Friday, October 31, 2008

Something Old...Something New

No, I'm not referring to anything wedding related - but did want to share what's been on my heart lately.

You've heard me mention before that I would love to have a Blessing Fund that I could easily draw from to give to others. Here's the story...

Recently I came across a site kind of like Pampered Chef or Mary Kay. Yet - a faith-based company that was selling cute items. I have never seriously considered doing anything like this for several reasons, but I was considering it now. Could I use something like this to contribute to my Blessing Fund?

I thought about it for several days and decided to put the idea on hold. Then a week or so later, the same site surfaced again and I started thinking about it again. I asked David about it. I kept thinking about it.

The next morning, I was out running errands with my sweet littles and another thought came to mind. Why didn't I follow a dream I've had for years rather than jumping into something new. Now things started to feel right and like a good fit.

I've long wanted to find neat items at thrift stores, free piles or garage sales and fix them up a bit and have an Open House a couple of times a year. It is something I enjoy doing and you all know how much I love a bargain! If I was selling someone else's item - I would not be in control of how thrifty it was or be able to pass along a good deal to someone else as much as if I was the one doing the creating!

With this idea I believe God has placed afresh in my heart, the gifts He has given me and some fun inspiration here ~ I've decided to give it a try.

I will tell you that I am a bit scared to do this - what if I fail? But, I won't know if I don't try. As eluded to above - I am planning to use this opportunity to contribute to a Blessing Fund and I'd also like to use part of it for adding to our family resources such as quality books, movies and such. There are so many great resources out there - but it is hard to know how to fit those kinds of things into our budget.

I have a small beginning and will be hosting my Open House here on my blog!! I'll have items posted in a few weeks and hope you will enjoy browsing the works of my hands!

Now, for the fun part - would you help me name this little operation? I want it to represent who I am and what it is, I'm feeling very stuck on the name! The winner will receive an item that I've prepared for the sale!!!

Here's a small sneak peek at what I will offer ~

Name entries will be accepted now through Sunday night. Winner will be announced with the first day of the sale, but I'll let you know by e-mail if you won! Have fun! I can't wait to hear your ideas!

PS: Carrie and I are doing a little Q&A over at her blog - hop on over if you have a question! Some of the answers will probably end up over here - but go there to leave your question!

Journey of Prayer: Darkness to Light

I didn't even capture the openings under the castle up close - I thought it looked junky under there and not very picture worthy. When I got home and read this later - I realized I should have taken a picture there for that very reason. You can see the perspective of being underneath the beautiful part - looking up and from a distance, can see the dark entrances.

"Darkness to Light...

From the first floor on up, the castle is celebrated for its beauty, elegance and strength. But take a look at the openings below the castle - darker entrances to more hidden, unkempt places. Whether you have been a follower and lover of Jesus for many years or for a short time, the struggle with the darkness of sin, and the constant temptation to conceal, deny, bury, and justify our darkness is always hovering nearby, and within. Now, here is an opportunity to come into the light again.

"Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me." ~ Psalm 19: 12b - 13a

Spend some honest time thinking about your life. Knowing you are the delight of God, you are invited by Him to move into freedom by confessing sin.

One way to get specific about sins and darkness to confess is to meditate on the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). Consider your life in relation to the ones Jesus calls "blessed". Do these describe you? Where are you weak, rebellious, struggling?
* poor in spirit (humble and lowly, total dependence on God)
* those who mourn (...over their sins and the suffering of mankind)
* the meek (being content with both honor and dishonor)
* those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
* the merciful (love set in motion, love expressed in action)
* the pure in heart
* peacemakers
* those persecuted because of righteousness (upholding God's truth, refusing to compromise with the ways of the world; giving yourself to no other)

Speak to the Lord about all of this. Know He's the Father running towards you when He sees you coming back home. Embrace the painfully freeing work on confession.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ~ 1 John 1:9

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Handcrafted Christmas: Christmas Eve Jammies

Last year, I started the tradition of making new jammies for my littles to open on Christmas Eve! I bought a pattern at Hobby Lobby when they were on sale for 0.99 and then found that I was not at all excited about making that pattern. So, I splurged for this pattern which I love.

This year, I need to have four sets of pj's since we have the addition of Samuel to our family and will be with my sister and her family for Christmas - I want Nathan to have a pair too!

For the boys:
For the girls:
We're going with a Colorado or cabin theme since we will be in Colorado and staying in a cabin this year! I can hardly wait to see all the little cousins snuggled up in their new jammies celebrating such a special season together! So, yes - the pattern was a splurge - but the memories will be priceless!

I still have the 99 cent pattern and would be happy to send it to anyone who would use it. This is the pattern - it will go to the first interested commenter. UPDATE: Pattern has been claimed!!

I hope you've enjoyed the Handcrafted Christmas Series - this is our last one! Details will be coming soon on our showcase of everyone's crafting!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Come What May

School In Our Home first pointed me to this movie made by forty homeschool students. You can watch the movie free now through October 31st and I think it is very worth the investment of time to watch.

This movie did not convict me to change my mind on my beliefs about life. I am 100% pro-life. However, it did reinforce my belief and remind me how important it is to do what is right regardless of what happens next.

I hope we can add this movie to our family collection one day because I know that it will be a wonderful resource in training our children in the ways of the Lord and helping them to think through their convictions.

If you get a chance to watch it, please let me know what you think.

Texas Sheet Cake

Over the weekend, I needed a dessert for a church potluck picnic. I thought about brownies, but realized all my pans that size were in use. So, I thought of making this which I hadn't made in years! It takes less eggs than brownies and uses a cookie sheet - so it makes a lot which is also handy for a potluck!

A fun memory about this cake is that our high school English teacher used to make this for us on occasion and we always looked forward to it!

Texas Cake:

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. water
4 Tbsp. cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Bring shortening, butter, water and cocoa to a boil. Pour over dry ingredients. Mix well with remaining ingredients. Spread into a prepared 11x16 jelly roll pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Texas Cake Icing:

1/2 stick butter
4 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. nuts

Bring butter, cocoa and milk to a boil. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts. Beat well. Frost cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. This time, I was out of nuts - so sprinkled the top with M&M's for a little crunch!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Green Pocketbook Fun

Last week we read The Big Green Pocketbook! It was such a fun story about a mom and little girl and their morning running errands together!

We had fun painting with green paint and making our own green paint out of blue and yellow:

Our town does not have a city bus, but we drove to a nearby city that does - I found green purses at Goodwill to surprise my little ladies with:

We walked to the post office and each bought a stamp for a thank you card we made the painted pictures into:

walked to the bank and did a deposit into their savings account:

stumbled upon a CVS! Yeah for free toothbrushes!

Had a treat at Starbucks - thanks Aunt Carrie for the gift card; mmmmm a chocolate donut:

Next we caught the bus and rode it to the mall where we had lunch at Chick-Fil-A (also a gift card):
picked out soap at Bath & Body Works (another gift card!):

and read books at Barnes & Noble:

We went to the bus stop to wait for our ride back to the car and took another ride:

Samuel spent the day in the stroller - just taking it all in: what an agreeable baby!

What a fun and busy day!

Another day, we made pocketbook cookies - don't have a purse cookie cutter? Me either, but Mrs. Potato Head's purse worked just fine! :)

We made icing from blue and yellow food coloring to reinforce the fact that green can be made from these colors and decorated with green sprinkles.

We talked about other things from the book as well - what a fun week!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Journey of Prayer: Wall

While I was at The Glen, I stumbled across something they've added to the grounds. It is a journey of prayer around the property. I didn't have time to sit and read each page and really spend the time I needed on each one while I was there, so I brought them home. I did take the time to run around and grab each sheet and snap a picture at each spot so I could experience the journey at home. It does help that I have experienced the grounds first hand - but I hope that you will enjoy this as well.

After I've shared the journey - I would love it if we would each do a journey of prayer around our lives and post them to share. This will be an opportunity to notice the spiritual meaning of things around us and share it with others!

The first stop is a bench positioned on the other side of the doorway shown above. This wall runs nearly all the way around the Carriage House and is really a beautiful sight. Here is some of what was shared on the printout at this spot:

"'And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the Lord, 'and I will be its glory within.'"
~ Zechariah 2:5 ~

"The Wall ...

Look at the wall in front of you. Notice it's color, expanse an strength. Our culture often talks about 'breaking down walls' between races, between sexes, and so on. Certainly those barriers need to be addressed and healed. But the building of walls is important as well - walls to protect our sisters and brothers, and to redemptively keep out certain aspects of the world. There is safety within walls. Consider the story of Nehemiah, and the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem:

'They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven ...
Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."'

What are some things God has protected you from in your life? consider them as you think about your past and present, and thank God for His wall of protection.

Nehemiah grieved for the people who had no walls to protect them. He cried out to God on their behalf, and God raised him up to over-see the rebuilding of the wall. Who do you know whose walls have been broken - who are vulnerable because of bad choices made, or things done to them, or just the brokenness of life? Cry out to God for them...that He would draw them into His shelter, and build walls of protection around them...that they would come to Him as their refuge and strong shelter."

Here is a print we have hanging in our living room - I have always loved it and thought that it looked like such a peaceful place - there is much symbolism to be seen in this painting. And, I love that it is inside a wall, protected.

What does the idea of a "wall" mean in your life? Enjoy your time with Him in prayer about this.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Alternative Halloween Ideas

One commenter wondered if we celebrated Halloween or if I had any ideas on alternatively celebrating this holiday. I'm a bit hesitant to enter this topic - but since it has been on my mind as well and with my hubby's approval - I will share my opinion. And, it is just that - an opinion. Each family will need to decide for themselves what they feel is right and what God has called them to do.

Many of you may be like me ~ you have happy memories of dressing up in lovely costumes such as princesses, angels, a clown or pumpkin. Fun memories of deciding what your costume would be and then the thrill of picking up your plastic pumpkin to head out the door and gather treats at the neighbors. Upon arriving home, you may have been like my sister and I where we would dump everything out and begin to trade with each other!

Today, Halloween feels very different to me. First, of all because I am a mom and have small ones in my care - I see things through their eyes and there are many stores we won't go in right now because of all the frightening things. Second, because I'm still trying to get a grip on how I really do feel about this holiday and what it looks like for my family.

We have opted not to celebrate Halloween, but that does not mean I am not on the lookout for other ways to bring fun into my home!

In a quick search of the history of Halloween, I was hoping to somehow be able to pull a thread of hope that could be tied to Christian character or principles - this would be my obvious choice of how to celebrate the holiday! However, I could find no such thing. From what I could find - it was a pagan holiday from the beginning celebrating nothing that is honoring to our Father.

One reference did mention that in the beginning the holiday centered around the end of the Harvest season and ushered in the winter. Ok, that is something I can go with! While I realize that this was merely the timing of the holiday is minor in comparison to the actual purpose and representation - I think I will choose to focus on the Harvest theme in our family.

Here are a few ideas that have come to mind:

~ One idea of course is to simply avoid celebrating at all. And, I have done this too. But, there are so many wonderful things about the Harvest season - this would be a wonderful opportunity to share some of these things with our families.
~ In recent days, I've wondered if a smaller scale Homespun Harvest would be our best bet for this holiday. Bobbing for apples, playing old fashioned games, etc... Here are a few thoughts on planning your own.
~ My Mom just mentioned to me about a group who does "Trunk or Treat" ~ all the families meet in the church parking lot and let their littles dress up. They go around from trunk to trunk collecting treats - very creative!
~ Last year, we did a pumpkin theme - tying a spiritual message into the carving of pumpkins.
~ This year, I think we may do a little costume party for our Family Night. After all, dressing up can be a very fun thing for children and to see their parents do so too! I think we will make mini caramel apples and carve our pumpkins.
~ Many churches now host parties for families to attend. These parties can vary greatly - some encourage dressing up and have carnival games while others discourage dressing up and focus on the Harvest feeling with hayrides and a huge potluck picnic. Either way, these are a great option!

In Mrs. Sharp's Traditions, Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests several options:

* A Pumpkin-Carving Party: obvious activity of carving; serve cider, popcorn and taffy apples. For younger children - provide small pumpkins and gourds with craft supplies to decorate.

* All Hallows' Eve Home Frolic, "Mrs. Sharp says it is time to turn the focus of this old-fashioned young people's holiday back to where it belongs: in the home."
~ bobbing for apples, apples suspended from ceiling, Nut Shower (English walnuts have been cracked open and had small trinkets put inside - reglue shells together) guests gather nuts and crack open to find surprises.
~ Supper partners are found by following a trail of yarn which will connect two friends to dine together. What does she serve? Vegetable soup, sandwiches cut in Halloween shapes, stuffed baked potatoes, popcorn balls, pecan tarts, pumpkin muffins and cider.
~ After dinner more games are included. And, she concludes, "Halloween offers us all the opportunity to remember that the most potent magic spell any parent can cast is the one that makes the home a place where the family's happiest hours are spent."

* Harvest Home, "the traditional Victorian English celebration after all the gathering in the fields had been completed. Over a community feast, families would come together to rejoice in their bounty of blessings." She suggests that All Saints' Day (November 1st) is an ideal time to celebrate this occasion.

Now that I've written this post - I can see that even just processing these things this way has been helpful to me in forming my opinion for our family! What stands out to me from the above is focusing our celebration on home and harvest. Fun and charming! We can enjoy the blessings of the season while teaching our children about where they came from and beginning to enter into the season of giving thanks.

I think a good point is that we don't want our children to feel left out because we don't celebrate Halloween, but to have so much fun doing other things that they don't even miss it!

I am interested in learning how your family handles this and simply ask that you keep your comments positive and edifying.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Handcrafted Christmas: Grocery Bag Holder

A friend of mine mentioned that she would like to have a grocery bag holder - so I decided to see if I could find some directions on making one! I had all the supplies on hand already - so did not spend anything to make this!

I found this tutorial and the whole thing only took about 30 minutes! A quick and easy gift!

Another note: is anyone interested in me hosting a showcase where everyone can share the gifts they've been working on? Please leave your interest in the comments so I can decide if we should do this!