I’ve moved!

June 14, 2009

I just wanted everyone to know that I’ve changed my blog address.  I will no longer be posting on wordpress, but I will post on blogspot.  My new address is stewardshipnotconvenience.blogspot.com.  Please check my new site out and bookmark it!

Thanks,

Beth

Family update and things to look forward to in the near future

March 31, 2009

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Well, I have all the kids down for a nap right now, so I thought now would be as good a time as ever to get back to posting on this blog.  It has been so hard for me to be absent from this blog for so long, but life has been busier than ever.  But, now that I’m back, I have a lot of new topics that I’d like to address soon!

First, though, I’d like to share what has happened in our lives that has caused my absence from blogging!  In February 2008, our church had “Sanctity of Human Life” Sunday.  I’ve always considered myself to be “pro-life”, but that Sunday, my husband and I were encouraged to do something about it–to show the world some way or another through our actions that we are indeed pro-life.  For many, it could mean talking to women, or volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center (which I did for a while), or protesting.  For my husband, Curtis, and I, however, we felt a very intense calling on our lives to show the world we value human life by adopting.  We had already adopted our daughter, Isabella, as a newborn.  But this time, we felt like the Lord was leading us to adopt older children–perhaps children that would be hard to place.

We responded to that calling by getting our homestudy in order, and applying for a lot of children in multiple states, including in Oklahoma, where we live.  But this process was frustratingly slow, and after several months, it became apparent to us, for several reasons, that adopting through the state government was not going to happen.  At that point, we were very confused because we had thought that the Lord was calling us to adopting older children.

So, still confused, we applied through an agency here in our state that specializes in infant adoption–thinking that maybe we would just get a baby instead.  About a week after we got in all of our paperwork and scrapbook, we got a call from the agency telling us that they had a group of 3 siblings that needed an immediate home.  We were shocked!!  Just the day before, I had received $4,100 in anonymous donations–specifically earmarked for adoption expenses.  So, wondering how much it would cost to adopt THREE kids (we had planned on maybe adopting 2 at most!), I asked what the expenses would be for such an adoption.  You guessed it….about $4000!  So, the Lord has confirmed right from the start that He had specifically chosen these kids to be our children.

The past 5 months have been quite a transition–and they have been quite rocky at times.  From the time we found out about the kids, to the time we brought them home with us, was less than 48 hours.  So, for weeks, we were left reeling from the major, unexpected transition.  We have faced behavior issues, food allergies, and a surgery.  I have been thrown into the homeschool scene, and suddenly have had to learn to budget for a family of 6.  It’s been tough, but oh my, it has been so rewarding!!

My experiences over the past few months have greatly influenced a lot of what I am going to post on this blog.  These are a few of the topics I want to tackle in the coming weeks:

  • budgeting in an increasingly worse economy
  • homeschooling topics such as curriculum, methods, and dealing with learning disabilities
  • simple homecare for busy moms
  • food allergies
  • craft projects for kids
  • frugal ideas to reduce waste
  • discipline
  • and the big one–adoption!

Now please note:  I am certainly not an expert in any of these areas, and I am hoping to make a lot of my posts an open forum for all of my readers to share their experiences as well.

Will Be Back to Posting Soon!

March 20, 2009

kiddosI’ve noticed that I’ve had a lot of visitors to this blog lately.  I think a lot of you readers out there are linking to my blog from other blogs, which is great!  I wanted to let everyone know that I’m excited you’ve come to visit, and I hope you enjoying looking through my previous posts.  A few months ago, my husband and I adopted 3 children, and that has taken all our time and focus.  So, I haven’t posted recently.  I do hope to start back to posting on this blog, soon, though, since stewardship is really a topic I’m passionate about.  If you’re visiting, please check back with this blog in about a week, as I hope to be back to blogging by then!  Meanwhile, enjoy a photo of my cute children!

Random Musings

September 27, 2008

So, it’s been a really long time since I posted on this site.  Life’s busy…probably busier than it should be.  And to really live up to my goal of being a good steward, the blog must be secondary to my other duties as wife and mother.

I felt like I needed to post, though, as a way of writing my thoughts down on “paper.”  Lately, God has been using a lot of ordinary things in life to teach me lessons about Him and His Word.  Isn’t that neat how God speaks to us personally?!  And I want to share something that God has been teaching me lately.

Let me back up to the beginning…  After spending 4 years as a completely itchy mess, I finally found out that the cause of my problems (hopefully!) is that I am allergic to 19 foods.  In a desperate attempt to not have to cut things out of my diet again–things like chicken, beef, onions, coffee, chocolate, wheat, milk, cheese, you get the point–I have decided to try doing allergy shots to see if they will offer me any relief from the itchiness.

Here’s how allergy shots work:  The doctor tested me to find out the greatest amount of allergen that I can be injected with and still not have a bad reaction.  Then they mix all of the allergens together into a little cocktail in a vial.  Then twice a week, I inject myself (yes, I inject myself!) with this cocktail.  The idea is that this cocktail will teach my body not to freak out when it encounters these allergens, and it will desensitize me to all these foods.  And hopefully it will get rid of my allergies, or at least the symptoms.

As I was driving home from the doctor, I was pondering what it must have been like for people with food allergies before testing and shots were available.  And then God taught me something really neat.  He reminded me that my spirit, or my heart, unlike my body, was created to be really sensitive to right and wrong.  When wrong things bombard me, it sends up a red flag, and my spirit knows that it is obviously wrong.  Knowing that, Satan attempts to do things much more subtly.  Like the allergy shots, our enemy exposes us to little doses of things that clearly go against God.  The more we are exposed to them, the more desensitized we become.  And that is how people–once Godly people–fall.

I’ve been really enjoying the Casting Crowns song “Slow Fade” lately.  And the lyrics are such a poignant reminder of how easy it is to fall if not guard against it.  Just think about these lyrics:

“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away.
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. 
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away 
People never crumble in a day. 
Daddies never crumble in a day. 
Families never crumble in a day.” 

So, how do we avoid becoming desensitized in a culture that is so against God?  Well, I’m sure everyone knows of obvious places that they are exposed to a desensitizing dose of the enemy’s lies.  For me, it was magazines that I subscribe to.  They’re not the gossip magazines or the fashion magazines.  They’re magazines for women and mothers.  But they are not from a Christian viewpoint.  And so I have been constantly been bombarded with little lies that make me discontent with my life and role in life.  For you, it could be the friends you keep, websites you frequent, or conversations you have.  It could come from any area of life, and that makes discovering these little lies difficult. 

The good news is that we have the ultimate way of strengthening ourselves in the truth so that these little lies will not sink in.  It’s the truth of God’s Word.  In John 17, Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in your truth.  Your Word is truth.”  To keep our hearts in check, and to purify our hearts that have already been desensitized to the world and its lies, we need to be immersed in the Truth of God’s Word!  How awesome that God has given us His Words, and they are alive and active within us!!

So, in conclusion, God reminded me of the daily need of sanctification in my life.  I may want my body to be desensitized to foods, but I want my heart and spirit to be sensitive to God and sensitive enough to detect when the enemy throws lies at me!

Lastly, I titled this post as random because I’m going to switch gears for a second.  My husband and I saw the new movie “Fireproof” in the theater last night.  Let me just say that it is probably the best, most soul stirring movie that I have ever seen.  If you are married and your marriage needs a pick-me-up, or if your marriage is in serious trouble, or even if your marriage is blissfull right now, it is a movie that needs to be seen!  And I’ll leave it at that!  So, please go see that movie and I’m sure God will do something great in your marriage because of it!

A couple of things to check out…

July 30, 2008

Stephanie, from Keeper of the Home–one of my favorite blogs–asked me to write a guest post on her blog.  It’s on her blog today if you are interested in reading it!

Also, a while back, I was contacted by a writer with the Associated Press about my views on ethanol.  He interviewed me, and now I’ve been quoted in an article in a New York paper.  I don’t know how long the article will stay up on the web, but here’s the link.

Shopping Bag Challenge!

July 30, 2008

There are lots of little things we can do to be better stewards of the world around us.  Afterall, that’s why I have this blog.  But the one thing that has really been on my heart a lot (It was even the first thing I blogged about on this site!) is using cloth shopping bags.  I have really really really wanted to switch to cloth for some time now, but buying good quality bags is too much for our budget.  Sure, you can buy the $1 bags at Target, but I would be a little uncomfortable shopping at WalMart with a Target bag.  (I think that’s part of their plan!) :)  I thought about making my own bags, which would be much cheaper, but until now, I have not had any time.

So, here comes the challenge part….

If you do not currently have cloth shopping bags, and you have even basic sewing skills, would you join me in sewing some bags?  They don’t have to be fancy, but if you want to make really cute bags, that’s fine, too.  Here’s how the challenge is going to work.   If you want join me in sewing (and using!) cloth shopping bags, please leave a comment, telling me why you want to make the bags.  And then in a couple of weeks, I will do an update post, and you can send me a link to your pictures (or send me your pictures) of the finished product so everyone can see the great work!  We’re going to see how many cloth bags we can make. 

To help you in making the bags, here are a couple of tips and some links to easy patterns:

1.  While you can use a stretchy fabric, it’s best to use a sturdy woven fabric so it can hold more weight inside.

2.  Make sure you reinforce the seams really well.  You don’t want the bag to come apart in the parking lot and drop your eggs everywhere!

Here are the links:

Durable denim tote comparable to a paper sack–This one looks really roomie!

This is a British movement called “Morsbags” and it has a free pattern that uses old pillowcases.–These are adorable.  Make sure you look at the pictures of finished bags for inspiration.  There are some adorable ones on there!  And I love the idea of using old fabric you already have at the house.

Pattern to make the cloth version of a plastic shopping bag–I don’t know too much about this one, but it looks pretty simple to make if you want something that works like a plastic bag.

And of course, if you are skilled enough, there are tons of sites that sell bags, and you can get inspiration for your own bag from looking through the websites.

Have fun sewing and knowing you’re being a good steward of what God has given us!  (Because that’s what it’s really all about.)  And don’t forget to leave me a comment and let others know about the challenge, too!

“Rusty”Chicken

July 2, 2008

 Although I posted my diaper instructions on WFMW, I had to share my favorite super simple recipe (since that’s today’s theme). I thought I’d post this recipe since it’s so simple to make–it’s a great recipe to make when you want a homemade meal but you don’t have much prep time.  I can’t eat this anymore because of the gluten in it, but before I knew I had problems, this was on our family’s menu all the time.  It’s so easy and delicious, and I make it whenever I take a meal to someone because I know it will be a hit!  We came up with the name “Rusty” Chicken because the chicken comes out an orangish red color. :)

In a bowl, mix together 1 small bottle of Wishbone Russian dressing, 1/2 jar of apricot or peach preserves, and 1 envelope of onion soup mix.  Add a little water to make it easier to stir.

Cut chicken into pieces.  I use chicken breasts and cut them into strips.  Put them in a casserole dish and salt and pepper them.  Then pour the sauce over them and toss to coat.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.  This goes great with rice because it soaks up the extra yummy sauce.  Enjoy!

 

Getting More Life Out of A Prefold

July 2, 2008

I know this week’s Works for Me is supposed to be recipes.  But I’ve got something great that I really want to share.  Lately, I’ve watched my daughter’s prefold diapers get smaller and smaller.  Nope, they’re not shrinking–she’s just growing a lot!  We do use some pocket diapers, but we mainly use prefolds and covers.  And the snappis are barely able to reach around her any more.  If you have a younger baby, then you could pass the small diapers down to them, and then buy a new stash of larger prefolds.  That’s what a lot of people do.  But I don’t have a younger baby to give them to.  Plus, Isabella is 15 months, and I just don’t feel like she’d get her money’s worth on new diapers before we started to work on potty training.

So, I wanted to share my latest creation that works really well for me and for my daughter, Isabella.  I’ve been using my too small prefolds to make contour diapers.  They’re really simple to make–they hardly take any time at all–and you can make them for free if you have the material at home.  If not, just buy some fabric remnants for really cheap.

 The diaper has a custom fit that is wonderful!

The first thing you have to do to sew these diapers is to make the pattern.  I followed these instructions to make custom sized diapers.  However, I wanted Isabella’s diapers to have plenty of growing room, so I added an inch to the measurements.  Also, I made the width of the crotch 6″–which is perfect.  I don’t think it could really be any narrower on her.  To figure out what crotch size is best for your baby, pick out their best-fitting pocket or AIO or cover, and measure the crotch.

According to the instructions for making the pattern, she has the complete diaper pattern and she lays in on the fabric.  I cut my pattern in half length wise and lay it on the fabric fold to ensure that I end up with a perfectly symmetrical cut.

Once I have the pattern finished, I choose the fabric.  You could use diaper gauze or cotton or fleece for the outside–really whatever you want.  I used what I had on hand–Bella’s old flannel blankets.  They were well used and some of them were stained or had the seams coming off.  That’s perfect for use on a diaper! :)

So, you’ll need two cuts of fabric–one for the inside that will touch your baby’s bottom.  And one for the outside that people might see.  Like I said, I used flannel for both.  You’ll cut the fabric using the pattern. 

And then, you’ll use the pattern and cut the prefold.  Chances are, that if your prefold is too small, that the pattern will be way too big for the prefold.  That’s okay.  Just center it on the prefold and then cut what you can!

Once you have all three layers cut out, it’s time to pin together!  You put the two fabric pieces (in my case, the flannel) right sides together.  And then you put the cut prefold on top, making sure to center it well.  Then you pin them all together. 

After I finished pinning together, I followed these great instructions for making a top-stitched diaper.  You’ll need a couple lengths of elastic for the legs, and one for the back.  From here, just follow the instructions until you end up with a finished diaper!!

I have made two of these diapers in my free time this week.  With one of them, I sewed velcro closures on it.  That worked great.  In fact, I bet it will be easy for the church nursery workers to change Isabella’s diapers now!  The second one I made is the one shown in the pictures.  Because I used flannel, the snappi works great with it.  Honestly, I think that’s the kind I’m going to make on the rest of them!

So, because the diaper has the prefold in the middle, it still has all the absorbency that you would expect from a prefold (plus some, since it has the extra layers of fabric!)  But, because it has the extra tabs and length in the rise, it will fit your child really well!  Isabella’s worked just beautifully.  It fits her great, since it was custom made, and we’ve had no leaks with it.  I really think that these diapers will last until she is potty trained.  And remember, of course, you do still need to have a cover with these.

The completed diaper held together with a snappi

Finally, I was thinking that this pattern would be REALLY EASY to modify to turn into a pocket diaper or an AIO.  Just use PUL fabric on the outside and add extra absorbency inside.  Just let your imagination run wild!  It works for me, and I hope it helps you, too!

Ethanol–The Cause of All Our Woes?

May 26, 2008

Ethanol has been in the news a lot lately.  There’s a lot of hype surrounding this stuff, but there’s a lot that, it seems, the news has left out.  It’s an alcohol derived mainly from corn, and it’s predicted that it will someday soon become our primary fuel source for cars. 

This “fuel of the future” does have it’s good points.  Afterall, if it didn’t, America wouldn’t be so excited about it.  First of all, the primary reason that it is so popular is that it is a renewable energy source.  Since it’s derived from corn and other cereal grains, it can be produced in mass quantities without having to worry about running out.  Also, it’s supposed to be a cleaner burning fuel than gasoline.  And finally, it has really stimulated the corn producing industry in America.

So, what could be the downside of such a seemingly great alternative to gasoline?

That’s exactly what I asked myself about a week ago when I heard that the local evening news was going to talk about the pitfalls of ethanol use in cars.  That’s when I found out that, at least in my area of the country, ethanol is mixed with gasoline and sold at the pump.  It’s used sort of as a filler–usually making up about 10% of the gasoline mixture.  This mixture is called E 10 or “gasahol.”  This mixture is supposedly better for our environment.  Sure, we want to be good stewards of the environment, but is supporting ethanol REALLY being a good steward?

There’s one small little problem with this alternative fuel.  With ethanol, you can get significantly lower gas mileage.  Typically, we have been filling up at the cheapest gas station around, which happens to be in the parking lot of the big blue mart.  But just a block away, gas is selling for a good $.10 more per gallon.  Yet people are still lining up to get gas there.  My husband and I could never understand.  And then we found out that big blue mart was selling E 10 and the other gas station was selling pure gasoline.  So we did a little math….

When we used pure gasoline, my husband’s car got a little over 30 mpg, combining city and highway driving.  But last night, we checked it out, and he was only getting 25 with E 10 gasoline.  My husband has a 14 gallon tank, which means that over a course of a tank of gas, he was able to drive 70 fewer miles.  At 70 miles, that means that he would have had to consume 2.8 fewer gallons of gasoline.  Right now, in Oklahoma, 2.8 gallons of gas will cost you about $10.50.  If we had gone to the “expensive” gas station to get 100% gasoline, we would have “spent” $1.40 more than going to the cheap gas station.  But in the end, by switching to the expensive gas station, we will ultimately be saving over $10 a fill up!

So, are you still with me?  If you are, the conclusion is that for us, it is definitely better to find a good 100% gasoline gas station.  It’ll save us a lot of money!

The other problem I have with ethanol is that it has caused the farming industry to become very one-sided.  Producing corn to make ethanol is a big business, so a lot of corn producers are selling their goods exclusively to ethanol producers.  And farmers who have typically grown things like rice, wheat, etc. are switching to the more profitable corn.  So, what does this mean for us?  It’s pretty obvious, but I will go ahead and tell you.

It means that the price of just about every kind of food has gone up.  Corn is super expensive.  Wheat prices have gone up as wheat farmers have become more scarce.  Animals that eat grains and corn (such as pigs and chickens and cows) are much pricier at the market since they cost so much more to feed.  And rice has become hard to come by.  At Sam’s, which is our local warehouse store, there is actually a limit on how many bags of rice you can buy.  And my husband and I have searched high and low to find a bag of the kind of dog food that our dogs have been eating for the last two years.  We really like it since it is wheat free, and the only grain in it is rice.  All the bags have disappeared off the shelves.  We finally got an answer at the pet store yesterday–they can’t make it anymore because there’s no rice to buy!  This may be trivial–it probably is in the grand scheme of things.  But what about the poor and homeless who have always trusted in rice as a cheap staple in their diet?  What about food banks and shelters that work on tight budgets and suddenly can’t afford to put even rice on the plates of the hungry?

So what is to be done?  Can we even do anything to stop this?  I think the first thing my family is going to do is start supporting gas stations that sell 100% gasoline.  No more E 10 for us.  

Also, I think we’re going to boycott corn for a while.  It’s never really been a favorite of ours, so that’ll be pretty easy.

Another thing that popped into my mind was the need to help those less fortunate.  As believers, we are already called to help the needy, but now they need it more than ever!  I complain all the time about having to stretch my budget to the max, and how the cost of food has doubled in the last 4 years.  Just imagine what low income families are thinking.  So, if you have some wiggle room in you budget, maybe you could consider dropping a big bag of rice off at the local food bank or rescue mission.

And finally, contact your local representative or senator.  They are ultimately the ones that approve government funding of research in ethanol and help to promote ethanol production.  If you live in the US, go to the House of Representatives website or the Senate website to get a list and email your Congressman.  And if you live in a state that happens to have a senator that sits on the Energy and Natural Resources committee, please make an effort to contact them with any questions or concerns you have about ethanol.

And in conclusion to all of this, I have to tell you that I am not against finding a renewable energy source as an alternative to fossil fuels.  But I just think that whatever we use, it shouldn’t be something that takes down the economy.

Okay, bring on the comments.  I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Happy Birthday, Isabella!!

May 3, 2008

A year ago today, our lives were turned upside down and changed forever (for the better!) by our wonderful daughter, Isabella!  We love her more and more each day!  Happy Birthday, Munchkin!

 


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