the unseen...

This is definitely going to be an unusual post for me.  But I have been so shaken by it that I feel like I must talk about it.

First of all, sugar before bed is a bad idea for me.  I know this.  But, I was rebellious last night.  Sigh.  Self-control is taught once again.  Sugar before bed = vivid, dramatic dreams for me.

So, I had this dream and in my dream I thought my daughter was crying and then I was sort of waking up and then I couldn't tell whether she WAS crying for real or not, so I got up to check on her.  My heart was pounding because it was kind of a screaming cry like something was wrong.  She was sleeping very peacefully, so I concluded that the crying was only in my dream.  (My husband confirmed this morning that he did NOT hear her and he usually hears those sorts of cries.)

I went back to bed and attempted to fall asleep, but the adrenaline was flowing by that point.  It was shortly before 5:00 a.m.  I started thinking about the quiet house and the reading I need to do for a book study with a friend, the new Bible study starting today, and the podcasts I need to listen to for tonight's discussion group, and I was weighing whether to go ahead and get up and take advantage of the quiet, or try to sleep a little longer.  I snuggled closer to my husband and apparently drifted back to sleep for another vivid dream.

In my dream, I had decided to go ahead and get up to read.  As I walked down the hall, I realized that the lights we usually leave on at night were not on.  The house was completely dark.  I also notice the motion light was on outside and I could just barely make out an unfamiliar vehicle in the driveway.  As I turned the corner from the living room to go through the dining room to the kitchen, I was suddenly grabbed by very strong arms and was being pushed back down the hall.  At first I thought it was G, but then realized the grip was too tight and too forceful and I tried to scream but no sound would come out.  At that point I willed myself to wake up and I did, heart pounding (again)...but when I woke up, I was being pressed into the bed so hard that I physically tried to push whatever was on top of me off (thinking it was my husband???).  There was nothing there but I was finally able to sit up.  At this point I was very confused, because the force I felt was very real and I was very awake at that point but there was nothing/no one in the room and G was sleeping soundly BESIDE me.

I laid back down and tried to make sense of it.  What came to mind was a story that I heard a little over a year ago.  I help to give rides to folks in our community who want to come to church but don't have transportation.  For awhile, there was a group of 3 (a married couple, and a single man) that rode together.  This particular Sunday though, it was just the single man that C and I picked up.  He was a dear, sweet, older fellow and ended up being our church custodian for awhile.  He has since passed away.  He climbed into the car rather stiffly and I asked him how he was doing.  He replied (in his casual, Southern way), "OH, I'm hurtin' this mornin'.  That ol' devil knew I was plannin' to go to church this mornin' and he jumped on my back ALL NIGHT LONG.  I was tempted to stay home this mornin' but I told that ol' devil to get offa me, I was goin' to CHURCH!"  This not being language I was familiar with seemed funny at first, but the more I thought about it, I realized that the devil was more real to him than he was to me.  He wasn't kidding and he wasn't being dramatic or exaggerating.  He was serious.  I was convicted by my temptation to "brush off" what he said and I was convicted by my lack of belief that spiritual warfare is real and happening everyday.

I've never forgotten that story and I'll never forget that man and his witness to me that day (though probably unintentional for him).  This morning as I lay in bed contemplating what I had felt upon me, I couldn't help but wonder if the devil in some form was physically pressing me into bed to keep me from getting up to study God's word as all of the things I was thinking of doing would be spiritual study.  Even as I think about it, my being wants to scream that those sorts of things don't happen, but quite frankly, I can't say whether they do or don't.  I know what I felt this morning was real, I know that I will NOT be having sugar before bed again for a very long time (possibly ever!), and I know that I will set my alarm and GET UP in the morning to study, because if this is a battle, I'm going to fight with all the strength the Lord gives to me.



...is usually my "catch-up" time of the day when I try to cram in as many things as possible...

But today...I think I'll have a few minutes of quiet mommy-time...and re-charge...

Because that is sometimes important too...  that, and the mailman left all kinds of treats in my box today. :)

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update on the girl...

It's been a while (too long!) since I posted an update about what Miss C is doing/learning these days, so here's a brief overview for family and friends. :)

Favorite books currently = the books that I read multiple times each day...

We're enjoying our "school times" a few days each week, and just about every day she asks if we can do "school pages."  She's like her mama and loves a good worksheet. ;)  School-time usually lasts about an hour or so, with 30 minutes being at the table doing worksheets, cutting/gluing, counting, working on scripture memory/catechism, and any other recitations we're learning (days of the week/months of the year currently). After that we move to some sort of active learning or art project for the next 30 minutes or so.  She's loving being able to have "computer time" once or twice a day and I can't believe how much she is picking up from playing "games" on sites like Starfall.

Here's a few pictures from some of our recent school times...

We're thankful for a great Children's Museum in our town and we plan to make lots of visits there this year while we have a membership.  We enjoyed the aquarium last year, as you may remember, and we feel so blessed to be in a town with so many great educational opportunities for our family.

We have probably spent the last of our time in the pool here as the evenings have been a little chilly this week so that water isn't as warm as it once was.  We were thankful to have one last *perfect* day at the pool to finish out the summer.  

But, when it's not warm enough to swim, that means it's probably cool enough to enjoy the park, so we had out first picnic lunch of the fall at the park (with Daddy!) yesterday.

We've been learning to "manage" asthma for C and also fighting a pretty nasty sinus infection for the last 4-5 weeks.  For a kid who doesn't make many trips to the doctor, she's been a trooper through lots of new things including breathing treatments, 2 sets of x-rays (it's REALLY hard for a 3 yo to keep their head completely still for a sinus x-ray...just sayin'), learning to use inhalers, and all the usual things associated with doctors visits.  We go back next week and have decided to go ahead and have a "pediatric panel" of allergy testing done to help determine WHAT she is allergic to so that we can try to treat the allergies and thus hope to keep the asthma under control somewhat as well.  The last few weeks have been full of challenges as we have been trying to stay calm so as not to start coughing, having to take multiple medications, vitamins, probiotics, and all of this while functioning on less than desirable (necessary?!?) amounts of sleep.  I'm thankful to be on what seems to be the *other side* and for God sustaining us through some difficult days/nights.

Another change is that we are starting the transition to a big-girl bed.  This probably comes as late to some, but some of us liked our cribs so well we were content to stay in them until we were 4.  Ahem.  So...we have taken the first step of making her bed accessible.  Next step will be an actual full-size bed, but that will probably be a little while.  It's been smooth sailing so far, and she hasn't fallen out!  (thanks to the pool noodle under the sheet!  thank you pinterest.)

That's all for now -- I'm sure there's so much more, but another time. :)

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This is probably going to be link-overload, but I have tried some really fun and delicious recipes lately that I wanted to share.  As I mentioned previously, I am trying to make more and more things from scratch...  I have found that it doesn't always save money and certainly doesn't always save time, but often it tastes better and is healthier.  There are seasons when I can make more things from scratch and seasons where it is better if I just buy things.  But, here's what I've been trying over the last several months...

Easy Blender Salsa (Easy is RIGHT!  I make this almost weekly!)

Chocolate Syrup (This is a slightly different consistency than store-bought, but I love it!)

Evaporated Milk (This was a recipe emergency...so convenient!)

Ranch Dressing

Healthier Ranch Dressing (use spices from above mix...)

Italian Dressing Mix (haven't actually made dressing, just the mix for other recipes)

Stovetop Granola

Baked Granola

Wheat Thins (These are easier than I thought they would be...just roll them REALLY thin!)

Cheese Crackers (Claimed to be like Cheez-Its...more like cheese straws in cracker form - YUMMY!)

Fruit Snacks (my daughter loved these!)

Jello Popsicles (these have an interesting consistency...I prefer fruit juice)

Granola Bars

More Granola Bars (these taste more like dessert!)

Pumpkin Butter (Super Easy!)

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (I actually did this in my bread machine and baked it in the oven!  Amazing!!)

I make most of our bread, and those recipes aren't online so I can't link to them, but I will work on getting them typed up on my printable recipe page -- I've made white bread (blech!), wheat bread, light wheat bread, sourdough bread, and my latest favorite is a rich wheat sourdough bread.  It has a secret ingredient that makes all the difference!  The whole concept of sourdough bread kind of grosses me out a little bit, but the end product sure is tasty!

Pizza Crust (not my favorite, but it's pretty good.  I didn't pin/save my favorite and my only hope is that I printed it....and it's somewhere in my pile of printed recipes!  I also make a biscuit type crust sometimes.)


English Muffins

I happen to live in a house with a child who would happily live on muffins alone, so we regularly have some sort of muffins in our house for breakfast/snacking.  I'm constantly looking for healthy(er?) recipes for those muffins, so check my recipes page and pinterest board for what sweet breads we're trying out around here.

I also make a double batch of pancakes or waffles when we have them and put the extras in the freezer.  I just lay them in a freezer bag, and we pop them in the toaster or toaster oven when we're ready to fix them.

Taco Seasoning is very simple to make -- I have a recipe from a friend in a church cookbook which I can try to get typed us as well, but a quick google, pinterest, or allrecipes search should bring up some good results.

Blackening Seasoning

Brownie Mix

Instant Oatmeal Packets

I also make cornbread from scratch (the sweet kind so it tastes like the Jiffy box mix).  I had no idea how simple it is to make, and I just keep a bag of cornmeal in my pantry.  This is the recipe I use.

A friend recently gave me a copy of this book and it is a very valuable resource...if you are able to get a copy, I highly recommend it.  I made the vanilla pudding and vanilla ice cream from it last week.

Lots of sauces and seasonings are easy to make and don't require adding too many items to your pantry.  I recently discovered that BBQ sauce is relatively easy to make....just need to work on my vinegar measurements...too much the first time.

You may remember my post about Stretching a Chicken, and I continue to do that to make my own chicken broth, and I save beef broth as well from when I cook a roast.  My freezer was so full of broth that I have stopped making any for right now and it kills me to throw out the chicken bones without making broth from them!

I've talked before about shopping at Costco, and I continue to purchase basic pantry items there.  Most of my baking supplies come from there, and I've started purchasing canned tomatoes/tomato sauce there as well.  We certainly don't use up the huge can in a timely manner, but I've had no problems freezing the leftovers for the next time I need them.  The tomato sauce is used in recipes, for pizzas, and spaghetti, and the tomatoes are used in ALL sorts of things, including salsa, italian dishes, and other recipes that call for diced tomatoes.

Finally, I've been dabbling in some homemade cleaners/household products and so far I've liked what I've made...

Dishwasher Cleaner

Shower/Tub Cleaner

Window/Glass Cleaner

Hair Detangler

Alright -- enough for now.  I'm all linked out. :)  One more plug for my Tried and True board on pinterest, where I'm regularly pinning the things we try.

What homemade things are you making?

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