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Friday, December 9, 2011

Rootbeer and Water Keifer Soda

Mark and I have been on the hunt for a root beer recipe that we not only like but love. A recipe that would some what resemble some of the natural root beers we've tasted. We tried making root beer with whey, we've tried making root beer with a ginger bug, we tried making root beer by making an extract and adding club soda to it. None of these gave us the taste we were craving. I wasn't discouraged, because I knew there had to be a source out there, somewhere! Low and behold after looking and looking all over the internet I finally found something I thought might get us close to what we were looking for and I was right.  While mark prefers root beer keifer, I prefer juice keifer. Keifer is chalk full of probiotics, you know those things yogurt companies push so hard for people to buy, same thing, except more potent!  Mark is a purest, he likes things the way they are suppose to taste, and nothing else. He will try just about anything, but it's hard to sway him from the original. The fact that he likes the root beer keifer is a miracle in and of itself!

To make a gallon of Water Kiefer you need:
this recipe makes 1 gallon of water keifer
* 1 cup water keifer grains
* lemon juice from a 1/4 of a lemon
* 1 cup natural sugar (rapadura, sucanant, etc.)
* 1 dried prune or other dehydrated fruit
* 1 gallon of filtered water

Add first 4 ingredients to your gallon container, then pour your gallon of filtered over your four ingredients. Your brew needs to be able to breath and mix with the air, you can do this by placing a kitchen towel over your container with a rubber band around the lid of the jar (this lets it breath without getting bugs in it). Your keifer is done when the prune or dried fruit is floating on the top or is nice and bubbly.

To make root beer syrup:
1 tablespoon licorice root
3 tablespoons sarsaparilla root
1 vanilla bean
1 anise star
1 cinnamon stick
couple drops wintergreen extract
1 qt. filtered water

Put all ingredients in a pan and then pour the 1 quart water over ingredients. Let water come to a simmer. Try not to let it boil, because boiling the spices can cause them to become bitter tasting. Let ingredients simmer for about 45 minute's. Let cool, then add root beer syrup to water keifer.  Put all the ingredients together in a gallon container, then fill the container up with water, set the container on the counter until the dried fruit floats to the top. When the water keifer is ready you are ready to make keifer soda!

 I don't have a bunch of soda bottles to divide up my keifer so I use 1/2 gallon glass jars. I fill the half gallon jar with 1/2 flavor of any juice I have a hankering for at the moment and 1/2 of the keifer water into a 1/2 gallon jar, screw lid on tightly, then taste everyday until you each the desired taste you prefer. You can use fresh chopped ginger for ginger ale, lemon for lemonade (I want to try lemonade sometime), vanilla beans for cream soda tasting keifer. The key to water keifer is to keep trying until you get the tastes you are looking for. For the first round, to get your confidence going, I would suggest using 1/2 juice and 1/2 water keifer and then adjusting your taste and creativity from there.

There's nothing better than a healthy, good for you, bubbly beverage with an amazing slice of homemade pizza!!!



What can I do with Vinegar?

Where do I even start! Vinegar is amazing stuff! Here is a list of a few ideas to get you started on your vinegar journey. Click on the vinegar link above to go to two different websites that have a lot more ideas for vinegar use!



Household Hints

Floors

No-wax floors:
To wash no-wax floors, add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to a half-gallon of warm water.
Carpet stain removal:
A mixture of 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar in a pint of lukewarm water will remove non-oily stains from carpets. Apply it to the stain with a soft brush or towel and rub gently. Rinse with a towel moistened with clean water and blot dry. Repeat this procedure until the stain is gone. Then dry quickly, using a fan or hair dryer. This should be done as soon as the stain is discovered.

Windows & Walls

Streakless windows:
Simply wash with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. This solution will make your windows gleam and will not leave the usual film or streaks on the glass.
Washing woodwork:
You can ease the job of washing painted walls, woodwork and Venetian blinds by using a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup white distilled or cider vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe this solution over walls or blinds with a sponge or cloth and rinse with clear water. Dirt and grime comes off easily and the solution will not dull the painted finish or leave streaks.
Water or alcohol marks on wood:
Stubborn rings resulting from wet glasses being placed on wood furniture may be removed by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for the best results.

Kitchen

Garbage disposal cleaner:
Garbage disposals may be kept clean and odor free with vinegar cubes. Vinegar cubes are made by filling an ice tray with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and enough water to fill the ice tray and then freezing it. Run the mixture through the disposal, and then flush it with cold water for a minute or so.
Coffee maker cleaner (automatic):
White distilled vinegar can help to dissolve mineral deposits that collect in automatic drip coffee makers from hard water. Fill the reservoir with white distilled vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly with water when the cycle is finished. (Be sure to check the owner’s manual for specific instructions.)
Clean the microwave:
Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize.
Deodorize the kitchen drain:
Pour a cup of white distilled vinegar down the drain once a week. Let stand 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.
Clean the refrigerator:
Wash with a solution of equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.
Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards:
Wipe with full strength white distilled vinegar.
Brass polish:
Brass, copper and pewter will shine if cleaned with the following mixture. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and stir in flour until it becomes a paste. Apply paste to the metals and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Rinse with clean warm water and polish until dry.
Ant deterrent:
Ant invasions can sometimes be deterred by washing counter tops, cabinets and floors with white distilled vinegar.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies/Gnats in Your Kitchen
Place a bowl filled with ½ quart water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap to attract the fruit flies. Always eliminate the source of attraction, i.e., ripened produce.
Cleaning Stainless Steel AppliancesApply vinegar with a soft cloth to remove streaks from stainless steel appliances. Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaner Dishes and GlassesPour 1 ½ cup to 2 cups white distilled vinegar in the bottom of dishwasher, along with regular dishwasher soap. Wash full cycle.
Remove Refrigerator SmellsPlace 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a glass and set in refrigerator. Within 2 days, any smell is gone!

Bathroom

Bathtub film:
Bathtub film can be removed by wiping with white distilled vinegar and then with soda. Rinse clean with water.
Shower doors:
Rub down shower doors with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar to remove soap residue.
Toilet bowl cleaner:
Stubborn stains can be removed from the toilet by spraying them with white distilled vinegar and brushing vigorously. The bowl may be deodorized by adding 3 cups of white distilled vinegar. Allow it to remain for a half hour, then flush.
Unclog the showerhead:
Corrosion may be removed from showerheads or faucets by soaking them in white distilled vinegar overnight. This may be easily accomplished by saturating a terry cloth towel in vinegar and wrapping it around the showerhead or faucet.

What can I do with dryer lint?

My mom has always made fire starters, I can't remember a time when she hasn't. They are fabulous to get a quick fire started. We even used them once when we wanted to grill but realized we were out of lighter fluid. We put four fire starters under the coals, lit the fire starters, and it worked like a charm! I'm tempted to have this be our new and improved method of getting our coals going.

Here's what you'll need:
*  Dryer lint
*  Egg cartons
* Gulf wax
* quart size glass jar (the bigger the glass jar, the more wax you can melt at one time)
* Sauce pan with water filled half way up the jar (the water is what is going to help your wax melt the best)
* pot holder
* canning jar lifter (this makes taking the glass jar our of the hot water much, much easier)

1. It is easiest for me to keep egg cartons next to my dryer, every time I empty the lint trap I simply stuff the egg cartons with the lint. You could also keep a container next to your dryer for storing your lint until you are ready to stuff your containers. Either would work just fine.


2. When you have all the lint you need and egg cartons filled with lint, you're ready to melt your wax. Fill the glass jar with wax, pour water in the sauce pan so it is half way up the outside of the glass jar. You want to melt your wax slowly on medium heat and adjust your heat so your water is simmering.


3. When the wax in the glass jar has melted down to about half way, pour it over the lint in your egg cartons until each section in the egg carton is well coated.

4. Return glass jar to hot water and repeat step 3.

4. Once the egg cartons are filled, set aside to cool. Once cool you can break them apart into as big or as small of sections as you would like. I store our fire starters in a plastic bag in our basement next to our camping/fire stuff.




Thursday, December 8, 2011

Parenting isn't about going insane, it's about getting creative!

The last couple of weeks I am positive my hair has gotten a tinge of gray and/or a bunch has fallen out. The twins will hit the 23 month mark in a week, but they are acting more and more like 2 year old everyday. They are both strong willed and stubborn, but not about the same things. They often do what I least expect them to do. Going on week number two of feeling like I can't get my feet underneath me. Thankfully, God has taught me that when I feel crazy and out of control, it's when I need to take a deep breath and evaluate WITH God what is really going on. I need to pray and seek wisdom from God who gives it abundantly when we ask. So, I have been praying and praying and praying some more. I have stepped back and looked at what is going on emotionally with myself and how I need to train my kids differently or creatively.

In regards to the twins I am learning that I need to step back and pick and choose my battles. I have also realized that I do not give my twins enough room or opportunity to let them explore. One of the things I want to do to help accomplish this is to make a few sensory boxes. Finding soft things, squishy things, slimy things, round, square, shiny, etc. will go into these boxes. It is winter time which is a fantastic time for sensory time. Winter doesn't always allow us to go outside, but that doesn't mean it keeps us from bringing the winter inside. I put snow in different size bowls, put cookie sheets under the bowls, give them spoons and other things to transfer the snow into and let them go to town. The great thing about snow is it's perfectly edible and hydrating!

When Maddie is frustrated with handwriting, someone takes a toy, or something is not going the way she wants it to, she often freaks out and breaks out in a horrible fit of crying and whining. I have been praying for wisdom and insight into how to train her in this area of her life. I went to my go to parenting sight, Focus on the Family, for insight into how to deal with her outbursts. What I walked away from with was that I need to teach Maddie self-control. I need to teach her how to conduct herself when someone takes a toy, hits her, fidgeting at the table, or multiple other situations in life that she is going to need self-control.

Self-control fits very nicely in what I have recently been trying to teach her. Maddie and I have been talking about what it is to be a Godly role model. When she has wronged Titus or Naomi, I have her apologize for whatever she did or didn't do to them, but I also have her apologize and ask forgiveness for not being a Godly role model to them as well.

I was also reminded today that parenting is not about going insane and letting my kids fry my brain and emotions until there is nothing left but a pool of mushy mommy with no stamina left to do anything. In these crazy times it's about getting creative, not going insane!

What are some creative discipline ideas you have come up with to keep you from going insane?

Where do I find ________ for tonic

Some of you are going to ask me where do I find horseradish root, where do I find ginger. At my local super market they are usually all near each other right next to the jalapenos and close to the fresh herbs. However, if you don't have the time, don't want to bundle your kids up to search five differnt stores looking for the ingredients. I recommend calling your local grocery stores or natural store to find out which stores have the ingredients you are looking for. You may find one of them has all of them at one location. This will save you time, energy, and gas money! To give you an idea of what you are looking for I posted pictures below.

 Horseradish root


 Ginger Root


Garlic Cloves


Vinegar is not only fabulous for making tonic!
It makes a fabulous hair rinse, bathroom cleaner,
add it to your laundry to help prevent static cling!
Vinegar is  amazing potent, natural stuff!




Kick what ailes you Tonic!!!

 Our brewing tonic


 What the tonic looks like after it's strained,
as you can tell I need to get another batch brewing


The finished and strained tonic on the left
and the brewing tonic on the right

In an early post about tonic I shared the amazing effects tonic has had on our family. It truly has been amazing! I also wanted to post the recipes for the tonic. I am going to post two recipes. I have only made the first recipe and I can personally give my seal of approval on. The second recipe I haven't tried yet, but might be a little bit more kid friendly, but I don't know yet since I haven't made it. But it is next on my list to try!


Master Tonic #1
- A Natural Antibiotic: antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitical.
1 part fresh chopped garlic
1 part fresh chopped Onion
1 part fresh grated Ginger Root
1 part fresh grated Horseradish Root
1 part fresh chopped Cayenne Peppers or any peppers available.
Apple Cider Vinegar (Raw Unfiltered Unbleached Non-distilled)
Fill a glass jar 3/4 of the way full with equal parts by volume of the above fresh chopped and grated herbs. Then fill jar to the top with raw apple cider vinegar. Close and shake vigorously
Shake at least once a day for two weeks, and then filter the mixture through a clean piece of cloth or filter, bottle and label. Make sure that when you make this tonic that you shake it every time you walk by it, a minimum of once per day. Remember that all the herbs and vegetables should be fresh (and organically grown if possible) and use dried herbs only in an emergency.
This tonic is extremely powerful because all the ingredients are fresh. Its power should not be underestimated. This formula is a modern day plague tonic and when added to an incurable routine it can cure the most chronic conditions and stubborn diseases. It stimulates maximum blood circulation, while putting the best detoxifying herbs into the blood. This formula is not just for the sniffles, it has helped to turn around the deadliest infections like some of the new mutated killer viruses that defy conventional antibiotics.
The dosage is 1 or 2 ounce, two or more times daily. Swish and swallow. (Don’t dilute with water.)
For ordinary infections, a dose taken 5-6 times a day will deal with most conditions. It can be used during pregnancies, is safe for children (use smaller doses and as a food is completely non-toxic. Make up plenty as it does not need refrigeration and lasts indefinitely without any special storage conditions.
Ingredient properties:
-Garlic cloves (anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-parasitical)
-White Onion, or hottest onions available (similar properties to garlic)
-Ginger Root (increases circulation to the extremities)
-Horseradish Root (increases blood flow to the head)
-Cayenne Peppers, or the hottest peppers available, i.e. Jalapeno, etc. (a great blood stimulant).
Garlic is a broad spectrum antibiotic, destroying both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Unlike chemical antibiotics that kill off the millions of friendly bacteria that your body needs, Garlic only kills the bad guys and even promotes and increases your healthy bacteria. It is also a very potent anti-viral which really makes it a specific for colds, influenza and upper respiratory infections. Garlic is also a powerful anti-fungal and literally destroys any antigen, pathogen and any harmful or disease causing micro-organism that can hurt you. Onion is Garlic’s next of kin and has a similar but milder action. Together they are a killing duo. Horseradish is a potent herb for the sinus and lungs. It opens up the sinus passages and increases the circulation there, where, most doctors agree, the common cold and influenza often starts. Cayenne and Ginger are like a nuclear blast to your body’s circulation. This powerful tag team will unblock anything, anywhere!
So just imagine, you have the two strongest herbs to kill EVERY germ known and the three most powerful herbs to blast them around your entire body. It doesn’t get any better.

Master Tonic #2

  • 1/4 c. ginger root, freshly grated
  • 1/4 c. onion, freshly chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 c. grated horseradish
  • 4 cloves of garlic (you can up it to 6, if you feel adventurous)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • organic apple cider vinegar to cover
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a quart size mason jar, and fill to the top, leaving 1 inch head space.
  2. Shake daily for two to four weeks, then strain, squeezing out all the liquid.
  3. Heat gently over heat, and add 1/4 c. of honey, stirring to dissolve.
  4. Rebottle, and use as needed to kick any feeling of sick right out of you!
I usually use 2 tablespoons in a cup of hot water, and sip it as needed. I've also used it in chicken broth as well, to give an extra boost of nutrition when I haven't felt up to eating anything.
Now all that's needed is to decide which recipe is right for you and your family!http://markandrobinrussell.blogspot.com/2011/12/tonic.html

Tonic

My husband suffers from chronic sinus infections, infections that have been known to lay him flat for weeks. He has tried antibiotics, but his gut cannot handle the antibiotics. I believe he does not have enough gut flora to handle the large doses it takes to kick it from his body. Every time he took antibiotics he had to take another medicine to help him with the nasty side effects of the antibiotic. We were desperate to find something to help him without the nasty side effects from other medicines. After researching different remedies on the Internet I found a website that had a recipe for what they called 'tonic', it sounded nasty, but it also sounded like everything in it would kick whatever ailed him! Kicking what ailed him and then some! We made our first batch the end of September, he took his first dose and it was amazing! He said he could feel his sinuses opening immediately, he could feel the mucus draining from even his ears! He takes the tonic pretty much every day, BUT he has NOT had a sinus infection in the time he has been taking the tonic! He knows his body well enough that he can tell when he's about to get a sinus infection. When he feels his body going through the motions of a sinus infection, he takes the tonic, and he kicks whatever causes the infections out of his body.

Mark and I also have 23 month old twins Naomi and Titus, who are on their third round of pneumonia. I have desperately wanted to introduce them to the tonic. But it is potent stuff and I didn't want to torture them. I got to a spot were I was desperate to try anything! Again we were dealing with antibiotics, but they were also introducing the twins bodies to steroids. Both which make me shutter for the affects they are doing to their little bodies.  A few days after Titus was diagnosed with pneumonia again, Naomi got it again too. They are a little too good at sharing. Naomi sound croupy and hoarse and started getting wheeze. After consulting Mark and having him give me a pep talk, I got out the tonic. I dosed out a 1/4 of a tsp and gave it to Naomi. Her face said everything I thought it would! The look of mom this stuff is disgusting, icky! But, she drank it and I gave her a chaser of juice after it. Literally one and half hours later she was sitting on the couch playing with her toy computer, a little later she was down playing! Her croupy cough had cleared up, her wheeziness had cleared up! She came to me a little bit later after playing and was tired of course, she is still fighting something in her body, so I put her down for a good old fashioned nap! When she wakes up I fully intend to give her another 1/4 tsp. of tonic, and I will give her another one at supper. I will post later how the tonic works for her as we go along.

For now, everyone in our family is going to take tonic everyday! Mark and I will take about 3 Tbsp, 3x's a day. The kids will take 1/4 tsp., 3x's a day. We are going to take it until whatever funk is in our body gets kicked out!!!

I was hesitant to give the tonic to our kids. I didn't want to be mean, I didn't want to torture them, BUT I did want to heal them!  My cousin Angie was a GREAT encouragement to me to get the kids use to it when they are little instead of waiting until they were bigger. I gave the tonic to our soon to be 5 year old. She said mommy not that yucky stuff! I said, Maddie you can either get sick and not be able to play with Grandma or your friends or you can take the yucky medicine and be able to play! She voted for the nasty medicine!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meaningful, frugal, resturant feel kinda dates



Mark and I celebrated our 6th Wedding anniversary. We dropped the kids off at a brave relatives house then went back home. We had decided that we wanted to stay home for a couple reason. The obvious reason is we wanted to save money, the second reason is we didn't want to have. The kids already required the kitchen sink for packing, so we opted for a stay cation.

Frugality started with our meals. The only meal we ate out was lunch on Friday in which we splurged and ate at a great restaurant called the Pita Pit. We then spent a few dollars on hamburger buns and a few other odds and ends we'd need for the weekend. For supper on Friday I bought refrigerator tortellini and made fresh Alfredo sauce, with shrimp, with homemade Alfredo sauce.

Saturday breakfast I used leftover ham, sauteed onions and chopped some leftover roasted potatoes and sauteed them with the onions and ham. I then filled our omelets in the meat and veggie mix, added some cheese, and folded the omelets. A couple pieces of toast with homemade apple butter! Delicious!

Saturday supper was one of Mark's favorites! Grilled Hamburgers with sauteed onions, with cheese, lettuce, mayo, and ketchup with homemade fries!

Sunday Breakfast we went to church and had keifer smoothies and then went to pick up our kiddos and had leftovers with our kids when we got home.

Our anniversary continued on in the week when I made french dip sandwiches for Monday supper.

In between meal times we enjoyed being home. Mark painted and I cooked and baked. We read books and enjoyed each others company and bodies. We went for a walk at our local state park, we rearranged furniture, and watched movies later than we normally would be able to. We slept in as long as our bodies would let us. We enjoyed sleeping in our own beds, using our own shower, not having to unpack and do extra traveling laundry.

We saved money, enjoyed our home together, got some projects done, had delicious meals in the privacy and comfort of our own home. Time together is not about where you go, but whom you are with! A little effort put into the kitchen, some planning for the menu and grocery shopping (this way you can watch for your menu items to go on sale), some chopping and prepping and you have a relaxing, tastey, amazing time with your honey!

What ideas do you have for frugal dates?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grocery Frugality



Mark and I have been enjoying our house thoroughly, the extra room, the time we are able to invest in others because we finally can fit more than our family in one space. While our home is wonderful and we are grateful for it we are having to pinch our pennies tighter. Our energy bill is WAY more than what we paid for at our apartment. Usually two months out of the year we had a credit to us from the energy company, not this year.

One area we are able to save is groceries! It's one area we can reduce while eating nutritiously. How do we accomplish this. One we have a grocery store literally down the street from us and they have a bin with reduced priced meat in it. Meat that is almost out dated but still good so long as you use it right away or freeze it. This can save us tons of money, while eating some yummy stuff. I've bought brats from this bin and just today I bought some stakes from this same bin. I also buy veggies that are on sale this week and cater my menu planning to the meats and veggies I bought. This can reduce our grocery bill down to $20 or $30, at times this will last us two weeks!

Roll over meals. A roll over meal is any meal that you made once, that can be made into other meals later in the week. Some examples. Have Taco night one night, then the next day for lunch or supper have taco salad. A beef roast can be roasted in a crock pot with yummy veggies and turned into a hot beef sandwich, beef and veggie stew, or BBQ beef. A roasted whole chicken can make tons of different meals through our the week. The bones can be added to veggies you've chopped over the week and made into broth. The skins can be made into yummy crunchy good for you baked skins. The chicken can be divided up for soups, chicken and rice, chicken salad, chicken burritos, chicken enchiladas. Brats can be had with sauerkraut one night and the extras cooked brats can be chopped up for spaghetti, soups, we've used them in omelets in the morning or egg baked. Chopped up in bits they work in pizza. Leftover Ham can go lots of ways! Scalloped potatoes and ham, fried ham and eggs, ground into ham salad, ham sandwiches. There is lots of room for creativity with one meal that can be mad into many meals for the coming week.

Almost any meal can be turned into a soup. Last night we had stir fry with pork and a variety of veggies I had on hand. I two cans of tomatoes, some beef broth, and some veggie juice. This super will feed us tonight as well as provide for lunches this week! Soups are so nutritious for you in so many ways. The broth is amazing for you! It doesn't have to be digested so nutrients, vitamins, and minerals gets absorbed right into your body without giving your body the workout of digestion. Broth is a super protein.

Another grocery frugality is putting more effort and time into the kitchen. This is going to take a bit more of your time preparing, freezing, and making meals. However more time in the kitchen does two things. One, it saves you money because are are not buying prepackage meals that are full of preservatives and things you cannot pronounce. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn't eat it!

Another thing I have started to do is buy generic diapers. I have been Leary of generic diapers, it is not worth it to me to buy a cheaper diaper that my child will leak through and destroy their clothes, thus actually costing me more money than what I saved. I prefer Target brand diapers, but we don't have a Target in our town so it's not very cost effect. Walgreen diapers fall in second, they are absorbent, the tabs are hard to pull off so toddlers who are suppose to be napping but aren't can't take their diapers off. Walgreen's also often has buy one get one free on their company brand products, when that's the case I stock up on the Walgreen diapers and wipes. Walgreen thick wipes are also my wipe of choice. They keep the poop on the wipe, not on my hand, and they handle multiple swipes of little bottoms!

Keeping my needs to absolute needs. Crackers, chips, ice cream, fruit or veggies not on sale are not needs. A new shirt or new shoes are not always needs. Planning ahead and having menu plan and list of grocery's I need for that meal plan are crucial. Training yourself not to buy something that isn't on your list often takes diligence but can be done.

Mark and I are determined to allow me to be able to stay home with our children. There are going to have to be sacrifices made in order for us to accomplish this. We have sacrificed vacations, junk food, new clothes for ourselves and our kids. We shop at thrift stores and the salvation army. Honestly, to spend $20 on a pair of jeans makes my stomach sink like the drops on a roller coaster. However, to spend $20 on a bag of clothes from a thrift store makes me giddy and excited!

These are just some of the things that Mark and I do for frugality. What are some of the things you do to save you money?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Everything it's crack up to be...or is it?

We started out as friends, it turned into love,
then it turned into comitted love!

In two weeks Mark and I will have been married for six years! It has been an amazing six years of growth and LOTS and LOTS of changes. Did I mention LOTS of changes! Mark and I had been married for a little over a few months when we were at a benfit banquet for a friend with cancer. We were helping at a booth and we were standing in each others arms, nothing inapproriate we just had our arms around one another. Another older couple came up and asked us how long we had been married and their response was, "oh that explains it, wait until you have been married longer". I looked at Mark and I said honey, I hope we never say that to another couple. I hope we can tell other couples, it only gets better.

Growth lessons in order:
1. We got married, it is absoultely hullarious that God often puts people who have absoultely nothing in common and are polar opposites and allows them to be married! What once were cute and things I admired became not so admirable and actual a bit annoying to be honest. Yet it is this everyday annoyances that helps me to become more holy and Christ like.

2. Six months after we got married we got pregnant with our daughter Maddie. She wasn't planned but she wasn't unwanted. She was loved from the moment we knew we were pregnant. But it wasn't easy. Having a baby meant that I had to give up my independance that I loved very much. I had to give up sleeping at nights. Maddie's first year of life was one of the hardest years I have every had in my life. It was this year that Mark and I grew to appreciate the fact that we had choosen to move to Albert Lea, MN and be near family. Minnesota is NOT were either of us would have choosen, it's still not our dream destination, but we do have family, and that far outways the mountains...most days. :)

3. Oregon or bust. Mark had lost his job, he couldn't find a job and we were desperate and Mark needed to get out of Minnesota. So pack our bags and moved to Medford, Oregon for seven months. Seven of the loneliest months I had ever experianced.  Through this move God brought Mark and I to a place of contentment when we moved back to Minnesota seven months later. Mark got layed off and we choose to go back to MN were he started school not soon after we moved back.

4. Mark enters school, which would last for three years. Two of those years I worked full time while being wife and mommy. There were many mornings I would cry as I left Maddie at my moms, because I wanted to be her mommy and I wanted to be there for her, not working. Then in Mark's second year of automachanics we got pregnant again. This time we found out we were having twins! In Mark's last semester the twins were born 7 wks early! On top of the twins Mark was attempting to do finals and pass his classes! The twins were in intensive care for 7 weeks. Again we learned and experianced the value of living near family. Mark passed his classes with straight A's AND showed me that no matter what he would be there for me and his family! I had never felt so loved.

5. Mark orginally went to school for automachincs, which then turned into one more year for web design. I became a single mom more often than not. Mark would work full time during the day and go to school full time in the evenings. I had three little kids, but I learned to put Mark first. I learned what it meant to be a supporting role. The little time Mark and I did find for each other meant so much more beacause there was so little of it.

6. Mark graduated and we moved into a house! God's provision for our hard work for the last three years. Yet with a house we have had to sacrifice eatting out, doing special extra things with my family, we are limited in our traveling. Yet, we have more room, we have a fire pit in our backyard. We are able to enjoy being a family so much more and partly because we have a kitchen with a back door that leads to our backyard. Mark and I are learning to budget, we are learning to make groceries last as long as we can. We are learning to be content.

One of the things that has kept Mark and I from destruction is to forgive quickly and let things go. We have both been committed to take our relationship to Jesus, we have been committed to being submitted to the Holy Spirit. We have sought the counsel of wise friends and family when we got into sticky, hard to forgive moments in our marriage.

We do not have the star struck love of newly weds anymore, but we do have a much richer, deeper, committed love. We have a love that says, "I forgive you". We have a love that says, "I will submit to the Holy Spirit". We have a love that is willing to put our pride aside. Mark and I have the ability to hurt each other deeper than anyone else has power to do, we have the ability to be more angry at each other than we have ever experianced and we do have these moments. But I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit who comes and softens our hurts and brings us to a place were we are willing to forgive and talk about the hurt and anger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Panick



Panic, what sends you into panic? Is it lack of money, lack of love, rejection, lack of food? Does going into a room with tons of people send your mind realign?  Next question, what do you do when you panic? Do you run away? Do you face it and yell at it? Do you break down and can't function, becoming a zombie? Do you turn to God and let him wash over you with his truth?

I panic over lack of money, which brings a lack of food. I panic over rejection and possibly not being loved. I have run like my hair was on fire, I have broken down and sobbed my heart out and walked around like a zombie, functioning but not living. But I have also been taught, yes it's something that can be taught. I have broken down while turning to God, the one who is able to bring peace to confusion, clarity to confusion, the one who is able to give me the whole picture or half the picture, or no picture but still peace. I am blessed with friends who put their arm around me and love on me and yet still they point me to God's truth and God's love.

Today I was panicking about the lack of money for bills, food, much less anything we might "want". Which then goes into a whole bunch of different messages in my head about who I am, what I'm worth, and lots of other garbage I believe but isn't true. But when I turn to God, when I turn to his word he is able to reign in my thoughts, remind me of who I belong to, reminds me what my eternal purpose is. I had a wonderful cousin/friend walk me through my treasures on earth struggle and bring me to a place were I could focus on my treasures in heaven. What a precious gift this friend gave to me today. God indeed used this friend in my life today to point me to Him!

I was thinking of the fact that Mark and I are renting the house we live in for a year. Which is a great picture of my time on earth. I am only renting my time on earth. I own none of my time, I can't take anything with me when I die.

When you come to a panicking moment, what will you do? I encourage you seek truth! You shall know the truth and the truth SHALL set you FREE!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Who's shoes are you trying to wear?





My son Titus is determined to put shoes on. He has learned that it is easier to put my shoes on rather than his own. The Lord showed me a parable in this. When Titus tries to put my shoes on it is usually harder to stand up, he falls down much more easily, and walks more clumsily. What Titus doesn't realize is that by accomplishing the hard task of putting his own shoes on he will be able to walk much more freely. 

This is also true when I attempt to put someone elses shoes on. I see people all around me with straight hair that rarely gets frizzy, I see some who are fabulous teachers, rarely do I see what I have to offer anyone. I attempt or wish that I had someone elses shoe's on. What shoes do you wish you had? What "shoes" are you trying to make fit your feet when that's "shoes" God has for you. When you attempt to put on someone else shoes you are missing the wonderful things God created in you to give to others.

The Lord is reminding me that he has created me with my very  own special shoes. Ones that fit me just right, ones that are able to help me walk straight, ones that are able to help me stand firm, ones that allow me to loves others to my best ability. I have shoes that are mine and wouldn't fit someone else because God didn't make them to fit someone else, he made them to fit me!

God made you with your very own set of special shoes. Shoes that will allow you to walk straight, ones that will help you stand firm, ones that will help you to love others to the best of your ability. Shoes that won't fit anyone else because they were made for you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Control




Titus understands that when you point a black something at the tv it does something. He knows what the something is, but he doesn't know what it's called. Occasionally he will get a hold of the tv remote and push buttons. However, when he pushes the right buttons he turns on the tv and gets a static station. I don't know why, maybe white noise freaks him out, maybe he knows he did something he should not do. Whatever the reason when Titus changes the channel he runs to me like the house is on fire. He knows that whatever he just did wasn't suppose to happen.

Titus could handle these things in different ways. He could choose to keep changing channels, he could choose to try and hide the fact he turned the channel, or he could choose to come to me and say mommy I made a mistake can you help me fix it.

Which got me thinking. When I have made a mistake, when I have sinned what do I do? Do I keeping sinning? Do I try and hide my sin or do I run the remote back to God and confess my sin? Scripture says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Which leads me to more thinking. If I confess my sins and I know he's faithful and just, why do I take so long to confess my sins? Honestly, sometimes I like my pet sins and I'm not ready to give them up. Which is silly because I know that giving up my pet sins brings me to a much richer, more full filling place, yet by keeping my pet sin I deny this very thing I want. I heard a quote once that sums up my next reason and biggest reason I hesitate to confess my sin. I once heard someone on tv say, Jesus Christ will forgive my sins, but my mom isn't going to understand. The second biggest reason I'm hesitant to confess my sin is because I am more likely to get understanding from a non-believer than I am a christian. I am more likely to have a unbeliever come along side me and love me where I am, than a believer. A believer is more likely to judge me, condemn me, not walk beside me encouraging me towards freedom in Christ. I have a deep desire to share my sin, my struggles but I also want to be loved through the struggle while being encouraged to obey and submit to God.

Yet to find freedom, to confess my sins before God I need to risk not being understood in my sin. Yet I also need to ground myself in the truths scripture gives me that "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come"! I need to cling to the heart knowledge that when I confess my sin, God has purified me from all unrighteousness through Jesus Christ.

Father God, Thank you for forgiving me when I come to you. I thank you that you see me as a new creation and the old is gone. Thank you that when I run to you, your arms are always open. Help me to walk in the truth of forgiveness that you promise. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marvelous Maddie

Last year marked Maddie and I's first year homeschooling. This year is our second year and at four years old she is technically read for kindergarten. While we could jump in with both feet with kindergarten we, Mark and I, are going to do what she is ready for. One of these moments came in the bathtub while she was playing with her bathtub crayons. While Mark was getting the twins ready for bed after their bath, I went in to wash Maddie's hair. She had written a M and A on the bathtub wall, but beside it she had written cat. She said; "look mommy I can read". What she didn't realize is not only could she read, she was beginning to know how to write on her own!  After her bath she got ready for bed and while she was doing that I got out to Bob books, which is a series of beginner reading books. She read two of them on her own with only a little help from me on a word we have not gone over yet.

Maddie is so excited to be one step closer to reading on her own.

There was a lesson learned in this for me. To watch and to beaware of what Maddie is ready to learn and to move on it.  I can attempt to force her to learn but unless she is emotionally and mentally ready, there's not anything I can do to push her to be ready. All I will end up doing is scarring her and defeating her potential to love learning. After all it is much more pleasant for us to accomplish something or strive for something if we love doing it. I want Maddie and the twins to have a love for learning but shoving something they are struggling to grasp in their face doesn't help. So with the help of the Holy Spirit I am going to wait, watch, introduce concepts, then wait for the light bulbs to go on and then build upon the light bulb moments.

I am so thankful that I have a source higher than myself or anyone else to go to when my kids are struggling with anything weather it be math, science, emotions, friends, or just life. Praise the Lord there is one higher than ourselves!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Implementing Creative Correction #1 involves chocolate


Maddie struggles with whining excessively, has selective hearing, likes to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it,will often loose it with others while playing when a toy is taken or a offense has been done to her. We have gone over verses which remind her and I (I need the reminders just as much as Maddie). Such verses as, Do everything without grumbling and complaining  so that you will prove yourselves children of God approve reproach in the midst of croaked and perverse generation. I don't know about you but that sounds like serious business, croaked and perverse generation. Through Maddie's promptness to obey Mark and I, without grumbling and complaining, with a joyful attitude is a ministry and light to a perverse and croaked generation. Yet, having a joyful attitude and resisting grumbling and complaning is something the flesh can be trained to overcome.

What does all this have to do with a Hershey kiss? I am calling this the secret sweetness. Secret because the sweetness is not going to come out all the time, neither from the Hershey kiss, nor from Maddie. I will be watching her and observing her as she goes about the day. If she is listening and obeying quickly and promptly, when she has cleaned her room without being asked, if she obeys without whining, if I see her showing love and kindness to a sibling, cousin, or friend. Anything directed towards the little person God wants her to be may be rewarded with a secret sweetness, one Hershey kiss. The kisses will not come out all the time because I want Maddie to learn that sweetness needs to come out weather we are rewarded or not. Thinking of others, obeying Mommy and daddy needs to be done because she chooses to do it, not because she is getting something for doing it. However, if Hersey kisses begin her journey to consciously making Godly choices than sign me up, I'm all for it.

Implementing Creative Correction #1 Underway! I will share more implementations as the Lord brings them to mind! I will also report back in how the implementing worked or what we had to switch or why they didn't work! The journey of training the spirit and disciplining the flesh has begun!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Creative Correction



I am not even half way through this book and I LOVE it! The author Lisa Whelchel, http://www.lisawhelchel.com/ccreatbk.htm is an actress from "The facts of Life", a sitcom that ran between 1979-sometime in the 80's. She has an amazing sense of humar that has kept me laughing and reading. She doesn't make me feel guilty or that I am the worest mom in the whole world. But she doesn't make excuses for things I may have let slip with my kids. She encourages parents to tackle issues of the heart and to train the flesh. She gives first hand experiances and at the end of every chapter she gives tools to add to the parental tool belt. I have not even gotten halfway through the book and I have been convicted in some areas of my parenting and it has allowed me to strap my mommy boots a little tighter and to pray that God would open my eyes to be able to actively train my kids hearts. It has encouraged me to use stories, parables, hands on examples for explaining to Maddie why her behavior needs to be different. I pray that this book will change me, to not get in the daily rut of parenting, to not get bored with parenting and discipling but seeing each opprunity as a chance to draw my kids closer to heart of Jesus, closer to the God and Father in Heaven who loves my kids so much! After all isn't it in our very being to seek and find Jesus! May I be one of the brightest lights in my kids lives. Acting as a night light in my kids lives directing them to the path of Jesus. Just as a nightlight directs my kids to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I pray I will be the night light in my kids lives that directs them in this dark world towards Jesus, the light of the world.

So far one of my favorite chapters has been on training the flesh. When I am discplining Maddie, weather with a spanking, time out, an extra chore, whatever fits the crime at the moment, I am training Maddie's flesh. I am training her flesh that she cannot have everything she wants, when she wants it. We are training her flesh to be respectful to the people God has put as authority over her. We are training her flesh to seek out the good of others.

I am so thankful that I have the word of God to coach me through parenting. I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit who comes and gives me divine stories at the right time, who brings to mind stories to share with Maddie that she will understand. The holy spirit who prompts and coaches me in each minute by minute, situation by situation that comes up.

As I remind Maddie during the day I too am reminded that I can do all things through Christ who stregthens me, and that includes parenting. :) I'm sure I will have more to say on this book as I continue through it and I look forward to sharing more with you soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Humbled by my kids...again


Once again I have been humbled by my kids. This weekend we moved the majority of our things over to our new house. It didn't work out to move it the weekend we actually move because we didn't have help to do it. My cousin Angie and her family kept all three kids over the weekend so we could move as much as possible without having to feed and put kids to bed and out of trouble. I picked them up Monday morning and I warned Maddie that the apartment would be different. I warned her that our things are at the new house but that there were still a few toys to play with and we have beds to sleep on.

Maddie walked into the living room and exclaimed, "What!" She then went into all the other rooms and in each room exclaimed, "what!" When she got to her room she said the same What!, but then she saw her bed and said, "oh, my bed!" She then went about playing with Naomi and Titus with the few toys we do have here.

It hasn't fazed Titus and Naomi that our sofa and recliner are not in the living, they haven't noticed that our dinning room table isn't were it should be. What they have noticed is that they have a few toys, each other to play with, and Mommy and daddy are here.

Lesson learned, life isn't what you have, life is who you have! This is actually a biblical truth. Everything including my life could be taken from me and life still boils down to who I know, not what I have! Life is about knowing Jesus Christ, who saves us from our sins, who has covered me with His blood!

Life isn't about what you have, but who you have!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Corrie Ten Boom and Harriet Tubman




Corrie Ten Boom and Harriet Tubman are two women whom most after reading their stories would say, "Wow, these women are amazing." I am among such people who says this. But after reading about the lives of these women I think they would both would say with confidence, they were only the servants of the Lord doing his work during a horiffic and tragic time. Both women experianced a type of imprisionment, both experianed cruelty at the hands of those they would see as lost, hurting souls in need of Jesus. Both women felt the call from God to rescue people out of the hands of slave masters and nazi soliders. If caught both of these women could have faced punishment that could have certainly brought about their death. Yet, leaning on the Lord, they both Trusted the Lord with all their hearts and leaned NOT on their own understanding, in all their ways God directed their path. They trusted that whatever happened, God was still good and still loving.

 These women trusted God with their griefs, sorrows, and the injustices of this world. Harriet trusted God so throughly that when He told her to get off of a road she got off. When the Lord told her to hide, she hid. She knew the voice of God without a shadow of a doubt. Corrie trusted God so throughly that she did not fear death and was able to bring those around her in the concentration camps to the eternal life in Jesus.

After reading so many of Corrie Ten Boom's books and after reading about Harriet Tubman, I want what they have with God! An ability to trust God no matter what they may come up against. To trust God with my emotions, my money, my relationships, and everything that passes by me in this life. The thing these ladies had was relationship! They dwelt at Jesus feet, they needed to be near Jesus, they needed to cling to him like my kids do when there are strangers around they don't know. These ladies were able to look beyond circumstance, because they had a relationship with Jesus that was greater than their circumstance. Life is NOT about circumstance, it is about relationship! It is about trusting God with all my heart and leaning not on my understanding, and in all my way acknowledging the ONE TRUE GOD, and He WILL (not maybe or he'll think about it, not just a minute) direct MY path.

My question to myself is this, "What does my relationship with Jesus look like and what areas are there that I need Jesus to search and see if there is any wicked way in me. To see if there is anything that under fire would take my eyes off of Him." I am comforted by the words of Corrie Ten Boom's father. When Corrie was young she went on an outting with her father, Corrie told her father she was afraid to die. Corrie's father told her that death is like a ticket that you pick up once you are at the train station. Once you get the ticket God will give you the courage you need.

I acknowledge that God does indeed bring what I need when I need it. When Mark was in school and we didn't have much money for groceries or we didn't know how a bill would get paid, we would find food in our cupboards and bills paid in full. We even had someone give us a vehicale! With this knowledge that God is taking care of me even now, he will of course take care of me in the gravest and darkest of times.

Relationship, it all starts and end with relationship! Father God make me hungry for time with you. May I never be fullfilled until I have sat at your feet. Let me, like Harriet and Corrie be used for your kingdom and your glory. Harriet and Corrie's lives were not about being brave or hero's, it was about bringing people to the saving power of Jesus, it was about doing what they did because Jesus asked them to.

What is Jesus asking you to do? If he has asked you, then he will supply all the means you need to fullfill the task!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What does it mean to be satisfied?

"I know some may shake their heads while thinking I take all this God stuff too seriously. And I would have to agree completely. I've tasted the deep satisfaction of God and I know all other things are but cheap imitations. And I don't want to be enamored by the lesser things wrought with momentary pleasure."
-Made to Crave, by Lysa Terkeurst-



What do you crave? What things absolutely scare you to loose? Does it scare you to think of not being loved? Do you cringe at rejection? When you find for one reason or another you are being "denied" that craving, how do you react? Do you panic? Do you cry, get angry? Do you pick up the quickest, easiest thing to pacify your craving?

I personally have two answers. My answers depend on if I answer in the flesh on my own strength or if I enter into it in the spirit. If I answer in the flesh I am going to be grouchy, irritable, and I am going to probably act like a tiger in a cage desperate to get out.

I have a deep craving to be loved. It use to and sometimes still scares me to think of someone denying me their love. I desire and crave answers to all the questions women ask. "Am I beautiful? Am I worth loving? Will I be persuade."

 If I answer in the spirit this can look like a couple different things. There are times when I am in perfect peace and contentment in knowing that God in heaven is in charge and knows full well what is going on. I have peace and am rooted in the truth of the scriptures and what they tell me about who I am and who God is. There are other times when I still go to God but I am either grieving what I think I am loosing or I get rebellious towards God with a rebellious heart. Weather I go to God grieving or rebellious I have gone to the right person for both. He is the God of comfort, He is the God of truth, and will walk me through my grief. He is also wonderful in aligning me with His authority and reminding me that he has my good in mind, but doing it  in a way that only my amazing everlasting love Father God could do. He is able to take my rebellious heart and align it with His will, bringing me to a place of peace.

For me being satisfied is only possible through Jesus Christ, who is able through His blood to bring me before the Father of this world to fill my deepest voids. To heal my deepest wounds, to bring everlasting joy and peace into my life. Everlasting joy and peace are possible, everlasting love is possible. But it is only possible with God, through Jesus Christ. Anything else will leave you craving and wanting something else. Relationships will not be enough, the chocolate bar will not be enough, alcohol, sex, nothing will be enough. God has made us with a beacon inside of us that is looking for Him and until you connect with Jesus your beacon will always drive you nuts because you won't know how to shut it off until you meet Jesus. He will switch your beacon from driving you nuts, to a beacon that will need to be shut off with daily meetings with the Father. Meetings that will fill your soul, that will satisfy you in a way you never thought possible.

Don't know how to be satisfied with Jesus? You don't know what it all means. I would LOVE to walk  you through what it means, how you start a relationship with Jesus. I invite you to come be satisfied with Jesus!

Titus





Titus David Russell, is my son, he's my youngest by a whopping 13 minutes. He is a love bug who gives fabulous hugs, he is mechanical and we are often amazed at how he can figure things out. He loves playing with his sisters, but he also enjoys picking on them. I am forever amazed at how different he is from our girls. I realize the obvious difference. But you have to take in consideration that I had two sisters and zero brothers. Boys are a whole nother realm to me. I am pleased that my son is all boy! He has been walking around shooting things pretty much from birth, I distinctly remember him pointing his sippy cup at Mark and shooting him, while making the gun noises. He discovered the other day that when you push two things into each other at a rapid rate it makes a very fun crashing sound. He now crashes his tonka cars, he crashes into his sisters, anything he things would make a fun crashing sound, he thinks is great.

One of these boy moments hit home with me and God used it as a parable in my life. I can only chalk this moment up to a boy moment. Titus was standing on the couch, he turned around, and ran and leaped off the couch. Now I don't know how he thought he was going to land, he simply thought hmm I'm going to run and jump off the couch. Thankfully I was sitting beside him and quickly grabbed his hand and helped him land a little smoothier. He thought that was great and proceded to do it a couple more times. Now I can vouch and tell you my girls have never thought, "hey, I'm going to run and jump off the couch".

After thinking on this leaping episode a bit. God then spoke to me, he reminded me that there have been plenty of times in my life when I have leaped without thinking what the consequences would be or worse lept knowing there would be consequences but I didn't care. God also reminded me that when I have leaped he has grabbed my hand and helpd me have a smootheir landing. There have been times when God has felt it safe enough to allow me to belly flop. Two things can happen when I am allowed to belly flop. One, get embarrssed and throw a tantrum because I'm made I flopped. The second option is to humbly accept that I flopped, ask for forgiveness, and see to reconcile with God and those I may have hurt in the flopping process.

When I look at Titus, I often think to myself as God spoke to Jesus, there is MY son in whom I am well pleased. The next time I watch my son leap, I will remember there is one bigger than I who is ready to catch my son and who loves him more than I do. One who knows when it is best to let Titus belly flop or when to grab his hand for a smoothier landing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bean dip


Maddie snacking on my homemade bean dip.
Kid tested, mommy approved!


My bean dip is so fabulous! The first step is making homemade re fried beans. It is so simple, it's frugal and it's delicious, it doesn't make sense not to make your own beans. I use dried pinto beans that I soak for 24-8 hours prior to cooking them. Soaking beans does two things. First, it usually reduces the cooking time. Secondly, it is suppose to allow you to digest them more easily. Soaking the beans breaks down the beans and allows your cut to digest them more easily. I soak the beans in enough water to cover them, leaving about an inch or two above them. It's important to give them lots of water as they will soak up quit a bit of the water. Then I add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to the water and cover it with a clean dish towel. That's it for soaking! Once the beans are done soaking, drain them in a colander to rinse the beans, and prepare as normal. Super easy and much easier on your digestive system.

Now on to making re fried beans:
Re fried Beans
1 onion peeled and halved
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons garlic (minced)
5 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
9 cups water

Place onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on high 8 hrs. adding more water as needed.

Note: If more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, temp. is too high. Because we have little kids who I want to be able to eat the beans, I omit the jalapeno pepper so it is not spicy for them.

Once beans have cooked, staring them and reserve the water. Mash the beans with potato masher (I use my kitchen aid mixer, much easier). Adding the reserved water as needed for consistency.

Cheesy Bean Dip
1/2 the batch of re fried beans from recipe above
1 16 oz. sour cream
1 16 oz. of your favorite salsa (you can use smooth or chunky)
as much cheddar and mozzarella cheese as to your taste

Place re fried beans in large pot, stir in sour cream and salsa. Continue stirring until heated through and well blended. Then add your cheeses, adding a little at a time and stirring until the cheese is totally incorporated. You can also mix match your cheeses to your preference of cheese.

Note: I often use these beans when I make enchiladas. Because the cheese and salsa are already in the beans it saves me a couple of steps. Very delicious!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dealing with the feeling of inadequacy

Imperfect me.

I struggle with depression, I always have and probably always will. The first thing Satan does to get the depression rolling is to isolate me away from friends and believers. Because Satan knows that I have amazing friends waiting to lift me up in spirit with scripture and who are great at reminding me that I am a child of Jesus Christ and that Satan has NO business telling me anything! There is a scene in one of the Harry Potter movies where Harry is starting to isolate himself from his friends, while walking in the woods he meets a friend, a girl who is a bit weird by most standards. Harry and this girl talk a bit and she then says, "If I were you-know-who I would want you to be isolated from your friends, because your easier to get to that way", that's not an exact quote, but you get the picture. It's the same with Satan, if he can get us alone, he can get us to believe just about anything.

I recently emailed my cousin and asked for prayer because I am dealing with depression, but I was also dealing with a bigger issue that I couldn't put my finger on. An issue that until I recognized it for what it was I couldn't deal with it.

Then it hit me one day, I'm battle inadequacy! I think I'm not good enough. I am battling the thought, "I am by definition considered morbidly obese." What an awful thing to be labeled! Yuck. The thought of being morbidly obese filterers into every single area of my life. It affects everything! I battle with thoughts of living in a three bedroom apartment with five people, three of them being kids. My house is somewhat picked up and clean, but it's an apartment with a family and there is always stuff everywhere. I am struggling with keeping a food menu together, which means I am almost certain I am overspending on groceries. Overspending at our house is a big concern because we like many families have to pinch our pennies.

So what do I do? I go to the word! I go to my Father God and admit my short comings. I admit that I am not being organized, I admit that I need to get back to being balanced. I go to the word and get reaffirmed about who I am and who I belong to. I get reaffirmed in the word, I take every thought captive! The clutter in my home I deal with my looking around me and asking myself, my husband, and my kids what do we need to get rid of. What toys aren't my kids playing with, what bins, movies, books are we not reading and using. For meal planning I go look in my cupboards, fridge, and pantries to see what items I have to make meals with and get my menu going. Menu planning does tons of things! It allows me more free time with my family and friends because supper is either in the crock pot, marinading, or is able to be fixed at the last moment. Menu planning lets me go to the beach with no worries about what to feed my hungry family. Meal planning insures that my family is eating balanced and nourishing meals. It means that my suppers become lunches and saves us tons of money because we are reusing what I am making! Two meals with one shot! Awesome!

When I have the feeling of not being good enough, it's usually because my life is off balance somewhere and I need to stop and figure out what I need to do to stop tripping on my own feet. It makes so much more work for myself!

The truth of the matter is this, I am not good enough and I never will be! But, Jesus Christ is good enough and he always will be. Philippians 1:6 I am confidence that he who began a good work in me WILL  perfect it until the day of Christ! How exciting is that?!!! It gives me permission to be imperfect! It reassures me that when I get off balanced, Jesus is going to work with me to get balanced. When my house gets cluttered, it's another chance to learn to be organized. Dealing with being morbidly obese, learning to curb my desires, learning to deny myself the delicacies that my 30 year old body can no longer work off as fast as my 25 year old body could.

In the mean time I will rest in the amazing knowledge and truth that I am Confident that Jesus who began a good work in me WILL complete me until he comes back!!! I'm a work in progress, my paint is still wet...but that's OK!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If I sat still long enough

One of my most precious moments in life is when I get to sing and rock one of my babies to sleep. Maddie has not fallen asleep to my singing and rocking her for a couple years now, Naomi outgrew it at 6 months, and Titus outgrew it shortly after Naomi. But there are moments like tonight when Maddie's allergies awaken her and she struggles with coughing and the sniffles. Nights when all she wants is tylenol and rocking with mommy.

There are moments and nights when I am too tired and I simply escort her back to bed and rub her back for a bit. But then there are other moments like tonight where my mommy heart kicks in and I am reminded that my babes are only small but for a short time. Rocking my babes is one of the most sweetest moments and I don't think anyone fully understands until they themselves are a mommy.

It was tonight as I was rocking Maddie, relishing and soaking up every moment of cuddling with her that I realized. Perhaps this is the very safe, comfortable, relaxed feeling that God wants us to have with Him. To seek my solice and comfort from Him. Also, it causes me to think, does God look at me with the most utmost love, like I look at Maddi with the utmost love. There are moments when I look at my kids and think man, that child is mine. I am in awe that they could have possibly come from my body and are entrusted to me. It causes me to think, does God look at me like that? Does he look down from heaven and smile and say to Himself, wow, that child is mine! I hope so, I truly and dearly hope so! I want a father in heaven that looks at me with the utmost love, that looks at me with awe and wonder and thinks man I created her! I hope that God relishes in the tender moments I share with Him, like the tender moments I share with Maddie.

But it also causes me to think, in the mornng Maddie will not be still enough to sit on my lap and rock a bye. It will actually be the last thing she thinks about as she goes this way and that. This causes me to wonder, am I like that with God? Do I sit still long enough to enjoy be rocked by God, so to speak or am I like Maddie and get busy going this way and that.

For my next quite time I think I shall simply mediate on God's wonders and marvelous ways. Perhaps I will attempt to sit long enough to soak up the presence of God, my Father. Relishing that perhap my Father in Heaven is relishing also in the fact that I have come to sit with him, come to find comfort. Perhaps my Fathr in Heaven will relish in the moment with me, as I relish it when Maddie seeks solice with me! It's an overwhelming thought that God thinks of me in that way and loves me even more than I love Maddie! Now that's amazing and worth sitting still for!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I was reminded today

I was standing at the kitchen sink grumbling and complaining. Grumbling and complaining that I didn't think it was fair that Mark got to go to work and I was the one who had to stay home and get everything ready for our weekend of camping. In the midst of everyday living, I also needed to prepare and get food made and ready for the weekend. As I was scrubbing a dish, God reminded me that Mark is doing his job! That Mark is doing exactly what God wants him to do right now. He also reminded me that I was doing exactly what he wants me to do right now. Not the grumbling and complaining, but scrubbing dishes, getting food ready for the weekend, doing laundry, getting lunch for the kids. God didn't yell at me and smack me, althought I did deserve a good spanking. He spoke to me in a gentle whisper, the whisper that can only be the Holy Spirit. It was as if my eyes had been open to not only the importance of Mark's job, but the importance of my job. I was also reminded that I do not desire to go out into the work force. There are plenty of days that I need a break from the diapers, the dishes, the vaccuming, and the whinny, fussy kids. But honestly, when I think about what other job I would want to do, I can't think of one!

I have been baking a lot today in preperation for our camping trip and while I'm baking I must be quite enough that God is able to speak to me. Because when I'm baking and cooking, God often whispers things and I am receptive to what he is saying to me. Every since I was 16 years old I have worked in missions. Whether it was kids club in the park with Youth For Christ, doing day care at Little Lambs, or working at Camp Redcloud. Full time ministry makes my heart soar! I love it, I love teaching about my Jesus, his love for us, the direct relationship that we can have with God, because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross. Today, God whispered, you have full time ministy. 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! He reminded me that I am on a battle field for my kids salvation. He reminded me that he is using me to lay his foundation in my kids lives! Me, he's using me! To build sturdy foundations so that my kids will be able to stand firm and not blow over when life doesn't make sense. I am helping my kids to build strong foundations on the rock, not poorly built homes in the sand. I am not the foundation, I am only a tool being used by God, to help create the foundation. I see this active in Maddie my four year old, as she watches my husband pray over our 15 month daughter Naomi who can't seem to calm down for some reason. As Mark is praying Naomi begins to calm down and Maddie says; "Mommy, it's working, his prayers are working." A stone was laid in her foundation, that when we go to God and pray, He hears us! Not only does He hear us, he answers! When Maddie is angry or scared and we direct her to pray to God about her fears or anger, we are helping her lay another stone in her foundation.

I have also wanted a job where if I needed to I could spend the whole day with Jesus. A job where I could curl up with God's word, my journal that I use to talk with God, and a cup of tea. I have that kind of job! I can post scripture all over my house, allowing me to meditate on God's word all day. During nap time I can feast on God's word and feast on prayer and talking with the father.

I'm very blessed in that I love baking and cooking! Nothing gets my enegines going more than experimenting with supper or concoting a new culture, fermentation, or who knows what else!

I am thankful for a God, who sends his Holy Spirit to remind me to get my attitude in check. Who reminds me to repent and be right with Him. It's a heart attitude, one that when I release to the Lord, when I cry out to Him, He comes and gives me the very exact thing I need. But I have to ask, I have to cry out.

I'm thankful for a God who gives me what I need, when I need it, when I don't even ask for it! I was reminded today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

God even provides Ballet lessons

We put Maddie in ballet not knowing if she would like it. We didn't know if we would be able to afford it. We had no idea how it would go with the twins in tow (for the record, transporting a four year old and young twins is a very difficult task!). Maddie not only likes ballet, she loves it! She loves dancing with her friends, it's a great outlit for her dramatic personality, and she loves dancing with Ms. Bridget.

God not only allowed us to afford it, we had all the money for the whole year by the third month. They had the opprunity to sell papa murphy pizza cards. I wasn't going to do it, because the last thing I wanted was one more thing on my plate. My mom came with to some of Maddie's lessons and heard of this. She took it upon herself to take some and sell some. They sold so well we ended up going back for more of them and sold those as well. Thus dance lessons were paid for, plus as sweatshirt, and her recital costume. I tell you this not to brag, but to share with you God's amazing provision.

I was hesitant and leary of taking the twins with me to ballet. To begin with my mom came with to most of her lessons, thus giving me an extra pair of hands with the twins. Then Mark started school and I was able to leave the twins with him while he did homework and they took naps. Even today I wasn't sure how it was going to happen, but I knew God would provide. Either allowing the twins to do well while I was alone with them or he would bring help. He brought help in the form of Anna, a cousin, who came with us to ballet lessons.

God even provides ballet lessons! He knows what each one of us needs, he knows what will help shape us and mold us closer to Him. He has shaped and molded Maddie, he has shown Mark and I provisin in many ways. Yes, God even provides ballet lessons!