Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm Ready!

"Forgive your teenagers - they'll rejoin the human race eventually." "You can't depend on teenagers! They're unreliable... lazy... rebellious."

Things like these are said often about those my age. I've heard so many people make remarks such as these and they're invariably followed by laughter or a sigh of understanding. People somehow seem to view us as a kind of alien, not to be depended on and impossible to understand. "So," they surmise, "why even try?" Most groups would view such remarks as derogatory and intolerable, but teens just seem to accept them and go on to live up to them. After all, why try hard if no one expects you to?

Well, I'm tired! I'm tired of people looking down on us just because we happen to be in the age group labeled as "teen". I'm tired of being expected to be irresponsible and immature. I'm tired of being viewed as a some kind of genius or abnormal youth simply because I try to be respectful, communicative and diligent. I'm tired of being told that the teen years are supposed to be full of fun and free of responsibility. I'm tired of people talking about "ways to figure out the complex teenager."

Please listen! We are human! We are not somehow unable to comprehend or care because of our age - we are capable of behaving as an adult! Yes, we are young and we have much to learn, but we want you to teach us! Instead of our parents being told how to live with us, we want to be told how to live our lives. We want to be shown how to be disciplined and fruitful in these years of youth rather then being left to goof off and hang out.

I am a young lady. I am ready to take on responsibility and grow into being a respectful adult. I am more than ready to lead a charge to take back our teen years for God. I am ready to show my peers that there's a better way to spend out time. I'm ready for . . . a Rebelution.

Are you ready?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Days in the Life of Anna

Recently, Rebekah asked, "Could you tell me a little about what your schedule is like? Because I struggle with trying to find time in the day for all that I want to do."

First of all, I struggle just like you with finding enough time in the day to do the things I enjoy. I don't always make the most of my time, but I try to take one day at a time and do what I need to do for that day.

For fun, I decided to keep track of two very different days to see exactly what I spent my time on. Below is what I did on Wednesday and Thursday - the times aren't always exact and don't take into account the little breaks and small things to do, but I think it gives the basic idea:

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 - My At-Home Day
6 a.m. Alarm goes off, I roll out of bed and attempt to wake up.
6:10 a.m. Personal Bible reading and prayer - currently I'm reading Isaiah, 2 Timothy, and 1 Peter as part of my yearly Bible reading plan.
6:50 a.m. Breakfast of cereal and orange juice while reading The Yip Family
7:05 a.m. Brush teeth and take bath, reading while the water runs
7:30 a.m. Quick straighten of bedroom and bathroom to start the day. Write down list of to-dos for today.
7:42 a.m. Start schoolwork
8 a.m. Family devotions - currently we're studying Joshua.
8:20 a.m. Back to the books
9:16 a.m. Complete bookwork, get on the computer to do French, use the great study program Elijah wrote, and check email and blogs.
10:45 a.m. After various things on the computer including the above mentioned, look at to-do list and decide to practice piano and voice
11:45 a.m. Run out and get the Fed-Ex package, then feel ravenous and head to the kitchen. Eat a lunch of chips with melted cheese and beans, garnished with lettuce and tomato and a nectarine for dessert. While eating, reading and completing a great missionary story, The Yip Family.
12:26 p.m. Practice flute
1:03 p.m. Write letters to Lydia, Elijah, and Anna
2:15 p.m. Enjoy the nice day outside and pet our dogs and cats
2:25 p.m. Listen to "What's a Girl to Do" by Doug Phillips while making Boiled Cookies and straightening kitchen, sewing a dance skirt, dusting and straightening the library, and cleaning the bathroom. Take a break to eat a cookie and banana.
3:50 p.m. Plan dance classes for Thursday and finish choreographing two dances.
4:55 p.m. Start writing post about older brothers.
5:30 p.m. Make pizza for Jubi and I for supper, while mom and dad are at a Bible study
6:04 p.m. Eat supper with Jubi while planning Hand and Foot and listening to the radio.
7:15 p.m. Do dishes while listening to the radio.
7:42 p.m. Finish writing post and type it in, spending some time reading online as well
8:51 p.m. Write in journal
9:07 p.m. Get ready for bed and read Quest for Love by Elisabeth Elliot
10:15 p.m. Lights out! The book was too good, I couldn't put it down... =)

Thursday, September 27th, 2007 - My busy, out-and-about day
5:45 a.m. Alarm goes off; groggily awake and force myself out of bed, making the bed so I won't lay back down. =)
5:50 a.m. Get dressed
6:03 a.m. Personal devotions
6:30 a.m. Drive to Miriam's house for a Lofgren Siblings' Breakfast then drive home.
7:45 a.m. Straighten room, play over piano songs, brush teeth
8:02 a.m. Family devotions
8:20 a.m. Do schoolwork outside on the porch swing
8:55 a.m. Study on the computer, do French and check email and blogs
9:50 a.m. Take History test, do more schoolwork
10:45 a.m. Pray with mom and Jubi
10:50 a.m. Get ready to go, eat a lunch of peanut butter sandwich, nectarine and apple
11:30 a.m. Leave and drive to piano and voice lesson
1 p.m. Leave lesson, drive to church building, set up for classes and start choreographing a dance
2:15 p.m. Teach Ballet I
3:15 p.m. Teach Ballet II
4:15 p.m. Teach Basic Ballet
5 p.m. Close up building, go to Michael's and buy ribbon (30 % off!) for the dancer's Christmas outfits
6:08 p.m. Arrive home, start supper - taco salad, heating up the already cooked and frozen meat while Jubilee makes salad
6:25 p.m. Get online while waiting for dad to get home
6:50 p.m. Eat supper - starving!
7:10 p.m. Eat ice cream and read Quest for Love
7:15 p.m. Work on The King's Praise Ballet paperwork and blog, chatting with Miriam Rebekah for a few minutes
8:20 p.m. Play hymn arrangements on flute while Dad accompanies on the piano - it's so fun and pretty to play with him!
8:55 p.m. Get ready for bed, read some more.
9:59 p.m. Lights out, exhausted.

As you can see, my schedule varies greatly from day-to-day. One thing that helps me stay on track is my to-do list. At the beginning of the day and throughout, I'll write down things that I need to do or want to accomplish that day, whether big or small. As I complete them, I check them off, which is a great feeling! If I don't do them that day, I cross them out and enter them on the next day's list - not something I enjoy! When I'm unsure about what to do, glancing at my list lets me know what needs to be done next.

Another thing I do is a lot of multi-tasking. I really enjoy reading, but don't get too much time to just sit down and do it. So, I read while I eat meals on my own and right before bed as a way to settle down. (This can be dangerous with a really exciting book, though!) I listen to music, the radio, or teaching tapes while doing cleaning, cooking, or playing games. When I do my schoolwork, however, I need it quiet to be able to concentrate adequately.

Another thing I've found helpful is to start the day early and out right with God. I've also got to focus on keep priorities straight. Though I'd like to check my email first thing, I've found that finishing the majority of my schoolwork before getting on the computer really helps me get it done. Currently I spend too much time online, so I'm looking for ways to cut back on it.

My schedule is not set in stone, and it often ends up having to change, but I'm learning to be okay with that. It's better to spend time with family then finishing everything on my to-do list. It's important to know what you need to do each day, but equally important to be flexible.

I doesn't always happen and I get distracted, but I try to spend my time wisely. I hope you enjoyed glimpsing into my daily life - maybe it wasn't more than you wanted to know. =)

What about you? How do you spend your days?

"In His heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9

Siblings: Older Brothers

From Anna:

Older brothers can be a girl's best protector, adviser and playmate all rolled into one. They're often the one a sister will look to as a model for what a guy is supposed to be, and the brother will in return warn others, "You'd better not mess with my sister!" Yet, there can also be some misunderstanding and conflict when the girl wonders just why the boy behaves as he does or vice-versa. "Can't the other think logically as I do?" may be the cry of annoyance. However, boys and girls are different, as God made them to be, and the closest relationships between brothers and sisters can be as a result of working with the differences.

So, what are some ways that we sisters can work to be closer to our older brothers?

Love him
It goes without saying that love has to be the foundation for any close relationship. Any relationship will have its conflicts, but "love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). We have to be wiling to overlook the other's failures and love self-sacrificially.

Communicate with him
Sometimes your older brother will just want to talk. Sometimes it will be the other way around, and you'll be the one wanting to do the talking. =) Brothers enjoy hearing what's on their little sister's heart and when they have something to share, they'll want to tell someone. Be that someone who is there for him with a listening ear and cheerful work. Be there to encourage him when he's feeling discouraged and to rejoice with him when he's accomplished something great. Often, a brother will look to a sister for affirmation or consolation. Be available.

Do special things for him
Brothers enjoy being appreciated. Tell and show them that they are. A younger sister's admiration can really grow a guy up and make him want to be worthy of it. Show your brother that you appreciate him in big or small ways.
  • Bake him treats. What brother doesn't enjoy something sweet? Plus, it's a great way for you to try out your cooking skills - brothers are usually pretty forgiving in this area, as long as the food is edible. =)
  • Write him notes of encouragement. A letter or card from his sister will brighten his day and assure him that you care.
  • Do or help him with a chore. There's a wonderful feeling when you go to do a job and find out that someone has completed it for you!
  • Bring him things. A fresh baked cookie and a glass of milk will be a great pick-me-up in the afternoon, and a cool glass of ice water is so refreshing after working outside. Cultivating a servant's heart will help you in all of life.
And there's so much more you could do!

Be interested in him
Show an interest or a least a willingness to listen to things that matter to him. Countless times Elijah has exuberantly come to me with exciting news about some computer something or other. Most of the time I barely understand half of the words (computer jargon!) but I at least try to be excited for him and attempt to figure it out. Learn about whatever your brother's interest may be so that you can at least know a little about his passion.

Trust him
Trust your brother. When he knows his little sister is looking up to him, he's more careful of what he does. It also helps him "man up" and take responsibility. Also, let him lead; ask his advice. As girls, it's natural for us to run the house and be little mommas, planning things out. However, choose to ask your brother's opinion and let him take responsibility. One day he'll be leading his family and you want him to be prepared! Many people complain that guys just don't want to lead or take initiative these days. Maybe that's because they're not used to it or have had everything done for them. Yes, sometimes it does seem as though we could do something better, but letting our brother do it will help him in the long run.

Build him up
Sisters have a great ability to build their brothers up or tear them down. Choose to build him up. Don't make derogatory comments about him among your friends or in his company. Instead, praise his admirable qualities to others and let him hear how much you think he's special. It will make him want to be worthy of the praise and cause him to respect you. Men need respect, so start practicing doing it by respecting your brothers.

From Miriam:

I have three older brothers, and each one has been different. I don't think there is much I can add to this post. Anna has written about the same as what I would write, probably more. :)

I will definitely reiterate what she said about communicating with him and also building him up. Those are so important. I regret to say that my communication with my brothers growing up consisted mostly of arguing with them, and because of this, there are relationship problems that we've had to fix (and sometimes still do). To be honest, I wasn't sure at first about writing about my siblings. I mean, I love them, but this is forcing me to honest with myself. So, I have decided to do it. Now I'm looking forward to sharing posts about each of my siblings. Especially these three special boys who I've shared adventures with, played numerous imaginative games with, and have many special memories about.

We don't have all the answers, but we hope these ideas have helped you. We don't always practice what we preach (as our brothers would be able to attest), but, like you we're trying to grow to be better sisters.

What about you? What ways have you found to help your relationship with your older brother(s)?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sibling Snapshots: Breakfast Together

Two months ago, Miriam began the tradition of the Lofgren Siblings' Breakfast. Each week, she has us, her siblings, over to her house or to a restaurant and feeds us. It's been tons of fun, being able to catch up on each others lives and enjoying her delicious food!

Us at the very first breakfast. We had a delicious meal of bacon, eggs, and biscuits and enjoyed spending time as siblings.

Sadly, Lydia and Elijah had to go back to college, so this was the last one we had before they left. Miriam made delicious cinnamon rolls - the best I'd eaten!

We had another breakfast together this morning. Now it's just us girls, but we enjoy spending time together and having sisterly talks. We had fancy cuisine this morning - French Omlettes!

Thank you, Miriam, for taking the time and effort to do this with us. It's definitely worth making the trip at 6:30 a.m. to spend time with you and sample your delectable experiments. =) You're a wonderful big sister!

So, what about you? What are special ways you spend time with your siblings?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pictures in Georgia

On Sunday night, we arrived home from our excursion to Georgia. It was a long weekend filled with many things!

We met up on Saturday at the wedding of Susan and Adrian. It was so lovely! The music and ceremony was absolutely beautiful, the decorations so tasteful! Also, we enjoyed the opportunity to finally meet Susan face-to-face after interacting with her via blogs for more than a year. She was a beautiful beaming bride, and Adrian a handsome groom. (For some great pictures of the wedding, go here.)

After a delicious lunch and delectable cake and punch, we pelted (um... showered) the couple with birdseed as they made an escape. We then loaded up and traveled to Toccoa Falls to visit Lydia.

Toccoa Falls

Anna and Miriam in front of the falls.

We had a fun time with her, walking to Toccoa Falls, going out-to-eat and watching The King and I somewhat late. After church and lunch on Sunday, we drove home arriving in good time despite a slight... um... detour. =)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sibling Snapshots: Games!

One thing the Lofgren clan is known for is their enjoyment of games. Nary a visit goes by that we don't play at least one game together. Games not only provide an excuse for us to spend hours together; they also give us a chance to catch up on each other's lives and engage in meaningful discussions. Besides, how else are you to release your built-up friendly competition? Yes, we are somewhat competitive, but we all enjoy playing together and have a great time, no matter who wins! =)

Dutch Blitz has been a family favorite ever since Miriam went to Pensacola Christian College. After years and years of practice, the Lofgren girls are ones to be feared in this game. =)

Things can get somewhat messy, though!

Another family favorite is the old Parker Brother's game of Stockmarket. We also know that we can get Elijah to play if we suggest this game.

Sister stockmarketers

And, of course there's always Risk, the game of global domination. How else can you conquer the world from the comfort of the living room?

We've played innumerable games using decks - or multiple decks - of regular cards. We're always on the look-out for a new game, and play it until it too has been worn out.

So, what about you? Do you enjoy playing games as a family? It's not that hard and it really is a joy! Yes, it takes time out of a rather busy day, but it's a great way to spend an evening relaxing with your family. Though, it isn't all relaxation... Dutch Blitz can get your heart pumping quite fast! Who knows? Games could actually be good for you! One thing's for sure: it's a great way to build family togetherness.

Go here for some more pictures of games and siblings at my sister Miriam's blog!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Siblings: For Good or for Worse

Lofgren siblings, left to right, front: Ron, Maria, Elijah, Lydia, Michele, Luke; back: Miriam, Jubilee, Anna

Siblings. As the saying goes, sometimes "you can't live with them and you can't live without them!" They're the ones you're often closest to, for after all, you're stuck together whether you like it or not! They're your first playmates and your closest ally - but they can also at times be your worst foe. To them you show your warm affection... but they also see your greatest irritation. Through thick and thin, they're yours and yours alone, family.

So, how are we supposed to relate to these siblings of ours? Surprisingly, there's not much said specifically in the Bible about how to deal with brothers and sisters. You think there'd be more, what with all the big families in Biblical times! =) A lot is said about how to relate to parents and how parents should train their children, but there's no specific command that says, "Do this and you'll have great relationships with your siblings." If only it were that easy! However, part of the beauty of these relationships is that they're all different. The differences can lead to strife, but it can also lead to one of the closest and most cherished friendships, where the differences complement each other.

Truly, "how good and pleasant is is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1) However, just from looking at the sibling relationships displayed in the Bible stories, it becomes evident that this unity is hard to attain. Siblings have been fighting since Cain and Able and squabbling since before Jacob's sons. Is this how it's meant to be? Surely when Paul instructed us to "Treat younger men as brothers . . . and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (2 Timothy 5:1-2) he didn't mean that we should argue and fight among ourselves as Christians! As the New Testament time and again calls us sisters and brothers in the Lord, there must have been a good friendship in mind.

So, how do we get along with these special people God has placed in our lives?

With six siblings and two siblings-in-law each, we know what siblings are like - what a blessing and sometimes challenge they can be. Drawing from our experiences and things we've observed in others, we'd like to begin a series focused on siblings; in different posts, we'll share insights into how to relate to them, be they younger or older, sister or brother. Perhaps we'll even share snapshots and sibling stories of our own along the way.

As you read, however, make sure that you're aware of one thing: our families aren't perfect! We don't have the perfect siblings, and we aren't the perfect sisters ourselves! When writing, it's all too easy to focus on the good moments rather than the bad and view memories through rosy glasses. No, we don't have the perfect formula for happy relationships, but we have gleaned some insights along the way that may help you as you love your own siblings. And, as always, we'd like to hear your views and insights on siblings, so please share your tips and stories with us in the comments!

Together, we can learn from each other, as we seek to discover how to be a loving sibling. We want our influence to be for the better.

A little reminder

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer"
~ Romans 12:12

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sweet Faces

Last night, my oldest brother's family was over for supper. Hopefully, I can get pictures of all my family members to post on here sometime. Anyway, here are a few pics of Riley and Weston.

Children are a gift from the Lord.

"Another picture?"

Now here's one that doesn't mind a camera. :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

An Anna Update

The days here have been quite busy, and as you may have noticed, we haven't written much lately! Picture posts seem to have been the common fare recently, as I haven't really been finding time to write lately. Hopefully that will change soon, or I'll simply make time, but for now please bear with us as there may be less activity on this blog.

Fall is coming upon us and I've gotten into the swing of school work, teaching and lessons. Band has begun with our new director, and though a smaller group, I trust we shall enjoy playing together. I continue taking a ballet technique/pointe class, and praise God the tendonitus in my ankle that I dealt with since last spring seems to have cleared up! Teaching ballet has kept me busy, with 5 classes and 36 girls... It's amazing what God has brought about. Teaching has truly been a learning experience, and I'm enjoying all the aspects of it! Having new students has kept me busy using my serger to create modest dance skirts (something you sadly can't usually find anymore) for them to practice in. I've enjoyed taking piano again; after not having lessons for almost 6 years, it's been somewhat challenging to pick up again, but a joy to run my hands over the keys and let my fingers dance. Voice has also proved enjoyable, and my teacher has found some fun songs for me to sing! I also learned that I'm a mezzo soprano, and have begun to learn to use my voice range.

September also has some traveling involved, with two excursions to Georgia and one to Tennessee. Last weekend, my parents and I traveled with the Hart ladies to another Smith/Morton wedding. The wedding was beautiful, and we enjoyed dancing the Virginia Reel into the night. The 4 1/2 hour drive was made shorter by the enjoyable company and interesting conversations. Miriam found time to work on her crocheting, and I continued work on my cross stitch project as we talked and let the miles slip by. Next weekend, we'll be off to Georgia again to attend Susan's wedding; I'm quite excited to meet Susan after more than a year of interacting with her through blogs, and I know that her wedding shall be quite lovely! My parents will also be going with me to visit Lee University before the wedding, then we'll be going to visit Lydia at Toccoa Falls College after the wedding. A whirlwind trip, with much to see and do.

Things have been busy around the home as well, working through the school books and being amazed to realize that this is my last year of homeschool-high. It's exciting to see what will lie ahead, but amazing to look at how fast the years have flown by. God has been so good to bring me this far. The house continues to need upkeep, and I try to get meals on the table when I'm home - the frozen meals and leftovers have been so nice on busy afternoons out, however. On nights like these, though, I enjoy cooking up a storm. Tonight we had cornflake chicken, real mashed potatoes, salad, and Apple Challah - a recipe that turned out to be quite delicious!

We're back to being a small family again... we always enjoy when Miriam comes over for supper and games. She came tonight, and we played Sequence and Dutch Blitz, catching up on each other's lives while having fun together! Lydia and Elijah have settled in at college and sound quite busy, while we all miss them here back home. Luke's and Maria's family are growing fast and sweet as ever... I'm so blessed to be apart of the family that I'm in!

It's Friday night, and I must head off to bed. For once, I have a somewhat free Saturday tomorrow! Before heading off to babysit for the evening, I look forward to catching up a little on sleep, perhaps managing to read a bit, sew, choreograph, and the list goes on...

And so life continues at Wisteria Pines.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Benefits of Waiting

"What she doesn't realize is that this time of waiting is perhaps one of the most valuable times in her life. It is full of some of the richest lessons and greatest opportunities that she will ever experience. Times of waiting take us to deeper levels of trust, strengthen our faith, remind us to abide in Christ and teach us to delight in the Lord. There will be periods of waiting all through life, but for us as single young ladies, this season of life provides an ideal opportunity to learn the secret of being content in any situation (Phil. 4:11-13) If we can learn now how to patiently rest in the Lord, think how invaluable this 'skill' will be throughout our entire lives."

~From Before You Meet Prince Charming, page 108

Friday, September 07, 2007

Dancing on September 1st

On September 1st, The King's Praise Ballet was invited to dance at Coosada Heritage Festival. With only 2 weeks to practice, some of my oldest and middle age dancers pulled together and quickly relearned the dances they did for the King's Praise Celebration in May. They did really well, and were a blessing to the people that watched. It was challenging, with a small and pretty uneven and crack-filled stage, but we danced for God's glory! If you'd like to see more of the pictures Mrs. Lavonne took while we danced, you can see them here: Coosada Heritage Festival, September 1st, 2007.

On a side note, fall classes for the King's Praise Ballet started yesterday, and went really well! I teach 3 classes on Thursdays and 2 on Mondays, for a combined total of 34 students. It's tiring, but fun to teach. God has been so good!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Seeing God's Fingerprints

The weather here is finally becoming more mild, and this morning it was actually pleasantly cool outside! Taking advantage of the beautiful, clear morning, I took my schoolbooks outside to study on the porch swing. There's nothing quite like breathing in the fresh air and hearing the lovely sounds of nature as you work. Even more appropriate, the chapter in Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem that I studied today was chapter 9: "The Existence of God". It talks about the truth that you can truly see God's fingerprint on everything around you. How can you question the existence of God when you see all He's made and formed down to the last intricate detail?

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other. Nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great rewards."
~ Psalm 19:1-11