Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Early Will I Seek Thee

Parenting is not for sissies!  I've been accused of taking it too seriously, but I really don't believe that's possible. To know that I'm responsible for setting 6 souls on their path to know the God Who created them is a bit overwhelming, and it's especially hard because I am a sinner.  I'm saved and have faith, but how can I pass along that faith to them?  I want them to know that I'm a Christian, but how can I point them directly to Christ, rather than just my pitiful example of Christianity?  I train them, make sure they're clean and fed and safe, I teach them, school them, groom them..... but ultimately, I can not choose for them to be followers of Christ.  It's up to them individually.  God doesn't have grandchildren, only children.

Rather than subject them to the schizophrenic, ever-evolving (or perhaps "eroding" would be a better word) pop psychology methods of child evangelism and youth groups and children's church, Jason and I have trusted them to the same Holy Spirit that saved both of us, and all the generations before us.  God hasn't changed, and neither has His method of salvation, so we've tried to give them a life rich in God's Word, Holy Ghost inspired preaching, and prayer.....oh, how we need prayer.  He and I aren't perfect, but God's Word is.

One evidence of salvation is a hunger for God's Word.  I can remember, as a teen, when God truly opened up His Word to me, and I began getting up early (5 am) every morning before school to devour and memorize Scripture.  I wouldn't take anything in exchange for those days.  That experience changed my life and spared me so much of the grief that my teen peers suffered.  I've prayed that He would do the same for my children.

One challenge I've discovered parenting in the technology age, is the constant distraction of media and devices.  It's overwhelming if not tamed.  In fact, I'm prepared to just say that it is numbing hearts and minds out of the ability to search their souls and let the Holy Spirit of God work on the conscience.  I can remember, as a little child, lying in bed and being convicted of things I'd done, or wondering about heaven and hell, and just pondering on the things of God.  Today's child falls asleep with an iPod or laptop in his hand, focused on worldy pursuits and pleasures with no time for God to speak to them. How sad for these kids, and how negligent of parents!

All my kids have iPods or iPhones, but we've had strict rules from the very beginning.  First of all, no iPods in bed except on weekends.  (We also have a "no spending the night away from home on Saturday night" policy.  We want our kids to be refreshed and ready for worship on Sunday, with their minds on worship and not on pleasure.)  Also, in order to try to cultivate a love for God's Word, we require that they do morning devotions before they touch any kind of device each day. The kids have shown remarkable self-discipline with this, and I consider this proof of their salvation.  Caleb and Madelyn have set their clocks every morning in time for showers and devotions before breakfast for years, but now even the boys have taken this up all on their own.  Seth gets up at 6:30 and Bub at 7:30, whether anyone else is up or not.  Here are the books they are currently using for devotions:

KK and Jason:
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgon

Sis and I:
Seasons of the Heart by Donna Kelderman

Their Lives and Your Lives: Children's Devotion on Bible Characters

Bub isn't quite ready for his own book, but he listens to the audio Bible (KJV), and we also do the Bible Study Guide for all Ages.  I discovered this jewel of a resource when I first started homeschooling Caleb in preschool, and we've used it with all the kids since.  As of now, Seth, Bub, and Summer are going through it.  It's wonderful!

Before we read our Bible story each day and do the worksheet, we read a chapter of this little devotional:
Leading Little Ones to God by Marion Schooland 
It's an unusual devotional, in that it presents mature ideas like the Trinity and original sin in a way that children can grasp it.  All the references are King James, and the illustrations are lovely and inspiring.  It's opened up many opportunities for deep discussions with my 5, 9, and 10 year olds.

As inadequate as I am, I am thankful to serve a Capable God Who can save my kids just like He saved me.

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19

Friday, January 24, 2014

Baked Potato Soup

This cold weather always makes me want a nice, warm bowl of soup!  Here's what we're having this Sunday, one of our favorites, and I love that it's made in my trusty crockpot.


5 lbs russet potatoes, washed and diced (NOT peeled)
1 large onion, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken broth

2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. creole seasoning 
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. celery salt

2 8-oz blocks cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened

bacon, shredded cheese, green onions to garnish

Add potatoes, onions, and garlic to crockpot.  
Mix spices together in small bowl, and carefully sprinkle them over the potato mixture.  
Toss to coat.  
Slowly poor in chicken broth.
Cover and bake on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.

Remove lid and add cream cheese.  Use either an immersion blender or potato masher to carefully mash the potatoes and thoroughly blend in the cream cheese.

Garnish with 1 lb fried bacon (cut into bits), shredded cheese of your choice, and sliced green onions.

The Total Package

My sweet little "Doodlebug" just turned 14 years old.  She's such a help and blessing to me!  It's both agonizing and wonderful to watch her grow into a young woman.   I still remember so well, my mischevous little girl who was fiercely independent and insisted on walking every step that Jason and Caleb walked.


The thing is, she still takes every step they take!  She and KK are inseperable, and I am so thankful for their relationship.  I can't imagine that they would be this close had I not had the privilege of homeschooling.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of her:

(Thank you, Jessie, for this beautiful picture!)

For Christmas, my mother gave Madelyn my Daddy's shotgun and a scarf.  She couldn't have been happier.  We laughed and talked about how that summed her up:  a piano playing little beauty who cooks and sews and is a natural with the babies, who also loves to hunt and shoot and chop firewood.  That's what I call the total package!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sweet Little Tonto

My younger boys are barely a year apart in age.  You'd think they'd be the best of friends; and yet, while they love one another, you couldn't ask for two more different personalities.  Seth is a serious soul, a scientist, an avid reader and writer.  He cleans and organizes and slicks his hair up before we go anywhere.  Bubbie is his complete opposite.  The sweetest, friendliest little slob of a boy you'll ever meet.  He loves guns and hunting and cowboys and soldiers.  He can take a shower without even getting wet and hasn't ever bothered to look in a mirror other than to apply war paint.  They both spend as much time as possible outdoors, in the same backyard, but rarely together.  Seth plays with the animals and collects specimens and checks on the trees and flowers.  Bub fights Nazis and shoots squirrels and practices his aim.  It's just the way God made them, and though I want them to be close, I still try to nurture their own unique abilities and interests.


Bubbie (Jared)

...And then comes along a little sister.  It's hilarious how they fight for her attention.  "Summer, be MY girl today."  Even though I always give the "we're all Stringers; we're all best friends" lecture, I can't help but smile.  Seth usually takes her for a walk in the woods or gets her on his bunk to read a story, but Bubbie always dresses her up.  AND SHE LOVES IT.  Today, he had The Lone Ranger on his mind, so he dressed her up as Tonto.

I heard her several times saying, "I love you, Kemo Sabe!"  And Bub would say, "Girl, you're not supposed to say that.  Tonto doesn't tell the Lone Ranger that he loves him!  But I love you too."  Such sweet memories.

Here's her "mean" look:

I so miss the days when Caleb and Madelyn dressed up and played together, and I'm enjoying every second of these precious times!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

It's a GIRL!

Baby Stringer

This baby is big news around here!    Is it a boy or girl?  (right now boys outnumber 4:3)  Where will we put him//her?  Will we build on a room?  (No, we can't afford it.  By the time we can afford it, we won't need it.)  Will we buy a new van?  (No, can't afford that either LOL.)  And, alas, WHAT SHALL WE NAME THIS CHILD?

I've thoroughly enjoyed all the hilarious discussions with the kids and all their suggestions.  My usual response is, "Well, I wouldn't want to steal that name from you.  You might want to name your child that one day!"  (That's pretty safe; won't offend the kiddos!)

Here are just a few of the hundreds of suggestions I've received:

Summer:  "Rosie Daisy"  "Maria" (she loves The Sound of Music)
Jared:  "Tim Horton"  (LOL, he's my coffee drinker)
Seth:  Elrod, Samwise
Madelyn:  Betty, Doris, Betsy, Johnny, Kathy, June (can you tell my girl loves old movies?)
KK:  "Let's name him Lucas and call him 'Sod Buster' for a nickname"  (LOL, we love The Rifleman)

As you can see.... looks like I am on my own here.  If you have suggestions, I'm open!!

Right now, Jason and the girls and I are on our way to the doctor's office for the ultrasound. If Baby Stringer cooperates, we should know in a little while whether we're going to have another little sissy or another little bubba. 

Here's a pic Sis took of our little toothless Rosebud. 

And my 2 girls...love them!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thy Word Have I Hid In My Heart

My sweet Bubbie has struggled so much with reading. Although he's making slow but steady progress, he still isn't quite able to read the Bible on his own. The other kids get up early and do their reading, and he has such a hunger to read and feels left out. 

So this morning, he set his alarm for 1 hour earlier and wanted me to set up his audio Bible on his iPod. I asked him last night where he wanted to listen from and he said, "I've been thinking a lot lately about old Job. Let me listen to that."  

Now, how many 9 year olds have "been thinking  about old Job" during their Christmas break?   I love that sweet boy. 

Here he is all bundled up on the couch listening to God's Word on this cold frosty morning (on which we have no water.....FUN, FUN, FUN. I shouldn't complain though! I'm sure Job would have loved for his biggest problem to be "temporarily no water". I learn so much from my children.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

For the Moms

Just for the record, I have no idea who "Scotty McCreery" is.  I don't listen to country music (which he apparently sings?).  Anyway, I just heard this song and it both blessed and convicted me, and I wanted to share it.

Lord, help me to be thankful and never murmur over the little things... which only exist because of Your blessings!

My Morning View

I've always been very affectionate with all my kids. Lots of hugs and kisses around here!  But none of mine has been as "clingy" and loving as my Summer Rose. That girl loves me if no one else does!  She tells me (on my worst days!) how beautiful I look. She stops so often in the middle of the chaos and just looks lovingly at me and says, "You're the best!"  

And so, even though I've not had a decent potty break in 5 years, it's hard to get mad. I got up at 4:30 this morning in hopes of a little alone time, just me, my Bible, The Lord, and the Tassimo....and, alas, here comes the pitter patter of little feet...so much for the solitude!  She sleeps in her own bed, but it's like we have a built-in blue tooth connection. Every time I move a few feet, her alarm goes off. 

BUT I'M NOT COMPLAINING! At least my girl sees her mommy read her Bible, and how boring and unadventurous my life would be without so many wonderful, blessed interruptions. 

Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Getting Ready for Cold Weather!

My sweet husband is a pioneer at heart. (I affectionately call him "Pa".) He loves to build, burn, kill, hunt; you know, dominion over the earth and all. He and I met in 1994, just one year after the infamous Blizzard of '93. Since then, he has lamented that we've never even so much as lost power due to snow and ice. He's got a stack of firewood a mile high in hopes of it!

Needless to say, he is so excited about this cold front and the prospects of snow. We're all snuggled up around a rip-roaring fire, drinking a family favorite, white hot chocolate!

In preparation for this cold weather, I'll share a couple recipes to get us through the winter.

2 cups whipping cream
6 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 - 12 oz. bag white chocolate chips

Heat in crockpot on low for 3-4 hours. Serves 6.

8 cups of clean snow
1/2 c. sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Milk or Half & Half for consistency (depending on the fluffiness of your snow)

Mix well and enjoy!

...and for when we are trying to be a little more health conscious.....

1 c. milk or almond milk
1 Tbsp. Truvia
1 1/2 Tbsp. Cocoa
1 1/2 Tbsp. Swanson's Vanilla Whey Protein

Mix and heat. Delicious and healthy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hello, 2014!

Well, hello, Blog World. Long time, no see.

There are actually many reasons for my hiatus from blogging. It's been a very traumatic and personally challenging time for our family. Betrayed by friends, abandoned by family, a lot of personal loss, my sweet daddy diagnosed and passing away after a short but brutal bout with cancer, serious sickness with my precious little niece, tragic death in my extended family. Not the kind of stuff blog posts are made of. It's hard for me to even talk with close friends and family about such raw feelings, and I just needed to take a break from blogging.

I can truly say that, in spite of it all, God has been real to me during this time. And it's just increased my hunger for heaven. It's made me more grateful for the Blessed Hope, and more zealous to share this good news with so many who have no such hope.

I was very optimistic about closing out the year and ringing in 2014 surrounded by friends and family. Unforunately, we were visited by a stomach virus and had to cancel all our plans. Not exactly what I wanted. Still, I'm looking forward to 2014.

Best news that I missed blogging? WE'RE HAVING A BABY! Stringer Baby #6 is due on May 21. We couldn't be happier.

And even better news than that, one of our children experienced "spiritual birth". The Lord saved our sweet Bubbie this past year. In eternal perspective, that new birth is much more important than the first birth. It was real, and he was precious. For that, I am eternally thankful.

Here are a few picture highlights:

Blessings to you in 2014!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yet one more advantage of homeschooling...

we're the only ones at the park!

- Posted using my iPhone

Friday, November 9, 2012

All "Snowed" Up

Summer's beloved "Doodle" (see www.snoedel.com) was in need of some TLC. She has begged me all week to please "snow Doodle up" ("sew"), and I finally got it done last night. Sadly, I used brown thread to match.

One happy girl:

One repaired Doodle:

Here's a picture of an as-yet unloved Snoedel for comparison:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad