Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Goals

Whew!  December flew by!  With our Thanksgiving trip lasting into the beginning of December, and then with studying for my test combined with normal Christmas-time activities, the month seemed to end before I really knew it was here.  And now it's over.

Here's how I did with my goals this month:
  • Read through my book list.  I realized this month that there were a couple of books on my list that I completely forgot about.  Oops!  I'll carry those over to 2014's "to read" list.  I didn't get too much read this month since I spent so much time studying for my law test.
  • Exercise.  I had two weeks of good exercise...and then none.
  • Have one fun day in school every month.  I meant to celebrate Cookie Day (December 5) with my children, but we were still recovering from our Thanksgiving trip.  And I was too busy trying to get some real school done after our Thanksgiving break and before our Christmas break to plan another one.
  • Take one field trip per month.  We made it to the Planetarium again.  That will have to count.
  • Date night.  John and I actually had two date nights this month!  Whoohoo!  First, we attended his work Christmas party.  And we also went out to go Christmas shopping for our children.
  • Home improvement project.  We put up the Christmas tree.  Does that count?  In case you're wondering, it's still up.
  • Service project.  I meant to do something but didn't have the mental energy to plan anything.
  • Hospitality.  It's a busy month for everyone, so we didn't try too hard to have anyone over.  
  • Work.  I took the Texas pharmacist law test yesterday.  If I pass, I'll be able to start looking for a job -- one of my goals for next year.  
  • Having my children do more around the house.  Once again, I don't have too much specifically to point to, but I've been having my children do lots of little tasks around the house that are really helpful.  For example, I've been sending Daniel or Sarah Beth out to lock the chickens up for the night after they roost.  It only takes five minutes, but it's one less thing for me to do.
How did you do this year with your goals?  Have you started working on making your goals for 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

My 2013 Reading

After reading almost fifty books last year, I was curious how many I would read this year.  I read over forty (most of which were worth reading), and I think that was pretty good.

Here are the books that I wanted and planned to read this year.  I didn't get to all of them, however, and the ones that I didn't read have an * beside them.  Most of the ones I didn't read, I just forgot about.  But a couple of the novels didn't interest me anymore, and I don't have time to read books that don't interest me.  (All of the links go to my review of each book.)
Here is the list of books that I read in addition to my "to read" list:
How many books did you read this year?  Which ones would you recommend the most?  Have you started making a list for 2014?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! The Lord is Come!

Joy to the world!  The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room, 
And Heaven and nature sing, 
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and Heaven and nature sing!

Joy to the Earth!  The Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessing found
Far as the curse is found, 
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, and wonders of His love.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: The War on Christmas by Bodie Hodge

While I truly believe there is a war on Christmas in our country right now, I don't think this book is so much about it.  This book reads more like a Christmas "myth buster."  Myths like the wise men visiting the newborn Jesus and that there were three of them, along with the perpetual virginity of Mary are all tackled, held up to the light of Scripture, and found wanting.  What I found most interesting were the chapters on the Christmas star (a true miracle, not a comet like I believed) and the place where Jesus was born (not the stable that we see in nativity scenes).

I enjoyed this book even though I already knew some of the information in it.  Honestly, I was intrigued by the title and knew that I wanted to read it without knowing anything else about it.  If you want to learn more about the true story of Christmas, you should read this book.

I want to thank Handlebar Publishing for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy L. Higly

In City on Fire:  A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy Higly, Ariella has been taken captive by the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem and made a slave.  Her owner is terrible, so she makes a drastic decision to leave him and change places with a gladiator, disguising herself as a boy.  After being unsuccessful in the ring, she is bought by another owner and her lot seems to improve.  But her friendship with another slave Jeremiah makes her rethink her decision to turn her back on God.  Is He really there?  Does He really care?  Who is this Messiah everyone is talking about?  Then her past resurfaces and threatens to drown her.  And of course, the climax of this book takes place during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

I really enjoyed this book about ancient Rome.  The history it contains seems to be true, and in the afterword, Higly tells how she researched this book.  The story is exciting and suspenseful, keeping one reading.  And the characters are well-rounded and believable.  It's a relatively small thing, but I appreciated that no matter how hard Ariella trains, she is unable to beat any other gladiator.  I hate it when women are portrayed as just as strong as men because we're not.  I'll be looking for more of Higly's books to read.

I want to thank BookSneeze for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Blogging Break

Our Christmas tree.

I'm going to be real with you:  I've been feeling overwhelmed since we returned from our Thanksgiving trip.  I feel like I'm running behind, and I can't quite catch up.  There's so much for me to do with normal tasks, but now I have added to those studying for my law test and Christmas.  I can't do it all; something has to give.  And blogging is the thing to give because I need to keep up with my normal household chores; I have got to study for this test; and I really want to enjoy this Christmas season.

I'm not saying that I won't be around at all the next few weeks, but I won't be around as much.  I have a couple of posts that I need to write:  books that I need to review.  And there might be a couple that I want to write, but some of what I want to write will go unwritten, like the posts about not buying for too many people, not leaving anyone out, and showing you my Christmas decorations.  (You can read those old posts without the revisions I wanted to make.)

I hope that you enjoy your Christmas season, as I hope to enjoy mine.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Mary turns two years old today.  It's hard to believe that my youngest child is two, but like it or not, she is!  All of my children have waited until they turned two to really start talking, and Mary is no exception.  She only has a handful of words, but she has an amazing ability to get her point across without using many (or any!) words.  And she loves to sing; she sings when I get her out of the bed in the morning, when she's waiting for breakfast, while we're doing school, when she's playing,... you get the idea.  And it's all without words!

Mary is my independent child.  When you try to help her with something, she says, "I-do-it!"  It's all one word, and each syllable is stressed more than the last.  Usually, it's nice that she wants to do so much for herself, like when we're leaving the house and she puts her shoes on; but sometimes, it's not so nice, like when I'm in a hurry and she can't figure out how to do something.  Mary is my first child to be so independent, the only one to insist on doing things herself.

Mary also thinks that she is just as big and can do everything that her older siblings can do, like jumping off the stool or unloading the dishwasher.  She hates being left behind or being told that she can't do something.  She is also a big helper; when she spills her apple juice, she gets the cloth, wipes it up, and puts it in the washing machine.

I'm not sure what God holds in store for Mary, but I look forward to seeing how He uses this strong-willed, precocious, fun-loving, smile-inducing, never-a-dull-moment child.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Counting My Blessings: Lots of Different Things

This picture is rather old; it's been cold here lately!

It seems easier to feel thankful at this time of year.  I mean, it's the Christmas season!   Jesus leaving Heaven to become a person is a wonderful reason to feel thankful!  But shouldn't we be this thankful all year long?  Just something for me to think about.

Here are a few ways I'm counting my blessings this week:
  • God became man.  Does that blow your mind away like it does mine?  I cannot wrap my mind around that statement:  God became man.  Jesus gave up all the wonders and glories of Heaven to be born to a poor couple in a dirty stable.  What love He has for those He has chosen!
  • Rachel had another good check-up this week, and we no longer have to inject her methotrexate!  We get to give it to her orally.  Hooray!  (And yes, we actually did a happy dance at the doctor's office!)
  • Our Christmas tree.  We got it up a little earlier than usual this year.
  • Our babysitter who is coming over so John and I can go shopping for our children.
  • Money to buy Christmas presents for our family.
  • Getting to be with John's family for Christmas.  They're all coming to the Houston area, and it will be fun to see everyone.
  • No more Classical Conversations until the new year starts.  Don't get me wrong; we love CC.  But it's nice to have this break and spend more time this month on the rest of our schooling.
  • A good reason for some baking.  We made Chocolate Minty Melts last week, and we plan to bake some gingerbread this afternoon.  Yum!
How has God blessed you this week?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson

During the 18th century, Leonard studies mathematics from one of the leading mathematicians of the time.  He cannot get enough of his studies until one day a man is murdered.  As this crime is investigated, Leonhard discovers a conspiracy involving the University he attends and the whole city of Basel.  Does the conspiracy involve his Master?  How?  Why?  And Leonhard has to determine what to do with the knowledge he finds.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  Being a bit of a math nerd, I loved the references to math principles even though I don't quite understand them.  But what I appreciated most about this book were the word pictures.  Robertson has a way with words that amazes and intrigues.  I savored his descriptions, going back and reading them again to make sure that I fully understood them.  How he uses light and dark, as related to good and bad, is impressive.  This book is worth reading just for his descriptions, but the story keeps the reader on the edge of his seat!

You can read more of my thoughts here.

I will definitely read more of Robertson's books!

I want to thank Bethany House for my copy of this book to review, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday's Quote: Infinity and the Infinite One

I came across another neat quote in An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson last week.  (You can read a previous quote with my thoughts here.)  As a boy, Leonhard had his first taste of infinity as he watched raindrops falling into a river, and this is how he recounts the experience:
I'd looked at the wide surface [of the river], which was vast to me then, and considered how very, very many drops of water there were:  innumerable, then no, they could be counted.  It would only take a very long time.  Perhaps all day!  In my childish calculation.... 
I watched more drops fall....And then I knew, that whatever their sum was, it could always be one more, and if always more, then never to end.  For any number, there was one more beyond.  Always. 
I had only one way to comprehend that.  The Mathematics of infinity was still beyond me.  But my father's preaching was already deep in everything I would know about my world.  From him, I knew a word for something that was beyond everything else:  heaven;  a place where "one more beyond, always" did reach its end.  So I had always understood the infinite end of all numbers as God showing himself in his creation.  Everything he made had his image, and part of his image in Mathematics, was infinity.  It was invisible because it was far past the end of sight.  It was the greatest elegance.
I had never thought about how math can teach us about God, but as we can see from this quote, the fact of infinity clearly points to Someone who is infinite, Who is much greater than we are and much greater than we can comprehend.  Just as there are numbers that are too great to grasp, so is our God. He is so much more than we can possibly understand, but we can begin by imagining infinite numbers.

Creation proclaims the Creator, and we can learn much about Him by observing what He has made.  As Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

What have you learned about God from what He has made?

Friday, December 6, 2013

November Review of Goals

There's only one more month left in this year.  Where did 2013 go?  It's time to be thinking about next year's goals while still trying to finish this year out well.  Here's how I did on my goals in November:
  • Read through my book list.  I didn't get much read this month, and nothing off my "to read" list.
  • Exercise.  I did well the middle weeks, but the first and last -- not so much.  I think I'll blame our Thanksgiving trip for the last week's lack of exercise.
  • Have one fun school day per month.  I don't think I had one this month.  Oops!
  • Take one field trip per month.  I don't think we went anywhere for a field trip.  Wait!  Does horseback riding count?
  • Date night.  Thanks to my wonderful mother who watched our children when we visited, John and I were able to go out all by ourselves.
  • Home improvement project.  Nope.
  • Service project.  Nope.
  • Hospitality.  I had a friend and her children over for lunch one day.  I hope that counts.
  • Work.  I am scheduled to take the Texas pharmacist law test on December 30.  If you get a chance, I would be extremely grateful for prayers this month.  Studying with four children underfoot isn't easy.
  • Have my children do more around the house.  Again, there's nothing specific I can point to, but they are doing more.  
How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

November Reading

I did not get much read this month.  I'm not sure why that is, and nothing that I read is on my "to read" list.  Oh, well.  Here is what I did read:
  • Martyr's Fire by Sigmund Brouwer.  You can read my full review here, but it wasn't very good.
  • Return to me by Lynn Austin.  I loved this book about Jews returning to Jerusalem after their Babylonian exile.  You can read my full review here.
  • Everard by Chautona Haviq.  This sarcastic, witty take on fairy tales had me wanting to walk more on my treadmill (in order to read more) alternating with making me not want to finish it.  All in all, I'm glad I finished this tale of a prince who is too shy to speak to his beloved, but will dare almost anything in order to prove himself worthy.  The Christian themes in the book made it even more readable.
What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Thanksgiving Trip

Laura's and my children -- all twelve of them!

We travelled to Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  We made a couple of stops on the way to my parents' house:  first, we dropped in for a little while at my mother-in-law's house to see her, and then we travelled to visit Laura where we spent the night.  We stayed one night with Laura's family and had a wonderful visit.  Laura and I have been friends for a long time, since before either of us were married.

Sarah Beth even received some instruction on how to ride, instead of just being led around.

Then we travelled to see another friend, Ms. Sharon, who was one of my riding instructors.  I've known Sharon for twenty years!  We've kept in touch via snail mail, so it was especially nice to see her in person.  John and I last saw Sharon when I was pregnant with Daniel, six years ago.  Sharon graciously offered to let my children ride one of her ponies, and they loved it.

It was cold that day, but it didn't dampen my children's enthusiasm.

Then we finished our traveling to my parents' house where supper was ready and my sister and her children were waiting.  We saw a lot of my family while we were there, and it was so nice.  My brothers and sister (and their families) came by often to spend time with us.

You can't tell from Rachel's face, but she had a good time, too.

I saw several other friends, too.  As a matter of fact, Tuesday was so full of visiting with different friends, that I had to leave one to meet another.  I've never been that popular before!  One of the friends I saw, I've known since elementary school!  Thirty years!  (And I know that I'm dating myself.)

I didn't worry about Mary at all; I knew she would love riding Tonto.

Then we had a big Thanksgiving feast which was delicious!  And on Friday, we visited with new friends, ones that my parents met at church and thought we would enjoy getting to know.  We did!

John found Mary curled up asleep one morning.  It was a busy, exciting week!

Saturday was my father's seventieth birthday, so the whole family gathered for that celebration.  What did my dad want?  He wanted us all to meet him at the gym so we could watch him climb the rope.  Yep!  My seventy year old father can climb a sixteen foot rope.  We figure that he's going to outlive the rest of us since he's in such good shape...better than any of the rest of us.

All of my parents' grandchildren.

On Sunday, we went to my parents' church which was our church first.  As you know, we've had a hard time finding a church home in Texas, so it was wonderful to worship there.  It felt like home!  The icing on the cake was attending the Sunday school my father teaches.  That was fun!  And informative.  

We left Georgia on Monday and arrived home on Tuesday after visiting one of John's friends in Mobile, Al., Monday night.  

Whew!  It was a long trip; we were gone twelve days.  But it was such a good trip!  And now it's back to normal, well, it will be tomorrow anyway.  On the agenda today is grocery shopping, cleaning out the chicken coop, laundry, unpacking, among other things.  And I have to figure out what we're having for supper!  I haven't had that concern for almost two weeks!  And when I finally get some "free" time, I've got blog-reading to catch up on. 

That's what we did for Thanksgiving.  What did you do?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday's Quote: Sound Waves and Their Obedience to God

I've been reading An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson, and I have enjoyed it immensely.  In it, Leonhard, who is studying mathematics during the 1700's, enjoys seeing how God uses math to make Himself manifest.  In this quote, Leonhard discusses some of his studies with his grandmother, specifically he has been reading that sound behaves as a wave, a revolutionary idea at the time.
"I don't know if the wave is the equation or the equation is the wave.  But this is what I've written, that the equation is the law that the wave must obey."

"Sound must obey laws?  Like men must?  And who gives laws to the air?"

"I think God does."

"And do they follow His laws?"

"Yes," I said, and firmly.  "In every circumstance they do.  They aren't unrighteous." 
Sound waves obey the laws made by God, but men do not.   Isn't that an interesting thought?  Isn't that a neat way to phrase it?  You know what else?  It makes me jealous of natural phenomena because gravity and sound waves obey God with no other option.  I wish that I could obey God so unerringly; don't you?

Praise the Lord -- one day, we will!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

words by Henry Alford

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday's Quote: Humility vs. Pride

I found this quote last week while I was reading Seeing the Unseen by Randy Alcorn.
If you want to be humble, take a good look at God and then a good look at yourself, and notice the difference.  When you see Him as He is and yourself as you are, the very thought of being proud or arrogant should be absolutely laughable.
This quote was especially fitting for me last week when John asked me to make him something for a covered dish dinner at work to celebrate Thanksgiving.  We decided on Fudgy Brownie Bites from Ann Byrn's Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor which, if I do say so myself, are pretty good.  As I made the brownies, I started thinking about how much the men would enjoy them, and how they would shower accolades upon John to give to his wife -- me.

To paraphrase Solomon in Proverbs, "Pride goes before a fall."

Guess what!  The brownies would not come out of the muffin tins!  I'm not sure what happened; I've made this recipe many times without any problems, but something definitely happened.  And I realized that this happens frequently, that when I start getting "the big head" about my baking, something invariably goes wrong...when it never has before.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

"And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  Matthew 23:12

Do you have a similar story?  Has your pride gone before one of your falls?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Counting My Blessings in a Quiet Week

It's been another relatively quiet week so far, and that's part of the reason I haven't had much to blog about lately.  But since "every good and perfect gift is from above," there are always blessings for which to be thankful.
  • a quiet week
  • health for all of us
  • clean teeth for Sarah Beth and me
  • a new dentist we like
  • three eggs three days in a row
  • a job that John likes
  • homeschooling
  • being able to stay home with our children
  • Rachel's silliness coming out even when dreading her weekly injection
  • Daniel starting to really grasp the whole idea of reading, as he sounds out words at the grocery store
  • friends we enjoy at Classical Conversations
  • a week off from school next week
How has God blessed you this week?

This post is linked with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Review: Martyr's Fire by Sigmund Brouwer

Martyr's Fire by Sigmund Brouwer is the third book in the Merlin's Immortals Series.  (You can read my reviews of books one and two here.)  In this book, Thomas has control of the city/castle Magnus which is located in northern England but quickly loses it when the Druids arrive.  Since he still doesn't think there is anyone he can trust, specifically Katherine and Hawkwood, he tries to figure out by himself what to do next...without being used by either the Druids or the Immortals.

My main criticism of this series is that there are too many mysteries.  Thomas doesn't know who he is, why taking control of Magnus is important, who the Immortals are, etc.  Finally, finally, at the end of this book, some answers are revealed.  Honestly, all of the deception is wearying.  It would be nice is Katherine and Hawkwood would be truthful with Thomas instead of trying to conceal as much as possible from him.

Did I like this book?  It was okay.  Will I read the next one?  I don't know.  Do I recommend this series?  Only if you like this period of time fictionalized beyond recognition.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Counting My Blessings: All About Rachel

Most of my blessings this week have to do with Rachel.  We had a stressful day yesterday, but it was also full of blessings.  I wrote about our day at Rachel's blog here.  Here is my list for this week:
  • A husband who is willing to take his daughter to get her blood drawn because that is just not a fun thing.
  • John's job which gives him the flexibility to take Rachel to get her blood drawn so I don't have to take all four children with me.
  • A babysitter who can come over during a weekday to keep all of the children except Rachel while I took her to the eye doctor.
  • That nothing is wrong with Rachel's eyes due to Plaquenil.
  • That she still sees fine, even with her cataracts.
  • For prednisone which knocked down Rachel's JDM even if it did give her steroids.
  • A conservative ophthalmologist who is willing to wait for surgery for Rachel's cataracts.
  • Mostly, I feel blessed that God has answered our prayers for Rachel's health so amazingly.  We never thought she would be doing this well at this point.  
To God be the glory!

How has God blessed you this week?

This post is linked with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: Return to Me by Lynn Austin

In Return to Me by Lynn Austin,  Zechariah has to decide whether to return with his grandparents to Jerusalem to help rebuild the temple or stay in Babylon with his parents.  Zechariah sees the temple started with enthusiasm but abandoned due to interference with local Samaritans.  Over the years as he matures into the priesthood, he becomes God's spokesman, encouraging his fellow Jews to continue the work on the temple.

I really enjoyed this book as it is Biblically accurate, and the characters are believable and likable.  I appreciated the parallels between Zechariah and his wife and God and the Jews, as Zechariah and God each love the unrepentant.  If you enjoy historical fiction, especially books about Biblical times, you will probably like this one as well.  As this book is the first in a series, I will definitely keep my eyes out for the upcoming books.

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, November 8, 2013

un-Finished Object Friday

I found the pattern for this blanket in this book that I checked out of the library.  I like how the stripes are different than other striped blankets; they are more interesting than most.  And, other than changing the yarn color every few rows, this pattern is easy:  it's just stockinette stitch.  I was so proud of myself when I realized I hadn't made a big mistake about a third of the way through.  I hadn't had to take out any full rows, and I was feeling pretty smug.  But you know how it is:  pride goes before a fall and all of that.  That very day, I realized that I messed up one of the color changes, and it was obvious.  Since the point of my knitting is to get it right instead of just getting it done, I pull out six stripes to fix the problem.  Yes, that meant pulling out 24 rows.  Argh!  But I did, and the blanket is fixed.  Whoohoo!

This blanket is not finished yet.  I need to put a border on it, and I want to crochet it.  Crocheted borders seem so much easier than knitted ones, although I have to admit that I haven't knitted a border yet.  I'm waiting on this book to get here, and hopefully I will find the perfect (or at least a good-enough) border for this blanket.

Then I will just need to figure out what to do with it.  So far, it's well enough made that I don't mind giving it away.

What have you been working on lately?

This post is linked with Charity at Fresh from the Chari Tree.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

October Review of Yearly Goals

October was a relatively quiet month which was nice after our visit-filled month of September.  We were able to get back into our school routine and enjoy our family again.  I feel like I did okay on my goals last month; I could have done better, but I also could have done much worse!  My biggest success was date night!  Finally!!
  • Read through my book list.  Looking through my list, I've got five more books to read.  I'm not sure I'll get them all read, especially since I forgot about a couple of them.  But I knocked out two more last month.
  • Exercise.  I didn't start the month out well, but I finished well.
  • Have one fun school day per month.  Goodness!  There were a bunch this month, and most of them were last week!  Monday was Chocolate Day, and my kids demanded fudge; Wednesday was Candy Corn Day, and I found some great printables to practice their math skills; and Thursday was, of course, Reformation Day.  
  • Take one field trip per month.  We toured the county fair and visited the planetarium again.
  • Date night.  Success!  But, oh, the mad scramble trying to find a babysitter.  I forget that teenagers these days don't answer their cell phones; they only respond to texts.
  • Home improvement project.  Fail.
  • Service project.  Fail.
  • Hospitality.  Fail.
  • Work.  I am now scheduled to take the Texas pharmacist law test.  Now I just need to find some study materials and time to study them....
  • Have my children do more around the house.  I think I'm doing okay with this, but not as good as I could and should be.
How are you doing with your yearly goals?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday's Quote: Will Heaven Be Boring?

There are lots of jokes about people not wanting to go to Heaven because they are afraid that they will be bored there.  In fact, they have it wrong.  Heaven will not, cannot be boring.  As Randy Alcorn says in his book Heaven:
Another reason people assume Heaven is boring is that their Christian lives are boring.  That's not God's fault; it's their own.  God calls us to follow Him in an adventure that should put us on life's edge.  He's infinite in creativity, goodness, beauty, and power.  If we're experiencing the invigorating stirrings of God's Spirit, trusting Him to fill our lives with divine appointments, experiencing the childlike delights of His gracious daily kindness, then we'll know that God is exciting and Heaven is exhilarating.  People who love God crave His companionship. To be in His presence will be the very opposite of boredom.   
We think of ourselves as fun-loving, and of God as a humorless killjoy.  But we've got it backward.  It's not God who's boring; it's us.  Did we invent wit, humor, and laughter?  No.  God did.  We'll never begin to exhaust God's sense of humor and His love for adventure.  The real question is this:  How could God not be bored with us?
I want to live a life that experiences God to His fullest here on Earth so that when I get to Heaven, it will just be a continuation.  I cannot imagine the adventures that God has planned for me when I get to Heaven, but I'm looking forward to them!

Friday, November 1, 2013

How Are the Chicks Doing?

I thought you might be wondering how the chicks were doing...and they're doing great.  They are growing and growing; now they are covered with feathers instead of their baby down.  Basically, they're not cute anymore.  But we're one month closer to having more eggs!

Here is a picture for comparison.

Meanwhile, the egg production of my hens has decreased due to the shortened days, so I'm trying something to see if I can increase it.  I've got a light in the coop set to come on at 5:00 in the morning.  Apparently, more light, even artificial light, can stimulate egg laying.  We'll see if it works.  One of my hens hasn't laid an egg in over a week, and I'm not okay with that.  That's why we have her!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Counting My Blessings: Reformation Day and Others

I have many blessings for which to thank God, but today I am especially thankful for the Reformation.  Almost five hundred years ago today (in 1517), Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door, trying to bring about reform within the Catholic church.  When that didn't work, well, Protestantism was formed.  Today is one of the most important days in church history.  I wrote more about Reformation Day and why it's important here

I am blessed with a husband who enjoys spending time with our children.

I am blessed with a daughter who enjoys reading to her younger siblings.

We are blessed with cooler weather; it's only in the lower 80's now!  Hooray!

We are blessed to have a tire swing in our backyard, and my children are blessed to have a mommy who will push them on it.  :)

We are blessed that Rachel is doing so well with her JDM.

We are blessed with this little stinker who keeps us on our toes!

And we are blessed with children who (usually) enjoy playing together.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Reading: Heaven and The Bronze Bow

As the year comes closer to its end, I'm glad to have finished two more of the books I wanted to read this year:
  •  Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  I used to have a Christoplatonic view of Heaven:  I thought we would stand around, basking in God's glory and worshipping Him incorporeally...although how we would stand without a body, I don't know.  Having read several of Alcorn's books, I see how wrong I was.  After God brings Heaven and Earth together when He brings the New Jerusalem down to the New Earth, things on the New Earth will be mighty similar to the things on the old Earth just better because we won't be under the curse anymore, and so much better that we can't even imagine it.  The New Earth will be a lot like Eden, again only better because God always makes things better when He remakes them.  We will have work to do like Adam and Eve did; we will fellowship with old friends and family and new ones that we make in Heaven.  Every single thing that we do will be an act of worship to God because He will be our main focus while we do everything else.  Just as we can worship God here through reading good books, spending time with our friends, and eating delicious food, so we will do the same things there.  All of these facts are in Alcorn's book, but there is so much more.  And he supports everything with Scripture, and the few suppositions he makes, he tells the reader so.  Living in view of eternity with Jesus Christ should change our lives.  I encourage you as strongly as I can to read one of Alcorn's books.  I really don't think that you will regret it.
  • The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Spears.  I had heard good things about this book, but for some reason I didn't think I would like it.  So I kept putting off reading it, but this month I didn't have any excuse so I started it.  Guess what!  I really enjoyed this story of a young Jewish man who has to decide whether or not to follow Jesus, literally, because this story takes place during Jesus' life on Earth.
What have you been reading lately?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday's Quote: What's Your Story?

As you know, I've been reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn, and I keep coming across quotes and points that I would like to share with you.  In this one, Alcorn is discussing some of the people with which he would like to talk when he gets to Heaven and how he wants to hear their stories.  Can you imagine talking with Mary about Jesus' childhood, with Noah about what it was like on the ark, or with Enoch and Elijah about what it was like being taken to Heaven without dying?
We'll each have our own stories to tell also--and the memories and skills to tell them well.  Right now, today, we are living the lives from which such stories will be drawn.  Are we living them with eternity in mind?
How convicting!  When I get to Heaven, I want to have stories to tell how I served my Savior.  I may not have the kind of stories that Mary and Noah have, but I do want to have some.  And now is the time to live these stories because once we get to Heaven, it will be too late.

Do you live in light of eternity?  What kinds of stories will you have to tell?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Counting My Blessings from an Ordinary Week

We didn't do anything out of the ordinary this week, but that was okay.  It's nice to have a relatively quiet week at home and get a few errands taken care of.

Here are a few of my blessings from this week:
  • I started reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis this week, and my children keep asking for more.  I knew they would like it, even though they weren't so sure!
  • I made a casserole last night, and I was able to freeze half of it.  Now I have a dinner ready to go in the freezer.  Hooray!
  • Farm fresh eggs.  Need I say more?
  • It only took thirty minutes at one store to find church shoes for Sarah Beth and Daniel.
  • I already had church shoes for Rachel and Mary:  hand-me-downs.
  • The weather cooled off.  Wonderful!  It's still in the 80's, but now it's the lower 80's.  
  • My sister is planning a visit!  Won't that be nice!!
How was your week?  How were you blessed?

This post is linked with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Should Christians Send Their Children to Public Schools?

I've been thinking about this post for a while, but I was inspired by Cindy's post at Get Along Home to actually sit down and write it.

Should Christians send their children to public schools?  What do you think?  I have two questions for you to consider while making your decision.

What are the most important things for your children to learn?  Remember, I'm asking Christians.  The most important things for the children of Christians to learn are that we are sinful and in need of a Savior, that Jesus Christ is that Savior, and how we are to live in light of those two facts.  Public schools will not teach that.  They cannot.  Increasingly, public schools are becoming more and more hostile to Christianity.

What else should your children learn?  The three R's are very important:  reading, writing, and 'rithmetic.  Without those, our children cannot learn about God and the world He created.  Public schools do a poor job with those three basics.  Just look at what children knew a hundred years ago, fifty years ago, even twenty, and compare that with what they are learning now.  Do you know how poorly our children rank in the world as compared to other countries' children?  It's absolutely awful!

Do you think I have oversimplified the question?  Maybe.  But what is the purpose of sending our children to school, of doing school at all?  Isn't it to learn?  Schools are not set up as places for mission work; they are places for children to go in order to learn.  And, as parents, we should be concerned about what they are learning.

Basically, as I see it, if you want your children to learn about God, or anything at all worth knowing, you cannot send them to public schools.

What do you think?  Do you think Christians should send their children to public schools?  Why or why not?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tooting My Own Horn

A few weeks ago, John and I took our children to a nearby county fair.  While we were there, we discovered works of crochet that had been entered for judging, and I thought, "I can do that, too!"  I started researching our county fair when we got home and decided to enter some of my things.

I'm most proud of my table runner (above).  John encouraged me to enter it, and as you can see, it did well.  Best in Class!

 A doily.

I made this blanket for Rachel before we discovered that her favorite color is purple.  Oops!  She wasn't real sure she wanted me to enter it because she was afraid it wouldn't come back home.  But I won her over by offering to let her keep any ribbon her blanket won. 

I wasn't going to enter this blanket, but Daniel really wanted me to enter something of his.  I think he really just wanted whatever ribbon it might win.  And he didn't want to be left out. 

Sarah Beth was so excited for me to enter her blanket!  She really thought it would win something although she was a little worried about not getting it back again.

Have you entered anything in a county fair?  How did you do?