Our adult Sunday School class today included some talk about our love walk with God and each others.  As an exercise, we read out loud together those few famous verses (4-7) from I Corinthians 13 in the Amplified version, personalized with "I" in place of "love".  Wow, powerful:
I endure long and am patient and kind; I never am envious nor boil over with jealousy; I am not boastful or vainglorious, I do not display myself haughtily.
I am not conceited--arrogant and inflated with pride; I am not rude (unmannerly), and I do not act unbecomingly.  I do not insist on my own rights or my own way, for I am not self-seeking; I am not touchy or fretful or resentful; I take no account of evil done to me--I pay no attention to a suffered wrong.
I do not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but I rejoice when right and truth prevail.
I bear up under anything and everything that comes, am ever ready to believe the best of every person, my hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and I endure everything without weakening.
 O, Lord, how I fail You in this, how many times a day do I let my flesh take over.  I'm so sorry.  I want to love without reservation and definition, without "self" tainting any relationship. Thank You for loving me this way!


Plugging along

Yay, it's Friday!  We like Fridays around here, not only because we can wrap up our school week, but because it also means something fun for SweetPea.  Today it's art class where they'll be doing a monochromatic watercolor of a sailboat on the water (blacks and grays).  Monica teaches out of her home and I'm quite impressed with the results of her instruction to this group of teens--and my dad's an artist by profession so I tend to have higher-than-normal expectations!  Her students are having a chance to show their work this month at a local library, so I'll try to get some pics.

And it's Family Night, so that means fun food--maybe tacos--and a movie or games.  Tomorrow is more fun; we're headed to an international snow sculpture festival at a ski town, something I've wanted to do for years. These things are huge and amazing!  I'll post some pictures of that, too.

A couple of mini-breakthroughs this week brought some nice help to our school.  One was figuring out some specific help for SweetPea with her Algebra program, Teaching Textbooks.  Thankfully, the program provides a complete work-through of every single problem, so with some careful review and some help from dad, I think she's on higher ground. 

Another improvement for me was to decide that I should create my own weekly instructor guide.  We use Sonlight, which provides a wonderful schedule and which has always worked for us.  But I've ended up using so much White-Out to customize it this year, I finally broke down and made my own look-alike template and put everything and only what we needed on it.  I can color-code tests or out-and-about events, etc.  It's wonderful!  And of all the silly things...not having those boxes I didn't plan to check off (optional stuff Sonlight puts in), my guilt level has plummeted.  :-)  All you box-checkers out there will know what I mean.  Why didn't I do this before???  I actually think there's been this suggestion posed to the Sonlight people, the option of an online/customizable template, but I don't know where they're at with it.  In any case, what a time-saver.

Time for breakfast and off to art!


A winter day's bouquet for you

Gray is not my favorite color.  Nor is brown or tan.

Green is!  But since this is usually not a very green time of year around here, I thought I'd cheer us both up with remembrances of a few months ago, some lovely flowers in my yard.

The first brave posies that pop their heads up, usually in March, are Grape Hyacinths.  In case you've never had a whiff--yes, they smell just like grapes!

Then in early May my favorites bloom in happy profusion all along our fence, lilacs.  Wish I could bottle that smell!  I love to open my kitchen windows and fill the room with it.

In my terrace garden, I have some lovely, old-fashioned Canterbury Bells.  They reseed themselves every year (they're actually biannuals) and I discovered I can get a second blooming from them if I cut the stalk down by two-thirds when they're beginning to fade.  I caught these one morning just as the sun was rising:

And I love the old stand-bys of every gardener, geraniums.  My only regret is that I don't a have a south-exposure window for them to winter in, so I have to replace them every year.

And as summer comes on, my clematis vine goes crazy.  What's nice about this one is that it thrives in a complete-shade environment, which this north side of our patio is.

There you have it.  A walk in the garden in the middle of winter!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!  :-)


(A) cold and snow

Well, I can't remember the last time I spent the day in bed feeling icky...a l-o-n-g time.  I've been fighting a cold for the better part of the week, and if I had to take off time to rest and get well, this was a good day.  Ten inches of snow last night and bitter cold is not a recipe for out-and-about in my book!  It's done me good, as they say, and I expect to rise and shine tomorrow with a bit more pep than I've had.  Rather important, too, since I have a trip coming up later in the week.

For all those Jan Karon lovers out there, here's a quickie book review.  I've been on the library wait list for her latest book, In the Company of Others, for months, so I had to read it quickly since I can't renew it.  I loved her Mitford series, but found Home to Holly Springs, the first in the second series, a bit heavy, not quite as satisfying.  This new one takes place entirely in Ireland where Father Tim and Cynthia are vacationing, the plot largely about their ministry to the extended family members of the inn and their complex troubles.

While I enjoyed the 'slice of Ireland,' and her typically interesting and rich characters, I didn't care for this book as much.  Seemed to take a long time getting into the conflict of the story and I missed the character struggles and changes that we have usually seen in Fr. Tim.  Not that he always has to be struggling, but it makes for a more satisfying and reader-connecting story.

If you're a Karon lover, you'll probably enjoy it.  I don't think I'll buy it for my collection, though.


New beginnings

I love, love, love a new year.  I start getting excited about mid-December when Christmas and it's clutter is weighing heavily on me and clean-up sounds inspiring.

I met a big goal this year, reading the Bible through.  Usually I'm at it for a lot longer, studying and chewing on what I learn, but it was wonderful to get the 'big picture' again.  I'm aiming to do again this year, though not to the exclusion of deeper study.

I had mixed results with my home goals.  On the one hand, I did a lot of clean-out and organizing of drawers and closets, boxes of stuff donated to the thrift store, better time-saving methods in the kitchen, etc.  But my nemesis, The Basement, still defies me at every turn.  I suspect I need more shelving and less stuff...the two best weapons to conquer the beast.  So that's high on list for 2011.

Our transition into high school has been a bit bumpy this year, not so much about content or results as organization and vision.  I know where I'd like us to get (I think).  I like the path we're on (I think).  But it has been unsettling to consider that the once-endless-seeming homeschool journey will end in 3 1/2 years.  What do we still need to do?  What is really important?  What does she want to do with her life?  And when am I going to get a handle on all this high-school record-keeping for hours and credits and requirements and testing?!??  Hopefully in 2011.

I met a few of my writing goals this year...attended a conference, stayed consistent with a small networking group, got published, learned a ton.  I'm praying a lot about truly, deep down, viewing my writing as a call from God rather than "I'll-get-to-it-when-I-can"--and acting accordingly.  I've been working on a children's devotional for years but I think it's time to get it written and out there where it can do some good.  So I'm planning on a regular writing night (thank you, Sandy, for the kick in the pants!) this year, along with any other time I can squeeze in.

And I'd like to see progress this year in...time management and priorities, praise and thanksgiving, being a good wife and mother, hospitality, friendship, financial management, health and fitness, and peace.  Today the Lord reminded me in Psalm 1 what His formula for progress and success really is--seeking Him first and always.

So I commit 2011 to Him and pray I'll cooperate with all He wants to do in my life!

May your year be abundantly blessed above and beyond all you can ask or think.  :-)