Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our 4 Daughters

Our  4 daughters are a vast range of age,
 and are all doing a wide  variety of activities. 

 Here they are:

Daughter #1 is our sweet Anna,
She is our second born child,
 now 21, and married to a wonderful godly man. 
 They live in New Mexico, which is very sad for me,
but I am learning to let go and be content...
it hasn't been easy...even though I am so so happy for her!!

  Anna is in that blessed and radiant state of full bloom,
carrying our grandbaby (their first!) whom we hope to meet very soon....
 I am sooo excited to meet this prayed-for little one!!!

Our third born, the lovely Rose, is just home from three weeks in Africa! 
 I sure missed her, and am so very glad to have her home again...
but my intuition tells me it won't be for long...
Rose is growing up...and Africa is very much a part of her.  
She is a beautiful young lady inside and out.

Then there is miss Bethany,
(9 years old, child #7)
 who just finished her first ballet class, loved every minute of it,
 and now dances her way around the house...
especially when we are listening to The Piano Guys...
....which is pretty often.

And, our ninth, little Olivia
busting us up daily
with some really great original quotes like only a four year old can.

"Are you crying, Olivia?"
"No," she answers...wiping tears away..."My eyes are just sweating!"

She recently climbed up on daddy's lap and said, "I want to have Jesus." 
 We were happy to hear it!

Our daughters have added so much joy and beauty to our family life. 
 We are very blessed by each one, 
and so very grateful to the Lord for giving us these precious gifts!!!

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, 
the fruit of the womb is His reward."
 Psalm 127:3

Monday, May 4, 2015

Inspiration From The Front Porch

 Come sit awhile... 
 the weather is so nice and the front porch beckons.

I am fascinated with porches. 
 I do believe that any home would be more homey with a front porch.
Maybe that is my southern roots coming out.
To me, it really doesn't matter what style a porch is, I love them all.

Over the weekend we cleaned up and put together this year's summer porch.  
It was an exciting event and all the children were eager to help sweep, mop,
 put wintery things away and bring out the season's furnishings.

As we were sitting out this first morning on the porch,
 (having moved our school work outdoors)
I was amused to find that Bethany had made lemonade.
  I guess she just naturally thought:
 porch = lemonade.

 Our large front porch certainly is a significant part of our home, 
and we spend a great many hours there spring, summer and fall.  
When we have church fellowship out here, the house overflows,
(63 for dinner last Sunday!)
 and the porch is a welcome extra room.

I have said before... how much I adore time on the porch,
 and it is true I will invent work that I can do on the porch
 to justify spending a few more hours there.

In the mornings of summer and early fall,
 the sun comes up over the tree tops to the front side of the house,
 casting its warming rays all over the porch. 
 Sipping coffee, listening to the birds morning songs... is a lovely way to wake up.

In summer's hot afternoons,
 the sun is high overhead and the porch is a cool refreshing place to sit,
 where one can watch chickens, dogs, cats, goats and children frolicking in the yard.
Taking laundry off the line, I will fold there, 
write my shopping lists and menus there,
 talk on the phone to my daughter and mama,
 read to the littles, 
 do our school work,
 read my Bible,
  visit with the older children.

In the evenings, it is the perfect spot to catch up with my dear husband,
watch thunderstorms, 
have dinner,
 interact with the children playing,
 and, ahhhh...unwind at the end of the day.

I love making our porch (and home) a collection of beautiful things,
 a gathering place for family and friends, 
a comfortable place where people want to come and be together,
 a welcoming place for the new acquaintances that are made
 and for the strangers who come into our lives,
 a caring place where the needy can find help and the hurting find comfort. 

A porch is a great place for hospitality,
 a welcome smile to come home to, 
a convenient place to retreat to, 
a favorite spot you come back to over and over again.

Blessings from our porch to yours,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Home Schooling: More Than the Three R's

How do you do it? 
 My you sure have your hands full!
 I could never do that! 
 These are all things I have heard countless times from friends and strangers
 when they find out we have 9 children that we have home schooled.
Here is my answer.
  Here is how do I do it. 
Here is my counsel to anyone thinking of homeschooling
 or discouraged in their home schooling adventures.

Home Schooling is something I am passionate about.  
Raising children is something I am passionate about.  
Because I am passionate about these things, I love to talk about them.
 We have been home schooling for 20 years now, and we have made mistakes. 
 We have also learned a whole lot and made progress, although,
 there are those days when I can't see it. 
 Thankfully, those days end and new ones arise and with them hope
 that this day will be different, 
perhaps even victorious. 

Over the years, I have come to a few conclusions about successful homeschooling...
and these conclusions arrived from trial and error,
 and are listed here so that perhaps others may not need to have such trials and errors
 to find these answers....

1.  Home schooling must be consistent.  Establishing a basic routine each season gives freedom and structure to the mama and the children, helping to ensure that each topic of study will get done in its time each day.  It is near impossible to become proficient at something without consistent practice. I say in "each season" because as your family grows up, multiplies, jobs change, etc., new needs arise and a new schedule will need to be adapted.  When we had a new baby, for example, our routines needed to revolve around when the baby needed to be fed, then later, when the toddler napped, and even later, when the teen went to work.  As home educators, we need to persevere to be consistent through these changes and at the same time be flexible to the new needs of the family.

2.  Homeschooling must be about discipleship more than completing workbooks.  As Christians, our number one priority in home educating has got to be to teach our children about God, His word, and His it out in front of them and intentionally teaching them as we go about our day.  Just homeschooling is not an end in itself- that alone will not produce a generation who loves God and is devoted to Him.  It is a lot harder than that.  It must be intentional and deliberate, and you must be the example.  To raise children who test well and get good jobs is great, but that alone must not be enough!!  Home Schooling gives us as parents a great opportunity to teach character, to incorporate all of our daily lives into discipling the souls given to us.  We need to teach our children to be diligent, to have integrity, to persevere, to think of others first, and most importantly, to love God.

This brings me to the third point....

3.  Homeschooling should drive you to your knees.  I literally wake up each morning begging God for help.  I know I cannot be a good enough example; kind, patient, cheerful, loving, wise and industrious without His strength to uphold me, and I know I am an utter failure apart from abiding in Christ.  Thus, our children become the sanctifying object that God uses to mold us and humble us, making us teachable and dependent upon Him...which then, in turn, enables us to be good examples to our children of what a Christ centered life looks like.
 Is homeschooling overwhelming to you?  GOOD!!  It is when we are overwhelmed that we become desperate for Jesus.  And that is right where we should be everyday.

In my twenty years,
 it is the times that I have been consistent,
 focused on making disciples of our children,
 and earnestly leaning on the Everlasting Arms 
that we have been the most successful in our home educating. 

 If I get all three things down, the rest falls into place.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Venison Steak For Dinner


 Just saying the word makes my mouth water.
  Venison is our favorite meat, and happens to be the meat we fairly live off of. 

 It always perplexes me when folks get a deer, then go to the work of butchering it,
then it sits in the freezer all winter while they buy meat at the store to feed their family.
  We LOVE venison!
  Our family brings in 5 or 6 deer a season,
 keeping us in meat so that we may eat venison three times a week, rarely having beef.
After living this way for years and years our kids think beef is weird. 
 They say it has a funny taste to it. 


Although I interchange  ground venison for ground beef in any recipe,
(and guests never know)
 there are a few special recipes in which we especially love our venison. 
 On the top of the list is something we call "Schaffer Steak".  

You see, years ago Mr and Mrs Schaffer came over to our house one night,
 bringing dinner in a great big covered dish. 
 This was his steak recipe, served over mashed potatoes. 
 Everyone loved it, and it became a family favorite.
It is really the simplest of recipes,
 the kind grandma used to make, now  largely forgotten in our complex culture of "fine food."

Although you sure could make this with beef steak, 
please, Oh please, don't waste your good venison...get it out of the freezer and try this!

Schaffer Steak

1. Get a skillet good and hot, then sear your steaks on both sides,
adding salt and pepper as they briefly cook. 

 2. Once seared, put them in a heavy covered dish, like a dutch oven, or your crock pot.
These happen to be backstrap, a very tender boneless medallion steak.

3. Next, make a cream sauce in the skillet using the steak drippings. 
 A cream sauce is simply an equal portion of butter to flour,
 then milk added to make it the desired thickness, 
all over a medium heat, then seasoned to taste. 

 Or, if you like, you can just use a few cans of cream of mushroom soup.

4. Pour the cream sauce over the meat and cook slowly for three or more hours.
The meat will be very tender, the kind you can cut with a fork. 
The meat and gravy is great over veggies, potatoes, or noodles.

The children are just coming in from outside and asking what's for dinner...
"MMMMM smells GOOD!!!"  they say.
  "It is Schaffer Steak," I reply. 
 Shouts of hurrahs and hugs abound...I am not kidding...
it is that good...
...and we really like our venison.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

From Idaho to Africa!

Well, she's gone. 
 Our dear Rose and her sweet friend, Brenna are in route as I write.
  From Idaho, to Seattle, to Amsterdam, to Entebbe, to Jinja.  
It is about a 25 hour plane trip to Uganda, Africa where they will spend the next three weeks
 ministering with some very dear folks, Paul and Pam Hunter of Next Generation ministries. 
 I'm stealing some photos from Rose's blog....but better yet,
 I hope you wander your way over there and see for yourself what God is doing 
in this young ladies heart!  
I am so excited for Rose and Brenna, but I am going to miss Rose dearly! 
She is such a vibrant soul...I will be missing all the laughs and great talks, 
 the singing together and being together.

Meanwhile, I am preparing for our annual women's retreat, 
where I will be sharing the weekend with around 30 other ladies, and, 
I will be speaking for two of the four sessions. 
 You know, the great thing about preparing a lesson to share, is that in the preparation, 
God does amazing things in my own heart!  
So it is really a blessing to be the speaker, and thus, because of my new found, AHA! moments,
 I am so excited and eager for the retreat!!

I will be leaving the children home with daddy for part of the time,
 and Joe will be in charge while daddy is at work. 
 Joe is quite a kid magnet, like his daddy...and very responsible almost 16 year old, 
so no worries there.
  However, the two littles are sick again with a croupy kind of cough, congestion,
 and Olivia has a fever.  
 Ten years ago I never would have left the children for two and a half days, 
but older now, and hopefully wiser, I am much more relaxed with them and laid back. 
 They will be in good hands...I need not be a control freak and mother them every second,
 and...God sees us in all we do, He sees our good intentions, 
our motives to get away now and then for some intimate time with Him and other women..
..and I have faith that He will be watching over them with greater care than I would. 

So, I WILL myself not to worry over them.  Or Rose and Brenna, their luggage...
...and all that a mama's mind can conjure up in the middle of the night 
when one of her babies is on the other side of the world.


He will be watching over them.

Uh, Oh, that did it.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Necessity of Afternoon Tea

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
 for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home."
- Dame Edith Sitwell

I like this quote, but I think I could replace "winter" with "teatime."

Teatime is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for talk beside the fire;
 it is the time for home.

 Yes, that suits just fine.

My favorite part of the  day comes around 2:30 every afternoon. 
 It is that of tea time at our home. 
 The children most likely have been rambling about the woods, 
and are glad for a warming cup of goodness,
 followed by some sort of treat to keep the famished over until dinner.

This tradition, I unabashedly admit,
 I stole from my dear friend, Enola Gay, 
whose home life has inspired me so much over the years we have been friends. 

 Tea time is more for the soul than the goodies,
 although goodies are always appreciated,
like these light Honey Lemon Tea cakes Jim baked up.

Our family has a few favorite herbal teas and a few black teas in which we savor.
  Sometimes we make a pot, other times we each pick our own bagged variety.
Sometimes we make special lovely treats, and sometimes we just share fresh fruit.

  Either way, afternoon tea set by our fireside,
 especially on days like today,
 when the rain and snow mix is pouring down amid occasional gusts of a cold wind, 
bring together all of my favorite aspects of the season...
the warmth of curling up by the fire, 
the aroma of a good tea  (such as Evening In Missoula or Market Spice),
 the children's chatter about their adventures, 
the sharing of our plans for the evening, 
the coziness of candles lit just for tea time. all speaks to me- warms my heart,
 which in turn, encourages me to soldier on through the second half of the day.

Honey Lemon Tea Cakes

1/3 c. soft butter
1/2 c. honey
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Mix well.  Pour into greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Top with 2 Tbsp butter and a sprinkling of sugar.
Cool in Frig before serving.

Enjoy with friendly hearts and a fine cup of tea!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Life at the Lodge Last Week

Last week went by in a is why:

The new goat babies are here...
Marshall and Moses joined little Mabel in the goat pen last week, 
They are just her size, only she is two weeks older. 
 Rose had to play midwife and pull both of these babies,
 who are doing very well along with their mama.  

Aren't they adorable??
  We will be rich in goat milk in a few short weeks.

Besides playing and gentling these cuties, we have been doing some big cooking.

I enjoy cooking and hospitality. 
 Here is one way that I serve in the church body with these gifts:

Every Wednesday, I cook dinner for about 30 people
 who come to our "Family Fellowship" night at the church. 
 Last week, we ( myself and with the children's help)  oven fried 20 lbs of chicken,
according to my dear friend, Enola Gay's recipe, 
and oh, was it good!!! 
 Enola is a very good cook who has her own cookbook. 
 I highly recommend it.  
We served the chicken with baked potatoes, and,
having bought the chicken (thighs) on sale,
 the total cost was approximately $2.00/person,
just so you know, 
if you are planning on cooking for a crowd soon.


 There were many raves over the chicken, so it was a big success.  But, then...

Toward the end of the week, the family began coming down with INFLUENZA B. 
 This we have been battling with home remedies with some success.  
 Oil of Oregano, taken in the early stages of illness worked very well on three of us. 
 Grandma Gladys had a special recipe for cough syrup-one of those hillbilly potions-  
implemented at night that always works well...but ICK!!
  Perhaps it is the nastiness of the syrup that motivates one to get well real quick?!  :-)
 Then, giving comfort is Vicks on the chest, honey lemon tea throughout the day,
as well as Immune Booster tea
and lots of rest are the natural treatments we have used. 
 The poor littles have just slept and slept...
here, there, and everywhere!

 The stealth napper...

the burrito style napper...

I find them to be adorable --illness and all!
Today is our first day up and at em. 
My, but it feels good!

 The pouring rain outside makes it feel like a great day for tea...
(but then, every day is a great day for tea in my book)
 and extra reading to catch up from a week lost to illness..
..maybe some board games as well.  

If you're of a mind to wander across the visit our daughter Anna here...
..she's a resourceful, sweet, gem making a lovely home life for her wonderful hubby in NM
 and expecting a baby in June...
and our vivacious, beautiful days from departing for Africa again...
she is so excited and will tell you all about  the ministry opportunities awaiting.
I know you will be blessed by both of these blogs.

Wishing you well...