Wednesday, May 03, 2006

our house

I like to see a lovely lawn
Bediamoned with dew at dawn,
But mine is often trampled bare,
Because the youngsters gather there.

I like a spotless house and clean
Where many a touch of grace is seen.
But mine is often tossed about
By youngsters racing in and out.

I like a quiet house at night
Where I may sit to read and write.
But my peace flies before the tones
Of three brass throated saxophones.

My books to tumult are resigned,
In vain my furniture is shined,
My lawn is bare, my flowers fall,
Youth rides triumphant over all.

I love the grass, I love the rose,
And every living thing that grows.
I love the books I ponder o’er,
But oh, I love the children more!

And so unto myself I say:
Be mine the house where youngsters play!
Oh, little girl, oh healthy boy,
Be mine the house which you enjoy!

by Edgar A. Guest

"Where no oxen are, the trough is clean. But much increase comes by the strength of the ox." Proverbs 14:4

she loved it!

She loved it! The deep blue four-inch vase sat in her glass cabinet for thirty years until her death. I'm convinced that she loved it more every year she lived. She didn't have to say much about it. Just that fact that it sat there among other valuables and was dusted with cherished thoughts was enough. You could see mom having good memories.

I remember when I bought that blue vase for mom. I was on a trip with a school group when we stopped at a truck stop. There on the shelf was the blue vase, and in my pocket was some of my very own money. I'm not sure, as a grade-school boy, that I had bought anything costing three dollars on my own before, but I didn't hesitate. I really wanted to buy it for mom.

When mother died, I took the vase and put it in my own cabinet. It represents the unselfish, encouraging nature of my mother. She was always like that, making out that you were so special. She always told us that the four children were equally loved and appreciated, but I knew she loved me the most. We all thought that about ourselves.

Selfish moms have it hard. They must struggle daily with the demands of their calling. But thankfully most moms have a generous, self-sacrificing nature for their children. It is not to be despised. If it is once a day her selflessness is called on, it is twenty times a day. And if it is twenty, it is 150,000 times in the twenty or so years while the children are being raised. And that's just for starters.

Moms must be professional givers. They give their precious time, skills, energy, encouragement, and love unstintingly. It takes Christ in the woman to do that well.

I know that a lot of sinful stuff is hidden to the eyes of our children. Surely my parents weren't perfect either. But they did seem perfect to me. It's good of God to keep kids in the dark about how awful parents are. But, for the life of me, I think my mom really was special mostly because she was so full of Christ.

"Let her works praise her in the gates," the Proverb states. Indeed. The goodness of a Christ-filled woman is tangible, seen in a myriad of acts of love for her kids.

Why does she do them?

Part of the reason is what is called "common grace." God graciously puts familial love in the hearts of all mothers. Society is better because of it. But add Christ to that, and you have something far richer.

Only a Christian mom can love that child "for Christ's sake," and "as unto the Lord." Only a Christian mom can show her child what it means to be a true believer in Christ. Only a Christian mom can pray effectively for her child. Only a Christian mom can teach her children the truth about Jesus. Only a Christian mom can teach her kids what marriage is all about, even when times are difficult. And only a Christian mom can die as a lover of Christ, contentedly anticipating eternity in the house of her heavenly father.

You young men, marry a truly Christian woman. And children, thank God for the love God has had for you that he put you in a home with such a mother. Fathers, cherish the mother of your children who lives so unselfishly. What beauty is there; what nobility of character; what Christ likeness!

The blue vase reminds me of her. Perhaps like no other item in our home. And I'm sure that the porcelain skunk with the bushy tail reminds my brother of mom also. The skunk rested, tail in the air, next to the blue vase in my mother's cabinet. But now it's in my brother's house. As with the vase, it was an early token of my brother's affection.

Skunks and truck stop vases are the stuff of love in a child's mind, but cherishing skunks and vases is a mother's special talent. May God bless them for it.

written by Jim Elliff
Copyright 2003
used by permission

"Her children rise up and call her blessed." Proverbs 31:28

the haven of home

"The home is the resort of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where, supporting and supported, polished friends and dear relations mingle into bliss."

Thomas Guthrie

"To the little child, home is his world - he knows no other. The father's love, the mother's smile, the sister's embrace, the brother’s welcome, throw about his home a heavenly halo and make it as attractive to him as the home of angels. Home is the spot where a child pours out all his complaint and it is the grave of all his sorrows. Childhood has its sorrows and its grievances, but home is the place where these are soothed and banished by the sweet lullaby of a fond mother’s voice."
Gene Fedele

I felt I had to share this reading. I was so moved by what said. It sums up the entire essence of what a home life really is and needs to be. A refuge, and a little sanctuary for our little one's to feel safe, loved, special, and learn about God's teaching. A place, that even if its location has changed, will always be there for our children no matter what circumstances they are experiencing at the time. A safe haven filled with unconditional love and free from judgment. My hope and prayer for my children is that they grow strong in the Lord and learn to show love and compassion. To be Godly men first and then I think everything else falls into place. What wonderfully sweet responsibility God has given us as parents. Parenting isn’t with out its hard ships, but we are made stronger parents because of it. I feel truly blessed and honored every time I hear my little ones calling me mom.

This was written by sweet treasuremom, Janell Campbell, who has two little boys, ages 5 and 3. It blessed my heart so much as I read it.

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God." 1 John 3:1

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

give us this day

I first ventured into the world of cooking when I was a little girl and my mom said that I could experiment in her kitchen. We decided that I would bake biscuits and they would be hot when my dad walked through the door at suppertime. My mom was brave. She turned me loose and, alone with Betty Crocker, I whipped up the most beautiful, golden brown, fluffy biscuits one could hope for. Imagine my dad’s delight when he sat down and, mouth watering, took that first bite. Then picture his expression as he discovered that I had used baking soda rather than baking powder without souring the milk! Somehow he downed that whole biscuit and took another before my mom and I ate ours and realized what had happened. I felt both humiliation at my mistake and wonder at a terrific father who was more interested in encouraging me as a homemaker than in his own culinary experience! Within a week I had baked a scrumptious loaf of pumpkin bread and my reputation in the kitchen was restored!

I had determined early on in our marriage to learn how to bake bread. My husband had told me that his grandma always baked bread and she had done it so often through the years that she didn’t even need to use yeast anymore because so much of it was floating around in her kitchen! Naïve and inexperienced in baking as I was, I believed him! But I also knew that his dad, my father-in-law, made sure to drop by his mom’s house just when the bread was coming out of the oven. I knew, instinctively, that a mom held terrific sway over even a grown son by her culinary prowess! It was a bit of magic I intended to wield!

I have since learned much more about bread and the importance of good yeast. Here is my favorite bread recipe of all time:

Pilgrim Bread

The blended flavors of four grains are even better when toasted! It is extra good if you are able to grind the wheat and rye berries right before making this recipe.

¾ cup yellow corn meal
½ cup brown sugar

1 ½ TBS salt

3 cups boiling water

1/3 cup oil

3 packages active dry yeast
(or 2 TBS. bulk)
¼ tsp ginger
1 tsp sugar

¾ cup warm water

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (1 cup wheat berries)

¾ cup rye flour (1/2 cup rye berries)

6 cups sifted white flour
1 cup rolled oats

1 egg, well-beaten

Thoroughly stir corn meal, brown sugar, oil, and boiling water. Let cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes. Soften yeast, sugar, and ginger in ¾ cup of warm water. Stir into the cooled corn meal mixture. Add the whole wheat and rye flours. Mix well. Stir in enough white flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out on a floured board, knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. Punch down, turn out on a floured board and divide into thirds. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 3 loaves, place in greased loaf pans or shape into round loaves and place on greased cookie sheets. Brush tops with egg mixture and sprinkle rolled oats on top. Let rise again until almost doubled, about 35 minutes. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Check after first 20 minutes if it is getting too brown and loosely cap with foil. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

"She also rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants." Proverbs 31:15


"No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time a steady eye."

Winston Churchill

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

The principle: We have chosen the less-traveled path
The plan: Rejoice in the choice!

When we began homeschooling in the early 1980's, we knew of one other family who homeschooled and 8 months after we began, they moved 1500 miles away! Not many people in our community had heard of the idea of homeschooling and I was often asked many questions. Is it legal to homeschool? How will your children be socialized? Does the government pay you to do this? We soon realized that we had chosen a path that was not very well-worn and that it was lined with naysayers who wished to frequently remind us of it!

Along with the choice came the very real concerns that any responsible woman would have. Can we raise a family on only one income? Will we be able to retire with only one pension? Will my housework ever get finished? Can I teach my children to read? How will I take care of a baby and teach math at the same time? Will my children be able to get into college? Will they be able to get jobs? We had chosen to educate our children in a most unconventional way.

Winston Churchill was unconventional. Little unnerved him. He placed in front of himself goals that most people could never hope to accomplish. His imagination drove his policies and more often than not he pursued unpopular choices. Resistance from those under his charge was a daily occurance because he was in the business of training future leaders rather than filling heads with instructions. He began by winning the hearts and minds of those under his authority and then, after demonstrating his genuine concern for them, gently led them to accomplishing his goals. It has been said of his opponents that, in the end, "those who came to curse, remained to cheer."

Today, remember that you, like Winston Churchill, have chosen the road less traveled and trust that, in the end, it will make all the difference to you and to your children.

"Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." I Corinthians 2:9

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the children's hour

Do you ever wish you could be a child again, just for a little while? Whenever I read this poem, I long for my dad, who would recite the last stanza to me every single night when he tucked me into bed.

Oh that I could go back to that precious time, if only to one bedtime moment in the whole history of my childhood bedtimes. I would savor his voice, the roughness of his evening whisker stubble, the pinkness of my room. I would beg him to stay, to linger and hold me ever so tightly in the round-tower of his heart!

Tonight I will pause as I say good night to my boys still at home, the handsome and gawky teens who are usually too busy to hug for very long. And I will make a memory, if not for them, then for me.

The Children's Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,

Comes a pause in the day's occupations,

That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,

The sound of a door that is opened,

And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,

Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,

And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes

They are plotting and planning together

To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!

By three doors left unguarded

They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;

If I try to escape, they surround me;

They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,

Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen

In his Mouse-Tower on the

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,

Such an old mustache as I am

Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,

But put you down into the dungeon

In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,

Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,

And molder in dust away!

“Let the little children come to me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14

Friday, April 21, 2006

date night

It is Friday and that means one thing at our house.


My husband, wise man that he is, made the decision about 20 years ago to institute what he called "date night" in our home. This is one night set aside each week where we will actually have a complete conversation across the dinner table, eating adult food, and pausing to clean up nothing that has been spilled! We will laugh
and we will enjoy each other the way we did in the courting days.

Moms need to have one evening each week where they can be a wife. They need to feel that they are valued for who they are as women not only as mothers. They need to be able to relax and talk about something other than spelling quizzes and music lessons. When one night a week is named as the special time for just mom and dad, mom has all week long to look forward to and prepare for it. She will not feel frustrated that there is no time to have long conversations about things that are important to her when she knows there is a special time during the week just for that purpose.

A weekly date night is just as important to dad as it is to mom. I remember one particular date night where this was proven to me. One of my husband's co-workers had been injured in an accident at work and was in the hospital. It happened to be on a Friday, our usual date night, and we decided to visit him while we were in Peoria. When we came in the door, he was thrilled to see us and also surprised. He said, "Wow, I didn't expect to see you guys. This is your date night, right?" Until that evening, I didn't know that my husband had talked about our weekly date night at work and that he had made sure everyone in the office knew he had to leave on the dot, if not early, on Fridays because he didn't want to miss date night! Not only did I feel valued but I also learned that our times together were just as important to him as they were to me.

I know the concept is not a new one to many people and various homeschooling support group leaders have encouraged moms and dads to set aside time each week to be alone and enjoy each other's company. But I know that there are many couples who are still struggling with the practicality of pulling off a date night. I would like to offer some suggestions for making this time of refreshment a reality in your home.

Date night doesn't have to be formal or elegant. Prepare a picnic lunch with real plates and glasses in a basket, pack your Ipod with mini speakers, a lovely table cloth, and head to the park. Play some of your favorite tunes as you have dinner and enjoy the great outdoors. Carry-out is also an option so mom doesn't have to cook! Hot dogs at a ball game or tacos at an outdoor band concert are also fun.

Be creative with your childcare options. When our older children were small, we set aside money in the budget to pay for a sitter for one evening each week and sometimes the children stayed with my parents who lived near by. As our older children grew up, they were the sitters and we used the sitter money for them to order pizza, making the evening special for them, too. There were also times where we couldn't leave the children so I would feed them early and make a special dinner for my husband late at night when they were in bed. Even now I like to set up candles all around the edge of our deck railing and surprise my husband with a favorite meal. Another option is to trade evenings of babysitting with another couple who has children.

Spend as little or as much as your budget allows. We have gone to movies or concerts on date nights. We have taken long walks along the Peoria riverfront or at parks in our area. I usually pull out the arts section of our local newspaper to look for all the terrific options available each week. Occasionally we have invited others to share our date nights, including nursing babies, but usually we prefer to go alone. Check out The Generous Wife for lots of other great idea.

Make a plan for date nights. You won't be sorry you did.

"And may the Lord make you increase in and abound in love toward one another." I Thessalonians 3:12

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

on being a gracious homeschooler

"To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day."
Winston Churchill

the principle: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and you can win more people with gracious words than with harsh words

The plan: use gracious words!

Recently I read an article written by a young man who had been homeschooled throughout his high school years. Obviously bright and articulate, he is currently serving in the US Air Force and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. As he writes about the homeschooling training he received and his college experience, at first glance it seems that it was thorough and far excelled that of many of his peers. Sadly, though, the arrogance and pride in his life rose to the surface of his words, leaving me saddened at how many opportunities he was missing for being an example of homeschooling at its finest.

In detailing several stories from the various courses he had taken at the college level and in citing examples of how much more he knew than his professors did, he said, “I could mention my journalism class, which taught me nothing. Or my argumentation class, which taught me nothing, or even my American government class at the highly-regarded Patrick Henry College, which taught me (you guessed it!).” It left me saddened at the obvious lack of training in the practice of humility this young man had received, not to mention how much he was missing in his education by not being willing to add to his knowledge with a spirit of respect.

One of the great lessons that Winston Churchill not only taught but also practiced was the art of magnanimity, of being a person who was willing to show deference and respect. He wisely knew that winning over people to your way of thinking, or as Christians, a Biblical viewpoint, requires a sweetness and gentleness in your life.

His granddaughter, Celia Sandys, tells the story of one particular occasion when Churchill hosted a bitter rival for tea and cake. The harsh opponent later said he had been surprised by the gesture and called that brief encounter the “bread and salt of friendship,” which opened the door to further dialogue and eventually resolution of conflict.

Churchill believed that by being magnanimous toward others, you will reap the rewards of making friends and allies of even enemies and opponents, remembering, too, that there are those who might lack the ability or good fortune with which you have been blessed.

Have your children learned the art of being good listeners? Are they willing to learn from others while maintaining discernment? When you listen to them talk, do they convey contempt and pride or do they show respect and graciousness?

"So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, "Is this not Joseph's son?"
Luke 4:22

Sunday, April 16, 2006

then bursting forth in glorious day

"There are some truths powerful enough to make even a heart of stone cry out."

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

This blessed truth, the cornerstone of our faith, has such powerful implications for each of us as we love and teach the precious children God has given to us. We have the blessed hope of new life in Christ for us and for our children. We have the promise that as He raised Lazarus from the dead, He will also raise us on the last day! Have a blessed Resurrection Day, rejoicing in the fullness of your salvation!

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe

This gift of love and righteousness

Scorned by the ones He came to save

'Till on that cross as Jesus died

The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin on Him was laid

Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain

Then bursting forth in glorious Day

Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory

Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me

For I am His and He is mine

Brought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me

From life's first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand

'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen as He said.”… they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.” from Matthew 28:5-6

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

chicken and rice soup for a busy day

The sunny days we have been having are wonderful and call for alfresco dining! But on rainy days I still feel like preparing something warm and yummy! This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and frozen or placed in crock-pot for supper later in the week. It is also best if served with homemade bread or biscuits!

Prairie Chicken and Rice Soup

3 pounds chicken with skin and bones, any combination
1 pound carrots, sliced
3 onions, 2 of them finely sliced and 1 quartered
2 cups chopped celery
3 stalks celery hearts
3 TBS minced garlic
2 pkgs. long grain and wild rice mix, including dry seasonings packet
sliced fresh mushrooms (optional but delicious!)
coarse salt to taste
fresh-ground black pepper
dried parsley flakes

In stock pot, place chicken parts, quartered onion, celery hearts, and garlic. Cover with water and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until chicken falls off bones. When cooked, drain chicken, reserving broth but tossing out vegetables.

Return broth to heat and add remaining ingredients, simmering until vegetables are tender and rice is cooked. Remove meat from bones and add to soup mixture. Offer ground pepper when serving for extra zing.

Best if served with homemade bread or biscuits.

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night!" Psalm 92:1