Golden and Noble Works

“A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works."
Martin Luther

Friday, December 23, 2011

Come Lord Jesus

As Christmas draws near I attempt to prepare my home, the food, the gifts, etc. But do we prepare ourselves?

I can hardly wait to see the babies light up with smiles and squeals when they finally get to open gifts, when they finally get to see some of the new things we have for them, are allowed to eat as many sweets as they want and finally get to put baby Jesus in the manger.

When we can say, Yes, Christmas is here! Jesus is born! And we can finally have a birthday party for Him. I want them to feel the joy that this celebration brings to us. And to these little ones, that is what Christmas is, Jesus' birthday. But we know the story doesn't end there. This was no ordinary birth, no ordinary baby born on a cold night.

Though we meet Christmas with joy and rejoice that unto us is born a Savior, we realize that even His birth was touched with the sorrow that swaddled our newborn Redeemer. The sorrow of knowing that our Savior took on the flesh and blood of man so that like man He could die. Yet in those moments of sorrow that come as this realization passes through our minds we are again entreated to rejoice, knowing that by His death He has destroyed him who holds the power of death, that is the devil! Tidings of comfort and joy indeed!
"Love caused Your incarnation, love brought You down to me;
Your thirst for my salvation procured my liberty.
O love beyond all telling, that led you to embrace
In love all loves excelling our lost and fallen race."

And as the exiled world waited for that first coming, we long and wait for the second.
"Not as of old a little child
To bear, and fight, and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky."
Sins and sorrows still seem to grow, and thorns infest the ground. We're plagued with doubt and sickness, still saddened by loss and divisions and daily battle our ancient foe, our flesh and this dark world. Our wearied hearts plead, "Come Lord Jesus!"
"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!"
But rejoice oh daughter of Zion, your King comes! We have hope. Your King comes, He has promised so it will be.
"The night will soon be ending the dawn can not be far. All you whom darkness frightens with guilt or grief or pain, God's radiant Star now brightens and bids you sing again!"

So as I prepare for Christmas I remember to wait for another blessed morn!

"Oh, brighter than that glorious morn shall dawn upon our race, the day when Christ in splendor comes and we shall see His face."

"O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that as we joyfully receive Hie as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen."

Blessings to you all as you prepare!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome Baby C!

Praise to God for Emily's new baby girl born at 10:39 p.m. on December 7th. She weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and is 20 3/4 inches long. 

She was baptized just after 12:30 a.m. on December 8th.

We rejoice with you and your beautiful family Emily!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Traditions - Bethann

Bethann writes:

I have been thinking a lot about traditions since having Rachel. And the one I loved that my mom did on Christmas morning has been in the forefront of my mind lately. My sister and I would wake up on Christmas morning to gifts, yes. But that is not what I remember or relate to my blissful Christmas mornings. It was that my mom would make a birthday cake for Jesus. So we would sing "Happy Birthday" Jesus. Then my mom would remind us that Jesus is the only gift we need. I hope to continue this tradition with Rachel. 

Do any of you have a tradition or memory they would like to share? 

I could not believe how many professional and regular looking "Happy Birthday" Jesus cakes were on Google Image. I am glad to see that there are some people who understand the celebration of His birth then later His death & resurrection. Because he had to be live to die.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Advice for Emily O.

Emily writes:

As many of you have experienced, we're facing the imminent growth of our family. While this is blessed, awesome news--and an exciting time!--I'm at a loss as to how to transition to Sunday mornings in a way that will not resemble the Apocalypse.

Here's our situation: we've got two boys, the oldest almost three and a half, the younger nineteen months. Both do generally very well in church, though Younger Son is active and sometimes rubs off on Older Brother. I bring CPH books for them to look at, a calculator for end-of-service desperation, and crackers during the sermon. We have no pew-climbers, though I usually have to have a hand on Younger Son 90% of the time, and the noise level from them during services is between the "Cute--we love to hear them!" range (from members) and "You took Younger out at the right time" (from my, I suspect, more honest husband). We sit alone. People have started to offer their help, but it's been outside of church where we've really seen it (people offering to come over and watch the boys so I can do whatever. And they really come and really mean it, praise God).

So here's where I'm stuck. I know I can't sit in the pew alone with three little ones. People who have offered help are gracious, but no one is in church every single Sunday like we are. So I don't know if I should approach a few people to ask if they'd be willing to sit with us and then rotate help (which I think would be difficult for the boys to adjust to) or... fly-by-night and wait until someone approaches me and offers to sit with us. I don't want to take advantage; I also don't want to fall into the sin of Pride and end up resenting/dreading sitting through the Divine Service. So... help! Any and all advice would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Bethann S. writes:
Happy Anniversary!
By the way I had to spell check anniversary. Anyway, the reason for posting this is because Nov. 21st is our anniversary. And this year we decided to make it low key. Which was nice. I made him a nice breakfast and he made me dinner. We watched our wedding DVD & first dance. Wow! What two years can do to your figure! That again is not the point. 
There are days since and before Rachel was born that being in a marriage has been hard. You think that we should still be in that blissful state of the Honeymoon...but it didn't last long...first NO call....then the long wait in the mother-in-law's basement.....then moving....getting used to being in rural town.....then pregnancy in the hottest summer on record.....then a needless to say marriage takes hard work. And like our Pastor said in our wedding sermon...marriage is not always happy. 
That is true and sometimes transitions in life can make us act like little children kicking and screaming but our spouses help support, and love us, even if we don't recognize it. And today as we watched our wedding DVD right there on the title screen...a quote that was printed on our wedding bulletin....a quote that I forgot...."There is no more lovely, friendly, & charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage." said by Martin Luther. 
So why then do we feel the need to have more when God blessed and instituted marriage for us?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Caring For the Barren Woman

I had the privilege to hear our Kristi and Katie Schuermann speak this week in Lincoln on Caring for the Barren Woman. There is so little discussion on barrenness and its affects on our sisters (and brothers) in the church. We are so quick to shy away from talking about issues of reproduction. I suppose we think it's just too personal of a topic and it is personal, but it's also a cross that our friends and loved ones carry with so much grief and such little support. Thank you to Kristi and Katie for being willing to speak out about this and to share their heartache.

They'll be presenting again tomorrow in Foster and Monday (11/7) in Omaha, details here. I'm so glad I went, please go hear them!

If you're not able to get there you can listen HERE to Katie interviewed on Issues, Etc with her husband. And you can purchase one of Katie's books, He Remembers the Barren, which I'm currently reading, HERE.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Recipe from Jenny

Jenny writes:

Thursdays are our busy days. We have Cub Scouts with Joseph right after school until just about 5. Lukas has his trumpet lesson on the north side of Omaha at 6 which means, to get through traffic, he and I leave right from the scout meeting. So Jon takes the other two home for supper. Needless to say, Thursday has become my crock pot night. Thought I’d share a simple but yummy recipe for the crock pot.

Hamburger Casserole

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 can peas, drained ( or frozen)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 lb. hamburger, browned
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can water

Place potatoes in bottom of crock pot, top with carrots and other veggies. Place ground beef on top. Combine soup and water and pour over ground beef. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Do you have any favorites to share that get you through busy days?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 31st. What does your family do on this day? Celebrate the Reformation? Dress up and go "Trick-or-Treat"ing? Both?

I'll admit it, I really like Halloween. I like the decorations (not the gory ones), the costumes, the candy. I grew up dressing up (I loved coming up with a costume idea.) and going door to door getting candy. The Baptist church I grew up in eventually decided to have carnivals on that evening as an alternative to this, but kids still got to dress up. We called it "Stomp the Devil Night" until someone decided this "gave too much attention to the Devil", then we called it "Praise the Lord Night". Whatever they called it, it still seemed like "Halloween" to me, I dressed up, I got candy but somewhere in the mix I learned to feel a little guilty for liking Halloween, "the Devil's night".

But just as my mom never gave up drinking a glass of wine every once in a while (gasp!) I never gave up Halloween.

I found this program on Issues Etc. on Halloween to be interesting. Listen HERE.

After my Baptist days I learned about the Reformation and the other significance of October 31st. I'm glad the church remembers this day and of course I intend to teach my children about Luther and the Reformation. I'll spend this week talking about Martin Luther, about church and singing hymns about the Word and certainly "A Mighty Fortress is our God". I'll also make sure they now that Sunday (Reformation Sunday) is a special day.

I didn't want this to be a long post. I just wondered what some of you do around this day and what your thoughts on Halloween are. Please share!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Prayer Request from BethAnn S.

BethAnn S. is asking for prayers.
"I went to see my midwife today and I have a minor medical issue...pray that the medicine works so I don't have to have any procedures. Thanks. God's love and my smiles always."
I'll provide an update when I can.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pastor Appreciation Month

I know you ladies out there love your pastors so I wanted to make sure you knew that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. If your husband is like mine he'll poo-poo this and may even throw the letter and poster about this (from Synod) that comes in the mail away when (or if) he gets it. Last year I managed to secretly intercept these and had our church secretary put something in the newsletter about it.

We all know very well that our pastor husbands do a lot for their congregation. I think our husbands need to know that what they do doesn't go unnoticed and is, hopefully, appreciated.

Here is a list I found on Synod's website of ways your congregation can show this appreciation. You may want to have it added to next Sunday's bulletin.

Simple acts that feed a shepherd…

1. Pray for your pastor.

Ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, and joy, as he pursues the activities of ministry for you and your family.

2. Identify a special committee to “care for pastor”.

This is a group of people in your congregation with the gift for caring. Their work is completely separate from the elders, church council, or other governing board of the congregation. They represent, serve, and advocate for the needs of the pastor, and lead the rest of the congregation in the dynamics of caring for him and his family.

3. Express appreciation, spoken and written.

A spoken compliment is always welcome. A written one can be read over and over again. Tell pastor’s wife something nice about him, she’ll appreciate it and he will hear about it later. For the same reason, compliment him to his children.

4. Celebrate with a special meal

Host an annual celebration at which your pastor and his family are the honored guests.

5. Respect his time.

When possible, give advance notice about meetings, confirmation parties, invitation to rehearsal dinners, and other events to which he will be invited.

6. Live in peace.

Appreciation is more than cards and gifts, it’s an attitude. Pastors sometimes face a great deal of criticism, both to their face, and behind their back. Speak well of your pastor when you hear him criticized.

7. Encourage his personal interests.

Find out what your pastor likes. Is he interested in baseball? How about music? Does he golf? He will feel appreciated when you discover and support the interests of his wife as well.

8. Lovingly insist on “time off”.

Your pastor will need to take time for renewal and rest, but may feel as though there is too much work to get done. Help him know that he not only has permission to get appropriate rest and relaxation, but that it will benefit his ministry and provide a good model for the members.

9. Support a strategy for professional connections.

Your pastor desires to be the best he can be in serving you, and will need to remain current with continuing education. Encourage him to meet regularly with other pastors. Your financial and emotional support in this regard is vital.

10. Encourage time with his loved ones.

Ask if he has scheduled a “date night” and “family night”? Offer ideas about babysitting, if that would help.

11. Respect the dinner hour.

Your pastor will feel obligated to answer the phone when it rings, so discover when he and his family typically sit down for dinner, and plan to contact him at a different time.

12. Show special attention to his wife, but treat his children the same way you treat other children.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Read A Good Book Lately?

Kristi L. writes:

I’m always looking for a good book or two to read. Not that I have tons of leisure time, but it’s nice to have a book or two on hand when those rare moments appear.

Would you, ladies, please share some good suggestions? I’m thinking of several categories: best sellers, fiction, nonfiction, classical, biography, theology.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome Baby Esther!

Just wanted to let all know that our new baby girl, Esther Muriel, was born on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 2:23 am, 6lbs, 14oz, 20in, healthy and home now. We are so blessed!

She will be brought to the waters of Holy Baptism on Sept. 25th.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good and His mercy endures forever." Psalm 107:1

Friday, September 9, 2011

Seven Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before MWH's (My Wonderful Husband's) Ordination and Installation

Emily O. writes:

We've marked that sacred date known LCMS-universally as "Call Day" in the spring. Now we've heard about ordinations and installations of candidates all over the country (and maybe in your neighborhood) throughout the summer. Due to these blessed events, I've been thinking about my experiences with that stressful, awesome process and, well, some things I wish I would have known before my wonderful husband (MWH) and I headed out happily into the mission field. After a lot of head-scratching, I came up with this list.

A few clarifiers:

My husband and I (both non-pastor's kids, or "PKs" as the mostly fond acronym goes) and our growing family have enjoyed five years in a church that was his first call out of seminary. This hardly makes me some sort of pastor's wife expert to women who are married to men who are near, either direction, ordination and installation, but lots of you pastor's wives reading this have much more insight, experience, maturity, and patience than I do--so please add advice and comments below! Our sisters--future and perhaps present--will benefit.

There's no particular order to my list here. I wrote them as I thought of them, so don't take the numbering too seriously.

1. Your life as a pastor's wife is not like your life as a vicar's wife.

Our vicarage year was honestly like a year-long vacation. Yes, it held stresses and crosses, but mostly it held joy, much MUCH support, immediate and sustained friendships with people who loved us literally on sight. It was everything anyone could want in a vicarage--which is how vicarages should be; safe, learning experiences. But life at a church as a pastor and pastor's wife is very different. The timetable is different, the responsibilities (seen and unseen) are different, the stresses are far different. And this is good. It's real life! But you can't expect a replica of your vicarage. (And for those of you who had an awful vicarage, this is really good news!)

2. Your congregation needs time to get to know you...

That's "you" meaning your husband, "you" meaning you, and "you" meaning your entire family dynamic. I thought friendliness, vivacity, warmth, and learning people's names really fast would mean people would warm up to and trust me, and us, fairly quickly. For a few (like a handful), it did. For most, it didn't. After almost five years and some really, really tough times, people are starting to really open up to us. Congregations are full of--news flash!--sinners, and sinners have wildly different ways of approaching and trusting others. I've learned that most people have to see, literally, that others care, and at least in our situation, that meant seeing that we'd stick around long enough to prove that we weren't just looking for somewhere else to go. Three years is about the max for young pastors in our area, and we heard that a LOT from members and non-members. "You've been here three years? I guess you'll be moving on soon, huh?" said one local to us a few summers ago, not realizing how clearly she articulated what many people were thinking. And every congregation's time frame for getting to know you is different, too. But I'd guess it's almost always in the multiple years category, not the multiple months category.

3. ...and you need time to get to know your congregation.
I'm an outgoing person, and I'll have one terrific conversation with someone and think I really "get" them. I guess this is good in its own way. But it's not great for applying the time rule. The first people who really reached out to us when we first arrived--invited us over, helped us out a lot--are terrific people. In our case, they also were the ones who wanted certain actions or acquiescence from my husband that later turned into problems and, subsequently, a much more impersonal relationship with both of us. That was hard for us, and me in particular, who thought we were all friends! At the same time, people who were friendly but a little distant to us initially have become more and more close to us over the years. And I've learned that learning about people and what they're like over time--like, YEARS--is probably best. You want to try to meet everyone anyway (if that's possible for you), and you'll need lots of time for that. And it's nice to age with your congregation. It's special. You suffer together, you joy together. But none of that happens during a 30-second commercial break.

4. Together with your husband and family, establish what formal church involvement you will have.

I heard this from veteran pastors' wives before we arrived here, and this has proved invaluable. Many wives learn to say "no" after years of struggling with too much responsibility in the parish. It's much easier if you start out with certain parameters in place--that is, you stay uninvolved for at least six months, then converse with your husband and family, then slowly begin getting involved.

The opinion of most importance in determining your (and your children's, for that matter) involvement is your husband's. This is an extremely controversial thing to say, even to traditionally conservative Lutheran women! But this is true. Your husband is the pastor. He will know the church people and the various church organizations far better than you, even if you tag along with him frequently. He also knows you! I have been blessed by a husband who, at times, has told me he wants me to do something that I don't think I want to do, but, after doing it, I realize that it is for the best. He also has told me what organizations or participation he thinks I should NOT get involved with. He has saved me from much frustration and hardship and heartache by helping me say "no." So talk to your wonderful husbands and trust them! Then you can muddle through together.

I have found, as a mother with young children, that some of my most meaningful "involvement" is not formal; it happens with the occasional visit with shut-ins, sharing conversation with people over coffee at various church events (even really informal ones), standing in hallways (or store aisles) and updating, talking on the phone. We like to entertain and have people over, which we're not able to do as often as when we first arrived, but I recognize that my involvement at church--just like my life as a wife and a mother--will change over time and with circumstances. Yours will, too.

5. Your husband needs you to be his wife (and your children's mother) before he needs you to do anything else for him.

Not church involvement, not community involvement, not continuing your education, not advancing your career. Not anything else. This is controversial--and if I'd heard a pastor's wife say it five years ago I know I would have been offended. I thought then that I could do pretty much everything in my life well if I had the chance to prove it. That was laughably naive. Here's what I've learned: if you desire your husband to be faithful, to be dedicated, and to persevere through hardship, he needs you to be his rock at home. My husband says he does not regret that I went back to school almost as soon as we moved here and that I spent our first three years in the parish immersed in a graduate program. I can't change it now (and I'm not going to give back the fancy piece of paper I got for it, at any rate). But I look back, and for many reasons, I wish I would have waited. The most important reason I wish I would have waited was because I think my husband missed receiving my full support because my energy and focus were divided between him and our life at church and my own studies and teaching. Maybe other women can balance this successfully. I know that he, and actually both of us, lost opportunities in those years to talk and support each other in our marriage. Now I realize that my life revolves around my husband's need for my support--which has already changed over the last few years as he's learned a lot!--and our family. If God wills for me to pursue a career outside the home at some point, I pray He makes it really obvious to me and to my husband. In the meantime, I know He is strengthening our marriage by drawing us closer together as a family. And that can only benefit us--and the church!--in the long run.

6. Life is now in a fishbowl. Therefore, get a father confessor--for your sake and your husband's sake.

Vocations cross now in ways they don't elsewhere. It's not just that people can see what you do and judge you accordingly; you will be held to higher standards that can be unfair. It's also that your own individual lives get bound up in your husband's vocation as pastor. You can't go anywhere--especially in a small town--without knowing you'll be seen as a (or "the"!) pastor's wife. This is a sacrifice of individual autonomy for you that's inevitable. And you will resent it at times, and this comes out most often as resentment and frustration toward your husband--for not having enough time or energy for you or your children, for not making enough money, for not being in a field that gives you "me" time, whatever. And because of this, you need to find a father confessor, a pastor you can talk to or call to confess your resentment, frustration, selfishness, and all those other sins and receive forgiveness without having specific spousal issues get in the way.

My husband and I have relied sporadically upon a pastor that served as a mentor for my husband before his seminary days as a father confessor. We both have called him at different times; he's listened to our confessions and given us absolution. When we are in his area (he's in another state), we visit with him and his wife. I think a more regular pattern would benefit us, but for now, this is what we have and it is a blessing.

7. Be patient and pray for contentment.

I hate this one, because I'm impatient and a control freak. But God is teaching me patience over time, and in the process He is drawing me closer to Himself. Here's how it might play out for you:

You might love your congregation and want to stay forever--and God might call your husband elsewhere right when you think everything is how you want it. You might want nothing better than to move one thousand miles away--and God might want your husband to serve where you are for years--maybe a few decades. You might wonder why your husband doesn't seem to be doing as a pastor what you think he should be doing. You might wonder how your husband can be working so hard and trying so hard to pastor people and they don't seem to want his service, care for it, or accept it unless it's on their terms. But God wants your husband and you in this particular place. You might not know why now or ever, but He does. He also knows how much you both can handle, and if you are struggling with burdens that seem unbearable, He will guide you out of them. Sometimes this happens with time, or with another call, or with a resignation and a life elsewhere.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but many pastors and their wives suffer from depression. I understand now why the percentage of ministers and families who suffer from this is so much higher than in the general population. And I thank God He provides us with loving friends, experts, and resources to deal with this. Depression and its iterations are not weaknesses borne by the less-than-stalwart among us. They are crosses God, in his mysterious, infinite wisdom, that try our patience, test our commitment, and ultimately draw us closer to Him. And we can be thankful, even with the awfulness of mental illness, that He walks with us in this, too.

God also gives us joys as pastors' wives that far outweigh the burdens. The burdens can be hard, extremely hard. But you will witness countless examples of Christ's love from members to your husband, to you, to your children and maybe even your extended family. You will be privy to baptisms, catechizing and confirmations, weddings, funerals of saints called to glory. You will see Christ loving people from conception until death. Real life, real, intense, overwhelming love from our Savior to your dear congregation. And you get to witness it every week, every day. This is a miracle. Few people share this perspective--and those who do, like other pastor's wives, understand what you suffer and what you joy. And we are here for you!


A pastor's wife enjoys a wonderful vocation. For those sisters struggling in this vocation, take heart. Christ has already overcome the world for you. For those sisters just starting in this vocation, take heart. Christ knows the plans He has for you, and your husband, and your family--plans to prosper you and not to harm you! I, and so many others, am excited for what lies ahead for you. May God keep you in His wonderful grace always!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

He Remembers the Barren

Kristi L. writes:

Katie Schuermann – a dear friend of mine – has written and published a book. It is entitled He Remembers the Barren and is published by Lutheran Legacy. I have read the book and am ordering more copies to share with others. The subject of barrenness has long been a dark topic for women and married couples. Katie has brought the subject to light and addressed it beautifully. She talks about the issue of control in one’s fertility, as well as the decisions to be made when barren, and also reminds the reader of the blessings God has already given.

Dear friends, If you know someone who is barren, this book will be a source of encouragement and comfort to her. Katie’s book shares stories of women who struggle with barrenness and how God still cares for her. Also, what do you say to someone who is barren? This book will help you comfort your loved one. Your pastor will appreciate this book as a resource for barren couples, to whom he gives counsel. Your OB/GYN will benefit from reading this book as well, helping the barren woman to rejoice in the blessings already given to her. You can order a copy of the book here -

Katie is also the administrator of the website He Remembers the Barren, and I am privileged to be one of the web-hosts with Katie. This site is for the barren woman. Please consider sharing this website with your loved ones.

Katie will also be doing a book tour this fall. You can find out more about Caring for the Barren Woman here -

If you know of people in those areas who might benefit from hearing Katie and Rebecca, please encourage them to attend. Katie is also in the process of organizing a similar tour for parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota in early November, and I’ll be joining her on that tour.

Most of all, I would beg your prayers for the barren woman. She hurts deeply and carries a heavy burden. May she receive comfort from Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Welcome Baby Rachel!

BethAnn's baby girl, Rachel Ann, was born on August 23rd!
She weighed 6lbs. 12 oz and was 21 inches.
New mama and baby are doing well.

What a blessing!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Recipes from Jenny S.

Happiness is...

There are so many ways to finish this thought. It all depends on your mood, your day, your location, even the company you keep. Today, for me, happiness is having REAL food in my kitchen again! We have been out of town a lot the past few weeks and my cupboards were bare. The boys went back to school and I got back to the kitchen to do some cooking and baking. Thought I'd share some more of my favorite recipes.

The BEST granola I've ever had!

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1-1/2 cups brown sugar (I use less, of course)
6 cups quick cooking OR old fashioned oats
2 cups chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans
1 cup wheat germ (opt)
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the oil, honey and brown sugar. Microwave 2-3 minutes so sugar will melt. Whisk to dissolve any lumps. At this point you may stir in 2-3 tsp of flavoring. This is where you can get creative! I usually use 3 tsp of a combination of vanilla and almond extracts when I use almonds. But if I use pecans, I substitute a little maple flavor for the almond. So many yummy possibilities. Next...

Combine the oats, nuts, wheat germ and coconut. Toss to mix well. Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well mixed. Spread evenly onto two jelly roll pans.

Place pans in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then stir the granola around, switch the pans from top rack to bottom rack, then bake another 10-12 minutes or until browned the way you like it.

Once cool, transfer to container of your choice. (I love my IKEA jars!) You can add dried fruits to the mix if you like. I do it after the baking though so they don't get too dry and crunchy.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

1-1/2 cups wheat flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup mashed banana

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix egg, milk, oil, honey and banana together well. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Gently stir until moistened. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and try to keep some around for at least 24 hours!

Fabulous Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup wine vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic
1 cup oil
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
2T parsley

Mix all ingredients well. Place meat in a ziploc bag along with marinade and let it sit. The great part is using frozen meat and letting it thaw in the marinade all day. Works so great with a bag of chicken breasts! I've used this with pork chops and am trying it with steak tonight.

Happy kitchening to you! And remember to wear an apron.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School

Kristi writes:

School is just around the corner. It starts next week for many of us. We’re focused on getting our kids’ school supplies ready and getting bedtime routines back on track. The kids have clean clothes that fit and shoes that won’t leave marks on the gym floor. New backpacks are filled with paint shirts, crayons, scissors, and box of tissues.

Let’s face it – we’re all ready for some sort of routine again. Summer has been great. We’ve gone places, played outdoors a lot, scratched our share of mosquito bites, and enjoyed the freedom that comes with summer. Now it’s time to return to our normally scheduled lives.

You’ve got the kids ready. Are YOU ready? How’s your prayer life? Hopefully you were able to maintain your prayer routine. Mine fell apart when summer hit. I didn’t have my regular time for Scripture reading and prayer. I succumbed to the extra sleep and never got myself back to the Word as I said I would. My days go better when I make the time for God’s Word right away, rather than telling myself that I’ll still get to it. The fact is: I’ll not return to it because something else will “come up.”

So I’m going to get myself back on track. I pray that the Holy Spirit would help me to put everything else on the back burner while I take time to receive all the blessings God has for me. It’s time for me to relearn all the goodness that God gives in His Holy Word. Are you ready for school? Let’s do it!

Friday, August 5, 2011

21st Century Weddings - Kristi L.

Kristi writes:

I know that June is the month of weddings, and I know this post would be more appropriate in said month. However, I am extremely irritated by a news article I happened to see on the news this morning. A young couple stated their vows this way... (Names have been changed because they are morons.)

Bride: I, Jane, take you, Dick, to be no other than yourself......

Groom: I, Dick, take you, Jane, to be no other than yourself.....

What!!!! Whatever happened to becoming someone's wife or husband? Are we so selfish that we can't become something to somebody else? When I got married, I was still myself, as well as being a wife to Jerome. I wasn't afraid that I was going to lose myself just by getting married. Call me old-fashioned, but this type of vow disgusts me.

No wonder our husbands dread doing wedding services. The wedding service has fast become self-serving. So sad.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preserving a Christian Home

I wanted to share a wonderful paper with you all by Dorothy (Dort) Preus on how to preserve a Christian family. Dorothy is married to Rev. Rolf Preus. They have 12 children.

You can read it HERE.

An excerpt:
The reality is the world is cursed against man and it is full of sin. The reality is our children are sinners. The reality is that parents are sinners. The reality is that women marry sinful men and that men marry sinful women. Comfort is the reality that God forgives us all our sins for Christ's sake. We can cling to the cross and praise God for his love and mercy in the death of His dear Son and our precious Savior. We can’t do anything right! But God looks at us through Jesus and is well pleased. We humbly look to our Heavenly Father through our brother and His dear Son Jesus knowing He loves us as a loving Father. The reality is our children will sooner or later see us as sinners. In preserving the Christian family for Jesus’ sake, we must teach them that we live under God's grace. It is by God’s grace we are saints who are washed in the blood of the Lamb in Holy Baptism. We must teach our children to treasure the Bible, the historic liturgies, the Catechism, the hymns that confess and comfort, and to boldly pray to our heavenly Father in order to preserve the Christian family. In doing this we preserve our children from their flesh, the devil, and the world.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Book Recommendation

My daughter turned 3 yesterday. For her birthday, her Godparents sent her a wonderful book called, Hosanna, Loud Hosanna A Treasury of hymns for children by Kelly Klages. I love this book! It's just what I've been looking for for a long time now, didn't find and thought about ways to make on my own. I'm so glad I didn't have to.

It's so important to me to have my little ones grow up learning and singing hymns. I grew up in a church that didn't value hymns, but saw them as "old fogie music", boring and almost pointless. As an adult I discovered the rich treasure of doctrine and heritage that they are.

This book has 25 hymns. It's divided into two parts. In the first part the hymn lyrics are written and are accompanied by illustrations for each hymn. The second part has the music, short explanations, questions to ask children to get them thinking about what the words teach and a memory verse that goes with the hymn. It's great!

You can listen to an interview with the illustrator on Issues, Etc. here. (Scroll down a bit to "Teaching Hymns to Children").

And if your babies like to color as much as mine do, you can find coloring pages from the book's illustrations here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Update on Bethann's Baby Nursery

BethAnn writes:

We are all done except for the valance which should be up shortly. The crib and Bear are compliments of Adam's family and cousins.

The dresser was painted with Roo, Rabbit, and Owl paint so it would match the room.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christmas in July!

BethAnn let me know about a craft fair being held in Wausa NE this weekend. Here are some of the details if any of you are interested!

Held at the Wausa Community Auditorium on July 23rd 9 am to 3 pm
Admission is a donation of a $1 or an non -perishable food item to go towards local flood victims
There will be many different vendors

You can contact BethAnn or leave a comment here if you have any questions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First Veggies!

Kristi L. writes:

Summertime is here, and our garden is finally producing. We’ve been battling fungus on our 12 tomato plants, so we’re still waiting on those.

We did however, get some green beans and baby beets. Yum-yum.
You won’t find a picture of the grape tomato because it found its way to Joanna’s mouth before I could snap a photo of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow? - Kathy F.

Kathy writes:

Very well...I must say. Just thought I would give you a quick update....the potatoes, cucumbers, beans and tomatoes all have a few flowers....but as you can see, it is all doing well. I have a timer on the sprinkler to water for one hour every morning from 5-6 while we are gone...I look forward to seeing what it all looks like when we return.

The big box that doesn't look as lush are the strawberries...which are in their first year, so they didn't get super big. But we did get a few small berries...which made Hannah very excited.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 be or not to be....that is the question

Kathy F. writes:

A question? Or is it? Doesn't the Lord say that we are to be content with whatever we have and wherever we are? To trust only in Him for our Daily Bread...."Give us this day our Daily Bread"? this world, that is one hard thing to do. Lately I have caught myself complaining about some of the craziest things...having to put gas in the car....again. (Well, at least we have a car...actually 2....that work well). Complaining about not having room in the refrigerator for tonight's leftovers (can you believe it...complaining of a FULL's FULL for goodness sake...we have food). Complaining about having nothing to wear to church...all the while looking at an over crowded closet (NOTHING to wear...good grief). Complaining about the torn up roads from the snow plows last winter...but I never complained once about the snow plows actually plowing the snow last winter. Complaining about a cluttered and messy house and then complaining some more because I want MORE...I always want MORE. Complaining about the water in our basement after a 3 inch rain in 1.5 hours....but I should be grateful to HAVE a basement...a safe haven for us when the spring tornado watches and warnings are posted.

Wow...Satan sure knows how to take hold of my thoughts...complaining is easy, being grateful isn't so easy. And it's even harder to instill gratefulness in our children, especially if we, ourselves aren't. My challenge to myself is to be verbally grateful for at least 5 things everyday. I plan to tell my husband, my kids, my friends and whoever else I can find to listen my 5 things. Some days I am sure it will be easy to do...other days, not so much. But I figure if I can do 5 things a day for a while, then I can up my number...and change my attitude about all of the blessings I receive daily from our Heavenly Father. I challenge you to do the same.

I will start: I am thankful for air conditioning as today's heat index is to go above 100 degrees. I am thankful for a congregation that allows us to leave town for nearly 3 weeks on a summer family vacation...and allows us another 2 week vacation at Christmas time. I am thankful for the blessings of 15 years of marriage to Dan, ...along with 3 happy and healthy children. I am thankful that I am able and desirous to homeschool those 3 wonderful children. I am thankful for my dear friend at church who has taught me everything I know about gardening. Here are a few pictures of her handiwork....(I helped....but she designed) . I only wish I had a before picture....but simply picture a large dirt rectangle where a veggie garden used to be.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Celebrating Independence Day

I went a little crazy gathering fun crafts and food ideas for Independence Day and wanted to share them with all of you.

Slap Bracelet Napkin Rings
Red, White, Blue Garland
Drink Parasols
Clothespin Pinwheels
Firework Pom Poms
Cans for utensils, flowers, breadsticks, whatever!

Crafts For Kids:
Hand Print Eagle Tee
Patriotic Pinwheel
Paper Plate Uncle Sam
Paper Plate Door Hanger

For Eating:
Spangled Sandwich Pops
Revolutionary Berries
Patriotic Drink
Easy Cupcakes here and here
Pretzel Sparklers
Apple Pie or this American Flag Berry Pie

Other fun things to do this 4th of July weekend:

Drink Root Beer Floats
Watch Patriotic movies:
The Patriot, Glory, Gettysburg, Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Men of Honor, The Crossing, Air Force One
Or Baseball Movies:
The Sandlot, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, Pride of the Yankees

Listen to and learn some patriotic songs
Have a Tin Can Race!

I'd love to hear how you celebrate Independence Day or if you'd like to share a memory of a time when you were "proud to be and American" comment here or email me!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day! - From Kathy F.

Kathy writes:

I was getting my haircut the other day when my haircutting friend said something about teaching her 8th grade daughter to do the laundry. My response to her was that my 3 kids know how to do the laundry which I was glad she had put the scissors down...because she could have easily chopped a extra chunk out as her mouth almost dropped to the floor...she knows my 3 children are ages 7, 9 and 11. "YOUR children do the laundry????" At that point I realized just how important it is to teach our children skills they will use for the rest of their lives.

We are getting ready for an almost 3 week vacation starting July 5th and it is times like this when I am thankful that I have taught my children some life skills that have not only made them INDEPENDENT, but also helpful and more self confident. They will be doing their own laundry and packing their own suitcases (with an inspection by mom before it all goes in the bag), just for starters.

Whenever I take the time to teach them a skill that is useful, I can almost physically see their confidence, self-value, and perceived worth to the family increase. They are capable, they can help, they can be trusted with this task, that up until this point was done only by an adult. They are INDEPENDENT.

Does it take more time and energy to teach than to do? This IS most certainly true (spoken by a true Lutheran Pastor's wife), It is more trouble, and possible more dangerous...will they hurt themselves, will something break, will the kitchen be a BIG mess...yes, yes, and yes. But in the long run, it is so worth every mess and every extra minute it took to train them.

We get so used to doing things for our infants, toddlers and small children, that when our kids get to be school age we just keep doing things for them...this is not only bad for us (we simply can't do everything required of us everyday), but it is also not good for the children.

So what do my 7, 9 and 11 year old do around the house? Well let me start by saying it's not done perfectly...or the way I would do it..or as often as I would like....but it is done. My kids do their own laundry from start to finish...from dirty laundry basket to their drawers and closets when clean. Hannah is learning to make some very basic meals and this week she will learn how to make bread in our bread machine. All 3 kids can make coffee. Each child weeds and cares for their own squares in the garden. Of course cleaning their rooms is in there. They also all know how to run the vacuum, make their bed (not just pulling up the blankets, but actually washing their own sheets and then replacing them on the bed....the person on the top bunk gets a little extra help). Collecting and taking out the trash, cleaning the mirrors and bathrooms sinks are all done here too.

I have discovered one simple trick to making the kids excited about doing these things...they are no longer called chores...but rather privileges. It is a privilege to run the washing machine, the bread maker and coffee pot.
When they see how much their contribution is a blessing to our family, and they get praise for their efforts, they are so willing to help....most of the time. I read recently this quote and I have decided to adopt this philosophy:
Whenever a child can do for himself (or others who cannot), he should do.

Maybe it is time, for their own good, and yours, to allow them the thrill of being useful and capable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"I Dyed"

Here are pictures from a fun summer project Kristi L. did! She writes:

Joanna received a tie-dye kit for Christmas, and we finally got to use it. I’d never done this before, so I was a bit worried. Thanks to the endless youtube tutorials, I decided that I could do this. Joanna invited some friends to do it with her. It really was easier than I thought it was going to be. Here are the results…

Thanks for sharing Krisit!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wondering What's for Supper?

Here's another delicious recipe from Jenny!

Pineapple Pork Chops

Ease, easy to mix, dump and bake this tasty supper.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp minced ginger (or powder)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple (tidbits work too)

Mix these and dump over chops which have been placed in a greased dish. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or so. Baste frequently.

Serve with brown rice and a salad. Or some freshly baked bread. Or baked sweets. Oh yum! My mouth is watering.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prayer Request from BethAnn S.

BethAnn requests prayer for her very good friend Debbie Waltz, who has long been suffering with an infection in the hospital. Pictured is BethAnn and Debbie (seated).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Celebrating Father's Day

Jenny S. wrote with a great idea she came across for keeping a memory book of Father's Day treasures throughout the years. It can be filled with pictures taken, what your family did that day, notes written or cards given each year. What a creative way to keep memories together!

I'd love to hear what some of you do to make Father's Day special!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Update on Bethann's Baby Nursery

BethAnn S. writes:

The room is getting closer to the goal. All the priming is done and some of tint - thanks to my mom, so I didn't have to put on numerous coats. I also have Kanga/ Roo door done. I also have the closet doors done which represent TIGGER. I am sure you figured that one out. And now just need to paint Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Rabbit. My husband did all the typing for me and actually to my surprise did the blue primer for Eeyore last night!

Thanks again.