Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I've declared January 2009 to be my personal "diligence" month, in which I concentrate on the trait of diligence.

Here's what good old Webster's has to say about diligence:

"DILIGENCE, n. [L., to love earnestly; to choose.]

1. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity.

Diligence is the philosophers stone that turns every thing to gold.

Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1.
2. Care; heed; heedfulness.

Keep thy heart with all diligence. Proverbs

Isn't that interesting that the word for diligence springs from a term that means to love earnestly and to choose. I suppose we take great care of that which we love. As I've quoted before, it's said, "Love is in the details."

Wikipedia says: Diligence is a zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Budgeting one's time; monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness. Putting forth full concentration in one's work.

Charles Kingsley said, "Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle life will never know."

Benjamin Franklin said, "Diligence overcomes difficulties; sloth makes them."

One opposite of diligence is sloth.

Webster's defines slothfulness as "
SLOTH'FULNESS, n. The indulgence of sloth; inactivity; the habit of idleness; laziness. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep. Prov. 19. "

Some people link the quality of slothfulness to sadness Sloth looks like fun in the moment, but it inevitably leads to or springs from a heaviness of spirit. Haven't we all noticed that a cheerful person is generally industrious, while a lazy or idle person feels weighed down? (That's not to say that all cases of depression spring from sloth or lead to sloth.)

So, during January, I am setting my heart on growing in diligence.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve Eve...

Due to the holidays, I'm a little behind in blogging but hope to catch up soon. I hope everyone's looking forward to a new year. With God, His mercies are new every morning, and every day -- even every minute -- is a fresh start. However, there is something about the new year that does seem to bring out new plans and new excitement.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Calling all couponers:

I spent quite some time today looking for printable coupons for the items on my grocery list. I was quite pleased with some of my results. Just a couple of weeks ago, I used an Internet coupon at a nearby Super Wal-Mart. So, today, I blithely headed off to our local Wal-Mart Neighborhood Grocery Store, thinking they would honor the Internet coupons, too. Well, when I got up to the cashier, she said, "Are those Internet coupons, ma'am? We don't take them." I was buying some gifts on behalf of my father, which was a separate transaction, and I didn't say anything. Later, on the way home, I wished I had pointed out that the Super-Wal-Mart took an Internet coupon.

As it was, instead of saving money, I actually spent a little more than if I had bought Wal-Mart generics. I had chosen some name brand products specifically to get the coupon.

Has this happened to you? I read that if you go through the self check-out line and scan them yourself, you won't have any problem. However, because of buying the gift certificates for my dad, I needed to go through the line.

What's the trick for getting stores to take the Internet coupons? I really like Internet coupons over the ones you get in the paper, because you can find coupons for items you really want to buy and you don't have to offset the cost of the newspaper in coupon savings before the savings show up in your food budget.


Monday, December 22, 2008

I've been blogging too long...

The letters that you have to input into boxes in order to verify you are who you say you are when leaving comments are starting to look like real words to me. I'm sure "yoess" is some kind of German needlework. Don't you think so? :)

Today's day book is abbreviated. I need to get on to some other things. But, I'll post more details later.

Outside my window: Night has come, and it's unusually cold outside -- It was only 12 degrees in our mid-South city this morning!! It's supposed to warm back up in time for Christmas.
What I'm wearing...a necklace that my wonderful children and children-in-law gave me for Christmas. It's made with a diamond that came from a ring that my late aunt owned. Wasn't that thoughtful of my children?
I'm creating...I'm knitting a scarf out of yarn colored in pink and green -- it's really for a baby afghan. We traveled out of town this weekend, and i wanted something to do in the car. I think of our car as being very smooth riding. However, it's a challenge to knit in the dark, over rough road from construction, and with very slippery needles -- not to mention I haven't picked up knitting needles in quite some time, so my skills are rusty. I enjoy the soothing rhythm of knitting, though.
Around the house...After having had a bout with asthma last week and traveling over the weekend, I hit the wall today. But, I caught up with my rest today and feel ready to tackle unpacking, cleaning my house for the holiday, getting a little work done on my at-home business, and finishing up some last minute Christmas errands in the next couple of days.
I'm hoping...everyone has a wonderful holiday season.
Plans for this week...pick up my father from his assisted living center so he can stay with us for several days...go to my in-laws for Christmas Day...stay busy with in-town family so as not to dwell on the fact that this is the first Christmas since our oldest was born that we have not had all of our children with us on Christmas Day...In fact, this will be our first time without all or any of them here. But, we saw them all at Thanksgiving, which is our family's favorite holiday -- and that was just wonderful!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great resources, great gifts...

For some reason, women are so much easier to buy gifts for than men are -- or, at least I think so. I was just thinking of three great gifts (mostly books) to give women and young ladies who aspire to acquire some domestic skills. These would help equip a woman to manage her home and love her family. Moreover, they're simply fun.

1. Make your own clothes by Marie Clayton. Comes with software and free patterns. Can be found at Jo-Ann's. Perfect for the young and stylish woman who wants to begin sewing.

2. A one year subscription to Taste of Home Magazine. Today, we can get so many recipes of the Internet. Also, most new brides are given cookbooks. However, the recipes in Taste of Home appeal to the way most people really eat. 12 months issues are more than enough to inspire and educate a woman in cooking for her family. Plus, a young lady can read an issue, decide what she wants to keep out of it, and pass it on to others who may enjoy it.

3. Klutz certified "Quilting" -- beginning quilting for young ladies -- found at Michael's. (Note: I was looking for a kid's beginning book of quilting that I have, but couldn't find it. I saw this title, isntead. It looks interesting. Even for those of us who are no longer "tweens" or "teens" children's craft materials can help us learn new skills, too.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I must be easily fascinated, because I'm hooked on reading
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For some reason, I don't remember reading it during my childhood, though I read other Little House books. And, I don't recall reading it during my glued to the re-runs of Little House on the Prairie TV shows, either.

Maybe, I did read it somewhere in the past but was too young to appreciate the details it portrays of farm life in the 1860's.

Anyhow, I like this paragraph about the late summer harvest season: "They all worked from candle-light to candle-light. Mother and the girls were making cucumber pickles, green-tomato pickles, and watermelon-rind pickles; they were drying corn and apples, and making preserves. Everything must be saved, nothing wasted of all the summer's bounty. Even the apple cores were saved fr making vinegar, and a bundle of oat-straw was soaking in a tub on the back porch, Whenever Mother had one minute to spare, she braided and inch or two of oatstraw braid for making next summer's hats."

Isn't it wonderful how they made the most of every bit of time, plus every bit of produce that they could? Of course, in today's world, we generally don't need to save apple cores to make vinegar, though I suppose some people do make vinegar that way. We can buy a gallon of cheap vinegar at the store, if we like. Yet, I am convicted about how much I do throw away simply by not planning quantities better.

My father's parents had some of this make something out of everything attitude, though probably not to this extreme. Yet, almost every part of an animal slaughtered on their farm was used in some way, and many, many things were pickled.

In modern times, this can be a boon and a burden. We've all heard stories of people raised in the Depression who saved every bit of twine and string in case they needed it later. That was a good habit in Depression days, but one that created clutter in modern times.

I'm challenged by the idea of applying the underlying principles of creative use of time and goods in a modern household. I'd love to see if we can do this in a way that we do not consume to excess and so that nothing is wasted and, yet, so that we do not save burdensome clutter.

Of course, very efficient people know how to apply the underlying principles to every situation. They think about what they do and why and figure out the best way to do it to save time, energy, money, and waste. This becomes such an ingrained part of their character that they probably don't realize how much this is a part of their thinking.

Though I come from generations of frugal and efficient thinkers, I didn't get this gene. I am very quick with other things, but, when it comes to efficiency, I really have to reason this out or get advice from an efficient person. However, this is a skill in which I'd really love to grow. I'm challenging myself to do so.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some principles of human communication: These are for any relationship, but during the holidays we can especially apply them to family.

1) He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. James 1:10

If you're like me, you may find yourself thinking in your mind what you want to say while another person is still speaking. With children, especially, we can say no to a request before we've heard it out. Or, if someone is sharing something that makes us feel defensive, we can focus more on defending ourselves than truly understanding what the other person is trying to tell us. Or, we may simply be impatient to have our turn to say something. The key to good communication is to listen until you understand what the other person is communicating. Then and only then, think carefully how to answer.

Teach your family not to interrupt each other. Our family are all outgoing people, and we love to talk and have fun together. When we get going, we often interrupt each other in our excitement. I'm as guilty of this as anyone in the family. At those times, we have to remind ourselves to listen until another person has finished speaking. It's a matter of showing respect and a true concern for the other person. Love is not selfish, which means that love is eager to give the other person a chance to be heard.

2) The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. Proverbs 18:17.
When dealing with a conflict between two people, never draw conclusions after hearing only one side. We all have a tendency to present the facts of an event in a light that supports our case. We may not even be conscious that we are doing this. We may just be seeing a situation through our own eyes. Therefore, an impartial counselor must be able to hear out both sides in order to provide any wise counsel or input.

3) A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matthew 18:15
Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. Proverbs 26:20

How many conflicts escalate because too many people talk about it and talk about it? Jesus' instruction is that we go and talk to a person who has hurt us first, in private. There's another verse that states the reverse: if we know someone is upset with us, we are obligated to go and talk with them in private first, too. If you have talked with someone in private and the problem is still unresolved, then and only then should you bring in a third, impartial party to mediate the situation.

If someone tries to use you as a sounding board for a conflict, ask first, "Have you talked to ____ about this?" If they have not talked to the person in question, sweetly direct them to go back to the person that has offended them.

Going to the person who hurt us is a hard thing to do for some reason, and many of us feel better venting to a third person who will be sympathetic to us. Yet, that becomes gossip and does nothing at all to remedy things. We all must be willing to overcome our uncomfortable feelings and go to the person in question -- even if it's someone who intimidates us a little. After all, don't you want people to come to you when they are hurt or offended by something you said or did?

When going to a third party, your motivation should be to help rather than to chew over someone's faults. In I Corinthians, Paul mentions that someone from Chloe's household had written to him about conflicts in the Corinthian church. It's obvious that this person sought Paul's aid because the church was not resolving things well internally.

When children are young, many love to tattle-tale. (Some of us who are grown up can enjoy tattling, too!) Now, children obviously do need to alert adults if a sibling or a friend is doing something dangerous, immoral, or damaging to someone's property. They may lack the ability to distinguish between what does need to come to your attention and what can be settled in other matters. Also, they will not have mature skills in working out conflicts. Be thankful they are communicating with you. Most likely, you will need to help settle a conflict between young children. Patiently, over time, teach them how to resolve conflicts on their own as is age-appropriate. Help them grow into knowing when to bring things to your attention.

If it's obvious that your child delights in pointing out someone else's faults --the true tattle tale --teach the child that love does not rejoice in wrong. Help them to gain attention in more positive ways.

4) Judge not or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1
Love always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mathew 7:3

When my husband and I were first married, we would go beyond noticing a fault in the other one to taking that fault personally. When we saw an outward action, we jumped to conclusions about the inner motivations. "If she really cared, she wouldn't...." "If he loved me, he would..." We judged the other person's intentions and character instead of dealing with the facts. We focused on "fixing" the other one, rather than on dealing with our own sins and shortcomings. Needless to say, none of this was helpful! God showed us through godly people how to change our patterns of relating to healthier, more godly ones. One of the happiest things we learned was that love always trust and love always hopes.

Relationships between spouses, between parents and children, and between siblings thrive when one person looks to another person's best qualities. In healthy relationships, people do not pretend that problems, sins, or faults don't exist -- either in themselves or in the other person. They do, however, deal with the facts honestly and respectfully, without jumping to conclusions or judging motives. They talk openly, rather than nagging, criticizing, or belittling. They ask questions and allow the other person to talk before making a judgement. They also appreciate the good in the other person. They hope in God's plan for their own life and for the life of the other person. They have a vision for what God wants to work in a particular situation.

Even if a person is struggling and weak, knowing that their spouse or their parent or their sibling believes that they can come through the struggle as a stronger, better person can help someone persevere.

5) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:13-15.

Nothing kills a relationship like grudges, unforgiveness, and bitterness. Nothing makes it thrive like forgiveness. In fact, this impacts our relationship with God, as well. Jesus tells us that if we want to be forgiven of our sins, we must forgive the sins of others. Sometimes, this requires prayer and working through some emotions. But, our hearts should always be to follow Jesus, who prayed on the cross for those who were crucifying him to be forgiven. What did Jesus do to forgive us? He died a painful death. He bore the consequences of our sins. Forgiveness can be a painful process on our part, in which we must pray and work through our emotions. We must die to defending ourselves or retaliating or giving someone the cold shoulder. Yet, whatever sufferings on our part to forgive is nothing compared to the power of the cross that forgives us.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Have you seen this grocery list maker from Scott Tissue?
I ran across it at Julieann's blog.
I haven't had a chance to explore it thoroughly yet, but it looks really easy to use. It lets you make a grocery list by choosing items from virtual aisles in a grocery store.

Outside my window...It's another rainy Monday. We've been having an unusual string of those lately. After the drought of last year, I'm sure that these winter rains are good for filling up streams and soaking the ground.
I am thinking...of all that I want to accomplish today.
I am thankful for...the busy, but rewarding weekend we had.
From the learning mother in law patiently taught me last night how to do a crochet project that uses two strands of yarn at one time and a half double crochet stitch.
From the kitchen...will bake chicken pieces with a bisquick crust.
I am wearing...a pink sweater, black jeans, and Tennis shoes -
I am creating...I hope to finish sewing some curtains if I can get some free time tonight.
I am going...I've already been out and hope to be in for the rest of the day; might do something with friends this evening
I am reading...Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Yes, I know it's a child's book, but I"m enjoying it."
I am hearing...the hum of my heater.
Around the house...I finished cleaning out a drawer in my kitchen.
One of my favorite things...pretty colors
A few plans for the rest of the week: Christmas shopping, a trip to see grown children
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

My mother in law teaching me how to crochet. She is a very accomplished home keeper and never sits down without a bit of work in her hands.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

There is only one practical remedy for this deadly sin of needless worry—and that is to take short views. Faith is content to live "from hand to mouth," enjoying each blessing from God as it comes. This perverse spirit of worry runs off and gathers some anticipated troubles and throws them into the cup of mercies—and turns them to vinegar! by Theodore Cuyler

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere...
(The above quote has nothing to do with today's topic. I just like it.:))

I'm re-reading Cheryl Mendelson's book, "Home Comforts". I was struck by this thought: In this country a century ago, people both rich and poor lacked the plethora of movable objects that presently clog our homes: toys, games, magazines, papers, and gadgets of all sorts. The design of ordinary homes and furnishings has only recently begun to provide anything like proper storage for all these goods, enabling people to attempt to abide by the venerable household maxim, "A place for everything and everything in its place."

Again, she says, "But beyond creating a place for everything and learning not to purchase or retain useless things, achieving basic orderliness depends on learning a new set of habits, habits geared toward living with material plenty, for the likelihood is that your present ideas about how to say neat were invented in a world that knew only material scarcity. True success involves changing your mind as well as your closets."

She speaks of the "broken window" syndrome. Police psychologists have discovered that if a neighborhood contains a building in which a building is broken and never repaired, those who incline towards criminal activities like vandalism and theft take that as a sign that its OK to indulge in their crimes. It's an unconscious signal to them that no one cares about this area, so why not trash it. Thus, a broken window leads to more damage, which sends an even stronger signal that its OK to trash this neighborhood even further.

How does this apply to the home? Well, it gives us one very good reason to keep our homes and our property in order; doesn't it? Aside from that, however, Cheryl Mendleson notes a corollary on the inside of our houses. If one person is sitting in a chair, with a glass of iced tea and a book, and they leave these things behind to attend to an interruption, the next person who comes into the room is more inclined to also leave something out -- car keys, a winter hat, another book, etc. If everyone in the family feels free to leave something behind, a room can become very cluttered, indeed.

Now, in the old days, a pleasantly lived in room was likely to stay pleasantly lived in until someone neatened it up. That's because the average person in the home had fewer movable objects to leave lying around. Each person might leave behind only one thing or two, and the family could be quickly marshalled to put those few items back into their proper places.

Now, a pleasantly lived in room can rapidly deteriorate into a total mess. The inhabitants might not leave only one object about, but several. We could leave about our daily water bottle, our car keys, our cell phone, our laptop, our junk and other mail, our magazines, the current book we're reading, that winter scarf we wore today, the stuff we carried with us to the exercise class, the shoes we long to slip off, that tax form we picked up at the post office, and the leavings of a snack. And, that's just the adults! What about children with school books, the hottest gadgets, and umpteen toys!

To top it off, all of us, adult or children, come with so many more papers that must be signed, filed, returned to some department of this, that, or the other than in former days. I, along with some of my peers, am caring for an aging parent. We are finding out that this not only involves caring for the beloved parent, but spending hours simply filling out forms and mailing forms and handling paperwork. Likewise, when my childeren were in the home, I needed to do the same for them. I'm sure that peopel who were born over a century ago did not come with so much paperwork attached! I asked DH just yesterday: If everything's so computerized now, why do I have more papers to take care of than ever?

I know that my dear engineer hubby does some of his work from home and some of his work from an office. This requires the transport of numerous circuit boards, wires, and various devices of which I do not even know the purpose. Fortunately, his office is not very far from the front door, so there's not much room for him to scatter these things about on his way in.

I can speak of dear hubby's stuff only because I outdo him in leaving things lying around. I am the queen of books, papers, and half-filled glasses. I am messier when one of my chronic health challenges is kicking up.

I do notice that when I stay on top of the clutter and the house is neat, I am much more inclined to follow the basic housekeeping rule of "If you get it out, put it away."

Mrs. Mendleson notes that the topic of clutter has become a big business in our country. Books and magazine articles are written about it; whole companies are devoted to building closets which house clutter more efficiently; people make a living going into other people's homes and re-arranging their stuff; TV shows are devoted to organization of things.

She offers some suggestions for our modern dilemma of clutter chaos:

1) She suggests that our inner standards must be adjusted to permit a certain number of things to be out of place without triggering the feeling that a rule has been broken or that the perfection of the room is thereby flawed. At the same time, the inhabitants of a home should keep that standard as the maximum amount of stuff left out so that they do not feel entitled to escalate the clutter.
2) She suggests defining what things may be left out and what things may not: For example, a craft or school activity or a game may be left out until it is completed. Similarly, tax papers or a newspaper or mail might be left somewhere until you are finished dealing with them. However, each person should not, in her opinion, leave out more than one activity at a time and it must be cleaned away when finished.
3) It should be a firm rule that no one leaves food or dirty dishes or glasses or remnants of snacks or meals out, as this is unsanitary. Similarly, wet towels should be hung up, beds should be made, and dirty clothes should be tossed in a hamper.
4) She suggests setting up temporary holding stations for miscellaneous designated goods. These are places where it is permissible to leave things before they are put away. She cites a small chest that they have in their hall, where children may dump papers pertaining to school, adults may leave mail, etc. She says that neat, well-organized homes tend to have variety of these temporary holding stations. For example, you might establish a cubbyhole for each of your children to store various papers relating to their homeschooling or outside schooling. You might have a shelf where you store newspapers for recycling.
5) She cautions that every temporary holding station must be assigned a day of reckoning, a time when you actually do go through the items and do what you need to do with them. The trouble with many systems -- throwing papers into baskets and such -- is that people do not go back through them. Thus, many things do not get done, and the clutter multiplies.

Cheryl Mendleson's final suggestion is that you develop a habit of neatening. She ways whenever you go upstairs, carry with you something that belongs up there. I do notice that the best housekeepers do continually neaten. Similarly, Cheryl Mendleson advises that you keep to your household routines, which also aids in keeping clutter under control. She suggests that you teach your children to pick up after themselves and to also work towards an orderly home for all. She suggests that if you live with someone who is messy, place any items you find belonging to him or her in a space where they can put it away at some point. For example, she and her husband both have home offices (as do my hubby and I), so whenever one of them is neatening their office and they find something belonging to the other, they simply put it in that person's office -- leaving it up to that person to put things away.

Cheryl Mendlson says that if you put these things into practice, your home will be orderly and neat even though your home is filled with too many things and your schedules are unpredictable. She also says that when these habits are adopted, the house looks pleasantly lived in -- as though real human beings spend their time there doing serious, pleasant, and interesting things.

"They do not live for the home but in it. It is not there for display but for comfort, rest, and the various activities of private life."

Well, now we know why today's home managers -- at least in first world countries -- have more trouble than our grandmothers did with keeping clutter under control: We simply have more stuff. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think in some ways, our lives are enriched because we do have more books in our homes, as well as access to information via the Internet. We also have more tools with which to perform the tasks of our lives. Certainly, it's also pleasant to have so many diversions and toys at our fingertips.

However, in other ways, I think we are burdened by all this excess of stuff. I don't want the major portion of my life to be spent battling clutter, rather than loving people.

Certainly, we do have more stuff than Grandma did. But, Grandma had to work harder to do the tasks that she did do. A century or two ago, laundry and ironing was a daunting task. Many households made their own soap and candles. More people lived on farms, and farm life involves a lot of work. With so many labor-saving devices that we have now, our lives should be freer. Do we want to spend that freedom in the service of stuff? Hmm...

At any rate, I think even a century ago, clutter varied according to what the individuals in a home valued. When I was little, there was an elderly gentleman who lived in the area where my mother's family came from. He was quite an amateur historian, and I remember how interesting it was to listen to him talk about the area -- especially since most of the stories of that area involved people to whom I was related in some way. He was quite old, and he had been born in the 1800's. He kept a wonderful cache of historical documents and notes. When he died, his children failed to recognize the value of his collection and threw it all away. When personnel at the local library heard of this, they expressed sorrow that these papers had not been donated to them so that future generations would have access to his collection.

And, let us also not forget that the Victorians loved their knick-knacks and also little sentimental keepsakes. The point is well taken, however, that modern life does involve more gadgetry and paperwork than our great-grandparents could have imagined.

What do you think about clutter and today's world? Do you think Cheryl Mendleson's insights are spot on or not and also how you keep your home organized and free of clutter. Do you ever have times when the clutter gets away from you? What makes for a pleasantly lived in home versus one that is too cluttered?

I'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, I'm off to clear away some clutter...


Monday, December 08, 2008

Outside My Window...It's gotten dark, and Christmas lights are twinkling next door. Earlier, it was a bit gray, but mild enough to sit outside on my swing for a bit.
I am thinking...about things I need to do; also about how time flies.
I am thankful for...enjoying a nice quiet meal with my hubby: chicken tenderloins cooked with honey mustard sauce, rice, and sweet peas. I'm also thankful that we celebrated our 28th anniversary this weekend. It was actually the weekend before, but we waited until after our children left to celebrate so that we could enjoy family time with them then and enjoy a date with each other this past weekend.
From the learning rooms...Have much to learn!
From the kitchen...See above.
I am wearing...burgundy short sleeved sweater, print skirt, tights, and a long-sleeved jersey swing jacket
I am creating...a cleaner house. Trying to get back into swing after having been down with a bug.
Would like to decorate my office/sewing room around this lamp:

Have in mind a white room with touches of pink -- Any thoughts on how to do this and do it on a budget?
I am going...nowhere tonight.
I am reading...a book by Larry Burkett and am musing how he knew a crash was coming, though he thought it would be in 2,000 or shortly thereafter. He wasn't the only one who predicted that we'd run into trouble with a credit-driven society.
I am hearing...Christmas music from a station I put together on Pandora.
Around the house...lots already done/lots still to be done.
One of my favorite things...popcorn!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Christmas concert next Saturday evening.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Wasn't dear hubby sweet to send me a bouquet of two dozen roses of mixed colors?


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Not everything about the shaky economy is negative...

CNN provides this interesting article about the rise of home cooking during the recent economic downturn. I'm a little late in seeing it; it was written in September. If the information in the article is still holding true, cookbook sales are up. Not only that, but people are rushing to buy basic cooking equipment, which, apparently, many homes did not even have. People who used to spend a lot eating out for dinner and lunch now pack lunches and cook dinner.

On the downside, casual restaurants, which are the food source of those who need a meal in a hurry, are not doing as well. But, companies related to the cooking industry are seeing an increase in sales.

While I wish that this trend didn't result from hard times, I must say that I see some good things in this trend:

1) People who used to cook regularly but have quit are cooking again; people who have never cooked are learning how.
2) I'm sure the home cooked meals are not only cost-saving when compared to eating out, but are more nutritious, too.
3) Perhaps, people will connect the dots and realize that tending to the home is an important career choice for those who wish to make it. Cooking nutritious meals takes time, planning, and skill -- not to mention that it becomes an art form for those who really love to cook. Cooking is a wonderful way of showing love to others.
4) Perhaps more children are experiencing the joys of the family dinner table. Perhaps, they are learning how to help in the kitchen, as well.
5) If people thought they were too busy to cook but are now cooking, the time to prepare those meals has to come from somewhere. Perhaps, some families are substituting cooking for time spent in watching TV or other activities that are ok, but not necessarily as bonding or as wholesome.

Anyhow, I hope that the trend toward cooking is producing some good things.

Speaking of coping during hard times, DH and I watched, "While You Were Away," with Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, and Shirley Temple. Has anyone else seen it?

Before I mention what I liked about it, let me state a few negatives. When it comes to portraying a housewife coping with the hardships of World War II, I prefer Mrs. Miniver. It's not quite as melodramtic as "While You Were Away", which David Selznick, the producer, hoped would be an extravaganza on the scale of his earlier film, "Gone With the Wind." Also, I wasn't quite comfortable with the fact that one of the main male characters in the film, a single man, makes joking flirtatious comments to the main female character, a married woman whose husband is away fighting the war.

Despite those things, I loved the way the film presented a mother and her two daughters coping creatively with the absence of the husband and father, with their reduced budget, with rationing, and with the inevitable sadness and death that war brings. I also loved the set for the house, as well as the costumes of the women. I'm glad that I saw it.

If you've watched this movie, what did you think?


Hadias has a good post about what things you should do to have order in the home before you decide to bring in outside income. Of course, this list is not set in stone. But, she does offer some great things to think about. Keeping order in the home is a foundational aspect of home economy and home thrift, and I'm glad she's given us some ways to examine whether we are keeping a right balance in our desire to bring increase to our families.



Thursday, December 04, 2008

Getting the Jump on Feminine Friday.

I found this over at Songs I Sing. Slap some pearls on, and this is how I'd love to dress once in a while -- if I had the courage. Seriously.

Actually, my father has quite a few photos of my late mother, who dressed a lot like this before I was born and even somewhat after. She and her friends really did look like June Cleaver when I was a tot.

However, it's never wise to imitate the past, but to do what we can in our era to look neat, pretty, modest, and feminine. I'd love some comments on my blog about how you think we can apply timeless principles of style to today's fashions.


Isn't that a lovely quote? Now, God can overcome any baggage that we carry from childhood. Nothing is impossible for him. He is the only perfect Father and Jesus our only and perfect Father and brother. Christ is preparing an unimaginably blissful home for us. So, if our upbringing was less than perfect, we do not need to let that hinder us in life.

Yet, there are those children who are raised in such an atmosphere of love that they do feel that home is the happiest place to be -- next to being in God's kingdom. Children who have the confidence, joy, and innocence that comes from such a home life are beautiful to behold. So, too, are adults who carry memories of a happy home life with them forever.

What are your dreams for giving your husband and children memories of a happy home? Of course, not every moment will be pleasant. Each family has its share of sorrows. In God's hands, sorrows can ultimately become blessings and his joy can temper our sorrows, but they are sorrows, nonetheless. Likewise, neither you nor your family members will be perfect.

Yet, isn't it fun to dream and to plan for creating a happy home. If we commit to making even a little investment in the happiness of our family every day, it can add up over time.

I have a friend who had three sisters. In adulthood, they were chatting and realized that each one of them thought they were their mother's favorite daughter. It had been her mother's goal to love each one of her daughters in the way that she needed to be loved, and she succeeded in her goal. I admire that.

Here are four tips for creating a happy home life.

1) Ask your husband and any of your children who are old enough to understand what makes them feel comfortable? Happy? Tune into their conversation and look for clues that indicate what does help them to be happy.
2) Do not fret if your children do not seem to appreciate everything you do or every family event. Sometimes, children will complain during a family vacation, for example, and you may have to teach them to be grateful. Later on, when you hear them talking as adults, you will be surprised to overhear them talk about what a fun time that same vacation was. They won't even remember that they complained or whined. Time has a way of teaching children to appreciate the good, provided that the parents are consistently guiding them toward a positive view.
3) You knew this was coming, didn't you? Be joyful and enthusiastic about life yourself.
4) If your children go to school, try to be available to them when they come home. Fix a snack for them. You'll be surprised about how much they will open up to you. You can guide them in dealing with the challenges of their day and help them appreciate the benefits of their day. (I think people undervalue how important it is for a child to come home to a mother in the home all the way through the end of high school.)
5) If you give your children plenty of other times to talk about any challenges they are facing and any negative emotions they are dealing with, you can gently guide the dinner conversation toward wholesome and happy things. This will help create happy memories. Children do not know how to handle the negative emotions of life and even adolescents are still developing that part of their brains that deal with these things. So, they need opportunities to open up and tell you how they feel in a real way. They also need times, however, to let down their burdens and focus on things which will build them up. If you set the example, meal times can be a time of peace and comfort for them.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Now that's what I call music:

Listen and smile!

Today, I happened to notice something that everyone else probably noticed long ago:

In the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, the second key that permeates every verse is her trustworthiness. (The first key would be her fear of the Lord.)

Of course, I've long thought that this is a beautiful statement:

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. vs.11 NIV
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. vs. 11 KJV

I've also connected this to verse 23 tells us that her husband is known in the city gates, where he sits with the elders of the land. In other words, he is a leader in their city. He can perform his role, because he can trust his wife to perform hers. He can do his work without worrying about what she might or not be doing in the home.

The husband of this woman can depend on her to take that part of the family finances for which she is responsible and produce increase. He can trust her to prepare her family for whatever type of weather is coming. He can trust her to teach their children and others with wisdom and kindness. He can trust her to look well to the ways of their household and never to bring about harm to their family through neglect, indifference, slothfulness, or ignorance of the state of their household.

He can trust her never to damage his reputation, which is an important quality in the wife of a leader. Not only does he trust her, but others must see her faithful conduct, as well or he would not be so respected in the city gates.

Where is the source of the worthy wife's faithfulness? She fears and trusts a faithful God. Out of respect for him, she is faithful in everything she does. She is also faithful not only to serve her immediate family, but to reach out to the poor and needy, as well. She knows that this is something the Lord would want her to do.

Yet, even though I have recognized this, I still didn't understand just how intricately this quality of trustworthiness is tied to every verse describing the worthy woman. I have sometimes looked at the long list of her accomplishments and have been overwhelmed when comparing my work to hers. Yet, I see that so much of her effectiveness springs from this quality of faithfulness. She is faithful in the big picture -- managing her time well and determining where to place her efforts. She is faithful in the small picture -- attending to little details.

How does the worthy woman accomplish so much? She works diligently, because she is faithful and trustworthy. She has important work to do in the home, and she is eager to do it well. She wants to be faithful to the trust given to her.

How does she do all that she does so excellently? Again, she is eager to perform all of her tasks in a faithful manner. Therefore, when she puts her hand toward something, she works at it with all of her heart. Thus, her work is never sloppy or unfinished. She carries each task to completion, attending to it with care.

I remember reading about a woman whose husband told her that the thing he appreciated most about her was her faithfulness. At first, she did not take this well, for she thought that sounded dull. Then, she realized what an important quality this is to men. Indeed, it's a quality that we all value, though we don't often realize how much we do. We are quick to be hurt if someone breaks our trust or lets us down in some area. Yet, do we notice how much we benefit when the people around us are faithful and trustworthy, day in and day out, in big things and in small? Likewise, how much do we meditate on the perfect faithfulness of the Lord toward us? When was the last time we thanked a husband or a child for their daily diligence?

Many times we are trustworthy in some aspects of our lives. For example, we may be honest and without deceit, sincere in what we do. Perhaps, we keep confidences well. Perhaps, we keep a pure heart, avoiding any kind of impurity that might damage our relationship to God or our marriage. Yet, we might be indifferent in some other area. For example, we may find it hard to stick to a budget. The truly trustworthy person will be trustworthy in all things, from the big to the little.

Webster's 1828 dictionary describes trustiness in this way:

TRUST'INESS, n. [from trusty.] That quality of a person by which he deserves the confidence of others; fidelity; faithfulness; honesty; as the trustiness of a servant.

It defines faithfulness as
1. Firm in adherence to the truth and to the duties of religion.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Rev. 2.
2. Firmly adhering to duty; of true fidelity; loyal; true to allegiance; as a faithful subject.
3. constant in the performance of duties or services; exact in attending to commands; as a faithful servant.
4. Observant of compact, treaties, contracts, vows or other engagements; true to one's word. A government should be faithful to its treaties; individuals, to their word.
5. True; exact; in conformity to the letter and spirit; as a faithful execution of a will.
6. True to the marriage covenant; as a faithful wife or husband.
7. Conformable to truth; as a faithful narrative or representation.
8. Constant; not fickle; as a faithful lover or friend.
9. True; worthy of belief. 2Tim. 2.

I am more and more convinced that this aspect of being trustworthy, which spawns diligence and attentiveness in our labors, is essential to the degree of satisfaction that we have in life. If we think that the Lord has entrusted us with worthy tasks to perform, we will be eager to do them, and we will do them to the best of our ability. Even if we make some mistakes along the way, we can be at peace that these truly were mistakes, and not the results of sloth or neglect.

If, on the other hand, we have a lesser motivation, we may find that our zeal flags and we may do our work haphazardly. We will know in our hearts that we did not do our best. In such cases, we will be less than pleased with the results.

The smallest task becomes a noble one if we see it as part of fulfilling a noble trust.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Organizing Junkie has a lovely and short home keeping mission statement. I wish I'd seen this one before I wrote my rather lengthy , wordy, verbose, long-winded fully complete document that I call a Home keeping mission statement. However, I need reminders of even the little things, so mine works for me. Have you written yours yet?


Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm very late in accepting this lovely award from Julieann. Don't you just love the artwork? I'm crazy about butterflies -- even more so since I always saw so many of them around my father's assisted living center this summer. He lives in a beautiful place, but it is a place where many -- including him -- are feeling the frailties of age. So, I was always thankful to God for those welcoming bits of bright life and beauty as I was walking toward the front door. It was a reminder to me of his blessings.

Well, I've gotten off track. Those of you who read my blog know that I think Julieann has a cool blog. So, I am honored that she passed this along to me. Now comes the hard part: narrowing down to ten blogs from among the many, many wonderful blogs on the web.

Here's my attempt:

Very Calm does not list blog awards, but her blog is certainly beautiful and inspiring. It is just as its name implies: very soothing and calm.

Now, on to the other nine. Note: If any of you don't list blog awards, either -- that's okay. Just know that your blog is enjoyed:


Collecting Happiness

Life, Love, Laundry

Like Merchant Ships

Money-Saving Mom: Teaching You How to Be a Better Home Economist

Zombie Mommy Saves

Little Jenny Wren


Vintage Knitting

The rules are -- if you would like to participate -- that you link back to the person who gave this to you and then pass the award along to 10 really cool blogs!


Outside My Window...A few flakes of snow are turning to drizzling rain as they hit the ground. My cat begged and begged to go out, and I finally let her -- though I do hope she comes back soon as I can't go out and look for her. In the summer, she was terrified of two large cats in our area, and rightfully so as they did give her a lot of trouble. So, she did not want to go out. Now, in the fall, we cannot keep her inside. For some reason, the cat chow that she begs from a neighbor has become more alluring than the very same stuff in the bowl in our nice kitchen. Plus, she's young and full of energy and loves to wander now that her feline friends have let up a bit on their bullying.
I am's nice and peaceful to be in today. I am also thinking of all that I could and should be doing if I weren't ill with some kind of respiratory infection. But, it hasn't been too hard to take dear husband's admonition to rest today. So, I prefer to meditate on the fact that I have a nice, quiet, warm house in which to recover. At our dear daughter's suggestion, we all helped at a shelter for families over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I suppose that I am extra-sensitive right now to the fact that having a house and having private space is a blessing.
I am thankful for...a warm bed and a soft pillow when I need to lie down.
From the learning rooms...I was excited over the weekend to see how daughter and daughter-in-law, both of them so dear and both still newlywed to their young husbands, are learning new things -- knitting, cooking, etc. It's funny how when you get married, these things suddenly become even more fascinating.
From the kitchen...Let's just say that since I am under the weather, it's a good thing we have holiday leftovers. I have a ham bone saved from the holidays, and I can't wait to cook beans or a nice soup with it.
I am wearing...warm p.j.s and a sweater. It's not a pretty sight, but I hope to have the energy to spruce up a little later on.
I am creating...not much at the moment, but hoping to feel well enough to sew a bit in the afternoon or evening.
I am going...nowhere. I'm just going to rest, rest, rest.
I am reading...a sappy Christmas book and loving every minute of it.
I am be able to breathe better tomorrow.
I am hearing...peace and quiet.
Around the house...lots needs doing after the weekend. I can't wait to dive in.
One of my favorite things...Thanksgiving!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Get well.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This was the sunny view outside our hotel window when I accompanied DH on a business trip in September. Sending sunny thoughts your way! :)