Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Improvised Snowflakes

After looking at several stores for snow-themed decorations for my classroom and finding nothing suitable, I decided to try to make some myself.

****
I started with large paper doilies (Small ones should work just as well)




And then I folded and cut them just like an ordinary paper snowflake



And when I unfolded it:
I'm going to hang them from the ceiling of my classroom. : )

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas at the Store

It was my fourth attempt at finding a store with Christmas decorations for my classroom. As I wandered the aisles I thought, surely they must have their Christmas decorations all in one place somewhere. But my eye spotted a lone nativity scene and I knew that wasn't the problem.

Every store I have gone to (including two specialty teaching stores) has had an extremely slim stock of Christmas supplies. --And I do mean Christmas, not Santa or happy holidays or "winter break". At this particular store I was expecting that there would be a fewer amount of Christmas supplies, but I was hard put to find more than two Christmas things in the whole store!

I mentioned the nativity scene already (which, strangely enough, had a header that read: "A Savior is Born For" and no room under it to put any other words.) The second "Christmas item I found actually made me laugh. The cardboard top of the packaging said "Christmas Bulletin Board", but when I looked at the board itself, it said "Happy Holidays".

Now really, since when is "Happy Holidays" a specifically Christmas phrase?

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Favorite Thanksgiving Hymn

We Gather Together
~
We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing:
Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.
~
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom diving;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning:
Thou, Lord, wast at our side: all glory be Thine!
~
We all do extol Thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our defender wilt be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation:
Thy name be ever praised, O Lord, make us free!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A New Song

The last month has been a very busy one. Between teaching school, teaching piano, and all my other responsibilities, I have hardly been at home! Yet, through this busyness I have been learning a very important lesson. "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) Even on my most difficult, rushed, busy, stressful day, I have always had all I needed to not only get through it all, but to find joy in the midst of it.

Today was one of those days where I was so busy, it seemed there was no rest in sight! Even though I teach half-days, I ended up heading out of my classroom just about the time school got out. I then had three stops to make on the way home, and I had to hurry to be home in time to look up the directions for the home visit I had scheduled tonight.

Driving home in rush-hour/school zone/road work traffic, I got stuck at a particularly slow (as in not moving) spot, and I was just about to give in to the temptation to get into a bad mood about it, when I suddenly remembered having seen a "random" copy of a hymn stashed in my Thomas guide map the other day. I pulled it out and started singing, and before I even realized it, that stray thought had completely changed my attitude! (That's 1 Corinthians 10:13 at work.) : )

All the way home, I marvelled about the difference that is made by a simple song. It made me think of Psalm 40:3 "And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it , and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." Others around me might not have had anything to sing about. It was hot, and we were stuck in heavy traffic at the end of a long and busy day, and there was nothing we could do about it. What a difference to use the time to praise the Lord, rather than grumble!

There's a hymn that comes to mind as I write this:

O Say, But I'm Glad
"There is a song in my heart today,
Something I never had
Jesus has taken my sin away
O say, but I'm glad!
~
Chorus:
O say, but I'm glad, I'm glad
O say, but I'm glad!
Jesus has come and my cup's overrun
O say, but I'm glad!
~
Wonderful, marvelous love He brings,
Into a heart that's sad;
Through darkest tunnels the soul can sing,
O say, but I'm glad!
~
Won't you come to Him with all your care,
Weary, and worn and sad?
You, too, will sing as His love you share,
O say, but I'm glad!"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gentling Influences Part 3: Attitude

Mommy and I were at a store today when I found this mug.


Attitudes can be quite contagious.Have you ever noticed how when one family member is in a bad mood, everyone else quickly joins them? I seem to be particularly susceptible to bad attitudes.It is so important for us as ladies to keep a good attitude. If we easily "catch" the grumps of others, our homes will soon be full of contention, anger, and selfishness.

I recently realized that a bad mood is actually just selfishness. Think about it. What usually sets off a bad mood? It is usually some mistreatment or neglect (real or percieved) directed towards ourselves by another. Of course, things of a serious nature do need to be dealt with, but are we holding onto the little things that don't even matter? Even if another is grumpy, we do not have to join them. We have a choice whether or not to be selfish!

You know, a good attitude is just as contagious as a bad. Mommy and I have a game we play when driving through road work areas. We have noticed that the "flaggers" almost always look decidedly grumpy, with either a frown or a scowl on their faces, so one day, we decided to try to make the flagger smile. As we drove by, we smiled at her and waved a thank you. She smiled and waved back! And after that we have always tried to make the flaggers smile as we drive by.

That game works in our homes as well. Just as one bad attitude can cause the whole household to be grumpy, one with a determined good attitude can completely reverse it!

~Try it and see!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Review: Home-Making by J.R. Miller

This is one of my favorite books. It is now being sold under the title The Family. I think the name change was probably due to the fact that the book is not so much about Home-making as we think of the term, but about making a home. There are nine chapters, each of which adresses a different aspect of home life. For the most part, it focuses on family relationships, and the reponsibilities of each individual towards the others. This book is beautifully written, and even though it was originally published in 1882, it is still just as relevant to today's families.

Here is an exerpt from the section on "Brothers and Sisters":

"Next to mother and father there is no one who can do so much to help a young man to live nobly as his own sister. She cannot always go with him. Her weak arm could not always shield him if she were beside him. But there is a help which she can give him that will prove mightier than her presence. It is not the help of good advice and earnest words --these should have power too-- but the help rather of silent and holy influence, gained in the home by a life of unselfishness nad beauty, and then held as a potent charm outside and beyond the home walls... May I try to tell you, dear girls, how you can indeed be your brothers' guardian angels? Show them in your own lives at home the perfect grace and beauty of true, noble and lofty womanhood. Strive after all that is delicate, all that is pure, all that is tender, all that is holy and sacred in their divine ideal of woman. Show them in yourselves such perfect loveliness that they will turn away ever after from everything that is unlovely. Make virtue so as they see it embodied in you that they will always be repelled by vice..."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Embellishment for Holes

I found a nice shirt on sale at a thrift store the other day, but as I inspected it more closely, I realized why it was on sale. There was a small, perfectly round hole near the hem. I was disappointed at first, because I really liked the shirt, but then I decided since it didn’t cost much, I could just mend the hole and make it as good as new.

Now, my mends typically aren’t that pretty, and I wasn’t able to find exactly the right color of thread, but the perfect roundness of the hole gave me an idea.
I embroidered a flower over the mend, and now it’s even better than new! –And only you privileged few readers know that there was ever a hole!

It occurred to me as I was working, that this is what God so often does in our lives. He takes the ugly, unraveling holes and not only mends them, but uses them to make our lives more beautiful. He gives us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” that He might be glorified in our lives. (Is.61:3)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28

Monday, July 5, 2010

Handshakes

Have you ever had to shake hands with someone who had such an atrocious handshake it made you shudder? I recently met someone who had what I call the “dead fish handshake”. Their hand was completely limp. (And slightly slimy…eew!) My Dad always told me that one can learn a lot about a person by the way they shake hands. The following are my observations of what one can learn from a handshake.

The shrinking shake: This is the handshake that lasts less than a second, (often accompanied by distinct fishiness of the deceased variety) which clearly communicates dislike or discomfort.

The speed shake: At the end of this shake, one is often surprised to find that his hand has not vibrated off! Often fueled by the exuberance of youth, this shake clearly denotes enthusiasm or excitement. –Or a rather extreme excess of caffeine or sugar. : )

The trick shake: This shake could take several forms, and is usually completely unpredictable. Such a shake reveals a personality with an all-too-healthy dose of mischief in it.

The rival shake: In order to experience this shake, one must participate. Instead of maintaining an appropriately firm grasp of the other person’s hand, both parties grip as hard as they can for as long as they can, or until one surrenders. This shake reveals a competitive or adversarial spirit.

The warm shake: This is the best kind of shake. Hearty, firm, and often accompanied by a happy smile, this shake communicates warmth of feeling and friendship.

Just like Daddy always says, you can learn a lot from a handshake. What does yours say about you?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My First Proposal

Last summer I had my very first proposal, offered by a sweet and very handsome young man, with dark brown eyes and a charming smile. –But before anyone gets too excited, perhaps I should mention that the charming young gentleman was my eight-year-old nephew. : )

***

He and his two sisters had come to stay with us for three days, and since the box of toys was (and sadly, is) still buried somewhere deep in our massive garage, we played with some of the random things they found in my room. At one point, one of them found a little box of rings which kept them all pleasantly occupied for quite some time. My youngest niece, who was about to turn two, was delighted with it, and immediately started sorting the tangled mess of rings, (That’s my girl!) : ) while her older sister tried each one on to see if any were small enough to fit her. My nephew, however, looked carefully through the box until he found a ring with a pretty rhinestone in it and asked me --in a very deep, but equally silly voice-- to marry him. I laughed at the silly voice and explained that I couldn’t marry him, and he went away for a few moments. To my surprise, he came back with a ring that had a bigger stone in it, and said “Now will you marry me?” again I refused, and he went away, only to return with the biggest, most gaudy ring he could find, and triumphantly declared, “Now you have to marry me!”

***

It always amazes me what these little ones come up with! Whether we realize it or not, they are ever watching us and learning from our examples. May God help us each to be the much-needed godly examples for those younger than we!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Recipies!

For those of you who like to try new recipies, my brother-in-law has a blog with some delicious recipies. My mom and I recently made the Red Pepper Carrot Soup, which was amazing! It's one of those rare things that is good for you, but tastes good too!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Amazing Chocolate Peanutbutter Fudge...

So, in getting ready for a party I'm having, I decided to make some of my favorite chocolate peanutbutter fudge. It's so easy and quite delicious, so I thought I'd post the recipe:

1 (8 oz.) package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (One package is about two cups)
1 cup of peanutbutter

Melt the chocolate chips, then add the peanutbutter and stir. Pour fudge into a cake pan, or pipe into mini muffin cups for a fancier presentation.

*On a side note, I recently discovered that a simple ziplock-type bag can be used instead of a pastry bag. Just cut off one corner to make the tip the size you need. Having the top of the bag closed keeps it from getting too messy. : )

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gentling Influences Part 2 --Refinement of Manner

(Yes, I know it's been months since I wrote part 1.)

Ladies have a profound influence upon those around them, not only through how they look, (which was addressed in part 1) but also in their manners.

In our day and age, society does not emphasize refinement of manners as something to be desired in a young lady. A young lady's manners say much more about her character than one might think. Several character traits displayed by those with "refined manners" are kindness, unselfishness, integrity , and discretion, just to name a few.

Kindness: "And be ye kind to one another..." (Eph. 4:32) Most of what defines good manners is kindness. It is polite to hold the door for an elderly person, or to give up one's seat to another, or to be thoughtful in what we say, because it is kind. A kind young lady will naturally have good manners, whether or not she has been trained in them.

Unselfishness: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21) Unselfishness is the bloom atop the stem of kindness. It prompts one to put the needs and wishes of others before his own. Without an unselfishness of heart, good manners will breed bitterness and a rebellious spirit. To focus on one's self, complaining inwardly every time an inconvenience arises for the cause of good manners, is to be forever annoyed, for there will always be times when one does not get his own way. An unselfish young lady thinks first of others, and even when it is inconvenient, puts others first with a cheerful smile.

Integrity: "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20) Integrity is doing what is right regardless of circumstances. No matter who is watching or not watching, or what others think about you, right is right. True character is not defined by what others think. One should always endeavor to consistently do the right thing. Without integrity, good manners are superficial and insincere. A young lady of integrity will not hesitate to return the excess when she is given too much change. She will unflinchingly keep her word, though it cause her great inconvenience or personal cost. She will do her chores without being asked, and will not wait, hoping her mother will forget to remind her.

Discretion: "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion." (Prov. 11:22) Discretion is being careful to be appropriate in word and action. Just as a jewel of gold cannot hide the disgusting smell of a pig, outward beauty cannot disguise the "stench" of a foolish heart. One without discretion will not think of others before they speak, but will tell the secrets of others to anyone and everyone. They will gossip and be unkind and unjust in their words. They will not know when to be silent, or when a laugh is inappropriate. Discretion adds refinement to even the plainest manners. A young lady with discretion will be counted trustworthy as a good friend and confidant. She will weigh her words, that she might not hurt or embarrass another by her speech. She will not make rude jokes or comments, but endeavor to be appropriate in her words and actions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and hearts and chocolates have been appearing all around us since January. For those of us without a "Valentine", this particular holiday can be awkward, depressing, and just plain boring. Yet over the past few years, God has used this season of "singleness awareness day", as my brother calls it, to cause me to pause and contemplate His love for me.

The first year He sent me sweet little piano students with homemade cards and candy. The next year it was flowers --snowdrops, to be exact-- along my walk to and from work. Last year, it was violets. We had just moved, and I was delighted to find three colors of my favorite flowers growing in my yard, just in time for Valentine's Day!

This year, there are violets, and there may be snowdrops, and perhaps even piano students with homemade cards, but the greatest blessing God has given me this year as Valentine's Day approaches has been by way of a song He caused me to be working on.

I played it last Sunday as an offertory, and in the process of arranging and practicing it, I memorized the words so that I could better express them through my playing. Thinking upon the words of this hymn has given me such joy by reminding me of the greatest blessing God has given --not to me alone, but to anyone and everyone who will accept it: Salvation.

It was love that prompted Christ to leave His glory and be born in a stable, to grow up in a poor family, to minister to those who would reject and eventually crucify Him, to endure the agonizing pain of the cross, and to die, paying the penalty for our sin. It was love beyond anything mere mortal man has ever known. --And it was love for you and for me.

This Hymn, called The Love of God has been such a blessing to me, I decided to post the words. Perhaps it will be a blessing to you, as well.

The Love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.
*
O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
*
When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call;
God's love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race
--The saints' and angels' song.
*
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
*
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho' stretched from sky to sky.
*
O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
~
Have a blessed Valentine's Day everyone! : )

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making "Improvements"

Since my brother moved out recently, I have been getting his bathroom cleaned up so that my students can use it when I'm teaching. Unfortunately, it had atrocious wallpaper that was so bad, I had to do something about it. I had originally thought to paint over it, but as I was masking everything off, I began to peel off a corner of the wallpaper, and found that all of it came off with relatively little trouble!

Today I painted on the primer, and tomorrow I will be finishing up with the topcoat. The dark little room already looks brighter with the dark wallpaper gone, and I think that once the last coat of white is on, it will look so much better! --And my brother gets to see how well he taught me about painting and masking. : )

I suppose painting is a good skill to have, in case I ever live in a house that needs a new coat of paint! : )