Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Philip Update

To those who have been praying for Philip, just want you to know he's much better today. He's still in the hospital, but we're so grateful for his improvement. Things are looking up.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Blessings

Blogging will be light to nonexistent for the next two weeks. In the meantime, I pray that whatever kind of Christmas you find yourself having, that the peace and joy of Jesus will be with each of you.

(Image from Plan59)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Urgent Prayer Request

I know that many of you who read my blog also know (either personally or virtually) my sis and brother in law who are missionaries to a remote and isolated Indian reservation. Their sweet little baby Philip is very sick in the hospital with pneumonia. Please join me in lifting Philip up in prayer. Pray, too, for grace and encouragement for Stephen and Leah, and also for Ethan, their oldest, who doesn't understand what's going on. Thanks everyone.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just a Few More Days...

Billy and the big kids are running a few errands...Sarah is asleep...And what I really want to do is curl up in a sunny spot for a really long nap. But instead I'm going to finish some last-minute Christmas sewing and make cookies.

(Image courtesy of AllPosters)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Simplify the Holidays


SouleMama links to this great article on simplifying the holidays. I enjoyed it--hope you do too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Apron Power Contest


Barbara Curtis is having an Apron Power photo contest. I probably won't participate, since I don't typically post pics of myself, but I'm really enjoying the other entries. Click here for details.

Yay!

After a week or so of categorizing old posts in short snatches of time while I put Sarah to sleep, all my old posts are categorized. I can promise you I was relieved when the Family category outran Blogs and Blogging. I was a little concerned there for awhile!

Works for Me Wednesday: Alphabetizing Spices


No, it's not a joke, and the funny thing is that I'm not (let me emphasize not) one of these super-organized people who fits the spice-cabinet-alphabetizing stereotype.
I cook just about everything from scratch, and I cook a lot, and I just got tired of never being able to find my spices.

I got two little cheap plastic lazy susans from Wal-Mart and lined the jars up alphabetically. I found a bunch of spices I didn't know I had, and now I can find any of them in a second. Works for me!

WFMW hosted by Shannon

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dangers of OTC Meds


FDA wants sterner pain reliever warnings

The dangers are real! Be careful!

Last-Minute Homemade gifts




This week a friend wrote and asked me for ideas for inexpensive homemade gifts for Sunday school teachers and the like. Those little things can add up. Below is part of my reply, unedited. I figured we might not be the only ones who need to come up with many small gifts on short notice.

************

This year I'm just going to make a huge batch of tea cakes, you know, cut out sugar cookies. That will be our gift. I'm going to put them in a brown lunch bag with some pretty ribbon and a card. They are relatively inexpensive to make. Let me know if you need a recipe. Your girls could handle this for you.


Also, do the girls sew at all? Handmade ornaments are a great gift. I'm thinking something along the line of felt hearts or stars with blanket stitch around the edge and ribbon to hang them by. Blanket stitch is very easy and adds some pretty detail. Here's a tutorial:


She has an example of an ornament she made, but to me that's way too complicated. I'd stick with just a simple shape. You could trace your shapes from a cookie cutter. You could make a whole lot of ornaments from a yard of felt.


Actually I'm looking around at some pictures and you wouldn't even have to use blanket stitch. Just a running stitch in a contrasting color would be fine.
For the girls in my ss class I'm making cocoa mix, bagging it, and putting it in dollar mugs from the dollar store. That can get a little more expensive though.


This blog has some great, simple craft ideas:Kiddley


And I've been wanting to make some of these felt flower pins. They are so cute. They would be nice for lady teachers. Veeeery easy. Instead of the french knots or whatever they have in the middle, I'd put a pretty button.


One more idea: Last year one of my Awana moms got a big container of the little foam ornaments from the dollar store and had her little boy decorate them with glitter glue. That was his gift to all his teachers.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Someone Is Watching You, And It's Not Santa

Elizabeth has been listening to the story of George Muller on her Story Hour cassettes. Muller was a pastor who cared for many hundreds (if not thousands) or orphans in England in the 1800's. It's said that he raised over 8 million dollars in his lifetime by prayer alone, never asking for a single penny.

After about the sixth time through the story Elizabeth asked, "Mama, do you do that? Ask and you shall receive?"

It's scary to know that our little ones watch us so closely. It's also challenging. Billy and I want our kids to see real, authentic faith in us; not hypocrisy. I pray that when my children grow up they will be able to say, "My parents walked what they talked." I want them to see that I don't just know about Jesus, I know Him as my Savior and dearest Friend, and I believe He can provide for all my needs. I want my children to see that I believe that if I ask, I'll receive. Times like this, all I can pray is, "God, don't let me mess up!"

Whew!

This afternoon, as part of my whole-house decluttering effort, I cleaned out my pantry. What a relief. Now I don't have to throw the oatmeal box in and quickly close the door so nothing falls out. June Cleaver I am not. The pantry was more like Fibber McGee's closet.





Sunday, December 17, 2006

Retro


Hmmm, I didn't realize retro could mean so many things. Maybe I should clarify the statement below where I said I love anything retro. That should probably be "anything from the 50's". More or less. Or "a lot of things from the 50's". Retro seems to be a pretty ambiguous term.

Who I Am


I’ve been thinking a lot about identity and images and what certains icons or symbols say about people. In particular, I’ve been thinking about my blog and what someone might learn or assume about me in a passing glance. What impressions I’m leaving. How I come across. Is it accurate? Is it who I really am? I try to be honest, but I still realize that unless we know someone well, we really only make judgments and assumptions about them based on our own perceptions.


It got me to thinking about who I am. Here are a few things about me that may or may not come across here on Charity Grace. I’m a young wife, a pastor’s wife. I’m the mother of 3 small children. I was homeschooled and I homeschool my own kids. I grew up in a large family (5 children) and I hope to have a large family of my own one day. I’m not a Baptist, I’m a Christian whom God has placed in a Baptist church. I grew up in the country and some day I’d love to live in the country again. I like to cook whole, natural foods for my family. I’m a full-time homemaker, something I’m so grateful for. I love to stretch a dollar. I’m passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding for my babies. I’m into old stuff, especially anything retro. The only retro thing I can think of that I don’t like is furniture. In that regard I’m more into some blend of shaker and craftsman styles. I live in the deep South. I grew up near the Mexican border. I love to craft. I’m an incurable girly-girl, and I love pink (surprised?), nail polish, lipstick, skirts, and dangly earrings.


If you’ve made it through this self-absorbed laundry list, congratulations, because I’m about to let you in on a little secret. That’s not who I am. Those things are not where I find my identity. Those things are not what I’m about. They are just frou-frou.


Here’s who I am: a Christ-follower. A child of God. Period.


If all those other things were stripped away, who I am would still remain. Because who I am is about the heart. And who I am is—or should be—reflected in my character. (Yes, I know, scary.)


If I find my identity in my lifestyle, the center of my being is on shaky ground. A lifestyle can be gone in a moment. If I find my identity in my family, I’ll be lost when my nest is empty. If I find my identity in my home d├ęcor, then I will feel uneasy when I’m not able to decorate my house just the way I want it. If I find my identity in crafting, arthritis or failing eyesight that could come with age would throw me into depression.


If I find my identity in Christ, I’m free. Free to embrace whatever He gives me and however He leads me. Free to just be his girl, trusting in His love, at peace with His plan. I don’t have to lean on the crutch of external categories. It’s not that I don’t love and enjoy God’s gifts in those areas of my life, or that they aren’t important, because they are—some more than others. But they don’t define me. If He leads me to spend my life in a high rise apartment where I develop a penchant for modern art (perish the thought!), who I am does not change. If I discover that by some surprise, He has only chosen to give me 3 children, I’m the same. If I never get to buy anything old and quaint again, it’s OK. At my center I’m secure. Because it’s not about me. It’s about Him. And He never changes.

Friday, December 15, 2006

God's Truth

My missionary sister has a great post up today about truth. Go take a peek. And don't forget to support and pray for the missionaries you know!

Frugal Friday: Herb Tea in Bulk


We drink lots of hot tea in the winter time, but those little boxes sure get expensive! Recently I bought half a pound of red raspberry leaf, peppermint, and spearmint from The Bulk Herb Store. It’s around $6 per pound (depending on what kind you get), and a pound of dried herb is a lot of tea.

Since our tea ball/infuser has larger holes, which leak little bits of the looseleaf tea into the water, we’ve been making ours in the coffee maker. I put the tea in the tea ball, and then put the ball in the filter, just as I would to make coffee. Voila, no floating tea leaves.

This tea will last us a long time—probably till we’re tired of it. It’s far more economical than buying boxed tea already in tea bags. Check it out!

(Frugal Fridays hosted by Crystal.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Breastfeeding Blessings

Sarah is still not over her stomach virus, which started Sunday night. She seems to feel pretty well during the day (although her appetite isn’t up to snuff), but especially at night she’s struggling with the not-so-fun elements of the virus.

This is one of those times that I’m so grateful for breastfeeding and the way God has designed mother’s milk to meet her baby’s needs. Although Sarah has lost a lot of fluids and hasn’t been able to keep much down, she is staying nourished and hydrated because she’s still nursing. I attribute a lot of her energy to this as well. I’ve heard that when a baby gets sick, a mother’s body automatically begins producing antibodies in the milk to combat that particular illness. My kids are rarely sick before they wean, and when they are it usually doesn’t hit them very hard. Normally by the 4th day of such a virus, a toddler would be weak and worn out. Not so Sarah. The unpleasant elements are more a nuisance to her than anything, a brief interruption before she can run off and play again. She seems to be on the mend now. I’m confident that breastfeeding has helped her get to this point. Not only has it provided comfort, but fluids and calories to make sure she gets healthy as quickly as possible. Breastfeeding works!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Crafty Evening

Sarah is still not over her stomach virus, so I stayed home from church with her. While I'd much prefer her not to be sick, it was still a golden opportunity to work on some simple gifts I've planned to make the kids. It's hard to make them anything as a surprise because they are ALWAYS around. That's something I wouldn't trade for the world, but it sure makes it hard to be sneaky.

While Sarah didn't let me get too much accomplished, I did have an hour or so while she slept to cut and snip. Now I'll probably have to spend time every evening between now and Christmas sewing after they are asleep. It will be fun though. I'll try to post pictures of the finished products, because these gifts are so very simple. However, making them in threes is pretty time-consuming!

Hopefully this virus will be overwith soon and I'll be able to come up with some more productive posts.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

By the Way

The pic below was found at the absolute best site I've ever seen for retro images, Plan59. I had such fun looking around there yesterday. I heart the 50's!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Test

Just trying this to see if the pic is huuuuuge. Isn't this the cutest little retro couple? And aren't you just dying for a pink oven? (OK, I'm serious about the couple, kidding about the oven. Although it would be step up from the avocado green one I had till recently.)
Who knew beta would be such fun? And can you tell All Posters is my new best friend? Just trying to add an image. All new to me.

This one is perfect because it's a chilly, drizzly day. Sarah has thrown up 3 times since midnight. She's asleep now, and I'm very tired. The older children have been occupied watching old movies while I try to collect myself. Somehow in spite of all my activity, not much has gotten done. One of those days. Maybe a nap would help? Like I have time for that. :) Ah, well...These days are part of life. But I really must see what I can get done in the next few hours so this day is not a total waste. Off to wash some dishes and fix myself some lunch...The babies have already eaten. Elizabeth asked for fruit salad and green salad, "Because I want to eat something healthy." Now she is asking me if ranch dressing is good for us. What's with the obsession with health food lately? Oh wait, she asked for mac & cheese for breakfast...So she's not too obsessed. Excuse the stream of consciousness today. My brain is jelly.

Blogger Love

Well, I'll be staying with blogger, almost exclusively because of the new labels feature. I was about to become a Wordpress girl. But I love being able to categorize my posts. I'm working (slowly, in those little moments while I'm getting baby to sleep) on labeling all my old posts. My, how organized I feel!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Maybe My Blog Roll is Fixed

Spent awhile re-creating my blog roll from memory while I nursed Sarah to sleep. It was a sort of awkward endeavor, but when else will I have time to do such an insignificant yet time-consuming task? It still feels like someone is missing though. I'm tired and absentminded today, so if you were on my blog roll before and I left you out, please know that it's just an oversight...Speak up and I'll gladly add you back. Or I might remember which ones I'm missing in the middle of the night, as so often happens with these random bits of info.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

HEEEEELP!!!

I switched to the new version of blogger and now only a few of my links are showing up. How do I access my old template and fix this?!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Frugal Friday: Paying off Your House

No, our house is not paid off yet. But I recently read Laine's letter about how her large family paid off their home in 17 years, on a small income at that. Regardless of whether you're trying to pay off a home or not, this has priceless information on saving money.

Frugal Fridays hosted by Crystal

Eating an Elephant

Recently when Elizabeth has been faced with daunting tasks I've taught her the old proverb, "How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time."

Now when she's overwhelmed I'll ask her, "Baby, how do you eat an elephant?"

"Bite by bite," she replies--her translation of what I've told her.

In one of my favorite books ever in one of my favorite series ever, The Fields of Home by Ralph Moody, Ralph's Uncle Levi tells him, "Slow and steady goes far in a day." Ralph discovers that careful, steady work is more productive than hasty intensity.

Over the past couple days I've faced a mammoth job, and that refrain has gone over and over in my mind. Slow and steady goes far in a day. And I remember that you eat an elephant one bite at a time.

So here I am taking a short break from elephant-eating. And now I'm off to keep up a slow and steady pace so I can FINISH THIS THING!!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pre-Christmas Declutter

As I did last year, I'm decluttering everyone's bedroom before Christmas. This year I'm taking it to the next level and decluttering every room in the house. So far I've done all 3 bedrooms and the school/tv/computer room. That has resulted in 8 or 9 bags of items to donate and probably the same number in trash. Where in the world does this stuff come from?!! The amazing thing is that the rooms still seem full. That is scary.

In any case, it's wonderful to see each room become orderly and less cluttered. I know that new things will be coming into our house over the next few weeks, so now we won't be as overwhelmed by it. After Christmas I'll probably do another declutter. If you haven't yet, let me encourage you to join me in decluttering the house for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Celtic Prayer

From the Celtic Book of Prayer:

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.

Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.

Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.

This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Good at Grammar

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

For the Farmgirl in Me

I've recently discovered a few new farmgirl resources.

First is the blog Farmgirl Fare, which is supposed to be a food blog but mostly has beautiful farm pictures for each day. Love it.

Then my husband stumbled across In My Kitchen Garden and he knew right away that I'd like it. Lo and behold, it's a companion blog to Farmgirl Fare. More beautiful pictures, more wonderful information.

Through Apron Thrift Girl I found MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl Connection. And I also found the Homesteading Today forums. I don't have time for message boards, really, and the farmgirl thing is a distant memory and future hope, not a present reality...But I'm keeping these forums in mind for reference later. Even when I just get ready to plant herbs in pots.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Frugal Friday: Christmas Dinner Soup

I did this with our Thanksgiving leftovers, and I probably will do it again after Christmas. It's a good way to use up those turkey bones with little bits of meat still clinging to them and all those dabs of leftovers.

Boil turkey carcass to make broth. Strain broth (very important, you don't want any tiny pieces of bone in your soup) and take any remaining meat off the bones. Set meat aside.

Chop up whatever veggies you have on hand--carrot sticks and celery left from a relish plate, a potato, an onion, whatever. Cook veggies in the broth. Season with a of salt and pepper and herbs. I used thyme because it compliments poultry nicely. Add a can of green beans and the leftover chopped turkey. Then stir in leftover cornbread dressing and cook for a few minutes. This gives it a nice body and flavor. You could also add mashed potatoes at this point.

Serve with fresh bread. Or if you really want to get into the Christmas dinner theme, cranberry muffins.

Frugal Friday hosted by Crystal