What are your talents?

Copyright RosesatDawn 2017
Copyright RosesatDawn 2017

 

How much emphasis do you put on developing your talents? Do you even know what your talents are? When we are young, we are free to experiment and devote our time to learning all sorts of things. Things we enjoy doing, things we want to enjoy doing, among many others. But sometimes, as we get older, we stop pursuing those things we do just because we want to. Sometimes our talents get pushed to the side as we take on “adult” responsibilities. And I think that is a shame. It is a shame and a disservice to ourselves, the world around us, and to God. Yes, it is a disservice to God to ignore the talents He gifted to us.

He gave us certain talents. He gifted them to us and to not develop them is not only a shame, but dare I say, a waste of God’s gifts to us? He wants us to develop them, explore them, and use them as a service to others and to Him.

Copyright RosesatDawn 2017
Copyright RosesatDawn 2017

In our busy and constantly on-the-go world, it is important to set aside some time in our day to explore and develop our talents. It not only brings us joy, but it brings God joy. He wants what is best for us, and using our talents is best for us. Now, not all of us are going to be lucky enough to make a career out of our talents, but all of us can find a couple of minutes to dedicate to something that makes us more whole.

I think it is important to remember that talents don’t always mean the obvious ones that come to mind. Talents such as singing, drawing, etc. are ones that immediately come to the forefront, but they aren’t the only talents. Our God is a creative God. He created us in His image (I know I have touched on this before, but it is something that really means a lot to me) and with that comes ALL the different talents. Being able to balance your checkbook is a talent, especially if it brings you joy! Being able to solve a complicated math problem that makes other people’s eyes glaze over is a talent. Being able to draw a stick figure is a talent! Whatever it is that God has given to you as a gift is a talent. And we owe it to ourselves and to God to find out what those talents are. Do you know what yours are?

Copyright Enchanted Friends 2015-2017
Copyright Enchanted Friends 2015-2017

Exodus 31:3-5

and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.

I know what some of mine are, but I know that there are probably more that I haven’t discovered yet. And I know that I want to dedicate more of my time to developing those talents. I have so many ideas in my head that sometimes it is hard to focus. Sometimes I have so many ideas floating around that it renders me inert. And so I end up doing nothing, which is the complete opposite of what I should be doing! And so I have decided to make an effort. I have decided to dedicate some of my time every day (hopefully!) to doing one thing. One thing, one step, however small, towards developing my talents. I feel better, I feel more whole. And I hope, that somewhere down the road (hopefully close!) that doing this will help me become a better person. After all, if we are focusing on what God wants for us, then how can we not become more of the person He is calling us to be? And if we become that person more and more every day, then we will, without a doubt, become better people.

What are YOUR talents?

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The big “S”

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If you are a homeschooler, have ever considered homeschooling, have ever known anyone who homeschooled, or have ever in any way ever heard the word homeschooling, then you probably have heard the debate about socialization.

First, a little background about myself. I am a product of homeschooling. I was homeschooled from second grade all the way up until eighth grade. My parents then made the decision to send me to high school. Also, I am an introvert. A BIG time introvert. I don’t like going out, and anytime we do get out of the house, I can’t wait to get back home. But I did just fine in high school. I made friends. I even still keep in touch with one of those friends (ok, so I’m really bad at keeping up at correspondence, but we do see each other every once in a while!). And I can function in the REAL WORLD!! 🙂

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Anyways, back to my point…I have to admit I was worried. Worried that our kids would have difficulty socializing. I’m not sure why I was worried, but I’m sure all the media hype I heard growing up and then as an adult didn’t help. I guess maybe it is just one of those things all parents worry about from time to time. Will my kids be able to do x, y, and z? Will they be competent members of society and not have to rely on us to function for the rest of their lives? Silly worries, I know. Kids grow up, they mature, they get out of the house and they do just fine!

After all, how many “famous” people were homeschooled and we don’t even really think about? Yes, I know it was common during a certain time period, but why have our concerns changed? Why was it so much more ‘acceptable’ then but not now? Just because we now have a public school system doesn’t mean our children can’t and shouldn’t be homeschooled. Again, just because times have changed, that doesn’t make us any less competent to school our children.

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A while back, the kids and I were in the grocery store doing our shopping. I was still pregnant with baby Z and it was a Wednesday. A random day in the middle of the week where if the kids were in traditional school, I would have been there with just the two little boys. But I wasn’t. I was there with all five of them. All five of our “un-socialized”, homeschooled, children. We get lots of compliments when in the store about how well behaved they are. And those compliments make me feel like we are doing something right. Our kids know how they are expected to behave in public, and they do, for the most part. However, when someone says hello to them, they are a little hesitant to respond. Part of this is due to shyness. Part of this is due to our “don’t talk to strangers!” teaching. Both of these reasons are fine! So back to me and the five un-socialized, homeschooled kids in the grocery store. We were walking down one of the aisles and there was an older woman doing her shopping. As I was going about picking up whatever it was I needed, A noticed the older woman drop her paper towels. And without me noticing, or realizing what had happened, she walked over, picked them up, and helped the woman place them in her cart. And my heart soared. I was ridiculously proud of her (as all parents are when we catch our children doing something good and right without prompting). But more than that, I realized that I shouldn’t be worried about whether or not our kids are receiving enough socialization. Who is really in charge of measuring that anyways? How do we know how much they really need? Not to mention, you do realize we have six kids? At home? All day long? Do you even realize how much “socializing” goes on here on a daily basis without us even really thinking about it?

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When my husband and I first got together, we already knew we were going to homeschool. It was one of those things that didn’t need to be discussed. But I admit, I did have some preconceived notions that have not really panned out the way I thought they were going to. One of those has been socialization. I was really hoping to find and participate in a homeschool group of some kind. I thought about how nice it would be for the kids to have some friends outside of each other. But as time has gone on and there are still no homeschool groups in a reasonable distance to be found, I have come to realize that God is not calling for our kids to be out and about. He has placed us where we are, with the resources available (or not!) to us for a reason. I really feel that He wants our children to learn to be friends with each other. He wants them to rely on each other for companionship. After all, how many times have we told them, “At the end of the day, all you really have is your family. Family is what matters.”

Now I’m not going to pretend to understand God’s ways…(Isaiah 55:8)…ahahhahaha……ahem. But, I choose to believe there is a reason. He wants our children to rely on each other for a reason that is above my understanding. He provides for everything and He has plans for each of us. They are not always what we think they should be. But they are always for our betterment (Jeremiah 29:11). So I’m going to choose to stop worrying about whether or not our children can say hi to the nice, older woman at the grocery store. I’m going to stop worrying that they “have no friends” outside of each other. Because God has a plan. And His plan is WAY better than anything we could ever imagine.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

 

P.S. I received this book as a young girl, and now A is enjoying it as well. It is a wonderful story of a young woman who, along with her family, moves away from her home to a new area of the country to help establish a new church. She ends up learning to do without her “friends” and rely on her family for fellowship and companionship. As the story unfolds, we find out that God had a very specific reason for having this happen to her. It is a wonderful example of what I am trying to convey. God has a reason for everything that happens, and His plans for our lives are so much better than our own. (Yes, this is an affiliate link, but the book review is completely my own and I am in no way receiving anything for writing it. I simply loved this book as a young girl and still find it to be relevant today!)

What do you worry about the most with your kids and about life in general?  How do you deal with those worries?

Creating for a purpose

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Lately I’ve been trying to get away from buying things at the store that I know I can make myself. First of all, let me just be clear, I am all for convenience when it is “necessary”. Of course, this looks different to everyone, but we are at a season in life that is very busy. We have six children under 11 and let’s just be honest, there are only so many hours in a day. That means we have to use what we have wisely.

When I was pregnant with baby Z, convenience (and having a husband who is willing to do whatever needs doing!) was the only way I made it through the day sometimes. It also helps to have a 10 year old who can cook!! I don’t like to waste items or money that don’t need to be wasted. That being said, sometimes it’s nice to use some paper plates and not have to do the dishes at the end of the day.

As my energy has returned, I have begun cutting back on conveniences. And as always, Pinterest is a WONDERFUL place for inspiration.  I could easily spend hours and hours going through all of the fantastic ideas I find on there. But then, when would I find time to actually do some of those projects??

fabric2

Well, this past week I actually did find some time to whip up some fabric “paper” towels. It definitely helped that we took the week off of school as well.  It was a nice break in our routine, but I’m not sure we will be continuing it. I have a whole different post that will be coming on my thoughts about how it worked for us. I know it works well for some people who are doing year-round schooling to have week-long breaks in their year, but honestly, I think it was too long for us.

Anyways, back to the fabric “paper” towels. All I did was take some old fabric sheets we had and I figured out roughly what size I wanted the towels to be. (They are different sizes since I just eyeballed my towels…I am really bad about following patterns when it comes to things like this! I also don’t pin if I don’t have to….ever….ssshhhhh, it’s our little secret!) I cut out two pieces of the sheet and then simply zigzagged around the edges with the wrong sides together. Tah-dah! Done! 🙂 Sweet, simple, and effective. I ended up with ten towels and they have already seen quite a bit of use around the kitchen. I also don’t mind if these end up getting thrown away eventually because a) I can make more and b) they are already a re-purposed item.

fabric3

All this to say, I’m still buying paper towels! 🙂 No seriously, I use them as wipes for G and baby Z. But, I only spend about $9 once a month to buy them so I don’t feel too bad. I have used cloth wipes and diapers in the past. I LOVE cloth diapers and wipes, but again, sometimes convenience allows us to get through the day with our sanity intact! I might get back to them someday…but again, I have trouble paying for things I can make myself. And all of our old cloth diapers are worn out. They lasted through four children very solidly but have seen better days at this point. So I would have to invest some time making them, which I would gladly do, if I could find a couple more hours in a day…

Proverbs 31:13

She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands.

 

What have you been working on? Any exciting (or simply practical!) projects in the works?

Planning not worrying

So I finally did it.  I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a pressure canner.   Yup, that’s my big news for the week! But seriously, with all that has been going on with the hurricanes in the south, wildfires out west, and WINTER IS COMING my husband finally talked me into just doing it. Just buy the darn thing and get on with it!

I have a water bath canner, but I can’t can veggies, meat, broth, etc. so it is a needed item. And it’s an item I have wavered on buying for ten years. It is one of those things that I just kept putting off buying. Well, sure I need/want one, but we also want/need all these other things as well. But I finally did it (well, almost, it is still sitting in our Amazon cart!), and the timing couldn’t be better. It is September, harvest season, preparedness month, time to get on with it!

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With all the natural disasters going on right now, we do have to plan ahead. I know that I have written about some of my views about self-sufficiency before, but I do believe that we should be prepared to a certain extent. Yes, God will provide all we need, but hiding our heads in the sand and pretending that there aren’t real issues going on is wrong. God will provide, but He also provides for us now. He provides plenty so we can place some away for when there isn’t any. Yes, trust ultimately in His generosity, but also realize when He provides above and beyond our current needs.

Since it is National Preparedness Month, I have been thinking a bit more about what would happen if we didn’t have access to the grocery store. Even if it was for a couple of days or weeks, would we be ok? Would we have enough food on hand to make it through? Would we have enough variety to not experience food fatigue? I was inspired to can up some Apple Butter, we made some Apple Jelly, and I have some more apples waiting to be made into Applesauce. (Do we see a theme here?) I am trying to add some variety to our stores. I am trying to think ahead, not worry, just think. What if? What if we can’t get out of the house for a while? What if we are snowed in? (Trust me, it’s a real possibility up here!) What if there is a natural disaster? What if there is a man-made disaster? (North Korea, I’m looking at you!) So yes, I trust in God ultimately to provide, but I’m also trying to act wisely and recognize God’s blessings in the here and now for an unforeseen time in the future. Our ancestors didn’t have access to grocery stores. They had to plan ahead. I am sure there was plenty of worry mixed in, but they were wise. They used what God provided them and planned accordingly. I only hope that we are doing our best to do the same.

apples

Matthew 25:1-13

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.”

Who will you be like? The five foolish virgins who did not plan ahead? Or will you choose to plan ahead and be ready to meet God when He comes?

This is the canner I bought…

Check out some of my favorite canning books…

Blue Ball Book

Jackie Clay’s “Growing and Canning Your Own Food”

I’m getting some of these next year….or maybe for Christmas!

Tattler Reusable Lids

Happy Harvesting!!

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Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God.”

This verse has become my personal mantra. Well, technically it is only part of the verse, but for me, it is the most relevant. The whole verse reads,

Be still, and know that I am God:

I will be exalted among the heathen,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

But with everything going on in our crazy world, I find the first part to be the most applicable for me. I oftentimes find myself breaking it down farther into two separate pieces. The first part is “Be still…” Be still…seriously, how hard has this become for us in today’s world? There are constant distractions. Between social media, instant streaming of any movie or tv show you want, music, and just overall noise, our brains become quickly overloaded and saturated with stimuli. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being able to hop on the internet and look up information about anything I want. It is especially helpful when the children ask a question that I don’t know how to answer! But on the other hand, I have such a hard time just sitting still for a minute with nothing to distract me. If I find myself with a minute during the day to just sit, I often will browse Pinterest. Again, not a bad thing in and of itself, but it is so easy to kill a couple minutes to a couple of hours just browsing. And the problem is, that my mind is not at rest. Even though I am sitting still, I am not still. My brain is still soaking in all the pictures, reading the blurbs, and contemplating which projects I want to try.

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I admire the moms who get up before their families and have quiet time with their Bibles and God in the morning. This just isn’t feasible for me. Honestly, my quiet time with God is at night when I’m putting G to bed while my husband puts the older ones to sleep. And maybe it isn’t the “best” time, but it is what works for me right now. During this time, I really try and focus on being still with differing amounts of success. Sometimes I just sit quietly in the dark with my eyes closed and listen to what I feel God is putting on my heart. Other times, I pour out whatever is troubling me to God. Everything comes out in a rush and when that happens, I will hear Him telling me to be still. Because God wants peace for us. He doesn’t want us to be troubled, or constantly on the go. It isn’t healthy for our minds or our bodies to never have time to just Be Still.

The second part that I break this verse into is “and know that I am God:”. Oh boy, what a doozy for me. I have such a hard time sometimes handing my fears, worries, and troubles over to God. I have such a hard time letting Him lead. This is a constant struggle for me. I am trying. I am constantly praying about it. And He is constantly challenging me!

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If we, as a society and as individuals, could just BE STILL for a minute. Just stop, and KNOW that God is God, what kind of wonders could He work in us? If we could just stop, and take some time out of our hectic days and stop our brains from being in constant overload, what kind of peace might we find?

And once we have found that peace, might we not then praise Him for helping us to reach that attainable peace He wants for all of us?

Fall is upon us

How did it get to be September 1st already?? August seemed to go by so quickly, but then, the summer always does! The leaves are well on their way to changing up in our neck of the woods and it is getting colder.  Not that it ever really warmed up much for us this year, but still. There is that wonderful nip of Fall in the air.

I always have mixed feelings about Fall. While I love the smells, and the crisp air, it means that Winter is on its way. And since we live in Zone 2, winters are long and cold for us! But I am trying not to dwell on this fact. I am simply going to enjoy the changing leaves, wonderful smells, pumpkins, apples, and everything else Fall brings as much as I possibly can.

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Fall is also back to school time! Well, at least for some of us! We have been plugging away for three weeks now, already. There has been a lot of learning going on, at least I hope so anyways. Our oldest has definitely taken a more self-motivated turn this year. She is in the fifth grade and is getting through most of her schoolwork by herself. She does need some help with Math (those negative numbers are pesky things!) and English. But for History, Science, Bible, and other electives, she is mostly on her own. I have been so impressed with her this year. We changed curriculum last year and she fought it. I understand change is hard, but overall, the change has been very positive. I really enjoy the curriculum we are using now and everyone else seems to be enjoying it this year as well.

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The younger kids and I have already learned a lot about Christopher Columbus, classification of animals, vertebrates, and complementary colors. It has been a busy time, but I know I have been having fun so far. Here’s to hoping it continues to be fun! We will be having a little break coming up at the end of month and I am looking forward to it, lol. I am really excited to have these breaks in our year and I think it will be a great time for us to recharge our batteries.

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I have to admit that the only thing I’m not so excited about right now is school supplies. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE school supplies. Absolutely love them! But, since I have already purchased what we need for this year, I have to keep walking by these…

And these…

But for all of you who haven’t purchased your supplies yet, I am a bit envious, lol! So whether your school year is well underway, or you are just starting out, here is to a happy and safe year!!

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Do Not Fear

rockWhy do we find it so hard to let go of control? When we are young, we plan out what our lives are going to be like when we get older. Sometimes these plans come true, sometimes they don’t. When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina dancer, artist, chef, and preschool teacher. Funnily enough, I am all of these things…I just don’t get paid for them in cash! 🙂

I do find it hard to let go of control, though. (Just ask my husband!) I am trying, and I am praying, and I hope, against hope, that I am learning. There is just something about not being in control that fills so many of us with fear. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I let go and something bad happens? Well, what if I don’t let go and something bad happens anyways?

If we don’t relinquish control of where and what we think should be happening in our lives, we miss out on so much. We miss out on opportunities God is trying to lead us towards. If we never let go, He can never take over. And if He never takes over, is it a life fully lived?

Isaiah 41:13

 For I am the Lord your God  

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.

If God says “Do not fear; I will help you,” then what are we so afraid of? Look towards God’s promises and remember that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) If God is with us, who then can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

When life leaves us feeling so overwhelmed with all the negativity coming our way, hold tight to the Word of God. Even though we may falter, He will always be there, as our loving Father, to pick us back up, put us on our feet, and walk beside us all the way. So don’t be afraid to let go. Don’t be afraid to let God take the wheel because that is exactly what we need to set us back on the path that ultimately brings us right to Him.

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