Monday, March 30, 2015

My Favorite Homemade Bread Recipe

How long do I have to pose for the camera?
This afternoon we made another double batch (makes 4 big loaves) of the best yeasty, seedy, nutty, absolutely delicious, devour a loaf in one sitting sort of bread.  And, yes it spoiled our dinner so we now have extra food for lunch tomorrow. 

I'm going to send you to my sister-in-laws' blog for the knock off recipe for Dave's Killer Bread.  It is full of nuts and seeds, whole wheat flour and absolutely yeasty, soft and easy to make.  I don't know why you'd ever want to make another bread recipe. 

After you taste this, you'll stop looking for good bread recipes.  It makes great toast or sandwich bread and like my sister-in-law says, it's very forgiving.  In other words, you can throw a little extra of whatever in and it still turns out great!

My sister-in-law takes great photos and has written an informative post on how to make this bread on her website at    A Pretty Happy Home 

An Alaskan Easter Bunny

Happy Easter

If I hold really still no one will see me...

As the snow melts, my fur changes back to brown.
I took these photos back in Spring of 2011, when we lived in our first dwelling in Alaska:  a log cabin with an outhouse.  If you'd like to see more photos of this bunny you can click here to see the Original Bunny Post There are also lots of previous posts and pictures of us greenhorns surviving Alaska for the first time and some of the thoughts, feelings, and experiences we had in 2010-2012.

The Artic Hare is pure white in wintertime and slowly changes back into brown for it's summer coat.  This incredible color change has always fascinated me.  Here it is Easter time, and I'm pondering how much more fascinating does the body of Christ undergo changes with the passing seasons of time.

We are studying about the early Christian church and all the trials and difficulties they had to go through.  BUT... what came about was of God's doing and His way.  We all are so wealthy in Jesus Christ because of what they went through, all those early believers. 

What will we do with the gifts they left us?  Do we take for granted all they went through?  What about the trials each of us go through?  Easter brings to mind suffering, Jesus upon the cross, and our own personal suffering.  Do we embrace it all, knowing that God has a plan and a purpose for His people?

What about Christians in other countries undergoing extreme persecution?  Are we remembering them like the brothers and sisters they are to us? 

Let's remember that, on whatever side of the world we live in, we are called to unity in the body of Christ and this Easter, let's pray in earnest that we'd accept whatever, "coat" God would have us be in, whatever season that may be, and use it for His glory.  We are not all called to the same things, but we are called to the same unity of Spirit in Christ Jesus.....

Let us serve one another in love without complaining and arguing as we hold out the word of life to a lost and dying world, that we may "shine like stars."  Philippians 2:14-16

Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Young Bull Moose at Play

A Young Bull Moose
My husband was out delivering lumber when he snapped these photos of a young moose butting a surveyors marker.  This moose was playing.  He was dancing, pawing, and sparring with his new found friend.  My husband said it was the funniest thing to watch... a young bull moose at play.

How about a side swipe?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Joy of Making a Bow from a Birch Sapling

Look what I made from a young birch sapling!
 Our son made this bow today out of a young tree and some electrical wire. 
Thanks for letting me shoot your store bought bow, sis!
 Our daughter didn't make this bow, but did make her own skirt.  And I see she has also stolen my boots.  (with my permission, of course)
You're welcome, sis!
Second daughter has swiped big sister's old sweater.  Perhaps thievery runs in the family, all in good fun!

The older kids were out shooting their bow today in a warm and balmy 47 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spring is really here!  The snow is melting and looking oh so dirty right now.  All the birch trees drop these little tiny seed pods all over.  It looks like sawdust on the ground, they are so small.  I've been without a camera for a week or so now and there's so many things to take pictures of.  These photo's were taken by my husband's camera phone.

The homemade bow from the upper picture is such a great reminder of why we want to train our children while they are young and pliable.  Incredible that you could bend a small green tree to such a shape, even at that size.  When these birch trees become mature their roots are so shallow, due to the permafrost not lurking far beneath, that you can walk right up to a rotten one and push it over.  It won't bend anymore, it's dying from lack of nourishment in some way. 

Let's continue the sometimes mental and emotional back breaking, muscle wrenching job of Motherhood and train our little saplings while they're young to love and honor Jesus with all their heart, soul, and mind and their neighbors as themselves, which includes their first neighbors, their very own siblings!  Whew, what a job and what an honor.  Oh that we wouldn't miss out on these wonderful opportunities and laughter filled days at hand.

We didn't finish anything we set out to do today.... but we finished well.  How does that happen?  Usually because my expectations have been lowered.  Perhaps I should do this more often.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bible Club at Public School

(The reason this video was cut short and upside down at the end is because my husband had to chase after a runaway student....  no one was harmed in the making of this video.)

Today, and most every Tuesday of this school year, we've had the freedom and privilege of holding an after school Good News Club at one of the local schools.  Our older kids have learned enough now that they are leading most everything. We are so proud of them.  The above is a short video clip of our oldest daughter sharing the Bible Lesson.

C.E.F. (Child Evangelism Fellowship)  holds Bible Clubs in and out of schools all over the world.  The non-profit organization has been around for over 50 years and operates in many countries, including Australia.  My husband and I met while attending their Children's Ministries Institute (C.M.I.) in Missouri, the Fall of 1996.  Also attending at the same time was a couple from Australia, Ken and Sue Richards. CEF of Australia We enjoyed their accents and their friendship.

If you have teenagers in your home, it is a great ministry to involve them in as they are learning to share their faith more boldly. They teach the use of the Wordless Book in giving out the gospel. It is a simple, effective way to remember the gospel points when sharing about Jesus with a child or an adult.

Brother and 2nd Oldest Sister using Teamwork
They are teaching today's memory verse and playing a game with the words to help the students remember.  The Bible club is a little over an hour long and really is one of the high lights of our week.  I've missed so many the last month because we've had the nastiest cold ever going around from somebody to another somebody.  Right now, the littlest one is recovering and I'm hoping it's the last cold of the season!  Spring is coming...... hooray!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

International Ice Festival and World Peace

We spent a few hours yesterday enjoying the World Championship Ice Art here in Fairbanks, Alaska.  People from all over the world come here and participate as contestants or visitors.  It draws a lot of interest.  There are single block and double block contests.  Below are some photos of the kids playground all done in ice...

In the mouth of a lion...

Slide anyone?

Don't get lost in the maze!

I'm lost.

Taking the snow dragon for a ride...

Help, I'm stuck in the tunnel.

Hello from Alaska everyone!
You might be wondering what World Peace has to do with ice carving... it's just that lots of cultures are represented here each year and I recently read a very good posting about misconceptions.

Here's the blog and posting:  "  It was well written and addresses a common problem for Christians and non-Christians  the world over:  that of preconceived ideas or misconceptions of one another.  As true Christians who walk the way Jesus walks, we should embrace questions from others as opportunities to share Jesus love. 

I started to comment on the above blog post and realized the story is really too long for a comment so I dug up an old "letter to the editor" that I submitted to our local newspaper about an international connection ordained by God:

"We talked and shared heart to heart: mother to mother; she from India, I from America.  With one of her arms around my shoulders and one cradling my child, her Hindu husband snapped a picture.  It was their first time in America.  The world melted away as we shared questions and answers.  We spoke a long time together even though we were strangers.  Our common bond was parenthood.   The mother was a born again believer.  It wasn’t chance that we met.  We needed encouragement as fellow believers in Jesus Christ. Our socio-economic status or country of birth was of no importance.  We were bonded in Jesus Christ.  We found one another in a sea of people in Fairbanks, Alaska.   The way we dressed and acted as a family drew her attention to us.  True world peace reigns in the hearts of people everywhere that have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  World peace will never be here due to education, reformation, or following the “green” movement.  World peace came the day Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Peace with God and peace with our fellow man.   In the meantime, we will always have war.  I recently repented of a very ungrateful heart to the U.S. Military after a service at Bible Baptist.  I realize how ungrateful I am of so many things… it’s really hard to be grumbling and railing about things when I’m busy being thankful to God for every authority he has placed in my life, including my husband and the church.   I am so thankful to God for sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for me and every other human on the planet.  I believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on the third day and is now preparing a place for those who trust in His name:  Those who acknowledge their sin as such and turn to Him in repentance and call on His name as the only name that can truly save.  He’s only a breath away from all of us."

I had a limit on words from the newspaper about what I could write, but here..... limitlessness.  Is that a word?  So let me tell you the rest of the story....

I remember it clearly like yesterday.  We were strolling about Pioneer Park enjoying the gold mining dredge and sluice box re-creation for tourists when a Middle Eastern woman and her family gathered around us and began asking us questions.  They asked us if we were like the family of Duggars off of T.V.  We said, yes, in some ways.  We both read our Bibles and love the Lord, but differ on individual beliefs and opinions.  They understood.  It is the same way with their religion. They were Hindu's but the husband and children were also Muslim, living in Singapore.  They were wealthy business owners but very curious about us with our group of children and how did we earn a living to support all of them?  The number one question from most American's as well.

When the Mother was able to get alone with me, she quickly shared that she was a believer and her husband was not yet and how did I handle anger?  It took me awhile to catch on that she wanted to get me away from the rest of the group so she could speak freely.  In America, we have freedoms we simply take for granted.  We can speak openly the way we want and our opinions and no one is going to be that upset about it. 

I tried to explain the best I could about how a parent can handle anger and what we do when we mess up:  We have to say we were sorry and in the wrong and ask forgiveness.... every time.  It's humbling but good for us.  Anger, frustration, irritation, it's all the same thing, some words just sound nicer that's all.  She was a Christian and needed fellowship and encouragement.  We committed to pray for one another.  She needed to know she wasn't alone and that even when we're Christians we still struggle.  We fit an awful lot of encouragement in a small space of time.  It was mutual.  Fifteen minutes later, we finally parted ways and friends for an eternity. 

The story doesn't stop there...My husband had met us at this park after work, so we took separate vehicles home.  I must have left a bit earlier with the younger children.  When my husband left the park, he noticed this same family waiting near a curb at the edge of the park.  He stopped his pickup truck and asked them if they needed anything and they replied they were waiting for a taxi.  He offered to take them back to their hotel as it wasn't really a place that any taxi's would be coming by.  The Mother choose to ride in the back of the truck as she'd never done so in her life and had the greatest experience ever! 

Isn't God good?  He loves us, His timing is incredible and only He can bring world peace through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homemade Car Mat

 We made this homemade car mat for our friends' little girl's birthday present.  It's just a simple rubber-like gym mat painted with craft paint.  Our youngest daughter is enjoying one last play before she has to wrap it up and give it away....
Now our little ones want one of their own, so we'll be making more... perhaps with an Alaskan theme like log cabins and bumpy dirt roads.... I see a business venture idea...

A few months ago we were gifted with lots of mats.... lots.... like 24 squares of the stuff.  It has been so much fun to roll over, jump on, or make snap together forts with these squares.  We decided they would make a soft, durable base for a car mat.

For the little buildings, we cut apart one Kleenex box and flipped it on edge.  For the tall tower building we taped a square of cardboard together and drew windows and doors on the surface.  It seems overly simple, but young children like to use their imagination and also move objects around.  If you draw everything in place, it's just not as exciting as when you can move them around on a mat.

We had a store bought fabric/carpet mat once, but the kids wouldn't play with it very long.  I think it was to busy, to many colors and designs so that they couldn't easily see the roads.  We made this one easy on the eyes for tracking abilities.

More of something is not always better.  Neither is having to many of one thing.  It makes children overwhelmed and parents upset with their lack of ability to keep track of it all. 

We have heard and read from a multitude of other parents that simplifying and getting rid of excess toys and playthings is a great benefit.  Use more time to create and make things with your children.  It makes for good memories, will help you overcome your perfectionist tendencies and they will learn to take better care of something that they have invested time and energy into.

PS  As parents, the more time and energy we invest into our children's lives, the better care we take of them as well.  Who'd of thought play time was so important?  It's not about having all the latest toys, it's about spending one on one time, giving them our full attention, and looking into their eyes, enjoying their presence with us that matters.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Making Sock Puppets

Meet Snake and Baby Doll
I was so inspired by reading tips on being frugal and money saving ideas from "Frugal Living on the Watkins Ranch, " visit their blog here that instead of throwing away our socks we decided to make them into sock puppets...
Look Mom they even fit on our toes!
So simple a 7 and 5 year old can do it!  Just have them put their fingers through the existing hole to hold the button in place while sewing.  They searched through my button collection to find the perfect colors and added a felt snake tongue, and yarn for the dolly's hair.  My daughter ended up giving the dolly a haircut so she could run around with her on her foot and not trip.  Better the dollies hair then her own!
Anymore leftover socks... make mitt extensions.

Modeling the store bought version for comparison... super boy!
Mitt extensions are wonderful up here in the Arctic.  (We jokingly use this term, Arctic, but really we are just the Interior of Alaska.)  Anyways, the extensions can come up as far as the elbow and no snow can get down into the little one's wrists.  They are usually quite expensive to buy them already made, so we're going to make a pair with the last pair of socks with holes in the toes, by just cutting the tops off and turning inside out.  After pulling them down over the wrist part, we'll stitch the seam and then pull them right back out again. 

The reason I'm writing this in future tense is because things didn't go as planned this afternoon...

We planned to make such wonderful happy memories, which did happen in a long sort of way.... after 2 year old sissy emptied the button container all over, twice, on my bed, which was missing it's comforter due to someone stealing it for a warm snuggle by the fire, followed by removing all the thread off their spools, grabbing the scissors, etc. I only hope I don't sleep on a button or stray pin tonight... don't worry I checked twice.  

Then Daddy came home from work and briefly rescued us.. before a phone call and other projects, when finally I decided to plop her up right in front of me on my sewing table, giving her my full attention and making her a sock puppet of her own! 

Yes, she's only 2, but she wanted to sew too.  I let her pull the needle (with double thread, a must for sewing with children) through the button eyes and snip the thread with the coveted scissors.  We never did sew up the holes in her sock because once the eyes and nose were on, she was happy and wanted to play:  she got to SEW!!! 

Did I mention the camera lenses quit working in all this?  If you could have only seen what a mess my sewing room/bed was... I had grandiose envisions of a wonderful how to blog but alas, all I have is some quick sock puppet snap shots, happy kids, and no extension mitts.... yet.  Perhaps tomorrow. 
You might be wondering by now what my older children were doing... my two girls made chicken, vegetable barley stew for dinner and homemade Garlic Parmesan Bread Sticks and my son was resting his hand as we think he jammed his wrist and thumb while sledding to the mailbox today.  Never a dull moment in a normal sort of day.... 

People most often say, "Well you've got your hands full.... or  "You must be so busy..... or "I'm impressed and you homeschool too."  Sometimes I say, "It's the grace of God, other times I say, everyone's got their hands full of something, and recently I responded, no, I don't have to homeschool all of them anymore, the oldest three love to study, read, and learn all on their own, it's just the new readers coming up that take more time.  It's really that simple, I feel guilty sometimes knowing how little I do in these matters and how much I need the grace of God for my own attitudes, not theirs!  ha, true confessions of a homeschool Mom, I better stop.  

Praise God for His mercy and grace, they are new every morning and it never runs out!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Naknek village adventure continues...

Here's a post by my husband about the Naknek trip....

      "What an amazing day it was that I was able to board a small eight passenger plane with my daughter and three of her friends headed out to Naknek Alaska.  This was my teenagers first plane flight, and it was  an amazing ride.  In the three hour trip we saw the Alaskan range, Mt Mckinnley, two active volcanoes, glaciers, and thousands of acres of untamed rugged creation.   Our pilot was awesome!  He is a missionary pilot with M.A.R.C. in Alaska.  The entire flight was so smooth and we barely noticed when the wheels touched the ground. 

     The village of Naknek is on the northeast corner of Bristol Bay.  It is a fishing village of about five hundred residents for nine months of the year and 10,000 for three. Having the cannery in town brings people from all parts of the world to work. 
      The church has an outreach to these people that is very unique.  Churches from the States send hand made quilts to this church to give to people.  Many cannery workers come from overseas and are not prepared for the damp windy cold there.  The church hands out quilts and a Bible in each person’s native language.  What an amazing way to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the community.  
      Naknek and its sister town King Salmon are accessible only by airplane (or boat when the ice is out).  When we landed at King Salmon airport, our host (the pastor) picked us up and drove us to the radio station where we would be sleeping.  He had over 200,000 miles on his little car and it was almost brand new when he had it barged in.  Not bad for only about 20 miles of roadways that were accessible. Everything is either barged or flown in including gas and heating oil, which raises the cost of everything.

     The four girls did a great job on the teaching modules.  Their main focus was to demonstrate to the students how to teach the parts of a Bible club and how to lead a child to Christ using the “wordless book”. Wordless Book info   Their team leader did a wonderful job organizing, sharing, and all around holding things together even when we had to cut our trip short by a day.  The weather was changing rapidly and ice on the airplane was something we didn’t want to encounter in the air.   The Pastor and his wife were so gracious and sent us on our way with a quilt each and some frozen salmon.

     The airplane is such a needed tool for this small community.  The town is divided in half by the river, and school kids are flown across to school each day. Not a very long flight mind you, but necessary because of the dangers of the river. Here is a medical flight that was called in for an emergency.  
      We were just preparing our airplane for departure when this leer jet landed and taxied up to the ambulance waiting on the tarmac.  The ambulance people shuttled the patient to the jet and it was gone in minutes.  There is no steady doctor in a village so small.  Major medical departures cost many thousands of dollars by the “air ambulance”.  It makes me all that much more thankful for accessibility to a clinic here in town.

          Here’s the team all smiles on the safe flight back."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Day of Rest

Have you ever noticed that when little ones tire, they just plop down wherever and rest a bit?  Somehow they find a quiet corner or a place on the couch, a bed or maybe a box...

How often, as an adult, do we plop down and put our feet up to rest a bit?  Or, perhaps we push, pull and demand of ourselves until we drop completely exhausted with nothing else to offer anyone for the rest of the day or evening?  We can't recharge in 5-10 minutes like a child, but take hours of recoup time because we didn't slow down and pace ourselves?

George McDonald said that, "sleep is God's contrivance for giving us the help he cannot get into us when we are awake."  I read this quote recently in an August 2014, "In Touch," magazine article written by Winn Collier, "Re-placing the Sabbath." It made me smile, realizing how much God wants us to rest and depend on Him.  If you want to read the whole article click here:"Re-placing the Sabbath"

After reading this excellent article I was challenged to reexamine my hectic schedule and yield my ideas and activities up for examination by the King!  Does my day begin with "self-exertion or God-dependence?"  The Holy Spirit has used this author to stir my heart anew when pondering the balance of work, play, worship, and rest this Sunday.

Winn Collier writes, "Our work in the world is noble and good, but only when placed in proper perspective.  If we believe our week begins with our work, we become defined by what we do rather than by what God does."  Let's begin to look for what God is already doing and join Him, putting aside our preconceived ideas about what our days should look like.  It's going to be different for everyone, and Praise God, that's O.K.! 

One final challenge by Winn Collier, "We must acknowledge the Lord as ruler of all our days if we are to combat the fatigue of a life hinged on our own efforts.  Our posture regarding time can orient us either toward grace and rest or toward self-effort and exhaustion."  Even though this article was written a while ago, God knew I needed to read it this week.  Isn't He a good God?  His timing always astounds me!

Let us truly rest today and enter into God's rest every day even amongst our daily duties, just like Hebrews tells us.  Hebrews 3:13, says to encourage one another daily so that we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  If you read all the way from there until chapter 4, verse 12, you might be surprised at the very popular last verse and what proceeds it.

In case you are wondering why I'm not in church today, it is because my little children are all sick and have been all week, preceded by a half a week of me having to rest by midwife's orders, preceding a week of moving....  Yes, rest is important and a wonderful gift from God!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Our Artic Home Photos

Finally, some wonderful snowy pictures of our home!  I'm not a photographer...
 This is the front...
 This is the back...
 This is our "I can't wait to use this," green house!  It has louvered glass panels, fans, and PVC water pipes just sitting there waiting for Spring!  It looks like they grew lots of tomatoes there.
 Here is a corner of our living room and this little woodstove keeps the place warm!
 Here's a bit of kitchen...
And one bonus baby moose picture taken by my oldest son two days ago.  The same moose have been hanging out here and there since Sunday!  Isn't he cute?  He is laying in several feet of snow, that gives you an indication of his size.  The little red round things in the picture are freeze dried rose hips.  The kids and dog eat them for a tart little snack!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How God Provided Firewood

This post was written by my husband.  He enjoyed a day out with the  kids harvesting wood from the place our Pastor is logging....
                                                         "Some digging was required!"

     "Everyone helps haul wood to the truck.  What a creative way to haul it!"
      "Two Saturday's ago was unusually warm at about 35 degrees and the snow was melting!  Three of my kids and I loaded up the truck with wood cutting supplies and headed up to the logging landing.  When we got there, the logging crew offered us fuel, bar oil, an extra chainsaw, a dozer to pull us out if the truck got stuck, and precut wood!  Yes it was already cut into rounds and had been sitting in a pile since last summer.  The cutting boss took the dozer and pushed a huge pile of rounds toward the road to break it free from the ice chunk it had become.  All we had to do was back up and load it into the truck!  It was so easy.  I was all prepared to have a couple of hours of hiking to extra logs and cutting them up and all of us packing it to the truck.  It is difficult to find good wood this late in the season, but God knew what we needed.  He had prepared this wood like He had prepared this house we have moved into.  It is so easy to trust Him and what he has prepared for us to walk in by faith.  If only I would keep that in my mind more often!"

"Did he really just throw that huge log?"


3 Moose and a Woodpecker

 Last Sunday afternoon we had the pleasure of viewing 3 moose meandering about our property for the entire afternoon and into the evening!  They were in no hurry to leave and two of them bedded down for a Sunday afternoon nap.  As we were viewing them from our living room windows, we realized they could be meat for our freezer if we'd had a bow and it had been hunting season. 

 Yes, even the woodpecker was out Sunday!  It's been warming up and hovering between the teens and upwards towards 30F!  Spring is around the corner..... maybe a long corner, ha!
Moose nibble on anything twig like and can scrape with their hooves for leftover vegetation or even cranberries under the snow.  How is it that these huge horse like creatures survive all winter on this sort of food?  It is amazing that God has created them with this ability to survive.  Gods designs in the animal world are incredible, just think that as He had the foresight to equip them He also equips us.

In the last few months I haven't had to buy meat.  We've been given packages of moose, caribou, black bear, 15 whole frozen chickens, 4 or 5 large fillets of salmon, a whole spiral sliced ham, I'm probably leaving something out.  Isn't this amazing?  I was thanking God for his gifts through His people and sometimes from people who don't know Him yet and thinking about the Israelites and how tired they were of manna so God gave them quail meat.  I'm so glad I have an assortment of flavors to choose from... although, I must admit I was a little worried about the bear meat but surprisingly it was very tasty flavored in a beef broth cabbage kidney bean stew.  It's just the idea that I'm eating a cute fuzzy black bear that is hard to overcome.

There is such a thing in Alaska called the "Road Kill List."  Yes, we signed up to be called.  Whenever someone hits a large animal, the state troopers come out and investigate and then start calling people on the Road Kill List.  When you're next, even if it's in the middle of the night, you drive out to the location and trim, chop and bag it up to take it home!   We haven't been called yet, but we'll let you know when it happens.  I'm sure it will be rather exciting.

We haven't asked for a thing, but people just keep gifting us with meat from all of Alaska.  Have you ever read about George Mueller's life?  We recently watched a video biography of how much he prayed and for everything.  He never verbalized the orphanage's or even personal needs.  He prayed and God answered and His faith was built up as God used Him to provide for the needs of so many orphans.  What a role model, this Mr. Mueller.  We've also studied and learned a lot about Corrie ten Boom and likewise, her prayer life was incredible.  We hope that as we look to these godly examples that they will become true heroes in the lives of our children as well.