Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed This Month:

  • Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy - This was my second time reading this book, and it was even better! Reading it more slowly helped me really think about each thing and how I can apply it to my life. This book will challenge you to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus and be a bold light for Him. Leslie challenges us to be willing to stand alone in our generation to be set-apart for Christ's work and let Him live through us. To read a few quotes from the book, go here.
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller - Subtitled Belief in an Age of Skepticism, this book starts with common arguments against Christianity and refutes them and then goes into giving compelling arguments for Christ. We studied it for the college Sunday school class at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church, the church I attend while I'm at college. It was very interesting to go through, and as a result of reading and discussing it, I feel more prepared to "give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15) In some places I wish the book had gone more in-depth, but overall it was a good book covering a lot of the doubts facing our world today.
  • Only the River Runs Free by Bodie and Brock Thoene - Celebrating my break from college and more time to read, I allowed myself to check out some fun novels from the library. Once again, the Thoenes have woven a gripping and masterful tale in this historical novel, the first in The Galway Chronicles about Ireland. It is set in the 1830s and 40s during a time of upheaval and bitterness between English landlords and Irish tenant farmers. It was fun to read the store and enjoyable to read the dialogue in the accents of the Irish! This book begins the story about the Donovan family and the thought-dead landlord heir of the family Burke. This whole series is recommended for older teens and up because of some of the real-life situations.
  • Of Men and of Angels by Bodie and Brock Thoene - The second book in The Galway Chronicles, this book continues the story, weaving in historical events in an interesting way. Joseph Burke has reclaimed his ancestral manor and is helping the push for the formation of an Irish ruling body instead of having to submit to English tyranny. Much opposition faces them and sadness comes, but in the end, although facing loss, Joseph and Kate have finally realized their love for each other.
  • All Rivers to the Sea by Bodie and Brock Thoene - This is the fourth and last of The Galway Chronicles, though when I read it I mistakenly thought it was the third. Joseph Burke is in exile for his part in the opposition to the English, and his wife is expecting their first child. The potato harvest looks fruitful, until a dreaded blight is discovered. Set in the time of the potato famine in Ireland in 1844, the hardships they endure are heart-rending, but they trust God and push through. In the end, the whole community on Burke lands has to emigrate to America, but by God's grace they are able to go together. This series was very enjoyable and exciting - I read 3 books in 5 days!
  • Radical Womanhood by Carlyn McCulley - Subtitled Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, this book traces the history of feminism and the impacts it has had on our culture. The statics are heartbreaking. We have come so far and are reaping the bitter rewards. This book is important to read to understand where we have come and to give us a vision for where we want to go. Because of the sobering and true statics, although the book has tried hard to keep them discreet, I still wouldn't recommend it to anyone below 16.
  • A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit - After reading about this book in a few different places online, I decided to order it. It turned out to be a bit different than I'd thought (more about sexual modesty than modesty in dress, though it did mention it). The information it compiled about how our culture has gone so far wrong was really sad. Though written ten years ago, it still seems to describe our culture pretty well. It was a hard book to get through because of all the sobering information, and I wouldn't recommend it to most of you, as it goes into far more detail into some things than I would have liked to know. Plus, I didn't really appreciate the fact that the cover had a picture of a naked Eve with just her private parts covered - I put a piece of paper over it when I read it, as I didn't like carrying that around. Reading it has helped me to know what many of the girls today have gone through and how horrid the effects of becoming desensitized have been, and hopefully I will know more about how to show God's light to those who have lived through it. But, to someone who has been protected from having to live through the sex education in the schools and so on like I have, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book.
Currently Reading:
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
  • The Courtship of Sarah McLean by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen B. Castleberry
  • Valley of Vision compiled by Arthur Bennet

Miriam's Books

Completed This Month:
  • Pearl Maiden by H. Rider Haggard - A reread of a favorite book given to me by Anna. The story follows a Christian Jewish girl named Miriam as she is born on a lonely shore and adopted by her uncle. When she turns eighteen she goes to live with her grandfather. Forced to flee to Jerusalem, she has to live in hiding as the city is destroyed by the Romans. There is much more, but I would recommend you read it for yourself. =)
  • Deadline by Randy Alcorn - Three friends, a car wreck, and one survivor. Journalist, Jake Woods, is left alive with the mystery of his friends' death constantly on his mind. He sets out to find the truth and finds more than what he bargained for. A wonderful book by one of my favorite authors. I think this is one that all teenagers should read. Well, at least ages 15+.
  • Deception by Randy Alcorn - There is a second book between this and Deadline, but as we didn't have it at the time (Dad got it for Christmas), I just went ahead and read this one again. This one is about Jake's friend, Detective Ollie Chandler and his own journey to find the truth. All three books in this series are very well written and very good.
  • Music as Medicine by Deforia Lane -This is the biography of music therapist, Deforia Lane. She has a really neat story and she gives all the glory to God. I enjoyed reading this book.

    Currently Reading
  • Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
  • A Chance To Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmicheal by Elisabeth Eliot

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Painting Pictures of Egypt

Painting Pictures of Egypt
by Sara Groves

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

If it comes too quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
And if it comes too quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

We have been having a wonderful celebration of Christmas at home as a family. We've often been gone traveling in years past, so it has been nice to stay home and have a quieter time.

On Christmas Eve we went to our church's candlelight family communion service and enjoyed a time of prayer and communion. Coming home, we occupied ourselves with various things while the parents finished wrapping their gifts. Following family tradition, we opened the gifts on Christmas Eve.

But first we needed to document the occasion! Yes, I know that I'm constantly thinking like a scrapbooker... Here's dear Dad and Mom.

The four of us children at home this Christmas. We're missing our other three siblings and their families, but we do have a fun time together, playing at least one game each day!

We drew names this year so that each sibling bought for another sibling and a nibling (niece or nephew). I miss picking out gifts for everyone, but there are now 20 in our immediate family, so it's more time and cost effective to do it this way.

The parents gave Lydia and Elijah tool sets so that they will be able to fix their cars or other things should they have the need.

Daddy knows that I'm not as mechanically-minded, although I could probably learn if I took the time to, so he gave me something else in case my car breaks down. Laughingly I unwrapped a box of rocks, a sign reading "Fair Damsel in Distress" and a purse with these instructions: Fill the purse with the rocks and store with sign in car. Should you have car trouble, stand outside of car out of the way of traffic, holding the sign and carrying the purse on your shoulder. If someone should stop who is a less-savory character, use the purse on him as demonstrated in "The gods must be Crazy II." (A hilarious movie set in Africa, in which a woman knocks out guys who are trying to hold her captive with her purse that contained rocks she'd picked up earlier). In the picture, I am demonstrating what it would look like. Realistically, I shouldn't ever have to do this, as I do have a cell phone to call for help. However, I'll stash these in my car just in case! =)

I arose at 7 a.m. this morning, Christmas day, to fix a feast for breakfast. After my personal devotions and a flurry of cooking, we sat down as a family to enjoy cinnamon rolls, bacon, and fruit salad. Delicious! We then had family devotions in which we played instruments and sang Christmas carols and took turns reading parts of the Christmas story, interspersed with singing.

After playing games - "Bible Challenge" and "Chronology" - we ate lunch and then set out for the horse barn.

For years, Jubilee has wanted a horse of her own, as have her sisters before her. However, a horse is just too expensive for my dad to agree to maintain! Last year to her delight, however, our neighbors got two horses and said that Jubilee could ride them any time and help take care of them. It is her dream come true! They are now boarding them at a stable a 10-minute drive from our house, and Jubilee and Dad go every day to feed them, and often take them out to ride. Today, we all decided to go along!

Elijah rode Autumn Cloud first

Lydia enjoyed riding Alabama Blue, who is the smoother and more obedient of the two!

I alternately rode each of the horses, but Alabama Blue was the most comfortable. Though I am no where near as horse-crazy as Jubilee, I do enjoy riding them when I get the opportunity!

It was a nice day, with temperatures in the 60s. Though things are more barren in the winter, it still is nice to get outdoors.

We went for a walk in the field, down to see the creek. It was fun just to be together!

We then headed back to the barn, brushed down the horses and fed them. I couldn't resist climbing on the hay bales. =)

While the horses ate, we threw a frisbee and enjoyed watching and petting the kid goats that are also in the barn. Animals are a lot of work, but fun!

As I type, the curry sauce for dinner is simmering. I look forward to another evening enjoying family! Throughout this season, I am continually thankful for our awesome Savior Who descended to earth so many years ago. He is the reason why we celebrate!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Digital Penmanship in an Age of Incoherence

I highly recommend this post on Life, by John. He brings up many excellent points on the laziness of our generation and how illiterate we have become.

Digital Penmanship in an Age of Incoherence

Be sure to watch the video at the end. =)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Practicing Prudence

"Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD." - Proverbs 19:14

As I read this verse a few days ago during devotions, I was once again struck by it. "I want to be a blessing from You to a Godly man one day," I prayed. "Lord, mold me into a prudent woman." But then I stopped. Did I really know what it meant to be prudent? I had read this verse again and again, yet had never really paused to think through what prudence really was.

Prudence is not mentioned in this verse alone, nor is it applied only to women. It is a recurring them throughout Proverbs, as it admonishes us to live a "disciplined and prudent life" (1:3) and tells us that the book is for the purpose of "giving prudence to the simple" (1:4). Wisdom also calls to the simple to "gain prudence" (8:5). We are told that a prudent man "overlooks an insult" (12:16), "keeps his knowledge to himself" (12:23), "acts out of knowledge" (13:16), "gives thought to his ways/steps" (14:8,15), "heeds correction" (15:5), and "sees danger and takes refuge" (22:3, 27:12). We also learn that "the prudent are crowned with knowledge" (14:18). Obviously, prudence is an important virtue to have!

Because prudence isn't a word that we ordinarily use these days, I pulled out our big blue dictionary and looked it up. It has two definitions, ones that truly fit in with the descriptions of the prudent in Proverbs:
Prudence = 1. Wise thought before acting; good judgment
2. Good management; economy

As maidens and, most likely, future wives, prudence is a character trait that we should work hard to learn! To be a lady who gives "wise thought before acting" and has "good judgment" is to be a lady who will do well in whatever tasks she does. Remembering to think before we act will take practice and time, but if we purpose to make it a habit, things will ultimately turn out better. If we are a wife, prudence will be invaluable as we seek to support our husbands and talk through things with them. If God blesses us with children, prudence will help us guide them wisely.

Prudence also means "good management" and "economy." To have this is also to have something that will be invaluable as a wife or in any role in life. How many women do you know whose husbands complain about them spending too much money shopping? On the other hand, how many women do you know whose husbands praise them for their frugality and good management of the home affairs? Purpose to be one of the latter by learning to make do with what you have. Use things well and help them last instead of always wanting the newest and best. Learn to make a home pretty and tasteful inexpensively and on a budget. A woman who can do this will be a jewel indeed and truly a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4).

Join me in seeking to truly learn and practice prudence, so that we may be women of who others can one day say, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Peaceful Reflections

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

4:08 p.m.
I slip out of the door, breathing in the balmy air. It smells fresh after the morning's rain, and the air feels much too warm for it to be December. But, that's Alabama weather for you. I shrug out of my sweater and enjoy the mild temperatures as I walk across the yard. My bare feet relish in the feeling of grass coated with leaves.

The road winds up and around as my feet slap the dirt. Dusk is nearing as I walk along Sandhill Road, my road, with its familiar twists and turns.

At the top of the "big orange hill," I turn into the clearing and drink in the misty, rolling hills under the power lines. I gingerly pick my way across the rocks and climb the small pine needle laden path leading to my spot. Spreading out my sweater, I take a seat. I can see many things from this little knoll. Peering through the trees, I see our beloved home in the valley. Looking high above the treetops, I see hills covered in more trees, the greens and the browns intermingled. Over my shoulder the sun is beginning to set, and my eyes rejoice in the vibrancy of the glowing orange.

I have come to this quiet spot to be still, to write, and to pray. The woods aren't totally silent, however. The crickets are chirping up a storm while a few birds tweet in the trees, and, off in the distance, a dog barks. Strains of the radio float up to me from below, where my dad is working on some kind of project, most likely maintaining one of the cars. Overhead, a helicopter rumbles, growing fainter as it moves off into the distance...

4:46 p.m.
A chill has set in as twilight arrives. The sun has disappeared, leaving the sky looking like pink and blue cotton candy. The stones are cold beneath my feet as my toes dig into the dirt. I should head home.

An animal rustles in the woods and the night creatures busily chirp away. I take one last look around at the still surroundings and shiver as the cold creeps in and my bare arms tingle. I'll be needing my sweater again. I stand and brush it off, wrapping the warmth around me.

Coming into the clearing, I stop, breathless, as I see the trees silhouetted against the beautiful sky. I smile with delight and praise God for His awesomeness. Then, once again, I walk down the winding road, turning my steps to my dear home in the valley. My head turns to gaze at the trees illuminated against the pink-orange sky, but it's okay - I don't have to watch where I'm going. My feet have traveled this way many times before, and they know the way home.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Delightful Doll Dresses

When I first learned to sew using the sewing machine when I was 9 or 10, I learned to sew by making doll dresses for my dolls, first Samantha from the American Girls Doll Collection, and then Kaitlin Leanna, a $20 special from Walmart. I bought a few patterns, and enjoyed making a variety of outfits for various occasions. It was a great way to learn to sew, and I spent many happy hours dressing my dolls and playing with them.

As I grew out of dolls, I put away my doll dresses and moved on to making dresses for real people, my family, some friends, and myself. Recently, however, I borrowed back the doll dress patterns I'd lent to a younger friend and pulled out dear Kaitlin Leanna from my hope chest to use her for a model. I made 2 dresses to go with the doll my sister is giving to my niece Sara for Christmas.

I found it to be a lot of fun to design and sew these little dresses, and they took only around 1 1/2 hours each or less to complete. Doll dresses are very inexpensive to make, as they can easily be made from the scraps left-over from other projects. They are relatively simple, and are a great present to any little girl in your life.

The two dresses pictured below were made using Simplicity Pattern 9381, which I think is no longer in print, although there are still plenty of doll dress patterns available to purchase. I used the basic pattern and added little trimmings as I thought them up.

This dress was made using fabric I had made Sara a dress for previously. I added the ruffle at the bottom and enjoyed the look of the contrasting bodice, sleeves, and skirt.

Because this doll is a Christmas present, I decided to make a Christmas dress for it to wear! I used red satin leftover from dance sashes I'd made, some lace I'd gotten free, and green ribbon we'd had for years.

In a stroke of genius, the pattern tells you to tack the bow to the back on top of the closure, so that you don't have to retie it each time. I sewed on snaps for the closures, as I have not had good experiences with velcro staying sticky.

These gifts are fun to make and will thrill any little girl's soul. =) They cost almost nothing to make if you have fabric scraps, although they do take a little time, but not too much at that. What could be better?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fabric on Sale at Walmart

To all of you fellow seamstresses, I want to make you aware (if you don't know already) that Walmart is discontinuing carrying fabric and is selling all of their fabric and ribbon by the yard for 50% off. It is disappointing that they are discontinuing it, as I have found their fabric to be so much more of a better deal than at craft stores, but to buy it now is a great deal. A few years ago, most Walmarts got rid of it, but I was still able to find fabric at two stores nearby. Now, a lady working there told me that all Walmarts are getting rid of it.

Now is the time to stock up on fabric at great prices! I have gotten many different cuts of fabric for $1-$2/yd or slightly more. I discovered the sale last Tuesday and went back today with Natalie (a younger girl I taught to sew) to stock up on even more. I don't have a specific project in mind for each piece, but you can't beat the prices, and it's nice to have them on hand to draw from when I need fabric. I even got a few pieces of only 1-2 yards - it's not enough for a dress for me, but it is enough for dresses for little girls, be that my nieces or saving them even longer for future daughters.

I hope you find some great deals as I have!

Franklin Springs DVD Giveaway!

An intern at Franklin Springs Family Media sent me the following information about an essay contest they are holding, and asked if I'd share it with you all. I have only seen one film from Franklin Springs Family Media ("A Journey Home" - which was really good!) but all of the ones on their website look great! The prize for the winning essay is really generous, and I know whoever wins will enjoy it. The subject of the essay is one many of you, as fellow bread-makers, will easily be able to write about.

I hope you enjoy perusing the site and writing an essay if you have the time!

Franklin Springs ESSAY CONTEST: Why I love breadmaking (250 words or less.)

One essay will be selected to receive the ten-pack collection of DVDs from Franklin Springs Family Media ($199 Value). Send entry to – Subject "Essay Contest"

All Entries must be received by Friday, December 19, 2008. Winner will be announced on Monday, December 22, 2008. All entrants will also receive a $5 gift certificate for any film in the Franklin Springs Family Media catalog.

Franklin Springs Family Media is committed to producing God-honoring DVDs that encourage and inspire families. Produced by award-winning Director Ken Carpenter, our films are suitable for all audiences.
Visit the website at

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies

One of the joys of being home is being able to cook and bake on a daily basis. I find it relaxing and rewarding to be busy around the kitchen, and everyone enjoys the fruits of the labor!

One holiday tradition that we try to do almost every year is to make and decorate cookies. A few years ago we made gingerbread cookies, as they taste a lot better (in my opinion) than just plain sugar cookies! So, this year I decided to make gingerbread cookies again. My mom looked for a new recipe online, and the one she found turned out well. She originally found it here, and I've posted it below with my modifications. The original recipe is for gingerbread people, but I used a variety of holiday shapes to make fun cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (This was our addition, but it adds a great flavor!) 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg white (I just used 1 egg and it worked fine)
cooking spray

For gingerbread people:
2 tablespoons dried currants
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
If just decorating cookies, use frosting (I actually used store-bought for this, as the homemade spoils faster) and whatever else you want! We used sugar sprinkles, food coloring to make colored frosting, and red hot candy.

Yield: approx. 48 cookies (I doubled the batch when I made it)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

Combine the flour and next 7 ingredients (flour through cardamom) in a bowl, and set aside.

Combine granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer 5 minutes. (I only beat it for around 2 minutes...)

Add molasses and egg white; beat well.

Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well-blended.

Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Working with 1 half of dough at a time (keep remaining half chilled until ready to use), roll the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a heavily floured surface; cut with cookie cutters.

Place gingerbread cookies 1 inch apart (I crowded mine a little more and they were fine!) on baking sheets coated with cooking spray.

Arrange currants on cookies as buttons. (If making people)
Bake at 350° for 8 minutes.

Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl.
Spoon into a decorating bag or a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag with a tiny hole snipped in 1 corner of bag, and decorate as desired.

Ready to go in the oven

A yummy abundance of cookies

Some of the end results

I made the cookies on Thursday, and Lydia and I enjoyed decorating some of them. It brought back memories of our childhood when my older sister Miriam would make cookies and us 4 youngest would spend time decorating together with her. Even though we're older now, it was fun to use our creativity in combining colors and designs!

We brought two plates of cookies to a family that evening, and decorated the rest of the cookies on Friday, sending a plate of cookies to our neighbors with our parents on Saturday. The cookies are delicious with all of the yummy spices, and soft and moist as long as you don't leave them for too long in the oven like I did one of the trays! ;-)

These cookies would be great to make and decorate with younger children, and you can make it a family activity to make them and distribute them to friends and family.

Happy holiday baking to you!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Home for the Holidays!

I'm done with finals and I'm home for 5 weeks off from college! And, it feels great!

During this holiday break, I'm going to try to cut back on computer time in order that I can spend a lot of time with my family and do other things I've missed, like cooking, reading books, sewing, hopefully writing more, and so on. I've been spending too much time online lately and grown somewhat tired of the computer after all the school-related stuff I've had to do on it for sometimes hours a day. So, I'm looking forward to this break to relax and hopefully cut back on dependence on the internet. I'll still be around and hopefully blog quite a bit, but I'm trying not to waste so much time just browsing online.

Now that I'm home, it's beginning to feel like the holidays are actually here! The college was decorated for Christmas a few weeks before Thanksgiving, but now that I'm back in my own home with the familiar decorations, it's truly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. It's a wonderful feeling to be back home and I'm looking forward to when my two college siblings come home (at the end of this week!), spending Christmas at home, and having married siblings come and visit soon after Christmas.

What are you doing for the holidays?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Time with a Friend

We jumped up and down for joy when we saw the sky. We had noticed the pinkish hue from inside the cafeteria, but when we walked out the doors, we saw the most amazing vibrant pinks and oranges forming a beautiful sunset behind the fountain straight in front of us. Looking to the left, the sky was yellow-orange, providing a beautiful background for the silhouetted trees. As we walked to the right, we saw the more pastel pinks high above us. And, as we got more out into the open sky, we delighted in noticing that the sky was a shade of a dusky lavender. God painted a masterpiece of many colors that Saturday night.

We walked into the dorm, and as we headed up the stairs, she paused at the 3rd floor and asked if we were going up or going in. The night before, we'd gone to her room after the singing Christmas tree, so tonight, I suggested that we go to my room. We headed in, and engaged in some small talk. "Christmas will be here so soon - can you believe it?" "When do you leave?" "I can't wait!"

We had a free evening. She had finished with her exams that day, and I only had one left, but didn't need to study that night. So, I dug out my DVD of Mary: Chosen by God and asked if she would like to see it. We spent the next hour enjoying it and being put in the Christmas spirit. She enjoyed seeing something I'd directed last year, and it filled me with memories of all those I miss. Was it really already a year since I'd directed the musical?

When the DVD finished, we didn't want to part just yet. So we talked, and talked, and talked. Three hours passed quickly without us noticing. Time always seems to fly the fastest when you're having fun with a friend. We swapped childhood stories and talked about things we had gradually adjusted to at college. We reminisced about homeschooling and being able to have more time to read. The Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables... We found that we shared the same childhood book-friends. We talked on and on, about family, friends we'd left behind, tennis, ballet, roses, football, art, music, drawing, theatre, and so on. It was so enjoyable!

Eventually we realized that it was past 9:30 p.m. and that we should get good rest before church the next day, so we reluctantly parted ways. A hug and many smiles and a cheerful "see you tomorrow!" and she was out the door. I was left with joy and thankfulness to God for a dear friend He has provided.

Mary-Khris, thank you for being such a great friend! It's been fun getting to know you, and I look forward to rooming with you next semester!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Handy Little Chart

God has a Positive Answer

You say:
"It's Impossible"
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired"
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 3:34)

You say: "I can't go on"
God says: My grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9 & John 3:34)

You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it"
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able"
God says: I am able (2 Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it"
God says: It will be worth it (Romans 8:28)

You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: I forgive you (1 John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid"
God says: I have not give you a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (1 Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough"
God says: I give you wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

My brother Elijah sent me this "handy little chart" a little over a month ago, and I decorated the paper (I do like color!) and hung it on my wall. It has been a good reminder when I feel stressed or worried to look at it and remember that I have no reason to be. God has it all in control. Feel free to print it out - it doesn't have any name of who wrote it. Elijah got a copy from a friend, and copied his to send to me. I hope that it encourages you as well!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving Break at Home

Last Wednesday saw me heading home after Biomechanics. Classes officially ended for the break at noon, but as it was my only class that morning, I escaped as soon as it was over. =)

I was blessed to be able to bring a friend home with me for Thanksgiving! Grace is from Michigan, which was too far for her to go to over the short break, so my family adopted her for a few days. She is also a theatre freshman, and it has been fun to get to know her over the past few months. We actually auditioned at the same time last February, and became quick friends when coming to college in August.

The time at home was wonderful! Lydia and Elijah also came home from their colleges, and it was great to spend time with them and with my parents and Jubilee, as well as my sister Maria and her family who came for a few days. We played a lot of games and cooked and ate a lot! As I set about making pumpkin bread soon after I arrived, Lydia remarked that I had already started cooking though I hadn't even been home for half an hour! I enjoyed making a lot of delicious dishes and relished the taste of homemade food. Grace and I also spent time studying, taking off Thanksgiving day, but spending a 2-5 or even more hours studying on the other days. Finals start tomorrow, so we wisely began learning the material ahead of time.

Thanksgiving day was relaxing yet full. Soon after awakening I began helping with the food. There were a lot of things to be made!

Mom did a lot, and Lydia, Grace, Jubilee, and Dad all helped in some way. We took breaks to play Dutch Blitz as the dishes simmered, and before we knew it, the time for the big meal had come.

"Can we eat yet? It smells so good!"

The sumptuous feast waiting to be devoured. We had family traditional dishes: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cooked cranberries, corn, green bean casserole, and kressant rolls. Yum! We all ate a lot, and enjoyed leftovers that night and the next day.

The desserts were delicious. We had pumpkin, pecan, and blueberry pie, sweet soup (a Norwegian recipe), and turkey cookies that the children helped make the night before.

We had two full tables, but not as big as some years, as we missed having Luke and his family and Miriam and John. There were 19 of us all together - family plus Grace and friends of the family, an older lady and a mom with her four children and mother.

After eating around 2 p.m., we spent the day cleaning up, relaxing, playing games, singing and sharing, and giving foot massages. A Thanksgiving day assignment from our theatre professor for Biomechanics class was to give everyone at our Thankgsiving table a foot massage. Grace and I split up the people and then gave one to each other, and everyone appreciated it, though some were a little wary of us touching their feet.

On Friday we celebrated my neice Lisa Beth's second birthday. Her birthday was acutally on Thanksgiving day, but she didn't know any different celebrating the next day. :-)

Here's the happy girl. We had fun playing with balloons after lunch! She was so cute with her giggles and shock when some of them popped! She has gotten big so quickly, it seems. How the time has flown!

Saturday I began to come down with a cold, but thankfully it hasn't gotten too bad. I am very grateful for the fact that I hadn't gotten sick at all this fall before this, and that this one is pretty mild. We played games, studied, Grace and I went for a walk in the woods, and we all went to see "Bolt" in the movie theater. It was cute but rather unrealistic. After church on Sunday, we drove back to college.

This week has been very hectic, with the last day of classes yesterday and finals starting tomorrow. I'm taking a break from my busy day of studying to post this. I have 3 finals on Wednesday, 2 on Thursday, 1 on Saturday, and 1 on Monday. After that, I am DONE with my first semester and will head home for a nice, long Christmas break! In the meantime, I'm making sure that I know all the information I need for the tests.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are having a great week. As for me, I need to go back to the books.

Monday, December 01, 2008

November Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed This Month:
Yes, I only finished one book this month, though I've read a lot of textbooks and short stories/plays for college work, magazines, and am in a few other books. I'm looking forward to Christmas break when I'll have more time to read!
  • Thunder from Jerusalem by Bodie and Brock Thoene - This was the second book in the Zion Legacy Series, and I really enjoyed reading it in the spare moments I had backstage and after the show. It presented more of the tension leading into the foundation of the Jewish state in 1948. It was a great break from school work in the little time I found!
Currently Reading:
  • Set Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
  • Valley of Vision compiled by Arthur Bennet
Miriam's Books

Completed This Month:
  • Brisingr by Christopher Paolini - The third book in the Inheritance Series was an enjoyable read. The second book dragged a bit because of the length but this one was much better. My favorite part was when the title of the book became clear.
  • Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally - This was my second time reading this. The first time was with a girls group but this time was specifically for myself. I found myself needing some clarification and answers and this book more than answered my questions and problems. I recommend this book for any teenage girl. It's a definite must-read!
  • The Cat Who Saw Stars by Lilian Jackson Braun - The Cat Who books are light mystery novels that center around a man and his two Siamese cats. The male cat, Koko, knows things that people don't and tries to get the message across in strange and often funny behavior. This particular book was not quite as good as others I've read, but I enjoyed.
  • A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers - A young Jewish girl is sent to Rome as a slave where she serves a rebellious young Roman girl. Hadassah is also a Christian and her faith shines through her service. She changes the lives of all who meet her, including her mistress' brother and the captured German who was forced to become a gladiator. Her mistress, Julia, sinks more and more into the decadence of Rome and Hadassah continues to pray unceasingly for her, all the while resisting her feelings for Marcus, Julia's brother. He loves her, but doesn't understand why her faith should come in the way. Julia is later angry at Hadassah and when she finds out she's a Christian, sends her to the arena where she is supposedly killed by the lions.
  • An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers - A Roman doctor who saw that Hadassah was barely alive was able to save her life. Marcus, grieving Hadassah, travels to Judea to find "her" God. He has a life-changing experience with God and accepts Jesus in his heart. His first thought of what he must do is return home and forgive Julia for what she did to Hadassah. He comes home and finds his sister dying with an veiled woman watching over her. Before Julia dies, the veiled woman reveals herself as Hadassah and forgives Julia for what she did. Julia sees the light of Christ and is accepted into His arms.
  • As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers - Atretes, the German who was captured, won his freedom in the first book and has led a bitter and immoral life. He finds out that his child by Julia, whom he thought dead, is actually alive, but was given to a young woman who lost her husband and child. He decides he wants to return home and forces the woman to come since the child won't nurse with anyone else. Rizpah is a Christian and is rather shocked by Atretes' lifestyle, but isn't willing to let go of the child. When they reach the land of his youth, they are attacked by a tribe and Rizpah is killed. A Roman officer traveling with them who is also a Christian, prays for her and she is brought back to life. Atretes sees the power of Christ and believes. They return to his tribe and after many troubles, have to leave again. But Atretes realizes that you can't force the love of Jesus on others, you can only live it.
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen - This story is written in letter form. Lady Susan is a rather loose woman by Regency standards but always makes sure in her letters to put herself in the best light. Letters are exchanged through friends and relatives and some of them are quite humorous.
  • The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter - This was a sweet story. The author is one of mine and my mother's favorites. The Harvester lives out in the woods and once a year for six years, he has asked his dog two questions that the dog then decides for him. Whether they should move to the city and whether he should look for a wife. The first is answered as always, stay in the woods, but the second is answered differently this year. The Harvester must find a wife and when he has a dream about a woman, he is confident God has sent him confirmation of what she should look like. So, to prepare for his "Dream Girl", he builds her a beautiful house in the woods. When she shows up in town, a sick and distressed girl, he nurses her back to health and then comes the most fascinating part of the story. But it would take too long to explain, so I really recommend you read it!
  • A Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton-Porter - Kate is the youngest and rather angry over that fact. She is not given choices that her older siblings were given and as a result of a rather overbearing father, runs away to teaching school. Her father having told her he never wanted to see again while he lived, she must find a place away from home to teach. Her dream is to own two hundred acres of land to farm. With she and her father at odds, this is not likely to happen. In the passing of time, she makes a bad marriage which ends after 7 years, in which time her father has also died. She returns home and is given the land that she has always longed for. She had learned valuable lessons and is a wiser woman and now knows that material possessions aren't the only thing that make one happy.
  • Echoes From the Edge Book 2: Edge of Eternity by Bryan Davis - These books are science fiction, quite different from Bryan Davis' Dragons in our Midst series. It was hard to get into at first, but idea that he works with is really fascinating. There are three different worlds (all in different time zones) and a mirror. The way to transport yourself through the mirror to the different worlds is through music. Different musical pieces will cause different things to happen. Quite interesting.

Currently Reading:

  • Music As Medicine by Deforia Lane

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Miriam's Top 20 Thankful Things for 2008

I am thankful for...

1. The wonderful family that I have been blessed with. My parents, six siblings, 3 sisters-in-law, and my niece and nephews. A father who provides, a mother who comforts, siblings who support, and little ones to love.

2. God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, all three of Whom have major places in my life.

3. A home to live in and love.

4. Friends who support me and will never leave me in a tight spot. Especially the Sisters of the Heart who have been extremely encouraging this past year.

5. The ability and opportunities to learn new things.

6. Vehicles that are drivable and for my driver's licence.

7. Plenty of clothes to wear.

8. The memories that are always being made and saved.

9. The musical opportunities that I've been blessed with and wonderful music teachers. Playing the piano, flute and singing are the things I most enjoy doing.

10. God's holy Words that He sent to us and from which I derive daily comfort and guidance.

11. To be able to sew (Anna, thanks again for helping me get started!!!)

12. Coffee!!! =)

13. To be able to bake and work in a kitchen.

14. My commitment to remain pure until marriage and saving my first kiss.

15. My country of America. Even with all it's faults, it is still the best country to live.

16. Waking each morning to a brand new day with, as Anne of Green Gables says, "No mistakes in it...yet."

17. All the wonderful books there are to read.

18. Warmth in winter and air conditioning in summer.

19. Being able to praise the Lord with my voice.

20. Each year that God gives me to live for Him!

God bless everyone and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Miriam Rebekah

Anna's Top 20 Thankful Things for 2008

Not necessarily in any particular order...

I am thankful for:

1. God, the loving Father, wondrous Savior, and comforting Holy Spirit, Who never fails to amaze me each day.

2. My family, who if I listed individually, would take up the entire 20 things. I am so thankful for my caring parents, my supportive siblings, my wonderful siblings-in-law, and my 8 darling nieces and nephews!

3. Friends who have stayed close through the years. Especially my Sisters of the Heart who have been such an encouragement!

4. New friends whom I've gotten to know at college, and who have made the transition easier.

5. All of the things I have been able to learn at college this semester. Some things were academic, and some relational.

6. A home to go back to and to enjoy the comforts of.

7. All of the teachers at college who have genuinely cared about their students and sought to help us grow.

8. An abundance of food and the fact that I never have to go hungry. Although the cafeteria may not serve what I deem the best-tasting, I am still so spoiled to have it served to me without having to do any work to make it!

9. The grace God gives me to get through each day. His strength and mercy never fail.

10. The beautiful newness of each morning, and being able to experience everything outside while it is still early. This is one of the blessings of having to walk to eat meals or go to classes!

11. The generosity of my parents for paying for me to learn.

12. The beauty of God's creation, be it rainy, sunny, or cloudy, and whether the temperatures are hot, cold, or mild, God's handiwork shouts His praise.

13. The opportunity to write and share with others all over the world via this blog, and all of you who visit and brighten my day!

14. Family-plan cell phones so that I can talk to my family at any time free of charge. Even when my brother and I have 2-hour conversations late at night, we don't have to pay a penny, and that is a wonderful blessing!

15. Books that I can learn from and that cause me to think.

16. The enjoyment of cooking and baking when I'm home on breaks.

17. America, my homeland, and the freedom we have because of the sacrifices of so many.

18. My ancestors who have through the generations followed the Lord and taught their children to do the same.

19. Cars that I can drive from place to place and allow me easy travel back home.

20. The life and health God has given me, and the way He has safely brought me through this year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Benefits of Stretching and Flexibility

The following is the text of the presentation I gave in Biomechanics yesterday. We were all supposed to pick a topic based on things we'd learned about doing the year, and it was fun to hear and see all of the wide variety! I also did some examples of different stretches throughout the presentation. Please note: I don't necessarily endorse the websites I've linked to and that I got information about stretching off of.

Stretching is good for everyone, not just dancers or athletes, as you shall learn as you read the following!

As we all know, there are many benefits of stretching. Though at first you may not be able to stretch very far, it’s encouraging to see how a wide range of flexibility can be gradually developed.

According to in the article "Why You Need to Stretch," flexibility is important so that your joints will be able to move through a wide range of motion. This flexibility enables you to “move smoothly, avoid muscle tension, and to keep your body protected from injury.” The little time it takes to stretch and stay in shape is definitely worth preventing an injury and being in better overall health!

Stretching also brings with it a lot of benefits. In the article “Stretch Your Limits” from, it says that stretching reduces soreness (for example, when you stretch after hard workouts, like before bed, it helps you not feel so bad the next morning), makes you perform better, increases the blood flow to the body, improves your coordination, keeps you active and mobile – which is especially important as you age! – and best of all, it feels good!

In addition, stretching can also help your mental health! On the website “Stretching Routines: Tips and Advice” it says that consistent stretching improves the circulatory system, which puts people in a positive and better over-all frame of mind. The increased amount of blood and oxygen in the brain caused by stretching increases our capacity to learn and think and helps us make decisions and judge things better!

Though the positions of various stretches won’t feel like the most comfortable things in the world, it’s also important that you don’t hurt yourself by overdoing it while stretching. If the stretch really hurts, get out of it. You don’t want to tear or strain something. At the same time, you need to push yourself beyond what is comfortable in order to progress in flexibility. For example, if you can't touch your toes, you should keep trying to reach further down. If you can comfortable touch your toes, aim to be able to put your hands flat on the floor and put your nose to your knee. You can always progress!

Another important thing is that you stretch warm muscles, for stretching cold muscles can cause injury. For this reason, it’s often suggested that you stretch at the end of your exercises, or at least during your routine, after you’ve done a warm-up. You’re also never supposed to bounce when you stretch, for this can cause you to pull a muscle. The proper way to stretch, according to in the article “Why You Need to Stretch,” is that you should go down until you feel a gentle pull.

So, how long do you need to stretch? A quick down and up usually won’t accomplish many lasting benefits. According to Tree of Fitness, Inc, the most effective way to increase a muscle’s flexibility is to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds while breathing smoothly and attempting to relax. When you stretch, a muscle’s first reaction is to get tense, so stretching for a longer period of time gives it the opportunity to relax and lengthen.

There are 4 basic types of stretch techniques spelled out on, the “Exercise Prescription on the Net”:
Ballistic – repetitive bouncing movements, abandoned because of safety concerns
Dynamic – mimics a specific exercise, exaggerated but controlled
Static – passively stretching a muscle by holding it in the maximum it can go for an extended period of time
PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) – with the help of a partner, altering the contraction and relaxation of both agonist and antagonist muscles

The key to becoming very flexible is being consistent and not giving up. Progress will happen a little at a time. You can’t expect to be able to do the splits or touch your toes overnight, but if you consistently stretch, you’ll find that you’ll be able to do it after a while. All-in-all, being flexible is fun! *At this point I cartwheeled into the splits. =)

My Birthday Party

For my 18th birthday, my parents allowed me to invite some of my friends over for supper and a bonfire. Since we had been clearing some of our land we had plenty of wood and I thought a bonfire would be perfect. My mom made her wonderful taco soup for supper and then we all went outside to light the fire. The temp outside was rather chilly, so we all stood around the fire and chatted. Most of the pictures we took by the fire ended up really dark and I could only fix one.

Me and my cousin

Posing with my new mug

A gorgeous clip that was given to me.

I'm sorry I don't have more pictures, but we just didn't get a chance to take more. I had a great birthday and though I don't feel much older, I do know that new challenges and experiences lay around the corner. I can't wait! =)

Monday, November 24, 2008

When Things Don't Go as Planned

After a late night staying up and talking with a friend, I was rather surprised when I awoke and felt pretty refreshed. As I groggily opened my eyes, I noticed that the room was a lot lighter than it usually was at 6 a.m., and wondered why. My eyes opened wide when I glanced at my clock. 7:48 a.m.? That can't be right! But it was true. Somehow I had forgotten to set my alarm last night - something that I do every single night. Only once before during this semester had I forgotten, and then my body had woken me up in plenty of time. I've never gotten out of the door so quickly in my entire life. I grabbed my clothes, ran to the bathroom and changed, pulled my hair up into a ponytail, slipped on my shoes, and was out of the door running before 5 minutes had passed.

I ran/power walked all the way to my 8 a.m. class, arriving only a minute or so late, and thankfully the class started late, so I had plenty of time to recover my disoriented thoughts. It was an awful day, in my mind, to wake up late and have to run to class, because it was the day for each of us to give our 5-minute presentations. However, one of the other presenters talked about "The Importance of Eating Breakfast" and had good breakfast foods to share as part of her presentation. So, I was spared the headache I knew would probably come had I had to simply skip eating that morning like I had thought I would. God is good.

Things like this are a good reminder to me of my own humanness. We all make mistakes, crazy ones at times, and sometimes there are things we just can't control. The wonderful thing about it all is that, no matter what happens, God is in control.

Waking up late and having to run to class made me thankful for the schedule that I usually follow. It even made me thankful for my 6 a.m. alarm sounding each weekday morning (much as that is often an unwelcome sound), for things just go wrong when it doesn't. I got to experience the amazing way God has designed our bodies to respond when we're rushed, and how He designed them to be able to hit the floor running if necessary. And I got to witness His amazing provision in allowing me to have food for breakfast and prevent a headache, and allow my presentation to go well, even when the morning didn't quite start out as I had planned.

But, I'm thankful that I don't have to experience that every morning! Starting the day out quietly with God and with plenty of time to get to class is much preferred. =)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Last night I did a dreadful deed. I highlighted and underlined in one of my books!

I've always been the kind of person who didn't want to "deface" books by highlighting in them. Yes, I did highlight in my Bible - mostly verses I had memorized or wanted to specifically remember - but it just didn't seem right to highlight in a regular book. After all, you never knew who might read it after you, and you wouldn't want to make the value go down, right?

Well, last night I was re-reading Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy (an absolutely wonderful book!) and was writing down quotes I thought worth remembering. The thing was, I had so many quotes that I wanted to remember (yes, the book is that good!), that my hand was getting really tired, and it was getting kind of annoying to keep copying things down in a notebook. So, I did it. I got a highlighter, went over the passage I wanted to remember, and even underlined some words with pen for emphasis. It was surprisingly easy! So, I went back and highlighted each of the quotes I'd already written down, putting away my extra notebook for good.

Before, I never wanted to highlight in books because I thought it would be distracting. I enjoyed the fact that when I read things again, I gleaned new things each time, and I thought that the highlighting/underlining might detract from that, and just make me notice what had previously jumped out at me. Plus, the re-sale value on books with highlighting in them really isn't that great!

However, this book is one I shall definitely keep, so I don't have to worry about reselling it. The highlighting will also make it easier for me to find things I want to remember. Instead of searching for the notebook I took notes in, I can glance through the book and easily find things I'm looking for. When I re-read, those things will stick out to me again, and they'll be good reminders. I'm sure I'll still notice new things as well.

It's funny how one changes. My mom is one who highlights, underlines, or writes in comments quite a bit, and it used to drive me crazy. I would protest that I liked to read clean pages. But, now my tastes have changed, and I see some of the value highlighting has. Maybe it's just one of those things you grow into...

What about you? Are you a die-hard do not deface books, or are you an avid highlighting fan? I'm curious to know what the majority of you ravenous readers do! =)

And, to leave you with two quotes I thought worth highlighting:
"The spectacular sparkle of set-apart femininity is found through absolute abandonment to the Author of all true beauty. It's found by exchanging a life consumed with self for a life consumed with Jesus Christ, by trading the desire to be attractive to this world for the longing to be attractive to Him alone." - page 19

"When it comes to pouring out all we possess in radical abandon to the King of all kinds, there is no such thing as being too extreme. Nothing we offer to Him out of a heart of loving devotion is ever a wasted sacrifice." - page 71

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy 18th Birthday Miriam!

Happy 18th birthday, dear Miriam Rebekah! I hope your day is filled with blessings and delight!

We've been through so much together over the years, and I wish I were there to share this day with you. Though I am hours away right now however, know that I am there in thoughts and prayers. Can you believe we're now both 18?

We've known each other since we were 4 years old... that's 14 years of time together, my dear friend! Yet it has all gone by so quickly...

We began to really develop a close friendship when we were 11 and 12. We grew a lot - you especially! =) Now we're nearly equal in height, and we've developed a lot of the same mannerisms as well. I guess that's what happens to bosom friends and soul mates.

Somehow it still seems as though we were merely 14, barely into teenhood, and yet feeling so grown up. These past 4 years have flown by quickly, but they've been good ones, filled with many blessings.

It's your senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, so I guess that proves that we've gotten older, though I certainly don't feel like it. We can now both drive alone (Miriam got her driver's license in August!) and we've taken on many responsibilities. The best thing about it is that, as the years flew by, we didn't grow apart. No, we grew even closer together. Though distance has separated us, that has just made the emails, letters, and phone calls become more frequent.

There are many things I could say, though they've been said before. But, a new week has started and I must soon leave to grab breakfast and run to class. ;) It is still true, however, that you're a beautiful, talented, kind young woman of God. Thank you again and again for the wonderful friend you've been over the years.

Another age has come, though I know it still feels the same on the inside. In this next year of your life, purpose to "Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always." (Psalm 105:4) I look forward to what the next years will have in store, and I'm thankful to know that we'll continue to be friends forever.

Have a wonderful 18th birthday, my dear!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Only By God's Grace

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." - 1 Corinthians 15:10

When things go right and others praise you, it's all too easy to become proud. Look at what I can do! Look at what I've accomplished. Yet we must keep a proper perspective. We are not doing it on our own - it is only by God's grace. It is only by His grace that we are who we are.

It can be hard to remember sometimes. We can look around and see others slacking off, and be proud of ourselves for working hard and accomplishing good things. But we must remember, though we may work "harder than all of them," it is not us doing the work, but the grace of God that is with us. Without Him, we could do nothing worth doing.

If you haven't already, thank God for His grace today, and transfer the focus off of yourself and onto Him.

Father, break me of my pride. Let me never forget that You are the One who has made me who I am, and I can do nothing in my own strength. Thank you for the grace You so freely give me day after day, even though I don't deserve it... You are worthy of all the glory and honor. Let people not see me, but You living in me, and Your abundant grace in my life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Favorite Magazines

Above Rubies is my all-time favorite magazine. Maybe that's a little strange, because it is geared towards wives and mothers, neither of which describes me at this stage of life. However, I have found much encouragement in its pages, and it has been very informative and helpful as I seek to prepare myself to one day be a wife and mother if the Lord wills.

Each time I receive an issue of Above Rubies, it's very hard for me to put it down. Often, I'll finish it the same day I receive it, and then go back and re-read things as I have interest or time. I've also found many things that I want to remember when I am married and have children, yet if I wrote everything down that I wanted to remember, I'd end up writing down a lot! So, I've started a collection of the magazines in my hope chest, to refer back to when the time comes. The magazine is so popular that all back-issues are gone, so I'm saving them up while I can!

Subscribing to Above Rubies is free, and you can go to their website to learn how. When I came to college, I realized that I didn't want to wait until visits home to read the copy my mom gets, so I got my college address added to the list. The first issue since I came to college came yesterday, and, true enough, I finished it all before the day was done. It was so good! These magazines are very encouraging, especially so, I'm sure, for a wife and mother, but they also encourage me as a single girl! You have a lot to learn from it as a woman, no matter what age you are.

Bloom! is a quarterly magazine put out by three teenage girls. It is always an encouragement to get and read, and know that there are other girls out there going through the same things as me. The girls also have a blog called Bloom! and the posts are also encouraging, fun or challenging. I have really enjoyed getting to know Joanna, Jessina, and Megan through their writings. I enjoy following the blog, and when a magazine comes, I usually end up reading it cover-to-cover rather quickly!

The magazine is also free of charge, all you have to do is contact them to subscribe. My mom told me that the current issue has recently come to the house, so I'm looking forward to reading it when I get home. In the meantime, my mom and Jubilee are enjoying it!

World Magazine keeps me up-to-date with the current issues in the news. At college, I don't often have time to listen to the radio or watch TV (though I didn't do that much back home either), and I feel somewhat out-of-contact with what's happening because I no longer have parents around on a daily basis that talk about what's going on. I sometimes read things online, but that also takes a lot of time I don't always have! Dad was kind enough to buy me a college subscription to World, and I enjoy reading the news from a Christian perspective.

When I was younger, I always used to vie for my turn to read the magazine, though I didn't read much beyond the "Quick Takes" and comics. For the past few years, however, I've read nearly everything in every issue, though sometimes I skip things I'm not that interested in. It takes a bit longer to read, especially with the thicker issues, but I enjoy reading the articles as I get the opportunity.

Magazines are nice, because they take up very little space and are easy to carry around with you to read in spare moments. The articles are shorter than a book, and they're not as instantly-accessible as a blog or website, but there's something nice about having a magazine to hold and read wherever and whenever you want to.

To anyone looking for magazines to receive (after all, it's fun to get things in the mail!) I highly recommend the above three magazines. Are there other good ones that you know of? If you would, please leave a comment and let us know about them!