Home Notes
by Sandy

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Routines: I have been accused since childhood of being "all or nothing"... "to one deep extreme to another"... and of being a devout perfectionist to a great fault. These have all been true of my human nature but God, in His infinite goodness and grace, is helping me to learn better balance. It took realizing that it wasn't about me and/or what I could do! It was seeing that I can do NOTHING without Him... with HIM... I can do all things!

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 'I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.' " John 15:4-5 What has this to do with routines? Well, for years I was one way or the opposite other... either every detail was polished and furiously worked on or everything fell apart with no middle ground in sight. Recently, I was beating myself up for not getting enough done in any area of my life. I was not getting up for my 5:00 am routine of reading the Bible and writing in my prayer journal. I was not keeping all of my routines smoothly in motion with my husband, children, or home duties. What God blessed me to see this morning is that I *was* reading His Word and writing out my prayers before noon and before getting on the computer.... I have been doing a mini morning routine where my bed is made, walk is done, pet care managed, bathroom and kitchen tidied, and so on. The point is that though there is much in need of being done very much neglected... God has enabled me to do *some* of the tasks in my regular routines!

Nurturing "me": I haven't been getting my night time baths and the morning "way-too-quick" showers were not relaxing me at all. This morning and yesterday morning I found a happy medium by taking a bath in the am instead of a shower:) These are quick baths and not at all as luxurious as the bedtime baths where I soak and let my skin absorb whatever salts, milk baths, or soapy cleansers:) I'm using but they have made for soft skin and provided a relaxing benefit as well. I used a bubble bath I bought while in England full of some high quality essential oils and washed clean with a huge [hand made in Portugal soap]! I shaved with my new razor (a men's razor that came free in the mail:)) and feel fresh for the day. It is wonderful to be cleaned by soap and water but most wonderful is knowing that Jesus made me clean forever by His blood and reading His Word continues to wash me whiter than snow each day!

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." John 15:3

To add to my nurture time --- I made a Cinnamon Cocoa Coffee to delight my taste buds with! The idea isn't mine... I went to a Starbucks while in Washington, DC and ordered a Cinnamon Mocha Cappuccino. It was rich and delicious. The other morning I was craving that kind of taste and added a sprinkle of cinnamon to my ground coffee before perking it. The scent wafted out through the kitchen and the taste was special. This morning I added the same sprinkle of cinnamon and a tiny dust of cocoa powder... the results are a gift to the sense of smell and taste!

Laundry Line: Along the "line" of laundry:) I have a load waving in the wind and another on its way! I finally got out there and scrubbed those lines clean and free of all the mildew built up on them during the winter months. It was hard work and I truly didn't like it at all but I knew it must be done in order for the clothes to go from the washer to the line. Our dryer is at our entrance and it heats the entire house up making the air conditioner work harder to cool it down. I tried using a powdered laundry detergent mixed in hot water with bleach added but that didn't take it off and ended up scrubbing them down with straight bleach. WOULD not ever recommend anyone ever do this! It was HORRIBLE on my hands bec/ I didn't have any rubber gloves and there are several places with no skin left now! I am out of Lavender essential oil to treat these places with so I have been slathering the cream on! The kids each have about a load of clothes to put up in their rooms and I have it on my "to do" list for today to inspect this. I must take this step even though I dislike it greatly:) because the children have fallen into the habit of leaving the clothes on the bed, they drop to the floor, and on it goes. I have a stack of clothes and some other items on the dryer so I hope to clean that completely off today and wipe down both that appliance and the washing machine. I pray the Lord blesses me with the skill of managing my time to be able to accomplish the necessary things on my list --- and it is growing longer as the day progresses. Praise our Lord and Father that we aren't left on our own ability or skills in order to achieve the fruit of our hands in our daily work! "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you." John 15:7

Appreciation Gifts: This week is "Teacher Appreciation Week" and I wanted to give something special to some of the teachers between the four children. We are low on funds and the money to go out and buy gifts was not available. I am so pleased that Jesus took a box of gift ideas and placed them in my mind for me to open! I was blessed in the process of my giving:) I am out of almost every essential oil I usually keep stocked and all of my bath salt supplies. I didn't have time or enough ingredients to make food gifts so I went searching through what bath sundries supplies to see if there was anything to work with. Guess what? I found a bottle of Rose Oil, some milk powder, baking soda and a full bottle of Clary Sage Essential Oil. I poured some of the milk powder into the food processor I use just for non-food makings and added a generous amount of baking soda. Next rose oil was dropped into the powder mixture ---- I really let it pour so the scent would be strong and lasting. I dropped two drops of the Clary Sage into this and processed it until a fine powder was achieved. I found two nice jars (they were unique gift style jars given to me by my mother) and a tall clear plastic bag with no ziplock thing on the top. I found these on clearance in the canning section of the store a few years ago and purchased several boxes:) I poured the milk bath into the jars and the bag and tied a raffia string to the top of the bag. I found two small baskets and filled them with some crinkled basket filler I got at the dollar store some time ago. I placed the milk bath in these baskets and dropped some rose oil around the handle and basket edges. I looked through my shoe box of stationery here at my desk and found some beautiful floral note cards with "W" in fancy script on the front. I hand wrote some notes and added Matthew 25:15 at the bottom. This was extra neat for my son's teachers because his name is Matthew:) I didn't think about that when I located the verses but did so as I wrote down the Scripture! Inside the cards, I hand cut some little white squares with shaped scissors and wrote "Rose Petal Milk Bath" with instructions for use. The baskets were pretty but lacking something so I recalled some organic rose hip tea bags in the cabinet. I placed four of these in each baggy (same ones I used on the milk bath and then cut off the excess at the top) and included a hand written note with the name of the tea and how to brew a cup. I put a candle for each in another of these "famous" bags and tied them at the top with the same raffia before mentioned. They turned out to be beautiful and I was so thankful for God's provision of even the "small" things that can mean so much to us here!

"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." John 15:12

Cooking/Meal Preparation: I had a splendid gift for my recent birthday and it was something I have wanted for a long time --- a deluxe set of the Sue Gregg Cookbooks! I read that these were filled with all kinds of helpful information and doable healthy recipes and wasn't disappointed when the books came in! I was concerned that they might not be all I had hoped for but they are:) I have begun reading in the first book recommended to read and there are so many wonderful words of Biblical wisdom in those pages. I have now reached the section on "Menus" and am devoting 30 minutes a day to this until I have some menus made up according to her instructions. I am also planning on trying out many of the recipes in these valuable books for the homemaker.

Last night I wasn't prepared for dinner... I just didn't get it together as I should have. I was out all day with appointments and then a lunch with a precious friend going through a lot right now, and more. I ended up literally throwing together a baked chicken and basmati rice, broccoli with provolone cheese, and buttered bread.

Everyone loved the Chicken and Rice and I could not have been more surprised! I had this feeling it would not be very well taken or enjoyed bec/ of the way I prepared it. I just sprayed a glass baking dish with non-stick spray, put down some partially frozen chicken breast (no bone or skin), mixed together some cans of cream of mushroom soup with a lot (about three times) the water as there was condensed soup, mixed basmati rice in that, and poured it over the chicken. I had nothing to cover it with so I truly didn't think it would be very good due to some rice getting browned/hardened on the top. I only stirred it once and it cooked up so well that I still can't get over that!

This week I hope to prepare plenty of premade foods for the coming week: muffins, pancakes, waffles, broths, pre-cut vegetables, stews, and any other baked goods I feel would come in handy. Some of these will depend on our budget and whether or not I need to wait until the next paycheck to purchase items for the recipes and to get plenty of things from the farmer's market.

"By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." John 15:8

Marriage: I am setting aside time tomorrow evening while the kids are at youth night for Blake and I to look over finances together, discuss different family issues, and plan our next two weeks. This has been far too a neglected practice with us and we really want to put this back into our routines. We also need to share things related to home schooling and the deciding of curriculum. He has left this totally up to me but I am so overwhelmed with choices that I hope to present him a written personal review to show what curriculum I am considering and why, what things I still need to look into, and all kinds of things from schedules, errands, home skills to teach, and more.This way he can give his input that I have found to be just priceless through the years. One of the family issues we will be discussing/planning around will be re-implementing a day each week to do nothing except spend time together as a unit and re-establishing our nightly gathering to read devotions/Scripture, read in a book, and pray together. We have not done this in a long time and it is becoming quite obvious around here! As is obvious here... we will need to set aside a minimum of a couple of hours to really get all of this in over some coffee:) I will need to remember to write down questions to ask this husband in order to be a helpmate to him this week. You would think this would be as easy as anything else to do but it has taken a lot of God working on my heart to make my spirit willing for my flesh in this area is quite weak. I guess this is because for so many years I tried to help with this or help him with that and he wasn't good then at accepting any help. He was so totally accustomed to taking care of everything on his own that I kind of fell along that habit with him and then guess what happened? I was totally NOT accustomed to helping him with *his* things! I have been learning at the feet of Jesus and even though I sometimes want to hide my ears from what he might tell me he needs (my husband and maybe I have been this way with Jesus, too? Oh, isn't it hard to "see" ourselves from His eyes? ) * (I know this is bad but I'm getting better every day!)* I try to put my own needs under those he might have. Those requests from him go to the very top of my to do lists. I have one for each week and I make my daily list based on that.

I came across an article here and there this past week on certain topics in marriage and emailed them to my husband. He read them and saved one that he is hoping to read each week:)

Motherhood:Oh, goodness has this role been a challenge lately! These precious babes that I nursed, rocked, loved so tenderly, kissed a million times a day on their soft heads, faces, ears, necks, hands, feet and even little toes... these darling angelic creatures who I read to, smiled on another million times a day, cared for with everything I had, and just spent my every waking hour adoring... they reached these strange phases that leave me constantly dumbfounded <sighing and smiling>.

I am not panicking as I have done in the past when lost in a sea of ignorance as to what to do or how to handle something with the children.I didn't seem to suffer this way for the first 10 or so years of life. Anyway, I now Instead, am praying, reading Scripture, reading a book on Teens, (And Then I had Teens), following the end of the chapter reflectings, and more. I write down what it is I'm dealing with or not understanding so that it is in front of me making it possible to tackle head on when armed with some ideas for the proper way to do that.

This week's list includes finding Scripture on honoring and respecting your parents as well as forgiveness for the 16 year old son who has pushed the limits more than ever before in his life in dealing with us. It is like totally out of the blue he is before me with arms crossed and feet tapping with some comment on his inadequate family:) The faults and failures of those around him have become reasons for a critical attitude and that isn't something we want him to take into manhood. On a positive note, he has been very diligent in keeping the grass cut so that our yard looks nice and this has meant mowing an area every single day to accomplish. I would like to find a scripture on good work to teach him by and perhaps encourage more of the same. The next thing on my list is finding things on contentment and self-control since my 14 year old son has found it necessary to cry, stomp, and yell when things are going badly for him. This isn't behavior we have trained them to have and we must ensure that we do what we can under God's Word to remedy it before it becomes a stronger hold. Strength? He has been very prompt and ready for each and every church activity and has requested I make him up some devotions/Scriptures for each day as I am doing for his brother. It might be that I start creating their daily devotions/Scriptures to go with an area they are strong in for that week and some for their weaker areas.

I will be looking into loving others always and "in spite of" for our 12 year old son... he has hit a stage where he avoids almost to the point of being stand offish anyone who offends or hurts him. On the sweet side, he is very helpful to everyone and kind at school --- very concerned for the feelings of others.

The verses I am considering for my daughter are something related with "growing in Christ" because she has been behaving immaturely the last few times we were in public. We hear that "she is the baby and supposed to be spoiled" a lot but we very much disagree with this. Regardless of the placement born... we all must learn to live by the Word! I get grieved beyond words when I witness a family treating a particular child better than the rest. This is very prominent with babies of the family or a child who was the baby for a few years before another brother/sister joined the family. I pray that God will shower His wisdom on each of us so that everyone is raised in a fair and just manner. I pray that the typical way that some family's will excuse an adored child's bad behavior saying they are "just our baby" has a light shed on this wrong.

A book that I highly recommend to anyone dealing with teens is: And Then I Had Teenagers --- Encouragement for Parents of Teens and Preteens by Susan Alexander Yates. I am only through chapter one/starting two but it is fantastic!

The "Focus Questions" for Chapter 1 are just wonderful! I'll share this for anyone out there who might be helped now or in the future: Meditate on Psalm 34

1. What are my fears as I parent teens (fears for myself, fears for my child)? Make a list of your fears. Be as specific as you can. 2. Look up the following passages and write down what each one says to you personally: Psalms 34:4, 17-18; 86:15-16; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25 3. Write out your own personal prayer to God. Tell Him your needs and desires for yourself and your teen. Ask Him to encourage you specifically as you read this book and as you share insights with other parents. There are others listed in this book but we will stop by sharing these:) "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:11

I don't usually share letters like this because I've worried about them sounding like "me, me, me". I don't intend for that to be the case but it has felt it was that way before. I share this way due to the many requests to do so. I have been getting them for quite some time in personal email notes and letters and finally realized that there was a reason the desire for this kind of writing was asked for. Perhaps it is helpful to those who asked for it and it would be just as selfish for me in that case to not share it as I have before felt it was TO share it!:)

I pray above all things for you that you love Jesus as the Father has loved Him and that you accept His beautiful love... that you literally "abide" in His love. Nothing is grander, greater, higher, better, or more real and wonderful than that.

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love." John 15:9

Love, Sandy


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