Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed this month:
I did read another book this month, but it's a birthday gift for someone who reads this blog, so I can't review it - yet. =)
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - This was my second read-through of this classic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters aren't perfect, but it shows real life in England in the 1800s. Elizabeth Bennet is great, but personally, Jane has always been one of my favorites...
  • Eighth Shepherd by Brock and Bodie Thoene - Having read the first seven books in the A.D. Chronicles series, I eagerly anticipated this one. My sister Maria and her family gave me an gift card for my birthday, so I ordered this book that I'd been eying (thanks again, Maria and Ron!). It was a wonderful read. I really like how the different miracles in the gospels are brought alive in a personal way. Though fiction, these books don't take away from the Biblical story. This book was about Zacheaus the tax collector and blind Bartimaeous, and how their lives were changed by Jesus.
  • Systematic Theology - Though the Rebelution forum book study of this book isn't complete for another month, I finished re-reading this book before I headed off for college. The second time through helped me understand and remember things more fully. This book is really good - all 57 chapters and 1167 pages of it!
  • His Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd - This little book has been very encouraging, as I've read a page each day for the last few months. It helps focus one's mind on our Heavenly Father and King and what He truly thinks of us. I'll keep it to refer to from time to time.
  • Life on the Edge by Dr. James Dobson - My brother Elijah loaned this book to me, and I enjoyed reading it, and with all of his highlights, seeing what he thought important. This book is a good one for any between the ages of 16 and 26, and it deals with many of the issues facing young adults. It is "A young adult's guide to a meaningful future." I appreciate how Dr. Dobson candidly and steadfastly deals with each issue in a non-compromising issue. I wish more people my age would read this book - it gives good advice!
  • Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally - This was of the few books I brought with me to college, and I really enjoyed reading it again. It brought back good memories of the mother/daughter study we did on it 2 years ago. This "guide to radiant purity" is a wonderful book, and an encouragement for any girl to stay the course. I appreciate the fact that it was written without much negative details to be suitable for younger readers, yet it speaks clearly to older readers as well. The lessons in this book are ones we all need reminding of from time to time, and I highly recommend this book to any unmarried girl out there!

Currently Reading:

  • North and South by Elizabeth Glaskell
  • Valley of Vision compiled by Arthur Bennet
  • ... and many many schoolbooks!

Miriam's Books

Completed this month:

I had the opportunity to read many books this month and I'm glad to say I enjoyed all that I read.
  • The Courtship of Sarah McLean by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen B. Castleberry - I actually read this last month but forgot to list it. Sarah is a 19 year-old young woman who wants to start a family of her own. She learns to come to God with her problems or wishes and He answers. After disappointing a would-be suitor and being disappointed by another hopeful suitor, God finally answers her prayers.
  • Dawn of Liberty by Michael Phillips - The last book in the Secret of the Rose series was pretty good. The story of redemption that is so prevalent in the previous books was also woven into this one. This is a wonderful series and I really recommend it.
  • Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris - A rather sad story, but based on a true story. The daughter of Robert Bruce of Scotland is captured by King Edward of England so that he can make an example of traitors to his throne. He puts her in a cage and she is left in the cage day and night with nobody allowed to speak to her. At first a rather proud girl, she learns how to think of others before herself.
  • Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens - Yay! I finally finished this book. Somebody mentioned in a comment that I seemed a little stuck on Dickens. Well, I am. I'm trying to read as many of his books as possible. This one was just as well written as the rest so far. Longer than most of his other novels, it carries many plots that, of course, tie together in the end. I really enjoyed it, though.
  • Last of the Nephilim by Bryan Davis - This is the third book in the Oracles of Fire series. I've enjoyed reading all of his books. It's hard to describe this book because it has so much and carries on a lot from the other books. But these are books I think many young teenagers would enjoy.
  • Beyond the Reflection's Edge by Bryan Davis - This new series by Davis is a step in the direction of science fiction more than fantasy. There are many loose threads that you have to keep up with, but the part I enjoyed most about it was the musical part of it. The young man, Nathan, plays the violin with almost a virtuoso talent and it is the violin's music that is the key to opening many doors. I found it very intriguing, but I do not recommend it for ages younger than 16 (but this also differs with maturity level).
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien - After finishing Martin Chuzzlewit, I wanted to read this trilogy a second time. The first time I read this, I had to work through it slowly, making sure I caught all of what was written. This time, the ease with which I finished the first book surprised me. After reading so many Dickens books, my reading level had changed considerably. The best part is, I read the whole trilogy in 6 days. =)
  • Eldest by Christopher Paolini - I forgot to post it, but I read the first book, Eragon, a couple of months ago and actually enjoyed it (Paolini is a secular author). So, I decided to go ahead and read the next book. It was also very well written and one thing I noticed was that Paolini pulled a lot of his ideas off of other fantasy authors' works (Tolkien being an obvious one to me).

Currently Reading:

  • Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally
  • The Zion Chronicles by Bodie Thoene
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Rainbow in a Fountain

"For great is Your love, higher than the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let Your glory be over all the earth."
~ Psalm 108:4-5

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sisters of the Heart

In three different states, from Alabama to Nebraska to Idaho, there live three "sisters" of mine. But these sisters are not sisters by any blood-ties; these sisters are sisters of the heart.

On February 1st, 2008, I sent out an email to three friends of mine, asking them if they wanted to form an accountability group through email. Miriam lived nearby, and she I had known in person since I was 5 years old, becoming fast friends; Jennifer lived in Nebraska, though she and I had visited each other 3 times, and were "twins" in many different ways; Gabrielle lived in Idaho, and although we had never met in person, we had been email and pen pals for almost 2 years, and I'd found a "kindred spirit" in her through writing.

For quite some time, I had been interested in forming an accountability group, for I knew that everyone, myself definitely included, needs accountability! Because all four of us knew each other pretty well, I thought that it would great if we could all be in it together. So, I sent out an email exploring the possibility, and the response was unanimous: yes!! Pretty quickly, we settled on a name, "Sisters of the Heart".

Typically, you think of accountability groups as those meeting in person. Although I think that in-person groups are probably ideal, with busy schedules and good friends so far away, ours was formed through email. Each Sunday or Monday, we send out an email to the others laying out the goals of what we want to accomplish for that week, and the prayer requests we'd like them to pray for. Throughout the week, we pray for each other, and send encouraging notes or letters to certain ones if the need is felt. Sometimes we'll send out emails throughout the week to all of them, if urgent needs arise. Then anywhere from Friday to the following Monday, we send out a follow-up email, honestly telling how we did in accomplishing our goals, praise for things God did or things still needing prayer, and something we learned from our personal devotions that week.

We're now finishing up our 30th week (where did the time go?), and it has been such a blessing and encouragement to know that my "sisters" are standing with me and praying for me each week. It's been a delight to hear updates from them twice a week, and I look forward to the emails, knowing they'll be coming! It's a way that we can stay updated on the lives of each other, and an easy way to let all three know things, while only having to write one email. We still keep up our individual correspondence, but it's nice to be able to let all of them know things quickly.

In the original email I sent out, I said that I hoped "it would strengthen our bonds of friendship and help us 'spur one another on to love and good deeds' (Hebrews 10:25)" I believe it has done just that and more. We have all grown closer together, and have been encouraged to go deeper in our walk with the Lord.

The goals and prayer requests often vary, from purposing to "get up and go to bed on time each night," to "finish this certain project," to "keep a cheerful attitude." We are honest in our response, yet not legalistic when things just don't go the way they were planned. However, knowing that we'll have to report to the others how we did helps us work extra hard and be diligent. Through it all, we are loving and supportive of each other.

We have been with each other through rough times, and helped each other go through the changes this year has brought. Especially as I've gone off to college, these "sisters" have stayed with me, because our friendship was not formed on the basis of close distance; it was formed through bonds of the heart. Each of us have had hard weeks, and the others of us have always been there, encouraging, praying, and standing with our "sisters," even though we're miles away.

Miriam, Jennifer, and Gabrielle, thank you so much. Thank you for the encouragement you have been to me, and the joy you have brought. Thank you for the little things you do, the emails, e-cards, letters, and even surprise phone calls or packages that let me know you're thinking of me. I look forward to continuing this accountability group for years to come! And, one day, I hope we can all meet together in person.

What about you? Do you have an accountability group whether in person or through email or letters? If not, I'd encourage you to pray about starting one. It is such a rewarding and challenging experience!

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." - Hebrews 3:13

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Joy of Fellowship

God has been faithful to provide me with a good church body to call "home" while in Jackson. A neat thing happened to help us find it... First, Dad had tried to look up a church that would have a lot of families, but he just got the names of a few Presbyterian churches in town. So, we planned to try Pear Orchard Presbyterian on my first Sunday at college. Unexpectedly, we ran into a dancer from Ballet Magnificat on Saturday night, whom I had met at the summer dance intensives and run into again at New Attitude in May. We asked her which church she went to, and when she said Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church, we knew for sure that it was the one to try!

That Sunday I went with my parents, and we enjoyed the Sunday school and service, and met many very nice people. Also there was sweet Betsy, my first counselor at the Ballet Magnificat Summer Dance Intensive. It was so good to see her and Katie again!

So this Sunday, I knew that I'd return to Pear Orchard Presbyterian - it was a very nice church body, with many families, some of them rather large, and some of them homeschoolers. I once again went to Sunday school and the service, saw people I'd met the week before, and met even more people. Everyone was very kind and welcoming!

That evening, I decided to go back for their fellowship supper, singing, and a ceilidh (Scottish dance). I was a bit nervous about going when I still didn't know anyone that well, but I remembered what Josh Harris had written in Stop Dating the Church - how we should get involved with a local body, and not just be onlookers. So, I timidly walked in the door to a huge crowd of people, unsure of where I'd sit or what I'd do.

Well, God was so good to give me good fellowship! As soon as I walked in, a woman I'd met that morning invited me to sit with her and her family with 4 children. There I met even more people as they introduced themselves or Beth found them to introduce me to. Two different people, whom I'd never met before, even gave me their numbers and told me to call anytime! I enjoyed the delicious food (better than the cafeteria!), good conversation, and seeing young children again. During supper, the worship band played Celtic music, then they and the choir led us in wonderful worship to our God Most High.

After that, we prepared for the ceilidh. It was so much fun! You truly get to know people when you dance with them. =) A lady taught us four dances, including her version of the Virginia Reel (everyone seems to have their own!). Now I have new dances to teach the group back home!

Fellowship with God's people is a wonderful thing. I met students who attend Belhaven, and people who have graduated from it. I danced next to a girl named Anna, 9 years younger than I, who thought it so neat that we had the same name. I enjoyed being with families, instead of just people my own age. I haven't yet known people enough to ask to hold their children, but that will come in time. :-)

I praise God for leading me to Pear Orchard Presbyterian, which I can truly call my home church away from home. As my schedule gets busy, I don't know if I'll be free to go every Sunday evening, but I will at least go each Sunday morning I am here.

Are you involved in a church body? If you don't know people that well, I encourage you to try to get to know them and participate in the fellowship. If you are firmly rooted in a local church, I encourage you to reach out to newcomers. It is so encouraging to the newcomer when people introduce themselves and talk with them. Never hesitate to welcome them and be a friend!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Bible Memorization

As I mentioned in my "Homeschooled All the Way" post, Bible memorization has always played a key part in my life. Many thanks goes to my parents, for they have put me into the habit of memorizing Scripture, a habit I don't intend to break.

As a child, I first memorized verses that corresponded to the ABCs. Then we learned another set of ABC verses, but this time all of the verses were from Proverbs. As a family, we often memorized portions of Scripture, such as Proverbs 2:1-5, Psalm 91, or Ephesians 6:10-18. Almost all of the passages were memorized set to different tunes and using actions that corresponded to the words. This way, we learned quite quickly and even when very young, could sing quite a few passages of Scripture.

As we grew, the passages got longer, but we always had Scripture portions that we were working on. Some of my siblings did Bible Quiz team for a year or two, and some of us were in Awana for 5-6 years. I really enjoyed my time in Awana, as I went through and completed each book, memorizing verses that I still remember well today.

Though the singing method of memorizing works really well, I did start noticing that sometimes it made me not grasp the true meaning of Scripture, for it's easy to sometimes mindlessly sing along without paying attention to the words. Plus, the tune would sometimes make pauses or breaks in the verses where there weren't pauses, so sometimes when I would later read it, a lightbulb would go on as I realized what things actually said! So, some larger portions I started memorizing by saying them, often dramatically. I memorized almost the whole book of Ruth this way, giving voices and characterization to each person mentioned, inspired by the amazing presentations of George Sarris. Then I memorized the book of Ephesians, dramatically learning and retelling it as though I were talking to the audience.

I've also done Memlock for a few years, which has really helped me learn key verses that correspond to different topics. The foundation of Memlock is a lot of review, which helps cement the verses in your head. Each week you add one new verse (or two, as I do) and each day you review the 6 verses that you do daily, and the 6 verses that you do by days of the week. Then there are verses you've memorized that you review once a month. This way you are constantly learning new verses, yet at the same time you don't forget the verses you've already memorized. It's a great system that I would recommend to everyone! It isn't hard, and it takes just around 5 minutes per day.

The hiding of God's Word in your heart is something all Christians should do. So many times I have been reminded of Scripture that relates to the very situation I'm going through at just the right time. It is so encouraging! When I'm writing, I often remember verses that relate, and when I need encouragement, God brings things to mind. Our God is so good!

In order to make verses I've memorized easy to find (for references are sometimes hard for me to remember) each time I learn a new verse, I underline it with a yellow highlighter in my Bible. That way, while flipping through I can quickly find the verse I'm looking for, and it's fun to read through and see how many verses I know in some chapters!

You may not think you're very good at memorization, and it's true that some people seem to be better at it then others. However, everyone can memorize if they work at it. The key, I've found is consistent, daily review. I do take off weekends, for they don't usually go according to schedule, but I try to review the verses I'm working on each weekday. Even taking it slow, you'd be amazed at how many verses you can learn if you stick to it! Accountability is also an important part. At home, I would say my verses to Mom or Elijah usually weekly, so that they could make sure I was memorizing things right. I haven't found an accountability partner to say my verses to here yet, but hope to soon.

To memorize, if it's a short verse, I'll say the whole verse looking at it, then look away and try to say it, and keep quizzing myself. If it's longer, I'll do it in sections; learning the first sentence, then learning the second sentence, then putting the first two together, then going on. If it's a whole chapter or book, I'll first review what I know, then add on to it in sections. Stress reviewing, for that will help keep it in your head.

Currently, I'm continuing Memlock and have started memorizing the book of Colossians. I really enjoyed learning Ephesians, and having the Word flowing through my mind and pondering it in my heart each day. Since I was preparing to head of to college, I was tempted to just do Memlock and leave it at that for now. After all, I'm continuing to learn Scripture, and would be busy! However, the time right now is the best one to memorize things, for people say it just gets harder as you get older. Plus, I was being lazy, and was too content to just ride easily along on my two verses a week. God has given me the ability to memorize things easier then some, so I need to push myself, "do hard things", and use the ability God has given me.

My current routine is to take my small index card binder that has Colossians written out in sections with me in the beginning of the day, and review and memorize it in the time between breakfast and my first class, as I walk or sit on a bench. When I get back to my dorm in the morning or afternoon, I review and memorize the Memlock verses I'm working on. I so enjoy "feasting" on God's Word all throughout the day - from devotions in the morning, to memorizing and pondering verses throughout the day.

It's never too late to start memorizing Scripture. Find a method that works for you, which can be a combination of many things: singing, speaking, doing actions, writing, etc. Once you've determined a method, stick to it and work on saying it every day. Find someone who can keep you accountable in your memorization, and be faithful to report and practice with them, daily or weekly. Really meditate on what you learn, and ask God to show you new insights through it all. You'll be wonderfully amazed at how your spiritual life grows and deepens!

If you would, please answer any, all, or none of the following questions:
  • Do you consistently memorize Scripture? Why or why not?
  • If so, what are you working to memorize right now?
  • Do you have a certain routine or method that works for you? Please share it!
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to Your Word.

I seek You with all my heart;

do not let me stray from Your Commands.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart

that I might not sin against You.

Praise be to You, O LORD;
me Your Decrees.

With my lips I recount
all the Laws
that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your Statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on Your Precepts

and consider Your ways.

I delight in Your Decrees;

I will not neglect Your Word

~Psalm 119:9-16

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Let's Go to a Ball!

Last night the Joshua Squad, a theatre group on campus, held a Masquerade Ball to help raise money. I'd never gone to a ball before, so I decided to try it. I helped set up for it in the morning, and thus earned a free ticket!

First, I had to decide what to wear. Since it was a masquerade ball, I also had to find or make a mask. I decided to wear my graduation dress and go with a "bowdacious" theme. It required a lot of white ribbon!

I tied my long satin sash in a bow in back, pinned white ribbon bows to my sleeves, pulled my hair back with a white ribbon bow, put a bow on my mask, and bows on my shoes! It was rather fun to get all "bowed" out! =)

I made my mask out of poster board and ribbon, designing it to match my dress. It was fun to wear a mask, but quite hard to dance in, as it blocked your peripheral vision! So, I pushed it up on my forehead most of the evening.

These shoes were the flimsiest and most impractical shoes I've ever bought! But, it was a ball, they were just for one night, and I found them for just $1 at Walmart, so I got them. They were a bit hard to dance in though, so I took them off after a while.

It was a new and fun experience. The first hour, from 8 to 9 p.m. they taught ballroom dancing, which was a lot of fun. After that they played music and let people do their own thing, which got rather... interesting at times! It was somewhat funny to stand back and watch, though I much preferred the more elegant learned dances. The ball lasted till Midnight, but I went back at 11:15 p.m., rather exhausted!

Friday, August 22, 2008

College Dorm Decor

Since quite a few people have asked, below are pictures of my part of my college dorm room. I am very blessed to be able to stay in a larger dorm room than some other places I've visited, and I really like the fact that we have suite style bathrooms instead of community ones.

We each have our own closet, which is really nice! I found I can store a lot of things in mine as well. =) The hanging organizer contains towels, sheets, food, toiletries, and small bags/containers. The upper shelf has my laundry supplies and extra bags. On the side I fold up and store my ironing board, with the iron right above it. And yes, that white thing on the bottom is the container that stores my sewing machine. I just couldn't bear to leave it, though I don't think I'll have much extra time to use it! Obviously, there are clothes hanging up, and my shoes are lined up on the bottom of the closet.

The sink in our room is quite convenient - it's between the two closets and opposite the door leading to the bathroom. My toiletries are in a somewhat jumbled/organized mess to the left.

We also each have our own desk and chair. Daddy set up my computer for me, and found shelves to put my printer on to make it convenient. I brought the bookshelf from home, and some books I just couldn't leave behind. =) The top has pictures of friends, and the shelf and down below are pictures of my family. It's encouraging to see them, and reminds me to pray for them. Various necessary items are stored in the drawers.

Opposite my desk are the rest of my items, a bed with the dresser and bookshelf that was already in the room pushed underneath. The lovely lavender bedspread was found by Mrs. Hart online at a great price, which I promptly ordered. The blanket folded at the end was crocheted for me as a very generous graduation present. The chair is very comfy to sit in and read, write, or study. We had to make a last Walmart run after we got here to get the rug and tall lamp, as well as the small table which contains a few more pictures and my alarm clock.

The walls are rather bare right now, but I'll probably add pictures and things as time passes. It took me a while to figure out how to hang up my Proverbs 31 poster, but eventually learned how the "command strips" work (you have to press on them and hold for 30 seconds for them to stay).

I'm trying to stay in a habit of keeping things organized, making my bed soon after I get up, putting away clothes as I take them off, and straightening and putting things away soon after I come into the room. I'm continuing my 6 a.m. habit on weekdays, for with 8 a.m. classes every day, that leaves me plenty of time to wake up, have devotions, dress, and eat breakfast. The only challenging thing is continuing to go to bed a decent hour, but I shall try hard!

My roommate is very nice, and her things are set up somewhat like mine, close to the window, which looks out over a lovely pond with fountains. She also has a keyboard (she's a music major), which she says I can play, so that's nice! I don't have time to take music this semester, so it will be great when I just have to sit down and play something. In fact, I think that's what I'll go and do right now!

I hope you enjoyed this little "tour" of my room! It is starting to feel somewhat like home away from home.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

College Course Line-up

Once again it is time for the annual post about what I'll be studying this year. Only, with college semesters, mine may start being bi-annual! This year is different then years past, however, as I actually have to go to classes and take required courses instead of just figuring things out on my own with the help of my parents. Fall classes started today, and it's been pretty good so far. It is different getting used to listening to a teacher instead of reading things on my own, though! =)

So, what am I studying this semester? Well, let's see...

First there's the class every freshmen takes, the Master Learner Seminar. It's all about learning to study, adjusting to college, and so on. There's journal entries to write for it, and different personality tests to take.

Then we have other required classes, like Advanced Freshmen English. It will be different to have papers to write and turn in to someone other than my mom!

There's also quite a few classes as part of the Worldview Curriculum here at Belhaven College. The Worldview Curriculum is rather unique, as you study the same time period in each class you take in History, Literature, and Art. This helps connect each thing together and sounds like it will be very interesting. So, I'm taking Civilization I, Form and Meaning I, Literature I, and Christian Perspectives I.

Then we get into classes that specifically have to do with my major, Theater Ministries. There's Biomechanics and Biomechanics Lab, which studies the human body and movement as it relates to theater. There's Understanding Theater (which sounds self-explanatory!) and Intro to Theater Art Ministries which is an overview of how to use theater as it relates to ministry, in the church and elsewhere.

I also made room for a dance class, and got placed in Beginning Ballet. After 7 years of dance training, it is a bit disappointing to be placed in the first level, but I think it will be good to get a good refresher on basic things. I wasn't taught as classical technique as some dancers, and didn't take every day like most; plus, I never really had true "beginning" classes, so I think it will be good for me.

All-in-all, I'm taking 19 credit hours, which is a bit much for a Freshman, but seems doable. There wasn't really anything my adviser said I could drop, and I knew I wanted to add a dance class, so there we go! I will be busy, but in God's strength I can do it.

Some classes are once-a-week, others twice-a-week, and others three-times-a-week. Chapel is also every Tuesday. I have 8 a.m. classes every day, but that means that I'm done by 2 or 3 p.m. each afternoon (except for the theater departmental meeting on Friday), which is nice. The hardest thing will be finding the balance between study, sleep, and friends. I sleep rather lightly, so I know that varying sleep schedules throughout the dorm will take adjusting. So far it hasn't been too bad.

Being around people all the time will take getting used to, and I don't quite have the "skill" of just "hanging out". =) However, I am excited to develop new friendships, though I miss everyone back home. There will be theater productions to work on as well, whether acting or working behind the scenes.

So, that's what my fall looks like. What about the rest of you? What are you studying this year?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Girly Things Discussions: Hair

Anna's Thoughts

When it comes to hair, I try to abide by my guideline for almost everything: keep it simple. A pretty hair style is nice, but my taste isn't in going all-out-wild or anything. I just like to keep it simple. =)

First, as far as hair length goes, right now I have hair that is about half-way down my back. The reason I have long hair is simply because I like it. =) Until I was 12, my hair was usually chin- to shoulder-length, because my mom didn't want to have to deal with tangles or long hair. When I was 12, she gave me permission to grow it out, since I would be the one caring for it. Since then I have kept it long because I enjoy how it looks, it feels feminine, and my dad likes it long as well!

Hair needs taking care of in order to look pretty and healthy. I've found that a shower every-other day is what I need to keep it nice and manageable. Any longer between showers, and it gets greasy; any more, and I don't like dealing with wet hair every day! To wash it I use dandruff shampoo, and whatever shampoo and conditioner (though a small amount of this) that I happen to have. Right now it's one a friend sent me for frizzy hair, which is working nicely! Usually, though it's just whatever is cheap. :-) I don't like blow-drying my hair, as it tends to leave it very poofy and frizzy, so I let it air dry after I take a shower, which is usually almost first thing in the morning. If I go somewhere before it dries, I may use a hair dryer to quickly finish it off, but usually I just braid it and go on my way.

My favorite hair style is to leave my hair down and pull the front part back with a simple hair clip. Sometimes I'll pull it back with a bow or ribbons to make it special. A simple braid is nice to get it out of my way, and I'll French braid it sometimes as well, which keeps it nicely managed. I don't usually do two braids, unless I want to look really young. =) I often put it up in a regular pony tail as well, though after a while my long hair gets heavy, and weighs down on my head, so I don't usually leave it in too long. For dance classes, I quickly wind my hair into a bun. To add a special girly touch, I often use ribbons around my pony tails or buns, or on the end of my braid, or use a pretty scrunchie out of my abundant supply. There's also different pretty clips that I use occasionally. To really get fancy, I might curl my hair, though it doesn't always stay in that well. Sometimes I'll have fun playing with my hair and coming up with new styles, but the simple ones usually work best.

I try not to spend too much time on my hair. I'll brush it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and whenever it needs it during the day. I'll usually fix it in the morning, and re-fix it as needed or if I have to go somewhere, etc.

Hair can be fun and a great way to show your femininity! However, as with everything, moderation is key. You don't want to spend all day in front of the mirror. ;-) Take care of your hair and keep it nice and well groomed. Your hair style doesn't need to be the latest - find one or a few that work for you, and have fun fixing it that way. Do what works for you!

Miriam's Thoughts

My hair was such a trial to me when I was younger, but now I have so much fun with it. =) As a tomboyish 8-year-old with long hair, Mother didn't know quite what to do with me. I look back now and feel sorry for acting so bad when she would comb my hair. I'm sure there was rejoicing when I could finally comb my own hair. Then there was the time when Joel and I hid under a table and tried to cut my hair (it ended up looking like it had gone under a lawn mower)...Mom wasn't too happy about that. =)

The last time I had my hair cut was over 5 years ago and it was right below my ears. After that, I decided I wanted to see how long I could grow my hair and so far, it's right below my waist. Though I occasionally threaten to cut it off, I don't think I can because it's so much a part of who I am now.

I wash my hair every other day because, like Anna, it's terribly nasty if I wait longer and will be too dry if I wash it every day. My hair tends to be very oily anyway, so I try to find a shampoo that works for me and stay with it. I've found when I change shampoos, my hair has to adjust to it and that is interesting, believe me. I also use conditioner on my ends. Since it is so long, I put it on about the bottom third of my hair. I don't rinse out all the conditioner so that my ends won't dry out and split too much. I normally let it air-dry, but if I'm in a hurry, then I'll blow-dry the underside of my hair. But I try not to since it tends to make my hair frizz.

I rarely brush my hair, instead I use a big-tooth comb. A brush tends to yank at my hair more, whereas a comb goes through easier and get tangles out better. If I want to make my hair poofy though, then I'll use a brush.

With long hair, there is only so much you can do to it in a hurry. Though I would love to have it fixed nicely every time I go somewhere, I just do what I can. Normally, I grab a hairband and braid my hair quickly, which always looks fine, or I will get a hair clip and wind my hair up in a bun and clip it. I've tried hairpins and all that, but I always get headaches with my hair so tight and pins poking me in the head. In the cooler weather, I like combing my hair back and putting and clipping a little bit of it, letting the rest hang down. That is probably my favorite way to wear my hair.

Now we'd like to hear from you!

  • How long is your hair and why?

  • What do you do to care for your hair?

  • What is your favorite hair style?

And any other thoughts you may have on hair!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sewing with Jubilee

Before I left for college, Jubilee knew that she needed to learn to sew. After all, there should be at least one resident seamstress in the Lofgren house at all times, right? =) She had done some sewing before, but hadn't been interested that much, so I didn't push it. It's better to learn something when you want to learn something, so that you end up actually enjoying it. It took longer to get to it then we originally planned, but after the musical was over, we had more time to actually sit down and sew.

While Jubilee sewed, I worked on other projects, helping her when I needed to. It was great sister time, and I enjoyed teaching her to sew. She was a quick learner, and did really well! Though she's not sure she enjoys sewing as much as I do, she's done quite well, and now has this skill under her fingertips.

She first started on a dress using discount fabric from the $1 table at Walmart. This fabric, however, ended up being very low-quality, and didn't sew well, so we stopped that dress and started another.Jubilee made the above dress to wear at my sister Miriam's wedding, since it has her plum color in it. We used a simple pattern, Simplicity #9597, which I believe is out of print. But, you can probably find it online if you want to. I've made the pattern quite a few times, and enjoy the fact that it's quick and easy, having no zipper and simple seams. We added a sash made out of the satin we used for the bridesmaids' dresses. Jubilee made it over a few sessions on 2-3 days, and did very well!

Her next dress was a little more difficult, having princess seams. However, it too went together pretty quickly, despite a few initial snags. I'm afraid I don't know the pattern number and don't have my patterns to look it up, but if Jubilee or Miriam wants to comment with the number (it's the same one we used for the choir dresses), that'd be great!

Time flew quickly, so Jubilee actually didn't finish until the day before I left, sewing while I worked to pack up my room. But, she finished in time! Again, this dress was nice because it didn't have a zipper, just pulls over the head and has back ties. The fabric was a little pricey, but it was so pretty and such good quality, and will last for a long time. The green also looks lovely with Jubi's red hair.

Jubilee, great job! I enjoyed sewing with you, and hope that you'll have fun making things in the future.

If you've never taught someone to sew, consider doing it! It's rewarding to see what they can accomplish, and fairly easy to teach them step-by-step. The only thing it requires is a lot of time to be with them (but you can do other things while they work) and extra thinking to be one step ahead! If you've never learned to sew, consider asking someone who knows how to teach you. You may be surprised at how many know how to sew and wouldn't mind teaching a novice!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Encouraging Verses from Proverbs 16

This month, I'm reading a chapter in Proverbs each day as part of my devotions, the chapter in Proverbs corresponding to the day of the month. Yesterday, at 5:15 a.m. I read in Proverbs 16, and it was amazing how many verses spoke exactly about the situation I am. It really encouraged me as I prepared to drive out and leave home, and I hope they'll encourage you as well.

The whole chapter is good, but these verses especially stuck out to me. Emphasis is mine.

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." - Proverbs 16:3

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

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." - Proverbs 16:20

"The lot is cast into the lap, but every decision is from the LORD." - Proverbs 16:33

God is good, and He is faithful! We got to Belhaven safely and got moved in well. This week is freshman orientation until Thursday, when regular classes will start.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blue fabric, White Ribbon

Preparing to leave, I've had a lot of projects to finish up. One of those was to finally make a skirt I'd been wanting to make. Awhile back, I found some nice blue fabric at Walmart, and picked up a pretty skirt pattern at one of Hobby Lobby's "McCall's patterns for $1" sales. However, other sewing took precedence, so it just sat in my cabinet for quite a while.

Finally, I sat down yesterday and made the skirt. It's fairly easy, with just two skirt pieces and 3 waistband pieces. The pattern I used was McCall's 4875. I really like how full the skirt is - perfect for twirling! =) One thing I would change next time, however. The skirt closes using a hook and eye on the front waistband, and tying on the back waistband. It's fitted at the waist, so in order to get it on, the side seams are open a few inches down. I found that these openings gaped open, so I sewed one up and put tiny snaps on the other one. Next time I think I'd just put a zipper in one side and leave the other one without the opening.

To make the skirt a little more special than just plain (though I do like solid-colored skirts!) I added white ribbon at the bottom. I used it like bias tape, folding it on either side of the bottom and sewing it so that I didn't have to hem it. The skirt is nice and light, and I like the color, as it goes with almost anything.

You can make a dressy outfit wearing a skirt and blouse,

or a more casual one with a t-shirt. It looks great either way!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My New Blog Is Launched...

I've decided to call my new blog "Merely Miriam" and it is now started!

Thank you, Maria Pauline, for the name! Thanks to everyone else for their suggestions! I had a hard time choosing between some of them.

A Time to Say Goodbye

In 2 days, on early Saturday morning, I leave for Belhaven College. 2 days. It seems as though time has flown by so quickly. I've known this day would come for quite some time. It just didn't seem as though it would be here so soon.

This whole summer has been a hard one, as I've seen this day approaching. Ever since I graduated, almost everyone had the question "When do you leave?" I could answer that easily enough, but it was inevitably followed by "Are you excited?" This one was hard to answer. Each person seemed to expect excitement, and I tried hard to show some, but I couldn't honestly answer that I was very excited to leave. I'm sure it will be easier once I'm there, but change and goodbyes are hard.

This whole time in between high school and college is a bit weird. You know you're leaving, but you know it won't be for a while. You're preparing yourself to say goodbye, yet still have a few months to wait. And, understandably, everyone you see wants to know when you leave, where you're going, and what you're majoring in. It shows they're interested in your life, but it's still hard to always be talking about leaving.

I don't know why I've felt this way... most people going to college seem excited. Maybe I just haven't tried hard enough, though I have tried.It was a hard decision for me to make, and, even after all this time, I still don't really want to go. But I've learned that my feelings shouldn't dictate my actions. I've prayed nearly every day for God to give me His joy, because I just don't feel much joy of my own right now. And, He has been faithful.

I know that it is God's will for me to take this next step, and I know that everything will work out according to His Sovereign plan. I know that I'll learn a lot at college, and, as everyone's been telling me, probably have a great time. But that doesn't make the leaving any easier. Letting go can be necessary... but painful.

I danced my goodbye on Sunday, dancing to the song "The Potter's Hand". The words of the song are very meaningful for me, especially as I enter a new stage of life. The first verse is beautiful: "Beautiful Lord, Wonderful Savior, I know for sure all of my days are held in Your hand, crafted into Your perfect plan..." The chorus is my cry: "Take me, mold me, use me, fill me. I give my life to the Potter's hand! Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me. I give my life to the Potter's hand..." Then it was time to say goodbye to all those at my home church, people that have been friends and shaped me through the years.

There are a lot of things I will miss about home, and this week before I leave has been full of lasts. Each day has been the last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday at home. On Monday I made the last of my weekly batches of bread. On Tuesday we had some close family friends over, the last time I'll see them before I leave. Today I'll wash the kitchen floor for the last time before I go. Tomorrow I'll see the Hart family, and my dear friend Miriam for the last time for weeks. Tomorrow for supper, I'll cook for the last time in what seems like forever!

One thing I'm having to remember is that, though it seems as though many things in my life that I enjoy are ending, there is hope of them again in the future. I'll be able to cook and see family and friends on breaks and in the summers, God willing, and after four years of college, I'll be able to do them on a more regular basis. Four years seems like an extremely long time, but I know that it too will pass quickly.

There are things at college to look forward to. God will go before and prepare me for what lies ahead. There will be new friends to make and new things to learn. Though I have a hard time leaving, I know that God has good things in store. Change is hard. Leaving is hard. But there comes a time to say goodbye. And though always hard, trusting God helps me get through it all. He is faithful, and will be with me every step of the way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From my Mending Pile

Last Thursday afternoon, I sat down at my sewing machine with a mission to finish up my mending pile. Things have piled up, but I knew I had to demolish the pile before I left. It was actually a pleasant hour or two spent fixing or remaking different things. Three pillowcases needed tears sewn up, and a sheet needed an edge refinished where it'd worn down. Dad need a button sewn on a pair of shorts and a seam mended on a pair of pants. Mom needed a shirt and bag mended. I hemmed a shirt I'd been given that was pretty but just way too long. A little cutting and hemming, and it's now a great length and matches one of my skirts perfectly! And what to do about a towel that had a hole burned into it? Well, on mom's suggestions, I turned it into kitchen washcloths, cutting six squares and zig-zagging around the edges. Waste not, want not. =)

Mending may not be as fun as sewing outfits, but it can certainly save one a lot of money! Often things will just get a little hole or tear and not actually wear all the way out, so it's a money saver to just mend it up and continue to use it, instead of throwing it out and buying something new.

Even if you don't like to sew or don't have the time to make whole outfits, I would encourage you to learn the rudiments so that you can do basic mending. Even if it's just learning basic hand stitches, you never know when it will come in handy! Or if, like me, your mending stack has piled up, I encourage you to take the time to sit down and work on it. It feels great to see things get fixed and not have the pile lying around anymore!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our 2nd Blogaversary!

It's now been 2 years and 402 posts since Maidens of Worth was launched on August 11th, 2006. Our friendship has remained strong these two years, and we've grown closer together. We have indeed been friends through the years. We've truly enjoyed doing this blog together, and have learned so much through writing posts and reading the comments you all so wonderfully leave.

It's hard to believe it's already been two years since we started blogging. Time has so quickly flown by! You've probably noticed by now that our posts have been on a wide variety of topics, things we've been thinking about, experiences that have happened to us, encouragement for others, or milestones in our lives. We hope that through it all, you have been encouraged in your own journey, and been inspired to try to live as "Maidens of Worth" for God's glory.

Things are going to be changing this year. Miriam goes into her senior year of highschool while Anna heads off for her freshman year of college, and we'll both be rather busy. However, we haven't felt led to stop this blog, as it's been an encouragement to us and many others. The post frequency will most likely go down, however. Anna especially won't have as much time to write as she has before, for she's taking a full course load, and college work will out of necessity receive higher priority.

We won't stop altogether, however! Each of us is purposing to write a post at least once a week. It's not a set-in-stone rule, and there may be weeks one or both of us just can't find time. Hopefully those weeks will be rare, but we won't stress over it! And, hopefully, we'll have time to publish posts more than just twice-a-week! This blog will be a high priority, but understandably, some things will need to take precedence.

Different series will continue, as we find the time. "The Daily Disciplines" may not be published once-a-week anymore (and won't be published this week, because of this blogaversary post), but Anna will try to write them frequently. "The Women of the Bible" hasn't been forgotten, and more will be added as Anna takes the time. "The 'Girly Things' Discussions" will continue as long as we find topics, and the "Siblings" Series will last until we finish spotlighting each of our siblings. The once-a-month reading lists will also continue. And who knows, more series may be started eventually! =)

Posts may become shorter, and just to warn you, we may re-post some of the things from the archives. In fact, if you're looking for something to read, be sure to check out archives or the categorized posts listed on the sidebar of both Maidens of Worth and Anna's old blog, "A Graceful Maidens Memoir."

Because it's our blogaversary, it is the norm for readers to let us know who they are! We don't want to overburden you, but if you could, whether you've been with us since the beginning or just started, please let us know if you read our blog! And in order to make it easy, we just have one question we'd like you to answer in your comment:
What is your favorite color?
Yes, that's it! It will be interesting to see which color is the most popular. :-)

And, if you'd like to tell us how you found us, what your favorite post(s) has/have been, and what topics you'd like to see us address or advice you have as we enter new seasons in life, please share! But, at least please answer the question above. =)

We look forward to the year ahead, and all the things it has in store. We look forward to sharing more with you as the days go by.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Girly Things Discussion: Nail Polish

Anna's Thoughts:

Right now, I hardly ever wear nail polish. When I was younger, I went through the stage of wanting to wear it all the time, but as my Dad only let me wear light pink or clear nail polish, I soon stopped wearing it much at all. Though at the time I thought it was unfair that I could only wear one color, I now see his point of view and have come to respect his decision.

I don't think that other colors are bad, though they can sometimes be distracting. There are some colors with certain connotations (such as bright red representing "sexy" and black representing "goth" or depression) that I'd probably caution to stay away from. I think it can be cute and pretty when others paint their nails to match an outfit, but it's just a matter of if you want to take the time to do it. Plus, you probably should ask your family or husband (if you're married) what they think of it, because they often have a lot of good insights! Since my Dad doesn't like any unnatural colors (thus, only allowing pink or clear) I am now happy to abide by his wishes.

Whether you paint your nails or not, you should try to keep your hands clean and well-kept, with cared for nails clipped - not bitten! =) - to a nice length. It doesn't mean that your hands should look unused - it's no shame to work hard and your hands will probably show it somewhat! But soap and water go a long way, and lotion can helped with chapped hands, etc. Also, nail polish that is chipping looks tacky, so you'll want to take the time to remove old polish if you do paint your nails.

Miriam's Thoughts:

Anna convicted me when she said to keep your nails clipped and not bitten. I used to have the dreadful habit of always biting my nails and I now see how bad it was. I finally got out of the habit but as a result, my fingernails and cuticles aren't as nice as they should be. So I second Anna, if you are in the habit, please try and stop or don't start it at all. Okay, now that I've lectured... =) I also said that as a preface to my fingernail polish experience. You see, as a young girl, my nails were always dirty and just terrible, so if I had the inclination (once in a blue moon) to paint my nails, Mother would say no because I wouldn't take care of my hands. But I just wasn't interested in it either. I was such a rough-and-tumble girl that I was always hitting my feet and hands on objects which made it useless to try and keep polish on. I probably haven't painted my nails 20 times in my seventeen years.

Mother's color standards were a very light color on the nails (usually pink) and a darker color was allowed on the toenails. I usually have fun with my toes when I do decide to paint them. Right now I actually have a red polish on my toes, but I wouldn't wear it out in public. Personally, it's just a little too bold for me. I have my favorite polish on my fingernails at this moment. It's a soft pink that blends with my hands and I love the fact that it doesn't feel like it's smothering my fingers, either.

So, all in all, I think it's fine to wear nail polish, I just don't do it very often at all.

Now, would you please share?
  • What are your thoughts on nail polish?
  • Do you wear all colors or stay away from some?
  • What are your reasons for wearing / not wearing it?

Who Will Save The Children

Who Will Save The Children
by Randy Stonehill

Cry for all the innocent ones
born into a world that's lost its heart
For those who never learn to dream
because their hope is crushed
before they can start
And we shake our fists at the air
and say, "If God is love, how can this be fair?"

But we are His hands
We are the ones who must
make the choice
And if it isn't now,
tell me when?
If it isn't you, then tell me
who will save the children?
Who will save the children?

We count our blessings one by one
yet we have forgotten how to give
It seems that we don't want to face
all the hungry and homeless who struggle to live
But heaven is watching tonight
tugging at our hearts to do what's right

And we are His hands
We are His voice
We are the ones who must make the choice
And if it isn't you, then tell me
who will save the children?
Who will save the children?

As we observe them through our T.V. screens
they seem so distant and unreal
But they bleed like we bleed
And they feel what we feel
Oh, save the children
Save the children
Save the children

Now we decide that nothing can change
and throw up our hands in numb despair
And we lose a piece of our souls
by teaching ourselves just how not to care
But Christ would have gone to the cross
just to save one child from being lost

And we are His hands
We are His voice
We are the ones who must make the choice
And it must be now
There's no time to waste it must be you
No one can take your place
Can't you see that only we can save the children
Save the children
Save the children
Please, save the children...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Homeschooled All the Way (Part 2)

(Read Part 1)

In addition to allowing me excellent time to learn the academic parts of education, homeschooling has allowed me to pursue so many other non-academic things that have shaped and prepared me for life.

Music was one of the first kind of lessons we were allowed to take. In fact, it was pretty much a family rule that we had to be taking some kind of music lessons each year. I started at age 6 with violin, following in the steps of my older sister Lydia. The teacher I first took from used the Suzuki method while also teaching me to read colors and number over or under the music instead of the notes themselves. That may not have been bad to begin with, but no one ever really explained how to go from that to reading the notes themselves. When we switched to another teacher after a year or two, the new teacher expected me to read the notes right away. I got really discouraged... and stopped violin.

That wasn't the end of music for me, however. When I was 8, I played recorder in a very small homeschool band, then after stopping violin, started taking piano. I really enjoyed it and actually learned how to read the music notes really well! After a year, however, my wonderful and fun teacher moved away. So, we tried another teacher, but the change was hard. It just wasn't the same, so I stopped piano lessons and began flute in the homeschool band.

Though at first I wasn't that interested in the homeschool band, in which my older siblings played in the advanced level, when I was 12, I learned that Miriam Hart would be playing flute in it, so I also took up flute and joined. It was one of the best decisions I made, for I've been playing flute ever since and enjoyed it immensely!

Piano wasn't over for me either; I played around for a few years on-and-off on my own, then took lessons again this last year. The years of flute, in which I learned a lot of theory and musical terms, really helped, and I so enjoyed learning piano again! I also learned more about singing, being in a homeschool choir two years ago, and taking voice lessons my senior year. It taught me things I still put into practice with any singing I do.

Then there was dance. Like many little girls, I dreamed of being a beautiful ballerina. Beginning at age 5 or 6, I was a part of a worship dance group for a few years, which used a lot of sign language and arm movements. I was a part of another similar group later on, took a summer of gymnastics lessons when I was 9, and took baton twirling lessons when I was 10. Much as I enjoyed all of these, it still wasn't ballet, something my heart ached to do. Finally, the summer I turned 11, my dreams came true. We found a Christian praise ballet teacher, and I began lessons. I took from her for 5 years, with the last 3 years also taking pointe from other teachers. Then, as I needed more advance classes, I switched and took two more years of pointe and technique from a new teacher. During the past 2 years I also started The King's Praise Ballet, teaching dance classes of my own.

There was also drama. (Are you sensing an "artsy" theme here? =) I did take soccer one fall when I was 8, but sports have never interested me that much. ) I was in various little dramas growing up, including a church Christmas play when I was 9. I took a spring drama class at age 13, then went to a two-week drama camp that summer. Much as I enjoyed theater, we just couldn't find many good-quality opportunities that I could be a part of. So, through God's amazing timing and the support of so many others, I started directing things myself. I directed "Esther-Ordinary Faith" and played Esther the summer of 2005, wrote and directed "Ruth: From Rejection to Redemption" and played Ruth the summer of 2007, wrote and directed "Mary: Chosen by God" the fall of 2007, and directed "Fat Fat Jehoshaphat" the summer of 2008.

As you can see, I've been involved in many activities over the years! It's been amazing to look back and see how God was working through and building on each one, preparing me for the next step and scene in the script He is writing of my life.

Without being homeschooled, I doubt that I'd have even been able to take or had time for half of these activities. Of course, it's also important to not get too busy and to take time to actually be home, but the fact that our school work didn't take 7 hours each day left us time to take different lessons and practice at home. Sometimes I wish I'd narrowed my pursuit to one or two interests, but all of the different things I've learned have shaped me into who I am today.

Also, had I not been home educated, I don't think I could have ever started teaching ballet or directing musicals. I taught classes during hours I would have otherwise been at school and had time other days to plan and prepare. Being homeschooled allowed me to escape the mold a school often presses one into, and, along with the Rebelution's message of "rebelling against low expectations," I was able, by God's grace, to do many things that I would have otherwise thought too hard for me.

Really, the question of "What about socialization?" makes me laugh. As you read, I was a part of so many activities that allowed me to get to know and interact with many others. Home life itself provided plenty of training ground to learn how to get along with others. And the beauty of it all was that I got to know and interact with people of all ages. Yes, I had some lessons for just my age group and had some close friends among my peers. But more things were done as families, and now I am blessed to be able to relate to people from those my parent's age down to babies and toddlers.

The fact that I was home educated also taught me a lot about home life. Being home so much of the time allowed me to learn the skills needed to run a home from the best people: my mother and sisters. I can cook, clean, sew, and care for children because I have had daily hands-on experience. Because I was homeschooled, I had time to babysit others' children, which gave me essential experience with youngsters, as I only have one younger sibling of my own. Being home gave me the time to really learn how to sew well, cook well, and clean well, and the daily practice helped me to learn to do it quickly and competently.

There are different situations that sometimes seem to necessitate different methods of schooling. But as for me, I am ever so grateful that I was homeschooled all the way through. I didn't only survive home education - I thrived. Now the question is: would I homeschool my own children? If the Lord blesses me with children, then absolutely! It is one of my biggest dreams to be their mother and their teacher.

Thank you Mom and Dad, for the time, effort, and money you invested in teaching and discipling me at home!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New "Maidens for Modesty" Picture

Maidens for Modesty

A year ago, Miriam and I published a post that outlined a list of what we believe as "Maidens for Modesty" and included a button that you could add to your sidebar to show your support. So many responded, with over 70 blogs now displaying the button. It's been wonderful to see the support!

What started quite small, with us just wanting to have a picture for people to display on their sidebar, grew bigger as we added a directory to the post for people who displayed the button to connect. It's been fun to see all of the different blogs!

While most people really liked the picture, which invokes a beautiful memory of eras gone by, others thought it was too old-fashioned to properly portray what modesty should look like in this day and age. When I chose the picture, I was using it because I liked how it looked, and thought it very pretty and "maidenly". Plus, I do have a more old-fashioned taste then some people, though I certainly don't wear dresses like those in the picture every day. :) However, I can see where others are coming from, so we finally took the time to take another picture that can be displayed to support modesty.

Maidens for Modesty

I will edit the original post to include this picture, so that each person can choose whichever one they'd like to display if they want to display one. We hope the two pictures will give everyone more choice and variety.

We also realize how hard it can be to try to depict modesty by just one picture. This new picture is in no way the only way to picture modesty, no more then the other one was. But, I'll try to explain the reasons we chose this one.

We like the view from the back, as it doesn't connect the image to a particular person by being able to see faces. Skirts are quite pretty and more fun to take pictures in, though some kinds of pants can be modest as well, just as some kinds of skirts can be immodest. The different length sleeves and shirt colors add fun variety, while the matching skirts tie us together. I know that before, some have objected that the long hair is too stereotypical, but as we both have long hair, it's hard to take a picture that shows both long and short. =) Please understand that we don't in any way think that you have to have such long hair in order to be modest - we just happen to like ours that way. =) We left it down because it's more pretty that way, and braids or buns could convey a stereotypical picture just as easily as long hair could.

In the end, you just have to remember that no one picture can convey what modesty looks like. Indeed, modesty is more of an attitude, though one that is certainly conveyed through what we wear.

If you'd like to switch your button to this one, that's fine; if you want to keep the other one, that's fine as well. If you want to display both of them, go right ahead. :) To add either one of the buttons, just copy the code in the box and paste it in your sidebar html code, and it should work. Then, let us know so that we can add your blog to the directory! If you've added the button and don't see your blog on the list of supporters, please email or comment and we'll get yours added.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Help me... =)

Hi everyone! I've decided to start a separate blog. On this blog I will post mostly pictures from daily life, friends, family, and events going on in my life. However, I'm having a slight problem thinking of a suitable name, so....I'm asking all of the Maidens of Worth readers to help me think of a name! I'm very interested in seeing what everyone comes up with. =)

Homeschooled All the Way (Part 1)

As I prepare to head off to college, I know that my life as a homeschooled student as ended. In many ways, it's saddening, as home education has been one of the best foundations in my life. It's also the only thing I've ever known, and change can be tough. As I "close the books" on this chapter in my life, I feel the need to write down some of my experiences and thoughts as a homeschool graduate.

Please understand that I am in no way saying that homeschooling is the only or best way to go, or that I'm somehow a "better" person because I've always been homeschooled. Different forms of education work different ways for different people. Though I think homeschooling is great, I know that there are circumstances were public or private schooling work well. I am convinced, though, that home education was the best way for me, and am grateful for my experiences.

My memories of the start of my "formal" education are dim. As a little girl, I had the freedom to learn in many ways outside of the walls of a classroom. I played with siblings, learned to work, and took care of my dollies, having a wonderful time in a carefree childhood. I think I started lesson books when I was 6 years old, though there were probably some simple workbooks earlier then that. I do remember sitting with Mom as she taught Elijah, and I think I picked up on many things right along with him. When I was 6 years old, I could read and write pretty well, though my spelling was atrocious, as my journal showed!

The foundation of all that mom and dad taught us was Scripture. Above all else, they wanted us to learn and understand God's Word. Now, years later, I am so thankful for how they stressed it. My mother has the gift of putting Bible verses to music, using the tunes of songs she knows. Thus, we started memorizing Scripture from a young age quite easily. After all, "If you've something to remember, put it in a melody! Who could think of any way to learn more naturally?" as the record "Sir Oliver's Songs" sings it.

So from the time we started "book learning," as my mom called it, and even before, we were also constantly working on memorizing verse or passages of Scripture that were usually put to song. We started learning the ABC's by singing them: "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, Jesus died for you and me. H, I, J, K, L, M, N, Jesus died for sinful men. Amen! O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, I believe God's Word is true. V and W, God has promised you, X, Y, X, a home eternally!" Then we'd learn to sing them backwards, with new phrases. The song sure stuck, for I can hardly go through the alphabet now without singing it!

We then worked on the individual letters, with a different Bible verse song for each letter. We started with "All things are possible with God", then "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" and "Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and burdened" and on all the way through "Zion hears and rejoices, the people of Judah are glad because of your judgments, O Lord. For You, O Lord, are the Most High God over all the earth." These simply yet full-of-truth songs have also stuck with me. They sure work well when you're trying to put a baby to sleep, as there's quite a few songs to sing through! =)

We continued Scripture memorization all the way through, from Psalm 91 and the armor of God from Ephesians 6 as a family, to Psalm 119 at 13 years of age, to even longer passages or books of the Bible by the end. This practice is one I'm planning to continue through the years.

We certainly didn't neglect the "three R's", however! In the beginning, mom would assign me pages to do in various workbooks nearly every day. Reading quickly became my favorite subject, with spelling a close second. Math and Science were near the bottom of my favorites' list, though I began liking them more in high school.

We used a variety of curriculum, ABEKA and Bob Jones Press being the main ones in middle school, with books from other places for various subjects. From 5th grade on I used Saxon Math, and used Apologia Science from 7th grade on, enjoying those subjects more as a result.

As a youngster, I thrived in this way of learning. Though more structure would have perhaps been better, I enjoyed knowing that when I was done with my daily assignments (or often by 3 p.m. mom would just let us stop), I was free to play. Mom would spend some time assigning and explaining in the morning, then I would turn the books back in when I was done, for her to check. I continued to learn a lot outside of "book learning," voraciously reading many many books, spending long hours outside or inside playing with siblings, and doing the daily tasks and activities of a child.

As I got older, though, I began to somewhat abuse the "as soon as it's 3 p.m. you're done for the day" practice. It was to easy to dawdle and work slowly through things and get distracted easily, thereby not accomplishing very much each day. Mom was soon busy teaching Jubilee the basics, and I began to rarely even finish books by the end of the year. We'd stop in June, then I'd start the next grade in September. It didn't seem to hurt me (there is a lot of repetition in most subjects!) but it bothered me not to finish the books.

As I got older, I began to be more and more self taught. Nearing the end of the school year I was 11 or 12, I decided that I wanted to actually finish my books, so I wrote out a plan of how many pages I would have to do per day in order to accomplish that goal. I finished later then usual that summer, but it felt so good to actually be done! That year, Elijah helped me plan out all of my books at the beginning of the school year, figuring out what I'd need to do each day. We made a table with dates and blocks of what lesson or number of pages we aimed to do in each subject. This schedule helped me a lot, and I enjoyed being able to mark off each subject (in pretty colors, of course!) as I finished in each day.

My plans weren't foolproof; life threw unexpected things my way, and I wasn't always able to complete what I'd planned. There was then catch up to do or an editing of the schedule dates. It underwent a lot of changes over the years, but I continued to use the same type of school list all the way to the end of high school.

I sometimes joke how I was my own teacher. Mom was still in charge, and she'd help me decide on what books to do each year, sometimes assigning me things she specifically wanted done. But I checked my own work, scheduled it out, and kept track of my grades on tests. She was available if I had questions or needed something explained, as was the rest of my family. It was nice to have so many people available to help, especially my engineer-sister Miriam or my just-ahead-of-me-brother Elijah when I needed help with confusing math problems.

The self-taught approach worked quite well for me all-in-all, teaching me how to plan things, and allowing me to go at my own pace and learn things well. It also prepared me for real life, as I'm now not afraid to learn things on my own. It also taught me honesty, as I had the answer keys easily available, yet was honest in doing the work before checking them. The hardest thing was to be diligent and disciplined when I had very little check-up from others on progress, but this too helped me learn important lessons in diligence and develop self-motivation.

My dad also played a part in our education, which was really nice! Obviously, he funded it, working hard to provide for us. However, he also took out time to be involved specifically in various ways. He led family devotions nearly ever weekday, which taught us so much about God and the Bible. He also worked less at his job for a few years, spending an hour or two in the morning teaching Lydia, Elijah and me French and Physical Science. For my last year, he was home almost the whole day, as he'd saved enough to begin an early retirement. It has been wonderful to be able to learn so much from both parents!

In addition to academics, I learned so many other things through homeschooling and non-academic activities...

... to be continued.

(read Part 2)