Sunday, May 22, 2011

Be Afraid - Very Afraid!

Something my pastor said this morning made me think. I wish I would have written it down. . .because I forgot what he said, exactly, but it was about our relationship with God.  Something like when we neglect our relationship with God, we have problems.

I had read something like that in the past - relating to money.  You know you are in trouble when you don't want to check your account balance, budget, etc.

I recognized it in myself.  I normally check my bank account online at least every two days, most likely every day.  Identity Theft Awareness, I suppose.  Anyway, I know I'm having spending problems when I don't really . . .um. . .need to check it today. . .or tomorrow. . .or the next day.  After avoiding it, I realize that I DO need to look at it because I need to figure out the mess that I made.  And I do make myself.

It's funny how the main areas of life always coincide - like relationships.  If I am avoiding someone, there is a problem.  I ask myself if there is anything I need to apologize for. . . even if I thought I was right.  It's amazing how an apology opens up hearts and conversations.

When I don't want to talk to God, it bothers me.  I hate feeling far from God - especially because I know He is always near.  But when I have sin in my life, it's easy to try to avoid Him. . .if I don't see Him, He doesn't see me, right?  Yeah, right.  Adam and Eve figured that one out pretty quickly.  Good try, guys!  Didn't work!

To sum everything up, if you are avoiding someone/thing, there is very likely something that has to be worked out.  Pray and ask God to help you with it.  He will.  He wants you to be joyful.  He doesn't wish for you to be bogged down with cares!

Monday, May 16, 2011


Yesterday, I mentioned to Josh about a girl who had been faithfully attending our junior church program.  She hadn't been in many weeks (that I could tell - I am in junior church 2-3 times a month).  I was worried about her because she is at the age when many kids just drop out of church and begin to follow a path of destruction.  I was so thankful that last night at church she came up to sit with me.  It did my heart good to see her.

As I was driving home from church, I dwelt on the many (for our small town :) ) kids that I was able to be in contact with this week.  Since Josh and I have been in Lewisburg, many teens and children have crossed our paths. . .and continued down different ones.  I pray for them often.  It seems that this week, the Lord has guided my path to go to. . .Wal-mart.  I have never cared for Wal-mart.  But this past week, I feel that I've been at least every other day, if not more.  I was able to see two teenage girls who used to attend our church.  Both are hurting.  Both aren't making the best decisions.  But I loved seeing them.  They are constantly in my prayers.

Another blessing was that yesterday morning, after the bus had arrived (all of our children who attend Sunday school and junior church come on our bus), one of my girls ran up and said that her mom was there!  What a blessing.  I saw her mother and spoke to her for a moment, then I went to my class to count my kids.  I bake enough for Josh's and my Sunday school classes.  Goodness!  I had 11 kids!  Hooray!  That is our highest number since I was given the class in September/October.

God blesses me more than I deserve, and I am thankful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Mother

I woke up.  As I walked out of my bedroom, I remember seeing yellow stuff and balloons on the door.  Huh.  That's unusual, I thought.  When I walked in the kitchen to find my mom, I remember there being a sign on the wall and more yellow balloons.  My mom told me it was my birthday, and that was why she had put decorations up.  What a surprise! :)

My dad brought me into the laundry room with the green checked curtains that I loved.  There was mom. . .and a baby.  She gave me a new baby doll of my own, then introduced me to her new baby, my sister, Anna.

My mom was making me ramen noodles for lunch. . .when she left the kitchen, I reached up on the counter and took a bite of the raw noodles. . . it reminded me of a sandwich!

As I try to remember more memories of my mom, memories of my dad pop up (I'll save those for Father's Day. :) ). . .and I try to think of more memories of my mom. . .  then it clicked.  My mom was such a good mother that she always pushed us toward our dad.  She loved us very much and knew that we would need a good relationship with him as we got older.  I remember my mom encouraging me to write a story about my dad for a  Father's Day contest in our newspaper.  I ended up winning and having my article published.  Again, more to follow on Father's Day.

Once my mom (also teacher at the time) realized I needed glasses, I remember her taking me to the eye doctor. . .and I couldn't see one letter on the wall!  Not even the big "E" at the top!  I remember her taking me on many more trips to pick up my many pair of glasses -and eventually contacts - over the years.  How cool it was when I realized that one could see the leaves in the trees and the individual blades of grass from a moving car!  Oh, and who knew that the lines in the ceiling tiles were visible from the floor, as well as when one was un-installing a light fixture for cleaning. . .

I remember going to work with my mom during the summers when I was in college. . .and the year I decided to work a second part-time job after my regular full time and overtime job.  She wanted to know how to make my coffee so she could make it for me when I was too tired. . .and suffered from it during the day. :)  I remember people asking me to go to lunch with them, but I wanted to stay and have lunch with my mom.

I miss my mom.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sugar, Spice, and Puppy Dog Tails?

I don't know where I began to be interested in organic and natural things.  I'm not super good at it, but I do try to be more environmentally friendly and pesticide free.

One of my most recent discoveries of things that work are essential oils.  I used to think they were just for smelling, but I am finding other uses for them now.  One of which is citronella oil.  I put 20 drops in a small bottle of olive oil.  Instant bug repellent that actually works, is inexpensive, and smells nice.  Oh, and it's a two-for-one deal.  I read that olive oil is a natural sunscreen!

The other I am currently experimenting with is lavender oil.  I'm sure I first purchased it to combine with Epsom salts in bath water.  I love lavender.

Now to the puppy dog tail part. :)  We are still experiencing our first year of having a dog.  The newest development has been that of ticks.  Bless Daisy's heart!  Within 2 1/2 weeks, I think I found 5 ticks on her.  What to do?  Flea and tick medicines are very expensive, and I question their working capability since I read the reviews online.  I also don't care at all for the fact that flea and tick meds are poison.  My vet, of course, recommends the most expensive ones. . .and cringes when I order my pet meds online.  No good.

One day, I thought that if the citronella oil works for me, would it be safe and work for Daisy?  I started researching online and found a better alternative.  LAVENDER!  Woo hoo! (Citronella smells good, but lavender is better!)

Maybe a week and a half ago, I gave daisy a bath.  Afterwards, I would put a drop or two of lavender oil into my palms, rub them together, then rub it into her fur.  I repeated it until I got her tummy, back, legs, and the top of her head. I also filled a spray bottle with one cup of water and about 15 drops of lavender oil.   Whenever I notice that Daisy doesn't have too much of a lavender smell before we go outside for any reason, I tell her to come to me.  She does very well and sits quietly while I spray her down, then rub in the spray.

I hadn't noticed any more ticks on her since I started the lavender routine.  Yesterday, Josh took Daisy to the groomer.  He asked the groomer if there were any ticks on her when the groomer bathed her.  Good news!  Daisy was tick AND flea free!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In a Jam

It's been a while, I know.  I am ready to share something different with you, but first, let me tell you a story.

This year when I started working at the high school, I got to know the home economics teacher (HE was always my favorite, and I like to learn new things!).  She asked me if I had a bread maker.  I told her that I had a KitchenAid mixer and didn't need a bread maker - nor did I have the space for one.  She wasn't convinced that I didn't need one.  She went on how she hasn't bought bread in years (okay, so that was convincing since I'd been buying bread).

Fast forward a few months - I was looking for new shoes in Ross to no avail.  So before I left, I decided to peruse the clearance aisle.  One never knows what one will find there. I was walking and looking. . .and looking and walking, and on the bottom shelf, in a rather plain box was a bread maker.  A Cuisinart bread maker.  A Cuisinart stainless steel bread maker.  For $28.99 (plus our lovely sales tax of 10% put it around $31).  I couldn't resist.  If I made 12-15 loaves of bread it would pay for itself. . .  I couldn't help but buy it.  On the way to the register, I saw a manager and made sure there was nothing wrong with it.  There wasn't.

Once I got it to my car, I opened the box and looked at it.  It was beautiful. . . and had so many buttons!  What fun!  But I had to go to Zumba first.

I went home and set it up to have a loaf ready when I woke up in the morning.  It was a wheat loaf, but I forgot to adjust the flour to have half white and half wheat - so it was hard as a rock.  But it smelled REALLY good waking up to freshly baked bread.

Do I have room for a bread maker now?  Not really.  Does it matter?  Absolutely not!  What a freeing feeling it has been to be able to just add the ingredients, press a few buttons, and clean the house!  My internal timer keeps telling me that I need to check or knead or punch down, but then I remember the machine does it by itself.  I'm hooked.

Now that I've done bread and dough, I decided last night to do something different.  So last night, I made jam.  In my bread maker.  Yes, I did.  My inspiration was from King Arthur Flour's blog, The Baker's Banter. I edited a little. . .

If you can read the bottom of the picture, you can tell I was looking at the Cuisinart Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.  I used relative proportions between that recipe and the one in The Baker's Banter.  I started with half of the strawberries and sugar and mashed them, then added the rest of the strawberries, sugar, and pectin.

I then decided to add vanilla seeds, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

 And yes, I did pull out every gadget imaginable! (That's what dishwashers are for)

Here is my strawberry mixture in the bread maker bucket.

My new machine!

And here it is after I started the jam cycle. . . do you like my sophisticated way of looking in the little window!


1.  Out of 3 cartons of strawberries, I got a whole quart mason jar of jam.
2.  I needed more pectin.  I added the amount that my Cuisinart manual             recommended (1/4 cup), but I think I used too many strawberries and needed more.
3. Regarding sugar, see number 2.
4.  I love not having to do much to get homemade jam!