Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homemade Sourdough English Muffins

We made Sourdough English Muffins this morning, including our two year old ... They are so good, it's like eating doughnuts fried in butter.  You mix up the dough the night before and let it rest on your counter.  Then in the morning you sprinkle baking soda and salt on top.  You work it in with a couple more cups of flour and then roll and cut!  They have to rise 1 hour which is the hardest part.... waiting.  Then you plug in your pancake griddle and smear with a stick of butter and start frying! 

The last time I tried doing this by myself with all three little ones.... there was flour everywhere, little people snitching dough, pushing and pulling already made ones, oh it was less than enjoyable in the wee hours of morning.  This time, I sent big brother outside with two of them to scrape ice and snow off the steps along with finishing the last of the unloading of the truck.  Then the reward was sledding! 

That left two older girls to manage English Muffin Making with their baby sister and I jumped in for my second shower in 1/2 a year!  It was glorious and wonderful and everyone got along. 

Work is so important for all of us, even the littlest.  Sometimes it seems easier to do things ourselves and work in quiet, but usually what happens with a house full of children is that some sort of argument or disagreement breaks out.  People get antsy and don't feel like they've made a contribution to the family and become unhappy with themselves. 

A little work for the littles, a little more for the middles and a fair amount for the oldest children makes for a very happy and enjoyable day.  When reading and school work happen, everyone looks forward to the rest from work.  Of course, there's always a lot of play in between, and they seem to enjoy it better, having worked first.

One more thought... I don't want to forget to mention the most important part of any day.  Besides prayer and confession as we roll along, I believe it is Bible and Prayer time right after breakfast.  If we neglect this, we've forgotten our eternal task given to us by God Himself:  the raising and training up of our children in His righteousness. 

I find that the reading and discussion we do in the morning, becomes reference material throughout the day for me to use.  Somehow the Holy Spirit takes our obedience, not our perfection, to God's word and our faithfulness to read it to work God's truths out in our hearts and daily lives.  Isn't He wonderful!!! 

This doesn't have to be difficult and complicated, it is enjoyable and peaceful amidst the very busyness of child rearing and homemaking.  We can be physically exhausted at times and I think this is pretty normal, but inside our hearts and minds, we can soar and be renewed day by day just like the Bible says.

One disclaimer:  We've had a great morning today, but if you would peek into my home say yesterday or perhaps in a few hours, you'd find something different.... a bunch of disgruntled and unhappy sinners needing the grace of God..... again and for one another.  You'd find us telling each other "I'm sorry for..... (fill in the blank)" and hearing, "I forgive you" and "let's try again."  We're a team and that means both victories and mistakes that we all make together and it's OK, God's got it covered, praise Him!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Enjoying a Stroll through the Birch Trees

Big brother holding baby sister, little brother tagging along, big sisters already in the fort exploring... what a glorious freedom and break from moving all the boxes...

We made it! We spent our first night in our old/new house last Friday.  It has been a blur and still is... at least the kitchen is up and running and we got our first showers yesterday in almost 1/2 a year.  Yes, you read that correctly.  At the little one bedroom house in town, there is a working bath tub, but just painted wood for shower walls with lots of gaps and a hand held sprayer. 

Here are Daddy and oldest Son removing the new house tub/shower unit.  The previous owners had patched it up with several pieces of linoleum.  Part of the unit was unpeeling from the wall.  You can get away with almost anything in Alaska!

We decided it had to go before all 8 people began using it.  One unit is better than none and at least in this new house we have two toilets to use.  With sort of a third that I'll blog about later.  What a luxury!  It's what the oldest girls said when they saw the dishwasher in the kitchen. 

I was thinking how many things are truly luxuries and we just get used to them as common every day needs while the rest of the world suffers real poverty.  Would you like to know what the poverty line is for a family of 8 in Alaska?  Slightly over $100,000/a year.  I was shocked to read that!  If I live in poverty, what am I missing, someone please tell me? 

So I can't afford to buy alcohol and much of anything brand new.  Is this really poverty?  My husband and I through the strength and wisdom God provides have fed and clothed six children, did I mention educate them too, and moved 4 times this year and have been through extreme medical expenses over the last several years. 

The most often heard question we hear is, "How do you make ends meet?"  We just tell people that God provides.  He always does in the most amazing ways.  Sometimes through other people, usually by lots of hard work and praying and sometimes going without.  You'll never be able to figure out how God works, just how much He loves, cares, and provides for your daily needs and even wants and desires at times. 

I didn't mean to go off on this tangent, but how can I be silent about a God this powerful, who defies all logic and understanding?  I have learned to be content with little and a lot.  Both are difficult to do.  Having an abundance, does not necessarily bring happiness nor contentment.  True wealth is found in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.... He's really all you need.  Really.  If you've never tasted of His amazing love and care, do it today. 

I seat on the edge of my seat waiting to see what God will do next in my life, the lives of my family and loved ones and the lives of complete strangers!  God is always working miracles, daily in everyone's life.  We just can't hold still and look long enough and careful enough.  Start looking, you might be surprised at what you find.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Moving Tips for Families with lots of Children

Yesterday was crazy and chaotic and hurried..... amidst all this, God's timing is amazing!  His grace is sufficient.  His wisdom is timeless and never changing.  Moving is just temporary and thank the Lord it does not last forever!  We lived in a one bedroom house since September and are looking forward to living in more space....

#1 Tip:  Keep your little ones busy moving cans, putting toys in boxes, anything!  Even if they half fill 3 boxes it's better than letting them run wild and get into trouble pulling electrical cords, grabbing phones, putting a sock in the toilet, and the older children pulling it out with your best salad tongs, writing with your permanent marker on the wall, etc.  Yes, all those things happened. 

#2  Tip:  Pray a lot all day and don't forget to drink water and put your feet up occasionally.  Really, the house won't fall down, and boxes won't be packed or hauled any less quicker.  Is that proper English?

#3  Tip:  Splurge on paper plates and bowls.  We don't have a dishwasher and this is a must during times of moving.

#4 Tip:  Don't forget God is in control and will bring His helping hands along in the form of people:  His hands and feet here on earth! 

A friend arrived at just the moment we were trying to figure out how to get the frozen hydraulics on the trailer working so that we could "unstick" our trailer from months of sitting in snow and ice.  My son, who recently got his driver's permit, (which will be a completely different blog post for another day) was going to attempt to back up the pickup truck to the trailer and get it attached.  You might wonder why I didn't volunteer myself.....  having never learned proper backing up skills and having proved it by backing into a birch planter yesterday at the new house, decided I'd pass.  So anyhow, our friend helped "unstick" the trailer and got it hooked up and pulled out.  Then the older kids began filling it up with boxes and small furniture.

#5 Tip:  Little ones make great Door Men and Women!  They find this job important.  Rotate them around so they can have turns and don't get to cold. 

#6 Tip:  Ignore all the carpet fuzz, dirt and weird things you find in the recesses of your cupboards.  Now isn't the time to clean, just stay focused on filling and moving boxes.  Cleaning comes later.  Don't ask why there is ice and dirt inside of the boxes you unpack at the other end... it just is and it will dry.  Your fingers will also thaw after unpacking all the frozen dishes and pots and pans. 

#7 Tip:  When you're not sure what to feed your family of 8 or so for dinner and you already did a crockpot the day before and packed it into the new house, think sandwiches as back up, or a cooked chicken from the deli. 

A wonderful friend from church showed up with an oven casserole, salad, and fresh fruit!  What a surprise and delight.  She'd offered earlier in the week and then we didn't have phone numbers so wasn't sure what was going to happen.  Well, it happened and in God's perfect timing again, as we were getting ready to head to the grocery store for dinner things and up to the new house.  I didn't have to take the trip to the store, and instead was able to measure and cut carpet to fit one of the rooms.  Yes, one of the few things I can still do while pregnant, praise God, I have some usefulness, ha ha!

And.... for those of you that like to spot God's love in detail....I had wanted to make this taco casserole recipe that I had got off my new favorite blog, Pilgrims and Strangers On Earth
(you must visit this site, it is so inspiring, practical, and beautiful).  I hadn't carved away time yet and guess what the dinner was that this lady and her children brought?  Yes, taco casserole!  God cares. 

#8  Tip:  Resist the urge to stay up to late and get up to early.  Everyone needs a good nights sleep and will function better and be happier. 

#9  Tip:  When your dog runs down the driveway and up the road, chasing down a schoolboy, take a deep breath, stay calm and keep calling the dog back.  Pray that your neighbors will be understanding... hope for the best and lock your dog in the house until you secure the perimeter with wire.

#10  Tip:  When the phone man comes and the dog tries to attack his vehicle, stay calm and repeat the above procedure...  if you begin to have flashbacks of the time you tried to shoot your neighbors Rottweiler when it threatened you, push them out of your memory and blog about that another day!

And to sum everything up, your house doesn't have to look like a model for any magazine or blog for that matter, it just needs to function and be a positive experience for everyone, even the littlest.... let them help and try to smile when you can't find anything at the other end expect for a jar of store bought applesauce and grapefruit juice and just be thankful. 

Oh!  One more thing, you'll have to seek forgiveness from your wonderful family from turning army sergeant  (nothing against that particular job, it's just the home isn't the right place) and barking orders instead of being the gentle yet firm Mother you ought to be.  They'll forgive you, they understand, and tomorrow is a new day!

Monday, February 16, 2015

9 Children Moving a Pantry

 I had some wonderful children from Tok, Alaska visiting today and all three children aged 8, 5, and 2 pitched in with my children aged 15, 14, 12, 7, 5, and 2 to pack up my pantry and it took less than 20 minutes!  They should be listed in some sort of Book of World Records.

Oh, but they are..... I almost forgot, God sees each and every hand working together to get a job done.  No job is to small in His kingdom, not even moving a pantry.  What a blessing to see and hear these homeschooled children with a multitude of ages, working together, talking and passing food up, from what we jokingly call, the abyss or dungeon.  It stays right around 40 degrees Fahrenheit even in sub zero temperatures because it is underground.

Our visiting guests' Mother blogs occasionally at Alaskan Blessings but is better known at her Etsy site for making the cutest Alaskan dolls, amazing hand lotion, chap stick, and her latest endeavor:  snow dyed fabric.  She explained the process to me today and it's quite fascinating, check out her blog and Etsy store here:  Alaskan Blessings  you'll be blessed!

So, how do you create teamwork in children..... ?  Get all their attention at the same time and tell them a story, kids love stories about when you were little or some little interesting tidbit.  Look into their eyes, give them your time and attention.  I first asked them if they knew how they put out fires in the olden days, before trucks, hoses, and sirens.... like in the pioneer days out on the prairies.  They all shared and then I explained the exciting method of passing a bucket from one to the next. 

That's it, they got the idea and couldn't wait to start!  We picked the oldest child as the leader and he got to place all his helpers and away they went!  Each passed a pantry item to the next person in line and up the stairs everything traveled in a speedy way.  It was a new adventure!  As adults we forget how new everything is to a child and when we're excited about something, usually they will be too.  It's all in the attitude and the positive expression of an idea, whether the seed will take in their minds.  Once it takes, watch out, it will grow with just a few words of caution such as: no monkey business and playing around on the stairs, and don't lean over to far....

Every team needs a leader.  It's a great job for the older children and they rise to the occasion.  Every one needs to know how to follow as well.  Each job is important.  A leader is no more important than the follower and every one understands his/her job is crucial to success.  The hardest part for me, as a Mother, is stepping away and letting them practice leadership and teamwork without stepping in.  Words of caution are always in order but sometimes letting them learn something the hard way is a good lesson as well, as long as no one is getting hurt.  Then they take ownership of the lesson they learned, it wasn't just taught by me, they learned it by experience.  It really sets in this way.

I love Motherhood!  What an adventure and wonderful season in my life!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Flying into Naknek Village

This was taken about an hour ago at the Fairbanks Airport.  This is a missionary plane that Daddy and our oldest daughter are flying in with a total of 8 people down to the village of Naknek for the weekend.  This team of teens and adults will be teaching another group of teens how the wordless book can be integrated into Bible stories, making them a true Bible lesson, as they learn to link verses and basic Biblical truth into the story.

They are all dressed warmly and prepared with a small amount of clothing, gear, food, and teaching materials; having to keep a close eye on the weight of everything.

It is being flown by the husband of a CEF field worker from Fairbanks.  CEF stands for Child Evangelism Fellowship, a wonderful non-profit organization that has been around sine 1930.  To learn more about the work they do in Alaska, please visit their site at 

The plane belongs to MARC, Missionary Aviation Repair Center stationed in Soldotna.  If you're interested in learning more about their wonderful ministry go to

It is always a blessing to see missionary organizations working together to fill others needs.  We feel so honored to have been invited to be a part of the trip down to Naknek this weekend.  Please pray for everyone's safety and mutual encouragement for all those people learning, teaching, and growing together.
This just in, taken half hour ago!  They're off!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Window Ice in 30 Below

 I was longing for some green and found all these items growing in the dark recesses of my cupboards and cellar.  They didn't start turning green until they were placed near the light.  What is amazing about these little plants is that they are not in the direct sunlight ever.  When I placed them we were down to about 4 hours of daylight.  We also just came through a week of -30F.  Check out the window ice!  How do they do it? 

A few weeks ago we took the onion and one of the potatoes to the Bible club so the children could see the tiny bits of new green life and the abundant onion.  It survived several foot stepping on episodes.  It released its wonderful aroma of onion juice and just kept on growing... to some the smell of death, and others, life!  I explained how every human being has the potential for a life giving relationship with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Just like these dormant vegetables with no sign of growth, when one turns from a life of darkness and dares step into the light of Jesus, they begin to grow in their soul, deeply and inwardly the life of Christ. 
Here's a picture of one of our windows... the worst for ice growth.  Some of it will evaporate as the weather is now a little warmer.  We've been doing our laundry at one of the downtown mats because the place we're in has none.  I considered, for a second or two, doing it the true Alaskan way, with two 5 gallon buckets and a brand new toilet plunger, but..... with six loads or more a week, that was an easy decision.  This is one of the biggest things I am looking forward to in moving into our home next week: the ability to do laundry any day that I need too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Teens Teaching Bible Clubs

 Our oldest and youngest boy teaching a group of children the weekly memory verse at Good News Club.  We have the privilege to teach together, as a family, every week at a local public school.  If everyone came at once, we'd have 30 or so students!  Praise God for His increase.
 Our oldest and middle daughter leading singing in front of the same group of children.  It has been a blessing to watch our teenagers grow into confident leaders and want to share their faith with others.
This picture was taken on our trip back up to Alaska near the last part of September, 2014.  Yes, all of our worldly belongings fit in here!  Hard to believe for a family of eight.  We tried to capture the layers of sandy grey road silt that clings to everything but it blends in so well with our grey truck. 

So what brought us back to Alaska?  Everyone asks and I can give you the short version or long, but perhaps most would rather hear the short....

Many of you know we left due to our oldest daughter needing an ablation done on her heart.  She was in the previous picture leading the song she knows all too well, that "Jesus is caring for you, even on dark nights."  She at a young age, knows quite a few dark nights already.  We are so glad to put some very long and difficult days behind us.

She had the ablation done at OHSU in Portland, Oregon and it was successful.  About 5 months later she began getting sick and lost 12 pounds before we discovered she had an H.pylori stomach infection.  At one point, before we knew what the diagnosis was, the dentist found a spot in her mouth that appeared suspect for cancer.  We cried in the office that day, I couldn't help the torrent of emotions and not knowing why. 

After double checking, the spot appeared to have faded in a few weeks, and wasn't even an issue.  The diagnosis was clear at that point.  The treatment didn't work until we visited an amazing Naturopath, Dr. Dianna Henson out of Portland.  She not only treated with the triple dose antibiotic, but gave her herbs, charcoal and pro-biotics.

I remember in the middle of one these "dark nights", staying up late with my daughter vomiting yet again, I cried out to God in prayer on my knees.  I told Him, take the cabin in Alaska, and give me my daughter back!  Well, He did!  He wants to give us the desires of our heart, the Bible says so, we just need to ask. 

I've learned a lot about prayer over the last 2 years.  It really works, it's just the outcome is not always what we think.  God already has a plan for each of us and the entire world.  Our prayers don't change His mind.  Our prayers re-align us with His desires, they put us in step with what He is already doing.  I'm learning to spot God's handiwork in everything, even the smallest little insignificant things are showing up with His fingerprints all over them!

So, that was the first year out of Alaska.  By the time our daughter was completely healed it was Fall again, the following year.  You'd think we could claim some sort of button that allowed us to not have to go through any more medical trials, but alas, it wasn't to be.....  almost a year following to date of our oldest daughter's ablation at OHSU, I found myself walking the same halls of that Portland Hospital, this time with my wee little 8 month old baby girl strapped to a stretcher in her car seat.  Several EMT's were escorting us and had driven us by ambulance from the McMinnville Hospital, with Daddy following by car.  Even EMT's can get lost in a hospital, they had to stop and ask directions from a late night Doctor walking the halls. 

I felt such an incredible peace, not knowing why our baby girl was weak, and showing signs of paralysis of hands and drooping eyes.  I remember the exact place in those halls that God impressed upon my heart the realization of Him having already prepped me for this a year before.

After 3 days in the hospital, they released us.  The first night they prepared us for the worst:  a case of infant botulism.  They would send away for the serum the following morning as they expected her to lose her ability to breathe on her own.  We prayed, everyone we knew prayed and God spared her.  The next day she could still breathe.  The following day, she was strong enough to support herself again.  She hadn't regained the ability to open her hands but they told us to go home and continue to watch her closely because they didn't know what had happened, but she was better.  I asked them about the powerful effects of prayer, but of course that isn't a medical term and not well understood.  They did tell me it was a rare occurrence that they ever sent anyone home from there without a clue of what happened. 

A week and half later I saw an old friend in the grocery store.  I hadn't seen her in years and our baby waved again for the first time, opening her hands completely!  I choked up, the lady said, "How cute!"  I responded, let me tell you this amazing story, it's really a miracle.....  she then suddenly exclaimed, "This is the baby I've been praying for!  I never heard what happened!"  She went on to explain how a little girl asked for prayer in her Sunday school class.  Isn't God good?  He hears the prayers of little ones and responds.  The entire time of this glorious exchange, her unsaved husband listened on.  For us, it is a small taste of Heaven on earth.... to know there's a God, to know he hears, to know He cares enough to love, and Responds!

This same wee little one is crying for me now, I must respond.  Will type more as the days go by....

Monday, February 9, 2015

We're Back in Alaska... again!

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."  (William James) We are finally starting up our blog again....we've been back in Alaska for almost 5 months now!  We have a lot of catching up to do with all of you readers, friends, and family.  We won't put it off any longer and begin posting today about the two years that we've been gone and what we're doing now....  probably in reverse order as we are moving next week.  We thought you'd all enjoy what moving in the extreme artic temperatures will be like.  We're not sure either, but we'll keep you posted on that adventure.

P.S.  This picture was not taken in Alaska, but off the porch of our friends house in Cheesaw, Washington, on our trip up to Alaska towards the last part of September, 2014.