Archive | April, 2010

Growing Through Motherhood

This post is brought to you by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Vina.

Chris Denbow

The most popular topics for moms these days seem to be about growing in the practice of motherhood. Few of us enter this holy profession with intentional preparation like we do the careers we choose. Often we stumble our way into it and learn as best as we can how to nurture our little ones physically, emotionally and spiritually as we go. We learn about creating routines, nourishing meals, family mission statements, and so much more. But as much as motherhood is an opportunity to grow the many skills and attitudes necessary to nurture a family and a home, I believe it also a timely gift to grow ourselves through it.

The Gift of Simplicity

    “Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art. They seem to be the purpose of God for his whole creation.” – Richard Holloway

Because mothers wear many hats both inside and outside the home, we quickly learn that we must simplify our lives so we can thrive. For those of us who stay at home, it is imperative that we figure out the essential purpose of our day to day tasks and the meaning behind our everyday mundane, repetitive chores so we can focus on the relationships that truly matter most. We grow in simplicity as a matter of necessity, and not by choice. Or else we drown. Motherhood then becomes a gift to help us learn what we are all about, live simply as we can and we let go of the fluff that often distracts us.

Has this been true of you? What are the ways you’ve seen motherhood change you towards a more simple life? How has it spurred you to seek simplicity in your personal life?

The Gift of Authenticity

    “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” – May Sarton

There has never been a ruder awakening in my life about my desperate shortcomings other than motherhood. The huge responsibility of nurturing another life gets me thinking of all the ways I don’t measure up to whatever ideal it is I picture in my head. It’s like a magnifying glass over the things I’m incompetent in: cooking, keeping house, self-care, and more. But it is precisely because of this that motherhood offers us a way to grow into the person we truly are. We learn to be painfully honest of our weaknesses while we gratefully embrace our strengths. We daily stand on grace and nothing else if only to keep going in this rigorous task we have been given. The gift of authenticity. No more pretending to be more than who we are.

Have you seen motherhood change you towards a more authentic life? What is your experience like?

The Gift of Creativity

    “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” – Albert Einstein

Motherhood is about creating. We’re given a powerful opportunity to participate in creating life, beginning in our wombs, and beyond. As a new mom, I’ve had to learn how to create in the kitchen even when it’s the last thing I would choose to do. I’ve learned to create with my hands things I would otherwise never ever think about if I wasn’t a mom: cloth diapers, dresses, dolls, and more. If I let it, motherhood can draw me back into the creative world of our children who see everything with such delight and wonder. The songs, the dances, the long walks, the colors, the ideas, the interconnectedness of everything they see and experience. Truly, our children are the best teachers for those of us who have fallen out of touch with our inner creative child. A gift of creativity from the inside out is priceless.

Does this resonate with you? Do you feel like motherhood has given you a new opportunity to relive the creative side you may have long forgotten?


    “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Ghandi

Prior to becoming a mom, I’ve always been drawn to children. I taught 2nd graders at one point when I lived in China after college. But motherhood has multiplied that heart for the little ones ten times and more. When I look at my darling girl, I think of the many other little girls in this world and I want for them what I want for my daughter. I am filled with anger when I hear about little girls being sold into prostitution. My heart breaks for refugee children and orphans who have no place to call homes. Motherhood is continually making spaces for my heart that I thought were already filled. A gift of unexpected generosity, especially when motherhood is already about giving ourselves away to the small people in our lives on a daily basis. And yet, there is more of ourselves to give.

Have you felt motherhood draw you to a more generous life, when you didn’t think you had more to give? In what ways has it stretched you?

We’ve truly been given an incredibly gift as mothers. Everyday we have opportunities to grow in simplicity, authenticity, creativity and generosity. And whether or not we say yes to these opportunities may have more weight than say, learning to cook the best pot roast ever. Because these are the very gifts our children will take with them now, and long after they leave home.

Vina spends much of her ordinary days getting to know her winsome 20-month old daughter and seeing the world through her eyes. She loves learning about everyday simplicity and authenticity, which she shares in her blog, A Nourishing Home.
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Fabulous Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those warm comforting meal for cold weather, and a delicious satisfying meal at our house. Combining grass-fed beef, homemade bread crumbs, pastured eggs, and raw milk, and you have a full nutritious protein meal. We like to side this dinner with mashed potatoes and a fresh salad.

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup bread crumbs (or make your own)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rubbed sage
dash of pepper
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup rapadura/sucanat, maple syrup (or 1/4 cup honey)
1 tsp vinegar

1. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, breadcrumbs, onion, salt, sage, and pepper. Add beef and mix well.
2. Shape into an 8-1/2 in x 4-1/2 in. loaf in an ungreased shallow loaf pan.
3. Combine remaining ingredients (sweetener, ketchup and vinegar); spread the mixture over meat loaf.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until no longer pink; drain.
5. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

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Daring Mothers & Daughters….& Dirty Feet

This article was written by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

I’ve always had this “thing” for baby feet. I pull off darling shoes, and little newborn socks, and just want to kiss each of those tiny toes! I always ponder where a baby’s precious feet will go, and about God’s destiny and purpose for each new life. But speaking as a mother, what happens when our kids grow up, and God perhaps would call our sons, or our DAUGHTERS, to dangerous places?

Ann & daughter, Christi

Our oldest daughter, Christi, recently climbed a mountain barefoot. She didn’t want to wear out her TOMS, which incidentally are shoes produced by a company to help impoverished kids . . . . who don’t have shoes. These dirty feet (pictured above) actually give a pretty clear glimpse of our daughter.

Christi’s always dreamed of daring things for God. She’s grown up on a steady diet of missionary biographies — Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Florence Nightingale, Lottie Moon, and Elisabeth Elliot; but she’s done more than merely read about godly self-sacrificing women. Christi’s been living-out her own mission adventure story, as she’s also continually dreaming about the future.

The Bible says, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” - Romans 10:15

I want to be a mom who encourages each of my children to completely fulfill God’s destiny — not by my efforts, but by God’s GRACE!!!

My husband and I know that each of our sons, and our DAUGHTERS, have been entrusted by God into our family to be raised FOR HIM and His mission-minded and eternal purposes. We want each of our kids, including each son and each DAUGHTER, to fully obey God’s call and purpose for his or her life. Sometimes, as a caring and loving mom (who remembers kissing my babies’ feet and tucking away their precious hand-knitted booties for the next generation), that can be challenging and stretching . . . but oh, what a JOY!!!!

Our daughter, Christi

Here are a few pictures of our daughter on a mission outreach in East Africa. Christi was instrumental in helping to establish two orphanages in Uganda, East Africa, currently caring for over 700 children orphaned primarily by AIDS. During her last year at home, Christi worked tirelessly in our ministry office, coordinating child sponsors and sharing needs. She’s traveled the globe to share the Gospel and to help others; but her passion for people who need Jesus is just as fervent here in the United States. She loves to mentor young women, to pray for those who are hurting, and to speak out for world missions!

As mothers in God’s kingdom, we need to raise our daughters to love Jesus AND to realize that multitudes of God’s precious daughters throughout the world desperately need all the motherly-and-sisterly-love we can give, along with our sacrificial prayer and help.

Rescuing one of God’s Girls . . . in Uganda, East Africa

When Christi was 15-years-old, she wrote a powerful orphan essay about the needs of one abused girl, named Jennifer, and this essay was only the beginning of God stirring His compassion in our daughter’s heart.

Here is a picture of this rescued girl today (four years after Christi wrote the article). Jennifer continues to live with our dear friends, Naboth and Alice, and is a vital testimony of God’s hand on these orphan children. The most recent report is so beautiful.

Naboth wrote:

Jennifer is now in primary four. She sleeps and “feeds” at our home, and is very bright and hard working. She “leads praising” in Sunday school. Her hope and happiness is restored, as God has healed her wounds.

Ministering to God’s Girls in Cambodia

As for Christi, she’s now in her final semester at a Christian university, writing her senior paper on the horrible issues surrounding child prostitution, human trafficking and the necessary process of healing after sexual abuse. She’s also preparing to be an assistant team leader for an upcoming two-month summer mission to Cambodia, to minister to young girls (our precious sisters in Jesus) rescued out of the sex trade.

Sometimes, we selectively read God’s word. In Proverbs 31, our Bible studies focus on the “lovely” verses regarding beauty and virtue, but miss the need for godly compassion and justice. As virtuous women, our households are to be “clothed in scarlet” (protected by the blood of Jesus, for perhaps dangerous assignments). We’re to extend our “hand to the needy” and to train our daughters — as a voice for the speechless, the dying, and the lost — to fear the Lord.

Here are my favorite Proverbs 31 verses:

“Open your mouth for the speechless, for the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth and judge righteously, and plead for the cause of the poor and the needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As a longtime homeschooling mom (finishing my 19th year) I’m aware of accusations concerning homeschooled children who’ve been isolated and sheltered from reality.

And I confess:

We have protected our children from compromising friends, sinful lifestyles, and wasteful distractions. We have kept our kids “sheltered” in prayer by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ. And we have rejected the reality of low expectations.  However,  through our homeschooling freedom we’ve actually exposed our children — with oversight and spiritual protection — to  horrendous realities in our world. As a result, our older children are now helping to IMPACT the darkness with the light of our wonderful Lord!

Being a godly mother can be a daring assignment.

May we accept our mission in faith, not fear! May God’s goodness flow through us and our family, and through each of son and each DAUGHTER.

May we raise DARING daughters who follow God’s purposes, in complete submission to Him, with fervent love  . . . and perhaps, with dirty feet.

And as moms, may we be DARING too!

For what mission are you raising your children to accomplish today?

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 9 to 23, with 3 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of two orphanages in East Africa (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

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Soaked Dutch Babies/German Pancakes

This was a traditional family breakfast meal during my childhood, and we loved it! I would love watching through the oven door window as these pancakes would puff up beautifully while baking. Served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice and maple syrup is simply scrumptious. Now we have adapted our family favorite recipe for soaking to include the benefit of breaking down the phytates in the grain to make it more readily digestible for your body. Scrumptious! If desired, you can avoid soaking, and simply beat 1 cup milk (in replacement of the acid medium) with 1 cup sprouted flour after beating the eggs. Both methods work well.

1 cup acid medium – whole milk kefir, yogurt, or combination of water and lemon juice (for dairy intolerant) – I have not tried this with the water method, so you would have to experiment
1 cup whole wheat flour, spelt or kamut (as desired)
4-5 large eggs (free range/pastured is our preference), as desired
1/3 cup coconut oil and butter (any combination)
dash of vanilla extract

Combine acid medium and whole wheat flour. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. When you are ready to serve, heat oven to 425 degrees. Place oil/butter in small chunks in a 15×11 inch glass baking pan. Place pan in oven to melt. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a blender for 1 minute. Add soaked flour mixture and beat again for 1 minute. Add dash of vanilla extract. Pull out the baking pan from oven and rotate around to spread the melted butter/oil around to cover the entire bottom of pan. Slowly pour the pancake batter into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown and fluffy. Enjoy!

Yield: 4-6 servings.

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Stainless Steel Scrubber: A New Favorite Tool

For the past few years in my pursuit of natural living, I have been stumped by the ever increasing toilet bowl ring stains and water/soap scum buildup in my shower. Natural cleaners just were not working real effectively for me for these issues (and I tried vinegar, oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide, etc). I wanted to avoid chlorine bleach or comet, but that seemed like the only solution, otherwise, just live with it, I thought.

I also have had difficultly finding an easy, natural, and effective means of scrubbing my stainless steel cookware clean. And lastly, the stove top loves to accumulate dried food particles that get caked thoroughly on.

My solution? Enter…Stainless Steel Scrubbers. They do not rust or splinter, are frugal ($2.50 for 2 on Amazon), can be easily disinfected (throw them in the dishwasher or laundry), and do not accumulate food particles like so many other scrubbers. With a little elbow grease, these scrubbers rid me completely of toilet bowl stains and shower scum, leaving me with sparkling clean results. My husband was absolutely thrilled. I had no idea how these things had annoyed him so, and yet he patiently endured all my experimenting.

I now keep one scrubber by the kitchen sink for all my dish washing, and one in the cleaning bucket. They will not last indefinitely, but so far mine have held up very well after three months of daily use. I understand they also work well for scrubbing BBQ’s and cleaning garden tools, shop tools, etc. I am sure you can come up with some more ideas. I did not experience any noticeable scratching on my porcelain, but use with caution and test a small unnoticeable area first.

My cleaning bucket has really simplified as of late. A stainless steel scrubber, my enviro cloth, oxygen bleach (for disinfecting the toilet), an old toothbrush (for those nooks and crannies) and a toilet bowl brush. Ahh! Simplicity…

What frugal tools have you found for effective natural cleaning?

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Get a Chef, a Maid and a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines

The following post comes to you by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Kat.

Would you like more time in your day? Would you like to stop nagging your children to do their chores? Would you like a more peaceful home with less effort?

Effective daily routines can make it all possible.

The Power of Routine

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” Planning and creative thinking allows us to do more with less time and less effort.

Successful people subscribe to the power of routine. Whether it’s an athlete going through her workout routine or a business woman who has developed a process that allows her company to run even in her absence. Every successful business and organization has time tested and finely tuned routines and processes. If we want to be effective and intentional mothers, we need to create systems that work for us.

Taking the time to develop a routine frees up our time and our brains. We can use our routines to easily delegate responsibilities to others and teach our children. Or we can create routines so that our brain power can be focused on other activities like listening to an audiobook, a podcast or our favorite music while we do our chores.

Here are 3 key routines that will reduce your stress and increase your free time.

Get A Chef – Routines for Meals

We have all heard how helpful meal planning can be, but the process of creating all the menus and shopping lists can be quite daunting. For many, it’s hard to stick it out long enough to see the payoff.

The truth about meal planning is that you don’t have to do it every single week. The key is to create 8-12 plans and then just rotate them.

All you need to do is take 1 hour each week to plan your meals. Create your recipe and shopping list and save it on your computer. After 6-8 weeks, you’ll be able to cut your weekly meal planning time by 90% because rather than having to do a full meal plan each week, you can simply grab one you’ve already created and head to the store.

Another option is to have a meal planning party. Invite 8-12 friends over and have each of them prepare a week’s worth of simple, healthy, tasty meal recipes and a corresponding categorized shopping list. Ask them to bring 1 copy for everyone in attendance. At the party you’ll all exchange meal plans/shopping lists and you’ll leave with two to three months worth of meal plans that you can rotate. Voila.

Get A Maid – Routines for Cleaning

Some people clean best in one weekly spurt. Others do it best little by little. The first step is to decide which method works for you. Then write out your cleaning schedule. It may seem silly to write down that you’ll mop the floor on Thursday or dust on Tuesday, but the process of writing down those simple tasks releases your brain to think about other things rather than keep track of the minutiae of cleaning. The more tasks you can get out of your head and into a schedule, the less stressed you’ll be.

First, list the specific chores that make the biggest impact on the peacefulness and presentation of your home. Then highlight the areas of your house that need the most focus.

Too often when cleaning, we get stuck on the task and lose sight of the big picture. For example, we might need to clean the master bathroom and because we have all the bathroom cleaning supplies out, we take the time to clean ALL the bathrooms. In reality, though, that half bath RARELY gets used and doesn’t need to be cleaned at all and that extra 15 minutes could have been used more effectively.

So when creating our cleaning routine, it’s important to really sit down and think about the chores that will have the biggest impact so that we can focus our time and energy accordingly.

With this list in hand, create a core cleaning chart for the day, week, month, quarter and year.

Yes, it will take some time initially (30 minutes to an hour), but it will save you MUCH more time in the long run.

Get A Nanny – Routines for Your Children

This is the set of routines that have helped me the most. I have three young children and directing all of them towards going to school or getting ready for bed can often leave me longing for the peaceful bliss of working the Air Traffic Control tower at LaGuardia Airport on Christmas Eve while all the power is out. Blindfolded.

My children relied on me to direct and motivate them. And it took every ounce of patience I had. And more.

But then (cue skies parting, sun shining down and angels singing) I simply created a chart that walks them through their routines. Now they have discovered the joy of checking things off a list, accomplishing chores and feeling less like puppets and more like grown ups.

Word Of Caution

Just as a hired cook, maid or nanny should not come into your home and disrupt your family or negatively affect your relationships, we need to make sure our routines work for us and not let them control us. Introduce routines in a positive way. Make it fun and exciting and ALWAYS put your relationships above the routine. Be flexible.

Action Step

Mark off a 3-5 hour block of time on your calendar this week (or use your weekly planning retreat time) to work on creating your routines.


When we feel overwhelmed, routines provide a simple way to find our footing again. Routines can literally free up HOURS each week and help you create the warm, peaceful home you desire. It does take time to plan them, but the reward in the long run is well worth it.

What tips do you have to share for creating effective routines?

Kat blogs at Inspired To Action, a site dedicated to helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world. Kat and her husband Jimmy live the great state of Texas and have 3 children ages 7, 5 and 2. Kat loves music, running, technology, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order.
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March at Our Home

Our Family - March 2010

Spring is here and the weather outside has been truly delightful! I love those first sprouts of warmer days, spring walks with flowers blossoming around you, thoughts of summer, and true gratefulness at the beauty around me. I have been blessed this month to celebrate our son’s first birthday, have some spring family photos done (thanks to my wonderful sister, Christa), and continue to adjust to cultivating more of a simplicity and intentionality in my homemaking.

I did have another bout of insomnia this month, but the Lord is again graciously carrying me through this trial and helping me work through my emotions and struggles. My husband has been so supportive and encouraging.

Aaron is thriving at his new job and loves the corporate environment! His job has provided stability in our finances more so than we have ever experienced. Direct deposit is a wonderful gift. With this blessing, we are purposefully paying off the remainder of business debt that had accumulated and get into a purposeful savings plan. We love Mint for our financial tracking…it’s free!

The kiddos are doing very well. They love routine more than I ever realized. Since we are limited to one car for the time being, we are staying home a lot more. We established a good morning and evening routine. Taking a daily walk (along as the weather proves endurable) with the kids helps refresh our spirits and get us tired for good naps. Karis and I have a quality learning time together each morning now, doing a focused learning activity, reading, baking, or simply giggling over tea. I love it! I have learned the importance of scheduling in these times together or they get forgotten. I am blessed with two lovely children that love to smile!

Titus & Karis

Welcome Contributors!

I am excited to announce that I am welcoming three new monthly blog contributors to join me here at Passionate Homemaking! Please welcome Vina, Kat & Ann – three amazing inspired women! They all equally have a passion to encourage women in all things natural, simple and mission-mindedness. I am thrilled to have them join my team. Please check out our new contributor page which includes their bio’s and personal blogs.

New Blog Design!

Another exciting event in process is the redesigning of our blog! Yes, it has been a long time in coming, and we hope to launch the new site by May 1st. I am simply thrilled!

Relevant 2010 here we come!

I stumbled upon the Relevant Conference 2010 this past week and just fell in love with the vision and theme of this conference. It is all about purposeful, intentional, real blogging. I love the mission statement:

The Relevant Conference exists to offer a place of face to face interaction with Christian women bloggers who want to be relevant in the larger blog and social media world. Our goal is to go beyond the surface into intentional blogging and real life living. We support women turning their hearts toward home and using their blogs to bless their families while also engaging the world for the glory of God. Relevant is a one-of-a-kind conference that seeks to engage women by teaching blogging techniques and social media skill while also urging and encouraging women to live fully integrated lives with their faith and family.

I immediately felt like the Lord wanted me to attend this conference. My husband was supportive and in one day, the Lord provided my airline ticket and registration! Paula’s Bread is assisting me with sponsorship, and they provide safe kitchen appliances for your kitchen (including Bosch, Nutrimill and other stainless steel gadgets). Please check them out!

My amazing hubby and I!

March Book Reviews

Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood by Jamie Martin – a short and sweet read (I read it in one day!) with creative ideas to organize your life, create memories, and build a learning environment in your home. I love her idea of a learning board and memory books. Such a sweet mama!

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions – the best book I have read to date on this topic! This would be an excellent companion guide to carry your through a birth, as it is easy to navigate to find different ideas for labor positions, what to do in various situations, etc. Thorough resource!

Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands by Gary Thomas – I gave a more thorough review of this book last month, but I did complete it and cannot say enough as to how valuable this book has been for our marriage. Gary lays it out there before you from a man’s perspective, giving you a peek into the man’s brain, and I was blown away. I discussed each chapter with my husband through the process of reading it and dialoged extensively. At every point, my husband heartily agreed with this man! If you want to strengthen, protect, and grow your marriage…then you must read this book!

Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson – Sally is one of my favorite authors on the topic of missional motherhood. Her book, The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity, is on my annual book reading list. Dancing with My Father is her newest release and it focuses on the topic of cultivating joy in the weariness of life. It mainly shares her own personal stories, but there is valuable studies at the end of each chapter for you to personally search the Scriptures more thoroughly. If you are struggling to remain joyful as a wife and mother, please read this book (along with Choosing Gratitude)!

Many blessings upon you all! May you have a glorious Easter weekend, enjoying the beauty of our Savior’s resurrection!

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