Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Busy as Bees

We have been.....busy as bees. We have been on the run and out and about the past couple of days - field trips!! After our field trip yesterday we truly understand just what that means too!! We spent a lovely fall (yes it seems to be here at last!!) morning in Hazel Green, Alabama with our 4H club learning about beekeeping from a sweet as honey beekeeper and his protege.Our tour began with a lesson on the life of bees and it was nothing less than fascinating. Mr. Dalton and David did a great job of making it make sense, they only just scratched the surface but left us wanting to know much more!! The Principal and I are always looking for potential revenue producing adventures that might be a good fit for our 'life on the farm days' post retirement......this just may be the bees knees ;-) There appears to be some 'sweet' potential ;-)

Have you ever tasted honey right from the hive? David scrapped a bit of wax away and let me have a taste - wow!! That is good stuff let me tell you!!

Next they walked us through the process of extracting the honey from the hives, cleaning the honey by putting it in the 'hot box' to warm the honey and allow any wax and debris (wings, legs, etc.) that might be in the honey to float to the top. The honey is then put into a large vat type apparatus where it is filtered further and ready for bottling. It is a pretty straight forward process the actual processing side of things that is.
The bees themselves are where the mystery, intrigue and fascination comes in. Mr. Dalton told us all about the habits, roles, life cycle and personalities of these amazing little creatures. I couldn't help but make the connection between the bees and the Character Building for Families study that we are doing in our devotional time, specifically the unit on Orderliness - God's hand is so incredibly obvious in the day to day lives of little wonders. After walking us through each step in the processing side of beekeeping we took a short stroll down a picturesque tree lined path to the back end of the property by a pond where the colonies are kept and maintained. David donned his beekeeper garb and showed us how to daze them a little with smoke so that he could get in the hive and show us the inner workings a little. The smoke tends to slow them down and create a 'groggy' state which allows for more ideal conditions in which to go about your bee business.
David was kind enough to pose for a photo to show off what every stylish beekeeper is wearing this fall! Our tour ended on The Dalton's back patio where Mr. Dalton answered questions and told stories while we were treated to Honey Tea and Cookies which Mrs. Dalton aka 'The Boss' was gracious enough to prepare for us - that is true southern hospitality y'all ;-) A sweet man, a beautiful fall day and homemade goodies, us homeschoolers have it made!! The wall hanging on the back porch of the Dalton's home sums it up.....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Speechless Cinnamon Rolls

I have test driven a few Cinnamon Roll recipes over the years and have never found one that made think I needed to stop trying others - this is the one ;-) It is a keeper and sharer for sure and for certain!!! WonderBoy crowned these 'Scrumptious' and I have had to keep a close on him around them lest they disappear quicker than they ought to !! AND if that is not enough it doubles as a hamburger bun recipe too and I would imagine with the right shaping could also lend itself to hot dog buns or submarine/hero sandwich type rolls as well (I have not yet tried these options - let me know if you do!)
4 to 5 cups flour ( I use 1/2 unbleached white and 1/2 fresh ground whole wheat)
2 TBS yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 oil
3 TBS honey
1 tsp salt

Cinnamon Rolls will require these additional ingredients......
1 stick or 1/2 cup butter
brown sugar
cinnamon sugar
powdered sugar

Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 TBS yeast in a large bowl. Heat water, milk, oil and honey in small saucepan until very warm, but not boiling. Pour into flour mixture and combine well. Start adding remaining flour until dough becomes soft and ready to knead. Knead briefly and let rest, covered with a damp dish towel for about 10 minutes. You now have 10 minutes to decide if you are making Hamburger Buns or Cinnamon Rolls - you really could do both if you want a smaller amount of each. This recipe would make enough for about 4 servings of each or 8 servings of one. You choose....

Hamburger Buns
Roll out dough on floured surfaced to a 1/2 inch thickness cut out buns with a large mason jar lid ring and let rise for 30 minutes on a greased baking sheet (get your damp dish towel out to cover again). Bake at 400 degrees for 12- 15 minutes or until nicely browned. If you wish, you can brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds before you pop them in the oven.

Cinnamon Rolls
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a large flat rectangle. In a small saucepan, melt a stick of butter and add enough brown sugar to create a paste type consistency - probably less than a cup but more than a 1/2 cup. Add a splash of vanilla if you like - we like so I do ;-) With the back of a large plastic spoon evenly spread the mixture over your rolled out dough right up to the edges. Sprinkle cinnamon ( as much or as little as you like) over top of butter/sugar paste. Roll dough across so you have a long roll and using a piece of thread - I use fishing line ;-) Slide the thread/line under the roll, cross over the top and pull for perfectly sliced rolls. Fill a greased pan and cover with dampened dish towel and allow to rise 30 minutes. Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top right before they go in the oven, if you like before baking at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges.
If you like, you can make a little sweet goodness to drizzle on top of the cinnamon rolls when they come out of the a measuring cup or anything with a pour spout add about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and about 1 TBS of milk - a little milk goes a long way- it will not seem like enough - it is. Whisk together until smooth and drizzle over your wonderful hot and yummy cinnamon rolls - grab a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk and prepare yourself for quiet - there will not be much conversation taking place once the eating begins !!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prayer Box Sunday - Orderliness

It is a blessing to have the windows open today and the temperature below 90 degrees again!! I am sitting next to an open window and enjoying a slight breeze more cool than warm - Fall is teasing us here in North Alabama. Woo Hoo!!
This morning we shared our prayer time with some wonderful homemade cinnamon rolls (I will share the recipe soon - they were fantastic - I ran a plate across the street to a neighbor while they were still warm and they called in raves reviews a little while later), on the patio with a cup of flavored coffee, while several flocks of geese made themselves known as they honked and flapped on by - glorious!!
Last week WonderBoy was tasked to pray for my self worth - did you feel the shift that took place this week? It has been a little bizarre how it has all played out, but I seem to have found my 'voice' and I have to credit at least some of that to the prayers my sweet boy has been praying on my behalf!! This week......... look out Micheal H. you are the recipient of WonderBoy's prayer focus! The Principal has a fantastic prayer mission this week - he is seeking God to guide our family in the words we speak and how we speak them - wow we could rest on that topic alone for an extended post! As Christians, it is crucial that we have hearts that are soft and pliable and open to the teachings that will ultimately bring us in line with God's plans and purposes for our lives, this week my prayers will be directed at petitioning God on behalf of my family to give us hearts that willingly embrace His commands, hearts that seek to please Him.
Our family prayer this week is for a special neighbor friend of ours, a single mother who was diagnosed with brain cancer at the beginning of this year. She had surgery shortly after the diagnosis and then went through many weeks of radiation and chemo treatments that were necessary following. She still has weeks of chemo, but is now back at work and able to drive again after being restricted from doing so for 6 months. I spent a great deal of time with her and her mother during this time as their 'driver'. It is my prayer that she will one day be able to say she enjoying life as one of the healed of the Lord !
Our Character Building for Families has taken us on a journey of Orderliness this week. We have enjoyed our discussions about all the ways that God values and requires order and planning in our lives. We see miraculous orderliness all around us - how would it have been if on the first day of creation, God created the fish of the seas but had not yet created the seas that they needed to survive? We are to be good stewards of all He gives us, our time, resources, finances, talents, blessings, we should not ever squander nor hoard what the Lord provides to us in abundance. We are not promised tomorrow so today should be treasured and spent wisely - every day really is a gift!!
If you are new here and want to know more about Prayer Box Sunday - visit this post which will explain the game plan. If know the game plan and want to add your contribution you can do so by linking up below. I would not know what to do if that actually happened - LOL~!!!
By the way - stay tuned this week for a new giveaway announcement as well as the likelihood of Chapter 2.
I love you guys - thanks for stopping in, hope you have a BEAUTIFUL week!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Laying the Foundation - Chapter 1

I continue to pray for His leading in regard to what I am to share here and am committed to keeping my hands off this as much as possible. I have a strong sense that I am to share my testimony and that God will guide me along as it unfolds. So, with that in mind, it would seem the best place to start most things is at the beginning, so let's go back about 47 years then shall we? I will begin just prior to my arrival in the world......

My mother was the 2nd of 5 children raised by Depression era parents in the Toronto's west end. They were a typical Catholic family who attended church and Catholic school and observed the teachings of the Catholic church. Fish was served on Fridays and certain things were just not ever spoken of - there were many 'unwritten' rules. My grandmother's younger sister was a nun and the children were expected to walk the straight and narrow both at home and at school because the nuns had a network and news spread fast!! Being reared in this environment, certain things were expected of young men and women. Getting pregnant at 18 yrs. out of wedlock was not one of them!! My impeding arrival was not happy news.

My mother kept her secret for some time, but as you know there are some secrets that tell on themselves - I was one of those. My mother was 'sent away' to nanny for a family at a safe distance from possible detection and family shame. Much of the story I am telling you has been pieced together here and there from various sources over the years, this was not something anyone cared to talk to me about much and I never knew why until about a year ago, but I'm getting ahead of myself. she went to be cloistered away until the blessed event. My father was not involved at this point. My mother always told me that he was very jealous and controlling and because of this she did not reveal her condition to him, rather, ended the relationship. She feared a forced marriage and so his identity was not public knowledge either. Time passed and during a Thanksgiving gathering at the home where my mom was entrusted she was busily assisting the lady of the house with various hospitality related tasks when she became aware of pain that continued most of the afternoon. It wasn't until the guests were gone and clean up was under way that the "Mrs." was aware of the pain my mother was having which she correctly diagnosed as labor and my mom was taken to the hospital.
This is where the story gets a little confusing, not all versions line up. I will tell you the one my mother told me and then we can move on from there....sound reasonable? OK - Good. After my birth my mother and I went to live in a rooming house where my mother was allowed to stay as the resident housekeeper in exchange for our room and board. We stayed here while 'the family' figured some things out and made some decisions. Several months passed in this manner and finally it was decided that we would return to my grandparents home with the understanding that I would be introduced to family, friends, neighbors and everyone in general as a 'Foster Child' that the family was taking in. I know - hard to imagine but it happened all the time in those days. My mother and I moved home and daily life resumed. My mother was working so my care fell to my grandmother and aunt, who was still in high school, while my mother was at work. As the story goes, my mother was not at all happy about the big lie that she was being expected to live. It was not uncommon for her and I to be ushered out of the house on Sundays when visitors would frequently come calling. One Sunday however it seems a little Divine Intervention took place and it just so happened that my mother was feeding me at the kitchen table in a clear line of sight from the front door when my great grandparents arrived unannounced. Great Grandma Amy took one look at me and said "Oh Anne, she's beautiful ! Whose baby is she?" In a moment of unbridled defiance my mother looked her straight in the eye and said simply "She's mine". "Let me finish feeding her" was all my great grandmother said and that was it the secret was out! I can only imagine some of the conversations that took place behind closed doors in the days following!!

This is my beautiful Great Grandmother, Amy - she was a real lady born in England no less and known far and wide for her 'naturally wavy hair' - she was proud of it ;-) Also in the picture are my uncles, Peter is the eldest of the 5 children and Gerry, the youngest who is just 10 years older than me - he was more like an older brother for me growing up. This picture was likely taken on a holiday gathering of some sort, very possibly Christmas and I was just a little over a year old here.

I will continue on from here next time and absolutely welcome any questions or comments. If I am missing something and not piecing things together clearly please call me on it and keep me straight - this is going to be an emotional journey and I may miss some things that would seem obvious. By the way - just to pique your interest there is much drama that will unfold in the chapters to come!!

I will say this much, when I look at the sweet little girl in the picture above, I ache for her, I long to comfort her through what lies ahead and see so clearly as I look back from this day to that one how wonderfully and graciously God's hand has been on her, protecting her and guiding her along so that I might draw from all the experiences, trials, joys and pain and potentially help just one........

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chewing On It

I haven't posted for the last few days because I have been chewing on what I want to say and how to say it. I don't think I'm there yet, but I want to try to articulate at least a little of what is going on between my ears. Here's the thing.....I feel like I am being pulled in a new direction, one that is way out of my comfort zone and I'm not at all sure how to start or how it will be received - by you. SO...I thought today I would share a little of what is rumbling around in my spirit lately and try and get some feedback from you dear readers.

I desire to be transparent and pull back the curtain that I have been hiding behind (that I think most of us hide behind), you know that one I am talking about, the one that is more flattering to our unsightly bulges and less than appealing flaws - let's be real - we all have them. I think by keeping them under wraps I/we are giving them way too much power and I think it is time that I/we learn to take some risks and be real with each other. News flash - alert the media - I struggle !! Ok - take a deep breath and get a hold of yourself - it's true I do. I struggle to hold my tongue, I struggle to keep a loving attitude at all times, I struggle to do what is right and good, I struggle to be the kind of wife and mother that I really want to be. I struggle to find the good in others at times, but mostly in myself at all times. I struggle to feel I have value, that I do anything well and the list goes on. I understand the reasons behind some of these struggles, for many of them have been my companions for many, many years, but of course knowing does not always lead to immediate healing, it is a journey.
For me it has been a long one - 46 years in just a few weeks. I have some things surrounding my upcoming birthday that I would like to share as well, that will come in another post or maybe even a mini series (that makes me smile) of posts.
I will still post a recipe, offer a homeschool thought or share a letterboxing adventure, but I am thinking about introducing a new element that I have only touched on briefly here and there. Getting real, getting personal and talking about hard things, tender topics - all the things that are the real reasons behind the name of this blog His Grace Alone. It is by His grace alone that I am able to sit here in my comfortable home, while married to a wonderful man and homeschool my only son and share anything with you at all. I am scared of what you are thinking right now, curious if you will even respond and very hopeful that there are a few kindred souls out there that feel the same way I do, who will step forward to join me.
I would LOVE IT if you would leave a comment if you took the time to read this far and give me your honest thoughts and ideas, topics of interest etc. I really would love for this to be more of a blessing to others, than therapy for me!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

India Bound!!

Have you ever wanted to travel with your children but for a variety of reasons, finances, logistics etc. it is just easier to stay home and put it on your 'to do' list for down the road some? Me too.....however, the other day I was fortunate to find out about an opportunity to visit India with WonderBoy without even worrying about passports or packing !! I thought this was such a wonderful and unique opportunity I had to share it with you!!
Mission India is teaming up with Sonlight Curriculum to impact the nation of India with the Gospel. Passport to India is an invitation to families to participate in a 5 week adventure into exploring India in a close up and personal way, as well as blessing to be a part of something unique and wonderful. Sonlight has promised to match donations up to $167,000 to help bring the Bible to the children of India. I was stunned when I read the number of 400+ million people in India being unreached!! In our happy little Christian community here in the the United States that is hard to even get your head around isn't it? Well, it didn't take me long to figure out that this was an opportunity that I didn't want to see missed. Mission India and Sonlight are asking participating families to collect their loose change during the 5 week journey and for every dollar collected one boy or girl will attend a Children's Bible Club where they will have the incredible opportunity that our kids take for granted on a daily basis - to learn about the love of Jesus!! This is win win win. I have already signed up to receive our Welcome Kit and am thinking about what kinds of things we can do between now and then to prepare in prayer and otherwise. Every time I look at the site I find myself in tears (it's not hormones). God has placed this tenderness in our hearts for His little ones, those that know Him and those that need to know Him - especially those that NEED HIM!! We are to be His hands and feet and we can use our mouses and loose change to do it!!

Passport Trailer 1280 from Josh Visser on Vimeo.

I am going to find some wonderful jar, bottle, box (here I go with containers again??) and make sure it is ready in time to begin October 5th. Pray about this and consider joining us......we all have spare/loose change and it really could change lives!!

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son andof the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28: 19-20

I will be sharing more as we go along this adventure- I really hope you will consider joining us in blessing these precious little ones!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Prayer Box Sunday

Another Sunday.....another prayer box post. If you want to know more read about what it is and how you can participate here. This Sunday we have a mixed bag or in this case box of prayers. Our family prayer focus for the week ahead is for The Principal's job - a blessing that in this day and time and economy we do not take for granted!! We are conscious to thank God and ask for continued favor in the marketplace on a continuing basis, our prayer focus this week will cause us to delve in to details and dig a little deeper into our prayers.
Speaking of The Principal, his prayer focus this week may be a bit of a challenge for him, but he will rise to the challenge of that I have no doubt and be found faithful in what he has been tasked to do - he will be praying for the family of my former husband (WonderBoy's dad)....God has such a great sense of humor doesn't He?? ;-)
WonderBoy is praying for me this week - some of you who know me may be shocked and surprised to know that I have struggled with self worth over the years (keep the laughter down to a dull roar girls - you know who you are). WonderBoy has pulled the slipped that says 'Mom's Self Worth' so that is his prayer mission for the week - big project for a young man - I have faith his prayers will be a huge blessing to me!!
And last but not least, me - prayers this week again focus on people we know - I am seeing this pattern weekly lately. I will be praying for my dear sweet wonderful sister friend Jess and her family in Virginia. This will be a pleasure and an honor for me. It may even get her to participate in this little adventure with me.....pressure huh friend? ;-)
Well that wraps it up for the week. Our devotional/bible study Character Building for Families continues to be a time we are looking forward to several times a week. We have completed the unit on Obedience (waiting for the harvest on that seed!!!) and have just today begun Orderliness - this one is going to be great - I am really looking forward to digging in deep on this topic.
Before I run I wanted to take a minute to share a post I read last night from a sweet sweet woman I had the good fortune of meeting at the CHEF (Christian Home Educators Fellowship) Conference in May of this year. Marsha's post about the not so often talked about side of parenting opens up a topic I have been thinking about lately and was considering delving into a little here...I'm curious to see if there might be an interest in opening up some dialogue...let me know if the comments section - oh and while you are on her blog, be sure to check out some of her wonderful recipes. I have tried several all with great results!! Thanks Marsha for being transparent and a good cook!!
Alrighty, I guess that about wraps it up for me today. Go and pray with your family and come back and link up with us and tell us all about what God is doing!!
Yay God!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bacon Onion Cheese Bread - Oh My!

I recently discovered a new site with an absolute mother load of amazing recipes- enough to make your head swim and just in time for fall baking ! Woo Hoo!! Mennonite Girls Can Cook is loaded with beautiful pictures and a fantastic selection of wonderful recipes. I have tried a few recipes and all have been top notch! This particular one was a last minute addition to dinner last night because it just needed more than what I had planned - one bite and WonderBoy declared it a keeper ;-)
This is the Onion Cheese Supper Bread recipe I started is what I actually did

Bacon Onion Cheese Round

  • 2 cups flour (1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 unbleached natural white)
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt (garlic salt)
  • 1/4 cup mayo ( light)
  • 3/4 milk (1/2 of this was buttermilk)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS melted butter
  • 1 small - medium onion sliced thinly
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 5 slices cooked turkey bacon
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped
  1. Cook onion with a little olive oil in your favorite skillet.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and add milk(s) egg and mayo.
  3. Mix in cheese and bacon.
  4. Place dough in a well greased 9" round pan spread out to even level with back of spoon.
  5. Top with sauteed onion, rosemary and a sprinkle or two of seasoning - I used a little "Johnny's Garlic Spread" - go with your mood and what's on hand and by all means feel free to add more cheese on top as well ;-)
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until brown and wonderful around the edges.

This lends itself wells to what's on hand and can easily be played around with to compliment whatever you are serving it with - think olives, thinly sliced tomatoes, parmesan cheese and a pasta dish , or go rustic and think soups and stews - easy peasy and oh so good !!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Love of Words.....Gratituesday

It's Tuesday and that means it's time to get your mind moving in grateful mode and look around and see all your blessings - choose one today and join us at Heavenly Homemakers to share what others are grateful for.
I love words, written, spoken, sung, you name it. I always have. Some of my earliest memories are of writing poetry for my Grandmother. As a child I had pen pals - fellow Bay City Roller fans (if you are still out there - email me and we can reminisce!!) and others ;-)
My Grandparents were 'Snow Birds' they flew the coop of the Canadian north every fall and spent the cold Ontario months in Florida. I wrote, they wrote. The letters from those days are among some of my most cherished possessions.
In college I made friendships with people from other areas and during summer breaks we would write letters and keep in touch - this was before email of course - college kids don't do that now I would venture to guess. These 'mail relationships' continued in some cases for many many years - it was over 20 years ago now my college days......sigh.....
Well in recent years sadly, there has not been much letter writing. That was until about a year and a half ago when I was trying to come up with ways to get my 'reluctant writer' writing. Every kids loves mail and so I set myself about the task of finding WonderBoy some pen pals. It worked beautifully - in fact he is always on the look out for more - he has even adopted one of mine!! But I am getting ahead of myself a the process of getting him up and running in his new hobby I reflected on how much letter writing had always been a part of my life and how I missed it. I decided to try and find some kindred souls and ignite the love of letter writing in my life again.
I am so grateful I did. I have about an handful of faithful and wonderful letter writing friends who have brought so much joy to my life in the past year or so! There is Cathy in Illinois - WonderBoy has adopted her as 'Grandma' even though she is just a 'Spring Chicken' ;-), Lynne in Maine is a sweet and dear kindred spirit, Rebekah in Wisconsin is a lovely young lady who makes me smile, Kathy in Tennessee has taught me much about soap making and goat raising. The friendships that have grown between letters is a blessing beyond mere 'words'. A phone call last week from one of these dear ladies lifted my spirits for days when they were low and that was the purpose of the call ;-) We exchange laughter, recipes, tips and funny stories, books, tea bags, photos, bookmarks, crafts, ideas, instructions, encouragement but most of all love - for that I am so very very grateful.
Want to know more about finding a pen pal - let me is a lost art that the world would be well served to revive!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homeschool Housekeeping

2 posts in one day??!! I know, but this will be quick and only because I love y'all so much and I hate for you to miss out on anything free or wonderful!! Don't forget to stop by Heavenly Homemakers today and browse the list of curriculum being given away - all you have to do is email the person giving it away, get your name in the hat for their drawing and be willing to pay shipping - pretty easy! I have been over there myself this morning and there is certainly lots to see! I even have a few books on the list - sharing the love - it is a great idea I think ;-)The other thing I wanted to let you know about is this great freebie that came to me and I want to pass along to share with you. An Amphibians Unit Study - available as a download - PDF and also an Adobe Flash interactive version -choose one or both! I have no idea how long this will be available - so go now and enjoy later ;-) Ok that about does it for my housekeeping. I pray for a blessed and wonderful week in all your homeschools :-)

Fwonderful Flowers

I have been feeling the crafting urge pretty strongly and repeatedly in recent weeks - there is only one cure for that in my experience - make something !! I have had a fabric fascination for many years, fabric makes me happy and what would make me even happier is to find something fabulous to make with it. One small problem rears it's ugly head time and time again......alas, my skills are limited. I so want to learn and make gorgeous, adorable aprons like I one I posted earlier this week, I want to quilt and embroider and be magnificently skilled at all things fabric related. I have the desire and willingness to learn, in fact even at the time of this writing the complete collection of Homestead Blessings with The West Ladies are making their way to me - I cannot begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to receiving and watching these DVD's. I will post more about them as I view them - I already know they will be wonderful!! Included in the set The Principal purchased for me are two sewing related DVDs, The Art of Quilting and The Art of Sewing. I need the help but in the mean time I have gotten started a little on my own......I made these fwonderful, happy, fabric flowers ;-) The Principal keeps asking what I am going to do with them. Well for now, take a few pictures and just look at them because they make me happy. Once I get my looking fix in I will have a decision to make - here are some of my thoughts - make a recycled denim pillow fabulous , cutie pie an apron, adorn a shopping or tote bag or maybe use them as a little happiness on a plain brown paper gift bag. What do you think? I would love your to hear what comes to your creative minds......

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Prayer Box Sunday - Obedience

If this is your first Prayer Box Sunday - welcome ;-) I hope you will be encouraged to make time to pray and grow together as a family as I share each Sunday what God is doing in our lives through our family's devotions and our Prayer Box Sunday time together. If you would like to participate and link up with us on Sundays to sharing what your family is doing you can read about the plan here.
We are currently working our way through a devotional/study called Character Building for Families . The first character in the study is obedience - wow what an opener! We have been doing this three times a week for several weeks now and it has been great! If you are looking for a good family study/devotional , I recommend this. We have been reading this week from 1 Samuel 15 about King Saul and how he partially obeyed God, because King Saul chose to obey the way he wanted to rather than exactly as God instructed he lost his kingdom. God values our obedience above sacrifice 1 Samuel 15:22b reads; to obey is better than to sacrifice. God wants our obedience - bottom line, no questions asked. I have mentioned previously that we are focusing on character training/building in our family on a greater level than we have in the past. As parents, it is our calling to make sure our children know right from wrong and that we lead them and guide them to be and do what pleases God. Through family time spent studying what God requires and why, we break down the barriers that the world places between us and God to destroy the relationship that God desires to have with us. Ultimately what God desires most is to be in relationship with us. If we are not obedient to His ways and laws for our lives we cannot ever have the kind of fellowship that will bring wisdom and blessing to our families. The enemy works hard to lure our focus away from God and ensnare us with worldly wants...if we can teach our children to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow him to guide them the enemy's stronghold is destroyed - PTL!
Several times this week I have heard myself reciting the same thing "son, if you will learn to be obedient in the small things, it will become much easier to be obedient in the bigger things" Stewardship is everywhere!
The other side of this obedience coin is that as parents we must be obedient to God in our actions, words and deeds if we ever hope to see the fruit in the lives of our children. I won't bore you with the conviction I have undergone as I strive to give WonderBoy a foundation in this area - there is much for us all to learn ;-) Our Pastor's wife has an expression about obedience that I loved the first time I heard it and have used many many many times since- Obey right away, all the way and in a cheerful way. Pretty simple but this is truly what God wants from all of us.
Our Prayer Box this week held the following prayers for the week ahead. As a family, we are praying that God will help us to be obedient to live in His will for our lives !! I love how He always finds a way to let us know there are no accidents ;-) The Principal is praying for our desire for a home based business, something that we are hopeful to begin when we move and establish over the years between now and his official retirement in about 7 years time. WonderBoy is praying for our family time, this is something that needs to be continually nurtured and covered in prayer lest it be taken for granted or forbid- fall to the wayside. My prayers this week will be for my Aunt Jean in Toronto. I have so many wonderful memories of time spent with Jean growing up, it is an honor to lift her in prayer this week - love you Auntie Jean ;-)
Just by way of clarifying should you be wondering and especially if you are doing this with your own family - we put all our prayers back in the box each week. We feel that if a prayer is drawn again this is because the Lord desires us to pray further in this area so in those circumstances we add those repeated prayers to the new ones for the week. This week for example, The Principal again selected the slip of paper to pray for my writing, so he will, along with praying for our home based business desires. When WonderBoy was selecting our family prayer he drew generational curses and family mission opportunities both of which we have had previously so these will be added to our prayers of seeking God's help to be obedient to His will for our lives.
It really is wonderful how these simple steps are weaving our hearts together as a family who is drawing closer to God and celebrating His many blessings in our lives!
If you would like to share what you are doing in your family, please link up below. As always, have a wonderful and blessing filled week, Prayer Box Sunday is only 7 days away - get ready this week and join us next Sunday won't you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And The Winner Is.......

Lucky number 7 was chosen by
This first giveaway has been so much fun, I can assure you this will be the first of many giveaways ;-)
Gina please email me at: hisgracealone at bellsouth dot net and let me know where to send the soap!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Training Him Up.......

God gives them to us and commands us to raise them for Him. A daunting task, some days even a desperate one that I often feel ill equipped to complete on any level much less with any measure of success. I have pleaded out loud and only half jokingly on more than one occasion "why didn't he come with some kind of instruction manual ?" Truth is he did - we all did, unfortunately, my concordance does not have sass or back talk in it, does yours ? Those ready answers in the moment are the hard part.
WonderBoy came plowing down the stairs like a herd of small elephants early this morning with a dazed look and tear filled eyes, didn't take an award winning Mom to figure out there was a problem. A bad dream. So I tucked him happily on the love seat across the room from me with the favorite soft and cozy teddy bear blanket and went back to what I had been reading. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly sweet, innocent and borderline angelic they look when asleep.... He slept sweetly for about an hour when he woke again, bad dream long forgotten, at this point it was time to start the day. One of the things that I love best about homeschooling in the flexibility it affords us each day. If there is a sinus headache or friend in need we are able to work around these things - it is such an amazing blessing, especially after being a single mom with zero options of flexibility for several years I appreciate it so deeply!
This year we are focusing more on training and character building than we have in the past. The academics are as important as ever, but truthfully I feel for our family right now at the season in which we find ourselves character building is what Father God is calling us to. So how does a parent go about building the character of an often less than co-operative 9 yr. old into something that brings honor and glory to our Heavenly Father ? Well honestly, I haven't got the foggiest! After all, I'm still working on many many aspects of my own faulty character!!
This is of course where listening and observing come into play - God gave us 2 ears and 2 eyes versus 1 mouth for a reason.....see I am learning a little here and there ;-) So I have been instructing and then stepping back and waiting to see the fruit of my labors. Fruit is an interesting thing, at times it arrives ripe and juicy right in season and at other times it shows up when you expect it but has a rank odor that tells you that something is not quite right. Then there is the fruit that arrives unexpectedly, out of season but is fresh and lovely and a true surprise and delight............
After many efforts to teach sorting and other associated laundry tasks, one day a laundry helper arrived unannounced in my laundry room, with an eager and willing heart to serve. He has continued to return now on a weekly basis. I don't have to tell you how wonderful this is !! We have verbally praised all his efforts and encouraged further participation. You've heard the expression "strike while the iron is hot"? Well that is just what I intend to do.....have I ever mentioned that I do not like to me unless you happen to have some wonderful room sized closet, ironing is a waste of time in advance because everything just ends up all creased again in the closet (ask me how I know this - I once thought it best to get it all over with at one time - wrong!)....So ironing is next on the list and PTL there is an interest already surfacing!!! God really does know the desires of our hearts ;-) After that, well the possibilities are endless but I do have a few ideas.......see the soap on the top of the says "Blessed" and let me tell you....I will be when someone else is cleaning this ;-) The brush is conveniently located and everything - this will ensure a daughter in law who doesn't have me put in a home down the road wouldn't you think?
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Isn't this part of the instructions after all? ;-)

Quick item of housekeeping - midnight tonight is the deadline for entries on my very first super fabulous wonderful minty root hugger soap giveaway....scroll down and leave a comment or become a follower of my blog either or both will get you an entry - I will post the winner tomorrow!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Great Curriculum Swap !

Homeschool Friends,-I have to share something wonderful with you today! Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers is hosting a remarkable event this coming Monday, September 13th that I think is such an inspired idea! For all the details of how to get involved read Laura's post about The Great Curriculum Swap and join the fun. I have a box of books that I am no longer using and love the idea of contributing to another homeschool home for the primary purpose of being a blessing. It occurs to me that even if you are not a homeschooling household that there are likely some 'good and worthy' books in your home that would allow you to participate and share the love! So what are you waiting for...go ahead and get on over there!!! The deadline to get your books on 'the list' is tomorrow (sorry for the short notice). Monday is 'shopping day' so get your wish list ready and visit Laura on Monday Septemeber 13th.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Random Dozen

It's been a while since I have participated in Linda's Random Dozen at 2nd Cup of Coffee. These are always so much fun .........

1. Describe the best sandwich in the world according to you. It would be on thick fresh Italian bread with a generous slathering of peanut butter, creamy of course and medium to thin crisp sliced English cucumber!! YUM-O

2. Which inspire you more: a good conversation, a song, a book or a movie? Nothing beats a good conversation but a book can run a close 2nd many times - Beth Moore comes to mind - like conversation in book form!!

3. What is your favorite board game? Oh...this is a tough one for me - it is a mood thing - I LOVE trivia, especially music (70's) trivia, Trivial Pursuit is on the top of my list for that reason, but I also love Scrabble and Cranium - again depends on my mood ;-) Anything that gets my thinker thinking!

4. As you grow older, are you more or less patient with small children? This one might best be answered as the last one was- mood plays a big part in this one - that and how much my not so small child has been behaving on any given day!

5. Name one item you never let yourself run out of? COFFEE .......and toilet paper is important but coffee gets the #1 spot ......sad perhaps but true.

6. Do you agree with Tennyson's assertion, "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all'? Absolutely - cannot imagine living and never having loved - that is so much a part of who we are - there are many kinds of love to consider here too.....hmmm

7. Name one national treasure or monument that you have visited. Because I grew up in Toronto, I visited Niagara Falls many times - the Canadian side really is much nicer y'all, but doesn't hold a candle to The Grand Canyon - breathtaking!! I would really love to see Mount Rushmore and visit Yellowstone Park just FYI.

8. What is more painful, to be disappointed in someone else, or to be disappointed in yourself? For me it has to be to be disappointed in myself and what's even harder than that is disappointing someone I love.

9. What makes your kitchen uniquely yours? The love notes inside my cupboards ;-)

10. Are you a crafty person? I try to be - at some times more successfully than at other times.

11. What if your favorite traditional picnic or bbq(cookout) food? Ribs and potato salad (with dill pickle, English peas and bacon)

12. Name one leisure activity you enjoyed over Labor Day Weekend? Letterboxing after many months ....Who-rah ;-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Every Day is Labor Day

It's Tuesday and let me share what I am grateful for.......take a minute to visit Laura at Heavenly Homemakers and see what others are sharing today as well ;-)

Happy Labor Day to me ;-) We spent Labor Day letterboxing and adventuring and just generally poking around in the hills of Tennessee. It was to my great delight that we ended up in Etheridge, TN where there is a relatively large Amish community. I love all things Amish, of course I love electricity and being able to express myself a little too much to ever be Amish, but I have what some might consider an odd fascination with the people and their customs and ways. Needless to say I was giddy when we saw buggy after buggy making their way along the road - neat stuff - for me it really is all about the little things......anyway.....I am pretty sure that the Amish do not take a day to observe and rest from their labors other than of course Sunday which is not a special occasion thing but a weekly observance we would all do well to think about more often (see what I mean about expressing myself?). We stopped at a place to get some goodies and I found something that made me want to spend money - very few things have the ability to do this........I beckoned The Principal to come and see what I found......and he smiled and said "It's yours" what could be more fitting on Labor Day I ask you?? I for one see nothing wrong with looking cutie pie while laboring - well I may not be able to pull that off entirely at my advanced age and weight BUT every little bit helps right?? I did take a few pictures actually wearing the apron with the help of my staff , however in the interest of the cutie pie illusion - this one made the final cut.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Prayer Box Sunday

Are you ready for another episode of Prayer Box Sunday Adventures? We had a sweet time of prayer and devotion this morning on our patio after breakfast, the weather here in North Alabama has been absolutely spectacular this weekend. Yay God!!
I am still hearing rumors of others who will be joining me here and linking up to share what the Lord is doing in their families. If you are new to Prayer Box Sunday - click here to find out how to get your household involved.
This past week our family prayer was for Jeison, the 9 yr. old boy that we sponsor through Compassion International in Columbia. This past Friday, as if in answer to our prayers we received a letter from Jeison - we are always so delighted and blessed to get a letter from Columbia! ;-) Our family prayer this week focuses on our own family - more specifically our desire to live a simple life. We will seek the Lord's guidance this week as a family and give ear to His leading in this area for our lives.
The Principal has a weighty prayer focus this week.....parenting - wow - a week is not enough - this is a daily cry to the Father for me ....if only they came with manuals! Speaking of.....WonderBoy is praying for friends currently living in Vietnam in the week ahead. Last and certainly not least, I have the honor to be praying for The Poplar Family, treasured friends that we do not see enough of - unless you count running into Melvin at WalMart or Sam's Club on his lunch break!! ;-) I really could use some Toya time - hint hint nudge nudge.....I'm just sayin' ;-)
Life is good we are blessed and I for one am so grateful to live in a country where I can freely and openly share the Love of my Lord & Savior with those around me without fear of persecution -
Thank You Father for the freedom to worship and pray and post blogs about You and how You are moving and teaching and guiding us along this path called Life.
May God's abundant blessings surround you and yours this week ;-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A New Look & A Giveaway !!

Can you believe how much fun my blog is now??!! Lisa at My {Trendy} Blogs did such a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious job!!!! One friend suggested sound effects - a moo moo here and a cock-a-doodle doo there - ok that might be a little over the top - but I may consider it for special occasions or something......
So.....Welcome to my fabulous new - my heart is in the country blog!! This makeover marks a change in more ways than will notice a bigger bent towards all things country from this point forward. We are getting ready to make our move, honing our skills and giving ourselves over to the country dream. I will be posting more about homemaking skills, frugal and simple living and going a little deeper in my walk with God than I have in the past.....I hope you will hang around and join me!! And please by all means - suggestions and ideas about what you would like to see are most welcomed!!
It is an absolutely gorgeous day in North Alabama.....71 F currently - I just shut the a/c off and threw open every window in the house - there is a beautiful breeze and I have laundry drying on the patio - life is good!
In my last post I mentioned that I was going to be doing a giveaway......I have been so blessed by Lisa's generosity that I have decided it would be only fitting on my first post with my 'new look' to do a giveaway of my own - a 'pay it forward' gesture in a manner of speaking. To stick with the theme of all things homemade, country, simple and down right wonderful let me share something with you that The Principal, WonderBoy and I have been dabbling in over the past 6 or so months....
Here The Principal prepares the brew......any guesses?'s a tea - brewed from fresh spearmint in our garden.........think you know? A peek in the pot will surely solve the mystery........
mint tea pudding......not quite......
ah ha!! Soap!! Mint Tea Soap to be exact.......cold pressed and made with love and all kinds of giggles along the way! It reaches it's 'cured date' tomorrow and I would love to share some with you to try ;-)So from now until midnight, Friday, September 10th if you become a follower or leave a comment I will put an entry in on your behalf and a week from today I will post the name of the winner selected with the aid of of a bar our latest brew!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ladies & Gentlemen......

Please stand by as this blog undergoes the final prepartions for the next act.....get ready......the change is coming.......and a giveaway too !!! Stick around this is going to be big fun!

Learning as I go,

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