Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where is Your Happy Place?

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
~Abraham Lincoln

I often hear something about finding your happy place or having happy thoughts and I just really want to know:

What was the very first thing that came into your mind when you read this title? Honestly, where is your happy place or what would be your ideal happy place?

And the second thing, if there were any second thoughts?

I promise to reveal my own later on!

(Okay, here it is: My Own Happy Place.)

~ My Lord, help us see the truth in ourselves as You see it. ~

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This is Fun, Said the Princess!

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer. ~Karl Kraus

After holidays and illnesses, I have been working both the Princess and myself back into our homeschool routine, which is anything but routine! I guess I mean that we are again doing formal lessons. I was elated that she breezed through several worksheets of math, doing two weeks worth in just one! She remembered all her Latin and Greek. Yesterday we resumed history, Ancient Egypt to be more exact.

We read the first twelve pages in the Chapter Five: "Early Days in Egypt, Before Recorded Time" in Volume 1 of A Picturesque Tale of Progress by Olive Beaupré Miller, 1955 edition set of books that are a delight to read. (They are now back in print, to my surprise!) Then the Princess was to write her thoughts on what she had learned. Sometimes we do outlines or pick out words to create a glossary or journal with a brief description and pictures, but this time I just wanted her to write it out freestyle. I planned it to be a rough draft and I would be going over it for spelling and grammar.

At first, the Princess was confused, not having the structure and not knowing where to start and then I said, "Just tell the story." These must have been the magic words that started her creative juices to go into overdrive! She began writing and writing and writing. She stopped only to get more paper. When I realized this, I told her that she did not need to write so much. She said, without even looking up from her work, that this was fun.

Are there any sweeter words heard by the homeschooling parent than the assignment is fun?

And this is what she wrote, without the grammar and spelling corrections:

Early Days in Egypt

In the Valley of the river Nile, the water sparkled like gold in the glowing sunset. The beutiful Nile, in November, would rise and flood. Because of the melting snow in the mountains. This all made a layer of rich black mud, wich the people of Egypt grew food and grass, it now looks like a green stripe on a map. The Nile soaked back into the sand and once more, was a river. The people thout it was a great thing to live by the Nile, was it not?

Later people wondered about the sun. "How does the sun leap in the sky at dawn and lower down to sleep at dusk fall?" They asked each other. They began to think more and more that the sun was a god. "The sun is the one who made the earth, his name is Ra!" They shouted. They got carried away from God, once more! People began to ask Ra into there hearts right away. They made other Gods, too.

They began to go god-crazy! (In my words.) They made gods that were held in houses and were prayed to almost every day! The sun-god was the most popular one of them all. They worshipped mostly things that they could see and touch on earth, they did not follow Gods rules anymore.

This is the story of Ra who they thout made the earth: In the beginning, there was nothing be a watery mass wich filled all of space. Ther was no earth, no sea, no sky. Suddenly, on the watery mass, there came up an egg wich rose out the sun-god. Ra is his name and he is the Creator. He made himself four children - Shu and Tefnut, Keb and Nut, who lay with them flat on there backs on the watery mass. In time, Shu rose from the watery mas with his sister, Tefnut. They placed there feet on Keb and, seizing Nut, they lifted her high above them. Keb became earth, Nut became the sky, her body coverd with beutifull stars, and Shu and Tefnut air wich can hold up the sky. Ra made other gods, but he made them all. The end.

None of this is true, but if you want to think it's true, thats okay, too!

The End

Since it is so much longer that I expected and precious just as it is, I think I will just discuss the corrections that needed to be made and leave it. I always say that even the best writer's have editors for a very good reason. So, my question to you, my dear readers:

Can this nine-year-old girl tell a story or what?

~ My Lord, thank you for my daughter enjoying her lesson and help me to make that happen more often. ~

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nothing Like It

Life without a purpose is a languid, drifting thing; every day we ought to review our purpose, saying to ourselves, "This day let me make a sound beginning, for what we have hitherto done is naught!” ~Thomas Kempis

There is nothing like having purpose, especially one directed by my Lord. It is not enough to know what interests you or what your God-given gifts are. I have known many people with amazing gifts, who seem lost as to how to use them. I have also known many people with very few gifts, who used all they had in amazing ways. The difference is purpose or the lack of it.

In reality, most people live somewhere between these two extremes and even then it is not steadfast course on the sea of life, but something more like the ever-changing tide. Even people with purpose can get caught in the ebbs and, once in awhile, even foundering people will jet stream on a purposeful route for a limited time.

Sometimes we feel we have lost our purpose or at least the direction of it for a time...but it could be that God is just allowing us to take a break. As difficult as it is for a person to find his purpose, once he has found it, it seems even more difficult to take a break from it or even change course. I know this because once a home business was my purpose. It was blessed by God and I used gifts God had given me that I did not even know I had. Eventually, I was comfortable with that purpose...but I also learned it was not to be the course I was meant to take for all my life; it was only to be for a season, according to God's purpose.

I was given another purpose and even though I began to understand that the two could not be well done simultaneously, I attempted to do it. God must have known that I could not give up on either one, so He made it absolutely clear which course I was to take and without question I knew that my business was to be abandoned completely. That was very difficult, and even though my ministry was intertwined with the business, it would survive without it. God wanted my purpose to be in homeschooling my daughter, and I would also be keeping my family healthy with the knowledge I had gained through my business and help with the healing of people in a non-profit consulting capacity. The amazing part is once the one purpose was discarded completely (and that took some time), I felt so much freedom to pursue the one God had given me and I enjoyed it so much more!

At times, I forget my own purpose. Ironically, I was talking with someone who felt a bit lost in her purpose. She knows what it is, but she felt a bit confused as to how to go about doing it. In talking to her, I realized I was enjoying watching her countenance change as she began to plan how to navigate back onto her course, onto her purpose, to fulfill God's purpose.

She may think I helped her, but actually she helped me remember my own God-given purpose. I am still learning that in giving, I am also given....

God is just amazing like that!

~ My Lord, thank you for giving my life purpose and for guiding me to fulfill Your purpose. I ask that You keep me the course You have planned for me. ~

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This is Not a Test

The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.
~Ray Bradbury, The Golden Apples of the Sun

Do you remember that we suspended our TV service last June in Taking a Break from the Regular Scheduled Programming? Since then I wrote about how the TV service was scheduled to come back on in December but that we might turn it on earlier. We did not do that after all. We did allow it to come back on at the end of the six month period as that is the longest time period we could have it suspended but during that six months our finances had changed with our double tithe commitment.

It was not a test, but we found that we did not miss the TV much at all. I admit that I did watch a few of the latest episodes of two or three shows online through my computer, when the season for them started but, to be honest, I nearly fell asleep during some of them. Since it has been back on I noticed that the TV commercials are even more bothersome to me than before we had the break—I am not sure I can get to the point that I will just ignore them again or that I should. I realized having the service back that I too often left the room while my daughter was still watching not knowing which commercials came on during my absence that I would rather she not see.

There are educational shows and documentaries that we may miss, but there again I can find so much online (and a friend suggested an alternative that may work better for us). Basically, it just all comes down to the bottom line: I just cannot justify paying a $60 a month bill for TV service when we so rarely watch it and it has so much more on it that I rather not have in my home. So, yesterday after receiving the bill, I called our TV service company and explained that I had no complaints and I was not going to a competitor, I just do not want TV in my home any longer. I was offered a greater discount on our monthly bill and even two months free. I wavered for a moment, because I have a very difficult time passing up a good bargain, but I said I appreciate them trying so hard to keep me as a customer, however I could not justify keeping the service when we are so disgusted by what we see on TV that we do not watch more than a couple of hours a week.

As for the alternative I mentioned before, we have been considering NetFlix. I was particularly interested in it when I found out that we can stream it through to our TV using a Wii console. We were offered a Wii by my husband's mother saying she had gotten for her husband and now had no use for it. We all liked playing it, but were not sure if she really would not use it. If the offer still stands, we might bring it home with us next time we go there. Anyway, it seems that Netflix is far more affordable and would work well with our lifestyle, but we are in no hurry to get it. We have several movies and TV series on DVD—the Princess likes the Waltons and so she got the some more seasons of it for Christmas.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for us being in agreement about having no TV service and help us live our lives well instead of watching others live theirs. ~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sneaky Side of Pride

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
~Proverbs 16:18

Napoleon Bonaparte said that a soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon. Of course, it is not the flag itself but what it stands for, but it cause me to think just what are the bits of colored ribbon in my life. What are the things in which I have pride?

I would say that I have pride in my Lord, my daughter, my husband, my home, my lifestyle, my homeschooling, my art, my needlework, my sourdough baking, my homemaking (mostly), my clothing, even the majority of my choices, duties, and projects are done with pride. To be honest, I have pride in just about anything in which I have a hand in choosing, improving, and maintaining in some way.

It seems that pride is two-edge sword. It is both good and bad, depending on how it is wielded. However, recently I began to see what many would consider to be prideful is actually not pride itself but vanity. Jane Austen brings clarity to the difference in this quote: “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.”

There it is: the sneaky side of pride to which even Christians succumb. What will people think! It is not really pride, it is vanity. It is the pride we have in our colored bits of ribbon that gives them worth, but it is vanity, the showing of our colored bits of ribbon, that subjugates our actions. We want to look good to others. Christians should desire to be a living witness for Christ and this is the life ministry of every Christian, but often as we do this thinking that we must be perfect in order that our ministry be effective...and this is where we taint our ministry with vanity, the imperfection that we cannot see, the very thing that caused Satan to fall. Vanity is not of the Lord.

There are things we have done and will do that cause us embarrassment and that could be, at least in our own minds, harmful to our ministry. Sin is not always the culprit. At times, there may be no sin associated. These things could have been imposed by other people, due to unfortunate circumstances, or poor choices. No matter how the situation came into being, the moment we worry about what other people will think is the moment we have given in to our own vanity. That is when the real sin manifests...and we have all done this.

Would you befriend anyone who went from place to place as if homeless, had very little money, embarrassed the religious leaders all the while talking about the Kingdom of God as if obsessed by it, was condemned by the government, was beaten, and then hung up on a cross naked to endure the final humiliation of being crucified in sight of all the people there? Did Jesus worry about what the people might think of Him or his ministry? Did Jesus worry about how all this would hurt His ministry? His life and His death was the ministry! Did Jesus have pride? I believe He did. Did He have vanity? Absolutely not.

The difference, the place where we go wrong, is when our thoughts stray from seeking only to do what pleases the Lord, regardless of how we think it could makes us or our ministry appear to others. Jesus was a condemned man. He was mocked! MOCKED! We tend to forget that.

Many Christians are going through some very hard times. Some are embarrassed by their circumstances. We need to remember that whatever our circumstances, it is part of our ministry. We should not hide it away. We should not give in to the very same sin that caused Satan and one third of the angels to fall away. We cannot control what others will think of us. If you truly have faith in God, you should believe that every, EVERY circumstance, can be used by God to fulfill His purpose.

Is there ever really any shame when you are in God's will?
Is there any shame worse than not being in His will?

~ My Lord, thank you for this reminder. I tend to want to hide things from people because I worry about what they might think and how it will reflect on my own ministry...but it is not my ministry, it is Yours. Please, please help me to continuous walk in Your will so that no matter how the things I do appear to others, I am pleasing You. Help me not to give in to vanity. ~

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Christian Exposed

The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life. ~James L. Christensen

The deliberate Christian lives by a code: he asks God's guidance in every deed and also considers his every action as something that affects how others will see the God he claims to believe in, have faith in, trusts. I talked with a very deliberate Christian last night, someone who has inspired me in ways I cannot fully describe; she just has been a personal blessing to me as I have come to know her thinkings, her soul.

She has come to a very rough spot in the sea of life and yet has held the knowledge of it close to her, not letting it affect her family and friends. The main concern she expressed was about how people, mostly the unbelievers and accidental Christians as I call them, would view her testimony, her witness for the Lord. It is human nature to place someone's life under the microscope to try to find what she is doing wrong or pick apart a person's believes in times of her trouble. The miracle she needs is considerable and I cannot say for certain what the Lord plans to do, but one thing I do know is that while she may not see it, I know she will still be an incredible witness for the Lord simply because of her faith.

As Christians, we tend to think our witness is only effective if things are going well for us. Even as we read about Job's losses and sufferings, the discouraging talks with his friends, and even his wife suggesting that he curse God and die, all while he had done nothing wrong! We marvel at all this and his frustration with the Lord knowing He had the power to give and take away. Yet...yet, here in the Western world, we think that God's provision means no suffering and no loss.

Not only do unbelievers miss the point, but we Christians do also. God did not consider Job highly because He had blessed him with prosperity, which caused people to consider him highly, but because He knew the real inner workings of his heart. Even Satan must not have understood this thing called faith. Satan equated the easy life in this existence with it being easy to devote one's heart to God. He believed that hardship would make people give up on God...and, unfortunately, he was right: some do. However, imagine his surprise to find some do not. In fact, the experience can strengthen and refine their faith.

Having faith during a hardship actually makes the person a better witness. The deliberate Christian should do things differently than the unbeliever during a hardship. That is not to say there will not be tears of discouragement at times, or fear of the unknown, or even anger at God (to be angry at Him is at least an acknowledgment of His existence), but the deliberate Christian chooses to humble himself to the Lord's will and tries to be a witness to others for the Lord he loves at all times.

It is easy to say I believe the Lord provides all my needs. I do believe that, but what does it mean unless it is tested? And, it requires difficult times to be tested. I have seen it all my life in various ways and those provisions did not always come the way I hope they would, the easy or joyous ways, but they came. I personally have felt a different aspect of testing recently as we dedicated ourselves to double our tithe for six months. We felt led by the Lord to do it. It has created some hardship and other believers have said to us that we could stop doubling it...yes, we could easily do that and I have learned it is like fasting food; one can just eat to stay off the hunger pains and weakness, but what of the purpose of the fast? You see, they miss the point because they lack the experience to understand the reasoning of it. I will fast food in a heartbeat, because I have learned that discipline, but familiarity does not make it all that easier, I just perceive it as more possible and as having purpose.

In honesty, giving more money to honor the Lord, not out of our excess but our necessities, is a discipline I personally did not want to learn. It takes far more discipline to do give money when you receive nothing of value for it. At least, when you pay a bill, you are getting something of value in return. Some would say it is a silly, self-imposed poverty. Some would say that I should be humble and do it quietly to receive the blessing of it; if the Lord led me to do so, I would. However, I believe very strongly in teaching discipleship, that Christians need to learn from each other in real life situations as they are happening. At times, God needs people to be brave and bare their souls at the time of their sufferings so that others can learn from it. Some seem to similize being humble with being silent, but we cannot teach much in silence. It is in the sharing, the baring of souls, that inspire unbelievers to realize that even in the worse of times we have what they are really seeking: the ability to have faith in the Lord, especially in time of trouble.

My Christian sister is keeping her secret in silence for now. I am sure she will share her hardship when it is the right time to do so, because she is braver than she realizes, because she has something special to share about the mysteries of faith, because she is an amazing witness for the Lord we love. In the meantime, I will pray for her, for the Lord to provide for her and her family. Will you pray with me?

~ My Lord, please provide what my sister needs and help her to continue to be a good witness for you throughout this difficultly that is placed before her. Give her peace and guidance and rest in You. ~

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Days of Colds, Snow, and Ice

Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while. ~Kin Hubbard

This is a picture of the Princess with her father at her very first snow!

Most of you know I am not one to "break the ice" with weather reports. I mean, I have a friend who lives in Minnesota and she rarely talks about the snow, because it is so common there; it is just a part of life for most months of the year—now if it did not snow most of the winter there that would be something worth mentioning. I have friend in Arizona and she does not begin conversations with how warm and dry it is there because that is just typical—but if they had days and days of heavy rains that would not be. I have friend in a subtropical area of Australia, who is in her summer as we are in our winter. Obviously, their weather is going to differ vastly from the weather in Georgia more times than not. However, there are times when the weather is doing something extraordinary right here and even I will talk about it.

Seeing six inches of snow is rare in my part of the country, but far more rare is for the temperatures to stay low enough for several consecutive days so it does not melt away...well, actually it is melting a tiny bit each day, just enough to refreeze to a slick ice. Monday it was a wet snow and schools closed so children were out sledding on the hill in front of our house that day.

Schools are still out and most likely will be the rest of the week, since temperatures will not go above the freezing mark until Friday. Now the snow is mostly crusted ice and is not much fun. Still, imagine this beckoning white novelty at the time your child is sick with a fever and persistent cough.

The Princess looked out of her window watching the other children playing. Friends came to the door to ask to play with her. The first two days her fever was high enough to make her want to lie down and nap often, but by Sunday her temperature lowered to a low grade fever, which continued until Monday evening. Yesterday, she was allowed out of bed but no running around as she was still coughing and I am still working on my unique battle with this bug.

As for me, I still have a sore throat and no appetite. I had no fever, but have had periodic dizziness, mostly because my ears are full of fluid, I think. In some ways, I feel better and other ways worse.

My husband still has some lingering symptoms, but they diminish more every day. I am thankful for the weather as his flights were rescheduled each day so that eventually the trip would have to be pushed back to next week. It gives him time to fully recuperate even though he is caring for the Princess and me more now.

~ My Lord, help us to recuperate fully and soon. ~

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Trouble with Cell Phones

Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.
~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

My husband left Friday for a retreat with three other men from our church. He promised to call me that night but the call did not come. I finally called him only to get his voice mail.

He knew the Princess had a fever, because I called him when he was on the way. Is something wrong? Was there so much going on that he thought it got to be too late to call?

Yesterday I received a call from a phone number I did not know and it was my husband. It was a choppy connection as he explained that his phone service did not work there, only one did and thankfully one of the men he was with had that one. He asked about the Princess and if I was getting sick also. He told me that they would probably come home earlier today than planned because the weather would be turning bad.

Now I know that technology is not without its limitations nor is it infallible, however when I expect a call from my husband and I cannot get a hold of him, my mind starts working and I rarely think that it may be his phone does not get a signal where he is. The trouble with cell phones is that I have completely different expectations of people when they have them. I expect to be able to call them at anytime no matter where they are. I expect them to call me when they say they will. I have expectations...higher expectations.

I am beginning to think that the more technology we have the more we all expect from each other, even though having expectations always seems to cause more trouble than not.

~ My Lord, help me not to use technology as an excuse to have higher expectations of other people. ~

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Colds Be Gone!

Love is staying up all night with a sick child -- or a healthy adult.
~David Frost

Rarely has my daughter been sick and even more rarely my husband, but he was sick with a really nasty cold for over a week that he just got over in time to go to the men retreat with three others from our church. He left yesterday and should be back tomorrow...briefly.

Since the men are away, the women are running church services and I was asked to sing, however Princess woke up with a cough and a bit of a sore throat yesterday, which is how it started for my husband. She also complained about dizziness, but there was no detectable fever at that time. Right after my husband left for the men's retreat, the fever became official. The Princess stayed in bed all day and slept a good portion of it. This morning she still has a fever, so she will be in bed for today as well.

It does not appear we shall be going to church at all tomorrow; my confirmation came late last night, when my throat began to feel a bit sore. Perhaps just the dryness in the air, even though the humidifier is working well? This morning, the soreness is a bit more pronounced, so I made a smoothie with honey for our breakfast to sooth our throats. I think I am beginning to feel that "off" feeling, maybe some dizziness...? Oh, no! There are times when mothers just must not be sick...actually, I am not sure there is ANY time mothers may be sick! However, when I get sick, I usually am really down, and I just cannot be when the Princess is and my husband not only is away now, but will be away all next week too.

It is embarrassing, but we still must get our Christmas tree down tomorrow too!

~ My Lord, You are Creator and Healer, please make us whole and healthy. ~

Friday, January 7, 2011

Decluttering Challange for 2011

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~William Morris

My friend Birbitt has proposed an interesting challenge in decluttering the home in her post "Ending the clutter." If you have followed my blog for a time, you know that clutter bothers me and decluttering overwhelms me as I have written about it a few times, but Birbitt has a easy plan that chips away at the clutter.

She has proposed that one item for each day of the month must be removed from the home by the last day of the month; that would be thirty-one items on or before January 31st. This must be a item one would not typically throw into the trash but items taking space in the home that can be sold, donated, or thrown away.

I have decided to accept the challenge with some tweaks that work better for me with my situation. What items I do not plan to donate or toss away, I will list on craigslist to sell and then place it into our yard sale stack, which technically is still inside my home, but once there are not taken back out. If it does not sell on craigslist, we will try selling in a yard sale in Florida next time we go there to visit my husband's mother. What is left over from that sale does not come back but will be donated there.

January is going to be fairly easy, but I am wondering about doing this for an entire year: 365 items! It seems like so much and yet I probably do have that and more that I do not need. I probably have about half of that in my yard sale stack already, but I am not going to count those things although I am going to try to list them on craigslist along with the items I will this in this challenge.

One of the things that helps me decide if something is worth keeping is asking myself this: If we were moving, would I bother wrapping and packing this item to take with us?

Soooo...are you up for the challege?

I am so excited! I have to start listing things on craigslist soon!

~ My Lord, this is a true challenge for me and I would like to have less things in my home that are simply things. Please bless Birbitt and all the others she will inspire to declutter one item for each day of 2011. ~

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Now, My Lord? Then the Phone Rang...

The next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything. ~C.S. Lewis

We have been waiting on the Lord...or maybe He has been waiting on us, on me? Anyway, I believe the Lord promised me that this year would be a bit easier financially, so I have been waiting to see how He will do this. I thought I was trusting the Lord to provide for us, but it was not until we were a couple of months into our double tithe commitment that I realized that I really had not been not trusting my Lord for our daily bread.

Where is the Raise?
The company employing my husband has promised to reinstate the bonuses and remove the salary cuts they started two years ago. I wrote about this recently in My Christmas Gift. We all hoped, perhaps assumed, that this change would begin with the very first paycheck in 2011, did not. I also assumed that they would pay the five percent cut in salary for the last year in a lump sum as they did the year before, but the email did not promise that. So, I am waiting to see what they will do...without assumptions.

Then there is something outside of all that which is my husband was promoted and his raise was approved, but he did not get the raise and he could not get anyone to explain why. Added on that he could not do the job well because his training was canceled twice, which has resulted in him being a bit frustrated and a lower review rating of his job. How can he do the job well if he does not know what it is he is supposed to do? When he was given the promotion, he was to cut his teeth on an old machine that was to be phased out in five years and get an exciting new machine by the end of the year. The new machine has been canceled, leaving him with a machine that no one really cares about, except the hundreds of customers that have it. I began thinking that in a few years, my husband's job will be phased out as well.

Refinancing the Mortgage?
We have not yet received the official decline, but unless the Lord intercedes that is probably dead as well. I Was Afraid to Hope... So, I gave up on thinking that we shall have any relief with the monthly bills other than canceling the TV service and perhaps changing our phone service.

Then the Phone Rang...
Tuesday afternoon, I answered the phone and a woman introduced herself saying that she had found my husband's old resume and would like to speak with him. That resume was from three years ago when he lost his job, so this was a head hunter, no doubt. My husband, who is rarely sick, has one nasty cold and needs to rest, but I handed the phone to him thinking that this most likely will not be a job worth considering, but then...well, you just never know.

I was about to head out the door to run some errands, trying to start out before my headache convinced me not to go out at all, but I listened in a bit to the tone of my husband's voice. No, he did not sound disinterested and he did not exactly sound enthusiastic either, but then he is ill. Hmm...perhaps I will wait a few more minutes before I leave. Did he just say that he would update his resume and send it in?

It appears that his resume made him the best match for the job with a company that is expanding with the type of machines my husband has been working on in the last two years. Ironically, they will be producing the type of machines that his current company is phasing out. These machines are not being phased out because there is no demand, but because they don't make enough profit in the consumables and this company will be coming into the market with new machines possibly at the right time. Even though these types of machines were not on his resume then, he now can add them making him an even better match. Interesting, isn't it?

Oh, and this job pays a significant amount more than what he is being paid now even though it is a step down from what his current position. We were asked if we would willing to relocate, which would be a problem with the housing market as it is, but they were looking to have someone in Atlanta so that might not be necessary and there will be travel with this one as well, but we are used to that. So, we will be working on his resume and trying to get him well enough for an interview.

Prayer Request
Now the question this coming from my Lord? I mean, it seems so unlikely, so out of the blue, that it is just like the Lord to do something like this!

However, I also know that we have made the worse decisions when we did not follow my Lord's guidance, so please pray that we only do as the Lord would have us do, if he is offered the job.

~ My Lord, if this is from You please make it known to us and guide us always in making the right choice, the one You would have us make. ~

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homeschooling Parent Poem

We're not trying to do "School at Home." We're trying to do homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We're not trying to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom. Rather we're trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days each week. The "formal" portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceburg.
~Steve and Jane Lambert

Educating one's child at home is not for the faint of heart. A parent makes dozens of decisions every day and some of us...actually, of the homeschooling parents I know personally, I would venture to write that most of us at some point get caught up in the "curriculum craze." I saw this poem on a message board and made some suggestions in editing, which Aime received graciously, and gave me permission to post on my blog.

Homeschooling Parent Poem
by Aime L. Oakes

'Twas ten minutes to midnight and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring except for me and my mouse.
The curriculum websites were all bookmarked and filed,
While I had visions of great books to my ceiling being piled.

And me with my finger poised to click on the "buy",
A little voice in my head said "Show some restraint - oh, please try!"
"Go away," I said. "I don't want a fight.
I'll get all free shipping if I purchase tonight!"

"It's not fair" I cried out, "they all look so good."
But the voice in my head said, "What if you could?
Do you think your children would know what to do?
They don't need more books, they just need more of you!"

I pondered on this - what was that voice trying to say?
Did it not realize what a deal I could get on eBay?
I thought and pondered and wondered some more,
Then slowly my eyes drifted to the books on the floor.

Three writing, three phonics, four grammar and more,
All sitting there unused, except to prop open the door.
I remember the hours spent scouring the sites,
And the money I spent would give Bill Gates a fright.

"Come away from the computer." My children would request.
"I can't," I would say, "until I've found you the best."
"But we don't want something different or new,
We want you to teach us like you always used to."

I remember those days when we had just started out.
"I will teach them myself!" I'd announced with a shout.
And teach them I did with good books I'd picked,
And they learned and we laughed and it all somehow clicked.

So there I sat in the dark about to purchase some more,
My children as usual would find it a bore.
"No more," I said suddenly clicking the "x" on the page.
"I'll no longer be a prisoner in this curriculum cage."

We already have plenty and we have quite enough,
We don't need all the new flashy hyped up school stuff.
We'll get back to basics and learning when ready.
We'll stop switching our methods and stay calm and steady.

I'll use what I have and I'll create or borrow the rest,
After all it's always been I who know my children the best.
I know what they like and I know what they need.
I'll not be tempted again by curriculum greed.

I'll teach them to honor the One from above.
I'll teach them to laugh and to live and to love.
Then I'll teach them the things that will make their minds grow,
And the things out of books that all kids ought to know.

I'll teach them that learning goes on every day,
But not just in books but in how they live and they play.
If, when they are grown, they remember one thing I've said,
I want them to hear "knowledge is power" from the voice in their heads.

~ My Lord, it is always nice to have that break for the holidays to help us reflect and re-examine on the way we are educating our children. I am thankful every day that I not only have the choice to educate my daughter at home but I have the choice in how I will educate her. Guide me to make choices that please You. ~

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nana Niecie's Wisdom

Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend. ~Spanish Proverb

I asked my aunt recently to explain to our Princess about how important it is to have priorities and to put things back into their proper places so she does not waste time later either cleaning up a pile of stuff all in the wrong place or that she can find it quickly, which is quite handy when she is in a hurry to do something. You see, my aunt has this kind of lifestyle down to a very precise science. She always knew exactly what she was going to do at the beginning of each day and where something should be for these very reasons.

My aunt wanted time to think it out and write it down so the Princess would have it to read over again when she wanted or needed to do so. This is the email she sent:

Dear [Princess],

Just a first letter to make sure you are getting my Email?

Your Mommie said you were having some problems with trying to organize your time? Do you feel this is a problem? Or are you just distracted with what is most important to you and then run out of time.

I was probably about your age when I had this awesome thought. There are rich people and poor people, there are people with a lot of talent and some who can focus on one thing and do it well because they have only a few interests. If you have a lot of things you want to do it is a matter of learning to focus on the most important and do it first without letting yourself get distracted. I am writing this as though you are very smart, as I think you are or you are a little older in your thoughts. If it does not make a good picture to you at this time just keep this letter for a little while and read it again later.

When I was thinking of rich and poor people I was filled with a thought that even if I was not rich there was one thing I had just the same amount of as everyone in the whole world. Even all the people I read about in History and that was each of us have just 24 hours a day! So how I use those hours are up to me! I began to organize my thoughts and learn to put my plans for each day and each week into groups.
What was the most important-What was just for me-What did I need to do to help someone else each day-How much time did I need to pray or talk to God-How much sleep did I need-and as you get older there will be more thoughts.

Just remember in the amount of time you have YOU ARE RICH! No one has more hours each day. So don't let the minutes slip by in confusion of what to choose. Remember to leave some down time when you plan nothing this is important so God can lead you to what He feels is important. I love to read and have to be careful that my love of reading does not push everything else out. Some people spend hours every day watching television, being on the phone, or some other interest that they need to watch for.

One thing I am beginning to rely on more and more is That I never hang up the imaginary phone that I am on when I need to talk to and listen to what God wants. I just never hang that phone up and have little sentence prayers all through the day and also listen to what He is saying to me. It is surprising how often he will help you to choose what is the most important today. When you stay in touch with Him.

Nana Niecie

Now you have a glimpse at why my aunt is one of my favorite people in the world!

~ Thank you, my Lord, for my aunt and uncle, who have been so kind to me all my life and now to my daughter too. May my daughter and I both hold to this wisdom she has passed down to us. ~

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Lo! Men have become the tools of their tools. ~Henry David Thoreau

~ Molding my Matrix ~
If you have been reading here for some time you know of my love-hate relationship with technology. One of the things I have wanted to change in my lifestyle is how I use my computer, because the reality is that I need it, really need it—I am so addicted to it that I can find convincing reasons I need it even when I have none. My husband mentioned during my computer virus woes few weeks ago that he sees his computer as a tool, as a means to get his work done, but he realizes that other people see their computers as more of a lifeline. Yes, I would be in the second category; although I know I could live without it...well, let's just not go there!

I realized, while loading programs on the reformatted hard drive, that part of my contention with my laptop is that it really has not been customized for how I use it now. If it is an extension of me, why does it not seem to fit me better? Why does it make me feel like I am conforming to it (as if the Matrix has me) instead of feeling comfortable with it? Why does looking for homeschool files make me feel tense as if I am about to search for in a file room that a tornado went through while I have all my pictures neatly organized in dated file folders? These questions drummed in my head, while I reminded myself that I have only myself to blame.

During my hunts for free programs to fix and protect my computer that I am sharing with you below, I found some other free programs that I am using to customize my computer.

~ For the Writer ~
Some things were simple changes. Being a writer, I like to have an dictionary and thesaurus on my computer. I had a suite program that provided this on the top bar of my computer screen. The dictionary and thesaurus feature was bare bones, but sufficient in most cases for me to find a word, when my mind would go blank. However, the rest of the bar just took up space and was not used and the program was old, usable but outdated for my Windows version, so I planned not to load it, which meant I would want a dictionary/thesaurus replacement.

There are several free online dictionaries and thesauruses, but I am not always writing where I have Internet access. Besides that, there are three programs that are excellent in this category, however I could not choose which to use as they all have their strengths and weaknesses so I am using all three!

  • TheSage is wonderful for when spelling the word is an issue as it has a wild card search and it's dictionary is basic and in a logical format, making it great for children to use also. It has a unique feature, an anagram, so it can be used to create anagram word games. The list of synonyms is too limited for my use, but it also provides hypernyms (more generic terms) and hyponyms (more specific terms) alternatives separately. This one I used more as a traditional dictionary for spelling and concise definitions.
  • Mobysaurus is an exhaustive thesaurus that is a huge help when I have that essence of the word I want without knowing the word itself that I need. Its lists can be overwhelming to look through, so I use it only after I have tried the next one on the list.
  • WordWeb is the one I use the most because it usually sufficient as a dictionary and a thesaurus generally, has access to Internet sources also, and I can hotkey a word in most text programs, like MS Word, to call up the reference in WordWeb. It also runs in the taskbar so it is running when the computer is on. If you only wanted one of these dictionary/thesaurus programs, this would be the one I would recommend.

While WordWeb runs in the taskbar and TheSage can run in the taskbar once it has been opened, I still wanted easy access to them while in a program so that I do not have to go back to my desktop or into the start menu, like I had with the other outdated suite program. Was I just being spoiled? Asking for too much? Was this a convenience that was actually going to make things even more complicated?

~ Convenient, Not Complicated ~
Apparently, I am not the only one who not only wanted to organize my desktop better. Now I have a nice little slide out menu that lists all my writing tools. The menu hugs the side barely noticeable and slides out when the cursor touches it. I can access whatever I have there in a click no matter what program I am using at the time. This nifty little program called SideSlide is also free. I am in the process of making another container just for all my homeschool file folders, programs, and most used files, like those pesky attendance records, so I am not looking all over in Windows Explorer to access special files. I am thinking of some other ways to use it too. I like this program!

~ Protect Your Data ~
Here are some other finds all absolutely free! These first two are must haves for all computers with Internet access if you don't have an antivirus program.

avast! Free Antivirus: It updates on start up, every day, sometimes several times a day. It is now on every computer we have because we just did not have the funds to renew the virus protection service we had (which is why my computer was vulnerable). This program and has saved me from a few more virus downloads already.

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware: This program and others were instrumental in cleaning up my old hard drive so that could access my data. I had a unique problem with my partitions and GoBack that I am not going to get into, as it was complicated but it was all caused by the malware attack. Once we could access Windows again, this program worked its technomagic. It gets many of the things that slip by anti-virus programs―yes, that does happen.

Let's talk about back up. I currently am using Norton Ghost because we already had it, but I have found there are even free programs to back up your data! If you like to partition your drive as I do, there are really good free programs for that also. Easus offers free versions on many of its products. I used the free version of their Partition Recovery―what a life saver! With the other free versions of their software, you have all the programs you need to save all your data.

~ Tis for Tat Preferences ~
A change that I just like...
Thunderbird: I know what you are thinking. Why bother with Thunderbird when you have Microsoft Outlook for your email program? I have been using Firefox―love the automatic spell check feature among other things―instead of Internet Explorer for a year or two. I like it so much better that I finally decided to switch to Thunderbird and I will not likely ever go back.

~ Programs for Homeschooling Mamas (Like Me) ~
I really like MS OneNote. I have the 2007 Student Edition that will not upgrade but it was more affordable; it's a trade off. There are just no free programs similar that are quite like it as it is unique in its class. There is a webware application called Zoho Notebook that looks to be quite similar and free for personal use, should you be interested, but I have not used it personally. As much as like it, I have not been using OneNote as I would like. I would like to use it more for unit studies in history, but it has just gotten to be my dump everything program, which is its advantage and another source of clutter that annoys me―odd, because it is meant to be very helpful in organizing notes.

I think the problem for me is in the formatting of each page. I would like more order with certain things like address books and recipes, so I am using Thunderbird for my address book. To provide that ordered format to my recipes that I would prefer, I decided I needed another program designed specifically for recipes. I do have an online account with All Recipes, but here again, I needed to be online to access it, so I finally found one that suits my needs and is free:

ChickenPing does everything a recipe manager should do with a rating feature, meal planner, shopping list, scaling ingredients for servings, add pictures, nutrition analysis, and the print out is nicely formatted. Unfortunately, pictures cannot be downloaded from the Internet directly, only from your computer, and the food icons are limited. Still, I think the large print "Sticky Fingers" mode is wonderful if you are one to read a recipe on your computer in the kitchen as you prepare it! Easy cut and paste for adding ingredients, too. It appears to have excellent support. At this time this is the best free recipe manager I could find and I am working on putting recipes on it. This is more work than just copying them over from the Internet into OneNote, but I like it much, much better.

I have a few more programs I am trying to find and decide on, but this is a very good start in conforming my computer to fit my desired lifestyle, to mold my own little virus-free Matrix. I hope that I may have given you a few tips and ideas about how you might do the same.

~ My Lord, please help me to make my time on the computer more productive and use technology as a tool within the lifestyle in service of You. ~