8.31.2010

Not for Me...At Least Not Right Now

Whew! My head is spinning from too much info! After skimming through a minute portion of information from a special package on building a successful family business, I have come to a conclusion. This conclusion isn't new to me, as a matter of fact, it's one that I frequently come to. Here it is, I am not a business-minded individual. Yep, that's it. That's my conclusion.

Everytime I am faced with information on making money, marketing, or any idea associated with business, I am overwhelmed by what seems to me a cold, hard lack of care for others. Is business really cold and uncaring? Probably not. However, reading article after article about making money by becoming relational and leaving pleasant comments on the blogs of others causes me to seriously wonder about the sincerity of those blogs I now visit. Honestly, do these people truly care or are they writing as if they do to generate traffic and as a result cash? Please don't misunderstand, I bear no ill feelings towards those individuals who are attempting to earn extra finances. I understand how welcome extra income can be. It's just that as I was skimming through hint after hint after well-intended hint I couldn't help but notice that most of the blogs I visit do follow these hints.

So, here I am sitting here at my computer attempting to type my way through yet another battle with an age-old enemy of mine, frustration. Why is it that so many fellow believers can write, read, and follow money-making advice freely while I can't even consider following revenue-raising suggestions without feeling as if I would be explointing those who visited my blog. It isn't as if the advice is dishonest or ungodly. At least I don't think it is. For some reason, much of the advice screams WRONG! to me. I just can't do it. Furthering my frustration is the fact that not all of the money-making ideas affect me this way. Those ideas that were straight forward face-to-face dealings didn't bother me at all. As a matter of fact, selling a product that will bring happiness to others or better their lives in some way brings me great joy. Likewise, providing a needed or helpful service to others is a blessing that far exceeds any financial benefit obtained. So why does the thought of writing a how-to article on an interesting subject with the express purpose of selling it bother me? Why does contemplating the addition of revenue-raising advertisements to my blog make me cringe? I don't know. I just know that if a how-to article is to be written and sold by me it will be with the intent of helping someone NOT making money. For me, the money has to be secondary to the helping and/or blessing of others.

Thank you for allowing me to blog "vent". I guess I've figured out why all of those suggestions and tips bother me, they are more about making money and less about serving and blessing. Most likely, this has something to do with the gifts God put inside of me. (1 Corin-thians 12) Ahhh, (sigh of relief) there's nothing wrong with me after all. All is ok. Thanks again for listening. I'd better go now. I've got croissants to create and papers to grade. By the way, those who are able to utilize money-making tips and suggestions without feeling any remorse, go to it! Your family and God's Kingdom will be blessed with the extra resources made. As for me, I'm believing that God has the perfect resource-increasing plan ideally suited to the giftings He has placed within me. Let's rejoice together in His abundant Blessings and provision.

Hmmm, that last sentence made me think of Fall. Abundant blessings and provision always make me think of harvest, and harvest most definitely makes me think of Autumn. In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing garden updates and Fall planting ideas with each other as well as ways to bring new life into old things. I promise, no more blog venting:) Looking forward to hearing what everyone's gardens are up to and what their Fall planting plans. Be ready to tell us about your favorite "something from nothing" project too. So, grab a cup of your favorite Autumn beverage, find a comfie spot, and take a quick break from the day's work. While you've got your feet up, jot down a few ideas to share with the rest of us. We'll be waiting for you! Right here at A Mother's Rewards!

8.27.2010

Kicking Up Our Favorites

When thinking of party food, dollar signs immediately begin to add up in the mind.  Cream cheese, whipping cream, and other ingredients commonly used to create delectable goodies are often quite pricey.  Does this mean spending a lot of money for party food is unavoidable?  Not at all.  Extra special, even elegant, treats can be made with common, everyday ingredients.  

CREAM PUFFS
Have you ever attending a gathering that served cream puffs and not heard ravings?  These delicious treats are savored by most everyone.  One of the biggest surprises about cream puffs is how easy and economical they are to make.  Not only are the ingredients minimal, they are among the most basic: butter, eggs, water, and flour.  A basic cream puff recipe will be included at the end of today's post.  Whether you choose a savory cream puff or opt for the sweet version, your guests will feel extra special and you will be able to enjoy yourself knowing these delicious treats didn't break your budget.

Already have the perfect sweet ending for your party?  Needing a special little savory something to complete the menu?  Bake up some cream puffs and fill them with chicken salad, ham salad, or any other savory mixture of choice.  Savory cream puffs are a fun alternative to sandwiches.  How darling some little puffs would look served alongside soup.

Even though savory cream puffs are a really fun option, most of us tend to favor the sweet fillings.  Filling options for the sweet cream puff are virtually endless.  My personal favorite is the traditional pudding or cream filling.  Chocolate pudding is so yummy.  Then again, so is vanilla and coconut cream and...ok, let's move on.  A favorite flavor of ice cream is a fun switcheroo from the traditional pudding-type filling.  I have also tasted sweetened whipped cream filled puffs that were beyond tasty.

Now for the recipe:
Cream Puffs
1 C. water
1/2 C. butter
1 C. all-purpose flour
4 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat water and butter in a 2 1/2 qt. saucepan.  Bring to rolling boil.  Stir in flour stirring vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Beat smooth.  Drop by scant 1/4 C. about 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until puffed and golden, 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool away from draft.  Fill and refrigerate until serving time.  They can be frosted or sprinkled with powdered sugar

Chocolate cream puffs can be made by decreasing flour to 3/4 c. plus 2 T. and mixing 2 T. cocoa and 1 T. granulated sugar with the flour.  Fill with peppermint ice cream and frost with chocolate frosting. 

Eclairs can be made by shaping 1/4 c. of cream puff dough into 4 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch finger shapes on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake, cook, and fill with with traditional cream filling (pudding) and frost with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
Heat 1 square of unsweetened chocolate and 1 t. butter over low heat until melted; remove from heat.  Stir in 1 C. powdered sugar and about 2 T. hot water.  Beat until smooth and of spreading consistency.

8.26.2010

Technical Difficulties Delay Today's Party

Good Morning!  I've typed TWO ENTIRE POSTS only to have them lost in cyber space this morning.  Hopefully this goes through without getting lost.  Something weird is up.  The last time my post was lost it switched users on us and gave me a fresh new page to post on as a Mustard Seed.  Never had that happen before.  ANYWAY...griping spoils a party so I'll stop now.  Just wanted to let you know that the party is still going to happen.  We just may have to party extra hearty tomorrow.  I'll try to share some delicious and easy party fare later on this evening.  Get ready to whip up some cream puffs, eclairs, chocolate chip cookie dough truffles, and peach tea.  We'll also talk about ways of elevating the humble fruit tray as well as that favorite stand by, cheese and crackers. Until then, keep partying Large on Less. 

8.25.2010

Little Suzy Homemaker: Simplify

This girl is real! Reading through her posts is like chatting with a girlfriend. Little Suzy Homemaker: Simplify
photo by Mustard Seed

School Days, School Days

School has begun and wow!  What a beginning!  Three days into the year and we aren't behind yet!  YEAH!!!  We actually were done with all of our schoolwork, and a little extra, before three o'clock today---that's a miracle!  The difference?  Mama prepared her heart instead of just her head. 
Not very long ago during a time of prayer I was asking God some questions that had been on my mind for some time.  Questions as to why certain areas always seem to be a difficult struggle, school being one of them.  The answer that I felt Him speak to me was profoundly simple.  "Because the enemy fears what will happen if you are ever break free in those areas."  A rush of relief and thankfulness spread through me as I realized that the intensity and longevity of these difficulties were not because I had "messed up" somewhere.  They were areas the enemy was actively, regularly, and intensely attacking. A time of retrospect and pondering followed His answer.  As I looked back over the past 19+ years, I was able to see reality as never before. 
Every area of my life has experienced an increase of understanding lately.  I've lost count of the instances where I "just knew" something that I hadn't ever heard or been taught by men yet still knew.  "How did I know that?" is a question I ask myself often.  More than once within the last several months I have made the statement to my husband and children when discussing various topics "I don't know how or why I knew that, but I did." 
Seldom am I surprised anymore.  Amazement, thankfulness, and gratitude visit with greater frequency, but surprise seldom shows up.  Not only is understanding of events and happenings increasing, but understanding and knowledge of words and phrases are on the rise as well.  Weird? Unusual? Odd?  Not with God.  He is definitely up to something, and I'm glad to be part of it.  I'm glad to be in Him. 
How about you?  Is God up to something new in your life?  Please feel free to share by leaving a comment.  Yes, the enemy is working overtime in the world around us right now, but Praise God!  Christ has overcome the world!  He has commanded us to "Be of good cheer" (John 16:33 - read this in the Amplified).  The righteous are heard by God and delivered out of all their troubles (Psalm 34:17) They are not forsaken (Psalm 37:25) We inherit the land and dwell in it (Psalm 37:29) They shall flourish like the palm tree (Psalm 92:12) The righteous are not allowed to famish (Proverbs 10:3)  Blessings are upon their head (Proverbs 10:6) Verse after verse tell of the blessings, protection, & provision that God bestows upon the righteous and his seed.  That's not all, Proverbs 12:26 says that the consistently righteous will be a guide to his neighbor.  Wow!  That's a humbling truth.
 So, yes the enemy is extremely busy attacking the saints.  It's a last ditch effort to take us down before his time is up, but Hallelujah!  Jesus has overcome the world.  He has deprived it of power to harm us and has conquered it for us!  That being the case, let's talk about Jesus and encourage one another by sharing what God is up to in our lives.  As a matter of fact, let's do it often.  A chorus is strolling through my mind right now.  I'll end our visit with those words. 
Let's Talk About Jesus
The King of Kings is He
The Lord of Lords supreme
Through all eternity
The Great I Am, the Way
The Truth, the Life, the Door
Let's Talk About Jesus more & more

It's Better to Give Than To Receive

Everyone who actively pursues Living Large on Less knows that giving is truly better than receiving, but what to give can be a real-life challenge when financial resources are less.  What's a party girl/boy to do?  LOOK NO MORE!  We've got some easy-to-create, easy-on-the-budget gifts for every taste, style, and occasion.

"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start"  (Are you hearing the song Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music yet?)  Anyway...baby showers are quite possibly the perfect opportunity for creative gift-giving.  The bibs shown in the pictures were not only fun, fun, fun to create, they were also economical.  Using clean blue jeans no longer worn, the chosen pattern was placed on the largest section of the jean leg and cut out.  A flannel remnant  (usually reduced in price at fabric stores) worked perfectly for the back of the bib.  One thing to keep in mind when cutting out the bib is that if the right side of the denim was facing up when being cut, the wrong side of the flannel needs to be facing up when at its turn.  This enables the right sides of each fabric to show. (Experience is the best teacher.)  Embellishments and snaps were added at this point.  It would be a good idea to pay extra attention to the correct placing of snaps. (more experience)  Once embellishments and snaps were complete, the front and back of the bib were placed together back to back or wrong sides facing.  At least a 1/2 inch seam was sewn along the outside edge of the bib.  Being careful not to cut through the stitching, small cuts were made approximately every 1/2 inch around the bib's outside perimeter.  A quick run through the washer and dryer to begin ravelling the edges, and the bib is complete.  Total time spent: approx. 1 hour. 

Here are some other embellishment ideas:
  • buttons & bows (make certain buttons are extra secure)
  • iron on appliques matching baby's colors
  • bandana and pockets with pearl snaps for cowboy/cowgirl look
  • embroidery of choice
  • monogram of baby's name or initials
*Fabric doesn't have to be denim and/or flannel.  Any easy care fabric that ravels when washed would work. 


A complete gift set could be fashioned by adding a flannel receiving blanket and burp cloths. 

To create the receiving blanket, take two one-yard pieces of flannel.  Matching pieces could be used, but I personally prefer the look coordinating fabrics offer.  Placing right sides of fabrics together, pin edges and sew 1/2 inch seam around perimeter leaving small section open for turning.  Remove pins.  On each corner cut point of tip off.  Doing this helps the blanket corners be sharper when turned right side out.  Now, turn the blanket right side out and smooth out neatly, I used an iron.  Using an invisible stitch close the opening that was used for turning.  The blanket can be given as is at this point, but I prefer to stitch around the edges using a 1/2 seam measurement.  Decorative stitching is a fun touch for this.  Monograms, embroidery, or other embellishments could be added to one side of the flannel before stitching together if desired.  I prefer my baby blankets to be as soft and smooth as possible so I choose not to embellish the blankets, but this is strictly a matter of preference as long as one side of the blanket is free of embellishment so that baby isn't bothered.  It might be tempting to skimp on the fabric a bit and use less than a full yard for each side.  Please don't do this unless it's absolutely necessary.  As a matter of fact, if I didn't have enough of one fabric, I would piece together what I did have into a quilt-like piece just to have an entire yard-sized blanket. The larger size really is that wonderful.  Nursing mothers are able to discreetly feed even older babies without the concern of exposure, and the child can continue using the blanket for a number of years.  My youngest son is two and still adores the comfort of his blankie that a friend gave him.  Once a mother has used the larger size, she'll never go back to the smaller, barely cover the baby, ones available in stores again.

Matching burb cloths utillize the same construction technique as the bibs.  Cut out two sides (remember to cut out with the opposite sides of the fabrics facing up) of fabrics that match and/or coordinate with your blanket(s) and bib(s).  How these burp cloths are sewn up however will be a personal choice.  They could be sewn as the bibs with wrong sides together using a 1/2 inch seam around the edges and  the edges clipped for fraying OR...a smooth edge could be made by placing right sides together and sewing around the outside perimeter. If sewing a smooth edge, a small opening for turning will need to be left just as there was in the blanket. The cloth would then be turned right side out and the opening shut up with an invisible stitch.  As in the blanket, a finishing stitch around the outside would be an optional, but nice touch. 

Are you ready for the perfect "little homemaker/chef" gift?  We have it!  A nightstand turned kitchen! 
Being short on both time and space in today's post, we wish to direct you to the many ideas, pictures, and tips abounding on the world wide web.  Simply type homemade play kitchen into the search engine of your choice, we use google, and be ready for amazement.  There are some intensely creative individuals out there. Here are pictures of our four-year-old homemaker's new kitchen.  Her little brother enjoys cooking now too:)



















Last but certainly not least, we have a brand, new gift idea!  This gift is not only economical to make and beautiful, it is appropriate for any party.  If you were to purchase these handcrafted works of art in a boutique or store, your funds would be drastically reduced.  Creating them yourself, the only thing spent may be your time.  Using picture frames that had been given an aged look with white paint and stain, a pre-cut photo matte we already had on hand was backed by a piece of patterned cardstock taken from the scrapbooking tote.  By using a piece of cardstock only slightly larger than the opening we were able to utilize a smaller piece of cardstock. This enabled us to reserve our full sheets of paper for other uses.  Now for the fun part!  Out came our stash of pressed wildflowers.  Flowers were selected and laid out on the matte.  Once the flowers had been arranged to satisfaction, they were attached to the cardstock and matte with adhesive.  The "picture" was set up high, away from curious fingers, to dry.  After the adhesive was thoroughly dry, the pictures were inserted into the frames.  Total time: 30-45 min.  You may want to make a some for yourself.  This would also be a lovely way to preserve memories from a special occasion.  Pressed flowers aren't the only frame-worthy material that would work for this gift.  Sand, flat shells, leaves, grasses, pebbles, lace doilies, handkerchiefs, music, brochures, ticket stubs, badges, as you can see the possibilities abound.
NOTE: Hot glue is not recommended for use with delicate pressed flowers.


Are you ready to party yet?  Each one of today's gift ideas can be personalized in a myriad of ways.  Whether your taste is modern, simple, homespun, contemporary, shabby chic, or antique, these gifts can be created using materials to appeal to your taste.  Not only that, but each idea can be put together using items already on hand, making them budget friendly as well.  Lovely for Less. 

Our week of partying is half way over---and I still haven't figured how to turn on the music.  Are you getting hungry or thirsty yet?  Me too.  Don't leave us yet.  The food joins the fun tomorrow!  Best of all, we won't need to spend hours and hours in the kitchen or hundreds of dollars to put together the perfect party spread.   See you tomorrow!

Other posts in the Living Large on Less archives contain even more ideas for easy to fashion gifts.  Please feel free to stroll through all of the older posts.  One never knows what they will discover on little strolls through the archives.

8.23.2010

HAVE YOUR CAKE & EAT IT TOO!

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 Sunflower Cake

Somehow...we have a double pic situation going on, and can't get it fixed. Thank you for overlooking our "oops". The party must go on!

What would a party be without a cake?  However, a lot of us are intimidated by the thought of decorating one ourselves.  As a result, we end up purchasing one at a store or bakery.  While there are definitely those times when buying a cake premade is the best option, please don't let the thought that you can't create your own keep you from trying.  After looking at the pictures in this post, I'm sure you will see that ANYONE can make a party cake.  

The cakes in the pictures show a variety of easy techniques that, in the hands of those more capapble than I, yield professional looking results.  Trust me.  I saw the pics to prove it. 

TIP #1: THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
As you've noticed, cake #1 isn't a cake at all.  Who says a person has to have cake on their big day?  This birthday girl received truffles for her celebration.  Birthday girls & boys at our house have been known to request pie, cheesecake,  frozen dessert, and funnel cake instead of  traditional birthday cake.  We've also used cupcakes and sugar cookie cutouts before too. Somehow, knowing that your special day is uniquely your own ups the fun factor considerably.

TIP #2: LARGE ON LESS ISN'T ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY
Sometimes the area of our life that is stretched the farthest is that of time.  That's when it's time to take advantage of the many already prepared bakery items available.  In the military-themed boy's cake, a cake from the grocery store bakery was spiffied up with a camoflauge ribbon and toy military figurines.  This could be tweaked to fit any interest.  Gingham ribbon with toy animals.  Pastel ribbon with baby items to welcome a new arrival.  There really are no limits to the possibilities here.  A bright colored ribbon with animal crackers on top would be absolutely adorable.  I'm going to have to use that idea.


TIP #3: USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE ON HAND
Tip #2 has a few ideas that overlap with this one.  The pink cake on the white pedestal is our example for this tip.   Let's face it, there are simply times when purchasing extras isn't going to happen.  What do we do?  We look at what we have.  A two-layer round cake frosted with buttercream frosting and wrapped with coordinating ribbons was the perfect birthday cake for a little princess. 
Specialized cake pans aren't necessary.  A multitude of cakes can be fashioned using standard kitchen items. A fashion doll cake can be created by baking a cake in a 6 qt. glass measuring bowl or any oven safe bowl of desired "skirt" size.  Once the cake has been removed from the baking container and cooled, a fashion doll (Barbie, one that can get dirty) can be inserted up to the waist in the center.  The cake is the doll's skirt.  Using frosting in the desired color, frost the cake.  Don't forget to frost the bodice of the fashion doll too.  The dress can be embellished as desired.  The same technique could be used to make a baby shower cake by replacing the fashion doll with a baby doll and decorating the dress to look like a sweet, little baby's gown.  Even a bridal shower could use a cake made in this way.  Using a fashion doll with a vintage appearance would create a very chic "bride" for the shower table. 
Cakes for celebrations needing a masculine look could also utilize a dome-cake.  Frosted in browns and greens the dome-shaped cake becomes a mountain for  toy dirt-bikes to ride.  A mountain could also be home to toy plastic bear and other animals for a wilderness look.  OR a dome cake could be frosted to look like a head.  Stick a round cookie in each side and frost in brown to make a bear's head. (eyes, nose, and mouth would be needed)  Larger round cookies added could end up looking like a mouse.  See what I mean?  The possibilities truly are endless.
A bundt pan provides a fun little space in the middle of the cake that can be filled with a surprise and/or gift.  The hole can be covered with a cookie then frosted over until the surprise is discovered.
 Look through the cupboards, find some fun-shaped pans, and turn loose your imagination!
*We have used the dome shape as our example, but any oven safe container can be used. 

TIP #4: FOLLOW THE INTERESTS OF THE ONE BEING CELEBRATED
Our sunflower cake made from a single layer round cake that was frosted with brown buttercream frosting, topped with choc. chips, and surrounded with twinkie-type cakes probably isn't what most one-year-old girls celebrate with.  This birthday girl however was absolutely enthralled with sunflowers the year of this celebration.  Her mama could have slaved over creating a beautiful masterpiece worthy of her child's first year of life celebration.  Instead she decided to go with something her daughter enjoyed.  It is supposed to be about the birthday girl after all.  What a freeing experience it was too.  Another year, a "froggie cake" was created by frosting a 9x13 cake in blue buttercream frosting and placing cupcakes decorated like frogs on top and all around.  The birthday girl still talks about her froggie cake- two years later!  To make the frog cupcakes, cupcakes were frosted with green buttercream frosting.  Two mounds of green frosting were placed on top (where eyes would be), two smaller mounds of white buttercream frosting were placed in front of the the green mounds, and two black dots were placed in the front of the white mounds creating eyes.  Super easy and loads of fun. 

TIP #5: DON'T ALLOW THE UNSEEN PRESSURE OF PERFECTION TO KILL THE ATMOSPHERE OF CELEBRATION
Years and years of my motherhood were spent under an illusion of expected perfection.  Then, when the results of my efforts fell drastically short of the perfect goal, condemnation would sweep over like a tidal wave.  I was unable to enjoy my children's big day and sometimes, the rest of the family didn't enjoy much of it either.  FINALLY, I realized what I was doing to my family and decided to change.  Does it really matter if the cakes I make end up looking homemade?  They are homemade.  Once this change was made, the cakes I made actually started to look better.  The best part has been that now I can celebrate the life of each child without feelings of guilt spoiling the party.

Easy, creative cake and cupcake ideas abound online, too many to fit in one post.  Google it in have fun with the results.  Be warned though, you might want to grab something to drink before you sit down for the search.  There's a lot out there. More ideas will also be included in our "PARTIES WITH A THEME" post later on this week.  Thanks for dropping by.  We can't wait to see you tomorrow!  We're making gifts for a variety of special celebrations.  Until then, keep partying Large on Less.

8.22.2010

Are You Ready to Party?

Not of This World, Living Large's new administrator, is off visiting family this week.  So...while the cat's away, these mice are going to play! 
 
Because we don't want anyone to miss out on the fun, we're sending out this early invite.  We hope you can join us @ http://livinglarge.blogspot.com/  for an entire week of partying. 
 
 Party ideas, recipes, photos, all done for less are eagerly awaiting their daily posts.  Find your party hat and get ready  Every bit of the party will be covered, even the gifts.  Who knows?  There may even be music. (This part's still in the works)  
 
 Can't wait to see you there.  Your comments will be "icing on the cake".   
 Remember the party starts tomorrow.  
P.S. - Don't forget to lay out your cutest party dress:) (Seriously, you can wear a party dress when you come.  It's ok with us.)
The Living Large on Less Crew

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SCHOOL BEGINS MONDAY!

Tomorrow morning the first day of school begins at our house.  Wonderfully enough, no one is that worked up about it.  Basically, it will provide us with a welcome excuse to read more, A LOT more.  Yes, there will be Math and Science along with essays and journals to write, but we will be reading through enough good literature to make the writing easy.  A new year + new approach = new opportunities to grow and learn.  God is doing a new thing,(Isaiah 43:18,19) and we are going to be in on it, even in school. 
To celebrate this new year of new opportunities, we are going to do something surprising and fun.  What?  It's a surprise.  We'll share about it later.  Does your family have any special back to school traditions?  Let us know what they are by leaving a comment.  We can't wait to get more ideas for our new year of new things. 
By the way, make some time to visit Living Large on Less this week.  There's going to be a party going on over there! 
Also, it's time to be thinking of our fall gardens again.  Get ready, I'm going to be asking what everyone is up to this year. I hope to plant hollyhocks and something else that I can't remember right now.  Yeah, that's kind of scary, I know.  Anyway, we can't wait to learn more from all of you out there.  Be on the lookout for more fun visits as we enter another season of new things. 
With all the talk of new things, I can't resist letting you know that there are several fun and yes, new topics, ideas, and celebrations in store for readers and followers of A Mother's Rewards.  This is one year you aren't going to want to miss, neither will your friends.  Most of the "newness" will show up in a rather haphazard fashion, a little here and a little there.  Because of the potential for randomness, if you haven't already subscribed to receive posts via email, this is the perfect time.  It's the only way I can guarantee you won't miss out on all of the fun throughout the coming year.  And tell me ladies (and gentlemen) has there ever been a time when we needed the refreshing that godly fun provides more than we do now?  The Word says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22) so get ready to eat (new recipes), drink (more new recipes), and be merry in Christ Jesus.  We are going to blog our way to healthy bodies, hearts, and minds through Christ Jesus in a year of new beginnings, new approaches, and new opportunities!

8.21.2010

God's Word!

OK, Are you ready for a double whammy?  That's right.  Immediately after sending an earlier post, THIS verse was the first thing I read.  (You may have to read the earlier post to understand why this is such a big deal.
 
Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
(Jer. 15:16 NKJV)
 
How amazing is that?  The devotion accompanying the verse spoke of the joy found in reading God's Word.  I wonder...is God trying to tell me something?  Maybe.  Yes, I think He definitely is.  Oh that I have the ears to heart.
 
*If you are interested in reading the accompanying devotion, it can be found at cfaith.com.

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A Word to Share for Today

The following word from The Elijah List was in my inbox this morning.  I believe that it was yesterday's message. The message it contained grabbed my complete attention, especially the first line "Need Encouragement? Read the Bible Again Like It's the Very First Time."  Lord, I pray that you would open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18) Are you ready to get out of your religious rut?  So am I. So am I.  In Christ, Blessed Mama
 
The Elijah List & Breaking Christian News
http://www.elijahlist.com
 
 
Bill Yount:

Need Encouragement? Read the Bible Again Like it's the Very First Time

Psalm 119:18 "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."

Recently I prayed, "Lord, let me read the Bible like it's the very first time. Open my eyes to behold wondrous things out of Thy law." It works. I am seeing things I never saw, and it is going into my spirit. It's like I am being born again all over again! I am being convinced that we need to come to God like a child every day! What a wonderful humbling experience to grow in His word.
If the Enemy is Telling You that You Don't Need to Read the Bible as Much as You Used to...You Need to Read it More!
Have you ever thought, "I have read the Bible so many times that I have a pretty good handle on what it is saying. Therefore I don't need to read it as much"? Have you ever said to yourself, "I have read that certain Scripture so many times that I am sure I know what that verse means. Besides, I have heard others share that they got the same meaning from it"?
Recently, I sensed the Lord saying to me, "There is a dangerous mindset in many of My people when it comes to receiving fresh revelation from My Word. The longer they walk with Me in My Word, there is a tendency for them to think that they know it all! Many have forgotten that My Word is a living Word, full of ongoing revelation and eternal insights."
What a Wonderful, Humbling Experience to Come to God Like a Child Every Day!
I believe "how" we pick up our Bibles to read them determines "how" we receive what is in it. If we come pridefully boasting in what we think we already know of His Word, we will surely fail in the full revelation of it. When was the last time God's Word became personally alive to you? Was it when you were broken before Him and you felt like you didn't know anything? Or was it when you thought you had some good ideas to share with God about how He could run the universe better? I believe it is still our subtle "know it all" attitude that keeps hindering us from the ongoing revelation of the One who knows everything! Perhaps "Unless you become as little children you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven" would be fitting for reading God's Word, also.
Your Bible is Always Begging You to Open It
I used to minister in prisons for twenty-three years. One prisoner in a cell was handed a Bible and he took it and threw it under his bed as he cursed it. Years later, he testified that there were nights he could not sleep. He couldn't get that Bible out of his mind. One night he got up and reached under his bed to get it. As he picked up that Bible, he said he had an irresistible urge to open it and start reading it. He could not put it down. The presence of a Bible in his cell overcame the powers of darkness in his life and set him free as well as others in that prison!
I have heard several testimonies of sick people who had all kinds of prayer, but nothing changed. One woman testified after becoming so desperate, "Every night as I lay down in bed I would take my Bible and lay it on my chest." She said it wasn't long until her sickness was gone! It made me wonder, If a closed Bible can do that, what can an open Bible do?
I believe we are right now in a kairos moment to receive fresh manna hot out of the oven of Heaven. Yesterday's manna has gone stale for us. I want to encourage you to imagine for a moment that you have never read anything in the Bible. Now open it and begin reading it, for the very first time.
Pray this simple prayer first: "Open my eyes to behold wondrous things out of Thy law" (Psalm 119:18).
Bill Yount
Blowing the Shofar Ministries
Email: theshofarhasblown@juno.com

--
 

8.20.2010

A New, Clutter-Free Thing

For several years I have been burdened for Christian marriages and the state of disrespect and dishonor so many are in.  One day my grief over this was so intense that my own dear family wasn't receiving the care they ought.  Interceding, yet still needing a release from the heaviness, I began to write.  The following letter is the result of this time spent baring my heart to an unseen sister in Christ. This letter is written to any woman of God who might find herself outside of God's will within her home. Please know that all of us periodically find ourselves in need of extending more love to those in our homes. The intent of the following letter is not to hurt, judge, or condemn but to heal by drawing us all closer to the Father's heart and desire.  It is with a sincere heart and sisterly love that I have written. As your sister in Christ, I pray the following verses for you. "[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), and [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places]." Ephesians 1:17-20

Dear Sister in Christ,

How I long to visit with you face to face. How I long to share my heart with you. To pass on the lessons I have already learned so that you can be set free to embrace who Christ means for you to be. Knowing that freedom is so close yet at the same time so horribly far from you brings grief to my heart. My sister, my friend, if only I could take you aside and gently impart loving counsel, but alas, this I cannot do until the Holy Spirit guides my way to yours.

If freedom to actively embrace the truth of God in your life is to be grasped by you, the ear of your spirit must be open and attentive to whatever loving counsel the Heavenly Father sends, no matter how hard His truth may be to hear. To watch you struggle and strive all the while knowing a better way is so hard, so very, very hard. My grief is intensified even greater because I know that inside of your heart the truth is already known. Yes, my dear sister, you know the truth. Yet even though you know it, you refuse to follow the Loving Lord and submit to HIS path of freedom. Stubbornness and rebellion are the bedfellows who make your choices for you.

There are loved ones who unknowingly, definitely unintentionally, encourage acts of disobedience to the Father. This is hardest of all to see and know. I know these loved ones who are training and leading you down paths of disrespect and attitudes of sin would never purposefully cause you to sin.  In spite of their loving hearts, they have done so and continue to. Somehow, it must be stopped before a pattern of sin is passed down to another generation.

Even now, your children are already walking in this path which destroys.

Oh, dear sister in Christ, such sorrow is mine. If only, if only, yes, if only. If only there were an easy way to fix this for you. If only I could set things to right behind the scenes of your life without your knowing. If only I were sure of what to do, but I'm not. To interfere in the lives of others concerning such a serious, all encompassing matter can not be done haphazardly nor rashly. Such actions must be bathed in prayer. Time must be spent interceding before the throne of grace. My heart must be especially certain of the Father's desire in this. Future as well as current generations will be influenced. I cannot simply waltz into your life and slap a bunch of words at you. Every word must come straight from God. No other way will do.

To care can be a terribly difficult, painful thing to do. Do not despair. Neither allow yourself to fret. God is God, and He is good. His truth will always prevail. Many facts may present themselves before you. Just remember they are only that---facts. The truth of God's Word always trumps mere facts---always. Never forget the Father's love and care for you. If He didn't care and love so deeply, He'd leave us where we are. However, because He does love and care far beyond our comprehending, He sent His truth to set us free.(John 8:31,32; Romans 8:2)

Free from what? Free from any and every thing that holds us captive. Free from every bondage, free from all our fears and doubts, free from those little habits of sin that if left untended add up to mountains of evil destruction. Free, my dear friend, free. Please open the ear of your heart and hear the Father. Please bow your entire being before Him and allow His Word of truth to transform you by the renewing of your mind. Rebuke and release your former way of thought. Forbid yourself from speaking as you once did. Stir up the gift of God inside of you and walk as He has taught you in His Word---not as others around you say---as HE has already said. He loves you. He has a good plan to prosper you, not to harm you. To give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Train yourself to follow His ways and walk in His love, not just with those outside your house, but in your home most of all.

 The treatment of your husband is what I write of. The words you speak and the actions you take towards your husband are to be an example of the words and actions of the church towards Christ. (Ephesians 5:22-24,33) Would you speak to Jesus the way you do your man? Would Christ be treated the way your husband is when he is home? Are your children being taught and trained to honor their Heavenly Father by the way you honor their earthly one? I pray it so. I pray that your home is a shining light of God's love, and that Christ is worshipped by His love you bestow on these that you love.

I won't lie to you or sugar coat things. Honoring and preferring another over ourselves will be hard work. Perhaps the hardest, most difficult work of your life thus far. Neither will I lie about the results. They may not appear as quickly as you would like them to . Things didn't get into this condition overnight; nor, aside from a miraculous work of God (which is possible) will they improve overnight either. Repairing and rebuilding the walls of love while tearing down those of pride, pain, and mistrust can seem like a never-ending nightmare. However, remaining faithful and persevering with all diligence in great determination will bring about marvelous rewards. It's amazing how unexpectedly these rewards seem to appear. They are usually far beyond our wildest imaginings and dreams. Why are we surprised? Isn't that how our Father works?(Ephesians 3:20) 

The question I have for you, dear sister is this…How much do you Love your Heavenly Father?

Enough to lay ALL of you down in surrender to His will? Enough to honestly die to yourself that He might live? even in your home? ESPECIALLY in your home. Enough that if necessary you will forsake all words and habits that aren't the words and habits of your Heavenly Father? Even if that means cleaning the house and disciplining your children in firm, consistent, yet gentle love? Even if that means refusing to dishonor the husband God designed specifically, just for you in even the tiniest way? Even if that means standing up to or removing yourself and children from others who practice and speak disrespect towards your husband? Even if those others are your closest friends and loved ones?

There are missions for the Kingdom of God that only you and your husband can do. There are people who are waiting to hear of the Father's love that will hear it best from your husband, you, and your children. Are you training yourself and your children to honor this man so that your family can minister in Kingdom work? Or are you listening to all of the "chatter" and chaos you have surrounded yourself with instead? Whose words do you hold dearest? Those of your Heavenly Father and husband or those of others?

There should be a glad quickening in your heart at the mention of your husband's name. Is there? Do you delight in his presence? If not, the problem isn't with "that husband of yours", or the children, or your house, or your vehicle, or school, or any other area of your life. The problem is with you.

With God ALL things are possible. This you already know.

What are you going to do with this truth?

How long will you continue to listen to and allow others around you to insult, put down, and completely disrespect your husband, the man God has lovingly commanded you to respect, reverence, notice, regard, honor, prefer, venerate, esteem, defer to, praise, love, and admire exceedingly(Ephesians 5:33) and do nothing? maybe even join in?

Dearest sister, when this time on earth is said and done and you stand before the Heavenly Father He is NOT going to ask you what type of husband you had. Neither is He going to inquire as to whether or not you wanted children, nor as to when you wanted them. You will give an account to Almighty God for the wife you were and how you received the rewards (children) He blessed you with. He has given us everything we need to minister His love.(2 Peter 1:3) With Him all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26,Mark 9:23,Mark 14:26, Luke 18:27)

What did you do with Jesus in your home?

Yes, a husband is merely human and therefore imperfect. He will make mistakes. At various times you will be hurt by his words, actions, or the lack thereof. Remember, your husband too will answer to the Father for what he has said and done. Are you making it easy for your husband to nourish and carefully protect and cherish you(Ephesians 5:29) or are you self-focused giving no thought to the responsibilities your husband faces as priest of the home? If you desire a more considerate, gentle love from your husband, maybe you should exhibit a more loving spirit of gentleness towards him. 1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us that God's love in us is not rude or unmannerly and does not act unbecomingly.

Comparison between our home and that of other families much not be made.

When we compare our life to that of others, we always find another life and home in worse condition than ours.  Viola! An excuse for us not to change is found. This is not the Lord's way. He leads us along paths of His choosing, not those of our own understanding and making. His ways cannot be understood with the human mind or seen with the human eye.(Isaiah 55:8,9) His answers are given to those who walk in absolute faith and assurance of His loving kindness and goodness and to those who are willing to die to everything they know and believe and begin building anew on the foundation of His Word.

The questions in this letter are not meant to discourage or condemn, quite the contrary. They are set forth to shine towards the way of freedom in Christ. For you see, dear one in Christ, our Father knows our frame that it is but dust. (Psalm 103:14) He knows of our stubbornness and pride. That is why He provided a salvation that covers every area of our lives, even marriage and the home. It is from these very sins that Jesus died to set us free. Free to love as God loves. Free to live for him in our homes. Free to shine His light so brightly in our families that it spills out onto those passing by.

The thing is, God's way won't make sense. It will appear as if following God's instructions and leading will take you in the opposite direction of your dreams...

...but it won't. Somehow, I don't know how, when we finally make the move of complete surrender in an area that we have held onto, The Heavenly Father brings us into our dreams and desires so smoothly and perfectly we are surprised to be there. It's truly amazing, but hey, it's God, and God is amazing.

The path of Love and marriage is filled with many distractions. Why? because marriage is the physical testimony of Christ and the church to those around us.(Eph. 5) As goes marriage, so goes the church; it could go the other way around too I guess. As goes the church, so goes marriage. Either way, it's about believers surrendering their wills and ambitions and living out the Father's. I guess that brings us back around to the original question: How much do you love God, your Heavenly Father? Are you willing to obey Him in your marriage and home?

Are you willing to honor the vows of the covenant between God, your husband, and yourself by "forsaking all others cling only to each other so long as you both shall live"?(marriage vows) and those commandments given in Ephesians chapters four and five? "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service, living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace." vs. 1-4 of chpt. 4

"Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love." vs. 15 chpt. 4

"Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it." vs. 29 "Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming, but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]. Let no one delude and deceive you with empty excuses and groundless arguments [for these sins], for through these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of rebellion and disobedience. So do not associate or be sharers with them. For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life. And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]." verses in chapter four and five. There are so many more verses to instruct us in our relationships and living in the rest of chapter five. The verses on marriage are there as well. A person could study and study and still find more truth to learn. The Amplified Bible brings out a lot of detail and further meaning.

It has been with great "fear and trembling" I have written this letter. If it were not for the Father's great love, I would have remained silent. His love for you is too great for that dear sister in Jesus. So I have written my heart to you. Now I pray that I have written only what the Father would have me to, and that it can be understood.

I too am in the process of daily walking out the Father's love in my own home. The victories are precious and sweet. I can wholeheartedly testify that victories, though hard fought, are much greater than the difficulties have been. Compared to the victories, the hard times seem insignificant. Believe me, at the time, our struggles seemed FAR from insignificant. Are the blessings of obedience worth years of hardship? Yes! Not wanting to give sin any more credit than it deserves, I will tell of the greatness of God; that He has transformed our home. We're all far from perfect, but Hallelujah! we're no longer where we used to be!

Throughout the early years of our marriage, the way I lived in my home wasn't always sinful. In fact, many days it was godly. Many days were spent in complete peace and loving kindness. I spent hours ministering out of our home and in the church both. Yet inside my heart I harbored fear and mistrust of my husband for pain the enemy had used him to cause. I was saved, Spirit-filled, and had a heart for God. I ministered to any and every one. Yet I still allowed a wall of hurt to erect itself and completely twist my thinking.  I'm ashamed to even admit this now, but once, after a particularly intense time of crying out to God and pleading with Him to somehow help me endure what must surely have been a mistake(remember, my thinking was warped), the Holy Spirit asked me a quick, little question. After I had cried and cried to exhaustion, He quietly asked "If this marriage is a mistake then how come the enemy is working so hard to destroy it?" WHAM! Immediately the light of truth dawned and revealed the lie I had been believing. One small question brought a house of lies crashing down.

Oh to be able to say that only one lie of the enemy had to be brought to light. What a pleasure that would be, but nope, there have been others. Guess what? There may be more. No matter how many come our way, I know that I know that I know God loves me. His loving care towards me is perfect, and as I surrender more fully to Him and obey His Word completely, His love will continue to expose the false for the true. As a result, our marriage will continue to grow and develop into a beautiful miracle. For this I am unspeakably thankful. Everytime I choose to love God and His Word more than I love my own thoughts & ideas, God takes our marriage to another level of Love that I wouldn't have dreamt possible.

Even after my breakthrough, I would still sometimes wonder if marriage should really be this much work. Honestly, should it really be this hard? Am I missing it somewhere? What am I doing wrong? What horrible, awful sin is hiding in my heart that makes it so difficult? Once more, the Lord gently revealed in His own way how absolutely, positively this marriage between my beloved and I is His perfect plan. He also showed me that our marriage is under intense attack from the enemy of our souls, regularly. The enemy knows what we do for the Kingdom of God when my husband and I are in total alignment with each other and God's Word. The enemy also knows that when my husband and I are working in unison with each other and God, the kingdom of darkness sustains great damage. He will do everything possible to prevent the Good News of Jesus Christ from spreading.

As we come to the end of this letter dear sister, I pray that you have heard the Lord's heart for your marriage.  That if this letter was for you, if you need to alter the way you speak to and treat your husband, that you will do so.  Please don't delay.  Christ's return is very soon.  We are to be preparing to be Christ's very own beloved Bride, holy and faultless (Eph. 5:27) The example our marriages are to the world is vitally important.  We must protect and guard our marriages at all cost.  The witness of Christ and the church MUST NOT BE COMPROMISED. Our marriages must be Spirit-filled and lined up with Love. (1 John 4:7,8) As easy as it is for us women to do, we must not listen to or be led by our feelings and emotions.  A former pastor of mine once said "We must be merciful with everyone around us and ruthless with ourselves." This is true now more than ever.

Evil seems to abound around us.  However, we can take comfort in the Word of God which tells us that when the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight. (Isaiah 59:19 - most versions of the Bible have an incorrect comma placement on this verse and read "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight."  Either way, the Spirit of the Lord is getting rid of the enemy--YEA!!!)  Take courage for WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE even a loving, godly marriage and a peaceful home that shines the light of God to a sin-darkened world. 

Grace (God's undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and incorruptible [love]. Amen (so let it be). (Eph. 6:24)

 

8.17.2010

Books Read This Year

Good Morning! 
OK everyone.  I've found something new and fun!  Another new blog!  Life As Mom http://lifeasmom.com/ has a monthly feature called Book It where readers review what they've read so far this year.  Being somewhat of a book junkie this is just too much fun!  This is exactly what I wanted to do here on A Mother's Rewards, but couldn't really figure out how to go about it.  Now I don't have to!  Head on over to check out what others are reading.  You might see a title that inspires you to pick up a new read or reminds you of an old read long forgotten.  By the way, did you realize that cookbooks count as reading?  Wow, did my book count for the year just go up. 
I can't remember every book from this year, but I'll do the best I can.
Book It 2010
  • Bible
  • Easy Homeschooling Curriculum by Lorraine Curry
  • Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  • The Flower Gardener's Bible - Lewis and Nancy Hill
  • Country Wisdom & Know How - editors of Storey Books
  • Natural Beauty at Home - Janice Cox
  • Prairie Lands Gardener's Guide - Cathy Wilkinson Barash
  • Restoring Your Shield of Faith - Chuck D. Pierce, Robert Heidler
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System - Paul C. & Patricia Bragg
  • Easy Homeschooling Companion - Lorraine Curry
  • Fields With God - Lorraine Curry with Jean Hall
  • Your Manners Are Showing - Betty Betz
  • Julia's Hope - Janette Oke
  • White Chocolate - can't recall author
  • Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Man of the Family - Ralph Moody
  • Little Britches - Ralph Moody
  • Novel whose title I can't recall
  • Novel whose title I can't recall
  • When Pigs Move In - forgot author's name
  • many children's books to little ones
  • numerous cookbooks
  • First Place 4 Health books - at least four of them
Seven and half months is a long time when trying to remember.  I know there are more, but they're titles aren't coming to remembrance right now.  I'll just add more updates as they come to me.  This is going to be way too much fun, I can tell. 
So...what have YOU read this year?  Feel free to leave your list here at A Mother's Rewards in an email or as a comment OR better yet, head on over to http://lifeasmom.com/ and share in the fun there.  Book It updates are given each month at http://lifeasmom.com/ you won't want to miss out on all of the good reads.  Well, I'm hoping to hop back over here later today to share what's been on my heart lately.  Until then, keep reading!

8.13.2010

ENJOY THE REMAINING DAYS OF SUMMER

For many, the school year has begun.  New routines, classes, and friends are coming this way.  No matter what type of education each family chooses, summer's end is a time of new beginnings.  Temptations to fill our lives fuller than they need to be abound.  Pressure to purchase "needed" clothes and accessories mounts and builds to an unbearable crescendo as students (or their parents)  long to "fit in" and look like "everyone else". 
How is a person supposed to Live Large on Less in the middle of such competitive chaos?  By sitting down, even if only in your mind, taking a deep breath, and reminding themself of the main thing.  What is truly important?  One of the best ways to determine the difference between what is truly "necessary" and what isn't is by asking this question.  "In five, ten, 15, 20 years will this matter?"  Will anyone (besides myself) know, remember or  even care that I wore the coolest shoes on the planet?"  Not likely.  Those whose lives  interact with ours will be much more apt to recall a genuine smile, kind word, or thoughtful act given to them than brands of clothing or possessions. 
As the final days of summer roll by, it's the perfect opportunity to refocus on what Living Large really is and concentrate on enjoying every second of every day to the fullest.  When each day closes, how amazing it will be to know that not a moment was wasted, every bit was lived completely.  Enjoy the remaining days of summer.  Blessed Mama
Today's post is nothing if not a bit random.  Sometimes random can be fabulous, and it is Fabulous Friday
Today's Topic is Tulle!  Tulle is one of our very most favorite items here at Living Large on Less.  This inexpensive fabric can be used for everything from the skirt of a little girl's dress to covering a cherry tree so that the birds don't steal the harvest.  One of the most recent uses for this multi-purpose fabric at our house is to fashion "poufs" for a little girl's birthday party. 
To make our "poufs" we wrapped tulle around and around a piece of cardboard, or our fingers, until we thought we had enough fabric to make sufficient "pouf".  Then we tied a thin ribbon tightly around the middle of the tulle.  The cardboard/fingers need to be removed.  Once the ribbon was tied tight, we cut through the ends of the tulle loups and fluffed out the fabric.  Basically, we made pom-poms using tulle instead of yarn.  We left the end of the ribbon long enough so that the "poufs" could be attached to the undersides of our patio umbrellas.  The result? fabulously, festive, and free decorations (we already had the tulle and ribbon) that thrilled our four-year-old on her special day. 
Done on a larger scale using different colors, "poufs" could be created to decorate weddings, anniversaries, and other special events, even the prom.  The more I think about it, the more "poufs" I see in our family's future.  Who knows? "poufs" may become the newest family tradition.  A group of color-coordinated poufs hanging from the corner of the ceiling in a child's bedroom at various heights could look fabulous.  I wonder, do they make glow-in-the dark tulle?  Just wondering.
Not into poufs?  Go ahead and get some tulle.  It can be used in countless ways to decorate for any occasion, and it's extremely budget friendly.  Watch those sales and it gets even friendlier.  *NOTE: Making "poufs" can become addictive.*
Be on the lookout for a special announcement concerning the future of Living Large on Less coming soon.  Until then, have a great weekend enjoying those remaining days of summer.  Blessed Mama---Not of This World was busy enjoying the summer day swimming in the pool:)

It's Been A While

Good Afternoon!
It's been a while since I visited the blog.  Looking back I can't figure out why exactly, but somehow, the days have slipped by one after the other without posting.  Several ideas for future posts on Living Large on Less have been mentioned, but none of those have made it online either.  As I thought about the lack of posting on the blogs, my thoughts drifted on to wondering where the hours in my days go.  Each day contains approximately 86,400 seconds, 1,440 minutes, and 24 hours.  168 hours ought to be enough to accomplish more than I do each week.  Hadn't it?  Hmmm.  10,080 minutes certainly ought to result in more productivity.  Shouldn't they?  Where exactly does my time go? 
School begins in ten days here at Promiseland Home School.  TEN DAYS!!!  Two months ago I was confident and excited about the upcoming school year.  Expectations were high as thoughts of the "best year of homeschool we've ever had" filled my mind.  It was all I could do not to start school right then.  Then, *WHAM!* the summer that never happened commenced. One after another this, that, and the other thing came along.  Where have the afternoons of clean sheets gently flapping in the breeze, the smell of freshly cut grass, and reading books in the shade gone?  Thankfully, there have been some.  The Lord takes such good care of me.  1 Peter 5:7 has been manifested over and over throughout the entire summer.  "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully."  Psalm 55:22 also. "Cast your burdens on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall or fail)."
Thankfulness for the Heavenly Father's watchful care of me has been the theme of my heart.  He has gently led me into a new season.  (Isaiah 40:11)  He is teaching and training me how to live anew.  New manners of speaking, being, and doing are ever before me as God gently leads the way through a number of "new pastures a.k.a. transitions in life."  "The LORD is my shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3
Most likely, the transitioning has been taking place for quite some time, and I only noticed recently.  No longer am I the mother of five children and a baby.  Now, I am the mother of two young women, one a high school graduate, a young man, an almost young woman, a young girl, and a little boy.  This didn't take place overnight, but it sure seems that way.  Perhaps weaning my youngest Mighty Man of God and watching him turn two-years-old several days ago brought about this great "revelation" to me.  I don't know.  Maybe it was the discovery of a number of very stubborn white, not gray, hairs that caused me to finally "see" that I am no longer a young mother.  I doubt that I would be considered a seasoned veteran of this journey called life, but I'm definitely not a newby either.  Believe it or not, I'm glad.  Glad.  I can't quite believe it, but I'm glad; glad to not be young.  Glad to be the age I am.  Glad to be where I am.  Glad.   
As I prepare my heart for a new year of school, I am humbled to be the mother God has chosen to teach and train these children for Him.  That God would honor me in this way is a true wonder.  To be entrusted with the training of His children is...well, it's...there aren't any words to describe it.  It's HUGE.  All I can do is fall to my knees, bow my heart, and thank Him for His love and grace.  School starts in ten days, and I AM ONE BLESSED MAMA. 

8.06.2010

New Blogs & Shoes on the Wrong Feet

Have you ever been looking at one thing online and somehow ended up somewhere else entirely? Me too. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened just a little bit ago to me. After quickly scanning through a few new sites, I had to pop on over and share them with you. Who knows? I may have a few more before I'm done. So many blogs...so little time.

Marmee's Pantry and Dancing Barefoot are both blogs by Christian women that will bless anyone who is into frugal living and enjoying everyday in Jesus. Each author's personality shines through her writings. Lynette Kraft's photography at Dancing Barefoot will uplift and encourage right along with her writings. Also...both of these blogs have links and buttons to other really fun looking sites to visit.

As we all begin winding up the summer season and ready ourselves and homes for the beginning of another school season, an online visit to someplace new might be just the boost we need. Our focus and commitment may very well be strengthened and reenergized.

A little while ago I was watching my two-year-old Mighty Man of God getting ready to play outside. He had his flip-flops on, but they were on the wrong feet. He hadn't gone far when one fell off and the other was close behind. Down sat my Mighty Man. He promptly switched shoes and was off in a flash, ready for whatever adventure he was creating. Am I as wise as my two-year-old son? Most of the time, no. Usually, ready for the next great adventure in life, I grab my coat, throw on my shoes, and take off. I might lose something along the way, but instead of setting down and fixing the problem I keep on running, full steam ahead. All the while looking back wondering what on earth went wrong. Why did I lose that shoe?

Often I will send up cries of "Lord, what went wrong? I heard You speak, and I ran to obey You. Why did I lose that? Did I miss something?" Many times before all is said and done I'm wondering if I missed God all together. Oh to be as wise as my Mighty Man of God. When life becomes crazy and I'm rushing on to the next adventure yet something isn't working quite right and I just can't figure out what's wrong, the solution might be as easy as sitting down and switching shoes. Maybe it's even simpler than that. Perhaps I just need to sit down---at the Father's feet and allow Him to switch my shoes around.

I can't help but wonder how many times my Heavenly Father shakes His head and laughingly (when I finally stop running) switches my shoes around, lifts me into His lap, gently suggests a better plan, and with a kiss to the forehead sends me off to play. How often does He stand there gazing after me with love in His eyes as I march off on my newest escapade? Does He delight in the new things I'm learning as I delight in my children's growth? When I reach each milestone of spiritual growth does He write it down in a book of remembrance as a mother does for her child? Is God the original scrapbooker?

When I think of how much joy my children bring me and think of God feeling that way about me, I'm overwhelmed by His love. Yes, I run ahead and get my shoes on the wrong feet sometimes, but Hallelujah, all I have to do is sit down. My Heavenly Father is watching. He is waiting for me to stop so He can fix the problem. He loves to watch me. What a thought.

Even though I know it's true, sometimes the thought that God Loves Me sweeps over all anew.
I've heard it said before, but each time it means even more.
The God of all the universe, the One who made the stars
Watches me and delights in Me. I'm safe within His arms.

Ephesians 3:18, 19 AMP
That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measue of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!