Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trust in the Lord

...and lean not on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5-6 were verses my mom taught me when I was a very small girl. A half century or so later, I'm still learning the depth of their meaning.

Senior Year Fine Arts

Last month Kelsie participated in her last Fine Arts Festival. Playing sacred and classical piano solos, she placed first and third respectively!


And she and Em played another duet - something they've enjoyed doing for several years now... Together they placed second.

Amy, Emily, and Hannah all did quite well in their own right, and overall, our little community was well represented!

Plus this year, the CHEWV group included some other sweet friends!

My favorite part? Listening to Kelsie practice Great is Thy Faithfulness. One of my favorite passages, it was easy to worship along when she played.

"Summer and winter and springtime and harvest...great is Thy faithfulness!"

Monday, April 9, 2012

Labor of Love

Some days I am reminded of how blessed I am. This is one of those days. Two dear friends gave me two lovely presents – each a labor of love. And each something they knew I would love.

First, this lovely.


Hand quilted, the background is log cabin piecing. The fabrics are perfect with a touch of blue, darker country reds, and stripes. The house reminds me of the “tea towel” that hangs in my kitchen. I have no idea if my friend thought of it, but the tree also reminds me of the arboretum rock bearing the quote from Kilmer, “Only God can make a tree.” And the frame? One that I have [covetously] admired in Joan’s house...

The other gift was this beautiful gardening trellis.


I adore rustic garden pieces (as my friend knows), so this is perfect! She included a packet of morning glory seeds - a flower I have thought of growing for years. Plus she agreed to help me make more teepees for my pole beans. I am certainly surrounded by the raw materials needed to make these lovely garden ornaments – or are they practical garden supplies? I love how it’s impossible to know where practicality ends and beauty begins.

Both these ladies gave me of their time, talent, and heart. I am so blessed to have many precious friends – who give of themselves constantly and bless me and my family. Not just tangible gifts. I mean fellowship, hospitality, encouragement, and prayer. Godly friendships are treasured and priceless.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.


(This post was written a couple weeks ago except I didn't get the pics ready to post until now. It was during a particularly stressful time - which is partly why the surprise was so lovely!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Resurrection

Spring is perfect for the celebration of Easter. God has remarkably given us His creation as a word picture of His Truths!

The heavens declare the glory of God…

I love how understanding the world helps me understand more of God. So spring is my favorite time of year: the flowers are coming back to life after being dormant in the ground - as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection!



First death, then life. It’s beautiful in so many ways!

Other things in His creation speak to me. Like bread.

I am the bread of life.
This is my body which is broken for you.

I love the word picture of bread and yeast. In Scripture, yeast is usually a symbol for sin.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

When the girls were little, we would speak of this as we watched the yeast proof.




In Old Testament times during Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not only the bread, but also the entire house, was to be free of yeast. That yeast-free bread is what Christ held up at the Passover Feast when He said, “This is my body…” A sinless life. His purity for our sinfulness. “He paid a debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.” I love the symbolism of unleavened bread!

And I marvel when I learn about the nutrition in freshly milled whole wheat flour. To me it is a picture of Christ. The Bread. When we take it exactly as He offers it, it is rich.



And so everything outside my window today and what is going on inside my kitchen reminds me of this precious season of remembrance.

Lest I forget…

Monday, March 26, 2012

Flowering Trees

I suppose if I consulted our gardening journal I would know how long we’ve been waiting for our flowering trees to give us gorgeous spring blossoms… However it doesn't really matter; I’m simply rejoicing in the first flowers!

Sent to us for free one year from the Arbor Day Foundation, I’m simply loving that we have beautiful flowering trees in our garden! They'll be leaving the garden this year to find their permanent home elsewhere... Along with my pecan trees which are much younger.

I really love working with our property, investing in long term projects. It's so rewarding to see the fruits from things that we planted years ago.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grandma’s Bush

I think I post pictures of this darling little bush every year, but I adore it. Mom got a “slip” for it from my great-grandmother’s childhood homestead (a ruined cabin in overgrown woods when we visited) and we love the sweet pink blossoms we get every spring. It reminds us of Big Grandma. And it’s a signal that spring is here!







Thursday, March 22, 2012

Knitting and Dickens

I took my knitting in a bag to the Senior High Fine Arts Festival this year. There are always long gaps in between performances for the judges to make their remarks, so having something to fill the time seemed like a good idea. Knitting seemed tote-able, and I've been doing a lot of it recently. (Yes, this probably has something to do with the patterns I got from the United Kingdom Hand Knitting Association. They are too cute! I'm currently working on this sweet little thing.)

Sitting there with my needles going click-ity-click, I found myself feeling like Madame Defarge and shuddering. Aren't there any nice women who knit in books? None others were coming to mind... So I laughed heartily when a dear friend leaned over and mentioned the very same literary reference (A Tale of Two Cities, in case you're wondering). I do so love having friends who know Dickens! Even if it means being likened to a horrible, hard-hearted shrew. :P



On a completely different note, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this bright aqua yarn on Kels' purple needles. So colorful! So not me! But for a few hours of knitting, I'm enjoying the bright colors that I would never pair together in the real world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Only My Gardening Friends Will Truly Understand

Only those of you who garden will truly be able to understand why my heart is singing over these little green sprouts. And maybe not even then… Maybe it’s something peculiar to those of us who raise our plants from seeds (even saving seeds year to year – not something I’m good at yet).


I’ve been running out to check my winter sowing jugs for days now, watching as the first little seedlings appeared and began to grow. I’m delighted with how my little sprouts are doing; so far winter sowing has been a successful endeavor!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Helper

It's so nice when guests help with the dishes :-)


And here our little guest helps me "text."


Brings back sweet memories... "Sugar and spice and everything nice!"

Monday, March 5, 2012

Homeschool Day at the Capitol

Last week we were privileged to attend Homeschool Day at the Capitol with several of our friends and co-workers.


This has been a rather busy year with homeschooling threats at both the county and state level, and although we prefer to just spend our time on education...when pressed, we consider preserving our liberties part of civics ;-).

So HSDC seemed even more important this year, and although it is not just an event for lobbying, that is certainly an exciting part of the day.


The entire Capitol is filled with history and beauty!



Although our family has been to the capitol numerous times before, we had never set foot on the actual house floor. Yet the first time we took these three lovely ladies with us, one of the delegates invited us to the house chamber and showed us the Speaker's electronic system for chairing the house! We should have brought them along years ago! Hannah is obviously ready to voice her opinion on the house floor!


Amanda Pasdon, Monongalia County delegate, is also a homeschool graduate! We were pleased to finally meet her.


Several of our local students performed during the rally. Here Amy sings II Chronicles 7:14: a fitting verse for our day.

The following day the house passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - supported by all the delegates we visited! What good precedent for participation in our government "of the people and by the people!"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Iron Lady

Walking out of the theater, having just seen Iron Lady, Mom, a pensive look on her face, turned to ask Kate and me, "So what do you think the movie was about?"

My opinion:
Iron Lady takes a look at the life of Margaret Thatcher, her political achievements, the difficult times she led her country through, and the tough decisions that she was willing to make in office. Yet we don’t follow the story chronologically; instead we first meet Margaret as an elderly woman who is treated condescendingly by her staff and is having hallucinations about her dead husband. I think the movie skillfully begs a few questions: Did all her years in office really mean anything long term? Was her family happy? Near the end of her life, is she happy with the choices she made?



Margaret’s conservative political views were beautiful, and I mostly agree with everything she tried to accomplish in office (at least what the movie portrayed; I need to do more research), but the movie consistently showed her leaving her children behind by joining Parliament. It showed her husband discontent and feeling neglected. It showed her daughter feeling as if her mother’s political concerns were of more importance than she. Margaret’s love is politics, and she invests her life in it.

But eventually Margaret is forced to retire as her fellow Conservatives find it expedient to compromise with the Labor party and let England take a more socialist path. In the ensuing years, her daughter questions her sanity, sends her to see specialists, and is unwittingly patronizing. Her son is off living in South Africa, barely a part of her life. And as her life draws to an end, Margaret finds herself fondly dwelling on the few pleasurable times she spent with her family, rather than her fellow politicians. But as her husband (in hallucination form) reminds her: you can rewind the video tape but you can’t get those years back.


Yes, Margaret Thatcher took some amazing stands as Prime Minister. I believe God may have used her to stem the tide of socialism in Britain. But when it comes right down to it: did it make any eternal difference? As Prime Minister, she was replaceable. But as Dennis’ wife and Carol and Mark’s mother? Those were roles that only she could fill. When Dennis asks her to marry him, she passionately explains that she’ll never be one of those women who are content to keep house, or who, she disdainfully says, will "die washing a tea cup." Yet that is exactly what she finds herself wanting to do as the movie closes. Just wash her own tea cup rather than have everything taken out of her hands... Just spend time with Dennis who is long dead... Just have Mark come to visit her... While the nations’ politics have drastically changed in the hands of her colleagues, that’s not the sting in her life. What she really longs for is her family.

Margaret may have taken all the right political stands, but her male colleagues had trouble working with her. Men (in general) won’t submit to woman’s leadership; that’s not the way God designed it. And truth be told, Margaret’s Biblical responsibility was to love her husband and children and be a keeper at home. Her political concerns should still have been important, but secondary to her primary calling… While Dennis is a large part of the movie, rarely is it actually a flash back to when he was alive. Rather, it is usually Margaret's own regrets reflected in her hallucinations of him. She honestly has no idea if he was ever happy...

It’s a sad movie but very thought-provoking.

And I walked out of the theater thinking: Is this really what the filmmaker wanted to say? Maybe not...

But he did an amazing job of saying it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Oreo" Cookies from Scratch

I have a recent addiction to Oreo cookies... particularly Golden Oreos. I think I've found a bit of happiness in cookie form. :) But as I've been enjoying my serving and a half of cookies (does anyone really stop at just two?), I've also been watching a Sue Becker healthy diet DVD which has gotten my inner health-nut giving my conscience a rough time. My solution to the Oreo dilemma? Make them! I thought that surely with all the marvelous cooks on the internet, someone somewhere had tried to duplicate the magnificent Oreo cookie with some success. And surely I could just substitute freshly ground whole wheat flour...

A mere Google search later, I had a stack of recipes in hand and was headed for the kitchen.



But a few hours later I was quoting Stonewall Jackson in Gods and Generals: "Ooo, too sweet!" No, these are not Oreo cookies. Not even close. Thankfully, I have a father who thinks nothing can be too sweet. So as soon as he (and most likely the kiddos tomorrow!) finish off my plate of attempted homemade Oreos, I'll move on to the next recipe... And hope for tastier results!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Joy in our Labor

...God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart...

I have, for quite a number of years now, heard people compare the important things in life to a ballgame. It goes something like this: "How can people get so excited at a ballgame but not be excited about – X?" Their point? We should be just as excited about X, but since we are not, we should feel guilty as if the ballgame must then be more important than X. The comparison always frustrates me. I honestly think it misses a most important point about life...

Life may be punctuated by huge occasions, but it’s the every-moment blessings that make for contentment. Joy is not an emotional high. Contentment is not a giddy feeling or an overwhelming rush. They are calm occupations of the heart. When we go to a ballgame and get very involved for the evening, it is of little consequence. Despite great emotion during the game, it’s meaningless by tomorrow morning when real life resumes. It is an "amusement." (A friend often reminds us that "muse" means think, and the prefix "a" means "not," so that amusement is "not thinking.")

On the contrary, the important things in life are usually steady endeavors that do not elicit emotional highs very often at all. We just can’t live on constant adrenaline. Urgent things might require adrenaline, but important things rarely do. For instance, I sit here this morning musing :) on the blessings of home, children, and marriage. A feeling of gratitude fills me and a joy at what God has given. But it doesn’t make me want to stand up and yell or wave my arms and cheer. It’s a gladness of heart.

In the same way we find purpose in perseverance. It wasn’t emotion on which I got up in the night to feed babies, or mopped the floor for the hundredth time, or put the same towels in the laundry I had already washed every week for years, or made supper for my family yet again. But those very occupations add up to the joy I feel this morning.

"...and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Very Loved

My daddy brought me a rose for Valentine’s Day, his sweet way of saying how much he loves me. But he says he loves me all the time…

When he spends hours working on a pretty picket fence for my garden when he would have been just as content with metal poles and chicken wire.

When, despite the fact that he can’t perceive of anyone not preferring chocolate, he also buys Golden Oreos, just because he knows they’re my favorites.

When he lets me finish listening to the Met’s archival performance of Norma rather than turning on Patriot Radio when we’re in the car together.

When he gathers our family around to read the Bible and pray together nearly every evening.

When he takes me to Barnes and Noble at weird hours so I can use that enticing coupon they sent me, all the time knowing that this will most likely not be the promised “quick stop”.

When he keeps a roaring fire going, so that our home is warm and cozy.

When… When… When…

I truly have a wonderful daddy, and it’s not just on Valentine’s Day that I realize how deeply he loves me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Time to Start Gardening!

With large, beautiful snowflakes falling right outside, you may think I've lost my mind, but it's true: I'm planting my garden in February this year. A friend sent me several links on winter sowing, and I'm truly fascinated by the idea. So I've collected a host of milk jugs and have bought my seeds and organic seed-starting soil.



Two types of sweet peppers, two types of tomatoes, parsley, basil, columbine, impatiens, nasturtium, and snapdragons are our choices this year for our annual trial-and-error attempts at starting our plants from seed. I'm also planning to do some seeds indoors under grow lights. It will be fun to compare the success of the ones outside in their little "greenhouses" to the traditional grow light/hardening off method.



Garden reading has also been in the forefront of my mind. Despite my love of cold weather, I'm almost ready for it to get warm so I can work in my strawberry bed, feed the rhubarb, and check off the rest of my growing list of gardening-to-do's. Almost... Since the snow is back, I guess I'll get my gardening fix with the winter sowing and making gardening lists. After all, I have all spring and summer to be outside. This is the time of year to spend free time quilting and reading by the fireplace... :)