December 2003

The kettle’s on,
go get a cup
and enjoy today’s blog!

The Welcome Home Blog

December 2003

The beautiful craftsmanship and decor… at Pension~Anna

Leavenworth at Christmas

December 30, 2003  A chilly-willy day here! What a blessing to have lots of wood for the stove—our source of heat in this old farmhouse!

New stuff in the news… Tim Eyman’s in the news again.  Some folks around here have a different name for the man—I cannot print here.  This time he’s going for the property tax… a 25% reduction which would surely benefit seniors [in their own no-mortgage homes] somewhat but wouldn’t really benefit others insomuch as the reduction in prop tax would mean less of a deduction in income tax, plus a reduction in local services we all need.  Well–*I* didn’t *need* that personal police [dis]service *I* received last month!   However, I’m still thankful for Police and Fire here—–so a reduction in Prop tax?  I’m not so sure it’s necessarily an across-the-board answer. 

Well, if Tim Eyman doesn’t raise your bloodpressure, maybe ephedra does! And, if you’re going to get a kick-start for your diet, I guess you’re just going to have to eliminate BSF foods or low carb instead of using ephedra!  Early next year, the supplement will be banned—in fact, consumers are being urged to immediately stop using the herbal weight control supplement now!  There’s just enough time for everyone to ransack the stores in order to keep New Year’s resolutions.  Since most New Year’s resolutions only last a matter of days… and the ban will take effect some 60 days after the announcement—it’ll coincide with the total loss of New Year’s resolution commitments… ‘course, folks may have a few days of residual left in the bloodstream and bottles of the pills stashed away.

We’re doing some year-end/new year cleaning-sorting-reorganizing-painting and bedroom shifting around here!  The boys are switching rooms with the girls.  So….instead of progress, it looks like a real mess—and no light at the end of the tunnel yet—but, we’ve traveled this road lots of times and so, if the LORD tarries, we’ll have this situation all taken care on in the next few days.  It’s time to go through all the clothes, books and toys.  Well, not so many toys (by choice!!!) but, way too many clothes and books—well, maybe not too many books!  When 11 people love books… 

We love to get a fresh start at the new year and so we do this pretty much every year.  This way, the children end up with very clean rooms and a new view from time to time!  Our boys have had the room they’re going into, but the girls have never had the ‘front’ bedroom yet—so, now they’ll have the sunrise side! 

In the background I have a beautiful new CD playing… we went to the Legacy Five southern gospel music concert last night!  What a blessing to us all!  Roger Bennett was a bit late so we enjoyed the waiting for him and the updates he was sending by phone [during the concert] as his plane landed at Sea-Tac and throughout his cab ride north to the location of the concert.  Roger was in Houston to see a specialist in preparation of bone marrow transplant.  You can read an update on his condition and situation.  We really love the music and the message this group brings.

December 29, 2003  Ahhhh…. the last week of 2003.  Amazing!  Lots of things have happened in the last few days!  We did go to Leavenworth—a quaint Bavarian town nestled in the Cascade mountains.  It was so lovely; beautiful shops all lit up with strings of brightly coloured lights, icicle lights and stars, greenery and garlands entwined with tiny white lights framing nearly every doorway and then, the reds and greens of ornaments, nutcrackers, bells, clocks and dishware—from teacups to carvings, the shops were overflowing with special things for everyone.  It was quite cold and so all the people were bundled up and the snow continued to give a light dusting everywhere.  It was snowy going over the Pass—compact snow and ice—but our son’s car was suited just right for the driving.  We sure enjoyed it—I think Wes loved riding along watching a movie—I add this, because, those of you who know the condition of our family van (In addition to several problems, the van is very old, leaks, no heater…) would not be able to make such a trip.  I’m sure our son and daughter-in-law appreciate their cars/things *much* more, now that they’ve had the experience of driving ours!  Anyway… what a treat to drive such a nice vehicle and stay in such a beautiful place.  We loved the whole adventure!

While we enjoyed the time away, I sure missed the children—-but! our children were being treated to a day in Seattle at Pike Place Market and a day at other shops and thrift stores where they made several purchases.  I’d made some requests of things to *not* purchase—and they did very well—oh, except for the fake cigar with talc in the end to blow out like smoke.  Gasp.  You know, our daughter-in-law was pretty embarrassed when a woman, who’d just seen a few of the children go out to the van, walked into the store and asked Tara if she was the one driving the van, and when Tara replied that, yes, she was… the woman exclaimed that one of her children was sitting in the van smoking a cigar.  Ohmy… poor Tara. She explained to the woman that the cigar had been bought at the dollar store—-I don’t know what the woman must’ve thought.  Fortunately, Tara’s a quick wit and blew it off (no pun intended).

Pictures tomorrow… I’ll get them resized for the blog!  Blessings to you and mama if you’re reading this… i love you.

We’ll go to a Southern Gospel concert—one of our favourite groups, Legacy Five, will be performing.  We’re grateful for their testimony.  We pray for the health of Roger Bennett, who’s had leukemia for ten years.  You can read an update on him and his situation.  Wes received a phone call today from the promoter of the program who called asking that our children take tickets at the door and they’ll have an opportunity to talk with the members of the group. Roger Bennett has a most beautiful style playing the piano—our daughter has thoroughly enjoyed his books.  So… this is a blessing and a happy opportunity.

December 26, 2003  Our son and daughter-in-law gave us a special gift for Christmas—a stay at a bed-and-breakfast in Leavenworth and the care of all of our children!  Now, isn’t that a sweet and thoughtful gift?!?!  I was thinking of my parents who are suffering in southern California… ~wink~ and their dinner on the Queen Mary—well, this isn’t quite what they’re doing but so nice!  Our sweet Naomi loved her new dolls from grandmother… She opened a couple of her  birthday gifts this morning and a couple this evening.  She was a little sad that friends couldn’t come for her birthday—I think it’s the first time she’s realized that a Christmas birthday has a bit of a bittersweet side—but in her tears, we tried to show her tender-loving-care and some special treatment.

Funny… I was thinking about this a lot—-thinking that the LORD Jesus: whose birth we [say we] celebrate comes at a time when people are just too busy to remember Him—or don’t know Him at all.  I’ll explain this to Naomi along the way and perhaps she’ll avoid the trap I’ve failed to avoid over the years and just love the celebration for what it is and not for what it “ought to be” or should’ve or could’ve been.

Early Christmas & Birthday morning 2003

December 25, 2003  It’s a happy Christmas Day—the day we celebrate the birth of our LORD and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We know that there are many myths, many traditions, many pagan aspects to this particular day… and we quickly acknowledge the faults or disparities in joining in the celebrations of the world or taking part in pagan rituals—but none of those things alter the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin, God incarnate, and that there is no other Name given among men by which we must be saved.  We celebrate the birth of our LORD, we celebrate the gift of salvation that was ordained of God through His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him may be saved.  He is no respecter of persons and He cannot lie.  His is our All in All.  This is what we celebrate today.  It never was about a time of rushing, or fretting over gifts or disappointment or a tree or right clothing… it never was about all these things that trip us and trap us.  Every year I feel the gripping of the trap—and every year on this morning I feel relief that it’s ‘over.’ The freedom to just worship the LORD—to thank Him for the unspeakable gift of His Son, our salvation, our Rock and Redeemer—THIS is Christmas—This is Peace.  Ahhhh sweet peace in our Saviour.

In our home, on this day we celebrate not only the birth of our LORD Jesus, but we celebrate our little Naomi’s birthday as well.  Our little Christmas gift that God uses continually to bless us.  Our little Naomi is so precious to us—because of partial deafness, she’s opening a whole new world to us, a whole new understanding and compassion—and because of her deafness, we hear in a whole new way… we are learning to hear with our eyes, we’re learning to hear with our hearts.  So, in our home again this year, we say praise to Jesus, praise to the LORD for the gift of our dear little Naomi—born on Christmas Day.

December 23, 2003   I love this poem… it’s precious to read, precious to hear. You can hear “A Cup of Christmas Tea” told by the author, Tom Hegg.  Do you have time for tea today?

December 22, 2003  Off and running to begin another fun packed week! More cooking today—this kitchen’s becoming a carbohydrate explosion—I think there are so many carbs in the air that it won’t matter that I’m trying to avoid them…I think I’ve just begun taking in carbs by osmosis.  However, still no weight gain from any sampling I’ve done… but I’m not pushing it!

I’m refraining from eating Mary’s recipe for ‘butterfingers’ candy.  I made about a bazillion of these last night.  Ingredients are Cheese-It’s, peanut butter, and chocolate bark.  I spread the peanut butter between the Cheese-It’s–then put them in the fridge to get cold. Then using a half package of ‘bark’ at a time, I melted the bark in a bowl in the microwave (2 mins) and then using a fork to turn them the bowl, I began coating the little ‘sandwiches’ and setting them on sprayed foil-lined baking sheets.  I did something like 300 of them using two packages of bark.  I tasted half of one and decided that that was going to need to be my last taste.  A pan-full would be the desire…  I made peanut brittle, too and I had a bunch of smiling faces as I began to crack the brittle into pieces in each pan.  I thought I’d be standing there stirring forever… here’s my tip: be sure you have your candy-thermometer out and if it’s a glass one, make sure it’s not broken *before* you start boiling the butter-sugar mixture!  I remembered half way through that I might have another old thermometer in the drawer… sure enough, I did!  Sometime in this past year, the glass one cracked (uh, in the drawer) the glass on the very end is cracked and some’s missing.  The shape of this thermometer is like that of a 12″ long drumstick.  I never *saw* the counter being used as a drum… nor this drumstick…

O…would you please take a few minutes to vote in a poll~ The American Family Association has been taking an online poll on whether homosexual marriages should be recognized, at you can vote today!   So far, the results don’t look too favourable (in my eyes).  You’ll see by the results of the polls, that Christians aren’t the only ones voting.  The enemy’s sly.  O… the enemy is as a roaring lion… he’s prowling about seeking whom he may devour.  We know that: we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the  darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6.12)

December 21, 2003  God Bless you, this LORD’s Day!  Take a look around… greet someone who’s alone… seek to be a blessing!

Our daughters in the Deaf Choir Christmas program

More next week.

December 20, 2003  Here’s a sweet Christmas story.  My husband sent it to my computer… think you’ll enjoy it.

As always… there’s a lot going on in the news!  Christmastime sparks the annual barrage against Christianity and things ‘sacred’ to us.  Sacred being, the LORD Jesus and our worship of Him.  Other things would be: the nativity, the cross, etc. or public expressions of faith.  I often think: are we doing for the Truth what the enemy is doing for a lie?  From local news to world news and current events, there are so many things going on that it’s hard to keep track of them all.  There are sites to keep you up-to-date on the latest news concerning our ‘religious’ freedom; one such site is Alliance Defense Fund.

I receive a newsletter from Norma that’s been immensely helpful!  She’s continually coming out with helpful ideas and encouragement for healthy eating and healthy living—all these in Healthy Truths!!  You can subscribe to receives these invaluable letters!

December 19, 2003 Went caroling last night!  We live in an old town with neat old houses and streets.  What a blessing it was to walk the sidewalks singing in front of various homes.  Some people came out, some stayed in, they all seemed genuinely grateful for the singing.  A couple of guys, in particular, who were obviously working inside remodeling an historic old home, stopped what they were doing to came out and sit on the porch steps to listen.  It was impressive to think that we had the privilege and the freedom to do this—in many other countries of the world this would not be possible, and so, once again we praised the LORD for His mercy and the opportunities we have to share and praise Him openly and to spread the gospel.

December 18, 2003  One of the great blessings of the internet is all the unique friends and websites there are to meet and see!  I do praise the LORD for the blessings He’s afforded us through internet.  I know I’ll always be grateful that my friend, Kelli, *just so happened* to be looking for a Bible study when I used to publish a daily Bible study and she *stumbled* [Providence] across my list.  O, was that ever of the LORD as there have been so many marvelous talks and blessings because she took time to contact me and ask questions—further, that she took the chance or the risk come visit our family—what a blessing that was.  She visited at a time I was feeling sick (which I so regret!) and was in such need of encouragement: she was it, just what I/we needed!  She’s added a special dimension to our lives.

Then, there are those who subscribe to TheWelcomeHome letters and sometimes I happen to see a subscriber list and take the opportunity to visit their sites. I don’t always see who’s signed up or who’s still subscribing—it’s probably best that way because as it is I just write as the LORD inspires and not to a specific person or group. Well anyway, seeing the url’s on subscribers addresses sometimes sparks my interest—especially when a name is particularly unique… one such visit was one I made last night and was so interested in her site—especially her page on Soap making!!!  Well, it’s great: Thyme For Ewe—what a neat site & family!

December 17, 2003
Well, it sure doesn’t look like anyone’s low-carbing here!  My kitchen sideboard looks like carbohydrate headquarters!  All the ingredients for brittle, fudge, divinity, bar cookies, rolled cookies, pies, and Christmas cakes!  It was cheaper \/ for Wes to go out and do the shopping, so he came back with all the supplies for Christmas baking.  Now… this is one of the ways we celebrate—making treats and sharing them is a way we demonstrate love to our family and friends.  For one thing, we generally have very little contact with our neighbors… that’s the drawback to living in the rural/farming area of our town.  It’s a blessing, though, too: the space and view!  Anyway… through the year we bake treats and give to our neighbor, but at Christmastime we like to really do something extra.  So… how’s it going to go—low-carbing at Christmas?  My first goal is NO weight-gain—if I lose, that will be a real bonus!  No weight-gain is my strong conviction!  I’ve been able to maintain this weight-loss through this fall and yet(!) I have tasted a few of the things we’ve made.  I just can’t go and have a piece of pie or the treats I used to freely eat—it’s not worth it to me anymore.  I never want to live in or travel in that territory on the scale ever again!

I’m still driving ever so carefully…

Now there’s no small stir in the controversy over what should be done with saddam hussein!  I wonder how long he’ll persist in telling his captors that Iraq disposed of its weapons long ago, or that he knows nothing of (missing Navy pilot) Michael Speicher or that Iraq has no ties to Al Qaeda.  It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out—who’s taking orders from whom and how long they’ll be able to fight.

Laura’s site “Seams Like Yesterday” is up and running—it’s so nice!  She does such high quality, beautiful work.  It’s a blessing to know her, to watch the LORD work in and through her and her family!  She and Mary have shown us a bit of quilting and I look forward to learning more… well, that is if there’s time!  I think she’ll soon be swamped with orders!  The baby quilt she made using a child’s baby clothes is the most precious quilt I’ve ever seen.  The ways she used distinctive parts (pockets, collars, cuffs, hems) of the clothing was really incredibly clever and the mother (who ordered the quilt) will easily remember the child as a toddler in the particular outfits as she sees the unique squares.

  December 16, 2003   I’m dreaming of hot summer days… as I came across this picture I was almost able to hear the sounds of summer… feel the heat of the sun on my face, or the digging in the garden and the splashing of the pool water.  I’m mindful that we’ll soon turn the corner and the days will soon be longer and the hours of darkness will diminish!

Need more articles?  Interested in more on what’s going on in the church today?  Take a look at Kjos Ministries

I’m thankful to have been serving in the soup kitchen yesterday and as I drove there, I was mindful of a message I wrote a couple of years ago concerning serving in the soup kitchen and my murmuring heart. There were inconveniences and small irritations that kept bringing to mind the words of the LORD… will you be My servant?  Then again yesterday these thoughts come to me as some of the  guests were demanding, belligerent and perhaps even rude.  Honestly, it was a joy because I no longer saw them as irritations but as opportunities to serve the LORD.  I thought of all my cantankerous attitudes over the years and my self-centered demands of the  LORD as daily I have *expected* Him to reply to me as if I’d never caused Him grief.  My High King Of Heaven—who was I to not serve Him… and yesterday it was in the form of serving some people who didn’t care—but for themselves.  Then, as God would have it, there were blessings in the form of people who *did* care and were grateful.  I got to thinking—do I serve the LORD for what *I* will receive or for the Joy that is set before me.  So, again, I prayed and I pray today: Lord, make me a servant.

These are the days before Christmas… I hope other sisters will be encouraged to wait on the LORD in these days and not allow sentimentality to grab hold of their hearts and derail them as they seek to serve the LORD without trappings of the world.  I sent out a Welcome Home letter yesterday in hopes that someone would benefit from my failings and what the Lord is doing through the years.

It’s a real test of determination to be resolute to not be caught up in the frenzy.  When the ads flash before us of all the things we must have and do not need or think we need and cannot afford, it’s a test of resolve to be unruffled at the barrage of mind.  We have received many “season’s greetings” cards… what does that *really* mean?  Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  O, I *know* the sender means *something* in the sending, but really, it means nothing.  The season doesn’t save us, and God didn’t send the season so that we’d celebrate His love for us.  He sent His Son—*that’s* what we celebrate.  I’m thinking that maybe we ought to send Happy Holidays cards in January or February or some other month when people have a day off from work or school.  How about summertime happy holidays cards when teachers and students have a holiday from classes.

December 15, 2003  All over the news… it’s saddam… It’s sort of pathetic how many shots are being taken at the administration, the military—how many conspiracies and theories are bandied about.  I was thinking they ought to just put him back in the place they found him—but what a contradiction–his people killing themselves for him and for whatever benefit or great reward they believed they’d receive from *g*od for their efforts and yet their own leader obviously didn’t believe that or his own lies as he sat with a gun in his lap.

Continuing to add to our “year in pictures”  Fun to reminisce as I looked through the hundreds of photos!

December 14, 2003 Well… what a weekend this has been—-and what a day in the news! He (saddam hussein)  proves rats can quite possibly live through anything-anywhere!

Today was a pretty late start… we sure enjoyed performing in our two Christmas programs at church and also tonight attending the Christmas musical presentation at a local church our friends attend.  It’s always very professionally done and such a blessing.  Now… I’m sure that they all put a great deal into the performances—even more than we did—!! Well… so now another Christmas program is part of our family history—no doubt, one of our favourites, and for me the very little time spent in practices etc., etc. was a blessing.  Our friend, Kimberly, has an incredible knack for figuring out programs and envisioning how they’ll all come together—faith in the LORD and His doing and organizational skills to be able to pull off all sorts of dramas and presentations.  We sure had a great time singing together as a family (especially in our living-room practice sessions!!)  Then, having our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren there—and I’m just grateful to the LORD for meeting me at my point of need—giving me words to share in a portion I had in the program.  I’ll get it edited tomorrow for a welcome home message.

these are for you, mama————scenes and sets of the Christmas program.

Our daughters will take part in the Deaf Fellowship Christmas program next week—but those practices have been minimal and are part of our sign language class this week.  As I’ve written in the past, our church “sponsors” a Deaf Fellowship that meets in our old building and we take sign language classes there.  The LORD in His mercy provided this blessing long before we understood our part in it and our need of sign language training!  In the meantime, I’ve come to understand that sign language understanding or ability is not just for those who have deaf or hearing impaired family/friends, but is necessary to/for everyone—this, since our daughter is hearing impaired —unilaterally deaf, with minimal loss in her right.  We’ve come to see once again that the mercy of the LORD is unfailing and we’re in awe of His provisions for our family.  I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than watching a beautifully signed musical.  On the program for next week, the words read: “Interpreting will be provided for the hearing.”   Our little daughter sure is looking forward to the musical—finally “getting” many of the signs—it moves pretty fast!  She’s got a joyful heart and is enthusiastic!  I talked with a woman today whose husband is deaf and she commented that she didn’t learn sign language until they’d been married a couple of years.  Apparently someone told her that if she were to have any hope for her marriage, she’d *have* to learn to *talk* to her husband and *understand* *him*!

I’m anxious to read  a newsletter/magazine I received from a friend today.  What I’m interested inis reading someihing about John MacArthur’s latest book. Here’s a recent quote: “Everybody has an opinion, whether it’s about the war on terrorism, the state of the economy or whatever.  John MacArthur reveals that there’s only one opinion that carries real weight… God’s!”

andrew wants to play the guitar… but a broom’ll do!


December 12-13, 2003  It’s tough to come to an understanding or a decision of how to celebrate Christmas—as it’s not a holy-day or a sanctified day—or the actual day of the birth of our LORD—it *is* however, a marvelous time to give thanks and to share the Good News—that Christ DID come to earth, what He did and why He did it.  Just as God says He will preserve His Word, I believe so also that He will preserve His message—the message the prophets declared and angels proclaimed.  Jesus Christ came into the world as Saviour—fully God, fully man— to save sinners from eternal separation from Him, to live eternally *with* Him in Glory.  There is no other—those who say there are many roads, I say, yes, there are many roads and they all meet at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ and in that Day He will either say come in or depart, I never knew you.  I stumbled across and read a sermon I thought was quite good as I was reading Spurgeon on Christmas.  I’d have to readily admit that I’m sort of a Spurgeon-ite—which also makes me a Calvinist, reformed theology, yada, yada, yada.  I try not to get into that all that often as it often causes divisions and sometimes disagreements.  I want to just say: I follow Jesus my Lord.

We have a program at our local church this evening and tomorrow evening—among all the other presentations, our family will sing and I will share a message called reflections of a mama’s heart at Christmas.  I’ve been deliberately writing and rewriting this talk as I’ve wanted to be certain that it is an accurate description, or a sincere reflection.  So… I wrote it—and I’ll send it out as a Welcome Home message tomorrow.  I need to make a few additions or changes—since something written for a talk varies a bit from a written message.  It was an honour to be asked to share—my hope is that others were blessed—I always come away from these sorts of things feeling like I totally missed the deal and blundered—nonetheless, I sure pray that someone was encouraged.  We loved singing tonight!  In one part of the song, I’m not just sure whose part I was singing—could have been alto, could have been tenor—but I got back around to the line.  One of my boys was singing out strong… and I sort of got got up in one of those tender mommy moments—you know the kind that make you weep for the sweet moment.  I was sure proud of all of them.

      December 11, 2003  

Our daughter made nice treats for the Bible study she attends on Wednesday evenings. A couple are new and will become favourites around here!  I added one of the recipes to Kathryn’s recipes page (c-chip-pecan pie bars). Now… we tasted them—BUT since they’re BSF foods, my daughter and I are avoiding them—but all the littles sure did gather around to eat the “frame” of each pan.  Now the “frame” is the half inch perimeter of the pan that she never includes on the serving platters—so no one ever gets the ‘frames’ or  ‘edges’ of brownies, bars, coffee cake or whatever—well, no one but the littles here–it’s their favourite part of our baking; that, and batter! (I know… raw eggs…)

after the piano recital on Sunday

Avoiding BSF foods has helped me so much!  I’m thinking of getting a little more serious so as to be able to lose the last ten pounds I want to lose; but I’ve been able to maintain this thirty pound weight loss by avoiding BSF foods.  If we’re out visiting, then I’ve been eating very-very small portions of white foods or butter-sugar-flour foods and this has enabled me to maintain this loss but if I add these back in to my daily diet, I always gain a pound or two.  But, for the most part: NO WHITE FOOD!  I can’t seem to follow the regimens of Atkins like my parents—they’ve done so well!  I also can’t seem to stay in the Zone or hang out with Dr. Phil or go to the South Beach… just saying NO to white food has been enough for me.

Ahhhh, so grateful for the opportunities the LORD’s given me to share with women and families.  I sure don’t take this lightly, but then, nor do I take what I’m doing so seriously as if I have this great wealth of knowledge and wisdom—but this I know, the Word stands—the Word does not fail and God’s truths do not return void.  My thoughts always return to a verse that governs my thoughts: Christ in you, the hope of glory. [Colossians 1.27]

We fellowship with a group of believers who attend different ‘churches’ in the area.  I say ‘churches’ because we know that as believers in Christ, *we* are the church and the buildings in which we gather are simply that: buildings or meeting places—we do *go* to church—so to speak, we *are* the church—all over the world believers are the church.  Anyway, in this fellowship of believers, we find many facets of personality and so the contributions are unique—*this* is what makes fellowship so sweet: the combining of unique personalities who are individually at once whole when surrendered by faith in and to Jesus, make up a dynamic whole when gathered together.  Just like in a family—in the beginning a husband and wife are a complete whole—any additions to that family make it a more dynamic whole—but it is already a complete whole.  I was sharing this in the lesson (#22) that day in our Titus2 fellowship on Tuesday morning. In these meetings and in our evening home-fellowship we’re seeking to live in accordance to the Word and not be caught up in what have become the trappings of the modern “church.”

Oh my… a line from that ‘purpose-driven’ article I read yesterday just keeps ringing in my ears—the congregation being asked what kind of music they like to listen to on the radio—answer: then that’s the kind of music we’ll play in church.  Oh my… I’m thinking, that’d be like me asking all my little children what kind of food they want  to eat for breakfast and then serving it to them everyday!  I’ll tell ya this right now: they wouldn’t quickly choose ten grain cereal!  Or, how ’bout this: what if I were to ask the children how they’d like to spend the day—everyday—they wouldn’t tell me they’d like to spend the whole day in study, writing essays, doing mathematics, being quiet in prayer and meditation,  hard at work keeping the home spotless—that’s for sure!  No! They’d want to play and play and play—drinking Nestles Quik and eating chocolate-chip cookie dough—they’d probably like to watch movies and invite all their friends in to do the same!  We all would probably choose one of the easier roads—but is that what this life’s all about?  An amusement park?  Is that what Christ died for?  Is entertainment man’s chief aim and God’s glory? I saw a man sitting at a bus stop in our little town today… so far removed from all that drives some people.  I grieve for him—for all the lost and for all the saved who live lost.

December 10, 2003  I know that I often stand alone in many groups.  I’m not uncomfortable with this, but I’m often grieved that so many I truly respect seem oblivious to the things that seem so clear to me—and I do hastily confess that I’m sure they must think the same of me. I just finished reading an article that stated more succinctly than I could the challenge or what I consider to be the problem with a popular book and church growth movement.  I often hesitate to comment on specific groups in the Christian community for the sake of unity—but I do comment when for the sake of Truth I see the need to do so.  One such situation is the seeming frenzy over the purpose driven church or life—its ‘success’ and its methods.  In the article I’ve just mentioned, there are specifics—and these are but a few of the glaring contradictions or controversial points of the purpose driven life and/or church.  The article is lengthy but worth the read. It’s risky to take a stand but I’d say it’d be far riskier to *not* take one. 

December 9, 2003  I receive reminders of birthdays from Birthday Alarm—you just sign up and receive two reminders: a week and three days prior to the birthday dates you’ve selected.  It’s a neat way to be reminded to e-mail or send a card to someone. At this time of year it’s neat to set some goals for the coming year… this’ll help with your organizing or ‘be organized’ goals!

December 8  It seems we’ve hit the deck running, this week!   Many things to take care of… many commitments on the calendar!  It seems it always goes this way—no matter how many attempts are made to not be over-committed.  All the dates or activities involve at least a couple in our family and all seem important—and all the while attention is being given to one event, preparations are being made for another!  So… sometimes it feels like each event is just a step to the next event.   Problem is, hastily running through them would tend to invalidate them, and that’s something I’d like to avoid like the plague!  Balance.  O, for balance!

The year’s coming to a close… all the print media publications will soon be coming out with ‘year in pictures’ editions.  This morning I received an email from Focus on the Family… reviewing the top articles of the year.  Personally, I think these are just some of the most dramatic articles.  I don’t think you’ll never see the TOP articles of the year—for the TOP articles, are rarely published… and perhaps few are known, they’d not be sensational enough for the mainstream media—but these are the truly top articles—articles that would be top stories of a lifetime… but in this last year… mothers who’ve loved and lost their sons in war; mothers who’ve loved and lost their sons in auto accidents; mothers who’ve held their dying children after years of caring for them; fathers who daily go out to work to care for their families in spite of sickness or injury, weather or disability; fathers who walk sons through adolescence and daughters down the aisle; children who overcome obstacles, disability or pain in order to reach goals, climb mountains, reach stars; husbands who say good-bye to wives and children to board planes bound for destruction; families who gather belongings moments before fire consumes it… these are the top stories… these are the ones few ever read but are most worthy of recording.

December 7, 2003  May God Bless you, this LORD’s Day.  Today our children played in another piano recital.  They all played so beautifully!  Our friend has invested so much in their lives and given them a gift I could never repay: the gift of music.  I’ll always be grateful to her for what she’s done for them and to the LORD for giving them the ability to play.  I pray for all the children to play beautiful music.  So many years, so much practicing—even now as I type this, beautiful music fills our home (just now: Sunrise, Sunset) —I couldn’t be more thankful!  Ahhhh… it was also my step-dad’s birthday—what a blessing he’s been in and for our family.  Our children have learned a special love from him—a consistent, patient man whose life has been a blessing to me—to my mom and to them.  It seems all her life there have been inconsistent, unfaithful men and that is not who this man is and so—in celebrating today, we celebrate for her the birth of her husband—a rare gift, he is.

December 6, 2003 
Oh, what a beautiful morning!  It’s likely to become gray and dark—but for now the sky’s beautiful!  My friend thinks that overcast days are the most beautiful… she oooh’s and aaaah’s over the shades of white and gray.  Hmmm.

More on freezing… foods, that is.  I receive a [yahoo groups] digest called frozen assets—it seems that every day I am learning a new (to me) idea that I incorporate into my cooking and homemaking. There was a question a day or so ago regarding the potential defrosting of a freezer in a power-outage and how would one know if the freezer defrosted in their absence, say, if they were out of town or away on vacation.  So, here’s the tip:  “…fill a small cup/dish with water, put it in freezer until frozen. Then place a penny on top of the ice. If you find the penny at the bottom or anywhere other than the top of the ice, you will know the freezer had defrosted or partially defrosted.”  Isn’t that the best?!?!?  Then there’s the tip for boiling ground beef instead of frying it. And, though I link to the site from our recipe pages, I sort of forgot about the Urban Homemaker site.  I really like Marilyn from articles I’ve read and the contents of her site.  She used to be a featured columnist for Gentle Spirit magazine… O, how I miss the former days of that magazine. Many changes have transpired since then.  O, in those days, when that magazine would come—I couldn’t wait for its arrival, I’d drop everything to sit down and read it… as I recall, I’d read them cover to cover while nursing babies, watching children out on the lawn, waiting at appointments or whatever!  I miss those days!
December 5, 2003  It’s a clean-up day around here, a study day and preparation for a busy weekend.  Keeping laundry under control is my daily concern—I find that when I maintain a simple schedule, all of these things can be handled—but! when I neglect one thing for more than a day—woooo, all duties seem to topple!   My friend, Mary, wrote to share that she’d begun holiday baking—and freezing!  I will set about doing this next week!  I hope to have several things made each day.  What a blessing it is to have things done in advance!  All this thinking comes from seeing time spent wisely, being prepared with foods/meals in the freezer and seeking to be resourceful!  Ah… that’s what homemaking is: continually growing in wisdom and grace—blessing others in the process and product.

We had another Bible study here in our home last evening—many little children, good fellowship and time in the Word.  I wish we could have these times every couple of days!

Recently, I was thinking on the things Nancy Campbell shared at a retreat—over and over again her words come into my mind and the thing I’m thinking of is that young people need fellowship, they need it as much or more than we do.  They need us to provide for them the basis for lasting friendships and then opportunities to cultivate them.  I know this to be so true… and as we have many ages needing different types of things, it’s a blessing to have families in—families who have various aged children and who are seeking to train them up in the ways of the LORD.  It’s challenging to me sometimes to see that all the children are busy with appropriate things, that their companions are ‘on the same page’ so to speak, and to be sure that idle time is well spent.  I know it’s worth every thought, every prayer and every ounce of energy—the fruit is sweet.

My daughter in law just called for a recipe for Russian Cream which she plans on taking to a party tomorrow.  It’s such a delicious tasting side-dish.  I think it goes with everything!  We’ve sure enjoyed it here.  Problem is… it’s not all that healthy… so moderation!

December 4, 2003   Recently I discovered that in the lost files were all our lists—lists for school, checklists for packing, shopping, trips, camping, etc., etc.  Additionally, I had household checklists for different seasons, gardening, etc. that I regret losing.  So… now I’m in the midst of redoing these lists—they make things ever so much easier, especially when packing for a trip or making a fast grocery list.  I’ll post them here when they’re done.

December 3, 2003
  We searched for a song (for the Christmas program) to practice last night… what a challenge it is to choose a song which reflects our heart and expresses the message we seek to convey.  So… after talking about all of that and praying together, it was time to prepare for bed.  It wasn’t for naught—anytime a family gathers and shares together is a blessing.  We have a small amount of time to choose the song and so we’ll have to get clipping along!

Another stormy night!  I know the sounds are magnified—as is everything else in the dark, but it sure seemed like a bad storm outside!  My husband was up and gone very early this morning… and as I tried to go back to sleep, my imagination soared as I thought of what was blowing around outside!

Not stormy inside, we’re enjoying a nice morning here!  Pink light-bulbs in the lamps make the home seem warm to me.  My mother used them when I was a little girl and so I’ve grown accustomed to the type of light they give off and now prefer it to other light effects.  Even the fluorescent tubes in the kitchen are this type of colour—it sort of looks like ‘afternoon’ all day long.  Plus having been born and raised in California, I prefer warm weather and sunshine—but after so long living in the Pacific Northwest, now the scenery I most prefer most is what’s HERE—this is home to me now!  I realized this amazing shift when earlier in the year we visited my old hometown—and what I had continued to think was my favourite place—anywhere: in So. California.  Now, I love it there… but it’s not home to me anymore and the bland countryside/landscape is no longer home to me…stucco, concrete, swimming pools, Coppertone, compact cars, freeways and palm-trees were all more than familiar to me, but they’re not ‘home’ to me anymore—home is here and it’s taken on a whole new meaning now that I’ve seen what home isn’t anymore.
More notes…
Had several letters of response to yesterday’s “TheWelcomeHome” note I sent out.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to send letters out to ladies and am praying about what I ought to send first.  I’ve got several letters I want to complete and send.  Lots of ideas to share in the “Good Things & Recipes” letters, too.  It’s a blessing to have been able to do this for several years now—and I ‘m humbled at the replies.  Finally, yesterday, I was able to access the mailing list and so will be able to use that list server once again.  It was challenging (for me) to get that sorted out.  I have soooo much to learn!   Everyday is a learning experience—for which I am grateful!

One of my little boys has been ‘behind’ in reading and lately has just ‘taken-off’ with reading and spelling!  What a thrill it is to sit beside him while he reads to me!  The particular story he was reading had a bit of adventure in the story line and it was so exciting to listen to him as he anticipated what would happen next and was reading with that same feeling!  I love it when things all seem to come together and learning becomes a daily thrill for the child!  I wouldn’t want to miss this for anything!

A great homeschooling/large family endorsement sort of article in an Indiana newspaper!  I’m guessing this family wishes that even though this article is quite encouraging, it likely doesn’t reflect what actually happens in a large homeschooling family home—all the blessings and benefits are too many to accurately convey.

Looking for national news? The site referenced above also had a link to national news.  Since my mother in law lives in Indiana, I was happy to have a link to news there.

December 2, 2003  What a windy-rainy day it’s been!  I’m thankful for the rain—but don’t like storms!  The wind has helped the last of the weeping willow tree leaves to shed… they’re now all over the yard—tiny leaves, millions of them!  Nearly all the trees are bare, now, and the landscape has taken on a whole new look—no, an old familiar look.

I found an old book on Ebay-–my daughter found a CD she’s been looking for — we ordered them and are anxiously awaiting their arrival!  I’ve discovered that just about ANYthing I’ve been looking for can be found on Ebay.  Incredible.  So, all day, I’ve resisted the temptation to search Ebay for things I don’t need.  Things I have been searching for for years can now easily be found on Ebay… so, there you go—the commercial spot for the day! Ebay: such a deal!

Had all these pop-up ads on the screen… all these offers to download this or that program.  Spyware.  Well… thankfully, one of my sons got rid of most of the programs that started the problems.  It was time consuming and it’s mind consuming to me!  I know our MS friend would be rolling his eyes at the trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into—especially since it wasn’t all that long ago that he got us out of the fix we were in!  Okay… so tighten security—batten down the hatches—it’s sometimes rough sailing on this ship!
And so goes another day.
December 1, 2003

Another new month… another opportunity to do this month: better.  We all think these things, we all attempt great things and then, we all look forward to a new month, a new year to *really* do better.  We have this eternal hope that *this* will be a better year… doing things differently than we’ve done them before.  Obviously, somewhere along the way we slip and fail to keep to our lofty goals and high expectations—December is a great month to be thinking about all we decided *last* December—resolutions we mentally entertained at the end of the month in preparation for the *new* year ahead—the new year and its vast unpainted canvas.  Here we are at another December looking back at the canvas that only twelve months previous loomed large in front of us and now, that once white canvas, that clean slate, is anything but white and clean.  I never did get photos in albums this past year.  I never did write all the “thank-you’s” I intended to write.  I didn’t faithfully remember my secret pal with cards and gifts.  I didn’t keep life simple and orderly. I never did back up the files on the computer.  I never did write down the sweet sayings of the children and I didn’t make them quilts or very many new clothes.  I didn’t spend near enough personal time with each child—listening, really listening to all their thoughts.  I didn’t get very many projects completed.  Well, if I think I didn’t do anything… what DID I do?  Ah… the memories of the year flood my mind… and hopefully through this month I will post pictures of what really did happen this past year.  It’s not all lost, it’s not all a waste, it’s not a failure.  It wasn’t what I planned, it wasn’t all I hoped it would be… but it was more—so much more!  It was all I needed, all I wanted, and so much more.  Things that could never have been imagined: happened.  Things that seemed impossible: happened.  Things I didn’t expect: happened.  Blessings—-now I know what the line in the hymn means: blessings supernal Heaven came down and glory filled my soul…
The Lord allowed things to happen in this past year that I’d never imagined would happen the way they did.  His Hand has been so evident—His mercy and grace so sweet—His provision so perfect.  Now… the month ahead should bring great things… we’ve seen the King and He is gracious!


Oh…. I reached a milestone.  I’ve boasted for years that I never got a ticket.  I was stopped one time because my license plate had fallen off.  I was stopped one time by an officer giving us a warning that there was commotion in our vehicle.  I was stopped in a grocery store parking lot for failure to signal (I later learned that our little city police were on the lookout for a person driving a van matching the description of our van) and I questioned about the signal for a parking lot—he told me it was a good practice to do so. :-O    Ahh… so my milestone is that I got a ticket.  Yes! I did and it was for failing to come to a complete stop at an intersection I *thought* I’d done so—–well… so there you go. In tears I handed him my license and proof insurance and registration… which I had to riffle through an envelope of registrations for and I didn’t have on my glasses so I couldn’t see the writing—I could have given him one of my Les Schwab tires warranties for all I know! The officer said I need to stop completely—not rolling, stopping, removing my foot pressure from the accelerator and then proceeding into and through the intersection.  I felt like I was in driving school—I wanted to say I don’t know what you mean…besides that, I didn’t even see you, where on earth did you come from, anyway!?!  So now… Shattered my clean driving record and now I am nearly causing myself and our passengers whiplash at stop signs and yellow traffic signals.  Yeah, I know… I have friends who know I tend to push the speed limit and they’re wondering how on earth I’ve never been stopped all these years.  So… the failure to stop—that ticket was for all the others I should  have gotten and didn’t.  Mercy.  I can’t afford to NOT stop now!  I told the officer I learned to drive in San Francisco, California—he smiled.  I immediately called my husband… what a merciful man… he must’ve been smiling for he didn’t really say much and let me know that it’d all be alright… and it is.  I laugh now—foot firmly on the break.

No… this wasn’t snapped from my van window with our camera.
I don’t know where this pic came from.  My sincere thanks to whoever sent this 😉

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