Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Using Screen Time

I know screen time can get out of hand.  There are tons of movies and television programs and computer games that are a available.  I have found that when kids are sick or when I'm sick it's easy to have school slip away and shows take over.  I don't own a television, but I do have a computer and Netflix.  So I know if it's easy for me with out a television around it's gotta be very easy for those who have the convience of pushing one button to get to a favorite show.

So I came up with a plan.  I wanted to incorporate in screen time in a way that didn't allow my family to become couch potatoes but also was educational.

We have a tablet and on it we have Stack the States, and Tracing ABC.  We also have Perfect Piano and some art tools.  If the child gets tablet time they "play" for 10 minutes either learning the states or working on their handwriting.  Once they've completed a level which takes less than 10 minutes to do, they can play something like Lego City fire chief or make music or art on the tablet until their timer goes off.  We also have a PC.  So while one child is on the tablet, one can be on the PC doing an educational game like on StarFall.com, ReadingEggs or games on PBS kids with Cat and the Hat or Curious George.  On my phone I have reading and math apps, and I avoid plain games. I give each child a specific task to complete and I time them so that one game doesn't roll into the next, with hours being wasted. Before the timer, I regularly heard, of just let me finish this game, or just let me try that game.  Now it's clear cut. 

I've seen all my little learners grow from this and really do well on their other school work, looking forward to their "screen time". 

What programs, or games do you like the most?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Distracted?

Most of us know the story of Mary and Martha.  I know I've heard many lessons on it.  Today as I was reading in Luke chapter 10, one small part of the story spoke to me.  Verse 40 says, "But Martha was distracted with much serving."

She was serving Jesus and his followers and yet was distracted from worshiping him.  There are times when I feel like I'm serving, doing good things that God desires, but distracted from God.  The day gets full, the night comes, exhaustion sets in and I realize I haven't had quiet time with the Lord.  I know that without HIM and HIS strength all my work is useless. 

I am trying to remember to put Jesus first, to get filled by HIM and then work in HIS strength.  Let's face it, distractions abound!  They aren't necessarily bad either.  Caring for your children, meeting their needs.  Tending to your family and friends. Helping others and when homeschooling on top of that you have all the lessons to prepare and teach.  Dishes pile up, laundry needs to be done, and in all that running and busyness we loose track of our time doing the ONE thing we need most.  We need Jesus and His direction, His peace and joy the very most. 

Join me in trying to not be distracted from the LORD but to choose Him first.

Friday, February 21, 2014

God Is Still the Same

I finally got to spend time with my dear friend in the hospital last night. It was so encouraging.  Her room is full of verses on the walls.  She is full of the Lord's peace and is seeking His face.

When they were told how the cancer had spread and what was happening her husband said, "This doesn't change who God is."  She declared that as well and said "I am going to declare who God is in the midst of the battle."

I do not know how people who do not know the Lord can make it through times like these.  I have seen many times that those without Christ become over whelmed and consumed with worry and doubts and fears. More often I see that those with Christ have a miraculous sense of peace. As the Bible calls it,  the peace that surpasses all understanding.  It's the peace that doesn't make sense to the on-looker.  The peace that covers you and lifts you up in times of trouble.

My dear friend is constantly and consistently declaring who God is.   He is a mighty counselor. He comforts those who mourn. He lifts them up on wings like eagles. He renews our strength. He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory. Through Him NOTHING is impossible. This is only part of who God is.

As we walk with them through this valley we know that God is still the same.  He still reigns and we will not be shaken. We are expectantly watching HIM display HIS glory.

"He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:6

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Peace?

This week my dear friend was hospitalized with a massive infection and in the process found out that her cancer has spread to her lungs, and her bones.  It's in her pelvic bone, sternum, ribs, and spine.  I found this out while caring for her three young children, one only 2 months old.  I sit in shock and wonder what God's plans and will is in this situation.  I also sit in awe of my dear friend.  She constantly looks to Jesus for peace and holds to Him even in very dark times.

I selfishly want to be with her in the hospital and to give her hugs and to just sit with her.  In this time I need God's perfect peace.  I need that verse more than ever to think on what is good and allow Him to regulate my mind.  Seriously regulate. 

I sat in the grocery store parking lot for a half an hour while my kids watched a movie on our portable movie player.  Could have been a devotion time, but all I was doing was trying to focus on what I needed in the store.  I was trying to make a list but how my mind wandered. 

Please keep her and her precious little ones in your prayers.

May we all keep close to the Lord and be given His peace.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Peace

This week for our Bible time we've been looking at peace.  Isn't it interesting that as I'm studying peace with my children, I become undone.  I've been lacking peace, feeling sad and discouraged and very emotional.  I looked at one of my kids copy work pages, as I was cleaning the never ending piles of clutter,  it grabbed my attention.

The verse my little 4 year old traced says: "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you."  Isaiah 26:3.

It made me stop and kind of laugh at the irony.  My thoughts were not fixed on God.  My thoughts were fixed on kids bickering, disappointments, busy schedules, all I needed to do, wanted to do.  Thoughts of how I didn't measure up, or how my loved ones didn't measure up.  As I thought about this I said aloud to myself,  "well of course you wouldn't be in perfect peace with all these thoughts." I was reminded of the verse that says take captive every thought.  I pictured myself taking these thoughts as they flowed through my spinning head and locking them into a jail, or throwing them out.  They aren't the thoughts worthy of my time and energy, and they certainly don't lead to perfect peace.

I hope that I will be better at remembering this, and putting it into practice.  I surely want the Lord's perfect peace.

So on the day after Valentine's day if you are feeling discouraged, or forgotten, or if you're mind is just full of thoughts that are weighing you down, take heart.  Capture those thoughts and throw them out, remind yourself that Christ loved you so much He gave His life for you.  Keep your thoughts fixed on Him.  You two will find His perfect peace. 




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Getting Ready for Valentines Day

Honestly we have done very little in preparation for Valentines day.  My eldest did a composition on a time she felt loved.  They all made a Valentine craft at the library this week.  We also read Pete the Cat's Valentine book. That's all we've done.  I've never been big on this holiday.  We don't eat all the junk food, and I'm not one to spend money on flowers that will be dead in a few days.  So we don't really do much. Yet I want to do more.  I want to use this holiday as another opportunity to point to the love of Christ. 

I hope that tomorrow I can remind my kids that everyday is a day to show love for one another and the Lord.  I hope they will remember that the love of the Lord is more important than any valentine. I also plan to do some fun crafts from the sites below.  You can do them too.

Some fun crafts:
http://www.dltk-kids.com/articles/valentine.htm
http://www.christianpreschoolprintables.com/Valentines_Day.html


"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16


How do you help your kids celebrate Valentine's day and God's love each day?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Grain Free Fabulous Banana Pancakes

This week a lady mentioned using 2 eggs and 1 banana to make banana pancakes.  I know my family rarely has pancakes now that we are grain free. So this idea intrigued me. It was in fact as easy as she said.

I used a ninja and blended 2 eggs with 1 banana then poured it onto my electric skillet set at 400 degrees. I had olive oil in the pan to keep the pancakes from sticking.  The 2 egg, 1 banana combo makes about 5 pancakes.  My kids spread almond butter on top and enjoyed.

As you can see the batter is runny and a little frothy.  It makes lovely round pancakes, if you cook too long they will be dark brown, but still taste fine.  If you don't cook long enough you'll get more of a scrambled egg look. Give it a try, hope you enjoy.


Do you have a super simply recipe you use for breakfasts? Tell us about it. 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two Foods- Two Great Medicines

We try to do things as naturally as possible, when we can. We have only been on this journey for about 4 years.  In that time I've spent a lot of time reading, researching and testing out herbs, plants and remedies. Two of the easiest and most cost effective ones have also proven to work the best.

Garlic should be one of your best friends.  Garlic kills pretty much everything you don't want in your body, while maintaining what you do want.  In clinical studies it has been shown to kill multiple forms of strep and many other bacteria. It helps shrink tumors and build the immune system.  This tiny plant is one amazing gift from God. The use of garlic can be seen even in the Bible in Numbers 11:15.  The Israelites were slaves and were given Garlic by the Egyptians to eat.  It is said that it was given to them to increase their stamina.  The more I read about garlic, the more amazed I am.  For colds, sickness and sore throats, we have minced up garlic and mixed it with honey to chew and swallow.  You can also put it in a tea, like Echinacea tea and then gargle it, I followed this natural remedy recipe minus the fig syrup, and adding the garlic.  It worked wonders.  There is also the option of buying garlic capsules and taking those, though I'm sure they are not quite as potent.
There are some interesting facts about garlic in these links.
http://www.herballegacy.com/Porritt_History.html
http://permaculturenews.org/2013/10/09/medicinal-plants/
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/medical-uses-for-garlic-ga.htm
http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/alton134.html

White Onion is the other food that should be on hand.  This one is also mentioned in the same verse in Numbers.  Onions have been talked about through out history as a "cure all".  We cut up white onions and put them in our home during a massive sickness to help cleanse and purify the air. I know some people think that's just an old wives tale and ridiculous to do, but we've seen it be very helpful.   Onion cut and put on the chest can open the lungs and kill spores including mold. We have used it for coughing sicknesses and while the smell is horrid, it works wonders. We've also placed it on the bottoms of our feet and just as the "old wives tales" say it has helped us rid ourselves of excess mucous. My kids will actually ask if we have any onions when one of them gets sick.  They expect to find them under their pillows and all around their rooms when they wake up.  As crazy as it sounds, it works, and I say if it works use it.
Here are some links about onions. The top one even has links to clinical studies of the things onion has been proven to kill.
http://permaculturenews.org/2013/04/12/layers-of-healing-realizing-the-power-of-the-ordinary-onion/
http://healthybliss.net/healing-power-of-onions-can-onions-absorb-bacteria-viruses-and-flu
http://www.herballegacy.com/Wilson_Medicinal.html

God is all knowing he gave us these plants with healing properties so that we could use them for healing purposes.  Just as it says in Ezekiel 47:12 "And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” The more I learn about the things HE made the more I stand in awe of our creator.

Do you have a favorite food that you use for medicine? Share it with us. 





Monday, February 10, 2014

Give Thanks

" Pray without ceasing. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

I was thinking about this verse and what it means today.  I was noticing that it does not say be happy in all circumstances, but it says be thankful.  Many people seem to put them together as one in the same.  I believe however that we can be thankful to God in all circumstances even if we are not happy about them.  There have been many times that I've seen this play out in my life.   

Years ago when my husband and I couldn't conceive, and then we did only to loose our babies over and over again I was far from happy.  I was heart broken.  I remember after our second miscarriage my arms feeling overwhelmingly empty.  I desired a baby more than any other thing and my chest burned with the pain of crying for so long.  Yet in that moment I knew I could thank God.  I thanked him that my baby was safe in his arms.  I thanked him that he could see what I could not and that I could trust him.  I thanked him for his promises and for salvation.  I had to pray without ceasing asking God for comfort, and strength.  He provided those.  I was not happy.  I did not say thank you for taking my baby and leaving me to feel empty.  I know he did not expect that of me.  

Currently it seems that daily we hear about another family member or friend going through hard times.  Biopsy, surgeries, unknown tumors, financial problems, the list goes on.  I know I could feel overwhelmed thinking about all of it. Instead I want to pray without ceasing. I desire to be in God's presence, thanking him.  

I am constantly reminding my children that we have so much to be thankful for.  We have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, food to eat that we can thank God for.  There are many Christians in the world that don't have that.  They are running for their lives, hiding, starving, beaten and yet they still praise and thank God.  For what? For salvation, for grace, that this world is temporary and that God has a home prepared for us, for eternity. That in itself is enough to be thankful for.  

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Homeschool Schedule

The greatest thing about educating your children at home is the flexibility it brings.  I love that we can choose what time of day we will do school, if we will bring it along in the car, or if we will skip it all together to go on a field trip.  The flexibility is wonderful and yet can be a problem too.  With all the flexibility I have found I have to be more intentional about our schedule so that we actually do our school work.

Here's what has worked for me.  My kids are brightest and most ready to work first thing in the morning.  So we begin right after breakfast.  I schedule any appointments after lunch so that I can be sure we have time to get math and reading accomplished.  We do science, history, art and other things after lunch on days we don't have appointments.  I have tried schooling all the kids at the same time and I've tried giving them their own one on one time.  I prefer doing each child separately.  That does not mean the other kids aren't in the room, as sometimes they are sitting at the same table. It just means that during a lesson I am focusing primarily on one child.  If I'm doing math with my oldest, the other two can be playing or they can be at the table doing tracing or copy work.  This is a great time for file folder games that they already know how to do or other independent work.  This way they aren't interrupting the lesson.  When I'm doing lessons with my kinder son my oldest will do a read aloud with the youngest or help her with things like shapes or other things that the oldest has already mastered.  The key is to make sure each child has one on one time.  For my youngest her time is a bit shorter as she doesn't have as much school work she needs to accomplish, but I still give her that one on one time, reading, working on her letters, coloring. 

I made a visual schedule for my kids it's attached to the wall with sticky tack and we move it around each day.  The part that never changes is the top four. We do those every day together before we move on to anything else.  I colored the things we do all together in orange and then color coded each child separately.  I had to schedule in exercise, which we like to dance and jump around to praise music as our exercise.  We then add on our other subjects if we don't have appointments.



We all know that kids thrive on schedule, they need it for a sense of security.  So having this schedule has greatly helped them.  They know what to expect and there are less behavior problems because of it.  The schedule has also helped me.  Now I know that my phone needs to be ignored, and emails and blogs postponed until after lunch.  It helps me keep focused on my children and teaching them to the best of my ability.

What type of schedule do you use?  Do you display your schedule?  Share with us.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Homeschool Curricula

I love homeschooling on good days, and I wish for a bus to come to my corner to take my little ones to school on bad days. Yet I find that with good curriculum that fits my kids we have more good days than bad.

I have tried a plethora of curricula.  I was a school teacher before beginning this journey.  I choose to home school mainly for religious reasons.  So I knew I needed to choose curricula that would match our beliefs.  I started out trying to be frugal and make everything.  WHAT A HEADACHE!
I spent more time prepping than teaching and I found I was always stressed.  You remember that old saying, don't reinvent the wheel. It's true.  If there is something great out there, use it!

Here's what we use.  I started out with SWR (Spelling Road to Writing and Reading) to teach the phonograms.  What I love about this is that you do teach all the phonograms rather quickly and through spelling your student learns to read, and learns to spell accurately.   What I found this particular program was  lacking...activities (and claiming that y doesn't make the e sound.)
My son at the age of 4 mastered all the phonograms from this program. My daughter at 6 and 7 was spelling and working above grade level with this program.  So I think it's really good.  However to fill the gap and reinforce it we moved to another curricula. I still use SWR for some spelling for my 2nd grade daughter as well as . I love the All About Spelling program.  It teaches the rules and practices those rules.  It also dictates words, phrases and sentences for your student to write. It's easy to progress through it and it's put together seamlessly, no gaps, and easy to follow.


I can not tell you enough how much I love this program.  I got it for my then 4 year old son and started the level 1 as he knew his phonograms from SWR.  It is laid out so easy.  It has activities and readers and progress charts.  Though he knew his phonograms, it teaches them, explains, reinforces and helps cement them in the child's mind.  He LOVES this program.  He is now 5 and in level 2.  He reads fluently and begs for the activities it provides.  He loves the little readers and laughs at the stories.  It's the best money I've ever spent!  It also shows that y can stand in for i or e and thus make either sound.  I feel this is more accurate for the way we talk and spell.  I pull out things from his lesson and teach them to my older daughter, as some of the rules, and syllable types she never learned. This also is the best grab and go lesson I've EVER seen.  You can literally pick it up and do a lesson with out any prep and it truly provides them with no gaps, unlike many curricula I've looked at. 

For math we started with things I made, then we moved to Singapore and now we use Christian Light.  I love it because it has Light Units, or small booklets so that you complete about 1 a month.  I love that each day it has review, new material, speed drills and written and verbal story problem.  It teaches all the standards and yet keeps it interesting.  The pages include facts about people groups, or plants or animals.  It comes from a Biblical worldview, so story problems may include Christian themes like missionaries or God.  It come complete with flash cards for reviewing and tells you which flash cards to use when.  It is very user friendly.  Each day there is a speed drill and then the student graphs the number they got right on the speed drill.  It is helpful to see their own progress. It's also fairly inexpensive compared to other curricula.

For Science we love Apologia.  We started with flying creatures and this year we are on swimming creatures.  It teaches the basics of making hypothesis and how to do experiments.  It explains classifications and scientific terms.  It is written in an easy to follow way and has great pictures.  It follows Charolette Mason style in that it comes with a journaling notebook that the student completes as they go through each chapter.  They create mini books to glue into the journal.  Everything is provided for you and has clear instructions. This again comes from a Christian worldview.  We have learned so much and we all LOVE science time.

For history we use The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. It's very easy, in story format.  The teacher's guide comes with journal type activities.  It includes Biblical stories like Abraham and others in it and puts things in an orderly manner so that you can get a proper time line in your mind. It's easy for a first or second grader to follow as it's in a story format and each section is fairly short.  It also includes map work and multiple activities in the teacher's manual.  We have also used History Pockets, which I really like.  They are in depth and take time to create, but they are a fun, hands on, memorable way of learning. 

These are the main curricula we use and I feel strongly that they are very good and very reasonably priced.  I hope this is helpful if you're on a hunt for good curricula.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Joy

My family is working through the devotional Learning to Speak Life, Fruit of the Spirit by Michael and Carlie Kercheval.  It's a great book.  I highly recommend it.  You can check out their site and purchase a copy for yourself here.

We are currently on the second chapter which deals with the fruit of joy.  I know there are days that I struggle with joy.  Usually, those are the days that my kids seem to have forgotten all manners, and are sulky and sullen themselves.  This morning as we were starting our Bible time and the Kercheval study, my children were being crabby and not wanting to engage in the verses or learning.  I started singing "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart," I took my kids arms and waved them to the tune and pointed at their hearts, acting a little goofy with them. Pretty soon they were smiling and laughing and ready to listen.  Later my son was tracing Job 8:21, which grabbed my attention.

Job 8:21 "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."

While we were all in a crabby state, by lifting up praises and singing to God the mood shifted. Our mouths were filled with laughter and our lips with shouts of joy.  It was a wonderful way to start our day.  The rest of the day with homeschooling, doctor appointments and craziness was more of a breeze because of the time we set aside right away to get in the right mindset.

I encourage you to set aside time to spend in Bible reading, and praise with your children it will truly improve your home-school. Do you have a favorite study you do with your children?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Allergy Friendly Cleaners

Who really wants to spray toxic chemicals in their homes and have their children breath it in?  I'm sure if you asked the question, most people would say they had no desire to pollute their environment or cause allergy problems in others.  Yet when you go to any local market there are isles upon isles of toxic chemicals to clean everything from toilets to the dishes you eat off of.  If there wasn't a demand for them they certainly wouldn't be filling up the grocery isles.

Not only are these chemicals horrible for the environment they wreck havoc on our bodies.  Many of them are carcinogenic, yet we regularly use them and breath them in.  If you have children or family members with asthma and allergies you know that these chemicals only seem to increase their breathing difficulties.  

So what should you use? I always have friends and relatives ask, "well what do you use then ?"~ as if you need an arsenal of cleaning supplies for each area of your home.  My answer is simple.  I use vinegar!  I have a spray bottle of vinegar that I mix with water and lavender essential oil.  I use it to clean every area of my home.  Vinegar and baking soda to scrub the tub or soap scum in the sinks.  Vinegar along with 7th Generation Free and  Clear detergent for really soiled clothes in the wash.  Vinegar is my answer. If I run out of 7th Generation dish washing tabs I throw in vinegar, baking soda and lavender. If the carpet stinks I spray it with....you guessed it...vinegar.  If I had been in  My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I would have sprayed vinegar on everything, not the toxic blue stuff.

Now if there has been a really bad sickness in the house and I need to deep clean I have a different spray bottle with vodka, water and a little bit of lavender.  It's alcohol,  it kills everything, all germs and bacteria and it works really well. However, just so you know vinegar still kills the germs and bacteria all by it's self.  The lavender essential oil isn't just for the pretty scent, but it's also good and combating those nasty germs. Vinegar is perfect and you don't want to use alcohol all the time, or most of the time, because some of those bacteria are good and we want them around.

Having kids and a hubby that have had asthma and allergy symptoms,  I've seen that cleaning this way is very helpful.  The spray actually helps them breath better, which is another of lavender and vinegar's medicinal properties.

I encourage you ditch the chemicals and buy vinegar!  You'll save a lot of money on cleaning supplies and you'll boost the health of your allergy ridden family.  To find out more uses of vinegar check this out.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Questions about God

As I put my kids to bed the littlest started asking all kinds of questions.

"Mommy, are there 5 Gods?"she asked. 
"No honey I said, just one." 
She tilted her head, "But He's in all our hearts?" 

It made me smile, it's a valid question how can God be in all of our hearts if there's just one of him.  I explained that God is so amazing and so different from us, he can be everywhere at one time.  Omnipresent.  I also explained that the part in our hearts is the Holy Spirit, which is what God gave to us to help guide us. 

A minute later when that was digested by her little 4 year old brain she threw out the next question. "Mommy who had God?" 
I said, "Well nobody, God always was." 
"But Mommy, God grew in that lady's belly and she had him." 
"Oh, you mean Mary?  She had Jesus, she was his earthly mother."
"But Mommy, Jesus is God, so she's God's mother."
"No Sweety, you see God always was and had no mother, but he made a part of himself come down to earth, as Jesus, to live here so that he could die for our sins, so we could have forgiveness, and then he rose again.  So Mary is Jesus earthly mother but not God's mother."
Now that is one hard thing to explain.  I can hardly understand it, let alone explain it. I thought.

"Mommy is God bigger than Goliath?"
"Yes Honey, God is way bigger than Goliath.  God is so incredible and so big and so amazing that we can't fully understand him, but we can trust him and know that one day in heaven we can ask him all these things."

"Mommy, how did God make movies?"
"God didn't make movies honey, people make movies."
"What! People make them?"
"Yes, God made us with brains to think and figure things out, and we figured out how to make movies, and buildings and all sorts of things."
"Wow."

Then she fell asleep. 

I'm so glad she's asking questions, even if some are hard to answer.  I want her to ask, to ponder and come to the place where this faith in Christ is her own.  I want her to be able to defend it and to know that there are parts that we will not fully understand here, because we are human and think in finite terms, but God is infinite and can do things very differently than we can.  How do you encourage your children in their questions and kindle their amazement of God?





Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lesson From Fish Shopping

My son had a little gold and black spotted Platy, named Black Spots.  He's only 5, but he fed his fish daily and would often run over to the tank to tell his fish some fun news and promise to buy it things for its tank.  It was always cute to watch.  Well, two days ago his little pet that moved with us across state lines died. He was not happy about Black Spots being dead and he did not want his little fish flushed.

The day after Black Spot's goodbye we all went to the pet shop in search of a new fish.  My son found the tank with the Platys and stood by it.  When the lady scooped up one, he looked at it and said, "nope, it doesn't have black spots, it's not right."  She tried again, he inspected and said, "yes I want this one."  It looked just like the one that died, only smaller.  I asked him what he was going to name it. He looked at me as if it was so obvious, "it's Black Spots mom."  So now we have Black Spots number two, I suppose. 

It got me thinking about how we like what we know.  We are comfortable with routine and familiarity.  Sometimes that is good. It helps us through the day to have a routine.  It keeps our stress levels down and maybe even helps us as we grieve.

What about when it keeps us from new possibilities?  My husband took my son all around the tanks at the pet store showing him all kinds of amazing fun fish.  He even found a little shark that was green–my son's favorite color.  You'd think he'd want a little green shark, yet he wasn't the least bit interested in anything unfamiliar.  He kept running back to the Platy tank, to what he knew, to what was familiar.

I think there are times when we need to stick to familiar, but not always.  God often called people out of the familiar, out of their comfort zones into new and unknown territory.  Jesus told the fishermen to leave everything, their nets, their livelihood, and follow him.  He sent them to places they never thought they'd go.  He had them talk to people, like the Samaritans, the Gentiles, they never thought they'd socialize with.  He often called them to the unfamiliar.  Yet when they followed him they did something that changed their lives forever. Two thousand years later we still know many of these men by name.  Not because they stuck to what was familiar but because they said yes to God and left familiar for the unknown.

Mathew 9:9 "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth. "Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him."

There are days when I ask God "what thing are you calling me to?" Days when the familiar feels too familiar and I want something new.  I raise my kiddos, I spend a lot of time at home caring for them, teaching them, doing laundry.  I know God called me out of the known, my teaching career, to the unknown of homemaking.  He called us to pick up our family and move more than once.  I still wonder what's next. What is HE wanting me to do? It could be as simple as reaching out to a neighbor instead of being so stuck in routine.

 Do you feel God calling you out of the familiar to something new?  Will you be able to embrace it or will you stand by your own comfortable "tank?"

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cheap Paleo Meal

Face it, when you're trying to feed a family with allergies, it can be very expensive.  We have been trying to bring our food budget down without sacrificing the health benefits or compromising our diets.  I've found that I can't buy my food all at one store.  I shop at Costco, Trader Joe's and Natural Grocers.  I used to live in a small town in SD and none of these stores were an option, then I used Azure Standard, found what I could locally, and drove once a month hours away, to stock up.  Even spending more on gas still saved us on food.

I'm always on the look out for cheap but filling grain free, or gluten free meals.  While dining at my good friends house I was introduced to Sweet Potato Hash.  It's simple, flavorful and a cheap Paleo meal.

In a large skillet, saute yellow onions, cut up sweet potato, and browned ground beef.  That's it.  Once the potatoes are soft serve with salt.  I came home and added to it.  I threw in some eggs and additional potatoes.  It makes a great meal any time of day. You can keep it simple or add to it.

What is your cheap, go to, grain free meal?