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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.”

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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“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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Have you ever had one of those seasons where it feels like your mind has been suddenly flooded with thoughts, concerns, and ideas, but when you consider the hours there are in a day and the limited years you have left on this earth that there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do it all and then you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do or where to start and you get dizzy and you suddenly want to zone out to something mindless?  Let me catch my breath for a minute…  Ok, I’m better now, thanks.  Well, that’s where I’ve been for the past few days.

After experiencing the aforementioned mess of thoughts and feelings, I finally attained the wherewithal to stop and cry out to my Heavenly Father for HELP!!!!  Lord, what am I supposed to do with all this?  I feel these issues filling my thoughts and emotions are all so important!  I have a newfound interest in politics, economics, and ethical issues, and old-found interests in health, spiritual formation and discipline, parenting, family life, gardening, survival skills, natural childbirth, dancing, acting, writing, reading…  the list goes on.  I’ve been blessed with four amazing children, and want to raise them well.  How, Lord, can I be a good steward with my family and not ignore all you’ve placed in my heart?  “Do few things and do them well” are words I live by, but these aren’t a “few things!”

Suddenly it dawned on me (dare I say… the Lord did spaketh unto me?).  Maybe some of these interests aren’t what I should devote my life to.  Maybe… just maybe… I’m supposed to explore a little into each of these interests and expose my findings to spark a fire in those around me, namely my children?  

My son is fascinated with germs and body function.  When I took him to the ER to stitch up his little facial gash last month, he never cried once as I expected him to do.  Instead, he was irresistibly drawn to everything in the examining room and interested in the procedure of how the doctors mended him.  He wanted to see it all, and I took pictures for him so he could later observe what was going on.  He said it was one of his favorite nights!  I am enthralled with alternative medicine, and would love to take courses to further my education, but can’t find the time.  Maybe Levi and I will connect on this issue and he’ll be the one to go into the profession.

Bekah, my oldest, is rather talented in the fine arts.  I always wanted to go Broadway, but decided (after a quick dabbling in the entertainment department at Disneyland) that I’d rather have a family.  Perhaps putting on little plays with her and drawing together will turn into more than just playtime as she matures.

Suddenly, I am understanding more about “quiver-filling.”  I am referring to Psalm 127:3-5

Behold, children are a heritage from the

LORD,

the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are children of one’s youth.

Blessed is the man

who fills his quiver with them!

He shall not be put to shame

when he speaks with his enemies in

the gate.

Well, we currently have four children I love dearly, but I have more than four ideas and plenty of love for more, and that’s not including my husband’s interests and love.  Maybe we need to have a little discussion about how many little arrows we’re meant to acquire…

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I meant to post (and start) this last week (technically, I should have started this October 2), but catching up shouldn’t be hard.  I downloaded The 12-Week Holiday Planner for the Christian Family two years ago, and still really enjoy it.  The greatest thing about it is you buy it and print it once, stick it in protective sleeves in a binder, and enjoy it year after year using a dry-erase pen over the sleeves.  Admittedly, I am an organized Christmas junky, and I actually incorporate this planner along with the Christmas Countdown (with free downloads).  I’ve kept a running Christmas Countdown notebook for the past six years to keep track of systems and routines that worked, gifts I’ve given to each individual/group so as not to get in a gift rut, and meaningful new traditions I’d like to continue the following Christmases (as well as things that took away from the season to remember to avoid it in the future).

So, all you Christmas lovers who enjoy a stress-free, well-thought-out yuletide season and who don’t want to lose focus of the True meaning of this great holiday in all the hustle and bustle, check these sites out!  It’ll be fun to compare notes, share ideas, and encourage each other along the path to the manger!  😀

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As I was changing Claire’s (4 months) diaper, Levi (4 years) was giving her love and sweetly said, “I love you, Claire.  I will always be with you.  Even when I’m five, I’ll still be here for you.”

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A couple years ago, my friend, Bianca, gave me a wonderful Reader’s Digest book entitled Homemade.  (Actually, my book isn’t in print anymore, but the link goes to the newest edition of what I have.)  What makes homemaking fun for me is the fact that it usually saves money to do-it-yourself, homemade things are fresher and healthier, I attain a sense of accomplishment when I’m involved in more than just buying a product, and what I especially love is that I can involve my kids to some extent of the project.

Just in time for hot cocoa season, here’s a marshmallow recipe from the Homemade book my kids and I just enjoyed:

Marshmallows

3 T confectioners’ sugar

3 T cornstarch (I always substitute arrowroot powder for cornstarch and it works great)

1 1/2 T unflavored gelatin

1/3 C water

1/2 C granulated sugar

2/3 C light corn syrup (if you don’t have or want to use corn syrup and the recipe calls for 1 cup corn syrup, combine one cup granulated sugar and 1/4 additional cup of the liquid used in the recipe in a 2-cup measure.  Stir until mixture is blended.  Next time I’m going to try and use agave nectar)

1.  Line a 9x13x2-inch pan with wax or parchment paper.  In a small sieve, combine 1 T of the confectioners’ sugar and 1 T of the corn starch/arrowroot powder, and sift the mixture over the prepared pan.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the gelatin and water; let stand until the gelatin is softened, about 5 min.

3.  Place the bowl in a large saucepan or deep skillet of simmering water.  Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Add the granulated sugar and continue to stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove the bowl from the water and add the corn syrup.  Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until it is creamy and thick, 10-15 minutes.  Let the mixture stand until it is cool.

4.  Using a wet spatula, spread the mixture in the prepared pan smoothing the top evenly.  Let the mixture sit until it is cool and set, about 20 minutes.

 

I didn't think to take pictures until this step.  We didn't smooth very much...

I didn't think to take pictures until this step. 😦 We didn't smooth ours too much...

 

 

5.  Carefully lift the marshmallow mixture onto a cutting board.  Following step one, lightly dust the marshmallow with one T of the remaining powdered sugar and cornstarch.  Using a sharp knife, cut the marshmallow into small squares.  In a cup, combine the remaining 1 T powdered sugar and corn starch.  Dip each marshmallow into the mixture until it is completely coated.  Store the marshmallows in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for 1-2 weeks.  

Makes about 36 marshmallows.


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May I just rant with you for a moment?

Today, after a pleasant day at the park where I was particularly proud of all my kids for playing so nicely with the others, we went to the grocery store.  It was an agreeable trip at first.  As we were checking out, my kids were all helping put food on the check-out stand.  A couple items got dropped but that’s to be expected.  Thankfully, nothing broke.  The store was pretty empty, so a worker decided to “help” my kids and I empty the cart.  After trying to weave in between my kids to “help” us with the groceries (didn’t she notice I had plenty of help?), she said, “You need a nanny.”  What?!  I could see her saying that on one of those shopping trips where my kids are more wired and loud and whiney, but they were being helpful!  Was it because I had four children?  Was it because my four-year-old dropped a jar of artichoke hearts?  He picked them right back up.  They weren’t damaged.  What solicited that comment?  

I’ve had several “big family” comments made to me, most of them at the checkout stand at the grocery store: “You’ve got you hands full” is the most common.  Someone said that when I only had two of my kids with me, and they weren’t even making any noise!  And then there’s always, “Wow, four kids!  You do know how this works, don’t you?”  or “Someone better get them a TV.” and “Well, someone’s gotta do it.”  Have kids, that is.  Yes, and apparently it shouldn’t be you, mister.  When they ask me if I’m gonna have more and I say, “Maybe!”  They look at me like I just told them the Russians invaided.  My favorite was when a man walked by, looked at my preggo belly and my brood surrounding our cart and said, “God bless you.” My then 5-year-old said in a voice loud enough for him to hear, “Mommy, he knows God!  He blessed us!”  I seriously get comments like these EVERY time I go grocery shopping!  What the heck?!

I love having four kids!  I’d love to have more!  I happen to think they are a blessing and not a burden!  Thankfully, sometimes a kind elderly lady will smile and say, “Your children are so well behaved!” or “I had (4+) kids, too!  I loved it!  Enjoy these times, they go by so fast!”  I try to cling to these comments and shrug off the other ones.

People, really.  If you see a mother with more than two children at the supermarket (or anywhere, for that matter), please don’t spout off whatever you feel like saying.  We are not here for your proverbial target practice.  Remember what your mama taught you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  

Thank you for letting me rant.  I feel better now.
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I feel the need to throw a disclaimer out.  Upon first reading this book, I wrestled with lots of feelings.  After waves of indigence, bits of anger, and hints of offense, I mostly felt ashamed and disqualified as a parent.  But after all the fighting, I realized what he wrote was a very hard-to-swallow truth.  Trumbull does dish it out quite forthrightly, but it was my own insecurities getting in the way of a potentially life-changing experience.  I don’t claim to have it all together in the least, but I do pray that through this book and some “discussion” with y’all that I might grow and mature in my “child training.”

Continuing into chapter two of “Hints on Child Training,” (if you want to read the first post, click here), Trumbull dives right into it:

It is the mistake of many parents to suppose that their chief duty is in loving and counseling their children, rather than in loving and training them; that they are faithfully to show their children what they ought to do, rather than to make them do it.  The training power of the parent is, as a rule, sadly undervalued.

Too many parents seem to take it for granted that because their children are by nature very timid and retiring, or very bold or forward; very extravagant in speech and manner, or quite disinclined to express even a dutiful sense of gratitude and trust; reckless in their generosity, or pitiably selfish; disposed to overstudy, or given wholly to play; one-sided in this, or in that, or in the other, trait or quality or characteristic — therefore those children must remain so; unless, indeed, they outgrow their faults or are induced by wise counsel and loving entreaty to overcome them…

…Every child is in a sense a partially developed, an imperfectly formed child.  There are no absolutely perfect children in this world.  All of them need restraining in some things and stimulating in others.  And every imperfect child can be helped toward a symmetrical character by wise Christian training.  Every home should be an institution for the treatment of imperfectly developed children.  Every father and every mother should be a skilled physician in charge of such an institution.  There are glorious possibilities in this direction; and there are weighty responsibilities, also.

 

Keep in mind this book was written in 1890.  The words “institution” and “treatment” were not how they’re viewed today.  It sounds like such a sterile, rigid environment he’s suggesting to raise children in, but he really isn’t.  Lots of warmth flood into the next chapters, but do continue to keep in mind that this book was penned over 100 years ago, and certain words have taken on new meanings and vibes sense then.

This chapter helped me realize I fall prey to this “hands tied” attitude of parenting all the time.  My daughter would be bossing a group of kids around at a play date or something, and I would just sit back and chuckle, “What can I say?  She’s a leader.  Hopefully she’ll grow out of this bossy phase someday.”  But really, it was my job to get involved in that situation right then and there and lovingly train her how to behave appropriately with her friends.  Perhaps she is a leader, but no one will want to follow her if her parents never hone her skills.  Besides, I’d rather the correction be coming from me than a child or someone else who doesn’t love her as much and know her as well as I do.
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Tonight we had devotions outside because there was an amazing, huge, orange harvest moon out.  We read about creation, and afterwards Levi (4) said as he looked at the moon, “It’s kinda like God’s puzzle.”  I asked him what he meant and he replied, “When God made everything, He put it all together like a puzzle.”  Maybe a bit off theologically, but I love how little minds think! 🙂

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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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