Friday, February 29, 2008

The Struggle of Becoming "Mom"- Intro

As Betsy and I (Carrie) keep thinking about our blog, one thing we keep coming back to is the spiritual aspect of our lives and what God is doing. Even though we will add our house cleaning tips, meal ideas, child rearing tips, and some humor along the way, we want to share our hearts during this process as well.

I am going to start what will probably be a several part series on the struggle of becoming a mom and dealing with loss (miscarriages) and infertility. Why? This is near and dear to our hearts. I have had two early miscarriages and then lost a baby boy at 16 weeks. Betsy and I also have several adopted cousins, and I have a nephew by way of invitro. I also know several friends who have struggled with even getting pregnant the first time, and many (including myself) who may never carry a baby normally again. This is a harsh reality of the sinful world we live in, yet one that is often very difficult to live with. It is also one that is very common in today's world!

My hope is to lead you through not just the factual and emotional aspect of this, but also the spiritual aspect as well. So stay posted-having two little ones means not a whole lot of writing time. I hope I can encourage you along the way.

See Part 1

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tea Bag: Repolish, Renew

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Now that our old is gone how can we polish ourself, renewing our mind. God has given each of us different talents, abilities and gifts. What is his will for your life? What is he trying to tell you?

Music to the Ears!

This morning we were discussing music we liked our little ones listening to. Depending on where you live, and what church you go to, music can vary greatly, as well as the opportunities for your children to learn some of the "classic" Bible songs. Here is a list of some of our favorites. We also recommend you check out good sites like Christian Book Distributors where you can actually listen to samples before you buy.

1. Hide 'Em In Your Heart, with Steve Green - Scripture verses put to song.

2. Bible Songs For Kids; The Wonder Kids; Wee Sing Bible Songs; and more... These are usually sets featuring all the good classics, like "The B-I-B-L-E," "Jesus Loves Me," "Deep and Wide," etc. There are several of these out there. Kids love to hear other kids sing, so find one featuring a children's choir.

3. Cedarmont Kids - They have the classics like above, but also have worship songs and videos of the kids singing (great way to pass 30 minutes in front of the TV instead of a random cartoon,) and non-religious classics ("Old Macdonald," "Row Row your Boat," "Mary had a little lamb," etc).

4. Seeds Family Worship - another scripture verses to song, but caters to older kids as well (not just preschool!)

5. Psalty - Yes! They are still around. If you didn't grow up with Psalty, I encourage you to give them a try. Psalty music can also be found at Christian Book Distributors.

6. Twin Sisters Productions has a great line of Christian music for kids. In particular, the CD collection "Kids Scene for JC" is a good one; it has 3 CD's featuring Bible memory songs, Scripture songs, and hymns.

7. Non-religious classics ("I'm a Little Teapot," "Old MacDonald," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," etc) - There are a lot here, too. Cedarmont Kids has a set of these that are good. Both Disney and Sesame Street have several collections. Again, I encourage you to listen before you buy. Sometimes random kids CD's can be a little cheesy.

8. For Babies - You can't go wrong with classical music. Check out Baby Einstein's, or other baby lullaby songs that have classical music.

9. Non-classical baby: For other soothing collections, Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins; Miracle by Celine Dion.

10. Well, we will just keep adding. Our kids are still young and we don't know all that is out there. This is a good start. There are plenty of good hymns CD's out there, which we barely touched one. If you have a great one to add in any category, let us know! We like new things, too.

Cottage Cheese is on Sale!

Carrie and I were brought up in a frugal household; when something we use a lot is on sale at the grocery, we stock up! So, I stocked up on cottage cheese recently. Really, I stockpiled it.... My kids LOVE it, so I figured that 6 24-ounce containers would get eaten in the 4+ weeks we had before the expiration date (it was a really good sale!). Well, I didn't bank on 2 weeks of sickness during which we consumed Cheerios (dry), chicken soup, and water.... So, now I'm faced with a refrigerator full of cottage cheese and about 10 days to go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I'm now armed with lots of delicious, healthy recipes that the entire family (10 months, toddler, adults) can eat and enjoy. They sound sort of "earthy" or super-healthy, but I promise they're good. And, really, the entire family likes them, even my husband! Here's a short list:

1. Cottage Cheese and Spinach Gratin (essentially a crustless quiche; my toddler can consume her weight in this)
2. Refrigerator Cheesecake (yummy!); Yogurt-Cheese Pie (untried); Cottage Cheese Pie (untried)
3. Cottage Cheese Pancakes (taste like cheese blintzes; my boys loved 'em, and my toddler ate 10 of these at one sitting--no joke!)
4. Vegetarian Casserole (beans, rice, cottage cheese, shredded cheese--simple and so tasty)
5. Meatless Manicotti (we grew up eating this; filling is zucchini and cottage cheese--and I'm not normally a zucchini fan)
6. Black Bean Lasagna (very, very tasty--even for meat lovers)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Favorite Convenience Foods--Revised

As the mother of three children under two, I (Betsy) must depend on convenience foods. I'll probably always have Little-House-on-the-Prairie-nostalgia. I know, I know...if I'd actually lived in that little sod house on the prairie, no doubt I'd be championing lots of modern inventions (indoor plumbing, central heat, and electric/gas ovens and stoves anyone?). Given my Prairie ideals such as homemade food, it's been hard to come to grips with my true need for convenience these days, but there are some products that are winners in my book. These don't sacrifice much, if any, of the original nutrients, are true time/energy savers, and generally are reasonably cost-effective. The list is in no particular order.

  1. Frozen veggies and sometimes fruits (like blueberries)
  2. Tuna/Salmon in pouches, not cans (especially the salmon that's already been skinned and boned!)
  3. Boneless, skinless meat products (pork loins, chicken breasts, chicken thighs--all come in handy)
  4. Frozen rolls (Sister Schubert...mmmm)
  5. Ginger paste (a touch expensive, but great to use!! in the produce section at my store)
  6. Wanton wrappers (who needs these? Those with hubbies longing for their time spent in China during college. Ever made wanton wrappers from scratch? Don't.)
  7. Crackers (ever tried making your own? A disappointment.)
  8. Canned chicken broth (I do make my own periodically when I happen to have a chicken carcass left over from a roasted chicken, but in general this is something I buy with no qualms that it's both more expensive, less tasty, and less healthy--sodium-wise at least--than my homemade. Sometimes, you just gotta have it!)
  9. Mac-n-cheese. (What toddler home would be complete without a few boxes stashed away? We even had "mac-n-cheese Friday" for a while. mmmmm...that processed cheese taste. Yes, it bears no resemblance to the homemade variety, but who doesn't love it?)
  10. Diced canned tomatoes (and other canned tomato products). (I still don't understand the benefit to buying whole canned tomatoes and cutting them up yourself. And I never cut up fresh tomatoes for sauces--just dump in that can! We buy these by the caseload at Sam's.)
  11. Salad dressing. (While I do make some of my own vinaigrettes, I see no need to make Ranch when Hidden Valley Ranch lurks on the shelf at my local Kroger....)
  12. Hot dogs. (sigh) We love hot dogs in this house.
  13. Canned fruit in juice. (A true time saver in this house since I would have to cook some fresh fruit still for my twins to be able to eat it. Applesauce also falls into this category.)
  14. Just-add-water pancake mix. (This is great when you're out of everything! You can always make pancakes.)
  15. Bread products other than bread: bagels, pita bread, English muffins, tortillas, etc. (I have recipes for all of these, but no time to dabble in experimentation for those quick breakfasts and lunches!)
  16. Canned pumpkin (For some reason, all three of my kids are addicted to pumpkin. We make pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins,...even mix it into plain yogurt or make yogurt smoothies with it!)
  17. Pre-made pie crusts (Pillsbury's are the best--why make your own?!)
  18. Canned beans (black, great northern, pintos, .... Just rinse them so you can lower the sodium. My kids love 'em straight from the can, too!)
  19. Bread crumbs (I've actually made my own before, but it's hard to beat the convenience pre-made bread crumbs offer: a quick coating for fish or chicken....)
  20. Bottled lemon juice

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Psalm 100, part 3

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:5

Psalm 100, Part 1
Psalm 100, Part 2
The Lord is indeed good. Despite a frustrating round of RSV followed closely by an even more frustrating intestinal virus, we are all now well and in good spirits. He has brought us through and preserved our children. They were never in life threatening straits, but all came close to the point at which we would need to take them to the hospital (mostly for dehydration issues). Thankfully, the Lord preserved us from even needing to take that step. Praise the Lord!

The Mommy Manual

The Mommy Manual: Planting Roots That Give Your Children Wings
The Mommy Manual: Planting Roots That Give Your Children Wings by Barbara Curtis

The Mommy Manual is a must read for all mommies of young children, particularly those of toddlers or soon-to-be toddlers. I am usually drawn more to parenting books with a definite theological bent or a discipline/training bent, but this one was given to me by a friend who has 9 I figured it was worth a read! It looked a tad cheesy, but as soon as I started reading, I was hooked. To emphasize that, let me tell you that I first read this during the first two months my twin boys came home from the hospital (and I had an eighteen month old running around at the same time!)!! I'm rereading it now (twins are almost 10 months old, toddler is almost 28 months old) and realizing anew how much I like this book. I didn't realize all that I was absorbing when I read it first, but I can look around now and see the impact it made on me (things ranging from hanging artwork at my toddler's eye level to slowing down to show her how to carry her cereal bowl to the table). The author is a mother of 12 children, so she definitely has lots of experience. She used to be a Montessori teacher and uses that training to show how we can enrich the lives of our toddlers--to make the most of this valuable time of learning. She discusses areas that are particularly open to development during the toddler years (including self-control, independence, concentration, and service among others) and gives some wonderful, practical tips for encouraging your toddler's development. She is a Christian and talks a lot about the big picture: raising godly men and women who will also be good parents themselves. She is so encouraging and so realistic. She has fabulous perspectives on when it's good to lower our household expectations in favor of our children, when we should raise our expectations in regard to our children and their behavior, how we should nurture a heart for service, how to spend some quality time together as a family.... One thing I particularly appreciated was her willingness to use technology in its proper place. Rather than banning TV or the computer outright (or embrace them too much), she gives some great suggestions for ways technology can enrich the family's joint experience when used well. All in all, it's a great book. She also has a blog:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Past Resources

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt

True Woman by Susan Hunt

Faith Pointes by Barbara Barker and Denise Hamilton

Treasures of Encouragement: Women Helping Women in the Church by Sharon Betters

The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home by Kathy Peel

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tea Bag: Are you sick?

"But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds," declares the Lord. Jeremiah 30:17

Wow, we have both been battling sick families. This too shall pass. Yet Jeremiah may not just be talking about sick bodies, but restoring our minds as well. Sometimes our hearts need healing too. So pray not just for physical healing which is important, but spiritual healing as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pampered Chef

To order Pampered Chef products, contact any of the following:
  • Bridgette Boudreaux (

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Psalm 100, part 2

(written Valentine's Day)

Within an hour after I wrote my first post on Psalm 100, my boys (9.5 month-old twins) took a turn for the worse. I called the doctor and was instructed to begin steam treatments to ease their breathing and to consider heading to the ER should things get worse (my husband was out of town, my 2 year old daughter asleep, and I couldn't fathom how I could get all of us downtown in the middle of the night...). We made it through the (long) night and headed to the doctor the next day. She confirmed that the boys have RSV, and that my daughter no doubt is recovering from it as is my husband. She also told me that that night and the next would be the worst. I was given instructions and a prescription for easing the boys' breathing and told the worst-case scenarios (hospitalization with oxygen). Last night, as I was sitting in the bathroom with the shower running full blast as hot as it would go, I watched one of my precious little boys in my arms rubbing his eyes, his hair beginning to curl from the humidity. I sat there and prayed that the Lord would ease us through this, protect my boys, keep us from going to the hospital, give me strength and continued health to keep taking care of them, etc. Then, I thought back to my post of the previous night on Psalm 100.... Memorized Scripture is such a comfort when you're too tired to pray or think clearly.

I thought of verse 3: "Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." These little boys of mine are the Lord's--his children, his creation. He knows their little bodies backwards and forwards. The Lord cares more for my boys even than I do! Furthermore, the Lord is God. I took great comfort in the psalmist's command to know that the Lord is God.

Then, I thought of verse 4: "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!" What can I be thankful for in this moment in the middle of the night with my boys sick? Well, actually, there are several things that stand out mighty clearly: 1. my mom was able to come for a few days to help me out (she lives 4 hours away). 2. we caught this pretty early and are now armed with an arsenal of interventions to keep the worst at bay. 3. it's Wednesday night and there are 2 more business days during which I can contact my own doctor or even go in to see her (aren't children getting sick over the weekend the worst?!). 4. Given my own history of bad respiratory ailments (bronchitis, pneumonia, "reduced lung capacity"), it's a tremendous cause for thanksgiving that I am not sick and am able to care for my children! 5. each of our two showers is on a separate water heater so we can continue steam treatments all night if necessary! 6. my daughter seems to be over the worst and is doing okay.

I anticipate being able to reflect on verse 5 in a few days! The Lord is good. His steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Psalm 100

(written Tuesday evening, 2/12)

My friend Sarah D. and I just finished going through Cynthia Heald's Intimacy With God Bible study; this is a study of the Psalms. At the end of the study, we were asked to list our favorite psalm(s). Well, I realized that I had a lot of favorites--sort of depending upon my mood. But then I realized that three psalms in particular sort of summed it all up, and all three of those are psalms I was introduced to early on in my life (psalms 19, 23, and 100). Psalm 100 I memorized in grade school, and I have quoted it to myself often these past few days and weeks. Before I share why I've been mulling it over, here it is in the English Standard Version:

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

I wrote in my Bible study guide that this psalm sums it all up in the following ways: tells who/what we are (sheep, created beings); who God is (Creator, faithful, good, God himself,...); and what we are to do (know He is God, thank Him, and serve and praise Him gladly). I've thought about this psalm from several angles over the past few weeks, but this week it has come to mind A LOT. I'll focus on the biggies. First, Sunday afternoon, I had a rare opportunity to take a nap. Did the boys (9 1/2 months old) cooperate? Well, they didn't cry. But they made a joyful noise...for an hour and a half! My wonderful husband had one of them with him trying to keep him quiet, but to no avail. The two of them just made all kinds of cheerful little baby noises and babbling sounds while I tried to sleep. A song I used when I taught Vacation Bible School started flitting through my head while I lay on the couch. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. (repeat) Make a loud noise (aagghh!!) and rejoice, sing praises. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." Well, that's what my boys were doing: making loud, joyful noises. So, why was I complaining. I should be giving thanks to God and blessing His name that my children are so happy.

Tonight I was steeping over the "serve the Lord with gladness part." It's not always full of joyful noise in our household. This morning, I first woke up at 5:00 a.m. when my husband got up to catch an early flight to the other side of the country for a conference. We'd been up a little later than usual last night dealing with one of our twins who had thrown our bed (sigh). The kids and I were pooped and cranky by dinner time tonight, my toddler getting over her bad cold but still quite the little mucus factory, and the boys and I rapidly coming down with the same bad cold. I managed to get all three in pajamas, fed the boys their bed-time bottles, and put all three to bed. But, both boys threw up (one ALL OVER his crib and himself), I had to change crib sheets, pace the floor with one boy who was crying and making himself more congested, I had to remind my daughter that it was indeed bedtime, I had to do an extra load of throw-up laundry on top of the diapers (we use cloth diapers), .... So, when I was steeping over all of this, I remembered that I am called to serve the Lord with gladness. Is caring for sick kids part of serving the Lord? You betcha. Is training a toddler to obey part of serving the Lord? You betcha. And Psalm 100 reminds us to serve gladly...not merely without outward complaining or grumbling, but with gladness of heart. After all, we are merely sheep whom the Lord has created. And the Lord is God.

Tea Bag: Happy Valentine's Day

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, yet sometimes it is hard to truely grasp how much God loved us until you loose a child, or any close loved one, to death. Who would ever CHOOSE to give up their own for another? Happy Valentines' Day and re-read how much God truely loved us all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tea Bag 1: Starting to Polish

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

What a great place to start, putting off our old. Whether it is old habits, ways, tarnishing, if we are in Christ we are to rid ourselves of these things. What can you do away with to help you become new, refreshed and shining?

Tea Bag Index

Daily tea bags are indexed below by title/verse. Click on one to see that entry.

New Kind of Teabag (for students/homeschool parents/teachers)
Psalm 119: 73-74 (for student/child)
Psalm 145: 2-7 (for mom/teacher)
List of verses for students/children

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Meaning of the Polishings

We have several different needs in our busy households, and odd amounts of time. Therefore we have come up with several types of polishings, both for ourselves and for those in our households.

Polishing your Teapot
This label refers to the polishing we need to do to ourselves. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are the real polishers, but we are commanded in Scripture to examine ourselves, to seek the Lord first, and to obey His commands. These posts are attempts to do that.

  • Our "Tea Bags" are quick verses and ponderings, a drop into your cup to think about in your life. If you like, write these in a journal and meditate on them throughout the day. Better yet, memorize the scripture. It will surely come back and help you one day.

  • "Moments to Steep": These are self reflections brought about by different issues in our lives and the scripture that has been placed on our hearts to help us deal with them. We all have struggles, and we hope by sharing our struggles and answers in Christ, we can help you with your struggles as well. If nothing else, you will see that you are not alone!

  • "Savoring a Cup of Tea": Really pondering what a piece of scripture, advice, sermon, book, etc has been teaching us. Our "cup of tea" will be either revisiting scripture we learned a long time ago or something new to make us think. These are our thoughts that have made us slow down, think hard and savor-What God is doing in our lives, and what are we doing in return!

Polishing Your Children
This label includes all sorts of reflections, tips, ideas, and issues related to our children's growth and development.

Polishing Your Family
This label includes our attempts to polish our families: to do things together, to honor the Lord with our family's actions as a whole (budget, activities, etc.), and to grow in our faith together.

Polishing Your Home
This label includes our reflections on our attempts to polish our home; this is perhaps the most practical of our labels. As stay-at-home moms, our homes are in constant need of polishing--even if it's just picking up dried-up Cheerios or creating a better laundry system.

Polishing Your Mealtime
So much information and encouragement is out there about eating healthily, eating as a family, eating organically, eating responsibly,.... the list could go on and on. At times it is truly overwhelming. So, in this label, we will be musing over our attempts to provide our families with good food that fits within our time and budget. We cannot do it all, and you will see our tips, survival tactics, recipes, and other things related to getting that family to eat well and together!

Sharing a Pot of Tea
Sharing a pot of tea is sharing what you have learned with another and ways to do it. These are stories of ways we've been ministered to by others (especially other moms) and ways we've tried to encourage others (especially other moms).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Tarnished Teapot

"The Tarnished Teapot"

The tarnished teapot which was once bright and new
Is an everlasting reminder of who's inside of you.
Filled with cool refreshment on a summer’s day
Or warm and inviting to chase the cold away.

It may look tarnished, tiresome or old
Just as we do when the world takes hold.
However, with love, tenderness and care,
It can be revived, restored and repaired.

To create more work it is not meant to do,
But serve to remind we need polishing, too.
As you polish your teapot and see the reflection,
Who’s looking back now for your inspection?

Is it God or you or the things of the world--
For remember who came and died for us all.
And just as our teapot, our lives can grow dim,
But with the Lord’s help we can soon shine again!


What is the Tarnished Teapot?

The Tarnished Teapot is a blog created by two "tarnished teapots" who happen to be sisters in real life as well as sisters in Christ. We wanted to enrich each other's lives and help keep each other focused on our callings as Christian wives and mothers. Scripture encourages us to spur one another on towards love and good deeds; that is exactly what we hope this blog will enable us to do. Are we experts in any of the fields we discuss? No. Are we perfect? No! Are we real? Yes. If you look no further, check out "Polishing Your Teapot," and start polishing your own. If you want to know more about us, read our bios. And, if you have lots of spare time, feel free to browse around the blog or even read it frequently as we reflect on our current lives, struggles, and efforts to polish away the tarnish. Because we are very different from each other in many respects, you will see some differences of opinion, different methods of child care, different favorite Scripture passages. We hope you will see that there is more than one way to skin a cat; that is, that when we seek to glorify our Lord and live as he calls us to live, it might look different in one person's life than another's. We would love your feedback and tips--we need new ideas, too!

Why the "Tarnished Teapot"?

We all love either tea or coffee and a quiet moment to drink it. The name evolved in searching for the right birthday gift for my sister. We had both been struggling with our time, our mothering, our messy houses, and trying to become a Godly wife and mother. Feeling quite "tarnished" myself, and knowing Betsy loved tea, I (Carrie) created the tarnished teapot. For just as our teapots, we can shine and sparkle and look perfect; however, with our daily struggles and the world bearing down on us, we slowly dim and loose our focus. We all need "polishing," restoring and repairing to remember where our focus needs to be. So shine your teapot, as you shine your life. And maybe, as we encourage each other, our teapots won't tarnish so often!

Betsy's Bio

My life is very, very different than it was 3 years ago. Then, I was married to a wonderful Christian man, working full-time as a school teacher, and supporting my husband as he finished a grueling PhD program. In 2005, in the space of 5 short months, I quit my job, my hubby took a new job, we moved from our big, sprawling city to a medium-sized city, we had our first child, my hubby finished his dissertation and graduated, we joined a new church, and we were off and running. I kept thinking I would soon get "back to normal" (meaning, of course, the way I looked and acted pre-children), but that has not been the case. We had twins a mere 18 months after our daughter was born, and I've been coming to the firm conclusion ever since that life will NEVER be the same for me again (and I still don't know what the "new normal" will be). But I'm learning anew how sufficient the grace of God is no matter what our situation. I'm learning that the Lord has different ideas of what our lives should look like than we do. In the past couple of months, I've begun to get excited again to look ahead and see where the Lord takes me and my family. I've also begun to have a renewed desire to seek Him first in all that I do, to serve Him as I serve my family, and to study His word.

Carrie's Bio

I am Carrie, sister of Betsy both by blood and by Christ. I have a wonderful husband and two active young boys. We had been married for 6 years when my life on cruise control spun out of control. The events of the next two years would begin to re-shape and repolish my life. We were faced with putting our ultimate trust in God. We were at the end of our rope financially, we on threads marriage wise, and realizing how the things of this world had totally taken over. So my husband quit his job (a major factor!). Thus began a journey consisting in faith God would provide (which he truly did, and too long to detail now), another move, and starting on a new life. Although we were trying to refocus, deal with young kids, trying sometimes to get my house clean and decluttered (you try that with boys under your roof), I was still feeling the need to slow down and start new. We had finally felt at home, where we belong and were moving in the right direction. Then God slowed us down again, and we lost a little boy my 16th week of pregnancy. It was around that time I had been feeling the need to spend more time with my kids, not so begrudge my daily chores, and try to become more of the woman God wanted me to be. After talking with Betsy and hearing other women voice the same concerns we started working on The Tarnished Teapot. Yes, there were plenty of other "self-help" blogs and websites out there, but we both felt the need to have one really place the focus on God and what he is doing in our lives, be REAL about what can be accomplished with little ones running around, and help each other help our lives.

Polishing Silver

We have grown up using the family silver: silver water goblets, silver flatware, silver tea and coffee pitchers, silver platters, etc. This is the real stuff, the real deal, not silverplate. What we have learned over the years as we've learned to carry on the tradition of polishing these heirlooms and then enjoying them can apply to our own lives as well. So, as you polish your teapots, metaphorically and in reality, remember these points:

1. You can always polish REAL silver, no matter how tarnished. It might not look brand-new, but you can get it to shine.

2. Real silver sometimes needs to be buffed. During this slightly more abrasive process, the scratches can be buffed out, bringing real shine to older pieces. This can be a painful process if you yourself are the teapot/silver in question.

3. Real silver can be bent back into shape if need be. It won't be perfect, but you can make it work.

4. Real silver gets more tarnished from sitting on the shelf and being neglected than it does from daily wear and care.

5. As it ages and is used over and over again, real silver develops a rich luster that adds to its beauty. It becomes a treasure.

6. There is always an outside agent in the shining/buffing: the silver polish and/or the tool used. In our lives, this agent is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hidden Art of Homemaking

The Hidden Art of Homemaking
The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
The Hidden Art of Homemaking
(Edith Schaeffer) is a wonderful book that I'm delighted to see in print again. I first read this book about 10 years ago, before I really had a home to make as it were. I was single, living in a college student apartment that had been made over for me as the Resident Director, and was ministering to college students from various countries. This book can apply to anyone!

Edith Schaeffer begins with the premise that, as we are all made in the image of God, we are all therefore full of creative gifts of some sort or another. She then challenges her readers to use their creativity to enrich the lives of those around her. Each chapter is devoted to a particular talent (drawing, writing, drama, etc.) and shows how you might use that gift in your everyday life. I love to read and write, and I think it is this book that has encouraged me most to use those gifts with my family. I write my husband little notes, and I've corresponded with my grandmother for years. I know this is a way I've been able to help "polish their teapots" and encourage them. Now, I read to my children with all the enthusiasm I can muster. I enjoy cooking, and I've been able to cook creative meals for countless people who come through my door. Thanks to the reminder in the book, I view these everyday tasks as ways I truly can serve the Lord by serving his people.

Pick up a copy of this book--it's an easy read--and start thinking of ways you can use your gifts and interests to polish the lives of those around you on a daily basis.