3/30/11

Growing in Patience - by Faith

I had hoped for a fantastic tutorial post to wrap up March. Nope. Hence my actual post.


Lately, it seems, that the Lord is giving me many ways to exercise patience. Or, rather, to ask for His patience to pour into me so that I can turn attempt to live it out. As sisters, wives, mothers, friends, co-workers, you-name-it, we know that having patience is SO much easier said than done!


When will the colds/ear infections go away?

Have patience, my child.


When can I get all the laundry washed/dried/folded? House clean? Etc. when said children keep seeming to get sick?

Have patience, my child.


Why does my 4 year old have to push limits ALL.THE.TIME? (at least it feels like that)

Have patience as you teach him obedience.




I am finding that as God reminds me to have patience, it is also a lesson for me in priorities. My priorities are, well, mine! And often when I find that little monster of impatience creeping out of my speech, into my thoughts, it is because I am focused on what I think/need/want to get done, rather than keeping focused on what God sees as truly important.



I have lately felt so impatient with myself. Why am I not further along in my walk with God? Why do I struggle with many of the same things over and over? Why do I lose my temper more often than I would like? And as I have wrestled with those questions - I find God has told me to have patience. Not in a passive manner ... but the patience of seeking His Will, reading His Word, and allowing the process of transformation to occur along His timeline. I would prefer instant transformation! Wouldn't we all? But my sinful nature doesn't really want to give up without a fight. And so I am finding that humbling myself before the Cross is really all I can do. Humbling myself by asking forgiveness of my son when I snap at him rather than taking a deep breath and responding in love. Humbling myself by allowing others over to my house when I would rather have it looking my cleaner (that is a true challenge for me). Humbling myself by acknowledging that I am so far from having it all together, but, thankfully, He isn't expecting me to.


And that's it. Perhaps this is only where I am at - and you are far beyond me! But, the honest truth was that a fantastic tutorial post on my agenda for the day. And God came right in at 9:30 a.m. this morning and threw my agenda out the window ...

3/26/11

Trying to Grow in Healthy Ways - Food-wise

Sorry for my lateness in posting ... we were out of town early on the in the week. And I have found myself scrambling to catch up after being gone. We literally walked into our house and Eli and I looked at each other and cringed. We expected it - but it was rather messy. I know that all the sitters did their best - but with three different rotations of sitters coming in for three days in a row, I knew the house would be messy. So, we started laundry, cleaning, unpacking, spending time with the boys, and getting ready to send Eli right back out the door for a weekend at school. WHEW! Now, it's suddenly already Saturday, and my high hopes of posting on Thursday obviously didn't happen - and I'm left with what feels like an empty brain with which thoughts of what needs to be done for Jonah's birthday party ofn Sunday keep floating in and out.

BUT, one thing that I have been pondering - both in my mind and attempting to see how it works out practically for my family, is trying to grow in our consumming of healthier and different foods. Looking forwards to garden seasons and already wanting to "gear up" to try new things and get ALL my boys to branch out from normal and safe foods.

I'm eager to hear others' thoughts out there: I don't want to go weirdo over it all - but I do want to improve in how I manage this area of my household. How do you do it?

Here of some of my thoughts/changes/hopes for future changes:

- I splurge every now and then and buy Almond Milk. Eli and I both really like it. It's great in smoothies and it's lower in fat and calories than cow's mlk. Almond Breeze unsweetened almond milk has only 40 calories per serving, 0 grams of sugar, and 45% of your daily suggested calcium intake. Pretty good! Unfortunately, it also often runs over $3 a carton - so it IS a splurge. Worth it? What do you think?
- Eli is meat man. He just loves his meat. I, for one, could live without it. I enjoy meat every now and then, but if I needed to be a vegetarian for any reason, it wouldn't be that hard for me. So, we compromise: we attempt to eat several meals without meat a week. Why? First, meat is expensive - makes a difference in the grocery budget when we don't buy it each week! Secondly, the meatless meals we often come up with take a healthy focus - which we're both happy about.
- I don't think at this point we're going to put in a garden in our yard. But, we help out in Eli's parents' garden - and get fresh produce all the time from the family. My goal this year is to offer to help MORE often, and take any offers of produce - even if it's a kind someone in this house normally turns their nose up at. And then I will head home with it, search my cookbooks and online and find a way for us to try it.
- I've also been tossing around the idea of joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Rolling Prairie Farmer's Alliance would work for a Lawrencian. The cost ranges from $14-17/week - but it would support local farmers AND I would spend less at the grocery store. Yes, each week would be a surprise - but somehow the thought appeals to me. I haven't really asked Eli to consider it seriously, but I think the conversation may happen. Any experience from our readers with being a part of a CSA?

Ultimately, I think I might be growing hungry for spring! Warmer weather, gardens, playing outdoors, more physical activity, fresh watermelon, etc. And that might be part of the reason all this is on my mind ... how 'bout you?

3/23/11

Excuse the Interruption

I just found this link on craigslist for a children's resale boutique in Baldwin. They are in the process of trying to make room for Spring clothes by having a dollar sale. I have never visited this shop, although I have driven by many times wishing I had time to stop and browse, so I cannot speak from experience regarding the quality of clothing. Just thought I would pass this along. Happy Wednesday!

3/19/11

growing like weeds

Kids grow so fast! And there are two main things they quickly outgrow that make an impact on the pocketbook: Diapers and Clothes. Recently I've made some discoveries and changes that have helped regarding how I approach each.

Diapers:

discovery: One of the most helpful pieces of information I've learned lately is that if your baby outgrows a diaper size and you still have unopened packages in that size left, while you could potentially save them for a shower gift or make a fabulous diaper cake, you can also take them back to the store and easily exchange them for the next size up! In preparation for baby's arrival, I had already begun a little diaper stockpile any time I saw a great deal on them, so when she came we were ready! Then I got several packages of diapers as shower gifts, and then again as Christmas gifts, so there were some sizes that she outgrew before breaking into a new pack.
I did a little market research and tried making the exchange at Walmart, Walgreens, and HyVee. WalMart was the easy-peasy exchange! You can even exchange for a cheaper brand and get the difference back in cash! After NB/sz1 I don't really care for Pampers, so I was happy to trade them for the cheaper brand that I prefer anyway. The only thing they don't do is take back brands that they don't stock in the first place. For example, I had received several packages of Luvs that I never was able to use, and they didn't carry this particular type, so I had to hunt down the store that did (HyVee). HyVee let me make an equal exchange (I didn't try going for a different brand, so I'm not sure how they feel about that). Walgreens has the same policy.
Because these were gifts I didn't have a receipt, which made me doubtful of whether or not each store would take them, since who knows where the gift-giver actually bought them in the first place (unless, it's a particular kind of Luvs, then apparently only HyVee carries them). But each time I simply explained the situation to Customer Service, asked if I could make a trade, and walked out with the size I needed. Happy!

tip:
Sometimes Walgreens has a BOGO sale on their store brand diapers, which is a beautiful thing. It is also a dangerous thing because those packages can go fast. A friend of mine told me that if the size she needs is sold out, she will just buy any other size and then return it later for the correct one once they get them back in. Typically I don't think of returning diapers. It just goes to show that there are ways to save and still get what you need!




Clot
hing:
(I want to acknowledge up front that this is a very Western mindset, where we have so much available to us, but that's our hemisphere; it's what we know...)

There's no getting around it: babies need a lot of outfits. Between the drool, wet-thrus, spit-ups, and blow-outs, they go through multiple clothing changes a day. As far as I'm concerned, nothing beats garage-sale baby clothes, where you can afford to buy a bunch at 25-75 cents a piece! I've also really appreciated the end of season clearance sales, which allow me to buy ahead at sometimes up to 65% off clearance prices. Old Navy is especially fantastic for this! As a new mom, when I first started doing this I asked several mom's how they approached gauging their childrens growth & needs for the next season, and the common advice was to buy pants in the age that they will be at that time, and tops in the next size up. That worked pretty well for us!

reasons I love it:
1)you can find some seriously cute and fine quality stuff out there for supercheap!

2) when your baby has a blow-out that even OxyClean can't conquer, that ruined article of clothing isn't as sad. Or if you daughter has a growth spurt and that dress is suddenly just too short, it doesn't hurt the wallet as much.

cautions:
* The danger of these sales is that I think, "oh, it's so cheap! I should buy 2 or 3 instead of just 1" when 1 might be all I really need or ever gets worn.

* I'm tempted to buy something that I don't totally love, but is just ok, because it's so inexpensive.

* Garage sale items are a gamble. I bought a bunch of 4T shirts for her at a garage sale for 25cents a piece, and happily tucked them away for the future. Well, I pulled them out with the 3T items, and half of them never even fit her. The tag said 4T, but they had been washed enough times that they were easily in the 2-3T range. The nice thing is that I can put them in the 2T bin for Baby to grow into.

* buying ahead gets confusing, especially when buying for multiple kids.

tip:
After learning from experience, anytime I bought ahead for the next size up, I would write down on a notecard what I had purchased and just keep a running tab that I would take with me when garage and clearance saleing. This helped me keep from forgetfully buying multiples of the same thing and also allowed me to try to keep things coordinated. Even though the pants, top, and sweater, for example, might have come from three different places, I could still make up one cohesive outfit with them.

recent discoveries/changes that have made me realize that I want change:
1) Once babies get to about 1YO, they no longer need so many wardrobe changes. It's hard to get out of this mindset, especially when purchasing ahead because your baby is right there in front of you, drooling all over herself. But they stop doing those things and don't really need as much.
2) My 4YO son especially has gotten very particular about what he wears, so even if I only spent $1.50 on a shirt last season with plans that he will wear it this season, it's a $1.50 "wasted" because he doesn't like it, and it's too late to return it to the store.
3)Along those same lines, he and my daughter have their favorite items. Sometimes I wonder why I even have more than one shirt, because it seems like that's the only shirt he ever wants to wear.
4) I, too, have my favorite outfits for them, and I would rather they wear those than some other things, so between my favorite and theirs, the rest just becomes closet clutter that I'm constantly sifting thru until I find the favorites.
5) the more kids I have, the more space becomes a premium, and the less I want to have bins of clothing stashed for them, waiting for them to grow into.
6) My 2YO daughter has the longest legs in the world and zero hips. Again, jeans and khakis and dresses that I bought cheaply are still a "waste" of money because they don't fit right. She has already outgrown most of the 3T dresses that I had purchased ahead for her. Thankfully she got some wear out of them, but not as much as I expected or would have liked.

note: You'll notice I put waste in parenthesis. Nothing ever need be wasted. Repurpose these items as gifts, save them for the next child in line, lend/give them to your friend with similar-aged kids, donate them, or sell them. Clothing items new with tags (NWT) can sell very well online and at consignment sales. I keep the tags on the clothes until I'm absolutely sure the kids will wear them, and only cut them before that first wash. Thankfully, I've been able to even make money off some of the NWT items that I've consigned because we didn't end up using them like I expected.

useless but relevant aside: I don't know if you are like me, but for some reason I am willing to spend more at a consignment sale than a garage sale. I get really annoyed when garage sales have their kids clothes priced anywhere above $2, doesn't matter how great they are. I know it doesn't necessarily make sense, but I expect and want garage sale prices!

new game plan:

space:
I've gone back and forth about whether you get more bang for your buck by selling clothes as soon as a child grows out of them, while they're relatively current and can get a slightly higher price, or saving them for the possibility of a next child. In the past I've kept most of the items, especially when I have nephews and friends who can borrow them in the meantime. But this year I decided I was going to only keep my very favorite and highly utilized pieces and sell the rest so that I could condense the storage area. I also decided that, although summer dresses are really cute on little girls, anything with spaghetti straps had to go (unless I could layer it with another shirt). Yes, she's only two, and she's only showing baby skin, but it's still skin, and it's the principle/ pattern of it all. Still hoping for some bang for that buck, I participated in my first Just Between Friends sale last weekend (yikes! what a ton of work) as well as consigned some items at a local shop (less work, but less $too). Next up is a garage sale, and whatever doesn't sell there gets donated. Like I said, nothing need be wasted. I had some items that I didn't think even Goodwill would want, but Jeni reminded me about the donation receptacles in pretty much every grocery parking lot. Maybe someone will appreciate some of these more "roughly worn items". If not, then they can toss them out, but at least they have the option, and I don't have them lying around anymore.

clothes:
"Reduce, ReUse, Recycle" may be our generations motto, but my parents motto was: "Use it up; wear it out! Make do; Do without!" This January I decided that I am going to ride out what is left of the things that I've purchased ahead, and am not going to buy another stitch of kids clothing unless it's absolutely necessary (for instance, Daughter is going to need a new swimsuit for this summer. There is no creative way around that unless we never go to the public pool. and she LOVES the pool). Instead of trying to save money and being prepared by buying ahead, I'm going to use up what we already have. Then next year, when I have a clean slate, or closet if you will, I want to see if less is more, even if I have to pay full price for it (but I'm sure gonna try to get it on sale! ; )). I grew up in a family of five kids, and I remember very clearly having a uniform. I remember having two school-day outfits for each season, with some play clothes thrown in the mix, and one, maybe two, Sunday outfits for each season. Like I said, there were five kids, and we moved around a lot, so we didn't accumulate much. Sounds heavenly to me right now! This is my new plan for the kids as they get older, until they get old enough to be embarrassed by it, as I did, and try and block it from their memories.

Maybe someday they will turn into their mother too... =)


questions: What is your clothing philosophy? Do you have any hot tips?

3/15/11

Growing Pains

Do you remember singing this song in Sunday School when you were little?

Read your Bible
Pray every day
And you'll grow
grow
grow



Funny, I was really excited for this topic. Lot's of ideas have been running through my head all month, and now it's my turn, and I haven't had a single minute until just now to write. And the things keeping me busy and overwhelmed are all due to growth. Baby is teething; those little teeth are trying to break through keeping her up at night and crabby-clingy during the day. Daughter is in physical therapy; 1+ year of constant tiptoe walking is affecting her musculature, skelecature, and posture. or are those things why she toewalks? Son is picking up concepts so quickly that I'm afraid I'm holding him back because I'm not organized yet to fully take the homeschooling plunge and concentrate on that right now.
And that's just the mothering aspect of my life...

I guess every phase of life is a growing phase. Sometimes it's a calm steady rate, sometimes it's exhilarating and flourishing, and sometimes it's stretching, overwhelming, and painful. That's the phase I'm currently in. I would prefer to be in the blossoming phase where beauty and fruit are evident, soaking up that sunshine. But right now I feel like I'm just slowly starting to move through the soil, trying to dig out from under the earth pushing down on me. Right now the comforting thought is that, unlike that seed out there that is growing up, reaching for the light, I don't have to wait to break through the soil. Even in my darkest moments, I have Light. I would like to share some of the things that have come up in my reading this month that have been particularly helpful and encouraging during this growth cycle.


March 8th Evening Reading

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able. 2 Timothy 1:12
* Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. Eph. 3:20
* Able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work 2 Corinthians 9:8
* Able to aid those who are tempted Hebrews 2:18
* Able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
* Able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Jude 24
* Able to keep that which I've committed to Him until that Day 2 Timothy 1:12
* [Christ] will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Phil. 3:21
* Jesus said to [the blind man], "Do you believe that I am able to do this?...According to your faith let it be to you" Mat. 9:28-29


March 10th Morning Reading

The-Lord-Will-Provide Genesis 22:14
God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering. Genesis 22:8 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save: nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1 The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn ungodliness from Jacob. Romans 11:26 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their sou from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Psalm 33:18-19 My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19 He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:5-6 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. Psalm 28:7


March 13th Evening Reading

O my God, my soul is cast down within me. Psalm 42:6
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. Isaiah 26:3-4 Cast you burdens on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. Psalm 55:22 For He has not despised nor abhorred the the afflictions of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard. Psalm 22:24 Is anyone among you suffering? Let Him pray. James 5:13 Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid John 14:27 Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, hat you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:25-26 (this verse keeps popping up on this blog!) Do not be unbelieving, but believing. John 20:27 Lo, I am with you always Matthew 28:20
- excerpts copied from Daily Light on the Daily Path, as compiled by the Samuel Bagster Family
This book has been a great blessing to me, as it gives me a directed reading to share with the kids after breakfast, and the cohesive manner of it gives me one thought to meditate on throughout the day. And then there times like this when I am amazed how something compiled in the 1800's can speak directly to my need today. But when it's God's Word, it's always timely! He is so amazing.

Between the old English syntax and style, I've had to read the following poem several times to fully get it. Doing so has been well worth the effort, and one of the better payouts of my time investments.

Thou sayest, "fit me, fashion me for Thee."
Stretch forth thine empty hands, and be thou still:
O restless soul, thou dost but hinder Me
By valiant purpose and by steadfast will.
Behold the summer flowers beneath the sun,
In stillness his great glory they behold;
And sweetly thus his mighty work is done,
And resting in his gladness they unfold.
So are the sweetness and the joy divine
Thine, O beloved, and the work is Mine.
- Ter Steegen, as quoted in Principles of Spiritual Growth by Miles J. Stanford

A plant naturally grows upwards towards the light and warmth above. But I have it even better. I don't have to break through the soil; I have the Light with me always, for He promised to never leave me, nor forsake me. Instead of struggling to cast off the dirt pressing down around me, all I have to do rest in Him, and HE pulls me up.

As I was writing this down and thinking about verses I was typing, the Lord Spirit brought the following hymn to mind/heart.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Refrain

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belov├Ęd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Refrain

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Refrain

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Refrain

- Jean S. Pigott, 1876



Psalm 119:50
This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.

3/10/11

Growing a Garden

The days are getting longer and warmer, which can only mean one thing...Spring is coming! That also means that it is time to start preparing the garden so it is ready to plant in the next month or so.

This year I am going to plant two additional vegetables that I have not planted in the past: onions and potatoes. The long-time farmers/gardeners will tell you that you need to get your potatoes planted on or around St. Patrick's Day, which means I need to get planning!

First, decide what you are going to plant. The internet has a wealth of information regarding what vegetables grow well in what areas and when they should be planted. I recommend plotting out where you are going to plant each vegetable based on the space you have and then figure out how much seed you will need. You don't want to buy too much seed; however, if you do, you can use the seeds the following year. There are proper ways to store the seeds, but I just left mine in the garage. I just finished doing a germination test (place the seeds in wet paper towels in ziploc bags and see if they sprout) and most of my seeds still have over an 80% germination rate.

Secondly, you will want to prepare your soil. My mom has the extension office send someone out to do a soil test every year or so and then she adds whatever it is they recommend. I have never done this. The only preparation I do is to till the garden (actually, my wonderful husbnd tills the garden for me) once the soil dries out enough.

You will want to plant your seeds according to the variety of vegetables you have. Like I mentioned previoulsy, potatoes get planted in the middle of March, while the rest of your garden might not need to be planted until the middle or end of April.

Happy gardening!

3/8/11

Yum, yum yum!

I just love finding new recipes that are fast, easy and don't require a lot of ingredients. Don't you? Lately I have been growing my collection of recipes and I wanted to share one with you that I am particularly excited about.

I found the recipe for Meat and Cheese Burritos here. I did some tweaking to the recipe...I added pinto beans and whole kernel corn and I left out the salt. I mixed everything in a large bowl and I ended up with 14 burritos. I froze them just like Laura recommended and I have reheated one using the oven and one using the microwave. If you are in a hurry I recommend the microwave as it took less than 3 minutes to go from frozen to yummy in my tummy (I wrapped mine in saran wrap before microwaving so it wouldn't dry out).

Here are the reasons why I am so excited about this recipe:

1) It only took me 30 minutes to make 14 burritos.
2) The burritos work for dinner or for snack and it doesn't take a lot of work to reheat them.
3) My husband can pack these for lunch on days when I don't have leftovers to send with him.
4) They are very tasty!!

If you are curious about how to fold a burrito properly, just google it and you'll find lots of help!

3/7/11

Growing Weary

On June 15, 2010 I made a list of about six to eight things that I was hoping to have resolved soon or answers for, etc. I put that list in my Bible and I review it occassionally, but not too often lest I get discouraged. I am happy to say that one of the items has been resolved, but the others remain on the list. These happen to be pretty big things, at least in my eyes, and I believe they are big things in God's eyes as well.

Lately I have struggled with growing weary. It seems like this tunnel I am traveling through just keeps going, with no light in sight. I am in the dark before the morning and I'm hoping morning comes SOON! In the midst of my weariness, I know that God is right there with us. Although it is not always easy, we continue to seek God and try our hardest to do His will. Here are some Scriptures that we have found encouragement from:

Psalm 62:1-2

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Jeremiah 17:8

8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”


Psalm 40:17

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.


Isaiah 40:27-31

27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I pray that this post will not be a discouragement for those who read it, but rather a reminder that there will be seasons of our lives when we struggle with growing weary, anxious, worried, discouraged, etc. When you find yourself in one of those places, trust that the Living God is there to offer hope and know that this is just the dark before the morning and that the sunrise is going to be beautiful and definitely worth the wait!

3/5/11

Indoor Farming: Day 2

For any of you that know me, you know I have a very "black thumb".  Up until last year, the longest I had ever kept a house plant alive was around 4 months.  I have now succeeded in keeping an indoor plant alive for over a year, but it probably doesn't count because it is part of the cactus family.  So with all this in mind, I didn't have high hopes for growing sprouts.  But, they are GROWING!

Here is what we have done so far:

Steps 1-5 can be found here.

Step 6: Drain water and rinse seeds.
Step 7:  Continue to Rinse and drain 2-3 times a day for the next couple of days. (I didn't do this the first day - whoops.  I told you I have a black thumb.) 
Day 2 - still just seeds
To help with the drainage you can elevate the bottom and let the water drain onto a plate.

Day 3 - starting to sprout.
Tomorrow I will place the jar on my window sill to encourage the sprouts to turn green.  I think I'm still supposed to rinse and drain them a few times a day.  I'll keep you posted!

3/3/11

Indoor Farming: Day 1

Well, not exactly farming.  We're growing sprouts!

This is something I remember doing when I was little, but could not remember how it was done.  I have a vague memory of a jar and pouring water out, but that was about it.  So after doing some Googling, I'm now ready to give it a try.  Most of the information below is from this helpful link.  There are many sprouting resources out there.  I found most of them very informative, but overwhelming.  So I am going to try and keep it as simple as I can.

Step 1: Gather Supplies - 1 quart jar, cheesecloth or screen for lid, sprouting beans or seeds, (I used a sprouting mix), water, and spoon.
Step 2: Fill jar 1/2 full with water. 
Step 3: Add 2 Tablespoons of Seeds or Beans.

Step 4: Put the lid on the jar.
Step 5: Set the jar out of direct sunlight and leave for 8 hours.
This is happening in real time here folks, so these seed are sitting in my cupboard right now, and I will update the tutorial as it happens.  Hopefully I can actually grow something.

Interested in reading A LOT more about sprouts try:  Mumm's Sprouting Seeds, or The Sprout People.

To be continued...

3/2/11

Growing Testimony


1 Peter 2:9  
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


A little bit of history:  I asked Jesus into my life at the ripe old age of 5 years old.  While kneeling down at my toy box, I prayed a simple prayer.  I knew I could not be good on my own,  so I asked for forgiveness and for Jesus to come into my heart and make me clean.  End of story.

Well, not exactly, though this was my go to "testimony" until really thinking about it more recently.  I have no idea what concept a 5 year old has of giving ones life to Christ, but I had very little.  I was a "Christian" because my parents were Christians and my grandparents were Christians and so on.  I knew that it was "right", I memorized scriptures, and I had a well thought out rebuttal for anyone who questioned my "faith".  The problem was that I had the knowledge, but in actuality I wasn't living for anyone but myself.

I coasted along quite well, on my own merits, until age 15.  Then I realized, to my shock and horror, that my parents weren't always right.  *gasp*  And if they were not always right in the little things, then maybe they weren't right about the big things either.  Maybe there really wasn't a God, maybe what I had been brought up to believe was merely a ploy to get me to behave.  I certainly didn't see Him doing much in my life.  And so began a very, very dark time in my life.  I won't get into all of the details, but let's just say I rebelled.  It wasn't until the summer before my 18th birthday that I realized that I was a complete mess without the Lord.  So, once again, and for real this time, I committed my life to Christ.

Fast forward to last year sometime:  As every Christian does, I've had ups and I've had downs.  I've had times of incredible closeness to my heavenly Father, and times when I'm not sure what I'm doing anymore.  Last year was one of those times.  The more I would seek the Lord, the farther away He seemed to be.  I was absolutely lost and miserable.  No matter how hard I tried I couldn't force myself any closer to Him.  And in the apparent distance (because He hadn't really left me) so much darkness bubbled up from the depths of who I was.  Though my life was His and His alone, I was angry, fearful, bitter, judgmental, proud, manipulative and ashamed.  I had tried to stuff all of these things, and more, down into the deepest recesses of my heart and then simply forget about them.  But the Lord knew they were there and He was asking me to deal with them.  So little by little He began a new work on my heart.  And because of His work, my testimony continues to grow.

Now, so I don't forget what he has done for me (and will continue to do) I have started a page in back of my bible with brief accounts of this growing testimony.  I write one or two sentences chronicling where I was, and then how He has changed me.  Then whenever I am feeling like the finish line is just too far away, and there is still so much in me that needs to change, I can take comfort in the fact that - He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:6 - emphasis mine)

I would love know how you remind yourself of the ways God has changed you.  Do you journal, paint pictures, or build memorials?

3/1/11

"Growing"

photo credit - tico_bassie
Spring is in the air, or at least I would like it to be.  Though there is still snow on the ground here in Kansas, my thoughts have already turned to warmer days and the new possibilites for growth.

Earlier this month, as I pondered a theme for March on A Bird in the Hand, I found myself getting excessively  frustrated.  I couldn't think of anything, that I could write about, that someone else couldn't already do better and write about more eloquently.  My intention isn't for this blog to become a competition between the contributors (especially if I was going to lose *wink*), but I did want to be able to speak knowledgeably about a subject if I was going to write about it.  Every time I thought of a subject (cleaning, parenting, beauty, grace, being a godly wife...) my mind would go absolutely blank.  I began to panic - "It's my turn to pick!", "I have to come up with something!", "I can't let the team down!" "think, think, think!!".

I spent a ridiculous amount of brain cells, striving just to pick a simple theme.  And then it dawned on me, I haven't taken this to the Lord.  I had prayed about it...sort of, but had I really sought the Lord for an answer?...no.  I immediately dropped my heart to it's knees and began to pray.  He answered.  Though He did not immediately give me the answer to my question, like I wanted (of course).  He lovingly pointed out where I was missing the mark.  I cannot wait until I have all the answers to share with others.  If I wait, I will be sharing with others directly from my own proud heart, instead of from His gracious wisdom.

Matthew 6:27-29  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.


photo credit - unknown
My desire is not to "toil or spin" in my own efforts, but to grow like a lily, walk in the light of my Creator, and allow my roots to dig deep into Him alone.

So the topic was chosen, not because I can speak intelligently on the subject, but simply because I need to grow.  And though it is easier to wait until I feel confident in what I am sharing, I believe the Lord will be able to use me more effectively when I am vulnerable with Him, and also vulnerable with you.

And just to show you how much work I really need, even after this wonderful revelation, in my weakness and insecurity, I still had to ask one of the other contributors if they liked the topic before beginning to write about it. - I may never learn.  Thank the Lord for his undying grace toward me, I am so undeserving!