Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shame by Fernando Ortega

Fernando Ortega is one of my favorite singers. His music is usually calming, though sometimes a little upbeat. The album that this particular song came off of is named Fernando Ortega and has a lot of his original songs in it. I was listening to this song today and it just sort of touched me. Even though we've made lots of mistakes, we know God won't judge us by those if we are truly sorry for them. Anyway, I hope y'all will get some meaning out of these lyrics.

Though I am weak
Sometimes weary
In times of trial
I hide my face
In the balance
Judge me wholly
Please don't judge me
By my shame

In dark hours
Of confrontation
When words may fall
Too soon to unsay
Don't mistake them
For my true meaning
They are measures
Of my shame

I have tried
To live life humbly
Not a coward
Not in vain
When my meekness
Overcomes me
Remember me
Not my shame
Not my shame

I am small
And self-conscious
Every mirror
Reflects the grain
Judge my essence
By my kinships
Remember me
Not my shame

I am weak
Sometimes weary
Sometimes small
I hide away
When my hours
Are all accounted
Please don't bind me
To my shame

I have tried
To live life humbly
Not a coward
Not in vain
When my meekness
Overcomes me
Remember me
Not my shame
Not my shame

Cultivating the Culinary Arts

Do you enjoy cooking? I certainly do! What is it about the yumminess of a melt-in-your-mouth dessert or the warmth and sustenance of a homemade meal that is so wonderful? What is it about cooking that makes us feel so happy and fulfilled? It's as if there's some "happy hormone" that gets released in us women as we stand over a stove or bake things in the oven. =) It can truly be a stress-reliever and a pick-me-up when you put yourself into making delicious food.

Yes, I know that not everyone feels this way. I myself don't always feel very enthused at the thought of making yet another meal. Coming home to an already-made meal on Tuesdays after a long dance class is such a relief! There are days when I am tired or just not in the mood to cook. Yet, for the most part, I usually really enjoy pursuing the culinary arts.

Cooking truly is an art. Some may dismiss it as a worthless effort and waste of time, since these days you can buy just about anything pre-made and ready to pop in the oven or microwave. Those definitely have their place, but the joy of eating delicious, wholesome, homemade food drastically outweighs the benefits of easy, frozen, packaged meals. Homemade food simply tastes better! It is an art to learn which foods tastes better with which side dishes. It's an art to learn to make a many-colored meal, pleasing to the eye and teh taste buds. It's an art to broil, bake, or boil this to perfection (which, by the way, I rarely accomplish. But, I'm learning!). Time is the kitchen is usually time well spent!

When I was little, I enjoyed helping my older sister Miriam (then the head cook) make meals. I didn't spend great amounts of time in the kitchen, though, for I was often busy playing with my siblings or mothering my dolls. However, I did enjoy what time I did spend helping! When I was around 8, I made cookies completely on my own. It was my very first attempt at cooking alone, and they were frankly.... awful. Somehow I mixed up the abbreviations in the cookbook, and put Tablespoons of salt, baking powder, and soda, instead of teaspoons! My dear daddy attempted to eat them for my sake, but finally we threw them out. Even the dog didn't want them! Although disappointing, I didn't let it discourage me altogether, and continued to train under the helping hands of Miriam or my Mother. Although I've made plenty of mistakes since then, they haven't been quite as bad as the first.

When I was 14, I completely took over the preparation and planning of the household meals, at least for most of them. I savored the delectable taste of homemade food, and realized that for there to be more of them on the table, I was going to have to make them. I was unsure at first if I'd really be able to make time to cook an hour or more a day, but with practice, it soon became a part of my routine. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I'm still doing it and enjoying almost every moment! =)

In the spring of 2006, I began to make bread on a regular basis. Noticing how much my family enjoyed the fresh-baked bread from a bakery we stopped at on a trip, I purposed to make it regularly for them to enjoy. I again struggled with whether I'd really have time to make the majority of our bread for the household, but yet again learned to fit it into my day. Making it almost the first thing in the morning helps me get it done and also permeates the house with a wonderful perfume! Because of the smallness of our household now, one big batch usually lasts about a week. It hasn't all gone smoothly; I've had trouble with the whisper mill, had my bread fall (and discovered an excellent bread help!) and have had to search for a good recipe. It's all been worth it in the end!

I've not gone without failures. My poor family has had to suffer through some pretty, *ahem* interesting food. They've been wonderful, however, eating them without complaining - except maybe when I try to make the desserts a little too healthy! =) Even when I greatly dislike the food I've made, they'll usually still at least attempt to eat it. I've had new recipes that I've tried flop, which puts a damper of everything. Yet, the successes outweigh the failures.

It's the joy of putting wholesome, delicious food on the table that makes me keep going. Whether it be a more elaborate meal, like the cornflake chicken, scalloped potatoes, fresh veggies, and French bread that we had last night, or a more simple meal easily prepared, I enjoy watching my family enjoy the food. Oh - and it sure helps that it usually tastes pretty good as well! The delight of finding a flavorful new recipe (like the oatmeal cake I made last night) makes me feel so happy! It's the little things that make the difference.

Also, the knowledge that what I do now is helping me prepare for the future gives me perseverance. When I'm despairing over a not-so-good recipe or burnt food, daddy sometimes reminds me that my future husband will appreciate the fact that I've learned to cook. "It's better to practice on us, your family," my dear papa says, "so that you'll be a good cook for your husband one day!" That usually succeeds in putting a smile on my face and a spring in my step. My future husband will have a lot to thank my family for - the years of experiment meals!

And, ah yes, there's always a downside to preparing loads of delectable dishes - the hug pile of pots and pans left to wash up. Yet, even this can be fun and have its benefits. After all, a sink full of hot, soapy water is just what your hands need on a cold day. Put a CD on and sing along, and pretty soon the pile of dirty dishes turns into a stack of sparkling dishes, and you have a sense of accomplishment in working the transformation.

Are you inspired to begin to cultivate the culinary arts yet? They really are a joy to learn, and a blessing to others as they eat the benefits. Cooking is really a labor of love. I'm sure your mother or sister would enjoy helping you learn, and they'd certainly appreciate it when you cook dinner and give them a day off. There's no end to the gifts of baked goods you can make to friends and neighbors, and they're always appreciated! Slip an apron on, set to work, and experience the delight!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Esther's Apron

Hi everyone! My mother and I worked together and made this apron for my sister, Esther. She'd been wanting something made out of kitty fabric for quite a while and we decided to make an apron for her. Then we decided to make aprons for all of my youngest siblings. For Caleb, we're using a forest camo fabric, and for Andrew, a desert camo fabric. Caleb and Andrew's are almost finished, but Esther's is done. So enjoy the pictures!
Esther wearing her new apron!

Esther's apron is reversible, so this is her other side.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Regency Dresses

Since Thursday, we've been together at the Lofgren's house, sewing away! Like in June, we sewed matching dresses together. This time, we made Regency dresses, using Simplicity pattern # 4055, which was adapted from the Regency pattern on Sense and Sensibility Patterns. We sewed almost all day Friday, finishing all but the sashes. We made those today, and enjoyed wearing the dresses! We hope you enjoy the pictures.

It's a cold day, but we managed to brave the weather (and the pine cones) and take some pictures outside.

We feel so elegant in the dresses! We each have two sashes, one of contrasting fabric, and one of the same fabric as the dress, to change the look.

Old-fashioned Friends

We chose two different shades of blue, for they're such pretty colors!

Miriam Rebekah Hart

Anna Naomi Lofgren

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Presenting Purity

Last Sunday evening, Daddy and I attended a harp concert given by Greg Buchanan, a harpist who plays beautifully and who is really on fire for God. The Hart family came as well, and we enjoyed each other's fellowship at the snack supper following the concert.

As Miriam and I were talking, laughing, and eating together, a lady from the church we were in walked up and inquired our ages. Learning that we were 16, she smiled and said, "I was just telling my husband that you both are the kind of girl I want my 16-year-old grandson to marry - so sweet and pure." I don't relate this experience to extol Miriam's or my goodness in any way, for we are fallible, and only what we are through God's grace. He alone can help us as we follow a path of purity.

I tell you this story to encourage you. People don't usually come up and tell you that they admire your purity, yet you can be sure that many do notice. In this world, a maiden of purity is like a breath of fresh air or a cool breeze on a summer day. Many may notice that something is different about you; some may scorn your innocence, but most will admire you, perhaps secretly, for the treasure you have. Never be afraid to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Neither Miriam nor I knew the lady who so encouraged us, and we're not likely to see her again. However, many more like her notice you you conduct yourself, and what kind of person you are. Remember to present yourself pure, and by doing so glorify your Father. Be a strong, pure, and bright light in this dark age.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word." ~ Psalm 119:9

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pro-Life Answers

On the trip over the holidays, I had the opportunity to read the book by Randy Alcorn, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments. It is a wonderful book for anyone pro-life and looking for reasons and data to back up their beliefs, or for anyone pro-choice that wishes to investigate the pro-life stance. It was a hard read, mainly because of the horrible atrocities our nation is committing against the unborn, but I'm glad I've read it. It has helped affirm exactly why I am pro-life, and why I believe that life indeed begins at conception. It also helps one know how to effectively articulate to others why abortion is wrong. If you get a chance, I would suggest that you read this book.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A 3-Hour Dress

I made this dress yesterday. I cut it out in the morning, and sewed it up right before and right after I made and ate supper. Altogether, it only took approximately 3 hours to complete! When I first began sewing, I used to look in disbelief at the so-called "3-hour dresses" in the pattern books. "How in the world," I would ask myself, "do they expect you to sew so quickly?" However, I've learned that a lot of practice does indeed make things so quicker. The pattern is really easy as well; it's pattern 416E, Woman's Square Neck Dress from Common Sense Patterns, for those interested. The pattern is the same one I used for the purple and pink ones Miriam and I are wearing in this post; for this dress, I lengthened the bodice a bit, and as usual lengthened the skirt.

Thank God for the ability and resources to sew! And much thanks goes to my parents, who bought me my sewing machine and serger, and put up with the long hours I spend in my room when I'm making a dress. =)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Perfect Friend

Imagine for a moment that you have a close friend. She was always there for you, and listened to you no matter what. She always stuck up for you, never criticized you, never lied to you, never talked behind your back. She loved being with you, and would spend hours with you if you just let her.

Only, you didn't spend much time with her. You loved her, but you were so busy with other things, that days would often go by without seeing her or even talking to her. You knew that she loved you unconditionally, and would be there when you needed her, so you'd only go to her when it was convenient.

Sound crazy? I think most of us would jump at the opportunity to be with such a friend every opportunity we got!

The thing is, we do have such a Friend. His name is Jesus. He's promised to never leave us or forsake us. He loves us unconditionally, and nothing we do can change that. He's always there to listen when we need to talk, and He loves to hear from us. He knows our future, and has planned out exactly what He knows we need to go through. He will always be with us; we're safe in His arms. He offers comfort and encouragement when we feel we can't go on.

So, how much time do you spend with Him? It's something to think about...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who Am I?

Who am I in the pattern of God's plan?
Am I really any different from any other woman?

I am really nothing but a lump of clay,
Fashioned by His hand, refined day by day.

Yet God says that I'm His child, bought with a price.
Belonging to Him; free, because of His sacrifice.

I am not someone here for no reason at all.
He's got a plan, a purpose, and on my life a call.

I used to think that it was fine for me
To merely watch His work go on. Then He

Reminded me that though I'm yet a youth,
I'm to live and work for Him, living out His truth.

I'm to set an example to the believers in speech,
By being a blessing to all my words reach.

My life is to be lived out as a testimony to all
He's done in me, through each triumph and each fall.

I'm supposed to be a picture of His unconditional love,
Sharing what He's lavished on me from His abundance above.

My faith is to be steadfast, trusting Him in all things,
Not giving into doubt or fears, but accepting all He brings.

My purity is to shine out strong, encouraging to others.
A bring light in this dark world, pure in how I treat my brothers.

I'm not called to a life of apathy, rebellion, or laziness.
I'm called to be diligent, strong, and courageous.

My calling is a high one, the life of His young maiden;
Gracious, gentle, kind; enrolled in His trainin',

Looking out for others, putting them before myself;
Being patient and humble, putting to death self.

Knowing and showing that only His grace carries me through.
Praising Him in everything, for He strengthens me in all I do.

So who am I, and who do I pray people see?
A daughter of The King, worth far more than any ruby.

~by Anna Naomi Lofgren, January 18th, 2007~

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Back to Being Busy

I've become busy again. =) Now that I've mainly recovered from the flu, things are going back into their normal swing. Taking ballet on Tuesday, homeschool choir on Wednesday, and homeschool band and teaching ballet on Thursday, plus home education, cooking, cleaning and everything else in between keeps me with plenty to do.

I enjoy blogging, yet don't be surprised if I don't get a post out regularly. I enjoy writing, but sometimes I just don't have time!

So, if you don't hear from me for a while, know that you've been forewarned. =)

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Different Way of Dressing

One year ago, I started down a way of life that has left me happier, made me feel better about the way I looked, and helped me feel more comfortable. What did I do? Well, I began to wear skirts or dresses almost entirely.

Before I go any farther, let me say that I do not in any way look down on or judge those who mainly wear pants. In fact, my own sisters mainly wear pants, which is fine. As a personal preference, I began wearing skirts and dresses, and haven't regretted it for a moment.

For quite a while before I "made the switch" - for years in fact - I struggled with what I should wear. I was careful to dress modestly, yet I was rarely altogether happy with the clothes I wore. In order to get clothes that weren't skin-tight or immodest, I would often end up with a baggy outfit that I felt very unattractive in. Oftentimes, I would inwardly wrestle. "Should I wear only dresses? They're so pretty! I feel so comfortable and pretty and free from worry in them. But, if I did, people would think me weird..." And that's what it usually came down to: what people would think.

Like I said, I struggled with it on and off for years. Finally, last January, I decided what to do. I didn't care what people thought of me. I was going to wear what I enjoyed wearing, because I'd simply rather wear a dress. The peace that came when I made that decision was so worth it. I began that day, and haven't looked back. Yes, my family did think I was rather weird, (and maybe still do!) =) but they understand my decision. Contrary to what I thought, (that people everywhere I went would demand why in the world I was wearing a dress on a day other than Sunday) not many people noticed the change, or at least didn't say anything. I did, however, notice a difference in the way I felt and acted, and often in the way strangers responded to me.

When I'm in a dress, I'm careful to sit and behave like a lady. Do I spend all day sitting primly, barely stirring for fear of mussing my clothes? Definitely not! =) I've found that there's many things easily done in a dress. After all, women have worn dresses for centuries! Wearing them reminds me that I am a lady, and I try to live like one. When I'm out and about, people call me "ma'am" more, and men seem to remember more to behave like gentlemen. Besides, dress are just more fun!

Have you ever thought of wearing a dress more often? Maybe it's not for you, but you'd be surprised how delightful they are to wear. Experiment; see how they make you feel; see how you feel like acting when you wear a feminine skirt or dress. You may decide to wear pants more. You may decide to wear dresses more. Whatever it is, seek God's will for what you should wear.

It's been a whole year of wearing dresses, and it's been wonderful. It feels like I've been doing it my whole life. Yes, it's a different way of dressing, but it certainly is delightful!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Spring in January

Yes, this beautiful purple iris has bloomed in the past week.
Our weather has fluctuated from cold to warm, and is
confusing the poor flowers and plants. They think it's already spring and time to come out. But then a cold front will come
and freeze them. :(
I actually love cold weather and have been disappointed in this winter's fickleness. Snow is a dream that lingers in the back of our minds, but is not likely to happen. Just today, I went wading in our stream with my brother. The water wasn't really even chilly!

Now that the holidays are over, we've gotten back into our school schedules and such. I'm trying to make myself a lot more disciplined than I have been. It's going pretty well.
Anna's been getting over the flu and I pray that the sickness totally leaves her body. It's a nasty thing to have, I know.

Miriam Rebekah

To everything there is a season, a time for purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plan, and a time to uproot.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A tale of a skier

I had a hard time learning how to ski...

In the February of 2005, our family had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a week at a ski resort in Winterpark, Colorado. Lydia was attending a Bible college there, and we visited and skied with her for 4 whole days!

For a creative non-fiction assignment in his English class at college, Elijah decided to write about my experience in skiing. I'm actually the star of his story! =) He's a great writer, and you can read what he wrote here: Perseverance: A Tale of One Determined Skier.

But in the end it was a lot of fun!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The King's Praise Ballet Website

For Christmas, Elijah helped me make a website for The King's Praise Ballet. So, if you're interested, take a look:


Friday, January 05, 2007

Rachel - Shepherdess and Sister

How happy I am! Jacob has told Father that he loves me, and will work 7 years for Father in exchange for me becoming his wife! 7 years is a long time... However, I'm sure I have a lot to learn before becoming a wife, and waiting will provide a lot of time to prepare.

I only met Jacob a month ago, when I met him by the well while trying to water my sheep. The gallant man first rolled the stone away from the well and watered my sheep, then told me that he was a relative of my father! I couldn't wait to tell Father all about him, for he was handsome. And now he wants to marry me! I hope the time will fly...

The story of Jacob and Rachel begins as a tender romance. Jacob, fleeing from his angry brother Esau, goes to Paddan Aram, sent by his parents. He asks the shepherds he found where they were from, then, "He said to them, 'Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?' 'Yes, we know him,' they answered. Then Jacob asked them, 'Is he well?' 'Yes, he is,' they said, 'and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.' " (Genesis 29:5-6) Jacob turned to look and got his first glimpse of the beautiful Rachel, who was tending her father's sheep. Genesis 29:17 tells us that Rachel was "lovely in form and beautiful." Jacob was moved when he saw her, and worked to water her sheep. then he kissed her (in the customary greeting of that day, I'm sure!) and began to weep, presumably out of joy. Rachel probably didn't know what to think of this strange man; but when he told her that he was a son of Rebekah, a relative of her father, she excitedly ran to tell her father all about him.

I don't know if Jacob fell in love at first sight, but he obviously grew to love her quite quickly. He had been with Laban (Rachel's father) and his family for a month, helping out, when Laban offered to pay him for his labor.

The lovesick, but penniless, Jacob didn't think long, for he desperately loved Laban's younger daughter Rachel. He offered Laban seven years of work in return for Rachel. Laban though it was better to give Rachel to Jacob rather than another man, and agreed. Although Jacob didn't have money to pay the typical bride price, Laban no doubt was more than happy to get seven years of free labor from a strapping young man instead! "So Jacob served Laban for seven years, but they only felt like a few days, because of his love for her." (Genesis 29:20) Wouldn't any girl be touched at such devotion?

The seven years finally drew to a close. Jacob, understandably impatient, asked for Rachel to be given to him as his wife, as had been agreed. So Laban brought together a lot of people for a wedding feast, but instead of Rachel, he gave Jacob his older daughter, Leah. Can you imagine Rachel's devastation? The Bible never tells us that she was in love with him, but it is to be assumed. This gallant man, who loved her so dearly and worked so hard for her, was deceived by her father and given her older sister Leah as his wife, and she could do nothing to stop it.

Jacob was very angry when the next morning he found Leah beside him instead of Rachel. Angrily, he demanded of Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" (Genesis 29:25) The conniving Laban replied, "It is not our custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of labor." (Genesis 29:27) Laban should have told Jacob about this "custom" seven years earlier, but he didn't. Instead, he deceived Jacob, and connived a way to get seven more years of free labor out of him. In those days, God hadn't condemned multiple wives, so it was pretty common. "And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Labon gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife." (Genesis 29:28)

Jacob finally got his true love. However, his troubles were far from over. He (understandably) loved Rachel, whom he'd loved at a distance for seven years, more than Leah, whom he'd been tricked into marrying. He worked hard for Laban for seven more years, while all the while his wives, also sisters, bickered and behaved jealously.

The years went on, and Leah, Rachel's rival, bore Jacob 4 fine sons. This made Rachel very jealous. "So she said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!' " (Genesis 30:1) Jacob, knowing Who the true give of children was, "became angry with her and said, 'Am I in the place of God, Who has kept you from having children?' " (Genesis 30:2) Rachel desperately wanted a family, and resorted to the method of their day; she gave Jacob her maidservant Bilhah as a wife, who bore two sons. The naming of children was very important. When Bilhah bore her first son, "Rachel said, 'God has vindicated me; He has listened to my plea and given me a son.' Because of this she named him Dan." (Genesis 20:6) Bilhah had her second son. "Then Rachel said, 'I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.' so she named him Naphtali." (Genesis 30:8) Rachel finally had children by her maidservant, but it wasn't the same. Life went on; her sister had more children, and Rachel still longed for her own children.

"Then God remembered Rachel; He listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, 'God has taken away my disgrace.' She named him Joseph and said, 'May the LORD add to me another son.' " (Genesis 30:22-24) God didn't forget Rachel's desire. He heard her prayer, yet for years His answer was "wait." He did finally give her a son, and Rachel rejoiced in God's precious gift.

Life and its trials went on for Jacob's family. Because of disagreement and Laban's deceit, Jacob's household finally fled from Paddan Aram. Interestingly to not, and contrary to the view that men back then didn't respect their wives, Jacob valued his wives' opinions. After God told him to leave, Jacob met with his wives out in the field and told them what was going on.

Rachel and Leah felt a lack of love from their father. They replied, "Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father's estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you." (Genesis 31:14-16) So Jacob took his family and left. Sadly, Rachel seems to have had divided loyalties and trust, for she stole her father's household gods, and later deceived him into thinking she didn't have them.

Laban did love his daughters and grandchildren, and followed them. Finally, he and Jacob agreed to separate, so he, in his rightful fatherly role, kissed his grandchildren and daughters, blessed them, and left.

Rachel lived through the stressful meeting with Esau, and all the moving around of the family. She must have been fairly advanced in age, when she had another son. Sadly, she died soon after he was born, not living to enjoy the fruit of her womb.

What can we learn from Rachel? Just as we learned from Rebekah, we learn that while she was young, Rachel wasn't pining away and waiting for a husband. She was helping her father, tending his sheep, when Jacob showed up after his long journey. We don't need to worry; God will bring a husband for us if it's His will. Our time is much better occupied than spent worrying! I know it's hard... I struggle with worry as well, but God is faithful!

Purpose to use your time wisely, and help wherever you are.

We also need to also learn to be patient, for although Rachel wanted children for years, God had her wait, until His time was right.

In addition, purpose to stay strong despite different circumstances. Rachel didn't react well to her difficulties; she became jealous and turned to other gods. Keep your trust in God strong - He will help you through!

Read all about Rachel in Genesis 29:1 - 35:20.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jen and Me

Thanks to Jennifer for sending me the pictures so quickly!

Wearing our "twin dresses". They were my gift to her for Christmas!

Such friends are hard to find...

Thank God for kindred spirits and soul sisters!

Family on the Web

I'm not the only one in my family that has a blog and website. If you're interested, check out the sites of others in my family:

My mom has a website called TruthLand.com . On in she has her visualized verses, as well as many other things.

My brother Luke and sister-in-law Michele, have a website called Luke's Family. Luke has a general blog, and Michele has a blog entitled A Mother's Musings.

Maria has a live-journal, entitled How's it Going to End?

Lydia just started her blog, called The Life-Long Journey. It'll help us know what she's up to at college. =)

Elijah has his own website, including a blog. It helps us stay up-to-date on his happenings at college as well. His website has a lot of useful computer tips!

If Miriam and Jubilee ever start a blog, all of us siblings will be on the web!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Here and There and Back Again

The above title pretty much sums up what I've been doing recently. Late last night - 11:30 p.m. in fact - mom, dad, and I finally arrived home. My other siblings came home on December 26th, but for a variety of reasons, I stayed with my parents. Here's a recap of our trip:

On December 22nd, we headed out on the start of our long trip. Miriam (Lofgren), Lydia, Elijah, Jubilee and I left our house at 6:30 a.m., for we enjoy early starts, and mom and dad left in their car a little later. 9 hours later, we arrived at Luke and Michele Lofgren's home in Little Rock, Arkansas. We spent the afternoon and evening playing games, talking and spending time with the children.

Jubilee enjoyed reading with Danielle to Nathaniel.

That evening, Luke's family opened the presents we brought. Alex, Zach, and Danielle couldn't wait, while Nate still wasn't quite sure what was happening. =)

The three computer geniuses found three laptops, and worked all lined up in a row.

Michele and Danielle tried on the aprons I made them.

We awoke somewhat refreshed on Saturday morning. I was quite tired, having been busy all week, stayed up quite late packing the night before the trip, and gotten up quite early to leave, so sleep was quite nice! After breakfast, including Michele's delicious holiday bread, we played Dutch Blitz, and headed off again. Miriam went to visit a friend from college, while the rest of us headed to our grandparent's old home in Bella Vista, Arkansas. They moved out last summer to live in an assisted living facility near my aunt. After being missionaries for forty years, my grandparents, now in their eighties, are enjoying being near family.

We sorted some stuff in the old home, stayed the night, and left the next morning for my aunt and uncle's home in Kansas City, KS. We spend Christmas Eve with them going to a church service and opening gifts. Christmas Day was spent enjoying each other's company, and, as with any Lofgren-Rossell gathering, playing a lot of games!

Seven hungry cousins around one plate of crackers and cheese...

Grandma looked quite becoming in the bow she removed from the gift she was unwrapping.

Early on December 26th, Miriam, Lydia, Elijah, and Jubilee began the 14 hour trip home. After getting up to see them off, Daddy, mother, and I soon headed off on our own trip; destination: Oakland, Nebraska.

As Jennifer Duff mentioned, she and I finally got to meet, after corresponding for 11 months. We have so much in common, our date of birth, our dancing, the size of our families, the fact that both of our parents used to be missionaries overseas, our personalities, our struggles, our hopes and dreams, and so much more! It was so wonderful to actually get to meet her, after writing and emailing for so long. It's amazing how natural it felt for our families to be together. It wasn't really awkward at all for Jen and I to talk, play games, dance, de-bone turkey, make jewelry, write with old-fashioned pens, and take pictures together. It felt like we'd known each other for quite a long time, for in fact we had, through writing. It was such a joy to be with Jennifer Kay and her family. It has been such a blessing to know that there's a girl all the way in Nebraska praying for me, and there to listen and offer encouragement.

Jennifer, thank you so much for all that you are and all that you do!

More pictures will follow, as soon as I get them...

Jennifer, her mom, her sister Emily, the amazing artist, and her four younger brothers. We forgot to get a picture of them all, before her dad and older brother left.

We left the next day after lunch, full of Emily's wonderful cooking and a lot of wonderful memories. I miss Jen now more than ever, but I look forward to our continued correspondence, and the hope of seeing each other again.

On December 28th we left Kansas City once again, after spending the morning with my grandparents. This time our destination was Oklahoma, to visit another aunt and uncle. We enjoyed time with my mom's side of the family; we shared meals, enjoyed conversations, and my mom and I even worked out with my aunt at Curves, which was actually a lot of fun!

December 29th through January 1st was spent sorting my grandparent's old house with my dad's sister and brother. We found a lot of treasures, and quite a lot of things to get rid of. I enjoyed sorting, although it was hard at times, and spending time with my aunt and uncle while doing it was also fun. I even found a few things to save in my hope chest!

On January 2nd, we finally headed home. We didn't leave Bella Vista until 10 a.m., which was quite a late start considering we had nearly 14 hours to drive. One of the nice things about being on vacation, and especially on car rides, was the fact that I got a lot of reading done. I really enjoy reading, yet with all the activities going on around home, don't get to as much as I would like. The car rides helped cut down a little on my book list.

We finally arrived home, and I am glad to be out of the car! Things haven't slowed down; today my sister Maria and her three children, including my new niece, arrived, to stay until Saturday. I'm very happy to have them here, and it's amazing how much Lisa Beth has already grown!

Well, it's quite late, but I wanted to let you all know what I did while I dropped out of cyber space for so long. =) I pray that all of you are having a wonderful start to 2007!