Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving . . .

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

May your day tomorrow with your families be a
blessed and special time!

"Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 100

*I'll be taking a little blogging break over the Thanksgiving holiday, but should be back to posting more regularly again sometime next week!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Highlights from Our Week

What a busy, fun, profitable, encouraging (though sometimes challenging), wonderful week this has been! Not many photos were taken during the course of the past seven days, but some of the highlights during that time were . . .

~Meeting a sweet family for the first time (our families first 'met' through this blog.) They joined us for a late afternoon and evening and what a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement it was! They have four children ages 7, 9, 12, and 15, and it was a great blessing to visit with them and to get to know them. This was one of the most special parts of the week!

~Spending part of an afternoon (with Leah) helping a mother that we know with some clea
ning, and then spending time with her children as well. The favorite part of this was story-time afterwards with two precious girls curled up next to me eagerly listening to every word. (They love having books read to them! :)

~Visiting our family's favorite antique store together and spending several hours there looking at all of the different things, reading the descriptive labels on the items, and simply having a wonderful time together!

~Making progress on my quilt . . . but that will be shared in a later post :)

~Sunshine! It was cloudy and rainy all week up until yesterday when the sun peeked through and the clouds were chased away. It was nice to see the sun again!

So that was some of the highlights from our week! :)

One of the few photos that have been taken recently (this was on a drive out to Ryan's place one evening - it looks darker than what it really was!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Times Together

It has been so nice over the past few weeks to get together with the girls in our girls group! During our afternoons together, we've had such wonderful and fun times and here is a glimpse into some of those days . . .

Week 1 - Painting

In the box of tea party items that Miss Lila had sent for the girls, she had also included a little painting project . . .

One of the finished plaques - a fall scene :)

Painting away . . . the girls wanted Leah and I to do this project with them and as there were more than enough of the plaques, we did. :) We all had so much fun together!

Another one of the finished plaques (these are some of the attributes that we have learned about so far.)

Our lesson for the day was on Proverbs 11:22 “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.” The focus for the lesson was upon the word 'discretion', and as the definition of this and other related words were kind of long and extensive, we typed them up so each of the girls could have a copy. We slowly read through each of the definitions discussing them as we went along. And while I am sure that not everything in them was grasped, at least it is a beginning for the girls to understand what true and godly discretion is . . .

Discretion is: Prudence, or knowledge and prudence; that discernment which enables a person to judge critically of what is correct and proper, united with caution; nice discernment and judgment, directed by circumspection, and primarily regarding one’s own conduct.

Discernment is: The act of discerning; also the power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing from another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice; acuteness of judgment; power of perceiving differences of things or ideas, and their relations and tendencies.

Prudence: implies caution in deliberating and consulting on the most suitable means to accomplish valuable purposes, and the exercise of sagacity [quickness or acuteness of discernment] in discerning and selecting them. Prudence differs from wisdom in this, that prudence implies more caution and reserve than wisdom, or is exercised more in foreseeing and avoiding evil, than in devising and executing that which is good. It is sometimes mere caution or circumspection.

Circumspection means: “Caution; attention to all the facts and circumstances of a case, and to the natural or probable consequences of a measure, with a view to the correct course of conduct or to avoid danger.

To put it more simply, discretion is in part:

- examining situations, ideas, etc. to determine truth from error.
- seeing and determining right from wrong.
- judging one’s own actions, words, thoughts, etc. to see if they are according to God’s Word.
- not ‘jumping in with both feet’ so to speak, but approaching issues, decisions, and other such things with caution accompanied with “wisdom from above” (James 3:17).
- And this caution and wisdom is not in human strength, feelings or emotions, or ideas, but must be founded fully and completely upon the word of God to truly be classified as discretion.

After talking about these for quite some time and sharing 'practical application' ideas, we read a verse from Psalms . . .

Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments (Psalm 199:66; the word 'discernment' in this verse is translated from the same Hebrew word that 'discretion' is translated from in Proverbs 11:22)

We looked at a few more verses after this and had a bit more discussion before we brought the lesson to a close with an encouragement for each one of us to seek to grow in discretion. Then it was time to start on the potpourri bags! The girls were really excited about this! First they needed to pin the edges of their bags together to hold them in place while they sewed the seams . . .


and then they began on the sewing . . .

Threading the needle

Leah and I had traced lines on the outside edges of the bag, so they simply followed along the lines . . . and we made sure to keep reminding them: "little stitches!" So far they are doing such a good job on these!

Week 2 - Baking and Cooking

This week, the girls made a full meal . . . chili stew and muffins. This was the first time that they have made two things at once, and they seemed to really enjoy it! And they started to figure out how to take advantage of the times of 'waiting' (for example, while waiting for the meat to brown, mix up the dry ingredients for the muffins; while waiting for the chili to come to a boil, finish mixing the muffins up; etc.)

Working on measuring out the dry ingredients for the muffins

Stirring the chili stew

Once the stew was simmering on the stove and the muffins were baking in the oven, we gathered in the living room to review last week's lesson on discretion. I pulled out our dry erase board and wrote first the verse from Proverbs on it and then wrote the following as well (which was taken from last week's lesson) . . .

Discretion is:

- examining situations, ideas, etc. to determine truth from error.
- seeing and determining right from wrong.
- judging one’s own actions, words, thoughts, etc. to see if they are according to God’s Word.

The girls copied each of these things down while we discussed them yet again. After we had finished, I asked them if it had helped to go through these once again and to have them written up on the board to which I received an emphatic 'yes!' (Leah and I are trying to figure out the different ways that the girls learn best and then to implement those into our lesson times. And so far, it seems that going through things twice and using 'visual' things really helps them!)

One thing that was also really on my heart to stress during this lesson was the great importance of going to God's word for our answers. For using His Word as the basis for determining right from wrong and truth from error. If we do not have some standard or starting point, right and wrong is really just a matter of our own interpretation and is based on our own feelings/beliefs as opposed to an absolute truth, and that truth being God and His word. And with discretion, we must have a foundation and standard for it in order to be able to grow in it and practice it, and that standard is the word of God. And how do we know what Scripture says about these things? By reading it, studying it, and applying it to our lives.

Once we had finished discussing all of this, we memorized the verse from Proverbs: "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion" (Proverbs 11:22.) The girls always enjoy memorizing verses as we have a fun way that we do it . . . we have the verse written up on the dry erase board and then gradually the girls take turns choosing a word to erase until eventually, the entire verse is erased and they can say it without help. Using this method, the girls quickly had this verse committed to memory, and then it was time for them to write in
their journals. And after the girls were finished with that, they worked on their potpourri sachets until the end of our time together . . .

Carefully sewing

Helping one of the girls with her sewing

So that is a glimpse into some of the times that we have had with the girls recently! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Completed Cross-stitch

Last week I was able to finish up all of the back-stitching on my cross-stitch, and then yesterday, began on the words. This particular cross-stitch didn't come with a verse as a part of it, but it just seemed that Proverbs 31:13 would fit well with it (and I love cross-stitches that have Scripture on them!) So, I simply 'free-handed' the verses with the idea that if they didn't look 'right' once I was done, I would take them out and try again . . . thankfully, they worked the first time so that wasn't necessary!

I have a pretty good idea of what type of frame I would like for it (something old-fashioned and country looking :), so hopefully I'll be able to find one like what I am envisioning. And once a frame is found, then the cross-stitch will be attached to a mat board, framed and hung up!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Friends

Leah and I recently had the pleasure of spending time with some of our little friends, and as always, it was wonderful! Here are a few photos from our short time together . . .

They really enjoyed watching the chickens!

Petting one of the chickens

Someone got tired on our walk :) . . . which I didn't mind!

Leah with some of the children during our walk

How thankful we are for special times such as these!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Planting Daffodils

With a box of daffodil bulbs that Ryan so thoughtfully surprised me with, a beautiful, sunshiny November day, and eagerness to do some gardening again, I found myself out digging in the dirt planting daffodils today. Daffodils are one of my (many :) favorite flowers with one reason being that they are a herald of spring. While all else is still brown and dead, while the trees are still bare and the ground still sloppy from the winter melt-off, the daffodils poke their little stems above the ground, quickly grow, and then bloom . . . their cheerful flowers are always a very welcome sight each spring! And not only are they enjoyed and appreciated outdoors, but daffodils also comprise the first flower arrangements of the year. It is always so nice to have fresh flowers in the house again after the fall and winter months!

The box contained sixty assorted daffodil bulbs, so first I had to try to figure out where would be best to put them, and then came the fun of planting . . .

And now we can look forward to spring when they will bloom for the first time!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Day with Ryan

Weekends for us the past few months have often included working as a family out at Ryan's place . . . this past weekend, however, there were other things that were occupying some of the family's time (one of which I'll likely be posting about before too terribly long!) But Ryan was planning to go out to his place, and I asked if I could go along with him to which he readily said 'yes.' :) So our Saturday was spent together, and what a fun and special time it was!

The day started out early for me as I was up at 5:00 took care of some things around here, did the animal chores, etc., and then helped get the coolers ready to head out to his place. We left somewhere around 7:30 and had a pleasant drive out . . . everything was pretty quiet and the sky still had that early morning look to it . . .

The trees are bare . . . the crops are almost all harvested . . . winter is on its way . .

The day promised to be a beautiful one with sunshine, warm temperatures (the high ended up being in the 70's!), and a gentle breeze. We couldn't have asked for a better November day! And it certainly made working on the house more pleasant. :)

Ryan unlocking the gate

Once we got to Ryan's place, we set things up (extension cords, the air compressor, etc.), and then he climbed up the scaffolding and started measuring. The first order of business was to finish putting sheathing up on this wall . . .

While he measured - I wrote down the measurements for him

Sawing a piece of sheathing

Nailing it in place

While Ryan worked on things like this, I spent my time bringing him the tools he needed, putting things away that he was finished with, cleaning up around the house, carrying scrap boards to the scrap pile and basically doing whatever needed to be done that I was able to do. And when there was nothing else to be done, I took photos! :)

After the sheathing was all on and the upstairs window opening was cut, Ryan suggested taking a walk down in his woods and finding the 'elusive' cistern that Leah and I couldn't find when our friends were here last weekend . . .

If only objects could talk, I am sure this cistern would have a lot of interesting tales to tell! It is made mostly of old bricks with a few somewhat newer ones near the top (that were used to repair it.) One thing is for sure, though, you wouldn't want to fall into it! The water is about 6 feet below the top of the cistern and then about 5 or 6 feet deep. If you fall in, there's not much chance of getting out! Except for the fact that Ryan put a large branch down into it just in case someone was so unfortunate as to end up down there. The water in the cistern was surprisingly clear and down in the water, the pipe that goes from the cistern to the windmill across the creek could be seen.

The windmill in the trees

The gently flowing creek

The view of the house from down where Ryan and I were walking in the woods

Once our fun and enjoyable 'adventuring' was finished, we headed back up to the house, ate an early lunch, and then went up in the upstairs (which was the first time that I had been up there.)

The view out of the upstairs window

Break time!

Then it was back to work with putting the Typar on the wall that Ryan had just finished sheathing. As this part is a little more difficult to do with just one person, I joined Ryan on the scaffolding for putting on one of the layers. This was a new experience for me (and one that took a bit to get used to!), and Ryan and I had a lot of fun working together up there!

Once the bottom of the Typar sheet was nailed on, Ryan didn't need 'extra hands' anymore so I went back down and took some photos while he worked.

After that layer was finished, Ryan brought a ladder up on the scaffolding to do the highest part. While he was working on this, I, on the ground, heard a familiar sound that I couldn't quite place as it had been awhile since I had last heard it. Then I remembered . . . snow geese! I looked up and scanned the sky and sure enough there was a flock of them way up high . . .

Can you see them?

I watched them for a bit, and then it was time to put in a window! But then before we could start on that, we had to disassemble the top two tiers of scaffolding. Ryan first threw down the boards that were on them, and then piece by piece lowered the scaffolding sections to the ground while I directed them to the boards they were to set down on. This process went quickly, and before long, we had the window outside and the installation process had begun! Once we got the window up onto the scaffolding, Ryan slid it into place, and then I was inside to do the shimming (which was yet another new experience for me.) Then it was time to nail it into place . . .

Nailing in the window

The end result! (For now, we left the upstairs window opening covered with typar until we're ready to put that window in.)

By the time we were finished with these things, it was getting close to when we had wanted to head home (we had planned to leave mid- to late-afternoon), but there was one more fun thing that Ryan had planned for the day . . . not only did we have the enjoyable walk down to the cistern and through a path in his woods, but we also shot guns together! That was a lot of fun as always. :)

Ryan shooting his gun

We took turns shooting for a bit and then loaded everything up in his truck to head home. We were just in the process of locking up the gate when up drove our friend Mr. M. and his grandson (who is 9.) So we turned back around and spent some time with them down at the house. They enjoyed seeing all of the progress, and Mr. M.'s grandson had a lot of fun looking at everything, crawling up a ladder to look in the upstairs, and other things like that. He is really interested in mechanical things and construction, and most of the time while he was clambering around he had a big smile on his face!

Once we had visited with them for awhile, we headed for home. The drive home was different than the drive in as far as the scenery goes. The day had been such a beautiful one and the farmers were working hard to finish getting their crops in. There were combines out in full force! When we would crest hills, we could look out in the distance and see many different clouds of dust and debris coming up from the combines. Most of the way home, we had the opportunity to watch the harvest in progress which was a pleasant end to an already wonderful day!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Catching Up a Bit

With all that has been going on lately, it has been awhile since I've posted photos of the regular, every-day type things, so here are some that have been taken over the past few weeks which should give an idea of some of what has been happening here. :)

. . . raking up pine needles to use as mulch around the blueberry bushes . . .

. . . building cages to go around the blueberry bushes (the deer had found them!) . . .

. . . cross-stitching (all that is left is some back-stitching and stitching the verse) . . .

. . . working on my quilt . . .

So far, I'm about 1/4 of the way finished with piecing all of the blocks

I couldn't resist laying out the finished blocks and getting an idea of what the quilt top is going to look like once it's completed! :)

. . . enjoying foggy mornings while taking care of the animals . . .

. . . having fun watching Leah and Mandy while Leah raked up leaves to put in the chicken pen . . .

. . . making birthday cards for two of the girls in our girls group . . .

. . . watching the chickens during evening chore time (they can be quite entertaining at times!) . . .

. . . and enjoying sunsets . . .

We cannot see sunsets very well from our place, but I always enjoy them anyway! :)

The weather has been beautiful here the past week so time outdoors has been very much enjoyed. Our highs for the next few days (including yesterday and today) are all in the 70's! And I'll be enjoying that beautiful weather before too long as Ryan and I are heading out to his place to work on his house this morning . . . so I better bring this to a close and go finish getting things ready!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

House Post #5 - Windows! (And more :)

As mentioned in the previous post, a lot was able to be accomplished on Ryan's house over the weekend! And then a couple of days this week, various family members were able to go out and work on the house too. So now it has not only the sheathing and roofing felt on, it also has typar on almost all of the walls and four windows are in as well! It is almost dried in!! Needless to say, we're all just a bit excited about that. :)

Ryan's house as viewed from the top of the driveway - the fence posts in the foreground of the photo are at the entrance to his property.

The above photo is the most recent photo of the house that we have, and it was taken Saturday evening after all of the work was done for the day. So much more than what we had thought could be accomplished in one day was done! As you can see in the above photo, two sides of the house have typar on them (and before the right side of the house was able to be typared, sheathing had to be put on it so that was done on Saturday as well), and three of the windows are in! Here are some photos that led up to the above one (though, as we ladies were not out there in the morning and as my camera began to run out of space towards the end of the day, we only have photos of the afternoon work.) . . .

This is what the house looked like when we got there . . . they were setting up the scaffolding on the left side of the house in order to put sheathing up on this side. (The tarps/plastic had been used to keep the rain out when we weren't working on the house.)

Once the scaffolding was set up, we enjoyed a delicious lunch that Mom had prepared, visited a bit, and then they started putting in the windows. It was exciting to see the first one going in!

Getting ready to put the first window in (which was the living room window)
They carried the window out only to discover that before it could be put in, there were screws in it that needed to be removed before it could be slid into place, so . . . at this point a drill was being looked for. :)

Eventually a drill was found, the screws were removed, and the very first window on Ryan's house was put in!

Looking out the front window

From a distance - after the first window was put in.

Then it was on to window number two!

Dad waiting until they were ready for the window

Leveling the window

And while that was being done on the outside, shimming was taking place on the inside . . .

Some of the spectators and encouragers. :)

Dad standing in the front doorway of Ryan's house - before long it should have an actual door there!

Once the front two windows were in, the men divided up into two 'crews' - one putting in another window on the right side of the house, and the other working on the wall in the 'upstairs' of the house. At this point, we girls took a walk around part of Ryan's place and also attempted to find the old cistern that is down in the woods (which we were unsuccessful in finding) . . .

The house as seen from the orchard (thus the caged trees :)

We then headed back up to the house, sat down on a pile of lumber and visited while the men worked. At that point, this is the wall that was in the process of being built . . .

The partially built wall

Putting in the cripple studs

Around this point, my camera was just about out of photo space, so I don't have any photos of the work done after this, but Ryan took a few one day this week when he was out there working . . .

The back side of the house - the kitchen window was put in this week and typar was put on this side of the house as well (it still needs one more small strip at the top)

Inside the house . . . there are lots of things ready and waiting to be used and/or put into place! Including the front door. :)

So, all that is left now before the house is all dried in is to put just a bit more sheathing up on the 'upstairs' part of the left side of the house, put in two more windows, put typar on the left side and finish putting it on the little strips on the front and back of the house, and then . . . the door! After weeks of labor working on the house, it is exciting to think that we are almost to a big milestone . . . having the house all dried in. And then it will be time to start on the indoor work which will be fun!

And a big thank you once again to all of those who have helped on the house over the past few months! What a great blessing your willing service has been to us!!