Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I subscribe to an e-newsletter from a homeschooling, homesteading mom named Crystal. I really wanted to share some of her thoughts from Octobers newsletter that was sent out today. I think it will strike the hearts of many of you as it did my own.

The Content Heart: Used with permission from Crystal Miller.
I find in this world we constantly deal with discontentment. Often we don't mean to be discontent, but we are. I am guilty of this myself. I complain when the weather is too wet, then too hot, then too dry. I complain when there is an abundance of milk to deal with and complain when the goats dry up during the winter. More often the problems of discontentment for most revolve around finances. I have listened to women who are discontent with the older car they drive, the inability to have material things, the desire for new clothes that are not in the budget, a house that is too small and the list goes on. 

If we dwell on these things what begins to happen is that we realize that life is not as fulfilling as what we wanted, and we become discontent and even bitter. At some point we may even feel the need to go to work, or find ways to make extra money so we can acquire what we don't have. Or maybe even push our husbands to do something about the situation. All of these methods of dealing with this can have negative side effects, some more than others. And in the end we may be saying to the Lord, "What you have provided for my life is just not enough for me" . 

If we did manage to buy that new car, the new clothes, move to a bigger house, and so on; would this solve the problem of a discontent heart? Is this the ultimate answer? I don't think so. I have also learned over the years that we as human beings will always have needs and many wants. We will never naturally be satisfied with what we have. We will be looking at our list to see what is the next needed item to make life complete. The Scriptures tell us, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" Philippians 4:11.

You see the heart is at the issue. That is not to say that there are not real needs at hand, but as in all things the heart issues must come first. An example from my own life is when we had 7 children and lived in an 1100 sq. ft. home. We truly did need a bigger house, but how I dealt with that was a heart issue. I had to constantly remind myself that in all situations the Lord knows all my needs. To pray for a bigger house is good, but to be discontent with the small one is not. I remember asking myself, "If I was never able to move from this house would that be ok with me?" I had to put my heart in a place that said, "Yes, I could live with that" . 

The ultimate solution will come from not only learning to be content with what the Lord has provided but also to find joy in our life! Discontentment will never produce a joyful life. In this materialistic society we live in we may find it hard to wrap our minds around the Scripture that says: And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:8. Imagine, that does not even mention a home! 

So how does one go from feeding a discontent heart to a heart that is not only content but joyful? We begin by giving thanks to the Lord for ALL things. When you wake up in the morning you begin your day by thanking the Lord for his blessings. Are you familiar with the hymn that says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God hath done!" ? That is the place to start.

The next step is to really focus on what is of value in life. To me the greatest value I find is in relationships; my relationship with the Lord, my husband and my children. When I start looking at what I can do right where I am at to improve my life and begin thanking the Lord for all His blessings daily, I find I start to value the relationships in my life more. I want to work to make those a blessing to us all. 

I want to set aside that daily time with the Lord, I want to be a better helpmeet to my husband; I want to be a better mother to my children. These things are all actions, discontentment is rarely an action. When we act upon something such as dwelling upon the goodness of God and what He has provided and act on this to improve the relationships around us, our hearts change.

This month I would like to encourage us all to daily give thanks for the Lord's wondrous provisions in our life and to serve and love the ones He has placed in our charge. The change will be amazing, the heart the will change and discontentment will be turned into a contented joy that can only come from Jesus.

You may subscribe to Crystals newsletter here; http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/newsletter.ht

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Monday, August 6, 2012

My New Cleaning Schedule

Last year I posted a cleaning schedule it was in "Domestic Executive" I believe. That schedule worked well while we were in an 800 sq ft apartment and I wasn't pregnant.

Just as I got used to being in a house twice as big as I was used to I got pregnant. Let me tell you that NOTHING got done the first four months. It was all I could do to keep up with laundry and dishes. Now at 8 months pregnant, I simply have no energy to deep clean every week- ok, not to mention that I would always forget the monthly stuff. Well, procrastinate is more like it. I would look at the planner at the beginning of the month and decide that I have plenty of time to get it done. AAAND guess what? It wouldn't get done-Big surprise, I know.

 With a new baby on the way, Nick starting school and Christian starting seminary this fall there are so many changes about to happen and I have no idea what a schedule will look like. Deep cleaning every week seems rather over-whelming and I wanted to actually schedule some monthly things. So I decided to re-work my cleaning schedule and try to take a little pressure off.

I wanted to share this with you in hopes that a more relaxed cleaning schedule will make it less stressful for you.

There are still activities that I do daily and weekly. I've copied and pasted below.

Daily chores:

Make beds
Bible Study (not a chore but I really don't want to forget it)
Plan dinner/take out meat to thaw
Start Laundry
Unload Dishwasher/do breakfast dishes
Finish laundry
5 minute pick-up (spend 5 minutes putting things in their places)
After dinner clean-up (including sweep)

I still do a number of chores weekly, such as:
Monday: Mop the kitchen
Tuesday: wash bed linens
Wednesday: grocery shop
Thursday: swipe and swish (while gathering dirty wash clothes just wipe down sinks and the toilets)
Friday: de-clutter.paperwork kitchen (alot of junk mail and paper work gets stashed on the bar)

Next I decided to focus on just one area of the house per week. I have scheduled deeper cleaning activities during this week so I will see them on the schedule and not be tempted to put them off. 

Week One: Kitchen/dining
Monday: Mop floor and wipe blinds
Tuesday: wipe baseboards, walls,vents and windows
Wednesday: de-clutter/ paperwork
Thursday: scrub counters and cabinets
Friday:  clean refrigerator and stove

Week two: Living room
Monday: Mop and wipe blinds (move furniture)
Tuesday: wipe baseboards, walls, vents and windows
Wednesday: wipe banister and vacuum stairs
Thursday: Vacuum furniture
Friday: Dust/de-clutter (alot of clutter accumulates in the living room too)

Week three: Bedrooms
Monday: wipe walls, baseboards, vents and windows (our room)
Tuesday: beds/linens (this includes vacuuming mattresses and pillows*)
Wednesday: vacuum all floors
Thursday: walls, baseboards, vents and windows (boys rooms)
Friday: office straighten/declutter
* every now and then I will sprinkle baking soda on the bare mattresses, wait 15-20 minutes and vacuum them off using the mini beater bar attachment. this really helped the life of the mattress and with Christians allergies. I will also put the pillows-one at a time- in a garbage bag and suck all the air, dust and yuck out with the vacuum hose.

Week Four: bathrooms
Monday: counters, toilets
Tuesday: Walls baseboards mirrors
Wednesday: tubs and shower curtains
Thursday: sweep/mop
Friday: Laundry room trash, wipe washer and dryer, check ac filter

And then there are things that only need to be done every few months. 

Week four of January, May and October:
Monday: clothes (go thru clothes and weed out any we can't wear also put out/put away seasonal items-as if we had those in Florida)

Week four of March, July and November:
Monday: Toys (weed out any broken and toys not played with and with this done in July and November it clears the way for new birthday and Christmas items)

So I am hoping that this will help me feel less overwhelmed with all the changes in our lives (happening all at once) and keep me from just procrastinating my chores. I haven't been on this schedule long, I just came up with it last week so there may be some things I've forgotten and I may have to add mowing the lawn in there somewhere after I have the baby.

I would love your feedback on what worked for you and how you adapted this to fit your own homes and lives. 

Happy cleaning, 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

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Monday, July 23, 2012

A letter to my daughter.

My Dear Andrea,

Five years ago today your dad and I were preparing to meet you and Nick. I was 32 weeks pregnant and went to the hospital to have a routine test just to make sure you two were alright. Well, you weren't alright. The nurses searched and searched for your heartbeat while I was lying in a bed. They didn't tell me that they couldn't find you. I was sent down for an ultra sound so they could look at you to see what was going on. They looked at you and Nick for a few minutes and wheeled me back upstairs to a room. By this time I knew something was wrong but no one told me anything.

I decided to call your dad who was at work and tell him to come get me, but I didn't know what else to tell him. While I was one the phone with him a nurse came in and told us that you weren't alive any more.

I felt guilty because I was over-whelmed at the thought of taking care of two babies at the same time. I felt like a failure because I am mom and I'm supposed to take care of you and protect you and you died inside of me. I felt like I had let your dad down. I was angry at myself for letting this happen. I was angry at the nurses and doctor for not telling me they thought something was wrong right away.

It's funny though, I don't remember ever being mad at God. It seems like I should have been. Dad and I really didn't go to church very much then. We would have told people we were Christians, we tried to live like we were good but we didn't go to church or pray or read our Bibles. I kind of felt God wrap His arms around me that day. I just remember asking God to take care of my little girl. I knew you would be far better off in Heaven than with me. That you would never know sickness or heartbreak. That you would know God in a much more intimate way than any one here on Earth would.

We grieved of course. All of the comfort of you being in Heaven didn't stop us from missing you. It didn't stop the ache of a missing person in our family. It didn't stop us from wondering what life would have been like if you would have been here.  I don't think the comfort of you being in Heaven is supposed to replace grief. I think God gave us the ability to grieve as part of a healing process. We are not supposed to act like loss has never happened and we are not supposed to stop living our lives as a result of loss.

I don't know why God chose to take you when He did. The old saying "everything happens for a reason" is hardly a comfort to someone who has lost a loved one. Having faith is believing in something you can't see. Every day I wake up I choose to believe that God knows what is best for me-even if it means the loss of someone I love. I choose to believe that God is in control no matter what. I choose to put my faith in God. I choose to believe that a Being who can be understood is not big enough to be worshiped. I don't want to worship a god who can be understood, that would put the "god" at the same level as me and defeat the purpose of worshiping him (or her)

My sweet daughter, every July 23rd is hard on me. I am pregnant with your brother right now and he is about the same age as you were when you died. I have to admit that it's a little scary. I praise God every time I feel Levi move inside of me and I get a little scared when he hasn't moved in a while. But if I chose to believe God was in control of your short life and death then I have no choice but to choose to believe God is in control of Levi- no matter what happens. I do willingly choose to believe that God is in control.

My dear, I miss you and I wonder what it would be like to brush your hair and paint your toenails and go to little girl tea parties with you and I will when I get to meet you in Heaven some day. Until then my sweet, I will trust God to take care of you, I will trust that you will hold the hands of other little ones whose lives seemed to short. And I will trust in God's infinite understanding.

I love you.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vinegar Conditioner

So I woke up this morning with really greasy hair- like it looks like I haven't washed in a month greasy. The thing is, I washed it last night. I don't know if it's the new shampoo... that I've been using for a month now that I think about it. It could be pregnant hormones. It could be that I showered at my parents house last week, they have well water and I'm used to city water (minerals could be in my hair). Or it could be that I just need to strip my hair.

A lot of times when you wash and condition your hair, there is still some gunk (Gunk is an industry term) left in your hair. Over time that can build up and make your hair look dull, dead or greasy.

I found this recipe for white vinegar conditioner about a year ago while looking at a website about uses for vinegar.

Use your normal shampoo and then follow these instructions for the conditioner.

1/2 cup of white vinegar
1cup of water

Mix the two in a large cup and slowly pour over your hair at the scalp. Leave for about two or three minutes and rinse well. Just watch your eyes, it stings.

When you dry your hair, it will be shiny and full. If you have rinsed your hair well and it is completely dry, you shouldn't smell the vinegar at all.

Also, if you feel like your deodorant just isn't working anymore you can rinse your armpits with the conditioner as well (soap can build up there too). Just dip your wash cloth in it and wash the offending area before pouring the conditioner on your head.

Be careful and use your own judgement if you have sensitive skin and I would say to NOT do this if you have sores on your head. I don't know how this would effect artificial color so you will want to be careful if you color your hair.

Hard to believe this mess was washed 14 hours ago. I woke up looking like this.

This is after the rinse and dry. No product at all. 

Happy conditioning
"Arise and shine for Your light has come and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you." Isaiah 60:1

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bleach pen painted t-shirts.

I have recently discovered Pintrest.... bad idea. Now I have all these fun crafty ideass swirling around in my head and I want to try them all-NOW. Luckily for me my friend, Leila, is having a birthday party for her two youngest children this weekend and it just happens that one of the crafts I wanted to try would be perfect as birthday presents.  YAY!!

Little man and I went to the store today and bought three t-shirts (Nick wanted to make one too), some regular chalk and a bleach pen. That's all you need for this project. We brought the shirts home and rinsed and dried them (in case of buggies)-Yes we bought them at a thrift store but I'm a thrifty mamma and they were in perfect condition.

Nick contemplating what he wants to draw

First, I cut cardboard to put inside the shirts (we didn't want the bleach to bleed thru)  and then we took chalk to draw a template of the design we wanted on the shirt. 

This is Maries's shirt with chalk template

Nick's shirt. He wanted a picture of him and Sam.
Next we took the bleach pen and drew over the chalk. We let the shirts sit a while so the bleach will work. Nick and Marie's shirts only took about 10 minutes for the discoloration, Sam's took a bit longer- 30 minutes or so. The blog I read with these instructions said that newer shirts take longer to discolor-anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours.

Sam's is a tough guy. 

When the shirts look like they've discolored to my liking I took out the cardboard. You need to be really careful doing this. I didn't think about the shirt folding over on itself and getting bleach on parts you don't want bleach. I carefully rinsed them out in the sink, washed and dried them. Now Nick's is ready to wear and Sam and Marie's are ready to wrap for Sunday!

Nick in his new shirt. L-R, Iron Man, Sam, Nick.

This is a great project for shirts that may already have small bleach splatters on them. I wore a navy shirt while doing this project and have a small bleach spot on my shirt... I guess I'll have to make one for me now. ~grin~

These are so fun and easy!
Nick drew his chalk template all by himself and I helped him (hand-over-hand) with the bleach pen.
We worked together on Sam's.
And I did Marie's- Nick didn't want to do a "girlie" shirt.

I'll add pics of Sam and Marie with their shirts after the party.

Thank you so much to the mamma's over at Homemade Mama's http://www.homemademamas.net for such awesome ideas.

Ok, now no one ruin the surprise for Sam and Marie.....

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Monday, July 9, 2012


I know I haven't posted in a long time. With this post tho I am going to be completely honest and open. Maybe more open than I have ever been on the blog. Here goes....

I am afraid. I am so afraid of failing at something that most times I don't even try to do them. I can remember wanting to do things, especially in high school and backing out because I was just convinced that I wouldn't be able to do them. Sports, dancing, clubs,even playing certain games with friends... you name it. If I were afraid I would look foolish, I would back out.

What is just as bad is if I try something and it doesn't come easy, I think I have already failed at it so I back out of it. Maybe that's why I haven't written more on the blog. I can't easily come up with things to write about so I just don't write instead of researching things that you may be interested in reading about. Then I look at how many people have seen this blog and I get discouraged that only a few of you read it when I should be happy that I am accomplishing something I set out to do. I think to myself if success doesn't come easily then I'm a failure at said thing.

I mentioned this to Christian the other day and I agree with him when he answered that it's all a lie that Satan is whispering to me; keeping me from doing the things that God would like me to do. Christian blogs everyday about what he reads in his daily Bible reading-EVERYDAY. Because around Christmas he decided this was something he was going to do and he has done it. I am confident that he would keep doing it even if no one read it because he committed to it- THAT my friends is success. He set a goal and will not give up until he accomplishes that goal.

So, how do I get to that point? Figure out something to do, to work at. Something that may be hard for me, out of my comfort zone. I have a few ideas... some things that I tried in the past and then dropped, when the going got tough. I have one thing going currently that is harder than it feels like it should be and wondering how long I should stick with it.

How long should I stick with it is a fair question. I'm sure there are times when quitting is an option. When?
Well, ask yourself a few questions.
1.Is this endeavor interfering with my relationship with God? If yes, I think it's time to quit. I don't think God wants us doing anything (even Holy works) if it gets in the way of your time with Him.
2.Is this interfering with my relationship with my family? Same answer. When you married you made a covenant between God, your spouse and yourself. When you have kids you are committed to raise them in a Godly house and spending time with them teaching them.
3.Is this endeavor affecting your finances in a negative way? If this is simply a hobby and you have budgeted for the expense then keep going, but if you can't feed your family or otherwise pay your bills then it's time to give up. All things under the sun belong to God, even the money we work for and God does not want us to misuse His things.
4.Have you set a reasonable timeline for this endeavor and not seen the results you are expecting at the end of this time? This one is tricky and I think it's up to you. Some people just don't have the talent to do some things and if you are seeing NO improvement at all, maybe that's you. Maybe you didn't set a long enough time frame to accomplish the goal you wanted- for me, perfecting a recipe should only take a few tries but learning to play an instrument (other than my MP3 player) will take years. And I don't even attempt singing for an audience.

So what could I do if I weren't afraid of failing, of stepping out of my comfort zone? What could you do? What have you done?