Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dining Room

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I wanted something that looked trendy and would work with our brown couches. I spent a lot of time looking at interior decorator sites for ideas. I found a few magazines/sites featuring blue walls, brown couches, and the same burgundy I have for my valances. I chose blue because it is soothing, calming, and welcoming. In a busy household, those things are important. For years, we made do with the painted paneling and ceiling tiles, so we are both thankful they are gone. It's such a great time in our family to be doing this! Our children are learning new skills and making memories right beside us. They are old enough now that the worst of the wear and tear years are behind us. We are having fun tucking time capsules in the walls too.

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Now to the dining room...

Article: The Verse You Need Taped to Your Refrigerator

Mothering young children full time is not easy. Add homeschooling and all of the many other hats a woman can wear, and it can be an overwhelming job that takes us to our limits. Be the wise woman and build your house. Don't tear it down with bad attitudes and angry words. Self-discipline your thoughts, and your words and attitudes will follow. Remember we are in a battle, and fight as Jesus did with the Word of God.

And then his voice got stronger. "Yeah, but you remember the first part? 'The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.' See, that's what the Enemy does. He's going to try to get you fighting with each other, to destroy your joy in this stage, to steal all the life out of it. Man, you don't want any of that. Just tell him no.' " read more here: The Verse That You Need Taped To Your Refrigerator 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Around Here February 2016

I thought I'd give an update while I took a minute to sit down. I realize I have not done one in a long time. We made added a lot and made many improvements on our farm in 2015. 

We have mostly finished our den. It took longer than we wanted because all of us caught a respiratory virus. Most of us are well and rolling along on the renovations. We finished enough of the den in time to put the furniture back so we could sit down and watch the Super Bowl. 

Today, we tore the dining room down to the wall framing, added 6,400 square feet to our pig pasture, made 20 quarts of soup, canned turkey in bone broth, canned gourmet stock, and canned some of our homemade dog food. 

I wrote "Most of us are well.." because Clint has had some mysterious symptoms that could be pointing to an autoimmune disorder. However, the thought right now is that the respiratory virus settled into his ankle joints and caused chills, swelling, tenderness, feverish joints, and severe pain. We were not aware that dozens of viruses can enter into the joints. Because Clint became dehydrated during a hard day at work, it is likely that the virus was forced into his joints.We are in the "wait and see" stage while he is on a course of low dose Prednisone. If the pain and swelling return, he will see a rheumatologists to proceed with a lot of testing.

I am staying very busy pressure canning food from our freezer so we can make room for a side of beef we hope to purchase soon to cut grocery costs. I have canned over 100 quarts in recent weeks. It is a blessing to have soups, roasts, meat, and vegetables cooked and waiting to be reheated and served. Clint has found me some storage space for over 100 jars in two interior walls to help accommodate the extra food. God blessed us with a great year in producing food on the farm last year. I am feeling great and getting so much accomplished.

Brandon is loving his new home. He has plans for a trip to Europe to visit a friend and do some sightseeing. He has a Christian homeschooling family of seven for neighbors. He has received another raise at work. I still get to feed him both meals at home and pressured canned foods. If I see he is low on something, I take it to his house since I can buy it cheaper in bulk. I do miss his hug and kiss every night when we call the children before bed time. 

Amanda is charging right through her college course. She is making money through her own little side business. She has taken over many of the weekly errands which is such a big blessing to our family. She has become a big advocate for me getting my rest and is coaching her sisters on modest dressing. Amanda has halfway completed her miniature house which I am enjoying. It was something I wanted to do at her age so it is giving us both a lot of enjoyment. 

Joshua has his first official job "where they take taxes out of (his) check and everything!" He was given one by Brandon's  neighbor. Our purchased state approved homeschooled driving course is rigorous and takes a long time to complete. Clint and I like that because it slows the process down a bit. Joshua has just finished his classroom portion. Clint has printed the certificate out and has sent it to the state to request permission to start the behind the wheel portion. After 45 hours of total driving time and another certificate submission, Joshua can take his road test at DMV.

Caleb has taken to computer technology just as easily as he did woodworking. He is often waiting on Brandon to get here daily so he can ask him a question or show him something he figured out. It is exciting to watch this dynamic between brothers.

Bethany has become my kitchen superhero. She has become a great baker! She has obtained new skills and has refined others. I am helping her collect swans for her bedroom which is fun for both of us. Bethany loves doing the errands with Amanda. 

Emily has really stepped up in helping around the house. She does a good job and doesn't have to be reminded as much to stay on task or to do a thorough job. She is doing well in school and has become such a sweet spirited young lady.

Hannah has developed a fun loving personality. She is forming opinions about the world around her and it is interesting to see what her thoughts about things are. It is such a great time to explore things deeper and learn why things are the way they are. She has been running ideas by me on things she would like to do. We talk about pros and cons of her tentative plans. She is learning what won't work, and I am learning who my little Hannah is on the inside while helping her develop critical thinking skills. I love this homeschooling lifestyle and how it gives my children so much more of me and how it gives me so much more of them.

We are working "full steam ahead" until our upcoming spring vacation. Then, we will kick back and relax in beautiful Corova, VA enjoying the ocean and wild horses. If you are reading this, I prayed for you today. May God bless you!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Used Up and Exhausted

"Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted--not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude because they feel such service is beneath their dignity. Are you willing to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others?" --Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prayers for Clint Please

Clint needs prayer for a health condition that developed very suddenly in conjunction with a virus. The local doc says it is "mystifying." After a consult with a friend who is a PA, we were advised to see a orthopedic doc asap and have some tests run. The condition could be very serious. Thank you very much for the prayers you lift on Clint's behalf.

2/1: Clint got into see his PCP today. He ordered blood work and is testing for some serious things it could be. Results are due in Wednesday. He also has an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Thursday. Right now we are asking God for complete healing.

2/3: We were told one thing this morning and that was quite alarming warranting immediate, in depth, and expensive testing by a specialist. I did some research, and we asked some informed questions based on that research. The doctor then admitted these tests have a high rate of false positives, and he feels it is the respiratory virus Clint's had making the tests positive and causing the symptoms. He now says he feels it would be overkill to do additional testing at this time. Just a few informed questions took us from one drastic scenario to a possible simple answer. Please pray this is accurate and that Clint has complete healing. Thank you!

2/5: Clint's symptoms have spread to other joints and some pain has returned. We have requested a referral to a rheumatologist. Please keep praying for his pain and energy level.

Article: Why Ascribing Intent Is Making You Miserable

Why Ascribing Intent Is Making You Miserable

"The times when I’m most hurt by what I think other people did, are the times when I compare myself to others. ... Comparison and intent form a vicious cycle. But don’t despair, there is hope. Plenty of people have learned how to take things at face value, and nothing more. They do not ascribe intent, and live happier lives as a result. It comes with practice, maturity, and healthy boundaries."

This article is very good, but there is another side to it. Be very wary of people who are always telling you why someone else behaves the way they do because it will affect your relationships. Listening to them will harden your heart towards people who probably were doing the best they could. Be also wary of someone who tries to tell you how you feel. They will erode your self esteem and destroy your self confidence. Only God can judge motives and intentions. Only He sees into the heart and fully knows and understands. A mature Christian is going to have the wisdom and grace to give the benefit of the doubt and will seek to build relationships rather than tear them apart. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Happy Home Quote

Home is the true wife's kingdom. Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there. In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife.
Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere.
Her hands fashion its beauty.
Her heart makes its love.
And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of a home.
The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.
A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love's lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling.
~ James Russell Miller (1840 - 1912)

Titus 2:5  To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Article: Dear Mama, Satan Is Doing Everything He Can...

Dear Mama, Satan Is Doing Everything He Can to Keep You from Reading This Letter

"If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort. We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten. Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation. Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment. Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies. Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.
Your Malevolent Uncle,
Screwtape" read the rest at the link above

Banana Pie Lives in the Pantry Full Time Now

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Since Hannah no longer plays with Banana Pie, we have put her in our pantry where she can live off of our peanut butter. I hope she makes it long enough for our grandchildren to hear the story.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Urgent Prayer Need

1/9: Two of our friends from SCS elementary and high school married and had a son named Brandon. They divorced some time ago. One parent is in the middle east. The other parent is on vacation out of state and can not get a flight home until tomorrow. Brandon had a bad motorcycle accident tonight. He is on life support. His mother is asking for prayers. Please keep the Panther family in prayer. Thank you very much.

1/12: Brandon is still in very critical condition and is on life support. He is responding to pain, so they are keeping him sedated. He has had a rough few days with many complications and needs prayer that enough oxygen from his bruised lungs will reach his brain to prevent further neurological damage. Brandon is around 28, is strong and healthy, and has shown he is a fighter. His mother is with him. As far as I know, his father is still in the middle east due to work there, but he is keeping in touch.

1/13: Brandon, my friends' son, is showing some improvement. His blood oxygen levels are rising as of this afternoon. 

1/15: His O2 levels have come up a little more, but he is still in a coma.

1/19: My friends' son's lungs have improved, and they will put in a trache today to remove tubes. Then, they will begin to wake Brandon up. There is a blood clot from his lower abdomen to near his heart. They can not put in a filter or operate to remove it due to how close it is to the heart. If it dislodges, it would be "devastating." It will be reabsorbed by his body over several months. Prayers are needed that it stays put and reabsorbs quickly. Thank you to all who are praying for my friends' son.

1/22: All I can say is PRAISE THE LORD!! Brandon has been on the ventilator for almost 8 hours today. The plan is to extend that to 12 hours tomorrow and weant him off early next week if all goes well. He tried to give a thumbs up today and answered yes twice to inquiries about pain..once to his mom and once to nurses. He is moving his eyes but not able to track yet.  He did turn his head some and look at his mom and his dad though. She said he will need knee surgery before he is able to walk again. The accident was so bad, earlier, an officer said he is surprised he is even alive. Brandon has a long ways to go but is making progress. Lori (FGH alumni) sends thanks to all who are praying.

I just got a private message from his daddy. Brian (SCS alumni) said he is more alert and is responding to commands an answering yes and no. "I'm so happy!" Brian reports. Thank You, Father, for keeping my friends' son alive and whole!

1/26: Doctors are not liking the way the blood clot is looking, so surgeons plan to operate on Friday. It is a "a massive blood clot that is attached in his abdomen and is floating all the way up to his heart." It is a very risky procedure, and our friends, great uncle/aunt, the Outlands, are asking for strong intercession from prayer warriors.

In situations like this, I also always pray for salvation for the patient and their parents and friends.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ever Seen Lines or Tunnels in Melting Snow?

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(pictures taken last year)

This is the subnivean zone between the surface of the snow and underneath the snowpack where certain animals like moles and mice remain active.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This May Be a Big Comfort for Mothers Who Have Lost Children

Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ BrainsThe connection
between mother and child is ever deeper than thought 
"This was first noticed in humans many years ago when cells containing the male “Y” chromosome were found circulating in the blood of women after pregnancy. Since these cells are genetically male, they could not have been the women’s own, but most likely came from their babies during gestation."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

3 ?s to Ask Before Listening to Any Sermon

Three Questions to Ask Before Listening to Any Sermon “The skill of discernment is learning to reject what is false or flimsy, but more importantly, to eagerly embrace what is precious.” 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Feel Like You are Inadequate in Your Homeschooling?

Overcoming The Fear Of Not Being Good Enough with Brook Wayne 

"Homeschooling our youngsters has its ups and downs, especial when the lesson plans don’t pan out, the children aren’t interested, or when we’re distracted and discouraged. On those “down days” when nothing seems to go right, it is easy to start wondering if we really are enough for the job of homeschooling."

I am connected with Brook and Israel Wayne through Facebook. They have a Christian worldview and are sincere in their faith. I have not listened to the radio show due to sick children but have been told it is very good.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Another Blessing of Large Family Size

"New research suggests that the number of children a woman gives birth to could affect the rate at which her body ages, with more children leading to a slower rate of biological aging." rest of article here. Direct link to study abstract here.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Inside the Kitchen Cabinets

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I store the info on the paint for each room inside my kitchen cabinets. I also have Bible verses, prayer requests, dates for when our livestock will give birth or need shots, cooking measurements, ingredient substitutions, motivational posters with sayings, a bag for Box Tops etc. This is space that is normally wasted and information that is frequently used or misplaced. If I am in a hardware store and remember I need stain, I simply have to call home and ask someone to look inside the cabinet for the name and number I need.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Pooch Time

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I was running a temperature and had a migraine but wanted to be near the children. They are very entertaining with the good natured smack talking! So, I sat in my "Marty Crane" recliner. Girly had been restless all day, but I was so busy trying to get everything done I didn't investigate further. When I sat down to rest, she came to me and asked to get in my lap. She weighs about 40-50 lbs! She isn't allowed on the couches, so I told her no at first. Then realized she was restless because someone had taken her bed. So, I invited her to my lap and leaned back in the recliner with her. She was asleep in seconds! Poor dog just wanted a nap! She was so warm and calming, I dozed off for a little while too. Even better, my headache left! 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Around Here

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from the ceiling to the walls

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The personalities of these two always make for fun!

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getting an idea of how many seats I can put at the new counter

Seriously, we were just going to replace the damaged ceiling tiles in the den.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Hannah's Birthday

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Hannah had a great birthday!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Foot Washing Type of Humility

"...Imagine the disciples' surprise when the Son of God put Himself in the role of a lowly servant and knelt to wash their feet. The need for such a service was great, as they had been traveling for some time. But not one of them offered to do it.
Jesus did more than fill a need; He offered an object lesson. As He explained, "I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you" (John 13:15 nlt). Some churches have incorrectly interpreted this as a command to make foot washing an ordinance. But it's possible to clean someone else's skin without contemplating the significance of Christ's actions.
Jesus desires that we be willing to humble ourselves to serve others. He is looking for men and women who will ignore pride, position, and power in order to do whatever must be done, wherever it needs doing, and for whoever requires assistance. ..." to read this in its entirety or to get these daily devotions in your inbox, please visit www.intouch.org

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Joshua's and Caleb's Meal

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Yesterday morning, a good family friend took our boys hunting on our place. Joshua got his first squirrel. Along with some of Caleb's quail, picked dandelion greens, and pine needle tea will make my boys their first self-provided meal. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe how quickly this past year has flown by! I want to make sure I enjoy the moments as they come because they are coming and going by so quickly now. 

When I was in elementary school, my principal, Mr. Jordan, told our school in assembly that we should live "looking back." Live as if you are an old person looking backwards. Live in a way you will have no regrets and will be proud of the choices you made. For the most part, I have followed that advice closely. I encourage you to heed his advice too. Peace is a much better state of mind than regret.

We have had many things to rejoice over this year and a lot to look forward to in 2016. It has been a year of increase. We have made strides in many areas of our lives, and God has added several Christians to influence our children. There is a lot to more share, but like so often lately, the time isn't there to do it. Good things are happening in our family, to our old house, and on our farm. I did want to take a second to tell everyone: 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May you realize the abundance of blessings God has poured out upon you and yours in 2016!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Be Generous with the Mana

"What does it mean to glorify the Lord? Well, it means showing off Jesus and His generous nature! Talking about Him, thinking about Him, singing about His goodness, pointing people to Him, letting all His attributes and character qualities shine through your life. That's what it means to glorify Him. But I think we glorify the Lord best when we freely and richly give to others. By God's grace, you are His manna to your neighbors and friends. You are His light shining in our dark world. You are the vessel through which His grace overflows to your spouse and to your children and grandchildren. And out of you flow streams, even rivers of life touching a desperately thirsty world around you. God’s charge today to you and me is to freely and richly give all things for others to enjoy. So if you love Christ – and I think you do – watch for opportunities today to touch those who are wounded, encourage those who are helpless, strengthen those who are weak, bless those who are hopeless, and help those who are faltering, because you were once wounded and helpless, weak, hopeless and faltering. But you have been saved by a generous God whose blessings do not stop and start based on your performance. No. John chapter 1, verse 16 says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” And it’s all so that you might extend those mercies to others in need. Give freely and richly because it’s what Jesus has done for you." Joni Tada read more at: Sharing the Mana

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry CHRIST-a-must 2015

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Back row: Joshua 16, Brandon 23, Amanda 21
Middle row: Bethany 12, Caleb 14
Front row: Hannah 7, Emily 8

May the Love of Christmas be abundant in your home and heart!

I John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Movie Review: Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

The debate about how our Christmas traditions got started will never end. The legalism some impose on themselves and other will continue to suck the joy out of families year after year. After weeks of watching friends debate about how Christians must celebrate or should definitely not celebrate, Saving Christmas is a breath of fresh air! 

Let me share something that will seem outrageous to the legalistic crowd: it really doesn't matter how the traditions got started. 

If you abstain from all Christmas celebrations and fast and pray all day while wearing sackcloth and ashes because it makes you feel holier than others, it is in vain. If you wrap everything in tinsel and hang 50k lights to outdo your neighbor, it is not for God's glory, but your own. God says He looks to the heart. (I Samuel 16;7) It's WHY (or maybe I should say WHO), not how, you celebrate that matters to Him. Our own humility is crucial to honoring the Lord in our celebrations of what He has done. 

No matter whether you watch this movie or not, Christmas is what you choose to make it. That's right! It's a choice. You will either let the symbols of the holiday point you to remember dead pagans or point you to glorify a living Christ. 

This movie is a little goofy at times and isn't in the same league as other Christian productions. That doesn't take away from the importance of the message. It takes each element of traditional celebrations and attaches Christian symbolism. Some of the symbolism was the same as our family has chosen to celebrate for decades and some was new to us. I love what it has done for my children! It has taken simple symbols and even the time of year we celebrate Jesus' birth and given a deeper, faith based meaning. 

Saving Christmas will help those who want more Christian symbolism in their faith filled Christmas celebration. It returns joy and helps us escape the legalism of the "it's a pagan holiday" crowd. It's not pagan at all if your heart is filled with your need for Jesus, the wonderful Gift of Redemption God gave us, and sharing the good news with others! 

Brandon at His House

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Brandon, Ford, Girly
in their new home

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Joseph, Jesus' Foster Father

Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

"Just or righteous," in Jewish tradition is often interpreted as a person who as a person who is a devout follower of the law. If Joseph were "righteous" or "just" in that sense, he would be forced to accuse Mary of being unfaithful and then let her suffer the consequences of her sin--both shame and punishment. Certainly, that is not the understanding of "righteousness" that Joseph exemplifies. Joseph's actions suggest that a righteous person is not one who blindly lives by the letter of the law, but one who in following the intent of the law is able to show compassion for the other." -Justin W. Tull

Joseph had every right to accuse and seek justice for what he assumed was a personal betrayal and breech of the betrothal contract. He didn't because he was a man who showed compassion while obeying the law. What better man was there than Joseph to be the foster father to Jesus? In these few words found in Matthew, I see a foreshadowing of the greatest story every told! For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Our Boys and Girls

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By time I got to these pictures, they were tired of 
having their pictures taken. They have all grown so much!

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's Worth the Effort

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I've had a rough year health wise. Looking back at our miscarriage, the deaths of many friends and family, and the big work load, I attribute much of it to heartbreak and stress. Just three weeks ago, I looked like I was near 60 instead of 50! I am looking better and am thankful for a body that can heal itself. 

During the long months I struggled to keep going, Amanda, 21, has come home and frequently looked at me, felt my forehead for the telltale low grade fever, and told me to go to bed and rest. 

Bethany, 12, has often asked me, "Mom, can I get you anything?"

Brandon, 23, buys me gourmet chocolate or some type of special treat every so often. He use to hide them in my room to surprise me until he moved out. When I thank him, his eyes mist up, and he says he's just watching out for me. 

Now that my health has improved, I am back at the treadmill. However, I gave Brandon my display cabinet which is where I set my ice water mug. I casually mentioned to Caleb, 14, that I was worried I'd fall when I bent down to get my cup off of a 5 gallon bucket. He found two shelf brackets and made me a perfectly sized shelf for my cup! As my strength has improved, I've been able to walk a lot longer. Caleb noticed and has come to check on me to make sure I was OK. I thanked him for looking after me. "Mom, you look after everyone else so I figured I'd check in on you."

On the 12th, the children were gathered to watch Ant Man, so I decided to sit with them and cut the sausages for the next day's meal to redeem my time. Joshua, 16, who has been waiting so eagerly to watch the movie, quietly left while the movie was playing. I looked at him curiously as he left. He came back with a knife, grabbed sausages from my large stack, and began slicing. I choked back tears as I said, "Thank you, son."

Keep teaching your children, mamas. I know, when you have been up with the baby all night, have chased toddlers all morning, have dealt with one bad attitude too many, are trying to recover from a virus, and catch up the housework, you don't want to do anything else. In fact, the thought of adding one more thing makes you feel like you will collapse! I've wrestled inwardly with my tired flesh and got up and taught the child who was misbehaving that self control is possible and a trait worth having. Imagining a spoiled, sassy child was enough to get me up to give instruction. Keep teaching them by your example. When they are having a hard day, help them accomplish their chores. Minister to their hearts because they need not only your example but to also feel the effects of it. Correct bad behaviors, and teach the importance of self discipline. Don't shelter them from the world so that sin takes them by surprise and ensnares them. Call sin you see in the world around you out and list possible consequences of it. When you fail in deed or attitude, stop, admit it, and apologize for it. Real parenting is tiring work that stretches and grows us, but it is so important. 

I am seeing the gardens in my children's hearts, which I tended so carefully and prayed over so sincerely, bear fruit. Not only do I see God's work in their lives, but I am touched by it as they now minister to me. This has been surprising because I didn't expect to receive anything in return as I mothered them. I kept at it because I wanted them to know the Lord and do what was right. All my weary and often flawed efforts combined with God's grace has turned around and is blessing me in so many ways. Keep going, mamas. I know the road is rough, but it's worth the journey.

Galations 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Simple Meal Ideas (Free Kindles)

A crock pot is a busy mom's ace in the hole!
Grab these quick because prices can change hourly.

Homeschooling Character Lessons

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I was held up during my early morning routine, so the girls started playing with their dress up box. When I came to do their lessons, I found Optimus Prime and Elly the Elephant ready to read! I know academics and strong values are the reasons most choose to homeschool, but please don't discount the value of experiences like these and the wonderful memories they create.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Swagbucks, or How I Earned $300 in Gift Cards in 4 Months

I thought everyone was crazy for "Swag-bucking" until a friend of mine told me she purchased all of her Christmas presents for her four children with her year's earnings from Swagbucks. I had to look into it after that testimonial!

I learned you can earn Swagbucks by using their search engine, taking surveys, using coupons on grocery items through their site, fulfilling tasks, taking educational quizzes about health issues, shopping through their site at one of many stores, interacting with ads, playing games, by trying new apps on my phone, watching movie ads on my phone through SwagBucks TV and EntertainNow TV, watching videos through the Swag Button, etc. Each Swagbuck was worth 1 penny.

I asked myself if I saw a penny on the ground would I pick it up. Yes, I would.

So I tried it..almost certain it would be a failure. I earned $25 in 10 days just running videos while I folded clothes, peeled vegetables, and cleaned rooms. Instead of listening to the radio, I let the videos play while I was cleaning the kitchen. I ran videos about the latest movies on my phone while waiting in the checkout lines or while riding as a passenger in a car. I reached over and clicked to the next video while walking on the treadmill. In other words, I don't let it take time away from my family or duties. I made Swagbucks fit into the things I already do.

Some of the videos I did not like at all, but I only had to watch 27-30 seconds for credit before it told me I could move on to the next. If I can not tolerate the 30 seconds, and there are those I refuse to watch based on their titles, I skip that set of videos and go to the next. Even better, I can give my opinion of the videos through their rating system.

Pennies add up fast.

From April to August, I made $300 in gift cards, and it was as easy as picking up pennies. Mostly, I ran the videos on my phone and computer while I was doing other things. I also used the search engine and shopped at stores I already shop at through their website. I also took a few surveys which led to manufacturers sending free products to our home for testing and reviews. One gave me $10 for the 5-minute review in addition to the $3 for the 10-minute survey in Swagbucks and the free product. I signed a nondisclosure agreement about the product.

Now, it isn't a lot of money, and I don't see how anyone can make a living off of it. However, it gives me some "fun money" to spend on extras or to help out with the weekly shopping. I have used gift cards to buy gifts for family members or like a "big coupon" to save off our grocery bill.

There was one unexpected bonus. I started ordering from Lowes, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart online using their free shipping or in-store pickup so I could get the Swagbucks for my purchases. I am thankful to Swagbucks for getting me to finally try these convenient ways of shopping. It has been an incredible time saver!

If you decide to try Swagbucks, please use my referral link: www.swagbucks.com/refer/MamaSwag1992 I will earn 1 penny for every 10 cents you earn. Right now, I am saving Swagbucks to buy my boys more lumber. 

A word of caution: With this and other activities, in general, I encourage you to find ways to make it fit into your life. Be aware of how you are spending your time and be disciplined. Don't lose something far more valuable while going after a little extra cash.

I have several friends using the receipt apps where you earn money by scanning your receipts. There are a few and you can use them in conjunction with one another. Meaning, you can scan the same receipt into each app and earn money on it. I gave the tip to Joshua and pass my receipts to him. 

Monday, December 14, 2015


We unexpectedly had to make a lot of space in our already very filled freezers, so I am busy preparing four large turkeys and about two dozen whole chickens for processing in the pressure canner. I am also sewing new wise men bags (Christ centered version of stockings) since ours did not survive storage from last year. If you need us for something, you might want to call Clint, Brandon, or Amanda.

Not in Vain

One of my children was dealing with a difficult person for several months. The person was sometimes cautiously friendly. Sometimes they were downright mean! I counseled my child to "be careful around them and keep being nice because you never know." 

An opportunity arose where my child was able to help this person. We Asbell's tend to stick together, so they soon had four of us helping! We got their problem solved which saved them a good deal of money and time. 

A week later, the person's family member came to talk to us. The difficult person was abused as a child. They adopted them through the foster care system. At the time, it was known as the worst abuse case in the state. The circumstances were horrific! Their mind had to adapt in order for them to survive the extreme abuse. While they are better, there are still effects of the abuse. 

The person has always struggled socially. Just interacting with new people is extremely difficult. The relative knew of the meanness we had encountered and saw us helping in spite of it. She thanked us repeatedly.

What we didn't know while we were helping is that the person would go inside and yell at their family! Then, they'd come outside and be nice to us. Then, they'd go back inside and act out again! Asking for and receiving our help was very hard for them, and they needed the stress relief from the storm inside of them. Taking it out on family, while not the best thing, helped them cope the only way their mind knew how. Some people don't realize they are hurting others because they are only aware of their need to survive.

We have gained new insight as to why it is so important to respond with love. We are all broken. Some of us are more broken than others. We can add to the damage, or we can reflect the Light that lives within us. 

The person is still struggling along. They aren't any different when we see them. When the damage is very great the kindness we show might not have a noticeable effect, but we know the impact is still there... 

I Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Poison Sumac

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No good deed goes unpunished!

As those who have asked after with our family know, Amanda had a bad encounter when she volunteered to help Brandon with his flower beds. She took precautions, thought she had avoided the poison sumac, and bathed three times with a special soap, just in case. It got her anyway! She's understandably frustrated. "I was so careful! I'd hate to see how bad I'd have it if I hadn't tried to avoid it!"

The rash is a week old in this picture. She still has one rock hard lymph node, and her face is more swollen than what you see here. She has temporarily lost the use of one hand due to the swelling and oozing. She isn't having trouble breathing or swallowing. Please lift a prayer for her. She's gone through every remedy in the book. She is ready to get back to normal! Thank you for the prayers and many suggestions.

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before her good deed was punished