Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday Hymn - O Sing a Song of Bethlehem


O sing a song of Bethlehem, of shepherds watching there,

And of the news that came to them from angels in the air.

The light that shone on Bethlehem fills all the world today;

Of Jesus’ birth and peace on earth the angels sing alway.


O sing a song of Nazareth, of sunny days of joy;

O sing of fragrant flowers’ breath, and of the sinless Boy.

For now the flowers of Nazareth in every heart may grow;

Now spreads the fame of His dear Name on all the winds that blow.


O sing a song of Galilee, of lake and woods and hill,

Of Him Who walked upon the sea and bade the waves be still.

For though like waves on Galilee, dark seas of trouble roll,

When faith has heard the Master’s Word, falls peace upon the soul.


O sing a song of Calvary, its glory and dismay,

Of Him Who hung upon the tree, and took our sins away.

For He Who died on Calvary is risen from the grave,

And Christ, our Lord, by Heaven adored, is mighty now to save.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Changes

This morning, I've been making some changes to my blog. Some of them I decided to do, some were done for me (or were a result of what I did). Changing templates really does not save all the elements of a page!

I've realized recently that as parents, sometimes we need to make changes in our lives. Sometimes what we decide to do at this time is completely different, sometimes even opposite, from what we had decided years before.

We are going to be getting cable TV next week. We haven't had cable since 1998. At that time, we decided it wasn't worth the money or the time for us to have it. But we're changing that, mostly because our family has changed. Our oldest (and his dad) loves watching hockey and he usually goes to Grandma's to watch it. But you know, I like having my family together at home and when two out of six members are gone regularly, we started to realize that maybe we needed to make changes. We also like watching some of the other house and home shows together.

Does this mean that I think every family should have cable TV? No more than I thought over the past 8 years that no family should have cable (or satellite).

I still think there are dangers associated with having television in our home. We're going to have to be very careful with our younger children because they can watch TV for hours on end. We'll have to be careful with the older people too, who can also waste a lot of time watching TV. I'm a little apprehensive about it but I think at this time, it's appropriate for our family.

Sometimes I think as parents and as Christians, we can get locked into the "we've always done it this way" mode and not take into consideration that circumstances and people have changed. Maybe someone in our church wasn't ready to be in a leadership position several years ago but now, that same person has grown spiritually and it is time for them to move into that position. Or the opposite - someone has always done that job and maybe needs to take a break.

As parents, it's easy to forget that our children are growing older and are more mature. When the Harry Potter books first came out, my aunt asked if we would like them. I looked at them and decided at that time (I think our oldest was about 9) that they weren't appropriate for our family. However, a few years later, after another friend talked about them, I started reading them and let our older two begin. It was appropriate at that time. Now our next one, who is almost 8, is starting to eye those books. She won't be starting them for several years, not because she can't understand them (she's a very good reader) but because they aren't appropriate, in my view, for her. Other parents may have other opinions for their children.

Even when we do allow something that wasn't formerly allowed, we still need to be careful and wary of what might happen. Perhaps it's not something that will be beneficial, either to our family or to others around us. We may not have cable for very many months before we cancel it. But at this time, it's appropriate for our family.

Changes - sometimes anticipated, sometimes scary but always interesting!

When "All" Really Does Mean "All"!

So, when changing templates and the warning comes up that all the customizations in the template will be lost,

Pay Attention!

Yes, it really does mean all. All the extras I've added on the side.

Oh, well. I was going to complain that I was bored but no longer. I guess I have some work to do.

Watch up for more updates!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Hope you are all having a great day! I know we are.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Angels We Have Heard on High




















Rembrandt (c. 1640-42). Pen and brush drawing; 17.6 x 20 cm; Hamburg, Kunsthalle


Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Refrain
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Refrain

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Refrain

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.
Refrain

Friday, December 22, 2006

I like my messy desk!

And apparently other people agree with me:

Saying Yes to Mess

That's not to say that it doesn't hurt to dig out from under it once in a while but I have found it to be virtually impossible to keep a clean desk all the time, especially when I'm in the middle of a project.

Speaking of projects, I'd better get back to mine!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Temptation

My mother in law gave us some gifts tonight for Christmas, since we won't be together on Christmas Day. I thought the gifts were quite nice but then she said that they were more like stocking stuffers and gave us an envelope. The envelope says "Do not open until Christmas Day."

You know how much I want to peek in that envelope tonight?

I think I'll go put it in a suitcase somewhere so I'll forget about it!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


The butter tarts are made. This is just under half of what I made together with a friend. And I had some mincemeat in the freezer so I made another dozen and a bit mincemeat tarts.


The tree is decorated (ignore the mess on the table) and the presents are mostly wrapped. The stocking stuffers are mostly bought and the projects are mostly done! Christmas cards are not even started but I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm almost there.

Today, I'm finishing off projects and wrapping. Tomorrow we pack all our stuff into the Suburban (there is a reason we drive a Suburban!) and Saturday we make the trek, Lord willing, to Vancouver Island. If the roads are good and the ferries are running on time, it will likely be about a 15 hour trip.

I've been joking to a few people that my motto at this point is "Better Late than Never". We'll see how the next few days go.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I guess this is a good thing

You are 100% Canuck!

You rock, you are an almighty Canadian through and through. You have proven your worthiness and have won the elite prize of living in a country as awesome as Canada. Yes I know other countries think they are better, but we let them have that cuz we know better than they do, eh?

How Canadian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Considering I live in Canada, it's a good thing I got 100%. :-)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Movie Review - My Favourite Wife

I watched Cary Grant & Irene Dunne in My Favourite Wife yesterday. What a charming film! My older daughter & I chuckled all the way through. I would highly recommend it. It's a little slapstick and the storyline is somewhat predictable but the performance by the main actors makes it all worthwhile.

I was thinking as I watched it about the stereotyping of the 40's and 50's. To hear feminists talk today, all the women then were completely under the thumb of their husbands. But watching a movie like that shows that people then had a much higher regard for the relationship between husband and wife. Grant & Dunne show a married couple who have been separated for 7 years (she was presumed dead after a shipwreck) but whose relationship is still as strong as ever.

I remember watching Mrs. Miniver a few years ago and thinking the same thing. The marriage relationship was great in that movie too. And it's not even that they draw a lot of attention to it - it's just solidly together. The writing doesn't presume to make fun of marriage and the actors obviously are comfortable with the idea that a married couple can have fun, can communicate and can truly be together. It's not often we see that type of relationship in more modern movies.

I don't think a lot of people, especially those who would call themselves feminists, can conceive of a strong woman together with a strong man and understand how the woman can be strong and yet still not take the leading role in a marriage. Part of the problem is that I don't think people have seen a lot of marriages that work well in that way, at least not in recent times. And maybe part of the problem is that they don't know what they are looking for and they are so busy looking at the "problems" with the structure of the marriage that they miss seeing the true relationship.

So enjoy watching My Favourite Wife and then contemplate what it tells us about marriage!

Sunday Hymn - Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,

Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear Desire of every nation,

Joy of every longing heart.


Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever,

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This is a devotional that I gave at a recent baby shower. The topic was prompted by some thoughts I’ve had while talking to a few different ladies over the past few months. I realize that these mothers love their children but sometimes I wonder what that really means to them. There was a mixture of women there, including some singles, which is why sometimes I refer to women who have children around them. It may not be exactly as spoken since I’m transcribing from my notes, which weren’t complete.

Children are a Treasure from the Lord

Ps. 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Steve Green sang a song years ago entitled “Children are a Treasure From the Lord”. The complete lyrics are at the end of this talk.

It’s easy to say that children are a treasure or a heritage but I was thinking recently about whether we really mean it. Because if we mean it, we need to act in certain ways or it shows we don’t really mean it. As women of God, whatever situation God has placed us in, whether we are young mothers, singles or grandmothers, how should we act toward the children around us?

There are three ways to consider this. We’ll be considering how we think, speak and act.

Titus 2:4,5 tells the older women “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

I always think it’s interesting that older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands and children. We tend to think that it’s something that will come naturally but Paul recognized that we all need to grow in this area.

The first way we can consider how we treasure how children is how we think about them. What we think makes a difference to how we act. How do we think about the children around us?

“Those rotten kids” or “those interesting kids”?

Do we dwell on the negative or do we look for the positive? Do we look forward to being involved in their lives or do we look for ways to have them not involved with us? Sometimes women can get so focussed on doing their own thing, they fail to look forward to being with their children and enjoying them. Our thoughts will be reflected in our attitudes.

The second way to show how we treasure our children is how we speak. I’ve come to realize how important how I speak is to my attitude and to the people around me. I think there’s two ways to consider our speech regarding the children around us: how we speak to them and how we speak about them.

First, to them.

Are we speaking to our children in a way that is glorifying to God? I Cor. 13 is a familiar passage – do we speak in a way that is kind? Are our words rude, are we easily provoked to anger? Is the Fruit of the Spirit evident in the way that we talk? Are we patient and kind? Self-controlled?

When we correct our children, do we yell at them or are we calm in our discipline? I think it’s important to think about how we speak to them in this area. My mom used to say that as a teacher and then later as a mom, she found that the most effective way to deal with children when disciplining them was to whisper. It gets their attention much faster than yelling at them, it’s hard to escalate whispering during an argument and it keeps everyone calm. Proverbs is indeed right when it says that a soft answer turns away wrath. Remember that when we are disciplining, the goal is have their hearts changed, not to just punish them or change their behaviour.

Part of speaking to our children is setting clear boundaries and expectations. How can they know to be obedient unless they know what the expectations are? Last June, Pastor Kenneth Maresco at Covenant Life church gave two messages to parents on parenting. In them, he taught that if we haven’t trained our children to do something, such as greeting people with “hello”, then we shouldn’t punish them for not doing it. It was such a good reminder to me how important training is and the role that it plays in discipline.

Finally, as we speak to them, are we praising them when it’s appropriate? Do we “catch them doing good”? If we never speak positively to our children and praise them when they are obedient, why would they want to pursue obedience?

Now let’s consider how we speak about our children. I have learned throughout my marriage that I need to be careful how I speak about my husband to others. I need to be careful not to tear him down to others, even in a joking way, but rather build him up. I need to be discreet.

Prov. 11:22 says “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” You may have noticed that Paul tells Titus to tell the older women to teach the younger women to be discreet. It’s an important character quality and it doesn’t just apply to our relationship with our husbands – it also applies to how we speak about our children.

I have heard words coming out of my mouth that would be hurtful to my children if they heard. Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote the Anne books, often relates about her characters that they remember older people speaking negatively about them when they were young and the hurts that these women carried with them for the rest of their lives. Our words can hurt and moreover, they can help or hinder a child’s behaviour. If a child is constantly hearing his mother refer to him as a brat or that he’s unhelpful in so many ways, it’s no wonder if he does indeed live up to her expectations!

Remember to be positive to others about your children – brag on them! Watch for their gifts and accomplishments and tell others about them. Not in a bragging way but be thankful for what God has done in their lives and what he is doing in your life through them.

But some might be wondering – what if you have questions or concerns about your child’s behaviour? Don’t talk about it in general company but instead take your concerns to a trusted older woman and look for her advice. Your attitude makes a difference – are you complaining or honestly looking for advice?

We have looked at how we think and speak about our children in ways that show we treasure them. Now I’d like to consider practical ways in the way that we act.

It’s important to spend time with our children. That doesn’t mean just being in the same house but setting aside time to do things with them that they would enjoy. When your child is speaking to you, stop what you are doing and look at them as they talk. I often listen with half an ear and I end up missing what they are saying. So I’m learning to stop and look at them.

Another way to show that we treasure our children is to discipline them as they need it. There are many great resources for helping us train our children in the way of the Lord. If we don’t discipline them, how can we say that we treasure or value them?

Enjoy your children and count your blessings daily. My oldest is 14 – believe me, those years go by quickly. Ask any grandma!

Don’t always be looking for ways to be separated from them. It is important to spend time with your husband but it doesn’t have to be as often as sometimes we are told. It’s important for women to be able to do the hobbies they enjoy but recognize that sometimes, the season of life you are in will not allow a lot of free time, especially for those with preschoolers. And choose activities that are family-oriented, even for trips and holidays. Just enjoy being together as a family!

The most important way to treasure them, of course, is to teach them about their need for a Saviour. Teach them to pray. Read the Bible together. Go to church every week as a family. Talk about the things of the Lord every day. And if you have a Christian heritage, be thankful for it. Treasure it and pass on to your children a desire and hunger for the Lord. Only He can move in their hearts but we as parents can nurture our children so they are open to the leading of the Lord.

Treasure your children by not comparing them to others. How often do we come home from church or a school event, discouraged because our child is not just like little Johnny. Instead, look for the gifts and abilities that God has given our children. Maybe we do need to do some further training to help our children behave in a way that is appropriate to the occasion but don’t compare them to other children.

Finally, build family traditions. They won’t be the same as any other family’s traditions but they will be yours. Again, don’t compare but you can take ideas from others. Just don’t expect it to look exactly the same! But building traditions together binds a family together and shows children that we love and value our family just the way God has put it together.

I referred to Steve Green’s song earlier. Here are the lyrics to close:

Children are a Treasure from the Lord

Halls ring with echoes of laughter
Long after they've come and gone
For the memory of a tiny face and playful grin
Still brings a smile, reminding us again
That children are a treasure from the Lord

Songs sweetly sung by the cradle
Prayers whispered just before bed
And we taught them "Jesus loves you" in a simple song
And we pray they won't forget their whole life long
Children are a treasure from the Lord
Those bright and trusting eyes
Seem to take us by surprise
And they see what others older seem to miss
May the gift of faith they hold Grow as they grow old
May they always know God will never let them go

At six they're beginning their school days
Sixteen and they're driving the car
And at twenty-one we'll let them go on their first date
But of course they'll be at home in bed by eight
Yes, children are a treasure from the Lord

Homes ring with echoes of laughter
Long after they've come and gone
And just knowing that our children really love the Lord
Is a faithful parent's passion and reward,
children are a treasure from the Lord
Children are a treasure from the Lord
Yes, children are a treasure from the Lord

Words and music by Jon Mohr, Phil Naish and Greg NelsonCopyright 1989 Feed and Seed Music/LCS Songs (a div. of Lorenz Creative Services)/Pamela Kay Music/Beckengus Music/Greg Nelson Music. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

May God bless you and the children you interact with and may you build a closer relationship with them as you treasure the gift they are from God.

Monday, December 11, 2006

An elderly lady in our church is away visiting her granddaughter and had a bad fall down the stairs there so she is in hospital. I was looking up the address for the hospital and came across a neat program this hospital has. I don't know how many others have this program but I think it's a great idea.

It's called "Well Wishes" and it's a email delivery program. They have a form to submit online with room for a letter. The emails are checked daily and printed off and then taken to the patient.

Isn't this great? Not that we shouldn't send cards but sometimes, especially since patients are sent home quickly, it's hard to time a card just right. This way, you know it will get there that day. And in our online age, it's an encouragement for people to take the time to send good wishes for recovery, without having to get a card, etc.

I thought it was a neat program and I'd be happy to hear if other hospitals do it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Hymn - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Caterers Who Don't Like Desserts


Recently, my husband and I have both been to a banquet, separately. On both occasions, the dinner was fine. I think my turkey dinner was a little better than his, but overall, the meal was appetizing & tasty.

However, on neither occasion was the dessert appetizing, tasty or even appealing. In fact, it was somewhat appalling. At the banquet I was at, it was obvious that they tried hard and I would give them "A" for effort. But a small piece of chocolate cake, covered with some custard/pudding stuff, and topped with either bright pink or bright green whipping cream (piped at least) and sprinkles didn't only look unappetizing but didn't taste great either.

At my husband's banquet, there didn't even seem to be much effort. I think it was probably called "Strawberry Shortcake" but it was a small piece of white cake with a couple of strawberries and a smear of whipped cream.

These are only two examples of numerous events we have been to where the meal was great but the dessert left something to be desired.

Now I will admit right up front that I like desserts. I like to eat them and I like to make them. I'm somewhat frugal so I tend to search out recipes that look and taste great but don't take a lot of unusual and/or expensive ingredients. So maybe someone could say that I'm being picky. That may be so.

But I ask, how hard is it to make a wonderfully tasting dessert? The KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) definitely applies. Wouldn't you rather have a simple apple or rhubarb crisp topped with a dollop of real whipped cream rather than an awful tasting fancy dessert? I know I would. Or what about a real chocolate cake or pineapple upside down cake? Or trifle? Or a simple whipped cheesecake with a simple fruit topping?

There are so many choices for desserts out there. I wonder why caterers feel they can foist these awful tasting desserts on their clients and why their clients let them! Why do we put up with it? Why don't we tell them that all of the meal needs to taste good, not just the main course?

And do caterers not realize how it impacts their business? We have been having our ladies' banquet at the same place for several years. I think next year, we'll be looking for another place to host it.

My brother got married several years ago. They chose the caterer that had the best reputation. Part of her reputation? Fantastic cheesecakes! They were truly wonderful. And you know what? Even I, the frugal one, would be willing to pay more to be guaranteed a wonderful meal.

It's not really that expensive either. Like I said, there are ways to be frugal but it's still possible to use real food as the ingredients. That goes a long way to making each part of the meal very yummy.

Someday, I think I will go into business and make my name on having the best desserts around!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Scrapbooking Musings

I was thinking today while scrapbooking gifts for Christmas about a phrase that the Deputy Headmistress has used. This post is the beginning of the use of the phrase "What's in your hand?"

As I was working today, I was looking for a particular type and colour of ribbon. I didn't have what I was looking for but then realized that with a little ingenuity, some ribbon I did have would work quite nicely.

It struck me again how easy it is to get caught up in the acquisitiveness of our age, especially in regards to hobbies. Sure I could have gone and bought some ribbon that would have been more like my original thought, if I could find it in a store in town, but that would have involved a lot more work, possibly frustration, and definitely money than simply using what I already have.

In scrapbooking, as in many other hobbies, I am sure, there are trends. It becomes somewhat laughable to see what the latest and greatest is. Fibers are in; fibers are out. Buttons are in; buttons are out. Ribbon is in; ribbon is out. There's always something new that is the latest thing. Meanwhile, scrapbookers have stockpiled hundreds of dollars worth of product to be sure they have the latest and greatest, only to see the next trend on the horizon.

I am as prone to this failing as anyone else. It's so easy to think that just the right products will lead to a fantastic scrapbooking page. It's easy to lose sight of my true goal - to keep track of my family's activities and experiences. But when I remind myself of this, it helps to bring me back to earth.

I am not saying that no one should ever buy anything new. Eventually, you would run out of tools to scrapbook and then there would be no point to continuing. And as in anything, companies are constantly developing new tools that make the hobby a lot easier and more interesting. But what I am saying is that in scrapbooking, as in the rest of life, you must be careful to keep your goals and financial situation in clear sight and to not get caught up in just collecting products without ever using them.

It is also true that sometimes that one new little product will make a page go from boring to beautiful. The trick is to figure out when it's needed and when it's not.

This is my challenge to myself for the day - what's in my hand? Whether it's scrapbooking, cooking, getting dressed (!), or whatever the activity, am I consciously using the resources God has given me in a way that is glorifying to Him or am I wasting those resources through carelessness?

My sincere thanks to the Deputy Headmistress for writing about this in the first place and encouraging us all to carefully consider our choices.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Baking with a Canadian Twist

It's December, isn't it? Amazing how that happens.

And since it's December, I'm starting to think about baking. Rebecca is asking for Christmas recipes so I thought this was a good time to post some favourite recipes that I've had since childhood. As I was thinking about it, I realized that it's a good time to showcase some Canadian favourites.

I was shocked to learn a few years ago that my American friends didn't know what butter tarts were. I still don't really understand how someone could not have had butter tarts but thought I would try to rectify this by posting a recipe. A friend and I usually make about 14-16 dozen in a morning to split between our families.

And then there's Nanaimo bars. They are named after a city on Vancouver Island and are very popular. True Confession? I don't really like them. Every once in a while, I have one and I'm reminded of why I don't usually eat them. But millions of Canadians can't be wrong, can they?

My grandfather was British and I think there are other British/Scottish ancestors in my family tree, which perhaps explains why I love fruitcake. I know - everyone loves to hate it. But you haven't tasted my mother's fruitcake! Mmm.... Last year, she brought some to me and this year, we're going to visit them so I don't need to make it again. I have made it but hers is better!

And last, but not least, Rocky Roads. I suspect these aren't completely Canadian. They are a family favourite, though. Mom used to hide them in the freezer. They taste awfully good frozen. So do butter tarts - slightly thawed is great!

Here are the recipes:

Butter Tarts

Some recipes take corn syrup. My preference is to keep it simple with just brown sugar, butter (or margarine) and eggs. Also, instead of mixing raisins or currants with the syrup, simply place 5-6 on the bottom of each shell. That way, each tart has the same amount of fruit and it's not too overwhelming for those who aren't as fond of raisins as others.

1 C. brown sugar
2 T. butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t. vanilla

Mix together (you can soften the butter first) and pour into unbaked tart shells. Bake at 400 for about 12-15 minutes but watch carefully. This is a small batch but it would be good to start with.

Nanaimo Bars
2 squares of Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, melted
combine with1/2 cup softened butter
2TB sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Add
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Press into 9" pan and chill

Combine:
2 TB custard powder with
3 TB milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
Beat until smooth and spread over base. Chill 15 minutes

Melt:4 squares Bakers chocolate with
1TB butter

Spread over custard layer. Chill. Cut into bars.Makes about 3 dozen.

Dark Fruit Cake
(my Aunt Stella's recipe, from an old "Hometown Recipes of Manitowaning" on Manitoulin Island)

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 scant c. white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. raisin
1/2 lb. dates
1/4 lb. mixed peel or fruit
1/4 lb. nuts, almonds & walnuts
Juice & rind of 1 lemon
Juice & rind of 1 orange
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cloves
1 t. soda dissolved in 1/2 c. sour milk
1 1/2 c. unsalted cracker crumbs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt

Cream butter, brown and white sugars together. Then add the rest and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 250. This makes 3 small layers.

Rocky Roads

6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 c. butter

Melt together.

Add 1 egg, beaten & 1 c. icing sugar. Cool slightly. Add 2 c. miniature marshmallows. Line a 9x9 pan with graham crackers. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crackers. Chill and slice into small pieces - these are very rich.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him

Praise the Lord: ye heavens, adore Him;
Praise Him, angels in the height.
Sun and moon, rejoice before Him;
Praise Him, all ye stars of light.
Praise the Lord, for He hath spoken;
Worlds His mighty voice obeyed.
Laws which never shall be broken
For their guidance He hath made.

Praise the Lord, for He is glorious;
Never shall His promise fail.
God hath made His saints victorious;
Sin and death shall not prevail.
Praise the God of our salvation;
Hosts on high, His power proclaim.
Heaven and earth and all creation,
Laud and magnify His Name.

Worship, honor, glory, blessing,
Lord, we offer unto Thee.
Young and old, Thy praise expressing,
In glad homage bend the knee.
All the saints in heaven adore Thee;
We would bow before Thy throne.
As Thine angels serve before Thee,
So on earth Thy will be done.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm thankful:

1. that I have a nice warm house because it's -18C and snowing outside.




















2. for the seat warmers in the car. See #1.
3. for my kids. They make me laugh ** and they are generally very good kids.
4. we got a new kitten this week and that she's settling in well. I was starting to wonder that first day if she would ever stop crying
















5. we can go away to the quiz meet this weekend and that everyone is excited about it
6. that we're making contact with an old friend who we have lost touch with
7. for all the blessings God gives us - we really are blessed living here and we don't always remember to thank Him

** See my husband's post. My daughter is the first commenter and it's such a snappy remark!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankful Tuesday

I'm thankful for homeschooling sale boards and the fact that God provided, through the boards, a geometry textbook set for us at a very good price - about 25% of what it would cost to buy the new edition.

I'm also thankful for Paypal and other technology, including the internet. Finding the books without the internet would be virtually impossible. Not having to go to the bank to get a money order, mail it, wait for it to get there, etc. etc. is a huge saving of time and effort for me and it makes the transactions quick and easy. I had an experience this summer of having to deal with someone by sending a cheque and I am doubly thankful now to not have to do that anymore!

Herding Deer

Last night I was coming home about 10:15 pm down the back alley. In front of me, I saw three deer. Seeing deer in town isn't uncommon so I just slowed down and expected them bound away.

Instead, they just kept walking forward, a little confused. Our driveway is at a "Y" in the alley so I came to the "Y" and started turning into the driveway. The deer were still confused and didn't know which way to go. They finally went up the driveway. As I pulled up, they went into the back yard. I expected them to immediately run away into the front yard.

I got out of the vehicle and walked up the back sidewalk. One of them figured out how to go to the front yard so it disappeared. The other two kept watching me and moving around the yard. When I got to the back door, I called my husband and son and we stood watching them for a minute or two. They almost seemed curious about us.

I've seen deer around a lot but never that close and I've never herded them before!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful I'm feeling better! Yesterday around noon, I swallowed and suddenly realized my throat didn't hurt. I was tired last night but had some energy to do a couple of things. This morning, I woke up at my usual time feeling much better and with lots of energy. I'm sure I'll need a nap today but it's nice to actually look forward to the day!

I'm always reminded when I'm sick how hard it must be to have a chronic illness. I get impatient about being sick after only 2-3 days; how much harder must it be to know that the pain and sickness will not be going away or it could be months until one feels better. It's a good reminder to me to pray for those I know with a chronic illness.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Homeschooling Thanks

Today I'm thankful for the freedom that comes in homeschooling. I was able to let the kids sleep in this morning, as we're all fighting colds, and we also were able to travel last week.

We will need to catch up on what needs to be done but it's nice to have some freedom to decide how to schedule that.

I'm also thankful that I was able to have a couple of naps already today! Hopefully this cold will soon be gone.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thankful Saturday

I'm thankful to be home! We got home this afternoon, both vehicles. I'm also thankful that we were able to buy a new (to us) car while we were away and that my husband is happy with the way that it drives. Now to sell the old one...

We had bad roads on the way home, and I actually stopped last night and stayed overnight in a small town because of the roads, but I'm so glad that everything went well. My kids were great and we had a very peaceful trip home.

I'm also thankful for audio books, which definitely helped with having a peaceful trip! We listened to Geronimo Stilton, a silly tale about a mouse that the little ones liked but the older ones just endured. We also listened to





When Santa Fell to the Earth by Cornelia Funke. Mrs. Funke is already a favourite writer around our house and this new book is very fun. It does contain a few "do you think that's a good thing to do?" moments (ie, copying a math test to get a good mark) but overall, we enjoyed it.

Our favourite audio book on the way home was Dragon Rider, also by Cornelia Funke.



This book is read by Brendan Fraser ("George, George, George of the Jungle"). I must admit, I was a little sceptical at first when I saw his name but he does one of the best readings I have ever heard. The accents & voices are amazing! We've read the book before but I had forgotten a lot of it. We still have about two cds left and I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.

And now that I'm home and in my nice, warm house, I can be thankful for the snow and the coming winter.

Music for Patti...

Or anyone else who might be interested. These are all for piano, violin & cello with the equivalent difficulty being about book 2 of Suzuki.

Chamber Music Sampler by Joanne Haroutounian

Pachelbel Canon arranged by Daniel Dorff. The link is actually not the same book as I got because mine is for any two or three melody instruments and piano. Violin, cello & piano would have been better but I'm just happy to have this.

Trio in D Major by J.C. Bach for violin, cello & piano. I can't find a link for this but it's published by the International Music Company and the number on the front is No. 1516.

A Christmas Tableau of Piano Trios by Eugenie Rocherolle. This contains 9 songs, including The First Noel, Silent Night and What Child is This?. It also contains a couple of more secular pieces - Jingle Bells and A Holly Jolly Christmas.

I'm looking forward to trying these out!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pictures from the West Coast

It's been raining a lot around this area. Apparently, it's a weather system called "The Pineapple Express" because it's from Hawaii. Today, we were thankful to have sunshine and a relatively warm day so we were able to be outside for the majority of the day.

These are pictures from Lynn Canyon. It's one of our favourite places on the coast. There's a suspension bridge and a nice walk around. My husband & I used to come here fairly often when we were in college and dating.























































Then we went to Stanley Park and had lunch and walked around a bit. We had a friend with us from Nova Scotia who hadn't been out here before so we wanted to show him a variety of sights. Lynn Canyon was nice because it was more of a rain forest and Stanley Park, of course, shows the Pacific ocean.

On our way back to the vehicle, we saw four raccoons. Their reaction to us was not what we expected! Note that there is actually no food in our friend's hand:



































One more thankful part of my day: I'm thankful I got time in a music store that had lots of choices. It's amazing how fast 45 minutes can disappear when I'm looking at music. I was able to find several options for piano, violin and cello and a new piano offertory book, which I am desperately in need of. Now I'm looking forward to learning new music when we get home.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thankful Tuesday morning

I'm thankful today for my family. I really enjoy travelling with my kids and husband.

We had a good day yesterday. We did some shopping in the morning and then I took the kids skating while my husband went to the convention we came here for.

I'm also thankful for a huge ice complex where we could go skating and there was no one else there! We may try to go back later in the week.

And homeschooling brings its own thankfulness - we can travel with our family and still keep up with our schoolwork.

See Rebecca for her month of thanksgiving.

Warm Temperatures

We're travelling this week and spending most of our time in the Vancouver area. Our Suburban has a temperature recording in the mirror. We excitedly noticed the temperature yesterday - 15 degrees Celcius, even though it was raining.

Where we live, 15 degrees and rain only comes in August!

We also had a little chuckle at the woman pulling her scarf and overcoat close. I guess it doesn't seem quite as balmy to her!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Jesus, Everlasting King

Jesus Everlasting King
© 2003 detuned radio music (ASCAP). Words by Isaac Watts (alt. by Matthew Smith). Music by Matthew Smith

Jesus, everlasting King
Accept the tribute which we bring
Accept the well-deserved renown
And wear our praises as Your crown

1. O send Your Spirit to impart
Rest and repentance to our hearts,
Like the dear hour when from above
We first received Your pledge of love.
Repeat chorus

2. The gladness of redemption’s day,
Our hearts would wish it long to stay,
Nor let our faith forsake its hold,
Nor comforts sink, or love grow cold.
Repeat chorus

3. May every time of worship see
Your grace revealed more rich and free,
Till we are raised to sing Your name
At the great supper of the Lamb.
Repeat chorus

4. O that the months would roll away
And bring the coronation day;
The King of Grace shall fill the throne
With all His Father’s glories on.

Jesus, everlasting King
Accept the tribute which we bring
Accept the well-deserved renown
And wear our praises as Your crown (repeat)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thankful Saturday

Rebecca is having a month of Thanksgiving. One of the email lists I'm on also has a Thankful Thursday, which I, to my shame, don't always post about. It's more time issues than lack of thanksgiving but still...

Today I'm thankful for
- a husband who is willing to serve and who especially blessed me yesterday by rearranging his day so that he could drive my daughter and me to the city. He had someone in the hospital that he could visit but still, he rearranged things in order to be able to go
- my four children who are growing and maturing all the time
- the opportunity to travel to our denomination's National Convention next week
- the opportunity to see family at the Convention and spend some time with them
- snow so that my kids can play outside
- a church family that is supportive of us

I think I'll stop there for now - I have to save some up for the rest of the month!

Looking for Evidences of Grace

Yesterday we listened to part of a message by CJ Mahaney, presented at Southern Seminary. You can find the links here (scroll down to Oct 24 & 26).

The message was on 1 Cor. 1:1-9. One of his points involves how, even though the Corinthians were in need of correction (the reason why Paul was writing the letter), Paul still saw evidences of God's grace in them. CJ encouraged the listeners to look for evidences of God's grace in others and tell them. He reminds us that it's easier to look for sin then it is to look for grace and that we should be encouraging others by looking for how God is working in their lives, although there are times when exhortation against sin is also appropriate.

As I listened, I thought of my children. How often do I tell them how I see them growing in God and growing in maturity. I need to be actively looking for it more often and then telling them. It was a good reminder.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Potato Fest 2006

Rebecca has had Potato Fest all this month. As usual, I am sneaking in just under the wire with my recipe and tips!

Our family loves potatoes. The kids (and husband) like nothing better than mashed potatoes and would probably eat them every single night for supper. Unfortunately for them, they don't get to do that!

My husband is a master potato masher. He calls them "smashed" potatoes. They are smooth and creamy and very good. I didn't realize just how good they are until I had mashed potatoes elsewhere; they were dry and had lumps in them. His are very smooth. A special treat around here is to put ranch dressing in as he mashes the potatoes.

A tip for mashed potatoes for a large crowd? Buy a drywall mud mixer attachment and put it on the end of a drill. Turn the drill on and in less than a minute a large pot of potatoes will be mixed. It takes the fear out of doing mashed potatoes for a large group!

On to a recipe:

My family also loves fries. I have done oven fries for years and we always enjoy them. On Sunday, I served them with gravy and roast beef and that was quite popular - they don't usually get gravy with their fries!

I know this is a common recipe but in case someone hasn't seen it before, here you go.

Slice potatoes into wedges. You can peel them or not, depending on your preference. Toss them with some oil (a tablespoon or two). Oil the pan (I keep some older cookie sheets on hand for potatoes, fish fries, tuna melts, etc so that I don't wreck my newer pans) so the fries don't stick. Bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the wedges over and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the outside is crispy and the inside is soft. Serve with ketchup, gravy, salt & vinegar or anything else you desire!

This is a fast Friday night supper or can be used at any time. The camp I work at in the summer always has one meal during the week with potato wedges and they are popular with the campers.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Overwhelmed

Life is proceeding at its usual pace although I wish said pace would just turn it down a notch or two.

Last weekend, we spent two days in the city at a Bible quizzing tournament. This is our first year doing it and it was great. My older two are involved and they won rookie awards (2nd & 4th) for points. We were pretty excited about that!
Another positive note - yeah, Apple! My ipod, which was new last spring, had a battery that was not lasting anywhere near the time it should. I contacted Apple, they sent a box with a little courier sticker on it, I gave it to the courier and just over a week and a half later, I received the box back with a new ipod in it! How's that for service! That's the best response we have ever had from any large (and possibly, small) company.

I'm trying to be a responsible homeschool mother and keep up with our school work. Really, all I want to do is to scrapbook and read my library books. But, no, schoolwork is important so we're working hard on that. With four children working this year, it doesn't leave a lot of free time during the day. And during the free time, my family would like to eat, live in a clean house and have clean laundry. Imagine that!

I have two or three scrapbooking projects on the go, one of which has to be done by the end of next week. We have lots of church activities, including a mini-retreat for ladies tonight & tomorrow. And we're going away in a week to our denomination's national convention and I haven't finished planning our activities for that week yet either!

I'm trying not to be overwhelmed but to just take each day as it comes and not waste parts of those days in non-essential activities (bloglines comes to mind!). Some days, a nap and a book (not necessarily in that order) are essential activities but they also need to be short.

I am reminded regularly, which is a good thing, to preach the gospel to myself daily. Let's pray that we will all be able to do that and that Christ will be glorified through our lives.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Grace Greater than All Our Sin

I just finished reading A Garden to Keep by Jamie Langston Turner. It's one of my favourite books and I hadn't read it for a while. This hymn popped into my mind after finishing the book, which is a beautiful example of grace.

Grace Greater than All Our Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Refrain
Grace, grace,
God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Refrain

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Refrain

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Refrain

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Do you need a new camera?

Carolyn, at Solo Femininity, posted a link to a new camera - one that will make you appear slimmer!

Check this out.

Would you buy one?

And also, can anyone what happens when you use the trackback thingie? I don't know what to do with it.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Updates

**Updated to change Kara's links which she nicely posted in the comments.**

I just updated my sidebar again with more books. I also just noticed that the link for my husband's blog wasn't working - poor guy. I checked and it was a typo that I changed so now everyone can go and check his great blog.

I am amazed by those people who post everyday or several times a day. I was amazed by them before I started blogging and I'm even more amazed now. It seems like the days just fly by and I have to constantly be choosing what to do. It's never a choice between having nothing to do and blogging or scrapbooking or school work. It's always a choice between a lot of good things. So the blogging doesn't happen all that often. Neither does the scrapbooking, although I did get quite a bit accomplished on Friday evening and last night. I will post some pictures one of these days.

In an online discussion, I posted a list of the podcasts and mp3 sources that I enjoy. I think I'll post that here as well. As Terry said in a recent post, there's so much good audio to listen to that there's not a choice between good and bad but between better & best.

Here's my list of recommendations. I'm sure there are more!


Podcasts:
- Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Mark Dever) - for both messages on podcasts and interviews with 9 Marks Ministries (those are mp3s)
- Sovereign Grace churches - most of them have podcasts. I like Covenant Life - They have separate series sometimes, in addition to the podcasts, and they are free, for the most part. They sell messages from their conferences (for reasonable prices) through the Sovereign Grace Ministries Store.
- Mars Hill Church (Mark Driscoll) - Somewhat controversial - you may disagree with what Mark Driscoll says but you will always have an opinion. I appreciate the Word-centeredness and am not generally bothered by his style. But everyone's different so if you are bothered by it ....
- Revive Our Hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) - 15 minute segments which is nice sometimes
- Tim Challies has started a podcast. I haven't listened to the first interview with Mark Dever yet but plan to soon.
- Alistair Begg - Truth for Life - I don't currently subscribe to this podcast but I do enjoy his preaching.
- For children - Kara's audiobooks (for current books). I haven't listened to many of these but I should get the girls going on them more. She has Our Island Story and Heidi, plus others. For the completed books, please listen here.

MP3s
My dh recently discovered the MacLaurin Institute and their mp3s. He's listened to a few and they are excellent. Ravi Zacharias, Peter Kreeft and others. He particularly liked the series by Vishal Mangalwadi.
Desiring God- They have made all of John Piper's messages available. The latest from the Desiring God conference is available for free. Also, there are historical biographies by John Piper that my dh has enjoyed (they are on my list to listen to).

There are many more but those are the main ones I listen to. I'm currently trying to get through a series of messages and workshops from the Worship God '06 conference put on by Sovereign Grace. I listened to a workshop last night by Bob Kauflin on worship teams and rehearsals/arranging music. It was excellent and a very good reminder to this piano player!

Sunday Hymn - Be Thou My Vision

This was the first hymn that popped into my mind this morning and I've been humming it ever since. As Lynne mentions in her recent post, the phrase "teaching from a place of rest" has been discussed lately and I've been thinking about it quite a bit. Jumping off from what Lynne said, I think that this hymn is a perfect one to help keep us in that place of rest.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Quotes

I picked up Norms and Nobility, by David Hicks, this morning. I was looking for some specific information. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but I did read the last quarter of the book or so and was struck again by his view of education. I underlined several quotes and thought I would post them here. They are more for me but I hope that they encourage and challenge someone else as well.

Starting at ch. 10:

(p. 127) "Cardinal Newman's description of liberal education remains, to this day, unimpeachable: that which teaches the student 'to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant. It prepares him to fill any post with credit, and to master any subject with facility.'"

This is becoming more and more important in our world. How many "careers" will the average person have now, according to the prognosticators? Definitely more than one. Training our children to be able to do one job will not prepare them for life. Teaching them to think and to be humble will prepare them for any position. It also teaches them wisdom and discernment in knowing what to choose as the possibilities seem endless sometimes.

(p. 127) "Before he is 18, no one has time to do more than a few things well; therefore better to teach a few subjects thoroughly than to force a child to be a mediocrity in many subjects, destroying his standards, obscuring the nature of mastery, and concealing the measure of his ignorance."

(p. 129) "Only the careless and unskilled teacher answers questions before they are asked. The teacher's chief task is to provoke the question, not to answer it; to cultivate in his students an active curiosity, not to inundate them in factual information."

Ouch. Although I would like to know more about how to accomplish this.

(p. 129) "What students can most hope to learn from a good teacher is how to approach a new subject with the aim of mastering it."

(p. 129) "Much learning is misspent because it is not placed within a thoughtfully structured pattern."

This is something I would love to discuss with other teachers.

(p. 143) "The study of algebra naturally depends upon the student's mastery of arithmetic, and it is grounded on one fundamental assumption: that an understanding of mathematical principles and of the reasoning behind each step in the solution of problems is infinitely more important than the ability to assign correct answers to problems."

(p. 143) "The study of mathematics, the ancients believed, reinforces the mind's power of concentration, memory, and logical process."

(p. 144) "[The discipline of mathematics] is a habit of mind subjugating the young person's natural inclination toward intellectual sloth and self-centeredness; it teaches him to delight in making the scholarly discoveries that usually attend an organized search. It stands as a mighty bulwark against the heretical and preposterous notion that there can be sound learning with concentration, memory, and logical process. The modern attempt to introduce mathematics in a school environment that plays down these three powers of mind not only seems to validate the criticism of mathematics as a useless mental discipline, but it subverts the scholarly habits essential to a student's enjoyment and success in the study of numbers. Where these habits are ignored, an early flowering can only be bought at the price of shallow roots."

I found this section on mathematics fascinating. It was also reassuring that we are on the right track - that requiring a higher standard is worth it and getting through the grumpy "why do I have to do this?" is something to be desired. I plan to share these quotes with my 14 year old son - maybe understanding "why" will help with accomplishing the task, even when it's hard.

Those are most of my quotes. I will be mulling them over this week - I hope it's given some of you something to think about.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Alberta Fall Pictures

It's a beautiful time of year around here. We don't get the brilliant oranges and reds that the Eastern provinces have but we still have lovely colours. My husband and daughter took some pictures recently that I thought some of you might enjoy seeing.




My daughter, 7, took the picture above so it's a little crooked. But the colours are beautiful and the fence line is almost straight!

If you look closely at the picture below, you can almost see the mountains in the background. We can see the Rockies on a clear day and from high ground here, even though we are almost two hours' drive.

A Good and Bad Day for Birds



We had a hairy woodpecker on our garage today. My son took these pictures.


We also saw a grouse on our walk through a trail near our house. We were able to see it fairly well. We have seen them out of town but not this close to town.

And my son's zebra finch, Siegfried, died today. We're not really sure why other than he was two years old and maybe that was just his life span. It's a little sad. We are currently petless but since we've been looking at kittens at a friend's, we'll have to see what happens!

Mmmm..... Pumpkin Pie

There's nothing like a good turkey feast, time with family, a nap, a good walk in the crisp autumn air and then coming home to another piece of pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday Hymn - Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills,
in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns
with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

I generally think of this hymn as a hymn for Thanksgiving. But I found as I read the background on it, that it is actually a hymn of thanksgiving. Here's what Cyber-Hymnal says:
Martin Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in
Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War.
The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of
re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my
sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were
ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and the peo­ple
be­gan to per­ish. There was a tre­men­dous strain on the
pas­tors who had to con­duct do­zens of fun­er­als
dai­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the pas­tors, too, suc­cumbed, and
Rink­art was the on­ly one left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. When
the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the
safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish
com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered
his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War
end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion
ser­vice. It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such
mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and
gra­ti­tude to­ward God.
That puts a different perspective on my life and reasons why I should be thankful to God for salvation!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Odds & Ends

otherwise known as Bits and Pieces of Life.

I'm feeling a little random right now. So I'm not quite sure what will come out here.

I'm listening to my ipod on shuffle. Right now, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul (It's All about You)" as sung by Dave Fellingham is on. I got this album called "Worship Together" on itunes because it has Stuart Townend's music, which I really like. I don't know much about Dave Fellingham other than what I hear on this album, but what I do know is that he is English. How do I know? "Alpha and Omega" comes out as "Alpher and Omeger". Omega isn't as obvious but Alpha sticks out every time and cracks me up. Which is not so good considering it's a quiet, worshipful song.

I finished The Thirteenth Tale tonight. I resisted picking it up for the last two nights but today after lunch, I started it and took a "little" time later to read it completely. It's a well-written, good story but it's dark. I think the theme is redemption but it's one that isn't so obvious.

Wednesdays are nice days around here. I don't have to go anywhere and we usually get a solid day's work in, as well as leaving me time to do other work. The younger girls & I made 3 apple pies this morning and the crust for the pumpkin pies for the weekend. Two apple pies went in our freezer and the third in a friend's because she was kind enough to give me foil pie plates when all three stores in town were out of the right size.

We have some serious cleaning to do for the weekend and I just realized that I'll be gone to the city all day Friday. Well, I guess we'll get started tomorrow. Family is coming Saturday and Sunday so that will be a nice treat. I need to make buns for the weekend too but I'll probably do them on Saturday so they'll be fresh.

I realized tonight that I forgot to make bread today and we won't have any for breakfast. I decided to make a quick batch of English Muffin Loaf. I just remembered it was rising as I went through the kitchen and smelt that wonderful yeasty smell so I turned on the oven. Thankfully, it doesn't take long to bake.

My mom gave me this recipe years ago. I have no idea where it's from but we like it. It's especially good toasted - it holds the heat for a long time so peanut butter melts at just the right rate!

This is a quick recipe to make too, which is an added bonus, especially when I don't remember to start it until after 8 pm.

English Muffin Loaf

5-6 c. flour
2 pkg (Tablespoons) yeast
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
3 T. cornmeal

Combine 3 cups flour with yeast, sugar, salt and soda. Heat milk & water until very warm. Add liquid to dry mixture and beat well. (Note: I mix the yeast with the liquid first and let it soften; I get better results that way but your yeast may be just fine.) Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff batter. Divide into two and spoon into loaf pans greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover & let rise about 45 minutes. Bake 25 minutes at 425. Remove from pans immediately.

I spent about 45 minutes on Algebra tonight. Word problems involving rate of speed. After a bit of help from a friend, I'm figuring it out and hopefully my son will be even more successful tomorrow. This is my first time through Algebra since highschool so I find it really helps to work the problems ahead of him. That way when he has problems, I know what to look for; it doesn't take me fifteen minutes to figure it out. Well, not most of the time, anyway. Generally, I like it but I didn't like word problems in highschool and I still don't like them! When someone else points out how to do them, I can see it immediately. But not always before.

The reassuring part is that this is my oldest, the guinea pig. As the next three go through it, I should actually know what we're doing. :-)

I should maybe mention for my American readers that the reason family is coming this weekend and we're having buns and pies is that this weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving. We like it.

Happy October!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Choices, Choices

On the way to bed last night, I had to choose a book to read.

At first I picked up The Thirteenth Tale but then rethought that. How exciting would it be?

I decided on A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. Somehow it seemed a little more conducive to sleep, especially on a Monday night.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Jesus I Come

Jesus, I Come
©2000 Greg Thompson. Words: William Sleeper. Music: Greg Thompson.

1. Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come; Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my wanting and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

2. Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress into jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

3. Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward forever on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

4. Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

We sang this song this morning. It's one of my favourite new/old hymns, which can be found at Reformed University Fellowship hymn site. I think the folks from Indelible Grace maintain the site but don't quote me on that. :-)

This was followed by "As the East is from the West", a simple song quoting from the Psalms about how far away our sin is from us when we are forgiven, and "What the Lord has Done for Me", which I think was written by Robin Marks. It's on his "Come Heal this Land" album at any rate.

All of this music really served to underline what God has done for us. Then my husband preached a great sermon on Matt. 23 and the woes to the Pharisees by Christ. A good service all around.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Learning the Cello

Patti asked in the comments about my cello playing. So I thought I'd make it into a blog post, instead of answering in the comments.

I started playing cello two years ago this October. I have played piano since I was five. However, piano is a solitary instrument, generally, apart from accompanying, and I've always been fascinated by string instruments. The Bible college president at the time I was at Bible College was a cello player and I've always thought it was a beautiful instrument. So it was on my "things I'd like to do before I die" list.

Three years ago, my oldest daughter started the violin. A year after that, my youngest child was three and a half and for some reason, I don't recall all the reasons, it seemed like a good time to start learning the cello. I really wanted something to work on to challenge myself. I had also found out through my daughter's experience that we could rent string instruments from a string shop in the city, which made learning a new instrument possible. $36 a month is a lot more accessible than $1200 upfront. Part of the motivation was also that my daughter & I could make music together.

So I started making some phone calls. After a couple of "interesting" phone calls with potential teachers, I found my current teacher. She's an experienced Suzuki teacher. She hadn't done a lot of work with adults but she was willing to take me on, even with once a month lessons. As we've gotten farther into the process, I've realized what a good teacher she is and how providential it was that I was able to find her.

This year, we've made the switch to biweekly lessons in the city for my daughter and that has given me the opportunity to go biweekly with my lessons too. Although I was learning and progressing over the past two years, it felt to me like I could be progressing faster and further if I had more regular lessons. Sometimes it would be six weeks between lessons, just depending on the circumstances. So I'm looking forward to being there every two weeks and to moving ahead with it.

Eventually, I'd like to play more for church or have other performance opportunities. My daughter & I play together sometimes but we'd like to do more. I'd really like to find some relatively easy piano trios (violin, cello & piano) that we could do with a pianist but they seem to be hard to find.

We have two younger daughters and so the girls have it all mapped out - the next one will learn violin and the 3rd one viola and in just a matter of time, we'll have a string quartet. Considering that the violin teacher we found this year also plays viola, we're actually somewhat hopeful that this could take place!

We're off to the city - I may add later reasons why I think it's good for adults to learn new musical instruments.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Don't Have to Drive Tomorrow!

Tomorrow we are going to the city.

I am not a driver. I do drive but I don't love driving. I do it because I have to. My husband, on the other hand, is a driver. He likes to drive. He chooses to drive. Even on long road trips, I usually drive for about an hour a day, if that. My husband tries to relax in the passenger seat and he does a little, because he trusts me, but usually after about an hour, he's ready to start driving again.

Since our holidays at the beginning of July, I have been driving. We had to take two vehicles to BC since I stayed later with the kids while my husband came home. So I drove there and back. I drove to the city (two hours away) twice in August and once in September and I drove to a quizzing clinic three and a half hours from here last weekend by myself.

Tomorrow, my husband is going with us to the city and he is driving. I am not driving. I'm going to be the passenger.

I'm going to take several books and my knitting. I'm going to fall asleep on the way and maybe even on the way back, just because I can.

He'll drop me off at my cello lesson and my daughter's violin lesson and then come back and pick us up. I won't have to worry about parking in the Costco parking lot.

And we get to talk on the way there and back too, which in our busy lives, is sometimes hard to find time to do.

It's going to be a great day!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Choices

Last night, at 9 pm, I had the choice of scrapbooking, practicing cello or blogging.

Scrapbooking won. I haven't been doing very much lately and it felt good to do just a little.

I have put a calendar page at the beginning of each month for my 2006 calendar. I haven't done too much with them so last night, I decided to finish January's page. While referring to my calendar, because I would never remember anything, I wrote in some of the things we did in January, 2006. It was fun to look back and see some of the things that didn't make it into pictures but were still important to us, like the Canadian Federal election, and my son starting his training for working at the library. Doing one page was quick and easy and reminded me that it is something that is achievable in 20 minutes. I'll be trying to do that more.

Of course, that meant that I didn't blog, although I am now, and I didn't practice cello. I have a lesson on Friday though, so the next two days must contain some good solid practice for a longer period of time. We'll see how that goes. Wednesdays and Thursdays are not heavily scheduled so it's a good possibility.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poems for younger children

I am attempting to daily work on poem memorization with the younger two (7 & 5). So far, they have memorized If I were an Apple. The author is anonymous.

If I were an apple and grew on a tree,
I think I'd drop down on a nice boy like me.
I wouldn't stay there, giving nobody joy;
I'd fall down at once and say, "Eat me, my boy".

Of course, since it's two little girls saying it, we had to get over the hurdle of "Eat me, my boy". But we all liked the poem enough that we decided they could ignore that part of it.

This morning, we started Rare September. Deputy Headmistress at The Common Room posted over the last year selections from Child's Calendar Beautiful, a book of poems arranged over a monthly calendar, divided up for different ages. This is from that book.

Rare September

'Tis the radiant rare September,
With the clusters ripe on the vine,
With scents that mingle in spicy tingle
On the hill slope's glimmering line.

And summer's a step behind us,
And autumn's a thought before,
And each fleet sweet day that we meet on the way
Is an angel at the door.~unknown

Both my 5 & 7 year olds will learn that one, probably in a couple of weeks. In our grammar book, First Language Lessons, today's lesson was the poem of Mr. Nobody. I decided my 7 year old could learn that one as well. She's pretty good at memorizing and the challenge is good for her.

Mr. Nobody [who is definitely alive and well at our house!]
anonymous

I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
in everybody's house!
There's no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.

'Tis he who always tears our books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For, prithee, don't you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.

The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill; the boots
That lying 'round you see
Are not our boots - they all belong
To Mr. Nobody.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cinnamon Toast Challenge

Over the past few years, as I've been talking to some older women, the topic of having company over, especially after evening service or an evening meeting, has come up. What I've found so interesting is that several of them have said that when they had guests, they would serve cinnamon toast. That was a special treat and they always enjoyed having it when someone would drop in to visit. **

I've been thinking about this more and wondering why it is we feel like we have to have a special dessert or baking to serve to company. Why can't we just serve cinnamon toast around the kitchen table and enjoy the visit?

It's also difficult to find time to have people over for supper, although we do try and we enjoy it a lot. We've decided this fall that we're going to try to invite a few people over after Sunday evening service or other evenings as they may come up. I'm not going to fret about what we're going to eat - we'll make sure things are tidy (not spick & span) and get out a loaf of bread (or two) and the cinnamon sugar, along with the tea pot and some mugs and have ourselves a great visit!

Never made cinnamon toast? It's easy - mix cinnamon into a cup of brown sugar until it smells right. Toast bread, spread with butter and sprinkle the sugar mixture over. Enjoy!

** My mother-in-law also said that when she was a teen, they would have Puffed Wheat cereal with milk in the evenings when their friends would come over. Her family delivered milk so they had milk available for that, although she also said that she doesn't remember drinking a lot of milk as a child. I think the Puffed Wheat was for the kids and since I personally prefer cinnamon toast to Puffed Wheat, we'll stick with it. But hey, if that appeals to you...

*** I would also love to hear from others about what they've experienced or heard from older people about what they would serve to people dropping in or coming in to visit for an evening. I think it's fascinating to hear the stories. My mother-in-law just moved her six months ago; we've had more time to visit with her about her growing up years and it's been great.

Catching Up

I am woefully behind on postings for this blog. I can only say we're into the second week of school and several extra activities start this week. In addition, I'm busy for three Saturdays in a row and Sunday afternoon was taken up with spending an hour and a half at the hospital for this:

















There are three stitches hiding under the bandaid. She was walloped by a hockey stick by a boy while playing street hockey. We took one look at it (through the blood pouring out) and knew it would be a trip to emergency. Thank goodness for the Canadian medical system! Her eye is even more beautiful today.

Today I have to pull the tomatoes & peppers out of the garden. I'd love to leave them in but the forecast is for cold and wet weather this weekend, possibly even including snow! so it's time to pull them out.

Happy September!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday Hymn - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, Who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, Who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, Who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

The verses in italics are the ones that are in the hymnal we use. The other verses are very good too - I may be adding them!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Nature Walks & Journalling

Today, I took the little girls (5 & 7) out for a "nature walk", a la Charlotte Mason. All last year, I tried to do it but never quite got around to it. Years ago, I tried to get my family to do it but it didn't fly. Finally, today, we had our first successful nature walk. How do I know it was successful? They wanted to keep on going!

I found scribblers for both girls, and an extra notebook for myself. None of them are fancy at all. We took a pencil each and our notebooks and headed out. We only had about 30 minutes so couldn't go far. But you know, it's amazing what we found less than 5 minutes walk from our house.

The first thing we looked at was the leaves on a hedge. I showed them how to do a leaf rubbing (putting the leaf under the paper and rubbing the pencil over the top). It's a harder skill than I would have thought. My seven year old got it, with some practice, but it was hard for the five year old. We'll have to practice that.

Then we looked at a pine tree and the needles. It's hard to do a leaf rubbing of pine needles, we discovered. My five year old wanted to draw a picture of the tree; I quickly learned to just let her do what she wanted and not even worry about what page she was on in her scribbler. Does it matter if she skips around? I tried to date them later so we'd have a record of when it was done.

Beside a school playground, there is a fairly narrow line of bush, maybe 20-30 feet. There's lots to discover in there. It was neat to see them looking at the large roots of the trees, in addition to flowers & grasses.

The only thing we didn't do was to look up any of the flowers or trees at home. I don't have very many good reference books; I really need to get some. But I think just getting outside was the first step. I did wish I had the camera with me. I love taking nature photos and I feel much more comfortable doing it. But having to capture the images on paper is a good challenge for me.

I'm giving you all this detail because for me, I don't know about anyone else, I love reading about ideas such as nature journalling but I have a hard time implementing it. Because there's a five year gap between our first two children and our last two children, I feel like I have a chance to start again and do it "right". There's so much I wish I had known when the older two were young like this. But I can't unscramble eggs so I am happy to have this opportunity to put into practice some of the things I missed out the first time. And really, I should get at least my 12 year old to come with us - she's a great artist and it would be excellent practice for her. I am not in the least a very good artist - I can see it but I can't put it on paper - but I figure that it's a good idea to just keep trying and to observe as much as I can with the kids.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Contemplation

Contemplation and slowing down life

I’ve been thinking a lot about contemplation and slowing down on life. Lynne has written about this in her reflections on the CIRCE conference.

As I was writing a while ago about how much I enjoy naps, it dawned on me that perhaps it is in the small ways that we can reach out and slow down our lives long enough for contemplation and for family life. We spent a Sunday afternoon and evening a few weeks ago visiting with friends at their place. As my friend and I walked around their property (they live out of town) and talked, I thought that this was one way for our families to get off the merry-go-round. Just taking time together and enjoying “Sabbath rest” (not just a nap!) together refreshed our souls.

One of the ladies on an elist I’m on is French; their family splits their time between France and the US. One of her comments about American life (and I don’t think it’s that much different in Canada) is that people don’t take time, even when they eat together. She noticed a rush to get through a meal without taking time to sit and talk and just enjoy being together and the conversation. I know I’m guilty of wanting to jump up and get on with the next thing.

I think it is when we make a conscious effort to spend time just being that we are most able to escape the rush of modern life. Having a nap, spending time with friends or family, playing games with our kids, reading books out loud together or reading individually but all in the same room, or eating together are all ways to let go of the rush.

This quote was posted on an elist. It’s one that speaks to me.

James S. Taylor:

"In living and moving and having something of our being in a home culture, even
with its all-too-human fuss and bother, if we but smuggle in something of the
simple cargo - sturdy, comfortable furniture, fresh food, home-cooked meals,
good wine, one set of fine china for special meals, paintings and ancestral
portraits on the wall, an old upright piano, acoustic guitar, any non-electric
instrument, a time set apart to read aloud before prayers and bedtime~~if we but
make a welcome hearth for the songs of the Muses, we too will know that even on
this earth, now and again, a courage will visit among us in those comforting,
beautiful reflections of the permanent things, quite surprising yet strangely
familiar for us who are passing to and fro in these playful shadows, and we will
begin to see as Odysseus recognized, 'something very much like perfection.'"

I’ve been reading a couple of books of essays by Wendell Berry. In his criticism of the loss of agrarian life, I think he is speaking to the same problems that James Taylor is referring to. I’ll post more about Wendell Berry’s writings later but for now, my observation is that his criticisms are generally very accurate. I don’t think he has the answers, because he seems to ignore the true answers found in Christ, but he certainly has nailed some of the problems, especially associated with the church.

It’s so easy to get on the treadmill like a bunch of little mice. Even when we grumble, we still don’t hop off. This year, I’d like to look for those times of refreshing and grab hold of them with both hands. I’m not sure how it will all play out but I pray that we can keep these goals in mind as we go through our daily lives.