Monday, August 18, 2008

Grace and Peace

Last week I started working my way through Colossians and I've been struck by the phrase in verse 2: "Grace to you and peace from God the Father".

The word, grace (karis in Greek) has several nuances.
that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, like grace of speech
of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
the token or proof of grace, benefit
(for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

Although all of these befit God's grace towards sinful mankind, I truly see Paul's desire of the "good-will, loving-kindness and favor" to rest on the saints and fellow brothers in Christ at Colossae.. and through the generations, to all believers.

May I walk with a glimpse of such favor upon me. Surely this will change me today... How can I complain? How can I despair? How can I but help to praise my God and my Redeemer!!

Thank you, God, for giving your grace for today. Please help us walk in grace and be ministers of grace to every soul you bring our way.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 77:13-14
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.

Heart-smart Carrot Muffins

Tried a new muffin recipe this morning (trying to use up my frozen carrots before the garden provides us with a whole new orange mountain :). It's a heart-healthy option in many ways - let me know what you think.

1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (I substituted honey... for my honey... who's on a honey health plan:)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup fresh, plain yogurt
1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
My method:
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
2. Mix the oil, sugar, carrots, and yogurt in a mixing bowl.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a separate bowl and mix them .
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine them well.
5. Mix in the raisins and walnuts, then later add a few more if you like, after you scoop the batter.
6. Scoop out the batter, one ice cream scoop at a time, into a lined muffin pan.
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins puff up and their tops look golden brown. 8. Let them cool until they reach room temperature, then store in a cool, dry place.
Eat them up in 4 to 5 days, and refrigerate them in warm weather, as they contain yogurt. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Love. Faith. Believe. Simplicity.

These words are all over the place. In gift shops. In homes. In spas. In medical offices.

Just this morning I saw "Simplicity" in a gift shop at the Kananaskis Lodge. And then, interestingly, I opened my bible this afternoon and read Proverbs 1:22 (NKJV), "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge."

The context of this verse is the introduction to Proverbs, where King Solomon is pleading the case for Wisdom. He is reminding that

  • v.1 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

  • v.20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares

  • v.33 whoever listens to me (Solomon/wisdom) will dwell safely, and will be secure without fear of evil

In contrast, he gives "simplicity", or "naivete", as some versions say. The warning for those that stay in "simplicity" rather than pursuing "wisdom" is given in v.32: "For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them."

May we avoid the "simplicity" which the enemy of God is trying to entice us with, and may we seek Wisdom, because as Proverbs 2:4 says, "If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

B's Singin'!!

Here's a song written by the worship minister of our church and sung by a real sweetie, B. Hope you enjoy Satisfied as much as I am while I sit here and blog for a bit.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Eaglet

Last week we finished up Pioneer Girls for the year. To celebrate with the girls, we had a musical concert. It was a delightful time and filled with a variety of stlyes of music - ranging from classical to bluegrass.

Every year at our closing event, I want to be sure to have the gospel clearly spoken, since we have many girls attending that come from homes where Jesus is not known. This year I was really struggling in who to ask to speak to our assembly. The time kept drawing nearer and nearer, and I was beginning to grow a little nervous - although I was also trying to be faithful by praying and trusting God.

Then last week I was reading a book by Jim Elliff for my youngest son. As I read line after line, I suddenly realized this was the book to read for the concert. That same afternoon I sat and scooted around the internet for some music that I could use as a "backdrop" for the book. Since I used to work at a radio station, I expected to spend a significant amount of time finding and editing background music, but by God's grace and as a true miracle, within one hour the whole production was complete. I was absolutely stunned! He had led me music that fit wonderfully with the words that Pastor Elliff had written.

For any of you that are interested in the book, you can find it here. You can buy copies for $3.16 ($2.77 if you buy 2 or more) ,... which might make this a nice book to give for birthdays, Christmas, etc. Hope you enjoy it and can share it with a little one in your life!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Matthew 25:1-13

This year I have been reading Matthew in my daily devotions. For January I read chapters 1-7, February found me in chapters 8-14, March was camped in chapters 15-21, and in April I've been working through the final 7 chapters. Today I was particularly interested in the parable of the 10 virgins.

I remember, as a young girl (around 9 or 10), the older girls of our church (15-17 year olds) presenting a drama that was basically an enactment of this parable. It gripped me deeply, as I felt the plight of the foolish virgins in their despair of finding the door locked, and the bridegroom saying, "I do not know you." These words echo Matthew's earlier recount of another of Christ's lessons in Matthew 7:22-23: On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

In meditating on Matthew 25:1-13, several analogies needed clarification in my mind, as I was trying to understand this parable.
1. Who are the virgins?
2. What are the lamps?
3. What is the oil?
4. What is meant by "became drowsy and slept"? (My first thought: this represents our daily lives on earth, as we are waiting for the bridegroom, Christ's, return.)

In addition to learning what Christ was pointing to with these word pictures of lamps, oil, etc., the admonishment to "watch" is clear at the end of the parable. So I am also seeking to clarify what that exactly entails and requires on my behalf, since it seems to be the point of Christ's story.

As I studied, I came to think that the virgins are people, with the foolish being the unregenerate and the wise being the children of God. In checking out such thoughts I looked into various commentaries and was reminded to note the context of chapters 23 and 24, where Christ is clearly admonishing the scribes/ pharisees and outwardly religious. This adds the dimension of these virgins being people who are preparing themselves for the bridegroom - professing Christians... and this dimension begins to point to what Jesus is meaning by the word, "Watch".

Initially, I thought the lamps which the bridesmaids carried represent our souls. I'm not entirely sure, since Wesley's commentary suggested "faith" as the lamp,... with the oil representing faith that is working by love. In my spirit, this was not what I understand the text to be saying... that we need to "watch" by 'working out our salvation with fear and trembling,' or by keeping ourselves in the faith. I believe the Father does this by the power of the Spirit (John 17:11, Gal.3:3) . I saw the oil to be the gospel, or "saving grace" as MacArthur described, in his sermon. This clarified the "trimming of their lamps" as the preparing virgins examining themselves and preparing to meet God.

At this point of the parable, there is a clear separation between those that are found ready and those that are wont of oil. Why couldn't the virgins share their oil, I kept wondering. If it's the gospel, surely they could share? This question clarified for me that indeed, the oil is saving grace - which cannot be given from one person to another, but must be received individually from God Himself through faith in Jesus Christ by the Spirit.

However, the alarming part of this story is that there will be a day when the door will be closed and it will be too late to have a lamp lit for the bridegroom. This clarifies Jesus' words to "watch" all the more. Dear fellow pilgims of this world, please let us each examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith. These words should be especially serious to all of us who proclaim to be Christians. We must make sure that our lamps are lit with God's grace, and not that we THINK we are part of the many who will be saved (Matt.20:28) and yet are part of the many mentioned in Matt.7:21-23.

Please join me today, and take a moment to look at the fruit of our lives. Let's examine ourselves, while we have today, so that we too will be ready for our bridegroom with our robes of righteousness in place and holding the oil of saving grace in preparation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Morning Check-List

About a month ago, I was talking with my sister on the phone about getting children ready for school. She had just welcomed baby #4 into their home and was trying to figure out how to help her older children make it to the school bus without the continual nagging that had become habitual in their home between 7 and 8 am. They had begun using a morning check-list and said it was working really well.

So I considered our morning routine, and decided to try something similar, which I've been enjoying for a lot of reasons.

1. Now my boys are becoming more independent with their dressing, hygiene, room maintenance and bible time.
2. It establishes a routine that they can do without my help.
3. It frees me up to get things ready for the day, and spend time doing some of my chores.

So this is what I've got on our chart in the bathroom, with stickers to mark each day:

Get Dressed
Make Bed
Tidy Room
Brush Teeth
Wash Face/Hands
Brush Hair
Personal Bible Time

At the end of this, they are ready to head downstairs and start the day.

I've been encouraged by doing this. Maybe everyone else has a more regular life so that these things occur more naturally. I have found the chart to be a real help in reducing my nagging, and in directing their minds in activity. Hopefully we can keep it up, and expand this to include some other helpful habits.

Housekeeping Chores for Children

Last weekend we were at a homeschooling conference, which was helpful for me on many fronts.

About a month ago, I set up a schedule for chores and was trying to stick to it. The keynote speakers at the conference were Steve & Teri Maxwell. They have 8 children and have written 2 books about scheduling - one geared on homeschooling multiple children and another geared towards chores. Two weeks into our new "Team S---- Housekeeping Chart", I had been experiencing some "blips" and was thankful for their advice along the way. At the end of the one session, devoted to chores, I was particularly encouraged to keep at it with my boys - despite the "reminding" and "quality control" that needs to be part of the whole endeavour.

I have found one of the most difficult parts of setting up the schedule was finding age- appropriate tasks for my boys to do. Here's a list of the chores they have:

7 year old son (Monday) feed cats, gather laundry, sort laundry, put away laundry
(Tuesday) feed cats, vacuum kitchen, dust lampshades
(Wednesday) feed cats, empty garbages, polish shoes
(Thursday) feed cats, wipe bathroom counters, gather library books
(Friday) feed cats, clean french doors, wipe mirrors
(Saturday) feed cats, clean out van, vacuum main floor & kitchen

5 year old son (Monday) dust railings, put away laundry
(Tuesday) wipe doors (week 1) wipe knobs (wk 2), wipe window frames (wk3)
(Wednesday) wipe baseboards
(Thursday) dust door jams
(Friday ) wipe cupboards (week 1 - kitchen, wk 2- bathrooms, wk 3- bookcases)
(Saturday) tidy garage, tidy shoes
We have yet to make it successfully through a whole week, but we're getting there... and I'm noticing that the boys are mastering the chores bit by bit. Now they are starting to complain less, and accepting their jobs as part of the "Team", and they're becoming familiar with supplies, etc.

Some of the things I have learned:
- pay attention to SAFETY ( a good reminder for me from Steve Maxwell).... I especially like vinegar and water as cleaning ingredients, paired with a good cleaning cloth from the dollar store
- try to choose chores that are age-appropriate... I'm still figuring this out
- be clear in teaching the task and expectations
- inspect the chore after it's complete.... Teri Maxwell mentioned this. I was thankful to learn that this can be an excellent opportunity for me to affirm my sons, as they complete tasks properly. Without this inspection time, I generally only notice when a chore is NOT completed well... and that means only giving negative feedback, which I want to counteract with positive words.
- try doing chores after lunch but before play time.... I have tried doing chores before homeschooling, and found we were using up their best brain time to "dust railings". For the last 2 weeks, we do our morning checklist, homeschool, lunch, chores, and then play time. I find the incentive to stick with chores is exceptionally high at this time, since playtime is the desirable reward at the completion of chores.

These are only my findings thus far. In the coming weeks I want to try out the Maxwells' "ChorePack" idea. If it works, I'll post on it FYI.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Never walk. Strut.

Never walk... Strut!

These words accentuated this advertisement which I encountered driving into the big city on Saturday. Here is the picture that accompanied those big, bold words. It made my mind think of the phrase, "to strut like a peacock". This, in turn, took my mind to Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

How our society would love women to strut. The continual fascination to pursue what "we deserve," to "love ourselves," to "believe in ourselves," are all enticements towards the pride that so easily takes residence in a heart... such as mine. Though I desire to walk humbly, quietly, with grace and truth, and with love, the greatest obstacle in my feeble soul is my pride, and that remnant of sin which seeks to usurp God from residing as Great One within me.

Last week's coffee cup verse is true help in such a war - Do not love the world, or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For the things in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of possessions (NASB - the boastful pride of life) are not of the Father, but are of the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 Jn.2:15-17).

Praise be to God, "who... with the temptation will provide the way of escape also." We do not need to buy into the world's call to strut. We can set our eyes on the things above and these lusts will pass away.

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 73:25-26

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mud Fight

The best fun is often not planned - possibly even among the ordinary, everyday work. This was our experience on Wednesday afternoon.

My sons and I began some chores down by our pond. When our house was built, the previous owners used re-claimed bricks (from the inside of old bank vaults) to build the front steps and front window box. The extras were thrown down by the pond, and covered with composting tree branches, grass clippings, etc.

Three years ago, we added a large shed to our back yard, and I've been thinking up some ways to use these bricks to finish up the front of the shed. So, Wednesday we began to dig up some of these bricks, and to haul them with wheelbarrows to the garden.

While mommy was working up a sweat, the boys began to get distracted with the pond's edge. Although the pond is still frozen, the sides of the pond, are melting and beginning to become a little muddy. To keep them occupied and out of my way (since I realized pretty quickly that these bricks were far too heavy to expect them to help me), I suggested they get their dump-trucks from the sandbox, and play in the soft dirt.

It didn't take long for the trucks to be tossed aside, and the mud was "explored" with feet and boots. The embankment is fairly steep, so part of the fun was slipping down. Naturally, a mud fight ensued, and at the end of it all, mommy just had to get some photos to remember the fun.

I'm still cleaning up some of the mess, but for the boys, it was the best chore-time of the week, I'm sure.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Coffee Cup Verse

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in posessions - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bonnie's Buns

Yes this makes for a provocative title, but once you taste a bite of these delicious, home-made buns, you will understand why credit must be given where credit is due. I cannot, in good conscience, title this, "Homemade Buns" or "Basic Buns" or even "Best Buns", because they do not differentiate this bun recipe, as it deserves. I have given this recipe to many people, and this afternoon, I was once again telling Abbey about "Bonnie's Buns" after she raved about the scrumptious bread bits at our church potluck. This recipe has options for both Bread Machine (which is what I always use) and Regular Bread-making Method.

If you've never tried making buns, and you have a hankering for some fresh buns, try these out, and let me know what you think.

Bonnie's Buns (Bread Machine)

1 cup warmed milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2/3 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
3-3/4 cups flour
2-1/4 tsp. yeast

Put in bread machine in order of ingredients.
Set bread maker to Dough Cycle.
After mix time, form into buns and put on pan to let rise. (20-30 minutes)
Bake about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

(Regular Method- Full Recipe)
2 Tbsp. yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar
Place in bowl to start yeast.

Scald 2 cups milk.
Add 1/4 cup butter and 6 Tbsp. Brown Sugar.

When butter and sugar are dissolved, add 1 cup cold water, 2 tsp. salt, 2 beaten eggs, yeast mixture, and ~10 cups flour.

Mix in bowl, then knead on board.
Let rise till double in bulk.
Punch down and let rise again.
Put in pans and let rise.

Bake about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Starting Up

Did you know that there are approximately 14 blogs started every second? Startling, isn't it? I'd even go so far as to say, creepy. There are 173 people born every second. Considering most of the world's population lives in the poorest countries - without computers and the world wide web at their fingertips - this number of blogs started is clearly displaying our fascination with the new phenomenon of the blogosphere.

Another statistic I found, said the average blog lasts only 8 weeks. This makes me feel a little better about abandoning ship on my blog for almost a year. But it also makes me hesitant to start up writing again, since I don't like be a "quitter" - and by "starting up"... I wonder if I'm just setting myself up to become a statistic.

Nonetheless, I am tapping away at my keyboard, willing to face my fear in this regard, and put my words to the screen. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up and develop some "stick-to-it-iveness"... as I try to encourage my boys to work with perseverance. And hopefully, in the process of this forum of shared ideas/information, we all will be encouraged to love God more, plus equipped to serve Him fully.

Dear friends, I welcome your dialogue and I thank you for your patience with me, as I've taken my hiatus.