Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup muffin tin (or coat with non-stick spray).
Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg & baking powder. Set aside. Beat together 2/3 cup butter and 1 cup sugar, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time and beat in. Add dry ingredients in three portions, alternately with milk, combining just until well mixed. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Bake 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. Cool about 3 minutes, then remove from pan.
While still warm, use a pastry brush to brush muffins with melted butter and then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture until the muffins are well coated on all sides.
As future hopes for my children constantly whirl through my mind, one characteristic we consistently strive for is having the heart of a servant. All of us have the natural, sinful tendency to withdraw from hard work, to choose our own selfish desires over taking care or doing something for someone else and my children are no different! But Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and so I want to teach my children the joy in imitating our Savior by serving the needs of others.
When you have a big family, its easy to come up with ways for everyone to be involved in serving. At ages seven, four and three, Mikias, Molly Kate and Miles already set the table for dinner every evening (Miles puts out the placemats, Mikias the napkins and Molly Kate the silverware). Mikias serves by feeding Annie every morning and giving her weekly baths. Miles generally serves by cleaning up various messes, whether its mud on the kitchen floor or getting rid of dead bugs! Whenever I need one of the children’s help with something, I always phrase the question with “Will you serve Mommy by doing…?” And whenever any of the children randomly do something for someone else, like put another child’s shoes in the basket or take clean laundry to their rooms, I always try to praise them for serving another. Pointing out even the tiniest of ways that the kids are helpful in the home encourages them to keep on keepin’ on in their service to our family and ultimately to the Lord!
An even bigger part of teaching them to serve as Jesus serves is attitude and that’s where I become the biggest influence. If I constantly complain about how much work there is to do around the home or begrudgingly make a meal for a sick friend, what do my children learn about serving? Certainly not how to serve in joy and gratitude!! As the kids have gotten older and I’m noticing more the eyes that are always watching me, I’ve begun to regularly pray each morning that God would grant me the heart of a servant, that I would work as unto the Lord each day, even in the most menial tasks and that I would be joyful in it all. Now, I’m the first to say that, sadly, it doesn’t always play out that way and I often grow impatient in serving everyone all day long. But I’m striving for better, and trusting God’s grace to grow me in my ability to serve without complaint.
Last night following dinner, we were all in the backyard enjoying the cool weather and each other. After about twenty minutes, I started to head inside to clean up the dinner dishes, knowing that I needed to get a head start before it was time to get everyone ready for bed. Molly Kate said “Mommy, please stay outside and play!” I told her I would love to but the kitchen needed to be cleaned and it was my job to get it done. Without any prompting she replied, “Well then, I’m going to help you.” I really hadn’t thought about teaching her to do dishes yet, but let me just tell you that she rinsed every dinner bowl and dish (we had soup last night!), then washed the dirty pots and utensils and even dried up the water that got on the counter! It was such a huge help to me and while she worked on that, I was able to wipe down the table and sweep all the crumbs. This is one more added bonus of teaching your children to serve…it makes having a large family much more manageable and frees Mommy up to do the fun stuff, like play ball in the backyard! I thanked her for so willingly serving us and wouldn’t you know, she asked to do it again today!
I snapped this picture of her cleaning the lunch dishes…notice that smile? When she finished, I took her face in my hands and said “Molly Kate…one day, if God wills, you will be such a blessing to your husband and your family. That you can joyfully clean the dishes and do it willingly without complaining will bless the heart of your husband and he will thank God for such a wife.” Oh to see how much her smile widened! Thank you God for the grace to be an example of service to the little eyes always watching me.
I love being friends with talented people 🙂 My friend, Lindsay is one such person (though I love her for much more than her amazing photography skills!). So when she asked to snap a few photos of our family after church Sunday to see if her camera was working properly, I eagerly agreed! I can’t believe what you see below was shot in about five minutes! Thank you Lindsay…what a treat!
We finished these projects back in the summer, but I kept forgetting to post them. Our bedroom was in pretty sad shape from the time we got married. Forever we kept the bedding I had as a single Cru staff girl and I admit, it was a little feminine for a master bedroom! I love our sleigh bed, but the chest of drawers was starting to look dated and we had inherited mis-matching old nightstands from my grandparents. Thankfully, my parents gave us this new bedding last Christmas from Pottery Barn and we both love it. Once I went on my crazy painting binge, I decided to update our furniture with an awesome shade of gray from Benjamin Moore. I couldn’t be happier with the results and our hold hand-me-down nightstands now have an ultra-cool vibe! I’m still amazed what a pint of paint and some cheap hardware can do for old furniture!
One thing about being a home school mom with four little ones is that your kids are always with you…that means, if there are errands to be run, the kids are most likely running with you! Whenever I’m in a public place with my kids (like the grocery store, post office. doctor’s office, etc.), I get a range of looks and comments. The number one comment is, of course, “you’ve got your hands full!” I always think that one’s funny because I can’t imagine, should the Lord give us more children one day, what people will say then! But, almost as often, I hear “are they all yours?” This question always makes me smile because I recall the days when we were little girls and my mom would take Amy and I along with our two childhood friends, who happened to also be sisters, out and about. She never failed to entertain that question a time or two when running around town with four little brown-haired girls. It also makes me smile because who in their right mind would try to do their weekly grocery shopping with children that aren’t theirs? Seriously people!
Nevertheless, my desire when I’m running around town with my crew of little people is that we would be a sweet aroma of Jesus and great example that having a big family can be fun and rewarding, not taxing and annoying. So I thought I would share something that has become vital to us for successful errand-running….pep talks! Pep talks in no way replace regular training and discipline of the children in the home, but a quick reminder of the rules and expectations before entering anywhere with all of my children usually ensures a peaceful and happy trip, whether we’ve got a long list of groceries to buy or we have to stand in an unusually long line at the post office. As we’re pulling into the parking lot, I begin with “Okay guys, we’re about to do…what do we do when we’re at the…?” I try to keep the rules the same for each situation. At the grocery store for example, they know that they are to stay behind me in a single file line so that other shoppers can easily get around us, they aren’t to ask for anything that’s not on mommy’s list and they aren’t to touch anything when we get to the checkout. Having simple rules that pretty much stay the same in each type of situation keeps the confusion at minimum and with clear expectations, you can better set your kids up to succeed. Sometimes I’m surprised by how many people come up to me and comment on how well-behaved our children are (probably because I see them so much at their worst!). I always use the opportunity to give praise to the Lord for what sweet treasures they are and then thank God for the women in my life that showed me the importance of our quick pep-talks…not because I want to appear like I have the perfect children…not at all. But because I know that when people see a peaceful mommy and four respectful, obedient children in the middle of a long doctor’s office wait, we have the opportunity to give an answer for the hope that is within us…people notice loving, happy, kind-hearted children who think of others and its an amazing entry-gate to the gospel.
So, if you dread having to go the grocery store this week with your kids in tow, why not try a brief pep-talk before you go in? Give two or three clear expectations (and make sure they know they will also be disciplined if they disobey…this is certainly a key component!) and see if it doesn’t result in a bit of a better experience for all of you! And maybe God will even provide you an opportunity to be salt and light in the middle of it all!
Some days I struggle like crazy to love the life God has called me to…the responsibilities and daily demands of taking care of five other people on my body, heart and soul are continually draining and I have to pray and fight to remain joyful when I am just plain tired! But then there are days like today…I have been so sick this week, Madden is even more sick than I am and none of us wanted to do school today. I prayed that God would excite our hearts to learn and that we would be focused. We must have had a million interruptions and my head was all over the place, but still we gained new insights (like learning there were probably dinosaurs on the ark) and reached new goals (Molly Kate read a whole story and Mikias mastered some handwriting problem areas). And to top off the day, we had a wedding! This is what I love about schooling at home…we were almost finished with our study of dinosaurs and it was time to prepare lunch. Molly Kate had adorned herself in full wedding attire and Mikias suggested Miles wear an old tuxedo given to us by the Wheelers. She was “ready to get married so she could have a baby!” I knew the wedding needed to take place before lunch and while Madden was still napping, so I had Mikias take a break from his history activity to take on his role as father of the bride. With Canon in D playing softly in the background, our beautiful bride met her groom (a.k.a. brother Miles), was given away by her father (a.k.a. brother Mikias) and married by the minister (a.k.a. Mommy). The best part was the kiss…Miles could barely lift the veil and immediately after planting a big smack-a-roo on Molly Kate, he announced that his nose was running! I video-taped the entire ceremony…it was just too cute. And as we watched it over lunch, I thanked God for letting me be a part of this life. My children really are such precious treasures.