Monday, January 15, 2018

Day by Day

Give us day by day our daily bread. Luke 11:3

This verse caught my attention. The Lord's Prayer that nearly everyone recites says, Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)

This one was different.

Day by day, it said. 

Do you, like me, look at the future instead of today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year?

This week I was encouraged, as day by day the Lord gave strength for what seemed to be impossibilities.

I shared with my church sisters on Tuesday how I was failing to find the grace of God real in my situation. I want to think I would be strong in the face of persecution but I was not finding God in my life now.

The response was encouraging as they prayed for me in the moment. Even more than that they assured me of their prayers as I went on with life.

I hadn't wanted to attend the monthly Sister's sewing day. But having a food assignment forced me to go. That was when I shared my need and just spending the day there, sewing for the needy was refreshing. Getting my mind off myself.

Then different ones shared encouraging verses or devotionals with me throughout the week along with repeated reminders of their prayers.

My own devotionals were speaking to my heart, telling me to relax in God's control, being anxious for nothing.

Friday as I drove the boys to school for P.E., the rain was coming down but in the distance we could see sunshine. Then we drove out of the rain and almost into a rainbow. It intensified in color and became a full arch and even began to repeat itself before fading away.

It felt like Almighty God was giving me a big hug. He was so near and real in all that beauty.

Another reminder of His care came in the form of honey and maple syrup. Stephen brought some home as a gift from his workplace. 

My sister gave me a jug of honey for my birthday in December. When that was gone some friends gave us a quart of honey. That was nearly gone when this appeared.
We use only natural sweeteners so this has been a huge blessing. If you use natural sweeteners, you know that they are not cheap. I've been working hard to whittle our budget down and it feels like God is blessing that effort.

My friend offered to make my food for the church dinner today and then she sent the leftovers home with me. 

Another friend sent a pan of meatballs over yesterday.

♪♪"Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here...."♪♪

These are words from a song we sang last Sunday (the 7th) and this truth has become very real to me this past week.

The Lord blesses day by day; with grace... and with food.

Today I am thankful for...
...God's grace.
...the prayers of saints.
...little things.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hearts of Fire (Book Review)

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9


“The blood of Jesus is all powerful”. As Adel was forced from her home and abused by jihad soldiers, she repeatedly shouted these words. Her captors seemed surprised that she did not perish from their repeated attacks on her.


After many weeks of torture, labor and a forced marriage to her captor, she crumpled in despair and was ready to kill her unborn child. Her young daughter who was held captive with her, saw the knife pressed to her womb and forced her to stop.


Adel realized that her hatred of her captors had blocked the healing power of God's love. She confessed her hatred to God and begged forgiveness. Healing began to work in her soul.

Read to find out how she was rescued from her captors.

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Purnima as a thirteen year old girl is strong in her faith through many trials. As a fifteen year old, banished from home and country, she stood firm in her faith. Prayer and singing with her Christian friends in captivity kept her strong for many days of torturous interrogations.


“Losing herself in the presence of Christ helped her immensely as she prayed for God to forgive her tormentors and give her strength for whatever came next.”


Long imprisonment nearly brought her to despair. But the Lord was faithful in showing her what was important and she became His witness in the prison.


“Although she didn't know what the future would hold, Purnima resolved to face it bravely. She recognized her weaknesses but refused to let them imprison her. She would rise to the challenge and leave the rest to God, just as Moses (her biblical hero) had done.”

What does God have in store for Purnima?


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Sabina remains faithful to God and her husband through long years of abuse, imprisonment and separation from family. For years she heard nothing from her husband who was also imprisoned.


She was tempted by church and state to marry someone else but God helped her to stand firm. She was overjoyed when her husband was released.

Read about how they continue to face persecution and how God gives them deliverance.


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Gladys, a missionary to India, chooses forgiveness toward those who brutally murder her husband and young sons. She becomes a voice of forgiveness in the world, though public speaking had at one time terrified her.

Read the entire story.


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These are a few stories from this book that I received as a complimentary copy. It is written by The Voice of the Martyrs. You can find it on Amazon. Or if you've received an offer for a free copy, take it.

Read eight stories of faithful women who stand firm through suffering. In China, Indonesia, Bhutan, Russia, Romania, Pakistan, India and Vietnam their hearts are ablaze for Jesus.

Though these women face fear, anger, pain and great hardship, their commitment to Jesus is strong. He helps them through every situation. When we are weak, He is strong.

He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 1:5) He said to expect to suffer for His sake and promised to give words when they're needed. (Luke 21:12-15)

Reading about suffering is difficult for me. The confirmation that God's grace is sufficient through the suffering is what encourages me.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Money Matters

"Do you know what a half-dollar is?"

Almanzo's father posed this question.

Almanzo had been with his friends. His cousin Frank bought a glass of pink lemonade with a nickel his father had given him. Frank told Almanzo he should get a drink too, but Almanzo didn't have a nickel.

Frank dared him to ask his father for one. Almanzo didn't know if his father would give him one, because he had never thought of asking for a nickel. He had boldly said his father would give him one, so ask he must.

His father looked quizzically at him, then pulled a half-dollar piece from his pocket and asked Almanzo if he knew what it was. Of course he knew. It was half a dollar. 

But did he know what half a dollar was?
(I can't find a half-dollar piece)
His father had him recall every step of work that went into planting, raising, harvesting and selling potatoes. Then he asked him how much a bushel of potatoes sold for. It was a dollar. So that's what half a dollar really was. Half a bushel of potatoes.

Father told Almanzo he was free to spend that half-dollar how he wanted. He could buy a sucking pig that would give him litters that he could raise and sell. Or, he could drink it up.

Almanzo went back to his friends. "Did he give you a nickel?" they asked. 

"No", Almanzo replied.

"Ha, ha, told you so!"

"He gave me a half-dollar."

In disbelief they gathered round to see if this was true. They watched to see how he would spend it. Would he buy drinks for all of them? "I'm going to look for a sucking pig," he told them.*

Here is an excellent example of how to teach a child what money is. Money is hard work. 

Our boys get an allowance from the money they help to make. There's nothing quite like handling money, to make one realize its worth.

The two youngest boys helped me with baking and I paid them five percent each, of what I figured the profit was. The most they received individually in a month was $40. They thought that was a lot. Until it suddenly disappeared.

They are required to divide their earnings three ways. Half goes into savings, ten percent to the Lord and the rest they are free to do with as they wish. They are learning that money matters.

They are learning it the "real life way".

Although, not quite as real as the children whose parents require them to earn money to purchase their own clothing once they turn thirteen. I think this would make a child much more careful with their clothing!

Today I am thankful for...
...classic books, containing life lessons.
...a quart of honey from friends.
...leftovers.

(*The beginning story is my paraphrase of an account in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Life Today

Outside my window...
The day is very cold. The nights are very cold. (High of 21, low of 8) The animals' water needs to be checked periodically to see if they are able to drink it. The ice is thick and smooth on the pond, much to the boys' delight. 
But the sun is shining! And the days are lengthening now. Ever so slowly, but it helps my mind to know that it's happening. The boys keep quoting, "When the days lengthen, the cold strengthens." Must be truth to that.
I am thinking…
The thought has come to me a number of times recently how incredible it was for Jesus to come to earth. He had such a wonderful home of love and light, where everyone did His bidding. And He chose to enter a dark, sin-cursed earth where He chose to do what others bid Him. It hurts to think about the awful exchange. But He did it for the joy it would bring. To Him. To His Father. To us, as His inheritance.
I am thankful for…
...warm fire.
...freedom.
...the Bible.
From the learning rooms…
We read how The Wilder family (Farmer Boy) gathered in their harvest for the winter. We decided there is so much we could raise to feed our creatures. We raise our food so why not theirs?
From the kitchen…
We prepped our supper this morning so we could follow our own interests this afternoon. There is a sweet potato souffle in the oven, waiting to be baked. Lettuce, onions and tomatoes are diced; rice is cooked; burger is browned and mixed with beans and taco seasoning; and nacho chips are crushed for a haystack supper. All that's left is the cheese. The question is, "Do I make cheese sauce or shred cheese and serve with Ranch dressing?" 
I am wearing…
...the usual. Prayer veiling on my head, reading glasses, a dress (maroon), socks, shoes.
I am creating…
I feel excited. I'm actually getting a dress cut out, slowly but surely. I normally cut one out all at once but this one is taking at least three days. I know. I'm weird like that sometimes.
I am going…
I'm not going. I'm staying put. Lol. Seriously, I'm a homebody and don't go more than I really need to and then sometimes not. 
I am reading…
Not sure what's next. I just finished Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang. Not a happy story.
I am hoping…
...to get some apples canned. Just got a few bushels for $5 @. The boys really like canned apples with a topping of whipped cream (real cow cream).
I am hearing…
...my little, three-year-old nephew's prattling. He is telling his daddy that he was out hunting. He had gone out with Christopher and a toy bow and arrow. Little ones are so cute!
Around the house…
Melvin, Christopher & I are tackling kitchen cleanup and organization. They are constantly hounding me with the questions, "When did you last use this? Is this something you use? Do you want this? Do you need that?" We are decluttering for sure. Look out landfill and thrift stores. Here we come!
One of my favorite things…
Solitude.
A few plans for the rest of the week…
Keep decluttering and cleaning. 
Keep the men fed and their clothes clean. 
Make menu plans. 
Have a lonely boy over while school Christmas vacation is in session. 
Work on a dress. 
Plan the food assignments for the next sisters' sewing. 
Oops. That was supposed to be a few. Well, it is a few... relatively.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…
Creative son once again. This was made
using the whole set of Rummikub tiles.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Jesus is the Reason?

"Candles and Holly Berries"
"And now to Rome, as always in December, came the Saturnalia." 

"Io! Saturnalia!" was the call that ushered in, and the greeting that echoed through, the holiday season. This gay carnival of thanksgiving was in honor of Saturn, the kindest and most provident of gods. "Io! Saturnalia! Io! Io!"

Merrymakers sang through the streets in red pointed caps. 

Every child would want a doll and every household would need candles. The makers thereof were busy ahead of time in preparation. 

Evergreens and holly branches, with their red berries, were brought in to grace the buildings.

Gifts were selected and wrapped for family and friends. After a family dinner of roast pig there came the exchange of gifts.

Many tiny masks of Bacchus (the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility) were hung on small fruit and olive trees.
(Excerpts taken from Augustus C├Žsar's World and paraphrased.)

What modern-day holiday comes to your mind as you read about the Saturnalia?

Christmas, of course!

I hear Christians, this time of year, lamenting the lies that children are told concerning Santa Claus. It is indeed lamentable. 

The clause that follows this lament always stirs my heart- "We know that Jesus is the reason for the season!" It does not stir my heart with joy but sadness. 

How can adults blindly follow the myth of Christmas, year after year, continually passing on to the following generation a belief that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season? Traditions are very strong.

I was taught from a young age that Jesus is not the reason for the season. Christmas is a pagan holiday. 

A few years ago, as we studied ancient history, this truth was more deeply etched in my mind and heart as we read about the Saturnalia.

This was a holiday to worship a god of the people's making and it was practiced long before the time of Christ. This is why you read about "Christmas trees" in the Bible. (Jeremiah 10:3-4)

People say it couldn't be the Christmas tree because it was before Christ. Well, surprise! Do the research. It is the very same holiday. 

The apostles and early Christians did not observe Christ's birth, but his death, as was customary for great people in that time. This He also implored them to do. (Luke 22:19)

The only purpose I see for Jesus in this season is to help people make it through. This season is not about Jesus, but about family. About gifts. About traditions. About food and festivities.

The spirit is not one of giving but of getting. One family decided that for Christmas one year they would only give presents to needy people instead of exchanging them among themselves. The children (who were not young) said, "Let's not do this again!"

The same thing that "Santa Clausers" say, Christians repeat. "It's for the children. Let's not spoil their fun." To be honest, I don't recall ever receiving a Christmas gift and I never felt cheated in the least.

Our young son once chose a "Christmas" song at some other time of year and the song leader made some remark about it. Something like, "Oh, a Christmas song! Hmm. Well, we could sing it." Some twittered. Like, just don't sing songs of Jesus' birth "out of season". 

Yet no one knows the time of Christ's birth. Only, we do know it was not in December because shepherds would not have been in their fields at this time of year.

So we limit songs of Christ's birth to one month when there's no possibility of that being the month wherein He was born.

What if we sang only songs of the Resurrection the whole month of April?

Or, for a month before that, we would sing only songs of Jesus' crucifixion and death? (This would, in reality, be more scriptural than singing of His birth for a month.)

Then we would leave it at that. Don't sing these songs any other time of year. 

Anyway, you get the drift. I'll let you do the further research. How did Christ-mass come to be? 

Why are you celebrating it?

What is the "Spirit of Christmas"?

Why are there more suicides this time of year?

Why are Christians exhausted and left feeling "high and dry" when January comes? 

Today I am thankful for...
...parents who taught me the truth.
...the calm of not celebrating Christmas.
...the wisdom God will give, if we only ask. (James 1:5)

Friday, December 22, 2017

House

At 8:15 this morning we heard excited voices, "They're coming!" Looking out the windows we could see the pilot truck with his flashers on. And then we could see the lights of the tow truck coming.

What is so exciting? A trailer house for Grandpa's! 
As seen from our front porch
They've been living with us for nearly two years now. Finally we're able to get them a space of their own to call home once again. Though none of us ever dreamed they would live in a trailer, we are thankful the Lord provided.

The local mobile home dealer is super nice to work with and so very helpful. For a reasonable cost they poured the footers, set the trailer and put the vapor barrier in. 

They will give us the underpinning at their cost. As well as providing heat tape for exposed pipes. 

We had doubts about being able to pull a trailer onto our place but they said, "No problem." Branches were cut here and there to make way as they came slowly down our access road...
...into the yard,



Lots of interested followers


... and around the bottom side of the garden.


Grandpa and Grandma following, every step of the way
Then up through the yard.


There's the new nest.
As seen from the breezeway

A glimpse of the well-cared-for interior
By 10:30 they had it in place, set on blocks with the vapor barrier in place and were out of here. Nice people, nice job.

Next it's sewer, water and power lines to be dug and connected. The underpinning to get in place. Porches to build. A driveway to make. 

Patience. Perseverance. Grace.

Today I am thankful for...
...a chiropractor (for a son who flies off the truck while it's moving through the field).
...a ripe pineapple.
...the new nest (of course!).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Surprises


My aunt asked me how my birthday was special? Well, people wished me a happy birthday.

"No one made a meal or anything for you?" 

"No...."

That's my life as a mother of sons.

Or so I thought.

They had something up their sleeves. Just not on a Sunday. 

Thomas and I went shopping this week Monday. When we came home my sister's vehicle was here. My oldest son instructed me to "go sit with Verina and Grandma until we call you."

O-o-o-ka-ay.

We visited for awhile and then they said they were ready. They had strung a banner and made my favorite meal. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Autumn Tossed Salad from Taste of Home. 

The last month or so there have been a number of the family asking me what my favorite dishes were. So that's what that was all about?

My sister made a gluten free, sugar free, deeelicious pound cake. (Those of you who don't live this GF SF life have no idea how good it can be!)

The boys had help from their girl cousin (or two or three). I'm really not sure who all did the cooking. But it was a very good meal. Better than the lentil soup I had put in the crock pot before I left for town.

Last week my mother had a surprise planned for me also. I gather that my friends helped her out with her plans. Thomas told me on Sunday evening that he was to instruct me that someone would pick me up on Thursday forenoon.

Then later my friend asked if she could take me out for lunch Thursday. Assuming it was related I said yes, then asked Thomas if that's what it was? He thought so.

My three close friends came to pick me up and we went out for lunch. We get together periodically, so even though I was suspicious that something was brewing, I was relieved that it was just our little group.

After lunch they took me to one of their houses and more of the church ladies were gathered there. "The party's not over yet", my friend said. They sang happy birthday to me, then we had "tea" together and just visited. 

They gave me food gifts at the suggestion of my mother. How nice! Frozen breakfast casseroles, a ham, a pineapple, soup and a cheeseball with GF crackers.

Talk about feeling helpless. When you are used to making things happen, day in and day out, and then you are at the mercy of others, it gives you an odd feeling. 

But it was nice to know that I wasn't responsible for what I wasn't responsible for. Whatever sense that makes.

Today I am thankful for...
...all 45 of the years the Lord has given me.
...a Frugal Food Group I found on Facebook.
...a day without any outside school activities.