Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekly Allowance

We teach about how to drive in school, but not how to manage finances.
~Andy Williams

What constitutes allowance widely varies. All parents have their own ideas about whether or not to give allowance and those who do it have different ideas, reasons, ways, times, and amounts. I think my parents tried an allowance a time or two, but it just did not stick--consistency was just not their thing.

My husband and I read books about how to structure an allowance and discussed our ideas quite a few times. I believe in children earning their money as both my husband and I did, but I have also heard children refusing to do allowance related chores because they will just get money from their grandparents or for their birthday, so we decided not to have allowance associated with behavior or chores, because our goal, at this time at least, is not to use it as a reward or punishment, but as a learning tool to teach her about finances.

We plan to keep her allowance small and add a "commission" approach for extra tasks as she becomes more interested in earning money. However, even now, if the Princess would like to make some extra money, she can do special chores, but we are only gently suggesting that now and then.

I was concerned most about being consistent and introducing an envelope system, which is what we use for our budgeting also. We agreed that the Princess would only need three envelopes: tithing, saving, and spending.

  1. Tithing is twenty percent, not just the usual ten. We decided on that because...well, giving more than what is expected is a good thing because we love our Lord.

  2. Saving is forty percent. This is quite a bit more than most people save typically, but after learning some things about self-made millionaires, it seems that living modestly on half of their income, having some saved and then investing a portion of the other half was key strategy.

  3. Spending is forty percent. It is not so much the amount that is the difficult part, but what rules to have about spending. We have decided to go with the Princess can spend on anything she wants as long as it is not against our morality. We want her to learn that if she spends it all then she will have nothing more to spend now while she is young and that no one will save her from herself if she is spending irresponsibly. Some parents allow sweets to be included, but I have some reservations on that. Perhaps my concerns are unnecessary, as she has not wanted to buy candy, but I need to be prepared for these issues. We do ration sweets rather meagerly in our home, so she may buy it, but that does not mean she gets to eat it whenever she likes.

We decided allowance would be two dollars given out on each Saturday. To be sure we are consistent, I have it written on our calendar. We started after she turned eight years old, even though we meant to start when she was younger--amazing how the time flies.

In addition to all this, we listen to Dave Ramsey on his radio program in the afternoons on the hour long drive home from piano lessons and going to the airport to pick up my husband. Although I do not follow Dave Ramsey's advice on allowance and I have my own budget system I devised years ago, which is very similar to his own, I want my daughter to hear how people can get over their heads in debt, how to live not using credit cards, and to, as Dave Ramsey says, "live like no one else so that later [she] can live like no one else."

The Princess has purchased some things, but she tends to forget her wallet when we are going out. Today, as we were coming back home from dropping my husband off at the airport, we stopped at Cracker Barrel. For my friends who have not heard of them, it is a chain restaurant located along highways with specialty "country" store having all sorts of expensive and inexpensive knick-knacks. The Princess was quite taken with a three-dollar wooden snake that seems to slither like the real thing and asked me to loan her the money until we were home, which I did. As soon as we were inside, she headed for her wallet with the receipt in hand and began counting out the money to give back to me. I was pleased with her taking this responsibility without having to be reminded.

I suppose at some point I should begin teaching her that when she forgets to bring money that she will not be able to get things, because she should not get in the habit of asking to borrow. For now, it is one step at a time.

~ My Lord, please guide us in teaching finances to our daughter. Please guide her to make wise decisions about managing money, so it does not manage her. ~

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seven Things You Need Not Know

The serpent, the king, the tiger, the stinging wasp, the small child, the dog owned by other people, and the fool: these seven ought not to be awakened from sleep. ~Chanakya

Ganeida awarded my blog and, to thank her, I am obliged to tell seven things about myself. This is more difficult for me than I thought it might be, like waking up something that should not be awakened for your own well-being. However, since you are still reading this, I guess you are not one to heed my advice to just stop right here, are you? So be it.

  1. If there is a way to make something complicated, I am the one to do it. Perhaps this is why I am attracted to simplicity...?

  2. My favorite book of the Bible is Hebrews, because it specifically addresses misconceptions about my Lord that people have even in this age.

  3. I enjoy science fiction, particularly movies. I find sci-fi very intriguing because it is so unlike real life that it is not bound to those limitations, and yet man is basically the same. I call most sci-fi movies "It's the end of the world as we know it."

  4. I shot skeet often when I was seventeen and I was very good.

  5. I dislike long fingernails. I feel that they just get in the way of all the things I like to do.

  6. If everyone else was without any needs, as we will be in heaven, and I could have one wish, I would befriend tigers have them around me all the time, even sleep with them.

  7. Ever since my techie husband bought our first computer, I have been the one on it the most--even before we had Internet service. Now I am trying to control this addiction by limiting my use and time on it, forcing myself to be more productive with my time on it. (I'm not sure a blog qualifies as "productive" at this point.)

I am supposed to pass this award on to seven other bloggers, but because of #7 I do not follow seven blogs, so I will just say thank you again to Ganeida, let what should be left to sleep, sleep, and move on to my regularly scheduled...uh, schedule.

~ My Lord, please bless the people who come here to read all my nonsensical ramblings. ~

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fear, Familiarity, or Faith

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. ~Author Unknown

I am not a brave person. I would like to be, I suppose, however whenever the... opportunity, for lack of a better word, has presented itself, I feel I have failed miserably. In addition, I have come to realize just how many fears I have lately and how much they prevail my thoughts. I really have not considered myself a fearful person previously, or maybe I was so angry it palliated my fears when I was younger...?

Thinking of the opposite of fear, we tend to think of words like: bravery, courage, and boldness or even heroism. These are not true antonyms of fear, at least not that daily fear, which is more associated with worry. Fearless is a true antonym for fear, but what results in fearlessness? When we know the answer to this question, we know the true opposite of fear.

One answer is familiarity. I have always had a fear of heights, so I would never have attempted to climb and sit at the top of twelve foot ladder. However, it was required for me to do this because I have an even stronger desire to display my artistic endeavors, in this case, promotional decorations in a retail store where I worked for five years. Our store placed in nearly every one of those several contests each year, which means I was on the top of a ladder often enough to become familiar with it.

Another answer is faith. We worry and have fear only because we lack faith in the Lord. There is just nothing more to add to here.

Facing our fears is one way to learn to overcome them, but not the best way. As the quote above states, "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death." Faith is not just believing in my Lord, but having a relationship, that is, being familiar with Him. There is nothing greater than my Lord, so there is nothing to fear other than Him, and yet my Lord gave people the message to not be afraid 365 times in the Bible. That is one time for each day in a year.

What is there to fear when my Lord says to not fear?

~ My Lord, forgive my faithlessness. Let me become more familiar with You and have fearlessness as only You can give. ~

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Haircut Unscheduled

The hair is the richest ornament of women. ~Martin Luther

Since she was three years old, the Princess has been wanting very long hair, even down past her waist, like mine had been in my childhood. I have been willing to help her wash it, braid it, and style it, because I knew how difficult to would be for her to do alone. She is blessed with the shape of face that looks good with just about any hair cut, but long hair seems to be the best choice for her with her silky, straight, thick hair that resists curling.

I was looking at the long straight locks of my Princess when I realized that there was a chunk of hair about six inches shorter than the rest. After some questioning, we found out that one night while she was in bed lying awake, she cut her hair with her own scissors, which were on the bed because they had not been put away as they were supposed to be.

She did this some years ago also. She decided that she wanted to let her bangs grow out, and just when they were finally even with the rest of her hair, she cut her bangs on her own. She even came out to me all smiles and I remember thinking, before the realization set in, that she looked so cute and somehow a bit...different. Uh-oh! It was just after she first started to cut things with scissors and they were supposed to be in a plastic storage box for homeschooling, but she had become quite fascinated with them and had taken them out without my knowledge. I called the salon and made an immediate appointment. Thankfully, the Princess had just cut the bangs and not that badly. There was some that went into one side a bit more deeply, but it was not that noticeable once the hair was styled. To drive the point home about not cutting her hair again, I had it cut much shorter all over, which made her unhappy as it was counterproductive to reaching her goal of having hair so long she would sit on it.

I really did not expect that she would do this again, not at eight years old anyway, but she did. This time it was not bangs. She pulled hair from the back on the right side and snipped off six inches. That would be a year's growth, I explained to her. Since she was truthful when asked about it, she will still go to the church's Father-Child fishing event tomorrow, but all her stuffed friends are off the bed for awhile (so we can easily see what is on it at night), her three scissors have been surrendered to my care for some time, and she is to pay for the haircut with her own spending money.

This was decided, of course, after a long talk about several aspects. We talked about how our Lord gives us guidelines and laws so we know the things we should not do. Yet, there are times we just want to do those things anyway and then we try to hide them even from God, which never works; He always knows. Likewise, parents always find out too.

We talked about how cutting her hair works against letting it grow long. We talked about how we were not angry, just very disappointed and even hurt, because we had trusted her and she betrayed that trust, so that she cannot have scissors without supervision for a long time.

I wanted her to understand the serious side of what she had done, while my thoughts were to keep it in perspective: It's her hair, it's just hair, it grows back, etc., and I am thankful she did not cut up the sheets or her stuffed friends. Then there is the part where I am sad that her hair is going to have to be cut so much shorter.

Since she is focused on "playing mama" lately, I asked her what she would do if one of her "babies" cut her own hair. She said, "Forgive her." Something inside me smiled and thanked my Lord. How can I argue with that?

~ My Lord, this has reminded me how much You lovingly parent all of us. We do so much wrong, but to You it is all temporary and fixable in time, just like a bad haircut. You are ever ready to forgive us and likewise we need to forgive others, if nothing else, we have passed that understanding our daughter. ~

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bach's Minuet in G on the Harpsichord

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. ~Johann Sebastian Bach

The Princess has been practicing an arrangement of Bach's Minuet in G for several weeks. It is one of my favorite pieces and I found it delightful to hear it played repeatedly, improving each passing day as she became more familiar with the music, but the crowning moment would be hearing her play it on a real harpsichord.

Miss Trudy, the Princess' piano teacher, likes to have group classes a few times a year when all her students can learn and experience music in a different way. Two or three years ago, we visited Ann Schumann Earley's music studio in Canton, Georgia, to see her two harpsichords and she asked if anyone knew any Baroque pieces, which no one did at that time.

It was always a consideration to go back another time, but that did not come together until last Monday. This time, Miss Trudy would have some students with prepared pieces and my Princess was one of them.

This was very different from a recital. The climate controlled music room, housing two grand pianos and a harpsichord, was fashioned from a small apartment in a large, brick stable, although they no longer have horses. There were several children present ranging in ages and gathered around the instrument, which can be quite distracting, but the Princess kept her focus well.

The harpsichord is basically a mechanized psaltery. The strings are plucked rather than stuck with a hammer as in the piano. The result is that no matter how much force is used to depress the keys, the volume is the same. The keys on the harpsichord also can differ from the piano in other ways other than weight. In this case, the keys that are normally white on the piano were black, and the black keys were white and thicker in width. It would be enough to throw off any child who had not practiced on it and has a limited hand span playing the Minuet in G.

The Princess did not play flawlessly, but only those who knew how the piece should have been played would have noticed just a minor mistake or two for she continued on as if she played it exactly as it was meant to be done. She is a natural at performing.

Afterward the other children were invited to play whatever pieces they knew at the time. I have to say that hearing "Boogie Woogie" on a harpsichord was quite interesting.

~ Even as this child was developing within my womb, I prayed that she would play the piano and, my Lord, You not only answered that prayer but blessed her with the ability to be gifted with music and to have the poise of a practiced performer. Thank you for her gifts. ~

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Homophones and Homonyms...?

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain. ~Jane Wagner

I spent nearly half a day yesterday studying the differences of homonyms and homophones. Why, you may ask. Well, I am homeschooling my daughter and it seems that the term homophone is more used in the curriculum books I have than the term homonym is and, frankly, I was not taught anything but homonyms when I went to school. It was not until I began looking at all the choices of spelling curricula, that I ever ran across the term homophone and it did not stop there. Oh, no! I also ran into other terms I had never been taught in public school.

Homophones literally mean "same sound," so words having the same pronunciation but have different spelling and meaning are homophones. Such words like:

cell and sell
meat, meat, and mete
one and won

That is all well and good, but I was taught this defined homonyms, so naturally I went on to find the difference between a homophone and homonym. Now I understand the confusion--well, not really, but here is the problem: Even scholars and dictionaries do not agree what constitutes a homonym.

There is agreement that homonyms literally mean "same name" for different meanings, but opinions differ on if "same name" means same spelling and same pronunciation, or same spelling or same pronunciation. (Isn't it amazing how the difference in such little conjunctions can change the entire meaning?)

The first definition would be limited to words that are homophones and homographs--oops, I jumped ahead! What I mean is that they would be the same spelling and the same pronunciation but having different meanings:

bat - a winged mammal
bat - a wooden stick used in baseball

cap - head covering
cap - a set upper limit

However, there is that second definition that basically states that any word with a different meaning but either a same spelling or pronunciation or both is a homonym. That includes the words in the first definition plus words that are homophones and words that are spelled the same but different pronunciations:

dove - bird
dove - past tense of dive

lead - to be ahead
lead - a metal

Actually, these words are homographs, which means literally "same writing." They are words which are spelled the same as each other but differ in meaning, origin, and sometimes pronunciation.

So, here is my dilemma: Is a homonym a word that is both a homophone and a homograph, OR is it a homophone or a homograph?

Then to add to my confusion, I came across heteronyms, polysemes, and capitonyms! At this point I cannot help but think no wonder they just taught us one term in school because some words can be under several classifications.

Heteronyms literally mean "different name" so they are a specific type of homographs with different pronunciations associated with different names.

bow of a ship
a bow and arrow
a bow - bending the body

Polysemes are a bit easier to understand but a bit more difficult to identify. They are words which are spelled the same and sound the same, but have different meanings that are related.

bank - keep secure
bank - place where things are kept

mole - a small burrowing mammal
mole - someone who burrows for information hoping to go undetected

Capitonyms are words that change their meanings and sometimes pronunciation when capitalized and probably the easiest of all to identify.

job - task
Job - a book in the Bible

may - to be allowed
May - month

Let's go back to my dilemma, shall we? I am homeschooling the Princess, which means I need to pick one definition for a homonym and stay consistent, which is not easy with all these inconsistencies. I am inclined to go with a homonym is a word that is both a homophone and a homograph, as that seems to be the prevailing trend in higher education. So, now I need to unlearn what I learned to teach what should be taught.

It's kind of ironic, in a way, that I was taught homophones as homonyms by certified public school teachers and that is acceptable in our society, but that I am not certified to teach makes people concerned about whether or not I should be homeschooling my own child.

~ My Lord, with so many things to learn, there are also so many opportunities to teach things both incorrectly and more correctly than I was taught. Thank you for guiding me in what I teach my daughter. ~

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back Pain

For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds," says the Lord.
~ Jeremiah 30:17

Twenty years ago, I mysteriously began to have low back pain that quickly became a sciatica problem and then soon after upper back and neck problems as well. I quickly learned that back pain is not really something that other people understand unless they have had it. I would suffer the most with this condition for about six years, and in the middle of those years of suffering I had a conversation with my mother that proves this point.

To set the scene, my mother lived 900 miles away and had not seen me for six or so years, but we had talked on the phone. She was aware of the limitations and pain that I had been enduring, at least I had told her about them, but she had not actually seen me needing help to get out of cars or walk up steps, or being unable to stand after sitting, or wearing a neck brace for weeks three or four times a year.

The day she called was a particularly bad day for me. My husband set food, drinks, napkins, phone, and other possible necessities on the coffee table within reach before he left for work. I was in a neck brace laying on the couch trying not to move and dreading the call of nature when I would have no choice but to roll off the couch and literally crawl to the bathroom.

My mother calls to excitedly tell me that both of my sisters, both younger than I, were pregnant. One was far along in her pregnancy and the other had just been announced. Then my mother, again, pressed me about having a baby as she had been doing for years. I tried to keep in mind that my mother had not seen my condition with her own eyes, and I began to explain how it was for me that day.

She did not seem to hear any of it. She was only thinking of grandbabies! To try to connect the dots for her, I said something like let's assume that I can even get pregnant (of which I had serious doubts), I would probably have to lie down most of my pregnancy. Her response was that would be all right.

I never told her how much what she said hurt me that day. Here I was, her own baby experiencing intense pain and she did not mind me going through more so that I could produce her next grandbaby.

I remember thinking that she just isn't getting how much pain I was in. She was only thinking I might be a bit uncomfortable being pregnant, so I tried again. "Let's assume that I make it through the pregnancy and the labor, which I cannot even image doing right now, who is going to hold the baby? I mean, some days I cannot even lift a pitcher to pour a drink for myself." She responded that she would come and take care of the baby.

Okay, then I knew she is not quite on the same plane I was because we never did well living together even in my childhood. Perhaps she was thinking a short visit would be all I needed and then I would be able to carry the baby with all the baby baggage like a baby carrier and diaper bag.

She was not of the mind to hear me. It hurt and not just emotionally, I had one of the worse flare-ups in my entire life that lasted nearly three weeks. At that time I lived with some measure of pain every day, just some days less than others. I did improve and actually became pain free after a time.

Then it all flipped. My mother was involved in four car accidents in just two years time. She consequently had back problems. She called once running down the list of things she was not able to do: vacuum, taking wet laundry out of the washer, washing dishes, putting dishes away, etc. Pretty much the very same list I had been telling her about years before. I waited until she had exhausted her list and calmly asked her if she would like to be pregnant right then....I had never heard my mother sputter quite so much before. She finally managed to ask what that was all about. I described the day that she had asked the same of me.

Then my mother said that she just thought people used back pain as an excuse to get out of work, because they did not look sick, not realizing that was like twisting the knife for me. Had she thought that I was just being lazy all those years or making stuff up just to get attention--her own daughter? (I had a vow in my heart at that time to never treat my own child with so little regard when he said he was in pain.) Well, at least, my mother understood what I had suffered, but I was sorry she had to learn about it by experiencing for herself.

Although I experienced some upper back flare ups over the years, I have had very little problems with my low back, even while I was pregnant and carrying our 45 pound collie up and down steps because she was too crippled to manage them. My Lord has been very good to me about either showing me how to heal myself, or identifying the cause. I say this latter part because I have noticed over the years that when I have flare-ups and they do not respond to chiropractic treatments, that there is usually an emotional involvement. That would include how my back problems all started, as we were under a great deal of stress.

Recently, for the last three weeks actually, I have been having increasing low back pain again and I had only minimal relief for a few hours after a chiropractic adjustment. I am sure there is an emotional involvement with this one, but I don't think it has been made known to me in entirety yet. The last time I had an upper back problem that increased in intensity was when my daughter was an infant; it lasted an entire year until I finally discovered the underlying cause and then it was gone in two weeks as if it never happened for all those months.

Yesterday I was having a more low back pain than usual, after calling to talk briefly with my pastor, I returned to our lessons and at some point I realized I was pain free, and today I am still doing well. This is the second time I received healing from her praying for me. I think I might know part of what caused this one and it has something to do with fear and fear was definitely a big factor in my life when this all started years ago.

I, obviously, have much to talk over with my Lord.

~ My Lord, You are my Healer of body, mind, and spirit. I surrender myself to You and thank You for healing me. Reveal what You would have me know and forgive me for my fear, my lack of faith and trust in You. ~

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Will I Homeschool During the Summer?

Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.
~ Ernest Dimnet

Lately, I have been asked by several people if I will be homeschooling through the summer, mostly by people who are just curious about homeschooling. I explain that I will be, because I prefer to take more breaks in the autumn and spring when the weather is cool and there are so many activities like spring and autumn fests. Some people think it is a good idea because children forget so much during a long summer break and others probably think I am mean not to let my daughter just play, as if she does not get to play daily far more than any public school child. Of course, the Princess will chime in, at times, that she should not have to do lessons if the other children aren't in school, but I am quick to remind her of how we rarely do lessons on Thursdays and how we took off all of December to bake and decorate when other children were sitting in school. Actually, that was just the tip of last year's iceberg.

I rarely get to plan our homeschool breaks, they are just something that happens called LIFE. In fact, I consider life to be homeschooling, just not in a formal, traditional way that most recognize as a method of education.

Last year, I stayed six weeks with my husband's father while his mother was in the hospital and recovering in a rehabilitation care center. It just was too disruptive for lessons, so I just focused on having the Princess read books and doing my lesson planning for the next year and buying up those back-to-school specials--I thought I had gotten enough notebook paper and index cards for the rest of her school years, but since she is writing much more now, I realize that I might have enough for two or three years of paper and maybe a year with index cards. When I did get home it took me another two weeks to unwind and get back to a schedule and it took the Princess even more time. She just did not want to go back to the discipline of doing lessons daily at all, but she had a recital so at least she practiced piano and then math.

It felt like I was just getting back to a routine. I started with just the light work and eased other subjects back into our lesson time, but we did not really get back into it as I hoped. While with my husband's parents, my mother's health deteriorated to the point she would need dialysis. My husband was expected to work in Columbus for a week so we all drove up to Ohio, staying with my aunt and uncle and cousins, who live together in a house large enough to accommodate guests and have the gift of hospitality. As I suspected when I saw her, that autumn visit with my mother was to be our last.

Back home again and still struggling to get back on a schedule with homeschooling, the holidays were upon us and the Princess had another recital of sorts, called a pianothon, at the beginning of December. After that it was just impossible to do much as we prepared for Christmas. It would be January before I felt we were back to our regular routine.

Then my mother passed away at the end of January and we had to make another trip to Ohio for the funeral going straight into the aftermath of the worst ice storm in that area. It was a bit scary on the roads, but we made it. That trip was difficult because my mother's funeral was not the only event. Two lambs were born on a bitter cold night and my aunt's 35 year old horse went down in his stall. One of the lambs died and the horse died. It was heartbreaking.

When we got back it took me some time to recuperate emotionally and I was so thankful that my daughter was being rather cooperative with starting back to a full lesson schedule. However, I really doubted my ability to homeschool this last year. I actually toyed with the idea of public school in the back of my mind. It would not be so bad if she went to public school now that she is older. Look at her friends that go and they are nice children.

There were also reminders of the downside. My sister's daughter could not go see her grandmother in the autumn because the principal of the school said she had already missed too many days, but she was allowed to later come to the funeral? Perhaps it is a character flaw in me that I would just not take it well should school officials and teachers dictate to me about what my daughter must and must not do when it comes to things like visiting very ill family members.

Piano lessons are the real blessing for me. It is the very first thing the Princess does as part of her lessons each day after breakfast and devotions. Even if we do nothing else, she is expected to practice piano at least and it pulls me back into a schedule. When we did get back on a regular schedule after the last trip, the Princess was much more compliant about it. My concerns about whether I am able to homeschool as these challenges come up seems to be put to rest for now, thanks to my Lord.

Homeschooling is a blessing. I was able to help family, visit family, and even have time to grieve with play time mixed in. The Princess had the opportunity to learn to skate on a flat driveway while we were in Florida. She learned first hand that family is very important and worth the interruption of daily schedules because life is precious and finite in time. Of course, the Princess did not progress in her lessons as much as I had planned, but because she is older and more capable to understand, she is breezing through lessons now and she is now more able to help me with tasks. That time that we did not do lessons was not wasted nor lost. My Lord is taking care of it all. There is no catching up with the class, just moving on from where we are. Because some of her lessons, particularly in language arts, history, and science, are geared to teaching multiple grade levels as homeschooling parents of various aged children would be doing, it is only a matter of her doing the work according to her abilities at the time.

We will not have a summer break--well, we might, but it will not be a planned one--still she will have time to learn on her own and to play.

~ My Lord, thank you for reminding me that You are guiding my daughter's education and that not only am I capable of homeschooling, but that You have called me to do it. Thank you, also, for giving us time to play. ~

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Selfishly His

To be saved is only this,--salvation from our own selfishness.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

Today I am just thankful. I would highlight all the times that my Lord has been so gracious to me, even to performing miracles in my life, yet I still worry and grumble just like the Hebrews in the Old Testament. I suppose if there is anything to learn from history it is that man is, at his core, the very same as he has always been. In fact, there is one trait we all have that is the reason behind all we do: We are selfish.

We all know we are not supposed to be and that it is commendable to be selfless, but even in our selflessness, we are selfish. We are giving with the hope of rewards, if not here, then certainly in heaven.

Maybe I am all wrong and it is just that I am more selfish than most so I identify with it more I should. I don't know, but each day I find my thoughts are mostly about what I want or how something will affect me. Would I even pray if I did not want something from my Lord? And, when I get it, am I truly grateful for it or am I looking for the next thing to add?

I have this philosophy that we even come to accept my Lord because we are selfish. We want a nice afterlife. We want to be loved. We want the Lord's blessings. We want His grace to be showered on us. We want to be saved....

Perhaps we need to be saved from ourselves most of all. Perhaps the greatest enemy is not Satan, but our own selfishness, for how could Satan have tempted a selfless being. I know, Adam and Eve were innocent, so Satan could trick them, but when the Lord said do not and a serpent promises rewards, who was Eve really serving when she stretch out her hand to take the fruit other than herself? If Eve had not been the first, another would have...as much as I hate to think of it, without knowing the consequences, I would have.

I know that we should mature in our faith becoming more like Christ, more selfless. The question is then, is my Lord really selfless? If he created man in His Image, was this part of the plan? I mean, why did He create us? Did He want to be loved? Even angels, other created beings, fell away from my Lord. Why? Were they not being selfish too?

If I could shed my selfishness away as easily as a serpent sheds his skin, would I do it? Am I too selfish to give it up? It has served only me. When I have served others, it was not without rewards to me, even if just a good feeling. Yet, would I have come to my Lord without it?

It is a paradox!

Last night, I was keenly aware of how through the years my Lord has protected us...protected me. Through things that could have torn my family apart, the Lord provided us a haven. He even gave me a vision a few years ago of angels working on untangling a pile of twisted conduits that were not attached to anything, just piled high and oppressing us. It came to me at a very frightening time. I was on my knees several times a day begging for the Lord to save us once again. One would think He would get tired of me!

The untangling of our lives was not without sacrifices. It has been, as my husband put it, uncomfortable. And, just what have I been doing in the last few weeks? Grumbling! I don't wish to be that way. I wish to be grateful and content where I am at all times. I wish to keep my eyes on my Lord. I wish to be His...selfishly.

~ My Lord, please forgive me for my discontent. It is not how I wish to be. I want to be grateful for all the things You have provided at all time. I want to live thanking You, not just in a quick prayer but a lasting gratitude that overwhelms my heart every moment. ~

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Practicing Face Art

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can. -Danny Kaye

I have been face painting the Princess as often as she will let me. I have been been becoming more relax with it and learning some tricks of the trade, so to speak. I think it simply comes down to learning to paint fast and furious on a unpredictable, squirmy target that also is uneven and using just the right brush loaded with the right amount of paint of the right consistency and of the exact color, because there are no second chances. Need I add that they don't teach this stuff in typical art classes?

I was playing here just to see how the colors stood out on skin.

I tend to like the dainty and mardi gras designs so, just to see if I could do a simple and bold design in as little as two minutes, I made this butterfly by loading a sponge and not worrying about the colors showing up outside of the black outline. Black is so bold on the face and stands out so well for pictures!

My personal favorite continues to be the "mardi gras" designs and, of course, lots of glitter is a must--plus it camouflages some of those mistakes made due to an unexpected wiggle or two!

Of course, the Princess seems to favor hearts the most.

Matching face art designs to the clothing worn is also a fun challenge.

This is another attempt of a fast and furious butterfly as I was still a bit intimidated with the use of black. This design took under five minutes.

I am so loving those mardi gras designs!

The Princess is still loving those hearts!

Playing around. Trying new things. The Princess requested "just dots," and was wearing a bright green top so, of course, Mama just could not resist adding stars. I have to say that this one looked so much better than the picture shows.

Yesterday we when out to eat after renting a car for my husband. He was scheduled to work in the state, but too far to come home in the evenings. The first two people who saw this one mistook it for a "decal," and then took a real close look when the Princess told them that it was face paint and admired how it matched her dress. I did it in record time, under ten minutes from setting out all the paints and brushes to washing out the sponge.

If You have placed this desire on me, my Lord, as a means for a bit of extra income please give me a clear sign by bringing opportunities to me and having them work out well with our schedules and transportation challenges.