Monday, July 30, 2007

Fertile Ground

Hebrews 6:7-10 says "Ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints."
That makes me think, "What sort of ground am I ?" Am I producing things that are useful, am I working and loving the saints around me? I hope so and I am going to continue to work toward that goal. What sort of ground are YOU?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of my favorite sayings is "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." That hits on many areas of living that I find important.
"Use it up" reminds us that we shouldn't be wasteful. A big pet peeve of mine is parents loading kids plates up with food and then the kids eating maybe 1/4 of it. That is just training kids to be wasteful. Being wasteful costs us more money. I also like the idea of "Use it up" from the green standpoint, I don't like the idea of just adding more and more junk to landfills.
"Wear it out" makes me think about clothes. In our country clothes are so very easy to come by and fashion changes making us want to be constantly updating, I like the idea of actually wearing stuff out. We need to get out of the mentality of just buying things because they are cheap (not buying is even cheaper) and the thought that "I deserve something new". Some ideas for being able to wear clothes out. 1. Don't have to many. If you have just a limited number of shoes and clothes that you really like- it is easier to actually wear things out. 2. Get things that you really like and that follow a trend not a fad. You don't want to buy things that will be out of date already next year. 3.Remake things that you don't use as they are. With this you will need to be creative and be willing to just try. It is not really that hard.
"Make it do" There are times when I really want to replace something -yucky cookie sheets, a broom, a purse, a car etc. Then I ask myself: "Do I really need that or can I make do?" Usually (but not always) the answer is: "I can make do". You can save yourself a ton of money if you are willing to "Make it do".
"Do without" This area calls for some creative thinking. It can be a very fun hobby to do without if you get into it. Often times want you want might not be what you really need anyway, or you can use something else other than what you originally thought you needed. I recently needed a new swimsuit. I wanted one that was very covering and that I and my husband found attractive. Swimsuits of that nature were very expensive so instead of buying I used some old clothes that had been given to us and made my own instead. It worked better than buying anyway.
I enjoy challenging myself to "
Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" . I find it fun and my kids are learning to enjoy it too. I can be frugal and green and be a good steward with the money and earth that my great God has given to me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monarch Butterflies!

We tried something fun this summer, raising monarch butterflies. It was a great activity for the kids and quite easy to do. Monarchs lay their eggs on Milkweed plants and we have quite a few growing on our property. One day way counted and found over a dozen little caterpillars on them. We took one of the fat ones along with some leaves and put it in a jar with a piece of lace held on by a rubber band across the top (you could use anything with holes in it to let them get air). We made sure that we gave them plenty of milkweed leaves (and they can eat a lot! ) After a few days it started hanging from the top upside down. We hoped to watch it turn into a chrysalis put one of the caterpillars did it while we were asleep and the other one while we were at church. Oh well! After a week or so the chrysalis turned dark and we could kind of see the wings through it and then it came out! And it wasn't a Caterpillar anymore it was a wrinkled up butterfly. After a little while of stretching and drying off he was ready to fly. It is so cool how God made Butterflies!


I am lefthanded and enjoy that fact. I guess I just like being unique, different, special. Being lefthanded is something that people notice and comment on. Anyway since I started having kids I have been hoping to have some lefties that take after me. My husband is a righty and my oldest daughter took after him but then our oldest son did take after me. I was so excited. Our 2nd son is a righty so I think fair is fair and our youngest daughter (She is just one and we can't tell what hand she favors yet) needs to be a lefty. This past week I was encouraging her to use her lefthand much to my husbands amusement- he draws the line about forcing her to be a lefty though. I'll just hope!:-)
Did you know that Presidents Garfield, Truman, Ford, Reagan, Bush (the father) and Clinton were all lefties. McCain and Obama are also lefties.

What is your money attitude?

What is your wealth status? I am rich. I was born rich and continue to be to this day. Abundantly wealthy. Lacking nothing. Those of you who know me are probably saying- "What are you talking about Abbi? You aren't rich." According to statistics I have actually lived below the poverty level most of my life, I don't think I am there now but we are still not at the place where most people would call us rich (except those from 3rd world countries). However what the statistics say is not the whole picture there is something else that plays a huge part and that is our attitude.

There are many different ways that people look at their financial status. Some people truly are wealthy, they know they are wealthy and they spend like they are wealthy. Some of them are content and some are not. It depends on their attitude. God has given us this verse that applies to them, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies all things for us to enjoy."1 Timothy 6;17 I have known others that though they are not wealthy, they have all that they need plus much more, they have money in the bank and are not in debt yet their attitude is "We are so poor, I wish we wouldn't have to worry about money so much." This sort of attitude does not glorify God who richly supplies us with things to enjoy. We need to be thankful. "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:18 There are others who though do not have much money still want more and more and more and so they go into major debt. 1 Timothy 6:8 says "And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." and also concerning debt read Proverbs 22:7 "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the servants slave." There are others whose whole focus in life is to run after money. "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. Proverbs 23:4.

I have been exceedingly blessed in my life. I was raised by parents who were (and continue to be) very, very thankful for all that God has given them. Though poor by the world's standards they felt rich. Two of my Dad's favorite songs were "We are so Blessed" and "Consider the lilies" both of which talked about how much God has given us and will take care of us. They are careful with the money God has given to them and are generous with others. Then I was incredibly blessed to find a man whom I married who also (thanks to good training from his parents) is very careful with his money and doesn't like to be a slave to debt. Though we aren't rich in money- we are rich because we have learned the secret of contentment. Though we need to live frugally we can enjoy it. I consider it a hobby- one that I would want to pursue even if we would become millionaires. I enjoy gardening and raising my own food, using things that I have instead of going and buying new, remodeling 2nd hand clothing to make them work for us, making homemade gifts, buying things when they are on sale, doing things ourselves instead of hiring somebody to do it for us. It is fun and I am RICH!
What is your attitude concerning money?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Berries, Berries, Berries!

We went berry picking again today. For the last couple of weeks we have done a lot of that. Berry picking is a favorite activity of mine and my kids are getting good at it too, my husband enjoys joining us some as well.
Here in Northern Minnesota there are oodles of berries available just for the picking. We have found trees loaded with Juneberries on public property as well as many wild strawberries and raspberries. I also noticed that the pin cherries are getting ripe and the chokecherries will be ripe soon. We have also picked some wild blueberries. If you keep your eyes open you can probably find some berries around you! We have also enjoyed picking cultivated raspberries and cherries at my parent's farm.
After picking of course comes the cleaning, which is made much more enjoyable if you have someone to visit with so I have had the kids learn how to help me. We can get them cleaned quite quickly now.
From our berries we have enjoyed the normal raspberries and ice cream , making jams and jellies and then we have also made a lot of fruit smoothies.
To make a fruit smoothie we combine some plain yogurt (we use our own homemade stuff), lots of berries (strawberries and raspberries have been a favorite), and either a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream or some sweetener. You can also add some milk, vanilla or a banana. Then use your blender (I use a handheld one right in the pitcher). They are so yummy! I am always trying to reduce the sugar usage in our diet so I start not very sweet and add more as needed. If you start cutting done on the sugar, pretty soon your family will find normal stuff way to sweet.
We also enjoy Berry Muffins I have used either blueberries, juneberries or raspberries, I am sure other fruit would work as well.
Cream together: 1 cup Oil (I often substitute either yogurt, applesauce or grated zuchinni for 1/2 of this)
1 1/2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
Then mix in: 1 cup Milk (I usually use 1/3 cup dry milk and 1 cup water)
2 t. Vanilla
Then stir in: 4 cups flour (I usually use at least 2 cups whole wheat)
4 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Salt
Last, fold in: 2 cups of Berries
Put in greased or lined muffin tins. Make a mixture of 2 T. sugar and 1/2 t. nutmeg and sprinkle a little on the top of each one. Bake at 375 degrees for 20- 25 minutes. Sometimes I will put the batter in two loaf pans instead and bake it that way. The time will need to be adjusted.
This recipe makes around 30 muffins. They freeze very well.
Happy berry picking! I would love to hear your favorite things to do with berries.

A Good Woman

Proverbs 31:10-31
"An Excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax,
And works with her hands in delight.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is still night,
And gives food to her household,
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hand to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor;
And she stretches out her hand to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her saying:
"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord,
She shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates."

   This woman was many things. A wife, a mother, a craftswoman, a shopper, a cook, a money manager, a gardener, a humanitarian, an organizer, a seamstress, a business woman and a teacher. I am most of those things too so that makes this chapter interesting to me. I imagine if you are reading this that you also are able to relate to her is some way. The fact that she is all those things however does not do a lot to motivate me, it is how she does them that is motivating. 
   Notice concerning her role as a wife- She is called excellent. Why? I think that can be figured out by all the ways she worked to make her home happy and well organized and comfortable. She was trustworthy (Her husband didn't have to worry about her saying things behind his back that would cause others to think ill of him). It is in part because of her that he does well in his work and has "no lack of gain". She was always doing him good- never evil.  
   Other character traits that she had also help to motivate me in my life. She was a happy worker (no complaining here- she worked with delight), She is an early riser, She is caring, (she tries to make sure every person in her household is well taken care of), She plans ahead (no rash decisions), She is content, She is generous, She has strength and dignity (people will respect her because her life commands it), She is not a worrier, She is joyful, She is wise and kind, She is industrious and most importantly of all -She fears the Lord! Without the fear of the Lord, all the rest of it is useless. Everything put together equals a woman who can be mightily used by Him. Now that motivates me because that is what I want to be too! How does it motivate you?


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