February 27, 2011

Coming Home

I was gone for the weekend on a (fantastic!) women's retreat, and this sweet picture is what I saw at the bottom of the driveway when I drove in.  :)  She was so excited to share about her weekend with Daddy and Grandmama, she was jumping up and down.  It brought me joy to drive in and be greeted - in the rain - by my sweet girl's smiling face!  And the Lord gave me a small glimpse of the joy He feels when He sees me.

February 26, 2011

Before winter is gone

I know it's almost Spring, but I have snow pictures I haven't shared yet!  Because of where we live, there's always a chance it could be two years before we get snow again, so I try to help them get as much time in it as possible when it comes.  We had quite a few good snow days in January!  Snow is one of my favorite photo settings because it takes away so many visual distractions, plus the cold makes the kids coloring so great!
Mattie Enjoyed a bunch of good runs down the middle of the road. No worries, though.  People don't drive here when there's snow on the road!

She just looks so big to me!  Where did the time go?

 These four play together many hours each week.  The two boys you don't recognize are our neighbors.  There is one more boy too, so Mattie is quite outnumbered.  She's quite the trooper!  Thankfully, she and MacGregor (the happy guy in the red) get along beautifully when it's jsut the two of them, so sometimes we try and separate the bigs and littles to avoid all of the wrestling and lightsaber fighting.

Jacob goes out to sled for HOURS!!

I still love my birds.

Notice the one Robert caught with the flash?

This was taken with the flash at 5:30 one morning.  Some editing pulled out snow in more than several layers and the darkest trees are about 50 feet away.  I love how the snow is all in circles!

February 24, 2011

Wheat Free, Dairy Free Pancakes, Anyone?

Because starches (other than corn starch which I can't use here) are expensive and because I'm stubborn, I'm always trying to prove that recipes can work without the typically recommended 3:1 flour: starch ratio.  And on pancakes, I've done it.  Thankfully so, because I make pancakes at least twice a week here!

2 eggs
Enough water to get to 2 cups after eggs are in bowl... 2 eggs + water = 2 cups.
1/3 c oil

2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sugar (I use turbinado)
1/2 c ground flax
1 T baking powder
1 t salt

Mix wets, add dries and whisk JUST UNTIL MOISTENED!  This will be a thick batter, more like a quickbread than bisquick. (Those pancakes below are 5/8" thick or so.) When I'm "pouring it," I use a spatula to help it move onto the skillet in the portions I want.  Let sit for one or two minutes and pour onto skillet (350 degrees here).  Flip when bubbles are popping or bottom feels firm when tested with a spatula. 

I get 12 5" pancakes from this batch.  If I overmix, they are rubbery and thinner (because I have to use single acting baking powder that is corn free).  But if I mix just enough and get them all on the skillet right in the first batch, they are perfect!  If you have to do two batches, just do your best to stir as little as possible in between.


Because everyone who has a food allergy kitchen likes options, here are some:
Omit flax, just cut water down by 1/2 c.
Omit eggs, just use 2 c water.
Use xanthan or guar as appropriate (I skip it and it's fine).


February 22, 2011

Bible in 90 ~ Week 7 ~ Hmmmmm...

I crossed the halfway point this week!  It's not been easy, though.  The kids have been sick.  I've been up in the middle of the night.  The books I've read this week weren't connected to anything else, so it was very hard to stay "interested" so to speak.  But I stick with it because I know it's a blessing to the Lord.  And I ask Him to meet me there in my weakness and fill me with His word.

This week I read through the second half of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. I struggled with these not only because much of this section is random (for lack of a better word) phrases or isolated paragraphs, but also because much of it is figurative and that's not something I comprehend without thinking through it, especially because I know pretty much nothing about Hebrew culture of 500BC!  I have also learned about myself that I really am just more encouraged by seeing God work in situations, and these books don't really have a context offered.  (I think when I do this reading style again, I'm going to buy a Chronological Bible and divide it into my own reading for 90 days.  That would make these passages come alive and make sense.)  I don't tell you any of this to be complaining, but to keep it real.

*** I think I should put this disclaimer before the rest of this post... ***
The remainder is loaded with theological questions, and I don't intend to make anyone stumble if this is all one ever reads on my blog.  I just think it's worth thinking about, but if you don't have a strong foundation of faith in the Almighty God, the God of the Old and New Testament, I think I'd leave this alone for now!  

I think one other question that keeps coming to my mind is this: Just because it's in the Bible, are these promises for me, are these thoughts I should have?  I know the Lord loves David, and I know David was inspired by the word of God to write many of the Psalms, but does that mean that I can claim the promises David thought were correct about God?  See, it's all well and good to pray this prayer from Psalm 139 as David did:
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

That makes me feel great and I think many of us would claim that as a statement of theology as if God spoke it Himself.

But how would you feel if you were in my small group and I started quoting this one from Psalm 109 during my closing prayer?

1 My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, 2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me;
   they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 
3 With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. 4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. 5 They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.
 6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand. 7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. 11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
   may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 
15 May their sins always remain before the LORD, that he may blot out their name from the earth.
 16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor
   and the needy and the brokenhearted. 
17 He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him. 
18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water,
   into his bones like oil. 
19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,like a belt tied forever around him. 20 May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me.

See what I mean?  That's not one anyone would claim as something right from God's mouth, not the God of the New Testament anyway.  I know it's comforting to read these emotional poems that David wrote to God.  And I know it's nice to believe that everything David thought about God was true, but is it?  David clearly had some misperceptions in his life!!  So how do I decide which of these poems are the ones I should pray as well?  How do I decide which of the Proverbs were just Solomon's ideas and which ones are "promises" I can claim and put my faith in?  What makes it okay to own some verses of scripture and not others?  

Maybe this is why Psalms is not a book that brings me comfort like so many other people I know, though I ceratiainly don't think there's anything wrong with that.  I myself wrote a whole post last week on Psalms that comforted me!  I guess because I'm pretty black and white and like proof, I just like putting my cards in the scripts where God was an active role playing member (documented, I mean, not just understood) and what he said and did was written down on paper... no confusion there!   I'm sort of just playing Devil's advocate in opposition to the other side of my brain.  I'm certainly not questioning my faith in the inspired word of God, and I do believe that every word is in the Bible because God wanted it there, but I think this is worth looking at.
Any thoughts?

February 13, 2011

Bible in 90 ~ Week 6 ~ God is My Rock!

This week I read some of Nehemiah, all of Job and we're into Psalms.  And I have to say, I definitely enjoy reading more when it's a part of a whole story.  I know it all fits together, but Job is an isolated story and Psalms aren't really connected if you're not reading them intertwined with the appropriate chronological event to which they apply.  So this isn't my favorite section at all, but I know God put it in here so it matters to Him!

As I'm reading through Psalms I notice the verses that jump out at me are the ones that talk about God being our rock. God has given me a personality that lends itself to being in leadership in positions or relationships, whether or not I'm looking for it.  Because of that, it's easy to think I have to bear the load, get it all done, be the strong one, and yet trudge through unaffected.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:1-2

For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
Psalm 18:31

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Psalm 61:2-4

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2

 It matters to me that there is someone else who is the Rock, the Stronghold, the Fortress, the Strong Tower... because that means I don't have to be!

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3

God, You are glorified in my trials when I turn to You.  I have trials I don't want to navigate and stories I don't want to be mine to tell, but You allow them so I will seek You.  Oh God,  put a new song in my mouth so I can praise You!  Allow me to show others Your power. Turn their hearts so they will put their trust in You.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 

Psalm 51:16-17

Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord to Thee.
Take my moments, and my days. Let them flow with ceaseless praise.
Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine. 
Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne.
Frances R. Havergal

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

February 12, 2011

God spoke to Mattie

When I pray with my kids at night, I always ask that they would learn to hear God's voice and learn to obey it.  A few days ago...

Mattie, running into the kitchen: Mommy! Mommy! I just heard God's voice! I heard Him talk to me!
Me: Oh really, what did He say?
Mattie: Well, I was supposed to be brushing my teeth but instead I was playing around and I heard Him say, "Brush your teeth! Focus. Do what you're supposed to be doing!" So I was like [rolling eyes], "Okay, okay, okay already! I'll do it!" so I brushed my teeth and now I'm done. I did what you told me to!

February 09, 2011

Bible in 90 ~ Week 5 ~ It's good to be home.

This week we read 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah.

This was a favorite verse:
"As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." 1 Chronicles 28:9

Then in Nehemiah 8 the Israelites are back from their Babylonian exile and getting settled again. They had a public reading of the law and celebrated the Feast of Booths. They had not celebrated like this since the days of Joshua and "there was tremendous joy." (Neh 8:17) I just kept thinking, "It's good to be home!" After disobedience and subsequent discipline when there is reconciliation and all is right there is such rest. I've experienced it firsthand and the relief is often palpable. How good our God is to always allow us to come home to Him!

February 08, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mattie!

My little girl turned FIVE yesterday!  I just can't believe it.  In some ways she is still so little... She still loves to snuggle, she still requires so much involvement in so many ways, she still wants to be carried around for Pete's sake!  She is still very attached to her mama - no bonding issues there!  But then she seems so big at other times... she wants to do as much by herself as possible (or more).  She wants to do everything Jacob does.  She wants to do everything everyone does, for that matter.  And there is more opinion, sass, and drama in her thirty-eight pounds and forty-two inches than I would have thought humanly possible.  For real.  I have often said about her that "I have to wake up ready to face her" every day, and that about sums it up.  I have hope that there will be a time where there are fewer battles.  (If there won't be, don't tell me anytime soon.)  I also know that the spunk and stubbornness will glorify God one day... He has given her the strength to move mountains when the whole world is against her!

As challenging as Mattie is, she is also full of life.  She makes us laugh more than all the rest of us put together.  She is spunky, resilient, thoughtful, complimentary, forgiving, daring and helpful.  She does want to do the right thing, even though it often eludes her initially!  She is very creative and seems to have dancing in her bones.  Dancing truly seems to be her heartbeat.

She is also all about sparkles and glitter... the sparkly-er the better, as far as she's concerned.  Here she is opening a pair of silver glitter shoes I got for her in a moment of insanity.  I got them because I know that she'd love them.  I, however, think they are incredibly tacky!  But I'm fairly certain I'm going to see a lot of tacky in the days ahead, so I might as well get used to it.  It's a battle I'm (often) willing to skip.

I fear we'll see them every day.  (And I did not make her pose like that.  She still loves to dance!)  She is also very excited of late about all of the new hairstyles available now that her hair is longer.  (And now that I think about it, is complaining less about it not being blonde and straight.) 

She received her long awaited pillow-pet. The gift that has brought the most laughter thus far, though, is the whoopie cushion Jacob bought with his own money.  :)  He bought her that and some bubble bath, because he knows she keeps using up all of our shampoo in the tub when she's not supposed to.

She wanted chocolate cake with pink icing.  We made the buttercream icing pink by cooking down raspberries and using the liquid to replace the milk in the recipe.  She was very pleased with it!  And I was excited to have a cake for her that she could eat until her heart's content (because it was totally safe).

She also decided she wanted to decorate the cake herself!  Many of you know I am a woman who will never, ever fight someone over a job that involves anything in the kitchen (especially one as stressful as a birthday cake) so I was more than happy to pass this on to her!  No pressure for me and incredible pleasure for her!  She chose the toy set (we don't buy cake toppers anymore, just small toy sets), frosted the cake and sprinkled it exactly how she wanted it.  She has also played hours with Rapunzel et al since she licked the icing off their feet.  :)

Happy FIFTH Birthday, Mattison Joy!!  I can't imagine life without you in it, my girl who loves to wear princess dresses and dig for worms.  I'm so thankful God gave you to us!

February 03, 2011

Can one be "too" social for cooperative learning??

I think I've determined that when we are together with other children, Jacob just can't learn a blessed thing. He gets so focused on the playtime he can't focus AT. ALL. on the task at hand. He does this with a structured lesson (interesting or not) or a field trip... and a "museum" field trip is just sheer torture! 

This past week we went to the zoo and I thought for two weeks about who we should invite to go with us. We have a lot of families we could ask. But I decided to go just us so that the kids and I could make a memory (instead of my kids playing with friends and the other mom and I talking the whole time, thus making no memory at all with my children). We had a delightful time! Jacob was a big help with the almost 2 year old we babysit, he stayed much nearer to me and was not class clown-ish or disrespectful at all, and he and I got to experience the zoo together. It was so nice!

But I wonder, will he outgrow this or always struggle in these situations? Mattie is not this way at all... she can totally calm it down to focus and wait until playtime.  I'd like to think a coop may fit our family at some point in the future, but I just end up stressing about his behavior and lack of interest the entire time.  I guess we're just going to go solo for a while... I think it will be a relief to just let that be okay!