Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

I’ve been blogging for one year today. What a joy it’s been. I have to confess that although blogging is really the only thing I do for myself, I still sometimes feel guilty for the time I spend doing it. Yet I can’t think of many things I’d enjoy more. I’ve always loved to write, and a year’s worth of blog entries has yielded a host of starts for more serious work (I hope). I love the simplicity of a low-tech life (although I don’t really lead one), but I have to say that the internet, and especially the blogosphere, are two things I’m so grateful for. In today’s fractured culture, blogs have become a network that provides something like old-time community wells, where women met daily and shared their lives with each other. How fortunate I feel to be able to meet, via their blogs, women who love homemaking, crafting, wifing and mothering, homeschooling, and vintage goods as much as I do, and who can share their wisdom, ideas, and inspiration with me.

Blogging has been a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family too. In fact, I need to say Happy Birthday to Valerie, who first introduced me to blogging. So Happy Birthday, my friend! Thank you! (By the way, you’ll be getting a card in the mail soon…Late, I know, but it’s coming…)

Some goals for my blog this year:

Update to Beta.

Pictures. I still don’t think I’m comfortable posting pics of my kids, but if I can ever learn to use the digital camera, I want to post crafts, garage sale finds, home improvements, and projects. Blogs I read who post pictures of those things are so inspirational.

Develop a more specific focus for my blog. It feels sort of scattered to me.

Be more faithful to post family updates.

Post more regularly. It’s been more hit and miss than I’d like.

Read the book Blog.

Thanks so much to my little readership who makes it so much fun to put my words on the web. You’ve made this first year a delight.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Lately I've become a fan of vintage aprons, largely due to their popularity among these adorable Suzy Homemaker/crafty bloggers who make them look so cute. In truth, I've always been an apron girl. My mom made me 5 aprons when I married, and I've worn them so much in the many hours I spend in the kitchen that I've begun to wear them out. Aprons are practical, and especially in the 50's, so very pretty.

A few weeks ago I found two vintage aprons at a garage sale for just 50 cents apiece. I almost passed one up because it had been stored improperly and had small mildew spots all over it, as well as a rust stain. However, it was in excellent condition, and once I washed and ironed it--well, it's perfect. It's reversible, pastel plaid (soft pinks and lavenders) on one side, and sheer pink on the other. It's beautifully sewn.

The second is a tea towel apron, quite worn from use, but still very pretty. Somehow its rather tattered appearance just contributes to its charm. I like to imagine the mother who wore it as she cooked for her family so many years ago. Maybe I'll get the hang of this picture thing and post pictures of my finds one of these days. In the meantime, Elizabeth is very fond of modeling my new aprons. She's even more girly and old-fashioned than I am, if that's possible.

Recently Turkey Feathers recommended The Apron Book, which does look delightful. I'd love to get my hands on a copy. I smell and obsession coming on...Hmmm...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Frugal Friday: Frugal Clothing

I'm re-running this post about frugal clothing from my single-income family series. Frugal Friday hosted by Biblical Womanhood


This week my kids and I went shopping for clothes, since they seem to have sprouted up and nothing fits anymore. We ended up with probably 30 outfits among the three of them—overalls, dresses, pajamas, some lovely boutique outfits. And we didn’t spend a penny. You see, we went shopping in our stash of hand-me-downs, most of which I didn’t spend a penny on to start with.

I know a lot of people say it’s not worth it to hang onto clothes because they take up too much space, yada yada, but in our case keeping clothes has been a lifesaver. I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I have bought clothes for my kids, and even fewer times that I’ve payed full price.

Unless you have special clothing needs (like special dress clothes or work attire), with careful planning, I believe that a family of six should be able to outfit the troops for less than $500 per year. And I don’t mean that they should look like they came out of the rag bag.

Here are a few tips for saving money on clothing.


I learned this lesson one day when I almost absently breathed a sentence prayer, “God, Elizabeth sure needs some new shirts.” Actually I planned to go buy her some…But by the end of the day, someone had given us a big bag of hand-me-downs that included a bunch of shirts in Elizabeth’s size. Now when we have a clothing need I pray *first*!

Have Faith

Another time, when Elizabeth was a baby, we were on a trip to visit family and she had outgrown all but two of her outfits. I asked Billy if we could stop at Wal-Mart on the way and pick up some clothes. As we got closer to our planned stop, he said, “I just don’t have a peace about doing that.” I kind of inwardly rolled my eyes and thought, so what do you expect this child to wear? Well, when we got to my mom’s house—you guessed it—there was a big box of hand-me-down baby clothes from an old family friend. Guess God showed me!

Always Accept Hand-me-downs

Don’t be too proud to accept hand-me-downs. People ask me frequently, “Would you be offended if I offered you some hand-me-downs?” This question just blows my mind. I always say, “No way! We love hand-me-downs at our house!” I don’t feel obligated to keep them all. I sort through them, keep what’s appropriate (or what I like), store what they might grow into, and donate the rest to Goodwill, or pass them on to someone else who can use them.

Of course, you have to have at least a few friends and acquaintances in order for people to offer you clothing. This is one of the very practical reasons it’s beautiful to be part of a community of faith. God uses us to meet each others’ practical needs. And honestly, the hand-me-down clothes I’ve gotten are usually way nicer than what I’d be able to afford if I were buying clothes from the store. Sarah and Elizabeth frequently wear dresses and outfits that would cost $50 to $80 new, and in many cases I wonder if they’ve ever been worn before.

Shop Thrift and Consignment

You have to pick through things at thrift stores, and some stores are better than others, but you can find amazing deals there. Just be choosy. You can find up-to-date styles, brand names, and even clothes with tags still on. One of my brothers got an expensive navy blazer to wear to my wedding at Goodwill for 99 cents. I hear that you can really find good stuff if you shop thrift and consignment shops near upscale neighborhoods. I don’t thrift as much as I should, but it’s something I may do in the future.

Learn to Sew

Anyone can learn to sew simple clothing. Especially if you buy fabric on sale, you can make garments at very low cost. Wal-Mart usually has a dollar-a-yard table with pretty cotton prints. If you bought a couple yards and made a knee length cotton skirt (so nice and cool for summer), you’d have it for less than $3. Add an inexpensive or thrift store shirt and a pair of cheapo flip-flops, and you have a stylish everyday outfit for a little of nothing. Plus, by choosing styles carefully, you can imitate a much more expensive look.

Shop Clearance Racks

Learn to shop off-season. Soon summer clothes will be going on clearance. Wait till they hit rock bottom prices (late August, I’m guessing) and then buy pieces for next spring and summer. Same goes for winter clothes. It’s usually not too hard to guess what size a child will be the next year, so sometimes you can do this for kids too. I have a nice shirt I got on clearance for $3 about 6 years ago, that’s still one of my favorites.

Stick to a Classic Look

It gets expensive to buy trendy clothes only to have them looking dated by the next season. Make classic pieces the foundation of your wardrobe, and then add inexpensive trendy accessories if that’s the look you like. That way you aren’t out much on transient styles. Buy classic shoes in neutral shades that will go with everything.

Be Content

Be happy when someone gives you hand-me-downs even if they are not the exact styles you might have chosen. Don’t fall prey to the “must-have” mentality. Keep your wardrobe simple and let go of the clothing habit, if you have one. A small wardrobe is much easier to maintain anyway.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Works for Me: Cheap Gifts

I have a lot of people to shop for at Christmas, and quite a few to shop for throughout the year as well. One solution: dollar stores! I've found lovely gifts, comparable to what I'd buy somewhere else, for a fraction of the price. In fact, I found two gifts last week for only $3 each. At any other store I'd have payed around $10. So don't hesitate to check out the dollar store for wonderful gifts. Just remember to remove the tags!

Works for Me Wednesdays hosted by Rocks in My Dryer

Lessons in Hospitality

This week we went to visit friends we haven’t seen since Elizabeth was two. (She’s 5 now.) Although we were only able to stay for a few hours, we had such a refreshing time. Billy and I were talking about it when we came home and concluded that it is because our friends are so genuine. What you see is what you get. They didn’t apologize for the house or the food (as I’m always tempted to do when I have guests), they simply welcomed us and made us feel special by their delight in our company. When we left our hostess said, “Thank you so much for making time for us today.” They had loved, served, and gifted us, yet she expressed gratitude that we came to see them.

What a lesson. May I welcome my guests with as much joy and grace.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Each of my brothers and sisters had a special talent or two (actually more, but…). When Leah canned fruits and vegetables, her jars never broke and every one sealed. Samuel is mechanical and good with his hands. Levi plays the guitar. Hannah makes jewelry.

Now I’m not quite as gifted as they are (I don’t think), but I do have a gift for making bread. When everyone else’s loaves were small and hard, mine were tall and light (umm, usually). I have no idea why. In the same way that Leah could turn out dozens of perfect jars of tomatoes or Samuel could put a enigne together, I had the touch for making good bread. For awhile, before I married, I made most of the bread for the family, six loaves on Saturday. It’s something I continue to enjoy. I hope that if you don’t make bread, you’ll be inspired to try it too. It’s such fun!

Bread making tips

Making bread is really quite simple. The only essential ingredients are wheat, water, and leavening. Something sweet to grow the yeast is good, and oil keeps it from being so dry. Salt gives flavor.

The process is more important than the ingredients. I measure my water, but beyond that I don’t measure anything when I make bread, especially flour. My first attempts at bread baking with measured flour were pretty bad. I forced the dough to take as much flour as the recipe called for, and it was too stiff, which resulted in dense, flat bread. You want to make sure your water is sufficiently warm to activate the yeast but not so hot that it kills it. And you want to make sure that you’ve added the amount of flour that makes your dough stiff enough to handle, but still soft and almost sticky. Don’t let it over-rise or it will be crumbly with a strong yeasty taste.

I used to make it all by hand in huge batches, but these days I’m busier and use a bread machine—but only to mix the dough. I also use my kitchen aid mixer.


I stick to a basic recipe and simply vary it as I choose. The possibilities are endless. Most often I just make a loaf , or a batch of crescent rolls. I make the rolls by rolling the dough into an oblong shape, cutting into triangles, and rolling the shapes up from the large end. Once in awhile I make cloverleaf rolls or a French loaf.

Sometimes I make raisin bread, sausage bread, or jalapeƱo bread. Again, I roll the dough out and spread it with my fillings of choice (cinnamon raisins and nuts, sausage or peppers and cheese, or whatever). Roll up from the short end and put in the greased pan. I usually slash the tops of these so that the filling is visible as the bread rises. It looks nice and it also doesn’t get mixed up with regular bread.

Sometimes I add things to the basic dough. My favorite is to mash up a leftover baked sweet potato and include it with the water. I have to add a little more flour to make up for the extra moisture, but it makes the bread fluffy and moist, and it doesn’t dry out like regular bread. You could also use any kind of cooked winter squash such as pumpkin (probably about half a cup for the following recipe), or you could use mashed potatoes. I’ve also added nuts or sesame or sunflower seeds for a bread with more texture. Several times I’ve included a small amount of rolled oats to the warm water, and then brushed the tops of the loaves with egg white beaten with water and sprinkled the top with oats. That makes a very pretty loaf.

I’ve been making bread since I was about 12, so that’s been 16 years. (Wow…) Practice makes perfect, and it’s something that brings me a lot of joy. My kids prefer my rolls to any store bought bread, and it’s so much better for them.

Basic recipe

Following is my basic recipe. This will make a 2 lb. loaf in a bread machine, a large loaf in a pan, a long French loaf, or 12-18 rolls.

1 ¾ c. warm water (almost hot to the touch)
1t. salt
1 T. honey
1 T. olive oil
1 T. dry yeast (I buy mine in bulk from Sam’s)
Around 4 2/3 c. whole wheat flour (to start with, sometimes more—enough to make a soft dough. I use Prairie Gold/white wheat flour for a lighter whole wheat bread.)

Mix salt, honey and oil into the water till salt and honey are dissolved. Sprinkle with yeast and mix. Let stand for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes the mixture should look different--it should be pale and sort of fluffy as the yeast begins to work. You might even see little bubble explosions on the surface.

Add flour to make a soft dough. Knead by hand or in a bread machine or mixer with dough hook for 15 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, sprinkle flour on the counter as needed to keep it from sticking too badly. Don’t add too much flour though.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Put in a warm place (like by the stove with a pot of beans cooking, my favorite) for about an hour. Dough should double in size. Punch down with your fist. Form into whatever shapes you want. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (big loaves) or 20-25 minutes (rolls). Remove from pans right away. Enjoy the fruit of your labor! Wouldn’t this be yummy for Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Two Sides to Santa

The holidays will be here soon, and with Christmas comes Santa. (Well, Jesus, of course, but you know what I mean.)

I was raised with Santa Claus. I think I realized he wasn’t real when I was about six, and shortly afterward I put two and two together to deduce that if Santa wasn’t real then neither were the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. I never thought my parents had lied to me; rather, that it was just a game played for fun. And it was fun! Oh the suspense of waiting, listening for jingle bells and little hooves on the rooftop! We had a large stone fireplace, so it wasn’t hard to imagine Santa getting into our house by traditional means to leave all those beautiful presents under our tree.

It also never occurred to me to question whether my parents had told me the truth about Jesus either, as the argument goes. Not once.

So I don’t regret that I was raised with the Santa myth. Actually I love Santa. I not only like the story of St. Nicholas, but all the fun that comes with The Night Before Christmas and images of the jolly old elf himself. Some of my Christmas decorations have Santa themes. Santa doesn’t bother me a bit.

All that said, Billy and I agreed together not to tell our kids that Santa was real. We haven’t made a big deal about it one way or the other, we’ve never sat them down and said, “Now listen, kids, Santa is fake.” When it came up we’ve just said matter of factly, “Daddy is Santa.” We don’t have a problem with other families doing Santa, and remembering how much fun Santa was, we don’t want to ruin it for those children. So we try to help our kids not spread to the wind that Santa is a myth. We haven’t implied in any way, shape, form, or fashion that it’s wrong to participate in the traditional Santa game. We’ve just handled it in a low key way.

We’ve even wondered a time or two if we did the right thing, especially when we see the horror in the eyes of grown-ups when our kids say, “My mom is the tooth fairy,” or “My dad is Santa.” Maybe that’s one reason we haven’t dealt with it too extensively—because while we aren’t prepared to tell our kids something is true that isn’t we also have half hoped that they would believe on their own.

So I was totally taken by surprise when Elizabeth realized this week that some parents tell their children that Santa is real. Her eyes grew wide. With dismay in her voice she asked, “Why do parents tell their children something that isn’t true?!!!”

When I relayed the story to Billy, he said, “We did the right thing.” While I wasn’t the kind of kid who was bothered by this game of make-believe, we have a child whose faith in us would have been shaken. She’s the kind of intense, emotional, inquisitive soul who would feel lied to if we told her Santa was real and then she found out that he isn’t.

All-in-all, I think Santa has to be a personal decision for each individual family. If you’re comfortable with the Santa game, then I say go for it. But if you feel a little uneasy and decide against it, your kids won’t be warped. In fact, as in our case, it might save them a lot of confusion. So use charity and wisdom as you decide with your spouse what’s best for your family.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Home Birth in Louisiana

Kristin gives a heads-up to her Louisiana readers. The state board is set to put even more restrictions on home births in a state that already has a lot of restrictions.

I've never had a home birth, but my sister has had two. State restrictions are one factor that forced her to choose an unassisted home birth (it's illegal for a midwife to deliver at home in SD, where she lives). Due to their remote location and limited hospital access, in addition to their desire for a home birth, their options were limited. I'm strongly in favor of home birth, and especially because of my sister's experience this is close to my heart. Women should have the option to safely deliver their babies at home if they so choose.

More Yummy-ness

Clarice at Storybook Woods has a yummy-sounding recipe for orange-mustard pretzel crusted pork chops. I'll have to try it. I usually use shake-n-bake, but the same old thing gets old after awhile. I think Clarice is right, baked sweet potatoes would go perfectly with these.

Hot Chocolate Time

Ever since temperatures cooled earlier this week, my kids have been hounding me for hot chocolate. Everything in the store contained high fructose corn syrup (which I try to avoid) and most of the recipes I found called for Nestle Quik or coffee creamer. Finally I found this one, courtesy of Food Network, and adapted it slightly. Adapted version below.

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
2 t. cornstarch
Hot water

Mix well. Fill a mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Store the rest in an airtight container.

***Just noticed that the original also calls for salt, which I inadvertently left out. I also left out the cayenne pepper called for in the original, on purpose.***

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Worms at Work

I've always wanted to vermicompost. Talk about effortless. While I can't seem to get it together enough to start a worm bed, in California they apparently can...In offices. Sounds good to me. I wonder if Billy and his assistant would mind some worms hanging around the church so I can have compost...Ummm, I think I know the answer to that question!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Independence and Independent Spirits

On her blog, Barbara Curtis kindly answers my question about chores for little ones. Here she provides a link on her web site for jobs appropriate for children, broken down by approximate age. I’ve been thinking for awhile that I need to stretch my children a bit more in their responsibilities, and this is probably the nudge I needed to make it happen.

In her article Full House, which she reposted today, Barbara states that one lesson parents should learn is to encourage self-reliance. I remember when I was a teenager, a young mother I knew stated that she was helping her 4-year-old learn to shower alone “because I want to help my children be independent.” I looked at her like she had four heads. Why in the world would a mother want her children to be independent?!!

I understand better now. At the time, I had been greatly influenced by a movement that feared what they called “an independent spirit” in their children. An independent spirit was to be avoided at all costs. The problem was, I discovered with time, that the term or even the principle of an independent spirit is nowhere to be found in scripture. What I learned about most parents who lived in terror that their child would develop an independent spirit is that they kept them close and somewhat helpless so that they could maintain control. This vaguely defined independent spirit manifested itself in children (usually young adults) who didn’t feel a need for their parents to manage every part of their lives, who might desire to live away from home, who had differing opinions and even convictions from their parents. In short, what was termed an independent spirit was usually a desire to grow up, to think for one’s self, and to have one’s own relationship with God. Fear, control, and manipulation turned these qualities of independence and responsibility something to be squashed. Looking back, it’s a scary teaching, one that has ruined a lot of lives, or at least contributed toward rebellion and broken family relationships. In trying to avoid an independent spirit (again, which is not even in the Bible), many parents have pushed their children away.

Do I think that young people should fly solo with no accountability? Of course not. The Bible shows beautifully again and again that we are created for family, for community, for togetherness. God places parents, pastors, mentors, and friends in our lives for guidance and counsel, and the Body of Christ should be characterized by love, mutual submission, and unity. But this kind of unity never means that we should all look like we were dumped from the same mold, or that one person should control all aspects of the life of another, or that differences in opinion and conviction should not be tolerated.

The nearest thing to this idea of an independent spirit that I find in the Bible is rebellion. Rebellion is wrong. Rebellion is acting against the will and counsel of God. Rebellion is pushing away reasonable boundaries and standards. But simply to desire one’s own home, to change a hairstyle, to ask for time alone, to live on a different schedule, to have a strong difference of belief on any peripheral issue (an aside: these peripheral issues are more varied than most of us would like to admit)—these things are not in and of themselves rebellion. Nor do they indicate an independent spirit. It’s simply part of the diversity grace allows us, even that God delights in.

Teaching my children to be independent has become almost a necessity. Sure, I could keep doing everything for them. But that’s all I’d have time for, and they would never learn to do anything for themselves. I understand that in time this will translate from physical responsibilities to spiritual independence as they learn to live in relationship with God on their own.

"Parenting," Barbara says, "is one job we should be working ourselves out of each day." Helping my children become independent will not give them “independent spirits,” I now know from the Word of God and from seasoned parents. Instead, it will help them become strong, responsible, capable people who can think for themselves and discover God’s will for their lives.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Garage Sale Goodness

For two weeks my 3-year-old, Silas, has asked for a shovel.

"Mama, I don't have a shubble. Can you get me a shubble?"

"Mama, I want to dig, but look, I don't have a shubble."

"Mama, please, please get me a shubble."

Friday morning he started in again. "Mama, me and sister don't have shubbles. We need shubbles. Will you please buy us some shubbles?"

I said, "I think you need to talk to Santa Claus about that."

"Who Santa Claus?" he asked.

"Who do you think?" I said.

He grinned. "My daddy."

A short time later Billy came in and said, "Let's hit some garage sales."

The first was around the corner from our house. An old man and his wife who have collected things for years. Heavy blue mason jars, champaign glasses, ancient rotten baby dolls, marbles, antique hammers, ax handles, handkerchiefs, vintage china, cast iron. And on the ground, two short shovels. Old and a little rusty. Tips worn from many hours of use. Thick sturdy handles, just the right length for little people.

"Mama, look, shubbles!"

The shovels came home with us, of course. Silas dug in the back yard all day. The next morning before breakfast he was at it again.

God cares about little things. He cares about lost sheep and small birds. He cares for 3-year-olds who dream of dirt and shovels.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

All Around the Blogosphere

Thought I'd share a few cool things I've seen in my varied readings in the bloggy world...

My sis and fave blogger is on an internet sabbatical for the month. Waaaahhhh...

But TallSkinnyKiwi is back! I was thinking with amusement the other day that it's a good thing TSK is a guy. If I named my blog "Tall Skinny American", as a woman...Well...Everyone would hate me. And it would be a lie. But a guy can categorize himself that way without causing offense. I find that funny.

SouleMama has an awesome fall scarf idea. She's so creative and prolific that I'm just amazed...Especially since she's the mama of three littles like me. How does she do it all???!!!

Mrs. Wilt has posted some great ideas for laundry room organization. I'm inspired. My laundry room is, um, a black hole. That's as far as I want my true confession to go. Maybe one day it will look like Mrs. Wilt's.

Ever wondered how to strike through text? I have. Mommy Dearest from Home Sweet Home tells how. Does it work? Let's see. Yes!!!

Works for Me: Diaper Rash Solution

Wow, I just checked Shannon's Works for Me Wednesdays, and before 7AM there are already 40 people participating. Did I say WOW?!

When my oldest was a baby she had fair, sensitive skin and frequently had severe diaper rash. Sometimes, no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to heal. She would scream in pain. I mentioned it to a friend at church, and she said, "I know what you need."

"What's that?" I asked.

She looked a little uncomfortable. "You won't like the name," she said. I guess I gave off a pretty prudish vibe at the time. "It's called Boudreaux's Butt Paste."

That night she sent over a tiny sample of the stuff, and the next morning my baby's stubborn rash was virtually gone. I was sold, and I've used Boudreaux's Butt Paste ever since, always with results far superior to any other diaper rash cream or product. It's so good, the name doesn't even make me cringe. I don't know if it's available nationwide, but I do know that it's sold in many states across the South. If you can't find it where you live, order some. You won't be sorry!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Story: How I Met Jesus

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.

I was raised in a Christian home and knew from an early age about Jesus: that He was God’s son, God come to earth, that He died on the cross to take the punishment for my sins, that he was buried and rose again the third day, that He was in heaven now and I could have a relationship with Him. I knew the lingo, the songs, I had memorized the scriptures, I was steeped in Christianity.

When I was five, I heard my younger sister run down the hall shouting, “Mommy, Mommy, I just asked Jesus into my heart!” Not to be outdone, I quickly bowed my head, said flippantly, “Jesus-come-into-my-heart,” and then ran down the hall. “Mommy, Mommy, I just asked Jesus into my heart!”

I banked on that insincere, competitive prayer for a long time. It’s funny how we think, so often, that salvation comes from some kind of evangelical sacrament such as praying certain words or walking the aisle. I had asked Jesus into my heart so I must be OK. The thing was, I was a rebellious and miserable little girl. I was compliant and well-trained enough that I didn’t give my parents too much trouble, but I can’t describe in words how miserable, bitter, and angry I felt inside. I was the same competitive, selfish person I had been before I said my flippant little prayer.

When I was 12, some pressures came to bear in my life that caused me to jump from riding on the coat tails of my parents’ faith to a dependence on my own. The thing is, I found that I didn’t have any. As I said, I was miserable, and I knew somehow that things weren’t right between me and God. I didn’t know what it was. I thought I knew Jesus, but then from time to time I questioned it. During these times of question, I prayed over and over for forgiveness, just in case. After all, I believed. I did all the right stuff, more or less. I was a pretty good little girl. No one else doubted whether I really knew God or not. But I couldn’t shake this feeling of being pursued. At the time I felt pursued by doubt. Now I know that it was the Hound of Heaven chasing me down until I let Him catch me.

One night, laying in my bed, I had it. I said, “OK, God, I want to get this settled once and for all.” The thing was, I really meant it this time. I was really sorry for the bad stuff I’d done, for all that selfishness and bad attitudes. I really wanted Him to take it all away. I didn’t think “OK, I’m going to really get saved tonight,” although I knew that Christianese terminology. I just knew that I was finished, that I wanted God to have the reigns, that I was through with the torment. No one told me that I needed to do it. In fact, we weren’t even going to church at the time. It was just me and God.

My life completely changed after that. You might say, “You were only twelve, how could your life have changed that much?” All I can say is that I was there, and I know it did. I went from being rebellious and miserable to happy and peaceful. One of the most notable changes is that I wasn’t lazy any more. I remember vacuuming the floors one day with a happy attitude, and my dad asked, “What in the world happened to you?” At that moment, I didn’t know. Looking back, I realize that that summer I was twelve was when I really met Jesus. It wasn’t about how much I knew or how many prayers I prayed. It was that I told Him I just wanted Him to have my life and to take over. He did. I was a different kid.

It scares me sometimes to think of the road I might have gone down if I hadn’t given in to God that day. Could I have rejected Him? I suppose so—but I just can’t imagine that happening. He pursued me with a sweet love that can’t really be put into words. He chased me till I found Him. It’s been a friendship that rivals all others. Jesus loves me, this I know.


This is part of the Bloggy Tour of Testimonies, hosted by Created for His Glory. I prefer the term "story" to "testimony"--story is a term everyone can understand, regardless of religious or cultural background. And this tour has some good ones. Hop over to Created and read more.


Everywhere I look, it seems, I see fruitfulness. All my friends and online acquaintances are near my age, most married now. It seems that shortly following the wedding, a baby comes, even among those who didn’t exactly plan to begin childbearing so soon. (This has happened so consistently among our circle of acquaintance that Elizabeth now believes that the wedding itself actually results in a baby.) And as nearly as I can tell, they are all happy. Babies are everywhere. This is a sweet time, the midst of my mothering years, with friends and family bringing forth children near in age to mine. Our gatherings and conversations revolve around pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, nurturing.

Yet I know that this is only a slice of my life as a whole. I was not a mother for many more years than I’ve been one, and one day (not too soon I hope) my days as a mother of babies will be at an end. Then, too, I hope my life will be as fruitful, but in a different way.

Right now nights run into days, hours and weeks during which I rock, nurse, soothe, wipe tears and noses, teach and train, hug and kiss, hold and snuggle, change diapers, calm fears, rub tender baby gums, dress, protect, manage, love. There’s no time for anything else. This fruitful time of raising little ones takes all my time, and it’s good. But “mother” is only part of who I am, and I don’t find my identity in bearing children. I find it in Jesus, who will one day have another kind of good work for me to do. Right now I don’t know what it is. Right now today’s assignments keep me close to home in mind and body. Yet, while I dread the eventual end of baby days, I believe that fruitfulness does not stop when procreation does.

I know this is true because I am first and foremost God’s child, one surrendered to Him, and I believe that His plan extends to all stages of life. I also know this is true because I see it true in the lives of others. And with that knowledge, I look forward to the future with hope, faithfully following my orders now, and waiting for orders that will come then. Those Christians who are (or have been) still faithful and fruitful in their later years inspire me that I, too, will bear fruit for Jesus when I’m their age. I’ll leave a legacy, not only of flesh and blood, but of Spirit, as I surrender to whatever God wants me to do in the future.

Fruitfulness. I see it now in physical birth. Later, I know that although childbearing won’t be as immediately central to our discussions, my friends and I will have conversations about this other kind of fruitfulness: whatever good work God has given us. It will be sweet. It will be rich. It will be abundant. He has good work for us to do, and the results will be, I trust, a plentiful harvest.

In light of that, here are a few older Christians who have inspired me that fruitfulness extends to all ages.

Corrie ten Boom
Brother Andrew
Denis and Margie Haack
Homer and Ruby Owen
Nancy Campbell
Elisabeth Elliot