Archive | November, 2010

Frugal & Natural Christmas Decor

Photo by Michele of

This post is written by contributing writer, Michele Augur.

Decorating with found items is both frugal and beautiful! As we bring in items found on walks, our family savors the scents and colors of the season.

I honestly don’t spend a lot of time decorating (and I’m certainly not trained in floral design!), but it is a joy to bless my family and friends with a festive and comfortable atmosphere.

I created the wreath in the photo above, using tree boughs and holly sprigs from the woods around our home. (If you live in the city, ask a neighbor if you can snip some branches from their overgrown holly or juniper bushes!) Carry small pruning shears with you on walks, or just gather fallen items from the ground.

I re-purposed an old wreath frame and floral foam from a dusty old silk flower wreath. (You can often find these at thrift stores or garage sales, or purchase them on sale from craft stores.) I accented with a few of the silk/paper flowers. I also enjoy decorating with dried rosebuds, seed pods, and hydrangeas from summer gardens.

To attach the greenery to the wreath, I used a combination of floral pins (reused from the old wreath) and green floral wire. Some of the branches were also just securely pushed into the floral foam. Mine has a bit of a  “rustic” look, but if you prefer a more classic look, you can trim the branches with pruning shears.

For my thick wreath, floral foam was tied to the wreath frame. (But you could omit the foam, and just tie items directly to the metal wreath frame.) If you don’t have floral wire, you can also attach flowers and holly sprigs with a hot glue gun. I followed Melissa’s advice, and purchased removable hooks to attach a wreath to our glass front door window.

During the past few months, my daughter has enjoyed collecting leaves and other found items to make garlands for our home along with me. For the leaves, she would poke a hole with a toothpick, and then thread them onto string. (This made a simple Thanksgiving decoration.)

You can also add in dehydrated slices of oranges or apples to your garlands. As we approach Christmas, you can create similar garlands out of pine cones or holly, as well.

Photo by Michele of

I keep decorating simple by filling bowls, baskets, and cake stands (from thrift stores) with greenery, paper/dried flowers, and fresh fruit. Instead of trying to make formal bouquets, this is a way for little ones to contribute their favorite found items! (We had a bowl of beautiful fall leaves sitting by our front door this past month to greet visitors.)

You can also place some greenery, mossy branches, or holly springs in a vase or pitcher, if desired. (And even use it as a Jesse Tree for Advent!) Just use what you have on hand.

A picture from Lindsay's Christmas table - ornaments in a punch bowl

A bowl of bright red apples is easily replenished with seasonal grocery purchases, and decorated with a holly branch. Some red vintage glass ornaments fill a cake stand, and are accented by simple white candles. Look around your home for glass or wooden bowls or baskets that you could use for the season!

How do you decorate naturally for Christmas?

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Striving for a Peaceful, Organized Christmas

Photo Credit

Guest post by Kristi McKenney from Courageous Homekeeping.

As hard as it is to believe, Christmas is just around  the corner.  Are you ready?

Christmas is my very favorite time of year.  I love the decorating, the snow…or at least the hope of snow, the lights, the family traditions, the presents, the cookies and the baking.  Not to mention, the celebration of the birth of our Savior!  I love everything about Christmas.

Except the stress.

Sometimes it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out around Christmastime.  There are so many demands.  For our time, our commitments and our money.

What are the areas where we feel stress this time of year, and how can we minimize that awful stress?


Ooh, that’s a big one isn’t it?  There is always more money that could be spent around Christmas.  Bigger presents, better decorations, more food, more clothing…the list could go on.  Money stress can be a huge deterrent to full enjoyment of the holiday season.  How do you combat it?

Simple.  Make a budget.  And stick to it.  Make a list of people that you will be buying gifts for.  Decide together with your spouse how much you’re comfortable spending on each gift. Make sure to consider  parties, hostess gifts, food preparation, gift wrapping, and all the extra expenses you will be incurring this month.  Agree on limits and stick to them. Start small when your children are young so they don’t grow up with large expectations.

Note from Lindsay: Our Christmas budget is $500 ($250 for personal family gifts, $150 for extended family gifts, $100 for tree, hospitality, and outside holiday entertainment), and this is one we start saving in January. Makes the holidays less stressful for your future reference.

Activities and Commitments

One of the most enjoyable things about the Christmas season is all the activities!  So many volunteer opportunities, parties, family gatherings, etc.  But sometimes there is SO much activity and SO much to do that it feels more like obligation than a joyful opportunity.  How do you make it through without feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck by December 26th?

Sit down with your spouse and make a list of values that are important to you to during the Christmas season. Use the holiday evaluation questions to help guide you in this process. Do you want to make a point to volunteer?  Do you want to have ample time with the family?  How are you going to keep Christ as the focus?  Schedule the things you value on your calendar first as your priorities.  With all the other activities and commitments, decide if they support your values or take away from them.  If they take away from the values you want to keep during the season, don’t be afraid to say no. Limit your Christmas activities to 2-3 for the month and schedule them in now. Any more than this can certainly be overwhelming. Keep it simple and these activities will be so much more enjoyable as a result.


After figuring out your money situation, your activities and commitments, it’s time to make some preparation lists.  Think about that company Christmas party.  Are you going to need a new dress?  New shoes?  Are your kids going to need clothing?  Are you going to need to bring a gift?  Are you going to need to bring food?  Thinking about all those things ahead of time will enable you to get things done on your own time.  It will save stress and probably money when you don’t have to run to the store, last minute, to buy one ingredient for a dish you have to make for the next day.


Discontentment is not directly related to the Christmas season, but boy can Christmas bring it out!  We are constantly comparing ourselves to others!

Whenever you have that nasty feeling of discontentment come up, ask yourself if there’s anything about the situation that you can change.  If it’s easily something that is within your control to change than do so!

However, if and when you find yourself in a situation where you’re feeling discontent and there is nothing in the situation you can change, remember this very important thing.  There are two very powerful thing you ALWAYS have control over… your attitude and your focus.

When I am feeling discontent about something, usually it is because I have decided that I don’t measure up in some way.  When I am feeling like that, who or what am I focused on?  Me.  I’m not thin enough, I’m not as pretty, my cooking isn’t as good, my house isn’t as decorated.  Do you see a theme?  Me.  I make it all about me.

And it’s not.

It’s about Jesus.  It’s about memories.  It’s about family.  It’s about love.

So…how are you celebrating Christmas this year?

So, how can you grow in cultivating peace in your home?

Kristi McKenney is a busy and happy wife of 12 years and mother to 5 kids, ages 10, 7 and 4 year old triplets!  She has found contentment in her God-given role, and most of her days are spent under piles of laundry, cleaning, chasing kids, baking cookies and cooking dinner.  You can find Kristi writing full time about God, marriage and family over at

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Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole

This is my favorite side dish for our holiday celebrations! It is simple, nutritious, and always receives rave reviews! Yes, it is certainly a bit of dessert with dinner. Yum! It’s even better prepared a day in advance, giving it more time to mesh the flavors.

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 apples – peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup sucanat/rapadura
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil (coconut oil adds wonderful flavor to this dish!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Peel and slice sweet potatoes and apples into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Melt the coconut oil/butter and add sweetener, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. Place the slices of apples and sweet potatoes throughout a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish. Drizzle with coconut oil and spice combination. Gently combine. Sprinkle with pecans, if desired.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned and soft.

Yield: 10-12 servings.

This post is a contribution for the Whole Foods for the Holidays: Side Dishes Carnival!

May you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

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Let Nothing Stand Between You

Photo credit: rickkennedy

This post is written by contributing writer, Kat.

The Story

Several years ago, I went to the grocery store with my first baby.

She was sitting in a cart that had been sterilized to surgical specifications by my vast supply of wipes and cleaners. She played with a toy that would stimulate her intellect and while shopping, I spoke and interacted with her, ad nauseum, as every new, over achieving mom does.

When I reached the cereal aisle, I found, much to my wanna-be Type A chagrin, that they had rearranged the cereals. As I searched for the items on my list, I took a couple steps to the right, away from the cart. And my baby girl.

Unknown to me, a large, impatient man came up behind me. Apparently, incapable of waiting his turn, he put his hands on my cart, where my baby was innocently sleeping. He stepped between me and my girl and began moving her AWAY from me, so he could squeeze in and get his box of cereal.

Cue new mama syndrome.

I REALLY didn’t care if he was a big, baldheaded, tatooed biker man who could squash me with his pinky.

Dude was in T-r-o-u-b-l-e.

I pulled my baby back, looked up (way up) at him and said, “You do NOT want to do that.” Then, more politely, “Let me go ahead and get out of your way.”

I was furious. I had no fear. Do NOT get between this mama and her baby.

Goofy story. Important point.

Sometimes it’s ok to be angry.

Our issues, our junk, our baggage all drive a wedge between us and our children. Between us and God.

When we see our children in danger or afraid, we transform. We have no fear, no limits. We feel invincible and ready to crush anything that gets in our way. The love within us empowers us to fight what is in front of us. Without hesitation.

Part of our job as mothers is to train our children; to build their character. But the other part of our job is to train ourselves; to build our character. We must intentionally name, face, and take down those things in us that would pull us away from a life lived radically for God. We must tear down the idols.

Because there’s also good chance that our junk will be our kids junk. Our issues unresolved will trickle down into our children’s lives and hold them back from fully pursuing Him.

That makes me furious. Passionate.

So if I have to get up at 5:30am to fall at the feet of Jesus and let Him scrape off my rough edges, if I need to take the Light of His Word into my deepest darkest places, if I need to surrender my dreams for His, if I need to ask Him to use the hammer and chisel on my heart… bring it.

I will let nothing – not my past, not my failures, not my insecurity, not my pride, not my fears, not my ambition, not my condemnation, not my guilt – I will let nothing come between me and Him; between me and them. Between Him and them.

They are worth it. He is worth it.

What in your life that needs to go? Name it and take it down.

Comments { 41 }

Homemade Natural Chapstick

I frequently experience dry and chapped lips and often use chapstick as a means of solving the dryness and providing me with moisture and comfort to my lips. Today, I want to share with you a simple tutorial on how to make your own chapstick with 3 completely natural ingredients. They happen to be my favorite: shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. These ingredients help moisturize, sooth, heal, and restore dry lips naturally. They grow in creation and team up together for a very effective lip balm! The balance in the ingredients gives it a very moisturizing and non-greasy affect. It blends into your lip in a matter of a few seconds and does not leave a glistening oil appearance. This recipe is so easy, it would make great Christmas stocking stuffers. And the beauty of it is that this simple recipe also makes a fabulous hard lotion bar – perfect for dry and cracked skin. You can easily make a smaller or larger quantity as desired. Any extra can be made into a hard lotion bar by pouring into ice cube trays.


2 Tablespoons beeswax (about 1 oz)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons shea butter
12 lip balm containers


1. Melt beeswax in a small pan or crockpot over low heat. Add coconut oil and shea butter until all ingredients a melted. Add a few drops essential oil if desired. I did not use any essential oil and it is smells wonderfully like honey!
2. Using a small medicinal dropper, pour the melted liquid into your lip balm containers. Add a few extra drops to the top after filling each container as the ingredients will shrink as they cool.
3. Cool completely to harden. Cover with cap and decorate or label as desired.

Enjoy nice cool and refreshing natural lips!

I purchased all the ingredients, including dropper and lip balm containers from Mountain Rose Herbs.

This video is offered courtesy of Made On Hard Lotion bars, where you can purchase these lovely lip balms already prepared for you!

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One Thousand Gifts: Learning to See and Name Every One

Photo Credit

One of my goals this year was to become a radically thankful woman. I know in my heart that thankfulness is key to true joy in this life. I know that I could truly experience the fullness of life when my heart chose to purposefully focus on the good. I know my life could bring honor and praise to my Creator, and attract a watching world around me, when I was thankful and did not take for granted the precious gift of this life. This is my quest.

And yet so often, I falter in depression. I stumble into focusing on my little daily troubles – the ever growing laundry pile, the messy toys thrown here and there, and the financial struggles of staying within our budget. I loss sight of the good…I loss sight of the beauty all around me.

Since meeting Ann Voskamp at the Relevant Conference this last month, I have been challenged again and again by her life and witness. Her mission has been to list out one thousand gifts – watching, recording, and naming all the sweet little gifts that God bestows each and every day that we so often pass by without a second thought. She has desired to see and savor every moment. It is a list of one thousand gifts. Not what she wants. But what she has.

“I don’t need more time to breath so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here – for the seeing eye.”

I have witnessed her passion and I can see the way it has changed her life. By focusing on every little gift, through the thick and thin, she radiates such true joy that speaks clearly through her speaking and writing. I am eager to follow in her example. She has now surpassed one thousand and is into the second thousand, but she continues to write, and observe each and every day, what sweetness the daily grace that God supplies. Observing every time God whispers “I love you” in the here and now.

I started my very own gratitude journal earlier this year, but have strayed. This month I am starting anew. I have my little notebook. I keep it with me throughout the day. I jot down little gifts here and there. And my life is already beginning to be transformed. Praise is what I was made for!

“The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be – unbelievably – possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.”

My goal is to record 1000 gifts over a period of 6 months – which equals out to recording 5 gifts per day. I know as I get going, and I pray God transforms my eyes to see the beauty all around me, that I will quickly surpass this goal as I get enraptured by these gifts. I am joining the Gratitude Community and will be sharing my gifts via twitter and collectively here every month during my monthly family journal. Will you join me?

Ann shares in her amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, (coming in January) that the last thing Jesus did before facing His death was sitting down, breaking bread, and giving thanks (Luke 22:19). In the Greek, it is eucharisteo. It means thanksgiving. At its root it means grace and its derivative is joy. This deep joy is found only at the eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving. We start our week at the table of thanksgiving and communion at church. We take bread every day. These are moments and opportunities that Jesus intended for us to give thanks. The act of eucharisteo – thanksgiving- always proceeds the miracle (John 11:41). It is the central symbol of Christianity. True wellness and completeness is promised to the one who gives thanks (Luke 17:17-19).

We will enter into the full life when we habitually practice and learn the art of giving thanks. It is a hunt – a journey – a discipline. But this is where true contentment is found.

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live..He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” - Albert Schweitzer

And thus I begin…

#1 – The sweet moments in the early morning reading the Word with my husband
#2 – The delight of cuddling in his strong arms
#4 – A warm house that shelters from the storms outside
#6 – The sweet joys of smothering my little ones with kisses
#8 – Talking until I fade into oblivion
#10 – The glorious ability to read and enter so many different worlds
#16 – Meeting new people and new friendships sprouting
#18 – Two freezers full of food
#25 – The first “please” that comes from my little boy’s mouth learning his manners
#26 – The precious “I love you, Mommy” initiated by my girl

I started on November 1st and have already surpassed 100 gifts. There is so much to be thankful for when we slow down, stop, and simply observe. It is beautiful!

The quotes above are all taken from Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts, a book that I highly recommend, one that is transforming my life. I was blessed to receive a digital copy as an attendee at the Relevant Conference. It is set to be released in January 2011, so add it to your wish list!

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Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

With the holidays just around the corner, we cannot miss out on a large pot of mashed potatoes! They are truly delicious when topped with gravy or simply eaten on their own. Mashed potatoes are a huge hit for our family, and we serve them with roast chicken, beef burgundy, and many other meat dishes. I find most mashed potatoes to be dry and flavorless…but not when prepared with these simple ingredients! Don’t skimp on the butter – it makes a world of difference!

8 large yukon gold potatoes (yukon gold make the most golden delicious mashed potatoes)
1 cup potato water (reserved from cooking liquid – can be replaced with chicken broth or cream for even more flavor!)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use cream cheese or sour cream, as desired)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup butter (or 5-6 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper


1. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a large pot and fill with water just until the potatoes are covered. Cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, remove lid and allow to cook for about 35-40 minutes, until potatoes are easy to prick with a fork due to softness and falling apart. Allow to cool slightly.
2. Carefully drain the majority of the water, reserving approximately 1 cup. Place all the potatoes and reserved 1 cup of the potato water in a mixer. Turn the mixer on and blend until all the potatoes are nicely mashed.
3. Add mayonnaise, minced garlic, butter and salt. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Add more liquids if necessary to make a creamy consistency.

Keep warm till ready to serve! Yum!

Yield: 6 servings.

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Stretching A Whole Chicken for 4+ Meals

Every year our family purchases 12 lovely pastured chickens from a local farm. Chickens that have enjoyed the great outdoors to their hearts content makes the most nutritious bird. Only 12 chickens? Yes, I use one chicken each month and make it stretch for at least four or more meals for our family of four. It is a great frugal way to get the most value and nutrition by purchasing them whole. You get all bones which make fabulous broth! Here I am today to share our method of preparing multiple meals from one chicken at one time.

Roasted Chicken

The first step is to thaw the whole chicken and prepare it into a scrumptious roast while a batch of mashed potatoes, gravy, and a side salad!


1 large chicken (4-6 pounds)
2 Tablespoons softened butter or coconut oil
2 Tablespoons melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, oregano, or basil (or combination)
sea salt and pepper


1. Wash and pat dry the exterior and interior of your chicken. Remove any giblets that may be in the cavity and set aside for your broth.

2. Combine the 2 Tablespoon butter with garlic and parsley/oregano/basil seasonings. Carefully peel back the skin at the back of the neck and rub the butter seasoning mix all around the meat, between the skin and meat. This will give the meat a wonderful moist texture. You can skip this step if you are in a hurry and the meat will still be fabulous with just the outside oil and seasoning!

3. Place chicken in a roasting pan, dutch/french oven, or any oven safe pan you may have. Preferably the more fitted the container the better for keeping all the juices together. Place the chicken breast side down into the pan.

4. Cover chicken with half the melted butter/oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary as desired.

5. Place uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

6. After 1 hour, rotate the chicken and sprinkle on the remaining butter/oil and season as desired and return to oven for an additional 1 hour.

7. Chicken is done when the legs pull away from the body of the chicken and if you cut in between the leg and body and the juice runs clear.

8. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

We slice up this chicken and serve with this yummy gravy:

Chicken drippings
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk together till smooth and thickened. Season to taste.

We don’t eat a lot of meat at any given meal, but make it stretch further by eating more vegetables. As you can see in the photo, I serve the roast chicken over mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli and squash. This really helps to get the most amount of meals from one chicken.

After we have this fabulous chicken for dinner, I place the entirety of the remaining chicken in the fridge overnight. In the morning I prepare the following two dishes at once, because it saves time and energy. Sometime the next day, de-bone the chicken and remove all the chicken meat and place in a separate bowl. Set aside two cups of meat for Chicken & Dumplings, and two cups of meat for Chicken Curry or another dish of your choice. These can be placed in a half gallon jar in the fridge till ready for use. Any additional meat is used for chicken sandwiches to send with hubby for lunches.

Chicken Stock

Bones from 1 whole chicken
Gizzards or feet (optional)
1/2 cup white vinegar
12-16 cups filtered water
1/2 onion, chopped in half
2-4 carrot peelings
2 celery sticks and tops
1 bunch parsley (or 1 Tablespoon or so dried parsley)

Homemade chicken stock is full of healing properties.

1. Place all the bones in a large stock pot. Leave a small portion of the chicken on the bone if you desire to make a chicken soup. Add the reserved giblets, chicken feet, or any additional bones you may have reserved.

2. Fill the pot with approximately 12-16 cups of filtered water.

3. Add white vinegar and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Vinegar is necessary to draw out the minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth. During this time, you want to prepare your vegetable additions.

4. You can use any older looking vegetables, carrot peels, onion peels, celery tops, potato peels, etc. I love making stock because nothing goes to waste! Many times I will store a bag of peelings in the freezer from other dishes that can be thrown in for the stock.  I will actually peel my ingredients for my next recipe, a double batch of Chicken & Dumplings, and use the peelings for my stock. I use approximately 4 carrot peelings, 1/2 onion (cut into wedges), 2 celery tops and 1 celery stalk cut in half, and 2 potato peelings. There is no need for perfection here. I use what I have on hand and it all goes in. ;)

5. After adding the vegetables, bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 12-24 hours.

6. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add 1 bunch of parsley.

7. After it has cooked, cool completely. Then drain the broth from the vegetables and bones. I will discard the vegetables and remove any additional meat on the bones for a chicken soup or other purpose before discarding the bones. I will freeze half of the stock by placing in a large gallon size freezer bag. This will be used for soup for another meal.

The remaining stock I will use for soup within the week – Garden Chowder or Zuppa Tuscana are regular delicious soups at our house!

Chicken & Dumplings

In the picture above, you see all the chopped veggies that I prepare for my Chicken & Dumplings dish. I have just peeled them all for my stock and use the remaining vegetable chopped nicely for this dish. I use the reserved two cups of chopped chicken for this recipe. I can then prepare this right away or cover and place in fridge for the evening meal. I can easily make a double batch of Chicken & Dumplings in two separate 8 x 8 pans and freeze one for another busy day.

Chicken Curry

With the additional 2 cups of reserved chopped chicken meat, I will often make Chicken Curry - another delicious and nutritious meal. Another favorite would be Chicken Enchiladas that could also be made with this meat.

Finally, any remaining meat makes some fabulous lunches for my husband throughout the week. Roasted chicken sandwiches with mayo, dijon mustard, cheese, pickles, lettuce and any other toppings make a full satisfying sandwich!

So my whole chicken has made 1 roast, 1 batch of chicken stock (enough for at least 2 soups), 2 main dishes, and enough for a few additional chicken sandwiches for lunch! I would say we used everything possible on that chicken!

How do you use your chicken?

Comments { 93 }

Serving Thanksgiving – With Breakfast

Photo Credit

Written by contributing writer, Ann Dunagan.

“Hey, that’s not fair! You already got one-and-a-half more pieces than me!” Our 11-year-old glared at her brother, as he proceeded to “stake his claim” by grabbing for the butter and syrup.

As I was working on yet another batch of French toast, I realized our kids definitely needed more than food on their plates. Our family needed a fresh lesson in thankfulness and gratitude. The petty bickering was really bothering me, especially in light of several stories I had read only a few hours earlier.

So, while the kids sat on their stools at our kitchen counter, waiting (not so patiently) for our next round of French toast, I proceeded to give a lesson:

“You know, kids, we need to be thankful for what we have, and realize that we’ve been given a lot! In the Bible, God says, ‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (I Thessalonians 5:18). Instead of complaining, God wants us to continually live with an attitude of thankfulness and joy.”

Just that morning, I had been reading a Voice of the Martyrs magazine, about how a minister named Richard Wurmbrand had endured persecution while being imprisoned for his faith. He had spent over 14 years in Romanian prisons, including long periods in complete solitude – with no Bible, no books, no scrap paper or pencils, and (obviously) no one to talk to. Even during this horrible time, this man still found ways to be grateful. The article shared how Rev. Wurmbrand meditated on scripture he had memorized, and how he (along with other Christian prisoners) kept his mind active by praying fervently throughout the night for various needs from around the world. Yet the example that most-deeply touched my heart was reading about how this man of God learned to rejoice.

For a moment, I put down my spatula and reached for the magazine lying on the counter. “Just listen to this guy’s attitude,” I told my kids. “This man found reasons to be grateful, even in prison, and even when there was absolutely nothing to be thankful for:

“The Bible tells us about one of the great joys we can have,” Rev. Wurmbrand explains, “even in a prison cell: ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice’ (Romans 12:15). I rejoiced that there were families somewhere who gathered with their children, read the Bible together, told jokes, and were happy with each other. Somewhere there was a boy who loved a young girl and dated her; I could be happy about them. There they had a prayer meeting; and there was someone who studied; and there is somebody who enjoyed good food, etc. We could rejoice with those who rejoiced.”

- Quote by Richard Wurmbrand, Founder of The Voice of the Martyrs - (Excerpted from The Triumphant Church, pp.32-33).

We need to have hearts of gratitude, which means being thankful for even little things that we usually take for granted.

I asked my kids, “When was the last time you were grateful for your toothbrush or toothpaste . . . or for your teeth? Or when was the last time you were thankful for hot running water, or a good toilet?”

That morning, I was also inspired by three examples I had read in a little booklet about gratitude, and my kids heard about these as well:

Back in the 19th Century, a well-known commentator named Matthew Henry was robbed. Yet even in the midst of a terrible circumstance, this man found ways to be grateful. Just listen to this attitude, as written in Henry’s journal:

Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed!”

David Brainerd, a devoted missionary to the Native American people, was characterized by a thankful spirit. Even when he had a high fever and great pain, he was thankful that this challenge had come when he was among friends; when he ill and alone in his little hut, he thanked God saying, “Blessed be the Lord, I am not exposed in the open air…”; and in another instance, facing weeks of outdoor solitude, forging through swamps, and enduring dark nights, he thanked God that his loneliness “drove him to experience intimate fellowship with the Lord…”

And if you remember Disney’s classic film, Pollyanna, the story of a missionary orphan who goes to live with a difficult aunt. This sweet-natured girl brings joy to the entire town by looking on the bright side of things, an attitude she calls her “Glad Game,” even in the midst of challenges.

(Examples adapted from The Attitude of Gratitude, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss).

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go”; and in Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

By the time the kids had a fresh plate of French toast, they also had a quick lesson in gratitude, and I was feeling better as a mom.

Later, our son came up to me and asked for forgiveness for his attitude; and I could tell he was truly sorry. And our daughter, who just moments ago listened to me read this article, asked me to please tell you all that she already said she was sorry, and that she’s thankful . . . but actually, her brother was the one who started it.

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October at Our Home

So as you can see it has been a full month of traveling at our home. Aaron attended two conferences, and I attended two conferences…all within 30 days! We decided to get all our traveling out at one time! But it was so rich! True Woman & Relevant were life changing experiences, ones I will cherish and continue to learn and grow from and will surely be inspiration for my writing. It is certainly fall here in the Northwest and the weather is mighty nippy. We are bringing out the warm soups and stews! Karis and Titus are doing very well – learning the importance of playing peacefully together has certainly been our challenge. Karis took the scissors to Titus hair this month and we had to say farewell to his adorable curls. I am praying they come back! But every moment with them is such a gift – of that I am certain!

We are settling down this month getting ready for a simple holiday season.

October Reading

Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home by Ginger Plowman – a refreshing read about the importance of establishing a peaceful home for God’s glory. Your homemaking is your worship when completed with a joyful heart. True beauty radiates from a woman who gracefully walks the path designed uniquely for her. Ginger delves into addressing dealing with conflict gracefully, disciplining your children, and so much more in this inspiring and practical book.

“Home is a haven where energy is restored, spirits are renewed, and love resides.” – Ginger Plowman

Up next…Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick!

Real Food News Around the Web

Whole Foods for the Holidays: A Real Food Progressive Dinner - If you haven’t checked this out, please do! Real Food bloggers are sharing all their favorite recipes for the holidays – from breads, to main dishes, to desserts. Lots of fun!

Real Food on A Real Budget & Healthy Homemaking E-book Sale by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home – Stephanie is running a huge sale on her ebooks while she celebrates her blogaversary! Get her books for 50% off! Real Food on A Budget is a useful tool to help practically assist you in saving money while buying good wholesome food for your family. And when you buy Real Food on A Budget, you get a free copy of Healthy Homemaking – a basic guide to establishing a healthy non-toxic home. And 50% of the profits is going towards caring for orphans in the Philippines as well as helping Stephanie’s family move towards international adoption.

Welcome new sponsors!

Bulk Herb Store is a wonderful Christian family business that offers whole nutritious herbs, books, and tutorials for your natural healing and wholeness.

Puritan Picks is a sweet reformed version of Netflix. Find a great collection of Christian movies, sermons, and documentaries to inspire your family through a monthly subscription!

Lilla Rose offers adorable hair clips for ladies to make doing your hair a breeze while maintaining lovely elegance.

Thanks for your support!

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