Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You Know You're Homeschooled If...

1. You heard the phrase "socialization" and laughed because you had more friends and knew more people than your public school friends.

2 You went to school in your PJs.
Not usually, but there were times when it was rather nice not to have to rush around and get dressed... :)

3 You considered school work after lunch to be cruel and unusual punishment.
Haha, wasn't it? Of course, it was my own fault, but such things didn't occur to my grade-school mind.

4 You had to move laundry off your desk before you could start school.
Or the dishes off the table, or the LEGO universe, or the doll dishes...
5 A snow day meant that you had to shovel the driveway after you finished your school work.
Either before or after - usually before. :P

6 You had to look at the clock to see if you could call your public school friends yet.

Or to see if they would be home to play outside. I grew up next door to a homeschooled family, so I was lucky. :D

7 You thought that “public-school-kid” was an insult of the highest degree.

8 Your friends talked about waiting in line for seven hours to try out the new roller coaster in town, so you went and waited five minutes on a school day.

Not the roller coaster, but yeah, we did get a lot of school-hour benefits. :)

9 Gym class was actually a fun activity like swimming.
Or frisbee, or just playing with the neighborhood kids. 

10 The closest thing to a bully in your school was your slightly strange two-year-old sister.

Yeah, no joke.

11 You slept in till 9 am on weekdays but got up at 7 am on Sundays.

Oh, everyone I knew who went to school was jealous about that! 

12 Your favorite author was Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, or P.G. Wodehouse.

Umm, no. But, hey, I actually read books that weren't fantasy or science fiction for FUN!

13 You have suffered through Saxon Math.
Haha, soooo true! Those books were the plague of my childhood. And the color combinations they came up with! Orange and royal blue, mustard yellow, blue and that ishy gray-green color (:P)... We used to make jokes every year about who got an ugly math book and who got a pretty one. Fifth grade was the best because you got the pretty silver-and-blue one... :D 

14 You spent more than 2 hours each day reading and writing...voluntarily.
Only two? Good grief, I read more than an entire public school class combined! And writing...Oh yeah, I did that too. :)

15 You actually wanted to receive books on your birthday.

My relatives would have wondered if I was sick or something if I didn't have a mile-long list of books on my birthday or Christmas list. 

16 You stayed up till whenever, and not because you were doing homework.

Bedtime? What was that?

17 You could get days ahead in almost any subject.

You could also get days behind in almost any subject as well...

18 You had more friends way older and way younger than you than ones your actual age. 

That's one of the best things about being homeschooled. There isn't any class warfare. :)

'Till next time!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Your American Girl Doll Shaped the Rest of Your Life

For those of my followers who adore American Girl and own at least one doll, this link is a fun and very true read! (Especially if you own one of the original American Girls ending at Addy)

And for those of you who don't own the dear things, it is still a well-written article and very funny (and there is a nice little piece at the end for you guys too!)


'Till next time,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

God, I screwed up. Again.

I feel as if my blog hasn't been worth reading lately. I try to write about inspirational things which people will feel after reading that reading it was worth their time, but sometimes it's so hard to put just what you want to say into words and hope that it comes across as relevant and true to the people who read it. I hope I've been able to do at least some of that amidst all the other messes I throw at you poor people. :)

I have so many things I could talk about right now, it's hard to choose a topic and stick with it.

One thing that I've been thinking about lately - and my family has been discussing in our morning Bible studies - is the story of Rahab and the Israelite spies.

You know the part where Rahab lies to the soldiers of Jericho and tells them that the spies left the city before the gates were closed?

Well, my little sister asked how God could have used that lie to save the spies when lying is a sin.

That brought up the point of how we sometimes sin and God still uses that sin to implement His plan for our lives. Only, if we hadn't sinned, the implementation of how He could have worked in our lives to the same end would have been so much greater!

To face the truth: sometimes we just don't trust God enough to let Him work powerfully in our lives.

If Rahab hadn't lied to those soldiers, God could still have saved those spies - and the story would probably have been much different, most likely with more action and a few miracles.

I'm not saying that the story of Rahab and the spies is boring (and anyway, Rahab didn't believe in God, so lying probably presented itself to her as the most natural way out of a possibly lethal situation), but just think of how much more spectacular it could have been if Rahab hadn't sinned.

Looking back over my life, I can see many situations that probably could have turned out differently if I hadn't let fear overcome me or I hadn't gone for the easy way out and ignored God's voice prompting me to do something I knew I should.

The point is, though, that God can still use our stumblings for His own ends. If God has an ultimate plan for someone, even our failing to do what we know we should can be re-routed and used for His glory.

That's what's so amazing about His grace. There are second chances, third chances, fourth chances, ect.

God's ultimate plan will always be served, no matter what rabbit trails we sinners take off on.

For example...

- What would have happened if Barak hadn't gotten weak knees and begged Deborah to come along with Him in battle? (We wouldn't have the awesome story of Jael, but who knows what else might have occured?)

- What would have happened if Jehoash had struck the ground with those arrows more than three times? (He would have completely destroyed Aram. And think of how the course of history might have changed with the removal of those pesky Aram-eans!)

- What would have happened if David hadn't sinned with Bathsheba and killed Uriah off in a handy battle? Where would Solomon have come from?

-What would have happened Rehoboam had listened to the wiser elders instead of his group of friends? (First off, Judah and Israel probably wouldn't have split up...)

And, on the other hand...

What would have happened if Esther had gotten a panic attack and told God "I can't go to the king"?

What would have happened if Joseph had hardened his heart and refused to accept his situation as God-given?

What would have happened if David had told Samuel "Don't pour your oil on me; I don't want to be king."?

Or if he had told Goliath "You're right. I am a dog. Get me off this field in one piece!"?

And Ruth. What if she had told Naomi "Are you joking? I'm not sleeping by anyone's dirty feet!"?

And finally, what would have happened if Mary had told Gabriel "No way. I'm a virgin and I'm going to remain so until I'm married."?

(There are hundreds more, but in the words of whoever wrote Hebrews: "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel and the prophets...")

Anyway, the point is:

What would have happened if all these people of great faith had chickened out when the chips were down and refused to trust God?

No doubt God would have figured out another way to get things done, but then we would most likely not have those great stories of faith that teach us so much about courage and trust.

But we put those people on a pedestal and say "oh, how brave they were!" - and they were. But what we often forget is that the same God who helped them is there to help us. And He hasn't lost strength over the years. He is still the same God who helped Esther and Joseph and David and Mary and everyone else who did anything worth recording in the Bible.

He still is God.

And despite our bumblings and stumblings and upsets and mistakes, He still works His perfect will through us. Transforming our lives from ashes and rubble into the stuff of legends.

So when you read about the heroes of the faith and feel discouraged (as I often do) because you never, ever could be as courageous as they were, remember that they too, were simple, ordinary people, whom God chose to use in a complex, un-ordinary way. And also remember that God longs to use us all in this way if we don't shrink back and say "God, you're asking too much! This is too hard for someone small like me! I don't have that great of faith or enough courage to do this!"

Do you think any of those heroes - alone - did either?

I would say no. Most definitely not.

In the words of Paul: "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Philippians 2:13; emphasis added)

And just before that: "Continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling..." (Philippians 2:12b; emphasis added)

God knows we're weak - and the amazing thing is, He doesn't want us to be strong by ourselves. "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13; emphasis added)

On our own, we can only make a mess. With our pride, our desire to show off, and our wrong motives, we make mud pies out of God's perfect plan.

And it is only when we are afraid to do something and know that we cannot - under any circumstances - do it by ourselves, that we truly find His strength. Only then we can move mountains and tell them to go throw themselves into the sea.

We have to remove ourselves from the equation and say, "Ok, God. Use me." And then trust that He will.

After all, if He did it for every other hero in the Bible, why on earth would He not do it for you?

Don't be afraid of messing up God's plan. If you do make a mistake, He can work around it. But don't use that as an excuse to get out of things. Challenge yourself to trust God to work through you and see what miracles He can do!

May the God of peace be with you.

'Till next time,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Journal of Procrastination {Day 4}

A fill-in-the-blanks for those days when inspiration eludes me

Date: Tuesday, December 13. 2011

Time: 11:28 a.m.

Thought/Quote/Verse/Idea for the day: 
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. - Psalm 61:2

I got up at: 6:00 a.m.

I am listening to: Pilgrim by Enya

I most recently ate: Breakfast: a blueberry bagel, yogurt and an orange

I am currently working on: Still working on the sequel. It was clipping along at a brisk pace, but now it's slowed down to the usual writer's block-ey crawl. :P

Comfort food/beverage at the moment: hot tea with cream and sugar. *bliss*

I am looking forward to: tomorrow morning being over so I can enjoy Christmas.

I am reading: The Protector by Dee Henderson - and not enjoying it... And Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. Apparently I haven't met the love interest yet... Sounds interesting!

I am memorizing: Matthew 6 (haha!)

I am thinking: about many things: my Pearson-Vue CNA exam tomorrow (ick), what I'm going to be doing afterwards, the blog post I should be writing - among other things...

Plans for the day: puttering around, maybe study a little more, go to choir...

In my hair: nothing. It's loose today.

Most recently wrote: Chapter 11 of my novel sequel. (67 pages and 32,017 words - in case you were interested in an update...)

I am thankful for: my heavens, it's Wisconsin and the middle of December (give or take a few days...) and it's 42 degrees outside! I know what I'm thankful for.  

I am wearing: a denim skirt, slipper socks, long-sleeved white shirt, blue tunic sweater, and a silver necklace.

Latest gift listed in my notebook: "making Christmas tags". Hmm....

Christian self-help book I am currently reading: Diamonds in the Dust by Joni Eareckson Tada

My surroundings: my basement - which is something we show off to home improvement people.

I am craving: tomorrow afternoon. :)

I should be: folding the whites, practicing taking radial pulse and respirations on my sister... Boring stuff.

Tomorrow I will: finally finish off my CNA course, go to the library, go to my friend's house for dinner and Truth Project Bible study, then movie night with my friend, her sister and my sister.

Book I am contemplating reading next: Granted I ever finish this Dee Henderson romance, I think I'll go for something really different. Like Agatha Christie.

Random fact about myself: I have a weakness for Lurlene McDaniel books - which are ridiculously gushy and cliche, but since everyone dies in them it makes up for the mush. :D

The weather is: warmish and sort of grey

Any library books at the moment: Wanda and the Frogs by Barbara Azore. It's a kids book, by the way, and I got it for my two-year (or is it three?) old sister.

Movie(s) I watched within the week: Up and The Nativity Story and A Christmas Story

Indignant about: Nothing. Just a little nervous...

Random movie/book quote that's running through my head: "Fighting fire with fire, we ignite the couch!" - Rocky and Bullwinkle - How to Remove An Unwanted Guest from Your House and Make More Living Room

Scratchy pen or smooth pen: both!

Last thing I threw away: good question... I think it was a Dixie cup

Last book I bought/received: I haven't bought a book for myself in a little while... Probably Of Men and Of Angels by Brock and Bodie Thoene.

I am wondering: what I'm going to do next in my novel. I've hit one of those icky dead-end things.

Song stuck in my head: Get Out of This Town by Carrie Underwood

Most recent crazy plan: Overspending on my Christmas gifts because I suddenly came up with a thousand things I could have gotten. :P

Under the clip: library list and paper with boy names and a page number from a book that I want to look up

Random Spanish word: telefonee a ajustes - phone settings

I learned today: that I'm still not sure what I want to do with my life

Picture-thought: Due to all the ridiculous politics going on around this state; people trying to recall a governor who has done nothing but good for our state, I shall make my political leanings very clear:

'Till next time! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Tag!

I got tagged for this post by my sister over on Rachyrache's Hobby Corner and thought it might be fun to 
share some Christmas cheer! (Because I know such a thing has been rather sadly lacking on this blog...)

  1. Link to the person/blog you got tagged from
  2. Do the tag
  3. Tag three people!
So, here's the tag:

Is your Christmas tree up?
Absholutely! We got it before December even arrived - that's a record in this family. 

How about the rest of your decorations?
Put 'em up last Thursday, the gorgeous little things. Though the porch wreath somehow got transported back into the attic before we could get it up. I'm not saying that I suspect anything, but I think my dad had a hand in that one... 

Do you have an artificial tree or a real tree?
Are you kidding? Fake trees have no scent - besides, they look like brooms with that funky brown/green plastic mixture that's supposed to make them look real.   

Do you have any lights or decorations outside?
That we do. Some tall ski-like snowmen that the little ones made at my aunt's house on Craft Day years ago set in pots that us older ones painted especially for them at the same event. We ended up with the pot I painted - which I do my best to turn to its best side every year (it's hard to do that, though, seeing as it doesn't really have a good side...). We also have a ginormous wreath and a smaller garland that we wrap around the porch railing. 

Do you have a favorite ornament on the tree?
Do I have a favorite ornament? I hate these "favorite" questions; I don't play favorites. But we do have these pretty glass balls that my aunt helped us swirl paint in. They're gorgeous - and dwindling. We manage to smash at least one every year. I made the ugly ones, but the ones my siblings made are worth hanging in the front. 

How many Christmas trees do you usually have up?
One. For a few years we had two, but it was too much work to water them both.

What is the best Christmas present you have ever gotten?
Oy vey, I don't even remember all the presents I've gotten...My favorite from last year was probably Felicity's American Girl tea set from my Grandma. But it's definitely not the one I've used the most in the past year.   

Who do you celebrate Christmas with?
My family on my dad's side, my family on my mom's side, my friends, my immediate family, my Good News Club... :) 

What is your favorite Christmas song?
I knew this one was coming... I don't have a favorite - there are so many I love! - but one that I really love this year is one we're singing in choir: Where Shepherds Lately Knelt - very powerful words! Actually, if you click on the title the arrangement is the one we're singing in our choir...

What is your favorite Christmas food?
My Grandma's thumbprint cookies. Buttery, brown melt-in-your-mouth cookies with an enormous blop of fluffy red or green frosting in the middle. It wouldn't be Christmas without those cookies. 
And eggnog. I adore eggnog. 

What is your favorite Christmas memory?
What is it with all these 'favorite' questions? Ugh... I do have a veritable ton of good ones. One that's sort of special is when we were at at my dad's parent's house we would go across the street and sing Christmas carols for their elderly neighbor who couldn't get out of her house. We were all impatient to go home and open our presents, but we never would touch one package until we had gone and sung to Olga. She died a few years ago, but I still remember her sitting in her wheelchair with an afghan over her knees, clapping for us when we finished and giving us candy canes. The first candy cane I ever remember eating came from her. 

Do you have trouble falling asleep on Christmas eve?
We usually stay up until Christmas morning watching a movie, so I don't really fall asleep on Christmas Eve. :)

What time do you usually wake up on Christmas morning?
I haven't the foggiest. 

Do you do any special traditions for Christmas?
Oh plenty. My dad hides our nativity scene figures and we find them, we watch a million different A Christmas Carol movies, It's A Wonderful Life, The Nativity Story, and A Christmas Story, we have a family celebration on Christmas Eve and go to church, eat snacks, give each other gifts, and watch a movie... Christmas traditions are the best! 

I don't think I'll tag any people in this post because I don't know who has been tagged and who hasn't. We wouldn't want anyone having to fill out two of these things! :D 

A very Merry Christmas to all of you! 

'Till next time,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guest Blogger!

Hello ladies! 
Today we have a guest blogger: my dear friend Amy, who is a freshman at Bryan College in Tennessee. 

Here are her thoughts on the plans of God:

A is good...but B is good too

What if I were to be all deep and spiritual and say to you …God gives us choices. Your response might be something like, DUH. Of course God gives us choices! That is part of what it means to be human, why we are not robots, free will and all that stuff.
But if you are anything like me, your idea of those “choices” involves a good choice…and a bad choice. Take Path A and all this great stuff will happen. Take Path B and you will completely screw yourself and your future. Worst of all, you have strayed from God’s perfect plan for your life, so now you are damaged goods! Really, no pressure.
Recently I have been struggling with a decision that, while not completely life changing, was pretty obviously a crossroads. Panic ensue! I was fairly certain one of those paths must be God’s will, and the other one must not be. Obvious right? But I had no idea which was which. In fact, both paths seemed good.
I was talking with a friend about this internal struggle I was having and she gave me some wise advice. In fact, it is what I just shared with you. God gives us choices. But! Those choices don’t necessarily have to be good vs. bad. Sometimes God gives us two good paths, and lets us choose. He lets us pick our blessings.
Or, as the speaker the next day put it, A is good. But B is good too.
Did you catch that? In case I didn’t, God sent it to me twice, first from my friend and then from a speaker. A relationship with God is not a blind attempt to follow a hidden path. It is not sitting around wondering if He said left and you misunderstood and went right. God doesn’t have just one perfect path laid out that if you stray from you are screwed. He is the God of the universe and knows what you think before you even think it. He knows the decisions you are going to make long before you make them. Yet somehow, in some marvelous way beyond my comprehension, He allows us freedom in the relationship. A freedom to choose, because He has provided Path A and Path B and both lead to blessings. Of course, there is also a Path C that leads away from God. We have freedom to choose that too.  
Mind blown yet? Perhaps I can give a more personal example. When I was six years old, I decided I wanted to go to Patrick Henry College. And for almost twelve years, that was my ambition. It was simple a fact of life. I was going to go to PHC. And in a way, God did open up that door. I was accepted to the school, got scholarships, path A was ready for me.
But so was Path B. There was this school in Tennessee, you see, a little bit bigger than PHC, and more missions focused, called Bryan College. They were actually…pretty awesome. But more awesome than PHC? I was in doubt. Yet when it came time to make my final decision, it wasn’t so easy. Bryan or PHC? Path A or Path B? I didn’t know. I assumed one was God’s perfect choice, and one was less perfect. Though it was not my main concern by any stretch of the imagination, one of my friends summed up the uncertainty when she said, “What if my future husband goes to the school I was supposed to go to, and I don’t meet him?”
Path A or Path B?
Well, those of you who know me know the answer. I chose B. I went to Bryan. And yet even though I have been here going on five months, and I absolutely LOVE it, I have often wondered…why God? Why did you put that desire for PHC in a little girl’s heart if you were going to take me here? Was I just being stubborn? Did I make the wrong decision? But here seems so right.
In light of this idea about choices, I believe God would have blessed me if I had gone to PHC. I know, without a doubt, that Bryan College has blessed me more than I ever imagined. God gave me a choice…and wherever I go, He goes with me. There is no yellow-brick path that I must absolutely NEVER stray from. Sometimes there are two perfectly good directions.
Now, here is what I am not saying. I am not saying God endorses every decision we make. If I go out and get drunk, God may bring beauty out of that pain, but that doesn’t mean it was His will. And sometimes, there is a very clear Yes and a very clear No. We have to be in tuned to that. There is no point of no return with God. He will love us no matter what, but there is definitely a line of what God’s willis and what isn’t. Discovering His will isn’t always easy, but I have found Scripture, wise counsel, and simply prayer to be the best answers.
God gives us freedom in our relationship. He doesn’t micro-manage. We are not half-robots that have no say in the good stuff. He has a will for us, yes, but sometimes we get to pick the blessings that go with that will. For me, that is a life-changing realization. I am carrying a burden I don’t need to when I stress out about pleasing God. Because on my own I can’t please God, and that is okay.

Thanks, Amy! 

'Till next time,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Wonder

My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 
- Psalm 34:2 -

As I read this verse I wonder how often - or if - my soul really does boast in the Lord.

Does my daily life show others that my soul is overflowing - boasting - the goodness of my Creator? Am I the kind of person who brightens the lives of others by being an outpouring of the love God channels through me? Or do I put myself forward and put God behind my own interest. 

I wonder. 

Do I bubble over with His promises? Am I a reflection of His glory? Do I constantly focus on giving less of me and more of Him?

I want others to see Christ through me - and to see it as Christ and not as me. How can I take credit for the things that God alone has done?

I want my soul to boast - because God is good.

'Till next time,