Next Stop - New Year!

It's Monday, New Year's Eve. I guess I'm pretty much ready to be done with this year, so bring it on. After being gone for a week, I'm simply glad to have gotten home safely, driven over McKenzie Pass early this evening...unloaded, unpacked, tidy-up the pad...just enough time before Mark dropped off Chloe for a sleepover.

I suspect the movies of the 1920s and '30s, seen on television to this day, are still the standard for New Year's Eve celebrations — a ballroom, big band, handsome dancing couples dressed to the nines, and at the stroke of midnight, champagne, kisses and gaiety all around.

I enjoyed similar soirees at the ballyhooed highest point in San Francisco--CARNELIAN ROOM--in the '90s. A roomful of lovely women in formals and party dresses and men in handsome tuxes has a lot to be said for it, regrettably, such parties are narrowing down to a precious few--at least here in small town Bend, OR.

New Year's Eve is all about the glitz and's astonishing dh and I are home apart from the maddening crowd for the first time in years--without friends--on this very eve. There is no party hat, noisemaker, firework, dancing, or a champagne toast--not even the American tradition count down of Dick Clark from Times Square or Tila Tequila's NYE Masquerade. To the world, NYE's ball symbolizes something that is amazing, wonderful and entertaining at the same time. Even for those that aren’t physically present when the ball drops, it is just as visible on TV and via the internet. This year, the ball has been reconstructed and relighted. Equipped with new energy efficient light bulbs, the ball with be bigger and brighter than ever; all the while still using half of the energy it used to. Workers were seen very busy on Thursday installing 672 Waterford crystal triangles on the New Year’s ball. It could be time consuming, said one worker, but he just loves doing it. That is why he keeps on coming back every year.

If we have cable service, I would have loved to watch great Astaire-Rogers films TCM running all evening--truly entertaining by some of the great American contributions to culture: the movies, dance, popular song, light comedy.

Weird things have been happening lately. For one thing, I am pretty much out of energy. I no longer feel inspired, creative, resourceful, or anything else that you would list on your resume. Maybe it's the winter thing. I still love the children--in fact I love them more than ever--but I no longer desire to do activities with them. Maybe we could all just sit around and stare at the wall together. If they don't want to explore new discovery, that's fine. Activities are over-rated. Learning is over-rated. Usually I feel bad slacking off, but past few days I have pretty much just been shamelessly slacking off...I am longing to be in Italy for the celebration of La Festa di San Silvestro.

New Year is a new start and end of something that we have left behind. Let's celebrate the moment. May 2007 bring you all some of the bounty that is this great Country. May you also achieve some of your dreams. May some of our forefathers dreams be answered too. May we come to a place where all sides come together and put their interests aside enough to put some effort towards the greater good. May more on the right see that global warming is not sun spots or whatever else they can dream up. May the far left see that some capitalism can be a good thing. May the right see that some regulations are a very necesary thing, not just a subtraction from their profit margin. May all of us have the ability to look beyond our preconceived notions of people, races, politics, borders and lifestyle and create a world where every individual is given basic respect, dignity, and freedom. And May you all have a happy New Year. Be well.

P.S. I went to bed shortly after midnight while the girls played cup game and chatted well into 3 am per dh...Now, I'm officially OLD! (Added January 1, 2008)
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A Treasure to Behold!

Apart from the market jitters for those who pay attention to such things, fear is a persistent human emotion and something the gospel addresses again and again. From the “fear not” of the angel Gabriel when he appeared to Mary to this “fear not little flock” the gospel assures me there is something going on much more important and powerful than anything that can scare me. God is at work in the world. Therefore, I need not fear.

“Do not fear,” Jesus says, by way of encouragement, “for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” I wonder if the original text had the word “give” in italics for emphasis--a reminder God wants to give me the kingdom, not sell it to me.

The one thing that Jesus says is truly important to treasure, the Kingdom, is not available for money. I don’t need a loan in a credit-tight market in order to receive it. “Sell your possessions and give alms,” he says, and that is something truly requires me to overcome fear. What if I need that money? Then what? It is a fearful thing to give away my hard-earned $$. In the economy of scarcity, it puts me one down.

Jesus has a very different economy in mind when he says to sell possessions and give alms, that is, give to the poor, in order that I may have treasure in heaven.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The implication, of course, is that putting our treasure into alms is an investment in heaven, or an investment in the eternal residence of God.

Taking this seriously first requires an honest answer to the question, “What do you treasure?”

I treasure my husband, children, parents, grandparents (Grandma Bessie, picture on the right, is 94,) and friends--the people first of all

Then, the intangibles such as memories of good times in the past, my education, my health, my faith, the values inherent in my nation’s constitution--liberty and justice, order and decency

Then, the truly important material goods, a home, a photograph album, a family Bible, or a piece of jewelry or art inherited from an ancestor, the kind of things I would gather up first if the house was on fire and I could only get out with one armload of stuff.

And then what? What do you treasure?

I treasure my time. I treasure time with my loved ones, time pursuing the things that make us happy--whether art, music, sports, literature, or travel. I treasure experience, so I treasure time. And, whether I like it or not, in this society, in this economy, time is money. So, I treasure money--even if I ain't greedy miser--because with money I may buy time with my loved ones, healthcare for a longer, more comfortable life, and the freedom to pursue all those things that make me happy.

How can I not be afraid, then, when what I treasure is threatened? It is natural to circle the wagons, hunker down in my position, and defend what I treasure. Jesus’ antidote to our fear, then, is not what comes naturally. “Sell your possessions and give away the proceeds.” It sounds so unlikely, so impractical, and so ineffective. If I fear losing the treasure that gives me a sense of security, how can giving it away make me less fearful? It makes no sense in this world I live in. And yet, I have witnessed people do exactly what Jesus says and find that their entire lives shift from fear to joy when they embrace a life of service and discipleship.

Here’s the hard part for me. For all kinds of reasons, when I give time to help a person in need, it very often does not work out the way I planned. My attempt to help a homeless mom find an apartment and a job that will pay the rent fail to pour motivation into a depressed and defeated woman. Or, my attempt to help a struggling couple of friends mend their marriage, become better parents, and get their lives on track fail to have any effect. The couple separates and their children suffer.

What do I do when I put my treasure of time, energy, and money into the least of these God’s children, and I do not see the results I hoped for?

Here’s where the parable comes in. Jesus tells of a master who goes to a wedding feast, an occasion that can last for several days or a week, and his servants never know when he will come home. When he comes home at an hour they did not expect, he finds his servants awake and at work, ready to welcome their master as soon as he knocks. It is the Father’s pleasure to give me the kingdom. If it depended on me earning it by our success and effectiveness in my service, I would be up the creek without a paddle.

Jesus does not say “Blessed are those servants whom the Master finds who have finished all their work and put everything in perfect order.” Instead, he says, “Blessed are those whom the master finds alert when he comes, dressed for action, lamps lit.”

This saying of Jesus, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” is used as a bit of wisdom for fundraisers of all kinds. Fundraisers understand the truth of this--get people to give a bit of money to the church and their hearts will follow. College development officers know that if they can get that first contribution of a senior who is graduating and they will not only likely be donors for life, they will tell every 17-year-old they know how wonderful their college is and that they should consider applying.

Political candidates know, get someone to donate to their campaign and they’ll not only vote for their candidate, they’ll encourage their friends and family members to do the same.

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” is a valuable bit of wisdom for those who want to strengthen churches and other organizations.

I think Jesus had something deeper in mind. Jesus was speaking to disciples and potential disciples when he said this. He was not talking about strengthening the church, though Jesus is in favor of that--here he was talking about strengthening disciples, teaching disciples how to get closer to God.

And that is where this passage finds me. If I want to overcome my fear of the future, my insecurity about our health or wealth, my children, anything I treasure, here’s what Jesus recommends: give stuff away. Whatever stuff I treasure, give it toward God’s purposes, and I will find my heart follows, and I will be closer to God. When I am close to God, I have nothing to fear, not even death itself.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I have never known my grandparents. So, I treasure dh's grandparents who will be 89 and 90. The privilege of spending two days with them--visiting from Medford, OR--was no small blessing. It was the most precious gift we were blessed with this holiday season.

Trite though it may sound, it is helpful to realize, and more importantly accept, that their lives are dwindling down to memories of the past and their focus on the future is narrowing. They are closing in to themselves, both physically and emotionally. It is time for them to look backward and evaluate. They no longer want or need to look forward and plan. Besides hunting, fishing, berries/fruit picking, canning, crocheting tablecloth, they never cared about fancy clothes, house wares, electronics...any excess that doesn't fit into the daily essential category. I love spending time with them and listening to their stories. They live every day of their lives to the fullest--despite various medical challenges especially in recent months.

Grandpa Burton and Grandma Viola have been married for over seventy years. They still love each other as faithfully and with as much reverence as in their youth. During the short time I spent with them it seemed every hour grandpa would compliment his bride "Viola was the most beautiful gal in all of Oregon, and she's still the prettiest girl I've ever seen." Or, "I love her even more today than the day I married her." And, "She may not have the sharpest memory, but she's the best thing that's ever happened to me." They are my inspiration, my role models. They will always be treasured and remembered!

To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who failed a final exam.
To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one hour: Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of one minute: Ask the person who has missed the plane.
To realize the value of one second: Ask a person who has just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has just won a silver medal in the Olympics.
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Friendship & Purpose

Another day drew to a close after a night of sleepover at The Barrows (more flickr photos here.) It melts my heart to see the children with big smiles. What beautiful, unconditional friendships these kids are nurturing between two cities, in a short time!

I ruminated a little on this and thought about friends, friendship in general, and the inestimable value of a true friend.

Someone who is not our enemy is our friend. People we went to school with were our friends. People we greet daily in our community are friends. People we are acquainted with and feel agreeable towards are our friends. Those with whom we forge a special bond and thrive on their companies when we interact with them are also our friends. Humans are social animals and forming attachments to other people is an inevitable feature of being human. However, varying degrees of intimacy, appreciation, interaction, affection, love and regard are involved in these different types of friendly relationships. The generic term friend, has replaced the more specific meaning which means a person with whom we have a close and intimate relationship, with whom we form a special bond, where both people involved value and understand each other as individuals and accept and appreciate each other as they are.

The essence of friendship has been distilled by Antoine St. Exupéry in “The Little Prince”. He defines friendship as a process akin to taming a wild animal, a formation of bonds. This is a good definition, for in taming something we build bridges of trust, we learn about what we tame, we understand it, we appreciate it. Establishment of bonds is a two-way process. We each gain through that effort a person who becomes different from everyone else for us, a special person. A person whom we can turn to, a person who always has time for us: “I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” Robert Brault remarked. At the same time, St. Exupéry said, forming bonds creates responsibilities. Being a friend carries with it a mental attitude and an important code of behaviour that should be adhered to.

Friendship involves co-operation. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Each person must contribute to the creation of the bonds and in the process get to know the other person better. Each person’s virtues and talents are appreciated, their faults and weaknesses forgiven. “True Friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance. A want of discernment cannot be an ingredient in it.”~~Henry David Thoreau. There is trust and interdependence in friendship, respect and loyalty. True friends share their lives, the happiness and the misfortune. Especially so the sharing of good fortune and happiness, which a friend can accept without envy or jealousy as, “Too few rejoice at a friend's good fortune.” Aeschylus said. A friend listens, understands, offers advice but doesn’t try to influence your decisions, just accepts them. Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.

Friendship is a universal human need and we all wish to be friends and have friends. We all define the word differently; but we all need the same relationship. To those of you that are blessed with true friends, rejoice in them! Those that feel friendless, take heart in what the good Emerson says--"The only way to have a friend is to be one.”--go out there and make some friends! And to the lucky ones who like me have a partner who is also my best friend, enjoy and be thankful for them. Goodnight!

"It seems to me that the best relationships-- the ones that last-- are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is... suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with." ~~Jeff Bell
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Christmas is Here!!

It's been a busy two months since Thanksgiving. Dare I say that the future is so bright that we gotta wear shades? Unplug, unwind, enjoy your family time as we are.

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Merry Christmas!

I Love Charlie Brown!

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Down to a Wire

Peering out early morning window our children smiled, quietly enjoying the moment of realization of the snow day before them. (picture on the left is the Balancing Rock at Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs.)

I've been gallivanting around with friends this week when I should have been home finishing projects, but I have faith...I have time...I have caffeine, so it's off to the races for two more days...(Visit me here for more whirlwind of holiday activities and project finishing.)

Every year I promise that next year I won't leave things until the last minute. This year has been better than most because we have been making a very conscious effort to limit gift buying and trying to focus more on making gifts, but there are still the last minute things I didn't think about. Distant relatives (or related by marriage) and SIL's new boyfriend coming to the Christmas feast unexpectedly--meaning they weren't on my gift list, but now... oooh of course the baking ingredients I was sure we had, but didn't, etc. It will be the fourth time to the grocery store this week.

But there's more to it than just the last minute shopping. Just last weekend, I foolishly patted myself on the back because we've been having such a relaxed and low key holiday season (so relaxed that the tree's yet been decorated!) I felt like I had finally conquered the frenzy that can happen during the holidays. A few days later, that little bubble burst. I suddenly felt/feel overwhelmed and frantic. It seems to be all around me. The traffic is more brutal. The check-out lines are longer. Everyone in a rush, but not moving anywhere swiftly... wanting to be somewhere else, honking, fidgeting, snapping. It's the same with me. I am staying up too late-- grouchy and scattered during the day; worried I won't get everything done that I had in mind.

OMG, did I mention friends (one visiting from Eugene) are coming over tomorrow afternoon for a quick get-together! House to clean, tree to decorate, and food to make in the crack of dawn...I sense a message from the universe to slow down and re-focus on the things that really matter. So it's time to get back in the holiday spirit...

Believe me, I really enjoy my family, but I got to take a break from them this afternoon while DH took the kids sleding, with my SIL and niece visiting from Washington, and her boyfriend. Snow fall was the reality today. There were 10" of snow covering their driveway when we drove in to my inlaws in Sunriver, OR. We love the beautiful winter wonderland so long we don't have to shovel the driveway. Last time the kids sled in Sunriver was two years ago when we first moved to Oregon. Second time was just as awesome. In fact, our youngest would like to go back tomorrow! Did you know clean snow is edible? That's a fact--if you don't believe our 6-year-old--from the folks at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

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Gone Chemistry Crazy

What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints? It's amazing and completely insane. OOOOOH, if you (local friends) are going to try this out in your backyard, invite us over please!

We have gone Science crazy this afternoon. Thank you, my friend, for hosting it at your lovely home and making chemistry so fun and exciting for COOL kids--and easy for parents! Everyone had fantastic time getting a glimpse of the periodic table of elements and formulas and equations, making up individual atom chart, *burning* sugar, experimenting with mixtures of baking soda, water, and Driveway Heat Concentrated Ice Melter...

Magical Moments also available directly here on Flickr

Thank you, Jolene, for bringing stamped postcards for the penguin science project and Kristin for sending in a bundle to remote continent of Antarctica by December 31. Thank you, Jenn Triplett, for sharing the project with us. COOL kids loved decorating them. I'm curious (and excited) when they will make their way back to us from the U.S. research station nearest the penguin colony...

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Busy Busy

We have been very busy (an understatment!) I feel I need to start taking time...just for me. Perhaps this should be a "New Year's Resolution."

Time sure is sneaking up. I remember a saying 'the older you get, the faster time flies' and do I feel it. I often wonder--on a regular basis--where the time goes. It slips away so very quickly. In a blink of an eye, at certain time, my life just seems to be passing me by (especially when I am more than over the hill and 50 is in plain sight!) I sit and ponder on things I have done, haven't done, tried, haven't tried, and still would like to do...someday...

I sit and think about our children. DD#1 is taller than me, at 11. Our youngest son, snuggled next to me playing his sister's 'DS' game while I was knitting away, he looked at me sweetly--without warning--and said "I LOVE YOU, my MAMA MAMA." Spontaneous moments like these, well before you know it, he is going to be hugging me on his graduation day (maybe.) Yes, he is only 6; the way time is going by so quickly, it will be here before I know it.
Then there is our DD#2...strong-spirited and defiant (guess what--just like me.) *smirk* Someday she will figure it out...not to be so 'literal', independent, or 'perfect' and allow herself to accept help. She will figure it out in her own good time.

I wish the best for our children and be adaptable; but what I've discovered...nowaday, many kids are mean and cruel. I will leave it at that. I try to show our children to be kind-hearted and respectful. They tell us stories of children they observed or came in contact with (while being out), what they say, and how they act. DH and I tell them, not to worry. Don't let them upset you. Just go about your own business. 'It sounds like they have problems' is what I say. I tell them maybe they have a really hard life and they have to try to bring you make themselves feel better. That is actually true in most cases. After all, 'negativity and being miserable' loves company.

I just hope our children figure things out. As long as they try to be the best they can be, it is perfect fine. Be true to yourself. Be loving, be kind, and be respectful. Love one another. It is okay to ask for help. Lend a helping hand when someone needs it. Appreciate the little things in life. Never give up and look to the future. If they forget by chance, they should always have a dream of where they may follow their hearts--because dreams do have wings and wings do take flight!

Too many thoughts...I will leave you with that to ponder.

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Happy Campfire Cougars Outing 12.18.07

Is this your homeschooling family? What a cute video! As Todd Wilson would say "It's not real!" I'll leave you in your happy place if you think it is.

Now back to my best reporting on the happenings of our typical day...snowflakes have been falling consistently even as I blog; winter wonderland is in sight. Ice skating fun is no low-dough activity here in Bend, OR. I'm thankful however that season pass for all OPEN sessions is available at $140 each. I haven't skated since Seventh Mountain Resort decided not to offer season pass last year. Our family boycotted them and did not skate at the rink last winter.

We had our outing with local Campfire Cougars yesterday, escorted by a few parents. It was a big success.

Lacing up the skates and getting out on the ice with the kids felt SO good. It took me a lap to get my skating legs into gear and I was off. An hour later, my neck was stiff, aging body sored, practically out of breath just listening to the sounds around me...Christmas melodies on the loudspeaker, crunching snow and ice beneath the skates of kids and a few adults (especially when they turned or stopped,) and echos of young girls and boys giggling when their friend would trip. Did I get a workout! Though rain rolled in mildly in the afternoon, it did not deter us from skating outdoor. Some of us actually loves the rain. We had such a wicked time. It felt good to be on ice. Guess where you may find me and the kids these winter months...

Some day, I would love to skate at the heinously overpriced Rockfeller Centre Ice Rink or Somerset House in London. It's the experience and just being able to say I did it, like all those people you see in the movies falling in love amidst the twinkle of falling flakes. I also dream of skating at the newly constructed Whistler Olympic Park, located in the Callaghan Valley, south of Whistler, British Columbia. The park will be a part of Olympic celebrations and brining the spirit of the games into Whistler's core for
2010 by hosting the biathlon, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping events during the 2010 Winter Games.

Meanwhile, I settled with what we got, a different world here in Bend, OR. Our kids love to skate for recreational fun, but DD#1 strives in mastering certain skills. She has long since advanced to a level where I (self-taught when the girls wanted to learn ice-skating gracefully) am no longer able to effectively facilitate. Time for setting up some one-on-one for DD#1 with Janet, a local coach and ex-medal winning Olympic skater.

Our kids are set on skating again soon, probably on Friday night, if not, for sure over the weekend (not our preference.)

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Love and Respect

A recent discussion (on my online unschooling group) about troubling marriage, not to mention a few local friends going through separation and divorces, has made me stop and think hard about my relationship with my husband.

I vowed to cherish and love my husband over 12 years ago. Have I kept up with my covenance? Men equate respect with love and if we don't give them respect, they feel unloved. Am I really treating my husband respectfully? Or, am I speaking in an ill way of him to others. Is his character marred by my words (which might have been said in the heat of the moment or on a PMS day? Have I been self-less and put his needs ahead of my own? Have I ever made my husband feel foolish? Few of the thoughts really pierced my heart. It made me wonder whether my husband is confident that he is my hero. Do I make him feel like he is my hero? Have I given out personal information about him that may lead to gossip in the family or other places?

In Ephesians 5:22-33, they tell me the wife is to submit to the authority of her husband and the husband is to love his wife as his own body. Oh gosh, this has been a challenge for me to follow at all times. Sure, I say "I submit as much as I can". My husband says, "I submit when I want to". Sounds a lot different than what this scripture teaches. My understanding of the verses does not mean that a man may misuse his authority because, if he loves his wife, he would sacrifice for her as Christ did for the church. It does mean, however, he is the head of the family. As such, he also bears the first responsibility. He may provide the needed leadership only if his wife respects and submits to his authority.

One of the difficulties in my marriage is showing respect to my husband. I hear repeatedly how I talk to him and disrespect him, in an extent even belittle him to others! If I want a healthy marriage, I must set aside selfishness and live for him. Do I always feel like sacrificing for him?

Here are a few key pointers that spoke to me from today's Scriptures in I Corinthians 13:
1. Not to provoke--not to respond in irritation, but self-control, realizing God will not give more then I can bear
2. Not to take into account a wrong suffered--not to bring up past failures, instead, forgive and forget as Christ has forgiven me
3. Not to rejoice in unrighteousness but in truth--not to entice my husband to sin but "stimulate to love and good deeds"
4. To bear all things--to sacrifice myself and commit to my husband
5. To believe all things--believe the best and hold to God's promise "that all things work together for good..."
6. To hope all things--having firm hope in God and trust "all things" to the hand of God including my husband and marriage and
7. To endure all things--see trials truly as opportunities to become more like Christ. These things do not come naturally; instead, I must diligently work at "putting on love" in my life.

Here are what I, the wife, am being called to that touch my heart:
1. The wife is responsible for taking action. Some people subtly criticize the command to submission by wrongly interpreting it to mean to lose motivation and sense of purpose. It is the other way around. I am to be full of attention and action. I am alert respecting my husband. At the end of the age, I will be asked whether or not I respected my husband. Responsibility means accountability. My husband will be responsible for how the home went because he is the head. But I will be responsible for how I respected my husband.
2. I might seem surprised at my prime focus to fear or respect my husband. I might wonder how a great marriage be built on a command to fear my husband. Part of the confusion is what fear really means. Part of it is what the world nonstop keeps saying. There are two words for fear in Chinese--one stands for afraid and the other in awe of. The latter seems much more proper. I need to realize no matter how foolish my husband is and how much he focuses on fulfilling his own lusts, he is still my head. Marriage defines the context in which men and women grow. Since I am doing poorly here, I have trouble with things in other areas.

I fear I would call myself respectful, but, if my husband were asked to honestly answer, he would have to deny my reverence. Perhaps I am submissive but not reverent or respectful. Even a child can obey because he/she knows the consequences of disobedience but show by attitudes and actions that it was not from a heart of love. Do I submit begrudgingly or do I lovingly submit showing respect and honor for the position God has given my husband as head of the home?

I am to see to it that she respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33) I should be a helper suitable (Genesis 2:20) offering helpful suggestions instead of "put-downs." Scripture gives numerous examples of wives showing disrepect to their husband. Job's wife told him to curse God and die! (Job 2:9) instead of supporting him in his time of trial. When she saw King David dancing for joy, his wife, Michal, made fun of David instead of rejoicing with him that the ark was being returned to Jerusalem. Scripture also gave me some positive examples of those who showed respect to their husbands. Bathsheba "bowed with her face to the ground, and prostrated herself before the king and said, "May my lord King David live forever." (I Kings 1:31) Queen Esther approached King Ahasuerus with respect saying "...if it please the petition and my request is if I have found favor in the King's sight..." (Esther 5:4) Sarah is commended in I Peter 3:6 for she "obeyed Abraham, calling him lord." We are told in this same passage that we can be like the holy women of old by practicing this same attitude. Ephesians 5:33 says "...let the wife see to it that she respects her husband." It doesn't matter that this goes completely contrary to what is being taught by the world today. This is what God requires of us.

Here are five Biblical Principles for Respecting our Husbands:
1. The wife is to respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
2. The wife is to respect his position. I Corinthians 11:3
3. The wife is to act in a respectful manner. Proverbs 31:23
4. The wife is to reprove her husband respectfully. Colossians 4:6
5. The wife who is disrespectful may experience severe consequences. Galatians 6:1

What is your tone of voice you answer your husband in? Just listen to how you talk about your husband to others. Listen to the words and your body language you use responding to his questions. Are we showing true reverence for our husbands or deceiving ourselves? How do others evaluate the relationship they see between you and your husband?

Can we repair the damage done by our disrespectful attitudes in the past? What are some practical things we can do to show our husbands respect? There is always a chance we can save our marriage. Every marriage has challenges. There is no such a thing as the perfect marriage or people who don’t have issues in their marriages.

Both of us have to work together and want to work together. Communication is the key. Learn to talk to each other and open up. Together we must identify the issues and agree to work on them. No matter what the issues are in our marriage, there is always a chance to fix them if both of us have the desire to overcome them. It is important to communicate a lot in our marriage so at least the issues are out on the table. Both of us should pick a time and a day just to go over what’s on the table. Respect one another’s opinions and ideas about our relationship. Be honest! Let our children know that mom and dad are working out some issues. Answer their questions if they have any. Children can sense when things are not OKAY and they will wonder what is happening; which may add to the already stressful marriage.

For me, one important step I will take this morning is to let my husband know that I care about him and his feelings. A soft and gentle “I love you” does a lot even when things are not perfect in a marriage.

I hope we will all honestly search our hearts and see if we are obeying God's command to respect our husbands. Things to think on...
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True Friends, COOL Friends

True friends are friends that are not embarrassed of you. True friends want to be around you. As I sat and read God's Word today and went over everything God has given me, I think the best thing I have in life besides of course, my salvation, is my family and friends. Some friends have walked out of my life; I will miss those friends forever. Some are, I am sure here to stay. I think of the people I am around each day, people that bring joy to my life. I think of friends that have moved away that I am not in contact with anymore, friends that have touch a deep part of my soul, friends that come to mind often, that I miss. God puts people in my life to love and cherish.

I have some wonderful friends that do so much for me. I also have friends that something I have said or done have put a wedge between us. I have to say, in each situation I have been in, I have tried to make it right, by God graces He has chosen to take those people out of my life.

I thank God for all of the people He has brought into my life, the ones that have gone on and the one that are here to stay and for living the simplest life--the gift of love.

I will do something special for a friend today.

Friends are friends forever together 'till the end.
You promised me that you would always be my friend.
One day something changed I'm not sure what it was.
I lost you on that day and the reason was because
it was a late dark night and we had a stupid fight.
And for some reason, I don't know why, we couldn't make it right.
We went our separate ways.
This went on for days and days.
I made new friends and you made yours,
but that hole in my heart could not be filled for that hole was only yours.
Times got really tough,
my road of life was, oh, so rough.
I needed friends, not the kind you see from day to day,
but the kind that will always and forever stay.
Memories were all I had
and just the thought of them made me sad.
I cried every night wondering how to make it right.
I wish you could erase that day and that fight.
Would you please forgive me? I don't know where to start.
It hurts me so bad to have this hole in my heart!
I don't want our friendship to totally end.
I need you! You are my best friend!
So can we make a promise to stay together 'till the end?
A vow to each other to ALWAYS be BEST FRIENDS?

If you have wrong a sister, try to make it right today.
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Crafty, Creative Homeschooling Moms

Mom's Night Out has been a great venue for mommy breaks, where we hardworking mommies get to relax and release some tension. Have you thought of taking breaks from your child(ren) seemed wrong? I had this 1950s sitcom housewife image in my head. I just knew that if I could get that perma-smile plastered on tight enough then the days would go by perfect. Then, my youngest son turned 1 and I tossed a lot of ideas out the window. Mommy time was a must, an absolute have to have. I still felt guilty for it. How could I think my precious wonderful baby was enough to drive me to frustration? How could I not just suck it up and deal with it? Five years later, I slowly realized I needed support and someone to help kick me in the butt for not taking a break sooner.

I was so happy to be in town this year for Mom's Night Out Holiday Party. As always, great food, terrific company--besides the regulars, we were blessed with Patrice and Eva's presence. I swear...if people don't know us, they probably think that's all we COOL moms do when we gather--EAT and have SPA treat!

We all loved Michelle's idea to share a craft each month at mom's night out, a way to learn a new skill (and all for FREE!)

The more I thought about the evening, the more I realized...Almost everyone knows the stereotype about homeschoolers and books. You can tell you’ve walked into a homeschooling household when there are more stacks of books than places to sit down and read them. There is another, lesser known yet still somewhat true stereotype. Homeschooling moms are crafty.

Is it a side effect of homeschooling? All the years of doing crafts with our kids turns us to crafters ourselves. Or maybe the two just draw common people. We just enjoy learning new discoveries with our children, like knit a scarf, sew a dress, felt/full a handbag, or create our own decorations. I’ve tried to come up with some theories; each one seems to have enough exceptions to it not to hold water. No matter the reason why there are some crafty homeschoolers out there.

Like Dana with
her too cool Saturday School ideas. See what I mean? Crafty, crafty, crafty. in a good way, I swear. And then last night I stumbled upon a post that combined the stereotypes on books and crafts into one perfect crafty/book collage. I like hopping over to see what fabulous Christine has created this time from old clothes. So are homeschoolers more crafty? Or are crafty people more drawn to homeschooling?

I know I’m biased, what with
a craft blog myself, but I really think there is a connection. If not in crafts exclusively perhaps homeschoolers are just drawn to creative things. Like the too creative and gorgeous jewelry from Fussypants. I still don’t know how she does it, homeschooling a house full of boys and pregnant and still able to make jewelry like this. And have you ever been to the Pioneer Woman? If that isn’t creativity and homeschooling combined, I don’t know what is.

How many other crafty, creative homeschooling moms are there?
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C is for Christmas Tree

I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas...I could wax philosophical about the benefits of the presence of a real tree-living or cut--in our home for Christmas. But rather than bore you with all my personal sentiments, I'd like to use the season of the festivals of lights to illuminate the tangible benefits of bringing a real tree into our home. Instead of supporting our economy and local Crop Christmas tree growers who work here in Central Oregon, this year, the kids, dh, and I decided to start a family tradition of going out and cutting down our own Christmas tree. We want our tree fresh, organic without pesticides and fertilizers, and last much longer than one bought at a tree lot!

So we put on some warm cloths and mittens, tossed the tree saw and cordless trimmer, borrowed from our friend Jenn, in the back of th station wagon (without stud tires or chains.) We first got a $5 permit at Joe's and then headed off 30 miles away from home to McKenzie Pass through Sisters late this afternoon.

Yes, there are tree farms where we can cut our own tree, but that’s not what I'm talking about. I’m talking about the real thing: getting out into a real forest and searching for our perfect Christmas tree.

The perfect Christmas tree was an image each of us held in our minds and dreams. The tree had to be about six feet tall, a Douglas Fir with a perfect taper and very bushy with no bare spots.
Upon arrival, there was a van parked in front of the locked gate with a mom sitting with her son sound asleep. Her husband and kids were out searching for their tree. Well...DS insisted on staying behind because he didn't dress appropriately--"I don't have the right shoes or pants," he said. Naturally, I remained with him.
There were a couple of inches of snow on the ground that made the forest almost magical; which added to a great sense of adventure.

It didn't take them long to find a tree (not too far off the trail.) The girls helped saw it down, and
dh carried it back single-handedly to the van as it was surprisingly light.

They were back just as darkness came upon us. It's not the tree I imagined. But, the girls and dh chose it carefully for our home. This tree (not sure what fir it is yet) was about 9' and proportionally spaced so minimal trimming is required (dh had to cut the top off by about 1.5 feet, with tree stand, in order to get it in the house.)

We did not get the biggest/fullest tree out in the wood so we may feel we get our money's worth; but, this is a perfect tree. Just look. Visit here for a collection of our Christmas tree adventure in pictures.

There's nothing like cutting your own tree for Christmas in the forest and get you in the holiday spirit. It was great fun, exercise, and a chance to enjoy the fresh air. This "je ne sais quoi" is part of the magic of the evergreen, which reminds me that the sun will return next season to coax forth our garden once again. Leave the plastic on the shelves, and go get your hands dirty!

While I was surfing the net to find out the type of fir we have, I came across this interesting site. I am
a Rowan~~The Sensitivity, Full of charm, cheerful, gifted, without egoism, likes to draw Attention, loves life, motion, unrest and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive. What kind of tree are you?

Phew! I'm exhausted after a long day of hopping around town (Tower Theatre for Sunday Holiday Special Event, Target, Joe's, Cutting Trees, and Michaels;) plus I am still under the weather with runny nose and possible sinus infection. Decorating will have to wait 'til tomorrow.

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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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