Friday, June 30, 2006

Service As A Privilege

While spending some time with the Lord one morning last week, I read my ususal round of devotions to go along with the Word, and in the process found this from Elizabeth Eliot:

"The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ."

My entire life long this passage, Romans 8:28-29, has followed me in every situation. My mother had this verse hanging on my bathroom wall:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

The "route to sanctity," as Elizabeth Eliot puts it, is exactly why He allows those challenges that we must accept in our lives. Those challenges come in so many forms, whether it be marriage, childrearing, financial pressures, illness of self or another loved one, etc..

The key to joy isn't how few of those things from which we can escape, rather it is in seeing the challenge rightly. It lies in seeing it clearly through Christ's eyes. When we realize that He is treating us as real sons and daughters when he chastens us is key to understanding that His love knows no bounds and certainly only wants the best for His own. The key to joy is realizing that all that He allows in our lives is mercy and grace. The very air I am allowed to breathe is grace overflowing.

So, if we are chosen to endure hardship, or simply given a job that is very demanding (Hello, any of you mothers out there agree with me on this one?), we need to look at it as stated above:

"The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity."

Even this HARD thing I have to do? Even this pain I must endure for His name's sake? Even when I feel so overwhelmed?

Yes, Yes, and still again I say, Yes! It is a privilege to serve Him in this way... no matter what it is. As painful as that may seem, it is God's honest truth... His best for us. And therein lies hope. Hope that He is indeed changing us into the image of His Son. What higher privilege could I ask? I must make this offering to Him wholeheartedly in order to know Him more, to love Him and Him only. This and this alone is my purpose... not some contrived, man made hope of sharing God's glory. That would be vanity, pride. No, my purpose is to bring Him glory, to reflect Him. And when I do that, I will truly be entering into His presence and able to understand what it means to enjoy Him. No best-seller can help me find a purpose higher than this.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Family Traditions

What I have written below came from another comment I made at LFL today on the topic of teaching children to cook. But after I wrote it, I thought I would start a series on traditions within our families. So, here is the first in a series of traditions posts:

I started a tradition here in our family where we are starting each child with their own cookbook they can take with them when they are grown. I work from a four-week menu plan. I started by asking each of the oldest ones what their favorite meals are. Then I made a list with them of the meals they would like to learn to make. This is a big deal to them because it means they are getting big enough to do some more things on their own. It's almost like a rite of passage!

We carefully write down each of the steps in making the recipe and then they go through the "four-step learning process" we use for training on everything: First, watch Mom/Dad do it. Next, help Mom/Dad do it. Then, do it with Mom/Dad's help. And finally, do it on their own (with a parent close by to answer questions). (Each step can be repeated, as often as needed, until Mom/Dad feels the child has achieved mastery of that level.)

Oh! The other thing I do is to make sure to write down some notes on the page where we wrote the recipe about the time we first made it together, whether it was a special occasion, how it turned out, etc. I also try to include a personal note of encouragement about how proud I am of them and the growth I see in them at that point in their lives. I love to see their smiles when they read these notes!

My hope is that by the time they are grown, they will have a cookbook (yes, even the boys) that they can use in their own families and to bless others.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Addendum to the Family Meal Table

I posted a comment on Kim's blog today about working with children in the kitchen. Jim Bob and I both having recently talked about the Family Meal Table, I thought it would be appropriate to point my readers there to see what I wrote. It concerns boys in the kitchen... a hot topic for many. How much do we let boys help? How much is feminizing them?

I would like to hear what you think about this issue. I don't presume to know all the answers on this one. My oldest two are boys and I personally LOVE their help in the kitchen. Let me know how you feel about this.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Modest Dress Forum Is Working

Hello everyone! The technical difficulties we were having with the exchange are no longer a problem, so feel free to mosey on over to the exchange and take a look. And by all means, if you have knowledge of a good deal at a store, or have some things to give away to bless another, please register and post it!

Also, if you have feedback for me on the forum, please let me know about it. I want to serve you the best way I possibly can.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Modest Dress Info Exchange: Outage

Technical Support Update

As of 9:27PM EDT, June 21, the forum seems to be back up. Let's pray it stays that way! ;)

Billy Joe Jim Bob (Amy Joe's technical support arm)

Technical Support Notice

Of course, the day after I create this forum and Amy starts telling folks about it, they decide to work on the server. Here's a note from, the host of the Modest Dress Information Exchange forum:

Our technicians will be working on this server throughout the day. It will probably be on and off. Once the issues are resolved it will run as steady as the other servers.

Sorry for the inconvenience,
...and like Limez, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. It should be back up soon and working smoothly after that.

Billy Joe Jim Bob (Amy Joe's technical support arm)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Modest Dress Info Exchange

Devon Carpenter had a great idea: An information exchange for modest dress sightings.

She brought up the idea to me last weekend while we were visiting their home. Here's the basic idea:

If you are an aficionado of modest, beautiful, feminine clothing, then you know how hard it is to find items that match that description. I find, now that I have a daughter that is getting into the 4T-6T range in clothing, that it is even harder to find clothes that are appropriate for a Christian maiden who desires to dress in a way becoming to her beliefs. Couple this with the problem that so many of the dresses/skirts out there that would fit this description are outrageously expensive, and for those of us with many littles at home it is hard to get out there and go shopping (and trying on outfits) while juggling the two to five toddlers/babies many of us have, and it is hard to find the time to search all over the web for these gems, we need help to get these items with as little effort and cost as possible.

So, what this exchange will do is allow a forum where anyone who finds a good deal at any store on modest skirts, tops, dresses, maternity clothing, and little girls clothing, or even patterns to post it matter your location, so that those who are near that location, or near the chain store that is having a sale, can go and buy it at a reasonable price.

But, I will go even further than that...I think we can show true Christian charity toward one another by offering skirts to one another. If you have a skirt/dress,etc. that you no longer need/ no longer fit into, but that could still be put to good use by others, list it here and hopefully it can find a new home and make it a little easier for those of us who desire to honor our husband's desire that we dress in a way that is becoming to godly womanhood/maidenhood.

I will put a link to this exchange on my right sidebar, so that anytime you are visiting my blog, you can click over to see if there are any good deals in your area or an exchange that can be made with another person online.

I will be a clearing house for this information only... not a broker or merchant... so I am not responsible for items shipped, or any agreements between you and another reader of my blog.

I hope that this will help those of you out there who are endeavoring to live a godly, feminine, and modest lifestyle to the glory of God and the bulding of His Kingdom!

Here's the link to the exchange forum: Amy Joe's Modest Dress Exchange
(I'm trying out this free hosting environment for the forum. I don't have any experience with them, so I'm hoping they'll be responsive and do the job for us. Since it's free, they do have ads at the top of the page. Please let me know if any are risque or otherwise offensive.)

Best regards and blessings to you all,

p.s. Thanks, Devon, for the really great idea!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Refreshment and Rest

What a wonderful weekend we had! As I mentioned in my last post, we were going to see the Carpenters soon. What I didn't mention was that it was this past weekend. Anyway, we are back and I have a quick synopsis of it all.

Have you ever been in a home where the aroma of Christ dwelt so strongly that it was undeniable? Where you learned something new about the character of Christ at every turn? That's the kind of weekend we had. The Carpenters are such people. There was never a dull moment during this visit, whether it be sitting together at the family meal table enjoying scrumptious food and talking of the days events and what each meant to us, or meeting new friends, or being shown around the sweet and pristine little town of Franklin, Tennessee.

(Speaking of the family meal table, which I mentioned in a previous post, Ken's company, Franklin Springs Family Media, has just released a new video, called The Family Meal Table, which we have found extremely helpful in furthering our efforts in this area. I HIGHLY recommended it!)

The Carpenters have that graciousness of spirit that only comes from being wholly given to the Lord. To give you an example of the kind of hospitality we were shown, we arrived at their home around (o.k., Carpenters, at EXACTLY) 4:30 on Friday afternoon. We were shown all around their beautiful home and told that we would be staying in the front two bedrooms. These bedrooms are where their children sleep. So, where would the children sleep? You got it, all of them (they have eight children) would sleep in Mom and Dad's room for the following three nights. I know that Mom and Dad didn't get quite enough sleep, yet they were so fun to be around the entire time.

Self-sacrifice and joy in hospitality, extending a Christ-like hand in friendship and desiring to build a new friendship... these are the things that have been impressed upon me from our time with the Carpenters.

With our new "old" friends, the Carpenters

My favorite part of the weekend? Saturday morning we all drove into Franklin. Franklin was great, but the best part was that Ken wanted Devon and I to drive into town together in their car while he and Jim Bob drove in the van with the children (all twelve of them) so that Devon and I could have the chance to get better acquainted. What a wonderful time we had, Devon! I've made a new friend! A kindred spirit! What a great time we had just talking, talking, talking! We have so much in common. Isn't it wonderful when God blesses us with a new genuine friendship?!!

I am thankful for all that the Carpenters did to give us such a blessing this past weekend. Vacations like that just don't come along all that often. What a beautiful family. What a blessing of new friendship!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Short One For Now, But More Later...

I was reading on Amy's Humble Musings (I love her blog!) and I couldn't help commenting on what she wrote today. I mentioned that I should just point people there for my post today because I wrote a longer than average comment... but it is about the things that have been on my heart recently anyway. Go take a look at my comment there.

I will have more later about our weekend vacation with the Carpenters. We had an absolutely lovely time with them! Check in tomorrow for more...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Stuff...

We just got this picture of dd#1. We think it encapsulates the exhileration of youth in the summertime. Wouldn't you agree?

A joyful maiden

Also, we are planning a trip to see our new friends, the Carpenters, from Franklin Springs Family Media, soon. We finally got pics to share of when they were here after the conference. The Carpenters have a great ministry of producing high quality family films that are educational and edifying. In a world where quality Christian film-making has really been scant, Franklin Springs Family Media has broken through that barrier and shown that God can do amazing things in ordinary families. This is where Ken's films shine. In fact, they shine so well, that we have passed on his films, A Journey Home (Winner of the Jubilee Award at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival last fall), and The Peasall Sisters: Family Harmony, to many of our friends here in Virginia... all to rave reviews! Go check out their website at

Hi, Carpenters! We can't wait to see you again!

The Carpenters visit the Treehouse

Another Christian agrarian blogger has contacted me! Her site is Homestead Herbs. This sweet sister has me listed in her side bar as a "Christian Mentor." I am flabbergasted! I would be more inclined to think of her as a mentor. She is doing some really amazing things with her life and I want all of you to know about her too. Go take a look at her site!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Goings-On at the Treehouse

Since the conference, I've been playing catch-up on child training, laundry, child training, gardening, child training, laundry, child training, and just the usual day-to-dayness of life. Personally, I'd like to thank Kim Brenneman from Large Family Logistics, again, for all of her hard work on her site. If it weren't for her schedules and routines and the encouragement I glean from her site to keep my home running smoothly and involve my children in all of the home-keeping I do, I doubt that our schedule would be back on track yet. So, thanks, Kim!

We've had a bunch of things going on since the conference. I guess the first thing has been that our ds#2 is now 6 years old! On his birthday, we surprised him with a present that he's been wanting for a very long time... a puppy! Yes, I said a puppy. Not any ordinary puppy either, she's a Jack Russell Terrier (Or Jack Russell TERROR!). We went to meet the couple we were getting the pup from on the morning of his birthday. They had two pups left, so when we got there, I called him by name and said, "Get out of the car, honey, and go pick out your puppy!" His whole face lit up like a firecracker! His little eyes sparkled, and he said, "I get a puppy? Really?" and then he went straight to the one he wanted. She went straight to him also. It was love at first sight. Very sweet.

So, he started to hug on his puppy and looked so happy I thought he might start crying. Then the time came to say goodbye and I found myself unable to leave without his puppy's sister. She was next to the runt in size, with precious little crinkles above her eyebrows, making her look very maternal and concerned. And pitiful. I was completely taken in and looked up at Jim Bob and said, "Can we take her too? They'll do better together. Please?" He was taken in a bit much his own self, and we left there the proud owners of two very cute puppies.

On the way to the pet store afterwards, we let ds#2 pick a name for his new puppy. He chose "Chocolate." No surprise... the boy has a sweet tooth that you just wouldn't believe! So, I named the other one Caramel. It suits them too. Chocolate has brown spots with some dark brown to black outlining, and Caramel has light brown spots. They are very sweet indeed. Here is a picture of us with our new pups:

Ds#2 got to pick which one he wanted. Then I picked the other one!

So, we've been getting used to being a family of 8 all of a sudden! What fun! Now, if I can just stop ds#2 from being a little too rough on his puppy. I think he forgets that she's not a toy. But she's pretty resilient and I think they will be the best of friends for years to come... at least I hope! We've had him memorizing Proverbs where it says that "A righteous man regards the life of his animal," in hopes that he will understand that he is a steward of this puppy's life and she depends upon him for everything, and he must be kind to her.

Meet Chocolate... and her Resolute Protector

This is Caramel

It's amazing how many of the things we have been teaching our children about puppies come back to teach us, as their parents, how to train our children. We must regard the life of our children, treating them as co-heirs in Christ, with the law of kindness constantly on our tongues. We must be consistent in providing for their needs as well as for their discipline and instruction. As usual, God is after us as the parents whenever we try to teach something to our children. It's always, always, always about sanctification—making us more like Jesus.

We also have been finishing up with the planting of our garden. I really do intend to post some more pictures soon of our progress, as long as the pups don't completely trample the garden to bits!

We have not had as much success this year with our salad garden as we would have liked, but the season is still rather early and we are going to sow some more seeds for a new patch of lettuces this week, so hopefully we will have a better harvest in the next batch. Carrots are supposed to be ripe now, but we haven't had much success there either. The good news is that the problem is probably not us as I have heard 'round about that not many have had success with growing carrots here. "Too many rocks in the soil." Maybe next year we will try planting them in a raised bed cold frame with mostly sandy loam and see how they do.

One of the things I love so much about heading in a more agrarian direction is that we learn SO much! If at first you don't succeed, ask questions, read more, find some experts, do the research, and try, try again!

The good news is that our potatoes are starting to come up, as are our corn plants and our peas are almost ripe! We are looking forward to the harvests from these crops!

Very extremely young early tender sweet baby peas

We have also been in the process of planning to get involved in the local farmer's market and 4-H club. Both of these we can do as a family and we can encourage our boys' entrepeneurial skills by pursuing these. Most of all, however, we are looking forward to more family closeness as a result of working together as a family to learn, grow, and pour a little back into our family economy. The boys' eyes twinkled with excitement when we discussed doing these things at the dinner table. They are learning so much and they have good attitudes about it all so far. Most of all, it warms my heart to know they want to work with us and be a family. So many children their ages don't want anything to do with their parents. I pray God grants us the grace to train them in this way so that they may be blessed!

So, what will we sell at market? Baked goods: breads, cinnamon rolls, cookies, bread slicing boards that Jim Bob and the boys have built, and pinafores, pantaloons, dresses, and skirts that I have made (and will be teaching the girls to make as soon as they are old enough to sew). That's what we'll start with. After that, once we get our farming techniques better nailed down, we hope to sell some of our produce at market also. That's the plan. We'll see how it goes.

I think I've typed all I can for this evening. Hope you all have enjoyed the update!

P.S. As soon as I can, I will also be selling dresses, skirts, pinafores, and pantaloons from a link to this site. We could also sell bread slicing boards if there is enough interest. I will make an update as soon as I am ready to begin taking orders!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Monkey Milk and Leaky Logs...

So, dd#1 was helping me make my Buttermilk-Oatmeal Bread (something we hope to sell at market soon!) the other day and I was doing my best to help her help know how that goes! Of course everything took a little longer than it would have had I done it on my own, but that's a part of training. Besides, had I not involved her, I wouldn't have this to blog about, now would I?

Passing down a multigenerational love of cooking to my daughter

I asked her to repeat all the names of the ingredients after me, which she happily did. I said, "This is oatmeal. Can you say 'oatmeal?'"

"Yes... oatmeal."

Then I said, "This is flour. Say 'flour.'"

She said, "F-wower."

"Very good, Sweetie. Now say 'Buttermilk.'"

She thought about it for a minute and then said, "Monkey milk!"

I, repressing laughter, continued by saying, "Hmmm, let's try that again. Can you say 'butt-er-milk?'" She tried again and it came out, "Puppy milk."

"O.K.," I said, "Say it again, but this time say, B-B-B-Bu-u-u-t-t-t-errr-milk."

She said, "O.K., Mommy... Bupper-milk... (after a little pause) Mommy?"

"Yes, Honey."

"Go pway leakilawgs, me?"

"What, Honey?"

"Mommy, go pway leakalods, me?"

Kneeling down to get on her level, I said, "Honey, I'm sorry, I don't understand what it is you want. Will you say it again, please?"

"Yeah, go... pwAYYYY... LEAKilogs, ME!"

From the other room, Jim Bob chimes in, "I think she wants to go play with the Lincoln Logs!" About to double over from laughter I said, "Oh!... sure Honey, you can go play with the Lincoln Logs."

(As an aside, leaky logs is NOT what what we'll be using when Jim Bob builds our log home.)