Friday, December 19, 2014

Joy for Today

Another joy, my youngest, my baby, who's almost 5, decided she was going to learn the piano.  She has learned which note is which on the piano key board.  She has learned quarter, half and whole notes and she just played Mary Had a Little Lamb by herself. She's not reading music from a staff yet, but her determination brings me joy. She sat herself in front of the piano said it was her lesson time and worked through the entire first book we have in one evening.  She keeps practicing. She sees her siblings learning and she does not want to get left behind. 

Lord help me to have that kind of determination.  Thank you for the joys you bring.  Amen

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joy

This week I've seen different types of joy

The joy of kids getting ready for Christmas.  We've made mini nativity scenes and done crafts daily in preparation. It's wonderful seeing their enthusiasm and delight as they create special crafts that remind them of our most precious gift.  Jesus.

 This morning the joy was in the form of pure delight as we finally got snow.  Upon looking out the window there were shrieks of joy as they hopped around, eyes beaming that there was snow falling.  My kids and their friends spent most of the day playing in the snow.  Squealing with delight, and trying to sled though the snow barely covered the grass.  I'm sure the light powdering will be gone by tomorrow but today it brought joy to them.

What kinds of joy are you experiencing this week?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mary Did You Know

As the joy candle was lit this morning for advent I felt the igniting of joy in my heart.   I got to see my husband in front of our congregation worshiping the Lord with song.

I have always loved to hear him sing.  On our first date over 17 years ago he sang to me quietly in my ear, since that day I have rejoiced  in hearing his voice in song.  For anniversaries or presents one of my heartfelt requests is for him to sing to me. I have never had the best voice, but I feel like being married to him and standing next to him singing I've learned from him.  I love to listen for his voice, it helps me know where to sing.

As I think about that I'm reminded of how a wife is to allow her husband to lead just as Christ leads the church. In the midst of lots of voices I could discern which one was my husband's and listen for it aligning my voice to the key that was right.  I want to be a women of God that listen's to The LORD's voice above the noise of the world, above all the things that surround us.  I want to discern where he is and align myself and my life with HIM.  So many things in marriage reflect our walk with Christ and that brings my heart joy. What a gift God gave us. 

My husband has desired to be apart of a worship team, using his gift of singing and music for the Lord, for a very long time.  As his wife, I've watched as his desire and dream has been kicked around by others to the point where he questioned if he really had the gift to sing.  It hurt my heart when he wouldn't sing thinking he was no good, because I longed to hear his voice.  Today he helped lead worship and he sang Mary Did You Know.  I felt such a joy listening to him sing and hearing the reactions of others amazed at his gift.  It was a joy on many levels:  hearing my favorite Christmas song, pondering the birth of Christ and how his young mother felt.  A joy of  having my husband being a part of something he's longed to do for so long.  It was a joy of knowing that God brought us to this place for a reason and that HE is doing so much here. The joy of hearing.

I hope you feel the joy of Christ today.  May you be led by Him and be able to hear HIS voice.  May you rejoice in HIS birth and all that means for us today.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

We love to make sugar cookies but I've had a hard timing finding or making cookies that are nice and soft and chewy and gluten free at the same time.  Usually gluten free cookies seem to be crumbly. So this recipe was a winner.  Of course if you're gluten free you know you have to add a little zanthan gum to keep the flours together.  I hate when things turn out to crumbly or too cake like when I want a cookie.

So this recipe does the trick.  It's so good in fact we made 68 cookies and my children kept grabbing them and in 2 days all 68 were gone!  Not my plan, we were going to give them away for Christmas presents, not fill up on sugar.  Just goes to show you they are THAT good.

Hope you enjoy

1 1/4 c. organic raw sugar or coconut sugar
1 c. organic unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. gluten free oat flour
1 c. rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1 t. zanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a cookie sheet. Cream butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Add flours, baking soda, cream of tartar, and zanthan gum.  Form small balls and place on a cookie sheet.  They will flatten as they bake. Bake for 10 minutes, let sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute before moving to cooling rack.

Then eat them! It makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies if you make small walnut sized balls. We made some giant ones too, so chewy, so good!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Preparations

Here in mismatched sock land where clean laundry is piled high and the house is a disaster we have made time to prepare for one special birthday.  In our house we don't do Santa Claus (not saying you can't) we have a birthday party for Jesus.

This week we've been counting down the days till his birthday by doing crafts.  I found a lot of my crafts on-line.  Bible Story Printables is probably my favorite site for finding great crafts and free templates.  A couple favorites are the Names of Jesus Ornaments and the Nativity Pop Up Cards.  You can follow the links and do them too if you'd like.

Today we made origami boxes and filled them with pictures of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and talked about the gifts the wise men brought to our Lord. There in even a video tutorial on how to make the boxes.  The kids LOVED that.  So now our tree has boxes under it with the Gifts of the Wise Men.

I like to spend time remembering and getting excited about our Lord's birth.  It is truly the greatest gift any of us could have.  I want my kids to realize that presents under a tree pale in compassion to the joy of salvation and eternal life with Christ.

We still get our kids gifts, but on a way SMALLER scale.  They get tons of gifts for their birthdays, but for Christmas from us they get one main gift and then some stocking-stuffers.  I like to get them movies or books that promote their relationship with Jesus.  Some movies we like to put in stockings are Paws and Tales, Auto B Good or Torchlighters about missionaries and Christians that have left a legacy.  For my older daughter we have also done American Girl Movies or horse movies that are Dove approved.

Christmas morning in our home we wake up and go on a hunt for numbered cards that tell the story of Jesus's birth.  It starts with the angel appearing to marry and the sixth card has the wise men bringing Jesus gifts and worshiping him. The last card is usually near the cake.  We light 3 candles for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and sing happy birthday to Jesus.  We then eat cake and open our gifts and relax the rest of the day.

What things do you do to keep Christ in your Christmas preparations?
I hope you enjoy the links and find things to help you guide your children closer to the Lord and enjoy this advent season.

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Things I Love About My Home

It is great to have a home.  Yes we finally did get into our house after waiting a long time.

I never had a house of my own.  I grew up all over the U.S and never had a home.  My husband and I have always rented.  I feel so amazingly blessed to finally have a home and I know there are many people all over the world who don't have this luxury.  While getting to this point seemed to take us forever, now I see the perfect timing of our LORD. Each day I thank God multiple times a day for this place and all the amenities in it!  Here's a little snippet of the things I love about my home, the things I thank God for.

  1. Another Toilet!! I went from a two bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment to a three bedroom home, with TWO bathrooms!  Now when 2 kids have to go at the exact same time, as happened often, no one has to pee in the tub! We don't need our "Wash the Potty Down the Drain" song anymore.  It's wonderful having two bathrooms.  Plus now my kids don't fight as much over who gets to clean the bathroom!  Silly I know, but that's the favorite chore in my home.  The bathroom cleaner gets to use really neat shine rags to make the sink and mirrors "pretty", and everyone wants that job.  Now we have two bathrooms, so two of the three kids can clean a bathroom at the same time.  Isn't that amazing!
  2. A washer and dryer!  We had to pay to do laundry at our apartment or go to a laundry mat.  I hate laundry mats and I hate sharing my washer and dryer with an entire apartment of people.  I know people are still washing clothes by hand in some parts of the world, so at least I had the use of this technology.  Having my own is so wonderful!!! When I'm ready to do laundry I don't have to worry that it's already in use.  I don't have to spend $30 a week to have clean clothes!  I don't have to check it for what someone might have left behind.  (Once at our apartment a person left behind a pair of jeans with human feces in them. YUCK!) Thank you LORD for a nice washer and dryer of my own!
  3. A basement!  Now we have a place to do our homeschooling and a place for the kids to play!  When we lived in a two bedroom apartment with 5 people it felt a little cramped.  There was no room for my kids to really play.  Now they have room!
  4. A backyard!  How I've yearned a back yard.  I have longed for a place for my kids to play and be safe.  I've always had to bundle everyone up, including myself to go outside in winter, to play at a park.  I always had to be right there watching their every little move anytime we wanted to go outside.  Now we have a yard! My kitchen window faces it, the dinning room sliding glass door faces it!  I can stand at my sink doing dishes, or cook in the kitchen or sit at my dinning table and watch them playing.  It's fenced and they can play.  We added recess to our school schedule.  They go outside and play in our very own yard.  We played kick ball one day and had so much fun.  It was a great work out running "bases" and trying to get each other out.  We also have  blue jays and cardinals in our yard and lots of squirrels.  It's so fun to watch them.  The kids made bird houses years ago, and this month we got to go outside and hang them up in our very own trees.  That felt pretty great!  Thank you God for a yard and the ability to enjoy your creation!
  5. A big sink and quiet dishwasher!  I love my kitchen sink. I know that seems a little odd.  It's big.  I've always had tiny apartment sinks.  This sink is enormous by comparison.  I love it.  It's nice and deep and holds my pots and pans to fill with water and holds my dirty dishes waiting to be put in my nice dishwasher.  Water doesn't get all over the counter and the floor when I'm trying to boil noodles or drain them.  There was room for my thanksgiving turkey! I feel blessed when I look at my sink and when I hear my lovely quiet dishwasher!  No more loud banging and having to yell over the kitchen appliances.  Thank you Lord for these great amenities!
There are so many things I'm thankful for about this house.  I know we often take what we have for granted and I don't want to do that.  I want to be mindful and thank the Lord daily for these wonderful gifts.  The gift of a place to call home and raise my children.  Thank you Lord.  I thought about Psalm 113:9, that says "He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!"
That's exactly what he did for this once barren woman. Thank you God! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gift of Homeschooling

What a gift to be a homeschooling family.  We were able to take off the entire month of October to go on a much needed vacation.  It was our first real vacation.  It was also the first time my kids saw the ocean, or even rode on a boat, besides a canoe.  It was amazing.  As a good teacher-mom I made booklets for each child including all the states we'd go through, maps, and fun facts about each state.  We took different routes there and back, so my kids got to see 10 different states.  The trip down was mostly rainy, but it was still enjoyable. We got to see the landscape changing. They saw real mountains for the first time.  We also went to the Creation Museum and enjoyed their dinosaur exhibit.  They have one of 5 Allosaurus skeletons that were found nearly complete.  We also spent a lot of time reading.  They read to each other and I read to everyone.  It was a wonderful trip.  We had no movies in all 6 days of driving.  And they were  LONG days in the car with only stopping for potty breaks, but it was GREAT!  While we were basking out in the ocean I was again thankful for being a home school family. The beach wasn't packed like it would be on regular school holidays.  It was perfect.  We played in the waves, built sandcastles, found all kinds of shells.  We got to go on a boat ride and see dolphins.  The crew brought in a net and showed us what they caught. The kids got to see jelly fish, little squid, and all kinds of fish up close and personal. My eldest held a tiny squid! We had been studying ocean animals and this was a perfect way to wrap it up. They got to see how little clams dig deeper into the watery sand when you go to get them out. They watched a group of sharks swarm around the pier as fisherman cleaned fish and bloody fish fell into the water.  They saw people catch a sting ray right off the beach.  What an amazing time.

While we were there my two girls learned to swim without life jackets. We made so many memories and had so much fun!  I kept thinking how blessed I am that we could go on a vacation like this and that I didn't have to worry about "missing school".  We did some schooling in the car, but really the schooling we got from the trip was the type you can't learn in books.  It was experiences, being an eye witness to things they will not soon forget.

We even saw 49 of the 50 state license plates, how great is that!