Thursday, June 28, 2007

Building Again - The Story of Our Lives

It seems for as long as I can remember, that we've been adding some new addition to our house.
Our last major addition was almost nine years ago. Now we're building another room off of the short side of our house.
My grandfather's (on Dad's side) health has been failing and we can no longer keep him at the Assisted Living where he is and we certainly don't want to put him in a nursing home, so...the new room is for him.
As of now, there's only about a week's worth of work left to do. It's amazing how fast we've been able to get it up. My two older brothers came and helped and us other kids helped, too.
Ever since I was 6 years old, I've gone to work with my dad whenever I got the chance, so I've been around construction sites for years (not to mention that our house is pretty much a construction site all the time). =) I don't go with him so often now, but I've got lots more things to do these days.
I actually like working with Dad, but it's getting so hot, that all I want to do is stay in the house with air-conditioning. :)
In the following months, we're going to have a new responsibility. Taking care of Papa should be a new experience and one I'm excited to do.

We've taken pictures of the project as it has been built. I'll be posting those as soon as I can.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cute Pictures

"I told you not to touch the wire, Andrew!"

"Well, you said you wanted me to smile!"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Proverbs 31 Maidens

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Patriotic Lasses

Since Jennifer and I have a few days together before we leave for dance camp, we decided to do a little sewing together. We decided to make patriotic tiered skirts, to wear for the 4th of July. They were fun to make, and fun to wear!

Enjoying our twin skirts. =)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

News Flash: A Follow-up

Today we'd like to follow up on what we reported about yesterday - the meeting of two Rebelutionary girls. We had a reporter blend into the crowd when Anna welcomed Jennifer off of the plane in Montgomery. By doing so, we were able to confirm the details of the Mississippi visit, overhearing the girls excitedly talking about it. It appears that both of the girls are headed to the Ballet Magnficat! Summer Dance Intensive on Sunday, to stay for two weeks. This makes sense, as both of the girls are avid dancers.

Our reporters spotted the girls this morning in Alabama's capitol, seeing the sites, shopping, and eating out. Seeing their fabric purchases, we have reason to suspect that a sewing project may be underway. Shadowing the girls, we were surprised to see very composed young ladies, behaving with decorum and respect while alone in the city. Maybe this Rebelutionary message does have some good truth to it. Whatever the outcome, we wish the very best to Anna and Jennifer, as they enjoy the benefits of true friendship.

A Week of Music

The title of this post is "A Week of Music", and it definitely was that. Last week, I was at Piano Camp and it was all music. If I wasn't in a class or practicing, then I was sitting down listening to my Piano Literature CD. I had gone to this camp last year, but it was different this year. I knew a lot of the kids now and what was expected during the week. It was about the same amount of work (I don't know, maybe more), but a lot more fun.

If a practice room was empty and you had nothing to do, then you knew where you were expected to be. :) I practiced more in the last week than I have in quite some time. (blushes)

I was given the same teacher as last year, which I was happy about. I like his ways of teaching.

He pretty much took apart my piece (Moonlight Sonata) and I had to speed it up and soften the triplets and other four days...well, evidently I fixed it enough for the final recital.

At the beginning of camp, we were given a duet part and partner. My original partner was going to be leaving on Friday, so I had to find someone else. My new partner and I started working on our duet Wednesday night with only two more days till "duet juries". I didn't seriously think our duet would pass the "juries", but it did! In fact, only two duets out of eleven passed. I was quite surprised, but glad. :)

Well, by the end of camp, I was exhausted, happy it was over, but sorry to leave all my new friends so soon. There were lots of laughs and jokes told (some quite corny!) and everyone got along (most of the time). =)

Our camera's memory stick broke, so Mother wasn't able to get many pictures. Here are the ones she did get.

Ligon Chapel, where the final recital was held.
I absolutely fell in love with the piano.

A gorgeous Steinway piano.

Another view of the chapel, but the lighting is

not as pretty as the other one.

Ji Na and I performing our duet, The Spanish Dance.

Left to right: Brit, Jenny, me, Jordan, and John.

(I have no idea what Jenny is doing).

The entire group of twenty-one kids that attended Piano Camp.

I could name them all...but I'm not. ;)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

News Flash: A Rebelutionary Meeting

It is reported that Jennifer Duff, the teen running the blog Jennifer's Musings has been spotted at an airport in Omaha, Nebraska. Sources tell us that she is preparing to fly to Alabama, to meet up with the teen she calls her twin, Anna Lofgren of Maidens of Worth. In the note of absence posted on her blog, Jennifer says that she is " taking a three week vacation of dancing in Alabama and Mississippi". We understand the part about Alabama, but reporters are working on figuring out what will be going on in Mississippi. We'll keep you posted. Rumor has it that Miriam Hart, also of Maidens of Worth, is planning to meet with the two girls on Thursday, for a Rebelutionary gathering at the Lofgren's house.

Jennifer and Anna first met in December of 2006, after writing each other for almost a year. Jennifer describes finding "a kindred spirit in a sister several states away" in her friend Anna. Anna says that "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."

The girls connected through the Rebelution, a worldwide movement of Christian young people rebelling against what they call "the low expectations of an ungodly culture." The National Scoop has reported on many such gatherings between members since the beginning of the organization in August of 2005. "It's disturbing," comments T. Rebel Lion, "these teens could be ruining my life! If they spread their ideas too far, the culture may begin expecting me to Do Hard Things as well. I like my life of laziness - we must put a stop to this Rebelutionary message."

Whatever the outcome, Jennifer and Anna will be meeting and planning together this week in Alabama. We'll keep you posted on the results.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Closed Rosebud...

"But the ones who are patient - who are willing to be sought after, who are willing to be a rosebud closed until the proper time - they are the most appealing, the most beautiful, the most treasured."
~from Before You Meet Prince Charming

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Daddy's Girl

I've always been a Daddy's girl. From listening to him read out of the encyclopedia to talking about everything imaginable, I've always enjoyed spending time with my Daddy. He's danced with me, acted with me, and supported me is so many endeavors. I love my Papa.

In today's world, sadly, so many grow up without having that loving, supportive father. My heart aches for them; I don't know how I'd go on without my father's love. So often, a father's role is overlooked or brushed aside.After all, isn't the mother the most important in a girl's life? Yes, a mother is very important, but so is a father. Vitally so. God knew what He was doing when He designed a family to have a mother and a father. I don't know what it would be like to be missing one or the other, but I know that it must be hard. I am so blessed to have two loving parents.

A girl needs that father's love. We, as women and girls, are designed to need the love of a man. Without a father to love and support her, so many young women turn to young men to fill that void. The absence of a father has caused so many of the problems we see in this world today. Yet, courageous men have stuck it out. It's not an easy job, and for that we honor them today.

My Daddy gives me the love and assurance I so desperately need. A smile, a lighthearted teasing, an "I love you" - they all show me how much he cares. It's amazing how a little word of encouragement or exhortation to not worry can pick my spirits up and put the spring back into my step. And after a long, tiring day or a disappointment, there is nothing like the reassurance of a father's embrace. Sometimes I just need to have him "fill up my love bucket." Ever since I was a little girl, I've always known were to run if I need anything. Daddy's arms are always open.

I may not always understand him. I don't fully understand his aversion to earrings or nail polish, but I've learned to accept it. I don't understand his excitement over tickling my feet, but I've learned to play along - and keep a close eye out for his sneaky hand! As daughters, it's too easy for us to decide we can't figure our fathers out and simply stop trying. However, it is so important for us to take the time to learn our father. Find out what he enjoys. I find great joy and satisfaction from taking the time to fix my dad's favorite meals. They may not always be my favorite, but I get the delight of watching him enjoy it and exclaim over it with contentment. Learn what he likes. My daddy likes my hair long; it makes me happy, since I like it that way as well! Find out what he has fun doing. Many a happy hour has been spent playing games with our father. Far from simply learning new strategies and releasing competitiveness, we have learned so much by talking with Dad, and hearing him recount memories from his childhood.

"But how do you start?" you may be wondering, "I've never really been that close to my dad." Oftentimes, the reason is because we girls don't always take the steps to try to get to know him It takes work. So many times, Dads don't know what to do with their daughters. Time goes quickly, and before they know it, Daddy's little girl turns into a grown-up young lady, no matter how often he tries to tell her that he likes her just the way she is. Sometimes fathers pull away out of confusion. We, as young ladies and our Daddy's daughter, need to show him that we're still his little princess at heart. Take the time to build a meaningful relationship with him. It will last all your life, and you'll never regret it.

To all the fathers reading this, thank you. Thank you for the time you invest in the lives of your daughters and sons. Thank you for the ways you lead your family and the ways you teach them about God. We as children often come to know God as our heavenly Father because of your example. Thank you for the sacrifices you make.

To my own dear daddy, thank you so much! Thank you for all the talks, teasing, games, and memories. Thank you for always having your arms open when I need you. Thank you for being willing to escort me around and letting me hang onto your arm. You have no idea how much confidence and feeling of comfort and protection you give to me. Thank you for doing even the crazy things, just to show me how much you love me. Thank you for being the strong father that I need so much, and being for me a father that I can look at with love and say, "Yes, that's my Daddy."

Happy Father's Day! I love you Daddy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Faithful Penpals

Anna Naomi and Anna Elizabeth

5 years ago, on May 20th, 2002, our family was camping atop the mountain at Sequoia National Park in California. We awoke, climbed out of our tent, and to our amazement discovered that everything was covered in snow! It was very cold as we tried to pack up and cook breakfast in the snow. We weren't prepared for the snow, but it was beautiful!

Before leaving, we got to know the family that was camping next to us. To our amazement, they had a daughter named Anna, who turned 12 on that very day! After talking further, we realized that both my dad and her dad had gone to the same boarding school for MKs in Kenya. Anna and I exchanged addresses, and promised to write soon. After all, how often do you find a penpal who shares your name?

We continued to write as Anna and her family went back overseas. When Anna went to boarding school (the same one in Kenya) 2 years ago, we continued to write. And when their family came back to the states last year, we continued to write, from Alabama to Texas.

When Elijah got ready to go to LeTourneau University in the fall, I told him to be on the look-out for Anna's brother Stephen, who was maybe going there. She told Stephen to look out for Elijah, but somehow we forgot to mention it to our parents. My parents went through the parent orientation, and upon coming out began talking to another couple who had just finished. Each looked somewhat familiar to the other; suddenly, they recognized the last names. My parents were talking to Anna's parents! 4 years after meeting in the snow, they were once more conversing, not in California this time, but in Texas!

Anna and I knew that we needed to meet while they were in the US, so we tried to arrange a date. Finally, Anna and her family were able to come yesterday, and spend a night with us. We had a fun time playing games, looking at pictures, and talking together. It's nice to be able to put a voice and personality behind the letters I've received for so many years.

It's amazing how God works things out. We "just happened" to camp next to each other in the snow; our parents "just happened" to meet at Letourneau. We look forward to what God has in store for our friendship in the years ahead. After 5 years of writing letters, we look forward to writing even more.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Do Hard Things!

"Do Hard Things". What does that really mean? What exactly are "hard things"? Answers can be found in The Rebelution's theme verse, 1 Timothy 4:12:

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

We begin to find hard things in the very first part of the verse - "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young..." How often do we fall into this trap? I struggle with it quite a bit. "Let someone else, older and mature do that... I'm too young - not experienced or capable enough." If you're like me, these thoughts go through your head quite often. It's all too easy to use the excuse of, "Well, I'm only a teenager. You can't expect too much from me!" However, what does God have to say about that? Replying to Jeremiah's excuse, God said, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you." (Jeremiah 1:7b)

The world today makes it easy for us as young people to get away with doing very little. For, after all, you can't expect much from teenagers - right? No, as the battle cry of the Rebelution says, we should "rebel against the low expectations of the ungodly culture."

This leads us to the next hard thing: "... but set an example for the believers..." Again, as teens, we're not expected to be very good examples. However, God calls us to set a good example - not merely follow along after what's popular; not merely get by with doing just a little above normal. No, we're to set the example - and for the believers no less! This is a very hard thing for me; it's a hard thing to go against the crowd. Partly because of my personality and partly because of my own laziness, I'd rather simply follow others and not be the one to set the standard. However, we're not striving to do the easy thing, are we?

What kind of examples are we to set? The first is " speech..." How can we use our speech to do hard things? We can learn to talk and converse coherently and intelligently. Reflect - do you speak with good grammar and pronunciation? That's a good place to start! Or, as I struggle with, do you mumble, or enunciate clearly? Can you converse with anyone, from a toddler to an adult? We're not called to be an example to our own little group of peers; we're to be an example to all believers (and non-believers), young and old. This is yet another thing I find hard and am trying to learn. Being able to carry on an interesting conversation is a great skill, but can be very hard for those of us who tend to be more introverted. No, it isn't easy, but - yes, you guessed it - it's another one of those hard things. Adults and others really take note when they see a well-composed young person able to engage in good conversation.

" life..." What does the way way you live your life say to those around you? Are they inspired and encouraged by your example, or do they just write you off as another "average teen"? The way you conduct yourself truly does say a lot about you to others. Are you disciplined and diligent, or do you waste hours doing meaningless things? Do you apply yourself to doing tasks quickly and well? Are you respectful and humble? Of such young people the world will take note.

We're also called to relate to others " love...". How are the relationships you have with those closest to you? The way you treat your family usually reveals your true character. Are you kind and loving toward your parents and siblings? Yes, I know that when you live with someone, they can begin to irritate you somewhat. I know that the little things can get annoying. But remember, choosing to respond in love rather than in anger can be a very hard thing. Examine your friendships: are they cultivated in a loving manner? Do you build your friends up or tear them down? Whether interacting with a stranger or your closest friend, choose to do so with love.

We're also called to set examples " faith..." How is your walk with the Lord? Are you growing? Is your relationship with God evident in your life? Our youth is the best time in which to be focusing on growing and maturing in our faith. Diligently doing the daily disciplines of Bible study and prayer is the best way to start. Choose to be a good influence on others, and spur them on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24) Throughout God's Word we find many example of hard things and the people who have done them. Only with God's help will we find the strength to do hard things.

Finally, we're to be examples " purity...". Today more than ever, the world needs young people sold out out to living a pure life without compromise. The older believers are looking to us to take back the culture. It isn't easy. Someone living a life of purity will stick out like a bright light. You may be ridiculed or put down. Some may derisively comment about your "prude" ways. In the end, however, you will be respected for your unashamed stand.

We're called to a lot, aren't we? It's easy to become discouraged when we think of all there is to do. The encouraging thing is that we don't have to do hard things alone. In fact, in our own strength we can accomplish nothing worthwhile. Only through God's strength can we ever begin to truly do hard things.

Hard things are a choice. They won't come naturally. They come by daily dying to self and choosing to let God work through you. They may be large or small. While we're young, many of the the hard things will be found by simply being faithful in the small things. Through each choice, each small act of faithfulness, and each commitment to follow god no matter what, your character will be tested and proved.

Join with me and hundreds of other young people, and Do Hard Things!

Related posts:
Who Am I? - 1 Timothy 4:12 in poetry
Be Rebelutionary! - How I made the choice

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Family Blessings

I am so blessed to have the family that I do! We had a wonderful time together last weekend, along with many other relatives. At the 35th wedding anniversary celebration we put on for our parents, we were able to take some pictures.

Mom and Dad had 7 children, with 19 years between the oldest and youngest. While we used to have great differences in height, it's funny to see how we're all now around the same height. I'll probably end up the shortest of the siblings, though...

Back: Miriam - 27, Luke - 31, Dad, Elijah - 18, Maria - 29
Front: Jubilee - 12, Mom, Anna - 16, Lydia - 22

Their family has now grown quite large, for a total of 18 members of the JP Lofgren Family

2 married children have blessed the parents with 7 grandchildren so far!

The Cobles: Ron, Maria, James - 6, Sara - 3, and Lisa Beth - 6 months

Luke Lofgrens: Luke, Michele, Danielle - 8, Alex - 6, Zach - 4, Nate - 2

I'm so thankful for the time we got to spend together. It was fun to have our family together! It was a bit of a challenge to take the pictures, however. How do you get 7 little ones to all smile at the same time? =)