Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I love to read. Let me say that again: I love to read. Fiction (new and old), biographies, history, cookbooks, books of information on the hobbies I love...so many books, so little time. ; )

We have two bookshelves of books, not counting Little Man's books, my cookbooks, or my quilting books, which are on other shelves. I've read many of them multiples times. (No I've never read my husband's textbooks.)

My mom has six bookshelves (four of them are floor-to-ceiling) of books, and that's not counting the stacks on the floor and the cookbooks in the kitchen. I love to borrow books from her. ; ) This is the stack I came away with last week. As I'm in a reading-a-lot stage, I've already read two and a half of them.

Since there are so many books out there, I try to choose ones that are profitable. Ones that will broaden my knowledge of the world, of human nature (without leaving me feeling gross and dragged through the mud of human depravity), of vocabulary, and of my God. I love to learn as I read and not merely park my brain. One way I do this is to keep a note card and pen near me and jot down any literary references or words that need to look up the definition for or that I want to know how to pronounce. I had forgotten about that trick until recently, but I've started again. Oh, the delightful words I've come across. ; )

As much as I'm enjoying my jottings today, I must go. I have laundry to wash and fold, clean dishes to unload, and my husband's valentine's day surprise to work on. hehe. ; )

Created to be His Help Meet, Chapter 2

A Merry Heart

What God says:
"The joy the the Lord is my Strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
"For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and joy are in His place." (I Chronicles 16: 26-27)
"But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You." (Psalm 5:11"
"Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, "All my springs of joy are in you." (Psalm 87:7)

My thoughts:
This chapter focuses on having joy and how a heart-attitude of contentment and joy combined with the outer workings of that attitude (smiles, laughter, and good humor even in tough situations) are attractive. I know that a joyful life-view is attractive. I would rather be with a friend who is enjoying life and looking at God's goodness than with one who is always complaining and moping and refusing to see the cheerful side of life.

When my life is full of joy and its "symptoms," my husband (not to mention other people, though he's the most important) will enjoy being with me much more. Even when I am feeling tired and ill, I can still be a joyful, pleasant person to be with.

Since joy is such a needed quality to hold relationships together, I did some extra study on it. Since I like Webster's 1828 dictionary so much I looked up "joy" and "joyful" in it. Here are my summaries of their definitions:

Joy: excitement or emotion caused by success, good fortune, or acquiring something good or desired. Gladness, exultation, exhilaration, delight, happiness, festivity. My favorite description is, "a glorious and triumphant state."

Joyful: full of joy, or exultation; very glad.

I also looked up the verses in the Bible that have the word "joy" in them, as Debi Pearl suggested. I found some interesting and enlightening common themes throughout. The majority of the time, joy is connected with God, His provision, His care. This gives insight as to where my Joy comes from. I can't base my joyful attitude on how well my projects and house work are going, or on how happy and appreciative my husband is, or on how sweet and obedient my son is being, or on whether the sun is shining, or on whether I got a good nights sleep. No, each of these things is temporal and changeable. If I try to base my joy on them, my attempts at being joyful will flop dramatically. I must base my joy on GOD and what He has done and is doing in my life. If I base my joy on Him, I will be able to be joyful no matter what my external circumstances are. (Remember: "The Joy of the LORD is my strength.")

I was also fascinated by the external "symptoms" of this joy in the Lord. Over and over again I saw that this joy was expressed in music, dancing, and shouting. People's praise overflowing in singing, playing stringed instruments, trumpets, flutes, and tambourines. And in accompaniment to the music was joyful, worshipful dancing. I also found a correlation between thankfulness to God and joy in Him with people's obedience. Their joy in His goodness and provision motivated them to obey the commands He gave. Another common expression of joy was celebrating and feasting. I think this goes to show that when we are filled with that thankful, God-centered joy, it will affect every area of our lives.

A favorite quotation from this chapter:
"Few women ever know what it means to be cherished by their husbands...Being cherished is much, much more than being loved. It will be worth all your effort."
"Bubbling cheer goes a long way to maintain or even restore a marriage. Make a decision right now to break the "poor me" habit. Today, put it down as sin and rebellion, and then tomorrow, wake up with joy in your heart and home."

Practical goals for this week:
~Once again, be cheerful in the morning and evening, even when I'm tired.
~Focus with thanksgiving on what God has enabled me to get done instead of focusing on and mourning over all the unfinished tasks.
~Make God and His marvelous provision and goodness my focus to give me a true foundation for joy.
~Share with my husband each day how God was good and how He provided.
~Smile and laugh with Little Man.
~Smile at Benjamin and make him laugh when I can.
~Enjoy the life and tasks God has given me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well, two weeks ago, I wasn't feeling very well, so my menu got off schedule again. I just have to accept that menu planning is not supposed to rule my life. And I'll re-schedule some of the meals I planned for last week that didn't get made. Our diet really isn't as repetitive as it looks. ; )

I'm hoping I will be able to keep on top of my menu this week, but I'm not going to get upset if it doesn't work perfectly. We have a lot of schedule bumps, so to speak, with me playing music at a funeral, two doctor's appointments that have to be re-scheduled, etc.

M: Homemade Pizza
T: Pasta and venison burger red sauce
W: Chicken Risotto
Th: Hearty stew meat barley soup (and hopefully some honey-oat pan rolls to go with them!)
F: Lamb Roast with potatoes and carrots
S: leftovers or any of these meals that got adjusted out of the schedule

M: Ham with roasted potato salad
T: Leftover ham and rice
W: Tomato Soup, meat balls, mashed potatoes
Th: Wild Mushroom fettuccine with
F: chili
S: same as last Saturday

More menu plan Monday

Friday, January 23, 2009

100th post and 100 things you may or may not have wanted to know about me

I can't believe that I'm already on my 100th post! I have enjoyed blogging so much since I began in September. It has been fun making new friends and being able to share my day-to-day adventures.

I read somewhere that it's customary to write 100 things about yourself for your 100th blog post. While I'm not exactly sure how customary it really is, I thought it was a fun idea. ; ) Here goes!

1. I am Redeemed by God.
2. I allowed Him to rule in my life save me from my bondage to sin when I was four years old.
3. Both of my parents were instrumental in bringing me to Him,
4. But my dad was the one who was there and helped me at the actually moment of surrender.
5. I can remember a distinct change in my life, even though I was so young.
6. The first verse I remember memorizing is John 3:16.
7. My favorite Bible stories when I was small were the stories of the Good Samaritan and Mary and Martha (I think they are both in Luke 9) and the story of Joseph.
8. My favorite books of the Bible are James and I Peter.
9. I met my husband when I was 9 and he was 14, though neither of us really remembers it.
10. When we were older, he was my piano teacher.
11. And he accompanied for me as I played my flute for concerts and competitions.
12. He wrote (and still writes) music for me. ; )
13. He is tall, dark, and handsome.
14. As time passed, we became better and better friends.
15. We knew that we were meant for each other when I was 16.
16. We got engaged when I was 18.
17. Most of our relationship was long distance.
18. We made the most of cell phones and e-mail!
19. My engagement ring is an heirloom from my mother-in-law.
20. My husband got my wedding band custom made to go with it.
21. It has two rubies instead of the traditional diamond. ; )
22. We got married on August 19th.
23. Our wedding colors were sage green, and cranberry red.
24. No, they did not look Christmassy.
25. Our first kiss (my first kiss ever!) was on our wedding day after we were married.
26. It was worth waiting for. ; )
27. Unlike many people, we had no unity candle problems.
28. We went camping in Yellowstone for our honeymoon.
29. Our first apartment was over the local IGA grocery store.
30. It was old but was about 1,000 sq. ft. and had character.
31. Little Man was born just over a year after we were married.
32. I was in labor for five days!
33. He is small, fair, and cute.
34. Baby #2 is due on our wedding anniversary, August 19.
35. We have a boy name picked out.
36. But we haven't decided on a girl name yet.
37. I love to read.
38. I think Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite fiction book.
39. But then I start thinking about other book that I like too.
40. I try to choose books with uplifting content to read.
41. I also love to cook.
42. I especially love baking desserts and breads.
43. My favorite cookbooks are the Joy of Cooking and Bread and Bread Machines.
44. I enjoy sewing.
45. I love to sew quilts.
46. I also love to make up elaborate curtain patterns.
47. But I don't really love the quilting process.
48. I like scrap booking.
49. But sewing stresses me less than scrap booking does.
50. I enjoy visual arts.
51. But the only one I'm good at is calligraphy.
52. I can't dance to save my life--that may be the only "art" that I am not gifted in at least a little bit.
53. I play piano and flute.
54. I tried clarinet, but I didn't get far.
55. I enjoy teaching music.
56. I started teaching private music lessons when I was 15.
57. I currently have two students: a flute student and a piano student.
58. We play music at our local nursing home.
59. And at church.
60. I am an only child.
61. It's lonely.
62. I used to hate it when my friends would say that I was lucky because I was an only child.
63. It's not as lonely now that I have a husband and baby. ; )
64. I enjoy interacting as a sibling in my husband's family. It's a new experience.
65. I have "adopted" various people throughout my life to be "siblings".
66. I have an adorable niece.
67. And an amazingly cute "nephew."
68. And another "niece" on the way!
69. I have never had a "best friend."
70. I have too many treasured friends to choose just one.
71. I take that back; my husband is probably my best friend here on earth.
72. I lived four years in Brazil.
73. I fell into the Amazon River when I was five.
74. I couldn't swim.
75. My dad jumped in after me and fished me out.
76. I tried to convince everyone that I was Brazilian.
77. I succumbed to peer pressure and ate fish eyes at one of my Brazilian friend's house when I was seven or eight.
78. I enjoy telling the story to get dramatic reactions. ; )
79. When I was little I used to count the compliments that I received when I wore a new outfit.
80. Yes, I was a vain little girl.
81. No, I don't do it anymore. ; )
82. The longest I've ever lived in one place is six years.
83. That was in Utah.
84. But I've lived here in Montana for 4 1/2 years.
85. I used to do cross stitching.
86. But I don't anymore.
87. It's hard to think of 100 things about me.
88. I enjoy listening to a wide variety of Christian music.
89. I enjoy a bit of classical music here and there.
90. But usually I like having a quiet house.
91. I am not a neat freak.
92. My house is never spotless.
93. Sometimes I wish it were.
94. I mopped my floor yesterday.
95. I enjoy the classic pooh books by A.A. Milne and plan to read them to my children.
96. I am afraid this is getting random.
97. The only "sport" I was ever any good at was roller blading.
98. I got my only broken bone (my wrist) from falling while roller blading.
99. The most pets I have had at once is three, and the only one I have now is a fish.
100. I had a happy childhood, and I'm satisfied with where I am as an adult (that's not to say that I'm planning to stop growing and changing, though!).

Date Night!

Last night my husband and I had a rare date night. It was fun dressing up a little bit, curling my hair, putting on makeup. ; ) Girly stuff like that. My parents watched Little Man (which I very much appreciate!) while we went out to dinner and then to a concert.

For dinner we went to a local hamburger place. It's kind of a 50's style diner called Sparkey's Garage. The lights are modified oil cans, and the napkins are pink shop rags. It's a fun place. And if you are thinking that it doesn't sound very romantic, I'll explain that they have some of the tastiest food in town and are the nicest not-too-spendy sit down restaurant we have. I had a crispy chicken sandwich (crispy fried chicken, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato) along with amazing fries and the best strawberry lemonade ever.

The concert was an Irish band called An Dochas. They were gifted musicians, super-enjoyable to listen to. The Haran Irish Dancers performed graceful step dances with them on some of the pieces. It was entirely sold out (there were even people standing up in the back!), so we were fortunate to get there early enough to get seats in the fifth row, where we had a great view. After the concert we were able to go greet the performers and get them to sign my program.

Then we came home and thankfully sank into our comfortable bed!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Created to be His Helpmeet, Chaper 1

God's Gift

What God says:
"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9)

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour of the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22)

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband." (Proverbs 12:4)

My thoughts:
God has made me with a certain plan in mind, with a purpose for my life. I can choose to be selfish, disobedient, and unfulfilled as I try to make myself what I want, or I can choose to be obedient and joyful in His will even if it doesn't make sense when compared to our culture's standard. I am choosing to obey, to bring glory to Him through my life, and to find inexpressible joy though conforming to His pattern for my life.

God has given me to my husband as a gift. His pattern for me is to be suitable helper to my husband. I decided to look up the words "virtuous," "help," and "meet" in Webster's 1828 dictionary to help me gain a broader view of what is obviously so important to God. Here are the summaries of what I discovered:

The word "help" includes aiding and assisting in work; of delivering, assisting, or helping someone who is in distress or trouble; of remedying and healing; of helping forward, aiding over difficulties; and serving.

The word "meet" is clarified by the following words: fit, suitable, appropriate, qualified, adapted, right, qualified, and prepared.

The word "virtuous" includes the following ideas: being chaste, acting in conformity to God's moral law, abstaining from vice. Webster clarified, however, that merely performing some virtuous actions does not make the person doing them virtuous. I think his idea was that it has to be a heart attitude.

This is a pretty big job description! I know I can not do it without God's Spirit giving me power, but I trust Him to work in me and through me. "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

A favorite quotation from this chapter:
"God made you to be a help meet to your husband so you can bolster him, making him more productive and efficient at whatever he chooses to do. You are not on the board of directors with an equal vote. You have no authority to set the agenda. But if he can trust you, he will make you his closest advisor, his confidante, his press secretary, his head of state, his vice-president, his ambassador, his public relations expert, maybe even his speech writer--all at his discretion."

Practical goals for this week:
~Be cheerful in the mornings and at night even when I'm tired.
~Prepare Benjamin's breakfasts and lunches to take to work the evening before.
~Pray for Benjamin faithfully throughout the day.
~Be aware that when I am serving Benjamin, I am serving Christ as I keep my eyes open for things that should be cared for.
~When the going gets tough focus on Christ, my perfect example, who did not come to be served, but to serve.

Realistic Goal Setting

Realistic goal setting is something I struggle with. I love setting goals and writing lists. I love making big plans and tackling bigger projects. It's the "realistic" that's hard.

My husband has been learning and talking about goal setting and thought habits lately. I've been encouraged by his example. I have been challenged to set some achievable goals and to think positive, true thoughts about myself. I struggle with telling myself the truth about myself as well as with realistic goal setting, but I already wrote about it here, so I am focusing on goals today.

Here is what I have come up with so far:

Housework (okay, so I'm not an amazing house cleaner, and this takes some humility to write out):
~I would like to keep up on the dishes. Ideally, I would like to go to bed every night with no dishes in the sink, on the counter, or on the table, and I will aim for that. But I will be pleased if no dishes get left for two days or longer.
~I would like to wash and fold one load of laundry per day, except on weekends or on days that I don't have enough dirty laundry to make up a full load.
~I would like to vacuum, sweep, mop, and dust every two weeks. (I can probably count on one hand the times that I've vacuumed since we moved into this house in April; yeah, I need to work on it, but in my defense I'll add that our carpet never looks dirty because of its amazing grime-camouflageing capabilities.) I used to try to do those four tasks every week, but it just wasn't happening with having Little Man around, so I just gave up. Bad Idea.
~I would like to do a quick tidy to put things back in their places at least every other day, but preferably every day.
~I would like to keep the area under Little Man's high chair clean.

Relationships (I'm thankful that I do better on this one!):
~I would like to prioritize my time with God; reading my Bible faithfully and praying without ceacing.
~I would like to pay undivided attention to my husband when he's talking to me and to be a cheerful, honoring wife.
~I would like to stay off the Internet while Little Man is up except in cases of necessity. (For example, getting a recipe for dinner is necessary, but even a quick check on what my friends' status updates are on Facebook while I'm getting the recipe isn't).

~I am going to keep in mind that projects are secondary to the above mentioned goals.
~I would like to finish the following projects that I have already begun: My parents' calendar, Irish fair quilt #3, my sweater, my hand-sewn crazy quilt.
~I would like to begin (and finish!) the following projects: baby quilts for two or three friends who are having babies, a velvet quilt that I've had in mind for a while, tote bags to sell, more cards to sell, pen and ink art project for Little Man that I've had in mind for a while.

~I would like to be the best music teacher there is to my two (maybe three soon) students.
~I would like to be faithful in my flute practice, even if it's just 15-20 minutes a day.

I think I can keep on top of these goals. Perhaps I'll print up tidy lists and hang them on my fridge so that I can keep my realistic goals in mind. Or maybe I'll make myself a housekeeping star chart and give myself stickers for a job well-done to encourage motivation. hehe...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

bits 'n' pieces

In the small spaces between my business and illness, I have had time to work on a few projects.

I've started my first following-a-pattern-to-make-something-other-than-a-scarf knitting project. And, in typical "me" fashion, I didn't start with something small and simple like mittens (or wait, maybe mittens aren't simple) or a hat. No, I started with a sweater. Granted, it is knitted on large needles and has short sleeves, but it's still a sweater. I had to look up YouTube videos to learn how to do some of the techniques correctly, but now that I know, I've been knitting away. If you were you be in the same room while I was knitting, you would likely hear me mumbling something like this as I worked, "over knit three over slip stitch knit two together pass slip stitch over over knit one..." My husband says he always thought that when little old ladies mumbled to themselves they were plotting the downfall of the world, but now he knows that they are probably just mumbling about knitting stitches. ; )

I've also made good progress on my parent's Christmas/New Year's gift calendar (the photo is of the calendar cover). I have the first six months put together (with the exception of the calendar part), and I would like to get a spiral binding put on it today. That way I can print out the calendar parts, attach them, and then give the calendar to my parents. More photos later...

This afternoon I am going to start teaching a six-year-old boy piano. I think that age is one of the funnest since every new thing is thrilling, but it can also be such a challenge to keep them interested and focused. I'm looking forward to it.

I need to take off to conquer my dishes and living room clutter!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday on Tuesday

The last couple of weeks have been crazy (thus the lack of posts...). Last week I had a cold and didn't feel like eating. This week I'm feeling better, but I spent the day out of town yesterday. My parents, son, and I met my grandparents from Washington in Missoula for a day trip of family togetherness. Sadly, my husband had to work and couldn't come...I missed him. I got home late, and then we stayed up even later getting caught up.

So now I'm behind on menu planning. Here is my menu for the next two weeks.

T: biscuit sandwiches, and whatever veggie is on sale when I go shopping this evening
W: Pasta with hamburger red sauce
Th: Roasted chicken
F: Out of town for the day
S: Chicken pot pie
Su: Lamb roast with potatoes and carrots

M: Ham with roasted potato salad
T: Leftover ham with rice
W: Pasta, grilled chicken, white sauce
Th: Beef and barley stew
F: Chicken Risotto
S: my husband's choice
Su: leftovers

I'm going to try again to cook up my garbanzo beans and make hummus. We'll see how these next two weeks go, though. Sometimes life takes unexpected twists and turns.

Well, I have to run since I need to go visit my faithful fans at the nursing home. ; )

More Menu Plan Monday

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Joys of Life

Well, I've been neglecting my blog lately. Part of it was catching a cold and not feeling like doing anything, part of it is catching up after my cold, and part of it is that my husband has been needing the computer for school in the evenings.

I'm excited to be on my feet again after being down for two or three days and have been trying to slowly but surely get my housework under control. I've been working on laundry, cooking and dishes.

Yesterday I made Boston Baked Beans and Brown Bread. Unfortunately, I didn't plan quite enough cooking time for the beans, so they weren't entirely done cooking. The bread, however, turned out scrumptiously. Mmmmm...even though it takes two and a half hours to steam, I'm definitely making it again!

Little Man has been busy toddling around all over. He still does that cute little half-march walk, but he rarely crawls anymore. He is a busy busy boy and is rarely still. Yesterday I managed to catch him by the seat of his pants as he was tumbling down the stairs head-first toward the concrete floor! I think I'd better keep a closer eye on him, what do you think?

He is enjoying being able to carry things around the house. Here is what I found when I went to put on my shoes yesterday. I found a cracker with my toes when I put on my boots the other day. ; ) This is such a fun exploring stage.

Well, I need to go and take advantage of Little Man's nap time. I have more dishes to wash and laundry to fold. And I'll bet my fire needs some more wood.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Brain Candy

Well, guess what. I managed to avoid Little Man's flu but have come down with a cold. Thankfully it's not too bad, but I have been feeling generally out of it and have been pampering myself with lazing around (as much as possible with a one year old son), drinking honey-lemon tea, eating chicken noodle soup, and reading brain candy books.

Now, when I read fiction, I usually like something classic and mentally stimulating. (Remember that this is the girl who devours anything Jane Austen and who thoroughly enjoyed her journey though Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.) But sometimes I need a mental break. Usually I turn to carefully chosen romances by Janette Oke or Grace Livingston Hill that while not super-intellectual, are at least solid in morals and encouraging in my walk with God.

Today I've been reading Grace Livingston Hill. She wrote over 100 books from the early 1900's through both world wars as a way of supporting herself and her daughters (I believe she was widowed). Most of her stuff is pretty fluffy, but it is clean, and rarely does she leave out an explanation of the Gospel. Her books provide good illustrations about how godly young people should respond to trying circumstances (I do have to laugh at some of the predicaments she puts her heroes and heroines in, though. That's part of the charm). ; )

Here's a particularly encouraging section that I found. The heroine muses:

"My King is all-powerful. What He has promised, I know He will
perform...I can trust Him perfectly to give me an allowance all the days of my
life of whatever I need. And yet, daily and hourly I distrust, and fear
and tremble, and dread lest I may be heft hungry some day. What a strange
contradiction, what an ungrateful, untrustful, unworthy child of the King I
am." Then she turned out her light and knelt to pray.

So, if you see some of her books at the thrift store and feel like you need some mental candy that is not entirely without nutritional value, you might want to see if you like it. (Be forewarned, though, that some of the 60's era cover illustrations look pretty skanky but have nothing to do with the content of the book.)

Anyhow, that's a whole lot of rambling on a not-too-important subject. Thanks for bearing with me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A little of this, and a bit of that...

Yesterday my mom came over and helped me do some much-needed cleaning and organizing. I'm so thankful to have it done. None of the tackled projects were huge in and of themselves, but they were overwhelming.

The first one was this kitchen counter. See the beautiful expanse of usable space? It didn't used to be usable. I have less storage space in this kitchen than in my previous one and have been rather lazy about finding places for all my stuff. So, I piled things on the counter. And the piles gradually got worse and worse! It feels good to have this counter clean and accessible. I am looking forward to being able to mix up my next baking so near to where all my ingredients are.

My bloggy friend, Laura, gave me two sweet awards yesterday. Thank you!

Along with the Kreativ Blogger one, I'm supposed to share six things that I'm thankful for (at least, I'm pretty sure it was six). ; )

While I'm thankful for many more things here are the first ones that come to mind:
1. My great and loving God to freed me for slavery to my own sinful and selfish desires.
2. My amazing husband, who (among other laudable things) made me his prize-winning french toast today.
3. My small and charming son, who is being a model of sweetness today even though he's not feeling well.
4. The Small Joy who's on the way. I can hardly wait to meet her/him this summer.
5. Good friends.
6. Music and Art.

I'm supposed to pass on the awards, but I always run into problems choosing who I want to pass them on to. : } So, if you would like to claim one (or both) of these and pass them on to your friends, please feel free to! Chances are, if you are reading this that I love your blog. ; )

On a distantly related note, my friend Cassie just started up a blog account. Perhaps you'd like to go visit her page and welcome her to the bloggy world.

I am enjoying listening to my husband playing music. Later, he is going to make ravioli. I can't wait...they always turn out yummily. I going to sign off for now and go make these tasty sounding confections since I don't have to worry about dinner tonight. I'll get to use my newly clean and organized counter! Woohoo! So exciting. ; )