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Monday, December 31, 2007

ADVICE & ANSWERS: Christian Separation? Porn, Anger, Unbelief in Marriage

Wow, ladies, this is a difficult question brought to you from a woman in a very tough situation. Read her words carefully and, if you feel led, offer your wise counsel and biblical advice. She sounds desperate and needs truth, grace, and encouragement, as well as insight into how to handle these things biblically.

I am writing for desperately needed advice. I just told my husband that I am filing for a legal separation. I am a Christian and I know what the bible speaks concerning divorce, so I can't make that choice at this time. I am really in need of objective advice from others. I've been married for 4 years. During those years I've isolated myself from close relationships because I've become depressed and do not want others to see the real issues in our home. I am seeking separation because I recently heard my husband, while out with co-workers, say he was looking for someone to sleep with! He was also making many comments about the bodies of the females who were around. I heard this because I called him on his cell and he did not really turn it off when he thought he did, so I heard his conversation until I finally hung up. He has also been watching porn and hanging with friends who see nothing wrong with it. I have also found an email that he sent to a co-worker asking her to start a relationship. He also set up a myspace page listing that he was single and got lots of private emails from females sending innappropriate pictures. He constantly goes to bars with friends and comes home in the wee hours of the morning. His money habits have gotten us both into debt with extremely low credit scores. He also says he's no longer attracted to me because I've gained weight (I went from a size 10 to a 14 and I am in the process of losing the extra pounds).

And the worst thing is he, about 6 months ago, announced he no longer believes that Jesus ever existed and that most of the bible is a lie. He is also rude, curses in front of me and our 2 year-old, smokes and drinks in the basement, has an anger problem where he curses me out loudly, and he's pushed me and/or threw things at me about 5 times. We've tried counseling - no change. I've also talked to my pastor, but he has never spoken to my husband about his behavior, so I feel hopeless about getting help from my "spiritual leader." And my in-laws act afraid to confront my husband even though they know about and say they hate what's going on. I hate to break up my family, but I can no longer stay in this type of marriage. I've only stayed this long because of my love for Jesus and my son. Please help!

OK, Making Home readers, what do you have to say to this woman?

Note: New Year's Eve

Scout and I are hoping that you have a safe and sane New Year's celebration. Remember to pick a designated driver, or catch a ride if you have any doubts about getting behind the wheel. I have lots of good posts coming up in the new year, and I wouldn't want you to miss a single one of them. Happy New Year.

Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2007

Choose Rosemary for Remembrance

I like rosemary. It smells clean and refreshing to me. When I lived in California I saw it used frequently as a hedge, or as an indestructible shrub around business parks. I often used it as a base for wreaths because it dried beautifully and was easy to find.Since moving to Kentucky, I keep my rosemary bushes indoors during the winter months and move them onto the deck in May (on Derby day).

New Year 2008: What's Going to be "New" For You?

What do you plan to do differently in this upcoming year? What needs to change? These are questions I've been rolling around in my head. Here are some of my thoughts:

#1- I need to be more committed to studying the Word of God. Throughout last year, I took one book a month and studied/read it throughout the month, using study guides and other tools to get to know each book, and for the most part that was beneficial. I studied through James, 1 John, Proverbs, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Acts, Colossians, Genesis, and Matthew (yes- 2 of the books got held over a 2 month period).

But I've slacked off lately- the busy-ness of life has, too often, crowded out that most precious time. So, in January, I'm going to finish reading through Matthew, really soaking in the parables and stories of Jesus. Throughout the year, I'd like to tackle Hebrews, Isaiah, Esther, Joshua, Job, and others. If I continue going at this rate, I'll have studied my way through the Bible (not just hurriedly reading, but carefully studying) in 7 years.

#2- I need to be more diligent to verbally build up and be a helper to my amazing husband. God has given me such a special gift by giving me this wonderful man to share my life with. I need to be more aware of verbally encouraging him, verbally praising him to others, and being a helper to him-- helping him accomplish the things that are important to him.

#3- I need to spend less time online and more time with the kids. Instead of playing ridiculous amounts of Scrabble, I need to sit down on the floor and spend time on their level, listening to things that are important to them. Instead of shooing them away because "I'm reading something important" (even though sometimes, it IS), I need to stop and spend more time reading to them.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not at ALL a parent who feels like I need to be beholden to my children. I believe God gave them siblings to play with- I don't have to be their primary playmate. And I believe that they need to know that mommy is a separate person-- not just a person who is at their beck and call. It is good for them to see their parents reading books, learning, talking about politics, and having thoughtful discussions about adult things. And it is good for them, at an early age, to come to the distinct awareness that the world does not in fact revolve around them. But as with all things, there needs to be balance. And I need to spend more time with these precious little people God has given me. I love them, I treasure their little funny sayings, and crazy sense of humors, and creative ways of playing and talking about things that are going on in their lives. I don't want to miss out on enjoying the blessing of these children at these particular ages.

What are some of your goals for 2008? Or things that you want to work on?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Charmed House - Solarium and Kitchen

After I made my comments about the wonderful house and garden used in the movie "Practical Magic", friends started talking about other great houses and gardens. The series "Charmed", now off the air, had one of the most beautiful conservatories I've seen outside of Monticello, and I remember that I visited a website once that had a virtual tour of it.This link isn't the site I remember, but it

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Safe Indoor Pest Control for Your Plants

If you brought any unwelcome freeloaders in with your plants this fall, I have a great safe way to deal with them. I'm not sure where I saw this, but for years I've been afraid to spray pesticide indoors because of my pets. So, to treat any insects that may have come inside on my plants' leaves, I place a flea collar around the base of the pot. After a few days, I move the collar to any plant

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lavender for Luck

Why is lavender lucky?I have been trying to find a link to lavender and luck since reading the novel "Practical Magic". I can locate many references to luck associated with planting lavender with roses. The earlier sources for lavender as it relates to attracting good luck, or possibly repelling misfortune, are linked to its association St. John Day where it was burned in bonfires when evil

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Commercial Herb Blends

Once you've made a few of your own herb blends, it's easy to get spoiled. The strong flavors of freshly dried herbs are great in cooking, and would be reason enough to take up the hobby of herb growing, even without the other advantages. Herb Blends are a Kitchen StapleI wanted to take a moment to mention some of the blends that I do like and use. Over the years, my husband and I have purchased

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wear Your Rue With a Difference

The delicate gray-green leaves of rue (Ruta graveolens) are a distinctive addition to the garden. This herb is not as popular as it once was, but it still has its uses. 

The Many Faces of Rue
The shape of the rue leaf was used in the original design of the suit of clubs on playing cards.It has a unique curved shape and delicate appearance that's attractively petite when planted with other

Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Treat a Tummy Ache With Peppermint

What would you pick as the most quintessential flavor of Christmas. My vote goes to peppermint. I smell peppermint, and I'm six years old holding a sticky candy cane in my hand and looking at the colored lights on the tree. This was back when Christmas tree lights were enormous.After the holiday, don't toss your candy canes in the dumpster! Put them in your medicine cabinet in a tightly sealed

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Show & Tell: Have Yourself a Decadent Little Christmas

I hope you all have now begun your Christmas weekend and are spending time with family and friends... I wanted to share a few things with you to enjoy over the holiday season.
  • Can I implore you to start one morning of your holiday with these scrumptious muffins? She calls them "French Breakfast Puffs"... Doug & I agreed this morning that our name for them is going to be "Sopaipilla Muffins" (after the delicious cinnamon-sugar coated Mexican dessert). They are sinfully delicious in every possible way. If you make these, your taste buds will rise up and call you blessed.

    I'm serious. I don't think I've ever made a better breakfast. Ever. Are you on your way to your kitchen? You should be.
  • Still waiting around for my "Redesign Your Blog" how-to-do-html post? Please forgive me for not having gotten to that sooner-- my language lessons started up a couple weeks ago (I'm learning Turkish), we've been tidying up because we'll be traveling for much of the month of January, and with Christmas goings-on, well, it just hasn't happened. I'll try and revisit it next week, before we leave. In the meantime, here's a great post that can give you other tips on how to improve your blog: 15 Powerful Ways to Differentiate Your Blog From the Crowd.
  • Take this holiday season to get some sleep. Improve your health, have more energy, and help the environment by getting the right amount of sleep.
  • SECULAR THOUGHTS ON HEAVEN: Liberal LA Times columnist Joel Stein got quoted on the back of a Starbucks cup. Here's the quote:
    Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can't wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell.
    Something interesting is that this (clouds, harps, boring) is the way many Christians see Heaven, which is completely unbiblical, but gives clear reason for why so few Christians are excited about eternity with Christ.

    In response to Stein's coffee cup quote, he received five copies of Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven, from five different Christians. Because of that response, Stein called Alcorn. You might be interested to read about the outcome of that conversation. Here's Alcorn's blogpost about their conversation, and here's Stein's follow-up article about Heaven. You should read both.

    By the way, if you haven't read Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven, or you find yourself feeling similar to how Stein feels about Heaven, BUY AND READ the book. It will give you so much biblical insight, encouragement, and excitement about eternity.
Normally, I like to end these posts with something funny. Today, I have three, no- make that FOUR, funny links for you to check out. So have a few laughs...

I pray that this holiday time will be a time for gathering with those that you love to celebrate the amazing miracle of Christ come to earth. What an amazing thing it is that the God of all the world came and became human, in order that we might have eternal life. May this be a precious time for you and your family.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Is Cinnamon a Root, Bark or What?

Cinnamon sticks are made from the rolled bark of one of a variety of tropical cinnamomun trees that belong to the Laurel family.

If you are a cinnamon lover, try grinding your own. Ground cinnamon will lose its flavor pretty quickly, within a few months; but cinnamon sticks can retain good flavor for a year or more.

In order to get the best cinnamon flavor, buy sticks and grind them in a

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Hello Everyone! Well sorry to have been absent from blogging for so long, but I've had several rather unexpected experiences lately that have monopolized my time. One of the biggies is that my beloved Isuzu Rodeo died. Why was it beloved, you ask? Because it was paid for!!!! So I was forced to venture into the car market, quite unwillingly! You see for me, going to a car dealership is like going to the dentist. And the longer I can put it off the better! Anyway I am now the proud owner of a 2006 Ford Expedition which I lovingly refer to as the Beast. I know it's not eco-friendly but in my line of work as an antiques dealer and shop-owner it's a must have. The room inside this baby is unbelievable and it also has towing capacity--two factors the rodeo was lacking. So now maybe I can actually consider heading off to do a few really great shows a year, and heading over to meet my new and dear friend Theresa at Garden Antiques in Texas. If you haven't checked out her blog please do so. She is listed in my favorites and her blog is fabulous!

I'd also like to announce my first annual OUT WITH THE OLD~~IN WITH THE NEW SALE starting on Dec. 26th and running thru Jan. 10th. This is an opportunity for those of you who can stop by the shop to get some fabulous deals on seasonal and everyday accessories and select antiques. We are heading off to market in January in search of fresh new treasures for 2008 and so we are slashing prices on many items. Hope you can stop by and pick up a great deal or two!

Happy Holidays and Be Safe!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dry Your Leftover Parsley

If you have leftover parsley every year from your holiday garnishes, try drying it. This is my chance to recommend that you buy a dehydrator if you don't already have one.Dehydrate Your LeftoversI have two, and use them throughout the year. They are inexpensive, safe, easy to use, and they can help you save money and eat healthier. If you like herbs, having one is a necessity.After a few hours

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

When People "Rub You the Wrong Way"

Did ya ever meet or spend time with someone who makes you feel like THIS?!?

And did that person happen to be a professing Christian, maybe even a part of your church?

Well then, this post is for you!

I was just listening to a sermon from the pastor in the church where I "grew up" spiritually. (Not where I went to church as a kid, but where we started going when I was 15. When Doug & I moved back to that area, we returned to that church... so it's where I've grown up spiritually.) And can I just say here that I LOVE mp3s and downloadable sermons?! Sometime, I'll have to do a post about all the great online resources where you can get spiritual "meat" for FREE!!!

Anyway, back to my pastor. His sermon was all about having patience with people who get under your skin. Particularly, it was about people in the Body of Christ. Those people that go to church with you that drive you bananas every Sunday. The lady in the choir who seems so showy with her expressions and movements. The man who never manages to have a nice word to say to anyone. The lady who gabs and jabs and never talks about anything of significance. The guy who, every Sunday, shakes your hand and occupies your time in a shallow conversation for WAY too long while you could be talking to friends. The lady who looks down her nose at everyone around her and makes you feel inferior and judged. We've all met at least one person in the Body of Christ who makes us feel totally annoyed and/or frustrated.

And to hear my pastor tell it, it's good for us. Colossians 3 talks about how we really live the Christian life... what we're to "take off" (like moral impurity) and what we're to "put on" : compassion, kindness, meekness, humbleness of mind ... and then in verse 12, he mentions "patience".

There are two words for patience that show up in the New Testament:
  • The first is for patience under trials... for when you're under a heavy burden. It's a kind of patience driven by hope that God is using this trial to accomplish something, knowing that God will bring me through it on the other side with stronger faith. But this is not the word that is used here.
  • The second word, which is the one used in this passage, is for patience with people. This passage is all about interacting with other people, so that's not surprising that this would be the word used for patience in this section.
He said it this way:
"Now you see, God has designed our lives in such a way that certain qualities can only be built in our life by having irritating people to come into our life. ... So you're gonna have some irritating people in your life. Sometimes, they'll be in your family. ...Sometimes it'll be somebody you married, and you didn't know how irritating they were when you married 'em. ... So you may find that one of the irritating people with whom you need to have patience is your spouse. It may be your parents; it may be your children. But then, it may be within the body of Christ. And I really believe that's what Paul has in mind here. He's talking about relationships within the body."
Consider how many people love a church until they get to know the people in it. He quoted an old poem,

"To dwell above with those we love,
That will be glory.

But to dwell below with those we know,

Well, that's a different story."

You may not deal with this if you are not interacting deeply with people at church. But when you really dig in and actually get to know people on an authentic level, and when you are vitally plugged in to a local church body, as my pastor said,
"Praise God, YOU will be one of somebody's irritating people. Now I know all of you were thinking, 'well, if I do that, I'm going to come across some irritating people,' and that's true. But you're gonna BE someone's irritating person too."
Offenses are going to come, because:
1- I'm a sinner
2- You're a sinner
3- That is the way that God has designed for growth to come in each of our lives.

He said that the way patience manifests itself is this:
"When I'm around someone that irritates me, how do I have patience with them?"

1- "Remember that God has been patient with you." (Think of all the sinful and silly/stupid things you've done in your life, and yet God has been patient with you and not thrown you away.)
2-"There are always factors that you don't understand in other people's lives." (The person who REALLY drives you crazy "probably has things going on way back in their past that you don't know about... and there may be some factors as recent as 30 minutes ago that you don't know about.")
3- "Remember that you are not the Holy Spirit. There are only THREE seats in the Trinity, and you don't occupy any one of them." The Holy Spirit convicts people. YOUR job is to pray for people and love them... there is a time for admonishing one another with Scripture- but that should be done if you have built a relationship and if you come with a prayerful humble attitude... not with bitterness or frustration in our hearts.)
4- "Remember that God is working in their life." Remember Saul of Tarsus? He started out killing Christians- NOBODY in the church liked him. "Yet God had him as a chosen vessel" to do His work. So when somebody is just irritating the tar out of you, just think, you know, God might marvelously use them. He is at work in their life!

He ended with this... it is nearly impossible for GOOD to come out of someone telling someone else off. But there may be times when, with relationship and love intact, a scriptural admonishment (using the Word of God to share truth in love) may be in order. But, he warns us with a couple final thoughts:

"Be careful about giving someone a piece of your mind might not have that much to spare!"

- Be biblical, not emotional. -

- You're not responsible for THEIR choices. -
- You ARE responsible for YOUR choices. -

I hope this encourages and challenges you as it did me. Anything you'd like to share or add?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So, Is There Anything To Put out for the Reindeer?

I've read that reindeer eat alfalfa and love raisins. This is my way of introducing dried fruit into our talk. Dried fruit has lost some of its appeal in recent generations, which I think is a tragedy. I'm the only person I know that still likes fruitcake.Tasty Dried Fruits you Wouldn't Have ExpectedDried fruit has struggled into the 21st century, however, and I thought that I'd mention some


There isn't a lot of actual gardening going on this time of year but that doesn't mean thing are not happening in the garden. I attract birds to my gardens year round using plantings and feeders. Birds are natural predators to some insects that can be a nuisance in the garden. The essentials for attracting birds into the garden are food, water and shelter. These remain the same regardless of

Monday, December 17, 2007

Having a Daughter is Changing Me...

Ya know, you'd think I would have expected it. I've watched as over the last five years, my husband has grown in huge, gargantuan ways... becoming such a student of the Word, growing into a loving father, and continuing to amaze me as a devoted and tender husband. Having sons has given him even more motivation to be a godly, honorable man... a man worthy of imitation. But even having watched him grow, I didn't really know all of the ways that having a daughter would change me.

I'd been considering writing about this for a while, but just hadn't sat down to write... and then I came across a friend's blog post talking about the same thing. I think there are some things that just come alive in you and become much more motivating when you realize that you- YOU!- (the real you-- the one you know when no one else is around... the one who sits on the computer longer than she should... the one who takes the best cookie for herself... the one who criticizes the people around her... THAT you)... when you realize that YOU are the primary guide for this little person to know what a woman is like.

What is a woman?
The way you answer that question ("what is a woman?") will affect what changes are made in this transition. For some Christian women, it will mean intentionally striving to be more feminine... for others, it will mean growing as a woman of God- studying the Word, becoming like the Titus 2 older woman... for some, it will mean changing the way they interact with their husband or friends, and for others, it will mean other things.

But for me at least, it has changed me in multiple ways. I want to be what I will encourage her to be. As she watches me, I want her to see the possibilities of what God can do in her life. Of course, I don't have to be "perfect" (and frankly, it'd be absurd for me to try), but I don't want to settle for mediocrity and teach her that it's OK to just "get by" as a woman... to just be a minimal Christian... to just "grin and bear" domestic tasks... to feel perpetually annoyed with children... etc. Let me never be these things! Though I don't have to be perfect, I want her to see me striving for Christlikeness, striving for femininity and integrity, striving to be a suitable helper for my husband, striving to be a thoughtful and loving mother, striving to be a faithful friend to the people God puts in my life, and striving to do the things God gives me to do with a cheerful obedient heart and countenance.

I may not attain it all, but by God's grace, I hope to become a woman of noble character-- and Maranatha has been a true gift in my life by which God is refining and shaping me in a way that no other gift yet has done. If she is going to be the woman I pray God will make her to be, I must be responsive to God's leading in my life, and gracious and loving towards those in my home. As her primary example of being a woman, I feel such responsibility. It's a big task, but thankfully, He's a big God, and He takes great delight in changing us in big ways.

How have your kids changed you? Do you, too, find yourself striving to be more Christlike, and praying for more of an attitude of cheerful obedience because of the little eyes that are watching you and learning?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paprika - It's Good for a lot More Than Decorating Deviled Eggs and Garlic Bread

When I was growing up, there was only one kind of paprika available. I was taught that it was only good as a garnish, mostly on deviled eggs and potato salad, because it had little or no flavor. Apparently, much of Europe was giving paprika more attention than we were, because it has evolved into an essential element in many flavorful dishes.Behold the Bell PepperPaprika is more versatile and

All About the Hot in Hot Peppers

Easy to grow, dry, grill, and freeze, peppers are inspired food enhancers. They are aids to digestion, can have pain relieving properties, and . . .well, they're pretty, too. Become a pepper lover with this easy pepper primer.Spring is just around the corner, so check out the pepper page of your seed catalogs and have a fiesta.Peppers are Easy to GrowI've grown peppers in pots and in the ground

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holidays with Difficult People/Relatives

About this time every year, we get excited for the favorite people we're going to get to see... but then for many of us, there may come a sense of dread about having to see or deal with other people. Sometimes they're close relatives, sometimes it's a boss, sometimes it's extended family or friends... but nearly everyone ends up having to figure out how to handle difficult relationships at this time of year.

Here are some things I've found helpful in dealing with difficult people:

* Limited time. Don't feel like you have to stay to the very end of that family celebration, or until everyone leaves the office Christmas party. Plan your time, be kind, but you don't necessarily have to commit to an all-day affair during the busiest time of the year, particularly if it will leave you stressed, bitter, and exhausted. Carefully think of how to spend your time during this holiday season.

* Possible conversation topics thought of and considered ahead of time- Pick some things to talk about that won't be controversial... in some families, this means nothing but the VERY LIGHTEST political talk; in some, it will mean virtually no mention of religious things.

And also think of those things that will not be received well by others, and resolve yourself to avoid those. For example, if your Aunt Thelma has never had anything but rude responses to news about what's going on in your church, then this year, you can decide ahead of time to not even bring it up. It helps me to prepare myself to realize that I can't talk about some of the wonderful things going on in our lives (so I don't walk away bitter)... they just don't understand or care about those things- so I don't need to walk into an unbelieving relative's home and expect them to "get" all of the things that are important to us.

* Think of things in advance that they can teach you or show you how to do. "Oh mother in law, how do you grow rosemary in your pots out back?" Or, "Grandma, would you show me how you do that one quilting trick you were talking about at Jimmy's birthday party?" Or, "Mr. so-and-so (who you know is an avid reader), what interesting books have you read lately?") I find that when I think of things that they can teach me about, they feel respected, I might actually learn something, AND conversation comes more easily and generally stays polite and kind.

* Consider what boundaries you will have and how you will respond if they are crossed. For example, think ahead: "if my mother-in-law says anything negative about my pregnancy, I will walk out of the room and let my husband handle it." Or, "if _____ makes a snide comment about our convictions/religious beliefs/denomination, we will smile and say, 'I understand how you feel. (long pause) Isn't it great how good the Cowboys are doing this year?'" Etc.

Think up the things that have typically come up and bothered you (this is different in every family/situation), and think of the best way you could handle it, maintaining boundaries while maintaining peace as far as it depends on you.

* Do all that is within your power to maintain a peaceful relationship. Do all that you can possibly do to make it a pleasant day for everyone-- including those people who drive you the most batty!!! I know it's hard-- believe me, I know. But I find that I drive away from these family times or difficult interactions so much more content when I've thought and planned ahead and done all that I can do to love and show respect to the other people involved.

These are some of the things that have made difficult interactions (particularly at holiday times) more bearable and even enjoyable for us. What do you do/have you done to make it through the holidays when dealing with difficult people or relatives?

Are You Looking Forward to Your Seed Catalogs Yet?

One of my favorite New Year's activities is waiting for the mail to arrive. Why? Gardening Catalogs, of course! Free Seed CatalogsIf you aren't signed up for all of the seed catalogs you want this year, has a listing of great free catalogs you can request: Free Seed Catalogs For free herb catalogs go to my updated catalog post: Herb CatalogsI have some Amazon links to seed starter kits

Friday, December 14, 2007

Preserving Ginger

There are rewards to using ginger in your cooking and gardening. Ginger is an underrated spice. I think that might be because the prepared ginger powder available in most grocery stores is pretty flavorless. The drying process robs ginger of most of its flavor, but there is a clever way around it. If you've ever come across or purchased ginger root, it can be preserved indefinitely. This is true

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Save Your Green Onions

When I buy green onion, I always try to pick bunches with roots on the ends. If I don't use the whole bunch, I plant the extra. Even after being in the refrigerator for over a week, I can still get most of them to root, either indoors in winter or outdoors in summer.Since green onion doesn't keep well in the refrigerator, or dry well, this is my solution to the problem of waste. Try it. If

Parenting While Thinking Ahead

One of the major struggles I've seen in women who have a hard time transitioning to the "empty nest" time is the fact that they never really thought their kids would be gone. They didn't think of their kids as future adults. They didn't put parenting in terms of raising MEN and WOMEN. It was just "my baby", "my little girl", "the kids", etc.

Now, I know-- it's easy to do, to just think of them as they are... and when they are little, those times of having adult children seem SO far away. But we, as Christian parents, must be more visionary than that.

We try to be very intentional about assessing where we are in parenting. By that I mean, every so often (at least once a year), we'll evaluate... "OK, he's almost 6... so we're about 1/3rd of the way through parenting Ethan... is he on track for that? His behavior? His integrity? His heart? Are we getting through to him in the best way for his personality? Are we building resentment or bitterness in his heart in any way? How does he deal with anger? Emotions? How does he view God? How does he view marriage and children? Does he have an innate respect and love for the Word of God? Are we raising him up to be a responsible, godly man? Does HE know that that is his purpose in life?" The answers to these questions give us direction for what might need to shift or change in our parenting and training of him.

The other thing we do is this: we put our time with him in perspective.

We've been through almost 6 years with him... in six MORE years, we'll be 2/3rds through- and then we only get 6 more beyond that. That may sound like a lot. But think of trimesters in pregnancy-- at first, it all seems to go so slowly, but then suddenly, you're in the middle of the 2nd trimester, and then one day, you realize, "oh goodness-- we're at 36 weeks! We've got to set up the crib, pull down the burp cloths, get all the clothes washed and ready... we're almost out of time!" I don't want to treat parenting that way... trying to squeeze it all in to the last year or two, realizing that my time with each child is almost up.

We think futuristically, in a sense. What I mean by that is this: we project current behaviors and attitudes into the future. A lack of respect for mom now will likely translate to a lack of respect for a wife later. A haughty attitude now will often mean job loss and disappointment later in life. A sullen, disinterested countenance now may translate into depression and dissatisfaction with adult life.

We try to think of our sons as future husbands and leaders of their homes (though they are now only 5 & 3)... and we try to encourage our daughter to nourish her feminine and mothering characteristics. With each child, we have to look at what are HIS strengths and HIS weaknesses, and help him deal with those. We look at what are HER strengths and HER weaknesses, and help her grow and shape her character to deal with those things. We will be harming them if we are so short-sighted as to just think that "if I just hang on, that whining will stop in a year or two"... or "she'll be more helpful once she's a little older and out of this 'difficult phase' ". We must look BEYOND now, to see what our action or inaction will produce in them for years to come.

Here are some specific questions that help me to think about my children like this:
  • What end result are you shooting for, and is that end result biblical? (It helps to write down what you want your son or daughter to look like when they are an adult.)
  • What qualities do you need to be working on NOW in order to get to THAT goal? (We have to be intentional about encouraging worthwhile things and discouraging undesirable things.)
  • Are there things that you're doing now that will hurt his/her future? (i.e., Are you so conflict-avoidant that you don't make her take responsibility for her failures or disobedience?, Do you do all of the chores and are thus teaching your children that homelife is a free ride for them, and setting them up for marital arguments?, Do you speak against your spouse or deride marriage?) We must be careful to not set our children up for future failure as an adult. (A great book that talks about this is "Boundaries with Kids" by Cloud & Townsend.)
So, these are some ways that we try to train up our kids, remembering that one day they will in fact "go".

What do YOU do to prepare your kids for their future, and to prepare yourself for your kids' growth into adulthood? How do you keep yourself from thinking of them merely as your kids or babies, but as separate people who will one day leave their father and mother (you) and cleave to a husband or wife?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cardamom - Essential to a Great Hot Toddy

Cardamom is an unusual spice that's the essential ingredient in the absolute best hot toddy ever invented. A native to India, it's best to buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself. The spice can be a little expensive, but if you like a good toddy, or hot buttered rum to the uninitiated, it's absolutely worth it.

If you have a cold, are cold, or are feeling blue, start a fire in the fireplace

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Show & Tell: All About Variety

Sometimes I pick a "theme" for my show & tell posts... well, this one is all over the map. Pick the things you want to read about, and skip the things you don't... but these are all things that are interesting to me... hopefully some of them will catch your eye, too! ;)
  • HEAVEN: I want to go THERE! - a personal account of how reading Randy Alcorn's "Heaven" greatly increased one Christian's desire for and excitement about Heaven.
  • When controversy strikes over worship styles: CappuccinoMom writes about it in a post called Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
  • The familiarity of an idea: how we go from rejection to acceptance of new ideas as they become more familiar. She's talking about cloth toilet paper, but I think it can go for any number of things: family size, cloth diapering, homeschooling, etc.
  • Bill Cosby on parenting & education
  • An abortion counselor on how she counsels Christian women who come to her for abortions: "God knows what's in your heart."
  • Still trying to decide what Christmas gift to get for the Christian men in your life? GirlTalk compiled a list of books that Christian men would likely love to read... (I should confess: I skipped over this post, thinking it wasn't a good list, and then my loving husband forwarded me the link as a little hint, hint. So perhaps your husband would like it too.) ;)
  • Looking for quality children's books? This blog may give you some new ideas.
  • What kind of toys should we buy for boys? And for girls? Shouldn't they (at least sometimes) be different?
  • Modesty Check: A Titus 2 woman gives us a great way to check our motives and dress modestly.
  • How homeschooling instills leadership. Independent learning, creativity, and faith are all strong positives that come from the homeschool environment.
  • Big Brother at School: Don't leave your children's education to the government-- how 19th century Democrats addressed this issue of government involvement in public education- and some things we ought to think about now.
  • "I prefer someone else's kisses": how premarital sexual experience can harm one's chances for marriage, or one's happiness in marriage. Just something to think about.
  • The beauty of routine when a new baby enters the family: though this is a controversial issue, I can't say enough how thankful I am for having a basic routine with each of my babies... it makes our lives more predictable and makes everyone in the family happier when there's a general order to things. You can see more of my thoughts on this in the comments of the linked post.
  • The dreaded "Christian Table": One waiter shares his thoughts on how Christians often come across to waiters/waitresses... something to keep in mind! (Personal note: I can still remember hating to get the Sunday afternoon shift when I waited tables in college... many times, tables of six or more --obviously having come straight from church, with dress clothes and bulletins in sight-- would leave horrible tips and have terrible attitudes. Once I got 86 cents as a tip from a table of seven people... we, as Christians, need to consider that we are indeed watched, particularly on Sunday afternoons, and use that as a time to honor, rather than dishonor, the name of Christ by how we interact with those who wait on us.)
  • They ARE a handful: Kelly shares about the responsibilities and rewards of children-- and how people applaud women who work themselves to death for the good of a beloved cause or candidate or company, but pity mothers who are working heartily to raise godly children.
  • Are large families and ministry incompatible?
  • Ever asked a kid, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Elisabeth Elliot challenged me (and Amy) with some thoughts about that question.
  • Victoria doesn't keep her "Secret" very well: Where do we as Christians draw the line?
  • Some things to consider during the holiday season
Two ways to get free books... no joke, folks. FREE. BOOKS.
  • Here are some excellent books available FOR FREE online. These are electronic format books by John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Dennis Rainey, and more.
  • Library GIVEAWAY: Encyclopedia Kevinannica is giving away free books, videos, and music for Christmas. No hidden costs, no switch-a-roo... go check it out!

You all may have noticed... my guy's on the rise (that would be Huckabee!) ;). It's getting exciting to see others agreeing with what I've known for years-- that Mike Huckabee will make a phenomenal President! Here are some interesting recent news items:
  • Bill O'Reilly and Dick Morris, an astute political adviser and observer, do a run-down of the current Republican race... it's an interesting segment- and only takes 5 minutes to watch. If you want to get up to speed on what's happening in the Republican race, this is a great video to get you there.
  • Huckabee's $327,000 vs. Romney's $7 million. Huckabee is #1 in Iowa, where Romney has long been thought to have the race "wrapped up" (remember? Thompson, Giuliani, and McCain didn't even bother to do anything in Iowa for the straw poll because it was thought to be totally "Romney country".) Now Huckabee's the one to watch, and he's doing it in a fiscally restrained way--( i.e., he's the frugal candidate), which I personally like. I don't want a President who goes through money like crazy, and Romney certainly doesn't seem to know how to get "bang" for his bucks. Huckabee does.


{Editor's note: if you are a man or don't want to know about personal female hygiene, stop reading now. I mean it. Stop. Don't go blaming me if you read any further and then get embarrassed or squeamish about what you read. Are you still reading? SERIOUSLY? EVEN AFTER I WARNED YOU?!?!? Well, stop. Now. Consider yourself fully warned.}


Ladies, over the last year, I've been introduced to some new thoughts about feminine hygiene products for *that* time of the month, and I wanted to share them with you here. I'm not going to go on and on... but you can read about these things for yourself and get your own ideas.

I just want to say that many of my friends have had decreased cycle strength/bleeding, hugely decreased cramping, and less hormonal/PMS stuff because of switching from the over-the-counter disposable ladies' products to natural products. The bleach and certain chemicals in the disposable products may cause increased cycle strength and cramping, and I have too many friends that have happily "made the switch" with great physical/hormonal results to think that it's just coincidence. Here are some great links to check out:
Health-wise, financially speaking, and environmentally, I think more women ought to consider these options. Maybe you'll agree. ;)

And finally, something fun to end the "Show and Tell": MUSICOVERY- what a FUN way to blast back to your past and hear some old tunes. You can click on the decade, click on your mood, and away you go, hearing tunes you may have forgotten (for me, it was Milli Vanilli and some 80's and 90's one-hit wonders)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

POLL: How Often Do You Study the Bible?

I just put up a new poll, and I'd love for you to share your thoughts. Here's the question:
HOW OFTEN DO YOU PERSONALLY STUDY THE BIBLE? (Not in a church setting; I'm talking about personal study time actually reading/studying the Bible.)

Here are the options:
  • Every day.
  • Most days (5+ days a week)
  • About half the time (around 3 days a week)
  • Maybe one day a week
  • I use printed Bible study materials (like Beth Moore), but rarely study the actual Bible itself.
  • I rarely study the Bible (less than once a week).
  • I can't remember the last time I studied the Bible.
  • I never personally study the Bible.

Make Bath Salts

Make some refreshing bath salts to help you relax after a long day's work or shopping. Bath salts are easy and relatively inexpensive to make. Most recipes are a blend of Epsom salt and coarse sea salt. I recommend mixing them 50/50 your first time. After that you can make adjustments as you see fit. Some recipes will use either one or the other exclusively, something you might consider if price

Friday, December 7, 2007

ADVICE & ANSWERS: Homeschool Book Recommendations?

About 2 months ago, I received a request for recommendations about homeschool books from a reader. Doug was out of town for over 2 weeks, and so I saved the message with the intention to respond when things settled back down, but did not respond until last night (shame on me for a VERY tardy response). Well, the e-mail just returned to me. I occasionally get asked about this anyway, so I thought I'd start an open thread asking you for YOUR homeschool book recommendations. Specifically, Hedi was looking for recommendations about:
  1. books that give an overview of the basics of homeschooling
  2. books that would give more insight into what homeschooling is and why one would do it (for example, if a relative is wary of your decision to homeschool and you want to give them an overview of what it is, and why it's a good choice... a good book that you could put in their hands to give them more "answers")
So, for those of you readers who homeschool, want to homeschool, or have homeschooled, what say you? What books have been powerful in your journey towards homeschooling? What books have encouraged you as a homeschooling parent? What books have you recommended to others as must-reads for the homeschooler? (I'll share my recommendations in the comments as well.) Can't wait to hear from you!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Parsley of Old – My Old Anyway

Parsley was the first fresh herb I was familiar with as a child. It was present at almost every restaurant prepared meal, sitting on the plate next to a slice of lemon or carrot curl. My mother always urged me in a whisper after every meal to eat my parsley because it was nature’s breath freshener. The variety I was most familiar with was curly, but not quite as tightly curled as the parsley we

When Women Argue With the Potter

In several places in the Bible, we are reminded that God is the Potter and we are like clay in His hands. Romans 9 is one of those places-- it speaks of God's sovereignty as the Creator- and how He crafts certain "pots" (that would be us) for honorable use and some for common use.

Growing up, I struggled so much with how I was made... competitive, outspoken, opinionated, and strong-willed. In my mind, I was built more for the debate team than for home-ec. Built more to be the leader than to follow. Built more for greatness & achievement (I thought) in political office than for the quietly serving my family in the home. When I was in college, this all came to a head, and I found myself asking God, "WHY DID YOU MAKE ME THIS WAY?!?!?!?!? Why didn't you make me a man? Why do you tell me to 'keep a quiet heart', and to 'submit'?"

Essentially, I was asking precisely the same question that Paul wrote about in Romans 9:20:
...Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'
Recently, I watched a documentary about the beginnings of feminism. I was struck by Elizabeth Cady Stanton's strong hatred for the weakness of her own gender. She could never please her father, whose valued son had died in a tragic accident, because she was not a man. She had all the "strength" a man was supposed to have, and yet, she was rejected by him for possessing the same strength he had wished for in a son. This lack of acceptance by her own father drove her to extreme lengths to seek approval as a woman from the nation, because she had not received affirmation as a woman from her father.

So many of us find ourselves in this position... particularly after decades of feminist dogma being drilled into our heads. Whether we express it this way or not, there is an underlying feeling that feminism is strong, and femininity is weak. Essentially, we as a generation of young women, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, have often wished ourselves to be men. And since we can't do that, we'll at least try to be seen as the SAME as men, to be treated as the SAME as man, and to do the SAME things that men do. We don't know why we're women... we don't know how to BE women (no one taught us-- it wasn't politically correct, and half of our mothers hadn't been taught by their mothers!!!)... we don't know what a woman is supposed to be... and often, we mistake that lack of knowledge for a lack of need to be a woman.

But we forget: there is a Potter. He intentionally crafted each of us for HIS own purposes. And we don't get to pick that purpose. He gives us a choice, to some degree, of whether or not to submit to His design and purpose. And I fear that many of us, as Christian women, are bucking His design and trying to decide that He was wrong in how He made us.

We try to "Christianize" the teachings of feminism, saying to the men around us, "anything you can do, I can do better"... we just try to cloak it in spiritual-sounding language. We try to do everything we see the women of the world doing: managing a business, managing our husbands, managing our wombs, all the while aiming to never being seen as subject to or weaker than anyone else.

But if we want to ever be content in our own "skin", we need to know what we were built for. Why did the Potter make us? What are His basic purposes for women? We can look to the Bible, and we can look to biology for clear, though perhaps not politically correct, answers.

(1) TO BE A HELPER & COMPANION & WIFE TO MAN (this was the purpose of the very first woman... she was created because it was not good for man to be alone, see 1 Cor. 11:9)
(2) TO BE A MOTHER (he built it into our very bodies!)

It will do us no good to argue with the Creator. We are not the same as men. He didn't create us to be so.

Whether or not it's "p.c.", we would all do well to remember why women were created-- to be a helper and wife, to be a mother, and to ultimately glorify God in our femininity. Instead of bucking against the design of the Potter and raising our fists to the heavens, asking God for an accounting of why He made us as He did, I believe we need to instead look at our design, and develop a love and appreciation for the wisdom and sovereignty of the Potter. It is our privilege to be useful to such a wise and perfect Potter. It should be our delight to submit to His plans for our lives... even if at first they rage against the message we've received from the culture.

Let us cast off the worldly philosophies that fill our heads with all kinds of lies about who we are, and who we ought to be, as women. Instead, let's look to the Potter, and embrace HIS purposes for our lives... laying down our lives to be used by Him as submissive and honorable wives, as faithful and biblical mothers, and as encouragers and teachers of the women who come behind us on the path of faith. Rather than striving to fulfill our own flawed perceptions of why we were made, let us glorify God THROUGH His design for our lives.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Choosing" To Say "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord"

I hope I can accurately express my heart on this, and I hope that it will come through your computer screen as I intend it. What I have to say is not an easy subject to broach, and I recognize the delicacy of emotions involved.

We, as humans, have always had tragedy, from the "first couple" (no, not the Bushes-- I mean Adam and Eve) until now. One of their sons murdered their other son. All of Noah's society was washed away. Mary's perfect son was brutally killed. Countless martyrs gave their lives. Ours is not a history of faith without tragedy. Throughout the history of mankind, millions of people at a time have been slaughtered in various times, places, and for various reasons... race, religion, political disagreements, fear, and bigotry.

And in each of our personal lives, we will have tragedy strike... it's one of those things we can count on. Parents divorce, children fall into sin, and terrible things like miscarriages, affairs, and the death of those that we love can happen to any one of us. Some or all of these have affected or will affect nearly every single Christian man and woman.

I have recently heard people express how difficult songs like "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" are to sing in times of tragedy or personal grief and sorrow. And I can understand the difficulty of it, particularly if paired with an upbeat groove and a chipper, toothy-grinned singer. That would indeed be difficult to bear at a moment of personal sorrow or loss. But there is something deeper that I want to address... and that is this:

It is not in the moment of sorrow that we should decide how to respond to sorrow.

It is not in the moment of grief and tragedy that we should figure out how to work through it. We should be preparing NOW for those moments... reminding ourselves NOW that when tragedy comes, God will still be the same as He was yesterday, and the same as He will forever be. We should be preparing our heart to say, "Blessed be the name of the LORD" in those most difficult moments. Cause, frankly, it's easy to say "Blessed be the name of the LORD" when your bills are paid, and your kids are all cheerfully singing "kum-ba-ya" in a circle with their arms linked and then skipping off merrily to do their chores, and your husband or wife is lovingly looking at you with adoration, and outside, the rainbow is shining and the birds are sweetly chirping on your freshly bloomed rose bush.

It is when we have just had a miscarriage, or when we have just been given dreadful news, or when something tragic has happened that it becomes much more of a choice of the will and of our faith to say, "Blessed be the name of the LORD". Those dark times are what reveal where our faith really lies. I have to admit that personally, I really like one particular part of the song I referenced above... because I think the lyrics accurately express what has to happen in those moments of sorrow. Here's what they say:

You give and take away, You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, "Lord, blessed be Your name."

I believe it will, in those moments, be an act of our will and an act of our determined faith to say, "Blessed be Your name, LORD". At any other time, it is easy to say those words. Even when things are just steadily plugging along, it is a very simple thing for the Christian to bless the name of God. But it is in those dark moments that we must actively choose to say, "God, I will bless you, knowing that You gave and You took away."

Job did this very thing. Remember?
Now there was a day when [Job's] sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you."

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

We must choose this day how we will act on those days-- the days when we miscarry a precious baby, the days when we learn of the death of one we love, the days when we realize we are somewhere we never would have chosen to be, the days when something tragic happens. THOSE are the days when God will be honored when we choose to bless HIS name right in the middle of our sorrow and grief.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Redesign Your Blog #2: Design the Photos/Graphics

OK! So, after dreaming, you've found your potential pictures... you've picked out a background or two that you like... and you're ready to get into action with the design.

If you're already settled on the design you want to run with, GREAT! If you still have two or three general ideas, that's OK too. If this is your first time, you may really want to select one design scheme and go with that full force. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying too many options.


After looking at a variety of blogs, you've likely settled on a general "look" that's appealing to you. The first thing that people see when they come to your blog is your header. It's simple to change your header... here's the basics on how-to change your header. And here is an excellent, excellent, excellent video tutorial of how to change your header (just click on the square that says "customize your blogger header")! The more time consuming part is actually designing the thing. So, here we go...

[PLEASE NOTE: BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING, SAVE YOUR TEMPLATE HTML IN A WORD DOC! This is to protect you from yourself. And to protect me from your frustration if something goes awry. Go into your "template" tab... click on "Edit HTML", and then click the little box to the top right of the template that says "Expand HTML widgets". Now, click on the html text, hit ctrl-A to select all, then copy and paste the entire html code into a word document. Do it. Do it now. Don't come crying to me if you skip this step. This step will absolve you (and me) from any and all mistakes you may make along the way, and it allows you to toy around with your html without stress! :) Another EVEN BETTER option would be to create (through your dashboard) a second blog, on which to practice all of your html magic. That way, if you mess it up, who cares? If you nail it, then you'll know it before the whole world sees it! If you want to "live with" a look for a few days or so to make sure you like it, you CAN! And no one EVER HAS TO KNOW! (You can make it a private blog!) Just title it "YOUR BLOG NAME TRIAL" or some such thing. And then practice your html skills to your heart's content-- all without risking a thing on your real blog!]


You need to find out color codes for all the colors you want to use in your design. While it may sound difficult, it's really easy to do. Go into photoshop or corel and use the eyedropper tool to find colors that you REALLY like, that are prominent or featured in your header. Another way to browse colors is by name, using this online color thesaurus. You can just type in a color name, and it will give you various options, listing their 6-digit hex/color code to the side-- VERY handy! Remember, you are looking for colors to use for your background colors, font colors, bullets on the sidebar, link colors, etc., so browse with a purpose!

Click on various colors that you're interested in until you find the perfect one... then double click on it and a box should either pop up, or the color box in the color selector will change, and there will be a place that tells you what the color code is. It will be a six-digit code (can be numbers, letters, or both). Write down the colors you like. For example, "DARK BROWN FOR HEADER BACKGROUND: ******, BLUE FOR DATES: ******, TURQUOISE FOR LINKS: ******". Hold onto that page-- you're going to need it for what comes next.


---Perhaps you like a plain, solid colored header with simple lettering. No problem... use the color codes for the colors that you chose, and go into your template layout and click "edit html" and scroll down your template to the line that is like what I show below, and plug in the color code (e.g., I'll use #4c3920 for the lovely brown color I have behind my header) like this:

#header-wrapper {
background: #4c3920

Play around with your font color in the same way. Look at the code and find this section:

<Variable name="pageHeaderColor" description="Blog Title Color" type="color" default="#ffffee" value="#000000">

And then play around with the colors until they suit your fancy.

---Perhaps, though, you would like to have your entire header be a photo. So you need to determine the size that your header needs to be, and then create a new photoshop or corel canvas with those pixel dimensions. You're probably going to need to crop and/or resize your picture to fit the right size. Do that. And then click on the text tool to put in your blog title and any other words you want on your header. Play with the colors and fonts and size of your blog title, and then complete your image by saving it as a .jpg or .gif creation.

--- Or, perhaps you want your header to look something like mine-- a photo or graphic design with some color and text thrown into the mix. You're going to need to play around with your design in photoshop or corel. If you need tutorials on how to use those programs, you can find them online... just do a google search. Toy with the colors... move the photo graphic around, play with borders and strokes around the edges to make it look more professional, and then add your text at the end. When I was contemplating this most recent design, I did two test headers... here's the one that didn't make the cut:
For this one, I found the right size, paint-bucketed in the background blue color, copied and pasted the robin's egg nest picture (with the border that I had already added in and saved to the original) into the graphic, moved it over to the right, did a text tool for the title, did a different text box for the description below it (with a contrasting font), and finally, added the brown border around the edges. You could use the same basic steps to create your own custom header.

If you're wanting to create your own graphics, a tutorial like this may give you the information you need to get going in designing your own flowers or similar designs.

Play around with your header design until you do something you LOVE. Once you do that, save it. Eventually, even if you've started out with several design schemes, you'll find yourself leaning towards one particular design. Make your decision, and save your work in as high a resolution/quality as you can. I'll tell ya how to use it next time (or you can scroll up and watch that easy video tutorial I mentioned!).


The next thing will be changing your background "skin" or color. If you want to do a different background color, that's easy... go into the html and at the very top of the "Variable Definitions" section of your html, you'll find a line that starts with "Variable name"... and ends in "Main Background Color". You'll want to go to the next line of html and that's where you can change the colors in your background. Again, you can just play around with various colors until you are satisfied with how it looks.

I've already mentioned "squidfinger" as a GREAT place to get unique background "skins"... HERE'S a great list of background design websites that you may like to browse for more options. You can also do a google search for "free blog backgrounds" and find other options as well. You'll need to download whatever background you want to use (sometimes that will be a .zip file and you'll need to un-zip it in order to access the actual design).

Once you've found one or two background designs that you think you might like to use, open them up in your photo viewing program, and put it right beside your header... this way, you can make sure the colors "gel" and fit together nicely. Make sure you're not creating an orange and green plaidish nightmare that will horrify any blog reader that comes your way (Of course, we would never do that... but I'm just saying, ya know, just in case...). Once you have found your dream background skin, save it! In the next post, I'll tell you how to use it!


You'll want to go ahead and color-coordinate any other graphics on your website as well. For example, some people use photoshop-created graphics for their titles on each sidebar widget. (I'm not that fancy, but some people are.) As for me, the "fancy" thing I do is to use custom-designed bullets for each list item on my sidebar. To do that, I created a blank canvas that was the right size for a bullet/arrow point, and then I used the background skin design and "cut out" the bullet arrow that I wanted to use, toying with the size and length until I got what I wanted.

Think if you might want any such graphics, and go ahead and create them now.

At the end of each post I write, I have a cute little "Jess" to sign off the post. One reason I have this is because it's graphically pleasing and makes me happy. :) But a more important reason that I have it is to break up the blog page... so that it is evident when each post stops and starts. Particularly if you have a very text-rich blog (not many pictures), having an automatic signature at the bottom of each post gives a good "signal" to blog browsers to look for the next post title.

Here's how I create a blog signature graphic:
I select the canvas size that I want (mine's 100 x 70), and then paint-bucket in whatever the background for my text is going to be (which, for me is always white, because I prefer simple dark lettering on a white background). For you, though, you may have a royal blue background with white lettering. You'll want your signature to blend into the background, so use the paint bucket tool to make the background for your signature the royal blue. (If you wanted it to be a different color, you could do that, adding fancy borders and graphics and all kinds of stuff, really.) Then use the text box to create the signature "look" you're going for. I've seen some people that have very large and scrolly signatures, some that have graphics that intertwine with their name for a signature, and many (like me) who just have a basic, small signature at the end of each post. Do yours however you like (remembering to use color-coordinated colors that you chose at the onset of this post), and then save it. I'll show you how to insert it into your html so that it shows up at the end of every post in my next post in this series.

OK, I may have confused some of you more than helping you-- but I hope that for most of you, this helps give you some direction in the actual designing of your blog redesign. Now that you have the information, get to it-- go do your designing, and in a few days or so, I'll come back and give the low-down on how to get all of these fancy designs into your html code and get them up and running!

Overwhelmed? Just start small. Do a new header. All the rest can come with time... but if you really want a new look, a new header is where you'll want to start. Don't worry- I didn't do all of these things for my first blog redesign either--- I've just added a little bit at a time! You can do the same thing.

Any questions? Ask away! Just remember the basic "rules of the game":
(1) I only really know about Blogger. And even my knowledge in that is limited.
(2) I am NOT an expert. But I will help you how and if I can.

CLICK HERE to read the final post in the "Redesign Your Blog" series.

Chives at your Fingertips

Chives are a personal favorite of mine. This herb was the first that I
regularly went out in the garden to snip in the evening when I first started growing herbs. I keep a special pair of "herb" scissors in a kitchen drawer, together with a small wicker basket to help me harvest the night's herb choices. I have lots of snipping herbs now, parsley, oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, lemon balm,

Monday, December 3, 2007

Daily Family Prayer Time

Wanted to share with you guys an easy-to-remember way to spend time in prayer as a family throughout your week. This is something we've done for several years, and it gives some focus and direction to prayer times, while providing a nice variety throughout each week. Perhaps it will be helpful to some of you... each day's subject starts with the same sound as the day of the week.

MONDAY -- Missionaries
(the kids love to pray for kids and their parents in other countries!)
TUESDAY -- Teachers
(sometimes "Mommy", as I homeschool Ethan... sometimes "Daddy", if he's teaching in our house church time that Sunday, sometimes our language teachers, etc.)
WEDNESDAY -- Witness, Widows, & Wisdom
(We pick a couple of widows from our church and pray for their encouragement and strength, and then also for our own witness, and for wisdom for any decisions we're making)
THURSDAY -- Those in authority
(Prayer for anyone in authority-- our Pastor, bosses, mommy and daddy, the President, etc.)
FRIDAY -- Friends & Family
(Thanking God for them, lifting up their needs, etc.)
SATURDAY -- Sinners
(Anyone we know who needs to come to know, love, and follow Jesus)
SUNDAY -- Saints
(In the biblical, not the Catholic, sense of the word-- this is the day when we pray for other Christians... sometimes this overlaps with the other days and that's OK.)

We have enjoyed this regular guide to prayer together as a family... each person picks a topic or a person to pray for (we help the kids to form their prayers if need be), and spend just a few minutes each night before bed in prayer together as a family. I'm so thankful that Doug leads our family in this area. This is a precious time for seeing their little hearts become attuned to the things of God... taking on HIS priorities for the world, for sinners, for widows, and for friends & family.

If you don't already, I would encourage you to begin taking time together as a family to pray. It doesn't have to be long... it could be at breakfast, or at snacktime, at dinner, or just before bed... whenever it is, and however you choose to do it, I know your family will benefit from regular communication with the Almighty God.

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