Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beginning A Journal

My ponderings over the last few weeks have led me to begin a journal to correspond with the beginning of the new year. After praying about exactly what type I would like, I chose this plain, hardbound book with unlined pages, and am almost giddy thinking of all the potential it and the year hold. I wanted to share with you the first entry I made in the journal, in case you, too, have been feeling led to begin one.
Being that this is my first attempt at keeping a journal, perhaps I should be nervous. Will I actually do it? Will I find this book in a cluttered box three years from now with no other writing save what lies here? Or could this be the first day that my life has a permanent record? Will these pages be the encouragement that I one day look back upon to know that my life was not spent in vain? I cannot know any of these answers now. I can only apply that tiny spark of hope to the tinder of this book and feed it with whatever there is within me of commitment and diligence to see it through.

Although this journal will house my thoughts, my feelings and my ideas…I dedicate it to the glory of YHWH alone. I pray that He will use it as a tool to help me find Julie, and in the process, know Him better. Whose I am is not in question ~ I have given my life to the One who gave it to me. Yet, there is a softly nagging question regarding who I am. I am Phil’s Bride and my children’s’ Momma to be sure, (and blessed I am to be such), but anything else seems to have somehow been lost along the way, assuming there ever was anything else. I am content with my role in life, but wonder if I can bring more of myself to it. Are there skills, abilities or inspirations lying dormant within me that, unearthed and nurtured, could bless my family and bring glory to YHWH? Have I buried my talents in the dailyness of life? These things remain to be determined.

There’s more, too. I want to remember. So much of my early years of motherhood and wifehood are lost forever…because my mind lacks any resemblance to a steel trap. How I long to go back and recapture those days when all my people were small, and soak it in ~ and remember ~ forever. In the fleeting moments of Now, I recognize that, lest it be written down somewhere, I am unable to recall all that happened last week, much less the last few years. I may not be able to recapture all that has transpired, but I can begin today, recording as-it-happens, all that is to be seen from this Momma’s knothole.

From the perspective I have, here in this linear reality called time, the year ahead is empty. YHWH is there, and knows the end from the beginning, but I have yet to walk there. I cannot tidy the mess of emotions about the coming year into a neat bundle. Some, like the fear of the unknown, are unruly, and must be coaxed into submission. Others, like the thrill of new beginnings, must be tamed so as not to outrun YHWH’s timetable. Yet, eagerness, trepidation, determination and uncertainty are carved deeply into my walking stick as I trudge forward to see what lies ahead...

Welcome, 2008. May you be filled with all that YHWH has planned.

Although I am unsure if and how I will fit journaling into life, I believe that even the thought processes and promptings that brought me to this point will not be in vain. Progress is good, when it is for His glory. So here's to blank pages, blank calendars and new beginnings!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What Else Are Ya Gonna Do?

If you have been itching to learn how to make your own herbal medicines and remedies... this is the time.

1) It's Winter, and the days are too dreary to be outside much

2) There will likely be extra opportunities to have flu casualties case studies readily available

3) The price is right better than right now.

Run, don't walk over to Cheri's to buy her Medicinal Herb Course. This is the course I bought and studied to learn how to make herbal oils and salves, but there is also much more. An awesome recipe for Healing Salve is included in the Course, which is great for replacing both petroleum-based antibiotic cream (like Neosporin) and diaper rash ointment ~ we use it for both! Here's an excerpt from Cheri's site:
This simple, easy to follow course will teach you the basics of making your own herbal remedies. We will cover 10 easy to grow medicinal herbs, including some that commonly grow wild. The herbs included in this course are Calendula, Chamomile, Comfrey, Feverfew, Horehound, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mullein, Plantain, and Red Clover. You will learn how to grow these herbs, how to harvest them, when to harvest them and how to use them in herbal remedies. You will learn their plant families, their medicinal properties and see a color picture of each one.

You will also learn how to make the most common herbal remedies! You will make a water infusion, a decoction, a hot oil infusion, a cold oil infusion, a syrup, a compress, a poultice, a salve and a tincture! I have even included a copy of my own research sheet that I use when studying a new herb.This course contains over 50 pages of material!

So, the course is on sale until December 31!  With the purchase of the Course, you also get free mentoring from Cheri until the end of February! She is a wealth of knowledge in all things herbal, and I know you'll learn a lot from her.

What a great goal for the New Year ~ getting healthy ~ naturally. (I'll be posting my New Years' goals soon... as soon as I stop drooling over my new journal. Yum!) Are you thinking about some, too?

Friday, December 21, 2007

So, I took advantage of the half price sale over at Heart of Wisdom this week, and we seem to have some interesting results already. I just have one question...

Fall 2007 163

Fall 2007 164

Did your kids do this when YOU studied Egypt?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Don’t Get Mad…Get The Camera

Fall 2007

This morning Babydoll climbed up to the kitchen sink and began splashing gleefully in the oatmeal pot that was soaking after breakfast. The picture doesn't do justice to the soggy oatmeal floaters that flew in each splash, and truly the mess was minor compared to what I have experienced with my boys in the past, but as I ran for the camera, I was transported in an instant. Those bittersweet feelings of deja-vu and the passage of time mingled together to catch in my throat.

I know you've had them too. I remember how hard they could be in the early days ~how I often wished I could just cry, and often ~ often ~ did. When the children are all Littles and no Bigs, things can be harried, hustled and more than you can keep up with. One turn of your back and trouble can lead to hours of clean up time for the Momma. I know. I remember.

One thing I learned when my first four were all under four, (and I think it came from Martha Sears from the Baby Book) was the concept of, "Don't get mad, get the camera." When the Littles get into trouble of the I-can't remember-when-I've seen-such-a-mess variety, I'd quickly (as long as they were safe in the midst of the mess) run to grab the camera and record the moment for proof posterity. It was a sanity (and testimony) saver time and again.

I didn't remember every time, but I remembered often enough to have a slough of (now) comical pictures to help me remember that season. There was the Literary Lady and the brand new tube of ruby red lipstick and the Engineer who dumped the five pound bag of flour on his head... both caught on film to crystallize the memories. The too-cute shot of the Dreamer who had a quirky habit of dipping his head into the toilet every chance he got and the boys who unloaded a 25 pound bag of spaghetti noodles onto their bedroom floor are proof that boys are not girls. They help me remember a season when I was running so hard I had little time to soak up the memories. I was just trying to survive.

The times I did not get pictures, are memories not as clear...the memories' edges are fading and curled...threatening to fade into obscurity. Regarding the three dozen eggs liberally-but-carefully crushed and scattered throughout the kitchen, I can barely remember the culprit without promptings from the children. There is no picture to take me back. I remember the day during my fifth pregnancy that I awoke from a first trimester induced accidental nap on the couch to sounds of water running and tiny voices saying, "Oh, no... you're going to drown him!". There is no picture to show what I passed on my way to the bathroom voices. Nothing to show the entire box of cereal and a gallon of milk all over the kitchen floor and glitter sprinkled on every horizontal surface of the ground floor. I found the "big kids" (at their ages then, the term is used loosely) washing the glitter from the feet of the Dreamer in the bathroom sink.

Not only do I wish I had a picture, I wish I could revisit that time. To return more mature, more disciplined, more patient...more cognizant of the importance of living IN the moment. Knowing that I cannot... I do the next best thing. I encourage you.

When the going gets rough...don't get mad. Take a picture. One day you may wish you had.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cubby Holes

We recently have acquired an Indoor Village in the kitchen, courtesy of Mr. Visionary's installing new cabinets. When I was unable to locate several of the older children this afternoon, I found them cozied up inside working on assignments.

Fall 2007 156

Fall 2007 155

Fall 2007 157

So, is this "school"? emphatic, "No". (At least it isn't like anything I ever saw in a classroom.)

Is it learning? Yeah, Buddy...and I think the boxes just justified their existence in my kitchen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Room Cleaning For Littles

Here's a question following up from the comments of this post:
I've been enjoying the dialogue on your blog about training children with managing their rooms. Once again, I'm amazed at the things I'm just now learning (b/c I was never taught), but now thankfully, I'm finding those "Titus 2" women out there like you and others who are teaching other mommies like me.

Well, my question, is what age do you do this at? Do you never have stuff in their room until they can manage it by themselves? I have a 7 yo (girl) and 3 yo (boy) who share a room right now. Just trying to figure how to implement this. And do you box everything up and put away (except a couple items)?

I know your time is very limited, but I'd appreciate a little more insight.

My thinking is you can do it at whatever age they begin having a room to keep orderly. I would be perfectly comfortable expecting a 7 and 3 (yes, even a boy...grin) to keep their room in order. Mine always seem to like having 'jobs' that are just a wee bit above what they are easily able to do ~ they seem to feel 'bigger' about doing 'bigger kid' jobs.

That said, know this... this method of taking everything out of their rooms is not about punishment. It is training. Any potential weeping and wailing from them can be dealt with by a shrewd Momma marketing the thing well.
"Kids, I have a great idea! You know how messy your room always is, and how you always have to keep picking everything up all day? Well, I have an idea that will make your room waaaayyy bigger, and give you tons of space to play, AND be really easy to clean up... so you have more time for playing."

Then, we would literally box up all but ____ and take it out of their room. (You'll need to decide for yourself how much is the right amount to box.) If you really want this to be a positive experience, then think cold turkey... the more stuff you box up, the easier it will be for them. I know it sounds drastic... I do. Trust me when I tell you that it will help them so much! We have for a season taken the boys down to just beds and their clothes were moved into the laundry room to live...we just put their dresser in there. Once they were used to just getting up and making their beds and putting their clothes in hampers, we reintroduced an item at a time per child. We allowed them to choose the reintroduced items, to motivate them to prioritize  what they have and why. We have for a season also taken our big girls down to beds and one under-the-bed sized box of whatever they chose (they are older, and weren't having quite as much trouble).

Each time we did it, my kids were relieved. They were no longer spending all their free time sitting in a wrecked room looking around wondering where to start. Their attitudes about how much stuff was necessary in their lives was altered so that even when they worked back up to getting their stuff back, much of it they didn't even want. I have found that it was mostly the idea of it that they liked (i.e. "Hey...that's my stuff!"), and they weren't particularly attached to the stuff itself.

So, to answer your question, yes... My children can't ever have stuff in their room that they cannot manage. Life is too short for me to watch them spend unnecessary time and energy taking care of "stuff'. It is easier for them, because they watch Mom and Dad do this all the time with physical stuff and other areas like time and responsibilities. We cut what we cannot manage well. We ditch stuff, we cut out activities and we excuse ourselves from anything that is too demanding of us.

On another note, what they *do* have, has to be easy for them to care for. One comfortor or quilt  (something chunky, so wrinkles won't show) and a bottom sheet is all I would expect them to be able to manage on their own just yet. All their clothes need to be easy to put away ~ down low where they can reach. Toys should also be as easy to clean up as they are to pull out. I had to learn that Littles can't do bookshelves ~ they need buckets for books, low hooks for clothes, etc. Toy boxes are evil inventions (grin). They were made to frustrate little children, I think. The only way to get to your favorite toy (which is always on the BOTTOM) is to dump out everything on the top. It makes keeping their room clean burdensome.

For a few days before you do this, I would study your children to see what their absolute favorite toys are, then plan to keep out those (if you keep out any at first). Then, after the boxing up party, plan a tea party to celebrate. Also, to head off discontent in the beginning, I always plan a few extra special activities to do with the children. When doing the activity, be sure to drop the, "Wow, I'm so glad we took care of all that extra stuff for you or we wouldn't have had time to do this. Isn't this fun?" line several times. Their reception is dependent on the spin you add.

One more thing... depending on the space you have, you may have to be creative about where to put the boxed stuff while it is waiting to be reintroduced (or purged). We always use the attic, but you may need to think garage or even trunk of the car... but it is best that it be out of sight. Ask me how I know.

She Sure Is Sneaky!

So my friend Cheri sends the most vague and mysterious email this morning. After I determined that she must get up way earlier than us in the mornings, I popped over to her place to see what was up. I was blessed by finding that she had given me a blog award. That means a lot to me, especially considering my opinion of her ~ she is one of the most faithful Mommas I know. She loves Yahweh, loves His Word and is a Believer whom strong wind does not shake. She is also an herbal mentor to me and makes awesome soap, salves and teas, but those things are just the fringe benefits. I am blessed to call her Friend. Thanks, Cheri.


On with the rules:

Eric Novak came out with the Christian award “Blogging with a Purpose” in late April of 2007. With so many secular awards around, Eric thought it would be a good idea to come out with a Christian award.

1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to this site.

And my choices for those upon whom I would like to bestow this award are quite a struggle. There are several friends' or acquaintances' blogs for whom sending this award would be a hardship rather than just a blessing, as the time involved in posting and linking would be a burden because of where they are in life at the moment. So what's a girl to do?

Instead, I'll post a few links of blogs that have blessed me over the years. Yeah, I know it seems like a cop-out, but sometimes it is the best way. So, be blessed by the following:

Carla Lynne ~ My real life friend who has made a drastic-but-wonderful move to get closer to where Yahweh is calling her family. My hero, really.

My Holly-Belle ~ A lady who follows her convictions even when they are not popular... and does it with grace. One of the first things I noticed about her is how much she loves her husband. She's a Momma's Momma, too. Go easy on her... she welcomed baby number eight a mere three weeks ago, and is still honeymooning with her Wee One.

Large Family Logistics ~ If you go here, you will see that Kim is in no place to blog now. But her archives will be a blessing to you, as they were for me when they were new. It has much about the practicals of large family life, but any size family will benefit from her blog.

Heart of Wisdom Blog ~ Robin Sampson is a mother of eleven who is a deep thinker. Her book by the same title made me rethink a lot of my methods in homeschooling and slaughter a lot of sacred cows in the area of "thou shalts" for homeschooling. Our life is freer and more productive educationally since applying the methods in her book, which she shows are really some of the same ones used by Yeshua (Jesus) with His disciples.

(Yay! I have successfully resisted the urge to *have* to choose five. These were the ones on my heart, so these are the ones I'd like to share with you. )

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tinctures To Go

I hate memes. I do not mind reading them, mind you ~ it is fun to read other folks' ~ but I know me... if I started doing them, I would feel pressured by the things and feel as if I had to do it every week. I have enough real responsibilities without my adding imagined ones. All of that is to say that had I been doing the Works For Me Wednesday meme, and had today actually been a Wednesday, this is the sort of thing I would post.

Mr. Visionary was feeling under the weather last night when he came home from the old grind work. He had a stuffy nose, his sinuses were swollen and stuffy feeling, and his head was aching. He had felt fine until about mid afternoon, so after interrogating questioning him about his day and noting nothing out of the ordinary, I smelled a rat and figured a virus was to blame. I doused dosed him with tinctures, and sent him to bed.

When he awoke stuffy again, I gave him another tincture dose, but realized that, Dads not always having the luxury of staying home when they're feeling poorly, he'd be leaving for work in a few minutes. It was then that an idea struck me, a second-best idea, (the first-best was having Dad stay at home), in the form of portable tinctures.

Dunt dunt dunt dun... (How does one spell that drumroll sound the boys are always making?)

Fall 2007 153

Fall 2007 154

Cool, huh? Now all Dad has to do is mix this pre-measured dose with a little water to make it easier to get down, and voila! Healthy medicine to go.

I save vanilla bottles for just this purpose... the amber colored glass is perfect for maintaining the quality of your tinctures, and I won't mind if they get lost or broken.

Works for me, even if it isn't Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 11


A Priesthood Change: From Levitical to Melchizedek's

Empowered By The Holy Spirit

Immersion In The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit As Teacher

The Spirit Of Conviction


Here's the link for Lesson 11.


Often as I have been studying the Hebraic foundation of our faith, I have been blown away by how interconnected the "Testaments" are. I had no idea how much the Newer Testament built upon and showed the fulfillment of the Older Testament. Let me know if you are as amazed as I was at learning the background behind Jesus' baptism. Things like this keep sending me back to the Older Testament to study more to see what else I will "see" that makes it all fit together so seamlessly. I keep having the same reaction over and over when studying these lessons: my mouth drops open, and all I can say for a while is, "Wow."





Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little By Little

The last few days our house has been spotless. But, being that my definition of spotless includes everything being in its place all at one time and being clean as well, it is not hard to understand that, while this state has at one time or another in the past been witnessed in our home, the duration of said state is a vapor quickly fleeting. Our being in the season of having our home on the market to sell, it is necessary, albeit tortuous, for this to be the constant state of things for an indefinite period of time. Ahem. I thought childrearing itself was a vehicle of sanctification, but it has nothing on childrearing plus this pretending-that-our-life-is-lived-in-a-magazine.

As I pondered the unpleasantness of living as if complete strangers could walk in at any moment, it appeared I was not the only one traveling this road of thought. My big girls' questions and comments during a spot-check cleanup session began several discussions about my Newlywed life. It is comical to them to know that they know more at their ages (12 and 11) about childrearing, running a home and cooking than I did when I got married, so they ask about that season regularly.

"So Mom, how did you keep the whole house clean when all you had was you doing all the cleaning?"

"First of all, it was only myself and little boys (the girls snickered at this mention) there were not as many folks to clean up after. Second, I didn't. It was a wreck. All the time. The laundry was always piled up to the top of the washer, we had to wash a dish before we ate out of it, and we couldn't have company because we couldn't find the couch."

Looking around, I was gratefully aware that the fact that we can now have even fleeting moments of having the house spotless with a family of nine is evidence of Yahweh's grace in my life. It is He that allowed me to grow and learn in order to be able to pull off such a feat today. Even today, it is a testimony to His loving kindness alone, and not my superior skill or (cough) self discipline. Every day it gets a little easier as we raise the bar and attempt to live up to what we have already attained.

I explained to my girls that it all started with the medicine cabinet. I knew a bit about how to clean and given the right circumstances, I could organize a closet. My most pressing problem was that I had no idea how to manage the cleanliness of my home, to manage the state of our home's organization, to manage the budget, or to manage the pantry or menus... none. I cared for my home in spurts. I would go six months without making my bed, then have a major cleaning spurt and pull an all-nighter to get everything spic and span at once. The 'clean' would only last hours, as I had no idea how to keep it that way. I was disgusted with myself and sorely discouraged, but didn't know what to do to change and had no one I could ask for help.

I know when it happened. When my children were 3, 2 and 1 and I was seven months pregnant with baby #4, Mr. Visionary gave me one day's notice that he was going out of town for a week. He left the day after Christmas, when myself and the children were worn out from all the holiday traveling, had no groceries in the house, and an ice storm was approaching. To say that I broke down that weekend would not quite capture all that transpired. As I was without power and water, cooking over the woodstove with three babies, and my house was a wreck, it was all I could do to keep my head above water. In fact, the only way I made it was by praying through tears seemingly the entire time. I was as overwhelmed as I have ever been at that point, and all I could do was to cry out to Yahweh. I asked Him to give me hope via something tangible. My faith was so faltering that I needed something I could see. Enter the medicine cabinet.

I had a small bathroom that a pregnant woman couldn't bend over in. In it was an even smaller medicine cabinet on the wall that held the leaking toothpaste, outdated medicine, half-used razors and odds and ends. One day I cleaned out that cabinet, frustrated that it was always so stuffed that it wouldn't close properly. In an epiphany, I put a stake in the ground, and determined that from there on out... I WOULD KEEP THAT CABINET CLEANED OUT! It was a minuscule step in view of the whole picture of the chaos in my life, but it was something.

Over the next few weeks ~ unfortunately this was no quick process ~ I did manage to keep it in order. It gave me back a smidge of self respect that had been long lost. Encouraged from there, I raised the bar to keeping the whole (remember it is very small) bathroom cleaned all the time. This plan was all I could manage during that season of so many little ones. As each of the first areas became habit, I gradually began adding areas to what I was able to keep under control. It is not a fancy system ~ but it takes much prayer to grow in self discipline a little at a time, with a commitment to not backslide. Easy? No, not really ~ self discipline never is. It was just simple enough to give me the hope I needed to be faithful to keep that I didn't stay in the chaos. I continued to check out books that taught me how to clean, study every Momma-of-Many I could get myself near and soak up knowledge from every arena I saw producing good fruit in order to grow my newly blooming skills.

Today, when one of the children has trouble keeping their room clean, we go back to this plan. Everything in their room comes out except the basics. When the child can keep the bed and three outfits in order, on a regular basis, then they can choose a few more items to come back to their room. When they can manage that much regularly, then they can choose a little more. It ministers to them, as they get the opportunity to feel that same self respect that I experienced by having their own domain in order.

Things have changed drastically in our home since those early days. Folks constantly comment positively about the orderliness in our home, and assume I must have been one of the 'born organized' types. An old friend used to mock people whose homes were really clean because to her it meant that they must not be caring for their kids properly. She didn't know where I had been, so I tried to overlook her comments. Because I do remember from where I have come, I am amazed that any woman has any order at all. To this day, when struggling younger Mommas ask me how to manage their homes, I give them this same advice. Find something... no matter how small... to be a foundation that you can maintain...feel good about yourself (not self-esteem, but self respect)... then build upon it. It may be a section of counter, a certain chair that always has clothes piled high, a section of the top of your desk...

Even if it is only a medicine cabinet, it can be a good place to put a stake in the ground.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Sickness Season

Since it appears to be that time of year again, when viruses are running rampant, and lots of folks are succumbing, I've been feeling led to get back on the wagon as far as doing my part to keep us healthy. Also, my dear friend Carla Lynne has also just been through a major illness, and her exhortation to WASH YOUR HANDS startled me awake again. I hadn't realized how lax my efforts at building our family's immunity had become.

But, as they used to say on the G.I. Joe cartoon I watched as a kid, "Knowledge is half the battle... Yo Joe!" Now that I know, I'm redoubling my efforts, and restudying my own homework to refresh myself. I am posting a link to an old study I did called Battling Illness Naturally:Prevention for your benefit, and mine.

Now I won't have to keep digging in the Archives every time I want to read it. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Restoring The Early Church ~ Lesson 10

Happy Hanukkah to those who avail themselves of the blessings of observing this holiday! For those who do not, and wonder why a Gentile believer in Yeshua (Jesus) would want to celebrate this holiday, here is a great post by our friend Lisa, entitled "Why Hanukkah?". In a nutshell, the events leading up to Hanukkah were prophesied in Daniel chapter 8, and without the efforts of the Maccabees, frankly there would not have been a Messiah. Maybe that is why Yeshua himself traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate as well (my studies show this to be a three to five day journey ~ in winter).


In our study, this lesson is getting down to the nitty gritty details of walking out life together as the ecclesia ~ the called out ones ~ and growing in our roles as men and women of the Most High, Yahweh. This lesson, in particular reiterates the lesson that Mr. Visionary has been teaching our children about knowledge not being an end in itself, but is valuable only as it helps us grow in our obedience to Yahweh and His Word.




Elders, Our Father's Representatives

The Importance of Older Women

Growing Wise And Remaining Teachable



Here's the link for Lesson 10.