Friday, July 31, 2009

Some days I really miss my friends, my church family and my own home!

Don't misunderstand. We chose to be away from our home during this time. We chose to come to Michigan to enjoy a wonderfully cool summer and a great time with family. But....

Well, it is hard not having my friends 10-20 minutes away to get together, to go shopping, to have dinner together, to just be together. It is hard walking into a church that feels so much like our church it is crazy and not knowing anyone. I mean I am starting to recognize faces, I have a new friend or two, but really I do not know anyone else. It is hard.

So while I start to slide into wallowing mode, God snaps me back and says "Wait a minute." He reminds me that while we chose to come her here chose this for us too. He chose this opportunity to happen when it did and he chose to open options to us. He helped us find a church we are really being fed through, and he has provided a few great new friends.

But that is not all. He is reminding me that with all this time that I do not have to spend with my friends I get to really evaluate me. I get to sit back and really see what I have been doing, where I have been steering my life, and what the results of those decisions are. He has allowed me this quiet time away from the active life we have back in Texas to slow down. I am not on the phone hardly at all. I am not jumping into a number of different projects in my home, or outside for the matter. I get to sit back and really think.

What a new idea. I mean really, how much time do we spend each day without the radio, tv, book in our hand, or friend to talk to - to just really think. Or even, better yet, to listen. To listen how God is speaking to our hearts? I can tell you, before this summer happened I did not have much time for that. I mean, I listened to God speak to me through the radio (James Dobson, David Jeremiah, Nancy Leigh Demoss) and through some great books too (to include my Bible) but I rarely if ever sat down and just listened. I have been listening a lot lately.

So while I am missing my life back in Texas I am realize that God is really working in my life right here and right now through everything I am going through and he is continuing to grow me, to grow my faith in him to provide ALL I need, and my peace in who I am and not who I think I need to be because of......(fill in the blank). So this is such a bittersweet time of missing what I have in Texas and treasuring it for its comfort and joy, and receiving the gift of a slower time up here in Michigan and a time of personal growth in Him.

So that is the heavy stuff on my heart. On the other hand, I am getting sewing crazy. I mean, I could jump from sewing blog to sewing blog all day long. I could shop for fabric until me feet hurt and I was starving from lack of food. I could lock myself up in a well outfitted sewing room and live there the rest of my life.... well wait a minute. That may not be entirely true. But I am about as crazy about sewing these days and I am thrilled with homeschooling (you don't want me to get started on all the great stuff we are learning.....).

I would love to just sew sew sew. Oh well. Back to reality, I have other responsibilities, and many other things I enjoy, but there is some great sewing ideas out there! Like this and this or even this! To name a few!

Here are a few things I have been working on while up here in the cool climates of Michigan....

Some modest shorts for our darling little girl...

A few Tag Along Totes...
A couple notebook covers

Enjoy and have a blessed day!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another Give-Away

Announcing: Bitty Bits & Pieces' newest project for Moda Bake Shop.It's a quick & easy gift bag.

Good Luck! And again enjoy one of my favorite craft inspiration sites!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alert: Give-Away!!

Okay, I know I already have a long post for today - but I wanted to share this great deal!!!
Click the pic below to check it out!!
Note: This is one of my favorite Craft Blog idea blogs, and her recipe for sweet tea is amazing too!! Hope you enjoy checking out her site!

Wacky Wednesday...

That is what I feel like! Just being crazy, no theme on this post but a lot of what is in my mind right now...
First, oh my goodness if you craft with your kids at all check out THIS and look at her July 26th, 27th, and 28th - just love it! I am about to figure out how to start this project like yesterday.... can't wait!!

Next, I am reading a wonderful book that I just have to share. A dear friend told me about it and it is speaking to my heart like few books have.... just wonderful! It is Gift From the Sea by Anna Morrow Lindbergh. Is the fact that I have spent more time near the sea this year than I usually do the only reason I love it? No. I love it because Anne is amazing and she speaks to my soul!
On with my wacky - random stream of thoughts....

Here is progress on the deck Robert and his dad are building....

Here are some pics of butter making, jelly and fun times!

Blueberries cooking to make the jam....

Here is the finished Blueberry jam

Here are the peppers cooking down for Hot Pepper Jelly (many came from The Cole garden here at my in-laws)
Here is thejelly in the hot water bath....

Here is the princess shaking her milk to make butter...

Here are the boys shaking their milk...

And our butter....the kids loved it! Okay, so I went to an Estate Sale this week on the way to the post office. Just saw the sign and thought I should take a peak. I have never felt so sad while shopping. It was obvious the woman who lived in this little 3 bedroom house had passed away. Her son and daughter (or something like that) were selling all of her possessions. Her collections of spoons, designer plates, and just about everything else. I was so sad to walk through her house like a friend would, gazing at her valued possession, but yet a stranger. I felt sad that she was not there anymore to enjoy her things. Her house was also for sale. They were not keeping much as a memory of this woman in their lives. I know, I do not know the story behind it all. But man, it made me think.

Like, what will happen when I go. Will my children just open my house and let strangers come in to my privacy and haggle over items with the winner getting my treasured collections? But more importantly, does it matter? I mean, we shine those spoons, look at them and remember where we bought them, who we were with, and smile. But God's word tells us that the only treasure we should spend our time on is treasures in Heaven

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20

And then

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

So while I think it is okay to acquire nice things, we should hold them loosely and know that they will not be with us forever, that we cannot take them with us. That when we are gone their value drops a great deal because most do not value those treasures like we did.

So it was sobering to walk through this home. To see these posses ions being sold to the highest bidder, or really the only one bidding. It was sad, but it was reality. It is what happens and maybe God allowed me to walk through that house and feel those emotions to remind me stuff is stuff, it is not of near the value we place on it. Instead spend my time and energy on things that will not rust away, on the lives of my children, on my husband and our family, on my friends, and on those who do not know our great and loving Savior.

As Nicole Noredman sings...

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such
Will soon enough destroy.

I want to leave a legacy

Well, there is a random stream of consciousness for one day. The sun is shining in our world, the job market seems to st ll be active, the housing market is getting more active. We are looking forward to seeing how God is going to bless us - as he has so much already!

Blessings to you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthday Pool Party

Here are the kids enjoying a party this past weekend at a friend's house. The love swimming in our friend's pool and were thrilled to celebrate Rowan's birthday that way!

Will and Rowan (The birthday boy)
After the relay - high five!
Will and our oldest boy....

Little girl and our sweet boy with their party hats!
A cold little girl!
Sweet boy, in a relay pushing a sub with his face...

Blowing out candles

Birthday boy in the race

Three happy party boys

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Irons in the Fire

That was how Robert's aunt described us currently. Especially on the job front, an iron in Chicago today with GE, an iron this week in PA with Keystone Automotive, another one still in Arlington with Mooring, we took one out of the fire with Amazon in KY this week. And there are a few others in the fire, or at least really close to the fire. That is all very encouraging. We feel forward progress happening. That is all good.
The house is the same way, lots of great showings, a few interested, just more waiting.

But so many times I have gotten my hopes up over a single job, the one that seems perfect, or someone who sounds like a soon-to-be home buyer. And then my hopes are dashed when the employer cancels an interview (or simply does not answer the phone). Or when the home buyer indicates they found another home. It is disappointing. It is frustrating, and then I am reminded that God really does have a big picture here that he is knitting together every day in our lives. That the little disappointments will pale when we see the end picture and see what He was saving for us. Does that make sense? I think when we are past all this, we will look back and be so glad that "that" job fell through, or grateful for the actual buyer of our home and see how God orchestrated it all.

Then, as I peruse the blog world and I check on Sweet Stellan, and I once again reminded that this time on earth is fleeting, we cannot take any of it with us. We will leave this world as we came in. We cannot take the money, the things, nothing goes with us. And everything we value in this world fades away in an instant. The only thing that will matter is how did we live a life to Glorify God, what did we do with the talents he gave us, and how did we love others more than ourselves.

So as MckMama is in a hospital room today watching her precious little boy suffer immeasurably with a racing heart and slipping vitals, I hurt for her. This little boy, who is a miracle in and of himself, means so much to his dear momma whose heart is shattering. And yet, the God that gives us every miracle we have ever received, he is the God that can take away without explanation.
Don't get me wrong, I do not think God does bad things, rather he allows things to happen in our lives to do his purpose. Why Stellan is suffering is something only God knows and we will not know until we can be with him. But I do know that God has Stellan in the palm of his hand, and that he feels every ounce of pain MckMana is feeling and is holding each of her tears in his hands as well. He loves that little boy, he loves his Mama who is an amazing woman who is living out her Christianity daily. So why does bad stuff happen to good people? To make those "good" people more Christ-like. To show them that they are but dust of the Earth, but through God they can do amazing things. To draw them even closer to himself and into a more intimate relationship with him. Does it make the pain hurt less? No, but it does provide comfort during those times of pain.

God is good all the time. I really mean that. God is good whether Stellan survives this or not. God is good when prayers are not answered, and when they are. God is good. It is that simple. God is good when you are broke, when you are not. When you have lots and when you have little. God is good. It does not depend on anything. It is a choice, do I cling to the truth that God is good in all circumstances, or do I only believe that when life is good?

I have chosen to believe that God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good! And I will continue to pray that Stellan has a full healing and lives a very long life, that Robert will get a job soon (and one that he loves) and that God will sell our house. Big and little things. In all of them I trust : God is good.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

Thought for today : "Take Courage! It is I. Don't be afraid!"

That was where I ended my quiet time of reading this morning. In Matthew 14:27. And I really spent some time thinking about that verse.

About 2 weeks ago our pastor spoke on this passage - about Peter walking on the water and falling in, and Jesus grabbing him. It was a great sermon, and so applicable in so many areas of our lives.

Today though, I felt God say to me - in my circumstances, in my weakness, in my lack of faith -
TAKE COURAGE!! It is I [that is working the job situation, that gave you that house and who will sell it, who will direct you where I want you to go]. Don't be afraid!"

WOW! I wish as we went through life and when we hit a stumbling place, you would hear over the loud speaker "Hey, Janelle, Take courage! Don't fear about what you are fearing! It is I orchestrating the details! Don't be afraid because I will be with you through all of it!!"

Wouldn't that make things so much easier? When you want to cry because you are not sure how much longer you can be patient and wait for his guidance. When you want to put your child on ebay because you cannot sleep or because they are pushing your buttons and you want to push theirs! Or when you just want to say "I give up." It would be great, and man would it increase my faith and my strength if he would just remind me in my moments of weakness.

But last night at Bible study we re-read a line from the book we are reading. The writer wrote that God does not make things easier for us when we follow him, instead he gives us a chance to use the weapons he gives us! Powerful! I mean - how good are we are using weapons when we only practice or use them in theory? How good can we get? We have to really use those weapons to see how effectively we learned how to use them. We need to be in God's word when times are tough and really call on his promises when we are weak, not just when things are good.

It makes me think about church on Sunday. It is easy (relatively) to get up and get pretty to sit in the pew and listen to the sermon about how we should live. But the rubber meets the road on Monday or Wednesday when we are at our whit's end. It is about how we respond to our life then. Do we yell, do we run? Or do we go back to the book - the ONLY book - that can remind us of the promises God gives us. In fact, what about before we get to that point, when we wake up before the day hits us, do we turn to God to ask for his direction? Do we pray about our day and the things to come, or do we jump up and go?

I also heard that it is not trials that strengthen us, it is how we handle those trials that actually grows our strength and our faith.

Speaking from my experience this past 8 days, when I lie in bed after waking up, pray about my day, my mind, my behavior and spend a few minutes reading his word, my day turns out so much better. I am able to stay a bit more patient, and when I am struggling with my patience or my tongue I remember what God calls me to much easier!

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Prov 29:11

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Another great passage

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

So many thoughts.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today.... another day of ups and downs!

Ups : I got to get away for about an hour and just be alone with my ipod, and my Bible, and my notes and just really hangout in promises of God. I found the time alone refreshing and encouraging.

Ups: Robert had an interview (phone) scheduled again with a company in Frisco TX - that needs to hire immediately.

Downs: The company never answered their phone (second time now) and the only interview Robert will have at his conference this weekend is with GE. The down is that there is only 1 interview.

I did get a call from my dear friend (& my realtor) and we are still having showings and there is a little interest in the house with a single man. So we will see.

The boys are having so much fun at camp they can hardly stand it! They jump in the car in the afternoon just wired and do not stop recounting they day until we get to the house. It is so fun to see how exciting it is for the boys to be around all these new kids and just loving it. They seem to have become a part of this church very quickly - and they are so happy!

Robert and his dad are making progress with their deck - and it is looking really nice! We are enjoying the first part - and have eaten all our meals out there the last few days. That is one of our favorite parts of Michigan is hanging out outside in the afternoons - and since it is cooler than normal we are enjoying it even more!

We continue to pray for patience during this time, and we are still excited to see what God is doing! Even though we are getting frustrated, we both still trust that God is at work in our lives and we are feeling confident in the plan he has for us!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Not MY child Monday

Okay, so it is not Monday yet as I pen this post, but when McMama revealed that Not Me Monday will be not my child, how could I help starting this post immediately? Yes, it is just Saturday, but here goes anyway!!
While at the pool of a neighbor, and swimming with my friend and her 2 boys, and my 3 boys, my daughter DID NOT, reach down, and move the bottom of her bathing suit to relieve herself in the pool – I mean, NO WAY would she think that is okay despite her age of 3 years – I mean really, if you are going to go, why move the bathing suit to let everyone know what you are doing?
Okay, so I know for certain my child would not call 911 just to check the phone line either. No way, and when 911 calls back to dispatch someone that child would not deny fully that he touched the phone! I mean my children are truthful no matter what!
I know that I could go on and on, but my memory is not helping me out at this moment.

Today is a great day and I have felt a big hug from God already this morning! I put my oldest boys on a wait list for Action Day camp at our temporary church home here in Michigan. I did that last week. I prayed that if God wanted them to have this week at camp (9-4 Mon- Fri) he would open some slots and also provide some $$ assistance. Well, last night I went looking for my phone to see if I got a call about openings and as I walked into the foyer the house phone rang and it was the news I was waiting for!! yeah! They did get in. When we arrived this morning I was still not sure on costs, and I HATE to ask for help....but I did anyway since I know we are just in a position to take that help if offered. And yes, they did have assistance and really just wanted the boys to come. So I paid some money that I felt comfortable offering and off they went!
They are going to have a blast. The mornings are VBS, picnic lunches and then trips every afternoon!! That is, after the missionary comes and talks to them "old-style" about missions. I am just so excited and I know the boys are going to have a blast! I really felt like God just made the way for them this week and he really encouraged me by doing that!!
So for the week, I have the 2 little ones to play with and hang out with, that is going to be very fun too to see them interact with one another without the 2 big guys!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

He's on his way!

Robert is due to fly in this evening! Yeah! He was not scheduled to fly out until Tuesday because we changed his flight to allow for another interview on Monday. However, the guy he was meeting with could not make the Monday meeting and so he was stuck there for 4 more days with nothing to do. So we were hoping that he would get to fly standby to get in today!
Thankfully, our good friend Mark was able to sweet talk the ticket agent so Robert did not have to pay the $178 change flight fee and was able to fly standby for FREE!! Say it with me, God is so good!!
So my kids Daddy will be home when they wake up tomorrow morning and we get to go to church as a family (a tired one - but complete). We may even try Sunday school, but that may get pushed to next week if we are simply too tired!
And another job conference on the horizon, next week in Chicago there are 2 confirmed interviews (which to us means nothing - because confirmed becomes cancelled too quickly) and possibly a couple more. Then, the week after there is another conference with another head hunter in Chicago too. So the job situation seems to be getting very active and busy! yeah! About time!

We have had some fun here too when we recently went on a nature trail with our friends where the trail went through a bog. When the walk was over the water the boys could not help jumping on the boards to get the water to squirt up - Will and Rowan called it the squirting trail. It was great fun, a bit messy, and a great day!

Here are the kids jumping and getting the water to squirt up!

Here are the boys. Before the walk with clean legs and dry feet. But not for long!

Robert and his dad are still working on the deck. Of course Robert has had a week off while in Texas and his dad is working hard, sometimes employing the boys with some smaller tasks.

It is coming along. More pics to be posted soon, it needs to be done in a week when Betsy and Leslie leave for Maine, so now that Robert is coming home today - they will have all week to finish! Yeah!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A good reminder to all of us

I saw a link for this posted on facebook and wanted to share it.
It is a letter to Kate of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" - but honestly it speaks to anyone who considers them a Christian. I feel like the words that Ginger shares really apply to each of us, maybe not with our marital challenges, but maybe a situation we are faced with. It may apply to your marriage too, because when your situation is a trial, invariably Satan sets a target on your marriage. Fortunately God is good all the time, and when you depend on him to set your course straight he will.

Anyway, God is good. There are a number of new job leads Robert is working on. We are hoping to get a job offer in the next couple weeks. We are really praying that our house will find a new owner even sooner! Thank you to all of you praying for our job and home situation. We feel blessed to have some many brothers and sisters praying for us! The kids are doing great, they still think we are on an extended vacation. We are doing well and will be happy to be in the same state again (maybe tomorrow).

Again, thanks for your prayers, we love you guys!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


What is yours? Is it all the work you are doing at your job? At your church? In your neighborhood?
Is it about how we decorate our homes? The car we drive? The money we will leave to our kids (yeah right)?
Every now and then (okay maybe a bit more often than that) I reflect on the kind of wife and mother I am. I mean, I am more than just those 2 things.....but really, those are the 2 most important hats I wear. So I like to stop and think and look at how I am doing those things.

This last week every time I hear this song, I am reminded to examine what I am doing daily that will impact eternity!

Nichole Nordeman's song is just so great....

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much
I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights

We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world
I want to leave a legacy

How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace whoblessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
I don't have to look too far or too long awhile

To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred

Just want to hear instead,
"Well Done" good and faithful one...

That about sums up my desire to leave a legacy...I want to hear "Well Done" by my creator!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grace Growers

We are still having a great time up here in Michigan - while our friends are roasting in the southern part of our great country in 100+ degree days we are enjoying cool temps in the 70's with a great breeze... and well it is very nice here!

Here we are in Holland Michigan at the beach - so fun!!

Trying to get out of the wind....

Here is my second son at the sand dune we were playing by

These are from the parade on the 4th~

We have had several opportunities to hit the beach, the pool and nice long walks. I have been able to get lots of sewing done and even some reading.
While reading a good book recently I came upon a passage that spoke to my heart. In this passage a character (a pastor) was referring to people who have been hurtful to him in the past almost causing him to leave his position at his church. It was a group of ladies who were opposed to his arrival at their church. Anyway, the details are not real important, the message is. God uses difficult people and circumstances in our lives as tools to bring forth enduring beauty in our Christian character. If we want to become the person God wants us to be we need to sometimes allow those difficulties to do their work. In this book, these trials are called "Grace Growers." I love that!
I have felt like God was allowing this time of challenge (the no job part) for a reason, and I just think that one of many reasons is to grow my grace. I am growing my grace (well God is growing my grace) through these difficulties - and that is better to think about than, the worries!
I feel like too often we rely on ourselves, and I am pretty good at that, and that is one thing this time has made me realize, relying on myself will only lead me to be unhappy. So many lessons!! I sure hope God is running out of these lessons and that we are about to embark on the next phase of this journey called life!

Challenges. Are these fun things to deal with? No, but James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. So this character (in the book) decided to shower those ladies with love and kindness despite the ugliness they were spreading in his church. And so I think about this time in our lives and how we just need to embrace the trial part of it (because that is where we are now) - and know that God is doing great things to transform us into the man and woman he wants us to be. Yeah! So instead of getting beaten down by the details of this trail we really should welcome it as a great opportunity for transformation!! No matter how difficult something can be, no matter how long it lasts, no matter what we can choose to approach it with a joy from our heart if we really believe that God is in control and protecting and providing for us.

The other point I read last night in an other book was that when we get discouraged and start to turn negative thoughts over and over in our minds that we are "listening" to our selves in stead of talking to ourselves. Kristen and I have talked about this so many times. About taking thoughts captive, but this author did a great job of really explaining how. Instead of listening to ourselves fret (Will the money run out, will Robert find a great job? Will the house sell?) we should be clinging to scripture : Our trust is in God alone (Proverbs 3:5-6), the Lord will be with us through this trial (Psalm 34:19) this is joyful to go through a trial God allows in our lives (James 1:2-3) All we need is in God (2 Corinthians 12:9) and on and on.

So instead of letting doubts and fears take hold, I am holding on to the promises of God which hold fast no matter how hard I pull and tug!! Praise God.

God really is good all the time!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Slow Fade

This was part of our sermon yesterday morning, the pastor read this. I wanted to share it - I love this song and it was a great warning for all of us...

Casting Crowns - Its a Slow Fade

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I have had some requests about canning jelly & jams. I have been canning jelly, jams and a few other things for about 7 years. When I was pregnant with my second child I moved in with my in-laws for about 9 months while Robert was deployed to Qatar with the Army. While here my MIL Betsy introduced me to canning, and introduced my son to a few new foods as well (sardines, spinach, etc).

If you are thinking this sounds way too domesticated for you, I want you to know I was not raised in a very domesticated fashion, so there is hope that you can take this on no matter how comfortable you are in the kitchen! It is fun, the kids can help a bit, measure sugar, chop fruit (push the food processor buttons, or use a potatoe masher). No matter what it is so much fun to open a jar of jelly or jam you made months ago when the berries were in season and enjoy the your favorite fruits and you made it!
You can juice your fruit and freeze the juice for future canning of jelly, or freeze your whole fruit for jam. I have done both and they work out great!

Since learning in 2002 I have been canning every year making jam and jelly with fruit that we pick locally or that we get at the farmers market and then I give those items away for Christmas presents.

So here is what you need to can:
1 big pot ** (I started out using a big stock pot I bought a long time ago from SAM’s)
Jars & lids *– you can find these at goodwill, garage sales, salvation army, or of course walmart
Pectin – you can use liquid or powder I do not think it matters (just my opinion)
A recipe (the pectin boxes have tons)

First you need to read through your recipe (a couple times). The best one to start with is strawberry – you can always find frozen strawberries and these work just fine. But you need to know the order to your steps very well before you begin and you need all your items prepped before you begin.

Prep work: all jars cleaned with soap and water, then sterilized in boiling water (in your pot)
All lids cleaned
Boiling water ready (to pour over your lids)
Big pot full of boiling water (this takes a bit of time, so start this step before you do anything else)
All fruit chopped
Sugar measured out
Pectin ready

Why do you need the sugar measures, the jars cleaned, etc? Why can you not measure while something is cooking?
Well, most of the time you should be stirring what it cooking so that it does not burn. And sometimes is boils faster and then your jam is ready but your jars are not. Trust me – you want to have everything ready!
Following the recipe on the pectin box is the easiest. They tell you the order of pectin, sugar, etc.
I do process all my jars - this means when you get it in your jars, wipe your rims to ensure a good seal (make sure they are dry too), put your lids & rims on, I put them in my boiling water bath and boil for 10 minutes. I then take them out, put them on a dish towel on the counter and let them cool. You will start to hear them pop, this is the lid sealing. if they do not seal, you need to re-process or put them in the fridge and eat them. You cannot leave an unsealed jar out - it will spoil and get you sick. If the pop, they are sealed and good for up to a year in a cool, dark dry place. Hearing them pop is my favorite part - like music to my ears!!

Our family favorites are:
Holiday Sparkling Jam
Dilly Beans - note: I use dried hot peppers instead of cayenne - just drop one in with a slice of garlic in the jar, add beans then pour the brine over
Pepper Jelly (I use the pectin recipe for this, but I leave the seeds in for heat)
Texas Blackberry Jelly
Plum Jelly

** Walmart does sell canning pots and these are what you should get – they are very handy to have to use.
*you cannot reuse jar covers. You can reuse the rings

Anyway, hope you enjoy, if you have questions, let me know!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Endurance and Perseverance

Today was one of those days. You know the kind. From the start things just go wrong. When the ball dropped on my day and I needed to talk to someone sane and level headed I called Kristen – my dear friend and mother of 4 (all 4 and under). She is away at a retreat center with her family. I was worried I was interrupting, but would you believe that she has been going to seminars all week and many very relevant to the words I needed to hear. So many great things she shared with me. I really felt like God was blessing me with her insight from afar, almost like I was getting the wisdom from those speakers and I was not even there. I really felt a peace come over me as she was sharing.

One of which was something her pastor has preached on. He said that when we get to heaven he thinks we will be surprised by how many things were spiritual warfare in our lives and we did not know it. I thought how true that probably is.

She also reminded me that Satan does not want Robert and I growing closer to him during this time of trial and that he has a big target on our backs right now. You know I knew this would happen. And I was prepared, just not this week. Not today. I mean many weeks ago I was watching out for pitfalls (with regard to our relationship and marriage) that were in our vicinity. But not now. I have taken my eyes off the road – I have relaxed my vigilance of prayer for specific needs and just in general.

What does all this mean? I am not sure. I just know that God is leading us to a place where we trust ultimately and completely in him and only him. Not in ourselves, not in our home, not in our bank account, but in him and him alone. I would say not even in our marriage, unless we are trusting in our marriage through the goodness of God. I knew God has made me release the grip I had on my life in many areas but I know now I need to let go even more.

And I was also reminded that if we are not in the word, in prayer and talking with other believers we are weaker. It is not something you can store up for the winter. It is more like Manna - you can only get enough for today and that is why it is a daily quiet time. I have let that slide too much too. I need to be spending time alone and in depth with my creator daily!

The other point I learned again today deals with endurance.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

You know we can do just about anything for a short period of time. I mean unemployment was really fun for the first 6 weeks – and it is still fun, but man this is when it is going to start to get hard I think. We are called to run with endurance and finish strong. We are not called to win. We are not called to acquire as much as possible along the way. We are simply called to run, run well, and finish. I pray that we will finish this race (more like a marathon) we are one and finish strong. I trust that God

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

So we are still racing, I pray that we will persevere and that we will endure. God is good even when times are tough and we are faced with doubts, disappointment, and discouragement. I am clinging to that fact.
God is good all the time!


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