"Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion.”
~ Jani Ortlund

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lilacs, French Bread, and Dishes

Aren't these lilacs heavenly?  They smell amazing!  Our guest brought them to me last night! Delightful!

Here is a photo of the Sweet French Bread, well what was left this morning anyway.  I made french toast out of it for lunch today and with real maple syrup it was to die for!
Thank you Karen for sharing this recipe!  If you would like the recipe to try for yourself you can go here for the post Karen did on her blog back in March!

While we were away overnight this week we went to a few thrift stores.  Emily and I both bought things at one store in particular.  These bread and butter plates are from Wedgwood & Co, Ltd.  Before you get too excited I looked them up and they are not Josiah Wedgwood, but a distant relative.  However they are lovely and on Replacements.com they list the pattern.  They do not have any of this size in stock, but list them for $7.99 a piece.  Do you want to know what I paid for mine?  50 cents a plate.  They are a really nice size for tea and scones.  


Friends For Dinner

The girls worked their last day at the store...they are happy to be done.  I do think they will miss the fun they had together there.  They made friends with the lady who runs the creamery...they treated themselves every afternoon...

When they got home yesterday they quickly jumped in to help prepare for our company.  Emily made her wonderful brownies and Lindsay vacuumed.  I had already been very busy...why I do things in such a crazy way, but I decided that I needed to finish the weeding in all the flower beds...well it was a bigger job than I anticipated! duh! Tim helped me finish up, and then I made bread.

Ah, heavenly bread!  I used to make bread a lot, many years ago.  Then I wanted to do it again, so we bought a bread machine.  Used it till it died...it was going to cost more to fix it than buy new, but it wasn't in the budget at them time, and we had a Pepperidge Farms outlet near us with very good bread, for very little dough...(ha ha ha get it very little dough).

Over the last year friends in the blog world, jAne, Becky, and Karen have been showing wonderful homemade bread...and I was hooked again.  Yesterday with company coming I decided to use Karen's "Sweet French Bread" recipe.  It is an easy recipe and it turned out divine!  My husband was impressed and loved it - our company - a husband and wife that Tim works with - couldn't get enough.  In fact, I had made a double batch of the bread and tried Becky's tip of  making smaller braided loaves instead of two larger loaves.  I was able to send a loaf home with them!  I told them that Karen says it is her favorite bread for making French Toast.

Our guests were happy campers when they headed home!  They had full bellies, we had had good conversation, the kids delighted them...it was a great evening. 

I have to brag about my kids just a bit...I am so impressed with them.  They fully participate when we have guests.  Lindsay and Emily stayed at the table with us and joined in the conversation...they even told stories about their weeks running the store...the little ones offer hospitality by offering cheerfulness.  Sarah and Rachel took our lady guest outside to see the horses....Kyle showed off his "bridge" he built and then learned to spin a penny!  He had such fun, too.  Sarah joined us as we walked our guests to their car...Kyle joined us too.

I am off to make some breakfast, perhaps some delightful french toast with the yummy bread....hmmmm.

What kinds of things do you like to do when you have dinner guests? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scenes From A Family Trip


It was a quick trip, planned unexpectedly.  We left after Sunday School, and headed West.

The sky was so blue and the clouds so puffy - my favorite kind of sky....


In our early years of marriage, we were in training to serve as missionaries, and then we served with a mission board, so we did a lot of traveling....we still love it!  I love road trips with my husband and with the kids!  

This trip requires that you drive through four tunnels that go right through the mountains!  The kids love this and have contests to see who can hold their breath the longest...their Dad, the driver, loves to join in....I always tell him "the driver is not allowed to pass out!" hee hee.

These giant windturbines take advantage of the mountain winds....the propellers on these are each about the length of a football field...you can see them from far away!

What a happy boy....after checking into our hotel, we found a BK with an indoor playplace!  The littles were so happy to run around and play for a while!

One of our goals for this trip was to built the family bonds...teach our children about their heritage...to let them hear the stories of their great, great grandparents, and greats, and grandparents, aunties, uncles....not a perfect person in the family anywhere, but so many knowing the Lord and walking with Him quietly everyday....

My husbands great-grandparents...

Expending some energy at our familys' home...


A great treat was to spend time with my beautiful sister in law Esther, who flew in to spend time with their Aunt and Uncle...



The kids were so excited to see the results of deep family roots....this is a small road that is on what used to be a part of the family farm....

Thank you for praying....we were able to spend wonderful time with my husbands' Aunt and Uncle - to love on them - to encourage his sweet cousin, who cares for her parents so beautifully....always with a cheery smile and a laugh....we were blessed to be there.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This and That and Unexpected

You remember my photos of our shed demolition, right?  Remember how I said we were going to rebuild it?  Well the township threw a wrench into that plan....they mentioned our non-permanent structure for our horses....according to them, it should have had a permit - even though the regulations state "only if it is a permanent structure, ie:posts in the ground."  We were told that we had a week to come up with a plan to replace it.  sigh....long story short - part of our horse pasture is in a hundred year flood plain.  In order to do anything permanent, we were supposed to do a full flood plain study, etc...to the tune of $3,000. plus...then pay multiple thousands for a structure....

Well, after the shock left us, the Lord prompted Tim to call the engineering firm that did the preliminary study many years before we owned the property.  Told the guy what we wanted to do etc...This guy took our plan, looked at the property and contacted the township....just over $200 later and in one week we have all the permits we need for "land disturbance" and building....whew....

Brilliantly my husband has been attending construction auctions to get materials for rebuilding the shed.  A great friend of ours told him about an Amish owned business where they demolish old mobile homes.  We were able to get 30 trusses for $100....So now we are going to be building a 12x30 foot pole barn.  It will have a shed portion for the hay etc...and two stalls....

As you know Tim is on disability right now and we are on a tight budget...so we didn't need these extra expenses, add to this shed business a problem with my van that required several hundred dollars....I say "Lord, you do realize we are on a tight budget here, right?"  And He says to me "Stand back and watch me work!"  He is awesome.

We are also taking an unexpected trip to the Pittsburgh area tomorrow for a quick overnight.  My husband's uncle (whose son died last year at Thanksgiving time) is on hospice care...we are taking the kids and going to love on the family.  We will get to see Tim's oldest sister as well, as she is coming up for a visit also.

Would we have planned all these things at this time?  NO!  We would have said we can't do these things, because we are being wise and careful with our finances, good stewards, don't you know?  Well, God has other plans...and sometimes we don't like it...However, He is asking us to trust Him..."let me be in full control of your finances," says He...."but we are being good stewards," we answer, " I own the cattle on a thousand hills...." is His reply.

We are learning a new level of trust....

My girls have been running a store during this past week and a half...the owner goes to church with us and he went on a trip to Israel...they have been having fun, but are bored on the slow days...for Lindsay she is realizing that she can't stand to be cooped up inside for that many hours a day...Today, when she gets home, she is planning to get her horse out and ride for as long as she can...

My oldest son is working learning masonry...he is working hard, which is a good thing...he doesn't have his own car right now, so we have been running him, and the girls to work, because we only had our one van working...I got mine back Thursday and have been so thankful...today the girls took themselves to work...less running...

I have a lot to do today to prepare for going away tomorrow...packing, organizing food, etc...I also like to leave a really clean house....my parents will come stay here tomorrow after church, so Dad can feed the horses and take the dogs out...etc...we are very thankful for them and their willingness to help.

I would ask you my dear friends to pray for us as we go to Tim's family...that we can be a blessing and an encouragement to them....

Have a lovely weekend....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Great Quote...



This is a granite monument to the Pilgrim Mothers, in Plymouth, MA.

It is inscribed thus...

"They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish."

At the end of my life, I pray someone will say the same of me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Bit Of Spring In My Kitchen

My Lilacs are beginning to open!  Such a heavenly scent.....

One Of The Things I Do

is run a homeschool co-op.  Our group runs between 55-60 families.  That means a lot of kids from nursery age through high school!

We also offer once a month Mom's Meetings.  Last night we had one, for signing up for membership and to talk about our state law and how to keep track of your students' work for high school credits...

It was a really good time, with many questions answered and I think the Moms' were encouraged to know they can homeschool their students through high school.

This is often the time when homeschool parents get panicky and put their students into school somewhere, certain that if they continue to homeschool, they will somehow leave "holes" in their kids' education.

I say this is the time to stick with it and to enjoy it!  There is so much educational material out there, college classes that can be taken, apprenticeships, etc...

It is also prime discipleship time! For Tim and I,  a big portion of the reason to homeschool is the opportunity to build relationships with our children and help to guide them through adolescence to adulthood.  Most of the time, I have found that our kids are very mature for their ages and don't have a lot of the "peer" issues or attitudes of those who go to school.  They are a delight to have around!

For me it is the easiest time to homeschool...they work independently, they are helpful here at home, they are my friends!  It is great to see them walking with the Lord, and to see them growing!

So last night was a time for me to encourage Moms, which is a delight to me. I think the Moms who attended left feeling like they can do it!

Which is also a delight to me!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

English Country Dance

Last evening, to celebrate the end of my "Emma" class, I hosted an English Country Dance.

When studying a book, I like to teach the culture of the time...how did people interact with each other, what was the clothing like, what did people do for entertainment.

Being a fan of Miss Jane Austen's books and a lover of the movies made based on her books, I thought it would be awesome to learn English Country Dance.  The girls in my classes have loved it!  It is easy and fun.  It is modest, and allows interaction between young men and ladies without impropriety.  And everyone can do it!  From a 3 year old boy to a grandma to our Pastor Mike!

Let me share our evening with you in photos...

Here are my lovely English Roses...

This is the delightful Miss Chelsea, who was accompanied by her father, and her two brothers!

Here are a lovely Mother/Daughter duo.

Here is a small group of girls starting off the dancing...

This handsome little darling didn't dance, but he loved the music...maybe next year.

Here is a group of 7 pairs doing a dance called Lucky Seven.  The part they are doing is called "The Grand Chain."

Here you can see Miss Elizabeth, Miss Emily and Pastor Mike dancing to "The Big Set."

This is such wonderful activity for all ages, including the girls brothers!  

It was so fun for me to see the younger boys, decide that maybe this dancing stuff was not so bad after all!

This precious family enjoyed dancing with their twins.  Their youngest daughter was so delightful to watch as well - she enjoyed herself so much! 

This event was held at my church, which is a family integrated church. Even though this was not a church event, it fit right into my philosophy of doing things together as families.  

It was a delightful evening.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Creating A Beautiful Life

Melissa at The Inspired Room (hey this is my second post in a row that has mentioned her blog!)  has been hosting this "Beautiful Life" Mr. Linky fun on Fridays.  This is my first time participating, but it has been neat to read her posts (and others') about finding ways to life a beautiful life.

Today she encouraged us to think about capturing beautiful moments...

I feel very fortunate to have a close, loving family but it has delighted me to see the way my children have developed friendships with each other.  This week has seen Kyle, Rachel and Sarah spending alot of time playing together along the creek and in our horse pasture.  It also has been sweet to see my oldest girls as they have become very good friends to each other.  This is beautiful to me... 

What is beautiful in your life?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Easter Photos

Just thought I would share a few more photos of my younger kids....






These, as you may have noticed, are not any of my kids, but our really cool naturally dyed Easter eggs.  We used coffee grounds for the pale brown ones, black tea for the reddish brown ones, and purple cabbage for the blue ones!  The link to find out how we did them is here.  Thanks to Melissa from The Inspired Room for this great link!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Every True Home...

                                                        www.allposters.com

"Every true home is an influence of blessing in the community where it stands.  Its lights shine out.  Its songs ring out.  Its spirit breathes out.  Its neighbors know whether it is hospitable or inhospitable, warm or cold, inviting or repelling.  Some homes bless no lives outside their own circle; others are perpetually pouring out sweetness and fragrance.  The Christian home is a far reaching benediction.  It sets its lamps in its windows, and while  they give no less light or cheer to those within,  they pour a little beam upon the gloom without, which may brighten some dark path and put a little cheer into the heart of some belated passer by.  Its doors stand open to every one who comes seeking shelter from the storm, or sympathy in sorrow, or help in trial..."

J.R. Miller - Homemaking, 1882

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photos Of A Demolition

Like I mentioned in my last post, Tim was determined to get this old shed torn down.

Several guys from our church, were willing to help, along with a few of our older kids, and my dad so down it came.

I learned something new about a friend yesterday - Warren likes to tear things apart!  An Emily was having a grand time right next to him!

Here my dad, Jonathan and Pastor Mike were doing ground duty....Jonathan being so tall was such a blessing - he was able to direct the shingles and plywood from the roof down into the trailer!
Here you can see part of how they had it set up!

Warren and Emily made quick work of the roof!  

Here, Tim and Warren are preparing to carefully remove the trusses.  These will be reused to build a new shed in place of the old one...

We are so thankful for good friends and family who all worked together to get the job done...I think it only took them about 2 hours from start until the whole thing was down!

Monday, April 13, 2009

This and That

I trust you had a wonderful Easter!  Ours was very good...

We started the day early for our family, arrived at a local pond for a "sunrise" service.  A chill wind was blowing, my feet were freezing but it was fun to have a few readings, prayer and a song....

Then we quickly got into our cars and flew over to the church were we had a wonderful breakfast buffet!  It was enjoyable to have breakfast with our church family - usually it is lunch every other week!

During Sunday School we looked at maps of where all the events of Easter took place...and had discussion.  Church was good - with a good message from our assistant pastor.

Home to a nice lunch with my parents and oldest son...an egg hunt (photos later)...a rousing game of Rook (we'll get them next time Mom!).  I called Miss Paula to wish her a happy Easter, cleaned up, and then we watched a movie called "Resurrection" based on a short story by Max Lucado.  Then bed, for everyone!

Today,  Tim, Nate and some friends from church will be demolishing our red shed which was on our property when we purchased it.  It is over 20 years old, and I think the only thing holding it up is the roof trusses.  Once those are down (Tim is hoping to salvage them) I think the whole thing will simply collapse!  I will try to get photos or have Emily do it!

What are you up to today?


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kids Curb Marital Satisfaction?

Becky posted this morning about a news article she read on Yahoo,  "Kids Curb Marital Satisfaction".  The article talks about an eight year study of 218 couples that found that 90 % of couples experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction after their first child was born.  The study also showed that couples without children developed a dissatisfaction but having a child accelerated it.

Sigh......

I think the biggest issue with marital dissatisfaction is our cultures obsession with being autonomous beings without any real "responsibilities."  Just take a look at the decline of marriage and the distaste for children.  Yes, I did say distaste and that is what I think it really is.  The culture has come to a place where the thinking is that children are a nuisance and a difficulty.  How did we come to this place?  

I believe it is because we are selfish.  We don't want to be bothered to train our children, so they have become unruly and self centered themselves.  It is not pleasant to be around disobedient kids, no one likes it, and when so many kids are that way...well, you can see how it has lead to this distaste for children.  However, it is our own doing.

Many who decide to have children, are determined to only have one or two, or in the case of two children of the same gender, they may try for a third!  But certainly not more than that!  Children mean that you cannot be autonomous - you have to think of others and have certain responsibilities.

I have found in 21 years of marriage that it is responsibilities that make you grow up - so maybe that is what they are wanting to avoid.  If you are only looking for pleasure for the moment and not long term commitment you will become dissatisfied everytime your spouse annoys you.

Adding children into our marriage has not lead to dissatisfaction it has enhanced our marriage.  We are not obsessively focused on ourselves only, but work together to disciple and raise our kids.  

On the flipside, we as a couple are not child centric.  We love kids, especially ours and love to interact with them!  However, our children do not run our home or our lives.  They are a big part of our lives but not the number one priority.  In doing this we have created contented children who are completely secure in their parents commitment and love for each other, and in our love for them.  They tease us about kissing "oh, don't look!  Their kissing again!"  Then we all laugh.  They see us work together, not against each other.  They see me honor their dad and so they do it too.  Likewise my husband honors me and so do the kids.

When we had our second child, a daughter who followed our 1st born son, everyone said "Now you have a boy and a girl.  Your family is complete."  Or they would say, "Are you done now?"  After our third child, another daughter, was born we got "Don't you know what causes that?" and "Are the all yours?"  I am not saying that you have to have a certain number of children or anything like it.  I am trying to get to the attitude behind the statements.  It is about seeing children as a gift from God, a blessing as He calls them.

I can't imagine my life without the blessings God has given to us in the form of my 6 kids...and if He were to give us more, either through birth or adoption, I would love it.

I guess maybe I am selfish, as well.  I know the benefits and blessing my children are and want more of it. Who would I do without?

Would it be my oldest who has sharpened me and taught me so much? 

Or should I have done without these delightful daughters, who bring us such fun and joy and real help?


Or what about these three?  Precious joy and laughter and profound statements.

I guess we must be odd balls...but even after 6 children our marital satisfaction is quite high, thank you very much. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Prayer Please!

Becky from Hospitality Lane  called me this morning, to tell me that they had called an ambulance to take her mother in law Georgia to the hospital.

Georgia has had trouble with bowel obstruction in the past and apparently was having issues today...

I will update you when I know anything more!

Thanks so much !

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Bit Of Fun

 


Charles Bingley is renting a house in Hertfordshire!
Mrs. Bennet became a fan of Charles Bingley.
Kitty Bennet can't stop coughing!!!
Charles Bingley is now friends with Mr. Bennet and Sir William Lucas.
11 of your friends are attending Assembly at Meryton.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is dreading this evening.
Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet are now friends.
Elizabeth Bennet is not handsome enough to tempt a certain gentleman. Ha!
Mrs. Bennet had a most delightful evening!
Mr. Bennet wishes that Mr. Bingley had sprained his ankle in the first dance.
Elizabeth Bennet promises never to dance with Mr. Darcy.
Fitzwilliam Darcy became a fan of Fine Eyes.
Caroline Bingley is all astonishment.
Lydia Bennet became a fan of Officers.
Kitty Bennet became a fan of Officers.
Caroline Bingley tagged Jane Bennet in her note Visit us at Netherfield.
Jane Bennet finds herself very unwell. :(
Elizabeth Bennet is going to stay at Netherfield with Jane.
Louisa Hurst saw Elizabeth Bennet's petticoat and is absolutely certain it was six inches deep in mud.
Elizabeth Bennet is improving her mind by extensive reading.
Charles Bingley created an event: Ball at Netherfield.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is writing to Georgiana.
Caroline Bingley has suggestions for Mr. Darcy's domestic felicity.
Elizabeth Bennet and Caroline Bingley are attending the event Take a Turn about the Room.
Fitzwilliam Darcy feels the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.
Elizabeth Bennet is back at home. Thank goodness!
William Collins tagged 7 of your friends in his note I Propose Myself the Satisfaction of Waiting on You and Your Family.
Lydia Bennet does NOT feel like listening to Fordyce's Sermons.
William Collins is paying his attentions to Jane Bennet.
William Collins is paying his attentions to Elizabeth Bennet.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is not pleased to see Wickham in town.
Elizabeth Bennet and George Wickham are now friends.
George Wickham told Elizabeth Bennet about Mr. Darcy's evil deeds. ;-)
15 of your friends are attending Ball at Netherfield.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is dancing with Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth Bennet is trying to make out Mr. Darcy's character and does not get on at all.
William Collins has been "rejected" by an elegant female.
Mrs. Bennet is all in an uproar.
Caroline Bingley tagged Jane Bennet in her note We're Leaving.
Jane Bennet is in London.
Mrs. Gardiner is visiting Hertfordshire with her husband.
Charlotte Lucas and William Collins are now married.
Elizabeth Bennet is at Hunsford visiting Mr. & Mrs. Collins.
Elizabeth Bennet thought that the pigs were got into the garden, but it was only Lady Catherine and her daughter.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh thinks that Miss Elizabeth Bennet gives her opinion very decidedly for so young a person.
Elizabeth Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam are now friends.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is not afraid of Elizabeth Bennet. Well, maybe a little.
Elizabeth Bennet does not perform to strangers.
Charlotte Collins thinks she knows why Mr. Darcy visits so often.
Colonel Fitzwilliam wishes he weren't a younger son.
Elizabeth Bennet is furious at Mr. Darcy for separating Bingley and her sister.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is proposing to Elizabeth Bennet. It is not going well. :-/
Elizabeth Bennet is ??!!
Fitzwilliam Darcy tagged Elizabeth Bennet in his note My Character Requires This to be Written and Read.
Elizabeth Bennet realizes that she never knew herself until this moment.
Elizabeth Bennet has much to conceal when she goes home.
Lydia Bennet is glad that Wickham isn't going to marry Mary King, that nasty freckled thing.
Lydia Bennet and Kitty Bennet joined the group 1,000,000 Strong Against the Officers Leaving Meryton! {join!}

Lydia Bennet
 is going to Brighton with Colonel & Mrs. Forster!!!!1!
Elizabeth BennetEdward Gardiner, and Mrs. Gardiner are attending Trip to Derbyshire.
Elizabeth Bennet became a fan of Pemberley.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is surprised and hopeful.
Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana Darcy are now friends.
Lydia Bennet and George Wickham are in a relationship.
Jane Bennet tagged Elizabeth Bennet in her note Bad News About Lydia.
Elizabeth Bennet is rushing home.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is determined to find Wickham.
Mrs. Bennet joined the group Widows of Men Killed in Duels.
Mary Bennet is consoling herself with moral extractions from the evil before her.
Mr. Bennet is back home and feeling guilty... but it will pass away soon enough.
Mrs. Bennet left the group Widows of Men Killed in Duels.
Edward Gardiner tagged Mr. Bennet in his note They're not Married, but They Will Be.
Mrs. Bennet is in raptures!
Lydia Bennet and George Wickham are now married.
Mrs. Gardiner tagged Elizabeth Bennet in her note Yes, Mr. Darcy Arranged Everything (and I think he likes you).
Charles Bingley is back in Hertfordshire with Darcy.
Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley are now engaged.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh is in Hertfordshire.
Elizabeth Bennet has been insulted in every possible method.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh is most seriously displeased.
William Collins tagged Mr. Bennet in his note Lady Catherine is Most Seriously Displeased.
Elizabeth Bennet is excessively diverted.
Fitzwilliam Darcy never thought to be made happy by a talk with his aunt!
Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are now engaged.
Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are now married.
Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley are now married.
Fitzwilliam Darcy rather enjoys being the object of open pleasantry.
Mrs. Bennet KNEW that single men with good fortunes would want wives.




by DeeDee Baldwin 
inspired by Sarah Schmelling's Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition) 

Yes, the news feed should go in reverse, but this makes for easier reading. :)