Monday, April 30, 2012

Contentment Part Four: Keeping a Soft Heart

This article wraps up my series on Contentment.  Here are the previous parts of the series if you've missed any:

Part One: Contentment instead of worrying
Part Two:  No Complaining!
Part Three: Coveting and finding joy in our unique circumstances

Last Wednesday, I talked about coveting and today I'm talking about envy.  I've always had a hard time understanding the difference between the two;  however, now that I've studied them both a little, I think I realize the distinction:

Coveting is an unquenchable thirst for the things of this world---material things, specifically; but, perhaps, personality traits or life circumstances as well.

Envy is more of a resentment of the joys and positive things in another person's life.

Where coveting is a verb, an active and conscious action, envy is a personality trait that festers and grows.  It can start out small, but it's fed by irrational thoughts and fears.  

James 3:16:  "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there."

Isn't that the truth!  How many times has your respect for someone grown to admiration, then to desire to "be like her", then to feelings of inadequacy when she succeeds, then to wishing she wouldn't succeed so much, then to wanting to sabotage her success now and then, and finally to complete contempt for every good thing in her life?

That's envy.  Jealousy.  With it comes hatred, malice, and a little voice inside that tells you that you just don't measure up.  

I've been on both the giving and receiving ends of envy.  There are people I know who have lost incredible amounts of weight and I've been envious of how easy that comes for them.  I think I've gotten to the point of wishing she wouldn't succeed so much before my "voice of worthiness" speaks up and reminds me who I belong to.

As for being on the receiving end, let's just say that I've got a loving and present husband, obedient and healthy kids, and a very peaceful home life.  This doesn't sit well with some who are struggling in these areas and I truly, from the heart, feel for those who envy this good life to the point of maliciousness.

This verse in James is surrounded by wisdom---wisdom about wisdom!

James 3:13-18:  "Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

I think the last verse just really sums up this whole series on contentment:

"Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Being content is not a place we somehow and someday arrive to and stay.  It's a conscious daily choice to sow seeds of peacefulness and reap the blessings.  Instead of actively seeking contentment for ourselves, I think that we will be much more successful at finding peace when we seek to make peace abound around us.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Delivering the Goods! Odwalla CFK Game Day Challenge Round Two #CBias #SocialFabric

This month, Champions For Kids is partnering with Odwalla juice in a SIMPLE Service Project to round up some new or gently-used sports/outdoor equipment and donate it to a children's organization.  We decided to give our gifts to Pendleton Parks and Recreation!

Our family has benefited, on so many occasions, from the services that the Pendleton Parks and Rec provides.  Our homeschool group rents out this gym once a week to have free play time.   
Each year, they host the Daddy Daughter Dance---one of the highlights of the year for our girls!
They make sure we've got several baseball fields around town to play in.  Our homeschool group utilizes one specific park the majority of each year for sports.
They maintain all our beautiful parks and make sure we have clean and safe places to enjoy family time!
Before heading out for our shopping trip to collect items to donate to the Recreation Center gym and summer park time, I contacted the Parks & Rec to make sure that they were interested in the donation and to see what sorts of things they needed.  We've never given to a community-wide resource like this, so I wanted to make sure that we were providing things they could use.  Along with our donation of outside equipment, we gave a bunch of Odwalla juice! 

 If you'd like to see more  pictures of our shopping trip, you can check out my Google+ album featuring the #OdwallaCFK project. 
We set up an appointment and delivered the goods one sunny afternoon---on our way to the park!
The ladies who took the donations for us were so blessed by the kids' generosity that they let them each pick a tattoo!  Now our kids can't wait to go back to the Rec Center to play with the toys they donated!
For more information on how you can be involved with Champions For Kids, visit CFK at the following places:

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric All opinions are honest and are my own.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Homeschool and Homemaking Link Up Weekend

Often times, people will ask about our homeschool and wonder how I can possibly do everything it takes to bring these 8 kids up right.  Well, my definition of "bringing them up right" might be a little different than yours...

In our homeschool, we read lots of stories in bed in our jammies.
You might even catch us at the table doing school work in our robes and bare feet!
Sometimes I even let the kids read comics in place of classics!!

There's always time to put on a George Washington costume before sitting down for a geography lesson.
I might even agree to a week off so a project can be finished!

Sometimes I let the kids snuggle on the floor together while their other siblings slave away at math or reading.
Believe it or not, a quiet reading place can always be found somewhere!
When we take turns treating one another like royalty, everyone feels special!

We learn to work through life's wonderful distractions.
We even play with our food!
We work out problems together---(yes, that IS a three-year-old playing with scissors)
We share our talents with one another.

When it's time to do chores, we attack them with the force of superheroes!
We always try and keep our senses of humor in tact.
With all this fun to be had, how can I resist?

Thanks for stopping by this week's Homemaking Link Up Weekend! I'd love to have you join us.  Please link up any and all home/family/craft/recipe/etc. posts below!

Linking with:
Beverly's Pink Saturday @ How Sweet The Sound
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Contentment Part Three: Finding Joy In Our Unique Circumstances

We took the kids to the park for baseball and a picnic on Sunday morning.  Me and baby Kynthia took the picture!
Hebrews 13:5  "Let your conduct be without covetousness;  be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' "

This is one that I don't feel like I deal with so much at this time in my life, though I've definitely dealt with it before!  I honestly can't think of anything that I covet.  Yay!!  This is a welcome reprieve for me in this series on Contentment!  Monday, I talked about worry---that was a convicting one.  However, yesterday's discussion on complaining was the big whammy!  It sounds like that one made an impression on others, as well, since I got a lot of feedback about it!

Anyway, back to coveting.

Mom taught me that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and it didn't take much life experience to prove that to be true!  With other people's "stuff" comes other people's junk.  I think the main reason why I don't deal with a covetous spirit very often is because I've come to realize that God uniquely made me to be able to handle/enjoy the blessings and trials that are in my own life.

The circumstances of my own situation dictate what sorts of things will be beneficial for me.  I don't have designer clothes like some because I have a new baby every year who would spit up on them and stain them! (I couldn't fit into them anyway since I'm always pregnant or recovering!)  However, I do have a lot of cute maternity things, as well as the ability to design and sew my own clothing, so I don't feel like I'm always donning a shapeless parachute!

I don't have a fancy sports car---because what I need is a 15-passenger van.  I don't have a sprawling mansion---because what I can manage is a modest, 4-bedroom home in town.  I haven't been blessed with extraordinary beauty and a flawless figure---because I have a personality that desires attention and the Lord knows that wouldn't be beneficial to me or my marriage!

I don't struggle very often with discontent in the area of greed because I am peaceful and happy in the life God has given me!  I know that God will never leave me nor forsake me---therefore, I can be content in knowing that he is working out the perfect set of blessings for my unique circumstances!

Did you miss Part One on Worry??  How about Part Two on Complaining?  Check them out and be blessed!

Linking with:
Loving Our Children Tuesday at Teaching What Is Good 

This article was written for the 61st edition of The Christian Home Magazine.  Check it out and be blessed!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Contentment Part One: Finding Contentment Instead of Worrying

A peaceful place near Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon
Contentment:  an uncomplaining acceptance of my currently unchangeable circumstances

Worry and anxiety cause discontent in our lives.  If we are anxious about our current state in life: husband's job, medical issues, children's disobedience, we miss seeing the good ways that God is providing for us and sustaining us.

Matthew 6:25, 34
  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink;  nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things.  Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble."

In most cases, there's nothing we can do to fix our problems on our own.  When we turn our worry into contentment, we are in a better frame of mind to see the true magnitude of an issue and hear God's direction on how to deal with it.

We've heard that God will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Futhermore, 1Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us "Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, an it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."

If we put aside our worry that we will not have the basics we need to sustain our lives, (food, water, shelter) we can begin to focus on our other anxieties ans see that everything else is an issue of trusting in God an being content with his plan.

Do you have a rebellious daughter?  What else can you do but pray for help and follow God's leading?  God's answer will be better than anything you can come up with on your own, so be content while he works it out.

Is your financial peace buried deep in unmanageable debt? All you can do is seek God's direction and follow his steps to get out of it.  Be content while he works out the process.

Matthew makes a good point when he writes, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (6:27)

We've got nothing to gain by giving into anxiety.  In fact, it's a major hindrance to finding peace and accepting the place God has us in for today.

What are some ways in which you practice giving your worries to God and being content where you are?

This article was written for The Christian Home magazine, Issue 59.  Check it out for lots of great articles from other talented Christian authors!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homemaking Link Up Weekend: Vintage Woodland Cookie Jar

Ok, true confessions:  Anyone who read my Thursday post knows that I have come in here, changed some stuff up and am REPOSTING it as my Homemaking Link Up Weekend post!!  My husband has a night free of college assignments and has invited me to watch our old favorite, Stargate SG-1 with him!!  How can I resist?  Bad blogger?  Maybe.  Bad wife?  Nope, not at all!

So...please link up your homemaking-related posts below and have a VERY lovely weekend!
To be honest, I bought this vintage woodland-themed cookie jar from a yard sale last month so I could resell it!  However, while I was preparing it for a photo shoot this morning, my sweet kids saw it and fell in love.  Please Mommy!!!  Ok...we'll keep it.  Besides, it matches my blog!

My 12-year-old daughter informed me at dinner, after I'd handed her a warm cookie from the new jar, that we are now like normal families because we have a cookie jar!
Did I say a warm cookie from the jar?  That's right!  This thick, ceramic container kept our cookies warm for over 5 hours!
My family has requested that I start making more "old-fashioned homemade" meals, so I've begun scouring my great-grandma's cookbooks and recipe boxes for some new-old things to make!  I knew that since we now had a cookie jar, I'd need to fill it with cookies, so I looked for a cookie recipe in this 1926 Cook Book from the Mothers' Club in Burns, Oregon.  Our Baker family ancestors started a ranch there in the mid-1850s and there are still Baker boys running it today!

Robert, Clyde, Nina, Martha, and Jim Baker Silver Creek, Oregon c. 1905

I made these Oatmeal Cookies just how the recipe states, except I used shortening instead of lard and added raisins.  There are no baking times or temps anywhere in this book, so I figured I'd bake them at 350 until they smelled done.  They're great!

The thing that intrigued me about this recipe was that it was sweetened with corn syrup only.  They were nowhere near as sweet as my regular recipe, but they were sweet enough---the raisins helped with that.  I didn't even notice until I'd picked them out that they were submitted by Mrs. J. T. Baker.  Hmmm....I wonder how she's related???

I'm having a lot of fun playing around with older recipes!  Do you have a favorite meal that your mother or grandmother made when you were younger?  I'd love to hear about it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Also linking with:

Katherine's Corner: Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
The Rookie Seamstress: {What is it?} Wednesday

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Homemaking Link Up Weekend

This is where I'll be this weekend:  Wallowa Lake in the beautiful Eagle Cap Wilderness of Eastern Oregon!  My friend, Audra, and I are headed up with some other friends to spend Friday and Saturday at a scrapbooking retreat!  I'm hoping to come home with a couple of cute card tutorials to share with you all!
I should have a few great pictures to show off too!
While I'm gone, how about linking up with my Homemaking Link Up Weekend?  I'll come visit you when I get home!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April Showers Rainy Day Activity #CBias #SocialFabric

It's been sunny and gorgeous all week here in Eastern Oregon.  That is, until today!  The Coller kids woke up to a rainy day and needed something extra fun to do while waiting for the sun to come out again!  Normally, we homeschool on weekdays, but today I needed to do a few necessary things around the house since I'd been gone all weekend.

Last night, Cainan and I went to Walmart to shop for project supplies and TCBY frozen yogurt---just in case we needed a rainy day project.  Whadda you know?  We needed one today!  To see more of our shopping trip, what we chose, and the other fun things we saw and did, visit my Google+ album!

We wanted to create a spring-themed project that also used the frozen yogurt theme, since we would be having a TCBY frozen yogurt party after we were finished with the craft.  We decided to make something that we could reuse over and over---so we made a Bean Bag Toss!

We bought a large Elmer's Tri-Fold Display Board and made holes in it with a razor blade. Then we decorated it to look like a great big frozen yogurt cone.  The glitter sprinkles were made using Elmer's Glitter Paint Pens.  We made one side a list of Rules and the other side a list of High Scores.  The scores are written on sticky notes so they can be changed out as scores improve!
Earlier last week, Lynzie made some bean bags in preparation for the game.  Aren't they adorable?  She made them to look like scoops of TCBY with sprinkles on top!  She used felt pieces, beads and beans!

Everyone had lots of fun playing the Bean Bag Toss game!
We taped lines on the floor at three different distances from the board so everyone would be challenged.
Rule #4:  Only those old enough to read the rules have to obey them!
After we were finished with our game, we had a TCBY tasting party!  Have you seen the new line of TCBY frozen yogurt treats that Walmart is carrying? 
Cainan chose one of each pint that our store had in stock and the kids got to try them all!
It cracks me up to see the kids' faces when we give them a big treat like this.  They RARELY get sweets!

What a fun way to spend a rainy day!

For more information on TCBY's grocery offerings, visit:

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric All opinions are honest and are my own.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Will Your Legacy Be?

Proverbs 27:6: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."

Talk about prophetic!  How can we help but read this and picture our wounded Savior and Friend, Jesus, the Ever-Faithful One, contrasted with the deceitful and weak Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss?

Judas didn't leave much of a legacy.  In fact, if you had to chose one human being in the Bible who was most unfaithful and least deserving of Heaven, who would you choose?  Many of us, without much thought, would choose Judas, right?  After all, he claimed to be a follower of Jesus---which implies devotion, respect, love for Him---yet he easily betrayed the Lord for pennies.

***Enter Sarcasm***

Wow---I'm SO glad that I am not like him!  I would never do something as dishonoring to the Lord as Judas did.  I mean, can you imagine having unlimited access to the King of Glory---God in the form of man---and then throwing it all away just because you were afraid of what others might think about your association with Him? 

**cough**  **cough**  **cough**

Can you comprehend the thought of receiving any amount of compensation for betraying our Lord?  Judas's 30 pieces of silver were equal to about four months worth of wages.  Would that be worth it to you?

The truth is that we're all Judas.

How often do we betray Christ by distancing ourselves from Him?  Like Judas, we become disillusioned by the contrast between what our Christian walk really is and what we think we're entitled to.  When Jesus doesn't do things in our lives the way we think He should, we want to take matters into our own hands, like Judas did, and make it happen!  Of course, when we take action on our own, it pretty much always backfires---like it did with Judas.  When he betrayed Jesus to the authorities, he wasn't trying to get Him crucified.  He was trying to force Jesus into displaying His power and real authority---he was trying to start a revolution.

When we step outside of God's plan and direction, we're not usually trying to deliberately disobey Him.  We just want to get the job done faster, so we think we'll help Him out a little.  This only causes us to fall into a pit of our own making---one that is far from God and far from his plan.  We actually become enemies of God.

Often times, we find ourselves accepting the world's compensation for sin (betraying Jesus), when we know there's a better reward to be had for faithfulness.  Even though we've experienced Christ, we still gravitate toward what is comfortable or what we feel is safe.  Our head knows that God's ways are right, but our foolish hearts too often yearn for things that are less than God's best.  Like the "washed sow" who returns to her mud pit, so we often go back into our old ways---even after being cleansed by God's saving grace.  We allow the loud voice of the enemy to drown out the calm and quiet voice of God that says, "just wait---I have a plan!  Trust me."

If we want to avoid the same pitfalls as those of Judas, Peter, and others who walked with Christ yet denied Him later, we must be changed.

There are many verses that we know so well---so well that we often dismiss them.  We can rattle them off verbatim, but we haven't taken the time to get them into our very being.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

Don't get me wrong:  it's essential that we know Scripture by heart.  However, we must make sure that these truths are actually in our hearts and are manifested in our actions.  How do we avoid the pitfalls of denying Christ and, instead, leave a legacy of faithfulness?  We stop conforming to the world.  Often times we think that this means we shouldn't act or think like the world.  It's more than that, though.  In addition, we shouldn't be concerned with how the world perceives us---when we know in our hearts that we are following God.  We must let God renew our minds and allow him to focus our thoughts on that which brings him pleasure.  Trust me, this is not going to look anything like the world we live in.  But, it just might make the world desire to know Whom we've got living in us.

This article was written for The Christian Post, Issue 58.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How To Freeze Basil -- Easy Tutorial

Hello Readers!

Today I'm guest posting at Suburban Prairie Homemaker!  Have you always wanted to grow an abundance of fresh herbs but weren't sure how to store them?  Check out my easy tutorial on how to freeze basil (and other herbs).  I guarantee you will be surprised how easy it is!  Just click on the picture below and enjoy my guest post at Ann's blog today!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easy Waterfall Card Tutorial

Good morning!

Today I'm guest posting at Bubbly Nature Creations and showing off my easy Waterfall Card Tutorial! Come check it out!

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