Friday, February 28, 2014

February Review of 2014 Goals

I think I did fairly well this month with my goals.  The places I didn't do so well, I didn't do well in January, either, which means that I need to work on these areas in March.

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  Here are the books I read this month, and one of them is from my book list.  
  • Continue walking on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  Done!
  • Look for a job.  I filled out a couple of applications online, but I haven't heard anything back yet.  I haven't been as diligent as I should have been with this.
  • Go through every room in the house, one a month, to clean out unwanted and unneeded items.  I'm sick of the clutter!  My goal for this month was the girls' closet.  I hate to admit it, but their walking closet was so cluttered that you could hardly walk in it.  Now it's cleaned out and (mostly) organized.
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Done!
Goals as a Mother:
  • Do something (like a playdate) with someone (and her children) once a month, whether it's having someone over for lunch, going to someone else's house, or heading out for a field trip together.  We had lunch with friends after one of our field trips, and we met other friends one evening at the Houston Children's Museum.
  • Continue having one fun day in school a month.  We celebrated Valentine's Day at CC, and I read about the "real" Saint Valentine so my children will know there was such a person.
  • Continue taking my children on one field trip a month.  There is so much to do in the Houston area!  We took a few field trips this month.  We saw the Peking Acrobats one day, visited the zoo with John on our anniversary, and toured the George Ranch Historical Park.  I think we made up for our lack in January!
  • Do a service project with my children every month.  I completely forgot about this.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house, like mopping and folding clothes.  What a great way to build their self-esteem.  We've been working on folding clothes this month, and we'll probably continue this chore into March, as well.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Continue monthly date nights for John and me.  Done!  We celebrated our anniversary with a dinner out.
  • Do something weekly to make John feel special.  (I got this goal from Tracey at Girls to Grow.)  This month was hit and miss.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  Done!
  • Start having Game Night once a month.  Success...kind of.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Fail.
How are you doing with your goals so far this year?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February Reading

I had another good month for reading, and I even finished one from my reading list.  There were a couple of novels thrown in for good measure this month, too.
What have you read lately?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday's Quote: Some Thoughts on God's Love for Us

A lot of people seem to think (and I fall into this trap, as well) that love means taking care of someone and making their lives easier.  When we apply this reasoning to God's love for us, we come to the conclusion that, if God really loves us, He will give us a nice, easy, suffering-free life.  But Jesus never promised us a life free from suffering, and John Piper expounds on that idea in his book A Godward Heart:  Treasuring the God Who Loves You:
God's love for us is not mainly His making much of us, but His giving us the ability to enjoy making much of him forever.  In other words, God's love for us keeps God at the center.  God's love for us exalts His value and our satisfaction in it. If God's love made us central and focused mainly on our value, it would distract us from what is most precious, namely, Himself.... 
What this shows is how far above the glory of God most people value pain-free lives.  For most people, love is whatever puts human value and human well-being at the center.  So Jesus' behavior is scarcely intelligible to them.
I have to admit that I would like to pray for an easy, pain-free life, but then I realize that, if I get what I desire, I would miss out on so much more.  Those who have gone through suffering have a knowledge of God, of His comfort, and the sweetness of His presence that I also desire.  I don't want to get to Heaven knowing Jesus only as a good acquaintance; I want to get there having Him as an intimate friend.

What do you think?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Finished Object Friday: Three Finished Blankets

Before you think I'm some kind of superwoman for knitting/crocheting three blankets in a week, let me remind you that you've seen two of these blankets before.  This one was the first blanket I knitted, and I crocheted the border, but I did not like it at all because, although it was pretty, it was stiff, almost hard.  So last week after I finished Rachel's blanket, I shocked my family by pulling out all of the border.  Then I took my mother's advice and switched to a much bigger crochet hook (J), and I crocheted a different border which turned out nicely, I think.

I started this blanket this summer and worked on it off and on.  I lacked two sides of the last round, but my hand started cramping this fall.  So I took some time off to work on Rachel's blanket.  Once I started that project, I didn't want to put it down until I finished it.

So I finished this blanket this week after taking several months off.  I think the colors are beautiful, and I love the print on the flannel.

After I finished this blanket this fall, I'm not sure why I didn't go ahead and just crochet a border on it.  But I didn't.  And I took care of that this week.  I like how the stripes work, kind of merging into each other.  I'm tempted to make another one like this in pink, purple, and white, but we'll see.

I plan to start another knitted blanket this weekend, and it will probably take me quite a while.  So don't expect to see another Finished Object Friday for a while!  :)

What have you been working on lately?  Any unfinished projects?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Counting My Blessings: Some Big and Some Little Things

This week has been busier than usual but it was a good busy.  I didn't get as much done at home as I may have liked, but it was worth it.  Here are a few ways that God blessed me this week:
  • thirteen years of marriage
  • a trip to the zoo:  field trip and a time together for our family.
  • Rachel's lab work being normal.  We were hoping it would be after switching her methotrexate from a subcutaneous injection to orally.  Hooray!  No more shots!
  • warm weather.  It feels like spring!
  • an upcoming visit with my parents
  • a forgiving husband
  • living in the Central Time Zone so the ice skating is over at 10:00 and I can get to bed at a reasonable time.
How has God blessed you this week?  Have you been watching the Olympics?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode:  9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine contains many, many ideas for getting the most important things done during the day and how to figure out what they are.  She walks you through the process to make it as stress-free as possible with loads of encouragement along the way.

What I most enjoyed about this book were the stories she tells -- times when things didn't work as she had expected -- because it communicates that she's not perfect, and I don't have to be, either.  I also appreciated the list of things she doesn't do (like decorate her house) because it made me not feel so bad that I don't do them, either.  I have to admit that I didn't learn too much from this book because I have already implemented most of her suggestions, but it did encourage me to tighten things up a bit which was helpful.

However, if you feel like you're drowning, this book is definitely for you!

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thirteen Years!

Thirteen years ago today, I married the most wonderful man in the entire world. No, I am not exaggerating. Just as our children are the most beautiful in the world, so is my husband the BEST! Let me list just a few of the ways:
  • He is hardworking in order to provide for our family.
  • He makes me laugh.
  • He is a great father.
  • He loves me in spite of my moods and fickleness.
  • He is dependable.
  • He is trustworthy.
  • He is kind.
  • He is compassionate.
  • He's awfully handsome.
These thirteen years feel like such a short time, and yet I cannot remember what life was like B.J. (Before John).

Happy anniversary, Sweetie!

(I'm sorry about the quality of the picture. I had to take a picture of a picture (which doesn't work well) because we got married before digital pictures were common.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finished Object Friday: A Blanket for Rachel

After I finished Sarah Beth's blanket this past summer, Rachel wanted me to make her one.  I put her off for a couple of months as I re-learned to knit.  But this blanket was so pretty, she loved it, and I really wanted to make it.  So I made it for her.

As you can see, Rachel loves this blanket.  And I enjoyed working on it, even though it took so long. I started before Thanksgiving, and I just finished it this week.  It's a good size, though, and it should last her for a few years.  I got the pattern from this book.

I had to be so careful while knitting this blanket because, if I wasn't, the hearts wouldn't come out right.  I can't tell you how many rows I had to take out and re-knit, but it was worth it.  Who wants funny-shaped hearts?  But I also learned a lot while knitting this blanket, and it was worth it!

What have you been working on lately?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Sixth Birthday to Daniel!

Today is Daniel's sixth birthday.  It's hard to believe that my little boy is getting so big!

Daniel is (usually!) a willing helper.  The other day, Mary spilled elbow macaroni all over the floor, and I sent him for the broom.  He returned and cleaned up the mess without my even asking!

Daniel is a sweet brother although sometimes it's a little hard to be the only brother among three sisters.

But Daniel is all boy, and he loves spending time with his Daddy, learning to be a man.

Happy birthday, Daniel!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Are You Running From? Where Are You Running?

One day while Rachel was outside with me, a strange dog wandered into our yard.  He was obviously a friendly dog, but Rachel was afraid, and she started running.  We all know what dogs do when you run from them.  Rachel ran in circles, screaming, while the dog playfully chased after her.  I kept calling for her to run to me so I could help her, but she wouldn't.  Since she was running, I couldn't get to her, and she eventually tripped and fell down.

Sometimes, I do the same thing when something bothers me.  I run in circles, worried and afraid, while my heavenly Father is waiting for me to run to Him so He can help me.  

Instead of relying on my own feebleness, I need to look to His strength.  He can help me, but sometimes I have to realize that I need His help and run to Him.

Can you relate?  Do you run around in fear instead of running to the One who can help you?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday's Quote: Grace AND Truth

My mother made these skirts and dress; aren't they wonderful?!

I've been reading Seeing the Unseen:  A Daily Dose of Eternal Perspective by Randy Alcorn, and I came across this quote:
The greatest kindness we can offer each other is the truth.  Our job is not just to help each other feel good but to help each other be good.  We often seem to think that our only options are to:  1) speak the truth hurtfully; or 2) remain silent in the name of grace.  Both are lies.  Jesus came full of grace AND truth (John 1:14).  We should not choose between them, but do both.
So often I keep my mouth shut when I see one of my friends doing something they shouldn't because I don't want to hurt their feelings.  But God has called us to alert our brothers and sisters in Christ to their sin in order to help them grow closer to Him and to become more like Jesus.  This needs to be done in love, or else it's done wrongly.

I am going to work at this principle:  speaking the truth in love.  And I hope that my friends will do the same for me, pointing out my sin so that I can forsake it and grow.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Counting My Blessings: Little Things

Yes, Mary's teeth are black-ish.  She had put a marker in her mouth.

Nothing big or exciting has happened this week, but there are still many things for which to be thankful.  These are a few of the "little" way that God has blessed us this week:
  • a new recipe for vegetable soup that worked!  I'm always a little reluctant to try recipes from my mother because I'm afraid that what I make won't be as good.  But this one was good, and all of my children ate it!  
  • Daniel didn't break his arm.  He fell of his scooter the other day and started hollering while holding his wrist, so I was worried....  But a few minutes later, he was fine.
  • two laying chickens.  As the daylight increases, so does their egg production.
  • a babysitter already lined up for our anniversary.
  • our co-op falls on Valentine's Day so we can celebrate with our friends.
  • I'm almost done with a blanket I'm knitting for Rachel.  
  • Sarah Beth volunteered to fold a basket of clothes, did it all by herself, and even put up Mary's and Rachel's clothes.  (Rachel was helping me fold another basket of towels.
  • a good talk with John about one of my weaknesses.
How has God blessed you this week?  Big things?  "Little" ones?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: Blades of Valor by Sigmund Brouwer

I haven't been thrilled with this series, but I felt like I should read the fourth (and last) book.  And I have to admit that I was curious as to what new adventures Thomas would find himself in, how he would finally get some of his questions answered, and whether the Immortals (the good guys) would finally trust him.  I wasn't disappointed; finally, I, the reader got some questions answered.  And it was about time!

At the end of the third book, Thomas was in the Holy Land, trying to find hidden Druid treasure, and this book picks up there and takes Thomas back to England where he saves the world from the Druids, gets the girl, and becomes king of his own small fiefdom.  Spoiler alert?  I don't think that was needed; how else would this book end?  

This book was better than the first three in the series (read my reviews here), so I'm glad that I read it.  And I'm glad that I don't have any "loose strings," so to speak.  This series might be good for a ten year old boy, but that's about it.  Of course, that boy is the preferred audience, so I shouldn't be too harsh.  These books are good, clean fun, even if a little (a lot!) unbelievable.

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

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Daniel's Smile

I can't get a good picture of Daniel.  When he smiles for the camera, it's this kind of goofy smile.  And he squints his eyes to keep the flash from hurting them.  But I wanted you to see his smile, specifically his teeth.  He lost his top two teeth the week before Thanksgiving, and the adult teeth still haven't come in.  Last week, he lost the two teeth on either side of his bottom two teeth.  So his smile looks a little funny these days!  This picture is one that I wanted to share with all of our friends and family, and I wanted to preserve it so that I remember this smile!

Did any of your children have cute, funny smiles like this?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday's Quote: Choice-Points

I've been reading What Did You Expect?  by Paul David Tripp, and I came across this paragraph:
I don't know if you have thought about this, but your life is shaped by choice-points.  No, I'm not talking about those huge moments of epic decisions that we all know change our lives in some way.  I'm talking about the thousands of little decisions in mundane moments of daily life that almost go unnoticed but are actually what shape and direct our lives.  You see, the quality and character of a marriage isn't set in two or three grand moments of choice.  You make only three or four big decisions in your entire life.  No, the character of a marriage is formed in thousands of little moments of saying yes to one thing and no to another.  It is the character developed in little moments that you carry into those big moments of decision.  (p. 115)
Tripp is writing about how little decisions affect our marriages, but I think you can apply the same principle to all relationships.  It's the little things that matter because there are so many of them.  Of course, the big ones are important, but there are so few of those.  Our lives really are colored by the myriad of little decisions we make:  whether to wash the dishes or check email; whether to read to the children or turn on the television; whether to write an encouraging note or read a book.  And God is honored when we make the right decisions even when they seem little.

What do you think?  Have you thought about how the "little" things are actually so important?