Just a quick note as we close out 2009. Enjoy today!

" This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."NIV
"This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it." AMP
Psalm 118:24

The Lord has safely brought me through 2009. I have survived, but my desire for 2010 is to thrive! How I long to thrive not merely survive. One way that I intend to begin thriving is to remember that the Lord brought this day about, and He intends for me to rejoice in it. Rejoicing certainly sounds better than what I've caught myself doing way too often lately. I will rejoice in it for Emmanuel, God is with me. (Even if a three-year-old is screaming at her sister:)

Love to all,
Blessed Mama


A really quick note to remind you that there are only TWO DAYS LEFT on the New Harvest Homestead subscription sale for 2010. 2010 will be the final year New Harvest Homestead is published so make sure that you get in on this sale. This is one subscription you definitely will not want to miss. Here's the deal: New Harvest Homestead(NHH) is a bi-monthly publication devoted to being "steadfast at home" that arrives via email every two months. You can download it and either save it or print it out as you choose. Regular subscription price is $15. With this special deal, you receive your own subscription or renewal plus another subscription to give away for $21.60. For the same price you can also receive your own subscription and give one to the struggling sisters account OR you can give two subscriptions to the struggling sisters account. If you are a "struggling sister" and simply cannot afford the price of a subscription or renewal, contact NHH and you will be able to receive NHH free of charge. It is truly a ministry.

I have a couple of other reminders on current specials elsewhere. Molly's Digest will be receiving some new features this year that you may not want to miss. Go to econobusters.com to check out what's new with Molly. I'm hoping to get my January Digest soon.

Also, Martha Greene at the Homemaker's Mentor site is offering a free lesson right now. I believe there are also some price reductions for future lessons. Don't let this one get by. A year's worth of homemaking lessons for $39.95 is hard to beat. The topics covered in these lessons are quite varied. I'm headed on over to download the free lesson right now!

I am still immersing myself in the reality of "God With Us". I truly believe that this year is going to be "the year" in many ways in our lives. There is a definite atmosphere of expectancy in our house. We are eagerly watching for the Word of the Lord to be manifest in an unprecedented way. Emmanuel , God is with us.


God With Us

Christmas is over. The festivities of Christmas are past. Floors have been swept of their wrappings. Gifts have been placed in their new homes. The daily routine of laundry and dishes is back in full swing.

Now that the celebrations are almost over, what's left? Are the memories of this year's celebration warming the heart or causing it pain? No matter how the celebration of Christ's birth played out, the truth is still alive and real. Christ is born! A virgin conceived, bore a son, and his name was called Immanuel, God with us.

God with me. What a wondrous thought! God with me through the mountains of laundry. God with me through the long nights awake with small children. God with me through blizzards. God with me in the moments of despair and sadness. God with me in those glimpses of rapturous joy. God with me as I wipe a bottom. God with me as I dry tears and kiss ouchies. God with me when I hide in the shower and cry. God with me when I dance through the day and sing. When teenagers challenge my authority, God is with me. When little ones do the same, He is there too. When I want to give more, but have to settle for less, God with me. Emmanuel, God with us, has ever a gift been given that can compare?

Wherever the road may lead, whatever the day contains, be it joy or pain, God is with me. When I pass through the waters, He will be with me, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned or scoched, nor will the flame kindle upon me. for He is the Lord my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior. Isaiah 43:2,3a

Think on that oh weary heart, and it will lend you might.
Consider that oh fainting soul; His joy will end your night.
Look to Him you tired eyes, your light He'll not let dim.
Think on that oh weary heart, and put your trust in Him.

"But now [in spite of past judgments for Israel's sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Hol One of Israel, your Savior;..." Isaiah 43:1-3a


"Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

What a marvelously, freeing word! "Strive to live in peace..." I don't have to sit around and wait for peace to come to me. It is something I work towards. I have something to do with it. I'm not a puppet on a string waiting for the puppet master to have the time or desire to move me into a better, more pleasurable or comfortable position. Living in peace is something that requires action on my part. I may not be able to "make" others live in peace with me, but I can certainly do my part towards living a peaceful life and having a peaceful holiday.

Experiencing PEACE during the holiday season is much more of a series of choices that I make than it is about events and circumstances lining up just so. The next step towards PEACE this season was going to be CONTROL - Let go of that holiday! After reading today's verse about striving to live in peace, that's going to have to be altered a bit. Perhaps more like CONTROL - Take control of yourself and leave the rest to God. Hmmm, I'll be getting back to you on this. I love the way my Heavenly Father leads me further into the truth of Himself. Greater understanding comes bit by glorious bit the longer I walk with Him.

Due to sick children in the house, I'm not really sure where we are on our Celebration of Jesus. Because the next few days will be busy for all of us, I'm going to list each day's challenges and question in today's post. That way, we can all celebrate together as we are able, and I don't feel guilty if I happen to miss a day's post. That wouldn't lead to peace.

Dec. 21 - Simmer spices on the stove and read the Christmas story
Dec. 22 - Create your own luminaries
Dec. 23 - Candle light Christmas Eve service or other? Decorate and Eat Cookies - Make your own perhaps
Dec. 24 - What's your favorite Christmas movie? Watch it today. Those cookies from yesterday would be perfect about now. Especially if they are your grandmother's gingersnap recipe. A mug of hot apple cider would round out the fun perfectly.
Dec. 25 - Today is the day! Celebrate Jesus all day long! "Behold, a child is born....Christ the Lord!"


Continued Celebration of Jesus and Scriptures to Ponder


We'll being with our challenge for today.  Today's challenge/project is to play and/or learn a new game as a family.  Last winter, during a really cold spell, we taught ourselves how to play poker (not for money).  It was something new and ended up being really, really fun.  It was a definitely bonding experience for us.  We also realized that oftentimes it isn't that an activity is "bad" in and of itself.  Usually it becomes a negative activity as people use it in a less than godly manner.  As a family we were able to learn a game that tends to have some "bad" associated with it and have a happy, healthy time of fun.  Nothing ungodly took place and none of us were "corrupted" because we played poker.  So pick a game, any game, let go of the stress, forget the deadlines, and just enjoy having fun with each other.  You will be so glad you did.

White lights or colored?  is the question for tomorrow.  Tomorrow will find our family gone for the day.  So, I will post Saturday's project a day early.  Our project for Saturday is to greet all of those bell ringers wearing the Santa hats with a genuine smile and hello.  Taking note of the word genuine, I'm going to make a concentrated effort to make sure my greetings and countenance reflect the love of God to everyone around me--especially the upset, harried, and most importantly, the annoying.  I pray that in my haste I remember that I too am annoying myself at times. 

Before we each rush off to the next thing "to do", I want to share some scriptures for us all to meditate (utter, mutter, and ponder) on in the upcoming days.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)!  No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!
Psalm 84:10-12

[Let your ] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good.
Romans 12:9

...Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.
For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!
Luke 2:10,11

          Merry Christmas!!!             


Christmas and End of the Year Specials

Two more specials have come to my inbox.  I couldn't wait to pass them on to you.  The Homemaker's Mentor is having an end of the year special on their lessons.  These lessons are great!  They are regularly over $4 each and are now available for $2.39each!!!  Ever wanted to learn how to make a pie?  or other homemaking lessons?  This sale is especially for you.  They would also make great Christmas gifts.

The other special....WAIT!...there are two more.  Homemaking 911 is offering a discount on all of their products.  Some of the items will be "iffy" for Christmas arrival.  So you won't want to hesistate.  Head on over there as soon as you possibly can.  Ebooks, however, are always available for immediate download.

Sale number three, for now, is at Joyous Home.  They are having a special on the Bosch Universal and Nutrimill Combo.  The Bosch Universal is available with or without the blender.  The price will be changed accordingly. 

Other sites to check out savings are TEACHmagazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Penny Raine, and Econobusters for tips.  Probably many more sites are having great savings right now.  It is the end of the year and many want to clear out last year's stock to make room for the new year.  Library and Educational Services Website is having AMAZING sales right now with a flat shipping rate of $3.95.  It would be completely possible to purchase several books and shipping for under $10 at this site.  If you need a few little things for gifts or simply need gifts that cost as little as possible, now is the time to get online and look.  You just might find it.

If things look bleak financially, don't assume that your holidays will be lean.  God has always provided for our family abundantly through every season.  Year and year and year there have been sales on exactly the items we needed and/or wanted.  One year I was certain that it would be impossible to get my sister in love, Jess, the item on her list.  However, while in a store getting something for the children, what should be on the sale rack?  The exact item, in my price range, and in the perfect color for Jess!  God is a God of detail, and everyone is always perfect when He provides.   Another year, it was all the way to Christmas Eve and we didn't have a tree or presents yet.  It was also bitterly cold.  When my husband went out to see what he could scrounge up with the resources we had, because of the cold and the lateness of the date, Dec. 24, he was able to purchase the most gorgeously HUGE tree we've ever had for a little bit of nothing.  It was a true miracle that majorly boosted our faith.  Believe me, our faith needed boosting that year.  Time and time again the supernatural provision of our Heavenly Father has made the impossible possible in our lives.  Knowing that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I can say with absolute assurance that He will do the same for you and yours.  So, no matter what the situation you are facing appears to be, rest in the truth that God cares for His own.  If you are His, He will never leave you or forsake you.  He supplies all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19  Begin to thank Him in advance for His provision and care. 
This year, I am finding that without explanation, I desire a simple, meaningful Christmas.  I have no desire for many things.  Instead, I have a longing to be together with loved ones and enjoy the gift of each other.  I find myself actually wanting to make gifts rather than feeling like I have to.  All of the lessons I've studied and begun to implement on organization during the past year are bearing the fruit of peacefulness and preparedness.  Let me tell you, it's a wonderful thing.  The provision of my Heavenly Father is abundant, whether it is the provision of actual "things" or the contentedness of possessing treasures of more lasting value.  Romans 8:28 comes to mind again and again.  ALL things truly do work together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. 
Christ's love to all of you.  Maybe we could all get a head start on tomorrow's challenge of meditating on God's love by starting right now.  Merry Christmas!  BLESSED MAMA


Monday's Musings

Here's an answer to the color of decoration question: I use red and burgundy on the same tree. On one side is burgundy and the other side is red. In the middle, I gradually fade into the other color so maybe the middle is neutral, somewhat! I love my ornaments so if they clash, which I don't think they do, that's okay with me.  MOM

We are all getting busier every day.  To make sure that we don't miss any of our fun, I'm going to share tomorrow's question as well as a challenge for the following day (Wednesday).   Answers will be posted on Wednesday evening along with some scripture verses for us to meditate on as we travel through the Christmas season and remaining days of 2009. 

Our question over coffee for tomorrow is:  If you decorate, do you decorate the inside or outside of your house or both? 

Wednesday's challenge is to meditate on the Love of God.  It is because of His Love for mankind that He gave us Jesus.   So meditating on God's Love is the perfect challenge for the season.  

Thursday will bring us a fun challenge for the whole family.  You won't want to miss it. 

As we go through the final days of this year, I want to share a few resources to help us simplify the craziness.  Penny Raine has a free ebook on her website about creating a Family Friendly Holiday.  Penny's ebook is filled to the brim with very doable and helpful holiday tips for everything from planning the meal to preparing for a holiday with little ones.  Such wisdom in this one.  You won't want to miss it.  I would love to pass a copy on to you, but that would be illegal.  So, you'll have to go to her website and get a copy.    Another free holiday planning ebook comes to us from the Young's at the Raising Real Men website.  This one is filled to the brim with delicious looking and easy recipes and tips for holiday celebrations.  Both ebooks are quick reads and jam-packed with advice, tips, recipes, and wisdom.  You will definitely want to scoop up freebies like this before they are gone.  I will be using mine for many years to come should the Lord tarry.  I especially appreciated the wisdom concerning small children and the holiday celebrations.  It was a wakeup call as well as a warning against overstimulation.  Who is the true culprit when children become whiny during the holidays?  Not the children.  I am thankful for such loving instruction.  If you have little ones or little ones will be present at your holiday celebrations, reading the Family Friendly Holiday ebook will definitely provide you with insight and helpful tips and suggestions for everything from the beforehand prep, shopping, to the big day itself.  A must read for those whose holidays will include children. 

As I close, I want to send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has participated in our Celebrating Jesus BIG Christmas Party.  Whether you sent in an answer or took part at home privately, I hope that you have enjoyed the celebration.  The best is yet to come.  The challenges are a treat to meet, and there are still some questions to share.  There may still be some goodies left to win as well.  So keep on playing.  If you haven't sent an answer in, go ahead.  Give it a try.  We are celebrating the greatest gift ever given, JESUS.  If you haven't received your gift of Christ, please, accept the gift that God has given you today, right now.  Make this the best Christmas you've ever had.


Having Fun With Jesus

Good evening! Once more the day has gotten away from me, and I missed getting today's question in. To keep the fun going, I'll post the question now along with Monday's challenge.

The question of the day is, drumroll please: Are your Christmas decorations done in traditional Christmas colors of Red and Green or other?

Now for the challenge: Bless your mail carrier with a Holiday Greeting and token of appreciation. I am so thankful for the service our mail carriers provide us. Living where we do, mail day is a blessing that we don't take for granted.

Now, I'll answer the question. When first married, the decorations were red and green, then they gradually moved into a gold, burgundy look, and now they are moving back into the red, green, and gold. Now the green comes from the greenery itself rather than the ribbon like it was at first. I found some gold fabric ribbon approx. 6-8 inches wide at the dollar store this week to add in somewhere too. Who knows though, it might not show up at Christmas. It might come out some other time throughout the year. We'll just have to see. I guess that means my answer is traditional colors. There are still some places where a bit of burgundy still shows up. I can get by doing that without the colors clashing since I decorate some of every room in the house.

Have a wonderful day tomorrow worshipping our Lord and Savior. Don't forget to bless your mail carrier on Monday and come on back for coffee to see what's going on with all the gang. The next couple of weeks until Christmas will find us receiving more challenges than questions so get ready for some active Christmas fun as we celebrate Jesus together. Bring your friends along for the last few days of our month of Jesus. Less than two weeks until the big day! Yea, Jesus!!!


Scents of the Season

Favorite seasonal scent: has to be a live Christmas tree. It is hard to choose only one. Love MOM
Not only do we have an answer sent via email, there is also an answer that is posted in the comment section.  Don't miss that one.  It's from my Victory.  She surprised me with it.  Now you can see why I am such a BLESSED MAMA. 

Knowing how busy we all are during the holiday season, I'm not going to visit long today.  I just want to put out a little taste of what will be coming to A Mother's Reward during 2010.  January is Our Favorite Books month.  Have you thought about what books you are going to put on your list?  What are your favorite reads?  As an adult?  a child?  Get ready to share the answers with us in January.  Please don't send in your answers yet.  Just think about it and be ready in January. 

For our Christmas question tomorrow, we will be finding out whether  you have a star tree topper, angel on the top, or something else.  We'll share our answers over coffee tomorrow.  


Our Favorite Foods and Tomorrow's Question

My favorite food: How do I choose? I love barbeque meatballs and homemade beef log w/crackers. I love my G'ma's gingersnap cookies and penuche fudge. Soups on Christmas Eve, yummm; Chicken and noodles on Christmas Day. Some of the traditions are from both sides of the family. Love MOM

Favorite food of the season.........Oreo cookie balls, all kinds of nuts and cheese balls. GRAMMIE
PaPo has a favorite and it is old time suet pudding.

My favorite food of the season would be beef log and well...everything else, meatballs, bacon crackers and cheese.  It's all part of the celebration so I have a difficult time choosing only one thing.  One thing that we did one year at our house that was super yummy was bacon wrapped around bite sized pieces of skinless chicken breasts dredged in a chili powder and brown sugar mixture then cooked in the oven until the bacon is done.  Yum, yum, yum.  Can't wait until chicken breasts go on sale again! I really enjoy cranberry juice and 7up punch as a memory from my childhood too.  This cranberry punch goes wonderfully with brown sugar shortbread cookies and gingerbread cookies too.  I must confess that these foods are tied into such comforting and pleasant memories that I have been known to fix something just because of the pleasant times associated with it. BLESSED MAMA

Seasonal foods bring us right into seasonal scents, which just happens to be our question for tomorrow.  What is your favorite seasonal scent?  Can you narrow it down to only one?  I can't.  Scents are what really stick with me.  Even my children have been known to comment that so and so's house smells like Grandma Allen's or this still smells like Grandma Great's house.  The sense of smell is a powerful memory maker.  So, what Christmastime scent is your fondest?  Another goodie will be sent or hand delivered to one of tomorrow's answers.  Will it be you? 

I'll start the ball rolling by answering tonight.  Some of my favorite scents of the season are pine, spiced cider, and hot coffee.  Coffee...I think I'll go make a pot right now.  Enjoy the warmth of God's Love throughout the evening.  The next segment in our posts on a PEACEful Christmas will be about Assurance.  I'm looking forward to hearing what the Lord has to say about this topic.  He has blessed me so much lately with various nuggets of truth from His Word.  Celebrating Jesus by living for Him just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.  I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also getting tougher and tougher, but somehow the sweetness far exceeds the difficulties.  Day after day I'm kept in His love.  What a wondrous place to reside.  Eagerly looking forward to reading about your favorite seasonal scents.  Until our morning coffee...BLESSED MAMA


Question for Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Good Evening!

     It is a bitterly cold and snowy day here at our home.  Well, it's cold and snowy outside.  Inside, it is warm, cozy, and filled with laughter and love.  We had a wonderful time this afternoon.  For the first time, but hopefully not the last, all eight of us gathered around the dining room table for "afternoon hot chocolate".  Thanks to the cold and snowy day, Papa and CR were home so that we could.  Quite a few new electrical outlets were put in as well.  See, everything works out for good to those who love the Lord.  Romans 8:28

     I'm off to put some turkey and rice soup on for supper and continue decorating for Christmas.  I got the deer antlers out.  With antlers and pinecones, it's going to be fun decorating for Jesus' celebration.  Before I get busy with something warm and comforting for supper, I want to send you tomorrow's question.  Now for the question: What is your favorite food of the season?  

    During the past several days of cold and snow, I've been challenged to keep my heart warm and full of love no matter what the weather outside may be.  That I must make certain not to allow ice and coolness towards those around me to form.  If I remain filled with God's Holy Spirit, the love of God will flow out from me and warm the lives of those around me.  In such busy, stressful times, His love will shine out more brightly than ever.

This morning during our time of worship, the children and I read from Isaiah 40.  "Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?..."  What a wonderful time we had in the Word this morning.  The presence of the Lord was so sweet and real.  Our hearts were warmed

I'll be talking to you tomorrow!  Until then, may this find you basking in the warmth of God's love.  Jesus is the perfectly complete manifestation of such boundless love.  Merry Christmas!


Tomorrow's Question and GRACE by Paula Moldenhauer

Today I have shared an article I received myself.  The title says it is for the Homeschool Mom, but having been both a homeschool mom and a non homeschool mom, I can say with the utmost confidence that it is for all of womankind.  I couldn't say it any better, so I simply shared the article with you.  I hope it is done legally.  I included the credits. 

Before I post tomorrow's question, I have a scripture verse to share.  It relates to the last article about Entering in and resisting temptation.  James 1:12 - Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. KJV

Tomorrow's challenge:  Bless that grumpy neighbor, testy clerk, or irritated someone with a card and/or treat "Just Because God loves you and gave us Jesus, the best gift of all."

PS - if you have a favorite place to get things "on the cheap", send the name of it in and we will pass the tip along to others.  I have always loved a good buy, and now more than ever.  I doubt that I'm the only one who loves a great sale.  The better the buy, the more we can give others.  Also, do you have a favorite place to get tights and dress shoes for little girls and socks and shoes for little guys reasonably?  Please, do tell.

Now for the article.  I pray that it blesses you as it did me.

A Gift for the Homeschool Mom

Paula Moldenhauer


Do you hear the Master calling?

Look, there's a twinkle in His eyes and a huge gift in His hands. Notice how the golden paper glistens with a metallic gleam. And don't you just love the big, blood red bow?

A present. Just in time for the holidays.

Give the big kids an audio classic and put the little ones down to nap. School can wait. Ignore the dust. Meal preparation can be delayed. No one will starve, though your teenage son may think he will. You'll be able to face those holiday preparations with renewed vigor after you've basked in the Master's generosity.

Your Best Friend is really excited about your gift. He's done all the work--choosing carefully what you need most, going to great sacrifice to procure it for you. All that's left is for you to open it. Won't you focus on Him and unwrap His gift?

You pull the pretty velvet bow apart and lift the lid. You can't see what's inside, but you can smell it. It smells like lilacs and fresh cut grass and sunshine. You can feel the present, too. It's solid as iron, soft as a baby's cheek, and makes you warm all over. You can even hear your gift. One minute it swells with symphonic melody, the next it sings with the sweetness of a child. You can almost taste it on your tongue. It's meat, potatoes, and vegetables--all that is solid and healthy--and it is also silky chocolate and all that is sweet.

"What is it?" You ask.

"It's my grace." He speaks with hushed voice, a tinge of emotion lacing His words.

You stare at the box. You've heard about grace before, but you've never really experienced it. Who knew that grace would have a smell, a feel, a taste?

He suggests you reach inside.

You pull out a "G" and frown.

Jesus chuckles. "G is for guilty no more. Too many times you heap condemnation upon yourself. The children bicker and you think it's your fault for not training them well enough. You are overwhelmed with your many tasks and feel guilty that there's dust on the mantle. Your teen has a meltdown and you blame yourself, sure that if you'd spent more time with her she'd be happy.

"But it goes deeper. You beat yourself up for faults and failures I've erased from your record. I've already forgotten them. There's no need to be angry with yourself. I gave my life so you could live without condemnation. You are guilty no more. If you don't believe me, read Romans 8:1. Read it a thousand times and tape it on your bathroom mirror. Live as you are, my dear: Free from condemnation."

You have a big lump in your throat and since you can't talk, you reach back into the box. The letter "R" is in your hand.

The Lord gently lifts your face to his. "R is for Rest in Me. Come to Me when you labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your soul." 1

"I try, but it is so hard to rest," You say.

Jesus tilts his head. "Think about when you nursed your last baby. Do you remember how you cradled him in your arms and he nuzzled to your breast? You nourished him, body and soul. Even as he was fed, he never took his eyes off of you. He gazed at you with complete satisfaction, trust, and peace. Rest in me as your baby rested in you. I will nourish you. I will lead and comfort you."

Your eyes are glued to the Master, hungry to believe all He is saying, but there is hesitancy, a fear you don't deserve to rest.

"My daughter, did your baby do anything to earn your love?"

You shake your head. "No. I loved him more as I served him, even though he could do nothing to help me."

"In the same way, I don't expect you to earn My love or the right to rest. I simply come and say, 'Are you tired? Let me help you. Are you burdened? Let me carry it. Do you feel guilty or ashamed? Let Me take that and replace it with forgiveness and acceptance.'"

Little tears gather in your eyes as you listen to Him. It's so much to absorb and you haven't even spelled out the whole word. You hesitate. The Lord reaches in the box and pulls out the next letter, "A." With trembling fingers you reach for it, running your thumb down it's long, sleek sides.

"It's time for you to accept my unconditional love," He says. " So often I stand before you with my arms open wide, longing to enfold you in them, but you duck your head and walk away. You let shame, guilt, or feelings of inadequacy keep you from Me. I have loved you with an everlasting love. 2 Nothing you've ever done has made me regret that great love and nothing can take it away.

"When I died on Calvary, I made it possible for us to be in close relationship. I washed your every misstep away in the river of my blood. There is nothing to separate us. Yet sometimes you are so determined to make yourself worthy that you refuse my free, unconditional love." 3

You're weeping freely now. He's right. The Christian life is about Jesus and the righteousness He gives. You keep making it about your performance, causing both your pride and your guilt to keep you from His arms. "I'm sorry." You whisper.

Jesus puts an arm around you. "Take the next letter."

You reach into the box and hand Him the "C." He lays it across your heart. "C is for Christ in you, dearest. I am your hope of glory. You try so hard to be good. Trust Me and let Me make you good. The good work I've begun in you will be completed. Stop striving. You are My masterpiece. Will I not finish it?" 4

The Lord reaches into the box for the last letter. You still weep silently, leaning your head against His shoulder.

"E is for Empowered. I am the One who empowers you to be all I've created you to be. Spiritual maturity isn't chasing after good works or achieving your dreams. It isn't being the perfect mother, wife, or daughter. It is knowing Me and letting your life flow from our relationship.

"Let me empower you, dear one. I am the one who gives you the grace to accomplish all I ask of you." 5

You nod. He hugs you and then kisses your cheek. As He walks away you finger each letter, His words echoing in your soul. You place the letters back into the box, one by one:

G-Guilty no more

R-Rest in Christ

A-Accept His unconditional love

C-Christ, my hope of glory

E-Empowered by His Spirit

You linger with the open box in your lap, breathing in the scent of grace. There could be no greater gift.


A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers home schooling hints, book reviews, and a free weekly devotional, Soul Scents. Subscribe to Soul Scents at www.soulscents.us. You can contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us.

1 Matthew 11:28 (AMP)



Girlhood Giveaway Week 4 :

ATTENTION READERS!!! The Girlhood Home Companion is hosting a fabulous giveaway right now! You won't want to miss out!

They are giving away two holiday back issue bundles with companion CDs*PLUS four more Christmas issues !
The contest starts 12/05/09 and ends 12/11/09

Here is the address to check it out: www.remembrancepress.com . You will want to take a look at the sales going on right now too.

If you haven't ever seen this magazine, let me assure you that it is a treasure in godly femininity. They would make perfect gifts for any woman, old or young. This publication is one that a person devours rather than merely read through. It is so much more than just a magazine. Don't miss the giveaway and definitely shop while you are there to enter. Enjoy!

Celebrating Jesus Continues

I just received two emails with answers to today's question.  It looks like Jessica was the first to respond, but since Cindy was the first responder to today's question, we'll give them both a goodie!  I love, love, love giving presents away--that's good for those readers:)  Since this is the weekend, I will be posting the question for Monday---note we are skipping Sunday---at the end of this post.  One of Monday's answerers will receive a surprise goodie--not telling and no hints:)--so be sure and include your address with your answer.  Your address will not be posted in the blog.  It is only so we can get your surprise to you.  Merry Christmas!

Here are several answers in one email. I only get on the computer once a week.
*Most memorable Christmas was when I was about 5 and we were over at my Grandma Pence's for our traditional Christmas Eve party. It was late and we were excited to see if santa would come the next day. We ended up staying over at her house till past midnight. When we had got home Santa had come to our house. I got a doll bigger and heavier than me. The house was decorated and candy everywhere. My aunts had known that we weren't going to be able to have a Christmas that year so they played Santa while we were still at the party.
*Christmas traditions we started are putting up lights every year since TJ has been born. We have the C9 large bulbs in blue. Each year we add to our collection at the end of season sale. It started with just a row in front - to now having all the windows covered. This year when we put up our tree, we are going to have christmas snacks- sausage cheese and crackers with some egg nog. I also bought a ginger bread train to make with TJ now that he is 3. We try to take a family picture at christmas each year too.
*Favorite gift as a child my cabbage patch kid doll.
*We have an artificial tree that is 4ft tall and sits on an end table. This is so little ones don't pull ornaments off or knock the tree over on them. It has the lights on them, I never took them all off since there are two strings of multi color lights. I have a bigger tree in a box that a friend gave to me. We will set it up when both of the little ones are older.
*I have an idea for all. Write a Christmas letter. Even if you never have. It is always fun to see the ones from the years past. Thought I would start collecting a copy each year and put into a christmas scrap book. JESSICA

Santa or not...... Of course there is a Santa, I've watched Santa Claus the movie. hehe Okay, maybe I am one of those people who love pretend... I told our children pretending is fun and we know there isn't a REAL Santa but we can pretend. So there was and still is a gift under the tree from Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, our pets, and even the buffalo,,, so we carry the pretend thing a little far. Mommaclaus does most of the shopping here. Now, I have just answered the question about "Santa or not" and this in no way is the focus of Christmas in our home. Jesus' birth and all the glory with Him is what Christmas is really about. Just had to put that disclaimer in. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. CINDY

Santa or not....hmmm, Santa was fun as a child.  However, since I am really not that good (understatement) at pulling off surprises, I didn't even try with my own children.  I didn't "not" do Santa intentionally.  I just didn't choose to "do" the Santa thing either.  Angel doesn't think she would have believed in Santa anyway--even if I had tried.  THAT is exactly why I didn't even try--my kids are just way too smart and observant for me to have pulled it off.  BLESSED MAMA

QUESTION:  Do you use an advent calendar?  If yes, what type. 
BONUS QUESTION:  Do you have any ideas, patterns, and/or suggestions for making your own advent calendar?  Or another method of counting down the days until Christmas?


I'm Entering Into Change

Good afternoon!  As you have noticed, the look of A Mother's Reward has changed!  I was feeling the need to "rearrange furniture" and took it out on the blog instead :)

Thank you to everyone who has sent in answers to questions.  It makes it fun for everyone.  To add to the fun, the first person who answers tomorrow's question will receive a mix of Apple Pie Spice.  If that is you, we will zip the spice off in the mail to you or maybe even hand deliver it.  The spice mix is homemade by my very own Angel and would be great in any number of uses not just in apple pie.  How about making yourself your very own spiced tea or coffee?  What about spiced cocoa? 

Tomorrow's question is: Santa or not?


As I was thinking about and pondering on "Entering In" for our series on experiencing a PEACEful Holiday Season, I have to confess something.  That's all I have on this topic.  "Enter In"  If I am going to experience the Peace that passes all understanding, I must enter in.  I can't rock my way there as I rock my little man.  Though I can enter in while doing so.  Just as I can't rock my way there, neither can I wash, dry, fold, put away, or teach my way into peace either.  I have to purpose to enter into the peace that Jesus has given me. 

Keeping my focus on truth  John 14:6  puts me in a place to receive deliverance from the daily temptations assailing me.  Temptations?  What temptations could I have?  More than imaginable.  Some days it seems as if I am constantly bombarded on every side by them.  From the moment I awake until the second I lay down to sleep, the temptation to sin is great.  Fussing little ones, lack of sleep, mountains of laundry, teasing and taunting teens, the list of things that tempt me to leave the path of Love(God) and operate in the flesh seem endless. 

God says to be kind one to another Eph. 4:32.  All I want to do is bark out a command rather than gently shepherd my children's hearts.  God says to slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid being contentious, to be forbearing (yielding, gentle, and conciliatory), and to show unqualified courtesy toward everybody Titus3:2.  Being tired, I am tempted to speak sharply and not line my words aright.  Being contentious would be much easier than forbearing and showing unqualified courtesy toward everybody?  Believe me the temptation to skip the Lord's command is great.  God didn't really mean to be content with my earthly lot--whatever it may be Philippians 4:7...did He?  I don't think He knew about that mountain of laundry, or that teenage attitude being thrown at me.  He couldn't have and still given that command, could He? 

Yes, the temptation to sin against my Lord is great, but I'm told very plainly by Him in 1 Corinthians 10:13,14 that no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin, no matter how it comes or where it leads) has overtaken me and laid hold on me that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to me that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adpated and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].  But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let me be tempted and tried and assayed beyond my ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing) place, that I may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.  That I am dearly beloved, and I am to shun (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry (of loving or venerating anything more than God)---even myself and my own plans and desires.

As I continue on through this Holiday Season, my thoughts must constantly be centered on the greatness of God and His divine provision, not only of clothing, food, and gifts for my children, but of patience, gentleness, and peace.  He has already provided all I need through Christ, and it is Christ's birthday we are celebrating.  What better way for me to celebrate Jesus' birthday than by living as He set me free to live?  Free, clear of sin, and in peace, patience, and love.  Oh, God is good---all the time.  Happy Birthday Jesus!   I love you and long to serve You fully, with every fibre of my being may I praise you Lord!  

I just had the thought that perhaps the greatest birthday present I could give my Lord would be to walk in the salvation He died and rose to provide.  That maybe the birthday song that sounds the sweetest to His ears is when I lift not only my voice in praise to Him but also my life.  Entering in---another step on the path to peace.   

The Answers Keep Coming

My husband and children always open our gifts Christmas eve morning. Then Christmas Eve we go to one of the grandparents houses or both. We've been blessed both families live in Valentine. This is a tradition carried over from my childhood. We always got up early Christmas Eve morning to open gifts, dad would go to work and when he got home we would load up and go to my grandparents 90 miles away, then Christmas Day to the other grandmothers. That was a "magical" time as it was usually snowing and the snow would sparkle like diamonds. We would sing and laugh (always) and have family time......Yes, my brother and sister would argue, not me I was the ANGEL!!!!!! Do you want Santa to come????? You'd better quit fighting!!! Now I need to tell you a secret. I love to give gifts and I love to receive gifts, but,,,, I really love all my family together. If even one is not able to come home there is an empty spot in my heart. One of my favorite sayings is: Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. Happy Birthday Jesus CM


We open our gifts on Christmas eve after PaPo reads the Christmas story. Then before the

evening with family is over we stand in a circle and each hold a white candle, Papo lites

Grammie's candle and prays for her and on around the circle it goes. We do this when we

have Christmas eve at our house. You not only pray for that person but you pray

whatever is on your heart. GRAMMIE


Tomorrow's Question--Early

Good afternoon! I know this is a bit early, but I will be busy later this afternoon getting ready for our church ladies' Christmas gathering. After a year of surprises, we will be revealing who our secret sisters are. This is my first secret sister reveal ever and I am really excited. It's another milestone of womanhood passed. I have had and been a secret sister. OK, on to the question for tomorrow.

Question: When do you open presents? Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, Christmas Day, or some other time?

I'm going to give my answer early as well. Growing up my answer would have been all of the above. Christmas Eve was one grandparents house, Christmas another, and our own immediate family was some other time, usually even earlier than Christmas Eve. Now that I have a family of my own, the answer is still much the same. The only difference is that unlike when I was growing up, we don't always know which family will be opening when. My husband, the children, and I have been blessed to be able to have a real, true Christmas morning gift opening a few times, and WE LOVE IT! The few years we experienced a storybook Christmas morning were a gift in and of themselves. Should the Lord tarry, we look forward to experiencing more Christmas mornings in our future. Whenever we are together as family, immediate and extended, is a gift whose opening is always a memory-making occasion. BLESSED MAMA

Tomorrow I hope to have another post on a PEACEful Holiday Season. God willing, it will be on Entering In. Until then, Pursue peace and celebrate Jesus BIG!

Christmas Tree Question Answer and favorite Christmas tradition

Another answer to the real or artificial Christmas tree question has come in.  Yea!!!  Thank you to everyone who has answered.  We're just going to keep on having a great time through Christmas. 

     We have an artifical tree now as I wanted one that was tall but not so big around at the bottom and real trees just come that way. (That's the way God made them) I have it decorated victorianish.

     One Christmas when our children were little and I was very pregnant I sent Roger Jerrad and Jessica out to cut down a tree. They came back with a cedar that took up half the living room. It had brown branches and did it smell....... AND our best Christmas gift was born that year on the 11th. Her name is Amy Dawn.

     My favorite Christmas tradition is the tradition that my children and I have of doing something new every year.  In years past we have crafted a number of different ornaments and decorations.  This year we are doing more new things in the kitchen together.   BLESSED MAMA


Artificial Trees

We have three trees. In the living room we have a Victorian "artificial" tree; in the basement we have our ornaments made for fun "artificial tree" and in the kitchen we have a small tree with very small bubble lights that are fun to watch. We used to do the real tree when children were home but now it's "easier" in our older age to bring the trees out with the lights already on. I have not decorated the trees yet but they are in place just waiting to be decorated as I drink my hot apple cider. Yummm. Love MOM

Another answer came in! I haven't answered yet because I'm not sure which it will be this year. There are several small artificial trees in various rooms. We have had an artificial for several years. It is beginning to look rather worn out and loses more needles than a real one. The children are all rooting for a real tree. I'll just be thankful for a tree, whatever kind it is. Though, there is something about a real tree...BLESSED MAMA

Tomorrow's Question is: What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

One of our fellow Mother's Rewards friends lost her grandmother a few days ago, on Monday. She wrote a beautiful tribute to her grandmother and Christmas time that I would love to share with all of you. It will be posted all by itself. Having grown up with two loving grandmothers myself, I could only cry at how beautifully Kim expressed her childhood memories. Please remember Kim in your prayers this week and in the weeks ahead.


Tomorrow's Fun

Good afternoon! It's time for the posting of tomorrow's fun! I hope that you are enjoying the holiday fun and will be able to send in your answers and pictures before the Christmas season has past. Today's prize was a sample of Cafe Vienna coffee mix. However, since there weren't any answers or pictures sent in, we'll just have to drink it ourselves :) OK, maybe we will save it as a prize for another day.

Tomorrow brings us another project. This one is easy and fun. Make Spiced Apple Cider and take a some time to enjoy several moments of Christmas calm.

Another question will be posted tomorrow afternoon for Thursday. If you know of anyone who could use a little holiday fun, go ahead and invite them to join us. We will be visiting daily with prizes and a post about PEACE during Christmas thrown in as well. We are celebrating Jesus in a BIG way this year. Enjoy the spiced cider! Until tomorrow, Blessed Mama


Question for December 1

Here's the question for December 1:  Do you have a Christmas tree or have you chosen not to?  If you do have a tree, is it real or artificial? 

Now remember, these questions are just for fun.  I realize that for some, these topics are very personal.   So, we will work very hard to make sure that every thing remains both fun and safe. 

You notice that there aren't any pictures posted of my front door yet.  That's because I can't find the ribbon for the bows.  I have them "wrapped" and the tags made, but the ribbon for the bows is MIA (missing in attic).  I'm on my way to locate them right now. 

I do have another website for everyone to check out.  It's oldfashionedliving.com.  I may have already mentioned it, but just in case I forgot, I'm listing it again.  Also, New Harvest Homestead Newsletter has announced that 2010 will be its final year of publishing.  They are running a special subscription offer right now at their website for next year.  Run on over and take advantage of the deals.  You don't want to miss the final year.  It is my very favorite ezine EVER!!!  It's truly the best of everything.  Godly articles, handy tips, you name it, it's in there.  Last but not least, Like Merchant Ships is a blog to check out and read through.  There are some interesting articles.  I can't say that I agree with absolutely everything on there, but most everything blessed me tremendously.  If you are interested in decorating on the cheap, this blog has many tips to help out.

Help! My 15-year-old is into the tote of lights.  He loves Christmas lights!  ALOT!  He has even begun his own personal collection of lights which he keeps under the bed in his bedroom.  At the end of the season you can be sure to find this godly young man over six feet tall scrounging through the flyers and sale bins for the best of the best deals.  I underestimate his enthusiasm for decorating with lights on an annual basis.  I need to get busy and come up with something new and unusual as a lighting challenge to satisfy his driving desire to "put the lights up".  I'm going to have to be quick though or he'll strike out on his own:)  Maybe one of you have a lighting challenge to help us out.  Send it in and we'll see what Colonel Redeemed comes up with. 

Periodically throughout our Christmas Season of Fun as we celebrate Jesus' birthday, there will be surprise goodies given out.  Be sure to send in your answers to the questions each day and don't forget the projects.  These goodies will usually be a surprise.  You never know when you will be blessed.  Also, make sure to include your name and address on your answers when you email them to me at bwblessedmom6@gmail.com.  This information will NOT be posted.  We just need to know where to send your goodies if you are the winner that day.  Tomorrow will be the first goodie day.  You won't want to miss out.  The earlier you send me your answers, the better your oppportunity of winning. 

Talk to you in the morning over coffee(that's a hint about tomorrow's goodie)!  Blessed Mama

The Answers are Coming!!!

One of my most memorable Christmases was when I was 7 1/2 and mother had just died and I think the whole town had sent gifts to our home. The metal dollhouse, the little metal sewing machine, the blue willow play dishes and a special doll with several homemade outfits were treasures and brought a heartbroken little girl much comfort. Now I treasure every Christmas with all of our sons, daughters-in-love and all of our perfect grandchildren. Grammie

My favorite gift as a child was our puppy Cuddles. As an adult, it would be my Great Grandmother's hair comb. Blessed Mama

The answers have begun to come in! Thank you! Keep sending them in. Hopefully others will continue to join in on the fun. If you are just now reading the questions, then go ahead and jump in today. The project for today that was sent out yesterday was to decorate your front door and/or gate. I have mine started. Please send in a pic when you complete today's project. That way we can all come for a virtual "visit".

Remember..."Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice"


Most Memorable Christmas

Hi! Guess what I forgot to do yesterday? That's right. I forgot to post today's question/challenge. So...I'll answer Friday's question first then post the next one. By the way, you can still email me your answers to Friday's question OR post your answer in the comments section, whichever you prefer.

The question was: What was your most memorable Christmas and what/who made it so memorable?

My most memorable Christmas was one when I was very, very young, four years old. We lived on the farm, and my brother was a small baby. I had been sent to bed, but had woken back up when I heard the screen door slam---just like my dad did. Not knowing that anything unusual was underfoot, I got up to see where my dad had gone. Upon leaving my bedroom, I saw presents under the tree that hadn't been there before. My mom came flying out of her room and wanted to know what I was doing up. I said that I heard dad shut the door and wondered where he went. She said that it wasn't dad, it was Santa. Wasn't it amazing that Santa slammed the door just like dad? Anyway, it has been a lot of years since that Christmas, but it still sticks in my mind as the most memorable. As a mother myself now, I can only imagine how disappointing my early awakening and unexpected discovery of the gifts was to my mom.

Yesterday's questions is: What is the favorite gift you EVER received as a child? as an adult?

Today's project is: Decorate your front door and/or gate. I'm going to have to dig through my decorations and get busy at this one myself. If you are able, please send me a picture so that we can see how your project turned out. My favorite thing to do with the front door is to put ribbon around it horizontally and vertically and put a big bow in the middle to make it look like a wrapped package. It is easy and fairly inexpensive---especially if the ribbon was free:) This year, I'm going to put a large tag on each side that says Merry Christmas Love, Your Heavenly Father. We will have a constant visual reminder to help keep us focused on what's really real this way. Now don't you slide by all the fun we're having here at a Mother's Rewards. We can't wait for all of you to join us in our celebration of Jesus' birth! He is worth every bit of the fussing and effort. The questions and projects are quick and easy because I don't have the time for anything more than that myself. So, please join us as much as you can. If you are having difficulty leaving a comment, send your answers to me at bwblessedmom6@gmail.com. I'll be posting them each morning.

Today was one of my favorite days of the entire year. It was the day we collect our yearly supply of pinecones to decorate with. It was a beautiful day. Every year I find something that will make it easy "next year". Today was no exception. Next year, Lord willing, we will wear much more comfortable clothing and I will bring a coat. It isn't nearly as much fun watching all of the young ones scurrying around. I want to gather pinecones too. We were able to find a new type of pinecone that has a lot of sap in it. It is so nice and shiny after its time in the oven. *NOTE: Cook pinecones on a foil-covered baking sheet at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. This draws out the sap and kills all of the bugs. Pinecones can then be sprayed with a sealer. Unless they will be used in potpourri. If using in potpourri, just cook for the 30 minutes and allow to cool.* Pinecones have to be my absolute favorite decoration. They can be used in so many different ways and can usually be found for free. They also make great firestarters when you are done decorating with them. (If you have a fireplace or woodstove that is) Pinecones make decorating so very easy. They can be spray painted any color, flocked with fake snow, or left as is. They can be attached to a skewer and stuck in any arrangement or a wire can be attached to them and then the cone can be wired onto a wreath, garland, or spray. One of the favorite things I have done with them is to put them in a crystal bowl with white lights and opalescent shredded vinyl. The shredded vinyl covered any light cords that showed as well as made a beautiful reflective quality to the arrangement. It was so easy to use items I already had on hand. See, it does pay to save all of the pretties from gift wrappings. As with Autumn decorating, Christmas and/or winter decorating need not cost much, if anything. Paper snowflakes, pinecones, branches of greenery, pieces of wood/small logs with interesting bark, winter berries, leftover/saved ribbon, bargain fabric/tableclothes, whatever you have, use it. Look at what you have---all of it. Start thinking outside the box. Ask your Heavenly Father for ideas and see what He leads you to.

Caring for and decorating our homes is one of, if not the most important, ministries God gives us as wives to perform. How does your home reflect Christ in you? Are you at least attempting to create a place of calm, beauty, and rest for your family to live in? Have you devoted yourself to creating an atmosphere where God is glorified and honored? A place of beauty need not be extravagant. Simply making sure that there is at least one clean and tidy room or corner to refill our hearts may be all that we can do at this moment. Being content with what we can do right now is key. However, we must guard ourselves against becoming lazy or sluggish in our ministry at home. It is ever so easy to put off the homefront for the sake of working for our Lord elsewhere. Every so often this may be necessary, but it ought never be the norm. If it is, then we must take ourselves to task and renew our focus. Where has God placed us right now, at this moment? That's where our ministry is to be. That is where we are to spend ourselves for Christ. The "other areas" of ministry that are in our hearts will be brought about in time. Right now though, we must be about the business God has placed us in at this moment. I have found that I need to be faithful to serve where He places me because often it is is actually preparation for the dream in my heart. If I spend my time right now fussing about how I'm not where I'm called to be, then I am often missing the preparation necessary to walk in my God-given dream.

What does that have to do with pinecones? More than we might think. Pinecones are one of many items God has freely provided for us to use in blessing our homes. How we use them is as varied as we are. Need ideas? Ask God. Don't know where to start? Ask Him. Don't want to? Ask Him for the desire to serve. Wherever you are today, God loves you and desires His best for your life and home. Don't listen to the noise around you and believe that you can do nothing. With God all things are possible. Enjoy the Holidays. Let this be the year that Jesus is celebrated "BIG" in your home. Make it all about Him---every bit of it. Now, go decorate that door in someway, and have fun, fun, fun with Jesus! Love to you!


Now, for the moment we've all been waiting for * drumroll please * It's the official start of the Christmas Season on A Mother's Rewards!!!  Merry Christmas!!!  Christ is Born!!!

We get to celebrate Jesus' birthday for almost an entire month!  Well...we get to celebrate Jesus' birthday all year long, every year, but we get the opportunity to go all out for the next several weeks.  I love to decorate the trees in my house, hang the garland and wreaths, set out the knick knacks---all for Jesus' birthday.  Now, some folks see this as commercialism and a taking away of the true meaning of this Holy Season.  Each of us must worship Christ as we are led by the Holy Spirit.  At our house however, we believe in following God's example and taking what the enemy meant for evil and using it to bring glory to God.  So, we celebrate Jesus---BIG!  He gets more than one tree decorated just for His birthday, lots of garland, wreaths, and pinecones, homemade snowflakes,  and whatever else we can to celebrate His birth.   Since the word holiday actually means "Holy Day", we delight in making Jesus the center of it all.  Every single, little preparation we do is about and/or for Him.  We give gifts because we received the greatest gift---Jesus.  We sing because the choir of heavenly angels sang to announce His arrival.  We string lights because God placed the star in the heavens to tell of His birth to the learned minds of the time.  Now, much of our celebration may be simple, it's true.  Our decorations are not costly or rare.  Nor would they ever be found gracing the pages of a magazine.  The "bigness" of our celebration is the Love of God shed abroad in our heart at salvation.  Romans 5:5.  So, please, join us in celebrating the most perfect gift of Jesus.  May He live in your heart not only during the holiday season, but all the year through. 

So far, what has been your most memorable Christmas and what/who made it so memorable?

Remember to send the answer to me today so that it can be posted in the blog tomorrow. 
There will be a new question and/or challenge every day until Christmas Eve for us to answer and/or post pictures of.  Also, there will be a series of posts on Peaceful Holidays between now and then as well.  I have asked the Lord to reveal the truth of this matter to me so that we can live for Him as we ought every day---no matter what time of year it is.  If the rest of the world wants to be stressed out, live in chaos, struggle with depression, unmet expectations, and all of the other pitfalls of this time of year, that's their business.  As daughters of the Most High God, we have a higher calling than that.  We are called to be vessels of the Light of the World to those around us.  The Holy Spirit is to overflow out of us onto every one around us---even our families.  Sound impossible?  I don't believe it is.  So, get ready for a season filled with more fun, friendship, and deliverance than you ever dreamed possible.  God is good-all the time, and He has great things stored up for those who love Him.  Let's live like the children of God that we are today and every day.  May you be blessed and may you enjoy the discovery of the bargains God provides for you if you are shopping on this day termed Black Friday.  

Pictures of the Harvest

Merry Christmas! Before we officially begin our Christmas season, I'm going to post the pictures of our Autumn Harvest Season. Yes, these are the ones I said were coming quite a while ago. The Fall season may be over now, but perhaps there are some inexpensive/free decorating ideas that can be tucked away for next year.
I'm just going to give a brief overview of what you will be seeing. First off will be the pumpkins that we "painted" words and/or monograms on. This could be done with black paint, but we used Sharpie. I printed off words and/or letters in a font that we liked best, went over the back of the words with pencil very heavily, taped them on the chosen pumpkin, and traced over the lettering. This worked like a carbon copy. Then I took my Sharpie (any permanent marker would work) and went over the tracing on the pumpkin. Viola! Almost instant success! We loved it. A fun and easy project that can be as casual or elegant as you want.
There is also a pic of some grasses one of my children picked and brought in as a bouquet for me. If something has pretty colors, shapes, and/or texture, it may very well end up being brought in "for Mama". "I saw the Burgundy color of those weeds, Mama. So I had to bring it in to you." has been said more than once to me. Guess what! They were right. I enjoy the weeds and grasses as much as they flowers. God always makes sure to provide the children with presents to bless their mamas. Now why can't we see the presents He provides for us to extend to those we love as our children do? Oh we of little faith.
OK, this is about the pictures. Sorry. There are a couple of shots thrown in for fun. A little pumpkin that wasn't quite ripe found a home sitting in a grape vine wreath on a scrap of fabric in the corner of a former church pew. Whoa! That sentence was long and awkward. Not sure how to revise that one. Lastly, there is a just for fun shot of my littlest using a pumpkin for one of his favorite things---sitting on it and rolling back and forth. The pumpkins were also used as step stools for this small but mighty man of God to reach the light switches, the kitchen counter, and whatever else struck his fancy:) The smaller ones that fit his little hands just right also proved irresistible for throwing like a ball---he really likes balls. This activity was halted quickly. Oh! I almost forgot there is also a shot of the Harvest Moon. What a beautiful view we were given for several evenings in a row. Of course every time we saw the large orange sphere we each had to sing "Shine on, shine on harvest moon up in the sky..." I think that perhaps Papa was rather thankful when the Harvest Moon season had past:)
Please feel free to send me pics of your Autumn Season to post as ideas for next year. I pray that your Autumn Season of Harvest brought you bountiful blessings in every area of your life. Happy Harvest and Merry Christmas!


Autumn Butters

Here's the Autumn Butter Recipes:
Autumn Butters

Posted: 24 Nov 2009 03:00 AM PST

Autumn butters add country charm to company dinners or brunches. They also are the perfect hostess gift presented with a loaf of fresh homemade bread. Add the following recipes to your list of autumn traditions!

Honey Pumpkin Butter

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt -- optional

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large saucepan. Simmer uncovered on low heat about 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick. When thick enough ladle into jars and refrigerate. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Easy Autumn Butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup softened butter

Beat the brown sugar, pumpkin-pie spice whipping into the softened butter. Keep refrigerated.

Crockpot Apple Butter

8 cups applesauce

4 cups sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cloves

Stir all ingredients together well in a large bowl. Transfer to a crockpot and cook, UNCOVERED, on high for 6 to 7 hours. It isn't necessary to stir it. Cool and place into containers. Keep refrigerated or may be frozen.

Ginger Apple Butter

4 pounds McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1" chunks

1 1/2 cups apple cider

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced

Bring the apples, cider, brown sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a saucepan, stirring. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until apples fall apart, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Purée in food processor or blender in batches with the minced ginger. Return to pan.

Partially cover apple butter and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to covered containers and store in refrigerator for up to one week for best freshness.

Autumn Butters and Black Friday

Happy Thanksgiving---a day early!!!

I want to pass on some really yummy looking recipes for various Autumn Butters as well as some info. on great Black Friday deals. I'll put the recipes at the bottom and list the sales now. Notebookingpages.com is having a Black Friday sale. This one would be for homeschoolers who have been wanting some copywork or notebooking pages. I noticed a 50% off in their ad. Also, pennyraine.com is going to be having an amazing sale of 50% off your entire order when you purchase from the left hand column! Wow! The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is also having a great sale. This site has all types of books and goodies. This may be just the spot for grandparents to fill in the rest of their Christmas gift buying. You will be required to set up an account with a password, but hey, shipping is ALWAYS free on this site.

Another new website that I received notice of is Beehive Cottage. I haven't been there yet, but am on my way soon, very, very soon. It was said to be like having a warm, loving grandmother. Who can resist that?

I pray that as we are nearing Thanksgiving, each and every one of us slows down enough to spend some time contemplating true Thankfulness. Am I truly thankful? Perhaps it would help us if we were to look up the meaning of the word. THANKFUL - Grateful; impressed with a sense of kindness received, and ready to acknowledge it. THANKFULLY - With a grateful sense of favor or kindness received. THANKFULNESS - Expression of gratitude; acknowledgement of a favor. 2. Gratitude; a lively sense of good received. So, am I truly thankful? I'm grateful, but am I ready to acknowledge it? Do I express true thankfulness? Do I acknowledge favors given me?

OK, here's the real "ouch". Do I acknowledge the favors and have gratitude for the kindnesses I receive from my family? or is this a form of good manners that I reserve for friends and acquaintances? Do I diligently send out thank you notes to others because "it's the proper thing to do", yet allow the kindnesses I receive daily from those closest to me go by with a casual "thanks"? Hmmm. Do they even receive a thanks? So, am I truly thankful or do I just know how to conduct myself politely? What's really in my heart? Perhaps I need a complete thankfulness refill. I know that I am abundantly blessed, but I must confess that I haven't always expressed my gratitude.

The scripture is quite clear in Psalm 107:1. "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!" The Psalms are filled with instructions to give thanks to the Lord--for He is good. I think that some time spent putting these scriptures in my heart is just the activity to take me into a completely authentic day of Thanksgiving tomorrow. I'm thinking that spending a few moments to look up the verses, type them onto self-adhesive address labels, and stick them on the leaves of our Autumn garland would definitely be time well spent. If I put the garland along the kitchen countertop facing the dining room, we could see these reminders of thanksgiving as we eat breakfast tomorrow.

Which brings me to another topic. Peaceful holidays. Is experiencing a holiday season of complete peace the Mission Impossible of motherhood? Often the busyness and stress of the season makes celebrating the gift of Jesus seem anything but peaceful. However, I have a feeling that the Word of God has much to teach us on this topic. As we enter the Christmas season, there will be a number of posts devoted to experiencing a Season of Peace this year. So stay tuned...the daily Christmas question and/or challenge will begin the day after tomorrow. Just don't forget to come out and play with us. Those snowflakes are going to look awesome posted on the blog---hint, hint.

To end our Autumn Season of Celebration, I'm posting pictures of the pumpkin art we scattered throughout our home this year. Celebrate Jesus, He is the Lord of the Harvest. Grounded in Him we will be truly Thankful. Much love to you all!


Blessings of a Brother

As we count down the days until Thanksgiving, I want to take a few minutes to tell how Thankful I am for my brother, Tim. My brother has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. I don't know how he felt growing up, but to me it was like he and I facing the world together. Whenever we played pioneer or wagon train, he was always the brother doing the hunting and "manly" things while I stayed and cooked over a "fire" and did the "womanly" tasks. When he was really young I let him be Ken while playing Barbies. I'm sure he would much have preferred G.I. Joes.

We've come a long, long road since wagon train and playing by the creek. Yet with families of our own we are both still facing adventures every day. It's just that now they are adventures of faith and trust in God rather than pretend adventures under the apple tree. I have watched my brother grow and mature in His walk with Christ. It has to be one of the sweetest answers to prayer God has given me. I am so proud of Tim. Not with an ungodly sort of pride, but an I am so blessed by him type.

To some, the economic downturn in our nation has brought about disaster. For my brother Tim, it has brought him right back around to the destiny God has for him. Yes, he lost his job, but no, he isn't out of work. He has reopened his own construction business that God led him to begin several years ago. Not only is Tim back where God put him, he has jobs to work at too. Isn't God good? I absolutely love, love, love watching God work. Guess what! God has done even more than provide jobs for his business. He also provided the perfect vehicle for the business too! See, it really doesn't matter what the world's system is doing. God takes care of His own.

"I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Psalm 37:25

"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine." Psalm 33:18,19

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing." Psalm 34:8-10

I am just so blessed to watch Tim step out in faith and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit day in and day out. So many, even fellow believers, wouldn't be brave enough to do what he has done. They would be fearful and hesitate. Perhaps they would keep searching for a job that would be considered "safe" simply because it provides a steady paycheck. Not my brother. He may have wanted to do that, but he didn't. He sought the Lord's leading, listened to Him, and obeyed. I am so proud of him. Because of His obedience, Tim will know a level of relationship with God that many never experience. Walking in complete faith in God with complete abandonment to "the couch of comfortable Christianity" takes the believer into a realm of closeness to the Godhead three in one only the bravely obedient know. There will be many days that it will appear to be the wrong choice, but no matter how things seem, an abandonment to obedience is never wrong.

Over and over I have listened to believers lavish praise on those brave enough to step out in faith. They laud these brothers and sisters in Christ for their great faith as if it were a great accomplishment of the individual. Yet, those who have stepped out of the boat of "Comfortable Christianity" onto the waves of radical obedience know that this great faith and anointing came at a great price. The crucifixion of our flesh can be a painful thing. To say nothing of the pain from the slivers we obtain while going against the grain of religion. Yes, to step out of the ordinary into the unknown isn't painless or easy,but it is most definitely blessed. It is an honor to be able to watch my brother in his abandonment to obedience. An honor I am thankful to have been given.

I am sure that my parents have had their socks blessed off as well. It has to be an amazing experience to witness your children step out of the boat of the normal onto the water of faith and walk across the waves to Jesus. All of the years of their faithfulness to teach and train us in the ways of the Lord are bearing much fruit. I look forward to watching our children walk with the Lord with complete faith and trust in Him as well. Isaiah 54:13, 14 Thank you Tim for being faithful to Jesus. Thank you also for being obedient when He called. A journey has begun and you will never be satisfied with "normal" again. The blessings of a brother are many, and I am blessed, blessed, blessed. Thank you Lord.




Many stores have their ads available for viewing online. Also, if you prefer shoppig online, some of the stores offer their sales online as well. This can save a lot of time and trips. Here's a link for you to check out: http://www.black-friday.net/ .



Hardened to Difficulties

"Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice." Isaiah 41:10 amp

"...Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and distrubed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]" John 14:27b amp

"There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]." 1 John 4:18 amp

God says He will strengthen and harden me to difficulties. This verse has always sounded like such a good thing to me. Being hardened to difficulties. It doesn't say hardened by them, just to them. God's desire for His children is not a heart hardened by trials, but a heart protected by a hardened surface that the enemy can't penetrate. How does this come about? As we go through trials God strengthens us and hardens us to them so that each time another trial comes, it bothers us less and less.

The more God takes me through, the less I worry when hit with a difficult circumstance or trouble. Hurtful words and actions that we experience are never pleasant. However, I have found that the longer I walk with Jesus and the more I walk according to His ways, the less "ouch" nasty things produce. Things that would have caused much sorrow and tears in years past no longer even bring a wince now. I have experienced God's loving care enough to know that He is faithful, and He has never failed me. Better still, He isn't going to---ever. There isn't any need to fuss, fret, and fume over anything. God is faithful, and He is good. His care of me is perfect.

Is there a pressing need in my life? Do the children need clothing? Is a bill coming due? Is the larder looking a little sparse? Oh, I see. That's ok. Whatever is needed will come in at exactly the right time. That time is now? Hmmm. Really? Who says, man or God? What does God say regarding this situation anyway? Let's see...He supplies all my needs....He never leaves me or forsakes me....I've never seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread...If I seek first the Kingdom of God, all these things will be added to me...He satisfies my mouth with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagles...Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights with whom is no variance nor shadow of turning...my children are taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace...He gently leads those with young...He leads me beside the still and restful waters...my cup runneth over...He restoreth my soul...The Lord is my Shepherd[to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack...and on and on and on the Word continues to testify of God's faithful and constant care of His children. A journey through the Word quickly disperses any fear, worry, or nagging doubt that may attempt to distract me from God's goodness.

1 John 4:18 tells us that he who is afraid has not yet reached the full maturity of love. That they are not yet grown into love's complete perfection. After reading these verses in Isaiah 41:10 and 1 John 4:18, I can't help but think that perhaps being hardened to difficulties is connected to reaching the full maturity of love. That's where I want to be, in the full maturity of love. I want to grow into love's complete perfection. I long to get to that place where I have walked so long with Jesus experiencing His loving care, provision, and protection that it is impossible for me to fear or even worry a teeny, tiny bit. What a wondrous realm of peace that must be. I'm on my way! Step by step, verse by verse, with every adjustment of my flesh towards Christ's life in me I'm maturing in God. Since 1John 4:8 tells me that God is love, then if I'm maturing in God, I'm maturing in Love. What about you? Are you growing into love's complete perfection? Are you allowing God to strengthen you and harden you to difficulties?

Our Heavenly Father's care of His children is so extravagant that not only does He protect us and strengthen us in time of trouble, but He also provides a way so that it doesn't hurt so much the next time trouble comes around. Such tender, compassionate care. I would surely hate to be an enemy of God's child! He's very protective of his own. His love is boundless and sure. I pray that you will experience the Father's extravagant and boundless care in a way that is more real that ever before. That before this season of Thanksgiving has past, you will have tasted of the great goodness of your Heavenly Father.

In just two days we will be only one week away from Thanksgiving! Earlier in the season, there were a few tips and ideas that came in. Thank you so much to all of you who shared with us. Now that we are literally days away from Christmas, don't forget to share any ideas for quick gifts, easy/cheap decorating, or anything else about Christmas that you want to pass on. You never know what might bless someone. Blessing others is one of the truest representations of Christ I can think of. Wasn't God's gift of Jesus to the earth the greatest blessing ever given? I think so.

Perhaps you don't have any tips or ideas. Maybe you have a question for someone. Send those in too. We'll see what answers we get. NOW FOR A FUN ANNOUNCEMENT! Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, A Mother's Reward will start a series of special Holiday posts for the Christmas Season! These posts will come from ...guess who...YOU!!! For a little bit of fun during the Christmas season, daily questions and/or topics relating to Christmas will be posted each evening along with the regular weekly posts. After reading the next day's topic or question, you zip off an answer or comment to me. I'll post the answers and comments to the blog the following morning. It will be almost like having a special Christmas coffee (or tea) with girlfriends every morning! Nothing too involved or time consuming--just quick, Christmas fun. Remember these being the Friday after Thanksgiving. Saturday morning will be the first posting. With so much activity and potential stress going on during the holiday season, I couldn't resist throwing in something completely FUN! God loves fun! Really, He does. He intends for us to as well. So, let's get the ball rolling next Friday evening. Don't forget! I may throw out a few sample questions/topics before then, just for practice. So be watching close.

Now, I know that there seems to be a zillion and one things requiring your attention, but don't forget that January is good book month here on A Mother's Reward. So, please be thinking of what books are your favorite reads, what is sitting in your "to be read" pile, and which books are on your "yet to get" list. Starting January 1, lists that you have sent in will be published on a daily basis as they come in. I am really looking forward to discovering something new to read. I plan on posting books according to style i.e. mystery, novel, self-help. Hopefully, this will make finding a book easier. Go ahead and send in your book lists whenever it is convenient to do so. Any sent in early will be saved and posted in January.

SNOWFLAKE MAKING MARATHON!!! How long has it been since you made a paper snowflake? Years? or was it merely days? No matter. Snowflakes provide us with yet another example of God's amazing creativity. As with fingerprints, no two are alike. The Christmas fun topic a.k.a. challenge today is this---MAKE A SNOWFLAKE! If you can't remember how, that's ok. I'll try and give a quick how-to here, but your best bet would be to google how to make a snowflake and go from there. OK, get a sheet of paper, white for the traditionalists, and any color or texture you want for everyone else. Fold the paper in half one direction, then in half the other direction. You could begin cutting now or if you prefer, you could continue to fold. Using sharp scissors (not fabric scissors), begin snipping little shapes out along the folded edge. CAUTION!!! Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT cut the folded edge completely. If you do, you will have only a portion of a snowflake rather than the whole. That's it. Keep folding and snipping until your "flakes" look like you want. Most likely, you won't be able to stop with only one. Once you've finished, take a picture and/or scan your flakes to me and I'll post the pics on the blog! We'll have a blizzard for a day on A Mother's Reward. Now before you opt not to participate in this one, let me encourage you to at least try one. You might be surprised how therapeutic it can be to just fold and snip on a sheet of paper for a few minutes. It honestly is relaxing to focus on something completely unimportant and yes, naughty word that it is...FUN for even just a little bit of the day. So, try it, you might like it. Besides being fun to make, homemade snowflakes provide amazingly inexpensive decorations too. White ones on a dark colored tablecloth really stand out and create a festive look for the table. Hung from ribbon or fishing line at different heights in a window, they create a high-end look for a bottom of the barrel price. Opalescent glitter makes snowflakes hung on a lighted tree, wreath, or garland cause beautiful reflections. Snowflakes can be little bitty, monstrous, intricate, simple, red, white, blue, fushcia, glittered, plain, paper, fabric, heavy, or light. A snowflake cut out with an exacto knife(to avoid fold lines) from cardstock and covered with pearlized glitter could be attached to an inexpensive nightlight for a new winter decoration and/or gift. The possibilities truly are endless. Yea!!! You've reached the conclusion of the first Christmas Fun Topic Sampler! [Not all topics/questions will be this detailed and wordy---I promise] Find some paper, scissors, and go be "flakey"!