The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to and end...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade (and Easy) Strawberry Lemonade- YUM!

Yesterday it was sweltering!  I don't often use that word, but I can say it was definitely true about yesterday.  Add to the fact that I was in my kitchen during the hottest part of the day baking- that made it even more sweltering.  There were a couple moments I had to even walk away from the heat in the kitchen and step outside where it was just under 100 degrees!

As I was working in the kitchen I came up with this bright idea (think: Light Bulb),  "I should make some lemonade".  So that's exactly what I did. 

I started by getting out the bottle of lemon juice I always have on hand and I just followed the easy instructions on the side:

1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups cold water

and Voila!  Homemade lemonade ready to quench your thirst on even the hottest day. 

But I didn't stop there, I had some frozen strawberries in the freezer, so I took out about 6 of them and nuked them for about 30 seconds so that they weren't so frozen then I mashed them up with a potato masher and stirred them into the pitcher of lemonade.  Let me tell you it was yummy, and exactly what I needed to get me through the rest of my baking in my hot kitchen.

Next time you're at the store you ought to pick up a bottle of lemon juice, you never know when you might need to have a cold glass of lemonade to quench your thirst on a hot summer day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summertime routine for your kids

Summertime means saying Goodbye to a routine for some.  Even in our home I allowed our routine to go by the wayside for the first few weeks of summer vacation.  But Alas- our routine is being reinstated, the reason??  Chaos, utter chaos rules and reigns in our home when there is a lack of routine.

One morning two weeks ago, after having my quiet time and feeling guilty for the chaos around the house lately, I decided to write out a summertime routine.  We followed (fairly closely) the routine for the day and guess what?  Less chaos!  I am now going to be following a routine for the rest of the summer.  I don't want to be so very strict to this routine that spontaneity is not allowed.  I do welcome some spontaneous changes if the day calls for it, but while at home I do plan on sticking with the following routine:

6:30am-   wake up in time to say goodbye to husband as he goes off to work
7:00am-   quiet time for prayer, Bible reading, and verse memorization
7:45am-   start breakfast for children (they love oatmeal with brown sugar and maple syrup)
8:00am-   wake up children, if not already awake
8:30am-   after breakfast, children to brush teeth, make beds and straighten rooms if needed, and get dressed
9:00am-   Bible time with children:  Bible story or passage, verse memorization, prayer request list (children to each pray for one prayer request)  At the end of this time remind children of house rules and consequences (for my young children when they are reminded daily they are more apt to follow the rules)
9:30am-   chore time for each child
10:00am-  Buddy time (I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls, so each day they will have a different buddy, during this time they pick one or two board games and play together- I believe this helps them to learn to play nicely with each sibling and not to have favorites)
10:30am-  play outside if nice- riding bikes, playing on swing set, etc.  If it's raining or too cold to play outside then I have a bowl with a different activity on separate slips of paper, every 15-20 minutes we pick from the bowl and do a different activity.
11:30am-  quick clean-up if needed in the house, or clean up outside toys
12:00pm-  lunch, then clean up dishes and table, and brush teeth
12:30pm-  story time on couch, short storybooks for all the kids
1:00pm-   nap time for the two youngest, reading time for the two oldest (they are to read quietly from a chapter book)
1:30pm-  quiet time for the two oldest while the other two are napping

I'll stop there for now, it's a bit harder to stick to an afternoon/evening routine because my husband gets home around 3:30-4:00pm and we go with the flow when he's home.  He likes to let them ride their 4-wheelers/motorcycles, or they work around the house/farm with him, or just play outside.

So this routine is when we plan on being home for the day.  I do have things planned during the summer that will take us away from the house, and I'll talk about those fun outings later.

Do any other ladies follow a routine during the summer?  What works for your family, and what doesn't? 
I'm interested in hearing!

Making your home sing Mondays

It's a Heart issue

I've been deep in thought and prayer these past few days while my children have been out of town visiting their grandparents.  My thoughts are in regards to my words towards them as of late. 

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:20  "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him."  I am ashamed to admit that all too frequently I have been guilty of being hasty with my words. 

I speak before thinking too often, and those who suffer from this iniquity of mine?  My children

*They start arguing with eachother and my first reaction has been to speak harshly towards them. 
*They start whining about what they've been asked to do and my first reaction has been to huff and puff and groan at their poor attitude, all the while throwing up my hands and rolling my eyes and muttering under my breath. 
*They start back-talking or getting sassy and my first reaction is to get angry and yell. 

Yes, being hasty of words is an iniquity that I all too often get caught up in.  I do know what Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."  I know that when I act in anger, my child will react in anger as well. 
So lately my thoughts have been: why do I so often have hasty words? and why are my words so often grievous?  During my quiet time this morning, while reading my Bible the Lord showed me the answer. 

It is a Heart issue.

Look at what the Bible says in Matthew 12:34, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
What is in the heart comes out of the mouth, is that not true?  Reading on in the book of Matthew 15:18-20 it says this:
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things that defile a man."

So if I'm having a heart issue then it needs to be fixed.  How do you fix a heart issue you may be asking?  The Bible also has the answer,  "for where your treasure is there will your heart be also."  Matthew 6:21

Your treasure, and mine, needs to be the Lord.  I need to reaffirm the need to make God my top priority.   I need to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" to make God my 'treasure'. 
The first thing that needs to be done when God is not our treasure is to pray.  The Lord can work in your heart if you are willing.  "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."  Psalm 51:10

God is the Creator and He alone can create a clean heart in us.  We need to pray for forgiveness and repent of our failings and weaknesses to stray from the Lord.  Oh, how wonderful it is to serve a God that forgives, that is gracious and merciful towards us, "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous, yea, our God is merciful."  Psalm 116:5 

Not only are we to repent, but daily, daily, daily be in the Lords' presence:  "As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."  Psalm 55:16-17

When I spend time with my Lord in prayer, setting time aside to be alone with God, it is then that He will become my treasure.  Following his commands will then become a joy, not an obligation.  I love this verse in Psalm 105:3, "Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord."  His commandments will not be grievous to us, but a joy and an honor. 

Spending time with the Lord in prayer is not the only thing we ought to do to have a heart that loves and fears the Lord, but we need to read daily His Word and commit it to memory as it says in Psalm 119:10-11:

"With my whole heart have I sought thee:  O let me not wander from thy commandments.  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

So, if you're having a problem with your words, if they are harsh and unfeeling instead of kind and gentle, then perhaps it's time to take a closer look at the condition of your heart.  When I saw the condition of my own heart, and how my heart's treasure was not my Lord, I knew I needed a change.  It can be so tiring when, as a Christian, your life is not in line with that of Christ.  I've become tired and worn out from being away from my Lord.  

But I knew what needed to be done:  I needed to truly repent and ask for forgiveness, I need to daily be in the presence of the Lord in prayer- real prayer, I need to daily read God's Word for wisdom, and commit His Word to memory ("that I might not sin against thee").

My heart issue can be fixed by making the Lord my treasure again. 

When my heart is fixed upon God, then it will be fixed. 

And in so doing, my dear children will have a mother that uses her words in a kind and gentle way.  Finally, let's take a look at this promise from God:
"Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.  His seed shall be mighty upon earth, the generation of the upright shall be blessed."  Psalm 112:2

Isn't that our greatest prayer as mothers?  That our children will be blessed?  That my children will never depart from the Lord, that is my prayer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Forgiveness and Getting back on track.

Has anyone ever felt that they were such a wonderful, creative, loving, fun, and gentle mother.......when their children weren't around?

So often I feel this way, I'm the greatest mother when my children aren't home.  But then again, so often I can be the worst mother when they are around.  This week my children are out of town visiting their grandparents, so I have had a quiet house for a few days.  This solitude has allowed me time to think about my mothering as of late, and unfortunately I am not too pleased with myself as a mother.  Do you remember my last post about attitudes?  Those attitudes that can bring a whole family down?  I wrote that post out of experience, being overbearing and demanding, lazy, and a perfectionist.  There have been days that my children have had a mother that is anything but loving and gentle. 

So these past few days I have had some time to think about how things around my house need to be changed.  First and foremost I need to get back in the habit of having a regular morning prayer and Bible time.  No other changes I make will benefit or last if I don't make my Lord my top priority.  Before I became pregnant in May I was in the habit of getting up at 5:00am, exercising for 30 minutes and then I had my prayer and Bible time from 5:45- 6:30am.  For me, this morning routine was perfect.  And then, my morning sickness hit me hard.  I couldn't even begin to think about getting up early, I could barely get out of bed at 7:30 when my children woke up.  Through all of this, my morning quiet time with the Lord suffered greatly.  And what happens when your quiet time with the Lord suffers?  Everything else suffers as well- family, children, and home in general. 

Oh, it can be so hard to get back on track after you've been away so long, getting back into a routine is easier said than done.  But I know that the Lord's will for my life is to be close to Him, and if this is His will then He will give me the strength to get back on track.  His Word will encourage me not to give up, not to take the easy way out, not to make excuses. 

Psalm 119:105 says this, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

In those dark times I know I can rely on God and His Word to light the way and help me walk down the right path.

When I have been overbearing, lazy, and demanding perfection with my children I need to get on my knees and ask forgiveness, knowing my Lord forgives.  Then I need to get up, ask forgiveness of my kids for being unkind, and get back to being the kind of mother God created me to be. 

In 1 John 1:9 the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

So this week in the Summer Family Series I encourage you to turn from those bad attitudes, and ask for forgiveness from your Heavenly Father.  And if you've strayed from the Lord, whether it's been a few days, a few weeks, or a few months or more, I encourage you to get back on track with making your quiet time with the Lord your top priority. 

Remember if the Lord is our priority, then everything else will fall perfectly into place. 

Blessed the Nation

I have a hymn book at home and I found this song in it:

Blessed the nation whose God is the Lord;
Blessed the land where He reigns.
Blessed the people who trust in His Word;
And worship His glorious name.

That is just the first verse, but aren't the words beautiful?
It was written by Elizabeth de Gravelles, based on Psalm 144:15

Let's remember to trust in God's Word and worship His name today, this Independence Day!