Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Family Table

All week, I have been thinking a lot about our mealtimes around the table. I realized that they are something that I have taken for granted. What prompted this was a visit from a friend of our daughters.

This  young lady came over to spend a few days with our family. The first couple of mornings were atypical so we didn't have a normal breakfast. The last morning she was to be with us, I wanted to make a big meal to bless her. We made french toast and scrambled some eggs. There were mandarin orange slices with yogurt. Each had their choice of a hot drink; cocoa, chai, tea or cappuccino.

We  said a blessing and were having pleasant conversation and enjoying being together. Someone made a comment about the meal and I said I planned a big meal to make our guest feel special. Then, she said something that touched my heart. She said, "All of your meals are special because you sit down together and eat. At my house we all eat in different places." I didn't know what to say. She looked so sad.

After she had gone home, I thought more and more about our mealtimes and what they mean to us. This time is sacred to us and we guard them very carefully. Listed below are a few ways that we utilize "table time" in our home.

1.) We share our experiences.

2.) Biblical principles and school topics are discussed.

3.) Sometimes we read stories or poetry. 

4.) An awareness of current events is cultivated.

5.) It's the perfect time for working on manners and communication skills! (without too much intensity :)

6.) It is a time to minister hospitality and serve others.

  There are also some absolute guidelines that we follow.

1.) Individuals are not permitted to bring personal reading materials to the table.

2.) The television is not on. (exception would be for special event: presidential inauguration..etc....)

3.) Everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

4.) Attention is given to others while they are speaking.

While focusing on these things we try to remember to ENJOY EACH OTHER. Understanding that learning these things are important, the relationships are at the heart of our homes. We want this to be a time of nurturing as well as nourishing. It is best if the atmosphere is one of warm encouragement and gentle admonitions.

Jesus and the early church spent much time breaking bread together. There was teaching and fellowship. I am sure there were discussions of many kinds while friends and family ate together.

 A scientific study done by the American Psychological Association has shown that youth who ate dinner more often with their families (5 times per week) were less likely to be depressed or involved in drug use compared with youth who dined less often (3 times per week).

The family table can be a place where relationships are strengthened. Use it as valuable teaching time and just plain, have fun! It is where memories are made. Make it a time of hospitality and serving.  May the time be filled with love, laughter and all the good things that God intended!  Above all, as always, we want it be a time that honors our Lord, Jesus.

S0 much has been lost in the sea of activities and under the banner of providing
experiences. Time passes so quickly. Teachable moments and times of building our
families can be lost forever. This is a time to treasure and guard. May we evaluate as
 we plan our schedules and make commitments. Let us keep this time sacred.

Undoubtedly, many of you have your own objectives and strengths that your families apply to this special time. I would really appreciate hearing some of the ways God has led your family to redeem these priceless moments.

May God Bless your table time richly~

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Well Watered Garden

The LORD will guide you continually,
      And satisfy your soul in drought,
      And strengthen your bones;
      You shall be like a watered garden,
      And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:11

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lovely Flowers to Make

          Swing into spring with these fun, easy-to-make, inexpensive flowers! Are you looking for a VERY easy accent for your spring party decorations? I think you will enjoy this addition to your party decor. Each one takes about 5 minutes to make.They are simple and festive yet add a touch of elegance.


                         There are a few different types of paper that can be used. Rolled Crepe paper and tissue paper come in gorgeous colors. They make beautiful flowers and they're easy to work with. You can even use facial tissue for lovely white flowers!
You'll need a pair of scissors and the paper of your choice. Pipe cleaners and green tulle are optional. First, decide what size flowers you want. Next, layer about 5 to 10 pieces of  the paper you've chosen. Then, cut the paper in squares and fold in a fan.

If you would like scalloped petals just trim the ends round.

Following  these steps, take your fan and fold it in half. If using a pipe cleaner, take as much of the end as needed to make it secure. The rest acts as the stem. If you don't have pipe cleaners on hand, floral wire will do or even a twist tie.

You then proceed by taking each layer of paper and pulling it to the middle where it is secured. Continue until every piece is pulled. There you have your
 flower It may need a little shaping.

Above is a photo of a flower that  we used for a tea party decoration. We added green tulle as leaves and then attached it to the pink tulle bow.
If you have  green tulle, you may want to add leaves. If  so, just cut a piece about twice the width of the flower. You can then tie it around the base of the flower.

It's as simple as that!

Enjoy making these as a craft or for party decorations. Be creative with mixing the colors and textures!  

Monday, March 14, 2011

With All My Heart

In this quiet place with You
I bow before Your throne
I bare the deepest part of me
To You and You alone

I keep no secrets, for there is no thought
You have not known
I bring my best and all the rest
To You and lay it down

With all my heart I want to love You, Lord
And live my life each day to love You more
All that is in me is Yours completely
I will serve You only with all my heart

You faithfully supply my needs
According to Your plan
So help me, Lord to seek Your face
Before I seek Your hand

And trust You know what's best for me
When I don't understand
Then follow in obedience
In every circumstance

Written by Babbie Mason

Friday, March 11, 2011

Family Movie Night

It is Friday night. This night is no different than most Fridays. Our family is preparing for MOVIE NIGHT! The popcorn is popping wildly in the popper and the aroma is floating all through the house. Butter is melting in a pan on the stove and a dozen apples are being washed and sliced. A variety of sliced cheeses await on the plate. 

 In the living room, the sheets are spread on the floor. There is a stack of paper plates with napkins. A variety of popcorn seasonings stand beside an array of cracker boxes with each family member having their favorites. As the final preparations are made, we either choose a movie from our collection or we find the rented movie. (This is sometimes a tricky process!) After the prayer, we watch family home- videos. We enjoy reminiscing of old times when the children were growing. It is somehow comforting to re-visit the places we have lived and the people we have known.  Re-living camping trips and vacations bring back so many wonderful memories.

 We don't have outside cable services and watching movies is a special treat for all of us. We are members of a movie rental service, however, and this has provided us with a wonderful variety of educational, fun and enriching movies that would not be available otherwise. A Man for All Seasons was a very powerful movie displaying strong convictions is spite of persecution and ridicule. Our teenagers love the old Mickey Rooney movie about the building of Boy's Town. Last week, we watched the 1938 version of Nancy Drew starring Bonita Granville. We all laughed so hard! We watched many of the scenes over and over again.

As parents, it's our responsibility to monitor and direct the viewing habits of our children. This has a very real impact on their hearts and minds. It will affect their lives and the lives of future generations.  Proverbs 4:23 says, Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life. As we parents provide wholesome movies that teach and support Biblical principles, we are reinforcing the character qualities that we want our children to emulate.  

This is a tradition our family has held for 23 years and they are rich, cherished times. We look forward to it every week. It is so many different things to all of us. It is tradition, closeness and memories made. As we watch, we laugh and cry together and are sometimes inspired or challenged. This tradition that we have enjoyed for so many years is now a part of our grandchildren's lives.

The general media is producing movies that reflect a culture that is moving away from Biblical truths. However, there are still organizations that are working very diligently to provide movies that uphold strong values. It is worth the effort it takes to locate them.  In the years to come, we look forward to enjoying this simple blessing. We will use it to enrich our family life using this scripture to measure it's content.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Monday, March 7, 2011

Touching the Elderly

Yesterday our family had the privilege of taking our music to a nursing home and sharing. We gathered our instruments and equipment and headed to St. Johns, Az. We went in and met the lovely elderly gentlemen and ladies as well as the friendly staff on duty. As we set up our equipment and spoke for a few minutes, Jeff introduced the family. We sang for about 20 minutes and laughed and joked with everyone and they seemed to enjoy themselves. Some of them were clapping while others were smiling. At the end of each song they were very gracious and applauded. The music went well and we had a good time sharing with them.

But our favorite part of these visits is always the time, after the singing is over, that we spend getting to know them and listening to their stories and advice. They are so full of valuable wisdom and have had so many experiences that we can learn from. There is so much to appreciate and admire about them as we learn about their lives. They tell us where they are from and about their spouses and families. Some of them have had very difficult lives and yet they don't complain. Visitors came in and out while we there but there are those that don't have anyone coming to see them personally.
As we sat with them, we held their hands and answered their questions. Sometimes they asked the same question over and over. But it didn't matter because we knew they couldn't remember the answers. They are very sincere, attentive and gentle. One of the ladies was sharing all about her husband and their life together and then she brought out her memory book to share with me. I was so blessed as she shared this personal part of her past with me, a total stranger. One said she wanted to pray for our family and ministry. Several asked when we were coming back. We know it's not because of the music. They felt loved and special because of the time spent with them. We held their hands and listened to their stories.

This has not always been easy for our children. When we began this ministry many years ago, it felt very awkward talking to these strangers. Sometimes they would repeat themselves or forget their own names. But they have learned to love and serve these beautiful people. It has been a wonderful opportunity for growing in the Lord and to look beyond themselves.
On the way home, we were so excited to have made the connections with our new friends. They are such treasures.

As the song goes:
Make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold.

 The blessing that we felt is more than words can express. We were very thankful that we took the time to be with them and get to know them. It TRULY is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
Jeff made the comment, " It seems like those are the kinds of places where you would find Jesus hanging around." We all agreed. And we are looking forward to the next time we are able to go visit some of the lonely and hurting.

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to me.
Matthew 25:40

God Bless

Saturday, March 5, 2011

   Today, I want to say that my heart is overflowing with gratitude towards the Lord. His faithfulness is ever present in my life and His mercies are new every morning. In the past few years years, our family has endured many deep valleys as we have walked with the Lord. And during these times, and after having passed through these valleys, I have wondered if I would ever be the same spiritually and if there would ever be a resolve to many of the situations.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
Psalm 34:15

In the years and months of crying out, I knew that the Lord was hearing me but there seemed to be little moving forward in healing or seeing His plan or purpose. As always, God will strengthen us to remain faithful as we call to Him. As I have sought His way along the way, I have been waiting for wisdom and direction in how to respond to different ones. He has brought direction through His word and confirmation from a brother in the Lord.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Colossions 3:17

There is no other measure by which to judge our words and actions but by the Word of God. As we seek to walk in His ways, Dear Ones, there will be peace in the midst of the storm as we act according to His word. And as we wait upon Him to move, we will be able to rest knowing that He is ever hearing us and leading us.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mothers Put Your Children to Bed

When I read this, it reminded me of when my
own children were little. It WAS sometimes a challenge
to put forth the effort to be with them. Sometimes I didn't stop my activites
in time and I would go in and they would be asleep; Such sweet little faces.
But I was so sad when they fell asleep without a kiss from mommy.
Especially if there were unsettled issues of the day.
 There were 6 little ones, ages 5 and under as well
 as three older children ages 9,14 and 16.
Jeff would pray with them each night and I would tuck them in.

What precious memories those are today. We
we didn't do it perfectly, and we are thankful that God is faithful.

It is He that sees our hearts and multiplies the fruits of our labor by bringing
forth the increase.


Mothers Put Your Children to Bed

There may be some mothers who feel it it to be a self-denial to leave their parlors, or firesides,
or work to put their children to bed. They think that the nurse could do it just as well; that it is of  no consequence who "hears the children's prayers." Now, setting aside the pleasure of opening the little bed and tucking the darling up, there are really important reasons why the mother should not yield this privilege to anyone. In the first place, it is the time of all times when a child is inclined to show it's confidence and affection.

All its little secrets come out with more truth and less restraints; its naughtiness
 through the day can be reproved and talked over with less excitement, and with the
tenderness and calmness necessary to make a permanent impression. If the little one
has shown a desire to do well and be obedient, it's efforts and successes can be
acknowledged and commended in a
manner that need not render it vain or self-satisfied.

We must make it a habit to talk to our children, in order to get from them an expression
 of their feelings. We cannot understand the character of these little things
being committed to our care unless we do. And if we do not know what they are,
 we shall not be able to govern them wisely,
or educate them as their different natures demand. Certainly it would be unwise to excite
young children by too much conversation with them just before putting them to bed.

Every mother who carefully studies the temperament of her children will know how to
manage therm in this respect. But of this all mothers may be assured, that the last words
at night are of great importance, even to the babies of the flock; the very tones of the voice
 they last listened to make an impression upon their sensitive organizations.

Mothers, do not
think the time and strength wasted, which you spend in reviewing the day with your
 little boy or girl; do not neglect to teach how to pray, and pray for it in simple and
 earnest language, which it can be understand. Soothe and quiet it's little heart after
experience of the day. It has had it's disappointments and trials as well as
 it's play and pleasures: it is ready to throw it's arms around your neck,
 and take it's good-night kiss.

Mother's Magazine

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

  Crafts for Fun, Industry and Education

In the past year, we decided that God would have us begin a little craft business to teach our children some valuable lessons. After doing an Uncle Eric study on economics,  God had opened our eyes to the value of being  "entrepreneurial".(Wow, that is a big word!) We felt that it would also be a wonderful teaching experience in learning to relate to people.
So we began to work on some crafts during our free time.

And here are some of the crafts we have made.

snowman soup...

gift basket..