Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Intimidated

Do you ever get intimidated?  If someone asked me that question, at first glance, I would say no.  I'm pretty secure in who I am.  I'm self-assured, self-confident.  But, if I'm honest, I would have to admit that I can become intimidated by others very easily.  Especially this time of year.  Christmastime -- the season of perfection.

The past few weeks I have been visiting blogs I follow regularly, and some new blogs I've discovered, and as I read posts about preparing for Christmas and celebrating Christmas, I am in awe of what some of these women can accomplish.  I scroll down through pictures of houses that look like they came from the pages of a magazine.  And that was BEFORE they put up their Christmas tree(s).  I see Christmas decorations that look absolutely stunning.  I look at pictures of tablescapes and I read menus that are incredible.  Christmas cookies that look like they were purchased in the finest bakery.  Presents that look like they were all wrapped at a department store.  And I think to myself, "wow, I wish my life was like that."

My house is not beautiful.  It is a very plain 1968 ranch style house that, if I'm honest with myself I have to admit that I put very little effort into when it comes to "decor."  Christmas decorations, I'm gonna go WAY out on a limb and admit to you that I didn't even put up a tree this year (GASP).  Are you still with me??  My old one was really old so I got rid of it last year thinking I would buy a new one before this Christmas . . . and never got around to it.  We left our outside Christmas lights up last year (all year long), so all we had to do was plug them in.  Does that count?

I didn't even bake Christmas cookies this year, and the only presents I wrapped were presents for family members who do NOT live in my house.  My kids wanted clothes for Christmas, and said it was ridiculous for me to wrap them up just so they could open them Christmas morning . . . especially since they were with me when I bought all the clothes.   No Christmas morning anticipation here.

But now that I've told you all that, I have to say that we had one of the BEST Christmases ever.  I had my family over for dinner Christmas Eve after candlelight communion at church.  It was beautiful.  And Christmas Day, BP and I and the kids, and both my sisters and their families were all together at my mom and dad's house.  We ate, we laughed, we watched some old VCR tapes of when our kids were small.  And we enjoyed being together.  It was wonderful.

Ladies if you have EVER read or seen anything on my blog that intimidated you, PLEASE shrug that emotion right off your back and accept my apologies.  I share my plain old ordinary wonderful life on this blog.  My house gets dirty.  My husband walks through the kitchen with mud/manure on his boots (now remember, I live on a real FARM).  Sometimes I don't cook, and we eat Casey's pizza for supper.  My laundry isn't always caught up.  My shower, well, let's not even DISCUSS the state of my shower.  Social Services might show up to take my children!  

And you know what?  I'm guessing that all of those blogs that I can be so intimidated by, well, I bet the house doesn't always look perfect either.  I'm guessing they eat frozen pizza for dinner on occasion.  I'm certain their laundry piles up.  And I don't say that sarcastically, or to be disrepectful to those bloggers.  I say that so that we can ALL just be real and know that none of us are perfect.  We're all just doing the best we can with what we have.  And if those blogging ladies were here guest posting on Down On The Farm I know they would say the exact same thing. Some of us are better at this or that, sometimes we can really outdo ourselves for a special occasion, but none of us, and I MEAN NONE OF US can do it all.   When we are working really hard on one thing, we are letting something else go.  And when you work outside the home, like I do, we have to let a LOT of "something else" go 'cause there are only so many hours in the day.

So ladies, while we're reading those blogs that show beautiful homes and amazing recipes, please keep it in perspective, and don't be intimidated.   Don't let your head be turned by a life that God did not call you to.  Looking at pretty houses is very enjoyable to me.  But coveting something I don't have is sin.  I love to eat, and I'm always looking for new recipes.  But being stressed out and snapping at my children while cooking a "gourmet meal" that is supposedly for them, well, I don't think that's God's definition of a Proverbs 31 mom.  Now don't get all legalistic and misunderstand me.  I believe that keeping our homes clean and neat and organized and looking pretty is a very good thing.  I believe that trying to prepare meals our family will enjoy is great.  But like almost everything else we spend time on, these activities must be kept in perspective.  Scrubbing your floor for the third time today does not earn you "heaven" points.  A meal of bologna sandwiches served with love is better than a four-course dinner your family can't even enjoy because all you do is remind them how hard you worked. 

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, so I'm not making one.  But I do believe that every new year is a chance for us to step back and take a look into our hearts and make changes in our lives.  And one thing I'm going to work on for 2011 is focusing on making the absolute most of where God has put ME. To be the best wife and mom I can be.  To let things go that don't matter, so that I can spend more time on the things that do.  To enjoy every single SECOND with my husband and with my kids.  The years go by so quickly. 

So if you, like me, ever get intimidated by others, take a deep breath and SHAKE IT OFF.  Because no matter what your house looks like -- no matter what you're having for supper tonight, remember that "You are fearfully and wonderfully made."  Psalm 139:14.  And don't you forget it ladies, ya hear???!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gas Prices They Are A Climbin'


$2.85


That is the price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Central Missouri.  Diesel is at $3.09 per gallon.

The reporters who keep saying there is no inflation, obviously aren't buying food and gasoline.

While I'm updating, I'm happy to share that we had a great time with our families over the weekend.  We are so very blessed.  It has warmed up a little bit here, with temperatures in the 30s.  They are calling for rain the next few days, but they are also promising temperatures in the 50s!  I think a nice warm rain sounds wonderful! 

The kids are enjoying a week off from school.  But we get baby turkeys tonight at 6 p.m. so they have been staying busy!  Thanking the Lord for warmer temperatures, which definitely keeps our propane bill down.  Propane is our biggest expense in raising turkeys.  Those little birds have to be kept warm!

So, if you're one of the lucky ones with this week off, please enjoy it and enjoy spending time with your family.  And, if you're like me and working every day this week, be thankful for being employed.  There are many out there who would love to be working today, and can't find a job.

Hebrews 12:  1-2   "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Lord, help us to run this race called life for your glory.  Help us to keep our eyes on You, our hearts focused on You.  And help us to always be thankful to You in every situation.  I love You, Jesus.  And I ask all things in Your name.  Amen!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Night Before Christmas


Tonight is the night before Christmas.  But in the town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, it was just another night.  A night that would change the world.  Please take just a few minutes to watch this video and in your heart imagine that first "Night Before Christmas." 




The Baby born that night was Jesus.  A Baby born to be Savior of a lost world.  He came so that you might live.  He came to save you from an eternity spent in hell.  He came because He loves you.

I am a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  I am not perfect, I'm far from it.  I was born a sinner, and I've made many, many mistakes.  I've disappointed God more times than I can count.  But praise the Lord I've been redeemed, I've been forgiven.  I've been washed in the blood of the Spotless Lamb.  The perfect sacrifice. 

If you have never asked God to forgive you of your sins, never asked Him to be Lord of your life, please let today be the day of salvation.  Don't put it off.  Not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow.  He is waiting for you. He loves you.  Not accepting Him is rejecting Him.  And unless you accept Him you can't spend eternity with Him in heaven. 

If you do know Him, then take a moment to close your eyes and thank Him for all His blessings.  No matter what may be going on in your life right this instant, if you belong to Him you are blessed and highly favored.  You are more than a conqueror.  Cast all your cares on Him, for He truly does care for you.  Ask Him to open your heart for more of Him.  Ask Him to help you decrease so that He can increase, so others will see Him in your life.  Ask Him for His joy, which will strengthen you to withstand the attack of the enemy.

To anyone and everyone who reads Down On The Farm, I wish you the Merriest of Christmases.  I pray for each one of you and for your families.  I pray for health, I pray for safety, I pray for peace and harmony in your lives.  I pray for your unsaved loved ones and ask that you pray for mine.  I pray that God would pour out His Spirit upon you in a mighty way.  I pray that you would be reminded daily how special you are to Him, reminded how much He loves you.  I pray that He will make you a blessing to all those around you, and that His light will flow through you.  And I pray that you will be blessed.  I love each and every one of you.  And if we never meet here on earth, I will be watching for each one of you when we walk those streets of gold!!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

God With Us

Matthew Chapter One

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”



22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”which is translated, “God with us.”


24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
 
At Christmas time most people, and most pastors, read the "Christmas Story" from Luke Chapter Two.  The story is beautiful.  My favorite passage is Luke 2:10-11, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." 
 
But Matthew gives us a different version.  A more matter-of-fact version.  And Matthew's version gives us two amazing passages. 
 
The first is from Verse 21:  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.
 
The second is from Verse 23:  Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”which is translated, “God with us.”


Think of that.  Jesus will save us from our sins, and He will be with us.  He will do both, at the same time, forever.  He doesn't just forgive us once.  He forgives us every time we ask.  And He doesn't just forgive us from afar.  He forgives us while dwelling in us.  How can I explain the fact that He lives in my heart?  I can't.  I can only tell you that He is there.  Have I ever audibly heard His voice?  No.  But has He spoken to me?  Oh yes, many times.  Have I ever seen Him?  No.  But I trust in the inspired Word of God that says Immanuel, God with us.

So as I prepare for Christmas, I am so thankful to God for sending His Son, Jesus, to Bethlehem so long ago.  A tiny Baby who left the glories of heaven for a humble home on earth.  From the Son of The King, to the Son of a carpenter.  Destined for a death He did not deserve, all because He loved us. 

Hebrews 12:2 says "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Jesus knew why He was sent to earth.  He knew He would be beaten, He knew He would be crucified, BUT HE KNEW HE WOULD REJOIN HIS FATHER IN HEAVEN.  He endured the cross and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  And His desire is for every person to one day be in heaven with Him.  Jesus has done His part, now it is up to us.  Either we choose to accept Him, or we reject Him.  Not choosing Him is the same as rejecting Him.  Jesus said in John 14:6  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."


Immanuel - God with us.  Our Savior is with us.  Thank You Lord that today You are with me.  Thank You that You saved me.  Thank You that You love me.   I love You Jesus. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bad News/Good News

As the old saying goes  "I've got bad news and I've got good news -- which do you want to hear first?"  Me, I always want to hear the bad news first and get it over with.  So here is the bad news.

Today is the first day of WINTER.  Winter means cold weather, and most people dislike cold weather.  I mean, seriously, how many people do you know who go NORTH for the winter?  Uh, nobody! 

Winter means cold temperatures.  Winter means snow.  Winter means cold and flu season.  The first day of winter means that it's gonna be a loooong time until you will be mowing your lawn and wearing short sleeves.  January and February and March can be long months here in Missouri.  Long and cold.  That's some bad news, huh??

Now if you recall, I said I had some good news too.  So here it is!   Along with being the first day of Winter, today is the shortest day of the year.  Shortest as in the day with the least sunlight and the most darkness of all the days of the year.  Now you may be saying to yourself  "I thought she said she had some good news?"  But, that IS good news!!!  Think about it.  After today, the days will start to get LOOOONGER.  Every day the sun will come up a little bit earlier in the East, and the sun will set a little bit later in the West.  After today, every day brings us one day closer to warm sunny skies.

So today give thanks to the Lord that He gave us seasons.  Only He would have thought to make the days longer and shorter, a few minutes at a time.  And to make seasons that change.  Our God is an awesome God!!!!!

Psalm 19:1  "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork."

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gift That Saves The Day

This Wednesday evening our church is having a blood drive.  Many in our congregation, myself included, will be donating blood.  The need for blood doesn't slow down just because the holidays are here.  Blood is needed every single day.  And, according to the American Red Cross, only about 3 in 100 Americans donate blood.  The last time I donated blood I was a senior in high school.  But Wednesday evening I will be rolling up my sleeve and donating blood. 

What if I needed blood?  What if my husband or one of my kids needed blood?  My parents, my sisters, my nieces and nephews?  Oh, how I would hope that somebody would take just a FEW MINUTES to donate blood.

So if you are wondering what you can do to "give back" this Christmas, I encourage you to donate blood.  Check your local newspaper or go online.  I am certain there is a blood drive near you.

In the words of the American Red Cross "The need is constant.  The gratification is instant.  Give blood."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

I mailed my Christmas cards on Monday.  I LOVE CHRISTMAS CARDS!!  I really do love getting them, and I love sending them.  It's like sharing a little bit of me with my family and friends.  And when I receive Christmas cards, it makes me feel like someone is sharing a little bit of their life with me.  This is our 2010 Christmas card:

This year I ordered my Christmas cards from Shutterfly.  I was fortunate to be a part of a promotion Shutterfly was having for bloggers.  I blogged about Shutterfly and was given 50 free Christmas cards.  I can honestly tell you that these are the prettiest Christmas cards I have ever sent.  The quality of the card stock, the sharpness of the pictures.  I love everything about them.  I can't wait for my friends and family to open up that envelope and receive our Christmas card this year.   I hope it makes them smile -- and the pictures of the really cute kids are good too!!!

In the past I've ordered Christmas cards from Wal-Mart.  The cards from Shutterfly are much better quality.  Much more "substantial" feeling.  The cards I've ordered in the past from Wal-Mart seem flimsy compared to these.  (And just so you know, I've already received the 50 free cards from Shutterfly.  This review of their cards is completely voluntary on my part, and totally honest!  So there).

Next year I will be ordering my Christmas cards from Shutterfly.  If you need any type of cards I can say from personal experience that Shutterfly IS the way to go.  From selection, to ease of uploading photos, to the quality of the finished product, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grandma Nellie

My Grandma Nellie, my dad's mom, turned 97 this past weekend.  Isn't she beautiful?


I am so blessed to have my both of my Grandmas.  Both are 97.  My Grandma Nellie lives with her daughter, my Aunt Ruby Dean.  And all things considered she is doing wonderfully.  We had a good visit this weekend.  My Aunt had cake and ice cream and lots of family came by to with my Grandma Nellie a happy 97th birthday.

My Grandma Flo, my mother's mom, is now in a nursing home.  This is the Grandma that was told she just had a couple of weeks to live . . . back in March!  I guess the Lord isn't ready to take her home yet.  I hate to say it, but she is failing.  However, when I saw her at the nursing home just a couple of weeks ago, she called me by name as soon as I walked in the door, and she asked about my husband by name.  That is a blessing to me.  To know that she still recognizes me.  Sometimes I wonder if she does, but on that day I knew. 

Family is a blessing.  I know there are times I have taken my family for granted, I'm sure we all have.  But during this Christmas season make a special effort to let each person in your family know just how loved they are. You never know what tomorrow will bring.  So don't wait.  "I Love You" are the three most under used words in the English language.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Caragan is Cloggin' Again

I miss school Christmas programs. Cole and Alex had programs every year.  Christmas parties, field trips, all sorts of activities, and I was at every one of them.  But I don't get to do that much anymore.  My kids are in high school so no more programs or field trips for them.  But last week my niece, Caragan, had her 6th grade Christmas program.  It was great to see her and all the other kids excited about Christmas.  I have to say I only knew one song they sang at the program -- a jazzed up version of Jingle Bells -- but I enjoyed it nonetheless because I was watching my beautiful niece.  And I sat next to her handsome brother, Cade.  He is a laugh a minute, and he never, repeat NEVER, sits still!!!









When you get a chance to go watch a family member do something, especially a younger family member, I hope you take the time to go.  It means so much to them that you are there, and it is a memory you won't ever forget.  Of course, I've had to miss things that my nieces and nephews have done.  I've missed many, many things that my nephew who lives near St. Louis has done.  But I really try to be at everything my niece and nephew that live around here do, at least everything I can attend.  I want them to know how much they mean to me.  How much I love them. 

You will never regret time invested into the life of a child you love. So get on the phone and see what's going on with your family members.  I'll bet they've got a Christmas program coming up very soon!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Is Even A Vapor

On Sunday, November 28th, one of the people I work with took a walk with his mother.  It was Thanksgiving weekend, and they were doing what most of us did, spending time together with family.  I remember that Sunday well.  That same day I had my family to my house for our Thanksgiving dinner. 

Last Tuesday, November 30th his mother suddenly became very ill and was admitted to the hospital.  Within a day or two she was on life support.  Yesterday they took her off of life support and she passed away.

I am certain my co-worker has remembered that Sunday afternoon walk with his mother many times today and he is wondering, as any of us would, how this happened.

We tell ourselves that these situations aren't supposed to happen.  She was a relatively young woman.  Very healthy.  It was so sudden.  So unexpected.  And yet, we forget what the Bible tells us about life.

In James 4:14 we read this:  "[W]hereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." 

A vapor.  Life is even a vapor.  We read that, and yet, we don't live as if we believe it.  I know I don't.  Not really.  Oh, I tell myself that anything can happen.  I tell myself that accidents happen, but secretly I believe they only happen to the "other guy."  People die young every day, but both my grandmothers are alive and in their late 90s.  So really, I think other people die young, but not in my family.  So why don't I believe it?  I mean, we are surrounded by death.  By tragedy.  And yet we think it can't happen to us.

We need to each be living our lives as if today were our last day on earth, and I am typing these words to myself more than I am typing them to anyone who may be reading this today.  I find myself trying to remember the last time I saw my mom??  I mean, I've talked to her on the phone in the last couple of days, and she sent me a text last night.  But when was the last time I SAW her, and told her how much I love her.  She only lives about 10 minutes away from me and yet, I just don't remember how many days it has been since I've seen her?  Three days, four days?  So much can change in such a short time. 

When my kids left for school this morning, did I tell them I loved them?   Did I tell my husband I loved him before I left for work? I think I did, but I'm not 100% sure.   And if something would happen to me today I would want them to KNOW just how very much I loved them.

Remember today as you go about your routine of working, taking care of kids, preparing for Christmas, whatever you are doing, that life is even a vapor.   Here for a little time and then it vanishes.   Remember what is truly important.  Remember what lasts. And please remember this family in your prayers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Every year for Christmas I get all of the wonderful ladies I work with a Christmas gift.  I can't spend too much per person since there are 9 ladies, but, I want to get them something nice. In the past I've bought them little Christmas plates, I've done candles, just a little something to show how much I enjoy working with them.  Well, this year, I wanted to do something different.  Something I'd never done for them.  So, I decided to do a homemade gift. 

I absolutely LOVE getting something that someone has made.  I have made homemade items before and I know just how much love you put into something that you make for someone.  So when someone gives me something that they made, well, it makes me feel pretty darn special.  Special  because I know they cared enough to give me something that they put so much time and effort into.  Hey, making something homemade is hard work!

In doing some blog surfing I came across an amazing blog.  It is called The Italian Dish and, if you visit, you will enjoy meeting Elaine and checking out her amazing recipes.  She is a GREAT cook, and a photographer, so her blog looks beautiful!  Turns out, she made homemade vanilla extract as party favors for her Christmas party last year and I thought the bottles looked so impressive, but were so easy to make, I knew I had to give it a go.  For the exact details, please see Elaine's post, as she does such a beautiful job of giving you all the details for making this I won't begin to compete with her.  I'll just show you pictures of MY homemade vanilla extract, and give you some tips I learned along the way.


First of all, I ordered the Boston bottles from Specialty Bottle just like Elaine did. I checked on ebay and some other sites but Specialty Bottle was the cheapest place I found. My sister and I went together on this little project so we ordered 30 bottles. That gave me bottles of vanilla extract for the ladies I work with, my sister bottles for the ladies she works with, a bottle for each of us and for our sweet baby sister, and a few extra for each of us to give to friends. I ordered the bourbon vanilla beans from Beanilla. Again, I checked locally but it was much less expensive to order the beans from Beanilla, and pay shipping, than it was to buy them at a local health food store. I ordered 25 beans. We split each bean down the middle from top to bottom, and then cut each of those in half, giving us four "pieces" per bean. That gave us three "pieces" to put in each jar. We then poured unflavored vodka into the bottles, put the lids on and let them set.




 Elaine's recipe calls for the beans and vodka to steep about two months. We made our vanilla extract in October, so it has been not quite two months. About two weeks ago we were a little concerned that our vanilla extract didn't look quite dark enough, and didn't have a strong vanilla aroma. So I ordered 10 more vanilla beans, split them into four pieces and added one more piece to each bottle of vanilla (for a total of four pieces or one whole bean per bottle). That really has made a difference, and when I do this again, which I will, I will put four pieces into each bottle.








For the labels, again I followed Elaine's lead and ordered the lables from My Own Labels. It is a neat company with tons of really cute labels to choose from. After seeing how cute Elaine's bottles turned out I ordered the same labels she did and am very pleased with them. The labels we ordered had a minimum order of 24, and they come on sheets of 12 labels, so we ordered 36 labels. In hindsight, I wish we had ordered 36 bottles but, we will know for next time.


Aren't these just the cutest bottles you've ever seen????   Won't they make AWESOME gifts???  And real vanilla extract is SO MUCH BETTER than the "imitation vanilla" that you buy at the store.  And if you try to buy real vanilla extract, well, the price will definitely make you think twice.  Making your own is much less expensive. 


Now, a few things I learned.  Like I said, in the future I will order one bean (4 pieces) per bottle.  The vanilla extract is richer with 4 pieces than it was with 3.  As to the labels, while I am really impressed with them, they were a little pricey.  And, with their limitations, my sister and I weren't able to personalize the labels as we had originally planned.  In checking Elaine's blog this year, she has made vanilla extract again.  She used the same bottles, but bought Epson self-adhesive sheets and made her own labels.  Very cute!  Next time I will make my own labels.  MUCH less expensive, and more options!

So, if you are looking for an easy homemade gift idea, I would highly recommend making homemade vanilla extract.  Honestly, it's not too late to make them for this year.  The vanilla extract will need to steep for awhile, but I am certain anyone you give these to will be very impressed and would be willing to wait for homemade vanilla extract.  And be sure to keep one for yourself.  It smells DELICIOUS!!!!!  I can't wait to use mine for baking! 

Please share any homemade gifts ideas you have given, or received!  We're all here to learn from each other, so please comment!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunset

On Thanksgiving Day we had dinner at my sister-in-law's house.  We got home just before the sun went down and took a drive thru the pasture to check our cows and just enjoy the last few minutes of daylight.  It was such a nice late afternoon.  So peaceful.  And so pretty. 

No, those aren't colorful fall leaves on those trees, the trees are bare.  It is the final rays of the sun touching the trees. 


My camera just can't capture how beautiful it looked. 


Some days I complain a little, O.K. a lot, about living out in the country.  All the flies, living on a gravel road, how I would love to have pizza delivery.  But truly, driving through the pasture, and enjoying the beauty of the trees and the sunset, I was so thankful that I don't live where the only trees are in a park.  And where the sunset is blocked by buildings.  Where you are constantly surrounded by cars and other people and there is no such thing as silence.   I truly was thankful that God put me on a farm in Central Missouri.

I've been to the big city.  Chicago, New York, San Francisco.  All three beautiful cities in their own way.  But very crowded, very noisy, very busy.  At our farm the only crowds are hungry cows crowding around a hay bale on a snowy day.  A noisy day is at weaning time when the mama cows are bawling 'cause they are separated from their babies.  Busy, is a day when we have four heifers calving, all at the same time.

Living life here at Down On The Farm isn't always easy.  It isn't always fun.  It isn't always comfortable.  But it really is a wonderful way of life. A blessed place to raise a family.

Pizza delivery is highly overrated anyway. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oil Pie Crust

If you are one of those people who buy refrigerated pie crust, then this post is for you.  And if you're one of those people who make your own pie crust, but dread it because it's so hard, then this post is for you, too.

I got this recipe from the mother of a friend of mine.  And I love sharing it with other cooks.  Cooks who thought they couldn't make a good pie crust but who now, have seen the light.  Cooks who have joined the ranks of those proud people walking in to a basket dinner or family get together carrying a pie with a homemade crust.   The ranks of cooks who will never buy refrigerated pie crust again.  The ranks of . . . O.K.  I'm being a little dramatic.  Let's make some pie crust shall we??

Her are the ingredients:  flour, salt, vegetable oil.  O.K. I left out a picture of the water.  But how do you take a picture of water? 

Sift 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl. 



Then add 1/3 cup of oil.  Vegetable oil, that is (name that TV show).


Then mix to combine. 


Then, add 3 tablespoons of water and mix until a ball of dough is formed.  See, isn't this easy??


Here's another little tip to make rolling out the dough, and clean up, a BREEZE!  I'm all about the BREEZE!  Place a few drops of water on your countertop and put a sheet of wax paper over that.  The water will keep it from moving around when you're rolling it out.  Sprinkle a little flour on the waxed paper, put the dough ball on the flour and turn it over to get flour on both sides of the dough.


Then put another sheet of waxed paper on top of the dough and you're ready to roll.  No really, you're ready to roll out the dough. 


All you do is roll your dough out evenly until it is about the size of the wax paper. 


Peel off the top layer of wax paper, place your pie pan upside down on top of the dough, flip it over and voila!  There you have it, a pie! 

Ingredients:  
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water


Well, it's not really a pie yet, but it will be.  Whatever kind of pie you want it to be.  On this particular day I made my favorite pie.  Pecan pie.  I use the Pioneer Woman's pecan pie recipe.  You can find that HERE.  PW's pecan pie is delicious and if you haven't tried it, this is a great time of year to make one.  But really, the world is your oyster, I mean pie.  You can make apple, cherry, blackberry.  Use your imagination.  And remember, all you have to do is throw away the waxed paper and your countertop is CLEAN! 

Don't fear the pie crust.  It really is very simple, very easy to make, and it is delicious!!  Everyone will brag on your pie crust and only you will know how EASY it was!  So go on and give it a try.  You really won't ever buy refrigerated pie crust again.  And you will be the HERO of family dinners and pie suppers!  ENJOY! 


Monday, November 29, 2010

Whew!!!!!

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is OVER?    I mean, you plan, you clean, you cook, and cook, and cook, and then all of a sudden it's behind you.  And you're exhausted.  I will have to go to work today to rest!

We had a great weekend.  We ate turkey.  We talked.  We ate turkey.  We laughed.  We ate turkey.  We played cards.  And we ate turkey.

Now it's time to gear up for Christmas.  If you're like me, you do a lot of baking for Christmas.  So come back tomorrow and I'll share my recipe for the easiest pie crust you've ever made.  And not to give it away, but, I will tell you this . . . . .  it is made with oil.  Really.

Trust me.  You will never buy refrigerated pie crust again.

So rest up today, 'cause tomorrow we'll be baking pie at Down On The Farm!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Count Your Blessings Name Them One By One

We used to go to church with an elderly gentleman, a retired preacher.  His wife played the piano and he sang.   A couple of times a year they would come up and sing and he almost always sang the old hymn, "Count Your Blessings."  Although I have to tell you that they sang a version that is a little different than what you're thinking.  He always started by singing, very slowly, this old chorus:

"There's a roof up above me, I've a good place to sleep.

There's food on my table, and shoes on my feet.

You gave me Your love, Lord, and a fine family.

Thank you, Lord, for Your blessings on me."

And then his wife would cut loose on that piano and he would start singing a very fast version of Count Your Blessings!  Then, when he was really wound up, he would sit down at the piano beside her and play the "high notes" while she played the melody.  I can tell you that by the end of the song the entire congregation was on their feet singing and clapping.  (If you're not familiar with standing and clapping at church while you sing, you should come to church with ME!)   He went home to be with our Lord several years ago but to this day, I can close my eyes and I can see and hear him and his wife sing that song. 

This old preacher man, and his wife, had experienced many hardships in life.  They were preachers back before there were nice parsonages and fancy churches.  He was a traveling preacher and they drove from town to town.  They had buried a son.  They had truly given their lives for the Lord's work, and never once did I ever hear him complain, or see him when he didn't have a smile on his face.  Even those last few times he came to church before he was called home to heaven he was a blessing to others.  And every time he sang that old song "Count Your Blessings" I know that he meant every word of it from the bottom of his heart. 

Today I have so much to be thankful for that it hurts.  Tears are pouring down my cheeks as I type this while trying to wrap my mind around all the things our Lord has given me that I am so unworthy of.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross knowing every sin I would ever commit, and yet He did it anyway.  Because He loves me in a way that cannot be understood by my earthly mind.  Thank you Jesus, I love You.

He has given me a wonderful husband and a son and a daughter that I thank Him for every day.  My husband is a hard worker who loves me and will stick with me thru sickness and in health, for better or for worse.  No matter what I can always count on him.  My children -- my children are smart and beautiful and handsome and funny and everything any mother could ever ask for in a son and daughter.  My prayer is that they will always, always live their lives with ONE PURPOSE, and that is that one day heaven will be their home for eternity.  My parents are alive, and healthy and together after almost 48 years.  Thank you mom and dad, for everything.  I didn't realize until I became the parent, just how much you have done for me and I love you for it.  My sisters and their families (Rhonda and Renda, I love you), and my husbands mom, and sisters and their families -- I was blessed to not only be born into a wonderful family, but God allowed me to marry into a wonderful family as well. Next to my Savior, my family is the most important thing in my life.  I have wonderful aunts and uncles on both sides of my family.  Cousins, well, I couldn't even begin to list all my first cousins, and second cousins, and third and fourth cousins that I have been blessed to know and actually have them be a part of my life.

I have a job.  I've worked at the same place, well, let's see, I started here 17 years ago yesterday.  I have a home that is warm and dry and full of love, and peace.  I have never not had enough food to eat.  Other than giving birth to my two babies, I've never spent a night in the hospital, never had a broken bone, never had a serious illness.   

And friends.  Let me tell you about my friends.  I am a blessed lady 'cause I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for.  Friends that are really THERE for you and I mean there when it isn't all fun and games.  Friends that encourage me as I try to live this life for God's glory.  And I can only hope that they consider ME as much of a friend as I consider them to be.  My life has been so much richer for the friends God has allowed to be a part of my life.  They bless me.

So today, as I prepare for another Thanksgiving Day, I'm counting my blessings, and I am humbled.  As King David said in the 23rd Psalm, "my cup runneth over." 

"There's a roof up above me, I've a good place to sleep, there's food on my table, and shoes on my feet.  You gave me Your love Lord, and a fine family.  Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me." 

Amen and amen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Popcorn the Old Fashioned Way

The other night after supper Cole asked me if we had any popcorn.  I told him we did, and asked if he wanted some.  Then, I remembered I had popped the last bag of microwave popcorn a couple of weeks ago.  So I told him that while I didn't have any microwave popcorn, I could pop him some in a pan.  The look he gave me told me that he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.   My husband and I spent the next 10 minutes trying to explain to the kids that "back in the olden days," before microwave ovens (yes, I am THAT old), we popped corn in oil in a pan, shaking the pan while it was cooking to stir up the kernels.  Then we started laughing when we remembered "Jiffy Pop" popcorn.  Do you remember that?  In the little aluminum pan with the foil top that grew and grew as the popcorn popped? 


We didn't have that cool Jiffy Pop popcorn at our house very often, and my husband didn't either.  Our moms thought it was too expensive and wouldn't buy it.  But once in awhile we could get them to buy one of those cool pans and we would stand there mesmerized by that foil lid growing bigger and bigger with each POP!  

I can't believe that my children had no concept of popcorn, other than coming from the microwave.  I mean, it hasn't been THAT long ago has it?????  Ahhh, the good old days! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Easiest And Best Bread Ever"

First of all I have to share with all of my out-of-state readers that here in Missouri it was 66 degrees this morning at 5:00 a.m.  It is supposed to reach 70 degrees by this afternoon.  That is very warm for this time of year.  But we'll take it.  Every single second of it, even though the wind is about to blow us away!!  If it makes you feel any better it's going to be in the 40's by Thanksgiving Day.  Winter is headed our way.

And on a cold winter day nothing is better than a big ol' slice of homemade bread with butter.   But for all my trying, I have never had good luck making homemade bread or rolls.  My mom even bought me a bread machine several years ago (thanks mom) but I have to admit that the bread I have made in it never got past being "O.K."  I've tried countless bread recipes.  I've mixed, I've kneaded, but none of these ever resulted in a loaf of bread I was proud of . . . until now.

Some time ago I was checking out my friend Julie Harward's blog "The Harwards" and came across an older post entitled "Easiest and Best Bread Ever."  Well, coming from a lady who does as much cooking as Julie, I knew it had to be good.  So last night I made Julie's recipe.  I should say I made HALF of Julie's recipe as her recipe makes 4 loaves of bread and I thought 2 loaves of bread would be plenty for us.  I can tell you that I wish I'd made the entire recipe . . . but, I'm getting ahead of myself! 

Here are the ingredients:

2 1/2 cups hot water
1 T salt
1/3 c honey
1/3 c oil
2 T yeast (room temperature)
1 egg (room temperature)
6 cups bread flour


See, you have all of that on hand don't you??  I won't go into the step-by-step as Julie did it much better than I ever could.  If you are interested in step-by-step instructions, then please check out Julie's post at http://circlecliffviews.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html.  She has an awesome post showing bread making from start to finish with lots of pictures, and she gives details on making wheat bread as well.

All I did is put the ingredients in my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Once everything was completely mixed, which took just a minute, I put it on speed "2" and let it "knead" for 10 minutes.  Honestly the dough looked fairly moist after 10 minutes, and I almost took it out and added some flour and kneaded it a little.  Then I reminded myself of all my past failures at bread making and decided to STICK TO THE RECIPE OF A MORE EXPERIENCED COOK.  So I did what Julie did, I poured oil on my counter, dumped the dough out and just rolled it in the oil a little bit to coat it.  I divided it into two halves and roughly shaped each half into a loaf shape and put it into a Pam-sprayed loaf pan and covered it with a clean towel.  I let the bread raise about 45 minutes, then baked it at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. 

Ladies, this is the best homemade bread I have ever made, and ranks right up there with some of the best homemade bread I've ever EATEN.  AND IT WAS SO EASY.  No sore arms from kneading.  No letting the dough raise two times.  I think from start to finish this took just over an hour and a half.  I could do that after getting home from work (hey, we eat late).  We ate one loaf last night for supper and I have another loaf just waiting for us to devour, I mean eat, tonight.  My husband and kids LOVED it and agreed that it was the best bread I have ever made!!  They wanted to slice the second loaf but I wouldn't let them.  I wanted homemade bread tonight too!

So please, if you love homemade bread like I love homemade bread give this recipe a whirl.  And check out Julie's blog, "The Harwards".  You will love reading about her life in Utah and all her beautiful children and grandchildren.  She is always sharing stores and recipes that I know will bless you like they have blessed me.  So THANK YOU JULIE for sharing your Easiest and Best Bread Ever recipe.  I'll be thinking of you tonight as we enjoy another loaf of your delicious homemade bread. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Cards from Shutterfly

I love sending out Christmas cards.  And I love getting them.  I am always so excited the first night I get home and find a Christmas card in the mail.  Once upon a time, I just bought some Christmas cards, signed our names to them, addressed the envelopes, stuck on the stamps and mailed them.  That was pretty easy, but fairly boring.  Then a few years ago I discovered that you could take a digital picture, go online and make your Christmas cards, pick them up at the store and, voila, personalized Christmas cards.  That was pretty cool and I enjoyed getting to send pictures of our family to friends and family who don't live nearby.  I hate to admit it, but, last year I didn't even send out any Christmas cards.  I didn't have any really good pictures of the kids, or our family.  And, I wasn't pleased with the selection of online cards that the largest retailer in America provided.  All the cards just looked so blah and unoriginal.   Plus, the time just got away from me.  Hey, Christmas is a busy time!!!

But this year . . . this year I have discovered SHUTTERFLY.  If you aren't familiar with Shutterfly you really should check out their website.  Their selection of Christmas cards is incredible.  All of the cards are beautiful and there really is something for everyone.  And the price is RIGHT.  (Name that game show!)  Here are some of the incredible things Shutterfly has to offer:


· Christmas photo cards http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery 



· upload pictures  http://www.shutterfly.com/upload-pictures  


I haven't decided on the cards I am going to send yet because there are so may to choose from.  Some are very classy looking, some are very fun looking.  Lots of religious cards, which are my personal favorites.  So, if you haven't already decided on your Christmas cards this year check out http://www.shutterfly.com/.  You'll be very glad you did!!  It's not too early, so go to Shutterfly.com TODAY!!!  Now, if I can just figure out what picture to put on the cards . . . . . . . . . .

Disclaimer:  Shutterfly is giving me 50 free Christmas cards for posting about them on my blog.  But please know that every word of my post is true.  I am ordering my Christmas cards from Shutterfly this year.  Their card selection is much better than where I was ordering them in the past (a humongous retail store that shall remain nameless but there's one in every town in America).  Just wanted to be totally honest with you all.   

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mornings

I am not a morning person.  Yes, I get up every morning about 4:40 a.m. to go walk three miles, BUT I DON'T ENJOY IT.  Don't misunderstand, I love walking the three miles, I just wish I could do it a little later in the day.  I could sleep in every day.  But sometimes, when I really stop to LOOK in the mornings, I realize just how beautiful "MORNING" can be.



I took these pictures Sunday morning.  It was chilly.  If you look closely you can see steam rising from the pond in front of our house. 


The frost was heavy.   It almost looked like a light dusting of snow.



Every morning is the start of a new day for us.  Every morning we have a choice.  Will we trust God for today?  Or will we decide we know better than He does?  Will we be obedient today?  Or will we grow weary in doing good?  Will we be a giver, or a taker?  Will we bless others, or only look for ways to serve our own interests?  Will we be thankful for what we have been given?  Or will we grumble over what others have? 

Lamentations 3:22-23 says:  "Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."  Just think about that.  Because of God's mercy we are not consumed.  No matter what is going on in your life God is enough.  He is more than enough.  Your trials, your fears, your circumstances can't consume you.  THEY CAN'T.  Because God's compassions don't fail.  GOD'S LOVE DOES NOT FAIL.  It is new every single morning of your life.  Every single morning throughout eternity His compassions are new.

Is your compassion new every morning?  No, it isn't.  Sometimes we wake up day after day after day in the same situation.  With the same thing going on in our lives.  With the same unsaved loved ones.  With the same fears and worries.  Anybody with me on this??  The Word says HIS mercies keep us from being consumed.  HIS compassions don't fail, they are new every morning.

Is there something in your life you haven't given over to Him?  A loved one, a fear or worry, something in your past??  You can be set free from all fear and all worry every single morning if you will only trust Him.  He is more than enough.  And He is able to do more than you can imagine.  Please don't limit God.  Don't confine Him to what you think He can do.  Trust that the One who said "Let there be light" is big enough to move in every situation in your life.  So today, this morning, ask Him to make your crooked places straight, and to pour out His mercies on you afresh and anew.  Come on, it's a new day, and He is waiting to pour out His mercy and compassions on you.  He loves you so.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Old King Cole

You know how your kids can just make you SO PROUD you feel like all the buttons on your shirt are going to pop off any minute???  Well that's how this mama is feeling today!  A week or so ago Cole and Alex were each nominated as King and Queen Candidates for the Eldon FFA Barnwarming.  You remember Eldon FFA???  THE NATIONAL CHAMPION PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE ELDON FFA???  Well every fall they have a big dance or "Barnwarming."   The freshman and sophomore classes each pick one boy and one girl to represent them as a King or Queen Candidate for Barnwarming.  The junior and senior classes each pick two boys and two girls to represent them as a King or Queen Candidate.  This past Saturday evening was the night of the big dance.  And when the votes were tallied Cole was selected as Barnwarming King!!!!!.  The Queen was Kelsi Mueller.  Here's a picture of the King and Queen! 


Now for those of you with a sharp eye, you will remember that this is the same pair that were selected as Eldon's Homecoming King and Queen. And while it would have been awesome for Alex to win . . . at Eldon's Barnwarming it is nearly always the seniors who win. Hopefully Alex will have another chance to be Queen her senior year.


 

And here's the "Barnwarming Court."  Yep, that's Alex, second from the right on the front row.  Ain't she purty???

Just in case you're wondering, Cole has been declared King of everything at Eldon High School he can be "King" of!  He can't even be nominated for King again and I think that is great.  Spreading the "kingship" around is a GOOD THING!!

So thanks for letting this proud mama brag.  I promise not to brag again  . . . for awhile!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's For Dinner??

As you all surely know by now, I live on a farm.  On our farm we raise cattle.  For you city slickers, beef comes from cattle.  So, we eat a lot of beef at our house.  We love beef.  We grill it.  We fry it.  Beef, it's what's for dinner.  Sorry, I stole that line from the Beef Industry Council.  Don't you just love Sam Elliott?  That voice that does the "Beef, It's What's For Dinner" commercials.  Wow.  And if you haven't seen him play Tell Sackett in the Louis L'Amour book-turned-movie well, you're missing out. 

Wait a minute?  How did I get from living on a farm to Tell Sackett???

Anyway, back to dinner tonight.  Every morning I get up, get ready, and head out the door to drive 30 minutes to work.  Some mornings I take just a couple extra minutes to think about what we're going to have for dinner that night.  Some mornings I don't, and those are the nights we have bacon and eggs for breakfast. Not that I'm knocking having bacon and eggs for breakfast, it's delicious!  But again, back to dinner tonight. 

This morning was one of those "good" mornings where I went to the freezer, took out a chuck roast, and put it in the crock pot.  I know some people brown their roasts before they cook them and that's O.K.  Unfortunately, it's hard to "brown" a frozen roast.  Plus, it's just another pan I have to wash.  And just in case you need reassurance, IT IS ABSOLUTELY O.K. TO COOK A FROZEN ROAST.  I do it all the time.

This is a chuck roast. 



I put the roast in my slow cooker on high.  I poured a 32 oz box of Great Value Beef Broth over it.  I sprinkled Lawry's Seasoning Salt over that.  Come to mention it, I sprinkle Lawryr's Seasoning Salt on everything.  (And just as a side comment, I use "Great Value" beef broth and think it tastes great.  I have used the more expensive brand and can't tell any difference.  However, I have tried cheaper brands of "seasoning salt" and find that they don't have the same flavor as the Lawry's.  So, I save money with the Great Value Beef Broth, and spend a little more to get the Lawry's, but that's just me).  We think Lawry's makes everything taste better.  Then I took a small onion, sliced it, and placed some of the rings on top of the roast, and some of the rings down in the broth.   Then I remembered I couldn't stand around all day cooking, I had to work today, so I put the lid on and jumped into the shower. 

About an hour later, just before I walked out the door on my way to work, I switched the slow cooker to "low."  You can't believe how wonderful my house smelled with the roast just cooking a little over an hour.  And tonight, when I get home, my house will smell even better.  And I will be so glad that I took just a few minutes to plan for dinner tonight.  My family will be glad too.  They get tired of bacon and eggs.

The roast will be tender and juicy, having slow cooked all day long, soaking up that delicious beef broth and the onion flavor.  I didn't add potatoes and carrots to the roast this morning, although sometimes I do.  Tonight I think we will have green beans and a salad with our roast.  That's what's for dinner at my house.  What are you having?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Godly Guidance

Tomorrow night I am having dinner with a friend of mine.  A friend I haven't seen in almost a year and a half.  She called me today.  It was the first time I have spoken with her in two months, and only the second time I have talked to her in almost a year and a half. 

You see this friend of mine has made some choices in the last year and a half that were not God's will for her life.  I don't say that in judgment.  But when we do things that don't line up with the Bible, then what we've done can't be God's will.  She has made choices that have separated her from God.  Don't misunderstand me, He did not give up on her, she turned away from Him.  And, she made the choice to not include me in her life.  But in the last year and a half I have not stopped loving her, I have not stopped missing our friendship, and I have not stopped praying for God to reach her.

Today, in a pit of despair, she reached out to me.  We spoke for a few minutes and we are having dinner tomorrow night.  As I said, it will be the first time I have seen her in nearly a year and a half.

Please pray for me.  Pray that God will give me discernment in this situation.  Pray that God will guard my heart and mind, and that He will guide my mouth so that I will know when to speak, and when to just listen to her. Pray that the Holy Spirit can use me to remind her that no matter what she has done God's grace and mercy is sufficient, and that God loves her beyond all her failures.  And pray for her, that she will continue to reach out to me, and to others who will speak God's truth in love.

Thank you so much for praying.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Expedient

Do you know what expedient means?  Well, when I checked the definition online this is what it said:  "conducive to advantage or interest, as opposed to right."

I Corinthians 6:12 tells us this:  "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."  This is the Apostle Paul talking.  Oh how I love Paul.  I can't wait to meet him in heaven.  I want to sit and listen to him tell the story of his conversion.  I want him to tell me about his speech before King Agrippa.  I want to hear him tell me about his little disagreement with Peter.

Paul tells Christians that while all things are lawful, it doesn't mean it is the BEST way of doing things.  Before Jesus, the Jews lived under the law of Moses.  Blood sacrifices were required.  Many food items were considered "unclean" and therefore couldn't be eaten.  Their lives were full of rituals and restrictions.  But when Jesus came He fulfilled the law.  He brought a more expedient way of doing things.  Jesus said it doesn't matter what you eat, all things are clean.  Matthew 15:11 says "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."  So there it was, they could eat anything they wanted.  No food was "unclean" for them, or for us.  But does that make it expedient to eat four Hershey bars at one time?

We don't have to wear certain clothes and, as women, keep our heads covered anymore.  But does that make it expedient to dress immodestly?

Is it wrong to drink wine or beer?  I can't find one scripture that unequivocally says it is.  The Bible says:  "be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."  Ephesians 5:8.  But I will tell you this.  The only reference in the New Testament to drinking wine that isn't a warning to not drink too much, is in I Timothy 5:23 where it says "drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."  For me, I believe living a life completely alcohol free is expedient.  For me, I believe it makes my witness to others stronger.

I believe we should strive to bring glory and honor to Jesus in absolutely everything that we do.  Not try to figure out just how close to the "line" we can walk and still slip into heaven.  I think we need to be mindful of what we watch on television and listen to on the radio.  Does it bring glory to God?  Does it build up your faith?  If not, then maybe we should find another channel or program.

Do your friends provide you with accountability and encouragement?  Or are they constantly pulling you away from God?   Placing you in situations or circumstances that make the Holy Spirit in you uncomfortable?  If so, then perhaps you need to reconsider who you spend your time with.

Most churches today try to be relevant.  That is the buzz word these days.  And I think relevant can be good.  But if we are so relevant that there is no difference between "us" and "them" then we have failed.  If relevant means we water down the message of the gospel that says there is a heaven and there is a hell and only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will make heaven, then the blood of all those we have mislead will be on our hands.  JESUS IS THE WAY.  The ONLY way.  There is no other. 

So today, I ask myself.  Is my life expedient?  Am I choosing the better, higher way each and every day?  Not just some of the time, but ALL of the time?

I challege you to do as I am doing.  Ask God to show you if there is any place in your life that you haven't given completely over to Him.  When we ask God to speak to us, He does.  But we have to listen and we have to hear.  And sometimes what we hear isn't what we want.  But it is expedient.   So today I reexamine my life.  Even the little things that maybe don't seem to matter much.  Because others are watching us.  Our spouses, our children, fellow Christians, and non-Christians.  I want NOTHING in my life that could cause someone else to stumble in their walk with Jesus.  

I want my life to be expedient for Christ.  I want others to see Him in me.  I want my life to bring glory to Him.  He deserves my very best. That is my prayer today. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!!!!!

If you haven't already voted today, PLEASE make arrangements to get to your local polling place before the polls close and exercise your right to vote!  It is so important that we, as Americans, stand up for what we believe in! 

On a personal note to my Missouri blogging friends, I urge you to vote NO on Proposition B.  This proposition purports to help puppies by putting further restrictions on "puppy mills."  Ladies and gentleman, there are already laws to regulate puppy mills.  The puppy mill owners who don't abide by these rules, won't abide by new laws either.  All this does is increase governmental control on law abiding citizens.  The first step is puppy mills, the next step is increased governmental control on all agricultural businesses.  I am against increased governmental control in my life!  What's that old joke. . . I'm from the government and I'm here to help you??  Proposition B doesn't help ANYBODY!!!

So please, take just a few minutes out of your day today and vote.  It is your right, and I believe your responsibility!  GO VOTE!!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beef With Snow Peas

Photo Courtesy of The PioneerWoman.Com


Do you ever feel like you fix your family the same meals over and over and over?  And over and over and over?  That's how I've been feeling lately.  Like if we eat spaghetti, or round steak one more night for supper it will be the end of the world.

Well last week the Pioneer Woman had an awesome recipe for Beef With Snow Peas.  While Down On The Farm is a MUCH smaller farming operation than the Drummond's spread in Oklahoma, we eat a lot of beef too and I'm always looking for something new to do with my freezer full of beef.

I won't show you the recipe or the steps as you can check it out HERE.  She does a much better job of photographing and explaining the recipe than I do so for the skinny on the recipe, check out the link.

What I can tell you is that IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!  I loved it, my kids loved it (well Cole wouldn't eat the snow peas) but it is definitely a recipe I will add to our "rotation" of evening meals.  It did take a little time to prepare but it was well worth it.

So if you're looking for something new to fix for supper, check out Pioneer Woman's "Beef With Snow Peas."  I hope you like it as much as we did! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Week Ago

Just a few more pictures of our experience one week ago today, when the Eldon FFA Parliamentary Procedure team was named National Champion!


It has been an amazing week.  The kids have been on our local television station.  They have made the front page of both of our Eldon newspapers.  The whole town is talking about the National Championship.  The school is in the process of having signs made that proclaim Eldon as the home of the 2010 FFA National Champion Parliamentary Procedure team that will be posted along the highway at several entrances to our town. 

Eldon FFA Parliamentary Procedure National Champions . . . has a nice ring to it doesn't it ? ?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IN AWE!!!!!!

I am a huge fan of Hillsong United. You know from Hillsong Church in Australia?   Their songs are amazing, and absolutely Holy Spirit inspired.  One of my favorites is "The Stand." 

"You stood before creation, eternity in Your hand, You spoke the earth into motion, my soul now to stand, You stood before my failure, carried the Cross for my shame, my sin weighed upon Your shoulders, my soul now to stand. So what can I say, what can I do, but offer this heart O God, completely to You.


So I'll walk upon salvation, Your Spirit alive in me, this life to declare Your promise, my soul now to stand.  So what can I say, what can I do, but offer this heart O God, completely to You.


SO I'LL STAND, WITH ARMS HIGH AND HEART ABANDONED, IN AWE OF THE ONE WHO GAVE IT ALL, I'LL STAND, MY SOUL LORD TO YOU SURRENDERED ALL I AM IS YOURS."


Are you truly in awe of the One who gave it all?  If you aren't, then you should be.  He died for you.  Did you deserve it?  No.  Can you earn it?  No.  Can you receive His salvation by just asking Him?  YES!!!

To know Jesus is to be in awe of Him.  In awe of His love and mercy and grace.  If you don't know Him, today can be your day of salvation.  Ask Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart.  Ask Him to lead you and guide you.  Ask Him to save you.  He already paid the price.

If you do know Him, please take just a few minutes and focus on Him.  May we never be too busy to stand in awe of our Lord and Savior.   He is AWESOME.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS

It was announced Friday evening in Indianapolis, Indiana that the Eldon FFA Parliamentary Procedure team is THE NATIONAL CHAMPION!!!!!!!   That's our son Cole, the second from the left!!! 

It was such an exciting time I hardly know where to begin.  Our team competed Thursday morning, one of over 40 state champion teams, and Puerto Rico.  Thursday evening it was announced that we had made it to the semi-finals, consisting of the top 12 teams.  Friday morning we competed against the other eleven teams.  It was announced at noon on Friday that we had made it to the FINAL FOUR!  These four teams, Missouri, Texas, Arizona and California, competed beginning at 1:00 on Friday afternoon.  We were the last team to demonstrate.  We were in the Indiana Convention Center and they competed before approximately 1,500 people. 

There was a banquet Friday evening for all of the parliamentary procedure teams.  Parents were not allowed to attend.  When the banquet was finished and the awards began, they opened the doors so we could come inside.  When it was announced that the team from Missouri had won we screamed, we cried, we jumped up and down.  It was absolutely INCREDIBLE.

The team consists of our son Cole, Peyton Atteberry, Kelsi Mueller, Arika Meyers, Abbey Thomas and Jill Blankenship.  These kids, and their advisor Mr. Matt Biddle, have practiced for countless hours.  They have worked for months and months to perfect their presentation and it definitely paid off.

The parents who went to Indiana this week had a prayer service Wednesday evening before the Thursday competition.  Thursday evening we again had prayer and all of the students were invited to join us.  I am proud to say that EACH student, and our advisor, joined us for prayer.  We asked God to bring all things to the remembrance of the team.  We asked for a calm and peaceful spirit to surround the students.  We prayed for boldness and confidence.  We asked for the favor of the judges and we asked for the students to do their absolute best.  And each time we prayed that above all else, God's will would be done, and we promised Him that we would THANK Him, no matter the outcome.

I am so very proud of each one of these kids, and of course we are extremely proud of Cole.  The caliber of the teams we competed against was outstanding.  Any of the other three Final Four teams was deserving of the championship, and we cried with the students who didn't win, and we congratulated them on their accomplishments.

Thanks to each one of you who prayed for Cole and his teammates.  It was very much appreciated.  Now I ask that you join me in praising God for His goodness.

I don't think it has quite sunk in, to me or to the team.  NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.  I remember how excited and proud we were when they won the State FFA competition.  This, this is beyond our wildest dreams.  So today I praise the Lord for blessing these young men and women.  Thanks again to each one of you for praying. May God bless you!!!