Remember when I said I was horrified when I thought about trying to come up with a resume? (March 11th) Well, I found one I am going to be working on, right here (the second one!) . This is beautiful. I don't care if I never look like a candidate for a high-executive position (or even a secretary or a WalMart greeter). If I can attain to this resume, I will be pleased, and so will my husband. And I think my Saviour will be pleased, too!
Friday, March 30, 2007
Anyone like granola? I made this for my husband and found out that unfortunately, my whole family likes it. It doesn’t last long! My basic recipe is from Miserly Moms (I fudged with the proportions and the baking time), and it’s delicious even without all the extra stuff I add. (Diabetics, beware. I can’t handle this very well, so I eat teeny portions!)
Mix together in a very large bowl:
10 C quick oats
¾ C dried cranberries
¾ C dried apricots, chopped
1 C coconut
1 C toasted wheat germ
½ C flax seed, either whole or ground
1 C sliced almonds
1 C C chopped walnuts
Combine in a saucepan, then heat and stir until sugar dissolves:
2 C brown sugar
1 ½ C dry milk
1 C honey
1 ½ tsp salt
1 C frozen apple juice concentrate
Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
Turn into a large pan with sides, such as the bottom of your broiler pan.
Bake @ 350 for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and stir well. Reduce heat to 200 and continue baking for the next 50-60 minutes, stirring well every 10 minutes. It should be evenly and lightly browned. If you cool it and find that it is not crisp enough, you can put it back in, but don't overbake it. Makes enough to fill 1 1/2 oatmeal canisters. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT lose your grip and dump the entire contents of the pan in the bottom of your gas oven. lol! Yes, I did this once.
Without the nuts, flax seed, and coconut, this recipe is fat free, and still very good! My mom used to add something she called “wheat berries”, but when I asked for those at our local health food store, what the lady showed me was whole wheat kernels. Mom used something that was small and round (about 1/8"?) and very light and crisp… anyone know what it was??
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I have told you how that a gem’s value is determined by first of all, its shine, and second, its rarity. Now for a third valuable characteristic -- its hardness. Some gems, such as opals and pearls, are too soft to be hardness tested. Under duress they crumble. Maybe if you looked at my life you would wonder how a woman can do what I do, or live like I have lived, or handle what I have handled. I don’t know. I don’t see it that way. I often wonder why, when so many Christians are going through so many hard and sorrowful things, we are not. My family is healthy. We very rarely see a doctor. My husband and I have been happily married for nineteen years. Physically, we lack nothing . All that is a wonderful blessing, and I know it is from the Lord. But I wonder sometimes if the reason why I don’t go through what some of you go through is that I am too soft. Maybe I couldn’t handle it. Maybe I would crumble or be crushed. My trials are much smaller things than many of my fellow bloggers'.
If you think about it, you can find some good types of precious Christians in the characteristics of those beautiful soft stones. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through hardships in order to MAKE us soft, so that we will joyfully yield to him. Many of Jesus’ followers would be of little use to him if they had not endured some affliction. As C.H.Spurgeon said so beautifully,
“Strong men are apt to be harsh, imperious, and unsympathetic, and therefore they need to be put into the furnace, and melted down. I have known Christian women who would never have been so gentle, tender, wise, experienced, and holy if they had not been mellowed by physical pain. There are fruits in God's garden as well as in man's which never ripen till they are bruised. Young women who are apt to be volatile, conceited, or talkative, are often trained to be full of sweetness and light by sickness after sickness, by which they are taught to sit at Jesus' feet. Many have been able to say with the psalmist, "It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." For this reason even such as are highly favoured and blessed among women may feel a sword piercing through their hearts.” (From his sermon entitled, “Beloved, and Yet Afflicted”.)
Other gemstones, like rubies and diamonds, are pressed or smitten to test their hardness. “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," the Bible says. A tough and valuable soldier is one who doesn’t whine, who bravely and trustingly endures the difficulties of battle, and does all that his commander tells him to right away, all the way, and with a happy face and heart :o) (In our house, that is how obedience is at least defined, if not practiced.) I am not in favor of women being in the military, and honestly, I am not sure how spiritually militant a woman ought to be. There are certain callings in the Christian life which God has reserved for men to do. But I do know that God expects me to obey him, and that he desires that I would trust him completely for everything and in every circumstance, and that sometimes the pressures I endure are for the benefit of Someone other than myself. Might I be less near-sighted, that I be rid of my “I” troubles. May I see that my light afflictions are ultimately for the glory of Jesus Christ, and as a result, give myself to him with joyful abandon. I would that he would find me soft and beautiful, for him.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (…) (For we walk by faith, not by sight.)” 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; 5:7.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Thank you, friends, but I didn't mean to generate all that sympathy! I was trying to be an encouragement to other moms who get the I-wanna-quit's like I do. By way of explanation, again, Tuesdays are hard here, because they are the "Monday" of our school week. The day after the break. The day when we come back to reality. (Maybe I need to reevaluate “reality”.) The child with the math problem (no pun intended) seems to have forgotten each Tuesday everything she has learned the entire previous week, sometimes year. I have not been able to discern whether this is really a math anxiety thing, or just an obedience thing. I cannot give away her age, because she will feel betrayed. But I will tell you we are doing percents, distance problems, double- and triple-digit division, equivalent fractions. There are lots of tricks for the smaller kids, I know, and we have done many of them. Maybe we just need a different curriculum, one that explains very clearly and concisely, without a lot of extra reading, WHY we use the formulas that we do. I think it helps a lot to know how we arrive at the methods we use.
No, I am not quitting. When I said we homeschool as a matter of conviction (see previous post), I meant that we do it because we believe it is morally right, and that the alternative is morally wrong. The Bible backs me up on this. God doesn’t change his mind about right and wrong. He is not going to send me down a different path on moral issues. Yes, sometimes people are in a jam and are forced to send their kids to school, but that is because of sin. Not necessarily their sin, but certainly because of sin. The whole system is messed up and hopelessly irreparable. But as long as I have the legal freedom to teach my kids in God’s prescribed way, I am going to do it. I might even do it if the freedom is taken away. If we disagree about the moral issue, that’s okay. I’ll just stand where I stand for as long as I can stand!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I hate to say it, but just like I told you Monday, today we are having forced schooling with corporeal punishment. Sigh. Tuesdays are so discouraging. I wonder if you can just let a kid graduate without math.
When my kids face something hard to do, I try not to let them quit. Who ever learned anything by quitting? If I let them develop a quitting habit now, what kind of character will they have later in life? There will much harder things than school work coming in their future: challenges to their faith; keeping a marriage not only together, but sweet; possibly starting and keeping a business going; and hopefully, training children! (That has to be the most difficult of all, but potentially the most rewarding.)
So here I am facing something hard to do. Tuesday is the day in every week when I would like to just quit homeschooling. The home part is easy. It’s the school part that is such a struggle sometimes. I am trying to learn the same lesson I am also trying to teach my girls. When something is hard to do, PRAY first. Trust God to help you. Keep trying. Don’t give up. I know why my daughter wants me to be right by her side when she is grunting and moaning and crying over math (truly, she sounds like she is giving birth to an elephant). It’s the same reason that I want someone by my side while I am struggling and sighing, and yes, crying, over teaching. Because I have three other children who need my attention, I can’t stay by her side constantly, and I don’t even want to. But I thank God for his omnipresence! He doesn’t have to run off to take care of his other children – He is by my side through the whole battle, reminding me to pray, reminding me that, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.
This is God’s will for my family. We homeschool by conviction. We do it not only because we believe it is right, but because we believe the alternative is wrong. When moms who once said they homeschool because they believed it was God’s will for their family now say they are quitting, I have to ask them, when did God change his mind?? I know God has not changed his mind. My God, the Lord Jesus Christ, gives grace. He will give MORE grace as I need it. He will give more grace as YOU need it. Pray. Trust him. Keep trying. Don’t give up! He is by your side, giving yet more grace. “But the God of all grace (…) make you (and me!) perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (me!).” 1 Peter 5:10
Monday, March 26, 2007
Brace yourself, this is a long one. I haven’t said much about our schooling. Mondays we unschool, because that is Dad’s day off and our family day. Tuesdays we have compulsory education and usually, corporeal punishment. There is just something about the first day of the school week. We have high anxiety math for one student, and high anxiety spelling for another one, but with only four weeks to go, I think those two might live through the school year And me, too! Wednesday through Saturday are usually okay. We get up somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30, start school hopefully by 9:00, with Bible, breakfast, and chores done first, in that order. No Bible, no breakfast, that's the rule.
Somehow one of my girls is usually done with all her school work in less than an hour, which means she needs more work to do! That is, unless we have the high-anxiety math fit, which adds another two hours or so. Another one is very easily distracted and she can drag it out for the entire day, until it is late in the afternoon and her music practice isn’t done, and she is crying because she doesn’t have any “free time”. The third one is my quiet one. Very quiet, unless she is pitching a fit. And you thought I was representing a perfect, godly family! Ha ha, I fooled you with my “digital blogography”. Or is that "digital blotography"? Or maybe, "digital blogtography"?? (Well, it is something akin to digital photography! Will post on that sometime.) Number four is the one teaching ME, I hope. Teaching me grace, patience, selflessness, kindness, compassion, etc. Apparently I didn’t learn these well enough with the first three teachers, so God gave me another one. And I have loved every one of my teachers! What a blessing! Do you want to hear what my "baby" taught me Friday? I’ll tell you anyway.
I was getting ready for a ladies’ meeting at church, in which I was to give the devotions. Before the meeting began, I was in the auditorium, in the dark, on my knees at the altar, begging God to rescue me. Emily, my three year old, came in quietly and knelt beside me. After a couple minutes she said, “Mom. Are you okay?” I assured her I was fine, but the thought that went through my mind was this child does not see me pray often enough!!!
So anyway, that is our schooling. It’s not very exciting. We don’t go on many field trips, but we do get together with some other homeschool moms and kids once or twice a month for park day, which is great. For Presidents’ Day each child gave a one-minute presentation on a U.S. President, and then we had a little social time. Four dads showed up, including the chief gem here, and that was really great! We are also doing a science day with short, simple experiments/demos, and a family heritage social, in which each child will tell something about their ancestors. We are going to be out of town that day, and that is too bad, because we like to brag about the fact that we are related to Daniel Boone, the Wright brothers, and one of the queens of Sweden! The last event of the year is supposed to be a music/talent recital, planned by yours truly. It’s all very low key, and fun. We are discussing organizing the group, but personally I prefer to stay “underground”
Well, I talk too much. I’m looking forward to seeing all your dots on my cluster map. Thanks for reading again!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I am back to diamonds again. I promise, I will only post one or two more entries on the subject. Somehow this taxi keeps returning to the jewelry store. And that is funny, because I only own one diamond, no two, no three, and two of those I never wear. I am not a glittery diamonds kind of woman! (Give me chocolate.)
The value of a gem is not only determined by its shine, but also by its rarity. You know what is really rare? “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her PRICE is FAR ABOVE rubies,” Proverbs 31:10. That means there aren’t very many of us women who are truly virtuous in God’s sight. Another rare woman is the one who has “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of GREAT PRICE,” 1 Peter 2. And isn’t it true that a virtuous woman with a meek and quiet spirit is a real gem?
I think meekness is one of those words that people don’t really understand. You don’t practice meekness by lying down and being a doormat. Moses was called the meekest man on the face of the earth. He was a great man, a great leader, and that wasn't because he was a doormat. Meekness is simply control of your emotions, and the Bible tells us that is one of the most beautiful things a woman can put on. How can you adorn yourself with control over your anger or worry or grief or even excitement? Our emotions are part of our flesh. The way to control the flesh is by fasting and getting up early to have fellowship with the Lord, that is, by denying the flesh it what it wants, and making it do what does not want to do. About ten years ago I was a horrible ogre. In addition to some pretty stressful things going on in my life, I had post-partum depression. Although I could not control my rages on my own, I can personally testify that fasting did wonders! The Lord worked in my heart and even in my body to control my spirit. Fasting and praying strengthen the new man, so that you can be stronger in your spirit than you are in your flesh. That is so hard for us who have grown up in an age when most of what we do is determined by how we feel! Whatever we feel like doing is what we do, and how we feel like acting is how we act. We justify it, too, by saying "I didn’t feel like it,” or “I wanted to.” That is wrong! I often tell my girls, “Don’t do what you feel like doing. Do what is RIGHT to do.”
God is looking for some rare women, women who are filled with purity of heart and who are so trusting of the Lord that they don’t get ruffled by circumstances. Yes, I’d say that kind of woman is valuable. And rare. I’m not one of those yet… but working on it one millimeter at a time!
Friday, March 23, 2007
I want you to know that I am not the only person who thinks this stretch of desert is rather desolate. My brother-in-law visited for the first time last year and exclaimed, “It looks like Mars!” Another time, we had a missionary visiting our church on “deputation”. He was making small talk before he introduced to our church the work he was going to be doing, and he said, “Boy, those mountains are ugly…” and then when he realized his support might be on the line, he finished with, “…uh…in a majestic sort of way!” Hee hee!
But a wonderful thing happened in the desert yesterday. It rained! God is good to send rain on the just and the unjust. If I recall correctly, this is the first real rain we have had this year, in fact, in over a year! It is soooo refreshing! I love the smell of the wet streets. It is kind of like liquid dirt. It kind of stops in your nostrils and makes you breathe out of your mouth instead. It almost stinks, but it means clean air when the streets dry :o) It also means packed-down mountain bike trails for my husband, and that makes for a happy man in my house! I love to see the clouds in the sky and their shadows on the mountains. On a clear sunny day the mountains all blend together and it is hard to distinguish one range from another. But it is amazing how you can see the different ranges when the clouds are shading some of them! The mountain shadows move with the clouds in the sky and change the landscape continually. It’s like God is painting the scenery, and we get to watch. Sigh…. It really is beautiful. And our ocotillo is in bloom :o) My girls will probably post photos tomorrow at Alizona and BookLover.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
With the spring festivities coming up, I just have to say this. I am sure many of you have heard someone say that the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4 in the King James Bible was an “unfortunate rendering” of the original Greek word for “Passover”, and that the word “Easter” really doesn’t belong in the Bible. Any time someone corrects the Bible, beware. It means one of two things. Either they don’t believe it, or they don’t read it.
Many Bible critics say the word “Easter” should have been translated “Passover”. The word “Easter” is correct, and I will show you why. The key is Acts 12:3, “(Then were the days of unleavened bread.)” That seems like a trivial point, but if you regularly read the whole Bible from cover to cover you can’t miss this. Leviticus 23:4-8 gives instructions concerning the Passover celebration and the days of unleavened bread. Read it. The fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar is the Passover. That day is immediately followed by seven “days of unleavened bread”. Acts 12:3 said, “Then were the days of unleavened bread.” That means the first day, the Passover, had already taken place!
Acts 12:1-4 tells us that at this time Herod the king had already killed James, and that he intended to have Peter killed also. What was Herod waiting for? He was waiting for the Easter festival, not the Passover, to take place! The Passover was gone. Easter had been a tradition for him and his religion for many centuries. Easter is and always has been a pagan fertility festival and comes from the word “Ishtar”. Ishtar comes from the worship of Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:5 and others), a female deity who was also called Diana in some cultures, ie. Ephesus (Acts 19:28). Easter was (and is) a big celebration and a big deal. Herod was waiting for Easter to pass, because HE was going to observe it as a heathen GENTILE. So does Easter belong in the Bible? Yes. Is it Christian? No.
Easter is not about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It never has been. It is about rabbits and chicks and eggs, all symbols of fertility. As a pagan festival, it has been mixed with the resurrection. God desires us to worship him in truth. As Christians, we observe the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ daily, for without his resurrection we are lost. The next time someone tells you “Easter” doesn’t belong in the Bible, you will be armed with the truth and ready to correct their lazy scholarship.
“For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (…) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead…” 1 Corinthians 15:16-20 . Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
My husband commented on my new desert scene (now below a couple of posts). He said something to the effect of "That's a beautiful photo you put on your blog!" See, I told you so. He thinks dirt is beautiful. Actually it is not nearly as green here as it is in that picture, so yes, that is a nice photo. We have more dirt, and a thick scattering of plastic WalMart bags snagged on the brush. And a much nicer view of the mountains, yay!
I have to admit, it's not all bad living in the desert. The dry air is very nice. We were outside a couple of nights ago and it felt on the verge of chilly. The thermometer said it was only 93 out -- no wonder! The evaporative effect is amazing. And the sunsets are fabulous! And we NEVER have to mow grass or shovel snow or do yard work, except pull a weed out of our rock driveway once in a while. Well, I do miss the yard work a little bit.
And besides that, we love our church family. I thank the Lord for putting us right here in the center of his will. Yep, heat and pressure. Keep it coming. Makes for good diamonds!
Monday, March 19, 2007
(Photo added here after I changed my template again.)
Well, it’s not much to look at, is it? My new (and maybe temporary) blog template photo is a far cry from the peaceful, refreshing canoe/lake scene that was there this morning. That lake scene is what my heart longs for. When we first moved here I felt like everything about the desert was hostile. It was all prickly, hard, rough, dry, cracked, poisonous, hot, scratchy, brown, windy, or ugly. In retrospect, though, I think it was me that was hostile. I had spines sticking out all over. I was also three weeks post-partum, which is just not good for me or my family or anyone who is around me. And that condition lasted about three years this time around. I think I am getting better. Little by little the Lord is showing me (or maybe I have just been slow to see) some of the treasures of the desert. Beautiful cactus flowers, captivating little birds, water in unexpected places, a patch of lush green, a gorgeous sunset. My husband tells me that the mountains are hiding the real scenery in places that are unreachable by two-wheel drive. He would know, because he has been all over this place on his mountain bike. I don’t know whether to believe him or not, because he is prone to exclaiming something like, “Sal! Isn’t it beautiful!!??” when he is looking at a view like the one above. (This is where I respond, "What? The dirt??") Personally I don’t see anything beautiful about it, except for the fact that there is nothing man-made in it. He says there are deep, rock-faced hidden canyons with cool streams running through them in the mountains around us…it does sound pretty and peaceful. And inviting! Guess I will never know… I don’t think I could hike that far!
Saturday, March 17, 2007
There are a lot of spiritual lessons to be gleaned from a study of gems. I don't know a lot, but the things I have learned serve to encourage me in the Lord. This lump of coal has a loooong way to go! A gem’s value is determined by several things, the first being its optical properties, how it reflects LIGHT. Because man looks on the outward appearance, we need the beauty of the Lord Jesus within us to be reflected on our faces! Do you catch yourself wearing your “unsaved” face? I do! We ought to be able to pick a Christian out of a crowd, not by the beauty of her face, but by the beauty of her countenance. There should be a calmness there, and compassion, and contentment, and confidence. That is a tough call (and I have not come near victory on that one)!
We may think sometimes that we can pick out who the “good” Christians are by external things (we are sooo easily deceived at times, aren’t we?), but a Christian’s value, like a gem’s, is not determined by sight alone. Gem experts use special instruments to look INSIDE a precious stone, to determine whether it is natural or artificial! There are cheap imitation gems, which are usually made of colored plastic, with silvered backs. In type, that would be the person who pretends to be saved, or else thinks he is, but is deceived. There are also synthetic gems, which are too perfect and have no irregularities at all. Those artificial gems don't shine quite as nicely as the real thing. Look at the great men and women of the Bible. Not one of them is without a major character flaw. ALL have sinned. There is no one who is truly saved who does not know he is a sinner, and even after salvation we still have our flaws to deal with! Even the homeschooler who seems to have it all together has a flaw. (Sometimes it is hard to find those flaws in the blogosphere :o) More on that in a different post.)
Our human eyes look only on the outward shine of others. God’s holy eyes look deep into the heart to see if there is anything really valuable or beautiful there. The Bible says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing,” Romans 7:18. But with Jesus Christ dwelling within my heart God no longer sees my sin. Because he saved me from my sins, I now have the imputed righteousness of Christ! Not because I am good, but because HE is!! I can pretend to be holy, so that others will think I really have it on the ball with God, but only God can determine whether I really have something beautiful (the Son of God) in my heart. I thank the Lord for giving his Son to die for me, that I might be found beautiful in his sight. May he continue his working in my heart, that I would truly reflect his glory.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I have soooo far to go, but this great love that God had for me at Calvary compels me to find out how I can please him. “If ye love, me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. I am grateful to the Lord for his grace and his longsuffering as I grow in Christ. May I eventually be able to say with Jesus, “I do always those things that please him.”
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
And that is why we are “diamonds in the rough”. I was lost in sin, but Jesus found me. He bought me with his blood. I am still rough, but he is patiently working on me. Sometimes he makes a big cut (Ow! That hurts!) and sometimes a little one. He is tumbling and polishing me. One day I will shine, and I will be an ornament of grace for his glory. My daughters are undergoing the same process. We have not arrived. But we are growing. My prayer is that my Saviour will be honored and glorified by this seemingly insignificant family.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Wow! Thanks for the comments! My kids were as excited for me as I was to see all my comment emails. I figured out what to say to all you people who are reading me, whose names and faces I don't know. That is, why I am doing this in the first place.
A while back TOS was looking for applicants for some sort of job with the magazine, and I thought about it briefly. I say "briefly" because after I looked into it and saw that they wanted a resume -- say WHAT??? a RESUME?!?! -- I realized I am not even in the running! I went to college, worked for a few years, got married and had kids, and quit doing things that one includes in a serious resume. What have I learned in the past 15 years? Nothing job related. (That is not to say I have learned absolutely nothing. Hopefully the Lord has been able to teach this lump of coal something!) And I am a dummy at the computer. So THAT is why I am doing this, well, it is one reason. Just to learn how to do something. I am being humbled. I will be taking computer lessons from Alison, who is a gracious and patient teacher. ... After a while I will add this skill to my blank list of accomplishments. YAY!
A lurker has come out of the woodwork! Blogging is against my better judgment, after all, I spend plenty of time on the computer. This will probably end up a “taxi” style blog, stopping here and there, always with a destination in mind, but rarely stopping at the same place twice. Hopefully I will realize I am addicted and get treatment before the house and family are declared national disaster areas!
We home-and-school four precious gems, Alison, 12; Amy, 10; Elisabeth, 7; and Emily, 3. Eclectic in our approach, we are using some of Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum, a little Rod and Staff, a little A Beka, Copywork for Little Girls by Sandi Queen, a timeline on the wall for history (oops it fell down), music lessons, family devotions, and a little unschooling thrown in just to make sure we don’t get too caught up in the academics!
For months I have stashed blogging ideas away in the recesses of my mind, but at the moment they are irretrievable. “We’re sorry, the number you have dialed has been disconnected, or is no longer in service. Please check the number and dial again.” How can it be so difficult to get started? I’ll be back...
Sigh, bear with me. I will work out the formatting bugs as I learn html or whatever it is from my 12 yo!