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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great Learning Games

In our homeschool, I try to include fun learning opportunities whenever possible. That's not to say we don't have to memorize certain facts sometimes or work through difficulties in more tedious areas occasionally (like handwriting or grammar rules). But we enjoy using educational games to transfer information and provide mental stimulation. Let me share some of my favorites (so far)... and I want any of you who have favorite games in this vein to PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITES in the comments!

The Ten Days games were commended by Mensa as being both challenging and informative... and they really are. We have the Ten Days in Asia & the Ten Days in the USA games (so far)... and we've all learned more of Asian geography just from playing this game together. The goal is to put together a ten-day trip using a variety of transportation methods across the map. It's a fun and natural way to increase geography skills while building strategic thinking mental skills as well.

ZooLogic is a logic game for preschoolers. With simple rules (like "keep mice away from cheese, keep cats away from mice", "keep dogs away from cats & bones", etc.), children fill in the spaces on each puzzle with the pieces while following all the logical rules. Our oldest son has enjoyed this game for a while, but just today, our four year old sat down and figured the game out quickly and was captivated for nearly a half hour.

Blokus - this game is GREAT for building spacial awareness, strategic thinking, and also for transmitting simple things like counting (because, generally, you want to use up the larger pieces before using up the smaller pieces). Our four year old loves this game (and very recently has started to beat me-- without including any kind of "handicap"!). Our six year old loves challenging us to Blokus tournaments. And Doug & I love it. It comes in 2-player or 4-player versions, and is a very quick, easy-to-learn game that changes every time you play.

SOME BODY - This simple anatomy game is just right for early elementary aged kids to begin understanding basic body organs and their functions. Made similar to how "colorforms" used to work, with plastic re-stickable body parts, this gender-neutral, very simple game has given our older two children an understanding of the digestive process and how our various body parts work together, in a tactile and fun way.

We also enjoy Scrabble, Memory games, Dominoes, and other more traditional games as well. I'm considering adding "LoopIt" to our collection as a math game for this upcoming school year. I enjoy browsing this list of educational games each year as we consider what to add to our homeschool library/curriculum. And in the comments section of a semi-recent Challies blog post, readers contributed lists of their favorite family games, so if you're looking for ideas, you may want to check that out.

Do you have any games (educational, skill, or just fun) to add to the list or recommend to me or other parents? Please share them in the comments!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Politically Incorrect Trees

Over the years certain trees were favoured for quick shade or aesthetics.  However, some of these trees are no longer considered eco-friendly.  Rather than planting one of the trees listed consider planting a more appropriate tree for your planting zone.  If you already have one of the trees listed on your property consider replacing it with a more appropriate tree.Norway maple (Acer platanoides)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009 Reminder

Please remember to turn your lights off for one hour beginning at 8:30 PM tonight in celebration of Earth Hour.  Voting with your light switch will create a strong mandate for our leaders to make positive and decisive action on climate change in Copenhagen.  Please vote with your light switch!Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2006-2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Turning Point

Today I put up my bird transfer ware. It's a significant day as it marks a vision I had during our long remodel. Amidst dust, storage boxes, and utter chaos, I dreamt that one day, one beautiful calm day, I would put these up as a marker of spring.

My collection of transfer ware started fairly recently after I inherited my Grandmother's red transfer ware. I had these up at Christmas. She just loved her patterned plates and now I love them too as they remind me of her and our memories together around her dining room table.

My Grandmother would have loved this bird and floral pattern. Nestled up in the hills of Los Angeles, she fostered somewhat of a bird sanctuary with a large iron bird feeder that her mother had given her. She loved to watch the birds from her window and one of my favorite things to do as a young girl, was to fill the bird feeder up with bird seed and feel the swoosh of birds flying in all around me.

I hemmed and hawed about buying these plates. They no doubt made my heart go pitter pat when I saw them, but we were in the midst of our remodel and I knew we couldn't really afford them. So despite the fact that they were already marked down from $375. to $275, I made an offer for $200 (for a 21 piece set). and got them. I had oodles of kisses for hubby when I got home as he was the one I called when I was hemming and hawing. Thank you hubby for supporting my love of transfer ware.

The Gospel OR Complementarianism?: An Unnecessary Dichotomy

"The Gospel OR Complementarianism-- which one are you focused on?" I get asked this sometimes, particularly by eager egalitarians. They'll write something like, "I hear you talking a lot about the role of women but not a lot about the Gospel." Or, "Why spend our energy on the roles of men and women when there are people dying without the Good News?"

These are oversimplistic questions that, in my view, cloud rather than clarify the real issues at stake. We don't have to choose either to focus on the essentials of the faith or to delve into relevant life issues with depth and maturity. It is not an either/or discussion. It wasn't for Christ. It wasn't for the Apostle Paul. It wasn't for Luther. It isn't for Piper. It doesn't have to be for me.

Surely, it is possible to focus on biblical gender roles to the exclusion of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. But we could also focus in so specifically on the basic tenets of the Gospel that we leave disciples immature and incapacitated as they seek out practical principles from Scripture in order that they might live biblically and intentionally. Thankfully, the Bible makes it clear that we are not to "go and make converts"... but to go and make disciples. We can do that, even while sharing and living out the gospel, in a way that allows us to act as "iron sharpening iron" with members of the Body of Christ around us.

Who we're talking to, the purpose of the discussion, and giftings all come into play here.

When we're talking with unbelievers, surely we should speak of God's grace, His goodness, and the Good News. If questions about manhood/womanhood arise, we can offer wisdom and guidance from Scripture.

But when we're talking with believers-- particularly when *I'm* speaking with believing women, while lauding God's grace, goodness, and the Gospel, I'm also going to speak more specifically of matters of discipleship-- the way God's Word practically makes a difference in the daily life of a believing woman and her family. We'll talk about how God's Word affects marriage, career, the view of children, and the purpose of the family. We may examine the messages we hear from our culture & the world around us and how those things compare & contrast with the message of the Bible. We'll discuss how to love and serve our family, how to be pure, and how to meditate on God's Word so that we can competently offer wise counsel to the people around us.

Discipleship begins with and is centered on the gospel of Christ, and continues building on that firm foundation with practical, biblical wisdom, so that Christians can not only "Come," as Jesus called out, but also carry out the second part of His call, "Follow Me". The need for practical teaching, particularly for this wayward generation that is "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth", does not devalue the Good News of our hope in Christ!

When speaking with one who does not know Christ, it is not necessarily essential that I share or speak about specifics about biblical roles in marriage (although it could be something we discuss). What is essential is Christ. His saving power. The way He has conquered death and sin and made it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God.

When speaking with maturing Christian women about our role as wives, mothers, and disciples, though, I don't see how specifics can be avoided for very long.
  • When young moms of my generation ask why they feel so torn or devalued in this new role of "mother", I want to share what I've learned (having walked this road just a few years longer than they may have) about how the things we were told by our society as we grew up are significant factors in not only how we judge these things, but how the people around us view these roles. I try to encourage young women in this position to seek affirmation and encouragement from God's Word rather than from the approval of man. Knowing how God built us and the value HE places on mothers enables us to walk in joy rather than despair, in peace rather than guilt, and free rather than burdened.
  • When a new Christian wife is offended, rather than sharpened, by biblical advice to submit to her own husband, it is evident (to me) that she needs to step back from cultural demands and take on the culture of Christ. We all struggle with the idea that to serve is to be a doormat... but Jesus modeled such a perfect picture of how being a lowly servant of the people around us is honoring to God, and is THE path for the Christian. When we choose to follow Christ, whether we are married are not, we choose the path of servanthood, turning the other cheek, offering the cup of water, and loving even our enemy. The woman who has heard all her life that she needs to "stand up for her rights" needs to remember that Christ made Himself nothing. The woman who has been raised to "demand equality" needs to hear that instead of grasping after equality, Christ modeled humble servanthood.
There is practical, scriptural insight about being a new mom, young wife, and young woman. And it is just as relevant today as it was when it was written, thousands of years ago. I am so grateful for the practical nature of God's Word-- that I can read it and find real answers that help me in my time of need. And for me, I find it impossible to hold in the things that I learn... I am knit together in such a way that I want to share the things God has done & is doing; the things I have learned & am learning... in hopes that it might help others to follow Christ & honor Him more. Which leads me to my next point:

Whenever I do the spiritual giftings "tests", I always come up very strong in these few areas: exhortation, wisdom, teaching (and sometimes prophecy). The way God has built me plays into my own emphasis on these things. I feel compelled by the Spirit to share these things that have made a difference for me, been impressed on my heart from Scripture, and enable me to live more fully for Christ. It is not that I don't concern myself with the Gospel; not at all! Christ's victory over sin is my only hope; and knowing Christ is the very center of my joy!

And yet, once a woman comes to faith, she still has to grapple with daily discipleship-- following Christ as laid out in His Word. It is my delight (and an area where I hope to continue growing in wisdom and discernment) to encourage and help Christian women to follow Christ with great joy and sobreity, and to know and treasure His Word.

If your giftings are in evangelism, mercy, helps, or similar areas, it may seem as if those who focus in on practical issues of discipleship are not Gospel-centered, because the "four spiritual laws", "Romans Road", or the "plan of salvation" are not clearly outlined in each and every conversation or blogpost. However, the Good News of Christ's death, resurrection, and the grace He offers to each person... these things are foundational for understanding anything I share here. It is not either "the Gospel" or "practical Christian living"; it is both/and.

Absolutely I desire for women to know Christ! And after that, I want them to follow Him. I am burdened for the church. Those who call themselves Christians are, too often, struggling in their marriages, following after the world, chasing money, running after personal satisfaction, and they don't realize that the reason they are unhappy is because they aren't following Christ. It is as if Christian women have come to believe that salvation is a one-time event... and not a life-changing trajectory.

When a woman decides to follow Christ, oh, yes-- that decision is amazing! Celebrated in Heaven! It is an incredible day when she who was once lost chooses Whom she will serve. And yet, that choice is not a one-time event. Each day, she must choose Whom she will serve. Each day, she must decide to follow after Christ. And knowing what Scripture says is critical in that decision. Thus, the need for biblical exhortation and discipleship.

BUT! Discipleship is pointless if you don't know Who or what you're following. Serving your husband joyfully won't get you to Heaven. Being a "stay-at-home" wife & mom, being the consumate homemaker, and doing everything "right" won't merit God's grace. As important as I believe it is to understand how and why God has made us different as men and women, Christ alone is our hope! Knowing everything there is to know about biblical roles won't matter a hill of beans if a woman doesn't first know Christ.

If a young, unbelieving woman comes to me with questions, I don't go buy her a copy of "Biblical Manhood and Womanhood", as though salvation comes through knowing and living out your "role" as a woman. My hope is not in complementarianism. My hope is in Christ and His death in my place and His power to raise those who are dead in sin to new life.

At the same time, complementarianism is a helpful framework that gives language and structure for understanding and discussing the fundamental ways that God has designed men & women as different and yet equal before Him. I hope this post helps those who have asked these questions understand more fully my frame of mind when I discuss women's issues. My hope is in Christ. My trust is in His full payment for my sins. I simply find complementarianism to be a helpful way to think about practical life questions in a biblical, systematic way.

A Beautiful Walk

We set off at dusk for an evening walk through rolling hills.

Usually, we walk down into the valley where the horse stables are. But this night we decided to take our walk up to the quiet fields, secretly hoping to finally get a glimpse of the infamous Gilhouley Elk Herd that have been migrating through these parts for many years.

Last week we heard an elk bugling close by. So close that you couldn't help but watch the fields in hopes that you'd get a glimpse of the creature making so much noise. There are hundreds of elk footprints along our road, on our property and in the fields. But still, we had yet to actually see one face to face.

Until last night.

At first we spotted three along the horizon of the hill. As we got closer, we saw fourteen, and closer still, we saw twenty.
Twenty gorgeous elk grazing under the setting sun. Twenty gorgeous elk gazing at us and us back at them. It took our breath away, to see so many. What a blessing it is to share this mountain with such beautiful, majestic creatures.
It was one of the most beautiful nights of my life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Off To Texas

So in a few short hours we are off to the fabulous Marburger Farms show! Please say a prayer that our journey is smooth and we arrive safely. If you are among the lucky ones who are attending the shows during Round Top week please stop by and say hello! We are tent H, booth 14 and would love to see you. Please stay posted for pics when we return! Until then...


Monday, March 23, 2009

The Final Days

So here we are in the final countdown til we leave for Texas. Hard to believe, but I am so excited that it is that time again! I will see all my dear friends and fellow junkers, and I get to be in the company of extremely talented,fabulously gifted women who inspire me to keep getting better at what I do. Here is a list of the annointed ones:Teresa of Garden Antiques Vintage,Teresa of Time Worn Interiors,Peg of French Vanilla, Judy Hill of J.Hill Designs, Robin of Magnolia Pearl, Carol of Raised In Cotton and last but never least Deb of Curious Sofa. I am honored to be your friend...

Here is a little redo of the boothlet before I go...

A Drawer

This is our kitchen drawer. I'm posting on our kitchen drawer because this drawer makes me happy. I just love the colors and textures of shiny silver, wood, wicker and metal together.

I wish every drawer in our house offered such good feelings. They do not.

You may find it surprising that a lot of the items in this drawer are recycled. These items include: 

  • The flatware in the oval wicker basket in the back of the drawer. This flatware comes from my Grandmother's house. It was her everyday flatware so every birthday cake, pumpkin pie, and home cooked meal was eaten off them. I love the pattern but especially the monogrammed "B." I married a Mr. "B" so the monogram still works!
  • The wooden cutlery drawer this flatware sits in was my Grandmother's cutlery drawer as well. Love that.
  • I picked up the square wicker tray (an old paper tray) at an antique store several years ago.
  • The dark wooden cutlery drawer that sits in the wicker tray is something I picked up awhile back in Maine and have used it for over ten or so years.
  • The rest of the cream scoops, serving utensils, knives, bottle openers...are all vintage items.

Treasured Friendships: Face-to-Face Real & Online Real

Okay. I've been wanting to write this post for some time. About a month ago, one of my very best friends, the woman who has mentored me for nearly 15 years of my life, came for a week-long visit (courtesy of my parents and her husband-- THANK YOU!!!). And right after she left, something happened that showed me the value of online friendships as well.

There's nothing like having someone in person who can walk alongside you in real life. Someone who knows your strengths, your weaknesses, the hurts & celebrations of your heart, the things you've done well, and the things you're working on. That kind of friend is priceless.

I was so blessed to have Angie here for a week, for us to be able to spend extended amounts of time talking through life, sharing our joys and sorrows from recent years, and catching each other up on each of our kids and their personalities and lives (she has five, all older than my four). We are blessed when God blesses us with face-to-face friends with whom we can be genuine. Friends who will call us on any negatives in our life, listen to the authentic struggles we're facing, rejoice with life's "highs", and love us through it all. What a treasure to have such a friend!

As Angie and I woke up at 3:30 am to get to the airport for her flight back to Texas, I glanced over to our mailbox (which almost never has mail, since we aren't natives and virtually no one knows our address) and saw a bubble pack sticking out. I grabbed it and glanced at the sender, only to realize that it was from someone I've been blessed to meet through the blogging community, Catherine. I had completely forgotten that she had written and asked for my mailing address. I slipped her package into my purse and Angie & I had a good last hour or so together.

After tearfully dropping my good friend off for her flight home, I got back to the parking lot and remembered the package. Opening it up, I was blessed to find an extremely encouraging letter and a CD-- a "mixed tape" of sorts. Just a bunch of encouraging and fun songs from the heart of my friend Catherine. A friend I may never get to meet face-to-face. A friend that I may never verbally talk with. But, nonetheless, a real friend. We know some of each other's stories. We have celebrated some highs and shared some lows. We've talked philosophies, examined Scripture, and spoken truthfully to one another. And God worked it out so that I received her encouraging letter at what could have been a very sad moment in life. I'm so thankful for Catherine and the valued friendship we share.

However God brings friends into our lives, we can thank Him for it... for the treasure of real friendship. Authenticity. Understanding. Honesty. Thought-provoking conversation. Scriptural one-anothering. We live in a strange era where we can have really fruitful, engaging friendships with people that we once knew but no longer live near, or people who we have never known in person but have much in common with. Whatever the case, and in whatever form it comes, what a blessing God has given us in friendship!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Homeschool Conference 2009: Take-Away Thoughts

For the past 3 days, I've been fortunate to attend a homeschool conference held here where we live (what a blessing!). The speakers hailed from all around the world, having educated their children and students in a variety of countries, methods, and situations. While I didn't have anything like a ground-shaking experience of feeling like I learned something revolutionary (which is actually a blessing because that means that a lot of the conference confirmed many of the choices we've made!), I did come across a few noteworthy ideas.

Here are some of the things I learned or was reminded of that I hope to implement/include in our homeschool:
  • I want to investigate these recommended resources more specifically: The Treasure Tree- by John Trent, Learning Styles- by MD LeFever, Jolly Phonics board books with tactile letters to supplement language, Apologia Sciences.
  • Post a pictoral daily routine chart for our younger children... so that they have a visual to help them understand the general flows/patterns/habits of daily life.
  • Use dice & dominoes to do early math in a fun way (i.e., add the two dice, subtract the smaller from the larger, multiply, etc.).
  • Stop overcorrecting beginning writing! This was a REALLY GOOD POINT for me to hear... the presenter said, "we praise our children's scribbles to high heavens when they begin drawing... and then as soon as they start making genuine effort to write words that look familiar to our eyes, misspelled and misformed, our natural tendency is to rip their work apart by pointing out errors, making corrections, etc. It's OK to find one or two things for them to work on, but our first response should be something akin to, 'Well done!' rather than jumping into a critique. Would you want to write anymore if your honest efforts were met with a load of criticism?" (ouch! Good point!)
  • The #1 thing I walked away with-- Doug & I need to pray about, collaborate, write, and prominently post (i.e., on the fridge or wall) a set of our specific homeschool goals. I believe we've discussed these enough that we both could likely articulate these things in broad terms now, but having specifics, with scriptural references to support each aim, is something that could be tremendously beneficial when decisions need to be made concerning education, timing, opportunities that arise, etc.
Here is a list of questions she offered as potential conversation starters and indicators of deeper foundational beliefs as a Christian family considers what the goals of their homeschool might be. Perhaps these will be helpful for you:
  • What is the nature of God?
  • What is the nature of man?
  • Who or what is in control?
  • Who owns my child?
  • Who is responsible for my child?
  • Why do we educate?
  • What is our motivation for education?
  • What is the ultimate goal of education?
  • What's the purpose of life?
  • What is man's relationship to God?
  • For what am I preparing my child?
I'm looking forward to talking through these things with Doug over the next few weeks and months as we solidify some of the short- and long-term aims of our homeschool. What an incredible blessing it is to be able to speak into and shape the lives of our children each day... and I want to do it well, with every bit of wisdom God will pour out on me.

Sometimes I really stink at the living out the details of daily life in a way that matches up to our long-term aims. Ruts of poor interaction, where the distractions of routine and daily needs swallow up the larger goals (spiritual, emotional, interpersonal, etc.) we have for our family, can take hold and it can be difficult to shake loose of those bad habits.

So for me, a weekend spent focused on getting further training, remembering the big picture, assessing the past, and gearing up for the future has been three days well-spent. If you're a young homeschool mom, I'd encourage you to do something similar if you can.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Field of a Thousand Robins

We came across a field of robins the other day. Thousands of them, all in one field, gathering insects from the grassy earth. I have never seen so many Robins at once. You couldn't help but smile as these red breasted birds fluttered about in anticipation for Spring.
As our last week of Winter slowly winds into Spring, I leave you with this poem:
If there comes a little thaw
Still the air is chill and raw.
Here and there a patch of snow,
Dirtier down a marshy flood;
Ankle-deep you stick in mud
In the meadows while you sing,
"This is Spring."

-Christohper Pearce Cranch

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Garden Gnome©2006-2009Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2006-2009

Alistair Begg Pleads The Fifth (Commandment)

Came across this quote in a sermon I listened to this morning and thought it might speak to others... it's rich with potential fodder for thought.

“We honor our parents when we repay the love and trouble they’ve taken in our lives. The Pharisees were real bad at this stuff, and they tried to justify it by their commitment to the church. They were just downright hypocritical. They were saying this in Matt. 15—if a man says to his mother and father, “whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God", he is not to honor his father with it. And Jesus says, "thus, you nullify the Word of God."… In other words, you can’t weasel out of your commitment to your mum and dad because you’re giving to the building program at church. Don’t tell your parents you won’t be able to see them in Arizona because you’re tithing to the building plan.

Your parents are your parents. That’s what Jesus is saying. If there’s widows in your church and they’ve got children and they’ve got grandchildren, then let the children and grandchildren take care of the widows. If our churches and families were serious about this, it would be radically different. And it’s going to have to get radically different, because this system isn’t going to work. You can’t keep getting older and older and older people with less and less capacity to care for themselves and plug it up by any system except the system that God ordained.

The Chinese understand this… they’re committed to the extended family. African cultures understand this… they’re committed to the extended family. We just reject it—flat out reject it.

…Barely half of the American public believe it’s the children’s responsibility to look after their parents.

But you know what? Why would we be surprised? Do we think this is going to change? Do you think that the children who tomorrow at the age of seven months are going to be taken to a day care center, not because their dad died in the war and their mommy has to go to work, but because their mommy wants to be a “real person” and doesn’t believe in parenting and in marriage and in motherhood. She wants to be a “real” person and so she’s gonna put her seven-month-old in the care of some yahoo who ought to be staying home looking after her kids probably. And the whole thing goes down the tubes from there.

So we’ve got all these tiny little kids living in these boxes; it’s unbelievable. If you think—if we think—that children who have been dumped for the first six years of their lives are gonna somehow come through for their mom and dad in the last six years of their lives, we’re crazy!

What’s the answer? The Fifth Commandment! Given by God to Moses thousands of years ago, and relevant this morning.

There’s something sadly wrong when other cultures without Bibles are better at dealing with the long-term care of their elderly than we, with our Bibles, and our apparent commitment to Jesus Christ.

What do we do? We push people up the ladder of success fast, so that we can topple them off as quickly as we can. We don’t respect old age; we don’t respect wisdom. We just don’t. We don’t ask for their wisdom or guidance; we blow them off. We are committed to youth. We’re not committed to youth because youth is tremendously efficient or because of hard work—we’re committed to youth on the basis of image. … Youth is worshipped. Old age is taboo, dreaded, or despised. We live in a society that isolates and impoverishes those who have given their lives so that we might have an existence. This is really wrong!

…And I’ve gotta tell you, when the signal goes out, and the word is sent, and the call is made, the people who go first to respond to this are not your conservative, evangelical, committed, Bible-believing Christians. The people who go are the people with a theology that we would not embrace but with a heart that we cannot match.

The fifth commandment says to me: we better get our hearts and our attitudes and our resources in line with our convictions, that as parents we better teach the wee ones to honor us as they grow. But in our growth, we better not forget that those who have given their lives on our behalf demand our utmost commitment and respect at the end of their days. ”

Alistair Begg – “Family Life, God’s Way”

Also-- here's a little reminder that if you're interested in my "book reviews" for the 2009 reading list, I'm adding to it as I go, and have added a couple recently... here's the link.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Then and Now~~A Milestone

Remember this little doll baby? One year ago yesterday, Auriana Tessa came into our lives and we've never been the same since! Our little Granddaughter was 1 year old yesterday! We love love love her! Congrats on turning 1 Auriana, Grandma and Grandpa Pea are so proud of you!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Perfect Gift From a Loving Father

This week, I have been completely and utterly overwhelmed by my Father's perfect and amazing knowledge of me and our family and not only our needs but longings, and even the things that would suit us just right but that we'd never think to ask for. It is incredible (and yet should be obvious to us) how much the Creator knows His children and longs to give good gifts at the right time.

I have a picture story in my head about it and I thought I'd share it with you all.

The Father's Delight
Felicity had worked this job for years... it required constant time with people, nearly constant time in her car on the road, and rarely provided days off. The money wasn't great but she loved her job. Even on her days "off", because of how much of "her" the job required, she was never mentally having a day "off". Her ratty old hatchback had served her well enough for many years-- got her from A to B and ran faithfully. It definitely wasn't good for efficiency, her back often got sore because of the poor stuffing in the seats (it was coming out), and it didn't allow for long trips (it went through oil like crazy), but she couldn't complain.

She had decided to take her vacation a bit early this year, and she had only three more miles until she was home to visit her parents . Her dad would be there, like always, welcoming her at the driveway with a big smile on his face, ready to scoop up her bags and hear about her recent travels.

When she rounded the corner this year, though, she was immediately confused. Instead of her father standing there in one of his 80's sweaters, there was a beautiful new car with a big bright bow wrapped around it sitting in her parent's driveway. She pulled up to the front curb and slowly got out of her car.

Her dad watched her pull in and stepped out onto the porch with delight. "It's for YOU, Felicity!"
"Go look inside."
She stepped over to the car, slowly sizing it up and taking it in. "This can't be for me; it's far too nice! You must've spent a fortune."
"It's yours; and here are the keys to prove it!"

Slowly a smile spread across her face and she seemed utterly lost for a response. Lumbar support-- her back would never get sore again. Room for four friends-- plenty for the groups she needed to carry. Tinted windows-- no more squinting! Plenty of legroom. A place for the super-sized waters she hauled around. He had seen to every need and then some.

"It's top of the line for fuel efficiency, and I got you an iPod connection so you can listen to all of your music through the car speakers instead of your earbuds." It was even a beautiful shade of green-- her favorite color.

He had thought of everything and lovingly purchased a car meant just for her. "After years of watching you be content in your old hatchback, I decided it was time to just bless you through and through." And he did.

"Oh, Dad," she threw her arms around him and buried her surprise-ridden face in his chest, "I can't thank you enough!"

Her dad smiled. As a father, he delights to give good gifts to his children at just the right time.

I am that daughter, and God has blessed us tremendously in the location, layout, timing, and neighbors in this new home. I can't thank Him enough. I feel absolutely unworthy of His unexpected kindness to us in every detail of this new place.

The internet connection is spotty, so even if I had found time to write, I haven't had a connection long enough to write anything out... but my Father even allowed enough time on the rogue wireless signal I'm jumping on to let me type out this little story of gratitude.

He truly is a Father who loves His children. James says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." He is an unchanging, always faithful Father who delights in giving good gifts at the right time. It is not the gift I want to focus on, although it has come at an incredible time and is amazingly well-suited to our needs & life at this time... but I want to praise the Father for His gift to us... as I walk around this house, doing the daily things I need to do, using the gift He's blessed us with, I want to remain humble and grateful to the Giver of all good gifts.

Perhaps soon I'll share about the faithlessness I displayed just prior to my Father's abundant gift to me. For now, I just want to praise Him for it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Desk Chair

This is our office chair. I love this chair. It evokes the fondest memories of the day I happened across it. It was a crisp fall day and I was driving through the little town of Dixfield, Maine. As I was driving through, I came across an old abandoned church operating as an antique store.

I stopped to look around and found this chair. It reminded me of a musical instrument with its wooden curves and bow-like spindle back.

What it is: beautiful solid oak desk chair
Where I got it: a church turned antique store in a small town
What I paid: $125.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Birth Of A Boothlet

So the one~year anniversary of my shop closing is fast approaching, and I've been feeling a little off the beam so to speak lately. I realized that I needed and missed the design/decorating fix that I got on a regular basis when I had the shop, and at the persistent urging of a friend and fellow antique dealer I took a booth in a well~established shop in Maitland FL. Halley's has been around forever, as have the dealers there and it's rare to get a chance at a booth. And so my teeny,diminutive,petite booth is born~~hereafter referred to lovingly as my little boothlet as it is a mere 5X5 in size. Never fear for I am the master of small spaces and can always make it work. Mr. Sweet Pea is always skeptical, and will stand shaking his head and say,"You'll never get all that in there". And lo and behold I always do. I love small spaces. They're cozy and intimate. They require thought and the ability to know when enough is enough. And it's mine~~all mine...

Halley's Antique Mall
473 S. Orlando Ave.
Maitland,FL 32751
Open 7 days a week
Mon thru Sat 10:30 til 5:30
Sun 1 til 4

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Times, They Are a'Changin.

So many things, I don't know where to start. But I'll start nonetheless.

First (and very happily), we're moving. Not a huge move... nothing like what we've done in the last few years (cross-world, multiple times), but still, a move. A new apartment to set up (the living room of which is pictured at right). New norms to become accustomed to. New friends to be made. New cabinets to organize. New neighbors to meet. New daily routines to figure out. New specifics in our house rules. New stores to find. New roads to get to know. New, new, new. All beginning this Friday! :)

Second (also very happily), I have begun a more intensive regimen for language study. You see, since we moved here, I have only gotten bits and pieces. Got a late start so that Doug could go great guns with it, then got a couple months' worth, then had our 4th child, and then time has been difficult to find ever since. Sometime this year, I'd also like to add in language study to our homeschool times as well, so that the kids can be more intentional in their language learning.

Anyway. This last week, I began lessons once again. And it feels good. But I can already tell that it may put a dent in how much time/energy/mental thought I can spend here. Until & unless you've tried to learn a foreign language in that setting, it is difficult to comprehend just how much of your brain power it consumes, and just how exhausting it can be. I know that spending my "free" moments here and there studying will all but eliminate my scouring of articles online, which means that Show & Tells will be scarce for a while (sorry to those of you who have said that's your favorite feature around here!). I hope to still have time to read-- for pleasure, spiritual growth, and being challenged-- but I'm not sure that I'll have time to do reviews of the books, unless I feel particularly impressed to do so.

I don't know in what form Making Home will continue for this season. Writing is so much a part of who I am, how I de-stress, how I work through issues/concerns of life, and how I examine Scripture & spirituality... that I'm not of the opinion that I can ever just stop writing.

But where does any of this that I've listed above leave any time to write? I have no idea. I think this is going to be a season in which I'll grab time when I can. I still hope to write, realistically maybe once a week. But we'll just see. Real life comes first. And while Making Home is a part of "real life" for me-- a way for me to engage with others, grow & learn, and authentically share what I'm learning/doing-- right now, it will take a back seat to other more pressing real life demands.

I hope to still hear from you all. It's been 2 & 1/2 years since I started Making Home, as a way to just get out random thoughts, and what I've received back-- in terms of personal growth, friendship with so many women around the world, being challenged to think & write carefully, and encouragement from so many of you-- has been a treasure.

This post is not a goodbye, or even a "pause"... but it IS intended to be a note that says something like, "I don't know exactly what's coming, but looking at the future realistically, I don't think we'll be able to talk as often as we have... but I sincerely hope we can still be friends-- friends that can pick right back up where they left off, and enjoy intermittent, random moments strung together to make for meaningful interactions." :)

Blessings to you all! And I'll see ya when I see ya.

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