Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here It Is!

Wow, I received so many responses and comments about the anxiety entry, that I had to share the link featuring Pastor Erwin Lutzer's sermon on Living With Anxiety. Click on the link and then scroll down the page to find the sermons. There are 2 of them and they are about 20 minutes each. Great stuff!

Here's the link:

I pray it will bless you!



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lifestyle Changes

The entry-before-the-last-entry made mention of lifestyle changes that I've found helpful during our roller coaster ride of transitions. Didn't want to leave you all hanging!

My "normal" night consisted of waking with the racing heart, as I wrote about in that entry. During one of my waking sessions, my radio was still playing on sleep mode. At 11:30, my Moody radio channel featured Pastor Erwin Lutzer (Moody Church) talking about anxiety (I love Erwin Lutzer!!!) As Pastor Lutzer spoke, my ears (and spirit) perked up at what he had to say.

He described how anxiety can really be a tool of the enemy of God. How it destroys people both physically and mentally. Pastor Lutzer further discussed about his counseling of those experiencing debilitating anxiety.

This counseling involved identifying the areas both physically and mentally that were the root of anxiety. Obviously, one can make changes in those regards, but then what he said next made a light bulb go on for me.

He told this individual that when the anxiety would strike, this person should speak out against it and it's author (Satan). Just as Jesus spoke out against Satan tempting Him in the desert (He used Scripture), should one go about resisting the enemies attempt to defeat us with anxiety. So, I began to speak out.

I immediately felt peace inside, though my heart was still racing. Yet something different happened, I fell right back to sleep and slept the rest of the night. This was a huge breakthrough for me! Huge! After a few months of this, I am sleeping much better, though still waking with the racing heart. It is much better, and I go back to sleep immediately. (fyi, I have learned that waking with a racing heart indicates an adrenal issue involving adrenaline).

That's one of my lifestyle changes..more later!



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Homemade GREEK Yogurt...AT LAST!

So, many of you are familiar with the homemade yogurt thing, and some of you are reading this and thinking "WHU? You can actually make yogurt at home?" Well, yes, my friend, you can, and it's very cheap.

The biggest challenge for me all of these years, when it comes to making yogurt, is the thickness. If you don't culture it long enough, it can be too thin, and if the incubation period is too long, the yogurt can become very tart. And then to add insult to injury, I discover this Greek, thick, delectable, yogurt in the store dairy section.

I immediately think "Humph. They must use some sort of pectin or starch to to thicken this stuff." My Sherlock Holmes self turns to the package nutritional and ingredient info. in order to catch these Greek yogurt makers in the act.

I read cursorily through the ingredients and see no thickeners. None. Nada. No how. This persuades me to look off in the distance with a furrowed brow and wonder how the heck they do it. How does one make such thick, wonderful ambrosia without adding additional thickening measures?

Rest would not find me until this great mystery was solved. (obsessive compulsive).

My computer must have the answer. As Google appears, my fingers move fast and type the words "thick" "Greek" "yogurt" "homemade" "recipe." Alas, the answer appears! Simply strain your yogurt to achieve the Greekness! BWAAAHHAAAAA, off to my mad scientist lab to try it out.

Many of you have made the yogurt recipe posted here at the blog, but you may want to try "this recipe using powdered milk (which I prefer now). It is very economical.

Also, some of you may want to try using the crock pot to make yogurt, which I like to do as well.
After incubating your yogurt, you must now strain it to achieve the Greekness. I use a large strainer, lined with coffee filters. It helps to dampen the filters first and then stick them in the strainer.

Now, put your strainer over a large pan or bowl in order to catch the whey (which can be used to make cultured veggies...very healthy and easy..more on those later).

Spoon or dump yogurt into strainer. Drape a muslin cloth or dish towel over the top and the let sit all night either in the fridge or on the counter. I let it sit on the kitchen counter.

You will wake up with excitement, knowing you have Greek yogurt sitting in your kitchen, just waiting for you to dive in to it.

Actually, you may find that the strained yogurt is too thick. This is what happened to moi. I had to stir some of the whey back into the yogurt to make it more yogurty.

Now add fruit, vanilla, and some sweetener (if you wish) and ENJOY!



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why They Are In School

I want to change the look of the blog, but it occurred to me that I should inform ya'll about our big changes this year.

Numero uno change, was the fact that we decided to put 4 of our children in the local Catholic schools (no, we are not Catholic). This came as a big surprise to some, especially that fact that we chose the Catholic schools.

The past 5 years have been filled with personal health challenges. All these years of being superwoman, and suddenly my body said "no more!" It was necessary for me to whittle away at the daily doings in our home, in order to maintain the must-do's, and focus on getting our days under control.

Homeschooling began to be more of a chore for me everyday, rather than a joy. It could be my age, I'm not sure, but it seemed that something clicked inside, and I decided that it was time to pass the education torch on to the school. Our kids have done well in school (some have had to work a bit harder than others), and have become more self-motivated. This has been a good change for us.

Another change, is the fact that my husband began new employment. We are happy with the job, with the exception of the long travel time necessary. It is our hope that this temporary inconvenience will remain just that: "temporary." I miss our morning coffee time, which we had to give up so my husband can be on the road early. Dislike!

Speaking of "on the road", our twins are now licensed drivers! I seriously don't know how I survived without an extra chauffeur in the house. Now we have 2 new ones! What a blessing it is to have their help. They willingly pay us almost $50 a month each to help with insurance and gas costs. Thank God they have great jobs.

Now we are all reeling from these changes, which can have a big impact on a large family. They have not come without certain difficulty, but God has been faithful to get us through, day-by-day.

I found myself becoming so stressed both from these transitions as well as lack of sleep (toddler who has a crazy schedule is learning how to have healthy sleep habits again). My nights would go like this: go to bed, have trouble sleeping, wake up with racing heart... night after night. Not fun.

A visit to the doctor revealed a healthy heart, but a stressed-out momma. "I am not superwoman" could likely have been the diagnosis. This meant a lot of soul-searching and prayer...

I'd like to share some of my lifestyle changes in the next entry..



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life Transitions's not a word that sits well with some of us. Would it not be easier if we could just have consistency every day and not have to worry about doing anything differently?

I don't think so.

Now, I used to think change was bad. Au contraire!

God is teaching me that "Change" is all for Him and His glory. Seriously. Change is HARD. But God can see us through.

All these years (12 of them), I have been homeschooling and having babies. The babies are growing up, and I am not homeschooling (with the exception of my preschooler, to whom I read and teach to write...but that's not school, that's fun!). Now, I am sitting in a coffee shop, sipping cafe au lait, and having leisure time on the laptop. This is new for me!

What's amazing is how I used to do this years ago in college, yet it seems so far in the past.

I sit here and smell the aromas of warm chai, coffee, and pastries. Nearby, two ladies are having an enchanting and upbeat conversation as their cellphones go off every now and then (they just push the silent button so as to not interrupt their lovely chat). Traffic flows by intermittently on the two-lane, old-town street outside. A ceramic lamp sits glowing nearby with its slightly crooked lampshade.

I like this change...Snnniiiifffff (big inhale)...I love the smell of chai.

Where to next, God?

Enjoy the "Change" that God has given you.

Now I shall do what I was supposed to do; make my grocery list (smile).



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tears in a Bottle = Encouragement Overflowing

"Thou tellest my wanderings; put thou my tears into thy bottle; are they not in thy book?" Psalm 56:8 (Kings James I love the poetry of the King James!).

Though God is certainly omniscient and omnipresent...etc. he may even be frustrated with trying to keep up with me lately. Between the already overwhelming daily upkeep and care of our busy household, we have football practices, driver's training, readying 4 children for school (that's another post...we are putting 4 of our children into the area Catholic, we are not Catholic), and to top it all off, the disaster which presented itself today upon my arrival home from errands.

Sorry about spewing that all out at once! Let's put this in reverse and explain the precursors to the above paragraph.

This is not quite an unusual late-summer/pre-fall for us. The anticipation of football and all that it entails keeps us very busy. However, there is a new matter, Roger working far away and not in town. This puts more responsibility on my shoulders and means I need to get people where they need to go without calling my husband and asking for his help.

Well, after 3 weeks of this, I am starting to feel it. Anger, frustration, helplessness, fatigue, ALLERGIES (ragweed season..blah), unexpected occurrences (lots of those in a big family). Well, you can only go so long with that laundry list of items before some thing's gotta give.

This morning while driving around (chauffeuring, of course), I was allowed some time to pray and ask God to give me grace while at the same time asking His forgiveness for my angry, hard heart and selfishness (self-preservation kicks in when we're busy!). I just couldn't give it up...I didn't want to! I wanted to be mad and furious (inside..ha ha...the only one who really can see that I feel this way besides God, is my husband).

After a few hours, I felt the Lord softening my heart (He really does do that!) and telling me that I need to have a good cry. Lord, I can't do that right now! I don't want to appear red and puffy-faced in public! The crying spell could wait. I arrived home and phoned my husband meaning to apologize to him for my stubborn, cold behavior of the morning. But I had to eat first, so I thought stir-fried broccoli and rice would be great. I'd get this started in no time after getting the broccoli out of the downstairs chest freezer.

Before opening our family's freezer, one needs to remove the piles of stuff off of the top, which takes a few minutes. Alas, it was clear and time to open the lid. What I found inside brought me almost to my knees and certainly into guttural tears.

A completely defrosted freezer with the remnants of the frost remaining in 4 inch pool at the bottom revealed itself to me. Much of the food was defrosted (hours of hard work preparing strawberries and blueberries..AAGGHHH). Someone had unplugged our basement chest freezer.

"Well, God", I thought, "perhaps this is a good time to have that crying spell. Thanks for providing the opportunity." (an then what followed was sobbing, crying, frustrated sighs here and may be familiar with it).

So, after mopping up all of the water (my tears mixed in with the pool in the freezer bottom), I took a deep breath and began to count my blessings (with God's grace and help). I wanted to scream and yell at my children about how frustrated I was. Wow. Talk about intense feelings.

God reminded me that most of the meat in the bottom was partially frozen and could be saved. I could refreeze the fruit and just use it for smoothies. And best of all, the freezer got cleaned out! ha ha. One of those dreaded seasonal jobs that is last on my to-do list.

It's amazing how children react to a sad momma. Mine began to feel sympathy toward me and tried to help the best they could. Phew. I know I need their help.

My dear husband phoned, and I told him the whole story (breaking down once again in tears!). He, as always, listened patiently and commiserated with me. There is no one who can make me feel better.

Dear sister calls. I tell her the story, again in tears! Geesh. I was really beginning to sound pathetic.

I am doing much better now, an hour later. You're hearing the news fresh off the presses.

What a blessing that God collects all of our tears in a bottle. When that bottle runs over, encouragement eventually comes in a flood. His encouragement.

I praise Him today!


Camy (who wonders how many of you dear readers are holding in loads of tears, thus preventing God's flood of encouragement meant for you. Let it out!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blessings From Heaven

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a need arises, yet the prospect of fulfilling that need seems either difficult or close to impossible? I would like to share with you my own experience related to that.

Our family is always busy. Certainly not a strange phenomena for a family of 10. Teenagers are going one way, adolescent children are itching to go and learning that their time has not yet arrived, preschoolers/7 year olds are busybodies and wonderful noisemakers (hankering for a philosophical conversation about simple things), and toddlers keep you on your toes and remind you of all the non-childproof areas in your home! Suffice it to say, all of this activity consumes much of my time and allows for little extra minutes. (and those minutes were happily spent with my 25 year old sister who was visiting! Great fun!)

While mulling over the week's plans, it seemed to me that Friday would come quickly, and that my energy level would likely be near its exhaustive state. Wednesday presented a dilemma. It was a birthday eve for our Sammy and a cake would need to be made. Also, it was grocery week, and in our house of 7 ravenous boys (and a hungry, growing girl), it occurred to me that dinner would be very challenging since the refrigerator contents was beginning to wane and would require great innovation to create a satisfying meal (I used to be innovative..sigh). It's always feast of famine in our house!

This is when I prayed "Lord, you know my needs for the week, and you will certainly provide." He has been so faithful in times past, and this has allowed me to take my needs to Him often. I asked Him how in the world I would find the energy to plan the needed meals for the week as well as make a cake. My prayer was interrupted by fighting boys (surprise), so my day went on as usual.

Well, God began to put His plan into action. I love how there are so many threads used to weave together a beautiful tapestry of God's goodness (to borrow an Edith Schaeffer idea). So many intricate details and people are part of the things He does for us! Let's get back to the story.

My 3 older boys went to a gathering at a friend's house nearby. A summer cookout with lots of food and boys both. My husband took 3 of our younger boys out for ice cream and a visit to grandma's house. My daugher (who was a bit under the weather), our baby and I remained at home...a quiet home without all of the guys. We had a nice evening.

Around 9:30, our older boys arrived home with two items that were specific answers to my prayer mentioned earlier. One of these items was a HUGE chocolate brownie cake (I could easily adapt this into a "shark" themed birthday cake for my little boy), and the other was a bag containing 2 ziploc bags of grilled hot dogs and buns enough to cover the dogs. These were the leftovers from the cookout. I was astonished.

God had provided a birthday cake and dinner! Not only that, my time was freed up to tackle other things that have been waiting in the wings for weeks.

So, the moral of the story is "Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you." Not only that, but "He supplies all our needs through Christ Jesus our Lord."

I love that.

Have a blessed day! I'd love to hear your "blessings provided" story as well.

Happy birthday, Samuel Oliver (5 years old today). You are my child prodigy and sweetheart. Thanks for keeping your older brothers straight.

Blessings to you, dear reader!