink...washed...peeled....mounded over in the pan...the smell of pears and cinnamon...the taste of homemade pear sauce

Basking in his gifts...
Holli

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thrifty Grocery Spending Challenge

Because we are trying to cut way back on spending, I decided to challenge myself to a thrifty grocery spending allowance this month. I am still cooking most all of our meals from scratch and we are eating as locally and organically as possible.

Using the USDA's food expenditure allotment I came up with the amount of 550.00 for out grocery budget this month. The thrifty plan called for a 512.00 food budget and the low cost plan was 648.00 for a family of four. Since my nursling is eating much more now, I decided to round the 512.00 to 550.00. No science involved, that's just the round number I chose.

I got 550.00 cash from savings and my trial month began yesterday. I divided the cash up into 5 different envelopes.

milk- 130.00
Wal-mart-110.00
market-145.00
Piggly Wiggly-65.00
Co-op order- 100.00

I placed my co-op order for the month of September yesterday and my total was 102.00 I was pleased that this was so close to my allotted amount. I had to refine my list of items several times before I got this close.

I went to Walmart today and my total was 98.63 which leaves me 11.37 for the rest of the month. This may or may not be possible. Over half of my spending at Wal-mart was for non-food related items. (dog/cat food, toothbrushes, baking soda, dishwashing detergent, vinegar for cleaning, etc.) I hope I can still feed properly without any additional Wal-mart spending.

I go to buy our milk for tomorrow. We had been using 6-7 gallons of milk per week. At five dollars per gallon it is still affordable compared to some raw milk, but it adds up quickly. I make yogurt, and butter from the milk, but that still adds up to a lot per month for milk. So I chose to allot 130.00 for our milk budget. I will get 4 gallons some weeks and five other weeks. We also get our cheese from the milk farm. Lets see if we can still drink raw milk but a little more in moderation.

I went to the market today and spent 4.00. I purchased a cantaloupe and watermelon. Still lots left in my market budget, but the month is just beginning and I buy our farm fresh eggs with that money and we go through a lot of eggs. Some weeks we go through 4 dozen per week. That adds up quickly. In an effort to use less eggs I made a breakfast menu this month with a little variety for the boys. They would eat eggs and fruit everyday.

I go buy Piggly Wiggly on the way to get milk each week and pick up butter, bananas and any other item I may need. The bill is usually between 20-30.00. I will have to trim even more off with a 65.00 PW budget for the month.

Still Learning
Holli

Friday, August 29, 2008

Green Hour Challenge

We took our first green hour challenge about a month ago and I'm just now blogging about it. We are so good about being outside and observing nature that it seems like we have a green hour every day. But the official green hour was a sunny and hot summer day. We walked around our yard and took a wagon ride down the road. We observed God's creation for about 40 minutes.

We found a toad, dead bumblebee, and saw a beautiful morning glory vine. We observed the toad hopping and noticed his flat ears behind his eyes. The bumblebee had four wings-2 small and 2 large and six legs. Some of the morning glories were closed and some were open.

We decided to take a walk early the next morning to see if the morning glories were all opened up. They were all bright and beautiful early the next morning.


Yesterday we went for a walk in a small wooded area on our property and we saw four cicada's crawling up a tree getting ready to emerge. It was sooo amazing. This was the first time the boys had seen a cicada emerging. They are bright green when they emerge from the brown shells. It takes about 30 minutes for them to emerge and begin stretching their wings. I am so fortunate to live in a place where it is sooo easy to observe God's glory through creation.

Holli

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Birthday My Boo

My Boo turned 3 years old today. I can hardly believe it! You are a very special little boy and you are quickly growing into a young man and you will be wise and strong like your daddy. We love you so much and thank God every day that he chose us to be your mom and dad.

Some things I love about Boo:


  • His long eyelashes almost touching his cheeks as he sleeps.
  • That he has learned to crack and scramble his eggs in the morning.
  • His eagerness to pray when we sit down together for a meal.
  • When he sees baby sister in the mornings or after naps and squeals her name with delight.
  • Watching Boo play his little guitar during praise and worship at church.
  • Those times we have alone together, when everyone else sleeps...reading...cooking...snacking...drawing...searching for one of God's treasures.
  • Running to greet his daddy after a long day.
  • Busy with the work of a man...hammering...mowing...building piles here and there.

Happy Birthday Boo!

I love you...

Mommy

Friday, August 15, 2008

Choosing What is Better...

Daddy...teaching...praying...singing...being the spiritual leader in family worship...my heart in awe...

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word...This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:25-26, 32

Hearts captivated by stories from God's word...eyes big...mind considering...tasting and seeing that the Lord is good

Little mouths reciting memory verses...catechisms...songs of the faith...hiding His Word in their hearts as little ones...hearts being made wise for salvation early.

Brothers...best friends...growing to be protectors...providers...husbands...fathers...spiritaul heads of the home

Baby girl...holding babydoll...rocking back and forth..already hints of God's intentions etched on her heart...nurturing...cradling...one day mothering

Friday, August 8, 2008

Becoming a Healthy Family Challenge #3

This week's challenge could prove to be too much for you. I would have had a problem with it a couple of years ago.

So here it is:

What is your family drinking?
Take stock of your frig and cupboards. Are you allowing yourself and your little ones to consume lots of sugary drinks or are you doing good in this area?

A couple of years ago, I stopped buying soft drinks. This was huge for me. I always drank a glass of Coca-Cola or Mt. Dew with my supper. When I finally stopped buying them I have learned to do without them.

What about fruit juices? My children used to drink lots more juice than they do now. I have been limiting juice intake to a small glass of fruit juice at breakfast and supper. The juice is not from concentrate and it is watered down as well. The rest of the day we enjoy filtered water and fresh raw milk.

I had been making an effort to make Kefir. We enjoyed grape water kefir. It can be overwhelming to keep up with. May try it again soon.

We occasionally make lemonade with water, lemon juice and a few drops of Stevia.

Tips for making the transition easier:
*Put the water in new water bottles. We have the Klean Kanteens
*We are using the Royal Berkey water filters and we love it. The boys can each go and fill their cups up with water whenever they are thirsty.
*Slice a few lemons and limes to squeeze into the water.
*Take all other options away until you have created a new healthy habit.

Here are some links about soft drinks/juice
Soft Drinks-America's Other Drinking Problem
Aspartame: Diet-Asterous Results

Still Learning,
Holli

101 Reasons to Breastfeed

My nursling will soon have been nursing for 13 months. I am so thankful we have made it this far with only a couple bumps in the road.

For anyone who needs more convincing that breastfeeding is the absolute best for your children check out these 101 reasons to breastfeed.

Here are my top reasons for breastfeeding:

3. No getting up in the middle of the night worrying with bottles and mixing and warming milk.

2. Take a look at formula cans: Closest formula to breast milk, Contains _________, like breast milk. Why give my baby formula that researchers are trying desperately to pattern after breast milk when I can give her the real thing?

1. Because breastfeeding is the way our very wise, loving and all-knowing God intended babies to be fed.


Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.
1Thessalonians 2:7
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.
1Peter 2:1-3
Enjoy your nurslings...
Holli

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A few more gifts...


sweet boy...exploring the beach...on a hunt for God's treasure


three little minds...in awe of God's creation...watching the proud waves halt


brothers...running...giggling...jumping...sand between toes...brothers


curious boys...watching with interest...one of God's creatures

Happy Birthday My Nursling


One year ago on July 19, 2007 our baby girl was born. My nursling turned one yesterday. What a wonderful first year. Happy Birthday Little One, you are much loved by us all.
As I reflect on the first year with my little girl I am so grateful for the way she has already caused me to examine my words and actions. When I think that she will one day be a wife and mother and her attitudes toward her husband and little ones will be greatly influenced by my attitude now, it causes me to stop and reflect frequently.
Thank you Lord for the blessings of a daughter.
Holli

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gifts from his hand...

Baby girl...tousled morning hair...excited giggles when she realizes Bo is in bed with us.

Sweet girl...pointing at everything...grunting...babbling...reaching with those sweet chubby arms for me to lift her into mine...irresistible

butterfly wings...God's stunning colors...black...blue...orange...white

blackberries...ripe...limbs hanging heavy...juice running down three little chins...fingers stained a deep purple.

blueberrries...sweet...tart...cool morning breeze...time alone to reflect and provide for my family

two brothers...playing so well together...hugging...telling each other they are best friends

Bo..crying in the night...trembling with fear...me...able to calm those fears...God reminding me to be accessible at all times...just as he is accessible at all times.

Boo...snuggling on the couch after nap...pillows...blankets...time together

Chris...taking the time to talk...the hour is late...he must rise early

Chris...graying hair...maturing..daily being refined into a man God uses

God reminding me that my purpose is...to be a suitable helper for Chris and his calling

shade of the tree...blanket on the ground..eager ears and hearts...listening to God's word...amazed at his miracles...bursting into songs of praise

little hands inspecting God's creation...butterfly wings...birds nest with shells...cicada shell...shiny green beetle


Enjoying Him...
Holli...who thinks it has been too long since I've recorded his gifts

Friday, July 11, 2008

Roasted Chicken Meals

When I cook one of the delicious chickens we buy from a local farm, I want to stretch it as far as I can. So here's what I did last time.

Dinner 1: Roast 2 chickens (Use one for supper and reserve the remaining chicken for stir-fry stew and chicken salad)

Roast chicken
Fresh green beans
creamed potatoes
fresh cucumbers

Place chicken carcass in stock pot and simmer overnight.

Dinner 2:

Chicken Stir-Fry Stew (adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

2 cups leftover chicken soaked in 2 Tbs. lemon juice
1-2 cups peanuts (my family loves peanuts, I use a lot)
2 carrots thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli, lightly steamed
1 yellow squash chopped and lightly steamed
1 zucchini chopped and lightly steamed

4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons naturally fermented soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons rapadura
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (I'm just guessing here! I just sprinkle it in the broth.)
A few red pepper flakes
arrowroot for thickening

Marinate chicken in lemon juice. Saute chicken in olive oil. Remove and saute peanuts.
Saute carrots a couple of minutes. Mix chicken stock, soy sauce, rapadura, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper together in a separate bowl. Add chicken and peanuts back to skillet with carrots and pour sauce over these. Add a couple of tablespoons of arrowroot mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and simmer until thickened. Add Broccoli, squash and zucchini. Mix well and simmer 5-10 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.
*I omit the onions and peppers that are in the original recipe.
I added the squash and zucchini and it turns out well.

This recipe serves 6-7 easily. I have a family of 4 eaters and we can have it for supper another night and freeze a couple of portions also.

Dinner 3

Leftover stir-fry stew

Dinner 4
Chicken salad
homemade bread
cheese

1-2 cups reserved chicken
1 small cucumber chopped
1/2 cup grapes chopped
1 apple chopped
1/3 cup Walnuts chopped
2-3 tablespoons mayo

Mix well and chill.

Enjoy cool chicken salad on a hot afternoon, maybe even a picnic in the shade.

or

Dinner 4
your favorite chicken casserole

Enjoy!

Holli


Monday, July 7, 2008

Colorful Variety-Healthier Family Challenge #2

Here's a little challenge that goes right along with purchasing your fruits and vegetables at the market. How many different colors does your family eat on a given day? week?

Just for clarification, I mean how many colorful, whole, unrefined foods are you preparing for your family? yourself? Grape kool-aid and a colorful pack of Skittles or M&M's do not count:-0 We need to be providing wholesome colorful foods for the bodies that God has placed in our care.

So grab a pen and paper or post a comment on here, sharing how you are doing with eating your colors!

Boo-homemade yogurt, blackberries, boiled egg, sweet banana pepper, grapes, blueberries, herb biscuit, supper will be soup with squash, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, green beans, cabbage and rice

Bo's will be the same except no blackberries.
Shater aka Lou Lou's will be the same except no sweet banana pepper, or grapes and add banana
Mine will be the same except no sweet banana peppers
Chris will have the veggies in the soup tonight and I'm not sure if he took fruit to work.

We normally do not have that many veggies during the day. The soup I made tonight has lots of veggies. It's easy to get frustrated if you think you should eat from every color group every day. Keep a list of what you eat in a given week and see if that is easier. It gives you seven days to get your color groups eaten.

Holli

Weekly Menu July 7-13

I hope everyone has tried shopping at a local farmer's market for the produce on your menu.
Here's our menu for the week:

Monday
leftover soup (I'm just making this today. We had a couple of parties for the 4th that we attended and ate supper at those.)

Tuesday
BBQ baked potatoes
homemade BBQ sauce
roast (pull roast apart and pour sauce over)
various toppings: onions, cheese, butter

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday:
chicken stir-fry stew and rice

Friday:
Spaghetti

Saturday:
leftovers

Sunday:
blueberry pancakes
eggs
fruit
grits

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Our Weekly Menu and Market Finds

Breakfast options: eggs and fruit (blackberries or oranges), oatmeal, peanut butter on a banana, or homemade yogurt and granola with maple syrup and fruit

Lunch options: variety plate:(boiled egg, almonds, cheese, cucumbers, tomato and blueberries), peanut butter and banana (if not chosen at breakfast), homemade bread with peanut butter and jelly, chicken salad (made with cucumbers, walnuts, grapes, chicken, and a boiled egg) with crackers and cheese or leftovers

Dinner Menu:

Day 1: meatloaf (Chris said my meatloaf was the best he had ever had;-)
fried potatoes
steamed cabbage
squash casserole
cucumbers with apple cider vinegar

Day 2: Fish Cakes (salmon and rice)
fried squash
steamed kale
cucumbers with apple cider vinegar


Day 3: leftovers


Day 4: tabouli
cheese
fruit

Day 5: Baked chicken
lentil/rice casserole
Broccoli
herb biscuits
cucumbers with apple cider vinegar

Day 6: leftover soup (leftovers I've been saving thrown into a pot of homemade chicken stock.)

Day 7: supper with my grandmother


Local food treasures found at the market:

onions
potatoes
green beans
cabbage (a couple of weeks ago, just cooking it)
kale
okra
cucumbers (bunches in our CSA box)
sweet banana peppers
tomatoes
blueberries
peaches
2 dozen eggs

*We picked 1 gallon of blackberries off of the 2 bushes I planted in our yard three years ago.
*We went to Chris' uncles farm and picked 3 gallons yesterday. I hope to make a little jelly and juice then freeze the rest.

See how many wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables are available at your local market!

Join me for the challenges.
Holli

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Becoming a Healthier Family Challenge #1

As promised here is the first challenge in my new series Becoming a Healthier Family.

For the next couple of weeks I want you to work on buying as much locally grown produce from sustainable farms as possible. I am allowing two weeks for some of the challenges because I know how overwhelming it can be to change a family's eating habits. A great place to find locally grown organic food is Local Harvest.

*Plan a menu for the week. Remember to include an array of fresh fruits and vegetables that are currently in season in your area.
*Make a list of the fruits and vegetables you will need.
*Visit your local farmer's market and see how many items you can find that are on your list.
*Take time to talk with the farmers about their farming practices. You will probably make some new friends while you are there. I value the friendship we have made with a local sustainable farming couple that we met at our local market. We purchased a CSA share with them this year.
or
*Visit your local farmer's market and buy lots of fresh produce and then come home and plan your meals around your finds.

Here is an article about why eating organic food may be especially beneficial to children.

Here is a guide that lists the dirty dozen. These fruits and vegetables should be purchased organically whenever possible.

Here is the website to the book I have recently finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. This is the account of a family who made a commitment to eat only what they could grow or buy locally for one year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Little Background On the Why of Our Eating

Because of some recent conversations on the choices we have made in the area of eating, let me offer a little background.

Chris has had stomach issues for the last several years. Frequent heartburn, nausea, bloating plagued him severly for months on end. He would stop eating this or that to see if the symptoms could be relieved. He visited doctor after doctor. He had an upper GI, colonoscopy, gallbladder scan all to no avail. He was frequently perscribed heartburn medication. One doctor even suggested depression, as it could cause stomach problems. I picked up a book called The Maker's Diet and so our journey began.

This book made me think a lot about the foods I was preparing for my family. Was I really providing the very best for them in terms of quality and nutrition? After reading this book, I bought Nourishing Traditions and began reading its information and trying a few recipes.

This led me to the Weston A. Price Foundation, Real Milk, Eat Wild, and the traditional food message board of Mothering. My search for understanding continued here as well as in God's Word. After much research I have formulated my own set of guidelines for the way I provide for the health of my family.

*As a wife and mother it is my responsibility to provide the most nutritious and appealing food for my family.
*Because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the my families bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit we feel it is vital to treat the Spirit's temple with care. We would never abuse the spirit's temple with addicitons to alcohol or tobacco, so why would we abuse his temple by being addicted to sugar, processed foods, or carbonated beverages.
*We believe that as humans we should not try to improve upon what God has created. So we do not rely on processed or dead foods for our nutrition.
*The healthiest things we can eat are "whole" as close to the way God provided as possible-fresh fruits and vegetables, meat raised humanly and eating the diet that God intended for them, fresh raw milk and milk products, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

These are the convictions that we as a family have as we seek to be good stewards of the lives God has so graciously blessed us with. We do not believe that we will attain any sort of perfection from a life lived in this way. We understand that God is the giver of life and we live in a fallen world. We are simply striving to take care of the life that God has so graciouly given us. We believe that salvation comes by God's grace through out faith, it is not because of any thing we have done.

Sooo

After reading and researching and Chris suffering on and off for years we finally discovered that Chris was palgued by low stomach acid. The symptoms mimic that of too much stomach acid, thus the many heartburn perscriptions through the years. We finally figured this out because milk helped Chris symtoms and the doctors said milk should worsen the symptoms if too much acid was the problem. Because Chris lacked acid which aids in the digestion of food, the raw milk he drank with his meals provided valuable enzymes that helped digest his meals. So Chris is doing wonderfully now with the raw milk, garlic tablet and disgestive enzymes he takes daily.

I am continuing my study in taking care of my family by taking the Naturally Healthy Family Study Course and reading The Animal Vegetable Miracle and Real Food.

I am continually learning more through much study and prayer. I want to share what I have learned with others. I will begin issuing a weekly challenge aimed at providing the very best of what God has provided for our nutrition.

Still Learning...
Holli

His Never Ending Gifts

*Boo...excited artist...peanut butter rainbow on the bathroom mirror.
*The air heavy...the smell of rain thick and fresh.
*Tiny caterpillar...growing bigger...preparing to change
*Boo...excited over God's creation..."Come see the spider, Mama, isn't God amazing"
*Laying on the reading blanket...quiet time with Bo...snuggling...reading...giggling
*Shater's first words..."dadada"..."uh-oh"..."mamama"
*Shater's closing eyes tight...silly grin...pudgy cheeks...adorable baby face

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Obama won't get my vote...should he really get yours?

I am not the best at keeping up with politics, but Obama is a very scary candidate to me. Why? Check out this blog post.

No, Mr. Obama children are not a punishment. They are:

a blessing and a reward!

Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. As arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.
Happy blessed and fortunate is the man whose quiver is filled with them!
Psalms 127:3-5a


Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you and before you were born I separated and set you apart...
Jeremiah 1:5

For you did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother's womb. I will confess and praise you for you are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are your works and that my inner self knows right well.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret, intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery].
Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there were none of them.
Psalms 139:13-16

And he made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation.
So that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him, although he is not far from each one of us.
Acts 17:26-27

The children God allows to be born into this world are not mistakes or punishments. When you hold fast to the word of God which is absolute truth, you will soon realize that each life has a purpose and plan. In the above verse, why does God determine the exact time and place in which we should live? So that we will seek Him and find Him! Whatever home or situation a child is born into, is so they will seek God or cause that particular family to seek God. God's ultimate will is always our spiritual condition. How many families have not turned their hearts to God because they have aborted the child that God had purposed to bring that family close to Him?


Here's another video that I have heard was chilling. Haven't watched it yet because we are on dial-up. Beware the discussion comments below this video are argumentative and use strong, offensive language.

Think long and hard...
Holli

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Rare Treasure...Seek One...or...Be One?

I taught a lesson last Wednesday night in the mothering class that I am teaching on the Proverbs 31 woman. I wanted to post some of that lesson here with some further thoughts.

As the mother of two young sons, I can identify with the advice King Lemuel's mother gave him when he was a boy. I can just picture her taking him onto her lap and ruffling his hair as she kisses him on top of the head. She begins to offer him some nuggets of wisdom. She tells him to avoid loose women, avoid strong drink, and speak up and defend those who cannot defend themselves. The advice is not unlike what Chris and I have already had to discuss with our sons. Just within the last couple of weeks we have already had the alcohol and tobacco discussion complete with pictures on how they can ravage the body.

In verse 1o Lemuel's mother begins her discussion on the type of woman Lemuel should search out as a wife. She dedicates the remaining 21 verses to a description of a wife who would benefit and uplift her husband.

"A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman-who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls. Prov. 31:10"
As a future King, Lemuel had no doubt been exposed to kingly riches. But a wife who is capable of running his household, wise enough to be a trusted advisor and godly in character would no doubt be his most treasured possession.
"
The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.
She comforts, encourages and does him only good as long as there is life within her."
Proverbs 31:11-12

Am I Chris' most treasured possession? I pray that I am. I am amazed at the change that God has worked in my own heart and mind since we married almost eleven years ago. My heart's desire had always been to be a wife and mother, but God continually works on me, refining me into the woman his inspired word has commanded me to be.

As I read the above verse, I am compelled to examine my life. Does Chris confidently trust in me? Does he trust my commitment to him and our marriage? Does he believe in my commitment to be a wise manager of the living he brings home? Does he trust in my ability to train and nurture our children day by day? Does he trust that I will prepare the very best food and clothing for us that his money will provide?

I think he does. I so desire to bring him comfort and encouragement. I pray that each day I live I will do him more good than the day before. But this takes me dying to myself daily. If I am not extremely careful I can let pride take hold and I begin to live for myself. As soon as I become focused on my own self, my own desires and my own needs, I begin to resent serving others.

I'm not implying that I do not enjoy the occasional break, but when I begin searching for it day in and day out, I begin to resent the family that God has entrusted to my care. I'm reminded of Christ and his disciples withdrawing occasionally for some time alone. Many times the crowd followed and Jesus was always moved with compassion to begin ministering once again. When Christ is my example, I will always strive to minister and serve no matter how weary I may become in my own strength because

"My grace is enough for you; ...for My strength and power are made perfect and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Amp

Proverbs 31 continues with brief glimpses into the life of a woman who is a true treasure.
She
is a willing worker
provides the best for her household
is an entrepreneur
is productive when she needs to be
she makes cloth and readies her grain
is prepared for the future
she reaches out to the needy
makes garments and sell them
opens her mouth in wisdom and kindness

A life lived in this manner will be cause for our children to rise and up call us blessed. Our husbands will praise our efforts.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised!"
Proverbs 31:30

Do I fear the Lord enough to live the life he has commanded that I live?

I not only have two sons that I should encourage with these verses as they seek a wife one day, but I have a daughter that I must prepare to be some special man's treasure.

This was the part that made me think the most. I am afraid many parents are not preparing their daughters to be a treasure one day, instead they are preparing their daughters to seek earthly treasures.

You see, our culture today promotes preparing daughters to go to college and establishing a successful career as goal number one. . This mentality is preparing the daughters of today to believe that college and career are the real treasures in life and marriage and family are only secondary. I have major objections to this line of thinking, because it is simply not in keeping with God's word.

Did I go to college? Yes

Do I think it is wrong for a girl to go to college? Not necessarily. But I would caution parents of daughters today to think about the ramifications of countless dollars and hours spent preparing for a career outside the home. Let's teach our daughters that being a Keeper of the Home has great value because they are not only investing in this life, but eternity as they raise Godly children.
How will we raise Shater to embrace the high calling of being a wife and mother? We are still not entirely sure but living and loving my high calling in front of her will speak much louder than any words.

Still Learning...
Holli

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Our Creator God and How to Reveal Him to Our Children!

Being out in God's creation is something very close to my heart. Because I feel so overwhelmed by God's creative hand, I want to make sure my children can experience our God in the same way. God's world is so full of small wonders that we can miss his expressions of love if we do not take time to experience them.

As mothers, it is our responsibility to get our children outside each day so that they can begin to see and experience God's amazing creation. Creation is all about God revealing himself to man and I want my children to develop a love for God revealed through creation at an early age.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork. Day after day pours forth speech and night after night pours forth knowledge.
Psalms 19:1-2

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made(His handiworks). So men are without excuse
Roman 1:20

For creation waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God's sons to be made known.
Romans 8:19

I have decided to link to the Green Hour Challenge in my sidebar. If you are having trouble enjoying nature with your children this is a wonderful place to begin. We will begin doing the weekly challenge and posting about it soon.

Would you join me in sharing God with your children through nature? The notebook pages provided with this challenge will make recording your nature study time easy. When compiled in a notebook you will have a wonderful keepsake.
Take your digital camera along to document your nature walks in a scrapbook.

Still Learning...
Holli

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Going Green... or...Stewardship

Many people today claim they are going Green when they decide to lesson their impact on the environment.

We have chosen to call it being good stewards of what God has so graciously entrusted to our care.

Going Green or stewardship whatever you decide to call it, requires examining many areas of life and investigating ways we can lesson our impact on the world around us. Not many people would argue the need to Leave No Trace in a National Park or Forest, but what about the traces we leave every day in our communities and homes.

Many days the children and I go for walks within a quarter-mile of our home and pick up garbage left on the side of the road. This is a wonderful opportunity I take to talk to my children about God creating the world and seeing that it was good. We talk about how the person who threw the garbage out of the window was not being a good steward of God's creation. The boys are usually the first to notice garbage now and eager to pick it up.

There are other ways we have chosen to lesson our impact on the environment. I have been using re-usable nursing pads for awhile, as well as washcloths for baby wipes. Just this week I ordered and received Shater's first set of cloth diapers. I received them on Thursday and begin using them yesterday. We really like them an I regret that I have not used cloth sooner.

An idea that is close to my heart is growing fruits and vegetables sustainably and buying locally at the Farmer's Market. When we do this we are not only caring for God's beautiful world, but as a mom I am providing the freshest and most nutritious food for my family.

We have chosen to buy our meat and milk from animals who are raised locally and grow up on pasture. By spending our money locally we are helping farmers in and around our community. We avoid meats or dairy that have been raised in CAFO's. You can too! See Eat Wild for more information.

As always, making much of our food and snacks from scratch reduces waste. Because we do not use a lot of pre-packaged convenience foods, the garbage I put our for pick-up each week has declined.

We are always open to trying new things that would make us a better steward of the land and home God has so graciously given us.

Here is something that I am looking into for when my cycle returns after nursing Shater.

Still Learning...
Holli

His Gifts

107. 3 swings lined up...3 little ones flying high...3 distinct giggles...1 mama smiling
108. Mama and Boo...playing together in sandbox...sand between toes...fingers making letters
109. short little Boo...tall daddy...side-by-side...father and son...mama watching from behind
110. nest on porch...mama bird sitting patiently...fulfilling the job God created her to do!

Father
Thank you for your gifts that fill my days with joy and wonder. Help me to slow down and drink in the blessings of each moment.

Holli

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thoughts on Modesty

Here is a very well-written article on modesty. God has been speaking to my heart about the issue of modesty through my studying of Titus 2. I'll be posting personal reflections on modesty soon.

Still Learning
Holli

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothering Has Changed Me

As the day to appreciate mothers has come and gone, I am compelled to think how appreciative I am for the opportunity to be a mother. Mothering has changed me in more ways than I realize, I am sure.

I stand in complete awe that God would choose to reward me with three of the most beautiful children in the world. It is humbling to realize that God saw something in me that he knew he could use to train these precious lives up to know and follow him. As I sit in the quietness of this moment I am struck with the magnitude of the job he has given me to do. A job so important it takes every minute of the day...preparing my heart, training them alongside me, turning their hearts to the word, laughing, loving, just being...here together.

When I think of my life I am reminded that my actions speak much more loudly than any word I could utter.

Can I teach my children to be passionate about a personal relationship with God, if I never lift my voice in praise and my hands in worship?

Can I teach my little ones to serve others with a joyful heart, if I do not fix their meals, bathe them, or clean their messes with a smile on my face?

Will I really teach them that people are important if I shoo them away while I cook, clean, read or blog?

Am I giving my children a beautiful picture of the way a marriage is supposed to look like? Do I smile at and joke with their daddy? Do I hug and cuddle with their daddy? I must make my children hungry for a beautiful godly marriage! Then, they may see the importance of waiting for that someone God has just for them.

Do I treat my children the way I want them to treat my grandchildren? Those little hands will one day train up the next generation. Do I speak to Chris in the way that I would want baby girl speaking to her husband? That little mouth has the power to bless a husband one day. It also has the power to tear a home down. Am I teaching those little ones to properly care for their bodies and God's creation? For that is my responsibility also...stewardship...it's really each person's responsibility, but how will they learn if I do not teach? More importantly, how will they learn if I do not show?

Yes, mothering has changed me, humbled me, brought out the best and the worst in me. It has been the tool that God has used to chisel away what does not belong in my life. He has used it to reveal the character that he wants me to clothe myself with daily. And for that I am so very grateful.

Afternoon Gifts

101. shadows from the shade dancing on the blanket
102. warm sun...warm breeze...cool grass...relaxing with my babies in the afternoon
103. brothers welcoming one another with a hug
104. baby girl exploring the grass, sticks, rocks and leaves
105. baking biscuits and bread with my boys helping...Baby girl sitting on the floor at our feet
106. footsteps coming...door opening...Daddy's Home!...boys squealing...baby girl clapping...Mama smiling.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Matthew 7:11

Friday, May 9, 2008

"Homemaker" (the term implies effort)

Home-maker

As I look closely at the word I see its meaning jumping off of the page. As I aspire daily to be a homemaker I am all the more convinced that homes cannot make themselves.

To train the younger women to be......homemakers.....Titus 2:4-5


A home left to itself will quickly become a place it was not intended to be!

Just as a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Prov 29:15), so a home left to itself will bring much heartache.


Making a home takes effort. A home needs to be tended, guarded, watched over. The home I am referring too is not the four walls (or many more) in which we reside. That is referred to as a house.

home-to the place where it belongs, the end of a course

This definition seems to fit well with what I am considering. A home is a place to belong.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:2

In the same way that my life should not be conformed to this world, neither should my home.

A christian home should look completely different than the home of unbelievers. From the respect for the hierarchy of authority that God has initiated to how time is spent a christian home should reflect God's grace and mercy to the world.

God in his sovereignty has given the husbands the role as leader, the wives the role as helper and the children the responsibility to obey. It can all seem so harsh to an unbeliever. But when a christian home is founded on these key roles, it reflects a picture of Christ's love to a hurting world.


Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-32

As keeper of my home, am I watching over the ways of my household (Prov 31:27)?

There are many areas of my home that need to be watched over and guarded carefully. It can be easy to put the place before the people who reside in our homes. My main concern every day should not be a spotless home, but a home where the love of Christ is shared with my husband, children and all who come through my doors. As I take my children alongside me and train them to care for a home we are spending valuable time together. I am teaching them to have a servant's heart as I strive to meet their needs and they are learning valuable lessons in running a home as they work alongside me.

As I watch over my household I need to be aware of the magazines and the books that are making there way into my home. A television is another potential influence for evil on my children. Are the books, magazines, computer sites and movies we watch bringing honor to Christ and building up my faith and family?

Making a home takes work. But, its work that God has created me to do. With the guidance of a loving husband and the nurturing servant's heart of a mom, christian homes can be beautiful reflections of Christ's love. My desire is to have a home that makes the world hungry to know Christ as they observe our daily interactions with one another.

Still Learning...
Holli

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Keeper of the Home

"So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children,

To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured, (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed, discredited) Titus 2:4-5 Amplified


As I have been preparing for the Mothering class I will begin teaching on Wednesday nights, this verse has continually been on my heart and has become the focus of my own personal quiet time for many days now.

I remember as a young girl and even as a teenager having a desire to be a wife and mother. Many times throughout my high school career I remember the question being asked, "What do you want to do when you get out of school?" I always felt like the oddball because all I wanted to do was get married and have a family.

Marriage came early by today's standards. I was eighteen...fresh out of high school....and in love.

So we married and I set out to use the scholarships I had gotten to attend college. I had a very hard time settling on a career path. I now know that the indecisiveness I experienced was because my heart contained the dream that God had placed there long ago. The dream of being a wife and mother.

I believe it is a dream that is universal to women. We can try to focus in on a career path and yet the nagging feeling that somethings just not right remains. So many women today are leaving established careers and seeking to start families later in life. If careers are so fulfilling why this rush to begin a family before age catches up with us?
God's plan for young women is very clear. I am so convinced of the job that God has given me to do that I would be living in disobedience to him if I chose a career path other than being a full time keeper of my home.
Holli