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Tilling Up the Ground

Our Heavenly Father is the master of creation and using that creation to teach us about who He is and what He desires for our lives. This morning as I was sitting on the porch looking at the garden spot we will be using this year and trying to figure out when I am going to get the ground tilled up and ready for spring planting, I realized how important it is to allow the Father to till up the soil of our hearts. Just like a piece of ground that becomes hard packed and rocky through the harsh weather of the winter, our hearts likewise can become hard packed and rocky when we experience the harshness of life. Physical seeds need soft pliable ground to germinate and grow strong roots. If the soil is too hard or rocky the seeds either will not grow or will not be able to withstand the heat of the summer. Spiritual seeds need good soil too. When the Father sows seeds of growth or instruction in our hearts, a soft pliable heart is necessary. Those spiritual seeds will not take root and develop the true growth we need to become more like Him. Yeshua taught about this very topic in Matthew 13:1-9 “On the same day Yeshua went out of the house and sat by the sea.  2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

May the desire of our hearts be to allow the Father to till the soil of your heart and plant seeds of growth and increasing faith!

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Back Again…Maybe

Well, here we go again. It has been 2 years since we last wrote a blog post. So much has changed in that time that it still boggles my mind. We have moved out of state, moved back again, left a family business, started a new business, closed that business, started a new career, and added two children to the fold. Whew! It makes me tired just thinking about all of it. More changes are in the works though and hopefully things will begin to settle down. We are in the process of making some much needed cosmetic upgrades and repairs to a farm house that we will be moving into soon. Our hope is that we will be able to settle in here and make some more progress into farming. We are looking forward to what might lie ahead and we hope you’ll join us on the journey!

Resources

Here’s a little taste of a teaching from Voddie Baucham. We enjoy his teaching style, he doesn’t hold back. He has several audio/video teachings as well as books depending on what form you prefer.

We’ve also enjoying a book series entitled Walk in the Light by Todd Bennett. He gently shares a straight forward message about the roots of our faith.

What are some your favorite Bible teachers and study resources?

This ESPN news story is a from a few years ago. We recently discovered it and were moved by his testimony and the legacy he left to his family. It’s only about 10 minutes long…

What was the most moving part of this story for you?

Tis the Season…

for Hanukkah! We are in the middle of celebrating the eight nights of Hanukkah. The story of Hanukkah is the historical event of Judah Maccabee leading a small but powerful revolt against the Greco/Roman empire lead by King Antiochus. Against all odds, they recaptured the temple and rededicated it during a week long celebration. Here’s a link to a well-written article about Hanukkah and why it’s significant to Believers….
Lisa shares a thorough introduction to Hanukkah…

This is our second year to celebrate Hanukkah. We are very excited about what we are learning. Honestly, last year, we had no clue what we were doing! Or really why. Just as with anything, we must do our homework and pray and be “Berean”. With most stories passed down over time, there are some “legends” added to the story of Hanukkah. The story of the oil burning for eight nights was added in later years. But ultimately, the story of the battles and rededication of the temple was recorded in history.

Here’s a free downloadable ebook about Hanukkah.

Here’s a beautiful song about Hanukkah.

And finally here’s a couple fun songs we’ve enjoyed watching with our children… here and here. Hope you enjoy!

What are your favorite things about Hanukkah? And what are your favorite resources on Hanukkah?

Frugal Fun

Lately, I find myself getting very excited about coupons. It’s obvious it’s rubbing off on my children when I hear them screaming…”look, a coupon!”. I’ve had a couple great shopping trips lately where I leave a store with bags of items and I didn’t spend anything, but instead, they gave me money! I remember a few months ago reading blogs about moms who were saving over 50% on their spending and how stores would pay them to shop…I thought “yeah, right”. Now, I’m the one doing it.

Now the other comment usually that comes to the table is that you end up buying a lot of junk or things you don’t need. And that can be the case…but you have to make choices to get the best bang for your buck for your household on great items you need. You might be surprised at some the coupons out there for healthy food. Recently, Food Lion had $1 off coupon you could use on fresh produce and there was an online printable coupon out there for 75 cents off of fresh pineapple to use at any store. There’s even $1 off coupons for gluten-free products here.

A couple weeks ago, I went to Rite Aid and left with two packages of Huggies diapers, organic lip balm, laundry detergent, and light bulbs. After coupons, they paid me almost $2 and I will be getting a nice rebate check from purchasing these items in a few days.

My two FAVORITE frugal blogs are Money Saving Mom and Southern Savers.

These ladies do a fanastic job keeping us informed about the best deals to be had. They both also have Facebook pages you can “fan” and keep up to date via your FB page.

If this is something you’d like to jump into…just take your time. Pick one or two stores to focus on. Rite Aid and CVS have become my favorite for lots of free household products. It does involve time, but there are great dividends. I’ve been at this about six months. I still have lots to learn, but I definitely feel that it is a worth the time and energy.

As a one-income family…this helps us to reach goals, like keeping momma home with the children, homeschooling, and working on our “debt snow-ball“. In addition to couponing, over the past few years, we’ve learned other money saving opportunities like growing our own food and preserving, eating foods that are “in-season”, using cloth diapers, harvesting deer and butchering it ourselves (thankfully Paul just got his first deer of the season a couple weeks ago), and buying in bulk when we have the chance. This past month we were able to purchase a couple of bushels apples from a nearby Amish community and we made homemade applesauce and canned some for this winter.

As a side note too, I recently read this fascinating article about the frugal fun that millionaires enjoy…#1 on the list…spending time with children and grandchildren…..and gardening was in the top categories also. Also, per this author’s research, only 27% of millionaires live in houses valued over $1 million. Hmmm….I know my couponing won’t make me a millionaire, plus that’s not our goal. But it can help with our family reaching other goals like being in a position to give more. Read here about this young family with some radical goals…like saving in one year enough cash to pay 100% for a home…talk about inspiration!

One final example of our recent coupon savings….last week, we stopped at a couple stores and spent $45 out of pocket with a savings of $83. So that’s a savings of 64%. I was very pleased! We came home with items like bread, yogurt, cereal, rice, diapers, paper towels, lunch meat, baby food, and of course some cookies (hey, sometimes it hard to pass up the cookies when they are FREE with the coupon).

Happy couponing!

~Ma

Are you looking for a healthy alternative to cereal? When you read cereal box labels, do you cringe and only imagine where the ingredients came from?

Here’s a homemade granola recipe packed with a nutritional punch. It’s so easy and my family begs for it! Thanks to my friend, Kim for sharing this with me.

Using your crockpot/slow cooker. Spray or spread oil in the crock.

In a mixing bowl, combine:
3 cups oats, old fashioned
1/4 cup wheat or oat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup Flaxseed meal (I buy the whole seed and grind up, cheaper this way)
1/4 cup oil (preferable butter or coconut oil)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup apple juice, cider, or water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa

Mix well and place in crock pot. Cook on low setting with lid slightly ajar (I use a wooden spoon). Stir occasionally over 2-4 hours. Cool and store in airtight jar/container. Use within 1 to 2 weeks. (It probably won’t be around more than a day or two if your family likes it). I keep it the fridge.

Using the crockpot results in a more chewy granola. If you prefer for it to be crunchy, you can spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and put in oven at 225 degrees for 20-30 minutes with the oven door open.

Also the above recipe is a fairly small amount, so after you try it and if your family likes it, you can increase the volume. I normally triple the recipe and it will last for several days.

If your children are accustomed to eating really sugary cereals, this won’t be that sweet. You can increase the honey and add dried or fresh fruit. Also, if you don’t have these exact ingredients you can mix it up and try out some other things. I’ve found it’s a fairly adaptable recipe.

Enjoy!