Monday, January 28, 2013

P365 - Week 4

Joining Amy for P365 this week. 

Sunday, Jan 20 - 
 Katie and I had a relaxing lunch together.

Monday, Jan 21 - 
Our neighbor took out a whole corner of pine trees and now we can see another house. Sigh. We joke that we need more space. It was fun watching the machines take out full grown trees to plant up the street (from one neighbor's to anothers.) If they come back, I'll try to capture the process.

Tuesday, Jan 22 - 
Cold! Brrr...time to blanket Ruby.
Mike is a heat-making machine - no blanket for him.

Wednesday, Jan 23 -
Baked 90 rolls to share at our Homeschool Support Group meeting.

Thursday, Jan 24 -
Spent the afternoon at the grandparents' house
playing games &  eating dinner.

 Friday, Jan 25 -
Finished a quilt for a friend's new baby. (My 3rd completed quilt!)
The back is soft flannel. 

Saturday, Jan 26 - 
The girls had a tea party for their stuffed animals and dressed up. Had to capture this; I doubt it will last much longer. So sweet. Tara's in a red formal that I wore in college. She asked me, "If you could fit in this dress (thanks, Tara), would you wear it again, Mom?" Yeah, NO! 

Hope your week was filled with wonderful memories~

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Service vs. Devotion

The Jan 18th entry in My Utmost for His Highest says, "The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him.  It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?"

I alluded to this thought last week and it's still with me. Who am I serving? My pride - "Look at what I'm doing for the Lord," or serving the Lord, even in the unappreciated places? Even when I feel discouraged and disheartened? I remind myself that feelings are not truth and that in God's presence I lack nothing.

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Psalm 100:1-3

One way I remember to serve the Lord selflessly is to picture that He is there with me (He is!) It's so much easier thinking about serving Him if I can visualize that I am in His presence.

Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.

It would be so much easier to sing if I would see Him instead of my circumstances, right?! Right!

Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.

Remember you are not your own.

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

He cares for us and will guide us; He is the Shepherd!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

P365 - Week 3

P365 is hosted by Amy at The Frans Clan.  
Stop by and check out everyone's week.

Sunday, Jan 13 - 
My leather bag gave out at the end of the day.
I will have to get it repaired!

Monday, Jan 14 - 
One of our newest chickens is laying. 
Here's a "test run." :)

Tuesday, Jan 15 - 
This is a game at our house. 
If you hold up your finger to Biscuit she shows you her teeth.
Smile purty!

Wednesday, Jan 16 -  
The girls and I had craft time at the neighbor's. 
We learned to make felt flowers.

Thursday, Jan 17 - 
Back to our Homeschool CoOp.
My handbells class is playing Apples to Apples
 in our post-Christmas party. 
(We were working too hard before Christmas to party then!)

Friday, Jan 18 - 
Crafty neighbor makes me a headband with three clips
 to give to a new mom/baby.  Check out her Etsy shop! 
Everything is so cute and reasonably priced!

Saturday, Jan 19 -
Normally chickens on my front porch would make me crazy, 
but since we lost 7 this week to a predator I just want her to be safe. 
Instead of shooing her away, I took her picture!

Prayer in the New Year

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

How much joy do you get out of praying for others? I enjoy reading Paul's writings because you can sense his joy in praying for fellow believers. He yearns for them to grow in Christ and to walk faithfully.

Prayer takes a lot of time, doesn't it?  Often in the morning we have just a few minutes to read through a devotional or small segment of Scripture, but we don't have time to pray for everything we'd like.  We do a "fly-by" prayer of those things that are immediately on our hearts/minds.

I have kept a prayer notebook for several years now and each January I pull out the previous year's prayers/answers and reorganize the notebook for the coming year. I keep all the answered prayer requests in a section in the back of the notebook. Like the Israelites who picked up stones along the way to remember what God had done for them, I, too, can remember how the Lord has included me in His work.

"...included me in His work" is exactly what prayer is. Through prayer the Lord allows us to see where/how He is working. It's exciting to be a part of the process!  The more answers I receive, the more faith I have in God's control and care. I can see that He cares about the BIG things and the small things. I can see He guides and directs, often setting in place the answer before it's even been requested.

I want to challenge you in 2013 to make prayer a greater priority. If you have regular prayer time, find ways to increase it. Or find ways to encourage others to pray. Better yet, include other family members in praying with you. If prayer time is a challenge, then spend 5 purposeful minutes a day and ask the Lord to give you the desire to have regular prayer time. Ask Him to show you where He is working and how you can partner with Him through prayer. I promise that the return on this investment will always be great!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hodgepodge - Jan 16

Hodgepodge Time! 
I'm a little late due to a chicken massacre, 
but that's a whole 'nuther story.
Visit Joyce to see who shared their answers this week.
1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's's the list for 2013-

fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, yolo (an acronym for you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings, and guru

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen.

I love spoiler alert! Did I really want to know what happens to Downton Abbey at the end of the third season? Yes, I did.

I've yet to make a bucket list so I don't want that word to go away. :)

I guess if a phrase should be banished it should be fiscal cliff. I try not to get political on my blog, but really can't we see the cliff in the rear view mirror. We're long past it. Sigh.

2. When was the last time you rode a train? Where did you go?

I think the last time I rode a train was taking the Metro downtown (D.C.) to attend a class at the Library of Congress. It's been awhile.

3. Bagels-yay or nay? Favorite 'flavor'? Favorite topping?

Oohhh. Yay, I like bagels.

Fave flavor...mmm, cinnamon or blueberry or plain; Love all three.

Butter & strawberry cream cheese or how about a slice of bacon & scrambled eggs?

4. 'Tis the season of awards shows...if you could star in a movie already made which one would you choose?

Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

5. The move towards single gender classrooms has been making the news in recent months....what say you? Do you think kids perform better if separated by gender and are taught differently or is that discrimination? If you're a parent, is this something you'd support in regard to your own children?

I have been a teacher for 22 years and yes, I think there are benefits to both single gender and mixed classrooms. As a homeschool mom of 18 years I believe that individualized education is the most beneficial choice for any child, although it is not always a viable option.

6. What's your favorite thing about staying in a hotel?

Being on an adventure with my family...and not having to make my bed.

7. Do you have a 'word' for 2013? What's the story behind your choice?

Not ONE word, but I borrowed the phrase, "My Best for His Glory" to be my theme for 2013.

Back story: I don't want my best - my striving - to be for myself, but to be for the Glory of God.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Last night we lost 6 of our 32 chickens. A predator, most likely a fox, killed them. The only traces left behind where 6 piles of feathers strewn across the yard, corral and field. When I saw white feathers in a path from the barn door across the driveway I knew we had lost our favorite gimpy, little, white hen, Bingo. She was a sweet girl.

My boys weren't home and I left them both sobbing voicemails sharing the news. I kept using the word, "carnage." I just couldn't believe that 6 had been taken. We've had a stray chicken nabbed twice, but not a group of them close to the house.
The girls and I cried off and on throughout the evening and I'm amazed how attached you can get to farm animals. My son joked that we should watch The Lion King and then began singing, The Circle of Life.  Not funny! We're supposed to protect them and we didn't even know they were in danger.  Farm life is not for the faint-of-heart! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Contrite Heart

My SSMT (Siesta Scripture Memory Team) verse for Jan 15 is:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and contrite heart - 
These, O God, You will not despise.            Psalm 51:17

You see, I need this verse, especially this week.

Psalm 51:16 tells us that God doesn't want our sacrifices and offerings if not given with the right heart attitude. The works that I do for Christ: serving at church, caring for my neighbors, sharing the gospel, keeping my tongue - all of it -  is not worth anything to Him if I have served to be seen, cared out of duty, shared because "I'm better," or kept my words so they wreak bitter havoc on my soul.

Christ wants a broken and contrite heart. He wants our insides. He wants us to want what He wants - service with humility, helps because we care, sharing out of love and silence because we know He does the work and we leave it to Him to do. Ouch!

I want a contrite heart. I want to serve, help, love and speak out of a pure mind/heart. There is no way to manufacture this; it can only be done by the Holy Spirit's work.

I have turned this verse into a prayer that God will continue His work in me and give me a broken and contrite heart.  Oh, to someday be able to ask God to search my heart and see if there is any evil way in me! Today there seems to be plenty!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

P365 - Weeks 1 & 2

The last two years I've made it part way through P365, taking a picture every day of the year. I'm going to try it again this year. Hopefully, this year, no matter if I post late or stay right on top of it, I can keep a faithful record of 2013!

Here's week 1 & 2.

P365 is hosted on The Frans Clan blog.

Tuesday, Jan 1 -
My first SSMT (Siesta Scripture Memory Team) verse,
participating along with other followers 

Wednesday, Jan 2 -
My girls taking an online Art class

Thursday, Jan 3 - 
I take my first piano lesson!

Friday, Jan 4 - 
Rhett plays with his new IPhone and makes a split pic
of Katie playing chess with herself.

Saturday, Jan 5 - 
Katie's 11th birthday shared with Grandma's 65th birthday

Sunday, Jan 6 - 
Capiz ornament from the Philippines given to me by a friend

Monday, Jan 7 - 
Mini-van packed for vacation

Tuesday, Jan 8 - 
Girls swimming in the indoor pool

Wednesday, Jan 9 - 
Candy-bag Bingo with friends

Thursday, Jan 10 - 
Swim lessons with our favorite lifeguard, Miss Dolly

Friday, Jan 11 - 
Back home, Christmas packed away (almost-boxes lower right corner)
and a new living room arrangement 

Saturday, Jan 12 - 
Katie parties with friends at the skating rink
followed by presents, cake and playtime at home.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mrs. Astor Regrets

Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon was a recommended book I read in the fall of 2012.

Brooke Astor was a New York old money philanthropist who headlined the news many times during her 104 years. Soon after her death in 2007, Anthony Marshall, Brooke's only son was indicted on charges of looting her estate.

The book jacket reads, "Rarely has there been a story with such an appealing heroine, conjuring up a world so nearly forgotten: a realm of lavish wealth and secrets of the sort that have engaged Americans from the era of Edith Wharton to the more recent days of Truman Capote and Vanity Fair."

Further down the jacket, "Even in this territory of privilege, no riches can put things right once they've been torn asunder."

This was such an interesting book. While I have never desired vast wealth, I will admit to having a desire for fame that creeps in every now and again. For the Lord's glory, you understand. ; )  This book changed my perspective and made me very content with my life. Actually, I came away feeling quite blessed.

Mrs. Astor was certainly a colorful character. She was intelligent, winsome, shrewd and was known to leave people in her wake. Like similar stories we hear about the rich, she was also very loyal to her friends and hired help.  But there are always people who attach themselves to the wealthy for no other reason than to get some for themselves. How it twists the spirit and mind!

The book does not definitively answer whether Brooke's son swindled her, but he was guilty of not treating her in the way she was accustomed. Much of the estate was going to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, her first love, and one has to wonder how that affected her only son.  At the time the book was published there was still an ensuing court battle.

I came away from the story with a profound sadness for those who bear the burden of wealth and fame without the firm foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their lives are not ones to be envied.

It's good to get a peek into the lives of others and to walk away with a greater appreciation for your own.  If this story interests you, I recommend the book. It was well-written and emotionally compelling.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creating & Tracking Goals

I love making New Year's Goals. (Have I lost you already?)

I spend time between Christmas and New Year's thinking about what I want to accomplish during the upcoming year.  I have to chuckle when someone says they don't make New Year's goals, but they want to work on....  Whether you take a sit-down-and-plan approach or you think about what could be improved upon in the big-picture-kind-of-way, I encourage you to have something for which to aim.

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more
in a shorter period of time 
than people without them could ever imagine.

Successful people are simply those with successful habits.   
- both quotes by Brian Tracy

When creating goals it's important to be:

S - specific, significant, stretching

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

For further reading about SMART goals, go here.

I use the following chart (created in Word) to keep track of monthly goals. I love marking off each day as I accomplish my goal. (click chart to view larger)

My monthly goals might include finishing some quilting projects, organizing something, spending time in meaningful ways with people. The monthly goals are more project-oriented.

In 2011 I kept a monthly record most of the year, which was a big step for me, but last year I had a few areas that needed prolonged accountability - areas that I worked on the whole year, not just one month at a time.  I decided to create a yearly goals chart for those.
These goals were daily devotions, P365 (a picture a day), exercise, healthy eating, sleep routines, making a daily plan, keeping a gratitude journal and a few others.  I was hoping that seeing a whole year at a time would give me the extra motivation needed to stick with it and I can honestly say it did.
I've never done so well on goals before!

What was the biggest surprise while tracking goals on the yearly sheet?  Sometimes real life gets in the way! When we had guests stay for a month, the power go out for a week, graduations/parties to plan and attend, sicknesses and emergencies goals fell by the wayside.

Prior to using this chart I would just see the failure of not keeping up with my goals instead of seeing how life impacts the goals I've made.  In 2012 I could look at the white spaces on the chart and know that life had happened and I just needed to get back on track or that I was truly struggling and needed to determine why.  I gave myself much more grace and it paid off because it was easier to get back on track!

The charts also helped me evaluate what goals were truly beneficial. I dropped "keeping a gratitude journal" around week 36 because it wasn't helping me become more grateful. It had just become a chore I did right before turning out the light at bedtime.  I found I felt grateful without the needed tool of a journal.  On the other hand, I realized that the goals of "getting up between 6-7am" and "going to bed between 9-10pm" were critical to the success of my days.  Sleep is a foundational goal for me again this year and I hope to make progress in it's consistency.

Where do I keep these charts?

The yearly charts I printed on cardstock and put in a 3-ring binder labeled Goals. I have a few other tabs that I use sporadically and I might share that folder with you at a later time. The most important thing is to print the charts on cardstock so they keep their integrity the entire year.

I used to have a day planner, but I didn't utilize much more than the calendar. So now I keep a pocket folder for all my daily/weekly organizing papers: a running to-do list, a running to-buy list, calendar, food/exercise log, a list of our library check-outs, and anything that I might need for the week at hand. I don't have to conform to a manufactured planner, it is just a one-stop place for me to keep the papers that I will use often. It's my working folder and it works for me!

If you are interested in copies of the charts above, just send me an email at: I'd be happy to send them to you.

Have you set 2013 goals? Let me know what keeps you motivated!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hodgepodge New Year

Join us at Joyce's place for Hodgepodge fun.

1. How did you ring in the new year?

I'm so glad you asked because I went to my first dance! Yes, really, my first one. Friends invited our family to the event where we sash shayed the night away to folk dances from the 1800's. Dances like the Virginia Reel. It was a workout! We have been talking about it all day today and can't wait to make it a yearly tradition.  Tip for next year: wear comfortable shoes.

2. What is one thing you are looking forward to in 2013?

My husband finishing his MBA. Right now he works full-time, studies full-time and adds a little bit of farming on the side. Who knows what he'll do with himself when he's done with school!

3. Steven Spielberg is quoted as saying, "All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives." What say you?

Absolutely, true for me! I am a very goal-oriented person and I saw a lot of growth in several areas last year. If you experience new things and have to interact with new people, then you will become a different person.

4. The Pantone color of the year for 2013 is emerald green. Like or dislike? Do you already own something this color? Will you add something in this shade to your home or wardrobe in 2013?

I saw that was the new color and I LOVE it! I don't own anything in that color right now (but I did in the 80's.) If it makes it's way into fashion, I will definitely add it to my wardrobe.  My winter coloring will love it!

5. Speaking of emerald...what's your favorite gemstone? 

Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

6. Share a favorite book or movie from 2012.

My favorite book in 2012 (you can see what I read in the page tab at the top of the blog) was The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverinni.  I loved the story of how a quilt played into the underground railroad and I intend on making a replica of that quilt this year.

7. What is something you want to tell yourself at the start of this brand new year?

I read the January 1st entry in My Utmost For His Highest and decided to give 2013 a theme phrase: "My Best for His Glory." 

8. Insert your own random thought here.


We were in a church hall, not a barn and most  of the 75-100 attendees were dressed in modern dress clothes, but we were about this "rough" and it was such a good time. It's just too bad we have to wait a whole year to do it again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Free Ebook Today Only

I am bursting with so many things I want to share with you, but one of those things has a deadline!

I have read (in)courage daily for the past few months and I'm surprised by how uplifting, encouraging and thought-provoking this blog can be. If you haven't checked it out, please, do so.

When today's post came through my Inbox I spent the time reading God-sized Dreams and the "Do What You Can" Plan with interest.   You see, right now I don't have a God-sized Dream on my plate for 2013, but I do know at my core that the Lord wants me to work on self-discipline in a BIG way this year.  Maybe that's something I can only dream of, but it's His plan for me.

I will post more on this later in the week, but the title "Do What You Can" Plan seemed intriguing so I went to Amazon and downloaded the Kindle App for my Mac (if for nothing else, thank you for opening up that world to me) and downloaded Holley Gerth's free ebook, The "Do What You Can" Plan / 21 Days to Making Any Area of Your Life Better.

After downloading the book I laid here on the couch and read through the whole thing. It didn't take long, but I wasn't clock-watching either. Don't you love slow days around the New Year!

I assumed that a free ebook with such a simple title would have platitudes heard a million times over and that it would be of no use to me, but the encouragement and common sense illustrations surprised me. I will definitely go back through the book more slowly and soak in some of the simple truths she so aptly describes.  The book is so encouraging without the added feelings of pressure or guilt about accomplishing whatever.  She has a wonderful easy-going writing style and you'll feel like you've met a friend at the coffee shop who is there to give you a little pick-me-up.

If you have any way of reading an ebook, take the time today and download this one! There are some poignant illustrations waiting for you too!