Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh, Fudge!

I'd give up chocolate, but I'm no quitter!
~Author Unknown

My husband's all time favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story. It must be a guy-thing. I think its only rival is It's a Wonderful Life, which obviously has a much better message. However, my topic today is fudge, the real stuff that melts in your mouth with sweet flavors.

There are really easy ways, even foolproof ways, to make creamy fudge in these modern times. I do not use them. No, I am compelled to do it the old fashion way or perhaps I am just entrapped by my illogical need for complexities. Then, the two candy thermometers I have are not that helpful. I calibrate them by boiling water and one reads 4 degrees lower than it should be and the other 10 degrees lower, but that is at the boiling point and I suspect that I cannot rely on that at the higher temperatures so when I think the temperature is close, I still do my soft ball test the old fashion way also.

I have to tell you that I rarely have a batch of fudge turn out perfectly the first time and that could be in part because I only make fudge at this time of the year. Fortunately, I found out that by adding a tablespoon or two of milk fudge can be reheated to the soft ball stage again whether it is grainy, not setting, or it seized before it was poured in the pan and then cooled to 110 degrees (for me that is 120) and then beat until it just begins to lose its gloss. Do not hesitate at this point to pour in into a prepared pan, as I tend to do thinking it really has not lost its gloss enough...rolling my eyes! I have been making fudge for over thirty years; you would think I would learn by now.

Go ahead and laugh, because when I finally get it, it is soooo right. It makes the process of redoing it worth while.

I think God must see us in that way. We can appeared completely ruined, but God has the mastery to take where we are and start the process over again until we are just the way He wanted.... Hmm, I am not so sure we ever reach that point actually, but at least we have the potential to do so.

~ My Lord, may my fudge turn out well...this time, please. I really need to get to bed soon. ~

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Message

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. ~1 Peter 4:10

Today I slept in a bit having stayed up too late the previous night. My husband and daughter began the morning chores as I rested just a few minutes still snuggled in bed. I spent those few moments with my Lord. I was thinking of a friend to whom I had talked with the day before, one who has had many difficulties and recently was diagnosed with a condition that causes extreme fatigue. She has been discouraged and I can see her path, at least a portion of it. Still, I wondered why someone has to go the harder way, when the easier one is before him but he just thinks it is the most difficult.

It was then I clearly heard these words in my heart: "I cannot give what one cannot use."

Such odd words to hear from my Lord and yet they held more meaning than what they seem to say. I have pondered on then first "cannot." God is certainly able to give whatever He desires to anyone. I would have thought that "will not" would be more accurate, but as I thought about that more deeply, I realized that it was inaccurate also. It may be more likely that God not only will give but perhaps already has given. I began to see that from our perspective it seems that God had not and will not, but the answer is in the second "cannot."

What can we not use that comes from God?
What do we not need that He can provide?
What would we not use if God gives it?

Ah, the last question is the heart of the matter. I believe we receive more than we use, but have we received it really, if we do not use it? It is not that God has withheld it, but that we have not used it, therefore we do not accept He has given it.

I wondered then about the question: What can we not use that comes from God? Perhaps there is nothing...yet I am sure that I do not use all that God has given to me.

In the process of a healing prayer, I feel as if I am truly an instrument. I use the gift as I pass on the healing given from God. I know when someone is taking a healing, accepting it. Sadly, I also know when they are rejecting it. It is often a willful act that they will say they are not willfully doing. It seems that "I cannot give what one cannot use." It is not that I know of anyone who cannot use healing as if everyone is in perfect health, but I have known quite a few who could not use healing in the sense that they could not accept it.

Now I am wondering what I am not using that my Lord has given me. Aren't you too?

~ My Lord thank you for the moments You spend with me and the talks that we have had. ~

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Pain is Not My Own

The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure,
but to avoid pain.

I took the mitten kittens, Sharii and Midnight, to have their rabies shot about two weeks ago to a mobile veterinarian unit that does this service and others at greatly reduced rates. They suggested other shots as well, but I am not one to like loading the body with all kinds of things at the same time as I think it can overwhelm natural healing processes. I gave them both two pellets of the homeopathic remedy Thuja 30x immediately after the shot and another pellet later that day. Then they were given one twice a day for two more days and they had none of the ill effects that I usually see in our animals in the following days.

I also made an appointment for the kittens to be fixed--odd term, as they were not broken--the day before Thanksgiving (two days ago) with the same mobile service. I hated doing this, really hated it, but we simply cannot have two litters a year of kittens. Besides, I had concerns about how closely related the two kittens are.

I gave them a bath the night before and placed them in a large area penned off in our garage removing all food and water. We had to be there by 7:30 AM with each cat in a separate carrier. I put Sharii in the the sturdier one for good reasons. As we were told what we should expect post surgery, I wanted to scoop up my kittens and drive back, but I left them and drove home dealing with my mixed feelings. Later, when I thought of them I felt one of them under anesthesia.

When I picked up the kittens, they were lively and awake. I gave them two pellets of Arnica 30c and placed them back in the pen. We were not supposed to give them water for another two hours, but I felt they were ready for a little after the Arnica and they kept it down well. We were told to keep each cat separate, but I felt the kittens would not be playing hard with each other, they just rarely do now that they are older.

I peeked in on them several times and gave them some food and another pellet of Arnica that evening. Most of the time they were curled up together sleeping. Apparently, the Arnica was helping with the healing and the pain. I say this because last night, just before I gave them their pellet, I was beginning to feel quite a bit of pain in my own abdomen--being empathic has its downside--but it was better after they were treated. This morning when I awoke, however, I was nearly doubled over and I realized this was mostly Midnight's pain. For the female cat, it is like a hysterectomy for a woman and is very painful. The male is probably nearly as painful, but lacking the corresponding parts, I can only get a feel of the pain in a general area. I also think Sharii was benefiting from the Arnica more than Midnight.

The problem with being empathic is that I cannot get rid of pain that I am feeling from other people or animals. There is no way to guard myself and I have no control over what I will feel or not feel, or to what degree. The only way to alleviate the pain I feel is to relieve or heal the one from whom it is coming and not everyone is receptive of being healed. So, I can be stuck with their pain. Thankfully, cats are not complicated in that way--many other ways, yes, but not that way. Actually, animals and children are far more receptive to receive healing than adult humans.

So, little Midnight and I cuddled up together for a few minutes and I prayed for her. In just a few minutes the pain I felt began lifting and now is mostly gone. I prayed for Sharii also. The kittens are sleeping together now and I am able to bake today as I planned.

~ My Lord, thank you for my awareness of others' pains so that I motivated to help them and may they be more receptive to healing. ~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Has God Spoken?

The synergistic harmony of the Bible is a powerful testimony and an enduring reminder that God has spoken--that these are his very words. ~Hank Hanegraff, Has God Spoken?

It is easier to reach those without knowledge of the scriptures, but when we encounter those with such knowledge are we really prepared? I thought I was until I began reading this book!

I am in a quandary as to where I even start in trying to review Has God Spoken? Proof of the Bible's Divine Inspiration by Hank Hanegraff, Host of Bible Answer Man! It is packed with information: external history, Noah's flood, copyist practices, archeology, the dead sea scrolls, prophecies, and so much more--definitely not a light read. Thankfully, the author used acronyms throughout the book to maintain structure and to brace against any wanderings in memory. One of my favorites was L-I-G-H-T-S: Literal Principle, Illumination Principle, Grammatical Principle, Historical Principle, Typology Principle, and Synergy Principle.

This book is Christian apologetics above and beyond. It took me quite some time to finish mostly because I wanted think through each segment thoroughly before continuing. The amount of in-depth information could be overwhelming, but the writing style is accommodating and enjoyable.

I think the subject that I found the most interesting was the explanation of typology prophecy and antitypes. For instance, Matthew 1:22-23 (NASB) reads "Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 'BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,' which translated means, 'GOD WITH US.'” This was in reference to Isaiah 7:14 (NASB) translated "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." However, the word almah translated "virgin" here would be more accurately "maiden." The word betulah, which would refer to virginity, was not used.

Not only that but Isaiah 7:14 was actually fulfilled in Isaiah 8 with the birth of Isaiah's son Maher-Shala-Hash-Baz, so was it wrongly quoted in Matthew? No. This was one example of the typological correspondences described, in this case, between the birth of one child and the birth of the Messiah.

I felt I could identify with how someone of differing beliefs yet knowledgeable in the Bible would see certain areas in scripture as misinterpretations and misconceptions on the part of Christians and how that those same areas could be used to prove Jesus was the fulfillment of those prophecies because of typology.

This book is worth the read if you really want to understand scriptures from a view outside what is taught in Christian churches and how to convincingly change people's perspective of Christianity through the use of the scriptures, particularly those who are in agreement with the writings of Professor Bart Ehrman, who "deemed the historical Jesus as a false apocalyptic prophet."

Lastly, I will let the book speak for itself:
Finally, we should carefully note the elegant tapestry that serves as an internal evidence for the divine authorship of the biblical text. The tapestry of Scripture is a divine composite of surpassing brilliance and beauty. It is simply incredible that this exquisite masterpiece is fashioned from sixty-six books, written by forty different human authors in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), over a period of fifteen hundred years, on thousands of different subjects, and yet is unified and consistent throughout. How is that possible? The individual writers had no idea that their message would eventually be assembled into one Book, yet each work fits perfectly into place with a unique purpose as a synergistic component of an elegant masterpiece.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

~ My Lord, thank you for teaching me, through this book, about how unprepared I am to defend my beliefs based on scripture and how I can improve in this area. ~

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Thanksgiving Wish

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And declare all Your wonders. ~Psalm 26:7

May you have a Thanksgiving surrounding you and your family with the love of the Lord.

~ My Lord, thank you most of all for being my Lord. ~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Product Review: Kroger's The Truly Awesome™ Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a BzzAgent, I accepted the campaign for Kroger's The Truly Awesome™ Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies in exchange for an honest review. My daughter and I opened a box just minutes after its arrival and enjoyed them with a glass of cold milk. These cookies are almost "sandy" in texture with a light flavor, which make them an excellent dip-in-milk cookie but it lacks that butter-rich, softer texture that we prefer in a chocolate chip cookie. On the box, one of the suggestions is to microwave the cookies for a few minutes for that fresh out of the oven sensation. I do not own a microwave (I just do not believe in radiating my food) so I do not know how well that would work.

On the front of the box there are three claims and I would like to address these in particular:

According to the list of ingredients on the side of the box, that is true. This is one of the best features of the cookies. You just cannot go wrong with having lots of chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie.

Although there is butter in the ingredients, it is low on the list: chocolate chips, flour, margarine, sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, leavening, natural flavor, and salt. Did you notice the amount of margarine was far more than the amount of butter? It seems to me that real butter was added only as a sales gimmick.

Technically, as stated on the list of ingredients, citric acid is a preservative, although a natural one, which is added the making of the added margarine. I suppose I am being nick-picky to point out that margarine itself is an unnatural ingredient, but then the claim was not that the cookies were all natural.

On the back of the box:
They are really selling the butter! Too bad they did not use enough butter to give it that real homemade quality. Most of that butter flavor must be coming from the butter flavoring added in the margarine.

Overall, I would not refuse to eat one if offered--the chocolate chips are definitely the better selling point--but this one is not a cookie I would choose to buy. Putting aside that they are not organic, at $2.79 for a package of eight large cookies, it just seems a tad pricy for cookies made mostly with margarine and just a smack of butter.

I also have a suggestion because the packaging is not appealing, not at all. It is plain and does not sell the product. Also, blue is a color that suppresses hunger--ever notice that no natural foods are blue? Blue and white are not the colors to use predominately on a food package to get people to want to buy it, even if they are the store's logo colors.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Disclaimer: Fasting Experiences Will Vary

Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food.
~Dallas Willard

Paula commented on my last post stating she would like to read more about the results of my fasting experiences. I smiled thinking of the paradoxical knowledge I have acquired, wondering to how to write it so that it would offer her and others the core-essence answer for which she truly seeks: the purpose of fasting. Why fast? Why do it unless you get something from it, right? Can we be even so transparent as to confess we wish to be convinced it is worth doing before we suffer missing even one day of meals?

As I was thinking over how to answer, I was reminded that I read on a Christian message board once about a young man's experience with a 40-day fast in the wilderness. He went alone. All he had taken with him was a sleeping bag. He drank directly from streams, walked and prayed, rested and prayed, heard the wild animals in the forest and prayed. At one point, he wrote about how he worried about being lost and realizing that he could die out there--who would even know? He was asked if he would ever do it again and he wrote if he had considered everything, he probably would not have done it at all, but having done it, he would do it again. I marveled at this! I realized then that I have only fasted in the comforts of my home with the distractions of my everyday life and I considered that a sacrifice...? This man removed himself from all that he knew, with not even a cell phone, and fasted! It certainly gave me a differing perspective of Jesus' fast.

Fasting is just not understood by those who have not yet fasted. The argument would be we can pray without fasting and God can answer our prayers without fasting, so why fast? Is there some mysticism involved with fasting? Perhaps. At least, I believe there is.

Remember the moment you asked Jesus into your heart? That moment something within you changed. You felt it. It was real to you. Before that moment your spiritual aspect was empty. You had life and thought, much like any other animal in God's creation, but you were created to be more: a vessel for the Spirit of your Lord. At that moment, the Comforter filled that emptiness. It is not something you can acquire and then show to other people like a new cell phone, but you then had a direct connection with your Lord wherever you were. Even praying was different somehow.

You cannot explain that transformation--not really--to someone who has never experienced it himself and especially not to someone with no inclination of experiencing it for himself. An atheist will just shake his head at your "delusions," thinking that you needed to feel something, so you did. I say this because fasting is like that and perhaps more understandably so. From the unbeliever's point of view, whatever you would experience is due to low blood sugar or lack of nutrients to the brain--you even get this from fellow Christians!

Many books have been written on fasting: how to do it, its benefits, and even why one should fast. On the flip side, I rarely find anyone who fasts in need of convincing or asking why it should be done. That is because the answers are found in the fasting itself.

~ My Lord, may those seeking answers about fasting find them through You. ~

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Much Left to Give

Do you have a hunger for God? If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul's appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting. ~John Piper

In my last post, I mentioned how our church had fasted for forty days last year and how many did not fast food, but things like "Starbucks, the Internet, TV, and electronic games." I do not mean to minimize these commitments, but they easily could have been New Year's resolutions. My point is how most people were willing to temporarily give up what are the excesses of their lives, but not real necessities and I would say that at least some of them, seeing how their lives could be without those things which crowd out time with God, still returned to them.

Many of those options were completely unavailable to my family. We are not coffee drinkers and definitely not into Starbucks. We had made a decision to turn off our TV service over a year ago, although we watch a few shows some weeks (and some weeks not at all) on the computer or a DVD movie, we just feel they take up so much time. We have a few computer games, although you will rarely see us playing them, but we do not have a Wii (although we might soon?) or anything else like that. We have so many other things to do that we just do not have much time to fit such things in and when we do not have something that needs to be done (actually, that never is a possibility, it is more like when we are purposely avoiding what we could be doing), there is always a good book to read, or a board game to play, or something to research on the Internet, or an scientific experiment to try (as the Princess is into that right now), or a mitten kitten who needs to be cuddled, or...well there just is always something to do other than play a game all by yourself on a box.

My point is that I think it is important to consider what fasting really is. I do not think that when Jesus fasted that He fasted excesses. He probably did not even have excesses! However, in fasting He suffered and denied Himself one of the things most required by the body to survive: food.

Now I know that some people cannot fast food because of medications they are taking or due to blood sugar problems, but self-sacrifice is the heart of fasting and fasting excesses is not fasting. Fasting should not just be a minor inconvenience, but something that will gnaw at you, something that allows you to suffer a bit, something that alters your perspective when you look at your own life. I understand that for those who have never done it, baby stepping into the practice of fasting is a path of learning to trust God, but it should be a progressive process, one that is continued throughout one's lifetime.

Jesus fasted. His disciples fasted. Many of the most influential Christians throughout history fasted. I think very few Christians sitting in comfortable pews fast, too few. So many people miss the blessing of the sacrifice, of tasting what Jesus chose to suffer, of this special way of communing with our Lord.

Each time I have fasted, I have been shown glimpses of my life from a differing perspective, God's perspective; I have better identified the excesses and determined free myself of them, not that I am always successful, but then human beings are a work in progress and God is patient.

~ My Lord, You have given me such wonderful gifts during and after fasts. I wish more Christians would devote themselves to fasting and sacrificing in honoring You. ~

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Healing Choice

When we have learned the process of faith for receiving healing, we have learned how to receive everything else God promises us in His Word. ~F. F. Bosworth

I am not so sure that our advances in medicine have been advantageous. I have no doubt both Western and Eastern medicine, although far apart in philosophy and techniques, have improved quality of life, cured diseases, and saved lives...but my question is to what end? Has it brought us closer to God or farther away, more dependent on God or more independent of Him?

This is the dilemma for me as a healer and the source of one of my own hypocrisies. I believe in divine healing. I have witnessed divine healing. I have been directly involved with divine healing. Yet, I also have been led and shown what would heal me personally, because I have found that I cannot facilitate healing for myself...perhaps God designed it that way for me so that I would not become too self-reliant? Perhaps that is how it is so for all healers so that we must rely on God? The answers elude me.

A friend recently mentioned that she if she had the gift of healing, she would not call herself a "healer," because all healing comes from God. I understand her thoughts very well for I felt the same way for many years, as I hid in my prayer closet. However, just lately I have begun to notice that I am less patience with this double standard I see before me. I should not call myself a healer, even though I tell how I was given this gift and that it most definitely comes from God, from Whom all healing comes as every Christian believes, yet it is acceptable for Christians to put their faith in modern medicine and a doctor, even if an atheist, and pray to God on the side to guide the doctor, rather than to wait on the Lord for His healing.

Think about that for a moment.... To do nothing but just wait on the Lord God for divine and direct healing...well, that is just crazy talk!

So, just how much faith do we REALLY have in God? We say we trust Him with our lives, believing we do until...we realize we never really have, that is, until the time we have had to do so.

Last year when my husband and I chose to refrain from eating any food for the forty days of fasting called by our church, a number of the members probably thought we were crazy. Most of them had never fasted food before and of those who did, it was one meal a day or perhaps a day. Most believe it is unhealthy, but actually it is quite healthy. Most of our church members chose to fast Starbucks, the Internet, TV, and electronic games. My husband and I both had fasted before, although never so long as forty days. While my husband dropped pounds he did not need, I dropped down to the point that I was showing too much in the ribs. Sometime after the fast ended, one of the members mentioned something about trusting God for your very life and he looked at my husband and me. He had been left with the impression that we had done just that. Perhaps we had.

However, because we had exercised fasting in the past, we were familiar with it. Not just how we would fair physically, but how it would affect us spiritually. It was something we welcomed and felt was worth the suffering and waiting. It is far easier, in a way, to practice fasting, because you know that you could end it just by beginning to eat. You are in control of it. The only thing that keeps you in the fast is your commitment and your purpose.

However, that moment when a doctor says surgery is necessary or cancer has been detected, you realize you have no control over what you are about to suffer. You did not choose it and you cannot see any purpose in it. Yes, there will be prayers to God at those times, but there also will not be much waiting for the prayers to be answered. Whatever the doctor suggests is probably what you will do immediately, asking God to bless it as you make appointments for the very thing you would prefer to be spared through healing, but you doubt that it can be any other way.

Where is that trust, that faith, in the Healer then? I have heard for years the rationalizing that Christians make that God can heal through doctors and perhaps He does, but maybe it is only because we are not patient to wait on His healing in His timing, we do not trust Him first and foremost. Perhaps we are unwilling to suffer and wait, so that His healing will be doubtlessly evident, even to the unbeliever--what an opportunity missed!

Divine healing does happen to people everywhere, but I do not think it is a coincidence that I have heard of far more miraculous healings happening in parts of the world where modern medicine is less available, where people do not have a choice, where waiting on the Lord is the only option. Where else would faith be any greater than in those who must rely on the Lord completely for their very lives?

I write this knowing I myself might not have that strength in my own faith, as I ponder this question: Have you trusted the Lord, your God, for your life...really?

~ My Lord, I have struggled with this so much. I have only questions awaiting Your answers. ~

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Week in Review

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. ~Victor Hugo

I think I have been in calling out to my Lord quite a bit in the last few months, even though I have, at times, avoided prayer. I think part of me knew I was being stubborn, stuck in the mire and wanting out but my way. God was showing me not the path of least resistance, but the one He had prepared for me and I for it. The difference in my attitude is not just the schedule change, although that was a large part of it, but something more...something more like trusting Him more with the Princess' education and allowing myself to enjoy both her talents and my own. I had just gotten off track with the whole thing, but now...ahhh, so much the better now!

My daughter cleaned her room and her hamster's cage. I dusted and vacuumed most of the house because the fleas had finally died down and the diatomaceous earth I used to treat for them for the last three weeks was everywhere in my house--and I do mean everywhere, on everything and in everything.

My husband was out hunting for the day and came home late in the dark with a deer. Although past her bedtime, my daughter was as excited as the outside mitten kittens, but for differing reasons. There was an outside party next door and we were trying to be discreet, just in case the children would be upset.

We had to process the deer that night in our garage, at least in part, which took a few hours being it was the first we have ever done. My husband was given the deer by his hunting partner, who had shot it and felt it was not worth taking to a processor because it was too small. Actually it was average size for a doe in our area. It is not like my husband did not earn it, at least, a portion of it, for it was he who tracked the deer, since it ran away, and hauled it back.

Because we all were up late the night before, we left for Sunday School late. There was a dinner after church as it was Pastor Appreciation Day and there would be no evening service, which suit us fine as we had more processing to do. Once done, my husband packed as he would be leaving after work to fly out to Boston on Monday night.

After my husband had left for work, the day unraveled. First thing in the morning when I was feeding the rabbits I noticed a freakish accident in which a bunny's back leg got caught in the wiring of the cage. The leg was obviously broken or dislocated. While trying to get him freed, with my daughter holding him, she expressed concern for one of the mitten kittens. Midnight, the prissy, long-haired one who rather be a lap cat and carried everywhere, was on the ground and from the description given by my dramatic Princess, because my focus was on the bunny, the kitten could have had a seizure. I called my husband about the bunny, this before I understood what may have happened to the cat.

We began lessons a bit late, but all was going well, although I was a bit frazzled on the edges about the bunny. The Princess finished her pastel drawing of a horse for an art show and we went to the arts and craft store to get a can of fixative spray. After I realized that I had gotten "workable" fixative instead of the "final" one, I called to find out that the final fixative was one aisle over. Of course, the cans of final fixative and working fixative were in separate aisles! What was I thinking?

Then my daughter saw the next door neighbors walking their dog in costumes and began getting upset about treat or trick already starting. She never has like people being in full costumes with masks, but I thought she had grown out of it. I am still not sure if she was just being dramatic or truly upset.

This year she had a plan to keep children from stomping on the porch. What she did not plan is slipping on acorns while trying to move a heavy trash can to block the front steps and falling hard on her knee. About twenty minutes later she was fine and sweeping the sidewalk. The trash can, with a "no trick or treating" sign, was to stop the children from walking up to our door, which they always do even when we have porch lights off and drapes drawn close. It drives our dog crazy and we tend to hide downstairs, but this year we decided to enjoy sitting in our living room without closing the drapes, enjoying an episode of SG-1 while eating dinner and munching on a few treats. The Princess is proud that she came up with a way to keep those trick or treating off our porch.

The horses decided to be mischievous and play musical stalls...without the music. We got them situated and had no other incidents. After our chores there, I changed clothes because we needed to do some errands, including exchanging the fixative, but I left an article of clothing by accident, which I did not realize until we had returned home.

We went to the bank, got our refills of water from Kroger, filled the van with gas, exchanged the fixative, and stopped in at Target to look over the marked down candy. Several times I found myself thinking how much more I am enjoying the freedom on Tuesdays with the new homeschooling schedule. At home, the Princess had a shower, then we had a large lunch. I then showered while the Princess began working on her horse curriculum and the Latin she did not get done the day before.

All seemed to go so well, but later I realized I forgot to remind her of piano practice. I was distracted because I was trying to finish matting, mounting, shrink wrapping and placing a card on her artwork, as required so that we could turn it in at the 4-H meeting that evening. The meeting place is just a few minutes from my home, thankfully, because I realized on the way there that not only had I forgotten to take a picture of the pastel drawing my daughter did, but I had forgotten my camera as well, and the artwork is to be donated and sold to raise money to be split by the county animal control and an animal rescue group. I left the Princess and went back home for my camera and when I came back I was asked by a mother I know to take pictures of her daughter's presentation for her 4-H portfolio, which helps her qualify for scholarships. This is the same girl who has given the Princess a few riding lessons.

My husband returns home from Boston late, just before I had fallen asleep, which I did soon afterward.

Lessons go well. On Monday we covered Stonehenge, so for art in the afternoon I asked that she do a pencil drawing of Stonehenge from an elevated perspective so that the top was elliptical and also to begin a drawing for our Christmas cards. She felt it was too early, but I reminded her how rush we get when we wait until December.

We received Beautiful Feet's History of Classical Music. At first glance, each lesson looks to be more involved than the History of the Horse curriculum, perhaps better geared for an older child, so I think I will break up the lessons a bit so that the Princess can do them in the van between errands more easily. I want more than just a day to look through it, so I decided not to begin it until next week.

I relaxed in the afternoon, worked on separating money into the budget envelopes, viewing sales flyers online for my health food store, and organizing my coupons. I was particularly excited to find the 32 oz. organic canola oil regularly around $13.00 is on sale for $8.49 and there is also a $2.00 off coupon, so the $10.40 normally would pay with my 20% discount would be $5.19--half the price. Besides cooking, I use canola oil to make mayonnaise and ranch dressing, and because it is higher in Omega 3 than most vegetable oils, it is a healthier choice. Organic white flour normally around $7.00 for five pounds is also on sale for $4.99 with a $1.00 off coupon, my price of $5.60 down to $3.19. The whole wheat would be about 80¢ more. Also on sale is various soups and flavorings with coupons and sugar without. This is when I really stock up on baking goods and soups for my hunting man, but I try to hold back enough for two turkeys also.

My husband's van had a flat tire, because one of his accounts has a building still under construction and the workers cleaned up by blowing around the debris in the parking lot. A couple of screws found their way into the most worn tires, fortunately, but they may have lasted another 25,000. My husband filled the tires with air and asked me to follow him to the place where he would have the tires replaced on our way out to do errands.

I thought I would then double back and drop off one of the Princess' books at the library as well pay for one overdue and renew it. I really wish I would stop forgeting that the library's hours have changed, so it was not opened and we would do that on the way home.

Stopped at Walmart to look at marked down candy and got a little. Then we went to the health food store. (I know that sounds counterproductive, candy and health food, but we eat very little candy. A few bags keep well in my freezer for months. Besides, organic chocolate is very expensive.) At Life Grocery, I bought my bargains and a few staples like eggs and fruit. The Princess has taken up helping in the store the last few weeks. She asks what she can do and they usually have her front items or locate items where the labels are missing on the shelves. This time they "paid" her with a bag of natural milk chocolate, which she shared with me. Isn't she sweet? It tasted more like something between milk and dark chocolate and I really liked it very much, but then I never met a chocolate I did not like.

We also stopped at Big Lots and bought 16 oz. organic Newman-O's, a sandwich cookie, for just $2.00, which is the best price I have ever seen, but for some reason I have found them only at one Big Lots of the three closest on our errand run.

During the piano lessons, I read several chapters of a book. Afterward, we started the drive home with a stop at the Post Office. Because of an accident on the highway, we were delayed about 20 minutes and this time we did not stop for a Happy Hour half-priced milk shake at Steak-n-Shake. We stopped at the Target closest to home and bought five (all that was there) Sweet Leaf Organic Tea in the 64 oz. size for $1.99 (with the 8 oz. near it for about $1.49). We have plenty of organic spring salad mix so I did not stop at Sam's Club for it this time.

Then we made it to the library. The Princess placed two of the remaining Ramona books by Beverly Cleary on hold, which means they were ordered from other libraries.

At home we unpack and I begin dinner, which is usually just a salad, especially if my husband is working late and he did. The Princess and I watched a Stargate SG-1 episode during dinner.

Thinking my husband would be working on Saturday, I focused on lessons with the Princess and planned to work on reorganizing my pantry, kitchen cabinets for food, and upright freezer on Saturday. Of course, plans around here are never worth writing in pen and my husband will be home on Saturday after all which means he will not get a comp day so we can go to the apple country (North Georgia) on Monday as we had penciled in.

We had a nice dinner, rabbit with black beans and rice. I am still trying to get use to cooking rabbit, because it has so little fat, it can be a bit chewy in comparison to chicken, which is what it tastes like for the most part.

My daughter cleaned her room and swept the back deck and sidewalks. I defrosted the upright freezer and organized it with older items in the front and everything more easily accessible. My husband decided that he would like to move the pantry from the garage to one end of the arts and crafts room, because we had a mouse problem that we think has been corrected, but why encourage more? Also, that way we can use those shelves in our garage as our mud room area with hunting supplies and gardening items. To make room in the arts and craft room, he is now moving his computer and hobby work bench to another wall and clearing it out of all the outdated computer stuff not needed anymore.

I am half way done with the pantry, checking all the dates to move the oldest to the front and making mental notes of what we have, need, and should be used. I have not even started in the kitchen and I have my doubts that I will get to it today. We need to stop at a store tomorrow after church and perhaps then I will relax...while I prepare lessons for the week, that is.

And, we have to change the clocks now too!

You know what is the most amazing thing is: I am feeling so much better emotionally (and a little tired physically). I don't know if it is the new schedule or just a phase or maybe I just slapped myself in the face with reality, but I actually feel I am trusting God again and the rest, the bad along with the good, has had a very different feel for the last two weeks and even when I look at the next few weeks which are always very hectic with extra 4-H activities.

Still, I just have been feeling at more peace. Thank you for the prayers.

~ My Lord, thank you...just thank You. ~