Friday, August 26, 2011

"You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important!"

As a believer do you know your value?  Do you know it deep in your core?  I've said this before, but it was such revelation to me that I had real value that was not based on my looks, or anything I had done.  It was based on what Jesus did at the cross.  He gave me value.

Recently, I saw The Help.  I loved this scene with Mae-Mobely more than any other scene in the movie.  Abileen was imparting value to this little girl.  When I first saw this trailer, I loved it and started doing it with Katie.  As an adopted child, I figured that the more I impart to her the more solid a foundation she will have, if doubts of belonging ever hit her.

I tell her:"You are wanted.  You are a blessing.  You are loved."  She has gotten to the point that as soon as I start saying it, she does exactly like the little girl in the trailer.  She tells it right back to me.  She loves it!  When our 12 year old son was little I would tell him I was so proud of him when he had done something really good.  Later he would ask: "Mommy are you so proud of me?"  We all love being affirmed!

There was a season in my early walk with the Lord, that I had written out many verses about who I was in Christ.  Daily, I would read these verses.  I would recite these verses and after several weeks of reading and reciting, they were in my heart.  I knew I was loved. I knew I was wanted.  I knew I was bought with a price.  It was an amazing transition in my life.

I love the Word Of God, but without getting it in your being, it's really hard to know who you are in Christ.  I challenge  you to pour the Word Of God into your heart and mind and pour it into your children.  While you have children in  your home, this is an incredible opportunity to pour into them The Word Of God.

Take the verses that fit your child's needs and pour them in.  For example, if a child is struggling with learning.  You can tell them they are smart.  Why?  Because they have the mind of Christ!  Whatever the issue, you tailor fit it to your child or yourself.  God wants us to be full of His ammunition to withstand the darts of the enemy.

Philippians 3:11-13
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" 

We are to press on and take hold of all that Jesus has for us.  It takes continual work.  It takes continual pressing into His Word.  I pray that as you enjoy your weekend, you are filled with the knowledge of God and that you know you are loved and have value! 

Hilltop Blessings, 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This One Is For The Tough Days!

We all have tough days.  My dear friend Christy sent this to me for my tough days.  I thought this was so good, I just wanted to pass it on.  We must remember that God DOES have the whole world in HIS hands!

In a world where we can control so much, we are often abruptly reminded that there are some things we can't control.  I pray that you are encouraged by this video as much as I. Be sure to turn off my music or you will have an abundance of music going on at one time!

Hilltop Blessings,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ahhhh The Smell Of New Crayons....!

Was there a particular school supply that was your favorite?  Oh there was for me!  The joy of opening a new crisp box of crayons.  Rarely was it the pristine box of 64 with the sharpener on those were reserved for special Christmas gifts.  Normally teachers just liked the plain Jane box of 24.  That was okay because nestled in those 24 glorious waxy colors was the Red one!  

I've never had a school list for my crew, because we just did our homeschool thing.  But, I've always felt compelled to buy new crayons!  I just couldn't help myself!  This year is different.  We are going to attend a coop, and I actually  have a school supply list.  On that list are several boxes of Crayola Crayons!  I have to say that my boys do not exhibit any thrill of opening a new box of crayons.  In the early  years one cherub had the gal to rip open the box!  Imagine just ripping into that box of brand new crayons.  No Respect.  Then the same cherub pealed and broke the crayons into tiny bits (except the ones he chewed!).  I could have sat down and cried!  

One of my dreams was to take my first little one and solemnly introduce him to the joy  and honor of coloring in a color book with (of course) a brand new straight red crayon.  He looked at me, dumped them on the table.  Swiped them haphazardly across the paper and smiled and said: "All done!"  I had to have someone explain that many little boys don't color.  At least they don't color what you want them to color!  I have been vandalized by green dry erase marker and we don't want to even go there!

Well it's dawning on me that I've spent this whole blogpost on red crayons.  I meant to say that we are going to be very eclectic in our schooling this  year.  I've got four cherubs doing four different things this year.  I've not done it this way before, but hey, it's a new  year.  I've got new hopes and new energy!  (let's just pray that it holds out!)

Our curriculum include Abeka Language Arts, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Institute In Excellence in Writing, Texas History, Daily Grams, Teaching Textbooks 6 and 7, ACE Math, and Rod and Staff About Three.  I'm also going to begin going through the questions of the Catechism.  We will use that for both Bible and Handwriting.  I'm also adding some books with Progeny Press as well. 

So that's about it friends.  I pray as you start your school year,  you are filled with hope and excitement with the newness of all that is to come!

Isaiah 54:13
"All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace."

Praying this for you all!

Hilltop Blessings, 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Living With Severe Chronic Neutropenia and Overcoming Mommy Worry!

I wrote earlier in the year about our daughter Katie.  She was diagnosed with Severe Chronic Neutropenia.  We discovered it in December. ( For more about that, you can look at my January 1, 2011 post.  I gave the details about our experience there. )

I wanted to write a bit about this journey for others who are struggling with ongoing health issues.  It's scary as a mother to watch your child for every little sniffle.  Does she have a fever?  Will she develop Leukemia?  Did I hurt her when I gave her the shot tonight?  I bruised her leg...again.  We didn't have to hold her as tight tonight.  I heard her coughing.  Will she wake up in the morning?  She's sleeping too long.  She's not sleeping long enough....The list goes on.

Part of the list is normal...part of it is the attack of my uncontrolled thoughts.  As I continued to put on a happy face and live life, these thoughts assaulted my mind day and night.  Mostly night.  Often I didn't even realize I was worrying.  There had just been so many talks of Leukemia and all that goes with it.  I would see all the little ones at the Oncology office.  They were in my heart.  I was praying for many of them.  I met their mothers and felt compelled to pray for them.

By March, I had evidently crossed over the line from concern, worry to all the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  I didn't even see it coming.  One night I sat up with my heart racing, sweat pouring off my body and thinking...well this is it.  I'm going to die.  I finally went to the ER about 6:30am.

I was not having a heart attack.  I was having a panic attack.  Me.  The girl who rarely worries.  I'm fairly strong.  I believe God is a healer.  I know He loves me.  Why was I panicking?  They asked me if I had any abnormal stress in my life....uhh yeah. I guess I do.

They sent me home with Zannac.  It worked like a charm.  I knew from the beginning, that I probably shouldn't get to comfortable with this medication.  By the end of June, I had taken all ten tablets.  Then I thought...hmmm how am I going to get some more?  That's not a good thought!

I decided to mention it to our pediatrician.  She told me upfront to NEVER take another.  She said  you need to identify what's happening.  You need to address the panic attack for what it is.  It's uncomfortable.  You will not die.  You need to think on things that are good and choose to relax.

She added that she had seen perfectly good parents become complete addicts and literally have to be placed in a mental institution due to the side affects of the drug.  I did not want that.  (By the way, this is for me.  There may be instances where you may have a prescribed medication and need it.  Please take what your Dr. prescribes you unless you feel the leading of the Holy Spirit to do otherwise!  There are instances where medication is very necessary!)

Driving home I felt the Lord confirm what she told me.  I felt that I was to acknowledge what was going on in my life.  I was to speak to the symptoms for what they were.  I then began to just sing peaceful scriptural songs in my mind.  It was amazing!  It worked!

I began to not fear going to bed.  I began getting real rest.  The heart racing still comes on occasion, but I don't sit up all night worrying I'm going to die!  I have peace.  The peace that only God can give!  Truly God does give sleep to those He loves!

Katie is still considered severely neutropenic. her numbers are considered extremely low.   Clinically she stumps them.  She is doing great.  She has had very few illnesses since last winter.  God is a good and faithful God.  I continue to press on in the things of God, knowing that He holds  us in His hand.  He loves us and He has good for us!  He has good for Katie!

I pray that if you are struggling with things in  your life, that you would be comforted by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Please know that real peace comes from Him.  If I can pray for you, please let me know.  If you know anyone with this disorder, please let me know.  I would love to meet others who are struggling with this rare disorder. 

Hilltop Blessings,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed.....Update On Solar Cooking

You try again another day.  The day hasn't come yet!

I put my dinner outside at 2:15.  I figured that it would cook much like a crock pot.  My timing was way off.  I think it would have done fine if I had put it out there about 10:30.  My brain is having trouble adjusting to the thought that it's okay to put your dinner outside on a hot sunny day!

The temp was 104, so I know that it got hot enough, BUT, raw chicken....  All those years of cooking with my mother, just bothered me.  When I went outside to check it at 5:15, everything was VERY hot, but not ready.  I brought it in and cooked it in the oven for about 40 minutes and it was just as tasty as I had imagined!

Lessons Learned: This is a slow bake kind of meal.  You have to give it plenty of time!  I need to put a thermometer inside so I can see what the temperature.  I really need a piece of Plexiglas for the top.

We are going to try this again, but with something a little more simple.  I think we will try a cake or brownies.  Once I get the bugs out of this system, I think it will be very useful!  We have many more days of this infernal heat left, so I might as well make them a little sweeter!

Hilltop Blessings!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If You Can't Take The Heat...Get Out Of The Kitchen!

Making A Solar Oven!

So we did!  We are going on 39 days of over 100 degree temps here in the DFW metroplex.  Yes it's hot....unbelievably hot.  So hot that we have been facing the threat of brown outs because there has been such a pull on the power grids here.  I do NOT want to face this heat without AC so, I have turned up my thermostat and tried to keep things cool by closing blinds and such.  

One of the chief ways that I can keep the house cool is to not heat up the kitchen.  I have wanted to create a solar oven for a long time.  I decided today was the day.  I got on youtube and started looking for ideas.  There are a ton!  I found one that took old tires, wood and foil to make.  I have all those things and it wasn't labor intensive.  I don't think it will be featured on any of the cute home decorating blogs that I salivate over on a regular basis, but none the less, it's an oven!  It's free except for the shower curtain I bought.  I decided to use new on that one!    

 So here we are.  I used two tires.  The bottom tire has boards that become your cooking surface.  Then I stacked the next tire on top.  Pretty simple.   We stuffed newspaper inside the hollowed out part of the tire. 

 The children covered the tire in sheets of tin foil.  Unfortunately, I had to use those little sheets that come out like Kleenex.  (I saw them an Sams and thought they would be convenient...not so, but we have a blue jillion of them, so it's what we  use!)  

The boys worked on molding them into shape.  All the way around the inside and outside.  This forms the reflective layer.  By the way, this is when  you want the shiny part of the foil facing out.  

 We had to tape it down to keep it from blowing off.  If I had silver tape, that may have been better.  I just used the blue painters tape and it seems to hold good enough.

 Here is my chicken breasts, thighs, sweet potatoes, white potatoes and baby carrots.  I drizzled olive oil and sprinkled it with Canadian seasoning.  I put sliced onions on the bottom of the pan to keep the chicken from sticking. 

 We put the lid on and then began wrapping the whole thing in a clear shower curtain.  The youtube video showed using a large sheet of clear Plexiglas and another showed using just plain glass.  I was fresh out of Plexiglas and plain glass seemed dangerous....

 We had to wrap the whole thing around the tires and pull it tight with tape.  Yes it would have been a good idea to cut the shower curtain into a smaller piece.  That just too easy! Hey we found the tape, I'm not sure we could find the scissors and I didn't want to rant! 

 There she is all put together.  Aside from the blistering heat while putting it together, it wasn't difficult and we did it with very little fussing!  (You know the too many hands in the kitchen thing....)

There she sits.  I pray it's cooking!  My husband is a little concerned about fire.  I told my friend that if she calls in the morning and there is no answer, she might want to send for some  help!  This is new, but I love learning new and different things, so hopefully we won't be having eggs for dinner!

Hilltop Blessings!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Homeschooling With Toddlers And Others!

Short of tying them up or wrapping them mummy style...What do you do with young ones while attempting to educate the older ones?

I have had the joy of homeschooling our boys for now almost eight years.  The time has gone by in a blur and that is partially due to the fact that there were little speedy cherubs flying by me in that blur, while I dutifully taught another how to hold a pencil, read, write and cipher!  When I began teaching Ben his second semester of kindergarten, Daniel was four and Jonathan almost two.   Needless to say there was some juggling that took place.  I managed somehow, but since Katie has come along, I have been much more challenged with many ages and stages. 

I have found out the hard way that unattended toddlers can cause messes, and breakage!  Therefore, wherever I am, there she is also!  I keep a short leash on the busybodies and everything is much more peaceful!  Katie loves being with me and is always a "help" in the kitchen.  I have discovered that the dirtier and the more cooked on food, the better she likes her scrubbing!  By the way friends, it takes longer and that means more time for me to get something done!  

 She is happy to be right there under my armpits baking and licking the spoon!  It makes so much sense to have her helping me, so that she is not terrorizing boys that are attempting to do an assignment!  This is nice, because they get their work done, I get something done and she is occupied!

 I often assign her a place to stay on days that she can't settle down.  Sometimes the smaller the better!  This particular day she was thrilled to sit in the basket with an egg carton, oatmeal and measuring spoons and cups.  I usually will tell her what "work" she must do for her school.  She is so proud to show me her completed task!

 Again the kitchen is her favorite spot.  I know where she is and she is content to be doing productive work.  It's excellent  for a little mommy in training to learn these kitchen tasks. 

 Again, while in the kitchen, she brings in a book and tells me stories while I work.  I love it and she feels like she is really doing her schoolwork!

 When I am actually involved in teaching the boys, Katie has an area in our school room that is her assigned spot.  She has many "busy buckets" that she plays with only during school time.  Some buckets are play dough, others are lacing and bead stringing while others might be making patterns with pegs.  If it is a day that again she can't stay put, I move her to a high chair and choose the bucket for her to play.  Since she is getting older, she is free to build and play in her area with the toys that are already there.  Many days however, she needs direction prior to me starting with the boys. 

Boys that aren't needing my immediate instruction, are free to play quietly in our schoolroom as well.  It just helps to keep everyone together, so that I stay on task.  Sometimes if everyone goes their different directions "quietly" then I loose my momentum and forget to keep us going down our daily checklist of school work. 

It is a challenge to school multi-ages, but I have found staying together, the older ones entertaining the younger ones and small activities for the littles helps more than anything!  If all else fails, put the little one to bed and do school during naptime!  There are those days! 

Hilltop Blessings,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Morning Life Verses

This summer the leadership of our church Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie Texas has been having people share their life verses.  Each week, I have come home saying "I love that verse!"  Every time, I hear whatever the verse is shared, I think, how amazing God is to reveal Himself to His children.

This morning, a precious lady shared hers from Isaiah 43:18-19.  It starts: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past...."  We could all just stop right there and grow tremendously in God if that was all we did today!  But for me it was in a few of the earlier verses that really ring true to me.  They are my life verses!

Is: 43:4
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.

For a gal that never really knew she was precious, it was the most freeing thing I had ever read!  It wasn't based on how I looked, or what I did or anything....He the living God, the Creator of the Universe loved me.  Loved me with all my many incredibly dismal habits and traits.  He even considered me worth dying for.  I didn't have to do anything to get His favor.  I had already found it at the cross of His precious Son.  That love saved my life.  Made my fake joy real.  That my friends, is worth it all right there.  For the first time in my life, I could be real and happy at the same time.

But we don't get to sit in the former things.  I don't get to sit on the Father's lap a content and joyful child of God.  Nope, I get to get off and grow and lay hold of the destiny that He has for me.  That means work!!!!  Work and letting His word change me and my stinky heart!  It means the unexpected bumps in the road, get made straight by Him.  It means, I get to trust Him and He will not lie or change His mind.  Things will be okay and I don't have to fear the future!

Romans 5:1-11

The Message (MSG)
1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
 6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
 9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Once you read that, it kind of makes all the hard places okay.  It makes them worth being thankful and full of peace, because He is always with us, always a step ahead making our paths straight!  Blessings to you friends have a wonderful day in the Lord. He is good and He loves you.  Just in case no one ever told you: you are precious in His sight and He loves you!

Hilltop Blessings,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Could We Have A Little Fun Here?

Proverbs 17:22

New International Version (NIV)
 22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
   but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Looking back over my 2011 blog posts has made me realize something is MISSING!  Fun, Laughter, Joy.  It's been a tough year, but sheesh, it's time for some fun!

If  I could, I would try to make my life look just absolutely amazing.  Or if not amazing, well then maybe at least put together and if not put together, well then maybe whimsical.  But my life is  a lot of real living and loving.  Here on the hilltop, I'm trying to get organized for school that's fast approaching. 

The only way I know how to get organized is to go through things and put them in piles.  That I can's the rest.  It's the figuring out what to get rid of and HOW to put everything back.  My dear husband is a bit afraid when I start one of these projects.  He is happy that I've started....but fearful to ask if I plan on finishing!  Things might fly if he doesn't ask in just the right way and the earth is tilted properly.  (know what I mean?)  However, he is very willing to help...but then, I don't know how to have him help me, after all I've got these piles.  Surely, I can do this!

Since I posted yesterday, about letting the Holy Spirit speak to others instead of me speaking to them, I decided I should apply this to him too.  It's so refreshing to not have to totally blow up when he asks me if I plan on finishing something today!  In fact I've almost finished TWO somethings today. 

Actually it was fun.  It was fun to get some things accomplished.  It was fun to see that a day that started a little shaky, turned into a day well spent.  It was a busy day, that wasn't too busy for some popcorn, pizza and a movie.  The enemy is always trying to get us sidetracked on the yuck of our lives, but God is bigger and shows us how much He loves us and how faithful He is!  We had fun.

This year so far has not been all fun.  But joy has come in and healed a worried, fearful heart.  I can smile at the day.  I don't lay my head down every night and instantly have a panic attack. (not fun!) God's word has come alive and showed me that when all else is seemingly falling apart, His word isn't!  There's joy in that.  That brings a real smile! 

I think living in this world brings all kinds of circumstances and serves them up real big on our plates. Most of them are like eating your peas.  Not so good, but you can bear it.  Others are like liver.  Not many want to eat liver.  But sometimes you just have to endure that too.  We've had some liver this year, but it wasn't as bad as my mind was telling me it was going to be! 

I pray that whatever is on your plate these days, you would see your Heavenly Father helping; you through.  He is good and He brings good things to His children.

Hilltop Blessings,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jesus Made Me Free!

1 Peter 4:7-9

New International Version (NIV)
 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

I've had the most incredible experience in God!  Didn't know it was coming, but boy am I glad!  I was in bondage to something and had no idea!  I'm not sure where it's leading me, but since the Holy Spirit instigated it, I guess it's okay for me not to be in charge!

Over the past year, there have been some issues that the Lord allowed in my life.  Issues that don't make or break the Kingdom of Heaven, but issues none the less.  I was challenged on my mode of dress, challenged on my mode of worship, challenged on my version of the Bible.  These weren't bad challenges, just challenges none the less.  At times, I was a bit prideful in my responses to my inner circle and they even rallied with me.  But in me, I knew there was more to be gleaned.  I knew that the Lord had allowed this for more than mere self justification.  There was more.....

There have always been questions in my thinking, they do _____________, but I don't!  Does that make me better?  More spiritual?  (often I thought so.....)

Then lightening struck!  My friend and I were discussing this and she said: "You know we don't have any conviction about doing certain things at all.  We feel free to do them.  Perhaps people who do _____________  don't have any convictions there either!"

Wow!  That would mean that the same Holy Spirit that convicts me and frees me, does the same for others!  I know these "others" and I know they love the Lord Jesus!  I know they are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Therefore, this frees me to love and walk with them, trusting our Father will speak on the issues that He deems important for them.  He will take care of His children without any help or preaching from me!  Wow!  That means I'm free to hear from Him about my stuff and just love everyone else in the meantime!

That frees me from judging others, it frees me from pride (my way is better), it frees me to completely love.  In the days and times we are in, I think we all need a little more love!  God is so good.  I'm so thankful.  This also frees me to see the entire Body of Christ as a unit rather than opposing entities!

It does seem that this revelation is going to seep into every area of my life.  Some not so  comfortable, but I bet that's more of the Holy Spirits doing!  God is so good, to mold us and shape us into His image.  I'm glad, He loves us enough to not give up!

I chose this picture of the butterflies morphing, because it shows me that we all are experiencing  different stages of growth.  Those of us that are children of God will, come to that place of worshiping at the Throne of Grace.  We will all be there, we just get there at different times!  We won't be looking around to see who is looking at how spiritual we are or how much we suffer or anything other than worshiping the One who is worthy of our all in all!

Keep on loving friends, we all need it!

Hilltop Blessings,