Monday, December 16, 2013

The Ebb and Flow...

A time for dancing!
Here lately, it seems like I've been reading a lot about parenting methods.  I've seen advice given as if there is only one way to go.  I've heard moms who feel as though fervently adhering to one method or another will eventually make their lives easier and their children sweeter.  I've seen moms who feel like they have to explain or defend their choices constantly.  I've read parenting books and blogs that present their information in a "try-this-it-works-every-time-if-you-do-it-right", one-size fits all kind of way.  I've been a victim of the "parent guilt" inflicted on today's mom when her child has a melt-down in public, or if her baby is wearing a puffy coat in the carseat on a cold day.  I've also unintentionally been an instigator at times, I'm sure.

A time for bathing.
Today, we try to make everything into a precise science - how to eat the most healthy diet, have the most organized home, be the perfect wife, or parent our children effectively and safely.  Technology puts information at our fingertips, and we use that world-wide web of information as our gospel.  You can find precise answers (or opinions) to all of your questions.  We can always find something that sounds just so good that it HAS to be right. Right?

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Prov. 14:12

A time for wearing the tree skirt.
I'll get to my point.  Parenting is not a precise science.  There is no one-size fits all.  It can't be broken down into a method.  Parenting is an act of LOVE.  It is a special relationship that God designed in order to give us a glimpse of WHO HE IS.  It has an ebb and flow, alive and active.  It involves discernment, perseverance, sacrifice, successes and failures, and sometimes even getting it right while other times having to apologize for getting it wrong.  Most of all, it is between us and the Lord.  Our success is directly related to our relationship with Him.  And we can find the answers to all of our parenting dilemmas in His Word.  I speak to myself as much as to anyone else.

"He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." Prov. 14:26

In my parenting journey, I have gone to other books for help.  I have tried the methods.  But you know what? Eventually there is an exception to the rule, and you have to go with your heart.  If your heart is full of anger, resentment, hurts, regrets, guilt, or bitterness, then that is what will come out of you in the most difficult parenting situations.  If you are feeding on the Word of God, receiving His healing, love, joy, peace, and patience (and other fruits), then these are the things that will come out of you in those tough moments.  No method can do for us what the Word of God can do through us by the Holy Spirit.
A time for music lessons.

My advice:  PRAY!!  Pray for the Lord's wisdom.  Pray for a godly mentor who won't point you to some book, but to THE BOOK.  Pray for the strength to see things through.  Pray for your children and their journey to and with the Lord.  Pray for courage to parent without fear.  Pray for the wisdom you need and you WILL receive it.  That is a promise! Pray for humility and the ability to empathize with your child when they face failure (which in our house is at some point every day). Pray for other moms and their children. Share your struggles and successes with each other.  And look to the Word of God as your parenting handbook.
A time for cuteness!

James 4:10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (Humility)

James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (Fellowship)

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (the Bible as our handbook)

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (Courage)

1 John 3:18  "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (Love is active)
A time for love.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

School and little ones...

Proverbs 31:26-27 "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. "

Okay, wow!  So it has really been awhile since I wrote a new blog post.  Two months!  It does, however, coenside with the start of our new homeschool year, which is quite rigorous.  So, since school is consuming so much of our time right now, that's what this post is going to be about.  I've had a lot of questions about our curriculum choices for this year and how we manage with the little ones being underfoot.  On a side note: the schedule that I made and posted a few months ago is no longer relevant with our new homeschool schedule, so I will (hopefully soon) be making a new schedule.  We basically stick to a daily routine though, as far as when we do certain subjects.
Eating marshmallows after helping stack wood.

2013-2014 Curriculum Choices:
Rachel- 10 yrs- 5th grade
Sonlight Core E- Bible, history, geography, vocabulary, language arts, reading
Sequential Spelling
Saxon 6/5- math
Apologia Astronomy- science
Draw Squad- art
Homeschool Fitness- physical education
Handwriting Without Tears- print and cursive handwriting
Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum
Homemaking for Girls Book 3

Miriam- 7.5 yrs- 2nd to 3rd grade
Sonlight Core B- Bible, history, geography, vocabulary, reading
Adventures in Phonics C- phonics and spelling
Modern Curriculum Press Book B & C- math
Handwriting Without Tears
Apologia Astronomy- science
Homeschool Fitness- physical education
Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum
Homemaking for Girls Book 2

Hannah- 5.5 years- 1st grade
Sonlight Core B- Bible, history, geography
Adventures in Phonics A- phonics and spelling
Adventures in Phonics Readers 1-4- reading
Modern Curriculum Press Book A- math
Handwriting Without Tears
The World God Made- science
Homemaking for Girls Book 1

Joseph, Mary, and the donkey
We chose Sonlight for the bulk of our daily learning because these subjects (mostly) are where you shape your worldview.  Having a biblical worldview was number 1 on our list of priorities, but we also wanted to to emphasize other cultures as much as our own.  Our hope is that our kids will learn so much about other cultures that they will 1) appreciate what they have here in the United States and 2) have a compassion for the rest of the world and reach beyond our borders.  We feel that Sonlight goes above and beyond what we hoped for in this area, as well as preparing them very well in literature, vocabulary, and language arts in order to do well on tests like the SAT, should they choose to go that route.

Right now, we do school from about 9am-12pm. Then we have an 1 1/2 hour break for lunch, clean-up, free time, laundry, etc.  Mostly the morning time is our Bible, history, geography, readers, read-alouds; basically anything that can be read while cuddling together on the couch! :o)  This is my favorite part of school.  We get to read the most interesting books with our curriculum.  The afternoon from 1:30pm -3:30pm is spent doing our seatwork. Whether or not they spend the entire 2 hours doing seatwork depends on their age, and how quickly they get their work done.  This includes math, phonics, writing, language arts, spelling, or art.  Certain subjects are done only 2-3 times a week, and others are done each day.  After seatwork time, we try to have a break, then work on some less structured subjects like Homemaking, fitness, or typing.  One or two nights a week, David does science with the kids.  They love this learning time with Daddy, and he gets as excited about it as they do!

Getting more and more mobile!
Silly, ornery little guy.
Now to answer the question on the little ones.  During the afternoon its easy.  All three of the little ones are asleep.  Perfect time for us to do our seatwork.  During the morning, its more difficult and there are far more interruptions.  The babies take a morning nap still, so that helps.  They go down from about 9:30-11:30.  However, while they are up, they have a play area with toys in the same room that we are in.  We also have a jumperoo and johnny jump up that we utilize.  Now Joel is the tricky one.  I have activities for him to do during school time, but he easily gets distracted and might end up in the bathroom eating toothpaste or in the kitchen biting into three different apples.  I am still working on keeping a handle on my active little 3 year old. Since he is my first boy after 3 girls, I'm in the learning process with him.  :o)  Sometimes there are lots of interruptions and it gets really frustrating.  Other days, things go very smoothly.   I know its a process.

Well, that's what is going on in the Oswald home right now.  I hope it gives you a little understanding as to why I haven't blogged in 2 months, haha!  Most of the housework has to wait until the evenings!

I will say that as difficult as it seems sometimes, I wouldn't trade this time for anything in the world!  I love having little ones, and I will miss it when they are grown up!

They grow up too fast!

Friday, September 6, 2013

School room transformation! (insert "Hallelujah Chorus")

Hanging over my head for the last year has been the need to reorganize in the school room.  We started last September with a semi-organized space, but I was unable to do the full task due to being very sick pregnant with the twins.  Halfway through that time, we got new shelves moved in there.  I had a dear friend help me put everything onto the shelves (I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with the twins by this time), but it was still quite disorganized.  I've been working on it 30 minutes here and there over the last several weeks.  Last night, David had some guys over to watch football.  One of them brought his children who played with our children keeping them occupied, and the twins were in bed!!  I closed myself in the schoolroom and went to work for 2 1/2 hours straight!  It feels so good to have it finished and ready for our September 23 new school year start date.  Here are some before and after shots of the room:








Did I mention that I feel soooo much better having this done?!!  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's for dinner, Momma? Yummy!!

This has been one crazy summer.  After trips to Wichita, the four corners area out west, and Branson for a few days, we are finally home for a good long time.  I'm so glad to be back on a routine, and getting everything back in order.
Photo: This is one great Daddy!  Aren't they cute?!

First order of business when I got home (besides unpacking and all the normal "mom" stuff), was making a month-long grocery menu in order to buy more in bulk, cook from scratch more, and save money.  I used pinterest and some large family blogs to come up with a menu and shopping list that would suit our family for this past two weeks and the next two.  So, basically, my "months" begin in the middle of the actual month.  Here is a list of things I am trying out in order to save money on food:
1) Making a month-long menu plan, instead of the weekly plan
2) Keeping better track of things that I could be buying in bulk
3) Making almost all of my recipes from scratch
4) Using online coupons, but only the ones that make sense for my family
5) Shopping at Aldi first (which I have always done)

I've really enjoyed this process and the things that I have been learning.  My husband also contributed a great idea that I thought I would try.  He suggested having the the same weekly menu every week for 4 weeks, then the next month, have all different meals.  That way we don't get burnt out on anything in particular, plus I can save the menus and repeat them every 4 months and already have the shopping lists on hand (with just a few adjustments).  I hope this makes sense.  I'm not that great at explaining things in writing.  :o)

So here is the menu for this month:

  Saturdays- Homemade sloppy joes with store-bought buns, potatoes (however I wish to make them that week), broccoli
  Sundays-  Tater tot casserole and green beans
  Mondays-  Chicken tetrazzini (using homemade cream of chicken soup)
  Tuesdays-  our Life Group is this night, so it changes each week according to what the group decides
  Wednesdays-  Ham sandwiches, carrots with Ranch dressing
  Thursdays-  Biscuits and gravy, fruit
  Fridays-  Homemade pizza (toppings will vary)

  Saturdays- Beans and brauts, fruit
  Sundays- Spaghetti (homemade sauce with italian sausage), salad
  Mondays- Burritos, corn
  Tuesdays- Tuna sandwiches, cucumbers with Ranch
  Wednesdays-  Leftovers
  Thursdays-  Quesadillas, fruit
  Fridays-  Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, carrots with Ranch

Breakfasts: (these will always be the same every month)
  Saturdays-  Pancakes (made by Daddy)
  Sundays-  Cereal with milk (quick breakfast for a church morning)
  Mondays- Oatmeal (different flavors and variations)
  Tuesdays-  Eggs and sausage, fruit
  Wednesdays- Toast (with varied toppings), fruit
  Thursdays- Oatmeal
  Fridays- Cereal with milk (quick breakfast for grocery shopping day)

Photo: BLESSINGS come in many forms.  Thanks, Mike Fowler!I've tried to eliminate as much snacking as possible, unless its really necessary.  Our children have become dependent on the 10am and 3pm snack times.  They will ask for a snack at those times whether they were really hungry or not.  Little Joel still gets a cup of milk when he wakes up from his nap, though. So far we have stuck to this schedule for 2 weeks.  Its been pretty easy, and even though I've been making my own bread, I've not spent any extra time in the kitchen because I can double and freeze a lot of the recipes.  Next month, I will let everyone know how much grocery money I saved by this new method.  I'm really excited to find out!!

Speaking of making my own bread, it's been WAY easier than I thought it would be!  The recipe that I found is at .  It is fluffy, smooth, and rises nice and high!  Did I mention that it smells amazing!?  But that goes for almost all homemade bread!!

Also, the Lord has been encouraging me with Psalm 107 this month, so give it a read.  I'll probably be blogging about that soon, so stay tuned! :o)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Wheels on the Yukon go 'round and 'round...

Recently, as most of my readers know, our family went on a very long semi-vacation.  I say "semi-vacation" because our reason for hitting the road was not about having a vacation, but honoring the memory of my husbands grandmother.  When we found out she was put on hospice, we started planning in our minds what it would take to get to Mesa, Arizona (an 18 hour drive) with our family of 8.  Little did we know she would pass away two days later, giving us 2 1/2 days to pack and get to Mesa.  I found out on a Wednesday afternoon that we needed to leave for Arizona the next morning in order to make it there by Friday evening.  Fortunately, instead of going into panic mode, God gave me the grace to move into planning mode!  This blog is about what that looked like for our family.

1. The Lists
--I immediately began writing lists for packing.  I like to categorize things into smaller lists to insure that I am not overwhelmed, and that we forget less.  My categories: girls, Joel, twins, dad and mom, swim stuff, toiletries, food, electronics, and misc.  Once I had it all written out, I put it on the dining table so that David or I could add to it if the need were to arise.  I always, ALWAYS pack each thing first before I mark it off the list.  A few times in the past I have marked something off while on my way to go get it, got sidetracked, and never actually ended up packing it.  

2. The Bags
--Something different that we tried this time was packing according to our stops.  Normally the girls' would have shared a bag, Joel and the twins would have get the point.  For this trip, we packed a bag for each hotel stop that included all the clothes, pajamas, shoes and diapers that everyone needed for that particular stop.  That way, we wouldn't have to unpack ALL of our luggage at EVERY stop.  It worked out great, and even helped with space because when we were finished with a particular bag, it became the dirty clothes bag for that stop.  We packed the twins their own duffle bag that would be brought in every time.  So basically, at each hotel stop we only had to unpack the twins duffle, crib, family bag for that particular stop, toiletries bag, nursing pillow, and the kids' pillows and blankets.  Also, David did not have to reload ALL the luggage every time.  Just those things we took in.  It worked really well for us.

3. Help!!
--The night before we left, when we were doing our packing frenzy, we realized that we needed to get some things from Wal-mart.  We enlisted the help of our good friend to sit at the house after the children went to bed so that David and I could run our errand.  Bonus: She did some packing and cleaning while we were out!  We are so thankful for good friends.  What a blessing!

4. Entertainment
--David made some copies of car games that he found which included Car Battleship, Vacation BINGO, and Tic-Tac-Toe.  We also bought a portable DVD player with double screens to help stave off the boredom.  The children each chose a certain number of movies, and we transferred them to a CD case that could easily fit in a pocket in the back of one of the seats. We brought minimal books, toys, and crayons as well.  We chose things that would be easy to have in the vehicle.  

5. Rearranging
--David came up with the idea of rearranging the carseats in the Yukon.  He made sure that each baby had a big girl in the seat beside them in order to help with pacifiers, blankets, and entertaining.  It worked out pretty well except for when the big girls were watching a movie when the babies needed something.  Then they didn't want to stop watching their movie, and just got frustrated with the babies.  They did, however, learn a lot about entertaining a baby on a long trip.  

6. Misc.
--One particular thing that I did was make sure that the dresses that the girls and I chose for the memorial were fabrics that would not have to be ironed.  That way they could just be packed right in the bag, and hung up when we got to the hotel in Mesa.  I was so glad when the time came to get everyone ready!!  Only had to iron the boys' shirts.
--We let Rachel or Miriam have the camera a few times.  They were entertained by taking pictures of their siblings, and got some great pictures from their own perspective.  
--We saved soooo much money by taking sandwich stuff for lunches and our own snacks!  It also gave us the opportunity to stop at some nice parks and let the kids run off some energy.  
--It was important for us to be a little less strict about things such as how many movies they were watching, yet a little more strict about certain behaviors such as little ones holding a grown up's hand at all times in certain places.  Also, explaining what we were going to do, and what behaviors we expected before going into any building or site.

Besides going to Grandmother's memorial, we took our time on the way home and did lots of sight-seeing.  We saw a meteor crater (which went really well with our Astronomy we have been studying in science), the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, Four Corners, the Great Sand Dunes, and lots of mountains.  We stayed in hotels in Albuquerque NM, Mesa AZ, Williams AZ, Blanding UT, Alamosa CO, and Garden City KS.  We had our vehicle break down in the mountains and David had to change the fuel filter in the Auto Zone parking lot in Durango, CO.   

It was definitely an adventure.  David and I both agreed that we never would have planned a trip like this on our own with our children the ages that they are (10, 7, 5, 2, 4 months, 4 months).  However, we are thankful that we took the time to go, as we were able to see family that we haven't seen in a long time, as well as be there for David's grandfather as he mourned the loss of his loving wife.  We are so thankful to have been able to take part in that.  We had a blessed time and we will remember it forever!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Nicely Ordered Day...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... " Ecc.3:1

From the beginning, God created time.  He made man, and put him within the limits of time.  He tells us that there is a time for everything. He also instructs us to use our time wisely. "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16)
It has been on my heart lately to make sure that I am making wise choices with my time and the children's time.  We want to be intentional with our parenting, and not just reacting to the children all the time.  We want to help them "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).  In order to help them in this way, we choose to do things "on purpose" in our family.  We desire to budget our time in much the same way as we budget our money, using our time wisely with the Lord's guidance.  We wish to sharpen our children in the Word of God, so that they will be useful in His kingdom.  "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127:3-5)
Managers of Their Homes: A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families
With the help of the book, "Managers of Their Homes" by Teri Maxwell ( and much prayer and guidance from the Lord, we came up with a schedule for our family (David is not on the schedule b/c he is at work from 8-5).  First, I wrote down our NEEDS.  Those are the things that are absolutely necessary for everyone to maintain physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being.  Things like self-care, chores, meals, cuddle times, education, bible time, baths, naps, etc.  I made a list of these things for myself and each child, that way I could make sure my needs as Mommy were being met, as well as the needs of each child.  Once you strip everything down to just the NEEDS, you really begin to see how many things you commit your time to that are really less of a priority.  Plus, it feels really good to know that you will be able to give your children all that they need, without going to bed wishing you'd done more.

Next, I started with the babies nursing schedule that they developed over the last few months.  I don't like to schedule my breastfeeding babies, as it inhibits a good supply production.  This time especially, having twins, I needed to build up a nice, good supply.  So, I nurse on-demand, and let the babies naturally fall into a routine.  Now, at 4 months, they nurse about every 3 hours during the day, so I was able to use their natural pattern, and work our schedule around it.

Then, I wrote the nursing times down on a time chart, as well as giving everything from our NEEDS list a time.  Our chart is broken down into 30 minute increments.  Not everything we do will take 30 minutes, so this allows for some flexibility for interruptions and occasional discipline issues.  I want to note that I also included the number of hours of sleep I would like each person to get onto the NEEDS list, so that it would be a priority.  Then I determined what time each person would need to be in bed and get up in the morning to meet that need, and put it on the chart.

After that, I made a list of the things David and I feel led to add to our daily life to enrich everyone's relationships with each other and with the Lord.  These would be things like each sibling having a certain time where they play with another sibling.  That way each sibling relationship gets nurtured at some point during the week.  Also, I wanted to make sure that we did art every day.  I had to do some shifting and altering before I came up with the final schedule that I posted on the wall for everyone to see.  It was definitely a time investment on my part, but one that I have faith will produce good fruit in our family.

Finally, I wrote all the information down on a poster-sized post-it note (huge!).  I assigned each person a color, and wrote their part of the schedule in that color.  I hung the paper on the wall in the dining room.  I chose this wall because we either are in that room or pass by that wall many times a day.  Plus, you can see that wall from the living room.  I had it hung on the wall for about a week before we started using it, so that everyone had time to look at it and ask questions.

This has been our first week on our schedule.  There have been "off" days, interruptions, outside activities that conflict with parts of it once a week, etc.  When we are home though, we've stuck to the schedule.  For instance, we went grocery shopping yesterday.  After we got home and put away groceries, we looked at the schedule to see what everyone should be doing at that time, getting right back on task.  It was so much nicer than me having to come up with something to keep everyone busy.  We also accomplished a lot more at home than we usually do on grocery day.

One thing I'd like to make clear is that a schedule is meant to offer guidance, not to run your life.  If you expect to follow it perfectly, you will give up.  There has never been a day where something unexpected hasn't come up.  You might have to clean up a poopy mess when, according to the schedule, you should be doing laundry, or have a heart-to-heart with a child when the schedule says it's time for handwriting.  I HAVE to be flexible and allow for the ebb and flow of life.  It does, however, give us purpose and help us meet goals.

Other things we do to keep the home running more efficiently are menu planning (which I hang on the refrigerator), and chore charts (hanging in the hallway).  I am by no means an organized person.  It does NOT come naturally to me.  It is only by seeking the Lord and listening to the counsel of moms who have "been there, done that" that I am able to form ways to run our home that work well for our family.  God is so good to give the ideas, the counsel, and the energy to do anything that I do.  He is sooo good!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Sugar Fast and a Menu

"The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"  Galatians 2:20b-21

I'm aware that I did not post a meal menu for this past week.  That is because I have been working on two very important things: 1) a mostly sugar-free AND dairy-free meal menu and 2) a family schedule.  These two things have come priorities to me due to some things I've noticed in our family.  By faith, I have put my time into these things in hopes that they will bring good fruit in our lives.

First, we are all addicted to sugar.  I, in particular, have noticed that I am waking up with sore joints and am craving carbs and sweets all the time.  Since I am breastfeeding, I also have to think about the nutrition of the babies, so I am making changes.

Also, time has been my enemy lately!!  I always go to bed feeling like I've left many things undone, and then I can't sleep.  So I went to my old friend, "Managers of Their Homes" by Debi Maxwell from Titus 2 ministries at  I found out about this book from a friend a few years back.  It guides you in managing your time by making a schedule for the entire family.  I could go on and on about this, but I will save that for the next blog post in a couple of days.

On to the menu!!  I'm excited about this one because I worked really hard to make choices that would be sugar-free AND dairy-free, yet still time-manageable and delicious.  The sugar-free part doesn't begin until Sunday on the menu.  I wanted to wait until after the holiday weekend, since there will be too much temptation!  :o)  Feel free to follow along, and challenge yourself to go sugar-free for a week with me.  I will continue sugar-free selections through next week as well.

Saturday:  (today is my oldest daughter's birthday, so her selections)
B- Daddy's pancakes and bacon

L- Build-your-own-salad (lettuce, eggs, black olives, ham, cucumber, raisins, croutons, almonds, cheese, broccoli, avocado, tomatoes, etc)

D- Grilled burgers, baked beans, green beans with bacon, root beer

B- Cereal with milk (rice milk for Mommy and Miriam)

L- Deli sandwiches, fresh pineapple, corn chips

D- White Chicken Chili

B- Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal (unsweetened almond milk, vanilla, unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, walnuts)

L- Garlic noodles (spaghetti noodles with olive oil and garlic), green salad

D- Crockpot fajitas (chicken breasts, bell peppers, onions, spices in crockpot for 4 hrs on High, serve in tortillas), black beans with crushed tomatoes and seasoning

B- Eggs, sausage, Kale/berry smoothies ( kale, blueberries, strawberries, plain yogurt, banana, maybe some raw honey)

L- Chicken salad (shredded chicken breast, plain mayo, grapes, apples, walnuts) on lettuce, cucumber slices, whole wheat crackers

D- Easy, Healthy Vegetable Linguine to take to Life Group

B- Whole wheat toast with butter, plain yogurt with honey and berries

L- Leftovers!!

D- BLT's, carrots and sugar snap peas, corn chips

B- Overnight Banana Steel-Cut Oats

L- Chicken tostadas (leftover crockpot fajitas on tostada shells with toppings)

D- Omelets (toppings: ham, kale, mushrooms, cheese for the dairy-able, onions, peppers, salsa)

B- Cereal with milk (rice milk for Mommy and Miriam)

L- Taco Bell (grocery day)

D- Homemade pizza with homemade sugar-free sauce (haven't looked up a recipe yet, sorry!!)

Veggies with hummus, energy balls (using sugar-free peanut butter), apples and peanut butter, bananas rolled in nuts, dried berries and nuts

I hope this menu is helpful and gives you some great ideas for making sugar-free eating simple and delicious.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Walking with our daughters...

"You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16

photography by Rachel Oswald
I have to be honest.  I look around the CHURCH these days, and don't see very many young ladies being "the light of the world".  I see a lot of  girls confused BY the world, compromising and flirting WITH the world, thinking they are doing a good job as "Christians" because they are not as bad as so and so.  As I am looking, I cannot help but wonder, "How can girls be effective for Christ when they are so concerned with looking, sounding, acting like everyone else?"  Is this "just the way things are"?  It might be common, but it is not okay.  Our daughters are being robbed of their innocence and purity at way too young of an age.  They are molested by the media and by a government that wants to take control of their sexual education.  The word "daughter" no longer holds a place of honor in our culture.  It used to mean purity, beauty, and a sense of virtue and godliness.  Now, a daughter lacks much distinction from anyone else.

We have 4 daughters of our own, and have been seeking the Lord diligently for wisdom in raising them to be true "daughters" of the King.  But how do we protect our daughters in a world that is seeping with rottenness and filth?  First, and the world may not agree with this, but we are very protective of them.  We believe that God has given us the job of guarding their hearts and minds, until they are well discipled.  Discipleship is key to them being able to face a fallen world and still stand for Christ.  They MUST know the Word of God, and be able to give testimony for why they believe what they believe.  Until they are mature in that, we will not send them to the front lines of battle, for they would be destroyed.   We also need to be careful about who they spend a lot of time with.  Friendships are a big influence on a young person's life.  They should be surrounded by people who have similar values and can be encouraging to them.

photography by Rachel Oswald
"It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Matt. 18:14
                    -Protect them.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Prov. 22:6
                  - Disciple them.

"Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'. " 1 Cor. 15:33

                  -Help them seek out godly friendships

In addition, mothers, we need to be an example to our daughters!  If we spend more money and time getting our hair and nails done than we spend discipling our daughters, there is a problem.  We are told in Deuteronomy 6 about the time investment we must make with our children. 

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you lie down and when you get up."

photography by Rachel Oswald
Basically, all day.  All day, we are the ones to be setting an example and teaching our children the things of God.  All day, the Lord's words should be on our lips.  I know that I can do better in this area!

Stacy McDonald, author of "Raising Maidens of Virtue" puts it this way, when talking about Christian daughters:
"It is a Christian daughter's duty to reflect purity-- literally.  She has an obligation to be a symbol of virginity
(not the sexual type; the biblical type which means in all areas of life and attitude)*  when she walks into a room.  Why would a Christian young lady desire to masquerade as someone else--as someone who is impure?  To do so would be to lie about the very nature of Christ.  A modest young maiden makes more than a fashion statement--she makes a purity statement!"

Let's raise our daughters to set a new standard that will point the world toward the light of Christ instead of seeking the attention for themselves.  Let's raise daughters to be pleasant, servant-hearted, modest, humble, and kind.  Let's raise daughters who are emotionally stable and a blessing to any who would seek their hand.   Let's raise daughters who know the Lord and His Word, and are not afraid to stand up for it.  No compromises!!  Let's raise true daughters of the KING!

photography by Rachel Oswald

"All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold.  In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you.  They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king."  Psalm 45: 13-15

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nothing is Impossible...

God spoke to me today in a very clear way, and I'd like to share it with all of you.  This week I have been praying for a loved one who is hurting.  I feel helpless.  It is difficult to see God working at all in their situation (though I know He always is).  I have been very discouraged this week, and my heart broken for them.  As I took this situation to the Lord in prayer, He made it very clear that He desires only two things from me:  prayer and obedience.  Now, obedience requires that I listen to Him, and be in His Word.  He was preparing my heart to hear what He had to say.  The amazing thing is that He used different scriptures and different people to encourage me and the message came together and was so clear!  God is amazing!!  

1. Get rid of fear.  (He told me this in Sunday School from Gene.)  Fear will hold me back from sharing the Gospel with my loved one.  It will hold me back from fully submitting to God's will.  In fear, I try to control the situation.  In faith, I recognize God's sovereignty and control over the situation. 

2. Don't give up.  God will never give up on anyone, and neither should we.  (This one is from Sunday School too, and a movie my husband and I watched last night.)  God is always pursuing people, whether they will believe Him or not, because it is in His nature that none should perish.  There is always hope.  Always.  And you never know what part of your life God is using to speak into someone else's life.  You never know when something you do or say will turn out to be eternally fruitful.

3.  Don't show the world your own version of Jesus.  (Gene again.  He thought he was being indulgent and chasing rabbits, but he was actually submitting to the Spirit and letting God speak into my life) Let Jesus show Himself through you and through His Word.  Then they will not be able to help but to see the love of God in your life.  

4.  Look at the examples of what He has already done. (From my good friend Teresa, who prayed with me).  Have there been other friends, family, or others that you have seen God change their life as they sought to follow Him?  Have you seen someone come to the Lord that you thought there was no hope for?  Look at examples from the scriptures.

5.  Expect great things, and thank Him for what he will do.  (Straight from the pulpit.  Thanks Pastor Joe!) Always be looking forward to what God is going to do!  Expect to see Him moving in their life and in yours.  Nothing is impossible!  

The biggest thing that I can do right now is commit to praying for and loving those who are hurting.

I leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns:

  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.

 Where we are weak, God can take over and do great things.  And the great thing is that He gets all the glory!!  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Meal plan (6/21-6/27), a recipe, and other stuff...

"He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe." Prov.28:26

I had some really hard days this week.  I mean, really hard.  The kind where you are at the end of yourself, and out of answers.  Where you question everything you are doing, and wonder if you are getting anywhere. Now, I can do one of two things.  I can feel sorry for myself, because "everyone and everything is against me and I want to do things my way".  My other option is much better though.  I can admit that I cannot do this on my own, call on the Lord for help, and be thankful for my blessings.  I've experienced this enough lately to be very confident in the fact that God will give me more strength, increase blessings, and teach me to do things His way.

Now for a meal plan, and a yummy recipe for Easy Healthy Vegetable Linguine!! As always, I include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and go Saturday through Friday.  This menu does contain dairy, and I will make substitutions for Miriam and myself where necessary.

B- Pancakes with blackberries, milk

L- Chilidogs (had much chili leftover from last week!!), green beans

(Giving a baby shower where I'm making peanut butter cookies, energy balls, and peanut butter &honey sandwiches---its a peanut themed shower.  My mom is bringing Lime Punch. Yum!)

D- Chicken fajitas (chicken, onions, bell peppers, seasoning in crockpot)

B- Cereal in milk, banana

L- Easy, Healthy Vegetable Linguine (recipe below), salad

D- Baked potatoes with chili ( again with the chili! haha)

B- Oatmeal (oats, vanilla almond milk, pure maple syrup, applesauce, cinnamon), orange juice

L- Burritos (refried beans in a tortilla, easy peasy), soft cooked carrots

D- Chicken, Green Bean, Potato Bake (Recipe on my Pinterest board)

B- Cinnamon toast, eggs, juice

L- Chicken salad on bread or lettuce, fresh pineapple chunks, pretzels

D- with our Life Group (I'm taking baked beans)

B- Cinnamon rolls, strawberries, juice

L- Spaghetti (just noodles and sauce, the way my children like it)

D- Taco salad or Soft tacos

B-Oatmeal, orange juice

L- Build-Your-Own-Salad (our rule is choose at least 2 vegetables besides lettuce), grapes or apples

D- Family Dinner Night- Grammy is making BBQ chicken and German potato salad, I'm providing steamed broccoli and buns, Mom & Dad are bringing beans, and Grammy Sharon is bringing dessert.  Our cousin Annie from New York will be an honored guest!!  Family dinner nights are the best!!!

B- Cereal with milk, bananas

L- out (grocery day)

D- Rachel's sleepover night, so lots of great sleepover foods!!!

Snacks: pretzels with peanut butter or hummus, veggies, energy balls, tortilla chips & salsa, fruit, frozen grapes, popcicles

Miriam is determined to bake a cake or cupcakes this week, so that's on the menu too, just not sure where it will fit in.  Probably for Life Group on Tuesday night.

Now, here is the recipe:

Easy, Healthy Vegetable Linguine

12oz  linguine noodles
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, juliennne
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 sprigs basil
4 1/2 c. vegetable broth (do NOT get the low sodium kind)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Grated parmesan (to garnish)

1. Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil in large stock pot.  Pour in vegetable broth.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (if desired) and oregano.  Drizzle top with oil.

2. Cover pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated.  I like to leave about 1/2 inch liquid in the bottom to stir back into the pasta.

3.  Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Garnish with parmesan cheese.

And just for fun, 3 months pictures of all of our children:




Leah and Levi

Sunday, June 16, 2013

But What About Fatherhood?? -by David

"Anyone can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy."  -Unknown

Really?  Seriously?  As a man, I actually loathe the statement as it implies that I could possibly be one and not the other simultaneously.  In my mind, they are one and the same, inseparable, synonymous.  Don't get me wrong, I honestly understand the implication behind the saying.  I do.  But is it right?  Is it truth?  Is this really where we want to draw the line as men?  I hardly think so!

I have been very touched today by reading the 'I love you, Daddy' or 'I love my father' or 'I miss my dad' posts on facebook.  I share many of the same sentiments!  Strangely, there seemed to be an exceedingly abundant number of them, more so than I can remember in years' past.  And it really struck me (along with the powerful message in church this morning) as to just how deeply intimate and vitally important this relationship is to ALL of us!  Without exception! (because ALL includes everything that nothing does not!)

The statistics are astoundingly sobering, any way you look at them, at what a father-less home will do to the hearts and futures of our children.  I don't have time to study and quote any specific numbers to you (remember? I have 6 kids!), but here are a few examples: a large majority of prison inmates, drug addicts, alcoholics, teen pregnancies and those who commit suicide either have major relational issues with their father or never knew him.  But why?  How can so many of these studies tie all of this back to dad?

The answer really is quite simple.  It's because God has designed a perfect order to the family, the core building block of every society.  He has placed within every man the desire and ability to be a leader, to compete, to conquer, and to triumph.  He has created us with a drive to provide and protect that which we love most.  But, He has also given us a command to love!!  We are to love our wives, our children, our families, our neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Without love, all else fails to find worth and meaning! (1 Corinthians 13:1-3,13)  Without love, leading turns to over-bearing suppression.  Without love, competition and conquering turns to hate and war.  Without love, triumph turns to bitterness and arrogance.  Without love, providing and protecting becomes utterly useless, even nearly depressing.  

So, back to the simple answer: Fathers have forgotten how to love.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "Let love be your highest goal!"  How could we have missed this, men?  Why is it not so painfully obvious to us all that what is lacking is LOVE?  Without a father's love, a child's self-worth and identity remains adrift in a sea of worldly pressures and temptations.  Without a daddy's protection, a child is left to defend himself against unbelievably powerful and subversive enemies.  Without a father's leadership and example, a child is left to define her own boundaries and morals.  Does that sound familiar?  It is not simply coincidental how we now find ourselves in a postmodern (or even post-postmodern) society full of moral relativism and decay.  It all rests on Dad's shoulders.

There is no difference between a father and a daddy, unless you can count perspective.  To me, I am both.  To my wife, I am both.  To my children, I am both.  But, admittedly, I may be more of a father than a daddy at certain times ,or, conversely, more of a daddy than a father at other times.  I believe the title 'Father' commands respect and reverence; I believe that this is a role of authority and power, and encompasses the duties of king, judge, and priest.  It is not a name that I expect to hear my children call me by, at least while they are young.  But, I know that it is who I am and NEED to be for my children while they are in my care.  On the other hand, I believe the title 'Daddy' illustrates an intimate and heart-touching relationship that is beyond description.  It is built around trust, affection, and devotion.  It may look different to different people, but it is the same principle of time spent together that lays the foundation.  I know that this is who I am and WANT to be for my children for all my life.  I have gathered this complement of 'titles' and qualities from Scripture and from my relationship with both my earthly father and my Heavenly Father.

Now, let's take a look at God's first command to Adam and Eve, the first family: Genesis 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it..."  From this, I would like to pose an alternative to the initial quote of unknown origin above.  I think it should be "Anyone can be a multiplier, but it takes someone Godly to be fruitful."  What I mean is this: Any man can be a multiplier (you know... the birds and the bees stuff...), but only a man that has humbly submitted himself to God's authority and power can be a fruitful father!  What kind of fruit do others see in your marriage?  In your workplace?  In your home?  What kind of fruit do your own children see in you?  Do you get the implication?

Fathers, have you honestly taken responsibility for the well-being of your children and their eternal future?  Or have you abdicated your office as leader, instructor, and judge to others (wife, step-parents, school systems, etc.)?  Dads, will you not throw off the shackles of fear and pride in order to show unwavering love and affection to your children and spouse?  I know it's not easy!  I know it's often uncomfortable!  I know it's even flat-out awkward sometimes! I know it's physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting!  I know that it actually seems down-right impossible!  I know, I know, I know!!!!

But what else is even worth your time, if not fatherhood?  What else is even worth investing ALL that you have, if not fatherhood?  What else is worth seeking, sacrificing, and laboring for, if not fatherhood?  Why else did your God not spare His ONLY begotten Son, if not for eternal fatherhood?  He desires to call you His child, and for you to call him Abba father.

Happy Father's Day, Dads!!  I'm praying for you!