Bicycles and Siblings (Photo Challenge day 3)

Today, several of my brothers went to a friend’s birthday party. This afternoon while they waited to go pick the boys up again, my two youngest brothers were outside playing so I got to snap a few pictures of them. I love looking back at pictures like this—moments in time. Even if they aren’t the best quality, they’re things that “will never be quite the same again” (to quote one of my favorite songs, We Have This Moment).

Let's go!

It's noisy out here....

These guys are growing up so fast. It’s so fun to watch them grow up, but sad, too. It’s sad that soon they’ll be too old to ask for a goodnight hug and kiss from me—nothing melts a big sister’s heart more than that! These guys are so precious.

Future mechanic?

Future mechanic? He’s trying to figure out why there’s a string in an odd place in the back.

You know, as I think of how fast the years have gone past since these guys were such little things, I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown as well in my faith. How much more Jesus means to me than He did back then.

Wanting out

THIS is why our windows don’t stay clean! And it’s also why it’s worth it to have dirty windows.

Please?

She wants out to play with her big brothers!

Road's too small

I found one my size!

Let's do this together!

Practicing for the real thing.

Just as we children love each other, God loves us. And just as they were waiting to leave to pick up our brothers, we’re all waiting for Jesus to come back.

Keep on keeping on while you wait. Don’t pause in the race to rest. I was listening to Pilgrim’s Progress today on my walk, and came across the place where the three men—Simple, Sloth, and Presumption—lay sleeping, and how they wouldn’t listen to Christian’s concern for them….don’t sleep in your Christian life! Keep on seeking Jesus, and walk the walk He’s laid out for you.

Toys! (Photo Challenge day 2)

Little sister came out to my room this morning as everyone else was doing school. She doesn’t do it often these days—it’s currently winter, and although the weather belies that fact, it is chilly outside most of the time so she doesn’t have many chances to escape the house. However, today it was warm enough to have the doors open and out she came!

Toys 01

She doesn’t say much, but today she announced something similar to “Toys!” and proceeded to dump the contents of the cardboard box I use as a toybox on the floor. Usually she asks me to get it out for her, and generally only pulls a few things out before rediscovering the books and forgetting about the other animals and blocks. However, she played for forty-five minutes or so, both discussing the different books with me and playing with the animals. She seemed to enjoy herself.

Toys 02

And as I watched her from time to time, examining the nuances of the different books or playing with the different animals, I had to think how we really ought to be like that, too—appreciating the beauties of the world around us, even if it just comes from a common toybox. Being content with what we have, with what we’ve been promised in Christ. Not wishing to have any more now than our King wishes us to have right now (see the section on Passion and Patience in Pilgrim’s Progress).

Job 12:7-10 is a beautiful passage on the subject: “But ask now the beasts [or the little children?], and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

He cares for us! Isn’t that just wonderful?

Walnut Day

Last Saturday, I had just gotten back from my walk and picked up a pen to do some more review editing when my phone rang. It was Dad, asking if I could come with him and the boys to show them where the walnut trees were that my boss had offered to us. Sure! So I grabbed my camera, and soon we were on the way. My only job was to show them the trees, which meant I had enough time to take a few pictures of the workers. (Don’t worry; I did pick up my share of nuts when we went to another friend’s place to get some more!)

Walnut Day 01

While we were waiting to leave, this funny little girl found a ball. She would throw it, then look at me with a huge grin and run to grab and throw it again!

Walnut Day 02

Walnut Day 03

Older brother and youngest brother teamed up for a while, but soon my youngest brother realized picking up walnuts is boring, so he went off to play by himself while most of the rest of us worked.

Walnut Day 04

Little sister was very diligent!

Walnut Day 05

Walnut Day 06

Walnut Day 07

She did stop working to examine some gum tree bark after a while, though.

Walnut Day 08

Little brother climbed the tree!

Walnut Day 09

Walnut Day 10

A tiny portion of the crop.

Walnut Day 11

Walnut Day 12

The sunset last Saturday evening was gorgeous!

You know, while walnut gathering did disrupt my plans for last Saturday, I wouldn’t really have anything different. We had a great time as a family, and we’ll be very thankful for the nuts this winter. We’ve made some good memories. God is so good to us!

Guy/Girl Relationships: An Aha! Moment

These last few days, I’ve been really wondering what a Biblical perspective for guy/girl relationships is. How are we girls supposed to treat guys? Is it possible to be friends with a guy, and yet not have to worry about coming across as romantically interested when all you intend to do is simply be a friend? For me, it hasn’t been that hard to be friends with other girls. Yes, I’m always nervous when I meet new people, and am generally pretty quiet until I get to know them better. But I’ve never really had the chance to be friends with guys, probably at least partly due to the fact that I’m always worried that I’ll come across in a different way than I intend to.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this, and while I’m sure I don’t have the entire answer yet, I think I’ve found the key to the solution.

My problem is that I’ve always imagined friendships with guys with the view of them being possible future marriage partners. Never simply as “friends”.

Guy/Girl Relationships

From what I can see, these are two completely different friendships—the one with my girlfriends is mostly about being a blessing to them, listening when they have struggles, sharing struggles of your own, being together and talking about everything under the sun. However, what I’ve always imagined in a guy’s friendship is mostly stuff centered around romance and marriage. How selfish and pointless is that?

I think what’s happened is that I’ve unconsciously bought into a lie—and I’ll explain that in a moment.

I’ve got an older friend (and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this!) that made a bad decision in her younger years. She went against the advice of her friends and family, and many years later realized her mistake and tried to correct it. However, from what I read in the Bible, her method of correcting the situation was wrong. That fact aside, she’s since told me that in effect, you should do what you deem is right, no matter what others say. That you should follow your heart no matter what the outcome will be, instead of leading your heart.

From what I’ve heard from modern music, TV, blogs, movies, the internet, and other sources (intentionally or not), I believe this is a modern worldly view. Modern media is pushing the thought that girls’ relationships with guys (and vice versa) can never be simply friendships. It’s okay to have lots of friends in your own gender, but if you cross over into the other gender, that most likely means that you’re interested in dating or going out with them.

The sad thing is, it’s so prevalent that I have unconsciously accepted that as truth. That I can’t have simple friendships with guys without having a “purpose” behind that friendship.

This is not only a lie, but it’s dangerous. And completely unbiblical.

A pertinent verse that comes to mind on this subject is one from 1 Timothy 5:1-2: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethrenThe elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (emphasis mine)

Taken at face value, this literally means we girls should treat younger men as if they were our brothers, and for the guys to treat younger women as if they are their sisters. Note that nothing is said like “but it’s best if you’re only friends with those of your own gender.” The only stipulation is that you treat them “with all purity”. That would apply to both parties, I believe.

For me, this is revolutionary—that it is okay to simply be friends. Of course, we still have to be careful in our friendships. We still have to be aware that others may see and interpret our words and actions differently than we do. But if we keep to treating everyone “with all purity”, in Christ’s love, be sober minded (yes, I’m talking to myself), and continually commit every friendship to the Lord—whether it be within our own gender or not—we should be alright.

Oh, and sober minded? Different definitions could include self-controlled, wise, discreet, or sensible.

Here are two other helpful passages as well:

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” —1 Timothy 4:12–16

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”—Titus 2:4–8

The Mystery Object: Can You Help?

One evening this week, my ten year old brother was searching through my sixteen year old brother’s things, trying to find a lost wallet. I don’t know if he ended up finding the wallet or not, but he did discover something fascinating—an old metal thing, with the name “Nat” inscribed on the outside, and a tiny picture of a man on the inside. It is about 15 mm in diameter, so pretty tiny!

Mystery Object 01

There is nothing on the outside edge that would have made it possible to put on a necklace (no little loops or anything), and it wasn’t made to snap onto clothing as a button—we tried that out, and it didn’t work.

Mystery Object 02

I asked my brothers how they had found it, and the older brother said he had seen something shiny in the garden while he was cultivating, and picked it up. It was covered in dirt, so he soaked it in water and then cleaned it off. Afterward, he put it in with his other odds and ends, and forgot about it.

Then our younger brother was looking for his wallet, and found it—and seeing that it was made up of two different pieces, tried to open it! After prying it apart, this is what he found. In an attempt to find out who the man was, the boys popped his picture out to see if there were words underneath, but there were none—and in the process of putting it back in, some of the picture flaked off. They decided we ought to take a photograph of it before it gets any worse!

Mystery Object 03

Have you seen anything like this before? Do you know what it could be? None of us can figure any more out than what has already been stated.


In other news, I’m working on writing a guest post for my cousin Kendra Stamy at A Proverbs 31 Wife. So far, the task has proven challenging, but I’m enjoying it. Lots of interesting thoughts coming out about books and why we read what we read. Praying that I’ll be able to encourage someone through this opportunity! I’ll share the link on here once the post is published.

Also, I’ve been working on memorizing Psalm 67 the last two weeks. So far, so good—almost through the chapter now. I did get a little stuck on verse four, but I think I’m getting it. Just need to remember that verses three and five are exactly the same, and get six and seven down pat yet. I’m getting there!

Memorising Psalm 67:4

I decided to put the verse on my computer desktop until I get it memorized, so I won’t forget to practice it.

I also need to get this month’s newsletter written and sent. AFTER the guest post is written! I need to send out the last giveaway prize today—just heard back from the last winner this morning—and then that job will be done. 🙂 There are a couple other emails related to the giveaway that need replies yet, but they’ll be taken care of soon.

And along with all of that, I’m trying to ignore the insistent summons from a recent fascinating story, The Destiny of a Few by Sarah Holman, to finish reading it. Hey, I just got on Amazon to get a link for you, and I see that the Kindle version is currently free! Get it now if you can! I’m about halfway through the book, and thoroughly enjoying the adventure, even though I don’t completely agree with some of the views put forward in the book. If I can hold out until my work for today is done, then I can indulge in reading. I think.

Hope you’re having a great day, and if you have any ideas about what this mystery object is, my brothers and I would be glad to hear your thoughts.

Learning to Love

This month, I’m participating in a study on love, based on 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve had different ideas on the topic over the years—back when I was 5 or 6 and couldn’t write much, the most common phrase in my letters was “God is love”.

Back then, those words were security to me. That is who God is. But my idea of love—God’s love—never went far beyond that. That is who God is, but I never applied it to my life as “God is love, so therefore I should be . . . .”

Learning to Love

Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2-3)

The study so far has been challenging and enlightening. Seeing how without love we are practically useless has made me wonder how love is shown in my life.

  • Am I showing love to my coworker when she offers to do the last little bit of cleaning, that can only be done by one person, and I let her do it? Especially when I know she’s tired and would rather go home to rest?
  • Am I showing love to my brother when he has an exciting experiment and I’m feeling tired and grumpy, so I tell him I’m not interested?
  • Am I showing love to my friend when I tell her of my troubles, but never care to ask her about hers?
  • Am I showing love to my neighbor when she stops by, and since I don’t really like her I take the option to duck out to my room and let Mom talk rather than carry on a conversation?

Truthfully, I have to answer no to all those questions. I’m pretty terrible at showing love. So this next week, I’m challenging myself to do at least one thing each day to show love to someone—whether it’s speak a word of encouragement, do something for someone, or simply listen to my brother’s idea and practice some patience.

This week, I want to be proactive about learning to love those around me. I do love and appreciate a lot of people, but usually that isn’t shown.

Will you join me? Can we have a positive influence on the world and the people around us this next week?

And if this aspect of love is a little easier for you than for some of us, do you have any practical tips for how to actively show our love to others?

The Three Little Monkeys and the Big Bad Bull (Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 5

Or in other words, season finale! Although we weren’t planning to have a season at all, and we probably aren’t going to do this again.

This particular movie was fun to make. As a family, we children had been kicking around the idea of doing a twist on the traditional Three Little Pigs story, but we hadn’t been able to figure out exactly what we should do or how we should go about it. But since I wanted a nice wrap-up to these recipe videos, and since everyone wanted to make another family movie (it’s becoming a tradition around here), we decided we’d give this a go.

The Three Little Monkeys and the Big Bad Bull video

It took a lot of work, much more than any of us ever imagined at first, but I think it’s ended up worth it. They still enjoy watching it, which means it can’t be too bad!

As my brothers and I were planning the movie—figuring out which part each of us would play, deciding on the final plot, etc, one thing I wanted was to make sure we were all in it somewhere. With eight children in the family, that has the potential to be difficult to do! However, we all have an appearance somewhere, and even little sister managed to get in—she was playing on the floor for 2-3 seconds in one scene.

This is by no means a professional movie, but I hope you enjoy it at least as much as we did creating it and watching it together!

There is a short recipe in the video, showing you how to make ants on a log if you didn’t already know:

Take prewashed slices of celery, liberally spread with peanut butter, and put raisins on top for the “ants”. This makes a quick, easy, yet deliciously healthy snack!

Have you ever been an actor in a video? If not, have you ever wanted to?

–Esther

(Depending on your answer, I have an idea for another post about how we make movies and some things we’ve learned along the way!)

How to Make Eggnog (Recipe Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 3

There’s a bit of a story behind this one…my brother came up with the idea for sharing how to make eggnog one day, but for several days we couldn’t make it because I was working. Finally, we were able to do it—but due to poor planning, and acting-as-you-go, the first take turned out pretty terrible. (I laughed while videoing at one stage! Bad, bad videographer!)

For a while, he was okay with the result, but then decided it should be better if we were going to share it with anyone. Below is the second version, much better than the first.

Be warned: The first 4 min, 40 sec is slightly gross, so if you have a weak stomach I suggest you skip it. It’s not bad, but it does contain rotten eggs and other like disgusting stuff. Bear in mind that the first half is and was supposed to be a spoof, and you should be okay.

Eggnog Recipe (the good kind):

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (as fresh as possible—we use our own eggs, preferably laid that day)
  • pour in milk up to the 1 cup mark on your blender
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • a couple (slight) shakes of nutmeg

Directions:
Add together in blender, and blend well. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

We make this occasionally now that the boys have discovered how simple it is to make and how yummy it tastes! Usually, we replace the sugar with stevia, because that’s better for us. However, sugar works well too.

Have you had eggnog before? What was your impression of the drink?

Our Favorite Snacks (Recipe Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 2

Hello, again! Today, I’d like to share our family’s two most favorite snacks. These are eaten a lot around here—as in, almost everyone has one kind or the other each day.

Our Favorite Snacks Recipe (Video)

The nice thing about these is that they’re simple enough that with a little supervision, my six-year-old brother can make them himself! He thought he’d like to show you how to do it, too.

First, he shows how to make Cheese Bread.

Ingredients:

  • A piece of toast (can be untoasted—works either way)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Slice of cheese
  • Optional: Prepared mustard

Directions:
Take a piece of toast, spread on a thin layer of mayonnaise, lay a slice of cheese on top, and grill for a minute or two until the cheese has melted. Optionally serve it with prepared mustard—some of us like it that way, and others don’t.

Then, he shows how to make Cinnamon Toast.

Ingredients:

  • A piece of toast (can be untoasted—works either way)
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon sugar (we usually mix ¼ part cinnamon with ¾ parts sugar)

Directions:
Take a piece of toast, spread on a layer of butter (thickness depends on preference), sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, and grill for a minute or two until the butter has melted.

These two are super-easy, but very yummy! Sometimes, instead of putting cheese on the cheese bread, we’ll slice fresh tomatoes onto the mayonnaise and sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. That, too, is a delicious, easy snack!

Over to you: Do you usually have a mid-afternoon snack? What are some of your favorite snacks?

Rice and Tomato Soup Recipe (Video) | Khemists in the Kitchen, Episode 1

Want a  quick and easy, but fairly filling soup? This rice and tomato soup recipe is a great choice—and one our family loves!

A few months ago, a friend of mine reminded me of the attempted recipe video series I started about two years ago (in total, I made three videos). Since then, I’ve learned a little more about how I do things, and creating a recipe video every week is not one of those things I can continue very long.

However, since at the time I was planning a trip, I decided this would be fun to schedule while I was gone. The videoing was completed fairly quickly, the videos made—but I didn’t have time to write the blog posts. Sigh.

Here is the first installment now, made by yours truly with the help of my wonderful brothers.

Rice and Tomato Soup Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cooked rice
  • 2 cups of whole tomatoes, with the juice (we use canned tomatoes)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • several good shakes of black pepper
  • slight sprinkle of cayenne powder (or chili powder, if you have it—please don’t do as much as in the film, unless you like things very spicy!)
  • crushed medium-sized clove of garlic

Directions:
Add everything together in a pot, and stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and serve with grated cheese. Enjoy! (And don’t burn your tongue!)

For our family (9 people, but some small children), we usually use about 6–8 cups of cooked rice, and about 2–3 quarts of tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients are put in according to the mood of the cook—some like it spicy, some don’t, some like a lot of garlic, some don’t, etc. It’s always a popular choice, often chosen for birthday meals around here!

As a way to add some quick protein to the meal, we’ll often bake sausages to go along with this. Maybe add a lettuce salad as well—usually does the trick to fill everyone up.

One interesting note on the origin of this recipe: We’re at least the third generation in our family to be making this. I showed this video to my grandma a while ago, and she said this is quite changed from when she had it as a girl. Her mom used to pull cold rice from the fridge, and dump some tinned tomatoes on top. So for her, simply heating it up is an improvement to the recipe! I’m not sure if I’ve even ever had it cold.

Hope your family will enjoy this simple, but delicious dish! And next week I’ll share another favorite family food!

Over to you: Have you ever had rice and tomato soup? If you have, was it made about the same way? If you haven’t, do you think you’d enjoy it?