Thursday, August 28, 2008

Starting the Schoolyear Right

We always start our school year in a very specific participating in the local fall fair. It is fantastic family fun every year and also a chance for Duck and I to make some pocket money! The fair we attend is an old fashion, small town affair - almost like a Sunday School picnic (that's right, no midway or loud music). The games include tug-of-war, running races, three-legged race and sack races. Each age group, right up to adults has a nail driving contest and cross cut saw contests. All rounded out with a corn roast and BBQ - this can't be beat!

Each of the contests mentioned comes with a cash prize for the winners - sometimes as much as a dollar! But Duck and I really enjoy preparing our crafts for the fair. Again, each age group has specific categories that can be entered into for cash prizes. The picture shows three of the crafts that the 7 & 8 year olds have in their categories: a pet rock, treasure box and fair scene (any medium).

There is also a category for a sock puppet, penmanship contest, best fruit & vegetables, as well as a leaf collection.

This next picture shows the pillow cases I made for the sewing category. I'm also planning on making a skirt; entering several baking categories and the photo contests. There is tremendous, but friendly, competition for all ages (I'm taking great risk in showing pictures of our crafts prior to the fair - keep it a secret!). The families that participate have come to know each other well over the years of competition. Last year Duck won the most points in her age group and earned a nice amount of prize money - $25, plus a trophy.

Because alot of these families who attend also homeschool, this has become everyone's first big school project each year. It is a fun way to start off, too. I encourage each of you to look around your communities for one of these old-fashion fairs. You won't be disappointed and your kids will love it.

For more Show & Tell Fridays, go here.

(P.S. I haven't forgotten my promise to show pictures of our 'Back to School' party - it will be in September, we just have to work out the logistics)

I'll Sing

I know days of loneliness
Although I'm not alone.
To stand in a crowded room
With no like-minded souls.
To walk through this busy world,
Where friends come and go.
And just when I feel despair set in...
I'll sing.

I will sing for Him,
I will praise His name,
I will stand for His glory,
Steadfast and wholly,
I will sing,
To my King.

I know days of grief and doubt,
Although He never leaves.
When I feel there is no one else
Who shares my beliefs.
Those time when I look around,
For strength I cannot find.
And just when I feel despair set in...
I'll sing.

I will sing for Him,
I will praise His name,
I will stand for His glory,
Steadfast and wholly,
I will sing,
To my King.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Gift, part 5

Daughter (start at the beginning) quickly turned her attention from the sorrow of lost fellowship with long time friends to serving in the way she believed God wanted young ladies to do. She spent alot of her time with her mother learning to run a household, helping with her younger siblings and building her own small business as a caterer. Her father was a great help in giving her direction and encouragement in prioritizing her time from day to day (Prov. 16:3).

As she focused on her personal life, she never forgot to put her time into serving in God's house, as well. She helped with the younger children at church and led bible studies for younger girls. Daughter became known among the young mothers as someone they could count on for help when they needed it (Matthew 12:33). The manner that she had as a mother's helper provided Daughter with many blessings in return - rarely did a week go by that didn't have some special gift given to her made by little hands.

There were still friendships that came and went from Daughter's life, but she had learned to stand on her own - to be content with her relationship with Christ first, and all other relationships fell into place. She could see the friendships of both other young women and young men as blessings, but had no need to carry on any relationship that threatened to compromise her convictions.

There were certainly occasions when young men expressed their interest in spending more time with her. Each time Daughter stated her belief in God's plan for marriage clearly; explaining that she enjoyed their company as friends, but could not offer them more than that (Romans 13:13&14). Eventually, it was known among the church that Daughter was different. Some called her foolish, some called her old-fashioned, some called her just plain strange, and even others called her brainwashed. Daughter just smiled politely and was content to witness in this area of her life by continuing to live differently (1 Peter 2:9).

Daughter did not live without temptation. There were a few times she watched young men who were attractive to her. These times drove her to scriptures and to prayer seeking the Lord's wisdom and protection for her heart. But as the years passed by, none of these young men met the standards she believed a man should have to be considered as a potential husband. A man who served the Lord first in his life; a man who had taken consideration of his future career; a man who understood the importance of being financially wise; and a man who had already shown a true trust in the Lord's soveriegnty in his life (Matthew 6:33).

Because Daughter was focusing on serving the Lord, it wasn't surprising that she was unaware when young men did approach her father wanting to know more about a relationship with her. Her father took the time to explain that spending time with Daughter was not going be about entertainment. He took his responsibility to protect Daughter very seriously and always offered to study the Bible with these young men and discuss the convictions that he knew his daughter held close to her heart. By doing these studies, her father quickly discovered which of these young men was serious about a desire to follow the Lord, as well as which of them was actually seeking a wife not a girlfriend.

Only one young man had continued meeting with her father regularly. His name was Authentic, and he and his family had been attending church with Daughter's family for over a year. Authentic had approached her father after several months of knowing Daughter through church events. He had watched her serve in and out of the church and had been intrigued by her virtuousness. Authentic and her father became regular companions and even friends with their own like-minded convictions. Their bible studies led into other types of fellowship, including hunting and fishing.

Daughter was never surprised to see Authentic arrive at the house. She appreciated that her dad put time into discipling younger men from church, but didn't put much more thought into the visits than that. Authentic was an attractive man, but he had never shown any great amount of attention to her. She knew he ran his own business and had a serious interest in his relationship with Christ and she had notice the way he served in his family, as well. She came to know him through his visits with her father, as well as both their families spending time together in fellowship.

In fact, Authentic did express his interest in spending time with Daughter - to her father, but he never wanted to be a temptation to her heart. He recognized the value of a young woman maintaining her purity and refused to interfere with her conviction. It was after six months of studying with Daughter's father and much prayer (Matthew 26:41) that Authentic approached her father and asked to pursue the plan of marriage with her. Her father agreed to speak with Daughter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Ruby Club, continues

As I mentioned before, here, I have started a club for young women to look at pertinent topics in their lives through a scriptural standpoint. We started off with a general meeting to toss around topics to study. The number one topic, in varying fashions, was relationships. In particular, two of the three girls were having tremendous difficulty in relating to their own fathers.

This was an amazing notion to me. As I mentioned, these girls are from professing Christian families with long-standing relationships in church and they were in tears about how they felt so distant from the man that should be the closest to them. I was stunned, they were describing how the relationship with my father had always been - and he is not Christian. But, after the kleenex was passed around, we determined that we would look at how relationships should work when approached from God's way.

Our first homework lesson was to find the meaning of mercy and search out verses and examples of mercy in scripture:

MERCY - compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, a enemy; compassion, pity, benevolence
- the descretionary power of a judge to give a pardon to an unworthy offender

Some of the verses that were chosen by more than one of us were:

O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.
Psalm 136:1

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Psalm 86:5

And the examples of mercy we pulled from scripture included the life of David, the apostle Paul and several prophets.

We looked at Psalm 90:14,
O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Then we asked ourselves, do we as Christian women seek this? Are we satisfied with the mercy that the Lord has shown to us? Do we rejoice all our days?
Of course when we looked at the feelings that had been brought forward in the first meeting of our club, the answer was 'no' - there was no rejoicing in those relationships. So we began to look at our roles in any relationship, starting with our relationship with the Lord.

We read Matthew 25:31-46 when Jesus seperates the 'goats from the sheep'. We looked at how the sheep were perplexed about when they had 'served Christ' only to find that they had served him by showing mercy unto others WITH NO EXPECTATIONS from it.

From there the girls began to discuss how they did have expectations of their fathers and others they had relationships with - they were coveting attention or jealous of how they perceived other families operating. Each time they related a story of how they had initiated fellowship with their fathers, they had been disappointed with the reaction or the return on their efforts.

By reviewing the verses and examples of mercy each of the girls had brought forward, we began to shape the conversation around what the Lord expects FROM us to bestow His mercy. The answer, of course, is nothing. There is nothing we can do to earn His mercy or make restitution for it - it is a free gift that we, as His chosen children, receive unworthily. This is a relationship that the Lord initiated and continues to perservere with even when we distance ourselves from Him. What an example of mercy to follow.

Then we looked at Luke 6:27 &28, where Jesus instructs:
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use.

If we should treat our enemies like this, how much more should we be treating those we love in this way? Giving mercy and serving those around us although they may not deserve it or appreciate it; serving without expectations for return. Easily said, hard to do. But then again, the more we improve our relationship with the Lord, the easier it is to follow that example, i.e. 'draw nigh unto the Lord and he shall draw nigh unto thee' James 4:8.
So do we, as Christians, care what God has to say about giving mercy to those in our lives? Are we sheep or goats? That is the question for all Christians. As for the Rubies, they left the meeting with a new perspective on how to view each of their relationships. They all determined to give of themselves without expectations from others - because...
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
Psalm 62:5

Link to a Great Giveaway!

Visit here for an opportunity to make a young man or crafty lady very happy! Although I must say, I hope I win!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Flying Piano

Recently a piano flew through the air and landed in my livingroom. Really, it did. My husband had found a piano listed for a good price, but after many measurements, we were sure it would never fit up the stairwell of our house - we are in the upper duplex. So having the opportunity to acquire this beautiful oak, shaker style piano had to include a way to get it in the house.
Well, wouldn't you know that Duck's friend H (mentioned here and here), her dad is a crane operator. We have been friends with this family for long before the two girls were born and our relationship has always had complimentary give and take to it. This, however, can be filed under 'extraordinary'. His offer to lift the piano over the top of the house and into the front balcony was met with some skepticism from all the adults, his wife included. But he assured all of us that it would go off without a hitch.

So the deal was done, the piano purchased (for less than the oringinal asking price) and on its way. These are the pictures of the piano's progress...first the crane parked in the driveway at the back of the house lifting the piano over the peak:

This is the piano coming over to the front of the house, coming in for the landing (remember, the crane operator can't actually see the front of the house - his oldest son is directing him via walkie talkie):

And then, finally, reaching the balcony where two very strong men were waiting to move it into the house:

So the arrival of a new piano at an excellent price was the first part of the blessing. The second part happened when I pulled out some school records from a few months ago and read my hand writing about Duck's progress in music. I had forgotten about this statement:

"...we've outgrown the keyboard for advancing our abilities to play and are hoping to find a piano we can afford. Oh, well if the Lord is willing."

I had long forgotten that short prayer I offered up as an expression of my heart's desire. Well, obviously God was willing! We have had the piano in our living room only a short time, but it has been enjoyed very much by all, especially my husband. No, he doesn't play - he's a good listener.
For more Show & Tell Friday - go here

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Time to Celebrate

So often kids are bombarded with the idea that returning to school is a bad thing, or something to groan about. However, as homeschoolers, we should want this part of our lives to be fun and exciting. My husband and I always look for ways to make learning interesting for Duck - to the point that she may not even recognize she's doing school. Such as the summer school program I mentioned before; or learning to sew; learning sign language; etc. All these things are fun and interesting to Duck.

When it comes to the textbooks and workbooks, we need to be more creative. I always make a big deal about new books, whether that be a new year or just a new unit within the year. If nothing else, Duck has learned to see new books as something to work toward getting and something to be appreciated when she gets them. However, this year I've noticed more of a disenchantment with starting up in September, "do we have to start so soon?"...

Daydreaming Duck

I suppose, when you consider my last blog, maybe I am guilty for the creation of this attitude. So now I must create the antidote. First, I changed my attitude - I am now looking forward to school. These are not just words, I really am geared up for the organization and planning again. I'm excited about getting back into some challenges and even the routine. So to transfer this excitement to Duck, I am planning a party. A back to school party.

We always hear about the end of the year parties (pizza parties, field trips, track and field days). As a homeschooler, I want to find ways to make this something to look forward to each year. The Duck will need to participate in the planning (hmmm, sounds like school already!). We'll need a theme, and invitations, we will certainly dress up for this party, with some fancy food and I'm pretty sure there will be chocolate involved...

This will be a grand event! (And I will take pictures to show off)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What day is it?

How did it happen? How can it be August already? True, all the signs have been in front of me as I watch my garden growing. True, I have been enjoying the beach friendly weather. True, everytime I open my door I give thanks for air-conditioning.

The part the snuck up on me was reading other blogs about preparing for the next school year, setting up daily routines, and so on. I'm not ready for that just yet! I still want to sit in my garden and pluck weeds. I still want to spend uncounted hours at the beach. I still want to have the hot weather outside and the cold climate inside. I want all that without having the little voice in my head telling it's time for school planning!

So...I've made my decision then. The rest of you homeschooling moms can plan your curriculums and schedules. You can organize the paperwork and textbooks. I will ignore it for just a little longer!

Oh, look. The Zellers flyer has arrived with all school stuff on sale...hmmm.