All I Really Want is a Fire

 Aren't those seedling tomatoes sweet? They are not this year's tomato babies, but they're still green and darling, and I wanted to share something fresh, green, and springlike with each of you. 

This year I'm not starting tomatoes from seed. I'm buying plants from the nursery. This year I gave up on my frugal self-sufficiency and decided to enjoy my garden rather than allow it to become a dutiful yuck. 

Actually, the thought of keeping Victorious Man of God out of the seed starting flats was more than I could bear. Can you even imagine how enticing trays of tiny green growing plants would be to a three-year-old man in the making? Wouldn't a plastic toy army guy have loads of fun climbing little baby tomato trees and sitting in them? Can't you just see the foam balls being flung from out of a tomato seedling forest on a seven-year-old brother across the room? A mama can only do so much. Therefore, I am buying plants this year.

These clouds aren't today's clouds either. Today's clouds aren't summer clouds. Today's clouds are dull, gray, and cold. Today's clouds slide by in a flat sheet of tannish gray dust causing man and beast to skuttle indoors as soon as possible. 

Today is the perfect day for a fire in the woodstove, but we can't have a fire because it's too dry outside. Instead of lighting paper and wood in the stove when a chill invades, we light the burner under the tea kettle and sip cup after cup of hot liquid. Cup after cup of hot warmth courses through our bodies while the entire time all we really want is a fire in the woodstove, a fire whose crackling flames will cheerfully overcome the wind's tormenting howl.

"When all we really want is a fire..."

As I type these words the realization of them begins to sink deep within my being. All I really want is a fire, the fire of God in my heart burning up all of the tormenting howls of my flesh and God's love blazing out of me for others to warm themselves by. When the clouds of life are dull, gray, and cold I want to be a blaze of cheerful comfort overcoming the hideous howl. I don't want to be cowered under a blanket huddling with my hands around a small cup of lukewarm something or other. I want my arms thrown wide open spilling forth Jesus like a blazing torch shining the way to new life in Him. I not only want a fire, I want to be a fire. I want to be "11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord;" Romans 12:11 AMP

That's what I want to be, aglow in God Holy Spirit burning bright for all the world to see and know God is God, and there is none like Him. In the natural, there may be clouds covering the sun, but in Jesus the light of God's love shines out with overcoming warmth in total, complete victory over every darkness. 

Only a few more days remain of Lent 2016, only a few more days to contemplate the road to the cross. What will I make of the remaining days of Lent 2016? What will I devote my time and energy to? What/Who will I focus on and concentrate? May it always and ever be Jesus. 

Walking the road of Love,
Abundantly Blessed


A Huge Cup of Comforting Calm

Hey. So it's this crazy wild windy day, and around here we're feeling a bit more windblown than usual. Everyone in the house is thinking that everyone else is insanely loud and definitely getting on their last wind-frayed nerve. Cats want in, baby chicks want out, and Mama is thinking that maybe, just maybe, even though she hasn't ever drunk a single drop of alcohol in her entire life, she understands why they sell those gigantic wine glasses and call them mommy sippy cups. Because, after all, every mama has her a day like today. Don't they?

Doesn't every mama have a day when the winds of life blow up a hurricane-force gale, the land is dry, the air is cold, and the children are loud? And if it just happens to be the second, or third, such day, I can understand why a mama would feel in need of a larger than normal cup of comforting calm. It's one of those days when if I were a town mama with my own little group of playdate mama peeps, I would arrive at our favorite mama hideout location all out of breath dramatically proclaiming "Do you have any idea what it's like having......." Feel free to fill in the blank with something like two twenty-somethings, two teenagers, besides a nine, seven, and three year old, four cats, who knows how many cows, two hens, a rooster, and seven baby chicks? OR "Do you have any idea what a mama is supposed to do when all four daughters and herself end up acting like the hormone flood of Noah type proportions has been loosed upon us all? How do we survive each other? How do we not destroy the four boys/men that share this house with us?"

Now, lest any one reading this think I have become overwhelmed, all is well; everyone is alive and fine. It's just a super windy day, and the wind is REALLY proving a challenge to the nerves. It sets a person on edge in a way I simply cannot explain. On edge in a way that, when I read the following articles in my email's inbox, made me laugh, not hysterically. Perhaps you too will find God's abundant provision slightly amusing when you read the topic of both emails: anger. If ever a mama, an entire family, needed these words of wisdom and Godly encouragement, it's us at Abundance House today. This wind seems to make angry words surface quickly. Please know this isn't anything major; it's just the wind, and the wind will pass. Come nightfall, the lake out front will resemble a surface of glass. Until the calm of evening, however, this mama is hanging out with the following wise words and sipping from her own cup of God's love and comforting calm.




A Little of This and a Little of That

Good Morning! Can you believe it? I'm posting in the morning instead of late afternoon or on the weekend! We have done enough of our school for the day to merit a quick break. I thought I would spend my break chatting with you. My Beloved and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage this week so I decided to have an anniversary week instead of merely one day. Don't you think 25 years deserves an entire week of celebration instead of just one teeny tiny day? Me too!

To kick our anniversary week off Giggles and I are going to practice fractions while making a skillet chocolate chip cookie. Uhmmmm, the picture looks so good that I can almost taste it. Definitely making coffee to go with this one. Round about Wednesday we will have some garlic infused cheater ricotta cheese spread on crusty bread sprinkled with sea salt and parsley flakes. I think this will pair well with whatever soup we have for supper that night. Whenever we think we need to try another something new, we'll try a recipe for Russian Cream.

That's all I have lined up food wise for our week long celebration. There is also a certain Victorious Man of God's birthday coming up on Friday; he will be three years old! Of course there will be a special meal of his choosing that day. I think he has settled on chicken noodles, buttery broccoli, and chocolate cake. Approximately two weeks after VMOG's birthday Horsegirl will turn 17. There has been a meal of pork chops, company potatoes, roasted cauliflower, peas, and pina colada cake chosen by the birthday girl-to-be. How those green peas will pop off the plate when surrounded by the creamy colors of the other foods. I think it will be a lovely meal perfect for this in between not truly winter yet not quite spring time of year.

One Week and Six Days Later...

It's been a busy time here at Abundance House. The skillet cookie and Russian cream were delicious. The cheater ricotta cheese hasn't yet happened, but is still on the schedule, as is crockpot yogurt. AND...Horsegirl's birthday is in a few days instead of in a few weeks. We're looking forward to her chosen birthday meal.

Tossing in a few quick tidbits I have learned or been reminded of recently before today's good-bye:

  • When draining homemade yogurt to make thicker greek style yogurt or cream cheese, save the liquid. This is whey and can be used in a number of ways. Two of the many uses for the reserved whey are: in smoothies or as a replacement for water in bread recipes. In smoothies and protein shakes, liquid whey doesn't add that funky taste whey powder frequently does. The whey can be stored in the refrigerator until ready for use. More detailed uses for whey can be found from other sources, online being one such source. 
  • Don't underestimate the importance of small healthy changes. One tiny change for the better is improvement. Just because a step toward healthier isn't gigantic, doesn't mean it isn't good. Even a little bit healthier is better than not healthy at all. Actually, taking one step at a time towards a healthier life is usually more beneficial than going all out. Going cold turkey and changing everything unhealthy all at once sometimes causes too much stress on the body producing unpleasant results. Changing one thing at a time allows the body to gradually adjust in a gentler way.  
  • When limited on time and/or finances for learning new skills, choose one of the most basic, even if it doesn't seem fun or exciting. Basic skills can be used in a multitude of ways making them a saver of both time and money. Learning how to make and use a simple sauce in cooking is one example. Learning how to create an attractive homemade greeting card is another. Both of these examples are simple skills requiring little financial investment; yet both skills can also be altered in numerous ways to serve a large number of purposes. No matter what one's area of interest, this holds true; basics can almost always be adapted to serve a large number of varied purposes making them the ultimate in both multitasking and timesaving. Sometimes less can accomplish more.

A Hug & Love because of Jesus,
Abundantly Blessed


Mama Needs Wisdom, Always

Ask God for wisdom, not necessarily the answers. 

James 1:5 - "If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God (Who gives) to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him."

How this statement ministered to me this morning! I was in need of this wise nugget as I navigate a Friday morning solo; only the three youngest and I are at home, and it's Friday. Did I mention that it is Friday? Monday through Thursday we spend our mornings busily working through our studies in a more traditional way. Fridays are the day we engage in more hands-on methods for learning. Friday is the day we work on art, cooking, and other activities that children sometimes approach with more enthusiasm than those completed Monday through Thursday. Before we go on, please allow me to interpret the phrase "approach with more enthusiasm". "Approach with more enthusiasm" means there is greater potential for more noise and mess. 

When hands-on projects are underway, having someone available when Victorious Man of God gets into something is a wonderful gift. For instance, this very morning, Giggles and I heard the washing machine begin running. After a throwing a brief glance that silently asked "What is he into now?" towards each other, Giggles ran to the utility room; she runs faster than her mama. We learned that while 3-year-old Victorious Man of God was putting his boots on he became sidetracked by the sight of a "dirty" plastic bottle on the shelves above the washing machine and decided that he would wash the "dirty" bottle, in the washing machine. His reply to our inquiries was, and I quote, "The bottle was dirty, dirty, dirty! I start the water and throw it (the bottle) in so it get washed clean." Of course, a bottle on a shelf was dirty and needed cleaning, and a big old washing machine with fun soap to pour in was deemed the perfect way to clean it. So naturally, a three-year-old boy putting his boots on decided to take care of it. The fun around here never ends. During the week, one of the older girls is normally in the house with us. Having one of the older children in the house is a luxurious blessing I do not take for granted, especially on Fridays. 

Looking back on the early years I spent all day flying solo with the oldest four children, I can't help but wonder how the five of us survived each other. Even if I don't need to send out a cry for help every day(I usually do though), just knowing someone is available when an extra hand is needed is reassuring somehow. Granted, back in the day, Not of this World learned to do household chores when very young, and we had a really nice collection of safe Godly videos waiting to be of service when things got too crazy to handle. Somehow though, I'm pretty sure those are NOT the reasons we survived. Looking back on that previous season of mothering, I realize something. Those were really good years. Not that now isn't good, please don't misunderstand. I am enjoying now immensely. It's just that those years spent mothering four small children with My Beloved being gone all day, for a while all week long, sped by in such a blazing whirl of blessed wild crazy that I really didn't have time to consider them; I was too busy living those wonder years to think about them. Being in a different season of life now provides me with the opportunity of looking back and seeing those earlier years from another angle, an angle revealing they were good, really good. 

Viewing the past from another angle shows me something else: God can take crazy busy and use it for His glory. With four small children in the home all day everyday, we homeschooled then too, I was too busy NOT to ask God for His wisdom. I didn't have time to figure anything out for myself or wonder how to do this, that, or the other thing. I HAD to trust God to survive! Parenting books don't instruct a mother in the art of how to pick toy handcuffs from her child's wrist and ankle after said child has handcuffed them together while bathing. There is absolutely nothing in those books sharing how to help your naked child maintain their modesty and dignity when you are on the phone inquiring of said child's father whether or not he has any suggestions for picking toy handcuffs whose key is missing. Trust me, it's not in there. If you had known my children when they were young, you would also know God's gift of laughter kept me full day after glorious day. I still question why those toy handcuffs were in the bathroom. I also sincerely thank God toy handcuffs now contain an auto release button. 

My children may be growing up differently from one another, yet as their mother, I am still in desperate need of God's wisdom. No matter where our family lives, who is home or not, I still need God's wisdom to survive. Our days may be a completely new version of blessed crazy wild from what they were 20 years ago, but my need for God's wisdom is every bit as great. This morning, and every morning, I need to remember I don't need answers. I already have the answer; He is the answer. I need wisdom, His wisdom. Now, if you will please excuse me, I'm going to go explain to a certain three-year-old that his toy wagon is much better suited for being an outside toy instead of an inside plaything. By the way, have you ever listened to a metal toy wagon carrying a couple of smaller toys rattle across a wood floor? It's an experience I tell you, a very loud experience. An experience perfectly fitted for Friday.

*Note to the child whose wrist and ankle were handcuffed together: Please take note of the fact your identity has been protected. No one will know who you are, unless you, or one of your bros & sis, tells them.