Mama Monday: Proverbs 31 Woman Verses 6 and 7

Verses 1-3 are here.

Verses 4-5 are here.

Give strong drink to the one who is perishing and wine to those in bitter distress.

As a Christian woman and wife, my role is to nurture and support others, especially my husband. When he is worried or upset or just going through a really difficult time, my words and actions should be a balm, an escape from all things that are on his mind. I need to be his escape from the pressures of this world. I should show him and give him God's peace. The last thing any wife should want is for her husband to have a bad day or a problem and the last place he wants to go is home. Men who find themselves in this kind of situation, eventually will go anywhere but home. What greater joy can a wife have, than for her husband to see her as his lifeline and support.

Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Through nurturing and care, a Christian wife should be able to provide a safe, stable, worry-free environment for her husband. Through this environment, people, especially a husband, should be able to forget about their problems and pain and simply enjoy the peace of God that can be manifested through a Chistian woman. How is this done? First, the wife must be humble in spirit and submit to God. She shouldn't try to tell her husband what to do or be a solution provider, but a listener and comforter. If her husband asks for her opinion or assistance, she should give it, but ultimately she should just love and support him. Second, the wife must pray diligently. If her husband is going through a rough spot, she needs to petition God to provide an answer to her husband. Sometimes husbands become so burdened they cannot pray. That is when the wife must take problems before the Lord. This is her source of power.

Believing in the power of a praying wife in the treehouse,



Scripture Sunday: Self-Esteem Designed by God

Read the first post, Self Esteem Defined.

Read the second post, Self Esteem Destroyed.
One of my favorite aspects of God’s character is that He is a builder. The Bible opens and closes with this view of God. We meet Him in the first chapter of Genesis building a universe from nothing. The Bible ends with a description of the fantastic home in heaven that He has built for us. God’s own Son is born into an earthly family where the father was a builder, a carpenter. If there is one message that flows throughout God’s word, it is that He can create, restore, and build. This attribute of God is never more apparent than when we submit to His hand and let Him create, restore, and build our battered self-esteem into something truly glorious.
God Created You
            Whether you had a great childhood or a miserable one, whether you are perceived as attractive or unattractive, whether you ranked as a genius by IQ level or below average, you are unique. You have been created, not by chance or evolution, but with purpose and forethought. You are not a glorified “humanoid” or the result of millions of years of refining by Mother Nature. You are created in the very image of God Almighty (Genesis 1:27). As women we are even more unique among God’s creation, not better just more refined. When you read the creation account in Genesis, you will find that we were “created” twice. First, God makes man, Adam. He finds his creation of Adam to be “very good.” But a problem quickly arises because Adam cannot find a mate that is suitable for him. God causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep and then takes one of Adam’s ribs and forms woman, Eve. As women we have been molded by the very hand of God, not once, but twice to become what God needed us to be. You are special, doubly so! There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing about you that God cannot work with and through. As someone once said, “God don’t make no junk!”

God Restores Your Philosophy
            One of the most worthless classes I took in college was philosophy (apologies to all the philosophy majors reading this!). To boil it down, I spent a semester studying men throughout history who tried to figure out the answers to life’s questions, especially the “Big Three” as our professor liked to call them: Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going?  What a blessing God’s word is to us as Christians because He has already defined our philosophy for us within its pages.

·         Where Did I Come From?  While we have already touched on this, I wanted to give you a nice, succinct answer to this question. You came directly from the hand of God. David tells us in Psalm 139:13-15:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth (ESV).

God did not stop creating after He made the first man and woman. He was an active participant in your formation and mine. We are His masterpieces; the direct work of His hands.

·         Why Am I Here? While the Bible is full of possible answers to this question, I believe two thoughts sum up our purpose rather well. First, you are here to glorify God. God says in Isaiah 43:6-7, “I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (ESV)” I hate to break this to you, but it’s not all about you, contrary to what society tells us. It’s not about your happiness, your bank account, your feelings, etc. It is all about God and His glory. Peter says that our good deeds should glorify God (1 Peter 2:12, ESV). If something is not God honoring, it is not something that we should focus our time and energy doing.

     Second, you are here to complete God’s task for your life. You mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do the work God has planned for you (Ephesians 2:10). If you are a mother, your task is to raise godly children. If you are a wife, your task is to be a respectful wife. If you are a member of the church, then your task is to build up the church. If you have a profession, then your task is to be a Christian influence in the workplace. Throughout different seasons of our life, our work for God will change. But in the end we should all want to meet God and be able to say these words to Him, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do (John 17:4, ESV).” Notice what that this verse says when we accomplish our work then God will be glorified. When you try to accomplish someone else’s standard than the glory will not go to God.

·         Where Am I Going? This is probably the easiest question to answer with the most implications. If you are a Christian, then you are going to heaven. Do not lose sight of this goal! When everything seems to be going wrong and you feel worthless, remember that you have been bought with a price and your heavenly home awaits you. When Peter is walking on the water, he is conquering the forces of nature; he is participating in a miracle. Then he starts to look around and stops focusing on Jesus. When we lose our focus of going to heaven, it becomes much easier to fall into Satan’s trap of worldliness and feeling less than. This is not something to be taken lightly. James reminds us that being a friend with the world means that you are an enemy of God (James 4:4, ESV). Your search for self-esteem is not worth your soul.

God Builds Your Foundation
            One of my children’s favorite songs is about the wise man and the foolish man. I’m pretty sure it’s because they get to say “splat” very loudly! But the truth in that song and parable of Jesus is exactly what we’ve been talking about for three lessons. If you build your self-esteem on the shifting sands of society, people, and your feelings, then your life and your faith are probably going to go “splat” at some point. Why? Because you have chosen to listen to the world and others about whom you are and what you should be instead of His word. Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-27:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (ESV)
If your self-esteem is based on how you look, clothing size, your children, your husband, your friends, people in the church, what others think of you, then you have built your self-worth on shifting sand. All of these things at some point in your life can and will be taken from you, then what will you have? We must base who we are and what we do on God’s word or we will not have the abundant life promised by Jesus (John 10:10).

            It has been said that it takes five positive comments to make up for one negative one. Considering all of the negative comments that women encounter about what we should be, how much time do you think we need to spend listening to God to counteract those destructive messages? I would love to give all of you a magical pill that would make it where you would never compare yourself to anyone again, where you would always feel right about yourself, where the past would never get you down, but that’s not the way it works. If you want to base your self-esteem on God’s foundation, then you have to be in the word, constantly, daily. Until His word becomes what you hear in your mind the minute a negative thought about yourself enters it. Until you feel confident enough to serve others without thinking about you. Until you do not hide your weaknesses but use them for His glory. Until you complete your work for the Lord. Please use the scriptures I have referenced in these posts and any other ones you come across in your Bible study to jot down for your edification. Memorize them and use them to battle the world.

Now read the last post in my self-esteem series, Self-Esteem Demonstrated.

Still being worked on by God in the treehouse,



Thoughtful Thursday: Tattle Tale

I despise when my children, or any child for that matter, comes running to me and then proceeds to list numerous "offenses" that their sibling or another child has done to them. My children know that they need to come tell me if someone has injured them or is putting their well-being at risk. I'm not talking about serious issues here; I'm referring what most adults call being a "tattle tale". Why do I hate it so much? Because the reason children or even adults do this is because we want to watch someone else get in trouble. As human beings we seem to have this perverse need to watch others "fall from grace" so to speak. Why do I hate this aspect of human character so much? For a couple of reasons, first as a Christian my duty is to help the sinner not to glory in them getting caught. Second, having been one to "fall from grace" more times than I care to admit, I don't think enjoying someone's downfall is a very kind thing to do in general.

However, our culture seems to have no problem enjoying those who are esteemed fall from the top. We revel in stories of actors and actresses losing it all because of their bad behavior. Finding out that politicans and others in power have secrets that destroy their lives and careers seem to make us feel better about ourselves. An entire genre of entertainment called "reality television" has been introduced so that we can sit at home and watch as others destroy their lives and parade around their sinful behavior for our amusement. And where has all of this taken us?

A recent news story has taken being a tattle tale to an entirely new level. Tim Tebow has had a bounty placed on him, not on his life, but on his virginity. Tebow is an outspoken, Christian NFL player who has received a lot of flack for his in-your-face type of Christianity. In college Tim made it known that as part of his Christianity he is waiting until he is married to have sex. Now a website devoted to helping couples cheat on each other (which is an entirely other ball of wax!) is offering one million dollars to any woman who can prove that she has slept with Tim Tebow. They feel confident that they will have to pay out since Tebow will now be living in New York, and they believe will be unable to resist the city's temptations. And so for one million dollars you could be the ultimate tattle tale.

There are a lot of things that I could say about how disgusting and sad this offer is, but the apostle Paul said it much better in Romans 1:28-32:

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I dont' know whether Tim Tebow will give in to tempation and have sex with one of the thousands of women who will probably be throwing themselves at him 24/7 now, but I hope he doesn't. What astounds me more is that our culture continues to find more and more joy in things that God calls sinful. This bounty on Tim Tebow's virginity is just another example of America's joy of the sinful.

Praying in the treehouse for Tim Tebow, and everyone committed to obeying God, to be strong in the Lord,



Wordless Wednesday: Daddy Worship

Monkey and Magpie love their Daddy so much that they even watch him do chores with adoring eyes in the treehouse,



Tasty Tuesday: Triple Treat

This week on Tasty Tuesday you guys have hit the jackpot! Not only am I sharing one recipe....not even two recipes...but, yes, THREE recipes in one post. You will be learning how to make a homemade pie crust without a rolling pin, strawberry pie, and homemade whipped cream, which is so much better than Cool Whip they shouldn't even be in the same sentence. Since I am doing three recipes, let's get started.

Recipe #1: Here is what you need to make Press In The Pan Pie Crust (no rolling pin, no bowl needed):

1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 Tbsp. milk

First, place flour, sugar, and salt in pie pan.

Then add oil and milk.

Carefully mix in the pie pan.

Now press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan.

Since the strawberry pie recipe calls for the pie crust to already be baked, now bake the crust at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Recipe #2: Here is what you need to make Strawberry Pie (ignore the whipping cream in the picture):

1 9-inch pie crust, baked
4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (do not use store bought if at all possible! The flavor is not as good. Peaches, blackberries, raspberries, or other fruits could also work in this recipe.)
1 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. butter

First, arrange three cups of the sliced strawberries in the baked pie crust.

Next, mash the remaining cup of berries and combine in a medium saucepan with sugar, cornstarch, and water.

Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for two minutes, then remove from heat.

Add the butter to the strawberry mixture. This will keep the pie crust from getting soggy.

Pour the mixture over the berries in the pie crust.

Let the pie chill for several hours before serving.

Recipe #3: Here is what you need to make homeade whipped cream:

The key to making really easy whipped cream is to chill the bowl and the beaters for about 30 minutes before making. If you have a cold bowl and beaters, your whipped cream will be ready in about 2-3 minutes.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Put whipping cream in the chilled bowl and beat on medium for about 1 minute until soft peaks begin to form.

Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix for about 1 minute longer until cream is the right consistency.

Spread whipped cream on your pie and decorate with a sliced strawberry garnish.

I took this to our church's small group on Sunday night. There was nothing left. It was unbelievably good. In fact My Man said, "You can make that pie anytime!" and he doesn't even like sweets. It was very easy to make, so give it a try and impress everyone with a pie made totally from scratch.

Afraid I will never go back to store bought anything (who am I kidding?!?) in the treehouse,



Mama Monday: Proverbs 31 Woman Verses 4 and 5

If you missed the first three verses, you can find them here.

It is not for kinds, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink

The importance of being a person of sobriety comes down to decision making. As a mother, I must teach my children how to make good decisions from a young age because children quickly learn about choice. A key factor in making decisions is sobriety of mind. A king is warned in this passage to avoid strong drink, but why just kings and rulers? They made life-changing decisions; they did not need to behave as common people when in such an exalted position. Mothers should teach their children that they too will constantly make life-changing decisions and are a people set apart from the rest of the world because they are Christians. Sober-minded decision making is vitally important.
Decision making is important for Christians because our decisions can have serious ramifications. Our decisions in life can shape our spouse's and children's lives. Most importantly, though, it is the primary focus of any mother to make sure that her children make the most important decision of all, to become a Christian. That decision will affect not only the rest of their temporal life, but where they spend eternity. The best way for a mother to help her children make that decision is to live that decision herself. Being a Christian impacts all of our other relationships and is the basis of bringing others to Christ. What other decision could be that important?
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

We should be doubly cautious not to forget what has been decreed by God. His words are what will judge us. His words are what we must know to be pleasing to Him. When alcohol enters the picture, too often we forget God's words and commands and our decisions as Christians are not God-honoring. Once we forget the word and go our own way, Satan has gotten a foot in the door. As mothers it is our job to make sure our children know the word and know it so well that it is imprinted on their hearts. It is also equally important to raise children with compassionate hearts like the good Samaritan in the New Testament. Children who see others in distress and have compassion for them that spurs them to action. Children who are defenders of the rights of those who are seen as less than in our society but of utmost importance to God. I can think of no greater joy as a mother than to have children who know the Bible and use it to help those in distress.

Teaching the word and a heart for others in the treehouse,



Scripture Sunday: Self-Esteem Destroyed

Read part one, Self Esteem Defined, here.

This post is going to be a little different. It is going to be an interactive reading. So grab some paper, a pen, and your Bible, get comfortable and be honest. We’re going to dig out some yucky stuff today!
            It all started in the 1960’s with the feminist movement. Women were told that they could have it all and should have it all, the job, the house, the children, and the husband. We needed to be June Cleaver, Margaret Thatcher and Marilyn Monroe all rolled into one. And women have tried to get it right ever since. However, all we have been effective at achieving is letting Satan destroy our self-esteem through three different avenues.
First, we have been destroyed by our externals. Sometimes I wish I lived in the past when pale skin and curves were considered beautiful. I would have been a knockout! But the standard has changed, tan and thin is in. Holding on to a few pounds after having babies is no longer cool. It seems that every new mom in Hollywood has lost all of her baby weight three months after giving birth. And none of us meet the standard that our society has determined as being “worthy” of admiration and esteem. I’m too tall. You’re too short. You’re too smart. I’m too dumb. If only our house was larger. If only your car was newer. And it goes on and on. If you just change your externals you will like yourself better. So we diet and exercise. We get plastic surgery. We go into debt. Satan laughs at us, and God weeps for us. And everyone is miserable, even those who attain the “standard.”
God never placed this burden on us; we have chosen it for ourselves. In fact God doesn’t care much at all for what you bring to the table. In 1 Samuel 16:7 God reveals how he views you, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ (ESV)” What God finds beautiful and successful is a heart that is humble, loves Him, and loves others. Solomon called focusing on external things to be “vanity” and “striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Unfortunately, these views are not taught or truly believed by most people, even Christians. I want you to write down on your piece of paper all the ways you don’t meet the external standard of the world in which we live: things about yourself or your life that have always bothered you. Height? Weight? Hair? Eyes? Intelligence? Income? Body type? Now open your Bible and copy Ecclesiastes 1:14 or 1 Samuel 16:7 in large letters over your list. The things on your list are worthless in God’s eyes.
Second, we are destroyed by others. While meeting an external standard doesn’t matter to God, unfortunately it does matter to some people. Women especially have no problem being vocal about how you aren’t living up to a certain standard as a wife, mother, or even a Christian. There is an old saying from elementary school, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is one of the biggest lies ever spread on the playground. Words hurt. Words destroy. Words can be full of deadly poison (James 3:8). It is hard enough to battle Satan and his intent to destroy our lives without being co-conspirators! We all need a group of women we can ask for constructive advice about being wives, mothers, and Christians, but unsolicited advice is damaging. I always tell my husband I don’t need anyone to point out my shortcomings to me about my role as wife, mother, and Christian; I have no problem seeing them on my own! Women need other women to encourage and lift them up. I had a woman from church a few months ago comment on my Facebook page that she was very impressed with how well I handled my three children while my husband preaches. I couldn’t believe it! I feel like I fall so short in that area, but that bit of encouragement was a balm for my soul.
Why do I feel so defeated most of the time? Because I look at other families, other marriages, other housekeepers, other homeschoolers, other preachers’ wives, other Christians and I fall so very short of how they appear compared to me. I’m assuming a lot of you feel that way as well. We just aren’t enough when compared to some self-imposed standard. God’s standard is much less restrictive. As a wife, God expects me to respect (Ephesians 5:33) and submit (Ephesians 5:22) to my husband. How that is played out depends upon my marriage. As a mother, God expects me to teach my children about Him and His word (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). How that plays out depends upon my family. As a Christian, God expects me to obey His commands (John 14:15) and teach the lost (Matthew 28:19-20). How that plays out depends upon my God-given abilities and talents. God never holds you up for comparison to someone else. He compares you to His word. That should be a freeing thought! I want you to write down all of the ways you feel you fail as a wife, mother, and Christian. Some of these may be valid things that you need to work on, but most of them are probably in your own mind. Now write across this list Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” God will supply you the strength to meet His standard, but not anyone else’s.
Third, we are destroyed by sin. This is probably an obvious one. Of course we are destroyed by sin, that’s why we need Jesus! But I’ve met people and have been someone who has been destroyed by sin continually because I won’t or can’t let it go. I’ve been forgiven, but I don’t feel like it. I’ve been forgiven, but I don’t feel worthy. Notice all the emphasis on “feelings”; we talked about how destructive those are! There are two ways sin can destroy our self-esteem, as victims or as sinners. There are a lot of victims in the church. Far more than many of us realize. They are generally silent and in pain. They are victims of trauma like gossip, bullying, prejudice, physical abuse, sexual abuse, rape, emotional abuse, neglect, etc. Satan loves to use our victimization to destroy our self-esteem. He loves to tell us that because of our past we will never be acceptable to God or others (shame). He plants seeds of doubt in our mind causing us to second guess everything about who we are and what we do (self-hatred). There are a lot of forgiven, but living in bondage Christians in the church as well. People who logically know that God has forgiven them, but cannot accept that forgiveness because their sin was so “bad.” They just know that God cannot use them or be pleased with them. They have done such terrible things.
God does not hold victims or sinners in contempt. In fact, Isaiah 61:1-4 describes why God sent Jesus to earth:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. (ESV)
Now, take out your piece of paper and list all the ways you might have been a victim of sin and any of your sins that you feel you just cannot throw off. It might be a long list or a very short one. Either way, I want you to choose some of the phrases from the above passage and write them across your list. God wants to use you and build up His kingdom through you. That is why He sacrificed His Son. Do not let Satan determine your effectiveness!
            I know that this has been a bit of a depressing post, but I really wanted us to see the ways our self-esteem is destroyed. However, I want to leave things on a positive uplifting note. God has called us to be lights to the world (Matthew 5:14-16). When our self-esteem is too much or too little, it turns inward, not outward, but chasing after self-esteem through external things, unbiblical standards, or under Satan’s heel are not things God can use to light up the world.  Imagine for a moment that you have two large ceramic flower pots, the terra cotta colored ones. One of the flower pots is in perfect condition not a scratch or a chink anywhere. The other one has definitely seen better days. There are chunks missing out of the sides, cracks running around the top; it is not a pretty pot! Now you place a candle inside of each and turn off the lights. Which pot will give off more light? That’s right; the damaged one. The perfect pot will only shine light straight up which will not be much use for lighting up a room. The broken pot will let the light blaze forth through its brokenness and damage to illuminate every corner. The same is true for us. When we try to make ourselves “perfect” to bolster our self-esteem we become useless to God. He needs our imperfections, our brokenness, and our dependence on Him not things of this world to shine forth.
            One of my favorite passages in the entire Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Satan comes to attack the apostle Paul. He gives Paul a “thorn in the flesh.” We aren’t told what it is, but you can tell it is really doing a number on Paul’s self-esteem and his usefulness to the kingdom. In fact, he asks God three times to take it away. Have you ever asked God repeatedly to fix something that you think is wrong with you? Paul tells us God’s answer, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (verse 9a).” I hope you hear what God is telling Paul and us. Those things you dislike about yourself, your circumstances, the failings you feel as a wife, mother, or Christian, the shadow of your past, those are the things that God can use. You are just right for God just the way you are!
Letting His power show through my shortcomings in the treehouse,


Summary Saturday: When In Rome

Our week started out with my attempt at making homemade strawberry jam for the first time. After getting all of those delicious strawberries last week, I just had to make some jam. You would think with my love of cooking that I would have already managed this one, but not true. Thanks to lots of help from my mom via phone (Thanks, Mom!) she walked me through the process which was a lot of this type of conversation:

Me: The SureGel instructions say to do xxx.

Mom: Yeah, you don't have to do that. Just do xxx. It works just as well and is a lot faster.

That's why you ask your mother these things. She gives you permission to break the rules! Here is how my jam turned out:

It tasted soooo good too! I forget how much better homemade is until you have it after eating store bought for so long. Next up is dewberry jam (very similar to blackberries) since the dewberries are getting ripe around here.

Our biggest rabbit trail this week in school came courtesy of Chipette. She has not been happy with me since I bought this clock on clearance at Lowe's (only $10!). She is great at telling time, but these "weird numbers" had thrown her for a loop.

Since Roman numerals showed up on her MEP math worksheet for the day. I thought why not teach her how to read that strange clock and have a little fun. Here she is filling in the whiteboard with the Roman numerals on top and Arabic numbers (in case you didn't know it that's what we use) on the bottom. She caught on to the pattern pretty quickly. 

Next, she did addition problems using Roman numerals. She didn't miss any! I was quite impressed. When we were finished, she thought she was the coolest because she had done math like an "ancient Roman kid".

Magpie started working on the letter G this week. We kick off each week's letter with Do-A-Dot worksheets from Homeschool Creations (one of my favorite websites for teaching toddlers and preschoolers even if you don't homeschool!). While Magpie does each dot with her paint markers she has to make the sound of the letter. This really helps to cement those letter sounds right at the beginning of the week.

We've also recently started nightly family devotional/Bible studies. A friend of mine posted on Facebook about a month ago that if you want a 100% guarantee that your children will grow up to be Christians, then having a father-led Bible study is the way to do it. I told my friend that I teach my children Bible during the day as part of our homeschool. While she said that was wonderful, that having fathers leading Bible studies is even more important for a child's faith. Here is a picture of My Man teaching Chipette and Magpie from Genesis. Monkey and I usually hang out on the floor as I try to control Monkey so he doesn't interrupt!

And last, but not least, here are Magpie and Monkey acting silly, playing on the changing table in Monkey's room. Which gave me an idea that when Monkey is out of diapers that changing table will make a really good shelving unit!

Praying all of you had wonderful weeks as well!

Rockin' the Roman numbers in the treehouse,



Wordless Wednesday: Magpie Volcano

Our volcano made from pillows with Magpie buried underneath to show how magma forces it's way to the top and.......

The destruction of said mountain that results! (Monkey is seriously worried!!!)

Somedays we all "blow our top" in the treehouse,



Tasty Tuesday: Devil Muffins

This year we've been trying out different muffin recipes in our house. The reason for this delicious experiment is our homeschool group that meets on Friday. We have to get up, dressed, and out of the house quickly, so I started making muffins for breakfast on Friday morning. They are portable, filling, and easy.

I'm going to share with you the most recent muffin to enter our rotation. The lady who described this recipe online called them "devil muffins" because you can't eat just one. I agree!

Here is what you need to make Banana Chunk Muffins:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 mashed, ripe bananas
1/2 a bag of chocolate chunks
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

First, mix melted butter, egg, milk, vanilla, and bananas in a large bowl.

Next, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl and mix well.

Finally, add the chocolate chunks and the oats.

Mix well.

Fill up a lined or sprayed muffin pan with batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Then enjoy your "devil muffins" and share with friends and family!

Dedicating this recipe to one of my best friends, Stephanie, who inspired this post in the treehouse,



Mama Monday: Proverbs 31 Woman Verses 1-3

While the politicians and commentators in our country have put the SAHM front and center over a battle of women who work and those who do not, (If you have no idea what I'm talking about do a quick Google search of Mitt Romney's wife and Hillary Rosen.) it reminded me of a personal devotional I did many years ago. While the world and politics may have a certain definition of what it means to be a "working" wife and mother, God defined that role as well. In probably the most famous chapter about being a woman: Proverbs 31 (ESV).

After I had been married a couple of years, I went throught this chapter verse by verse and wrote my thoughts down. I have decided for the next few Mama Monday posts to let everyone into my private thoughts and journal and share my ideas on what being a true "working" wife and mother is all about. Please be kind as you read these. Remember these are my thoughts and convictions (aka you don't have to agree!), but it would be a worthwhile exercise for any Christian mother to do.

The words of King Lemuel, An oracle that his mother taught him:

      What power a woman has! She instructs kings in their youth and the lowliest servant as well. The true glory of a woman is to know that God has blessed her with an insight to form the future of the world. The children who sit at a mother's feet and listen to her words will one day be the people in power and the people under their rule. How blessed is the mother whose children have heeded her words. How awesome is the responsibility of women to shape the future of the world. What confidence God has in us to undertake such a task! My only amazement is how any woman attempts to be a mother without God's direct leadership and assistance. I believe that many problems in the world today are the result of mothers doing just that. God gave us the responsibility; we must give Him the power to work through us.

What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?

     Mothers are not only instructors to their children but also provide discipline. Some of the best lessons learned in life are those where discipline occurred. It is a mother's duty to call her children on inappropriate behaviors. If they have not heeded her advice, then she will force them to listen. Children who have learned right from wrong will be able to go out into the world and tackle any and all problems. Those are the times when they will stand up in front of a group and say, "Thanks, Mom." Equal amounts of advice and discipline that is a mother's legacy.

Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.

     Unfortunately along with the power to create and build up, comes the power to destroy. Men are powerful, but when it comes to women, men can become weak. It is important for men to keep their wits about them and make wise choices when it comes to women. The wrong one will ruin their life. It is important for all women to take an inventory of themselves and see if they are building men up or pulling them down. Not only can a woman destroy a king, but inversely, she can make one. Women must check their thoughts, actions, and motives when it comes to men to make sure that they are creating a king for God not destroying one. There is a reason for the saying, "Behind every good man is a great woman."

Married to a king and raising a prince in the treehouse,


Scripture Sunday: Self-Esteem Defined

            If you’ve been around children’s sports in the last ten or fifteen years, you might have noticed a strange trend, there is no score-keeping. Kids battle it out for an hour, but in the end there are no winners or losers. Everyone walks off the field or court “equal”. Or take the modern American classroom. Many schools have stopped using the traditional A-F grading scale. Instead, they give children a grade of “pass” or “fail”. That means the A student and the C student both get the same grade.

            So why have we shielded our children from experiencing losing the game or getting a “C” in math?  Self-esteem. We don’t want our children to feel badly about themselves. In fact, that is how our society has defined it. Self-esteem is feeling good about you and what you can achieve. We read books about how to have it. We go to therapy or take medications if we don’t (I am not talking about clinical depression!). You would think in the richest, most free country in the world we would have more self-esteem than anyone else in history.  However, there has been a 400% increase in the use of anti-depressants from 1988-2008. In fact, 1 out of 10 Americans age 12 and older take them, and less than 1/3 of people on anti-depressants have actually seen a mental health professional in the last year (Harvard Health Letter, October 20, 2011).

            While one could argue a lot of reasons for an increase in the use of anti-depressants, I believe our culture has defined self-esteem and the basis for it incorrectly. We need to change our definition to what God requires. God does not expect us to feel good about ourselves; He expects us to feel right about ourselves. Most of the time feeling right about ourselves should lead us to positive thoughts, but sometimes feeling right about ourselves should lead us to repentance. Our self-worth in God’s eyes should be the basis of our self-esteem as Christian women. Let’s compare worldly self-esteem to God’s view of self-esteem.

First, self-esteem should be exemplified by a consistency in thought. Notice I didn’t say a consistency in feeling. As humans, and women especially, our feelings are not a Biblical standard. In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”(ESV). The Hebrew word used for “heart” in this verse can mean our emotions and feelings. Something described as “deceitful” and “desperately sick” in God’s word is not something we want to heed in our lives! Feelings fluctuate from day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute. My husband is always amazed by our daughters’ ability to be extremely upset and sobbing one minute, then laughing and smiling the next!

            If you listen to our culture, it tells you that how you feel about yourself is the most important part of self-esteem, but our feelings will carry our mind and attitudes from highs to lows and back again, day in and day out. We must train our thoughts to anchor our self-esteem so that it is not tossed about by feelings. This is not easy! It requires constant dedication and attention to our moods with Biblical thoughts to counteract feelings. Once you actually spend a day paying attention to the things you say to yourself in your mind, you might be shocked at how much your feelings hurl insults at your self-worth.

            Second, self-esteem should be focused on others. There are two extremes when it comes to self-esteem, those with too much and those with too little. The first group is commonly known as narcissists. These are people who have excessive self-admiration. They are the best. Everything should be focused on them, their abilities, their lives, etc.  The second group has low self-esteem. They feel like they can do nothing right. When something goes wrong, it is always their fault. If only they had been prettier, a better mother, a better wife, a better whatever, then xyz wouldn’t have happened. As extreme as these views are, they have one thing in common. It’s all about me! Either I’m the focus because I’m so wonderful or I’m the focus because I’m so awful. Neither of these views is correct or godly.

            I always say that God is a God of balance; extremes usually lead to sin. This idea is never truer than when it comes to self-esteem. When you have Biblical self-esteem, that confidence flows outward to others. Paul talks about this exact thought in Philippians 2:3, when he writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (NASB). You might find it odd to read a verse talking about humility of mind when self-esteem is the topic, but the two are completely intertwined. You cannot be humble or serve others if you are selfish. Having too much self-esteem or not enough self-esteem both lead to selfish behavior. Here is a short story to illustrate this point:

Mary is a narcissist. She doesn’t feel like she should have to do anything for the church unless she gets the starring role and lots of recognition. She is so good at so many things that she always wants to be in charge. She shouldn’t have to help clean up! She organized the entire event. Sandy, on the other hand, suffers from low self-esteem. She doesn’t want to help clean up either. Sandy is always asked to do menial jobs like cleaning up the fellowship hall. She knows it’s just because she doesn’t have any real talents. They always have the people without talent clean, so she does as little as she can. Why does she even come to these things? It just makes her feel bad about herself.  Louise has a Biblical view of self-esteem. She enjoys serving in whatever capacity she is asked. She doesn’t necessarily like cleaning, but she does like helping others and the Lord’s kingdom. She knows that she is defined by more than the job she is doing tonight, so she goes about cheerfully doing what needs to be done even if no one thanks her or even notices.

Do you see how extremes of self-esteem lead to a selfish heart and ultimately a “me” focused attitude? We have all known women that fall into each of the above categories. Maybe at times we have fallen into all three of those categories. I know I have! But we should find ourselves becoming more and more like Louise and less and less like Mary and Sandy.

            Finally, as Christians our self-esteem should be found in the cross. This is where the world’s version of self-esteem is most incorrect. The world tells you self esteem is found in externals, looks, children, intelligence, husband, marriage, home, job, etc.  But God tells us that our self-esteem is found in the cross and what it represents. If you want to think right about yourself, you have come to the correct place. The cross will tell you that you are worth more than anything else in God’s eyes. You are worth the life of His innocent Son. The cross will tell you that you are undeserving and a sinner. That you still have things to work on that God wants to perfect in you. You are not better than anyone else. You are not worse than anyone else. You are a Christian woman made to serve a God who wants you to realize that you are fabulous, wonderful, and purchased at a great price so that He can make you into what He wants you to be.

Up next, Self-Esteem Destroyed

Thinking right in the treehouse,



Summary Saturday: Strawberry Fields Forever

Lots of pictures for this post, so words will be minimal!

First up is Magpie showing her Fingerpainting of the letter F.

Next, she is working on her letter worksheet. She has to find all of the capital and lowercase letters of our letter for that week on a special worksheet included in the Heart of Dakota Little Hands to Heaven manual. She loves her worksheet because she gets to use Mom's highlighter to find the letters and normally the highlighters are off limits!

Our science experiment this week was to do some tongue mapping. That's right there is a map to your tongue. Different areas of your tongue are designed to detect different tastes, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. The experiment was to close your eyes while I dip a cotton swab into one of four substances: maple syrup (sweet), salt water (salty), coffee (bitter), and vinegar (sour). Well apparently Chipette and I do not have the trustworthy type of relationship that I hoped we had. That child would not let me put things on her tongue!!! I kept telling her to stick out her tongue farther so I could reach the spots on her tongue I needed. Vinegar was the second thing we tested and after that she was done! (Chipette: How could you put something that gross on your daughter's tongue?!?!) Magpie on the other hand went through the experiment like a champ! Here are all of our supplies and our tongue maps:

Here is Chipette putting some maple syrup on the tip of her tongue. That is where your sweet taste buds are located.

Of course Monkey loved this science experiment! It involved eating; his favorite past time. There wasn't a thing he tasted that he didn't like, even the vinegar! His favorite was the coffee though. Here is what the coffee cup looked like when we were done:

As you can see, one cotton swab was just not enough for my coffee loving 2 year old!

Our homeschool group took another field trip this past week to a strawberry farm. Their final 6 week class will be about gardening. We picked 6 pounds of fresh strawberries for $2 a pound. I'm planning on making some strawberry jelly, strawberry pie, and strawberry shortcake with them.

Monkey found a strawberry!

Chipette and Magpie busy picking:

Monkey coming back from the wagon with his sippy cup and lovey blanket. Both of which are required for berry picking!

Just a sample of the berries we picked:

I hope everyone had a good week too!

Knowing exactly where to place that strawberry on my tongue to get the maximum amount of sweetness in the treehouse,