June 1, 2015

Sunday Planning

I'm a planner. I don't always do what I plan, but I still like to make plans anyway. Spreadsheets and lists make me happy. I make menus, but don't always stick to them. Sometimes my yearly school plan ends up being an unattainable dream. One thing I don't mess with is my plan for Sunday mornings.

That plan is to go to church. There are several facets to this plan.

Church is a priority. If you are a Christian, you should really be part of a church family and attend weekly. Our calendar is always empty Sunday mornings. Sundays are not the time to go to the zoo or see a movie or go grocery shopping or hang out with friends or get a hair cut. Don't even get me started about kid's sports on Sunday. Our priority on Sunday mornings is going to church. Every week. Don't just go to church when you have nothing else to do. Don't just go to church when you feel like it. When you don't feel like going is when you probably need it most!

We are never surprised by the fact that it's Sunday morning. We have planned on it, and looked forward to it, all week. Our family enjoys going to church; we hate to miss. If it's not possible for everyone to go we usually try to split up and send one parent with whoever is able. If one parent is out of town the other still takes everyone to church. Is it a bit harder on those days? Yes. Is it still worth it? Also, yes. It wasn't always this way for me personally - for many years, I looked for any little excuse to skip church. Don't be like that.

Our church has a weekly potluck, so we have an extra bit of planning in regards to that. We love our church family enough to put a little thought into what we bring each week. It may not be gourmet, but our goal is usually to bring enough to feed our family if no one else was there. This usually means a main dish, some fruit, a dessert, and a pitcher of iced tea. That's what we'd eat here at home anyway. When we lived in Wisconsin we tried to plan ahead and use the crockpot for a warm lunch to eat when we got home. Before we started that we had many afternoons ruined by grouchy, hungry people (mainly me).

How many times can I use the word plan in this post? Plan. Plan. Plan.

Listen, we are not parenting experts. We are not perfect. However, we can get this larger-than-average family fed, dressed, and out the door to church on time every single week. And it's not just now that the kids are older either - we've done it with a newborn, newborn twins(!), toddlers, toddler twins(!) and teens (although not yet with twin teens)! We've done it with one kid and with seven. I can't think of one time we've been late in the 17+ years we've been going to church. If we can do it, so can you!

Our kids don't give us trouble getting to church on Sunday mornings because 1) we wouldn't let them get away with that and 2) they like to go to church too. If you are a perpetually late person, may I respectfully suggest you make a special effort to get to church on time. God deserves your best. Work on being on time in general, but make a special effort where church is concerned.

I understand there are emergencies. Emergencies are: puke (in which case you wouldn't be late because you shouldn't go to church sick), a flat tire, or power lines across the road. Things that shouldn't be considered emergencies: kids being kids, cooking, eating, showering, laundry, dressing, or driving. Those things are NOT emergencies. Do they need to get done before you arrive at church? Yes, they do - plan for them. If you know your kids move slowly in the morning, then start earlier. If finding clothes and shoes slows you down, then lay them out on Saturday evening. If breakfast takes forever, eat cereal (maybe even the junky sugary kind). And, please, make sure they get to bed at a decent time on Saturday. I may have to write a separate post about kids and bedtime because that's another issue!

We talk about character qualities in school - usually one quality per week. Punctuality is one of them. Punctual people are dependable, trustworthy, reliable, and show respect for others. I want my kids to be all these things - now and as adults. If being punctual shows good character then what does being late show?

Being habitually late to church is just plain rude and there really is no excuse for it. Remember, someone has put time and effort into every part of the service from opening prayer to benediction (and beyond). You wouldn't go into a theater halfway through a movie, would you? So, why would you go into church halfway through a sermon?

I came across this quote (from a book written by an atheist) on the internet awhile back and found it interesting.

Speaking of those who walk into church late, I want to know why they do so. Not everyone gets stuck in traffic. If church is so important, there is no reason to walk in late. In fact, if going somewhere to worship God is important, then people should arrive early. It seems completely disrespectful to me when people walk into the auditorium five or ten minutes into the service. And what’s worse is when parents come in with their children, who learn by example that walking in late is not a big deal. It’s just church, right? No need to get there on time. Is that what Christians want to teach their children?

That is a pretty interesting observation, isn't it? The old saying "actions speak louder than words" comes to mind. If you say God is a priority - and if you're a Christian He should be - then prove it with your actions. Don't let church be an after thought, make it a priority and plan for it!

*Note: If you are one of my midwestern friends you might wonder why I even wrote this. Arizona has a problem - not everyone, of course, but quite a few. I don't know if it's the laid back western culture or if they just aren't embarrassed by stuff, but people here are flaky. They aren't nearly as dependable as midwesterners - they have no problem not showing up for things or canceling plans at the last minute. And they are late. A lot. Even for church. And it drives me crazy!

February 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Rolls

These rolls are 100% whole wheat and delicious!

⅓ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
2½ tablespoons active dry yeast
1½ cups water
½ cup honey
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour

2½ cups whole wheat flour or 3 to 3½ cups spelt flour
1 tablespoon oil

Cover sunflower seeds with water and let soak for a couple of hours. Dissolve yeast with 1 teaspoon honey and ½ cup lukewarm water (110-115 degrees); let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast forms bubbles. Heat 1½ cups water, ½ cup honey, ¼ cup unsalted butter, and 2 teaspoons salt in a saucepan until the butter melts. Pour yeast mixture and butter mixture into a mixing bowl with 1¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour; stir enough to incorporate, then beat vigorously for 3 minutes.

Mix and knead in sunflower seeds and remaining flours as needed to prevent sticking while kneading until smooth and elastic. Place dough in an oiled bowl, lightly oil the top, cover with a towel, and let rise until double. Gently punch down and knead lightly. Divide dough in half. Shape each piece into 12 rolls, placing in greased pans with a little space between them.

Cover and let rise in a warm place 15-20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Brush rolls immediately after baking with soft or melted butter.

July 1, 2010

Crockpot Mac and Cheese

I had a request for this recipe and thought I'd throw it out on the blog to share. I got this recipe from my sister a few years ago and it has become a Sunday-after-church-lunch standby. We throw it in the crockpot while we're cleaning up breakfast and it's ready to eat when we get home.

Crockpot Mac and Cheese
1 pkg. (16oz) elbow mac
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, melted
2 eggs, beaten (I have found these to be optional)
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
1 can cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1 cup milk
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni noodles, do not over cook. While the noodles are cooking toss the margarine in the crockpot to melt (or you could microwave it). When it's soft/melted add milk, soup, evap. milk, cheese, and eggs (if you're adding them). Add cooked noodles to cheese mixture and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. If you're around give it a stir a few times while cooking.

*Optional: Reserve one cup of cheese and sprinkle it on top the last 15 minutes of cooking.
*If you like really creamy mac and cheese (like KFC), omit the eggs and cook just until heated through.

June 5, 2010

Book Review: Family Feasts for $75

After hearing about it on a few blogs, I was excited to get this book from the library to see if I could learn a few new grocery saving tips. Unfortunately, Family Feasts for $75 a Week fell short of my expectations.

I felt a little misled by the title. Knowing Mary Ostyn has 10 children, I figured if she could feed her family for $75 a week, I had a few things to learn from her. But the author (or editors) did the math for her family and then reworked it for a family of four to come up with the title. Mary is not paying $75 a week to feed her family. Instead, she pays about $75 per person per month or around $200 per week. With her numbers our goal (for a family of 8) would be about $138 per week. We're already under that!

The first section covers the "how to" and is relatively short. If you need a "beginner's guide" to grocery savings this book would be an excellent place to start. It's not that I disagree with anything she says... in fact, the reason our grocery spending is so low is that we are doing many of the things she suggests! I was just disappointed by the fact it didn't really have an "new, improved" ideas. The second part of the book is recipes, some of them sound really good, so if you are looking for some new frugal recipes this book might be worth reading.

Either way, I suggest you check it out from the library first to see if you find it helpful before purchasing it.

April 1, 2010

Empty Tomb Craft

Easter is just a few days away. During Bible time this week we have been reading about the last days of Jesus' life. The boys often surprise me with what they remember or want to discuss. One of my sons wondered aloud early this week why we call it "Good Friday" when it's the day something bad happened to Jesus. My eight year old answered him and said something along the lines of "Well, it was good for us!".

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

For Christ died for sins once for all,
the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

1 Peter 3:18

While Good Friday is about Jesus' death, Easter is about His resurrection! He isn't dead anymore! This week we have been singing (off key, but heartily) Low in the Grave He Lay. Here's the chorus:

Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

After our reading and singing today we made an Easter visual aid. We made one last year too, but I guess I never posted it to the blog. It's quite easy and if you have little kids they will enjoy it!

Mix up a batch of salt dough (2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt, 3/4 cup warm water) until smooth. This year I added a few drops of black food coloring to the water to make the dough more rock colored. Last year I just left it.

Place a glass (oven proof) bowl upside down on a cookie sheet. Spray it with non-stick spray. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness or so then carefully place the rolled dough on to the bowl to make a tomb. Cut away a door. Reshape the door as more of a rock (or just lay it down on the cookie sheet as is).

Bake in a warm oven (the lowest mine goes is 170) for several hours. The original recipe I saw said two hours but it's never done after only two hours in our oven. When it's dry and cool, remove the tomb from the bowl.

Last year (see below) we made a little salt dough plaque to write a Bible verse on. This year I just wrote it on the piece of cardboard we are using to display the tomb.

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Matthew 28:6