Category Archives: Home Life

What it looks like to be home-centered, to grow as a family, and to love the coziness!

An Iceberg

On this frigid January day, with temps in the teens and a negative wind chill, we have descended into the yawning chasm of our basement…

…to tackle this iceberg inside of our house:

A long overdue freezer defrost is finally underway!

Merry Christmas!

With love and snow, we wish you a blessed Christmas full of joy, peace, and abundant Life in Jesus Christ, the Savior!

Here’s a little peek into our Christmas Eve…

It will be a white Christmas this year!

Around the dinner table tonight

Our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner – Lasagna, garlic bread, and salad

With 7-month old kittens in the house this year, we opted to decorate our Christmas tree in Victorian-fashion, and with non-heirloom ornaments

Reading of the birth of Jesus and singing corresponding carols together. It’s a favorite tradition that always puts our hearts in the right place!

A Post for March 1st

Oh, the seasons of life – how they change! We are at a strangely quiet time in our lives right now. There is a lot we are looking forward to and working towards, but nothing big is happening RIGHT NOW! You know how that is, right?

Sometimes the illusion that “nothing” is happening can be frustrating, but as my dear, wise mama pointed out to us at breakfast recently, there ARE things happening, subtle and important things. There are relationships being built. There are spiritual lessons being learned as we seek to know and obey God. We have the time to truly invest in people and things, not simply keep up with their constant growth. We can make plans, in submission to God’s perfect will, and let Him prepare us in whatever way we need. This is a special time – a time to treasure and make the most of, instead of be anxious over.

One thing I have really enjoyed is all the time we have been able to take for reading about history! Especially read-alouds in the afternoon. Yes, we still enjoy them. How could we not?! All the wonderful times together as we take turns reading, interjecting thoughts as we go, working on handmade projects while another reads, and simply sharing in the experience as a family. We’ve been reading books like Jared’s Island, Duncan’s War and The King’s Arrow, Amos Fortune: Freeman, and River of the Wolves. Separately we’ve read Calico Bush, Robinson Crusoe, The Battle for Quebec, Colonel Anza’s Impossible Journey, Shaw’s Fortune, and many more.

During our read-alouds, and sometimes in the evening while Mama makes dinner, I’ve been experimenting with Spelt flour. You see, we’re out of the wheat berries we purchased back in August, but we still have Spelt left, so we’re forced now to do what we had in mind from the beginning – vary our grain consumption. With the gluten content of Spelt being lower than I’m used it, it is somewhat challenging, but I think because of that very fact, certain cookies come out amazing with Spelt! The successes so far have been Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies, Spelt Biscotti (two different varieties, both of which need tweaking flavor-wise), and a mixture of Spelt and Wheat in regular bread. I’m hoping to try Spelt sourdough soon!

While I’m thinking of it, do you have a favorite Biscotti flavor? What about your favorite type of cookie? I’d love to know the most popular ones so that I can replicate them with healthy ingredients! Thanks!

There has also been a new challenge, and it’s changed my schedule a bit. My laptop is seriously broken, possibly beyond repair, and so we are down to one computer. There are five people in the house, each with their own computer needs, and this poor Macbook is getting more than it’s fair share of use! Unfortunately, with the way we do things, about half of us (no, not “2 ½” people, but 2-3 people) wind up wanting the computer at the same time. So now, I’m finding that my best opportunity for the computer is in the morning when everyone else is either still asleep, or having their personal time with the Lord. Because I get up earlier, I can still have some time to pray, read God’s Word, and be prepared for the day, but then get in my computer time before breakfast. Later in the day while everyone is practically in line for the computer, I can then spend more time studying and journaling as I would have spent the rest of the morning previously. It actually may work out better this way, because by the time the afternoon rolls around, I can certainly use some refreshment from the Lord!

Some of us have also found time for crafty projects. Seasonal decorations, flower headbands, hand-lettering practice, dishcloths. Sometime, I’ll get around to posting about our homemade Christmas presents from this year, as well.

I am so, so thankful for our home and family. A couple days ago, someone who had never been to our house before came over to pick up honey, and I cannot tell you the feeling that came over me as I watched him briefly glance around at the shelves of books that line our walls, the paper chain garland decorated with hand-written Bible verse hearts for Valentine’s day, the boxes of honey by the door, the living room space cramped with furniture to fit our family and guests. It didn’t matter what he thought in that instant, and he didn’t say anything, but as I watched him taking it all in, I felt a proud ownership of what God has accomplished in our lives and the different ways in which He has blessed us with things that draw us together.

Most Important Part of My Life

The days, weeks, and now a month has flown by since the beginning of the new year. I’ve wanted to post many times, but been unsure of what exactly I wanted to say. Of what exactly you should hear. After all, I think interesting and useful things happen around here every day, but you might not agree. You might get tired of reading post after post of boring incidents and emotions lost in translation. I’ve also wanted to make an end of the year/beginning of the year post that really portrays the heart of God’s working in our lives. And the space between posts has stretched, until… now it’s hard to break. But there is a triumphant anthem in my heart, a joy and confidence that has so arrested me, and now is breaking the bondage to self that once I felt. It is the most important part of my life, and yet I have not shared it! Please know, these following thoughts and Scripture passages are the very support and confidence of my heart in this season of my life.

Last spring, Jeremiah 9:23-24 touched my heart like never before:

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
neither let the mighty man glory in his might,
let not the rich man glory in his riches:
But let him that glorieth glory in this,
that he understandeth and knoweth me,
that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

My glory is in knowing God. As I have considered and mediated upon this passage over the past year, the Lord has taught me so much! In reading His Word, more and more verses jump out that reinforce and develop this truth. I am amazed and humbled that God has given to man the glory of actually, truly, knowing Him! He desires that we seek AND find Him! And in heaven one day, we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2), with no imperfections in our understanding (1 Cor 13:12) – we will clearly behold His beauty (Psalm 27:4). This is eternal life (John 17:3). And God, in mercy and love for us, has given us a foretaste of eternity here and now… in knowing Him as our God. Weak vessels though we be, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” shines within us (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)!

He has shown me how this deep understanding in my heart instructs how I live my life. Most obvious and basic is how it directs the use of God’s gifts to me – time, energy, my hands and feet, eyes and mouth and ears… and relationships. I’ve always thought that the great pursuit of the human heart is to know and be known, and this confirms that thought and also elevates it! It’s not just a human pursuit, it’s the pursuit God has placed in man’s heart from the beginning of time, meant to be perfectly fulfilled in knowing Him! This transforms relationships with others – after all, those relationships (to know and be known) are a working out of that desire within us.

To know God, and I mean truly know Him for who He is – in all that he is! – is to have confidence. “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:1-2) All the names and attributes of God, when deeply considered and used in prayer, imbue the heart with awe and trust and hope! How can I doubt His will or ways when I know Him like this?!

“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able…” (2 Timothy 1:12)

A dear friend expressed to me that sometimes she has to remind herself that He IS the Lord, the Creator and Ruler of men, and that she prefers to think of Him as a comforting friend. I didn’t know how to say it at the time, but I wanted to tell her that knowing God in that Sovereign role doesn’t have to take away any shred of her comfort, rather it can add confidence to it! He IS Creator – He lovingly and purposely formed each of us in our mother’s wombs. He IS Ruler – He directs the affairs of men to His perfect glory and our ultimate good. By Him all things consist! (Colossians 1:16-18)

Tears sting my eyes when I think of this great privilege of knowing the eternal God. He created us for this! He made us in His image with this in mind – that we might have communion with Him! Gratefulness. Love. Those two words carry the fulness of my heart in them. They overflow in my tears and burst joyously into a desire for more of Him in my life. I would say with David, “one thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4) As this one thing… this spiritual desire… consumes me, self seems less interesting. My fleshly desires grow pale and less satisfactory. The urgency of the world even becomes laughable. Don’t get me wrong – there are weak moments, moments when the Lord’s nearness isn’t discernible to my harried soul. But as soon as I return my eyes to Christ, I see Him and know Him. The anthem doesn’t end, and the song only gains in momentum for each of these victories.

A New “Adventure”

Happy 2013! How special that we can enter a new year trusting in the Lord and looking forward to the goodness of His will and ways, even if we don’t understand them or wouldn’t choose them.

In this new year, we have another battle to wage with bunny illness. Another possibly sad one. And as much as I don’t really want to have to share these things here, spreading the sadness to you, I believe it’s important because this is life… the life God has given us. Just as much as the joys and triumphs, the beauties and the smiles, are part of God’s marvelous work, so are the trials and difficulties, the pain and death. My goal is not to write about the sweetest and best things that happen to us, but rather the grace and power of God in a submitted life, and the vast and amazing ways this is worked out in a practical way.

I want you to know – it’s not about going to amazing Christian events, having the dearest friends, taking stunning pictures with expensive cameras, composing a breath-taking sentence, cooking healthy and delicious and beautiful food, or anything else that is fun and exciting in life. It’s about our hearts before God, serving Him in those things… and in the simple life in between those things. Blessing others. Returning good for evil. Smiling and trusting the Lord through difficulties. Surrendering pain and finding comfort in God’s fullness. Not seeking the limelight for our own sakes. It’s doing, or not doing, everything solely for Christ’s sake.

…what you are about to read is our life, and our “adventure” in between the outwardly “beautiful”…

Ebony has an abscess on her jaw, and her teeth are in bad shape (which we knew, considering her teeth have been maloccluded for the past year). She was officially diagnosed on Christmas Eve, and we’ve been praying what to do about it since. Surgery isn’t an option for various reasons, but I’ve been reading about an alternative treatment online using penicillin injections. The bad news is that our vet hasn’t had much success with this and doesn’t think it will work. The “good news” is that he doesn’t have any alternative and is willing to prescribe it if that’s what we want to do.

So today I started my search for a good supplier of penicillin G procaine/benzathine, syringes, and the needles… tomorrow the adventure continues…

Christmas Is Coming!

Christmas is only a few short days away! There are a few things to share, and I will try to get through them all in an orderly and succinct fashion.

What Christmas Is Looking Like Around Here

Gifts are being completed, packages are arriving, and wrapping is planned for today. {“Brown paper packages tied up with string…” *smile*}
We have one more cookie to make today… Ginger Cookies! And a bunch of food for Sunday-Tuesday.
Sunday morning the three of us girls and another lady will be singing Angels We Have Heard on High in 3-part acappella harmony for the church. Yikes… please pray.
Our plans for Christmas Eve include our traditional Lasagna dinner (Italian style!), candlelight, lots of singing and Bible reading, and… a visit to the vet with a sick bunny. *sigh*
There’s no snow yet!
And a little confession… we only decorated the living room this year…

Christmas Preparations…in Celebration of What?

Praying before dinner just a few night ago, my dad said something like this, “be with us as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Your Son…” Immediately there was a little uneasiness in my heart. Yes, I sure am busy preparing! Yes, for a celebration. But… am I really preparing to celebrate this amazing act of God’s love, to be born on earth and live among sin… to then go to the cross and suffer a cruel death at the hands of rebellious men… for my sins. For me. Because He loves me with a perfect love! And I have no such love to return. I complain of difficulties and sorrows at this time of year, I dwell on my selfish wants instead of His fulness to meet my needs, and I’m concerned about what people will think of me and the gifts I give. I pray the Lord that He will give us all hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, and to worship Him with a fulness and wholeness, without distraction and in simplicity, offering ourselves!

A Few Thoughts Of Mary and Joseph (and various other characters!)

As Christmas day has fast approached, I’ve been wondering a bit, “why Mary… why Joseph…?” What made them God’s chosen vessels in His great work? I only wonder because it must have been something beautiful, it must have been a heart that was right in a particular way before God, it must have been something that God was pleased with… the angel greeted Mary, “Hail , thou that art highly favored…” I only wonder because it must be something that I can learn from.

There is one thought that has come to mind. Both Mary and Joseph knew the voice of the Lord when it came to them and obeyed Him, contrary to their culture. And further, they had peace and joy in doing His will. No matter what faults they might have had, they knew their God, and were tender and submitted to His commands. How else would they have accepted a child being conceived out of marriage? How else would they have borne the reproach of strangers… of family and friends? Then there is Elizabeth, also chosen and obedient. No angel appeared to her, yet she knew God come to earth, even as a tiny baby in Mary’s womb! And she believed. No reproach came from her, for she knew God in His fulness and trusted in His ways, though they seemed strange compared to what was culturally accepted.

I could continue my micro character study with Zacharias, who questioned God’s ability to perform His word, and learned a very valuable lesson about how able God really is! And more, with Hannah and Simeon at the temple, who knew God’s hand at work and His Person in a little child, these two people who had waited on God all their lives and trusted in His promises… these two people who were rewarded in an unimaginably beautiful way. Yes, I am convinced – if not THE reason God chose them, Mary and Joseph’s hearts for hearing, obeying, and knowing Him was certainly a key part. And what a challenge this is to us! Many more thoughts follow in my mind and heart, but time runs out…

I apologize for the lack of pictures today. I hope to remedy that with updates in the next few weeks! Merry Christmas everyone! I’ve been telling everyone I meet “Merry Christmas” and their varied reactions, many times stumbling for something to say in return, have been an interesting study, of sorts. 😉

Have a blessed and beautiful few days!

Continue to Pray

Thank you to all who have prayed for those in the path of Superstorm Sandy. Shingles and siding flew around our neighborhood, but no one was hurt and the damage was slight. We praise the Lord and are so thankful that we were only without power for about 24 hours. We didn’t lose any of our frozen food, and our damage (a corner of our roof, and the cover on our motorhome) is basically just an inconvenience and minimal cost. Dear friends of ours, however, are in an area that probably will not get power back for 7-14 days.

The photos of the beaches we were on last Friday are shocking. From what we can tell, the sand piles they built up didn’t help much.

See pictures of what remains after Sandy HERE.

We are thankful for our safety and protection, but we are close enough to feel the seriousness of the situation, and seeing places you have walked destroyed is shocking. Knowing that God is in control over all aspects of life, and works everything to the good of those who love Him, is such a blessing and strength in our life! We don’t understand His ways, but we trust Him, and we continue to pray for all those affected and ask that you pray with us.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:1-3, and 10

A Storm Called Sandy

We hear of storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and blizzards all the time – on the news, the internet, the Weather Channel. But it’s different when you’re in it’s “crosshairs.” It’s actually quite eerie.

Strange though it sounds to us, a hurricane is headed our way. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions aren’t exactly known for their hurricane activity, or for that matter, their hurricane preparedness, so it’s weird when you hear and see the things happening here right now.

We went to the beach yesterday on a planned trip, and were surprised to see this:

The landscape and feeling was eerie. Doesn’t it look desolate and other-worldy?

The sun finally started coming out, and lit up the haze and sand in the air

They were also pumping water out of two man-made lakes in communities just off the beach, and dumping it in a cut-out part of the beach that led to the ocean. They had part of the road blocked off in order to run the pipes across it. Very strange. We saw a few houses boarded up, fences being put up partway down the beach, two TV crews, and a man in a suit being interviewed on the boardwalk.

On our way home we passed our local grocery store, and there was a line to get into the parking lot. My dad couldn’t find any batteries or lamp oil at Walmart today.

Anyway, this post is mostly to ask you all to pray for us and the people of these areas. It’s personal and more immediate when you know someone who is affected by it, and most people here just aren’t used to this. We also have a lot of trees with leaves still on them, making them a wind risk, and likely to take out power lines. We’ve been doing some preparing – we’ll have to bring our rabbits in again, be ready to do without power for a day or two… or 3, or 4… or sometime within the 1-10 days the power company is quoting (we’ve never been without power here for more than a few hours), cover up an area of our old wood-clapboard house that leaked during Irene last year, bolster our freezer with bags of frozen water, and things like that. While not particularly hazardous to life or our personal property, this storm will just be different than what we’re used to (you know, Nor’easters and snow and stuff), and therefore difficult. We do of course trust God, and don’t fear anything, but we’d appreciate your prayers.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

The Long Lost Us

I did not purposely, or even accidentally disappear from the blogosphere. My computer had a problem which I’m still trying to work through and fix and all my pictures are on a hard drive that only works with PC. The issue is that the only other computer we have is a Mac. So I can’t really get to my past pictures right now. When my laptop is back online I’ll finish posting the September challenge pics, but for now, I’ll have to stick to recent history, using pictures that I’ve been putting on the Mac temporarily.

The days have been busy, and our weeks full.

In the end of September we subbed for a friend on his newspaper route, went apple picking, canned more hot pepper rings, made applesauce and apple butter and canned that, and mentored a group of young ladies from a friend’s homeschool group.

In the beginning of October, I made a Honey Apple Pie with Spelt Crust and turned an outrageously old age, we learned how to make origami flowers, went to a few used book sales, made whole wheat hamburger buns, mentored the young ladies again, had another health issue with the Smudgie bunny, and spent a week with our aunt who was visiting from Mississippi.

The four of us ladies with my Aunt – my mom’s sister

Some of those things will get their own posts, and I also hope to be posting some more thoughts from what God has been teaching me.

I hope you all are well and enjoying the beautiful fall weather!

Yes, Indeed! No laughing, please…

A few weeks ago, we received a never-before-heard-by-us automated phone call – using what Daddy said is called a “reverse-911” system, we were alerted to the fact that our neighborhood was being sprayed for mosquitoes. Between the hours of 9PM and 3AM we were to turn off our air conditioners, close the windows, and keep all our pets inside. … there was a shocked pause in our living room as this news was related. This has never happened here before! But we have had a horrible year with these new zebra-striped Asian Tiger Mosquitoes.

Great. {hear the sarcasm dripping?} So our first thought was that our three outdoor rabbits would have to be brought in overnight (done it twice – once because of extreme heat, and another time because of loose dogs attacking them), but following on it’s heels was a picture of our nice little organic-ish backyard garden covered in chemical residue. Eww. After a short consultation everyone broke off to their individual tasks. Cages were wiped down and prepared for rabbit habitation, newspaper was spread in the kitchen, rabbit food bowls were refilled, AND… tarps were pulled out of the garage. Yes indeed, we are going to protect our garden no matter how difficult they make it! 😀

The next morning, I couldn’t resist going out to take some pictures of our strange-looking yard.

from our back porch

our yard

looking into our neighbor’s yard where we also have things planted

The mosquitoes do seem a little more manageable, but we can’t decide which was the greater of two evils: nasty stripey mosquitoes, or disgusting chemical spray.