Christianity Marriage

Grace in Marriage

What’s the best gift you can give your spouse? Forgiveness. Grace.

I say this, because if we truly love our mates, then forgiveness and grace will follow. Not easily, but we’re required by God to give it our best. (not to mention those vows we meant with all our hearts…to love, honor and cherish each other through good times and bad till death do us part.)

After all, the outpouring of God’s ultimate love-gift to us resulted in our forgiveness…so never underestimate the power of grace.

Grace has been defined as getting what we don’t deserve. If you translate this into forgiveness…it’s automatic unconditional forgiveness–forgiving even when the other party hasn’t admitted guilt. (Look how the Amish so peaceably forgave what that gunman did to their daughters…)

Love and forgiveness go hand in hand. Look at 1 Corinthians 13…the love chapter. Some of the references to love are actually cloaked in grace:

  • love is patient and kind (no matter what)
  • love is not provoked
  • love does not take into account a wrong suffered (are you keeping a list of how your spouse has hurt you? do you remind him/her what he/she said in the heat of anger long ago?)
  • love bears all things, love endures all things

Ephesians 4:31-32 says,

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ Jesus also has forgiven you.”

Does your husband or wife hurt you daily? (I’m not talking physical abuse here). Does he or she fall short of your expectations of what marriage should be? Does your spouse make promises without follow-through? Do you feel taken for granted?

I don’t know about you, but I’d fail miserably if God asked the above questions about me, and how I’ve let Him down time and again during my time as His bride. If we as Christians with Israelite-tendencies are continually forgiven by God for the ways we continue to fail Him, how much more should we be able to forgive the person in our life who means everything to us?

But we feel justified in our bitterness. We want to withhold love and forgiveness (among other things); these things go against our nature. We rationalize our reaction. We might even ignore the fact that we’re at least a little bit responsible for whatever went down.

We’ve got to walk by the spirit. I read on someone’s blog (sorry, can’t remember whose) a quote by Oswald Chambers about obedience.

“Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. ‘I suppose I shall understand these things someday!’ You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already.”

And we know this for certain: Instead of deserved punishment, we received undeserved grace. And not only grace, but life eternal…seated in heavenly places with Christ. Amazing reward.

Amazing grace.

Farm Life

Our Corn Stove

With a freeze advisory, I decided I’d better get the girls’ beds dressed in flannel. Dh sleeps too hot for flannel. We’ve joked that I should sew a half-n-half sheet: a flannel half for me, cotton for him. I’m just thankful he doesn’t mind my frozen self snugged up tight to him! I don’t know how he radiates heat like he does…

Anyway, the warmth problem will be moot once we give in to winter’s arrival and crank up our new yard ornament.

Our main source of heat is the Woodmaster Corn Stove we invested in last January. Alternative heat is the up and coming trend with gas and electric prices so high. Our stove is 20 feet outside of our house, and a monstrous silver 300 bushel grain bin sits by its side to auger corn into the stove as needed. Sure beats chopping wood and carting it through the house to the wood stove insert we have in our fireplace! I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am to keep all that mess outside! We’ll still use our fireplace sometimes, but it won’t be the necessity it’s been in the past!

Our house is fifty-six years old, and has adorable resinors under each window–flush with the wall. The original heat was “hot-water heat”…hot water circulated through all the pipes and did a great job heating the house…till our boiler gave out. The corn stove utilizes the same concept…the corn burns (hardly any ash build-up), heats the huge outside boiler and sends the hot water underground into our basement and then up through the pipes in the house. The main pipe from outside just happens to run under our bathroom floor…making it sooo warm and toasty!

Here are some figures for those that want to know…we buy our corn from the nearest farmer–a friend–who sells it to us for $1.50-1.80/bushel. Filling our grain bin this time around cost us $430. If we start using it in November, it should last us till February or March…longer if the temps don’t get too frigid. We only put 200 bushels in last January and had leftovers in April when the weather warmed. Our electric bill one extremely cold month prior to owning the corn stove was $300. About $200 of that for heat. As you can see, big savings.

Anticipating the warmth is making me feel better as I sit here in our 60 degree living room! It would be colder in here if we didn’t have our two kerosene space heaters taking the edge off.

What are you doing to get ready for winter? (and if it’s not fall where you are, go ahead and rub it in why don’t you!?)


Blogging Anonymity

My name isn’t really Mary.


Seriously, did you realize how easy it is to find addresses and phone numbers on the internet? Google someone’s first and last name, their state if you know it, and often you can find a few leads that give you their private information.

Thankfully, my first and last name aren’t all that unique.

Here are my rules of thumb, because first and foremost, I want to protect my family:

  • I won’t mention real names, other than my own
  • I stick to regions (mid-west) rather than naming my home state
  • I’m pretty careful what I say about my extended family, and my marriage (who knows who might ever get their eyes on this blog!)

We can be proactive and still be “found”. A while back, when surfing blogs, I happened upon one with a little counter in the sidebar that said, “Welcome, visitor from ______,_ _!” I about gasped when I saw my little po-dunk town and state displayed after being on that site less than a minute!

I don’t know if you’ve ever visited (I don’t recommend it!) But you can type in your zip code and whatever mile radius you wish and find blogs of people in that area. Yeah.

So here are my questions for you:

  1. Do your friends and family know you blog? (in-laws, church family, etc)
  2. If you put forth your real names/locations, please share what made you comfortable to do so. (I’d really like to know, maybe I’m just paranoid!)
  3. Same thing with pictures. Is it really safe to put those out there? So many people block out their children’s faces, etc, while others lay it all out for the world to behold. (And I love pictures!)

I’d love input from all the viewpoints. I’m sure there are areas in which I could be more careful, and perhaps more carefree.

Personally, I like the freedom of anonymity. I can share my strong opinions and not worry about some leftist extremist making a midnight housecall with revenge in mind!

And Mary is my real name. Really.

(This new blog is too hip for me. It won’t let me capitalize when I bullet or number things! Way too cutesy, if you ask me…)

Culture Health

Alternatives to the Flu Vaccine

Please don’t get the flu vaccine.

About 80% of the flu vaccines out there contain 25 micrograms of mercury per dose. The EPA’s safe limit for mercury is 0.1 mcg/kg. Talk about an overdose. Thimerosal is the mercury based culprit to look for. Phenol and aluminum are also highly toxic. And the new FluMist nasal spray and its sidekick (the same thing in needle form) are full of them.

Plus, one of the world’s leading immunogeneticists–Hugh Fudenberg–says that your chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease is ten times higher if an individual has 5 consecutive shots than if they have one, two or no shots. Is this a proven link between the influenza vaccine and Alzheimers? No. But we need to be aware.

Dr. Mercola has a fascinating article to back me up. Even better, he suggests alternatives, such as avoiding all sugar to help build up your body against the germs we all fear this time of year.

Go to the National Vaccine Information Center to use the Mercury Calculator. Enter your child’s weight and the brand name or manufacturer of the vaccine, and it will let you know if the mercury levels have exceeded the EPA’s standard. I’d call the doctor’s office or health department before vaccinating to get the brand names. Be forewarned.

From the same source (NVIC) you’d read the following:

“Mercury is a known neurotoxin and drug companies removed mercury preservatives from over-the-counter products in the early 1990’s but the FDA has not enforced its 1999 directive regarding vaccines. While mercury has been reduced in many childhood vaccines, some flu vaccines given to pregnant women and infants still contain so much mercury that a person would have to weigh 500 pounds to safely get a flu vaccination according to EPA standards.”

The CDC Web site’s main message: “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each fall.” And babies 6-23 months are listed as one of the priority groups for flu vaccines.

Consumer advocate Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the NationalVaccine Information Center, has a different perspective.

“Children these days get so many vaccines that they almost always get them together on the same day. Use of the flu vaccine in combination with other childhood vaccines in babies this young amounts to a national medical experiment on American babies. The science should precede the policy and not the other way around.”

Check it out. At the very least, do a search on mercury-laden vaccines and autism. I have three friends who’ve been devastated firsthand by vaccines. That’s a few too many.

Oh, and if by chance, you or a loved one succumbs to the flu, try this simple remedy. Hydrogen peroxide. Half a capful in each ear several times a day. If you need more info, simply click on the link I included above (Hydrogen peroxide).

Cooking and Food

Amish Friendship Bread~all you need to know!

Mmm. Who hasn’t had a loaf of this cinnamon-sugared sweet bread? It’s one of those things that you receive with enthusiasm, and send on its way with equal enthusiasm! The constant “squishing” of baggies full of dough can feel relentless, but the look on my family’s face when they see what’s cooling on the counter…? Worth it every time!

I’ll share the from scratch starter recipe followed by the ten day instruction sheet and recipe for our favorite Amish Friendship Bread. Anything with two boxes of instant vanilla pudding has to be superb, right?(Maybe someone else can explain why it seems so “un-Amish”…I mean, honestly…ziploc baggies and instant pudding? Give me a break!) 🙂

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

(for an Easier/Smaller Batch follow this link)

Always use a wooden spoon for stirring the starter. Never use a metal spoon.

1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F)

3 cups all-purpose flour, divided

3 cups granulated sugar, divided

3 cups warm milk (110 degrees F), divided

Day 1

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.

In a 2 quart glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly.

Days 2 through 4

Stir starter with a wooden spoon.

Day 5

Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.

Days 6 through 9

Stir starter with a spoon.

Day 10

Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Remove 1 or 2 cups to make your first bread, give three cups to friends along with the recipe. Store the remaining starter in a container in the refrigerator and begin the 10 day process over again.

You can also freeze this starter in 1 cup measures for later use. Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw before using.

Yields 6 cups starter.

Amish Friendship Bread Recipe instructions
(to be given with 1 cup starter in Ziploc bag)

Once again, DO NOT use a metal spoon and DO NOT refrigerate! (Using a metal spoon or bowl or fork will have an acidic reaction with your starter)

Day 1—Do nothing day

Day 2—Squish bag

Day 3—Squish bag

Day 4—Squish bag

Day 5—Squish bag

Day 6—Squish bag

Day 7—Add to bag: 1 ½ cups each: flour, sugar, milk. Squish bag to mix.

Day 8—Squish bag and let air out.

Day 9—Squish bag and let air out.

NOTE: If you don’t let air out, the bag will explode!

Day 10—Empty contents of bag into a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup each of flour, sugar and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into each of 3 sturdy Ziploc gallon size bags and give to friends along with a copy of this instruction sheet.

Add to the remaining mixture and mix well:

  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a separate bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)*.

*Optional: add 1 cup chopped nuts, or ½ cup: raisins, blueberries or chocolate chips.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly. Grease 2 large bread loaf pans well. Mix up some additional cinnamon and sugar and shake into greased loaf pans to coat bottom and sides (this is optional!). Pour mix into pans. Sprinkle extra cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake at 325 degrees F for one hour. If freezing, cool completely beforehand.

*****************EDITED TO ADD******************April 14, 2008******************

Due to the numerous comments this post has generated, I’ve compiled the best of the Q&As and reader suggested recipe variations into another blog post. FAQs and Recipe Additions for Amish Friendship Bread. So check it out, unless you feel like scrolling down hundreds of comments…then, by all means, be my guest! Happy Baking!

Cooking and Food Home Schooling

Sourdough Bread Recipes

Here’s a couple of recipes to go along with the Sourdough Starter recipe I posted earlier this morning. The first is for sourdough bread, the second, flapjacks. These recipes would be great to use while doing a pioneer unit study with your children! And don’t stop with just these two recipes, try Sourdough Chocolate Cake with cocoa cream cheese filling! Or Sourdough French Bread, Biscuits, Streusel Cake, Sugar cookies, Applesauce Spice Cake…and many more. Bet you didn’t realize sourdough starter was so versatile!

Sourdough Bread—this no-knead bread is no fuss to make and delicious, too. It has a crisp crust and distinctive sourdough flavor from the starter yeast mixture you stir up in advance. It’s easier than you’d think! 

  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 3 ¾ to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (not self-rising)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Cold water

Mix 1 cup sourdough starter, 2 ½ cups flour and 2 cups warm water in 3-quart glass bowl with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover; let stand in warm, draft-free place 8 hours.

Add 3 ¾ cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, baking soda and oil to mixture in bowl; stir with wooden spoon until smooth and flour is completely absorbed. (Dough should be just firm enough to gather into a ball. If necessary, add remaining ½ cup flour gradually, stirring until all flour is absorbed.)


Turn dough onto heavily floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 ½ hours. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.


Punch down dough; divide in halves. Shape each half into a round, slightly flat loaf. Do not tear dough by pulling it. Place loaves in opposite corners of greased cookie sheet. Make three ¼ inch deep slashes in each loaf. Let rise until double, about 45 minutes.


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush loaves with cold water. Place cookie sheet in center of oven. Cookie sheet should not touch sides of oven. Bake, brushing occasionally with water, until loaves sound hollow when tapped, about 50 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on wire racks.


Sourdough Flapjacks

  • 1 cup flour

  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 beaten egg

  • 1 cup starter

  • ¾ cup milk

  • 3 Tablespoons cooking oil

  • Serve with molasses or syrup, to taste

Mix the egg, starter, milk, and 2 Tablespoons oil in the bowl. Stir until it’s smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until smooth.


Place 1 Tablespoon of oil in a griddle or frying pan and heat it at medium heat.


Use 2 Tablespoons of batter for each flapjack. Fry until bubbles appear in the batter of the flapjack. When the bubbles begin to burst, flip it over and fry the other side until it is golden brown.


Serves 4.

Cooking and Food

Sourdough Starter Recipe

This is a fun way to keep the bread making spirit alive and well…after all, with some of this in the fridge needing used up pretty frequently, you’re either going to always have some treat on the make, or your friends are eventually going to beg you to quit divvying up your starter among them! For many sourdough recipes (you’d be surprised what variety of goodies you can make with sourdough starter) visit this recipe goldmine!

Sourdough Bread


SOURDOUGH STARTER: 1 tsp dry yeast, ¼ cup warm water (105-130 degrees), ¾ cup milk, 1 cup all purpose flour*


Dissolve yeast in warm water in 3-quart glass bowl. Stir in milk. Stir in flour gradually. Beat until smooth. Cover with towel or cheesecloth; let stand in warm, draft-free place until starter begins to ferment, about 24 hours (bubbles will appear on surface of starter). If starter has not begun fermenting after 24 hours, discard and start over. If fermentation has begun, stir well; cover tightly with plastic wrap and return to warm, draft-free place. Let stand until foamy, 2 or 3 days.


When starter has become foamy, stir well; pour into 1-quart crock or glass jar with tightly fitting cover. Store in refrigerator. Starter is ready to use when a clear liquid has risen to the top. Stir before using. Use 1 cup starter in recipe; reserve remaining starter. Store covered at room temperature until bubbles appear…about 12 hours…then refrigerate.


Use starter regularly, every week to 10 days. If the volume of the breads you bake begins to decrease, dissolve 1 teaspoon dry yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Stir in ½ cup milk, ¾ cup flour and the remaining starter.


*Do not use self-rising flour in this recipe.

NOTE: Start bread at night to bake in the morning—or vise versa. Before adding the milk and flour to the remaining starter, bake your bread and judge the volume.

Stay tuned for sourdough recipes with which to make the most of this starter!

Family Ties

My Little Trooper

My 6 year old is so speckled, she’d make a good health clinic poster…you know, the ones that nurses refer to when trying to scare you into vaccinating?

Scary thing is, my little girl has a chicken pock on her eye ball. Yeah. I called the hospital yesterday, and got a clueless nurse. She was no help. Googled the problem, and got advised to contact the eye doctor…before the eye was damaged! (Thanks a lot, nurse!) But, and I’m not lol here, the optometrist’s answering machine told me to call the hospital in case of emergency.  So I called the eye doc at home and left a message. Haven’t heard back. So it must not be that serious. (Here’s hoping!)

But what I really wanted to share was how strong this little gal is. First, she’s always seemed the frailest of our three. Where my first and last children have been off the growth charts for height and in the 90th percentile for weight, this middle daughter has been average, or below. She was a full 2-2.5 lbs lighter at birth, and to this day, hardly eats a thing. (My other two like eating way too much!)

She’s tough for such a lightweight. When getting several vials of blood drawn a while back to determine the cause of what ended up being a kidney infection, she watched the whole process without batting an eye. And this after being unsuccessfully poked 3 times by a nurse with the shakes! Even more incredible, she picks the worst of these times to crack a joke, or play peek-a-boo with toddler. (Wish my coping mechanisms were this courageous!)

Two nights ago, at midnight, I was up with her yet again for more swabbing with Calamine and I ended up pulling the hide-a-bed out so 6 yo could cuddle with me without worrying about waking up toddler (toddler still sleeps in a crib in our master bedroom). So when bedtime rolled around last night, 6 yo requested another night on the hide-a-bed, and I put her off, saying maybe after Mommy and Daddy went to bed. Well, dh and I were still watching a movie at 11:45 P.M. when she stumbles out of her room crying.

“When are you going to go to bed? I’ve been waiting and waiting, and I want to go to sleep so bad…” She was a basketcase, feverish and in an itching frenzy. I felt horrible!

“Have you been in there this whole time–“ I put her to bed at eight-thirty–“waiting till I came to get you to sleep with me?”

She was crying so hard, poor little thing. She never loses it like that. Needless to say, we promptly pulled out the bed, reapplied Calamine, administered Tylenol, and called it a night. Even then I had to rub her back (where the worst of the pox are) before the worst of the itching subsided. Yeah, it should have gotten worse, but thank God it didn’t.

And thank God, she slept the whole night after that. I think her eye is going to be all right as well.

And you’re all so glad you vaccinated!

Family Ties Parenting

Things I’ve Learned Thanks to Chicken Pox

Is your nose walking? According to Morrise the Moose, it’s walking, not running, if you only have a little head cold vs a big one! 

That Morris the Moose was a childhood favorite of mine…I’d forgotten, till some old books loaned by a friend brought it all back.

That cream cheese and jelly sandwiches (peach jam, to be exact) are delicious! (Recipe triggered by Morris the Moose Goes to School)

That Chicken Pox is a derrivative of Strep. Interesting. And that many cancers are thought to be caused by infections that never got caught and were left to fester into problems. Strep and Staph infections being two of the biggest contributors. Does anyone here use Congoplex? (A Standard Process supplement that’s great for Strep infections)

That your child’s case of au natural chicken pox should be documented by your doctor or nurse. Yes. Otherwise, if for some reason you ever have to enroll them in school, they’ll have to have the vaccine whether they need it or not.

That I have some of the best friends in the world. (Well, I already knew that!) Remember the one who didn’t mind me exposing her toddler to chicken pox? Well, that little one now has the pox. And my friend is grateful. Hehe. We non-vaccinators are weird that way. Rather expose them to it while they’re young and get it over with. Unless we’re talking Diptheria or Hepatitus. Ugh.

And my other friend, who is slightly more afraid of exposure, nontheless gave me a backpack full of fun kid books to alleviate the boredom. (Thus the Morris books).

Oh yeah, I’m now on kid #2 with the chicken pox. And she’s got it worse than my toddler did. Could be because she’s six years old. Miserable stuff.

Anyone have any childhood memories of chicken pox? Feel free to share them!

Cooking and Food Family Ties

Slow Down

We eat every meal together and at the table. Honestly. And no, I wasn’t raised that way. Growing up, the dining table was my busy father’s desk…unless company was coming.

There’s just nothing better than a table simply graced with my homespun plaid tablecloth, and whatever simple centerpiece I can lay my hands on. Yankee candles are nice! Flowers? Even better. ‘Specially if they’re in a mason jar!

Pet peeves? Paper plates. Okay, they are handy, but too utilitarian. I have my white Corelle for everyday, my flowered china for “special occasions” and my southwest Frankoma for Mexican foods.  And my blue and yellow Target butterfly plates for lunches with my darlin’s.

Have you ever been guilty of not using things because they could possibly get broken? (Like the special china that’s only for company…) Face it, we could die tomorrow. Live for today. Get out the china and celebrate…the first day of the month! Or do it just to be festive. Light the candles and eat like pioneers.

Leave the Christmas decor up through January.

And visit this site to find out the new trend in food…slow food. Yeah, the opposite of fast food. It’s pretty neat actually. What is slow food? It’s a “reference to living an unhurried life, beginning at the table”…

Sounds good to me.