God is God.

"God is God. I dethrone him in my heart when I demand that he act in ways that satisfy MY idea of justice."

~Elisabeth Elliot 

Leigh McLeroy (author of The Beautiful Ache and The Sacred Ordinary) posted this quote this morning on Facebook.   Her response...and mine...was "Ouch."    It goes so perfectly with the lessons God has been teaching me in the past few years about Who He is and what that entitles Him to.  Just the other day during school, the kids and I were talking about the fact that as Creator God, God has the Absolute Right to demand anything of us He desires, and to bring any circumstance into our life He chooses.  Thankfully for us, His love ensures that those things will always be for our ultimate good, as well as His amazing glory.  

Shortly after that, I ran across a blog post I had written two years ago.  I almost laughed when I saw the title and introduction, considering how many times in the past two years God has cemented this lesson all over again.   I've been going through past blog posts for a project I'm working on, and it has been really neat to read things I'd almost forgotten I'd written, and to see God's work over the past few years.  Since I'd already been thinking of incorporating the above quote into a blog post, I decided I'd repost the 2007 version today. :)


LIke a Broken Record....

Okay, so maybe that isn't the best title. I guess something sounding like a broken record tends to have a negative connotation. But do you know that feeling when you just keep hearing the *same* message *over* and *over* and *OVER* again, everywhere you turn? And you finally realize that God *really* must want you to get this? This morning's sermon was one of those times. A *hit right between the eyes* event.

This time last year, the message I kept hearing everywhere I turned was this: "There are no surprises to God. God is not surprised or taken off guard by the circumstances you find yourself in. He has a plan for everything that happens in your life and in your family...a plan for good and not for evil, a plan to give you a future and a hope." Come to think of it...Bro. Kent said almost those very words again this morning! I needed them (desperately) a year ago, and I needed to be reminded of them today.

The message I keep running into (like a brick wall!) everywhere lately is this: "God owes us no explanation...for anything. When we begin to see our circumstances (or those of someone we love) as unfair, we must realize that what we all *deserve* is death. God created us; He has, in His infinite mercy and grace, provided a way for salvation for us. We will *never* understand all the ways of God. He is sovereign, He is all-wise and all-knowing, and we are not. But whether we understand or not, God is good, and His ways are perfect."

I guess it shouldn't have surprised me when this theme appeared yet again this morning, this time in Bro. Kent's sermon. Here are some of my notes:

John 12:37ff

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isa. 55:8-9

We simply *are not able* to understand all there is to understand about God in our finite mind. Our decisions are to be made based on God's Word alone...not on our own experience or understanding.

God reveals that unbelief involves willful rejection of obvious truth.

We will always will to sin, apart from Christ--even the good things that we do apart from Him are sinful, because they are done with wrong motive.

Free will of man vs. Divine Decree...Gen. 50:20~ God didn't *make* them sin, but He meant what they did for good as part of His plan. Rom. 8:28

Just as in Joseph's case in Gen. 50, someone can sin against me grievously, they are fully responsible for that sin and God will hold them accountable for it. BUT...God is not caught off guard by it, He is not taken by surprise, He *will* use it for His purpose, He *allowed* it as part of His plan for my life. We do not understand how this is...that God does not cause them to sin, and yet the act they commit has been part of God's plan from before the beginning of time...but it points to the infinite greatness of God and His glory.

When we start to accuse God of being unfair, we had better watch out...we are on dangerous ground. Paul...Rom. 9..."So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. Who will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will? On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles."

The question we need to remember..."Who are we to question God?"

We deserve...the entire human race...God's wrath. But in His infinite mercy He has chosen to save some. Is it fair? It isn't *fair* that any of us are saved...we all deserve death and hell.

He is perfect in His wisdom and I am not.

He is God, and I am not.

Much to meditate on this week...


Simple Woman's Daybook...October 26

Outside my window...LOTS of leaves on the ground after the rain we had during the night.  Birds chirping LOUDLY.  Cloudy and gray, but thankfully not raining at the moment.
I am thinking...about how fast my children are growing up.  As Peter keeps reminding me (several times a day :)), he's almost 12.  Ammah Grace will be 6 in a few short months.  And how in the world did Bayley and Emlyn get to be 10 and 8??   I've been really convicted lately about making the most of every minute I have left with them before they leave home.
I am thankful for...My husband, who has shouldered way more than his "share" of responsibilities around here lately and who never complains.
From the learning rooms...Pretty much planning "bare bones basics" school this week...Bible and the 3 R's.  Dad has offered to do some science enrichment  in the evening...I'm thankful for that!
From the kitchen...I have to rave about the pizzas Billy made yesterday.  Bacon Alfredo pizzas, one with grilled chicken, and one with meatballs...absolutely the best pizzas I've ever eaten.  I hope he's making more later in the week!  Yum!
I am wearing...a warm, fuzzy black plaid fleece jacket over comfy all-black knit.  It's chilly in here this morning, and it's a comfy clothes week here. :)
I am creating...an adjusted schedule to deal with life changes since the start of the school year.  I'm so thankful for the flexibility homeschooling allows to deal with those changes always!
I am going...blessedly, not much of anywhere this week other than Wednesday night church, and an evening run to the library and store to restock perishables.  Between the chicken pox the girls are passing around, and adjusting to being a one-car family again (we've been very spoiled!:)), our "going" has all but ground to a halt.  Right now, that's actually a blessing...I'm thankful for the down time God has given.
I am reading....Same things I was reading last week, plus trying to get through a stack of library books that need to go back tomorrow! 
I am praying for...friends going through very hard times right now.  Seems like so many are going through really rough storms...some ongoing and/or multiple at once.  So thankful that God has them *all* in the palm of His hand!
I am hearing...water dripping outside, birds chirping, a quiet house (for a very few more minutes, I'm sure. :))
Around the house...So many plans, so little time and energy!  I'm trying to work through a "Make the most of my minutes and resources" plan to get some relatively simple and inexpensive things done that should make a big impact on overall "liveability".  Also looking at some longer-term plans, like what to do about our silly (very) old roof. :)
One of my favorite things...crafting with my kids, and watching their creativity flourish.
A few plans for the rest of the week:   School, housework, cooking, church.  And piano practice...LOTS of piano practice on the children's choir Christmas music!
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Emlyn, Ammah Grace, and I had "Girls' Day" Saturday while Billy, Peter, and Bayley were at the Fall Festival.  We spent the afternoon doing some cool crafty stuff.  Em designed and created this tag all by herself.  I was really proud of her. :)  Hopefully I'll get more pics of our "Girls' Day" up soon.

Thanks to Peggy for hosting the Daybook each week.  


Thankful Thursday ~ God's Goodness

"Life is Good."

So says a whole line of apparently quite popular clothing.

I get the point.  It's a  positive-attitude, cup-half-full mentality.  All well and good.


Life isn't always good.

It just isn't.

Don't get me wrong.  Sometimes life is wonderful.   A big hug from my cuddle-girl Emlyn.  My child who struggled for years to read telling me how much she *loves* to read now and that she wants to be a writer someday.  Hearing my little one singing "The BIBLE" over and over and over again.  My big guy offering to fix lunch for his sisters because he knows I'm not feeling well.  Cooking supper alongside my sweet husband.  A note of encouragement from a friend "just because".   The list could go on and on.

But...sometimes life isn't good.

Thanks to man's sinfulness, there is evil in the world.  And all the positive-thinking, cup-half-full attitude in the world cannot erase that.  Evil, and its effects, cause life to be far from good sometimes.  The ravages of cancer.   Children experiencing the horror of abuse.   The untimely death of a young person.  Broken families. Devastating accidents.  Chronic pain and illness.  Financial crisis.  This list, also, goes on and on.

Life isn't always good.

In fact, quite frankly, sometimes it just plain stinks.

I ran across an ad for the above-mentioned company this morning, and curious, I read the story of their success.  And as I read, the thought that had come to mind when I first saw the shirts repeated itself over and over in my mind.  Not to be a pessimistic, cup-half-empty person, but "Life just isn't always good."

My next thought, immediately, was "But GOD is always good."  Always.

I am so thankful that that is unfailingly true.  That no matter what storm of life may shake us, no matter what grief, pain, disappointment, sadness, or fear we may experience, God is good.

When life is good...God is good.

When life is not good...God is good.

I am so thankful for God's goodness, and the fact that He never changes, in all the continuous changes of life.

"Circumstances aren’t the barometer of God’s love and goodness—the Cross is." 
Anne Cetas
Our Daily Bread

"For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You."
Psalm 86:5

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."
Psalm 34:8

Thanks to Lynn for hosting Thankful Thursday this month!  Visit her to see what others are thankful for today.


Watch Over Me ~ Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Watch Over Me

(Bethany House October 1, 2009)


Christa Parrish

Christa Parrish graduated high school at 16, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theatre and journalism.

A winner of Associated Press awards for her reporting, Christa gave up her career after the birth of her son, Jacob. She continued to write from home, doing pro bono work for the New York Family Policy Council, where her articles appeared in Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. She was also a finalist in World magazine’s WORLDview short story contest, sponsored by WestBow press. She now teaches literature and writing to high school students, is a homeschool mom, and lives with her husband, author Chris Coppernoll, and son in upstate New York, where she is at work on her third novel.


Her Rescue Might Be the Miracle They Needed Things like this don't happen in Beck County. Deputy Benjamin Patil is the one to find the infant girl, hours old, abandoned in a field. As police work to identify the mother, Ben and his wife, Abbi, seem like the obvious couple to serve as foster parents. But the newborn's arrival opens old wounds for Abbi and shines a harsh light on how much Ben has changed since a devastating military tour. Their marriage teeters on the brink and now they must choose to reclaim what they once had or lose each other forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Watch Over Me, go HERE

My thoughts ~ This was another winner by an author with whom I was completely unfamiliar. I definitely plan to go back and read her first novel, Home Another Way, and will be watching for future releases. Parrish offers an intriguing storyline that kept me wanting to read "just one more page", with characters that grabbed my heart early on...especially teenager Matthew Savoie. This book deals with some sensitive, difficult issues, so I wouldn't recommend it for teen readers. Otherwise, it's not to be missed.


I ♥ Faces

I finally decided to jump in on the fun at I ♥ Faces this week.  This week's theme is "Pink", in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I immediately thought of this one, which while not recent, is definitely "pink".

To participate or check out others' "pink" photos this week, visit ♥ Faces.

In "Other" Words...Bitter or Sweet?

“If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word,
 then I know nothing of Calvary’s love, 
for a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, 
however suddenly jolted.”
Amy Carmichael

This is the quote chosen by Miriam Pauline for today's In "Other" Words.  When I first saw it a few weeks ago on the IOW hostess site, my immediate thought was "Ouch!"   In the intervening weeks, I've been very convicted on this very subject in totally unrelated ways.   So on Friday when I saw that this was this week's quote, I once again thought, OUCH!"

I've been cranky the last few weeks.  It's been easy to "explain" that...sick children, vehicle and house issues, increased pain level, not being able to be at church, sleep deprivation, and various other external stressors.   I'm catching myself often "reacting" in the moment, rather than stopping and turning those "moments" into teachable ones...when a child makes a mess, or the whole crew comes in arguing, or I am sending the *same* child back to bed for the 4th time that night.  It's easy to rationalize that with "It's been a rough week" or "I'm exhausted".  But not only did Amy Carmichael say it doesn't work that way....so does Jesus, in Luke 6:45...

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, 
and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
Luke 6:45

The good news is that it doesn't have to stay that way.  I can choose to change.  But...not on my own.  I can't change the *inside* by myself...and what's in my heart has to change before what comes out of my mouth changes.  Those impatient, unkind words aren't just going to go away on their own, but they are "a reminder to call on God to change your [my] heart."  (The 100 Most Important Bible Verses for Mothers
 , by the W Publishing Group).  

Thanks to Miriam Pauline at Miriam Pauline's Monologue for this week's very convicting quote.  Visit her to see what others are sharing about it today here.  


Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY...October 19th 

Outside my window... Sunny, chilly, promising a beautiful day!

I am thinking... My mind is so full right now I'm having a hard time  settling down to concentrate on anything in particular!    Hopefully this afternoon I'm going to have some time to sit down and get those thoughts organized a bit. :)

I am thankful for... everyday reminders of God's love and faithfulness.   (And especially thankful this week for a car that runs!)

I am wearing... Fleece Razorback pullover and gray sweats, and warm fuzzy slippers.   It's chilly in this house this morning! :)

I am remembering...  5 years ago...thinking about lessons I learned then that I need to remember now,  thinking about all God has taught me since, thinking about the drastic differences between God's plans and my plans (and the fact that His plans are *always* good, no matter what they may look like at the time!), and thinking about the fact that out of the hardest times, God can bring very great blessings.

I am going... to be home most of the week...yay!!

I am reading... Scared, by Tom Davis.  

Also reading Raising Children to Adore God, by Patrick Kavanaugh, and Praying God's Word, by Beth Moore.

I am hoping... for a week full of sunshine!!

On my mind... plans for this week and for the coming months as we head into the holiday season and the end of the year.

From the learning rooms... Just praying for a plain ole' normal week of school this week!  (Whatever that may be...:))

Noticing that... Apparently I'm not noticing much, because I've been trying to come up with a response to this all morning and can't seem to come up with one. :)   Maybe I'm noticing that I need to be more observant???  :-D

From the kitchen... Jodie has me craving pumpkin baked goods. :)  Right now I'm trying to decide between pumpkin bread, my MIL's pumpkin bars, or these yummy-looking pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Around the house... Still need to move the books I was going to move last week and finish the seasonal clothes swap.  Other things ended up being higher priority last week. :)   Also need to paint the old sewing machine cabinet that is on the front porch, and fill ten bags with stuff to give away or donate.

One of my favorite things~ Seeing my children excited about working together on a project. :)

Pondering These Words... 

"If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes 
off our commonplace religious feet, 
and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, 
it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence.    
The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ.  After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does
comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing who He is."  
~ Oswald Chambers

This reminded me of Bro. Kent's sermon yesterday morning...about how casually we often approach God, and how wrong it is to approach the "thrice-Holy" God in a casual manner.   When we truly begin to realize His Holiness, it will impact the way we approach Him, and the way we approach worship.    

From my picture journal...

Emlyn made a teeny-tiny basket full of teeny-tiny fruits and veggies for the art fair last week.  Hopefully I'll get the rest of the art fair pics up soon!

Thanks to Peggy for hosting the Daybook each week!  


Food on Friday...on Saturday :)

I had my Food on Fridays post all planned for yesterday.  I had mentioned Thursday on Facebook that I was making crock pot lasagna, and several had asked for the recipe, as well as any other crock pot recipes I might want to share.  Aha!  I thought...tomorrow is Friday, that would be a perfect Food on Fridays post!

Alas, by the time I sat down to type a post last night, it was 9:00, and I was too tired to construct a decent sentence, much less a whole blog post. :)  

But I'm going to post anyway...better late than never, right? :)

Before I post the lasagna recipe, you have to understand that it is not really a recipe.  I'm  bad about that. :)   Other than when I bake, and when I sew ( most of the time, anyway), I rarely measure.  When I scrapbook, I almost always eyeball.  (When I was teaching scrapbooking classes, that used to drive a couple of my students completely crazy. :))  And when I cook, I tend to be a "pinch and blob" kind of girl.  I also tend to be a "use what I have on hand" kind of girl. :)   Which, depending on how you look at it (and what kind of cook *you* happen to be :)), makes it easier or harder on you, the recipe-reader.  For those of you who are "exact measurements" kind of cooks...my apologies. :)

Crock Pot Lasagna (15 Oct 09 Version :))

Lasagna Noodles (uncooked)
Ground Beef (I used about a pound; I precook ground beef and freeze in meal-size portions.)
Sausage (I have no idea how much, or even exactly what kind, I used.  How's that for helpful?  I think I chopped...finely...3 large links.   The sausage I used was some type of smoked sausage with cheese from Sam's, that Billy had cooked on the grill.  You could use any type of sausage here, however.)
Spaghetti Sauce (A can or jar of whatever you prefer.  I have also used frozen homemade spaghetti sauce.)
Mock Alfredo~Butter , Flour, Cream or Half & Half, Parmesan Cheese (directions follow)
Cheese~(Mozzerella, preferably.  I thought I had more mozzerella left than I did...oops...so I mixed mozzerella and cheddar, and it turned out fine. 

1.Cook meat, if it isn't already cooked.  
2. For Mock Alfredo, make a basic white sauce using cream or half & half in place of milk.  (I probably made about 1.5 times this recipe.)  Add parmesan cheese to taste.
3. Spray crock pot with non-stick spray.
4. Cover bottom of crock with spaghetti sauce.
5. Add meat to spaghetti sauce.
6. Layer noodles, spaghetti sauce/meat mixture, mock alfredo, and cheese. Repeat layers as needed, depending on size of crock pot, ending with cheese.

Cook on high one hour, and then on low for 4-5 hours.

A couple of other crock pot recipes we  really like...

(You'll be glad to know these are real recipes, not my own creations. :))

Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese 
(from my friend Kathy C.)

4-5 boneless chicken breasts
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 jar salsa, any kind
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

1. Put frozen chicken breasts in crock pot.
2. Add beans (drained), salsa, and corn (drained)
3. Cook 4-5 hours on high (or until chicken is cooked).
4. Add one pkg. cream cheese and let sit for about 1/2 hour.

This is good over rice or as a filling for tortillas.  Also good without the black beans. :)

Saloon Beef 
(from Kirky, a friend on an online board)

 4-5 lbs of the cheapest beef roast you can find
1 pkg dry Au Jus mix
1 pkg dry Italian dressing mix

Put roast in crock, and sprinkle dry mixes on top.  Do not add any liquid.  Cook on low until meat is tender.  Shred with fork and serve on crusty rolls.  

(This recipe sounds too easy to be true...but it really is that easy, and it is *incredibly* good. Yum!)

These are just a few of our favorites.  I'd love to hear your favorite crock pot recipes, too...leave your recipes or links in the comments, please!   For more Food on Fridays posts, visit Ann Kroeker.


Things Worth Remembering ~ CFBA Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Things Worth Remembering

Bethany House (October 1, 2009)


Jackina Stark


Jackina (pronounced with a long “i” to rhyme with China) Stark recently retired from teaching English at Ozark Christian College to spend more time writing and traveling.

Jackina says: "Although I loved my subjects and my students, I retired to do more writing and speaking, to spend more time with my family, and to travel with family and friends (including trips to encourage two missions in Cambodia). I have also spoken nationally and internationally at many retreats and seminars and enjoy running into many readers and former students. I have written frequently for both Christian Standard and Lookout, periodicals of Standard Publishing. Years ago I wrote two non-fiction books, published by College Press, but currently out of print. These days, I’m exploring fiction. My first novel, Tender Grace, was released by Bethany House January 30, 2009, and Things Worth Remembering, is the second. I’m working on new projects, including a third novel, as time permits. Whether speaking or writing, I love the opportunity to tell about Him whom Jesus called “Holy Father” and “the only true God.”

She has been married to her husband, Tony, for forty-two years. They live in Carl Junction, Missouri, and have two daughters and six grandchildren.


Kendy Laswell and her daughter, Maisey, used to do everything together--until one fateful summer when Maisey witnessed something she shouldn't have, and their relationship fractured. Now, Maisey is back home to get married and Kendy realizes this is her last chance to reconnect with her daughter. Will Kendy and Maisey be able to reclaim the bond they once shared?

Maisey asked for a bride doll the Christmas she was five, mesmerized by her aunt's wedding the fall before. Since then I've been dreaming of the day, or days, we would shop for her wedding dress. A mother helping her daughter find just the right creation for that momentous walk down the aisle strikes me as one of life's happiest endeavors. The night she called to tell us she'd bought her "dream of a gown," I sat beside Luke on the couch, a striking contrast to Maisey's exuberance.
My dejection seemed a tad inappropriate. "Being hurt because I wasn't included is silly, isn't it?" I asked.

"Not so silly," he said.

Will I ever quit longing for the Maisey who was once mine?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Things Worth Remembering , go HERE

Adding my thoughts...Jackina Stark was a completely new author to me, but I am hooked on her writing and have added her first novel, Tender Grace, to my "To Be Read ASAP" list. This story of the devastating consequences of sin and the beauty and hope of forgiveness and restoration kept me emotionally engrossed until the final chapter. The "message" was beautifully entwined with well-developed characters and an excellently crafted storyline which made this book a delight to read.


Simple Woman's Daybook

October 12th 

Outside my window... Gray and rainy...again.

I am thinking... that I think I'm ready to get my feet a bit wet in the pro scrapbook world again...it's been way too long!

I am thankful for...  my husband, for more reasons than I could begin to type here!

I am wearing... Red and black fleece Razorback pullover and black knit pants

I am remembering... A "younger me" who had much more energy and creative inspiration, for whom being cheerful and friendly was rarely "work", who was much less "cautious" about people...a "me" whose personality and inner make-up has changed completely in the past few years.   But, I am also realizing that in many ways, those changes have been a necessary part of the fulfillment of James 1:4: "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  

I am going... to be home even more than usual for a couple more weeks.  That has been a blessing in some ways, but a definite challenge in others.   Praying for wisdom and discipline and grace to turn the challenges into blessings.

I am reading... Christa Parrish's Watch Over Me, for a book review.  She is a new author to me, and I'm really enjoying this one.   Getting ready to write a review of Things Worth Remembering, which I read this weekend.  Great book by another new-to-me author, Jackina Stark.   Working my way through some non-fiction as well, but don't have my "stack" in front of me to list titles at the moment. :)

I am hoping... that if it must rain the next few days as predicted, it will be light.  Our world is really waterlogged at the moment!

On my mind... "Living Intentionally", and the toll living in "survival mode" has taken on that in recent years.  Working on baby steps to getting back there...

From the learning rooms... Trying to get back to a regular school routine this week, after "sick time" last week.  Also working on some winter P.E. plans for the kids (and workout plans for mom) with some equipment we were blessed with this weekend.

Noticing that... I'm moving way more slowly today than I need to be!!

Pondering these words... "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."  ~ Philippians 4:4-8

From the kitchen... Trying to decide whether to make lasagna or chicken and dumplings for supper.  Hmmm.   Also need to make Ranch snack crackers per Billy's request, and some cookies for snacking. :)

Around the house... Planning to re-organize some bookshelves and the china cabinet this week, as well as doing the Great Fall Clothes Swap. :)  Hopefully in the process of both, we'll get some much-needed decluttering done.

One of my favorite things~ A note from a friend.

From my picture journal...  

Yummy breakfast skillet Billy made Saturday morning. :)

To see what others are doing today, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

Children's Book Monday ~ Finally!

I've been wanting to participate in Elise's Children's Book Monday for a long time, and never seem to be able to get a post up on time. This week I'm trying the scheduled post feature to see if perhaps that will do the trick. :) Elise always posts about the most delightful books, and I usually go straight from her blog to our library website to reserve them. :)

Ever since reading The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry, we've been checking out picture books from the library by illustrated by various children's book illustrators for art appreciation and inspiration. It's been neat to watch the children develop an awareness of different artistic styles through seeing the individual styles of the artists. We've discussed creativity and uniqueness as well as different art techniques and media. The children have been really stimulated then to create their own art inspired by the illustrators.

One of our favorite illustrators recently has been Lois Ehlert. Ehlert uses mixed media illustrations in her books that are just fabulous. Market Day is one we enjoyed recently...

This book is truly "a feast of folk art from around the world." You can see a preview with more detail here.

Grab a stack of Ehlert's books for double enjoyment...pore over them for the stories and illustrations, and then have some creative fun "doing art". (And for more inspiration, do a Google Image Search for Lois Ehlert...lots of neat artwork and ideas!)


Food on Friday...Of Facebook, Bacon Grease, and "Good Cornbread"

I keep intending to participate in Ann Kroeker's Food on Friday, but somehow Fridays always get really busy and I don't get that far. Even today, I thought I would be blogging early this morning, and here it is bedtime and I'm just now beginning to type. But I do have a few minutes and some food-ish thoughts to post, so maybe I'll actually make it today. :)

This post was actually motivated by a friend. We were discussing recipes the other day, and she said, "You need to do a recipe post on your blog." So...here it is...a recipe post. :) The only problem is, I know that at the time we were discussing *several* recipes, but I can only remember *one* of them. I'll have to ask her tomorrow and possibly amend this. :)

I love Facebook. (I know, you thought we were talking about recipes, and food. Trust me, we are...keep reading. :)) I know there can be lots of drawbacks and time wasters, and I'm not into much in the way of games and apps (other than the occasional Flair kick, and a brief addiction to Scramble early on :)), but it has been a neat way to get re-connected with old friends, and useful in various other ways as well.

Case in point. The other day a friend and I were talking about cornbread. Actually, I think we started out talking about bacon grease. (Don't ask. :) I'm pretty sure that conversation was motivated by Pioneer Woman, so it's okay. Really.) *ANYWAY*...I was telling her about my favorite cornbread recipe. I got it *years* ago from our friend Diane in Conway. It is the best. cornbread. ever! And it all starts with a hunk of bacon grease. I was going to send the recipe to my friend, and then realized...I couldn't find it. Major crisis. Not a good thing to lose the best. cornbread. recipe. ever! And I had been so proud of myself because I had kept up with the original recipe card, labeled "Good Cornbread" (in Diane's handwriting, no less) all these years. And now it was gone.

BUT...fortunately, before I completely panicked, I realized, "I can send Diane a message on Facebook and ask her to send me the recipe." Which I did. And she did. And all is well and I can make cornbread again (just as soon as I cook some bacon for breakfast in the morning so I have a hunk of bacon grease :)).

Diane happened to mention that she had gotten this recipe from a friend when she got married, and that friend had called her a year or so ago and asked her for it, because she had misplaced it herself. :) Which is another reason for this post...perhaps we can keep up with it here. :)

1 c. cornmeal,
1/2 t. soda,
1/2 t. salt,
1 T. sugar,
1 cup buttermilk.
Sift dry ingredients together
(she doesn't, and neither do I :)). Beat one egg and mix with buttermilk. Add to dry
ingredients just before putting in oven as they will rise in the bowl if prepared too far in
advance. In your pan, put a hunk of bacon grease. Heat
oven to 450 degrees, and keep pan in there until grease is smoking. Bake about 20
minutes. Makes an 8 inch round skillet of cornbread.

Speaking of bacon grease, my friend J. and I had been talking about how and in what to store bacon grease. She ran across the cutest little Ball jelly jars the other day that were just perfect, and she brought me one! Isn't it cute? I can't wait to cook bacon now. :)

For more Food on Friday posts, visit Ann Kroeker.

ETA: A friend messaged me to give this caution...learned *after* she had to go get stitches in her hand once upon a time (Ack!)...let the bacon grease cool a bit before transferring to a glass jar. Thanks, JS! :)


Creative Snippets

Creativity is a funny, and sometimes quite elusive, thing. For various reasons, I had needed to adjust plans for a co-op class I was teaching, and had spent three days this week trying to summon creative inspiration. I pored over my favorite books, magazines, and websites to no avail. Beginning to get desperate, I sat down and pulled together my "last resort" class project. Although I was pleased with the final result, it wasn't what I really wanted to do. I wasn't sure what exactly I *did* really want to do...but I knew that when the idea finally came, I would recognize it.

While I was working on the class project, I felt a bit discouraged. As I've mentioned here before, I've been in an extended creative slump for a period of several years. There have been brief creative bursts in the last couple of years, but they have been few and far between...and rather forced at that...projects I had to do for a specific purpose, with a deadline. I miss the days when I could just sit down and "create" for no reason for a few hours...and get totally caught up in the process, rather than just the result.

As the evening wore on, however, true creative inspiration finally hit. I debated...surrender to the desire to stay up all night and "run with it", or concede to common sense and the lingering effects of sleep deprivation over the past few weeks and go on to bed. In a compromise, I stayed up later than I should have, making notes and jotting down ideas, but didn't actually drag out supplies and dig in. :)

Today's schedule is pretty packed, but I'm hoping that the motivation will still be there tonight once everything settles down. I've even had a strong urge to get my feet wet again in the pro scrapbooking world. It's been years since I even kept up with things in that arena, much less participated or even attempted to submit anything. We'll see what happens from here with that. :)

In the meantime, here are a few photos of our project for today...

And for those who enjoyed the calendar art journal pages I linked to the other day....here is another really neat one, this one including photos. I think I will incorporate photo pages like these in my calendar journal. :)

(The above was written on Thursday. Needless to say, I was interrupted and never got back to it. :) More creative snippets to follow soon...)


Saturday Snippets

I am woefully behind on blogging. (Perhaps I should change that sentence to "I am woefully behind" period? :) I seem to stay that way.) My "To Blog" list just keeps growing, and despite the fact that every week (well, almost every week...some weeks I know better from the outset!) I tell myself "I am going to blog every day, and I am going to make a dent in my "To Post" list", it just doesn't seem to happen.

Anyway...I am making yet another effort to "get caught up". Now..."caught up" is all relative; I am never going to be "caught up" in blogging, any more than I am going to be "caught up" on scrapbooking or "caught up" on housework. I'm mainly just shooting for not getting any further behind, at this point. :)

I am going to endeavor to post not one post, but several, today...we'll see how that goes. And then I'm actually going to try out the auto-post function (I hope) for a few posts next week. I've been wanting to participate with Elise at A Path Made Straight in Children's Book Monday for a long time, but I never seem to be able to squeeze that in on Monday. And Tina at Prairie Sings has been encouraging me to join with her in posting on Fridays about the art we are doing in school. I haven't managed that yet, either. :) So maybe the auto-post function will help me with those issues.

Now...on to today's (first?) post. I'm taking the easy way out here and posting some links I've been wanting to post this week, along with a few random odds and ends from life around here lately.

{Just as an aside...people sometimes ask me how I have time to blog. I reply that my posts are very rarely composed in one sitting...I may work on a post 2 or 3 sentences at a time for half a day or more, in between "life" and "interruptions". This post is a good example. I started it before 7 a.m. It's now 10:30. In between, I have fixed breakfast, put in a load of laundry, done some dishes while talking on the phone, found clothes for 3 children to wear to a wedding this afternoon, and watched (I started to say "helped", but that would be waaay pushing it :)) Billy take out a window air conditioner. (It's now 11:30, and I have found my clothes for the wedding, started lunch, finished the load of l

I came back to this post this morning and am LOL. That was typed Saturday morning. It is now Sunday morning, 6:54 a.m. Not only did I not post *more* than one post yesterday, I didn't even finish this one!! I thought I would leave the above paragraph just as it was when I came back to it this morning, just so you could share the humor with me. This is the way my blogging often goes. :) My computer froze up during the typing of the word "laundry", so I got up to work on something else while it did whatever it does when it is frozen like that, and then I didn't get back to it until it was too late (and I was too traumatized from deer dodging! :-D) to finish it.

We went to a most beautiful wedding for friends who had both waited a long time for God's best for them. Our children had been as excited as if it were Christmas! (I threatened to make a paper chain for Ammah Grace...she came in every morning saying, "Is Miss Phyllis's wedding TODAY? How many more days, Mama???" Even Peter was caught up in the excitement!) Then what was supposed to be a quick trip to a friend's house to get my hair trimmed ended up instead being a much-needed shopping and dinner run to NWA. I'm so thankful for the blessing of wonderful friends!

This morning I am home from church with one child who appears to be sick...the jury is still out as to what is going on, but we are keeping her home until we are sure...and three others who are home because I am home and Daddy is speaking to a military group this morning and then racing to church in time for the worship service, we hope. :)

Anyway...back to my original post!

1. Not a link, but photos of the latest project from the scrapbooking class I'm teaching at co-op. I had seen something similar a LONG time ago and planned to try it myself, but still hadn't gotten around to it when I saw this. LOVE the family rules idea...definitely planning to do that one soon! In the meantime we did these with verses or photos in class this week and had such a great time with them! The girls did beautiful work...I was really proud of them.

This was my class sample...(these photographed weird no matter what I did...the mod podge doesn't look clear/dry here, but it is IRL.)

Bayley's project from class. Again, photo'd weird...ugh! But she did a beautiful job.

2. These calendar art journal pages are just amazing. After years of regular journaling, followed by years of only-very-sporadic journaling, I am finally getting back into the habit of journaling during my Bible Study and prayer time. Lately I have been wanting to get back to journaling the "daily" stuff as well, but can't seem to make myself sit down and write a page...or even a paragraph...every day. THIS I think I could do. Fun crafty-artsy stuff plus small snippets of our days I think I could manage. And last night I even got a fabulous deal on a journal to use...I had just been wishing I had one with blank pages, and Jodie found some that fit the bill perfectly for an amazing price. :) Now I'm wishing I'd gotten more! Maybe I'll have some time to work on that today while we are home.

3. Speaking of calendars, these are completely adorable! (If you hit "click to zoom", you can see different views, some of which are cuter than the one on the main page. :)) Given my penchant for doodling, I'm going to have to try my hand at something similar!

4. I don't know if I've mentioned here that I LOVE Gerbera Daisies. YYY I happened upon this cake last week, which I think may quite possibly be THE cutest cake and THE cutest cupcakes I have ever seen in my entire life. I Y daisies!

5. I have really been enjoying Elise's blog, A Path Made Straight, recently. I came across this post this morning, and it really hit home with me. It's so easy to fall into the "Well, the day is ruined, I guess we'll start over tomorrow" trap. How much better to stop, re-commit the day to God and redeem the rest of the time. I so needed to read this today!

I think I'm finally going to stop and hit publish on this post. Maybe I'll be back with a *real* post later. :)


Blog Tour ~ A Slow Burn

Mary DeMuth has done it again! Before I had turned the last page in the first book in her Defiance Texas Trilogy, I was practically panting for the sequel. Apparently I wasn't the only one...it seems everyone who read Daisy Chain can't get their hands on A Slow Burn fast enough. My word of warning to those who ask...and those who don't, I suppose :)...is this: A Slow Burn *is* as good as Daisy Chain, but the similarities don't stop at the characters with whom you become entwined, the plot in which you immediately become immersed, and the thought-provoking underlying messages. As you reach the last page or two of the book, you realize you have come to the end...and yet you haven't. There must be more...because you are still grasping for answers and resolution. But the only "more" to be found is the tantalizing preview of the *third* book in the Defiance Trilogy. Ahhh...the agony of well-written series fiction!

A Slow Burn starts where Daisy Chain left off, with the discovery of young Daisy Chance's body two months after her mysterious disappearance. In the sequel, however, the focus moves from Jed Pepper, Daisy's best friend, to Emory Chance, Daisy's mother, and her grief, guilt, and struggle for survival. Hixon Jones has a strong supporting role again, now protecting and pursuing "Missy", as he calls Emory.

One caution: This book is not for younger readers. Its subject matter is dark and gritty, with accompanying raw emotions. However, DeMuth tackles hard issues...drug abuse, depression, guilt, shame...with a large infusion of truth, grace, forgiveness, unconditional love, and hope. She describes the themes of the book this way:

"You’re never too far from God’s grace and love and forgiveness. That God is a pursuing, redemptive, relentless God. He loves His children, even when they run far, far away. That Jesus comes to us in surprising packages, and sometimes we’re so bothered by appearances that we miss Him."

Then she explains what she would like for readers to take away from this book:

"That God is bigger than our sin, our regret, our hopelessness. He takes delight in intersecting the darkest of circumstances. He is there, available."

Mary DeMuth is a master writer. She can spin a story that weaves its web around you and draws you in until the final page, and doesn't completely let go even then. She is also a devoted follower of Jesus. Her writing reflects her love for Him and her compassion for others. A Slow Burn is a gripping, compelling read. It is available at Amazon and bookstores everywhere. More reviews from this week's blog tour can be found at Blog Tour Spot. And be sure to visit Mary's website and blog for more information on Mary and her books!

I am excited to be participating as an Influencer for this book, courtesy of Zondervan Publishing, and to be a part of this week's blog tour, sponsored by Blog Tour Spot. Thanks to both for the opportunity to receive an advance copy of the book and participate in this week's release party activities!