True Hospitality

We are having some dear friends over this evening, and will be financially able to feed us all without breaking the bank. Another luxury that many in the world do not have.
An excerpt from Extending The Table:

“When we visited the Christian Council of Mozambique for the last time before leaving Africa in 1985, the council workers probided a lavish farewell feast. Despite our protests, these Mozambicans who live in one of the poorest countries on Earth insisted on giving us a proper celebration. Staff members spent most of a day looking for food-a chicken from a market across town, vegetables from someone’s struggling garden, rice, and Coca-cola from an expensive foreign currency shop. At last the feast was ready, the opening speeches given and the meal served. Our friends piled our plates high with food, urging us to eat more and more until our stomachs were fit to burst. All the while, we knew that some of the people at our table would go hungry the next day. It was one of the most painful, precious, and joyful moments of our lives. We, who had come to serve (and who mostly took our food for granted), were being served by those who materially had nothing compared to us, but who could celebrate with lavish abandon because they knew how to love. They knew from experience that true celebration is necessary for survival. It nourishes and strengthens both the givers and the receivers and helps to lighten the crosses in our daily lives.”

However you spend this Labor Day, celebrate heartily; be thankful for what you have and those you have to love.

Gratitude

Yesterday the kids were sick, and it created a lot of dirty laundry. I fell into a rhythm of washing, switching to dryer, and folding the resulting clean clothes. This went on all day. I thought about the areas of the world where there is no such thing as running water in one’s house. Or clean water anywhere nearby. What do they do when a little one is sick all over everything? The time it would take to get everything clean (before the sickness would spread from the dirty things to other people) would be greatly multiplied. How wonderful to be able to wash clothes quickly and efficiently! We are even able to clean our carpets (thanks, Mom and Dad) when they get dirty. What wealth we have in just our clean running water and our washer and dryer.
Today I started the process of switching the kids’ clothes from warm weather to cold weather. First let me say that we are so blessed to always have more hand-me-down clothes than we’ll ever wear, so I rarely have to go out and buy something. Up until this season, I have kept extra clothing stored in my mother-in-law’s basement. The arrangement was good and bad. We liked being able to go down there for what we needed from time to time, but there were way too many clothes! This summer I worked at cutting back and am keeping only enough for the elders this winter, for little A, and clothes for a baby (0-12m boy or girl) if we have more children. This month I want to take time to look hard at areas I am overdoing it. Hoarding the kids’ clothes is one area.This fall, they will have a lot less in their drawers, but I doubt they will even notice- they tend to want to wear the same 3 outfits over and over. This is what they’ll have:
5 casual outfits
2 church outfits
1 pr sneakers
1 pr dress shoes
1 pr casual shoes
2-3 pj outfits
I got the boys done this morning, and will work on the girls through this week. It will be cold and wet for at least the next week, so we already need the warm clothes.
Again, how many children in the world only have the clothes on their backs? Even my children’s minimum seems luxurious.

Sick Day

Five things that won’t happen today, now that we’re passing around the stomach flu:
1. We won’t be celebrating Big A’s ‘first day of first grade’ with Ohio-shaped sugar cookies
(listen to the song here)
2. We won’t start 30 Days of Nothing exactly as planned, but this first day will be a day of nothing!
3. We won’t exhaust our neighbors’ dvd library, because they have so many
4. I won’t be cooking my usual gourmet dinner tonight
5. Luke and I will not get out to see Pirates of the Caribbean II for our monthly date.

Fortunately, I can be certain there will be better days. I have to say that we are blessed with more good days than bad. Hope you get more done today than we do, since you don’t have our excuse.

30 Days of Learning

I have thought about what kinds of things I will do to participate in this 30 Days of Nothing campaign. I think my main focus will be to do something each day that raises my family’s awareness of what living conditions are like in other parts of the world. Some days it might just be reading about them, some days we may eat like them. Then, hopefully, we will have that much more appreciation for how good we have it. A few resources that I intend to use:
A Child’s Geography : They have the first two chapters of the first book available for free online. I hope to buy it eventually.
Extending the Table Cookbook : I own a copy of this. It’s sister cookbook, More With Less Cookbook is also very good. Both share tons of stories and recipes collected from all over the world.
Mission Websites such as Independent Gospel Mission : We support a missionary from this particular mission, but many such websites can get you connected to what’s going on in world missions.
I don’t know yet if we will spend a day eating only rice, or if I will boycott Wal-Mart, but I hope this overall experience will be life-changing. It is so good for the soul to deny oneself something once in a while. It develops self control and makes us more like Jesus.
1 Timothy 6:11 But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
2 Days and counting…

Could I Live On Rice? Would I?

Tonia has posted about a 30-day challenge where she and her family, and hopefully others, will simplify their lives in many ways in order to “break the grip of materialism in our hearts and minds.” This kind of a challenge comes at a great time in the life of my family. Luke has taken a job that will ultimately pay less than what we are used to, and we have to figure out how to make that work. I have the responsibility of feeding us on what he makes, and, so far, I am not a very good steward. I admit that I often have to throw out something that has gone bad in the fridge, and my pantry has food in it that I have no plans to use. Both are symptoms of overspending and lazy living.
Also, we have been burdened by what we have learned is happening in Liberia. The country is full of orphans, with very little food and electricity to take care of them. We have been praying for ways to help there, and putting money away for them, over the next month, that we might have spent on our own luxuries just might be the way to go.
This is me, throwing my hat into the ring. If nothing else, I hope to be a better grocery shopper for my family’s needs (not wants:) by October 1st. Ideally, I will have some money left over to send to Liberia.
Who else is in the mood for some self-deprivation?

Meme

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine asked me a very thought-provoking question. In fact, I think I have given it more consideration than she originally intended the question to get. She basically wondered what she and I will do when our kids are grown. The reason I have given it so much thought is that every time I come up with an answer, I get to thinking, “Why am I going to wait to do that? Can’t I find a way to take part in these things now, even in the midst of motherhood?”
Here’s some of my answers and how I am attempting to get ‘r done:
*Take a cooking class- I try to watch the Food Network or read about making good food whenever I can, and use what I learn right away. So far, I am realizing that a lot of cooking doesn’t require real talent, just a bit of common sense. And you need to know what tastes good with what; this is the part that will take time for me to get a hold on.
*Make things and sell them- So far I’m developing my card-making and framing. The framing has to be done sans children, but the card-making doesn’t. They LOVE getting out the paper and ribbons and scissors and of course the glue stick (that N thinks is chapstick), and often come up with some unique works of art.
*Travel-the most exotic place we have been to this summer is Wooster, OH, but I have real dreams of getting an RV (I want to see that movie!) and going cross country in it. That would be the only way to do it with so many littles. But how memorable would that be!
*Spend more time with my husband-well, looks like that can happen now, too. He just got a job with OHVA, Big A’s digital academy, and will be working from home! I am excited for him, but I do wonder what this will be like. It is as if he’ll be seeing me in a different way (how I REALLY am:). We were comparing schedules last night, and I felt a little weird. But it will be cool. This is his dream.
Well, what do you want to do, but let your present occupation keep you from doing? I tag my sister and honey to tell what they dream about on their blogs. (Honey has already posted one great pursuit here.)
Have a lovely week!

Works For Me Wednesday – Granola

I quickly discovered that when I had four children seated around the table for breakfast, they could easily go through an entire box of store-bought cereal. Not to mention the health risks of eating such a non-nutritive meal. But I really like the speed of something poured into a bowl and covered with milk; I don’t have all morning to fix something, feed it and clean it up. So I was pleased to come across this granola recipe, and extra pleased to find that I liked it. (I had tried many recipes for it and they weren’t much better than sawdust!) Please give this one a go, and happy eating.
Granola (from Nancy at Above Rubies)
4 c rolled oats
1 c crushed almonds
1/2 c whole grain flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c shredded coconut
1 c sunflower seeds (I omit)
1/2 c wheat germ or whole grain bran
1 c pumpkin seeds (I omit)
1 c honey or maple syrup (I do half and half)
1 t vanilla
Combine dry ingredients in mixer. Combine honey and/or maple syrup and vanilla, pour into dry ingredients while being stirred. Scrape out onto large bake pan. Bake at 300-350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Store in airtight container in pantry.Makes a bunch.
I multiply this by one and a half, and that batch feeds my kids about 3 days. But we don’t usually have it every day, so a batch can be around all week.
Works for me! Check out more ideas at Shannon’s.

Lazy Summer Afternoon


It’s funny how a simple porch swing can add so much to a house. It is as if we now have another room, a place to go that is calm and cool (most days) to watch the world go by. Additions like these make me not mind staying in this house a bit longer. Not that we are discontent with the way things are, but we realize sooner or later that we will need a bigger, newer home.
For now, though, we have our “Pretty Blue House”, with a porch swing in front.

Works For Me Wednesday – NoyNoy

I don’t have a tip today, but it is my little N’s birthday! He’s a two year old bundle of energy. I love his words right now-phrases only I and his closest confidantes (siblings) can understand. An added element is that he is saying most of these around a pacifier. A tutorial:
Dinty binky
Dady baby
Yaya A-Major
Bawa Big-S
Deemy Little-S
Gawa granola
Geeky cookie
Ditty (not to be confused with dinty) kitty
Mmmm time to eat
There are many more, but this is a good sample. We love you, NoyNoy.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday, so I thought I would write about what a great person she is.

B-believably the best cooker of potroast and spaghetti
R-rather than avoid us like the plague, she seems to like it when we come visit
E-eventually she will have completed every Soduku puzzle there is
N-never do I go away from her house hungry
D-do you know what is on tv tonight? She does
A-an excellent help meet to my dad

Just a few things that came to mind. In 1999, she had a heart attack, and at that time we all were forced to think about what life might be like without her. God was gracious in healing her, and we are thankful to have such a great Mom and Grandma in our lives.