Picnic Time!

“He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He sendeth forth His ice like morsels: who can stand before His cold?” Psalm 147:16,17.

When days are cold and seem to be in a rut, it’s a good time for a picnic. If it’s still really cold and dark where you live, just put a sheet or blanket on the floor (in front of a fireplace is nice) and have your picnic in the house. Consider not doing school book work, or less of it, and making it a “snow day.” Have your favorite picnic foods and play some games. Games like musical chairs and charades are active to get the kids moving. You could also do some table games or read stories. Maybe start some early garden seeds. You can grow things like leaf lettuce in a container that’s at least six inches deep, that is put near a window that gets a lot of light.

For the menu, we like baked beans (recipe to follow), either potato or pasta salad, a veggie tray, and maybe some cookies or other treat. Sometimes we do sandwiches and a salad. Mostly keep it pretty simple, so that you have more time to have fun together.

Baked Beans: two cups or one 1 pound bag dried navy or small white beans; soak over night, rinse, then cook the beans (may be done in a slow cooker/crock pot)

Then add: 1/2 cup maple syrup (can use molasses)

1/2-1 onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (optional)

up to 1 teaspoon Wright’s Liquid Smoke (optional)

1 teaspoon salt (especially if not using Bragg’s or Smoke flavor)

When beans are almost done, add rest of ingredients and cook until beans and onions are soft. Make sure you have enough water in the beans not to burn them.

Variation: add up to 1 cup of tomatoes.

Enjoy!

 

The Why of Jesus’ Birth

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6.

In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, do we take the time to really think about what the birth of Jesus is all about? There’s also the confusion with the fact that the day we celebrate His birth has its roots in a pagan day.  While we know that Christmas is not the true day of Christ’s birth, we need to understand why He was born at all. Why didn’t Jesus just come down from heaven and live a week or so, then be killed and rise a day or so later? Wouldn’t that have saved us?

With all the controversy over Christmas — from the view that it is totally pagan and should never be celebrated, to the view that it’s roots are insignificant and it should be fully celebrated — maybe we should change our focus to why Jesus would come as baby at all.

As I have pondered why Jesus would come to this earth and be born as a baby, I have seen an importance that we usually miss or pass over lightly. We often look at the cross as being the only thing for our salvation. The cross gives us the forgiveness we need, but His birth gives us the reason and strength to learn how to live godly lives. The why of Jesus’ birth is to give us the desire and strength to live our lives with the connection to Heaven that Jesus had, and to give us the victory over our sinful ways. To have this connection with God in our daily life, as Jesus did, will give us the strength to overcome. This should be something we do every day, so we should celebrate Jesus birth and death every day. Both are vital to our salvation in our lives day by day.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, after all the celebrations and dinners are over, let us not lose the importance of what Jesus came for, and remember His birth every day.

Momma Cat

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We had a couple of stray female cats that showed up last fall, and one ended up pregnant. This cat really liked being outside and wandering around. When she had her babies (seven of them!), she quit going outside and stayed in a box with them. She hardly left the room she was in. She took good care of her babies, giving them baths, feeding them, and making sure they were safe.

While we could take lessons about God from this, I was impressed how like this we should be as mothers. She was willing to give up her freedom and rights to take care of her babies. We need to be willing to change our ways or plans and what we do to fit the needs of our children. Too often, we get tired of changing diapers, picking up toys, washing dishes and clothes, but these only last a little while. Our first work is to raise our children; everything else should come after that.

My favorite quote on motherhood from Ellen White, from Ministry of Healing, in the chapter on “The Mother,” pgs. 377 and 378, says, “There is a God above, and the light and glory from His throne rests upon the faithful mother as she tries to educate her children to resist the influence of evil. No other work can equal hers in importance. She has not, like the artist, to paint a form of beauty upon canvas, nor, like the sculptor, to chisel it from marble. She has not, like the author, to embody a noble thought in words of power, nor like the musician, to express a beautiful sentiment in melody. It is hers, with the help of God, to develop in a human soul the likeness of the divine.”  (My emphasis)

Sabbath Preparation Thoughts

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“Order and cleanliness is the law of heaven; and in order to come into harmony with the divine arrangement, it is our duty to be neat and tidy,” AH 254 (4T, pp143).

Many people are blessed with the gift of being organized and/or being able to keep things clean. I was not one of them. I believe that the ability to organize efficiently is a gift, and some people have it and some don’t, but it is something that can be learned — remembering that the way you may clean or organize may be different from someone else.

I have struggled with statements like this because I know how far I am from it. As a young mother, I would try, but nothing helped. I read many books, but somehow, I couldn’t make their ideas work either. I got tired of not being ready for the Sabbath when it came. I started praying about it. I should have done this to start with, but did not realize the problem it was. I started trying to do more on Thursday, except it seemed that when I’d mop the floor, that’s when everybody would spill on it, so it would have to be done over. Looking at what needed to be done and what could be done in advance without getting messy again, some things — like washing Sabbath clothes and cooking lunch — have worked well for us. Now, I always cook on Thursday. I put hot dishes in the crockpot/slow cooker, and they are fine on Sabbath. You just have to plug it in and the work is done.

When my girls were young, Sabbath preparation was the school work for Fridays. We stayed home and cleaned the house. We didn’t do any school books. Their school for the day was cleaning. To help them clean their room(s) faster, I’d put on a record or tape (yes, it was that long ago), and they’d have one side or, if the room was extra messy, both sides of the record/tape, to get it cleaned. They enjoyed the music while they worked, better than a timer. (A record was about 15-20 minutes on a side). This made the job more fun. Now, you would have to figure out how to play however many songs you wanted for the time limit. I also gave them more time than it would take me to get the job done. When they were able to do the jobs on their own, I wrote out the Friday jobs and put them in a basket, and we would draw for the chores. Adding things like choosing music gave something fun as a “chore.” They would also fold and put away their own clothes from as soon as they could do it, about two to three years old. No, it didn’t look as neat as when I did it, but they were able to be responsible for their things. They learned to sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, and other chores.

For those with little ones, they need to have things to do as well. They like to “help” vacuum, sweep, and mop. Let them do what they can in their strength. You can get them small brooms or mops, but let them use the big ones as well, maybe even as you’re using it. You are teaching them that their help is important also.

My suggestions for Sabbath preparations:

  1. Recognize if you have a need.
  2. Pray about it. I have prayed about it for many years and continue to do so. I start early in the week to be ready. Even without little ones at home, I still struggled with it.
  3. Try something for a while, and if it doesn’t work for you, pray some more and try a different way.
  4. None of us has the answer for someone else, but sharing ideas of what worked for you may help someone else. If something works well for you, leave it in the comments.
  5. Be encouraged with even little steps. We all start somewhere.
  6. Organize and clean the way you want it. Don’t try to meet someone else’s standards.