Well, fine ladies and gents, I’ve decided a few things about blogging.  And in doing so, I have some new and exciting things to share.  :)

*I’ve decided to largely leave the world of Facebook.  It feels over-crowded and I never know if I’m posting too frequently and annoying my Facebook friends.  This’ll free up some much-desired time and focus on my blog, where I can post as frequently as I want!  My plan is to blog at least once a week about revelations during times with my Father, a gardening journal, thoughts, feelings, struggles, and questions on being a keeper of the home, and anything else I darn well want to put in it!  I am SO EXCITED about this decision, even if I’m the only one who ever reads it!

*I’m taking my blogging business to blogger, where I can actually earn a few pennies if anyone decides to click on the ads framing my blog, whereas no money is earned here on WordPress.  Every little bit helps, right?

SO…. my new blog address iswww.riddlelove.blogger.com!

I hope to see you there. :)  I don’t plan on deleting this blog.  I’ll leave it the way it is and begin a new chapter of blogging on the new and improved one.

So, with this, I say, “Farewell, WordPress!  Thank you for allowing me to get my feet wet in this thing that’s called blogging.  It’s been real.”

Hundreds of titles for this post were swimming in my head.  Even more topics.  A hint of dread was quickly brushed off like the cobwebs that would be resting on this blog if it were tangible as I wondered if I still remembered how to write.  Needless to say, it’s been a while, eh?  Something to the tune of four months, I believe.  It might as well have been four years, what with all the changes that have taken place during the great blogging silence.  I could write many pages documenting all the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual changes, but I’m going to write about something that’s particularly of focus: the power of encouragement.

I must admit, though I crave it as much as the normal human being, I really lack in dishing it out.  Somehow, if I give some, maybe I won’t have any for myself?  As if it’s going to run out, or something.  I’m realizing something spectacular.  Kingdom fruits never run out.  They seem to multiply more rapidly when given out.  We’ve entered this new culture where one of it’s many strengths is encouragement.  Wow, has it been a culture shock for Jer and I!  It’s brought some major exposure to a bit of unhealth, for sure.  As much as I despise comparison and know of it’s evils, it’s still in there.  I realize it when I see a picture of most everyone on earth vacationing and having the time of their lives while I’m home alone on day 24 of 28 of being a single parent.  Just as I’m about to post something kiddingly-sarcastic, comparing their good time to my alleged lonely misery to get some sympathy, I read the comments from other friends, “I’m so happy for you!”  “That looks so fun!”  “That’s awesome!”  I stop.  Wow.  Those guys are being so nice and encouraging and they’re not on vacation, either.  Some of them are even actual single parents, not temporary ones like me.

Encouragement brings freedom and allows beauty to flow.  I’m telling you, people here are encouragement dealers!  I’ve decided I want to not only be a user, but a dealer, too.  Oh, the high you get when someone says, “Your hair looks so cute!”  Whatever!  I know that seems so shallow, but seriously, you know how good it feels!  “That color is good on you.”  “Awesome new song!” “I love the way you take pictures!”

Being delighted in is the most amazing thing.  More and more, I’m grasping the sheer joy and freedom that comes, knowing that my Father delights in me.  Instead of starting my devotions in shame, thinking of how I don’t spend enough of my day in concentrated devotion, how I blew it when I yelled at one, or all, of my kids an hour ago, and all the other reasons for Daddy to say, “Bad girl,” to me, I am reminded that He delights in me.  How I am redeemed in Him.  How all that other stuff is a dead me coming back to haunt me (yeah, I like Kris Vallotton’s imagery), but He wants to bring the real me more and more to life because He loves who I am dearly.  Oh, what a feeling!  Oh, how I want to parent like this more and more!  My kids need to know that I delight in them so much!  I am starting to shower them more with encouragement, and wow, I’m seeing more and more of their beautiful, true selves and less and less of their bickering, whiney behavior coming out.

Encouragement is powerful and life-transforming.  When I feel loved, delighted in, and encouraged, I feel safe and free to be who I really am.  It’s ridiculous to think that I always had all of that in Him, but I was looking for it solely in people (which seems to come hand-in-hand when you have the fear of man like I did).  I desire so much to be that to everyone around me.  I really do love you.  I don’t talk behind your back and criticize you after I smile and flatter you to your face.  I delight in who you are.  You are beautiful.  That color really looks good on you.  I love your new hair cut.  Those jeans are hot!  I love hearing you sing.  That is an awesome work of art.  And, Jer’s and my favorite new way to encourage in this culture, “COME ON!”  Ahhh, that felt so good.  Wouldn’t you know it?  There’s even freedom and joy when you give encouragement!  I’m addicted!  This new chapter of life will be one saturated in encouragement!  Oh, the life that’s about to flow!

Practically speaking, blogging is the most illogical activity considering the current situations closing in.  There are major transitions our family is undergoing that require a lot of effort in a little bit of time.  I look forward to sharing with you these exciting goings-on, but that’s for another time.  So much is required, but I am experiencing a moment of quiet, and while I allow my ruptured eardrum to heal (stillness is the name of the game), my heart is burning within me and I’m about to spill it all out.   It’s one of those times where I see things so clearly, I’m only hoping I can clearly communicate.  I would very much appreciate your balancing input.

After reading Luke 12 this morning, I experienced a great amount of fear and joy.  Joy that the end really is near.  Jesus really is coming back, and if not in my lifetime, it could be in my children’s lifetime.  What am I doing to prepare them for His glorious coming?  At risk of sounding like a crazy preacher, the Fear of the Lord descended upon me.  He really is coming back.  Really.

I’ve personally observed pockets of Christians who seem to be embracing this reality and are going after that “pearl of great price.”  Nothing seems to be more important than readying themselves, their families, and others for Jesus’ second coming.  These people are not a people wallowing in doom and gloom, but are a people of hope, joy, freedom, and love.  They are secure in their salvation and their joy comes from relationship with Him and the promise of a perfect eternity together, no matter what temporary hardships meet them on this earth.  But they are not in denial of the current state of this world and are active partners with their Redeemer to bring about even more redemption to the world.  They do not passively sit, waiting for the world to go to pot and feeling any effort to bring about change would be futile.  They recognize the battleground is not against flesh and blood, but against the evil spiritual forces at work, and they do most of the warring on their knees.  This is my tribe.  I want to align myself with these people.

I’ve also been in the camp of Christians who truly want to be about the Kingdom, but seem to have a hard time really living it out.  They’re pretty content with the way things are, they don’t feel things are in that dire of a situation to be all that active and “extreme,” and are just trying to be good people.  There isn’t much joy, but there is confusion.

As Christians, we know what’s good and what is sinful, according to the Bible.  Or at least we should.  We know getting drunk, gossip, sexual immorality, selfishness, greed, and even gluttony is wrong.  We try not to drink too much, be too selfish, and we have internet firewalls that catch most of the bad stuff, but hey, we’re not fully redeemed yet, and stuff is going to slip by, right?  I don’t think these people are trying to be lazy Christians, I think they just might not be “interpreting the present time,” amongst other issues like Biblical illiteracy.

The fact of the matter is this: Jesus is coming back.  Yeah, most Christians are saying, “No duh, I know, I read the Bible.  What a cliche thing to say.  He’s been ‘coming back’ for over 2,000 years.”  He might not come back in our lifetime, but He might in our children’s, or the generation after that, or after that, or after that.  What are we doing to prepare them?  How are we modeling this readiness?  How are we spreading the word so more can be saved?

 Sure, there is tension on this side of the New Testament.  We are redeemed, but can still sin.  But are we using this tension as an excuse, or are we moving forward in our redemption and speaking and acting in our freedom from sin and death?  I know we are saved by grace and not works (thank the Lord), but I am also familiar with the sobering parable of the sheep and the goats.  The time is here!  There is no time for dabbling with the devil.  Or have we forgotten what the devil looks like and what our Savior is capable of doing in our lives?  With Jesus, our addictions, brokenness, and sicknesses can be healed.

I know I’m not saying anything new, yet not much seems to be changing.  This is all coming from one who has been redeemed from the fear of man, the fear of death, the fear of pain and discomfort, and lots and lots of fear, and who has been forgiven of gossip, slander, selfishness, and lying.  Yet physically I’m currently struggling with sickness, knowing God could redeem my health, too.  There’s that tension. I know the gate is narrow, but I want as many of us as possible to get through it.  It is time to really examine our lives, priorities, and thoughts.  He is coming, and that will be a glorious day for some and a damned day for others.  What will it be for you and your children and their children?
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I’m afraid I’m not as avid a blogger as I’d like to be these days. As much as I adore writing, sharing, and pondering by “pen,” other duties and pleasures have consumed my time lately. Speaking of pleasures, my friend, Rachel introduced me to ehow and, as you can see, my recipes (and most downtime obtained) has gone there.  I’m telling you, if you have know-how in a certain area, it’s a great place to share your knowledge and get paid for it.  I appreciate that it’s free to the public to access your articles; you get paid when people click the google links surrounding them.  It’s a great way to earn an little extra money.  I am fascinated and sometimes have an unbalanced enthrallment with health, especially when it comes to food, so I published an article on how to eat healthy on a budget, a real hobby of sorts and challenge of mine.  I also just created a simple, most unhealthy dessert that I am rather proud of if I do say so myself.  I call it “chocolate banana cream dessert bars.”  It’s quite a mouthful in every sense of the term.  Hehe.

Well, now that I’ve shamelessly plugged my articles, I’m going to neglect my dear blog once again and spend some time loving my dear husband who just came home from the road, sick and weary.  Until next post, dear friends…

 

Or we could name it "Heartbeet Noodles?"

Or we could name it "Heartbeet Noodles?"

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Soooo yummy!

Soooo yummy!

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img_3625

This article has moved to here.  Please check it out!

My, my.  Haven’t I been quite the delinquent blogger?  I learned this year that if I don’t want most forms a normal life to stop during the Christmas season, I need to start making gifts a lot earlier.  Starting the beginning of November was a mistake, but I was able to get the last stitch in on Christmas Eve.  Whew.

Thanks so much to all of you who shared your great ideas at Homemade Christmas Goodness.  It is the most visited post on my blog, and not only did it greatly help me, it helped hundreds of others who stopped in to glean from your ideas and inspiration.  They were personally much appreciated and many were applied to my gift-giving this year.  I ended up making gift baskets (beautiful Christmassy ones that I found for a steal at Grocery Outlet), as suggested by Camille, and they were filled with a bit of an eclectic array of goods, some homemade and some store-bought.  In the end though, I was very pleased with the final results and felt a greater sense of excitement and joy giving loved ones pieces of things I worked on just for them.  My favorite homemade gifts came from ideas by a book my friend, Rissa shared about called “Doodle Stitching.”  This book is so fun and it inspired great ideas.  Rissa made adorable flour sack kitchen towels and I latched on to that idea and embroidered some of my own.  I ended up making 14 of them altogether.                                                                                              This is my favorite of the birds.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Butterflies and Bumblebee

Butterflies and Bumblebee

The butterflies and bumblebees was the quickest one to make.  I like it’s simplicity, but I think I might add more to it next time.img_0556 I love these funky trees.  In the book, this idea was for a scrap book cover and it had a squirrel in between the trees, but it intimidated me, so here you have just the trees.  :)img_0557

This was the very first one I embroidered.  I started off very ambitious but soon realized there was not enough time to get 14 of these done in the time left before Christmas.

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Those little guys were my all-time favorite to make.  So fun and rewarding!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract was a quick and impressive-seeming touch to the baskets.  It’s just a vanilla bean and a few tablespoons of vodka or bourbon let alone to mingle for a month.  They make a very happy combination.  The vodka kind is much lighter in color, and I decided to give the darker bourbon version in the gift baskets.  The picture shown is the very beginning of the bourbon extract (week one), and this is also what the finished product of the vodka extract looks like.

I included some yummy Swedish Cream Cookies in glass jars and Nanaimo Bars in little ceramic Christmas mini-loaves (that I forgot to take pictures of) in the gift baskets.  The recipes were from another friend who wins all kinds of blue ribbons at state fairs.

All-in-all, it was a fun season of gift-giving.  What a treat it was to combine the ideas and suggestions of so many lovely friends to make thought-out gifts for my dear family.  Next year, I start the idea/gift making process in the Spring!

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“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from it’s roots shall bear fruit.  And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”     Isaiah 11:1-2

I’m afraid I haven’t been the best at up-keeping this site.  With Christmas almost 3 weeks away, every spare minute has been devoted to finishing making homemade Christmas presents (I’ll post pictures of the finished results when they’re, well, finished).  Back to the Jesse Tree…

Before it gets any later, I wanted to share with you a new family tradition we observe during this sweet season.  The Jesse Tree.  Anything that focuses our attention on the True meaning of Christmas is of great interest to me.  Here’s a daily family devotional for the Jesse Tree that we use.  I enjoy making the ornaments with the children.  Here’s one we made:

 

The "In the beginning" picture we made an ornament out of.

The "in the beginning" picture we made an ornament out of.

 I’d love to hear about the things you do to celebrate our Savior this time of year if you’re willing to share!  Merry Christmas!

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This recipe is complements of my husband’s grandma.  Let the calorie-counters beware!  Or indulge just this once.  After all, it is Thanksgiving…

Grandma Riddle’s Thanksgiving Green Beans

Grease 4.8-qt. pan (or try and squeeze it into a 9×13 pan)
 
1 onion, grated or minced
8 T (1 cube) butter, divided
6 T flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups sour cream or creme fraiche
3 10-oz. bags green beans
1 1/2 cups grated swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs

Saute onion in 6 T butter until soft and translucent.  Whisk in the next 5 ingredients (flour through pepper). Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.  
Warm green beans until slightly tender, drain.
 
Combine the sour cream mixture with the beans, then spread 1/3 bean mixture in the pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Swiss cheese.  Repeat 3 times.
 
Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs on top, and dot generously with remaining butter.  
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Serves approx. 18.

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Drought weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat–a league of rutty way –
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves.

– from "The Rain-Crow" by Madison Cawein (1865 – 1914)

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