Saturday, January 31, 2009

Finishing the Rolls and Proverbs 15:1

This week it was planned to finish the rolls with the girls . . . before they came, though, Leah and I got the dough to the same point that they had had it last week . . .

Leah mixing the dough

As soon as all the girls arrived, we started right in on the rolls. It was going to be a tight squeeze to finish them in the two hours that we have together, but we did manage it!

Rolling out the dough into 12-inch circles

Cutting each circle into 12 pieces

Brushing the dough with melted butter (this was supposed to be done before the cutting, but we forgot! The girls thought it was fun, though, to do it this way and called it "painting" the dough :)

Shaping the rolls - this was their favorite part

Clean-up time!

During the different risings of the dough, we reviewed two of the lessons that we have learned about recently: respectfulness and being a doer of God's word. We then had our lesson for the day which was on Proverbs 15:1. As the last two lessons have been fairly 'deep' and extensive ones, this one was a bit more simple . . .

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

After reading the verse, we went through a series of questions and discussed each one. The girls had some thorough and thoughtful answers! Here are the questions that were asked:

--What is a gentle answer?
--How would this turn away wrath?
--What would a harsh word be?
--How would this stir up anger more?
--Which way should we respond?
--Why?

Awhile back we had learned about not being contentious, but to instead be a peacemaker which fit in well with this particular verse. We talked about the contrast between these two for a bit, and then read and discussed to some detail a few more verses:

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel Proverbs 20:3

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

So in a nutshell, that is the lesson that we had this past week. After the lesson, the girls finished the recipe card that they had started the previous week and then cross-stitched . . .

Writing the recipe card

During part of our time together, we also had the opportunity to review several of the verses that we have memorized and the girls wrote in their journals. And now another month of girls group is over, and it is time to do the monthly planning for February!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Everyday Life

This week has been a pleasant and busy one for our family, and here are a few glimpses into what has been occupying us for some of that time . . .

Mandy's leg has now healed enough that she can come into the living room and play a bit. She was so excited to be able to be out of her crate and out in the room with us! In the photo, Leah and Mandy are playing tug-of-war with one of her toys. Mandy loves this!

Mandy

Mom doing laundry

Look who's home!

Cleaning the bathtub/shower

Chore time! Maggie was excited about getting her food. :)

Leah and her cat, Bobbie (so named because she looks kind of like a bobcat.) She is such a sweetie and loves to be held and petted!

Making dinner

This week also held with it work on several different projects including . . .

Cross-stitching

And redoing the blanket stitching on a top for a customer (it was a purchased top and the previous stitching was coming off.) It had been awhile since I had done this stitch so I had to refresh a bit before starting on this project :)

We received a bit of snow early this week, and with the gray skies, we had a few dreary days! One day this week, some of us went out to Ryan's place to pick up some hay (for our dogs' dog houses.) I brought my camera along and took a few photos during the drive . . . it looks much less dreary and cold out now as the sun has been shining brightly the past few days which has been nice!





And there is a glimpse into our week! :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Had to Share

Yesterday we got a hymn duet book, and have had such a fun time playing the songs! The level is advanced, so it is going to take some work to learn them, but it will definitely be worth it. What a delight it has been so far! Playing the songs together is truly exhilarating as the music has such power and feeling. Leah and I have been working on "This is My Father's World" and have really enjoyed it so far. The song is one of the least difficult of the arrangements in the book so we decided to start with that one. And then this afternoon, Mom and I played through "Praise Him! Praise Him!" It is a challenging piece, but oh so very beautiful! Can you tell I am just a bit excited about this music? :)

Mom and I having a wonderful time playing "Praise Him! Praise Him!"

As I type this, I can hear Mom and Leah playing "This is My Father's World" together . . . I have an idea what type of music is going to be filling our house over the next little while!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A "Fix-it" Project for Ryan and a Recipe to Share

While vacuuming to prepare the house for sewing lessons, the attachment that we use for vacuuming the carpet began smelling strongly like something was burning. After I quickly turned the vacuum off, Ryan offered to see if he could figure out what was wrong with it which was a relief to me as our floors needed to be vacuumed (or at least somehow cleaned) before sewing lessons!

Ryan got some of his tools, sat down on the couch, and began the 'operation' . . .


After taking it more apart than I would have ever thought possible, Ryan found that some debris had somehow worked its way into the area where the fan was, and it had burned - in fact the debris looked more like ashes/soot than anything else. He cleaned it all out and told me that it was a good thing that it did not start on fire while I was using it. It would have done a bit more than startle me if that had happened! (While doing all this, he also discovered that the little roller bristle brush was put in backwards - I guess the last time that I cleaned it, I forgot how it went back in! :)

Once he had it all back together again, we hooked the vacuum back up and tried it. And . . . there was no smell! Ryan had fixed it with just a simple cleaning (well, as simple as it can be with taking the entire thing apart!) And now that the roller is back in correctly, it works a bit better too. :)

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On a different note, after the post about roll-making with the girls, it was asked if I would mind sharing the recipe for the rolls which I am happy to do! The recipe is for basic roll dough, and you can shape them however you would like.

Basic Rolls

-4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
-2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup shortening
-2 tsp. salt
-3 eggs

In a large mixer bowl combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In saucepan heat milk, sugar, shortening, and salt just till warm (115-120 degrees), stirring constantly to melt shortening. Add to dry mixture in mixer bowl; add eggs. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for a 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface; knead till smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes) Shape into a ball. Place in lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in warm place until double (1 to 1 1/2 hours.)

Punch dough down; turn out on a lightly floured surface. Cover; let rise 10 minutes. Shape dough into rolls. (
This is how we shape ours: Divide dough into three equal pieces, and round each into a ball. Roll each ball into a 12-inch circle. Brush with melted butter. Cut each circle into 12 wedges. To shape rolls, begin at wide end of wedge and roll toward point. Place point side down, 2 to 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets.) Cover and let rise in warm place till double (about 30 to 45 minutes.) If desired, carefully brush with melted butter or margarine. Bake at 400 degrees till done; approximately 9-12 minutes. Remove from pans. Yield: 36 rolls

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Making Crescent Rolls and Lesson from James 1

Our time with the girls this week was special and fun! A few of the girls arrived early and enjoyed petting Mandy for awhile. Mandy loved the attention!


Once the other girls had arrived, we visited for a bit, prayed together and then headed into the kitchen to begin making Crescent Rolls. The rolls take well over two hours to make, so we mixed up the dough and set it to rise this week (Leah and I finished it after the girls left), and then next week, Leah and I will get the dough to the same point the girls had it and they'll finish the rolls then. The girls enjoy baking so much and our time in the kitchen this week was especially fun!

Measuring Flour

While we were waiting for the milk to heat up and the shortening to melt, we reviewed with the girls some of the verses that we have memorized and also what we had discussed the week before on respectfulness. Once the milk was to the right temperature, we were back to roll making . . .

Mixing the dough

Kneading!

Once the dough had been kneaded and set to rise, we gathered in the living room for our lesson. We began by reading a few verses from the book of James:

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." (James 1:22-24)

After reading these verses, we asked the girls who the verses were being directed towards. After thinking for some time, one girl mentioned "the church". That was a good answer! We went back to verse 19 and read the beginning of it, and we found that these verses were written to "beloved brethren". We discussed a bit about what it means to be brethren and that, yes, brethren are the church. They are brothers and sisters in the Lord who have the common foundation of Jesus Christ being their Lord and Savior.


We continued with asking "Why would he (James) be writing this only to believers in Christ?" The reason for this question was to provide opportunity to show the difference between obedience stemming from love for the Lord, and a works based salvation - just trying to do the 'good' and 'right' works to be pleasing to God. We explained that someone who has not believed in Christ can do many good works, but it profits nothing unless they have first surrendered their lives to Christ believing in His redemptive work on the cross. Being a true doer of God's word can only occur once we are believers in Christ.

We read verse 22 again which brought the question: "
What do you think a doer of the word is?" They correctly answered that it is someone who obeys and follows God's word. We asked them if it was only an outward obedience or an obedience that comes from the heart, to which they said that it is from the heart.

So if a doer is one who obeys and follows God's word, what would a 'hearer' be? We discussed this for a bit, and concluded that it is basically someone who reads God’s word/hears God’s word and then forgets it right afterward never putting into practice what they heard. It is like the saying goes: "in one ear and out the other". For example, it is reading God's word in the morning and then forgetting all about God and what you had read throughout the rest of the day.
It is knowing what is the right thing, but forgetting to implement it in your life.

But what does it mean for a hearer to delude themselves? Simply, they are hearing the word, reading the word, so they think they’re doing good. They fool themselves into thinking that that is enough. But is it? Does God want us to just hear His word? Or does He want us to obey and follow it?


We went back to James and read chapter one verses 23-24 where it speaks of a hearer of God's word being like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and then as soon as he turns away, has completely forgotten what he looks like. We discussed these verses to some extent before reading and discussing a few verses from
1 John:

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

We show our love for God by obeying His word. If we love Him, we will be seeking to follow and obey His commands. Will we still sin? Of course! But what is our heart? Are we seeking to grow in obedience? Or are we content to just stay where we're at? Will we be doers of the word, or hearers?

"But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." James 1:25

After the lesson, the girls wrote in their journals, wrote a recipe card for the rolls, and then cross-stitched . . .


After that, it was time to say our goodbyes, and Leah and I got busy finishing the rolls . . .


The girls are excited to finish the rolls themselves next week, and we are looking forward to it also!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday was a busy day for all of us, but we made sure to get outside a bit in the late afternoon to enjoy the beautiful near 60 degree weather!

Dad cutting grooves into the ramp that goes up to the new chicken door

Yesterday afternoon, Dad and Leah worked on setting up a little outdoor pen on the front side of the chicken coop which is the first step in letting the chickens free-range. This project has been "in the works" for awhile, but for various reasons, they were not able to finish it until yesterday. As Leah had made a new chicken door on that side, the chickens need to get used to going in and out of it before we let them out into the yard. So now they have a new little outdoor pen to enjoy for about a week, or at least until they get used to the new door. Then we'll start free-ranging them! That will be so nice!

Leah preparing to set up a latch for the door

My afternoon was busy with finishing up making rolls with Leah, laundry, etc., but I did have the opportunity to go outside and spend some time with Lassie. She had a wonderful time as did I! One of her favorite things to do once she gets out of her kennel is to roll . . .

It is quite funny to watch her!

Lassie and I

Mom enjoyed some time outdoors yesterday, too, and took a brisk walk (unfortunately I was not outside at the same time so there is no photo of her to share!) And after Ryan got home and Lassie was put away, he had fun working Maggie. She loves to have bumpers thrown for her! She definitely is a retriever through and through . . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Evening's Walk

Last evening, after feeling the need to get outside for a bit, I took a walk down to our 'pond'. It has been quite cold recently (though, it was a warmer 42 degrees yesterday) so there was ice covering it. The water is not more than a foot deep in the very center, and the ice was several inches thick over most of it . . .

Part of the pond - all of the whiter spots are places where leaves are frozen in the ice close to the surface

The base of one of the trees - the green/brown around the trunk is moss

After exploring the pond area, I headed up through the woods to the far side of our property. In the winter, subjects for photography are much more limited than in the spring and summer so it is always an adventure and somewhat of a challenge to find things to photograph. But actively looking for these subjects helped me to see more of the beauty of this season instead of all of the brown and drabness. (Now if we had a nice thick blanket of snow there would be so much to see and photograph! But alas, we have been snowless for quite some time save for a few light flurries.)

Lichen growing on the side of a giant oak tree that died a few years ago


We have a trail that winds through part of our wooded area including one of the areas that we planted in pines around fifteen years or so ago. I love being out under the pine trees especially when there is a breeze. There is something about the wind blowing through the pines that is lovely to listen to! Tonight, however, there was no breeze, but there were beautiful sun rays lighting up the pine needles and grasses as the sun was setting.


One of the pine cones that had fallen to the ground

Wild grasses

At the conclusion of the walk feeling very much refreshed!

After the walk came chore time, dinner, and dishes. And then during part of the remainder of the evening, Dad played hymns on his guitar:


We all enjoyed his playing, and it was quite pleasant to listen to while Leah cross-stitched and I planned the menu for the next two weeks:


What enjoyable times are these evenings together!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sewing Lessons

Sewing lessons went well yesterday! It was a rather 'easy' day in that I only had three lessons as several students were unable to come. In the afternoon, I have the opportunity to teach two sisters who have grown to be more like sisters to me than students, and we love our times together each week! The older sister's lesson is first, and she is just about finished with a tiered skirt:

Threading the needle

And the younger sister is working on a dress . . .


Sewing a sleeve seam

Both girls are doing such a good job on their projects, and it has been exciting to see their skills developing!

As I had mentioned, I teach the older sister first, and during her lesson, the younger one is always up in the sewing room too. Sometimes she'll do school, read or crochet, but usually we all just visit together while we work. Well, knowing how much she enjoys taking photos (many times when we get together for various things, I'll let her use my camera), I asked her if she would like to use it for a bit. She enthusiastically responded "Yes!" So my CF card ended up full of close-ups of the ironing board, the iron, sewing machines, thread, etc. :) She was quite creative in many of the shots and is learning how to 'frame' the subject. When looking through the photos that she had taken, there was also one of her sister and I . . .



What special times! Our afternoons together always seem to fly quickly by. :)

So that was some of yesterday . . . today has been another busy day with sewing, cleaning, some writing, bread baking, music practice and other regular day to day tasks. Nothing too exciting, but there always seems to be a lot to keep one busy! :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Memorizing Scripture . . .

Many years ago, when Ryan, Leah and I were little, our Mom taught us a bunch of Scripture verse songs using a cassette that someone had given to us. The majority of the verses we can still remember (and we still enjoy singing them too :), and it has been such a blessing to have them in our minds. When different situations arise, the Scriptures are right there to either encourage us or give wisdom in which course to take. Our family also recently acquired some music of Scriptures put to song which has been a blessing. I love to sit down at the piano and play and sing these verses!

With recognizing what a blessing it is to have Scripture in our hearts and minds, I was recently convicted to get back into "regular" Scripture memory. So over the past several months, I memorized quite a few individual verses and several small passages as well, and then about two weeks ago, began to look for what to memorize next. Having already realized previously the rich rewards of memorizing long passages of Scripture (I had memorized Romans chapters 1-6 quite some time ago, but unfortunately, did not review them often so cannot remember them very well), I decided to memorize the book of Colossians. This book has many passages that are dear to my heart, and I am looking forward to putting to memory the whole book!
Thus far, the first six verses of chapter one have been memorized and the seventh is in progress.

Memorizing Scripture has many benefits; one of which, I have found, is that memorizing can cause us to study and examine more deeply the verses that we are learning. As I work on each verse, I find myself contemplating it and meditating on it which often provides for a deeper and/or more complete understanding of the verses.


So now my morning Bible reading also includes working on memorizing. :) I am sure there are many different 'methods' of Scripture memorization, but one thing that has helped me is writing the verse(s) out on a piece of paper and then throughout the day repeating it phrase by phrase over and over. Eventually the verse is in my memory, and I move on to the next. Then comes review! I find that usually when a verse is memorized, it is only in my short term memory and without reviewing it over the next several days, it can easily be forgotten. So while going about day to day tasks, I will often repeat the verses aloud. And with all that, little by little the verses will be memorized!

Are any of you working on memorizing verses right now? If so, which ones? Do you have a favorite method of memorization? I would love to hear your all's answers! :)

Finished!

Yesterday I was able to finish the cross-stitch that I had been working on . . .

All that is left is to frame it! It is always nice to finish a project, but this time it was a bit more exciting as now I can start on the next one. Awhile back, my brother had given me a pamphlet with several Scripture verse cross-stitches that are just beautiful . . .

A photo of one of the cross-stitches on the cover of the pamphlet - I will be using the NASB translation of the verse though

I had planned for quite some time to do the above one next, but had forgotten which Scripture verse was on it. I had to smile when pulling it out this weekend as the verse on it is one that the Lord has been particularly bringing to my mind and heart the past few weeks:

" 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.' " Jeremiah 29:11

While this verse is being directed to Israel, it has been a comfort and blessing to my heart. For He does know the plans that He has for me . . . I am held safely and securely in His hand as I rest in Him, and I can trust Him fully and completely with all aspects of my life. What more of a comfort can one have than that?

On a very different note, our little entry way is beginning to turn into a regular menagerie! Mandy (who is crated inside due to a leg injury) has been joined by a chicken. Yes, we have a chicken in our entry way! Thankfully it is not a rooster. :) Yesterday morning when taking care of animal chores, I noticed that one of our hens was acting listless and was standing away from the others all fluffed up. I mentioned this to our resident "animal health care expert" (Leah :), and she caught the hen, put it in a pet-carrier and brought it inside for observation and care. She could think of only two things that could be the problem 1) something was wrong with its crop, or 2) it was egg bound. The latter is significantly more difficult to treat, but Leah determined that the first option is what is wrong. Leah has been treating the hen, and hopefully that will help her get well soon so she can get back out with the others. It is certainly never dull here! :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Craft with Leaves and a Lesson on Respectfulness

We had a smaller group of girls on Thursday (partly due to the weather), and we had a wonderful time together! After visiting together for a bit, we reviewed the verse that we had memorized the week before:

"Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit." Psalm 34:13

We had written the verse up on the board and then were erasing words two at a time. Each time a new set of words was erased, we would say the verse all together, but Leah and I would be silent on the erased words. It did not take long before they were saying the verse all by themselves - they remembered it well!

Waiting while I erase words so that they can say the verse again.

Once we had finished reviewing the verse, we had our lesson for the day which was on respectfulness. We began by asking the girls what respectfulness is. It was a tricky one to define, and one girl shared something like "I know what it is, but I don't know how to describe it!" :) We would agree with that as we had difficulty coming up with a definition too! After they thought for a bit, we shared that it is in part: unselfishness, looking to others’ needs and not your own, honoring, and it is an attitude of the heart. I cannot remember what all else we shared, but they did start to understand more what respectfulness is. We told them, though, that at the end of the lesson as we discussed practical examples, it should make more sense to them.

After that, we asked what the basis of respect is to which (after some prompting :), they correctly answered "love". Love is the foundation of respect for love seeks to serve and bless others and not ourselves. It seeks to minimize self and raise others up. It is a love founded upon the word of God.


If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love His brother also.” 1 John 4:20-21

As those who love God, we should love others also. And with that love, we should respect others.

Scripture is filled with verses that teach about loving and serving others instead of ourselves which is the very basis of respect. We read and discussed each of the below verses, and several of the girls, in addition to writing down the references, wrote the verses out in their journals too:


Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” Romans 12:10

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17

Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself;” Romans 15:2-3

In everything, therefore, treat people in the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

The last verse we discussed to some depth and used practical instances to illustrate it. After this, we had a little question/answer in which we had ten statements - five of which showed respect and five which did not. We went statement by statement, and the girls answered either "yes", it was respectful or "no", it was not. Once they correctly answered the statement, we would discuss "why".

Question and answer:
-If someone is speaking to you, look them in the eye
-Saying “Yes, Mom” and “Yes, Dad” when they tell us something or ask us to do something

-Interrupting when others are speaking

-Sharing your Bible (or papers, pencils, etc.) with the other girls here

-Saying “Duh” or “That was stupid” or other negative things in response to someone else

-Rolling your eyes at someone

-Taking notes during teaching or lesson time

-Contradicting others

-Raising your hand to ask a question while someone is speaking

-Whispering, talking, etc. when someone is teaching or speaking

After this, we brainstormed together other areas that we can show respect in. Some of these were: rising when an older person enters the room, giving up your seat to others, etc. To conclude, we encouraged the girls to especially work on showing respect to their parents in the coming week.

Then it was time for our leaf craft! (Last fall, the girls pressed a bunch of leaves from our trees with plans to use them at a later time.) The craft for the day involved a piece of construction paper, a piece of cardstock paper and of course, leaves. :)

First we took the leaves out of the phone books (where they were pressed)

The colors of the leaves were not the most brilliant, but at least there was variation in them! :) The girls liked them, though. :)

Writing out the verse that we had memorized and reviewed (whoops - someone forgot the 's' on the word lips! :)

Writing out the verse - it was a lot different for them to write it out
instead of saying it!

Arranging her leaves and verse card on a piece of construction paper

Leah helping the girls glue the leaves down - that was challenging as the leaves kept wanting to break! It took the girls a bit to get the 'technique', but once they did, their projects came together quickly.

"Hmm . . . what other leaves should we use . . ."

Once the craft was finished, we gathered in the living room for our 'bottle toss' review. We reviewed several times all of the verses that we have memorized so far. The girls did quite well! Then, we changed things a bit and Leah and I would say the reference, and then they would have to figure out which verse went with the reference. It was confusing to them at first to be thinking "backwards" like this, as we usually say the verse first and then the reference. After a few go-throughs of the verses though, they were able to do it without mistakes. They so enjoy memorizing and practicing the verses that it is a joy to do it with them!

"What word comes next???"
You can see my empty seat on the left - I just stopped real quick to snap the photo! :)

We finished the day off by cross-stitching. As the girls are all at points of their cross-stitches where they do not need a great deal of help, Leah and I worked on our cross-stitches too. It was so pleasant for all of us to be in the living room together doing handwork and visiting! The last little while of our time together flew by, and before long it was time to say goodbye . . . until next week that is! :)