11.30.2009

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. 

NEW ANNOUNCEMENT!!!
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"

11.29.2009

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!

11.27.2009



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. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY FOR SATURDAY, NOV. 28, 2009:
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!

11.25.2009

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!

11.23.2009

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.

11.19.2009

BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING

HERE'S A MESSAGE THAT WAS FORWARDED ON TO ME. MAYBE IT WILL BE OF USE TO SOME OF YOU. ENJOY!

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/ .

I'M STILL LOOKING FOR THOSE SNOWFLAKES:) ALSO, DON'T FORGET TO SEND IN THE PICTURES OF YOUR FALL DECORATING. OUR SCARECROW DIDN'T HAPPEN THIS YEAR---AGAIN, BUT WE DO HAVE SOME PUMPKINS SET AROUND WITH WORDS ON THEM. THE PICS WILL BE POSTED LATER THIS AFTERNOON--I HOPE.

11.17.2009

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.

***SAMPLE TOPIC FOR CHRISTMAS FUN***
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"!

11.13.2009

I have to apologize for the lack of blog posts in the past several weeks. Life has become very busy lately. I'm not sure why. Right now at our house half of us are working very hard at getting over a crud bug. The other half are working equally as hard at staying healthy.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I just want to take a little bit of time to be Thankful for divine health that Jesus paid for with His stripes. May I never take it for granted, and may I enjoy every moment of every day that I am healthy and feeling well. Also, if I should happen to feel less than great, may I be gracious and refuse to behave in a selfish manner.

Those of us who are sneezing and wheezing around here are extremely grateful for all of the love and tea being poured into us. Angel is in her element making tea and then making certain that we drink it all. Even though we may not want to drink any more tea, we know that it is her love for us that makes her push us to drink what we have and then drink some more. Of course the sooner we recover, the less possibility there is of her getting it too:) however, we'll just be thankful for the care. At least some of us will. Her brother might have other ideas if she attempts to make him drink any more:)

Angel's care has caused me to ponder what it really means to love someone. Is true love always molly coddling, giving in to, and catering to an individual's every whim and fancy? OR Is it maintaining the course and making certain that those you love drink their tea--again and again--even when they gripe and whine? Sometimes love has to be tough. It means filling the cup of an ungrateful griper yet again just because that's what they truly need.

For parents, that might mean that we firmly and consistently enforce and reenforce certain behaviors and/or habits that will add to the future success of our children--even when they "don't want to". Perhaps it means that we get out of the moment and view the big picture for our children. Small habits and behaviors may not matter right now, but they could be laying a foundation for future success or failure, depending on what they are. How am I parenting? Am I parenting for the moment doing whatever it takes to achieve the result I desire right now or am I parenting for the future by building a foundation for success? Will I keep pouring down the tea or will I listen to the whining and complaining and give in? I pray that I am tough when it's needed, soft when it's not, and that I have God's wisdom to know when to keep pouring that tea and when there's been enough.

I have a fun idea to pass on before I go. This past week I was sorting through clothes that Conn has. There were several little shirts that had stains on them. I hate throwing clothing away, but they were enough that he couldn't wear them to town. Not wanting to toss them out, I kept thinking of ways to get those stains out. Well, I couldn't come up with anything. Then a new thought crossed my mind. What would they look like if I died them in coffee? It might lend a nice look to them as well as cover the stains. So, I tried it. Guess what! It worked beautifully. The stains couldn't be seen, and Conn now has some new tan shirts. If you aren't a fan of coffee, you will probably want to skip this idea. The shirts do still have a faint smell of coffee on them. I enjoy coffee's aroma, so it's a plus for me, but not everyone can handle the smell. So...if that's you, just ignore this tip. I used some inexpensive instant coffee that we had so that good coffee wasn't wasted on the project. One of the shirts was a baseball style. The coffee gave it an aged look that makes it look more expensive. I would recommend squeezing as much excess out as possible and putting it in the dryer right away. If they have to wait for the dryer, a little bit of streaking does occur. We are going to run the ones that streaked through a light washing and see what happens. Since the clothes were too stained to wear, and the coffee was ultra cheap, no matter what the results are, we aren't out anything. That's the best part. If you don't have coffee, try tea.

Econobusters.com has some fun Freebies today. You might enjoy seeing what's there. Have a healthy weekend and enjoy being Thankful for the Harvest---whatever form it comes in.

11.09.2009

Websites to check out

Good Afternoon!

I have some new websites for you to enjoy. The first one that I want to mention is www.oldfashionedliving.com. This site is chock full of great articles and so much more. I've been there several times and have yet to see it all. There is a lot of info. and recipes for tea lovers, but don't stay away if you aren't into tea. There is plenty for all. Great recipes, tips, too much to share here.

The next site is alice.com. This site is for the lover of bargains. Bargains, bargains, bargains are here. Best of all, FREE SHIPPING! I purchased a 5 pk. of razors for $1.77. There were some women's personal items for $.41. That's for a 24 ct. box! Can you say yearly supply? Now, some of the items are priced about the same as we would find in the store. Some are even a little higher. However, there are quite a few products that we cannot find in our stores at all. By taking advantage of the best deals on products they use, a person could seriously stock up for less than a single item would cost full price normally. A few weeks ago there was Suave shampoo and conditioners for 61 cents each! As you can see, by watching the sales, this site enables a person to stock up on the priciest part of our necessities. Don't forget the free shipping with a minimum order of six items too. Alice.com carries diapers, paper products, laundry detergent, coffee, tea, snacks, so much. You'll just have to check it out yourself.

I've mentioned TEACH magazine's website before, but be sure and check it out again. They have a new website and are also offering some amazing prices on bundles. Bundles are groups of like products offered at a serious discount. Try $150 worth of products for approx. $25(24.97) worth of discount on at least one bundle. Some of the topics are homeschool oriented, but there are quite a few that would bless anyone. Getting dinner on the table without stress, getting control of the housework, training the children, marriage, these are just a few of the topics with a bundle discount. One bundle could provide several Christmas presents at one low price. I'm headed back there later on to check it out more thoroughly myself.

It seems as if there was another website that I wanted to pass on to you, but it has escaped my mind. I'll just have to save it for another day. Oh, wait! I remembered! It is moneysavingmom.com. Money saving tips and strategies for today's high grocery prices abound on this website. Effective coupon using is discussed along with many other helpful tips and suggestions. Be sure and watch for a post answering the question of how rural dwellers far from larger areas with certain chain stores can save money. An answer will be posted sometime in the future. I'm looking forward to reading the answer.

One last tidbit of money-saving info. for you, if you happen to be in an area where CVS, Aldis, Krogers, Walgrens, and some other stores along those same lines are at, make sure that you get coupons from a Sunday newspaper, stack those coupons, practice some other saving strategies and get those amazing money-saving deals available to you. Those of us who are far away from these stores will rejoice with you at the immense savings you get. You can even end up getting a lot free products using the right combination of coupons and strategies. It sounds like fun. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, don't worry. It's all new to me too. Check out the articles on using coupons on moneysavingmom.com and you could google Jim Bob and Amy Howard and check out their info. on it too.

OK, there's another little bit of savings info. I'll throw in. Then, I'm done. I promise. I know that times are tight for a lot of people. If that is you, or even if it isn't, look for and pray about ways to stock up on the basics as much as you are able to. I could see the wisdom in "putting by", but simply didn't have the resources available to do much, if any. So, I commited the matter to prayer. I told the Lord that I could see if would be wise and if He wanted me to do this then I would trust Him to make it possible for me to do. If He didn't then I would simply rest in the assurance that He was going to provide in some other manner. Almost immediately, items that were on my "necessity" list began to go on sale. Other things that were on my list were provided in other ways. This wasn't a one time deal either. It has been going on continuously for several weeks! Every time we run out of something or need something, it either goes on sale or is given to us--every time. As a matter of fact, it has become so regular that when we ran out of a certain item this past week, I was actually SURPRISED not to find it in the sale flyer from the grocery. Oh well, I thought. Apparently, we aren't to have it right now. Guess what! When I went to the store to purchase our other groceries, it was on sale--even though it hadn't been listed in the flyer! Isn't God good? He take such good care of His children! Why do we ever, ever worry?

Here's the final tidbit that I was going to mention earlier. Try cooking as much from scratch as your particular situation will allow. If you aren't already in a habit or practice of doing this, don't freak out. Just try one new thing at a time. The savings will be tremendous I can assure you, not to mention the health benefits your family will experience. (I'll save that for another post) Homemade food usually tastes yummier too. The internet is full to overflowing of easy, affordable, and completely yummy recipes to begin cooking with. All you need is right there OR find someone you know who cooks and ask them for help. I'm sure they would be glad to help however they can. The saying from an old commercial just crossed my mind "Try it. You might like it." If nothing else, by practicing a little thrift, you will find yourself experiencing somewhat of a thrill. You might even discover a "What a Woman!" hiding inside.

We'll talk more about this later. I can tell. Love to you, and remember...Celebrate the Giver of the Harvest! He is God and He is good!
It's hard to tell where a nursing mama's thoughts will take her during a 4:30 a.m. feeding. Many a thought has been pondered at this early hour. Today was no exception. The beginning of today's thought is still a mystery, yet it's completion has yet to be reached.

Anyway...this morning, I was thinking about wool. (I told you it was a mystery) I considered the moisturizing properties of the lanolin in the wool as well as the wool's water resistance and warmth. These thoughts naturally progressed towards the spinning of the wool into thread and/or yarn then onto the creating of clothing and blankets.

It was at this stage in the early morning journey of thought where the path drifted slightly. I began to experience the familiar inner excitement as a revelation of God's perfect provision for His children entered the early morning reverie. For as I contemplated how amazing it is that God so perfectly designed His creation to care and provide the perfect materials for His childen to use in their daily lives, my thoughts went from the warmth of wool to the cooling properties of cotton. This in turn sparked a desire for future study of other fibers used in the making of cloth such as flax and linen. Proverbs 31:13 "She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hand [to develop it]. and 21 "She fear not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet." crossed the mental trail as well before it shifted to another avenue of thought.

At the thought of spinning the fibers into cloth and the perfectness of God's provision, my thoughts went immediately to the creating of the various fabric in the temple that the Lord instructed the children of Israel to weave while enroute to the Promised Land. Who was better equipped to construct these veils of cloth for the temple than the Israelites? Were these not the very people who had been constructing the cloth for Egyptian royalty for several hundred years? God was working all things out for their good even in the midst of captivity that was a direct consequence of sin. Oh, God is so good! He is amazing! Nothing is too big or difficult for Him to work it out for our good! Romans 8:28

It is doubtful that the Israelites responsible for creating beautiful masterpieces of cloth for the Egyptian royals while enslaved by them had even the remotest inkling that God was going to use their skills of slavery to create His temple. Yet this is exactly what God did. He took what slavery provided and used it to bring honor and glory to His Kingdom. The words Joseph spoke to his brothers regarding his years in captivity in Egypt come to mind. "As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good," Genesis 50:20.

God is the same today as He was then. Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8 He will take what was thought for evil against us and use it for good. We must not fear or worry about today. No matter how "evil" it seems, God may very well be using what was meant for evil to equip us with skills to serve Him and bring about good. As we enter this new week, let's consider the perfect provision of the Lord. If He used even the direct consequence of sin in the Israelites to provide needed skills for serving Him, and He did, then He can do the same for each of us in our unique situations. Even if like the Israelites, they are the consequence of our sin. Only God is powerful enough, intelligent enough, and loving enough to do that for us.

My Grandmother had a favorite song that closes out this journey of early morning thoughts perfectly. If you know this song, sing it to yourself as you go about the day God has given you as a reminder of His perfect provision.

CONSIDER THE LILIES
Consider the lilies they don't toil nor spin, yet there's not a king with more splendor than them
Consider the sparrows they don't plant nor sow, yet they're fed by the Master who watches them grow.
We have a Heavenly Father above, with eyes full of mercy and a heart full of love.
He really cares when your head is bowed low.
Consider the lilies and then you will know.
May I introduce you to this friend of mine, who hangs out the stars, tells the sun when to shine.
He kisses the flowers each morning with dew, yet He's not too busy to care about you.
We have a Heavenly Father above, with eyes full of mercy, and a heart full of love.
He really cares when your head is bowed low.
Consider the lilies and then you will know.
CONSIDER THE LILIES AND THEN YOU WILL KNOW

There has been a delay in the publishing of this post. It was written early this morning, but since I had to retype the entire thing, it is just not being published. Sorry for the delay.

11.03.2009

My Vital Need

"Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; he proclaimed a fast in all Judah. And Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord [yearning for Him with all their desire]." 2 Chronicles 20:3,4

Jehoshaphat was in a tough spot. A great multitude had come against him to battle. What did he do? Did he go to pieces? Did he rush out to fight? Did he run and hide? No, none of these things. According to scripture, Jehoshaphat feared. He didn't remain in fear though. He set himself to seek the Lord. This wasn't a casual inquiry either. He sought the Lord determinedly, as his vital need. Then Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast in all Judah. What did Judah do? Were they busy running for their lives in the face of this great multitude ready for battle? No, they gathered together to ask help from the Lord. They came to seek the Lord. They were yearning for Him with all their desire.

What do I do when faced with a tough situation? When it seems as if a great multitude has come up against me for battle, what do I do? Do I determinedly seek the Lord as my vital need? Do I yearn for Him with all my desire or do I bravely try to stand in my own strength and fight under my own power? Do I lean on my own understanding or do I trust in the Lord with all my heart and allow Him to direct my paths? Prov. 3:5,6 Let's see what happened with Jehoshaphat. In verse 13 says that all Judah stood before the Lord, with their children and their wives. Everyone was there, even the children. A Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the middle of the assembly said these words in verse 15-17 "Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat, the Lord says this to you; Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go down to them. Behold, they will come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the ravine before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you." Twice they were told not to fear or be dismayed. Twice! They were also told that they would not have to fight. Now for the big question. How many times have I failed to set myself to seek the Lord, assumed because of the "great multitude" come up against me that war was on, and started fighting when God never intended me to fight at all, only to stand still and see His salvation? Oh me, oh my. How many messes have I made when my Heavenly Father had a victory planned for me? Oh the victory came, but did it take so long to come because I took so long to seek? Hmmm, it's definitely something to think about.

After Jehoshaphat received the answer from the Lord, what did He do? He bowed his head with his face to the ground worshipping the Lord. Not only King Jehoshaphat but all of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him. Some of the Levites and Korahites stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. Worshipping the Lord for His promise of deliverance while facing a great multitude. I wonder what would happen if I followed this example from scripture? I'm curious how many "fights of faith" I would be actively engaged in. I wonder how many times I would simply have to stand still and experience the Lord's deliverance.

The next morning, Judah obeyed the Word of the Lord and went out. Jehoshaphat spoke to Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He told them to "Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall prosper. When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy [priestly] garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever! And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against he men of Ammon...and they were [self-]slaughtered;" The great multitude turned on itself. Each individual group within the whole became suspicious of each other and began to fight among themselves. Verse 24 says that none escaped! Now that's good news, but it gets even better. Verse 25 tells us that not only did Judah not have to fight because the great multitude self-destructed, but that great spoils were left behind for the taking. So much spoil was left that it took three days to gather it! Not only did Judah not have to fight, God abundantly blessed them besides!

Every season in life contains its own share of "great multitudes" which come up against us. Some of these multitudes are loud and noisy, some sneaky and subtle. Yet, all of them are ready for battle. I need to have my armor on, God instructed Judah to go up as if to war. Except instead of fighting, they were to watch God fight for them. Heavenly Father, I pray that when the great multitude comes up against me for battle that I set myself to seek You, that I put myself in a position to hear Your voice, and that when You speak, I obey. May I be willing to stand still and see Your salvation in my life. May every word that I speak and action that I take be an act of worship before You, O Lord, my strength and my deliverer. Thank You for the victory through Jesus, your Son. In His name I pray, Amen.