Christmas Gifts for Children… Precedence, Disappointment, and Gratefulness

I heard some mothers talking the other day about how their children were disappointed when they didn’t receive a lot of gifts for Christmas.  It saddened me.  I have a word that has guided my gift giving with my children.

Precedence…. What does that word mean to you?

I looked it up on http://www.dictionary.com/. As I was looking for definitions, most were related to law precedents. That tells me it’s a pretty strong word. I am most interested in the first definition that the American Heritage Dictionary presented:

“An act or instance that may be used as an example in dealing with subsequent similar instances. “
This is the definition that has been a guiding thought for me. In the past, my family has been much more affluent than we are currently. Nevertheless, I have always thought about the precedents that I am setting with my children when we give gifts for celebrate special days and holidays. For instance, even when we could afford it, and wanted to give my children their first bicycles, I would not buy such a gift for Christmas or a birthday. We don’t give many big gifts; we never have.

During the year, I look for gifts that I think they will enjoy. I put them away in a box until their birthdays, Christmas, or an I Love You day. Because I don’t give big gifts, they don’t expect them. Because I don’t give them often, they are thrilled when they receive one.

Does this mean my children are disappointed with their Christmas gifts?  On the contrary, they are happy with what they receive.  Thrilled in fact.

When we don’t set a high precedence of expectation, our children are free to be grateful for the gifts they do receive.  They can truly enjoy their gifts without thought of cost or quantity.

I love my children.  I am not required to give them gifts.  I want to give them gifts.  They know that.  They are thankful and enjoy the gifts because they know I am giving them out of love.

Just something to think about…
Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage
Laura
Keeping it simple for our Savior

Dish Soap, Laundry Detergent, and Gas

My husband has been out of work since August 1.  Even the job he had didn’t meet all of our expenses.  No unemployment benefits are available to him.  Tuesday night, I put the last of our money in the gas tank.  It’s an incredible thing to have no income.  The only thing we can do is depend on God for our needs.  God has since sent a check for $25…enough to buy dish soap, laundry detergent and some gas.  He’s incredible.  He knew these were the things we needed immediately.  Thank You Father God!  I think we are learning to live by faith in a more real and “desperate for God” way than ever before. 

I don’t know your exact situation.  If God hadn’t made an incredible way for us to have a place to live in a caretaker’s cottage working off the rent, we’d be out of a home right now.  God can provide when it seems impossible.  I find that so much of what I experience depends on how I am take things emotionally.  True faith comes from true need and true dependence.

Do you know the Lord?  He is so much more than church.  He is our savior, our redeemer, our hope in hopeless times.  He is our provider and healer of the broken hearted.  I’d love to tell you more if you’d like to meet Him.  Just comment; and, I’ll e-mail you.

Those of you who know Him, I encourage you to really get to know Him through His written word, through prayer, through being still and listening for His still small voice.

God bless you, dear reader!  Your family is safe in HIS hands. 
Laura

Blessed Among Women in My Own Generation

Friday Night Date Night

Once upon a time, we had only little children. Four children ten and under to be exact. Date nights were far and few between. In fact, when Matthew was little, we only went out as a couple once or twice a year. Those were lean years for us, living on one income, and paying a babysitter and going out just wasn’t possible. I do remember the excitement of getting to go out on a date when he was about 3. The excitement turned to concern and disappointment as he developed a fever that day. I was not about to leave him when he had a fever. So, we improvised. I set up a little table in our bedroom and set it with a pretty tablecloth and china and candles. After I got Matthew to bed early, Lowell went for chinese take out. We ate our cashew chicken dinner by candle light, realizing we were really grown up and had responsibilities; but, our love could still be celebrated.

Fast forward a few years. Grandma Judy would occassionally watch the children; but, as the family grew, they outnumbered her! By the time we had all four of our children, we had started going out once a month with close friends. Matthew and her teenage daughter watched all their kids and all our kids together. Over the years, we went out once a month on a double date. It was a time that we could enjoy each other and our friends.

For about four years now, Matthew has watched the kids for us for a Friday night date night. We don’t always get to go; but, we really try to make it every Friday night. Last week, our date cost about $6. We went to Arby’s with coupons and had sandwiches, drinks, and fries. A few weeks earlier, we went to Subway and shared a $5 footlong and a drink. Yes, over the years, we’ve had some very fancy dates and gone to very nice restaurants. That’s not the season we’re in right now; and, that’s alright. I can enjoy my Honey for $6 just as well as for $30. It’s the one on one that matters.

So, if you’re married, plan to sneak away next Friday night, even for the dollar menu, if necessary. Can’t get away because of your children? Plan an early bedtime for them. Feed them early. Threaten them to stay in bed! ~smile~ Then slip away to set up a table on the porch, in the living room, your bedroom, someplace different. Then serve your meal there. It doesn’t matter so much what it is but who you’re with.

Laura
In Love with My Man
After All These Years

Abundant Provision!

Just Saturday:

1. $5 Bag Sale at the Thrift Store. I’m really good at packing a bag! I spent about an hour and a half with my little kiddles searching for clothes for the family. We filled the brown paper grocery bag full! When I went to pay, the lady said, “It’s taken care of. It was the Lord.” After I realized what she was saying, I just felt overtaken by God’s grace and provision! Wow God!

2. We got the notebooks, pens, and pencils we need for the year at Walgreens for less than $5! Wow God!

3. Lowell went to Redeemed, a used bookstore that sells homeschool books and traded a couple of boxes of books that someone had given to us for the three readers that I need for Amy. He came home with $163 that I can use for other school things we need and the fees for Matthew’s enrollment at the community college! Super-Wow God!

4. Matthew got a job! Wow God!

5. When Lowell unpacked the bag, we counted 23 items including three nice dress shirts for him and something for every family member including Grandma! Wow God!

6. A free movie from Redbox for hubby and I to enjoy after the kids were in bed last night! We watched Inkheart. It was a good action movie. It was also funny in places. It’s rated PG. I do not recommend it for children, however. Too scary in places and a swear word in an early scene that was inappropriate in a PG movie were enough to keep us from allowing our children to view it. Teens and above would be fine, however.
Wow God!

And I thought it was just going to be another rainy Saturday!

Thank You God for your abundant provision just when we needed it and when I needed encouragement!

Laura

Trusting God for Our Needs in Hard Times

Trusting God for Our Needs in Hard Times

“I have never thought it necessary to save for the future or look out for myself or my family except that we trust God. So, when we see someone in need, an old woman, a sick person, or a helpless infant– I freely give whatever I have at the time. I know that later, when I am in need, God will provide for me. I don’t need to look out for myself in any way other than to trust in Him.”

~George Mueller
1805-1898

Oh for that kind of faith…

a faith that is willing to give it all away for Jesus’ sake knowing that He will provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory,

a faith that trusts Him explicitly without fretting or worrying,

a faith that does not doubt His love or His provision or His timing,

a faith that is strong even when we don’t see answers to our prayers.

Faith is hoping and believing and trusting all wrapped up together. It is a gift from God. The Word says that”…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 This tells me that I need to not only read scripture, but read it aloud and listen to it being read aloud. I want to hear from God from His Word.

I want that Faith that is a gift from God.
How about you?

God bless!
Laura

Strawberries and Parachutes

Who can beat homemade biscuits with homemade strawberry jam?
My Friend Beth called me and told me they had strawberries at Aldi for $ .69 a pound! I zoomed over and bought a flat. We ate some with homemade whipped cream. I jarred up a quart with sugar to use over cake or ice cream. Then I made up a batch of jam using the Sure Gel cooked recipe. I’ve got plenty of room in my freezer right now; but, I like to be able to put the jars on the shelf.
I taught Emily to make homemade biscuits using this recipe last year. Now I let her make most of our biscuits. She did so this morning; so, here I am writing about it. ~smile~
I hope you all have a wonderful day. It’s been so pretty here. It was a beautiful day to go to yard sales yesterday. We also took an evening drive in the country and ended up following a number of parachute planes to the Show Me Chute Flyers Fly In. It was incredible watching what looked like a fancy go-cart with a propeller and a parachute take off and fly with the grace of a hot air balloon. It stirred in me the desire to fly again. My grandparents had small planes when I was a child. I have a photo of myself standing in the back of Grandpa Frank’s airplane when I was barely old enough to stand! I grew up thinking everyone had an airplane. I was sure disappointed to find out it wasn’t true. Well, maybe in time! If you’re not familiar with these aircraft, click on the link for photos. Then, see if you can find an event in your neck of the woods. They are incredible to watch.
Blessings,
Laura

If You Have Two or Three Witnesses…

A friend gave us a pile of pickling cucumbers. I’ve never made pickles of any kind; but, he said that they’d be good for pickle relish. Well, I’ve canned tomatoes and green beans and made jam and jelly. I got out my Ball Blue Book and looked up the recipe. It looked easy enough.
I took the book with me to the store with me this morning to make sure I didn’t forget anything. The recipe called for green and red peppers. As I put them in my cart, I wished that ours were ready in our garden. I spent almost $5 on peppers! It called for celery seed. Yes, I’ve got that. Salt, yes. Sugar, yes. Onions, yes. Mustard seed. No, I’m sure I don’t have that. Unfortunately, neither did the store. Nor did the next store or the next.
Finally, I found myself at Wal-Mart. My three children kept insisting that we had mustard seed at home. Impossible. I could not think of anything that I would have bought mustard seed to make. I’ve never pickled before. They persisted. I said no, it was dried mustard powder. I was so sure of myself. I bought a jar.
When I got home, my children presented me with the jar of seeds that I had put in the freezer!
“Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Corinthians 13:1b
God’s Word really does apply to every situation of our lives. I had three witnesses. I didn’t believe them. I thought I knew better. I should have listened. I’m learning…just slowly!
Well, I must go get started on that relish.
Laura

54 Spoons!

At every meal we’ve been scrounging to find enough spoons for our family of 6. I’ve been looking at yard sales and so have a couple of my friends. The other night, as I was cleaning out a closet for a yard sale, I found a box of silver that my mother-in-law gave us several years ago. It had been forgotten sometime during our last two moves. It had stainless flatware mixed in. I was amazed! God had provided for our current need years ago and had me find it now! I was so excited I nearly cried at the sweetness of it. I didn’t count it all; but, there were 54 spoons!

He does provide.

Thank you Jesus!

Laura

Frightened of God

I went to a little after school Bible club when I was in first grade and in the beginning of second grade. Believe it or not, it was held in the school. I remember watching the flannel graph board as the teacher told the stories of Jesus. I never doubted that Jesus was a real person or that God was real. So, when the teacher taught us the Bible verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” I believed her (John 3:16). In fact, that was the only verse that I remembered through the years. I loved my little classes and was sorry that I couldn’t continue them when I moved to Kansas during second grade.

After I moved to Kansas, there was an occasional Vacation Bible School; but, for the most part, not a whole lot of training. My mom did teach me to say the child’s prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy. God bless Daddy. God bless John. God bless Grandma and Grandpa….” You get the idea. Let me tell you; I wasn’t too keen on the “if I should die before I wake” part! It kept me just a little afraid of God.

For a little while after my mom and dad divorced, we went to church with one of my mom’s friends. I went to the 6th grade Sunday School class. I remember feeling like I was so hopelessly behind that I’d never learn this Bible stuff. I also remember feeling like the preacher was looking right at me when he gave the sermon. I tried to slouch down and disappear behind the grown ups around me.


As I grew older, I grew in sin and in stature and became a teenager. I had more to be ashamed of than just the confession I’d made in that class that I hit my brother. The teacher had asked me to confess my sin when I asked Jesus into my little heart. Now, I’d said hateful words, seen things on tv and movies that were bad, had bad thoughts, hit my brother more. You get the idea. Every once in awhile, I’d go over to a friend’s house and her religious mother would have Billy Graham or someone else on t.v. talking about God. I remember feeling intensely ashamed and frightened of God. I knew that I was dirty with sin. I knew He could see what I’d done and knew what I thought. I didn’t run to Him, though. I ran away.

God didn’t give up. I’d find tracts with the way to salvation lying around in public places. I had to read them. I had to find a way to get rid of this guilt that was building up. Even so, I just didn’t quite believe it would work. I just knew I was going to go to hell. I was still frightened.


Finally, on New Year’s Day, 1980, I was watching the PTL Club show. Jim Bakker was interviewing a lady who had been a drug addict. She had turned to Jesus, had been saved, and had been delivered from her drug addiction. A lightbulb went on in my head and my heart. This woman had done stuff that was way worse than what I’d done. Isn’t it like us to compare even our sins to others’ to try to make ourselves feel better? Anyway, I finally had this revelation:

If God had forgiven this woman, surely He could forgive me, too.

So, when Jim Bakker lead the sinners’ prayer, I asked Jesus to forgive me and asked Him into my heart. I became a Christian that day January 1, 1980. I asked my mom if we could go to church. I knew Christians were supposed to go to church. She wasn’t interested at that time. So, I had to think of something else. I kept watching PTL on the little t.v. in my bedroom that Grandma Mamie and Grandpa Frank had given me. It was a great way to start the day.


Soon it was time to go back to school. I saw a girl on the bus, named Kim, who had always been nice to me, even when others were mean. I went up to her and asked her to take me to church with her. After she picked herself up off the floor of the bus (just kidding), she agreed to take me to her church. I got permission from my mom and went to Rolling Hills Christian Church with her. It didn’t occur to me that there might be more than one kind of church. God just took care of me. The next Sunday, Pat, the lady who lived on the property behind our 3 acres, showed up at our door to take me to church. And the next Sunday and the next Sunday and the next Sunday! She came with bulldog tenacity! Good thing, too. I didn’t have a chance to get away from God this time. ~smile~


A few weeks later, I went forward at concert with my friend Kim and Pat’s daughter. I actually thought they wanted me to go up because they were afraid to go up themselves. Surprise surprise! A couple of weeks later I went forward at church to confess Jesus, be baptised, and join the church. That little country church family became my family. They were there for me during some really hard things. Ah, but that’s another story for another day.


Friend, are you frightened of God? Do you think you’re too bad? Too sinful? Too dirty? I did, too. We are all bad, sinful, and dirty. BUT GOD made a way for us to come to Him and become good, righteous, and clean. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He said Himself that He is the Way the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Him.


Jesus paid the price for our sins by taking our punishment on the cross at Calvary. “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

We must run to God. We must confess. We must ask forgiveness. We must ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. God is willing and able to forgive our sins. He wants us.

Are you willing?


Laura