Sunday, September 4, 2011

Deuteronomy 28:8 - This is why I am able to make my own peach jam

I'm not a theologian.  I kind of wish I was because a comment after a recent blog post threw me for a loop. "If I don't keep the Sabbath am I sinning?"

My gut answer to that question is "no".  But then again, it is a part of the 10 commandments.  So if someone posed the question "If I murder am I sinning?" or "If I commit adultery am I sinning?" and the answer to those is a clear "yes" then what about the Sabbath?

Of course there is this whole "Jesus freed us from the curse of the Law" thing so there are many who say that Sabbath-keeping is an obsolete practice.  Yet, I've heard several pastors teach on it over the past several years and I know there are books written about continuing to honor the Sabbath.

I'm spurred on to do some more research on it - and I love anything that spurs me to get into the Word some more.

Here's the bottom line for me, though: We're trying it and so far the house is cleaner overall, the grocery bill is less, I am more rested, I am enjoying housework more, we are eating tastier meals, and I've had time to sew and make jam (stay tuned for instruction in my next blog post)!  I think we are going to continue on this path.

Deuteronomy 28 has long been my favorite chapter in the Bible.  God lists the blessings that will come upon you if you keep His commands.  Once again, this is from the old testament.  Therefore, I'm not sure what still applies today or not but I think since God doesn't change the overall concept is still applicable - and this is what I believe about resting on the 7th day as well.

Check this out:  Deuteronomy 28: 1, 2, 8
1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:  8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

Given the fact that we have three kids who can't do much for themselves yet I put my hand to a lot of things.  A lot of diapers.  A lot of face wiping.  A lot of crumbs on the floor.  A lot of dirty clothes.  A lot of messy plates.  A lot of meal serving.  A lot of outfit changes.  Somehow I am just able to juggle more now that we are setting apart a day for the Lord.

I've even made jam.. several batches of jam... over 30 jars of jam... 2 different flavors!!  So, maybe the question is not "If I don't keep the Sabbath am I sinning?" but "If I don't keep the Sabbath what blessings am I missing out on?"  Just something to think about...

Jam making instructions coming next post!
Ripe peaches have an AMAZING color!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

REFUSE to work :)

My IDEAL way to keep the Sabbath is to get everything prepped and all the housework done BEFORE sundown on Friday.  Well.......... this week that didn't happen.  J took the last three days off of work for a stay-cation.  This is an AWESOME concept.  We did all sorts of fun things around the area.  This was super fun, it saved money, and best of all the kids didn't wake up before 6 am each morning because we weren't in new surroundings.

Wednesday we hit a local petting farm - complete with baby pigs wearing bibs, reindeer, and lorikeets
Thursday we hit the Guernsey restaurant for lunch and ice cream (of course) and then spent some time with Uncle Luke and Auntie Jenny at Jenny's mom's pool.
Friday we went to Red Oaks waterpark with our kids and a team of nieces of nephews (we had 9 kids under 15 overall).

Given the previous schedule the laundry did not get done and the house was not clean come Friday at 8:07.  We were able to unload from the waterpark but that was about all. So, amidst things all over the floor, piled laundry, and a messy kitchen I resolved to honor my commitment to the Sabbath and not do any of that work until sundown tonight (8:05).  Seriously, that was HARD.  I was itching all day to wipe a counter or put away some PJs - but I didn't do it.

At 8:05 I was off - and while there is still some laundry running through and I need to vacuum everything else was done in less than an hour.  Here I go again: God "blessed the work of my hands".

Currently, I am sitting in a clean home AND I feel rested AND we had a great stay-cation.  Win - Win - Win. :)

The point being in all of this is that if you are overwhelmed as a mom you don't HAVE to prep ahead for anything except maybe a meal or two.  Just REFUSE to work.  Don't clean.  Don't tidy.  Don't open that washing machine door.  Honor the Sabbath and wait to see how God blessed your family!

Could V be any cuter?  Love the suit with the ruffle staps, her hair bow from her Auntie Lebo,
and her smile (OF COURSE)

Big brother protects little sis from the lorikeets.
Can't go to the petting farm without a pony ride! ($3)
Someone was excited about the bunnies

Our niece knows how to waterslide!
V wouldn't go anywhere near the waterpark.  She
made herself at home playing in the cooler.  Little bro
looks on probably wondering what in the world
she is doing.
Breaking for lunch!
This place was unreal - water heaven!

Mudpie dessert at the Guernsey restaurant.
Everything here was delicious!

1, 2, 3,
Yay, God!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where's the mustard? A Sabbath blunder.

A short post but I need to write about our first Sabbath blunder.  During meal prep this past Friday Viv got hold of the mustard.  (I put mustard in our egg salad.  Do you?)  Well, that mustard has gone missing.  As Viv's vocabulary is still rather limited (mommy, no daddy, no, diego, no, baby, no, no, no...) it has been futile to strike up a conversation with her about where she may have placed the mustard.  I will add that it was organic mustard.  I am not familiar with the end result of already opened, non-refrigerated mustard.  I am hoping that it will turn up soon so that I will not have that knowledge.

1, 2, 3,
Yay, God!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cooking ahead - I started recently and I'm hooked!

For a long time, cooking ahead was daunting to me.  In fact, I could hardly cook for the day of - let alone for tomorrow (or freeze something for next week).  Observing the Sabbath has pushed me to learn more about it.

I am so blessed with how much I've been able to learn about freezing meals, batch cooking, and meal planning in the past few months.  For example, a few weeks ago I made four batches of a freezable sausage pasta for only $16.50.  I've learned about freezing meat in small portions to pull out for meals.  I've learned to make two dishes instead of one and then freeze ahead for a later date or for a friend.

I have some long term plans regarding batch cooking that will help with observing the Sabbath but for now I have been cooking on Friday mornings for the meals on Saturday.  I am always done with everything by around 11 (although there have been days where I have been done by 10).  That's with juggling three littles.  God makes it happen!  They like to help and snack along with the cooking and they seem to play the best together on Friday mornings.

Here's a sample menu from our latest Sabbath:
BREAKFAST: blueberry muffins (made ahead) and cut up melon (cut up ahead)
LUNCH: egg salad for sandwiches (made ahead), coleslaw/potato salad (in-laws gave that to us)
DINNER: tator tot pie (made ahead - snagged the idea from pinterest:

The tator tot pie was a hit with my niece and nephew and sis/bro-in-law.

What would you make for the Sabbath???

This weeks Sabbath food (minus the muffins which
were still baking)

It doesn't take all day to prepare.  We were done before lunch
so we were still able to enjoy some Apple Orchard time
with daddy after work.

J and V enjoying some cider and donuts with daddy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First three steps to instituting the Sabbath in your home

Surprisingly, people are reading my blog!  I realized yesterday that I could check my blog stats and I was thrilled to see that it is getting a lot of hits... even from someone in Pakistan :).

I'm thrilled because eventually I would love to help enact a small amount of social change regarding the Sabbath. It has been so cool for us and I want other to experience the same thing.  It would be amazing if some of my kid's friends were observing the Sabbath with their families.  It's been neat to hear Jackson talk about getting ready for the Sabbath and already starting to enjoy these family days together where we thank God for a day of rest.

Since it's not all that commonplace within the Christian community to follow this commandment I thought I'd throw out a few simple steps to get started.  Here goes:

1.)  Pick a day.  For some families it will be consistent every week.  We do sundown to sundown from Friday night to Saturday night.  This is consistent with the Jewish community.  I love sundown to sundown for several reasons.  I enjoy working hard on that Friday and the sense of completion I feel when that sundown time hits.  I enjoy the anticipation I feel on Saturday when the time I can work rolls around again.  Most of all, I enjoy how the Sabbath changes some with the change of the seasons.  A Sabbath that goes from 9 pm until 9 pm the next night in the summer is different from one that goes from 6 pm to 6 pm in the winter.

For some families the Sabbath day will NOT be consistent due to work or other commitments.  In this case it's just important to plan ahead.  It might be Tuesday one week and Saturday the next.  The first person who inspired me to keep the Sabbath (I was a teenager) was a motivational speaker who traveled a lot on the weekends to speak.  His Sabbath day with his family was on Mondays.

2.)  Plan for meals.  This is what you make it.  To start it could be REALLY simple like:

BREAKFAST: pop-tarts
LUNCH: eat out
DINNER: frozen pre-made lasagna

In time you could re-vamp to something like this:
BREAKFAST: make ahead breakfast casserole or something in the crockpot
LUNCH: make ahead chicken salad or egg salad or soup or...
DINNER: make ahead casserole or some sort

For us, eating out (with the three littles) is usually much more exhausting than eating at home so we're sticking with that for now.  When the kids are older we would possibly go out more.

3.)  DON'T WORK!  As much as you might feel the need to fold a load of laundry or vacuum or mow or do repairs or........ just don't do it.  God wants you to rest!!!!!!!

There you go.  That's how you start.  Give it a try one week and see for yourself how cool it is!

1, 2, 3,
Yay, God!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I LOVE laundry now - read on for the secret to enjoying it more :-)

When we started keeping the Sabbath I was unaware of all the added benefits that would come along besides just having a "day off".  Here's a huge one: housework is more exciting.

It's exciting because there's this definitive end where at some point you will be done with work so it's almost like a challenge to get it in before that Friday sundown.  Knowing there will be a day off from the monotomy of "chores" is motivating.  In the past there would've been so many days where I just would've let it go... save the laundry or other cleaning for tomorrow or the weekend.  But with the goal in mind of keeping the Sabbath I am pushed to not put it off.

The "challenge" of fitting it all into 6 days is actually a fun one - and as I've said in my other posts God always "blesses the work of my hands".

Let me throw this out there.  I am pretty overwhelmed with how God is blessing me as we've made this change in our family life.  Besides having a completely different outlook on housework these are the other things I've been noticing:

-our grocery bill has been cut down.  Last week it was HALF of what it normally is.  The meal planning has definitely helped in this area - but again, God is blessing us.

-God is helping me fit so many cool things into my day-to-day.  In the past month I was able to play keys at two summer concerts (Birmingham and Plymouth), play keys at church twice, I've been practicing some jazz music at night after the kids go to bed which is awesome because I haven't practiced in years (jazz is my weak spot and I've got an amazing mentor to learn from), I sewed V a new dress out of a pillowcase, I sewed V a lollipop shirt, I started two blogs, I'm in the process of starting a new company, I'm gearing up to help lead a Bible Study in the fall at Oakpointe for mom's with young kids... and I've also really been enjoying my little family of five.

I wasn't doing ANY of this stuff before we started observing a day of rest.  God is good.  If you're not doing it already talk to your family about possibly keeping the Sabbath.  You will be amazed at all the benefits that come alongside that day off.  I'd love to hear your story!!

1, 2, 3
Yay, God!!

Pillowcase Dress

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm a mom. Can I REALLY have a day of rest?

Keeping the Sabbath does seem overwhelming.  I liken it to starting to tithe when it hasn't been a practice the majority of your life.  10% of your income in a chunk.  Figuring out a way to have a day of rest seems daunting.  But God always shows up to help us accomplish His will.

We've tried keeping the Sabbath on and off a few times over our marriage.  It is an evolving thing for us.  The main goal is to rest, enjoy each other's company, and reflect on God and His goodness in our lives.  The road to get there has a few snags and some learning curves along the way but here's where we are currently at.

1.)  We start with the food.  On Fridays we cook ahead for one day.  This was our beginning when we first started to implement the Sabbath because it went right along with how the Israelites gather the extra manna for one day ahead.  Surprisingly, even with 3 little munchkins, this has never been a problem and so I attribute that soley to God because most days I can hardly get one meal on the table.  This past Saturday our menu was:
-blueberry muffins and cut up fruit for breakfast (watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple)
-chicken salad sandwiches and pickle spears for lunch
-pepperoni and more lasagna for dinner

Juggling the kids during this time always seems easier than normal.  A lot of times they like to help and I started doing a thing I call "Stool Snack" on Fridays while I cook where the kids can come to the island whenever they want and get little tastes of what I'm cooking (lasagna noodles, pepperonis, cut up fruit, etc.)

Last Friday I was completely done in the kitchen by 10 am!!!!

Stool Snack - The kids LOVED eating the cooked lasagna noodles

Time for some pluots.

V is always my little helper - making muffin mix

This coming Saturday we will have our niece and nephew over so the dinner casserole with be more kid-ish (a tator tot dish) but breakfast and lunch will be similar.

Once we got the meal thing down we've added the following:
1.) All laundry done and put away before the Sabbath
2.) Floors cleaned and vacuumed before the Sabbath
3.) Dishwasher emptied and kitchen cleaned before the Sabbath

During that 24 hour period we clean up after ourselves (i.e. put a toy back where it came from, put dirty laundry in the hamper and dirty dishes in the sink) but besides that we don't do any other work.

I cannot emphasize how amazing it is and how God really provides the avenue to make it happen.  I hope this gives some direction if you are wanting to implement the Sabbath.  Let me know if you have any questions!

1, 2, 3
Yay, God!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

That's completely backwards

I have a favorite thing about God.  It's that His laws and the way He set His kingdom up to work are at complete odds with intuition.

Give and it will be given to you. (Lk 6:38)
If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.  (Mt. 5:39)
If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  (Mt 5:40)
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. (Prvbs. 3:9)
A generous man will prosper.  He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.  (Prvbs. 11:25)
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing. (I Peter 3:9)

Of course, this list could go on and on but you get the picture.  Those are backwards.  They don't flow with how we'd think we should live life.  That's why it's awesome to me that God set things up this way - it's exciting!  If the verse said "A person who works 95 hours a week will prosper" how exciting would that be?  There'd be no mystery in it - no faith.  There'd be no way of knowing if God showed up in that situation or if it was just the 95 hours of work that did the trick.

I think the Sabbath falls into the same category.  We're busy.  Everyone is.  So it goes against the natural grain of living to completely take a day off of working.  But in my short experience of trying to observe the Sabbath I can tell you that God shows up.

I am still evolving in my thoughts on how the Sabbath should work over here and also praying for wisdom when it comes to entertaining on the weekend or serving in the Saturday service at church.  My current goals are: no cooking, cleaning or laundry on the Sabbath.  I will update more in this blog about how I'm accomplishing that but I will end with this:

In prepping for the Sabbath I needed to go grocery shopping tonight.  It was a long day and I didn't get out the door until 9:30.  Pre-Sabbath keeping I would've left it until tomorrow morning and went with the kids (yikes!)  But tomorrow morning I will need to be cooking and so I pushed myself to go so we could honor the Sabbath this weekend.  I have NEVER (no exaggeration) gotten in and out of Meijer in less than 90 minutes (and it usually takes longer).  Tonight it only took 1 hour - and I was on the phone with my brother the whole time.  God blessed the work of my hands.

We are still in a learning curve over here when it comes to Sabbath keeping.  Last week didn't go so well.  This weekend we are playing in the band at church which includes practice and a service on Saturday.  At this point I would say that's ok but I am loving learning more about the Sabbath as we go and waiting to see how God will show up as we follow His "backwards" way :).

1, 2, 3
Yay, God!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Keep the Sabbath Holy - that's God's special day. HEY!

When I was a teenager I went to this great camp in Evart, Michigan called Spring Hill. ( )  Amidst being thrown off the blob and horseback riding I was privileged on several occasions to hear an impactful speaker Brett Ray ( ).

One of the things that always stuck with me was when Brett talked about "Yay God" day.  Brett kept the Sabbath with his family.  Since he was a traveling speaker his weekends were often tied up.  Their "Yay God" day was on Mondays.  Those days were restful family days.  He said they'd do family movies together and go out to eat.  A family tradition for them was that whenever one member said "1, 2, 3" the rest of the family would yell "Yay God" (even out in public) - hence the "Yay God" day.

As a teenager this was something I latched onto.  I always dreamed of "Yay God" days with my family.  It took a while to implement this once I became a mom.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the logistics of implementing a Sabbath day of rest.  With a little planning we've been having our own "Yay God" days for about a month.

The point of this blog is to be an inspiration to other families to start their own "Yay God" days.  Let's link up.  Share our stories.  Talk about how God supernaturally blesses these days and then also the rest of the week because we have followed His command.  Let's share make-ahead recipes and pictures of our families enjoying each other on these days of rest.

While most Christian families across the country share the sentiment "Do not kill" I think keeping the Sabbath is a little less main stream.  I am a mom of three little ones.  My husband works the typical 9 - 5 with the occasional travel days.  We are dealing with the endless loads of laundry, crushed chex on the carpet, 3 kids worth of poopy diapers (MIL is slacking on potty training the oldest because she broke her wrist), and 6 foot tall weeds but I believe that no matter what stage of life you are in God will help you make this work for your family.

1, 2, 3
Yay God!