Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for it all!

1 Thes. 5:16-19  "Always be joyful. Keep on praying.  No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
"Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.  Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said.  Hold on to what is good.  Keep away from every kind of evil."

The first part of these verses, I have read numerous times.  The second part... not so much.  How is it that one stifles the Holy Spirit?  Is it when we know that which we should do, yet don't?  Is it when we fail to pray and then wait for God's lead?  Is it when we are sure we know what God wants us to do and plunge ahead only to later wonder whose "will" it was, ours or His?  If our own plans are so perfect, why do they so often crumble at our feet.  Why do we wait for that moment to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then hope God "cleans up" our mess while sending instructions for what to do now.  I am finding that more and more, spending time in God's word is the only way to harness the Holy Spirit in my life.  I'm re-reading the words of the prophets, looking for the warnings as well as the promises.  When I'm making a decision on how to respond in a situation, I'm seeking the experience of those who have walked before me.  I am attempting to respond, not react (read, overreact), by remembering the trials of the believers before me.  Life is difficult and we learn from our trials.  When life is wonderful, we forget.  I choose to be thankful for the difficult times, because it is then that I am being refined.  I am choosing to hold onto that which is good, true, and honest.  I am choosing to let go of anything that stands in the way of my ability to hear the Holy Spirit, that can be anything from bad habits to releasing people from my life that God didn't put there.  We become what we surround ourselves with.  Choose Good.  Choose God.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Are you ready?

As I got up this morning, even earlier than usual, I had one thing on my mind.  Was I ready?  You see, I am a mom of Faith, with soon to be four children in the public school system.  We have enjoyed a wonderful summer so far!  I have had the blessing of seeing growth both physically and spiritually in my kids in the last few months.  When I think about them going back to school, I can allow myself to worry if their faith will be diminished, when once again they become surrounded by the secular for several hours a day.  Then I remember that 'worry' is a sin.  It shows lack of trust in God who has my best interest at heart, but not just mine, my children's too.  Most times,  the growth we experience in our spiritual walk is preceded by trials and difficulties.  A good friend once told me that if I find myself outside of my comfort zone, then I'm probably right where God wants me.  Well, public school is definitely outside of my comfort zone!  Knowing this tidbit....I must be getting ready to 'grow'!  I have determined to make the best!  I will be a prayer warrior, vigilant to situations and circumstances that will require discussions with my children and extra prayer with my savior and theirs.  I will be the best example I can be to those around me and teach my children to be lights.  I will try my best to remember that those around us, may see us as the only examples of 'lives of faith' that day.  I want to be, and I want to teach my children to be, the best ambassadors for Christ that we can be.  I pray that all you parents will join me as I commit to praying over our children each day.  I will be praying for God's blessings, God's protection, and also for opportunities to be His hands and feet wherever the day takes these kids of ours.  I will try to remember at all times that these children were His before they were mine, and that His plans for their lives are far better than any plans I could come up with.  I will purpose to not get in the way of the blessings He has planned for them by hovering and keeping them in a bubble.  Instead I will encourage and support them as they grow, right where they are, comfortable or not.  I will remember each day that He said, "For I know the plans I have for you,...They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11  I am so thankful that God spoke this for not only me, but for everyone, including our children!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Clean Cheap Fun

Spent the afternoon with my daughter Emily doing the "thrifty".  Tired of spending copious amounts of money on laundry detergent, we decided to make our own.  I've never cooked soap before, but it was REALLY easy!  Three ingredients plus water!  First we grated 1/2 a bar of Ivory soap and melted it in a pot with 6 cups of water.  Next we added 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax.  Stirred over medium heat until dissolved.  Poured into our old (cleaned) diaper pail with 1 gallon plus 6 more cups of water. Stirred and let set for 24 hours.  It looks like egg drop soup!  1/2 cup in our HE washer and everything is clean!!  Cost less than 10 cents a load!  Next on the list..... homemade all purpose cleaner and dish soap!  Mostly the same ingredients, but we've decided to scent it a little!  We've also decided to try our hand at hand milled soap.  Maybe goats milk soap???

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Mountain Top Experience

The last Friday in July dawned beautiful and cool.  It was a wonderful break from the stifling heat that had been with us for over a month, and couldn't have come at a better time.  Three generations set out to conquer Old Rag Mountain in the picturesque Shenandoah with nothing but water bottles, trail mix, and of course, good hiking shoes!  We left the Fredericksburg area before 6 A.M. to drive the one and a half hours to the base of the mountain.  Of course, nothing is ever quick with a family of six, so we didn't reach our destination until almost 8!!  Even so, we got off to an early enough start that this was not a problem.  As we started off the spirits of most of the participants was high.  We had a couple of laggers, but by the time we hit the rocky portion, this seemed to have dissipated!  The teamwork morphed into something spectacular!  The generation gap disappeared as young and old leaned on one another to accomplish something neither could do as well on their own.  Brothers and sisters grabbed hands to pull one another over boulders, young pushed old up rock faces that seemed insurmountable, old watched as young scaled to heights too high for comfort and reigned in the over exuberant!  Reaching the summit was a team effort for the entire group that left a mark in our memories of a time when age ceased to separate us, and helping one another was more fulfilling than going it alone.  Reaching the top together was an unbelievable "mountain top experience".  I pray that the experience on the mountain will continue to bind us together, grandparents, parents, and kids, and that we will travel the bridge between generations more often in the future.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Great day on the Rappahannock

Well, it was sooooo much fun swimming in the river last week for free, we decided to take it up a notch this week.  For $15 per person (group rate), we were driven up the river in a van started by our guide with a screwdriver.  From the drop off point to the pick up point, we floated in tubes (and life jackets for everyone) for about 2 hours.  It was an absolutely wonderful way to spend a miserably HOT day!  With the water levels being low, even the 7 year olds were able to manage!  Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandfathers.... everyone did great and was completely exhausted by the end.  
Tomorrow we're off to the Orange County Fair.  It's to be an old fashioned County fair with hay rides and a moon bounce as the only "rides".  Lots of farm animals to see and pet, with many, many 4H clubs showing their animals as well.  Lots of good "fair" food, and from what I read, pie eating contests as well.  I can only hope there will be tents and fans for cooling off as it should be another record breaking heat day!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Swimming the Rapahanock

It was GREAT!!!  The water was calm and perfect!  The two youngest wore life jackets as there are occasional spots over their heads, but not many.  We had almost an entire section of river to ourselves except for a few fishers in canoes that floated by sporadically.  Highly recommend spending a day there.  We packed a picnic and towels and that was all we needed.  Other than the gas to get there, it was free! Oh, and we did need to clean the van afterwards as the amount of sand brought home was HUGE!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fun and Free (or at least cheap) in Fredericksburg, VA

Well,  tomorrow we are going to try swimming in the Rapahanock River!  It's free... which makes it $450 less than a membership to the county pool!!  So, that makes it SOLD!  We had considered putting a pool in the yard since we have 3 acres and the space to do it, but decided that between maintenance and chemicals we would pass, (not to mention the cost of actual pool).  I have informed the family that nothing else will go into our yard that doesn't produce something for us to use ourselves or sell to someone else to use.  We have several chickens that give us eggs, sometimes enough to share with neighbors too.  Other than that, everything here is a consumer, not a producer!  We have considered a goat, but I'm pretty sure I know who will end up milking it within two weeks... me!  The place to go for lots of activities for parents to do with kids is a local publication Fredericksburg Parents. 

Check back tomorrow for a review of our river experience.

Frugal, fun, and character building

At about week 4 of summer vacation, we have completed allot!! We have done VBS, gone to the beach, visited the library, played more video games than one family should be allowed, and shopped at Target and Walmart until we are broke! After all this activity, it is obvious that all this "fun", has done nothing but create four over stimulated, and dare I say, bratty kids!! I noted that my kids were so happy to accompany me to the store to fill a prescription. On the way IN the door, everyone was cheerful and pleasant. On the way OUT it was a different story! While in the store, each of the three children that accompanied me asked for no fewer than 5 items. After many, many, "No's", the mood changed! The walk to the front door and through the parking lot with 3 stomping, grumbling, and sullen children was embarrassing! I would bet that every mom there could see and spell SPOILED!! While I was very tempted to let loose on them, I began to realize that maybe I had in some way trained them to be that way. With this thought in mind, I decided some changes were due!
The first thing to change.... I am not the maid. First thing the next morning was laundry lessons for the two older kids. Both the oldest boy and girl where to begin doing their own laundry and that of the younger room mate. That went remarkably well. Using the new space ship like washer is apparently very fun, and according to my daughter, the sheets smell better when you wash them yourself!
Next on the list....I'm not the only cook or kitchen cleaner! Again, my oldest son stepped up and volunteered to make dinner! He seem to have fun letting me know I should set the table with paper plates to make clean up easier, and he really thought using the grill was cool! He must have been watching his dad, because he didn't burn anything and the one hot dog that was dropped, he brushed off and served himself! Who is that kid?? The girls and the boys now take turns cleaning the kitchen in the evening, which give daddy and I time on the front porch rockers to catch up from the day!
Third on the list... turn off the TV, video games and computer! I was ready for battle!! The kids complied and we had a small battle. The first couple of days was really rough! It was actually too hot to send the dog outside for long, much less the kids. They kept bickering and annoying each other. However, just as I was about to give up, something amazing happened! I walked through the kitchen to get a glass of tea, and there at the table sat 2 kids playing Scrabble and 2 kids coloring in coloring books! No yelling, no bickering, no anything but concentration! I backed out of the kitchen and got the camera! It's been several days now, and I can't believe the difference! Playing together, reading to each other, sharing and just general cheerfulness. The only change the kids requested has been to be allowed to "earn" TV, computer or game time! After discussing it with dad, we agreed. Complete extra chores such as yard work, cleaning the car, cleaning the fridge, etc.. for equal screen time. Thus far, cleaning the car turned into water play in the yard, yard work led to building a fort, and cleaning the fridge led to making an apple cake with shriveled apples. I'm not sure they noticed they didn't use their screen time, but I'm not pointing it out!
This summer is going to be great! If it goes this well the rest of it, I might be sad when school starts back. My kids are really neat, especially when they aren't so busy bickering! Now it's time to find some fun and inexpensive activities, and a little old fashioned too!!