Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Great Gadget!

I want to give a quick shout out to a really cool gift that I got for Christmas this year. It's an electronic Bible by Franklin. The reason I really love it is for it's concordance. My husband has this awesome gift where he can instantly recall a scripture and where it's located. Me - not so much. I can tell you what it says but I struggle with it's location. I'm forever running to the bedroom to grab the concordance (which feels like it weighs 20 pounds). Not anymore! This handy dandy little wonder is about the size of a calculator and fits right in my Bible case. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have used it already. It has a few other things on it, too: calculator, clock, organizer and daily devotion. It cost $54.99 at Family Christian Stores, if you're interested. Watch out, though, because they had another one that looked just like this one for twice the cost, but it didn't have the concordance on it. I give it a two thumbs up.

The BEST Moisturizer

Back several months ago I was looking for a new moisturizer that would actually penetrate my skin without leaving it feeling oily. I am also cheap. That means I can't justify spending even $20 of our budget on a face cream. It's just how I'm wired. During that time I just "happened" to read about good ol' fashioned olive oil being a great skin moisturizer. Then I remembered a passage of scripture where Jesus was talking about fasting. He told the people that they should put a little oil on their heads while they were fasting so as to not draw attention to the fact that that's what they were doing. *See Matthew 6:17-18. Then I remembered from history that the reason Jesus would say that was because oil has been used as a daily cosmetic for thousands of years. That was good enough for me to try it. So, I went to the kitchen cupboard, pulled out my bottle and gave it a shot. Let's just say I was instantly hooked. I don't keep it to my face, either. I had feet and elbows that would make a crocodile jealous. Not anymore! I had tried several options on my feet. I would put lotion on them, but that made my toes split. Ow! I went the Vaseline route. You know - slather them in Vaseline and then put socks on before bed. Somewhat effective. Kinda gross. And really, I just don't like to sleep in socks. Oh, but that glorious bottle of golden liquid has changed it all! Now when I get out of the shower it not only goes on my face, neck, arms and elbows - but I slather it on my legs, too. Then, just for good measure, I rub it into my feet and throw my socks on. It soaks right in and doesn't leave that goopy mess I got from Vaseline. I am proud to say that my tootsies are now soft and supple. Also, I had gotten a serious case of razor burn on my leg that had left me with problems for nearly a year at the time I began using the oil. Within no time my leg was completely healed up. This isn't a secret I've kept to myself, either. I tell everyone I know, "Try olive oil." Despite my declaring it's splendor from the roof top - I don't think many people have tried it.

This leads me to a really cool discovery. A few days ago a received a catalog from a very high end skin care company. As I'm flipping through the pages I come across this wonder product that "started it all" for the company. Let me just show you what it says.

THE GOOD OIL - If you thought you'd never put oil on your face, think again.

Remember when you were a teenager and you had your first skincare lesson? Oil, you were told is bad for you and makes you break out. But that oil myth has officially been debunked.

What's so great about oil, you ask? Oil gives skin softness, elasticity, and protection from harmful impurities and irritants, and as we age, our bodies produce less sebum, which results in dehydrated skin. The question should be - are we getting enough?...

Guess what this awesome product is. That's right. You are a Sharpie! Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It has absolutely nothing added to it. No aloe, vitamin E, peptides, alpha hydroxy acids..... Just plain old olive oil. They sell 1 fl. oz. in their catalog for $39. I pay $4 for a 17 fl. oz. bottle at Dollar General Market. That's a savings of $659!!!!!!

I find it curious that they called it the GOOD oil. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." I think it's so amazing how God will lead us into every good thing if we just stay open to him. I could have shrugged off the thought of going to my kitchen cabinet and trying that bottle of EVOO. It is used for cooking, after all. But I would have missed out on all the benefits that something so simple would bring me. The benefits have not only been to my skin, but also to our budget. That $4 bottle of olive oil is much less expensive than the synthetic stuff I was using before with no results. Our Father gives us wisdom for every area of our lives and nothing is unimportant to him - even skin care. He did create a whole world of wonderful things to take care of our skin, homes and bodies, after all. The question is; "Are we willing to seek out and try out those things he made for us?" Actually, I think that when we begin to seek Him out, He's begins to reveal all these wonderful little secrets to us. At least that what He said in Matthew 6:33. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." It's kind of like the game Hide and Seek. We seek Him and he shows us where all of the treasures are hidden. In Colossians 2:3 He told us that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. It's really an unfair advantage over the world if you think about it. BUT IT'S SO MUCH FUN!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Simply Delicious Potato Soup

It seems as if my family could eat soup every night of the week this time of the year. Something about warm soup on a cold night is really comforting. So, I'm always looking for new recipes for this glorious, diverse dish to delight my family. I used to make Potato Soup the old fashioned way like my mom makes, (peel the potatoes, boil the potatoes...), then my sister told me about a much easier (and healthier) version that I have went on to ...soup up a little. OK, you know I couldn't resist that one! Anyway, this recipe is souper easy (Oops! I did it again, didn't I?) and really quick. I always keep the few ingredients it takes on hand for those nights when my day has gotten away from me and I need to whip up something fast. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does.


1 bag O'Brien potatoes
4 reg. sized cans fat free chicken broth
1 packet McCormick Country Gravy mix (The brand really makes a difference on this one.)
Hormel bacos
Shredded cheddar cheese (light or fat free is fine)

Spray stock pot with non-stick cooking spray and add potatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes to brown up before adding 3 cans of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer. *Note: I will often buy a bag of cubed hash browns and add my own frozen peppers and onions instead of buying the O'Brien potatoes. They are usually cheaper. This is also a good option if your family doesn't like peppers and onions because they can simply be omitted.

In a small sauce pan add the last can of chicken broth to the gravy mix. Follow directions until it thickens. Then stir into the potatoes. Add a 1/2 jar of the bacos. Make sure potatoes are tender and then top each bowl with a little cheddar cheese before serving. That's it. Serve with your choice of bread and a salad. It's simple. It's delicious. Potato Soup - It's what's for dinner.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dog Sense

I really don't know how they do it. You see, we are leaving today to spend Christmas with my family in Michigan. That means that our dog, Layla, had an appointment with the kennel today. Yesterday she began to get very needy. She followed me everywhere and constantly wanted to touch me. It's like she knew we were leaving. She can't speak English and the suitcases weren't even out, yet. But it's like she has this sixth sense. She did this last time we went away, too.
Even my husband (who tends to be very sceptical with the genius ability of dogs) is on board with this strange doggie phenomenon. Last night I was in the kitchen baking and she just stood there the whole time. I mentioned to him how clingy she'd been that day and he said, "How do they know that? It's really a trip."

If anyone else has any insights - I'd really be interested in it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Pure Heart

Lately I've been praying the same words that David prayed so long ago:
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:10-12

It started back in the summer. I was out in the garden praying one day for God to help me with my speech when he revealed to me that my speech wasn't the problem. My heart was. He reminded me of Matthew 12:34 - "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." So, my words are simply a reflection of my heart. Thus began the start of this prayer. One day I was praying it..."Create in me a clean heart, O God, and..." and I was prompted to go look at that scripture in my Bible. When I did, I realized that I was praying for a clean heart and my Bible actually says pure heart. "So, what's the difference?" I asked. The illustration God answered me with is pretty cool.

If you think about two gold rings it makes a lot of sense. Say I have a 10 karat gold ring that I have just scrubbed up and polished. I also have a 24 karat ring but I had dropped it in the mud and haven't cleaned it up yet. The 10 karat ring is cleaner, but the 24 karat ring is still more pure. That's how it is with people. No matter how much I try to "clean up" my act and "do" good - that's just my attempt to get to God or self-righteousness. Unless I allow God to work on me from the inside out I'll be just like the Pharisees. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." Matthew 23:25-26. When I'm washing dishes I can get the outside of a cup clean and miss the dried up milk stuck to the bottom of the inside. But I can't scrub the inside up without it spilling over and cleaning the outside, too. In God's eyes the heart of the matter has always been the matter of the heart.

Getting back to David, now. Look at the man: he was full of lust when he saw Bathsheba, he acted on it, schemed and murdered her husband to have her for himself. Yet, God said that he was a man after his own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14. God knew that David would do all those things before he anointed him king. Maybe that's why David went on to write Psalm 103. You can go read that yourself. It's one of my favorites. See, David was quick to repent and understood grace, even before the time of grace had come to all people. It was still available.

That brings me great comfort. No matter what I have done in my life - it didn't rock God's boat. He made provision for it. He knows me. He created me. He knew all the times I would mess up and blow it. And I love Job 23:10. "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." You see, gold can't purify itself. The refiner must do that. And the interesting thing about it is that the more pure it becomes, the softer and more pliable it gets. Think about the 2 rings.

My job is to let my Father, the Refiner, do what he wants to do with me. I can't make myself pure. Only Jesus' blood could do that. As I sit at the Father's feet he will do in me what I can't do for myself; and I will become soft, pliable and pure in his hands. Then all of the stuff on the outside I'm dealing with will begin to disappear.

And here's one more thing that I found interesting. I'm not sure if 24 karat gold is as good as it gets here or not. But, if there is gold more pure than that I've personally never seen it. 24 karat gold is still 76% impure. We don't focus on it's impurities, though. We focus on the precious metal that is mixed in with all the other stuff. God is the same way. He doesn't look at my faults. He sees the treasure in this jar of clay.

Be blessed and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Brrr. Can anyone say freezing? My long john's are definitely getting a workout lately. Yesterday was a whopping 4 degrees. With the wind chill factor is was like 20 something below zero. I don't remember it being this cold since we've been back up north. Last year when we moved into this house we thought it was frigid at 18 degrees. That would be a luxury right now. I literally have icicles hanging off of the inside of the widow upstairs in our school room! Big, thick icicles. I'm being totally serious here.

Yesterday I had to run to the store and the freaky thing was that the cashier had just waited on someone visiting from Montana and she said that this isn't that cold! WHAAAAT? You have GOT to be kidding me.

Needless to say, I'll be hunkering down and NOT leaving the house for anything until we get a slight thaw. Now I think I'll go fix myself a cup of hot chocolate.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Yippie, Skippie! I'm so excited! My dear friend, Jessie, over at Overflow of a Forgiven Soul has very graciously bestowed this award upon me. I think that this is super sweet of her as this is only my fourth post. But, hey, I'LL TAKE IT! Thank you my dear. So, my commission is to share 5 things that I am addicted to. Then I am to pass it on to 5 other fabulous bloggers. However, I don't know 5 yet, so I'm just going to skip that part. I am looking foreward to getting acquainted with many of you other bloggers out there, though.


1. Morning devotions shared with both my God and my husband.

2. Spending time with my family.

3. Scented candles. I have them in every room of the house. I think they make a house feel like it hugs you.

4. Make up. If I don't have it on I look very tired or ill. I know this because every time I'm caught without it I get asked if I am. If I'm not wearing it I actually feel much more tired than if I am. It's mental, I know. But hey, I am what I am. I am not anal about it, though. And I do try to give my face a break from make up at least once or twice a week.

5. Creativity. I need a creative outlet - music, crafting, decorating, sewing, blogging.

So, there you have it. 5 things I'm addicted to.

My Journey to Greener Cleaning

I have this nasty little habit. I don't like to sleep wearing anything with sleeves at night. However, this is Indiana and it's cold. So, before I jump into bed I throw whatever long sleeved shirt I was wearing in the floor where it conveniently waits on me until I scramble out of bed in the morning. This brings me to my topic.

Once upon a time when I was living in Ohio, I engaged in this same routine, only to find as I entered the bathroom a very large, furry, black spider perched upon my upper arm. I can't even begin to express the magnitude of my horror. I began to swat at it. I was screaming so much that I woke my roommates upstairs from their peaceful slumber. They ran downstairs panicked thinking that an intruder had entered the house. It had. Only it had eight legs. As I'm trying to swat this invader off of my arm it begins running up toward my shoulder. Now I'm really freakin'! I know that the tainted sweatshirt has to come off. Only problem is the vision of the furry vagabond getting entangled into my hair as it does. Needless to say, it all worked out in the end. I was able to get my shirt off without letting Spidey nest in my 'fro. Why I still engage in this risky behavior - I'm not sure. I guess my need for unencumbered sleep out weighs the thought of spiders trying on my wardrobe. I do, however, check for them before I throw the shirt on now. That was the only time I've ever found spiders in my clothing, though. Unless you want to count the time when one had layed eggs in my shirt which began to hatch right after I put it on. That was another story which will have to wait for another blogging session, though.

Anyway...this morning as I picked my shirt up off the floor, I realized that I hadn't seen any spiders in the house at all for several months. (The ones we were getting in this house were itty bitty. Not at all like the ginormous wood spiders we'd get in Florida. (My husband, who hates spiders accidentally petted one once. But that's also a story for another day.) Focus, Pam, focus. Anyway, after realizing it's been quite some time since I've seen even a trace from one of our arachnid brothers, I remembered the hedge apples. If you've never heard of them, they're nothing really like an apple at all. They are the size of a very large orange or small grapefruit and have this very lumpy, yellow-green skin. A few months ago some friends of ours brought a bag of them to us. Evidently, when placed around the foundation of your home and by the entrance ways, they will keep bugs away. They are supposed to work for something like 3 years or so. They are very expensive if you can find them to buy them. Our friends have a tree full of them by their house, which happened to be a very high traffic area out in the country while the hedge apples were ripe for the pickin'. I'm thinking that there must be something to them.

I have been in search of non-chemical approaches to cleaning, fertilizing, pest prevention and so on for the past couple of years now. My son's stint with asthma that landed him in the hospital for a while got me goin' on this journey. I have found, to my amazement, that the natural remedies that I have been using are actually much more effective than their chemical counterparts that I spent much more money on. So today will begin the first installment of my weekly tips. I'm always looking for greener and more effective ways to do things. So, if you have any good tips, please, feel free to share. Today I'll share my favorite all purpose cleaner. Next week I give you an incredibly effective carpet stain removal.

For an all-purpose cleaner that is awesome in the kitchen, bath, and for floors and windows:

In a 32 oz. spray bottle (the kind you can pick up for a buck at the dollar store)
mix a 50/50 solution of distilled water and white vinegar. Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to it and...voila! A cleaner to be reckoned with! This kicks butt on stove top grease, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I love having seasons. It wasn't always such a big deal to me, though. I grew up in the Midwest. We have 4 seasons, but Winter always felt like it lasted forever. Oh, it started out great - the excitement of the holidays and the first snowfall! But long about February I was soooo over it!

A couple of years after we were married, my husband and I moved to Florida. It was awesome at first. They have seasons, too. They are just very subtle. I remember when we first got down there it was the end of August. The church we were attending had a Labor Day cook-out. While we were there people kept talking about how you could really feel "Fall in the air". We thought they were nuts. (We were the people who had to keep wiping sweat off our foreheads.) Before it was all said and done we felt "Fall in the air", too. We were rarely encumbered with little more than a sweatshirt to fight the chill in the air during the Winter months. And in the Spring when the citrus blossoms were in bloom! The smell was near Heaven on earth, I tell ya! Summer, however, was another story. We didn't like to venture out too much due to the severe heat and humidity so thick you felt like someone had thrown a thick, hot, wet blanket over you. We were there for nine years before moving back to the Midwest.

So here we are again. Four distinct seasons. But you know something is different this time around. The Spring air smells much crisper and sweeter. The summer sun on my face feels much gentler. And when it rains, I know that God is sending the provision I need to make my garden grow. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. The smell off changing (a.k.a. rotting) leaves is comforting. So is the smell that lingers in the air from people burning those leaves or limbs that have fallen to the ground. The crispness that once again fills the air is exhilarating. So we get to take advantage of both the fallen limbs and cool air by having friends over and sitting around a bonfire. Then there is Winter. You know it never really felt like Christmas to me while we were in Florida. Something about running the air conditioner while you're opening presents just throws a smidgen of water on the holiday fire. But now...well, the first Winter we were back the Christmas tree went up before Halloween, if that tells you anything!

I now realize that life is all about seasons. And not just the 4 that deal with changes in the weather. You see, those nine years we spent in Florida were also a season. So is this time in my life where I'm homeschooling my son. The list could go on and on, but you get the picture. Some of them last longer than others. Some we wish would last longer than others. But the thing that God has shown me since we've been back home is that seasons always change. It's part of the design. Each one has elements that make it spectacular. Each one also has elements that may not be so great. My job is to stop focusing on the bad, or wishing for the next season, or longing for the previous one. My goal is to live in the moment. Embrace it. If I'll just look around, I will see the magic of ordinary miracles. Every season is a gift to be treasured.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Bit the Bullet

Well, I finally bit the bullet. The blogging bullet that is. I finally broke down and decided to set up my own blog. This is after much consideration and even starting to set one up and then chickening out and deleting it not too long ago. So, here I am setting up all the things I want to go onto this new blog of mine and I decide to put some really cool pictures of my family on it. I wheel on over to the button that allows me to browse my pictures and...........they're gone. Completely and mysteriously missing from my computer. I know that they were there yesterday because I just installed a new printer with photo capabilities and spent many hours tagging and arranging my 900 and some pictures.....Oh,no. I hope I haven't had a stupid moment. You know the ones where you do something really stupid like accidentally delete your favorite family photos from your computer, to which you have no back ups because you never thought until just now about saving them to a picture CD? Hopefully they have just meandered around to another place in the computer - maybe to visit my sister's family or something. If I find them, and I will search, I will put them back in their place and make them come out for a visit to this page. See ya round.