Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Samuel!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Samuel!
We love you and are so thankful to have you as part of our family!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Winner of the $50 Photofiddle gift certificate is Ashley (byhisgrace@)! Don't forget - I get to give away another gift certificate closer to Valentine's Day, so keep watching for details!

Make Your Home a Haven: Time to Plan

Well, how did your morning routine go this week? I did pretty well - I did not exercise every day, but I think that is ok with me. Other than that - I noticed that the morning routine just naturally flowed around here.

This week, our challenge involves taking time to plan. Overall, this is something I've historically been pretty good at - however, as with lots of things - we go in seasons of being good at it and struggling at it! I find myself struggling more and more with planning ahead and then being in a rush to catch up on something or get ready for what needs to be done that day.

Time to Plan: (note: this is just what works for me - if you don't like lists, do whatever works for you!!)

* Each night, I grab my daily planner and sit down for just a few minutes to plan out the day ahead. I write down all the things that I hope to get done or that need to be done. Then as I go through the day, it is a guide for me on the needs for that day.

* Meal planning: This is an area I've been struggling in the past few months! However, I'm going to make another effort at getting this back under control. I'll be setting aside a few minutes every Thursday to go through the grocery ad (released on Thursday), pull out my coupons, make a list and plan my meals for the coming week.

* School planning: I will often sit down with my manual on Sunday afternoon and look through the plans for the week to be reminded of any preparations that need to be made. I often do small prep each morning during school time for the next day while the girls are doing a worksheet or coloring.

* Chore planning is another area I have struggled greatly with this past year. I think it is a bit too much to add it in to this week, so we will focus on the above this week and look at this aspect in a future week! We'll do the same with errands by looking at this in a future week.

This week: take a look at how you are planning your days, meals and schooling (if applicable). If something is not working - take some time to come up with a new system and implement it this week to see how it works.

Our systems need to be fluid, our needs change, our schedules change and what works even changes. The systems are not there to make us their servants, but to serve us and make things more streamlined around our homes.

Do you plan or prefer to just go with the flow of the day?

Add your link from this past week!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Visit to the Dairy Farm

Last Friday was a highly anticipated day around here! Emily has been wanting to milk a cow for quite some time and despite all our searching, the closest farm we could find with dairy cows was several hours away.

Until one day, last Fall when David was in Chick-Fil-A and heard a couple mention needing to get home for milking time. Aha! He kindly asked if they would allow young visitors and they graciously agreed!

We waited until after we'd reached the week in MFW on "cow" and that was this past week! We were excited to make the trip with some sweet family friends! What a fun day we had ~

Despite the fact that all the cows are machine milked now, the farmer graciously agreed to let our littles milk the old fashioned way!

It was so fascinating and I will say that I learned a ton about the milking process and found the whole thing so interesting!

We saw the baby calves ~

Learned about their food, how corn gets way up in the silo (always wondered that), how many gallons of milk a day they get, etc... We were so thankful for the opportunity to visit this Mennonite Dairy Farm and appreciate this couple taking some of their precious time to show us and our children around!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Make Memories: Every Day is Special

Take a few moments to make the ordinary special in your home today!
Next, come back and tell me what you did!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Remember when the folks from Photo Fiddle gave a $50 gift certificate away last year? Well, they've offered to do it again! Leave a comment here before Thursday night at midnight and a winner will be announced on Friday!

Photofiddle is the only website that allows users to upload their photos and instantly see a preview of their photo transformed into artwork.

Photofiddle Artwork is perfect for home decor and gifts. Since their artwork is reproduced from your personal photos, it has much more meaning than generic artwork.

And, just in case you don't win this time around - I get to give another one away closer to Valentine's Day, so stay tuned!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Create Rest: Peace Retreat

Peace ~

A deep breath follows reading that word or thinking about it. Peace is something I long for, something I seek, something I find when I come to Him!

I've had this post bookmarked for a few months and have thought of numerous ways of bringing this into our home. Creating a peace retreat.

This ended up being the simplest, most obvious solution - yet, it took me the longest to figure out. Isn't that the way it is?

A free chair + a tv tray covered with a small cloth and thrift store lamp + a notebook and carefully selected reading material (prayer material, worship material) = a place that peace can come.

This retreat is tucked in the corner of our bedroom. It has been a retreat to me multiple times already and I am so thankful for it.

A friend calls with a prayer request and I sit down to record her needs in my notebook ... we pray right then. It is a place of peace.

A child is disobedient and peace needs to be restored. We talk, we discipline, we pray together, a hug and a snuggle ~ it is a place of peace.

It is quiet time, my mind and heart are frazzled ~ but, I can come to this place and rest. Read. Refresh. Be still. Be quiet. It is a place of peace.

Littles are tucked in for the night - I long for peace. Pour a cup of tea - the heat of it in itself slows me down, quiets my frenzy, settles my pace. Gathering a book and a treat and it is ministry to my soul and spirit.

My children are playing outside and I want a peace retreat outside - moving a pillow and carrying a quilt with me are the only efforts needed to create a place of peace there. Now, I gently swing, read, hear their sweet voices. It is a place of peace.

Best of all, I can carry this peace in my heart regardless of my location. How do you create peace in your heart and home?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Help for Haiti

Thanks so much for all of your comments, links and outpouring to supporting our friends in Haiti! Winner of the apron was chosen through Random Number Generator and goes to Heather!

Make Your Home a Haven: Morning Routine

How was your week establishing some time with our Lord? Walking through and praying over your haven? I'd love to hear your thoughts and please feel free to link up below!

I was so excited during my Quiet Time to read Proverbs 3:33,

"The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous."

I really enjoyed walking through our home and praying for each room, each person, each event and activity that takes place inside these walls. It was a special thing that I hope to repeat in the future.

My mind was captivated by how much Scripture adorns our home and I saw a few places that could use some! I love being surrounded by beauty, but when the beauty is also meaningful it is so very much better!

I was also reminded of this song ~ Prayer For Home by Fernando Ortega

Grant them peace, most precious gift of all
Keep the worried world far away and small
When they return, may quiet fill their souls,
Dearest Lord, keep them safe within it's walls.

May the stone be cool beneath their feet.
The canyon breezes circle soft and sweet
When darkness falls, the stars and opal moon
Find them wrapped in each other, ever warm.

May it be a refuge for their love,
A harbor for their deepest prayer.
May they come to flourish in the grove,
Grow ever nearer to You there.

Many a burdened friend in their company rises,
A heavy heart is soon released to fly.
May their table be blessed with laughter and with grace
And by the comfort of kinship be surprised.


May the cold wind blow far from their front door
May the winter rains never bring them harm
May their hearthfires burn throughout the night
Grant them peace until morning's perfect light.


How do you bring Scripture into your home?

So far, I'm following some of the basics that Crystal shared when she did the Make Your Home a Haven challenges. Establishing these good habits right off will serve us so well over the coming weeks!

Next week, we'll focus on having a morning routine and sticking with that each day. Over this weekend, you could spend some time pondering what your morning routine could look like if you don't have a routine for each morning established.

My morning routine looks like this:

6:00 ~ wake; exercise
6:25 ~ Quiet Time: Bible reading, prayer
6:45 ~ check e-mail; moderate comments on blog
7:00 ~ shower, dressed, bed made
7:30 ~ littles wake; breakfast
8:00 ~ empty dishwasher, dish drainer, put breakfast dishes away; start load of laundry
8:30 ~ help littles get dressed, teeth brushed, beds made
9:00 ~ begin school time

Now, this is an ideal morning routine for me! But, does this always happen? NO! I always do parts of this and lots of times I do all of it, yet I want to be more consistent. This week, I will work diligently at doing this routine every morning.

Do you have a morning routine? Things that you do every day to keep your home running smoothly - this is our challenge for next week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choosing Simplicity: Getting Realistic

I'm afraid to even think about this or write this post! I struggle with the idea of letting go of the things I enjoy even for a season.


I guess that I am afraid I will stop loving to do all the things I love ~ homey things, crafty things, making from scratch - you know, the longer more complicated - yet more fun way of doing things.

And, it sometimes feels like if I give up one thing - pretty soon it will be a dozen needing to go.

Yet ~

I am going to simplify this year. I. am. Yes, this is a pep talk to myself! My first step was to buy nightgowns for the little ladies on the after-Christmas sale for next Christmas Eve. Yes, you heard that right - no homemade jammies for Christmas Eve next year. Haven't found the right thing for Samuel yet - but I will.

I'm now considering buying Easter and Christmas clothes instead of making them as well. It is hard to say ~ but, there are multiple reasons:

* time - the obvious one!
* cost - buying something is way cheaper than making it; yes, I will still make things - but I'm going to be more selective about what those things are
* enjoyment - I loved the skirts I made for the little ladies this year for Christmas, however - they do not love wearing them. When I consider the cost for the fabric and all the time I spent on them - this is not choosing simplicity. This year, I plan to let them help pick out their new things.
Oh, it is hard to say and to admit - but I'm sincerely trying to make good decisions that are less complicated, less costly and more enjoyable. This has carried over to a few other little things in my life like using minced garlic in a jar instead of cutting my own up for each meal and not getting multiple sets of coupons each week, not to mention that I've quit doing most of the bargain shopping.

How about you? How do you get realistic about choices that will simplify your life?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This past week, we were on Goat in our MFW curriculum. We did not really do many extra activities with this one - but there was one thing that was my favorite! And, I thought some of you might enjoy incorporating this as well.

I had read on the message board about donating a goat to a family in another country ~ and loved the idea! I found the suggested book Beatrice's Goat at our library and this was a perfect accompaniment.

In the book, we are introduced to Beatrice and her family. They live in Africa and don't have much at all. But, there is great excitement at the promised coming goat they have been given from a family far away.

Beatrice is placed in charge of the goat and the remainder of the story shows how she learns to appreciate their goat and the changes that the goat brings to their lives. It is amazing what hope a goat can provide a family!

We talked about donating a goat to another family far away and the ladies got out their little banks where coins were counted and added to a jar. I encouraged them to choose some things to get rid of and I would donate some money to the goat fund through that as well.

The same day, David got called in to work extra hours - which meant a little overtime. We agreed that would finish funding our goat! I loved seeing how God provided each step of the way for us to cheerfully give to others.

I've written a letter to include with our donation in hopes that our girls might hear back from the recipients of the goat. While I know it is a very long shot - imagine how that might impact them! So, it is worth a try at the very least.

This was a meaningful activity to me and I hope that continuing to incorporate these types of things will cultivate a giving heart in my children as well!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Unexpected Bouquet

At first - it was a bouquet of flowers ...

I am waiting in the checkout line for the second time to take advantage of a great deal on cheese. I have one squirming and nearing his time limit two year old in the cart plus two extremely energetic girls all around me.

I am frazzled and nearing my limit as well. There is a nice lady in front of me - she has on a pretty shade of blue with a cute gray coat. I notice that she has three bouquets of flowers in her cart plus a potted plant.

"She must be a lover of beauty!" I think to myself. Then, Emily spies the flowers and comments on their beauty - she is a lover of beauty herself.

The nice lady picks up the bouquets and I assume she is going to let Emily see them up close or smell them or something kind like that.

She selects one bouquet of flowers and hands them to Emily but looks at me, "I would like to treat you," she says.

Next, it was a bouquet of kindness ...

I said thank you in a louder than normal voice. Could she tell there were tears burning the back of my eyes? Did she know how hard it had been to bring my children to the store? Could she see them throwing our bananas on the floor, asking to go to the bathroom, running down the aisles, following someone who must've looked like me from the back but wasn't out of the store, etc...?

Then, it was a bouquet of encouragement ...

It brightened my outlook. Made me stand a little taller and feel a little better. Changed my attitude - why don't I think to do things like that for other people? I am so preoccupied with my trials and challenges that sometimes it is hard to see beyond my little world.

Now, it is a bouquet of thankfulness ...

It was a joy to tell David the whole story when we got home. It was a joy to trim the ends of the flowers, prepare some water and allow them to bring beauty to our home. To place them in our Giving Thanks jars ~ truly I am giving thanks for the giver and the gift.

Oh, to be more like her. It can be easy to do things for those I know - but I confess that I rarely reach out to those who are unknown to me.

Thank You, Lord, for the shopper in the gray coat in front of us in line. Thank You for the blessing of her giving heart. I want to have this kind of giving heart too - as You show me opportunity, let me respond. May You receive the ultimate bouquet ~ a bouquet of praise and glory!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Crafter's Walk Through Proverbs 31: Apron

It has been on my heart and mind often lately to finish this series. I don't want it to be one of those things that I forget about and never complete! So, let's move on to the next verse!
Proverbs 31:18-19, "She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers."
At first, these two verses really caused me to pause ~ I don't really do any trading do I? I don't want to stay up late and don't want to advocate that to others do I? And, I don't even know what a distaff is nor own a spindle!

Yet, through the pause, I have really gleaned some things from these verses!

First, let's think of the idea of trading. I think that when I originally read this I thought of the virtuous woman having things she made that she brought to some sort of market area and used to trade for things her family could use or needed. It was a profit to her family.

My next train of thought was - but I don't trade anything to profit my family do I? Or, do I? I make choices everyday of things that will or will not come into our home. What will truly profit my family is a major background to these decisions.

So, in one sense - I trade time clipping coupons for the profit it brings my family in savings. Just the other morning, I took two big bags of children's clothes to a consignment store and received about $30 for some of the contents. After that, I had the opportunity to go and have lunch at my favorite tea room for some solitude and refreshment. The consignment money paid for my lunch and time of refreshment with a lot left over! That is profitable trading isn't it?

I think that I have settled on the thought that profitable trading for my home is when I limit one activity or expense to benefit another for the greater good of our home and family.

Next, let's think about the productivity mentioned in verse 18. The fact that her lamp does not go out at night tells me she is not lazy. I am not a night person - usually getting ready for bed as soon as my children are in bed! I might read and relax for a bit, but it won't be long before my light is out. I'm not going to take this any farther than what it said to me initially - I want to be a woman who is productive in my home and not lazy. And, I'll be thankful for the fact that I don't have to stay up all night to accomplish that!

Finally, what about the distaff and spindle idea? I learn that the distaff and spindle are both used in spinning wool. But, I learned something very interesting about the word distaff. Merriam-Webster's describes distaff as not only a spinning tool but as, "woman's work or domain."

Couple that with reading this verse in the Message,

"She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking."

I am not trying to twist what the Bible is saying here - I do believe women in Biblical days would've known how to do their own spinning! I will admit that I've never tried ~ yet, in our day and time we are doing the same thing when we fulfill the work God has given us to do in our homes.

Most of our work is done at home - cleaning, cooking, gardening, caring for our children and families. And, most of our work makes the lives of others more beautiful, more enjoyable. So, I wanted to create something that might make us feel more beautiful doing that work or to enjoy it a bit more with some beauty around us.

As we tie on a pretty apron, let's also put on the qualities we read of here: profitable trading, productivity and diligence in homemaking!

Supplies you'll need for this project:

Main fabric piece: 23 inches wide x 18 inches high
Coordinating fabric: about 3/4 yard
Trim or lace if desired: about 1 yard
Coordinating thread
Tape Measure
Iron and Ironing Board
Sewing Machine

Begin by cutting your main piece of fabric to 23 inches wide and 18 inches high.
Press to smooth out all wrinkles. On the two sides, fold over 1/4 inch and press.

Fold again and press. Stitch in place.

Next, cut a 5 1/2 inch square from the coordinating fabric for your pocket.
Fold the top edge over 1/4 inch and press. Fold again and press.

If you are adding lace or trim, pin in place. And, stitch trim in place.

Fold remaining edges of pocket in 1/4 inch and press.
Pin pocket in place onto apron as desired.
Stitch around three sides to secure to apron.

Cut another piece of coordinating fabric that measures 6 x 44 inches.
Fold bottom edge 1/4 inch under and press.

Pin trim or lace if desired along pressed edge. Stitch along edge to secure hem and trim.

Run a long basting stitch along the top edge of the ruffle. Pull to gather and pin right sides together to bottom of apron. Stitch in place. Press seam up and top stitch to hold seam in place.

Begin the ties by cutting two pieces of coordinating fabric that measure 8 x 44 inches.
Place the pieces right sides together at one short end and stitch together.
This will give you one really big long piece.
Next, fold that piece in half lengthwise and press.
After you have pressed in half, fold right sides together and stitch short ends closed.
Turn right side out.

Fold remaining edge 1/4 inch and press. Repeat on both long edges.
Mark the middle of your apron with a pin.

Open your tie piece and lay the apron on one half to create a sandwich with the ties.
The pin should match up with the center seam on the tie piece.

Pin waistband/ties in place and stitch to apron finishing off all unfinished edges.

Enjoy your apron!

It's not too late for a chance to win this apron! Details are here!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hope for Haiti

Meet Christele - she is six years old and feels like a long-distance member of our family! She is our Compassion child - and she lives in Haiti.

While we have received a general update from Compassion - we know that getting specific child information to sponsors could take a long time and there are so many pressing needs in Haiti right now. So, at this moment - we wait, we pray, we reach across the miles in our hearts to this precious child and trust her to God's care.

In the face of huge disasters like this, it is easy to want to do something - and also easy to feel fairly helpless. We are so far away and tangibly helping is difficult. But, others are already there and we can help ease their load by providing the finances they need to do their work.

Crystal over at Money Saving Mom is hosting a big link up today for all of us to join in and help! She is encouraging each of us to post about what we are doing to help and then link back up to her site where she will make a donation for each link left.

First thing yesterday morning, we donated both to Compassion and Samaritan's Purse ~ and have been praying especially for Christele.

So, what can you do? Crystal offered the following suggestions:

* Pray
* Give
* Blog

Read her full post here. While we don't feel we can offer a monetary amount per link - I do want to do something. I made this apron the other day and was planning to give it away in a post next week - but instead, am going to leave it up here.

To be entered in the drawing, leave a link to your post sharing what you are doing to reach out for Haiti. Make sure to come back and link up your post here as well as at MSM. Links will be open until January 21 and a link will be chosen through Random Number Generator. It is a small thing - the smallest of all it feels like, but the small things do add up and allow big things to happen.

Make Your Home a Haven: Start with God!

Good morning, ladies! Making my home more of a haven was on my list of goals for 2010 and I am so excited to be embarking on this journey today and in the weeks ahead!

As we think about our homes and what makes them into a haven, I think that each of us will have general similar ideas, but more specific details will vary home by home.

The challenges that I post here will be what is on my heart specifically for my home - but you know your home best! I hope you will freely follow the ideas that God is giving you for your home and join us in whatever way you see as the best fit for your home and family ~ your haven!

Feel free to use the button above if you'd like as well!

With that, let's get started! I can't imagine starting anywhere else than to start this journey with God. I know that I cannot do the things I want or need to do without His strength, leading and guidance! Because, I know for certain that if any of you walked into my house right now - you would know that I am not qualified to hostess this series - in my own strength that is!

I've been struggling to keep up with things at home - but I still have the heart to make my home a haven and to improve in this!

Challenge for next week:

* Establish a daily time with Him. For me, this works best first thing in the morning before my littles are up - but another time of day may work better for you. This year, I'll be reading the One Year Bible during this time and hope to begin incorporating some prayer time then as well.

* Write a prayer: I love to write prayers to God in a journal. It just is one of the things that is very meaningful for me to participate in. I'm planning to write out a prayer regarding making my home a haven this year.

* Prayer Walk: After reading this idea in Joanne Heim's book Living Simply, I've been wanting to do this and haven't gotten it done yet. No more procrastinating. This week, I will walk through our home - praying in each room for whatever God lays on my heart. Praying for those who walk through the front door, those who are fed at my table, thanking Him for many provisions and praying by name for the sweet ones who live within these walls. Here are some Scripture ideas to pray throughout the rooms.

* Re-read these thoughts on creating a haven and learn Psalm 107:29-32.

Many blessings to each of you this week as you endeavor to create havens in your homes and hearts! Linky will be up next Friday along with the challenge for the following week!