Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall, Applesauce, and Grace

This full week, with all hands helping, we managed to get the elk in the freezer, 
and the applesauce canned, along with spaghetti sauce, completing our fall canning.  
I believe we have over 200 quarts of fruit and veggies put away now.
Today we put all the canning stuff away and gave the house a good cleaning.
We also scooched furniture around close to the fire now that the mornings and evening are cold.
With just fire wood left on the project list, I feel a burden lifted,
and can happily sit by the fire with a cup of tea...and rest.

 Gabe is more than willing to test the apple quality.

Everyone enjoyed the sauce making and wanted to help. 
I am not sure that this many hands make light work, but we had fun anyway.

The living room outfitted with a rug and chest I swiped from another room,
ready for tea and a story tonight after dinner.

Nothing, in my mind, says "cozy" like a pile of books and candlelight.

 A sunny spot for reading.

A corner for the littles and their books.

For our winter quarter of school that will begin Monday, 
we will be gathering close to the fire and reading about Lewis and Clark,
the Constillations and Stars,
and continuing our study of Old Testament Survey.
In the evenings, we are reading In The Heart of the Rockies, by GA Henty. 
This will be the third time we have read it aloud.  
It is one of our favorite Henty stories.
We read books to the little ones first, and try our best to get the smallest muchkin off to bed 
before the tea and candle light. 
Is there anything as comforting as gathering about the fire with children piled all around you,
reading well into the evening?
It seems to me the perfect way to end the day.

The Lord is so good to have given grace and mercy aplenty this week, 
amongst difficutlies and a full schedule. 
How any one can live withut Him is more than I can fathom.
Truly, His constant care is so palapable, 
His provisions timely, 
one KNOWS He is there watching and caring, 
overseeing and guiding with His mighty hand.
Because of this great love, our every day lives can be full of His goodness, 

And unlike our food provisions of apple sauce, vegetables and meat, stored up for winter, 
God's grace needs not be stored away,
for every day it is fresh and sufficient for the day at hand.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Keep Your Heart

"Keep Your Heart with all diligence; 
for out of it are the issues of life."  
Proverbs 4:23

What do you do when your children fight?  It is just sibling rivalry, right?
No, it is sin. 
It is a manifestation of the heart.
Just as is every sin and form of idolatry.
That is why Solomon so earnestly admonishes us to keep our heart pure, clean, and full of Christ, 
leaving no room or invitation for evil, selfishness, pride, bitterness, or the like.
Keep it carefully.
Keep it diligently.  
Tend it regularly.
Zealously weed out the rottenness, the junk.
Fill it with the beautiful things of the Lord....
for out of it spring forth ALL the issues of life.

If there is any one thing we teach our children, any one thing we do each day,
it should be to engrave this thought on our hearts, 
on our children, impressing it upon them so it is the air they breath.
By instructing them in the Proverbs and faithfully praying for their souls.  
By living what we teach.

As our family works through Kevin Swanson Family Bible Study Series on Proverbs, 
my husband and I have become more and more convinced this is where it is at.
We cannot possibly disciple our children without teaching the Proverbs.
The Proverbs are the Gospel in practical terms. 
It is the Cross centered life layed out in a step by step manual.

Mr. Swanson has done an incredible job of putting together a commentary 
that will help your family talk through the wisdom and instruction 
in a manner which will enable you to put it right into practice.
Every day, our study convicts our souls and inspires us to walk in wisdom, 
to choose that which is godly,
to think biblically.
This three book series is by far the best resource we have ever used in 22 years family devotions
or  15 years of homeschool curriculum.
God bless his soul, Mr. Swanson's third book in the series has just come out, 
which I am very excited about  because the first book was beyond good, 
and the second book equal,
now we have another to continue this life altering study. 
And then, I think we will start over and do it again.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: 
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  
My son, hear the instruction of thy father 
and forsake not the law of thy mother;
for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, 
and chains about thy neck." 
  Prov. 1:7-9

Clearly, then, only a fool will avoid this study of God's book of wisdom,
and when Kevin  has done such a remarkable job of putting together a study guide, 
I think it would be foolish not to use it.
I earnestly encourage you and yours to get into the Proverbs today.

"When wisdom entereth into thine heart,
and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul, 
discretion shall preserve thee,
understanding shall keep thee."
 Prov. 2:10,11 

Friday, October 21, 2011

How Then?

In answer to my dear sister over at Freedom Acres Farm, 
who asked the question, 
how do we make sweet memories in our homes when we are up to our eyeballs in work? reply is earnest and probably too simplistic. 

We rely on God's grace. 

His grace is huge. 
It is sufficient. 
It is there, just waiting for us to take it in,
like a feast on a table all set for us, 
only too often we sit under the table and whine and wait for scraps. 
Beth Moore, in her study, "Believing God," says it this way, 
"We are like ducks swimming in a puddle when just over a little hill is a beautiful pond." 

We have been canning for weeks now with applesauce still to go,
there are two elk hanging ready for us to cut up this weekend, 
then there are the remaining six cords of firewood 
(to add to the six cords already prepared) 
yet to cut, haul, split and stack before winter.  
We are busy!  Fall is always like that when you live a country life. 
I am so busy, in fact, that I do not have time to function outside of His huge grace. 
When I am immersed in it, each day is beautiful, sweet, and happy. 
But on those days when I'm not... 
life just becomes a push to get through the day, 
and I'm swimming in a puddle.

But, if I have the mindset that God is big enough to get me through the day, with all its activities, 
in a gracious and loving manner, then I am happily walking by faith, 
and each hour becomes pleasant, picturesque, memorable.  
It all hinges on me and where my heart is. 
If mama is peaceful, happy and full of grace, 
then no matter how much activity, the home is too.

So, practically,
in the midst of preparing for a bake sale tomorrow, 
eight loaves of french bread rising, 
six loaves of whole wheat bread in the oven, 
nine pies cooling on the table, 
and various other concoctions in the process,
we do our schoolwork.  
The little ones are singing and playing. 
I am talking to them, we are all enjoying the day. 
At 2pm we begin cleaning up and putting little ones down for a nap,
taking a few moments to cuddle and sing to them.  
Then we work together to tidy the house and prepare for Bible Study. 
As Bible Study ends, the mama's gathering their little ones and heading down the driveway,
the men begin tripping in from their day, 
and I set the simmering soup on the table, Bethany helps me slice a loaf of fresh bread. 
We gather together at the table.  We sing. 
The mama is happy and content.  
The children are happy and content. 
Daddy smiles at mama from the other end of the table. 
It has been a beautiful day.

I think it only takes the right attitude and an open eye 
to see when a moment comes along that is to be cherished.  
Then, we need to jump on it.
Sing with the children, 
rock the baby to sleep, 
read the toddler a book.  
I have a friend who I can hear in my mind, 
all the way back in highschool, telling me to smile.  
Well, it is 25 years later and I am starting to learn that lesson.  (Thanks Dale)

We surely need to deliberately go through our schedule and make sure 
that we are not adding to our misery by doing things that are not necessary, 
not adding work projects of community involvement in a already busy time. 
Some seasons will just be fuller than others. 
After the meat is cut, the canning done, the wood in, 
I am really looking forward to more margin in my days, 
more time reading in front of the fire after dinner, 
working on a quilt with my daughter, 
snuggling with my husband on the couch after dinner...just watching the littleones play.  
But that is next season. 
This season, 
the full one, 
I am living one day at a time, in grace, trying to make the most of it.

Could it be that just these little things make all the difference in the world?
I think it could.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Home Memories

 "Many a roof covers a home life that is bare of beauty and joy.
Yet all the elements are there
that are needed to make it a true image of heaven in its blessedness and peace.
In the children growing up together there are the possibilities of a very rich life,
with deep joys, fond ties and mutual inspirations. 
There is wanting only the mighty transforming power of affection 
to bring out all these possibilities.  
Surely it is not right that so much blessing should be lost. 
There is not so much happiness in the world
that we can afford to leave our homes desert spots when they might be
blossoming gardens."
J.R. Miller, Homemaking pp 146

Some memories, 
the beautiful ones that bring a smile to the face, 
bring perpetual benediction to the home.
  In our youth, we gather these sweet moments, and hold on to them like a bouquet of lovely flowers,
breathing in the aroma, 
eyes closed. 
Thus we clothe our memories with  the gladness of bright days, 
and carry them with us as we journey life.  
When times become difficult, we may close our eyes and breathe deeply,
hearing the echo of our happy yesterdays.

 We parents are making our children's memories day by day and year by year, 
and who our child will become in the future will depend largely on the home life we are giving them now.
  As mothers, we can make our home a palace, filling it with delightful days, pleasant hours. 
We have opportunity to create such tender memories in our homes, 
so precious, 
so sacred,
that each life that goes out of our door shall carry a blessing with them wherever they trod.

 The influence of the homes memories in the formation of character of our children is sure. 
  A mother who tries to weave one's childhood home to be true and sweet, 
one who finds time to sit with her children and read book upon book, 
or listen when he needs to talk,
or prays with him before he falls asleep, 
all in sweet, loving talk and tender, earnest words and prayer, 
invoking cherished memories,
this is the woman I desire to be.

But the busyness of caring for a large family 
can so easily sweep my driven nature away 
into work,

 I have been derailed.
I am like Martha, who was decieved, 
thinking that she was loving Jesus best by doing tasks for Him. 
But her sister Mary knew that the best way to love Him was to sit at his feet and 
be with Him.
In the same way, I can think I am loving my family by doing tasks.
When nearby an impish two year old wishes his mama would read him a book...or six,
bringing forth sweet memories.

But God is so good.  
He will not let me go.
He gives a day  to us
to spend leisurely enjoying one another's company
in His beautiful creation, 
and it brings me back to rights.

  What if we had not taken the time to go?
What if my "to do" list keeps me too busy to make beautiful memories?
In 20 years, should the Lord tarry, what will my children recall of our home?
A mother too busy to enjoy life with them -
or a mother who saw it more worthwhile to listen, to pray, to play?
Echoing in my mind, the conviction..
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love.."
I am nothing
I have wasted my time
I have not kept sight of the eternal.

I oft must remind myself of these very things-
To put relationship before tasks, 
to create in our home the richest of memories.
Memories that leave a legacy of love
and a heritage of blessing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Plum Crazy


One of our family traditions that everyone enjoys
is trekking south about 2 hours every fall to forage for wild fruit. 
Choosing a glorious fall day, 
we load up the van with everything we could possible need for about a week, and set off. 
Some years we go in September, when the blackberries are still ripe and the apples green, 
but this year, we waited until the blackberries were gone and the apples ripe...
but what we found in abundance was plums. 
Oh we had fun!  
The road winds along the mountains and comes out on a rolling plain, 
where our van became a roller coaster ride and, very noisy as the children yelped and squealed 
as daddy drove along up, then down, then up, then down...for miles.  
Finally we wind down the draw to our favored spot,
deer scattering in front of us, and squirrels scolding us for invading their privacy
as we unload and head down the trail 
with baskets, boxes and various containers for apples, rose hips and plums.
To me, this is just of the many lures of living a country life.

Selecting our way through the brambles of blackberry bushes,
and along a path sheltered by great clusters of apple trees, 
prolific rose bushes everywhere, 
we discover that rose hips are hard and painful picking.  
Hopefully the jelly will be worth the pursuit.

The little ones are captivated the sheer numbers of plums shook to the ground for the family to gather.
Equally enthralled, 
I am envisioning plum butter, dried plums, canned plums, plum pudding 
and perhaps I will take a stab at an apple/plum pie. 

Practically giddy with delight at the provision of organic, free fruit for our family, 
plus the chance to take pleasure in a full day outdoors together rambling through the woods,
this day will go down in my journal as one of the most idyllic.

When all is said and done, our handsome daddy shoos us toward the van for the trip home, 
accompanied now by thorns, cleavers, burrs and scratches. 
Still, we ride contentedly back up the hill,
 back over the rolling plains, 
back around the winding mountain road, 
straight to the lodge where a pot of soup is waiting on the wood stove.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man that trusts in Him. 
The young do lack, and suffer hunger; 
but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
Psalm 34: 7-10

The good things of the Lord are all around us just waiting for us to "pick."
His marvelous creation, everywhere evident of a loving Heavenly Father.
Life and health with the hope of heaven hereafter.
Friends and family, for we were made for relationship.
And the list goes on and on...if you have a list, 
and I hope you do,
it is a wonderful way to acknowledge- and thus find joy in the littlest things.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Christian Heritage Mother Daughter Tea

A world of beauty, grace, and affable faces awaited us 
as we, my two oldest daughters, my mom, my friend,  her daughter and myself, 
waltzed in the doorway to the Georgian Room at the Spokane Athletic Club for the annual

I have been to this lovely event in years past, yet found the 2011 tea to be the best yet. 
The speakers, a mother and daughters team consisting of 
Sherril Endicott, Emily Hageman and Betsy Bloomfield were absolutely wonderful.  
Not only that, they are one of the most charming families I have ever met.

Over 100 ladies of all ages attended, and there was room for many more! 
I would love to see the precious gift of this annual event attended by many more because 
it was such an encouraging, fun time to spend with daughters and mothers. 
I believe that women today hunger to spend time reveling in the delicacy of femininity, 
that they need to cultivate opportunities to let the sweet, gentle spirit of femininity warm their hearts 
from a violent and impersonal world, 
infusing each one with the strength of loveliness 
and the confidence that just such an atmosphere nurtures.
Being a woman created by God is such a privilege. 
The gift of our femininity is something we can give both ourselves and the daughters God has bestowed to us.

There were games invoking a spirit of merriment, 
an opportunity to display handmade articles uniquely expressing each woman's delight,
a variety of special music from the talented young ladies at hand,
resources available to inspire and encourage, 
an extremely well done story time for little girls told by Betsy, 
a social hour to meet new friends and rekindle old aquaintances,
time for the inward as we pondered John 15, 
and the pleasure of tea, of course.
The whole event was spectacular 
and I am already looking forward to purchasing the audio CD 
as the messages given were so good and powerful, 
a rich harvest of the wealth of wisdom and understanding from the
Endicott ladies.
The theme for the day was from John 15:5 
"I am the vine and you are the branches; 
he who abides in me and I in him, 
he bears much fruit; 
for apart from me you can do nothing."  
 Each speaker addressed the theme from their personal testimony, giving three perspectives. 
I loved the way they did this.  It was truly God ordained.

The blessings from such a day full of beauty,
grace, and feminine exhortation 
will no doubt be long lasting.
It was the kind of day that will remain engraved on our hearts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Non-Electric Life

When we built the lodge, the power company wanted a terrible amount to bring power
into our remote location.
At that point, we made the decision to spend our resources on solar panels,
batteries and a generator so that we could be off-grid.
Although I have always wanted to live in a little non-electric cabin, 
our family size and lack of a year around water source altered the ideal to being off-grid with solar power. 
Over the years we were building the lodge we began acquiring non-electric household goods.  
Now, when we are out at a yard sale or thrifting,
we are always on the lookout for such items. 

Coffee is an essential in our home, 
so when some friends gave us this awesome vintage coffee grinder, 
we were thrilled.  
They found it on eBay.

We make our coffee in a french press that we found at Goodwill.
Yes, I use antlers in all my decorating.


Clothes Dryer.
This is my indoor model.

And the outdoor model.

Dish washer.

Vacuum cleaner... and a cute one to boot!

Oil lanterns. 
Quite cozy and romantic on cloudy days in winter when we do not have enough solar to last the whole day. 
I think that sitting around visiting in the living room on a winter evening in lantern and candlelight
is the epitome of a lovely home life.

Night Light.
My brother gave us several of these Coleman mini lanterns.  
They are about 5 inches tall, have LED lights, and are ideal for middle of the night trips to the bathroom, or small children who like to have a bit of light to keep them company at night.

I am still on the lookout for a hand grind blender and a grain mill, but all in good time.
We are ever so thankful for the simplicity of more quiet eras
still available to us today, 
which I think brings a nice balance to what may otherwise become too hectic,
 fast paced, 
technology immersed life.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Books for Older Boys

I often get asked what books I would recommend for older boys. 
I love this question, because I think it is great for boys to read good and honorable books 
filled with adventure, godly character and big words.
I am not fond of twaddle, thinking it just as wasteful as the abhorred video games.
Believers ought to be very intentional and gravitas about raising their young men to be tomorrow's leaders, 
full of integrity and godly morals. 
Thus, I am a firm believer in filling a young man's mind with good, wholesome, hard, stretching books.  
These qualifications may make it more difficult to find the books you want, 
but places like Vision Forum and Amazon are great helps, 
and authors such as 
Jim Kjelgaurd, 
Douglas Bond 
G.A Henty are always trustworthy.

Here are our top picks for Jr High age boys:

The Young Carthaginian, G.A. Henty
The Golden goblet
In Freedom's Cause, Henty
The Cat of Bubastees, Henty
The Endless Steppe
Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyun
The Hobbit, Tolkien

The Walking Drum, L'Amour
The Dragon and the Raven, Henty
Wulf the Saxon, Henty

The Life of Stonewall Jackson
The Story of Robert E. Lee
The Bronze bow
The Swiss Family Robinson
The Adventures of Huck Finn
In the Heart of the Rockies, GA Henty

For High Schooler's, we like these titles:

Foxes Book of Martyrs
Jesus Freaks
Do Hard Things, Harris
The Fields of Bannockburn
Lives of the Signers
The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis
Mere Christianity,CS Lewis
The Case for Christ, Strobel
Eternity In Their Hearts, Richardson
The Mark of the Lion Trilogy, Rivers
Through Gates of Splendor, Elliot
Doctrine, Driscoll
Every Man's Battle,  Arterburn
Emotional Purity
Lords of the Earth, Richardson
Peace Child, Richardson
The Measure of a Man, Getz
What He Must Be, Baucham

 I am sure there are some that I missed. 
It would be great to hear from you your favorite top 5 for Jr high, 
and again for high school.

"Lord, I pray that my son will have a deep reverence for You and Your ways.  May He hide Your Word in his heart like treasure and seek after understanding like silver or gold.  Give Him a good mind, a teachable spirit, and an ability to learn.  Instill in him a desire to attain knowledge and skill, and may he never turn away from learning, but rather may he always turn to You for the knowledge he needs."
-Stormie Omartin, Prayers and Promises for my little boy

"Teach me good judgement and knowledge,
for I believe Your commandments." Ps 119:66

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