Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas!!!












What we started with...


...what we ended up with...
Annie and her favourite new toy
Well, Christmas has come and gone for another year - it's hard to believe it is all over again.  We were highly organized this year - well, for us anyway!  Mum and Dad had all the gifts wrapped before the Christmas Eve church service, and so we were able to enjoy church and and carols without dreading staying up until all hours of the morning wrapping, an annual experience Dad was happy to waive from this year's schedule.  :)

James and his favourite new toy!
After church we drove around town looking at Christmas lights.  I was disappointed that there didn't seam to be nearly as many as usual this year.  While we were driving, I noticed that I could only see half a house at a time and - sure enough - by the time we got home, I had a full blown migraine.  Goodie!  :P  B this stage, it was about eight-thirty, so the other kids took one of our gingerbread houses next door as a gift, Mum and Dad made scrambled eggs for supper (we had had a cooked lunch and then didn't have time to eat before church) and I lay on the couch watching Carols by Candlelight with Santa and the ridiculous Loony Tune renditions of Christmas Carols.  I was glad when the real carols started!

For the first time in my life, Jess, Grace and I were allowed to stay up for the entire carols which ended at just past 11:00 pm.  We were very tired and I had a horrible headache, but it was really special to see it all the way through.


Christmas morning began at 6:00.  It had to if we were going to make it to church at 8:00.  (We are "open presents first" people.)  It took a while to get everyone up, but finally we were all gathered in the lounge room.  As tradition demands, we kids started with our Christmas stockings.  We don't do Santa, but Mum and Dad use the Christmas stockings for the little things that are too fiddly to wrap up individually.  These things are usually more personal items such as hairbrushes, hand cream, pens, so forth.  This year, Mum and Dad also put a mango in each stocking - YUM!  :)
Rose discovering good old-fashioned blackboards.

My present.
The way we do presents at our house is based on the principle that we are so thankful to have received that we just want to give.  Whoever receives a present then goes and picks one to give.  Then that person gives the next gift, and so on.  After a few gifts had been opened, Dad gave me one from him and Mum.  It was the entire Elsie Dinsmore series - all twenty eight books!  I was thrilled because I had rather blatantly "hinted" more than once that that was what I would really like.  I was also given a couple of DVD's (Piano Guys and Calamity Jane - LOL!), a Chris Tomlin Cd, and a tea for one teapot/teacup/saucer set.  Elise was made perfectly happy with a telescope (she loves science), Joy was over the moon with her own ipod, while Grace was extremely pleased with her leather hat and Horrible Histories DVD's.
Cleaning up!

We took our time over presents and by the time we finished, it was ten minutes to eight 'o' clock.  We quickly made ourselves presentable and hurried off to church.  We were about five minutes late, but we weren't the only ones who were late, so it made us feel better.  :)  We had breakfast when we got home... :)

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Because we had a late breakfast, we decided to have a late lunch too, which was just as well, because by the time Grace had tidied the dining room, Jess had set and decorated the table, and I had all the food ready, it was about 2:30.  We couldn't wait to call Mum to the table because Jess and I had planned a surprise for her.  When Mum was a little girl, her mother had a beautiful dinner set that only came out at Christmas.  When Nanna passed away nearly six years ago, Mum inherited the dinner set and it was tucked away safely in the sideboard.  Jess and I got it out and used it for the Christmas dinner setting.  We were not disappointed.  Mum almost cried when she saw it and she sent a photo to her dad and her sister and brother of the dishes that they all associate with Christmas.

The rest of the day was really low-key and relaxing - I was very excited that it rained all day  :).  We were really blessed to have Christmas together as a family and to be able to connect with each other.  It wasn't particularly fancy, but neither was the night that Christ was born.  In fact, the conditions into which He was born were downright hideous for a new baby and His mother.  But still He came  - Praise the Lord!!

I pray you had a lovely Christmas and that whatever you did to celebrate, you were blessed by the time with family and you Father who started this annual tradition of ours!  Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you! 





Friday, 20 December 2013

Last day of School - ever

I am feeling a bit sentimental and nostalgic tonight as today was my last day of 'school' - not just for the year, but for the rest of my life.  True, I will be still studying next year, but I am finished year 12, and I no longer have a number attached to me. 

It's sad in a way, and thrilling in another way.  It's hard to believe that I will be nineteen in February and that my childhood is behind me.  I really am a young lady now, whether I (or my family ;) ) like it or not.  I still remember when I started kindergarten.  I could read already, but I remember sitting at the dining room table and Mum telling me that if Jess came and wanted to play, I had to say, "No, I'm doing my big girl's work now."  It is odd to reflect on how, when I was younger, I hated the hours spent in study.  All I could think of was when I would be finished.  It wasn't until I had just a couple years left that I discovered how exciting learning can actually be (and if you don't believe me, you are seriously missing out.  :))

I am excited though.  Next year, I will be finishing my diploma in Liberal Arts.  After that I hope to do doula training and naturopathy.  I am looking forward to doing some of the courses I have wanted to do for quite some time and to be able to minister to others through them.  I am also looking to the Lord for guidance for possible work or ministry this year.     

So, do you wnat to know how I spent my last day of school???

Well, I was in the middle of a lovely book this morning, so I read some of that for as long as I could, then I read my history.  Before I could write up my history, it was time to go to swimming lessons.  (I don't normall go, but I did this time.)  While the others swam, I read my book.  Mum decided that the last day of school for the year called for a special lunch, so we went to The Coffee Club for lunch and then did some shopping.  After that was our homeschoolers gingerbread house day and by the time we got home, it was time to cook dinner.  I had a head ache and so I went to lie down and finish my book.  So, in a way, I celebrated the last day of school by having a day off - how ironic!

Thank God we never stop learning!  :)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Day out with Dad

Yesterday, Jess and Joy had orthodontist appointments.  The original plan was that I would stay home with the little people as the appointment was about 45 minutes down the road and spanned the middle of the day when they would be having lunch and going down for a rest.  However, as the day of the appointment drew nearer, it was obvious I was going to have to go to.  My teeth were sore (which is an indication that they are moving around, and after you have had your braces removed, this is not what you want) and I was getting pain and swelling where my bottom left wisdom tooth is.  I assumed that my tooth was just coming though, but as it was pushing my other teeth as well, we decided to get it checked out.

At about morning tea time, Mum announced that her head ache she had been battling with all morning was really too bad to drive with, so Dad would come home from work and take us instead.  Dad got home and we left.  With the appointment at 12:15, we had to leave at about 11:30.  We drove along the highway admiring the almost finished road works and rejoicing that the speed limit is back up at 100 kph again!  :)

When we arrived at the orthodontist, there were a few people there and we had to wait for about forty minutes...

And I was called in.  I was a bit nervous about this visit because I really didn't want to be told that my wisdom had to come out.  (Perhaps I should have started singing "All I want for Christmas are my four back teeth"!  :P)  Dr. H. asked me if I was swollen anywhere.  He then decided to take a look himself and could see the swelling on my left jaw compared to the right side.  After he had a good look in my mouth, he explained to me that my wisdom teeth were trying to come through, but there wasn't enough room for any of them.  As he explained it, the top right tooth has 95% of the room it needs; the top left has 85% of the room it needs; while the two bottom teeth have only 80% each of the room they need.  All four teeth would have to come out.  He gave me referrals for an x-ray and for a dentist here in Hometown and told me that the teeth would have to come out in January, February, or March.

"Not February!" I begged.  "That's my birthday month!"  (I have a lunch date all booked in with Mum and I don't intend to miss it.)

Dr. H. laughed... and  kept talking.  He said that the reason I am having pain and swelling is that it is impossible to clean all around a stuck wisdom tooth and that if I get a fever and nausea, I need to get antibiotics.  Goodie.  :P

After I had been dismissed, I realized that the referral to the x-ray place was not in Hometown, but it was ten minutes from the orthodontist in the other direction.  We could use the referral in Hometown, but we would only be bulk-billed if we went to this specific pathology. At first we weren't sure what to do, but the lovely receptionist offered to ring and see if we could get in after we were finished at the orthodontist.  We were able to get in, so after Jess and Joy had seen Dr. H., we headed there.

There x-ray machine was quite a snazzy piece of equipment, I thought, even if I did have to stand with my teeth clamped together and two mechanic things holing my head still.  Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stand still when you're not allowed to move?  I had the shakes while the x-ray was being taken, but it came out ok and I wasn't in the room fie minutes before I ws walking out again with the envelope of x-rays in my hand.  Talk about speedy delivery!

Dad decided that he wanted to do some Christmas shopping while we were in a larger town, so we went form store to store, stopping to have lunch at the bakery (I had a pepper steak pie - yum! :D)  I really enjoy Christmas shopping and we were able to pick up some really nice gifts that I know the recipients thereof will love.  :)

It was fairly late when we started home, but once we reached Hometown, we dropped into the bakery to order the kits for our homeschoolers' gingerbread house day (I'll try to remember to take photos and blog about it.  :D)

We finally got home at about five 'o' clock.  It had been a long afternoon, but we really appreciated the time we got to spend with Dad.  It was really special to be able to do stuff with him when he would normally be at work.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Sucssesful Sewing Session

Over the last few months, I have rather desperately tried to learn dress-making.  It was an up-hill road, I assure you!  Usually the clothes would be two wide or way too tight, or something like that and I was starting to despair that I would ever get the knack of it.

Yesterday, as usual, I was minding Rose for a couple of hours.  Also as usual, I tried to think of something we could do together that would not only delight her, but give me practice in certain arts I should like to attain skill in.  This is what we did yesterday from one of my old skirts.


Sweet Summer Dress

Materials:
  • One full length skirt with the elastic that is sewn in and reaches about twenty cm down the waist.  These skirts are generally sold as tube dresses at or strap dresses.  Mine was tiered.


Carefully unpick the bottom tier from the skirt (or if your skirt is not tiered, take about 20 cms from the bottom of the skirt.)
The original skirt with the bottom tier removed.

Measure Little Girl around the chest just under the arm pits.  Rosie (who is three and a half) measured 21 inches.  Take the skirt and measure the top of the waist from side seam to side seam.  Multiply that number by two.  (My skirt measured 13 inches from seam to seam, so the final measurement was 26 inches.)  Subtract that number from the measurement of Little Girl's chest.  (I got 5 inches)


Mark a point on one of the side seams near the top of the waist.  Then, make a mark on the back of the skirt subtracted number (5 inches, for example) away from the marked side seam.  Cut out a panel



of the skirt using the two marks as a guide to width.  You may need to widen the panel as you cut towards the bottom of the skirt.

Now you should have most of the skirt in tact save two smaller bits that we have purposefully cut out.  Oh, and the main part of the sirt is not sewn up.  No problem - we are going to fix that now.  Sew up the two raw sides so that the skirt now resembes a skirt again, save that it is far to small to fit you now.  :)

Get Little Girl to try the dress on at this point and make sure that the top of it fits snugly under her arms without being detrimental to her oxygen supply.  Measure over her shoulders from back of dress to front of dress.  Now cut out that length of material from the small bits we cut off earlier at about three inches wide.  Hem the long sides.  These are the sleeves.  It is helpful to pin these on while the Little Girl is wearing the dress.  The sleeves cannot be loose.  Sew on the sleeves.

Hem the dress.

Done!  :)  I'm afraid I didn't explain it very well.  Hopefully you can glean from my vague directions and the photos what should happen.  I am very happy with how it worked out though.

Have a great weekend


 



Friday, 13 December 2013

Because I Love You

One of my Sonlight books this year is a collection of art works and poems that people have written inspired by the art.  It is only natural, perhaps, that one of my writing assignments should follow the same line.  I had to choose a piece of art.  That in itself is difficult for me as I rarely have feelings of inspiration when encountered with art.  :)  Fortunately, however, I remembered one of my favourite children's books which comes with gorgeous illustrations.  Because I Love You by Max Lucado is a beautiful story, and I would highly recommend it.  Any way, here is the picture I chose, and the poem is underneath it.




Because I Love You

Little child, so dear to Me:
Please listen to My words.
The world you see is full of sun,
Of treees, of play, and birds;

 But I have seen much farhter
Than you will ever see.
I built the line 'tween right and wrong - 
But no one created Me.

I am in your future
And in your past I AM.
While you were dead in your own ways,
I was sacrificed as thy Lamb.

You may wonder, darling child,  - 
Apple of My Eye - 
Why I tell you all of this,
Any why I chose to to die?

My child, you cannot understand;
You cannot get a view
Of how very very very much
Very much I love you.

You are my heartstrings, my every thought
Is concerned with your own good.
And while your love sometimes wanders,
My love never could.

I cannot wait to bring you Here
And save you hurt and pain;
But inless you learn to die to self,
My peace you'll never gain.

This may seem harsh, but trust Me, child:
I only want the best
For you.  And if you come to Me
I promise you'll find rest.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

True Accomplishment

..."no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.''
``All this she must possess,'' added Darcy, ``and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.''
``I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.''


Thus goes one of my favourite passages in Pride and Prejudice.  I love how, with Miss Bingly openly flourishing her accomplishments before him, Mr Darcy responds with a quiet backhanded compliment to Elizabeth, who misses the point of his comment entirely.

It got me to thinking, what really does make a woman or a man truly accomplished?  All who have read at least two or three Jane Austen books are aware that she was a genius for making vulgar characters, no matter how 'accomplished' they might be.  (If you can't think of any, consider Lydia, Miss Bingly, Mrs Jennings, and so forth.  I think Jane Austen did it on purpose so that the comparison would make her heroes all the more endearing and charming.)  You can be "accomplished" but still be a detestable person.

Dictionary.com defines 'accomplished' as "having all the social graces, manners, and other attainments of polite society."  Ha!  That may be so in the early nineteenth century, perhaps, but I am not convinced that 'polite society' as such is in such high vogue or is pursued as much as it was a little over a hundred years ago.  Neither do we tend to have a broad sweep of the arts anymore.  Rather, we hone in on our gifts and talents.  I think this is where the secret lies.  

 Romans 12:3-8 says,  "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;  he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

The key to true accomplishment in life, it seems then, is to take the gifts God has given us (natural and spiritual) and use them in humility and cheerfulness.  Sound easy?  I assure you it isn't.  It can be helpful to hear or read about people who did use their gifts the best way they could to the glory of God - it is such encouragement to us.

One such person was Joseph of the Old Testament.  He had a couple of wonderful gifts - organization and dream interpretation.  All in all, he had it pretty rough for using his gifts.  He was the eleventh of twelve sons; the only person his ten older brothers would let him practice dream interpretation on was himself;he was bullied by same older brothers; he was sold by brothers; bought as a slave in Egypt; bullied by employer's wife; and ended up in jail - and all this before he was thirty years old.  Not exactly an encouraging start on life.  But then when the king of Egypt had a dream, Joseph was called from prison to interpret it and he ended up organizing the entire nation's food supply for the coming famine.  Wow!  That's quite a job!  

There is something else I must note here.  Sometimes, it takes time to grow into the plan God has for you and the gifts he has planted inside of you.  Joseph for example, was thirty before he finally was ready to carry out the purpose of his gifting.   

Moses is another one who had incredible gifts and a very long waiting period.  God knew that Moses would need 1) speaking abilities  2) knowledge in the ways and wisdom of Egypt  3) herding abilities  4) and he would have to be able to read and write, among other things.  So where did God place him?  While all the other baby boys born around the same time as him were being slaughtered in the Nile river, Moses was safely growing up in the house of Pharaoh himself.  (Is anyone else tickled by the irony of that?  :P)  Acts 7:22 says, " And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds."  That covers requirements 1, 2, and 4.  What about number three?  By this stage, Moses must have known that he was the one to lead Israel from slavery.  He tried it once, too, by murdering an Egyptian slave driver.  That's when God added another thing to Moses' list of things to learn: 5) humility.  God sent Moses into the wilderness to be a shepherd for another forty years.  That, my friends, is a very long time.  Moses was eighty before he went back to Egypt and watched as God liberated His people.  Notice the difference here - it was no longer Moses releasing his people;  it was God releasing His people.  Yes, Moses was fully equipped for his job, but it took a lot of learning and patience to get there.

OK, you may be asking.  I see the point about gifts and whatnot, but does accomplishment have nothing to do with the outward graces and so forth?

Well, yes, to an extent.  What we all must realize is that everything that we do or say began on the inside first.  Once it is inside of us, it works it way out until the world can see it.  That's why as Christians, we don't really need to worry about it - if you are a a Christian, you will have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  These themselves are sufficient to make us internally, eternally beautiful and truely accomplished.

One last word to young ladies.  It can be tempting for us to be rather self-conscious of how we dress, our make-up, our hair, and so on.  I just wanted to share with you one last scripture that I love.  It shows us what really matters to our King and our Savior.  1 Peter 3:3-4 "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—  rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

 
 Austen, Jane. "Pride & Prejudice, Chapter VIII of Volume I (Chap. 8)." Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Chapter VIII of Volume I (Chap. 8). N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.

Monday, 9 December 2013

God of Justice

As a family, we have been reading through the book of Exodus with an in-depth children's commentary.  The things that has stood out the most to us all is how God is a holy God of justice.  In today's church, we like to emphasize His love and mercy - which are relevant and incredible to think on - but we forget that God is so holy and spotless that He will not tolerate sin forever.  Sin has to be punished.

If you look at the Ten Plagues on Egypt, there is a distinction between the first five plagues and the last five plagues for Pharaoh.  The Bible states for the first five that Pharaoh hardened his heart.  He refused to listen.  God had been so merciful to him - yes, the five plagues had been an act of mercy.  The first five plagues were:

  • The river Nile turned to blood
  • Frogs coverin the land
  • Lice covering the land
  • Flies covering the land - except for where the Israelites lived
  • The cattle and livestock struck down with a deadly disease - except for the Israeli cattle

Notice the mercy behind these plagues.  They were an inconvenience, caused disgusting stenches everywhere, and were highly annoying - and in the case of the cattle, threatened the Egyptians livelihood - but they did not threaten the lives of the people.  God was showing His might and power to Pharaoh without taking the lives of his people.  But Pharaoh hardened his heart.

Finally, after the fifth plague, there came a point when God would not tolerate Pharaoh's sinfulness anymore.  Even the royal magicians know that God was at work, and they entreated with Pharaoh to give in, but Pharaoh would not.  So God sent boils on the people.  Once again, not what one would call life-treatening, but this time it was an infliction on the people themselves.  A very painful infliction.  When Pharaoh calls Moses to take away the boils Exodus says that God hardened Pharaohs heart.  What a sad state to be in.  Pharaoh had chance after chance after chance, but God finally said, "That's enough.  No more.  I will not tolerate your stubborn sinfulness any longer, for I am holy."


If you look now at Revelations, you will see many parallels to the Exodus plagues.  The plagues that procede from the trumpets and the bowls of the angels are things like locusts, water turning into blood, giant hailstones, etc.  Sound familiar?  It should.  We are in the days of mercy.  God is allowing humanity this time to turn back to Him, but there will come a day at the end of time when the chances will have all been used up and everyone will reap the rewards of what they lived.

Some of this can be a bit hard to swallow, I know.  We wonder how God can possibly show mery one moment and justice the next.  Whatever happened to grace?  I'll wrap this up with a little story I read once that illustrates the three beautifully.

 Once, young James did something wrong and was found out by his father.  His father was sad and loved James very much, but the disobedience could not be excused.  "You did the wrong thing, James," his father told him.  "You must be punished for it.  That is justice."  James know he could expect three spanks for what he had done, so he was surprised when his father stopped after two.   At his son's puzzled look, Father said, "You have been punished, but I am letting you off the third spank.  That is mercy.  Now go to your room."  James had been there for barely three minutes when Father called him back.  "Lets go for an icecream," he said.
"Why?" asked James.  "I did the wrong thing."
"Yes, but you got justice when you got what you deserved, then I showed you mercy by not giving you what you deserved, and now I am showing you grace by giving you what you don't deserve."


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

My Advent Calender At Last... :)

Sorry this post has been a long time coming everyone... the subject of this post is in fact the reason I have not been on for a while.  :)

I really enjoy the book by Rosie Boom Where Lions Roar at Night.  The short of the book is that a New Zealand family - Mum, Dad and their six children - move into a 100 year old barn as they set up their farm.  I would highly recommend the book.  It is sweet, touching, cringe-worthy and downright hilarious by turns.

While flicking through it a couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by Rosie's Advent calender patch-work quilt.  I promptly decided that I would make one too.  Why not???  :P

This proved a little more difficult than I first anticipated.  After all, it isn't easy to come up with twenty-five different motifs for the front of each pocket.  I realized that this was a bigger project than I could achieve in less than a fortnight, so I roped two of my tired, reluctant sisters into it as well and pushed their love for me to the limit by nagging then to hem for me.  (OK, I am exaggerating a bit, but I did nag... :P)

The week before it was due to be hanged - I mean, hung up ;) - I made the chocolate, because (as I told Mum later - you just can't have an Advent calender without chocolate.  That presents a small problem in our family, because we don't eat sugar.  Luckily, we have a recipe for sugar free dairy free chocolate.  I have put the recipe here in case any of you are interested...


Sugar-Free Chocolate  (From The Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie)

80g cocoa butter (available from health food stores)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup dextrose (available from the home-brewing section of Big W.  I found that I needed a bit extra dextrose here as the chocolate came out really dark.  I like dark chocolate, but this was extreme!)
1 cup of water

To make the dextrose syrup, put the dextrose and water into a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the dextrose has dissolved and the mixture is well combined.  Put the cocoa butter into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and stir until melted.  Ad the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup of the dextrose syup and stir until melted and well combined.  Pour the chocolate mixture into tablespoon-sized chocolate moulds. refrigerte for 2-3 hours or until set.  Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


Or, if you're like me, you will wrap each chocolate in foil and put them in pockets on the advent calender for twenty-five days... :P

I was rushing to finish the sewing in the week leading up to the first of December, but didn't quite make it.  I went up on the second and Mum and the younger kids were really very impressed by it (they hadn't known about it.)  When Rose first sawit in the dining romm under the clock, she stopped short in the kitchen staring.  "WOW!" was all she could get out at first.  I put on the innocent. 
"What is it, Rosie?"  I asked.
She kept her eyes on the dining room wall.  "It is so pretty," she explained.  :)

So that it the story of me creating an Advent Calender.  It was lots of fun.  If you have made on e ar do make one one day, I would love to see pictures if you drop me a message...  :)

Oh, the photos... I have included some of the calender as a whole and then some individuals of my favourite patches.  If they look misshapen, that's because I had already 'stuffed' them when I took the photos (a chocolate and a Christmas Bible verse on a card in each pocket).  Also, if number 19 (second row on the far right) looks like it has been sewn on crooked, that's because it was.  :P 

God bless you all in this festive season!  :)