Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - In Season and Out

I've been thinking recently that my 30-something self would be shaking her head at my reactions this past week.  For you see, my younger self was very involved in politics and social action within Concerned Women for America and the Republican party... and here I was doing everything possible to avoid the subject of this year's election.

My former self loved reading the newspaper, magazine articles, and even entire books about the political process... and then getting in the midst of the battle.  Do I care less about the country than I did?  Not at all.

It is of great concern that we are seeing now what people as diverse as Francis Schaeffer, David Wilkerson, and D. James Kennedy warned us about long ago.  But a great deal of the wisdom in growing older is to accept the season we find ourselves in and work within those limitations. My days in the midst of the battle are behind me and that baton passed on to those who are younger and healthier.

I have learned that our seasons of life flow from one to another and rarely stop abruptly at the end of a decade and switch over at the beginning of another.  I can look back at a season of raising children, a season of being a full time working mother, a season as a homeschool mom, and now a season as a mother of grown children.

I have had seasons of making Art and having no time to make Art.  Seasons of political involvement and now a season where my involvement is that as one who prays for the country and those involved in the political process.

There have been some things that have gone with me from one season to another such as my love of cooking, and books, and kitties, and that which is Beautiful.  Most of all... since my teenage years... I have been in love with God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.  I was totally and miraculously saved and will be forever smitten with the God who saves.

But there are changes in seasons for which we have no control, there was no decision made to "do this" or to "do that".  Life just happened.

For instance, our recent lawn and garden projects were brought about when we realized we had to make maintenance easier as we are not getting any younger.  I was the person in the family who did the gardening as well as keeping the landscaping pruned and weeded in the first years of living in the country.

But each year I could do less and the forest being what it is... took advantage of my neglect.  That realization came slowly over a few years and by the time my husband took over my former responsibilities, it was a continuous battle with nature.  Thus, our Summer project.

I've learned that, while there is such a thing as asking God and believing Him for an answer, sometimes His answer is for me... for us... to trust Him that our season of life is His will.  That it is not in spite of this season but because of it that we can do the very work for which He has called us to do.

If I were completely healthy, I doubt I'd be blogging but if I were... it would not be Coffee Tea Books and Me as it has been the past ten years.  If God had answered my prayer for complete healing or I'd never developed two auto immune diseases, my testimony would be very different.

That is why we must trust God and pray and then accept the season of life that He has ordained.  I know, there is always that fine balance of how much of our life is determined by His Will and to what extent can it be changed by our prayers.  I doubt we will have that complete knowledge until Eternity, if we ever know it.

Instead we are to read the Word and talk to Him and ask what we are to do in this season we find ourselves in.  You may have many small children at home which leaves few options outside the walls of your house.  You may be elderly and think the best years of your life are behind you but He has something to say about that.  Your children may now all be in school this year and there are free hours in your day for the first time in years.

You most likely have something you love to do, something which brings an excitement just thinking of it... a passion deep within that perhaps you have not confided to anyone.  What do you love to do?  Don't even think about doing it professionally.  If you could do anything right now, what would it be?  What is your passion?

Then, ask God for wisdom and he may just say to do it given the limitations of the season you are in at this time.  For instance, I have always loved to write but I don't have the energy to even think about what it takes to write a book.  But I started a blog when God told me to "just write".

Sometimes I write when I am really tired and I just kind of share my ponderings.  Sometimes He gives me something to write about... no, most of the time He gives me something, especially on Sunday.  I'm surprised every Saturday when there is something new about the Pantry I come across to share.  That is how I know I am to continue blogging... He still gives it Grace.

I enjoy making art, and cooking, and baking, and gardening... and I still do all of these things within great limitations.  Not as I would desire... not as I once did... but as I can now.  For you see my friends, it is not all or nothing in each season of life.

Instead of complaining where we are, we ask God what we can do in the here and now.  If He has given you a great passion to do something, find a way to do it.  Within limitations.  Understanding the season of life you are in right now.  For if you are reading this, you are still breathing.  If you are breathing, there is LIFE.  However imperfect.

You may be the very person... only you... who can do that which He needs accomplished in your home or neighborhood or church or community.  You cannot go back and relive a previous season of life but you can embrace where you are right now.  If you have breath within then you have something He has left you on this planet to do.

Occupy until He comes.  Oh, and... Maranatha Lord Jesus.

Photo: My apple mint at the end of the season.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Lawn and Garden Projects

The heat index today is to be over 100 so I was out early watering the garden and picking the first green beans of the season.  That is always a red letter day here as they are the favorite food we grow.  I gave up on most tomatoes, unless we chop a tree down near the garden there won't be enough direct sunshine.  However, cherry tomatoes grow fine and I'm just waiting for some to ripen next week... maybe.

I'm so very thankful I was able to stock the freezer some a few weeks ago.  Meals have been creative but chicken makes everything easier.  I thought it amusing that while watching The Last Alaskans, they continuously talk about the need for meat to survive in Alaska.  There was not one vegetarian among them (on purpose at least).

The reason for us being so tight right now is the huge sodding project Hubby is currently working on.  He was given the wrong estimate and when he went to pay for the order, found out it was nearly $400 instead of $150 as he had been told.  The young woman who gave him the estimate had not included other charges.  He was given the option to back out of the order but the project was too important.

It has been a huge project but everything looks so much better and... even more important for him... it will make maintenance easier.  The forest has been trying to take back the area next to one side of the house and it was winning each year.  The only way to give it a permanent fix was to take every good plant, bush, unwelcome seedling, and equally unwelcome weed and dig them all out... replacing with thick sod over all.

He used the extra sod from the project to place around trees that had bare spots from not getting enough sunlight.  Over the past few years, he has been cutting lower branches to get more sunlight on the ground.

The Spring project this year was the rebuilding of half the raised beds and laying garden fabric between the raised bed rows before layering pea gravel on top of it.  Last year it was putting a new chicken wire fence around the garden.  Last Fall he built a double composting unit.  We are hoping next Spring to be able to add more raised beds to grow more of our own food.

Each season we have planned and budgeted for the most important project at that time.  Sometimes it made for planting late and it would have been nice to have the compost unit a couple months earlier... but one does what they can, with what they have, and when energy permits.  There is no option of not doing anything at all.

I already have a list of garden items I need to look for if they go on clearance in August to be ready for next Spring and this month's Amazon credit was partially used for garden supplies (for which I thank everyone who enters their Amazon shopping or purchases Amazon Gift Cards through the widgets and links!).

The garden is an important part of our pantry for in season it provides organic veggies... and talk about local, you don't get more local than your back yard (unless it is walking out to the deck for what is growing there).  ;)

Not to mention that my doctor says it is great exercise and working outside provides a natural source of Vitamin D as well as healthy food! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Talk - The rest of July

My Air Conditioned Happy Place

If you live somewhere within the continental USA, chances are you are melting at the moment when not in air conditioning.  It is sweltering outside...  I've been thinking of going to the library today but so far sanity has prevailed and I've stayed inside.  Although the deck flowers will need a drink of water this afternoon so the need to do more than peek out the door becomes necessary.

I've been chipping away at July reading and got caught up in a reality TV series as a result of it.  I'd been curious about the show called The Last Alaskans on Animal Planet but when reviewing Braving It, I found out the cousin the author and his daughter stay with through much of the book is one of the families on The Last Alaskans.  So, of course, there was a connection to the people and the land already. 

The series is so interesting and a hot summer day was a perfect time to watch a few episodes.  You have to be made of strong stuff to live off the grid in Alaska... or perhaps anywhere.  It makes me thankful for indoor plumbing and not having to be concerned about bears in the forest.

I finished Joanne Weir's memoir/cookbook called Kitchen Gypsy after slowly perusing it for weeks.  It was so enjoyable and it is fascinating, how one decision after another that seemed insignificant at the time led to where she is today.  For instance, while on a visit to California she had lunch with her sister at Alice Water's Chez Panisse and loved the experience so much she later moved to the state and eventually became a chef there.

I want to do a quick reread some day, perhaps this Autumn.  The section of the book where she travels and cooks in different countries begs for more attention than I could give at the time.  Her writing is as enjoyable as her cooking shows on PBS.

I am slowly rereading An Everlasting Meal, there is a reason it is one of my all time favorite books... ever.  Not only about cooking but especially about cooking.  Does that make sense?  She causes me to think of ways to use veggies that I didn't know was possible in the chapter about vegetables.  I need to reread this book at the beginning of every season for inspiration.

It is quite by accident there is a food theme in my reading because Summer is the one time of the year I don't enjoy cooking. My favorite meals lend themselves more to cooler temperatures.  Having said that, I have been pulling cookbooks off the shelves in the kitchen and looking for ideas.

August will most likely continue to be a month of mostly summer rereading.  I haven't accepted any new review books in the past two weeks, so at least for awhile I'll have time to reread old favorites.  I already know I want to reread Christy, it has been ages since I reread that and I'm thinking cool mountain air sounds very good right now.

I adore the Smoky Mountains... even if the visit is vicariously appreciated.  We honeymooned in the Smoky Mountains and have driven through them a couple times since then.  They are beautiful and Christy is also one of my most beloved books.

Until August...

Further information about books mentioned in Book Talk this post:
Braving It... here.
Kitchen Gypsy... here.
An Everlasting Meal... here.
Christy... here.

*Most links to are Associate links.  I thank you.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - A Sense of Place in the Age of Terror

The scenes from the TV screen assaulted me once again as terror was in the headlines.  I sensed a desire to turn the scenes off and forget them mixed with an overwhelming need to look and feel and pray.  The world is full of pain and anxiety.

Soon afterwords, I was walking to the county road to pick up our newspaper when I stood still and closed my eyes and listened.  Don't worry, cars rarely drive the small gravel lane and if they do I'd hear them.

Two years of heavy spring rains have transformed the forest to an ecosystem so thick with trees and bushes and brush that one cannot see more than a few feet.  Leaving me surrounded by lush green and the sound of the inhabitants of the forest.  Bird songs abound in this environment.  The difference between my world and their world came upon me with wave after wave of emotions.

On one hand, thankfulness for my Place that... with all the hardships of walking this sod as a finite human... God has indeed given me boundary lines in pleasant places.  There is the forest, the farm across the road with the red barn, the country road which can take me into town if I turn in one direction and further out past cornfields and pasture lands should I turn in in the other.

I delight in cornfields close to the harvest stage and if the scenic route is taken... horses at pasture will bring a smile.  They make me as happy as the sounds of the city, the multitudinous of restaurants, the museums, the art, the vibe of New York do to one born in Manhattan.

We all have a need for Place.  For many years I lived in places far away from where I grew up.  I learned to quickly find the grocery store I liked best, the closest gas station with the best prices, a park or two for picnics, an antique shop, definitely the library, a coffee shop, and the best restaurant for breakfast out on a budget.

That is what one does when they move.  They make a Place where they are the best they can... and if it is difficult to make a Place in the outside world then we definitely can do so within our homes.

As I've written, I was very much influenced by Edith Schaeffer and in her writings she talked quite often about the importance of continuity in a home.  That we should have things we love surrounding us from one place to another which bring with them an immediate sense of home and permanence... even if we are in a hotel room.

The Schaeffers moved to Europe immediately after WWII and for many years felt the affects of terror on a people.  Not only in moving to a different land herself but in the many conversations over the years with those who had seen war and destruction.

I love how Edith gives us permission to feel peace with our stuff.  Never too much stuff and never putting stuff above God.  For if our peace came from our stuff, should God allow them to be taken from us... so would go our peace.  No, if anyone knew Peace is a Person, Edith knew.

But we were created to nest.  To fluff our nest with the stuff that brings us joy just by its existence.  True Peace is the presence of the Lord in our home and nothing ever takes the place of Him.  However, we are made in His image and in that way we delight in what causes Him pleasure.

What brings pleasure to God... other than those of us who make the decision to love Him?  Think of what He has made in abundance.  The flowers and delicious food and the forest and the ocean and the rivers and puppies and kitties and cool breezes on a hot day.  He allows the red cardinal to stay in our backyard in snowy winters and hummingbirds to drink nectar from plants in summer's heat.

He created man to make music.  He gave us the ability to create... to find pleasure in cooking and drawing and painting and sewing and making jewelry and taking pieces of fabric to sew back together into things of beauty.

God could not take terrorism from the world.  It will exist until His return and the Book tells us it will increase as the time of His return comes nearer.  That is just the way it is.  This is not Heaven, yet.  The New Earth is to come.  Perfection has not arrived.

That for which our heart aches as we long for Eden is still to come.

Instead He has given us that which was part of His very being, His personality so to speak.  That the Creator gave us the ability to create is absolutely amazing if you stop to think of it.  To make something from almost nothing.

With that ability comes the overwhelming need of Place.  As terror increases in the world, so our need to nest will increase.  To create as much a place of peace and beauty as possible within the walls of our homes... whether they are big or small or in a forest or on a lake or next to a river or an apartment in a major city.

I have nested in delightful boundaries such as I live now but also in a very large city.  I have lived next to drunks and most likely a meth lab.  I have enjoyed a large house in a beautiful neighborhood and months spent in one room of a hotel.  I have loved where I lived and hated where I lived.

However, in all of these I made a Place.  However possible... a home.  A nest to fluff whether with just a few photos of those we love and our favorite books in a small space or in a house where the rooms are the canvas of my art.

I nest by tying on an apron and creating good food on a budget that one smells as soon as the door is open.  That is my goal, really.  When those I care about walk through the front door, I want a sense of Place.  Home.  Nesting.  Aromas mingled with sights that are familiar.  Perhaps a comfortable clutter of projects in process and the baking dishes soaking in the sink but otherwise a place of order.

A place no matter how small that those we care about can find a good book or a well loved movie to watch after a difficult day.  A favorite board game can be pulled out and enjoyed with a simple snack of popcorn.  Perhaps flowers and herbs on the deck to gaze upon when doing dishes, my own Eden put together for a small number of dollars.

Making a Place includes having the fixings of family favorites in the pantry so chocolate chip cookies can be whipped up at the last minute or a child's favorite meal when they come home for a visit.  Perhaps their favorite music in the background.  Nothing expensive but that which brings a sense of Place, of home, of peace.

We may not be able to change the world but as Christians who know the Prince of Peace, the Creator of all, we can certainly pray for those whom God places on our hearts in the world and for those near to us... we can provide a Place in the midst of the terror.

Image:  Cotswolds Evening by Robert Duncan

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - When you have to eat out of the pantry

I've written many times that our need for a pantry rarely has to do with an end of the world event.  Usually it is either a job loss or as it was with us this week... an unexpected expenditure that pretty much cleaned out our checkbook.

I hate to admit it but there was one evening I was looking at the somewhat empty refrigerator wondering what in the world I was fixing for dinner.  Yes.  The one who spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the need for a pantry.  It must have been the lack of caffeine or something but I did pull myself back together.

I had enough cash left in my purse that when I went to the pharmacy to pick up a box of insulin, I stopped at the grocery store for basics like store brand whole milk (which also functions as cream for coffee), eggs, iceberg lettuce, and some veggies on sale.  The essentials for recipes.

What do you do when you cannot go to the grocery store?  You shop the pantry.

I had been saving the chicken in the freezer for an emergency situation and ummm... this was it.  So I transferred frozen chicken breasts to the refrigerator to defrost as well as a few packages of frozen veggies to the kitchen freezer (in the refrigerator).

A bag of dried beans will be soaked overnight soon for a healthy soup and I'm thinking I have the ingredients for a lentil salad.  Just thinking through possibilities.  Which is why I have learned it is just as important to know how to cook the ingredients in my pantry as to have them stocked.

I'll probably run out of fresh onions soon but I have a large jar of dried onions from Frontier.  I have a few potatoes left but plenty of rice and a few cans of sweet potatoes.  We actually like canned sweet potatoes, perhaps from all the years our mothers used them at Thanksgiving.

I try to always have baking basics in the pantry.  I learned in the two separate periods of long term unemployment that some healthy baking and uh... sometimes not so healthy baking... is appreciated.  Whole grained muffins with dried fruit are filling and nutritious.  Chocolate chip cookies make everyone in my family happy. A loaf of homemade bread or cornbread served with the bean soup is a feast.

Of course, the long term need for eating out of a pantry is different than the short term needs.  However, having to eat out of the pantry short term leaves one with reminders of what works and what does not.  I know of a few "prepper" bloggers who make it a point to eat out of their pantry on purpose once or twice a year for experience.

Which brings me to a question I was asked last week.  Should someone just buy wheat for storage?  My answer is absolutely not.  For one thing, unless you are used to eating 100% whole grains, even if you have a wheat grinder for turning it into flour, it will affect your digestion.  Eating just wheat or corn (especially with the latest GMO grains) has been known to bring on allergies.  Boredom will set in during a crisis period within a very short time.  I could go on and on.

Instead, in my pantry I find it best to put back a variety of inexpensive items which taken together will form a healthy meal.  One certainly doesn't want to get sick in the midst of a crisis situation when we are depending on the pantry.

I have converted rice (ie: Uncle Ben's is one brand), old fashioned oats, flour (bread flour and all purpose flour, bags placed in the freezer a week or so before storing in the pantry in a Rubbermaid style container), a couple buckets of wheat for grinding, lentils, and dried beans.  With the addition of canned goods such as tomatoes and various spices & herbs & condiments, one could put together a nutritious meal.

Since there are just two of us, I don't need a lot of these items but even a large family can make these a fairly inexpensive base to a pantry.  Then you can add other items to supplement these such as various kinds of Progresso (or other brands which need no extra water added) that can be warmed and poured over cooked rice for flavor.

Canned corn and canned black beans can be added to cooked rice with Mexican style canned tomatoes for a Mexican salad or baked with some cheese added for a casserole.  Pantry planning is thinking about multiple uses for ingredients.

Basics such as peanut butter, jam, crackers, etc. make for quick meals and store easily. Of course, dried pasta lasts at least a couple years if stored properly so by adding jars of pasta sauce, you have a simple main dish that is filling.  I have found salsa in jars to be an excellent ingredient to have on hand, used in many ways in the pantry to add flavor and nutrition.

I can smell the aroma of chocolate chip cookies coming from the general direction of the kitchen as I type.  A surprise gift for the new parents, even in the midst of a "pantry only" week.  There goes the buzzer!  We have been invited over later for Piper cuddles.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Talk - How I worked to teach my kids discernment when reading

I had a few requests asking how I chose the books my kids read.  At last, a chance to write about it! 

The easiest way to explain it is that the younger they were, the more I controlled what they read (and watched).  We began with board books in the crib, something I think a lot of young parents overlook.  So many of them have beautiful illustrations and both of my children started out teething on them and then when they could sit up easily, looking through the brightly colored pictures.

Our favorite board book was I Am a Bunny.  It had brightly colored photos and the cutest rhyme.  At one time Hubby and I could remember all the words without looking at the book.  I think he could almost still recite Goodnight Moon from memory.  Yes, that is the book whose words our daughter had printed out and framed next to her dad's place at the wedding reception.  He bought a board book version for Elisabeth when she was born.  I purchased I Am a Bunny and gave it to my daughter-in-law before Piper was born.  Tradition and all...

Both of our children had lots of books as preschoolers.  Many they could enjoy just looking through and as they were able to read, would read to us.  We used the library but I always asked for books as gifts for them from grandparents and we gave books as gifts.  With our children being twelve years apart, Stephanie took most of her books with her when she married.  Which was okay as Christopher later preferred a different kind of book.

The real filtering of what they read came when they reached school age. Stephanie learned to read very early (I think she was four) and always carried a book with her, much like her mother.  By middle school years I was doing a lot of research about books for her age.  The classics like the Anne books, the Emily books, etc. were welcome.  However, parents of prolific readers that age know it can be hard to keep up.

I think that is the age I had to do the most research and yes... banning certain authors that other parents let their children read.  For instance, I encouraged her to read the original Nancy Drew books for they had been my favorites.  However, I heard not so good things about the "new" Nancy Drew books and when I read a couple, I just felt she should spend her time elsewhere.

I went farther than many of my Christian friends because I came from a very non-Christian background and had access to books of every kind growing up.  Childhood is short and the books we read form who we are.  Some authors seemed to encourage the bratty attitudes and less than respectful opinion of parents.  Not in my house at that age.

I depended on the advice of likeminded friends and "books about books".  I highly recommend Sarah Clarkson's book Caught Up in a Story and her Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Whole Families.  I loved  Honey For a Child's Heart (I love Honey For a Woman's Heart, too).  Just recently I reviewed Give Your Child the World, which is full of books to read about other cultures.

My husband read to Stephanie more than I did, for a long time that was their time together.  I think they went through all (or at least most) of the Narnia books together.  I read to Christopher the most as we homeschooled, first in second grade and then permanently after third grade.

Since Stephanie went through the public schools, there were books she had to read for class but to be honest... most of them at that time weren't all that bad.  I'll come back to share what I do if a child has to read something you may not approve.

Christopher was different at that age.  For one thing, we were homeschooling and using the Charlotte Mason method mixed with unschooling.  So there were a lot of books that centered around history as that is the way I set up our homeschooling until high school.  He loved history.

He was different than Stephanie because he enjoyed nonfiction books more than fiction.  It was fairly easy to keep him in books as the children's librarian became his best friend (or so it seemed).  He knew where to go in the children's room at the library to find what he wanted and rarely was there a nonfiction book that didn't pass approval.

Once my kids were past elementary school, they received more freedom in choosing books for themselves although always books I had researched.  I guess you can say I was a literary helicopter mom!

By high school, I encouraged books that caused them to think about the world.  One of the books I gave Stephanie to read was How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.  It is an excellent and easy to understand book about other worldviews.  Christopher enjoyed the Starting Points worldview curriculum by Cornerstone.*

I found that by being very careful about what they read until middle school age and then monitoring carefully even then, they both developed an excellent ability to discern what to read.  Stephanie chose books that I didn't know and shared them with her dad and me.  For instance, she introduced us to the Brock and Bodie Thoene historical fiction books that we loved!

I wanted both of my kids to not only develop a love of reading but of quality reading.  That doesn't mean there were no Baby Sitters Club books for my prolific girl (at least the first in the series were fine) or that my boy didn't read fantasy books for kids (authors approved by my research).  But they each developed a love for good writing.

I remember when Christopher was still struggling with reading.  He is slightly dyslexic and while reading was not impossible, it wasn't easy for a long time.  I expect that is why he loved the nonfiction books.  Then he heard about The Count of Monte Cristo and decided it sounded great. 

I have to admit to discouraging him a bit for that is not an easy book... but he was determined.  He read ever so slowly and then he began to get used to the flow of the words and was hooked.  He looked for other books in the genre to read.  Which may be why he took up fencing as a sport?

I have heard similar stories from other homeschooling parents as their child... when given space and time... suddenly "gets it" and becomes a prolific reader.  I'm still bewildered at how he went from not understanding math at all to getting A's in advance math and physics in college.  Sometimes it just takes awhile for that part of the brain to turn on completely.

All of this to say... I was the queen of banning books before middle school, let up a bit in middle school, and then by high school gave them freedom for they earned it.  Obviously nothing would be allowed much less encouraged that I wouldn't want them to read as an adult or that I would choose not to read because it was too racy.

If you are sending your Christian child to college, they need to be prepared.  I have spent a lot of time on campus and I can tell you that on Friday nights and Saturdays it looks like Sodom and Gomorrah.  I. am. not. kidding.  And we live near a somewhat conservative university.

There is a saying that socialism failed in most parts of the world but thrives in American universities.  There is a lot of truth to that.  There are professors determined to remove faith from Christian kids.   Our children need to know how to think before entering the world in general and college in particular. 

Okay, so what about when kids have to read something you would not approve?  

I'm glad you asked.  Actually, it was a blog friend who wrote me an email saying her grandchild was allowed to read Harry Potter and she didn't approve.  She asked me what to do.  My answer was... read Harry Potter.

If they are going to read a book then become one of the people in their life that they can discuss the book with.  I'd never say anything against their parents to that child (never ever) but by reading the book, you can provide little bits of discernment here and there.

It was the reason I watched Dragon Ball Z with my son when all of his friends were watching it.  We cannot always give an answer of NO when the occasional YES is possible.  By watching it with him, we talked about how it is based on an oriental world view different than the Bible teaches.  Believe me, we could visualize the whole concept of false gods. 

Being a parent today is not at all easy but neither is being a kid. It is so much harder than when I was a child living in a world where even in a non-Christian family, Biblical morals were the basis of society.  There was even a substantial difference in society between the time my daughter was in high school than when my son was that age.

It is not easy at all to filter what they read but it is certainly worth it in the long run and essential (I think) in helping them develop not only a Christian worldview but discernment.  Does that mean they only read Christian books?  Gosh no!  I would never want that for then when they go out into the world they would sink and not swim.

We want our kids to be salt and light in their generation.  We want them to be present day Esthers and Daniels.  Both Esther and Daniel were taken to the courts of pagan kings as teenagers (we have to assume Esther was still quite young and we know Daniel was a teenager).  But by the time they were surrounded by a pagan culture, they had been taught how not to be defiled by that culture.  They both were salt and light for the One True God. 

Hold tight the reigns when they are little, slowly release them as they get older, pray a lot... and hopefully they will stand firm as adults. That is your job and my job and our job for our children.  To give them such a Biblical base that they stand firm in this very ungodly world we live in today.  The very time for which God intended them to live.   

Some books listed:
How to be Your Own Selfish Pig... here
I Am a Bunny... here.
Goodnight Moon... here.
Starting Points book... here.

Read for the Heart... here.
Caught Up in Story... here.
Honey for a Child's Heart... here.
Honey for a Woman's Heart... here.
Give Your Child the World... here.

*Cornerstone Curriculum Starting Points one year curriculum... here.

Most links to are Associate Links.  I thank you.

Image:  Bedtime Story 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Deck Garden and one Maine Coon

My view from the kitchen window

Thank you for the well wishes!   I'll be taking a meal over to Mr. & Mrs. Christopher this evening and getting newborn cuddles in.  I share July as a birthday month with quite a few family members and friends.  How sweet it is to have another granddaughter born in the same month. 

So... today I'm sharing the most recent deck garden photos.  I scored a lot of very cheap clearance flowers in the past two weeks, since I already had containers I only needed to purchase one large bag of potting soil.  The deck has never looked better.

Now how did she get in here?  ;)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Braving It, a review

This book is different than most I agree to review but the full title drew me in... Braving It: A Father, A Daughter, and An Unforgettable Journey Into the Alaskan Wild.  I've long been fascinated by our state of Alaska and by adding the interaction between a father and a daughter, I had to read this book.

The author, James Campbell, is one good writer.  Make that great writer.  I felt as if I were freezing on a 90 degree day here in the Midwest.  I held my breath as if the bears were in my living room and chuckled as a father tries to understand his teenage daughter.

The book is divided into three parts, each telling the story of an expedition to Alaska in various seasons over a year.  Two of the trips were to the wilderness cabin of the author's cousin and his wife.  The third was a canoe trip down treacherous waters.  I will add here that the real hero of this story is his wife who gave her (reluctant at times) permission for all of this to happen.  I doubt I would have been that brave.

This is a fabulous book, one that I could hardly put down.  You know a book is good when you need to pick it up and begin reading again with your first cup of coffee in the morning.  It is highly recommended.

NOTE:  There is quite a lot of swearing as conversations are relived.  But this is not "in your face" swearing thrown in to shock people such as books that annoy me.  These are real life conversations happening.  It was easy for me to overlook and continue reading.  I was sorry to see the book end but I'm sure the story continues.

Braving It was provided by Blogging For Books for the purpose of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found... here.*

*Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The reason I'm not writing...

In the wee small hours this Sunday, a baby girl was born to Mr. & Mrs. Christopher.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Trust God But Pass the Rice

I was sharing with a friend who reads this blog that my purpose with the Saturday posts is not to scare anyone but to gently nudge readers every week to think about adding to their pantry.  Even if it is a little at a time.  My purpose is never to plant a seed of fear but to share the realization that the more prepared we are spiritually and physically for difficult times (which can come from even a financial setback), the easier it is for us to face tomorrow with peace.

However, for the first time in a year or longer, I felt the Lord's leading to once again do more than a gentle nudge.  I don't do it often as I do prefer gentle nudges.  But I believe we may be heading for some interesting times and I do not want anyone to not have food in the house because I was to shy to tell you I feel God is saying to get ready for some turbulence.

I firmly believe God places us in the time which He wants us to live and equips us for whatever that time brings with it.  He is always with us and while it is easy to grow anxious or fearful... He can bring peace that passes understanding. 

Which is why we not only deepen the pantry but we draw closer to Him.  I have had seasons when I felt the hurricane force winds of adversity and had the mental image of holding onto His ankles for all I was worth!

There is a radio show I listen to from time to time if there is a guest I'm interested in hearing.  I have their app on the iPad and check to see what guest is on that day.  I haven't recommended it here as I don't always agree with the host and it leans heavily towards conspiracy theories.  However, he has really good guests.

One topic they have talked about a lot is the threat of civil unrest in America.  They were convinced we would see it escalate this year and reaching a peak as the elections come closer.  They also believed we would see an escalation in race wars this year, unlike anything we have seen since the 1960s.

I admit that I was doubtful about the whole political unrest thing for I have lived through heated presidential campaigns and they tended to cool down before the election.  But that was before Trump vs. Hillary vs. Sanders and we've seen riot police called in where political candidates were speaking.  Crazy.

There have now been enough Isis shootings in our nation (not to mention the world) that we must take seriously what law enforcement officials have said all along... it is not if but when there will be another large scale terrorist attack.  Even more unsettling is their opinion we will see the increase of lone wolf terrorists such as the Boston bombers and the recent terror attack in Orlando.

On Thursday we had the ambush of Dallas Police Officers in the name of Black Lives Matter after two shootings of black men by police in other states.  I would insert here that all lives matter, whatever the color of our skin.  One of the benefits of living near a University town is getting to know people of every color and tribe and religion face to face... in real life... as people.

So what does all of this have to do with the pantry?  Okay... I'm throwing caution to the wind here.  I don't want to scare anyone for I totally believe in God's protection.  But it is looking more and more like we are going into a rocky time until and perhaps after the election.  We are seeing realism on the news.

Now, that doesn't mean we will see civil unrest in our own neighborhoods or even our towns.  But if it happens, we have got to be prepared for staying home awhile and have extra food, water, pet food, etc. on hand.  And books.

It doesn't have to be happening around us to affect transportation and the availability of some products.  At worst if the civil unrest were to be in or near our towns, we may have to hunker down awhile before we can go to the grocery store.

Does this concern me?  Well, my husband and I were talking about it yesterday.  Due to the fact my long term insulin is over $1,000 a box, my insurance only pays for one box at a time. It only lasts about ten days.  I need it to survive and I can't get another prescription filled until I am down to one insulin pen. So for some of us we pray for miracles and prepare in the areas in which is possible. 

I keep as deep a pantry as I can afford which means I have oats, rice, some pasta, and a few flats of veggies like green beans and sometimes very little meat in the freezer.  Although, thankfully, I've been able to add chicken again recently.  There were some great sales before the 4th of July.

Holly Deyo, author of Dare to Prepare (and a longtime Internet friend), believes everyone should have canned food in their pantry for an emergency, most have their own cooking water.  Fruit is often canned in juice which would be helpful in an emergency. 

My husband was looking at the three flats I have of canned green beans and reminded me he much prefers the fresh green beans.  I reminded him what Holly said and does he want veggies in an emergency?  He did talk me into giving all but a few cans of corn to the church's food pantry since he is not suppose to eat GMO corn.  I negotiated a few cans for soup!

I know there are many who read these Saturday posts who believe in having as deep a pantry as possible.  To me that is an act of faith, putting money into a pantry instead of a trip to say... Aruba.  It is also a step of faith when those of us on a limited income spend some of it for the pantry, even if we cannot do a lot.  If we hear His still small voice to deepen the pantry at least a little, anything we have done will be worth it.

So I have done my part and passed on what I believe God is saying to His people.  I'm definitely not a prophet or anything like that but I do listen for His instructions and I also keep my ear to the ground to see what those I respect are saying.

Which is why I titled this post, "Trust God But Pass the Rice".  We are never to fear but we are always to obey if we feel He is saying to do something.  Pray about it.  For some He may say to have a couple weeks of food and necessary supplies on hand.  Other may (and have) felt that nudge to do more. 

If you are lacking peace after this last week, you may want to read a good book instead of watching the news as they replay the tragedies over and over.  Once was enough.  I got it.  I know how to pray for the victims both black and white.  But then I turn the TV off to read a book or even better... read The Book.

Sorry for the rambling post as I try to put my ponderings onto paper the world wide web.