My Ministry at Home

Many times moms feel like they don’t have any time for ministry work. They’re up to their eyeballs in laundry, meal preparation, and changing diapers. I hear ya.

For the first few years of being a mother, I used to sit around and wish that I could be out, doing something important for the Lord. I wished I could do something exciting, and really serve the Lord with my life. But I was stuck at home. Day after day.

Well, I’ve learned 2 things since then: .

1 – What I am doing is ministry! Those little ones that I am caring for right now will grow up to be adults. That baby I am nursing all night long, the toddler I am constantly cleaning up after, the little boy who is always bringing in frogs and dirt. They will all grow up to be adults! And I am shaping them every second of every day!

So don’t underestimate the power of your ministry at home! It’s an intensive 24 hr/day, 18 year discipleship program!

2 – But I also realized that there is more than I can do. Some parts of mothering are very thought intensive – teaching Bible stories, singing songs, home schooling, listening to my little ones stories, etc. But then other parts of mothering are…. Well…. Pretty mindless activities. It’s during these mindless activities that I can have another huge ministry without leaving my home or my little ones.

I PRAY! I keep a list of prayer requests for family, friends, our country, missionaries, unsaved people, etc. And when I’m scrubbing the bathtub or sweeping the floor, I pray! I think if I added up all the time of mindless activities throughout the day, it would equal a few hours. And so instead of just daydreaming, I can spend that time really doing something for the Kingdom of God!

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16b

And not only will it have a big impact on those I am praying for,  but also my children see that I truly do believe that my God is powerful and mighty.

And to think that at one time I believed I didn’t have time for any ministry.  Actually, I am doing ministry all the time, in mothering and in prayer!

DIY Yogurt

Have you heard of all the great benefits of eating yogurt daily? It replenishes the good bacteria in your gut and helps your body in so many ways. Look here at all the benefits of probiotics (which are found in yogurt) according to Dr. Axe:

  • boosting immune system
  • preventing and treating urinary tract infections
  • improving digestive function
  • healing inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS
  • managing and preventing eczema in children
  • fighting food-borne illnesses

Well, since we have 7 children, it would get pretty expensive to be buying yogurt for everyone to eat, but by making it myself, it is the same cost as the milk it takes to make it. Plus, some store brands have some nasty additives to make it thicker or more tasty, but this is just plain old milk and good bacteria!

Yogurt is really SO easy to make. Really. It’s a long slow process, but your involvement in it is very minimal. And people always act amazed when they find out I make it myself – apparently it puts me in some kind of new category that creates a sense of awe.

“You make yogurt!!!??? Yourself???!!!”

This recipe is for plain yogurt, but after it’s finished, you can easily add in some berries or peaches, jam, vanilla extract, or sweetener of some type if you’re looking for a sweet yogurt. We eat it plain here, but I admit it is an acquired taste – very tangy and sour at first taste. Homemade yogurt is a thinner consistency than most store bought yogurt, but we’ve adapted fine to it. Our favorite way to eat it is to slice a banana into a bowl, add yogurt, and then top with crushed, roasted almonds. It’s almost like dessert for breakfast. Yum!

 

Anyway, here you go. (You need a 3 ½ – 4 quart slow cooker and a candy thermometer, milk and ½ cup plain yogurt with live active cultures).

  1. First, pour milk into your crock until its about ¾ full. Exact measurements don’t matter here. Put the lid on, turn to low, and set your oven timer for 2 ½ hours. Walk away.
  2. When your 2 1/2 hours has passed, remove the lid, turn off your slow cooker, and set your timer for 1 hour, 20 mins.
  3. When the time is up, use your thermometer to see what the temperature is – this is important because if it is too hot, it will kill the good bacteria in the yogurt. You want the temperature to be between 115 and 120 farenheit. If its still too hot, come back to it in 10 mins and try again.
  4. When it’s the right temperature, use a fork to skim off the “skin” that formed on the top. Then whisk in ½ – ¾  cup of plain yogurt with live active cultures (again, exact measurement is not needed). Most store bought yogurt does have live cultures, but look on the label to be sure. (The first time you make yogurt, you have to buy the starter, but after this, you can just reserve ½ cup of your batch for next time)
  5. Now put your lid back on and cover it with a big towel to rest. (keep the crock inside the slow cooker, but it should still be “off” – the slow cooker helps keep it insulated).
  6. In 24 hours, stir it up and pour into jars. (Don’t forget to save 1/2 cup of this batch for next time you make it!) And voila! Homemade yogurt!

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Why is it so hard to ask for help?

Do you have trouble asking people for help, even when you really do need it? I do. I’ve often tried to figure out why its so hard for me.

I’ve recently been struggling with some baby blues – I hesitate to call it “postpartum depression” because there is such thing as severe depression that needs medical attention and care. And that is not what I have. But I am feeling very down, depressed, irritable, negative about everything, loss of interest in most activities, just wanting to lay around all day long. I know it’s due to my postpartum hormones (postpartum thyroiditis to be exact), but that doesn’t make the feelings much easier to deal with.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine so she could be in prayer for me, and she insisted to come over one day that week to help with the children so I could rest. My first thought was, “that’s so sweet of you, but you don’t need to do that”.

Now why would I turn down help like that? She wanted to bless me by giving me a “day off” from mothering so I could rest and recharge. So why didn’t I want to accept?

I think one reason is that I don’t want to burden anyone. I don’t want to put anyone out on my account. I’m always quick to help others, and I love to help someone in need, but then when they want to help me, I have a hard time accepting it.

Well, I didn’t want to offend my friend by turning her down, so she came over last week to help. And it was such a blessing. I slept, laid around, read a book, took a long bath, and prayed a lot.

I also thought a lot about why I don’t like to get help. And I found another reason, besides not wanting to burden others.

I hate to admit my weaknesses to others. I guess that is a form of pride. And what an ugly thing it is. I don’t have a problem admitting my weakness to God, but to admit it to others? It is SO HARD.

Perhaps one of the reasons I have this thorn in my flesh right now is so that I can learn to rejoice in my weakness and not be ashamed to admit my need for help to others.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   2 Corinthians 12:9

I’m praying I will find healing. Not only healing for my postpartum hormonal issues, but also for my sinful pride.

When the task seems insurmountable

Have you had those days when you look around and you just feel like laying down and waving the white flag? The laundry room is overtaken with dirty clothes, the kitchen is a mess, dinner needs cooked, the children still haven’t completed their schoolwork for the day, and the dog just ran through the house with muddy feet on the floor that you just spent 30 minutes mopping? Yes, I’ve been there. Many times.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things.

  1. I can’t rely on my own strength. It is only through the Lord that I have any hope at all of getting everything done that I need to do. I must pray for His help, daily. Hourly. Sometimes every few minutes.
  2. I can’t add things to my to-do list without consulting the Lord and ensuring that He does indeed want me doing that particular thing. There are many good and noble things to be doing with my time, but if God has not called me to do it, then I’m adding unneeded stress to myself. (In my situation, this always comes up as volunteer service for the church! Yes, they are good things. But if God doesn’t want me doing them, then I am just going to feel overwhelmed and overloaded). Once I have my to-list pared down to only the things He wants me doing, then I need to prioritize. Yes, ideally, I get everything done, but if it doesn’t, then I need to make sure the most important things get done. For housework, that means that meals are top priority – we have to eat. But we don’t have to have mopped floors. For homeschooling it means that Bible instruction is top priority – we need His daily bread. But foreign language instruction can wait until another day.
  3. I can’t look at everything that needs to get done. It is too overwhelming. If I focus on the whole day, the whole house, or the whole mess, then I just want to throw up my hands and give up. It’s too much. I think I’ll just go curl up in my bed and cry.  BUT, if I just focus on doing the next thing, then suddenly I feel rejuvenated. If I just say, one load of laundry –  then YES, I can do that. And then I say, clean off one spot of the countertop – YES, I can do that. Cook one meal – YES, I can do that. Finish up phonics with the kindergartener – YES, I can do that.

So dear momma who feels like giving up, I know how you feel. But rest in the Lord, and put one foot in front of the other. You have to have realistic expectations – don’t look around and expect yourself to get it ALL done. Just expect yourself to do the next thing. One step at a time. And the Lord will give you the strength to do it, if it is His will that you do it.

And guess what? You might just get it all done! And if you don’t get it all done, there’s always tomorrow.

When you wake up, things will seem better. Everything seems better with the fresh light of morning.

And what do you need to do when you wake up? Pray for His strength, ask Him what He wants you to do today, and then just do the next thing.

Homemade Ketchup (grain free!)

A few weeks ago I wrote about why we’re grain free – if you missed it you can check it out here.

Since we’re grain free, that means that even many condiments are out – ketchup typically has corn syrup in it, which we can’t have. And the brands at the grocery with sugar instead of corn syrup have SO MUCH sugar that we really don’t want to give it to our children.

So, I searched and searched for homemade ketchup recipes. I tried several, and eventually came up with my own blend.

Although I’ve never worked the numbers for this recipe, I would imagine that it much cheaper than buying ketchup, so we get some cost savings in addition to eating healthier!

And it’s easy to make – you just throw everything together in a bowl and whisk until well blended. It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks – I always put a date on the top of the jar so I know when I made it. I’d say 4 weeks would be a safe expiration date. You can easily double or triple if you need to as well.

Here’s the ingredients:

  • 6 oz. tomato paste (this is the really small can at the grocery)
  • 4 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 t. allspice
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. paprika
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. maple syrup

 

Just mix it all together and it’s done!

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Wisdom for every situation

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Lately I’ve been reading Psalms and Proverbs daily. Its one of my favorite times of the day. Bible and latte – what could be better?!

I’ve heard it said that by reading Psalms, we learn how to relate to God and that by reading Proverbs, we learn how to relate to others. And I’ve also heard that Psalms are health for the soul and Proverbs are nourishment for the mind.

Sounds like I need to read them everyday. I deal with little people all day long and I need wisdom to help me deal with so many situations! I do not have this parenting thing figured out! I need daily wisdom from the Lord just to get through the day.

There are 150 Psalms, so in one month, you can read the whole book  by doing 5 per day. So, for example, if today is the 4th, you would read Psalm 4, 34, 64, 94, and 124. (and you get to practice some addition too!)

And then there are 31 Proverbs, so you can read one of those per day that corresponds to the date and read that whole book once/month as well.

It is amazing how much wisdom can be found in those two books. If you have any issue you’re dealing with, you can set out on your daily reading with that issue in mind, and pray that God will reveal answers to you. And by reading 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb, you will likely find a verse that helps shed some light on your question or issue!

And since the situations you face each month will change, you will gain understanding into your current issues every time you read these two books. I would imagine that you can read them everyday for the rest of your life and still gain new insights each time!

Proverbs 16:16- How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Multi-generational living

I am somewhat enamored with the Amish culture, and one of the things that I love so much about it is that they have tight family relationships across the generations. The grandparents often live in a little house behind the main family house and many meals are eaten together and the families do things together. The children have very close relationships with not only their parents, but also with grandparents and great-grandparents. They benefit from the wisdom and experience that the older generation can share, and the mothers and fathers have support and help in raising their children  (and no paid childcare needed for an occasional night out!). When the older generation gets older and aren’t able to care for themselves anymore, the family takes care of them  (no assisted living or nursing home needed!).  I can’t help but think that this is the way God designed families to be.

Proverbs 17:6 – Children’s children are the crown of old men….

In our personal situation, my parents live 6 hours away and hubby’s parents live 6  hours in the other direction.  And although my children adore their grandparents, their relationship is definitely not as close as it would be if they lived in our backyard.

My grandma is also 6 hours away and lives alone as a widow, riding the bus to the store (she can’t see to drive anymore), and eating TV dinners because she can’t see well enough to cook.  She often comments on how lonely she is. And although we’ve asked her to come live with us, she says she wants her independence.

She flew down to see us for the week and my children loved spending time with her. Although she can’t see well enough to read them books anymore, and can’t hear well at all, they just loved sitting with her and cuddling up, reading books to her, and coloring pictures with her. They love their “Gigi”.  And it was SO helpful having her here to hold the baby when I needed to get something done, and occupy the toddler when I was feeding the baby.

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And sadly, my grandma feels like she would be a burden if she lived with us. But she actually would be a huge help for now (and we’ve told her that!).  And we could definitely cure her loneliness issue! And she would have no more TV dinners alone, but a home-cooked meal around a big family table. And when the day comes when she would need ongoing care from us, it would teach my children important life lessons of mercy and compassion and servant hood, and Gigi would feel loved and cared for in her last days.

Psalm 68:6 – God setteth the solitary in families….

Is this not the way God wants families to live? With the older generation helping raise the younger generation, and then the younger generation caring for the older generation when the time comes?

Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and therby fulfill the law of Christ.