Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Living as Friends

This video encouraged me today to think about how I interact with Sean. In the midst of deadlines, raising children, broken vans, daily work, familiar routines.... It's easy to forget that God has given us each other not just for partnership, but to make the dailiness of life a whole lot of fun.

Here is a couple married for 62 years who walked into the lobby of Mayo Clinic, saw a piano and did what they do best. It's clear how much they enjoy one another and love spending time together. I don't doubt that they learned that duet many years ago and have been practicing it ever since. After 62 years of marriage I want to still be walking together, playing together and bringing joy to others.

See the video here. You'll be glad you did.

You can also watch an interview of the couple. I think it explains a lot about how marriage can last 62 years.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

As you will see, I didn't exactly stick to last week's plan so some of these recipes are going to carry over. What can I say? Life happens.


Monday: Roast with carrots and potatoes
Tuesday: Ham and Beans with Cornbread
Wednesday: Pizza and salad
Thursday: Chili, Veggie tray
Friday: Beef Pot Pie Filling over Gluten Free Biscuits
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Cilantro Lime Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli Salad

Turkey Burgers and Oven Fries
Ham, Cheese, Crackers, Grapes
Chicken Fried Rice
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Omelets and Banana Bread

Friday, February 19, 2010

Family Worship

I have been asked to post by several people about Family Worship in our home. Honestly, I've been a bit reluctant in doing so because I know of my own tendencies to compare myself to others especially in the area of spiritual disciplines. I would never want another person to feel unneeded pressure or to get the impression that there is a right or wrong way to teach the Scriptures in one's own home.

Let's admit it. Legalism is a real trap. We can get so caught up in what other people define as spirituality that either we live to please man or we never try at all for fear of failure. That being said, there is great encouragement that we can receive from one another as we seek to love God. That is my true intention in writing this post and I pray that is is received as such.

Why we do it.
1) God makes it clear throughout His Word that worship of Him is not segregated to Sunday mornings or church related activities. The spiritual instruction of our children is our clear responsibility. It is our privilege to walk beside them in the everyday and instruct them in the Lord's ways. Yet, in our culture there is a lot more running around than walking. We need to set a regular time apart to sit at His feet and learn together. We must be intentional.

2) On the flip side, we recognize that God does set apart teachers and elders to shepherd and lead us. This is His gracious gift to us. We don't have to navigate Scripture alone or face life without the accountability of a church family. The community of believers is a crucial in our walk through this life. Family worship can not replace corporate worship, nor visa versa.

3) It's a time of training that wouldn't happen otherwise- memory verses, songs, how to sit still, how to pray, discussing the Bible and asking questions.

Where we do it.
1) Usually we have family worship in the least messy room so that we aren't distracted by the stuff. Normally, this sends us to the living room couch.

2) Recently we've found it useful to end our meals with Family Worship and just to stay at the table. It seems that right after dinner there's the usual rush to get the kitchen cleaned and it's hard to regroup. Also, John is stuck in his chair and can't run away.

3) Location really doesn't matter. We have enjoyed Family Worship in the van, on a hike, in our beds or in the back yard on a warm evening.

When we do it.

1) Though it would be a great way to start the day, that's just not where we are at. So we normally have Family worship right after dinner. This is when everyone is present and nobody is so hungry that they can't pay attention.

2) On Sunday afternoons Sean usually holds family worship while I fix lunch. They often discuss what they learned at church or prepare their memory work for the evening service. Sean also reads to them from whatever book he is studying while they do quiet activities like Legos, drawing or crafts. On Sunday nights, he usually sits on the stairs and reads to them until they fall asleep.

How we do it.

1) Our time of Family Worship has three parts: Sing to God. Listen to God. Talk to God. It's as simple as that.

2) Sing to God. We are usually working on learning a Psalm to sing so we sing through this one as well as a request or two. This takes at most 5 minutes. Hand motions have always been a fun way to engage everyone. When the kids were all young and most couldn't read we would make a poster together with the words illustrated through pictures.

3) Listen to God. We use this time to read Scripture to the kids. We've read books of the Bible at times. We've also enjoyed The Children's Story Bible by Catherine Vos several times. Right now we are reading The Story of Stories: The Bible in Narrative Form. We don't normally open this time up for discussion, though questions are welcomed. Occasionally, we'll have one of the older children read. The amount of time reading usually depends on our schedule and how the children are doing attention wise. We shoot for 10 minutes at least.

4) Talk to God. We end Family Worship with prayer. Sometimes we share requests and have the children each pray. Other times it is lead by Sean or myself. Since prayer involves confession, talking to God together often results in healing of relationships and restoration. I particularly enjoy this time because it is often spent on our knees or prostrate. There's something very refreshing at the end of a long day to come to the Lord humbly in this way.

As you can see, there's nothing spectacular about what we are doing here. God has been faithful through the years to bless these few minutes of the day that we commit to focusing on him.
I know that God's Word is going out into all of our hearts and He will accomplish His purposes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fresh Flowers

I'm not great at decorating. I never seem to know quite where to put things, but I do find pleasure in expressing myself through the atmosphere of our home. I like color. I like all things natural. I like to change things around. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. Just me.

If I had my way we'd live in the forest in a Frank Lloyd Wright home and God's creation would be all that we would need. But for now, I do my best to bring the outdoors inside. And what better way to do that then through the use of fresh flowers.

In our last home I painted a rectangle on the wall the size of a large frame in slightly darker shade. Then I attached picture hangers to 5 inexpensive bud vases and arranged these inside the rectangle for a three dimensional, one-of-a-kind, ever changing piece of art.

In this home we have textured walls. I've been missing fresh flowers and the way they instantly brighten up our day- until now. I had my favorite picture of the kids enlarged for our fireplace, but have been at a loss as to what to do for the rest of the decorations. Fresh flowers in staggered vases is the perfect solution. Last week it was red tulips placed individually in six different vases. For the next two weeks or so, it's these post Valentine roses that I'll be admiring. I look forward to summer when I can pick flowers for my own garden to display. Now all I have to do is figure how to hang this heavy frame.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is my first time to join in Menu Plan Monday. I need some inspiration to plan ahead and get organized.


Monday: Brown Rice Pasta with sausage and onion sauce, Green beans
Tuesday: Turkey Burgers, Oven Fries, Fruit Salad
Wednesday: Ham and Beans, Cornbread, Baked Apples
Thursday: Fish Tacos, Fruit Smoothies
Friday: Shrimp Stir Fry, Egg Drop Soup, Pineapple
Saturday: Chicken and Noodle Soup, Blueberry Muffins
Sunday: Creamy Potato Soup, Broiled fish, Steamed broccoli and carrots

Stir Fry Rice with leftover meat and veggies
Baked Potatoes with broccoli and cheese
Ham and egg wraps
Homemade chicken nuggets

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Days of Winter

When winter hits, this is what we do.....

The Paparazzi at the Children's Museum

Rebekah hittin' the runway.

A little upholstery project. Aka, "Fixing the things that annoy me."

"Hey, look. We're cows tied together."

Entering an art contest

Betsy bundled up and ready to go

Little Indians

Elimination Diet: Final Results

Not having ever considered food sensitivities until recently, I had no preconceived notions about what the Elimination Diet would reveal. Much of my information came from reading. Other information came from friends who have struggled through food allergies. It is beneficial to realize that each person's body is entirely unique in they way that they process and respond to food. It's not a simple equation, but rather a complicated balance that we've only begun to uncover.

At the end of it all, I believe we have found the main culprits to the symptoms that were bothersome. I'm fairly certain of this because after having completely detoxed the digestive system, these food in a small amount brought about uncomfortable and obvious reactions. They were immediately taken out and the symptoms haven't returned.

So here it is:

Gluten: Lydia, Miriam and possibly Joseph.
Refined sugar: Me and Miriam
Eggs: Elizabeth

I was suspicious of dairy, but everyone handled it fine as far as digestion goes. There was some stuffy noses and ears after its trial, but I'm uncertain if this was just the cold that was going around.

Where do we go from here?

1. Apart from sliced bread for sandwiches and flour tortillas, we will be gluten free in our house. This will make it so much easier to cook and serve the same foods to everyone. I have prebaked some gluten free goodies to keep in the freezer for those occasions when we will be going out and others will be enjoying deserts so that Miriam and Lydia can participate, too.

2. Refined sugars are a thing of the past. We'll be sticking with maple syrup, agave nectar, Truvia and possibly raw honey.

3. Elizabeth seems to tolerate eggs that are baked, but she will have to stay away from other forms of eggs. This should be easy enough.

4. Processed foods won't be brought it. I really think our overall health has improved significantly because the chemicals, preservatives and dyes are gone. Not as convenient, but we'll find our way.

And there you have it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Elimination Diet: It is finished!

After 10 weeks on the Elimination Diet our experiment has come to an end. It's really hard to put into words how this has impacted our lives. Much has been discovered about not only our bodies, but our personalities as well. Here are some of the highlights:

1. This is the first time EVER that I've truly controlled the eating environment in the house. If just wasn't here, so we couldn't eat it. (Well, actually it was all in the garage and way to cold to go out there.) This was probably the most helpful thing ever. If it's not here, it can't call my name to come and consume it. It's true.

2. I think we would all testify that we feel not just good, but healthy. High energy levels. Able to sleep well at night. Fewer winter colds/flu this year. Better skin. Stamina for exercise. More than anything, I believe this to be the absence of preservatives, chemicals and dyes in our foods.

3. GREAT progress has been made for those who were having sensory issues related to clothing. I don't think I can explain the battles that had been waged and tears shed over clothing, cutting clothing/tags, inability to sit still due to itching and scratching and general grumpiness. It was wearing us all down and I was at a loss as to what to do. Nearly three months later, the skin discomfort is gone. Jeans, turtlenecks, coats in the car are the norm. I never imagined a change in diet could bring these results.

4. The eczema, though not completely gone, is on its way out the door. The actual patches of inflammation are gone. The skin is still rough and cracked in some areas, but this is healing quickly. It certainly has taken its time working through her system, but we are hopeful that with diligence in time it will be a thing of the past.

5. There has been a marked improvement in spelling and multiplication retention. What once was there one day and gone the next is sticking. When she looked up at me the other day while doing math and asked, "8x6 is 48. Right mom?" I just about cried. She knows the answers, but is still lacks the confidence to know that she is actually right. We'll get there. What she has been trying to grasp for the past four years through frustration and tears, is now finding a place in her brain to stay.

6. We've all lost a healthy amount of weight without deprivation or a particular exercise program to the sum of about 50 pounds. But more than that, I believe we've been reset on what it means to be satisfied. It's not so much about quantity as it is about quality. Some of the kids were really a concern to me with the amount of junk food we could consume and constantly be asking for more. It was as if the stop button was broken. Perhaps this will be a recurring struggle, but for now it seems that we have been able to reset it.

7. We've grown closer as a family through this time. It's not always been easy, but it's been tolerable knowing that we were all in it together. Not many times are we asked to sacrifice what we could have to make it easier for another who can not have. This reminds me of the passage in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. I pray this time will bear fruit in our relationships with one another as we've lived this verse out.

8. Finally, each of us has learned something about our own weaknesses and resolve. There is something very powerful about saying, "No," again and again to little temptations. It builds up a muscle that is essential in resisting the larger traps. Temptation does eventually take a back seat. It's easier to walk away and turn towards what is good. Sure, this is useful for things such as diets, but essential if we are to grow strong in any area of weakness. I know Sean and I have grown so much in this area over the past three months. We pray that this is a spring board for our children to know that with God's help and accountability, they can say, "No," and choose what is best in all areas of life.

We set out to learn about potential food allergies and learned so much more! Tomorrow I'll post more about our specific allergy results and where we will be going from here.

I so appreciate all of you that have commented here on the blog or in person. Your support and encouragement have blessed us tremendously.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some Deals

Just thought I'd pass along these deals. February always seems to be a good month for this.

Through Friday Great Clips is giving $5.99 haircuts. I imagine that the wait might be annoying, but I believe you can call ahead and schedule a time. Just be careful and know that sometimes when it comes to haircuts, you get what you pay for.

In Avon and Plainfield Chic-fil-a is providing free breakfast every Tuesday this month!! A free entree for every person who comes inside or one per car.

Know of any good deals? Do share!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Do over?

It's been one of those days that I wish I could live over again...

Instead of defending myself, I should have held her.

Instead of holding on to my agenda, I should have made the time.

Instead of lecturing, I should have instructed with gentleness.

Instead of responding to my disappointment, I should have opened up.

I can't live this day again, but I can ask for forgiveness.

I can call out for wisdom.

I can tuck her in with a goodnight kiss.

I can know that in these tough days we are both growing up.

I can thank God for another day.

It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fail not.

They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Miriam!


We have had such a fun time celebrating your 10th birthday this past week. I know it must seem like daily you are having to step aside for someone younger or follow behind someone older than yourself. It was such a pleasure to have a day just for YOU. We did whatever you wanted to do, ate whatever you wanted to eat and just had the best time celebrating your special day.

Is it really true that you are now 10? How can this be that my bright eyed, fun haired girl has grown into a young lady so quickly? Oh, how I love being your mom and seeing you along every step of the way. You are a joy to my heart, Miriam, and to all who know you.

At breakfast we sat around eating pancakes and sharing about what we love about you. Here are the things that we mentioned. I wanted to write them down so that you would always be able to remember how much we adore you.

Joseph: Miriam is a good basketball player and teaches me how to dribble and guard and shoot.

Lydia: She is always open to other people's ideas and willing to try to do it their way before her way. I like that about her.

Elizabeth: Miriam always helps me and talks to me in our room at night. When I don't understand something I know that Miriam will show me. I need her.

Hannah: Miriam is almost always in a good mood. She is joyful.

John: (We couldn't really understand him, but I'm sure it was very nice:)

Rebekah: She's my big sister and I love her. She shares her room with me.

Mom: Miriam doesn't complain or act inconvenienced when asked to do something or when things seem hard. She sets her mind to it and does it with a happy heart.

Miriam, I am really excited to see all the God has in store for you in these next 10 years of growing up! What will you do? What will you achieve? What will you enjoy? How will God use your strengths and teach you through your weaknesses?

There is so much more life to be lived may you, dear daughter, live it well.

Happy Birthday, Miriam.

Loving you always,