I'm Still Human - Is That Being Real?

Being real. Heard about that yet this year? It seems as if everywhere I look, there it is staring me in the face. Can't help but smile each time. I think maybe I'm actually getting the message that this being real is pretty important, maybe even essential, to possess a life of quality and depth.

One of the most difficult aspects of being real God has been teaching me about is admitting what hurts. I have spent my entire life thinking that admitting or talking about what hurts is the same thing as whining, and we all know that whining is ugly. No one likes a whiner. So this crazy wrong idea morphed into this even more wrong process of thought that said getting hurt is wrong. That because it is no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me I shouldn't hurt. After all, it isn't me anymore, it is Christ. See how deceptive the enemy is? He takes a bit of the truth, adds his twisted lies, and ties a person in knots if they aren't careful. Guess that's why God tells us in the Bible to be alert for satan roams around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Imagine that! God knows what He is talking about! (Please excuse the sarcasm. It was directed towards myself.)

Anyway, I received Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman for a Christmas gift. After reading it, I was able to see I'm not alone and there is a deep need for "good girls" to break free from all of the lies the devil has us wrapped up in and live fully in God's grace. If somewhere along this journey towards being real I'm on, you find yourself being drawn towards realness, find a copy of Grace for the Good Girl. You won't find a gentler, more gracious host than the author Emily Freeman. This girl can write, and she does so in such a loving, gentle way. If you have an extra minute, or two, consider dropping by her blog, Chatting At The Sky. You will be blessed for Emily Freeman is real.

Facebook, Friend or Foe?

Because this is a blog devoted to living abundantly no matter how little or vast one's financial resources, we'll try to keep our visit along those lines of thought. OK, here's what I've been thinking and wondering about lately: facebook, going paperless, and what extravagance truly is. How is that for random? In my mental wanderings all of these tie together beautifully. Does that frighten you? LOL.

First off, I've been considering this entire Facebook thing because it seems as if everyone is talking about it. Some are rabidly opposed while others are just as intensely in favor. Seriously. There are people out there who no longer converse with some of their lifelong friends simply because said friends aren't on Facebook and vice versa! Isn't that bizarre? If you have been shunned because you're not on or because you are on Facebook, here is a hug along with a gentle love whack on the noggin' for surrounding yourself with such shallow friends your entire life. Honestly, one true, honest to goodness friend for life is better than a bunch who only know how to play on their own terms and in their own backyard.

I do still wonder about a few things though. Maybe we are talking and conversing with friends and family more frequently while on Facebook, but are these conversations quality? Are they really, truly adding more to our lives than they are removing? Thinking time spent on daily tasks and away from family here. As with most things, one probably receives what one puts into it. With all of the busyness, can the rest of our life spare the time? Balance, always balance. I do have to say, if the only reason people are now (or maybe they are not) part of your life is because you are/are not on Facebook, that's not real love. Real love seeks you out, Facebook or no.

Whew! Going paperless and the true meaning of extravagance are topics for another time. I'm sure today's conversation has gotten enough people riled up for one day. If you are among the "riled up", please know that was not my intent. These are just personal thinkings shared; that is all. Just so everyone knows, I am a non-Facebooker who sits back observing the entire thing with wonder. I am not rabidly for or against. Everyone makes their own choices. I have made mine and am at peace conerning it. That being said, I do miss my friends who no longer visit with me via email (or anything else) because they only Facebook now. Love 'em still. Just miss the chats. Yes, I gave myself a gentle love whack on the noggin' too:)

Ideas Worth Using

Some information begs to be passed on. If you or someone you know has helpful tips such as those contained in today's conversation, please feel free to share them at amothersrewards@gmail.com. They will be posted to Abundance. Probably at our homeschool website Sandhills Scholars too.
Hull strawberries easily using a straw.

Rubbing a walnut over scratches in your furniture
will disguise dings and scrapes. 

Remove crayon masterpieces from your TV or
computer screen with WD40.

Stop cut apples browning in your child's lunch box
by securing with a rubber band.

Overhaul your linen cupboard, store bed linen sets
inside one of their own pillowcases and there will
be no more hunting through piles for a match.

Pump up the volume by placing your iPhone & iPod
in a bowl.  The concave shape amplifies the music.

Re-use a wet-wipes container to store plastic bags.

Add this item to your beach bag.  Baby powder
gets sand off your skin easily, who knew?!

Attach a Velcro strip to the wall to store soft toys.

Use wire to make a space to store gift wrap rolls
against the ceiling, rather than cluttering up the

Find tiny lost items like earrings by putting a
stocking over the vacuum hose. This is excellent for finding a list contact too.

Make an instant cupcake carrier by cutting
crosses into a box lid.

For those who can't stand the scrunching and
bunching: how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet.

Forever losing your bathroom essentials?  Use
magnetic strips to store bobby pins, tweezers
and clippers, behind a vanity door

Store shoes inside shower caps to stop dirty
soles rubbing on your clothes.  And you can
find them in just about every hotel.

A muffin pan becomes a craft caddy.  Magnets
hold the plastic cups down to make them

Bread tags make the perfect cord labels.

Bake cupcakes directly in ice-cream cones, so
much more fun and easier for kids to eat.

Microwave your own popcorn in a plain brown paper
bag.  Much healthier and cheaper than the packet

Install a tension rod to hang your spray bottles.

Turn your muffin pan upside down, bake cookie-dough
over the top and voila, you have cookie bowls for fruit
or ice-cream.

Freeze Aloe Vera in ice-cube trays for soothing
sunburn relief.

Create a window-box veggie patch using guttering.

Use egg cartons to separate and store your
Christmas decorations.


another gift for counting

The first time it happened, I was shocked speechless. I handled the gift my new online friend had given me with a mixture of awe and terror. It was a priceless gift, one to be treasured and cared for carefully. She had given me her trust. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. Somehow, I feel as if I can trust you." I was stunned, speechless. Why? Why would this dear friend, one I haven't ever met in person trust me, a faceless name on the computer screen?

Oddly enough, a very short time later, another online friend emptied her heart, spilled her emotions. She too didn't know why but felt safe sharing with me what she couldn't entrust to others. Me, yet another faceless name who chatted via email amid children and life. God? God? What is this? These women. Their hearts? Their fears and dreams? God. This is big. Really big. Am I old enough for this? Are you sure I'm going to do this right?

Completely unexpected here they came. Friends. Friends I've never met personally and those I have. Women from different locations, cultures, and ages all sharing our hearts. We only opened the door a little at first, but with time the doors have been opened and hooked back to keep the wind from banging them shut. They don't know it; I haven't told them yet, but God sent them to me. You see, He was just starting to teach me about being instead of doing. The lessons on real had only begun. He knew that being real is learned from someone else. It can't be taught. So, to make me real He gave me real. Real friends.

Just two at first then another and another and then, still another. Friends. Real, live, heart-to-heart spill your guts friends. It still counts, even when you haven't met face to face. Doesn't it? So here I sit, still in awe that God has done what seemed undoable, (is that a word?) God brought friends clear out here in the country to a busy mama. Honest to goodness, laugh at the kids, cry your eyes out, pray your voice gone with friends. We don't live next door, not even close. Some of my friends aren't even in the same state. One is a world traveler. She takes me - via email - to grand European cathedrals and on walks in Korea. God brings the warmth of friendship through the internet right into the home of a cattle rancher's wife.

To someone surrounded by people, neighbors, and friends too many to count, my wonder may seem strange. Yet to me, this is gift, rare and precious to be treasured. Thank You God for another gift on the way to 1,000 - friends strong and true and another - sharing our hearts still more - trusting God as we learn of faith.

Visit www.holyexperience.com to join in the counting.


On Our Way to One Thousand

3 Gifts of God is the counting theme for today. Three Gifts of God.
  • Grace full and free
  • Mercy washing over me
  • Love drawing me close
These are what came to mind, immediately. Grace, mercy, and love coming down from the Father above. He is so good. Truly He is. Thank you for joining those of us on this journey of counting gifts, gifts of thanks to God. If you desire to share the Joy and make your own list of 1,000 gifts, the list for January's suggested daily themes can be found at www.holyexperience.com. Details are there. Let's keep counting 7,8,9,...199,....1,001.


Survivalist, Who Me?

Thanks to My Beloved, a new source of ideas for abundant living using less financial resources came across my radar a while back. Realizing that many readers, like myself, may not be aware of this information source, I decided to share.

Blogdom, blogland, whatever you want to call this big, wide world of blogs, is a rich source for money-saving ideas. The source I’m going to share about dwells within this limitless expanse of blogdom. Survivalist blogs. Yes, survivalist blogs. I DO NOT want to get into a debate, or even a minor discussion, as to whether a global disaster is, or is not, going to occur. Period.

I DO want to tell how these blogs dedicated to survival and self-sufficiency are amazing sources of information. These blogs are filled to overflowing with practical, easy to implement information about increasing productivity and decreasing financial output in our lives. As with any source of information, a reader needs to be able to sort and sift through tips that don’t apply to his or her specific situation. It also pays to remember that not every blog is equal. If the first survivalist blog you visit doesn’t provide useable tips, don’t lump the rest of them in with the first and quit. Give another one a go and just see if you don’t uncover at least one useable nugget to use. That’s where I discovered the tip for growing celery ends in water. (future post - with pictures)

growing celery at home

At least one of the survivalist blogs provides opportunities for its readers to earn prizes for their writings. Real, practical prizes that a person can actually use. I should probably stick a little note in here that these blogs are nothing if not practical. If you are anticipating a cushy, culturally acceptable site to scan through, well, uhmm, how do I say this? They aren’t. If talk of a worldwide disaster disturbs you, you will be disturbed. If, however, you are able to read without judging, there is much useful information to gather and glean from. Speaking of gathering and gleaning, there are articles about that too. Survivalist blogs help us not only survive but thrive, abundantly.

More of Real

Author’s note: Today’s post is a journal entry written quite some time ago. As I was sorting through the documents saved on my computer I found it hiding all by itself in a folder entitled “Mama’s Journal”. Since the description of A Mother’s Rewards blog is that of a journal, I have decided to go ahead and post the following piece.

Recently while reading another blog, I saw that a dear woman of God had shared her heart raw and real in a post. While most of her readers understood that the emotions and feelings of one, random day do not a full-blown case of depression or the crazies make, there were some, who out of their concern and compassion, reacted quite aggressively.

I do NOT want to worry any readers or cause undue concern by sharing a journal style of writing. Nor do I particularly crave the sort of comments or interventions unnecessary concerns bring along. Therefore, I am including this little note before today’s posting, just to avoid any potential confusion.

Together, all of us are real people doing real life. Every one of us have days, moments, life times where emotions and feelings betray us. There are days of pure bliss and some on the other end of the spectrum too. That is great; it is fine; it is even good. For God is with us, always. He holds us in the palm of His hand; He never lets us go. The only one/thing who can take us out of His hand is us, by purposely choosing to leave Him and His ways. Held close by Love, He has allowed each of us free to cling or flee. The choice is ours and ours alone.
Earlier this year I shared that A Mother’s Rewards would be real. Journal entry style writings are one more step in my personal journey toward “real”. I pray God shines out as my hero, my knight in shining armor, my ultimate love, and passionate friend. He is my everything; without Him I am nothing. He has covered me with His grace, and because of grace, all I have to do is be. May we all learn to be real, together. In Him, Blessed Mama

Sometime in 2011,

I’m writing. Yes, I’m still writing. Sometimes though, the writing is for a different purpose than before. It isn’t for the blog. It isn’t for the entire world to read and know. This is the most difficult type of writing. Writing that probes deep into the heart, into the places hidden to all except Him.

Only God knows those things cowering in the corners of my innermost being. The fears, the joys, selfish ambitions, religious bondages, only the Omniscient One sees, knows, and understands the uglies that hold me prisoner.

He who was, who is, and who is to come, has always known me. He made me. I am His and His alone. It’s the love affair of a lifetime, He and I. Together we have traveled many miles, forded many streams.

It is His arms that gather me close in the middle of pain raw and searing. His touch that lifts my eyes to see His heart. His gentle whisper when from love I begin to stray.

He knows that, on my own, I am not a good mother; that, by myself, I am an even worse wife. Yet He shows me how to be better. Thanks to Him I am still here, trying. Because of His love, I always will be trying.


Free ebook!!!

Hey There! I have just come from Amazon. While there, I was able to download a FREE, that's right FREE Kindle book that was on my books to get "someday" list. I am SO excited about this. Why? Well, obviously because I am now able to read a book that I was wanting to read FOR FREE. Mostly I am excited because I just found out that I can download a Kindle PC app FOR FREE that enables me to download Kindle books to my PC. I don't have to own a Kindle to get Kindle books! Zippity Doo Da Zippity Day, My oh my what a wonderful day! Free books, I think that's two more gifts to add to the list of thanks we began yesterday.
#4 - free Kindle books that download to PC
#5 - free ebooks from Google ebookstore
Did you read number 5 up there? That's right! More free books! The books from Google can be printed out, if desired. Those interested in an excellent mathematics series will definitely want to visit the google ebookstore. Ebooks of the Ray's Arithmetic series are freely available as are a number of the McGuffey series.
Seriously, Ray's Arithmetics may be the most interesting mathematics books I have ever seen. Originally they were created with pioneer families in mind. Their quality is exceptional and their information is much more usable than the dry textbooks of today. Who knew? Math and Algebra actually have a purpose!  After reading through a sample of one of the Ray's books, my high school senior was wishing he could go back several years and start over with books such as these. Finally, a math series that works for Colonel Redeemed. That would have to be #6 on the list of gifts. 
#6 - a math curriculum for Colonel Redeemed
Alas dear friends, I had planned to stay and chat about the free Kindle version book I downloaded today, but Mighty Man of God is in need of his mama's love. It is time for a snack I think. Until tomorrow, we'll all keep living the lives we've been given intentionally and fully in Him.


Oh My, I Like This

I didn't do it on purpose. Honest, I didn't. I didn't mean to go visiting these other blogs this afternoon. Truly, I didn't. I was going to get the fire going - again. I was also going to start up another load of washing. But, well, here I am sharing an idea instead.

Please note, before you go visit the recommended site, that I find it very difficult to tear apart books, old or new. However, sometimes old books fall apart all on their own. Should that happen, turning the outside cover into a planner would be ever so much fun. Seriously, this idea is the most fun I have seen in ages. It has been around awhile, try four years ago awhile, but that's ok. Just another great part of blogging, the archives.

Information and more pictures on how the planner was created can be found at Homespun Living.

Another altered book idea can be found at http://cindy50.blogspot.com/2008/02/crafty-farmgirlaltered-book.html.

Seeing these antique books repurposed into usable objects makes me think of one of my favorite cookbooks. It is an old physiology textbook from the early 1900s. One of my great grandmothers pasted recipes into the textbook and Viola'! a cookbook was born.

Journaling, homemanagement binders, scrapbooking, none of these pasttimes are new. They are simply modern versions of the recording of life that homemakers have been practicing for years. Recycling wasn't even a word used in my great grandmother's day. Just think, our parents and grandparents were green before green was in. What else can we learn from those who have gone before? Maybe we should think about it and see what we discover. Yes indeed. Maybe we should. I think I hear another post calling my name. Until next time, go forth and live in the abundance God has bestowed upon His children!

300 Times

299 times I have clicked the publish button on this blog. 299 times that will become 300 at the end of this visit. With the click of a button, 300 times my words will have gone out over the internet, around the world for anyone who wants to read them. That is humbling in the extreme.

Last year we began a journey of giving thanks. It was a counting of the gifts given to us by God. This year we accept the challenge of a Joy Dare as we begin anew to count 1,000 gifts in a journey of thanks. Will you join us? Will you accept the Joy Dare offered at www.aholyexperience.com ? All who desire to live fully - right where they are please come along with us and join us every Monday as we count our way to giving thanks always, in all things.

JOY Dare - January 16, Three Ways I Witnessed Happiness Today:
  1. a small girl's twirling and swirling around the room as she sings praises to the Lord
  2. mischievous twinkles in the eyes and contagious giggles of a little brother
  3. gladness in a voice on the phone


The Delight of Writing a Blog

I am still laughing, will probably be laughing and shaking my head for a while. How on earth do I get myself into these situations?

 Abundance is a blog dedicated to living a fully abundant life using less financial resources. The latest post on stock tank bathtubs seemed to have misled readers. For that, I sincerely apologize. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity of clarifying the article's intent.

Yesterday's post about the stock tank bathtub was just a money-saving idea shared in a post. It was an idea that intrigued me. Please note that every idea that saves money and is shared on the blog will not necessarily find its way into our home.

While writing, I paid careful attention to the wording to avoid this very misunderstanding, apparently not careful enough. LOL.  I already have a bathtub. The article was written because it was something I found interesting and thought might be helpful to others. As a matter of fact, I liked it well enough to place it in my ever expanding idea file for those occasions I might need a cool idea like that to share with someone. After all, one never knows when a really great idea like that might be needed.

My Beloved's internet search for fixtures was conducted for another bathroom task he was working on, not for me and the stock tank bathtub. I just remembered the information he learned when writing the article. While writing I was considering every aspect that might be of interest to a reader and trying to include that information in the post.

Bathroom fixtures, tubs, and pipe have been all the rage around our house for several weeks now as My Beloved has been finishing up some bathroom projects. I forgot that my readers wouldn't already have plumbing and bathroom-oriented topics on their brain as I do. Therefore, I didn't provide as much clarification as I should have. Come on, can't you read my mind? hahaha. Once more, I sincerely apologize for any misunderstandings. Thank you for your continued support of Abundance.


Bathtub for Less - Random Wonderings

OK, random thoughts come at random moments, and I’m left wondering whether I should be concerned about how random these thoughts really are. Especially when these snippets of “I wonder..” flying through my mind contain questions of metal stock tanks becoming bathtubs or odder still, can a person make their own bathtub?

So, now that I have openly confessed the vast randomness of my mental wonderings and spent approximately 45 minutes online researching said randomness, the question that remained was whether or not a metal stock tank bathtub could be made to look classy. After a few more minutes of online searching I discovered that yes, metal stock tanks can be installed in a way that is not only classy but beautiful. It’s true, I saw the pictures with my own two eyes.

After resolving my concern over the health hazards galvanized steel might pose, another wandering wonder crossed the mental radar of my mind. Would the expense of the fixtures necessary to take the humble stock tank from rustic to luxe outweigh the financial savings of using the tank?

My Beloved has been working on various bathroom projects at our house lately. Consequently, he has been checking out the price of fixtures at various sources. Using the results of his searches, my question was quickly answered.

An ordinary stock tank from the farm/ranch store does have the potential to not only save hundreds of dollars financially, but along with a couple applications of enamel paint to the interior and the use of elegant fixtures(purchased on sale or through a source such as eBay), provide a safe, elegant bathtub perfect for soaking away winter’s chill.

There are more views of the bath pictured here. Now that we know metal stock tanks have such amazing potential, if anyone needs a new bathtub, just visit the local farm/ranch store. Metal tanks can also be purchased online.


Parental Rights

Abundance blog supports parental rights! Here is a link to a page from parentalrights.org: parentalrights.org. Please visit the link and send it on for others to view. Also, please consider printing out and passing around petitions in support of parental rights. This is a very serious matter that deserves the attention and action of all who believe in the rights of parents, rather than the state, in regards to the children. Thank You for not dropping the ball on this issue.

Yes! I Did It!

I did it! I scheduled our first post for next year's Christmas season! Isn't that fun? Having the ability to preschedule articles allows me to celebrate any holiday, any time of the year! Love it! Now to make sure that I don't fail to celebrate and fully live today, the right now. Yes, this may very well be a strain that will be heard throughout the coming year.

Changes are coming to A Mother's Rewards. While I am currently unsure of the extent of these changes. They are coming. One of the largest changes for me is the addition of advertisements. Also, content will be posted less frequently yet (hopefully) contain higher quality writings and more photographs. There will also, more than likely, be more joint and/or coordinating topics shared between A Mother's Reward and her sister blog Abundance. As a matter of fact, combining the two blogs to form one source of blessed randomness is a prayerful consideration right now.

Most importantly, A Mother's Rewards is striving to be real. You are real people with real needs, desires, wishes, and goals; I am a real woman with the same. It is my earnest prayer that any and every mask comes off in the coming year(s). That when A Mother's Rewards is visited guests meet a real, live woman, a woman who lives, loves, laughs, and cries just like they do. A woman who isn't afraid, someone who refuses to hide behind her words. May guests find a listening ear, a comforting touch, and a place of rest when here.

Topics and posts may vary greatly. One day may be ridiculously silly, another seriously serious. Whatever the day, whatever the topic, if Christ has been lifted up and honored, if His work has been done, it will have been a good post and a good day. If nothing else, we know that there will be a really good post the day after Thanksgiving; I just posted it today:) That being said, Happy  New Year Everyone! We're in for a year of change and grace to face those changes.


New Year, New Blog - Sort of

Happy New Year!
Abundance is back and striving to be better than ever. As time goes on, advertisements will become noticeable at the bottom of posts. This is our newest addition here at Abundance. Other additions and/or improvements will hopefully follow as the year progresses. Articles will be posted less frequently as they are being planned to contain more pictures and meatier content. Please remember that we are a large, busy family who homeschools and ranches. Sometimes real life gets in the way of our most sincere plans. One thing that will NOT change is our commitment to you, our readers. We are here to serve by sharing ideas, recipes, and other ways of living in Abundance - even without a lot of money.
Thank you for your faithfulness and patience with us as we begin, again, this journey called blogging.


Celebrating Jesus - All Year Long

Whoosh! The air rushes out of the cushions on the couch as I sink down to rest. The guests have left, the beds stripped, bathrooms cleaned, one load of laundry on the line, and the house is airing. As always, instead of being ready to get back to business as usual I am just getting into the celebration groove and finally ready to take off.

Even though the after-sales have begun, who says Christmas has to be over? Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us is truly with us all year long. So why not continue celebrating Him each and every day? Thanks, I believe I will. Happy New Year!

New Project for a New Year

Looking for a fun wintertime project to kick off the new year? Head on over to Whipperberry and check out these hot cocoa on a sticks. Not only does the post include the recipes for these fun, yummy treats, there are printable tags too. Her photography is tops as well. Here is the link: http://whipperberry.com/2010/12/hot-chocolate-on-a-stick-gift-idea.html .