Jesse Tree

Happy halfway to Christmas!

After researching Advent ideas late last Fall, I decided that I wanted our go-to countdown to be the Jesse Tree. We had never done it growing up, but had done similar things, and I had friends who had a beautiful felt tree with felt/velcro ornaments, so I set out to make something similar.23 March Jesse Tree 2

Once we narrowed down what we wanted our 25 things to be, it was a really fun project. I loved how small and portable it was, and how rewarding and easy to work with felt is (no hemming!). I gave myself a rule that I couldn’t buy anything for them since we had plenty of ribbon and felt from other projects.23 March Jesse Tree 3

Making them myself meant that we could choose exactly what we wanted to focus on. Different Jesse Tree sets choose different things, some including names of Jesus, others focusing more on tracing Jesus from Genesis to His birth or beyond. When I saw some incorporating various major and minor prophets, I knew I wanted to do that. So we have:
1. Creation
2. Fall
3. Flood
4. Babel
5. God’s promise to Abraham (stars)
6. Isaac (the ram)
7. the Lion of Judah
8. Moses (the burning bush)
9. Passover
10. The 10 Commandments23 March Jesse Tree 4

11. Joshua/Jericho/Entering the Promised Land
12. Ruth (sheaves of wheat)
13. King David
14. Solomon
15. Isaiah (seraph)
16. Jeremiah (The Weeping Prophet)
17. Nehemiah (wall)
18. Elizabeth (the baby in my womb leapt for joy)
20. Mary (sword will piece your heart)
21. John the Baptist (unworthy to untie His sandals)

23 March Jesse Tree 5

21. Joseph (hammer)
22. Manger
23. shepherds
24. Magi
25. Cross

I’m sure over the years we’ll end up with a more set reading plan for this, and transition to reading direct scripture, but we’ll probably read mostly out of The Big Picture Bible Storybook, DK Illustrated Family Bible, and Jesus Storybook Bible for now, with a few words of explanation to the girls of how it connects to Christmas. I’m really looking forward to using them with S this year (E too, but she won’t really get much of it yet!).


PS – for more Advent themed art, look up The Consolation of Eve and Donne’s La Corona.


S’s Quiet Book

I never saw myself as someone who would make a ton of crafts for my kids, especially not of quiet-book scale or beyond crocheted hats. But I started wanting a quiet book for S to practice things like braiding, snaps, zippers, and buttons, and so decided to attempt making her a quiet book. I also wanted to include counting, shapes, and colors, and after browsing Pinterest this is what we ended up with.
We gave it to her for her birthday and she likes it but needs a fair bit of help. Ezra’s comment while I was making it about it occupying ME more than HER may be true! 😉 But it was fun to make and I realized I enjoy working with felt because you don’t have to hem it!


colorful Popsicle sticks
Abacus, shoe laces, phone
cookie shapes
picnic basket/place setting
vegetable patch
sewing quiet book pages
quiet book cover
pie weaving
mail box
clock & vest

It was more labor-intensive than I had expected, I think mostly due to there being more machine sewing than I had anticipated and less hand-sewing – I like having hand sewing as something to do while watching movies, etc. so I ended up having to put more sewing-only time into it. But any additional pages will be easier since we have all the supplies and I can whip them up for presents for birthdays, Christmas, etc. or make other covers to divide them up for multiple kids to use.

Future ideas – some more advanced for S, some easier for E:
Maps – whether for cars/road or Atlas-style
Other shapes/color matching pages

My next project is Jesse Tree ornaments – but I am not going to try to get them done for this year! I also have a rule for them that I can’t buy any supplies since I have so many bits and pieces. And we have tshirts to turn into a tshirt quilt…

Things to do with a Toddler

{I wrote up this list to help me think of things to do with S so we don’t get bored at home. Some of it is simple, some of it takes more planning, but it’s all things we’ve done or hope to do!}

Routinely: (loosely based on this)
library x1 week
walks – daily
Playground, at least 1x/week
reading around 20 min/day – usually involves some Bible, Spanish, and poetry.
singing our hymn of the month
involving her in chores/cooking (I need to be better about this! Usually it’s just giving her a rag while I clean the bathrooms or the broom after I sweep, etc. In the kitchen she does the salad spinner and sets the table)
Working on habits & character (mostly means not filling the day so much we don’t have time to stop and work on this!)

hunt for bugs
identify trees, birds, flowers (we have an Audubon Pacific Northwest field guide)
go to the beach
picnic (even in the back yard!)
water play/water table/water painting

paint (you can even make it yourself! This one is our favorite so far. This one has ideas for food-based dyes).
paper houses
Face paint
corn husk dolls
pipe cleaners & beads (we have a crown to make soon!)
salt dough
paper bag puppets or masks
decorate what you bring in from outdoors
slime and more slime
stamp with potatoes, apples, etc.
A whole list of “recipes for play!”

build a fort
blow bubbles
put on music and dance! (we do this often if it’s too rainy to walk!)
put on music and add to it with your instruments (or pots and pans! If you want some ideas for music to listen to and what to point out about it, look at this)
play a game (S loves to play a matching game my Aunt got us and likes to play with Qwirkle pieces)
sensory bins (if your kid is into this. S could care less, but I’m sure we’ll do some with E as she is so into feeling things)
independent quiet play – some ideas here. 

Cooking together:
ice cream

With books:
make a food mentioned
do an activity mentioned
learn about the setting
(more ideas/details about this kind of thing in this post about Five in a Row here)

Serve others:
take a meal to new neighbors, someone with a new baby, etc.
bake cookies to meet your neighbors
Look for opportunities to volunteer at things your toddler can come along for
Walk for a fundraiser
Sort toys/clothes and choose some to donate

If we want something more structured before we really start school, we’ll probably loosely use ABC Jesus Loves Me.

What do you like to do with your toddler?

Like a Child

My cousin and I wrote each other letters this year for our 18th birthdays.

Something he said really struck me. At 18, the world says we’re adults now. “I guess,” he wrote, “it signifies the day that we officially have to work at being children.”

Jesus tells us to be like little children. My cousin went on, quoting from a book that talked about children as having lack of guile or agenda. Trusting. For the most part, you ask a child to get something for you, and they’ll do it {but still, only if they want to}. But I don’t often stop to help because I have my own things to get done.

Lack of agenda.
“No, God, I won’t serve that family tonight, I was going to work on the piano.”
“I need to get everything done today.”
Shouldn’t my agenda be only what He wants me to do? Like the child whose only care is to please their parents?
Shouldn’t I trust that if He asks me to do something else, either He’ll provide time to finish the first task, or it isn’t that important anymore? Or maybe the first task was important because it’s teaching me a lesson about trusting Him to finish what He’d asked me to do.

That’s been a hard lesson lately, to get rid of the idolatry of getting things done and focus on Him.
“When God made time, He made enough of it,” is a Celtic saying from a tea bag I have on my desk.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” – Isaiah 43:2
He’ll provide for what He’s given me to do – be it tuning, baking, ministering to others, traveling, music…
But sometimes we need to take it one step at a time, doing what He asks even when we can’t see the end yet.
That’s childishness I need to get rid of – the part of me that always asks “When will we get there?” When will I be done tuning, or when can I stop fighting my sin – I’m tired! My thumbs hurt, my shoulders are drooping, I’m weak, Father! Why is it that the things I want to cut out are the hard things that make me die to self? I don’t want to wait to see the fruit. Instant gratification – I want it. We plant and then are faithful to water as we wait.
It was in the midst of being overwhelmed with to-do lists that Cait loaned me Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts.”

I’d read her blog for a while. In fact, there was a post she wrote about “when perfectionism and to-do lists overwhelm.” My, that sounds familiar.
I’d read her blog for a while without connecting that she was the person who’d written the book I’d read about in World.
There was so much in her book that struck home.
And I’ve learned so much from it. I finished the book over 3 days that were rather difficult, and I was often overwhelmed by the amount of projects – dresses, afghans, quilts, pianos, oboe pieces, scales, books to read, recipes to try… that I had, and was wondering how I’d ever get it done and stop the lists from growing.
And then to read: “There’s not a lack of time, but a lack of gratitude.”

Through her testimony, I was learning the simplicity and simplifying of thanksgiving.
I often quote to myself, “Wherever you are, be all there,” (Elisabeth Elliot) when I’m wishing I were elsewhere. Giving thanks helps be all there.
She shared a story about her young daughter taking pictures and delighting in the little things.
Be like a child.
I am easily amused, and things like sunsets or finding Pleiades fill me with glee. But an F-F octave that beats? Scales that keep running together? The low notes that won’t come out? The piano student who won’t sit on the bench but climbs all over the other furniture? Or the one who won’t play the hard songs even when she could’ve three months ago?
Thank you for pianos. Thank you for ears that can hear the beats. Thank you for the beauty of the oboe. Thank you for the silly things my girlies say.
Above the clouds, light never stops shining. Wrestle against doubt, perfectionism, hopelessness, for the joy I have in Christ.

I started my own 1,000 list in a notebook gramma gave me this summer.
It almost seems silly, and it seems too easy. It feels like there should be something more complex than just saying ‘thank you.’ But it fights against the doubt that asks if piano tuning is really for me. It fights the perfectionism that says I have to get it right the first time. It fights the hopelessness that says the end is so far away. It fights the lists that say you have to always be hurrying. It rids me of my agenda and helps me look to God for everything. It makes me trust again – the One who gave these things is also the One who ordains my whole life.

Blue skies on a September day.
Cooling weather
Being silly for my students
A quiet moment with a book
A well-stocked pantry
A setting orange sun with a backdrop of pink
Colorful envelopes with notes to favorite people inside
The good kind of stubbornness.
The clatter of plates as mom works in the kitchen.
Little sister humming
The whir of the sewing machine as the needle dodges in and out of polka dots.

Children playing outside
Remembering the day years ago I hit a home run.
Corn from Tracey’s
Warm weather
Chaotic twittering of birds
F-F Octave beatless
Zucchini sauteed with onion, garlic, cheese, and basil.
Riesens, tea, The Sound of Music, and quilting
Kisses on the shoulder from little sister
Afternoon sunlight and the second movement of Saint-Saens’ oboe sonata.
Wachet Auf.
Country dancing – Haste to the Wedding.
Shadows dancing in morning light.
Meditations on His glory – mind boggling paradoxes – His glory is often portrayed as light, and Christ’s glorification was on the cross (John 12). Yet it was dark. And God gave Christ His glory so that Christ could give it to US (John 17). I can’t get enough of those thoughts.

I’m still struggling. I don’t want to be held to lists that always stress me out, I want to be held to Him and doing His will.

So I’m striving to choose joy. And faithfulness. And simplicity.
Because He is good.

Pro Christo,

One Year Later

Today marks one year since my highschool graduation open house. I can hardly believe it’s already been a year.
I used to stop in the middle of schoolwork and ‘daydream’ about when I’d be done with school and what I’d do. There was a short period of time when I considered college, but that didn’t last long as I realized that college didn’t fit with the normative calling for women in scripture, and that I’d be more fruitful at home. Oh, yes, I can go into a long tirade about ‘Well the Bible says this and that about women going to college…’ but I admit that in the last year, I’ve realized that although it’s true that God ordains women as the keepers of the home and I desire to prepare for that… in the long run, it’s about being fruitful – part of that is through obeying His commands to women, the other part is through being available.
There were so many options… and even though it doesn’t seem on some days that I chose that many, other days it feels like I chose WAY too many.
So, here’s a small snapshot of my life, school year 2010-2011. Not every day was like this, some were lazier, some busier, some days held more time of fewer things, other less time of more things… some I cooked and cleaned all day while overseeing school and holding down the fort… others it was just me at home all day… others I went to visit Cait or work at Edge or visit someone. But this, May 11, 2011, was one of my favorite days (this and the day I spent at the Y’s helping and visiting)…
The room was a grey-ish purple when my alarm went off at 6:30. I’d been having such wonderful sleep that I really didn’t want to get up (that’s rare for me), so I rolled over for 10 more minutes, then got up and ready to go running – the only downside of May; it starts getting too hot to go for long runs outside, so into the gym and onto a treadmill I went. I prayed and listen to bluegrass while I ran (Bluegrass and praying make treadmills tolerable), then came home and got cleaned up and ready for the day. Then it was downstairs to my lovely, comfortable glider where I read a chapter of “With Christ,” by Andrew Murray, and then Isaiah 63 in French and then I studied it in English. This was followed by a quick breakfast with everyone except daddy, who was already at work (normally we eat most meals together, but daddy had to go in at 5 AM).
Then I set to work and tuned almost all of the unisons on our piano, then tuned some octaves (my hands are almost too small to tune octaves. The one downside of being short). I fixed a rattle in the piano, reviewed a bit in the book, then went upstairs to write a few emails. Then was an hour of oboe practice – scales, Rubank, Ferling, Krommer, Saint-Saëns… and then I spent half an hour figuring out instrumentation for an arrangement of “The Minstrel Boy” that is in the idea stage.
Lunch – za’atar, cheese, tomato, and lettuce sandwich. Yum. Then out into a resident and house-less road layout with signs and roundabouts and turns and shrubbery – from far away, it’s just signs rising out of the dusty ground. We drove there for about an hour – turns, roundabouts, lane changes, Y-turns, going faster than 10 km an hour, and doing something other than parking. I’m starting to like driving.
Then at home I practiced piano and helped with dinner (Italian food. YUM). After dinner we did Arabic with daddy and looked at a passage in John related to where we were in 1 John, and he read some of “Endurance” while I quilted and the kids had dessert… then I went to get a cup of tea and sit down with “Democracy in America,” and “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” (Hmmm… funny connection between those books, hey?). I almost fell asleep reading, even before 10, so I turned in a wee bit early, after praying and reviewing the day and previewing the following day with mommy.

Re-reading that after I wrote it a few weeks ago, I’m thinking about how crazy it is how different one day is from another. Before it was school, school, school, same subjects every day, basically the same thing every day.
Here’s a summary of the things I’ve been up to in the past year.

Exercise – I started off the year running a mile every day. When it got cooler, I started working towards 5K, which I could do by Christmas. I was just hitting 4 miles straight when the weather was getting too hot, so now it’s inside on the treadmill and rowing machine. I did a fair bit of Irish dance, too, but that was rather relaxed this year because of schedules that never lined up. I plan to run more over the summer (though to be honest it’s more like jogging), where I can go and go and not run by the same place more than twice in a day and still do 4 miles.

Languages – Every school day we did Arabic with daddy, using a course used at a language school near here. A lot of it is already familiar, but having the accountability to work at it and do all the drills has really helped my Arabic improve, though it’s not nearly where I’d like it to be someday.
I really slacked off in keeping up with French. The first half of the year I barely did anything, then I started reading in my French Bible whatever I was reading in English, and from time to time I’d review verbs. This and regular piano lessons for Nate and Candace were probably the weakest points of discipline (what a word, I keep coming back to it again and again. “I don’t want to dance this morning… Discipline yourself. Do it. Die, self, die.”)

Nutrition – Lots of talking with mommy, reading the nutrition books we have and a few others, researching, experimenting… I find nutrition fascinating, but also dangerous because it can easily become an idol. Same with exercise. I want to be healthy, and what at first is discipline – to not eat much sugar, etc., or to exercise often, becomes pleasure and I don’t feel guilty not doing it as much as I feel unhappy. Maybe because it breaks routine, but also because I’ve grown used to it and actually like it better. Nate and Candace don’t understand at all how I can’t handle much sugar or white bread and other such food… I don’t understand how they can stand it.

Home keeping – Every year we make meal plans and they never get done. This year was the best. I made maybe 20 meal plans I and cooked at least 10 of them, as well as meals that got made instead. I cooked about once a week, often helping mommy on other days. It was fun when she went on trips with daddy or was sick and I got to do a few nights or even a whole week in a row. If I schedule it in, I really enjoy cooking and baking and planning, and even shopping for food. I’m hoping to do even more next year – we have a cookbook called “Mediterranean Light,” that I’d absolutely love to cook through. I love Mediterranean food! I’m also trying to work more on cooking more spontaneously. “These are the ingredients we have… let’s try this!” I do it a lot with sautéing vegetables and am getting braver with regard to sauces and main dishes.
I also oversaw the chore chart and revised it a few times. I think we have a system that works pretty well now and that we’re all as happy as you can be with chores. 😉 I’d love it if someone always mopped the floors for me. I’ll do your dishes for you in return…

Musical Composition – I started out the school year thinking “I’ll just finish the Aggadah for piano.” But as I was writing it, I thought “This would sound amazing with string quintet.” So I just finished it for String quintet. (The rough draft, anyway). I worked some on a family hymnal, and arranged and re-wrote a few things I’d worked on before. Soon I’ll start an arrangement of “The Minstrel Boy,” inspired by this. I really enjoy comp, but it IS work. There’s days when your creativity fails you but you still have to press on – and that’s where theory is REALLY helpful. … and why writing for more instruments than one is more enjoyable, though it takes longer. I’m trying to figure out a way to “use” it, but keep reminding myself that this work is like my first stories – practice for greater things later, even if they never get used. It’s not useless work, it’s disciplined me, I’ve learned a lot about various instruments and what sounds good and what doesn’t and what to do when you’re out of ideas. Even if comp never goes anywhere beyond my computer, it’s good life training… as has all this been.

Sewing – I sewed a fair bit, had my first try at more serious dress-making, and learned a lot about making patterns and altering patterns and being adaptable and doing what works even if it isn’t ideal. I learned to make sure you sew with a heavy duty needle if you need one (I broke 2 needles in 5 minutes making my camera bag before I realized I just needed the heavy duty needle. Oops). Sewing is becoming one of those things I just do when I need to as opposed to having set aside times to work on it. I don’t have time to do it regularly anymore, and it’s one of the things that’s getting cut out of regularity… more on that later.

Teaching – Nate’s piano lessons are finally regular, Candace is improving in leaps and bounds (and so is my patience, I’m sad to admit… in some ways, it’s so much harder to teach your siblings than it is to teach strangers’ kids. You can discipline them a bit more if they’re your siblings, but I think your fuse is a lot shorter with siblings). Growing in creativity in presenting material to my younger students and getting them to play things again and practice (4 of my students practice regularly, 1 doesn’t have a piano, and the other… every so often she’ll have practiced) and work hard. … and patience.

Reading I used to read over a hundred books during the school year. This year it was only 50. But it’s better that way, because I get more out of them. I’ll list a few favorites or important ones. Some of these I’ve reviewed in the past in more detail.
Preparing to be a Helpmeet – Debi Pearl. (NGJ has some interesting views, but their writings are still encouraging and this book was very good and helpful… I need to read it again).
Practicing Hospitality – Pat Ennis and Lisa tatlock
So Much More – Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin
Let Me Be a Woman – Elizabeth Elliot (definitely a favorite!)
Joyfully at Home – Jasmine Baucham
Courtship and Dating: What’s the Difference? – Dennis Gundersen
The Bronze Ladder – Malcolm Lyon (about 3rd century Christians in Carthage. So good!)
Saint’s Everlasting Rest – Richard Baxter
Mr. Pipes – Douglas bond
Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns – T. David Gordon (I’m passionate about good music and solid words in corporate worship. This book was fantastic).
Letters to Malcolm – C.S. Lewis
The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals
How God Wants us to Worship Him – Dr. Joseph Morecraft (so good!)
The Pastor’s Daughter – Louisa Payson Hopkins (daddy read this for family worship)
Quo Vadis
Letters on Practical Subjects to a Daughter – W.B. Sprague
Alternative Medicine – O’Mathuna and Larimore (a Christian perspective – very good and comprehensive and succinct!)
Abide in Christ – Andrew Murray
On the Origin of Species – Charles Darwin
C.H. Pearson’s “Cabin” series (daddy read these aloud; we really enjoyed them)
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (Second time in 2 years, can’t keep away from it!)
The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy (always a favorite).
With Christ – Andrew Murray (both books by Andrew Murray were good, but very similar)
Democracy in America – Alexis De Tocqueville (more on this one later. It took a while of very disciplined reading to get through, but was worth it).
Endurance– Alfred Lansing. (Gripping. Our family was captivated by this book, and it’s impacted us all, especially in the season we’re going through right now with daddy’s training and piano tuning. My words won’t do it justice. Get it, especially the copy with an intro by Mr. Dobson, and read it.).

Writing – I wrote a few short stories, but nothing very big. My posts on AP are a bit sparser now, but that’s mostly because I’m spending a lot of time editing. .. and should be spending time working on that musical I mentioned in January. Ha. I’ve written a scene outline and that’s about it. But what I will really enjoy about writing a musical is that it will combine prose, poetry, and music… so I’ll kill three birds with one stone. I finished rough editing of the Victorious Trilogy (which may not be a trilogy for long) and soon will start on really really ‘killing’ them.

Hair cuts – I have to admit, this is one of my least favorite things to do. I don’t mind trimming mommy and Candace’s hair because it’s quick and simple; just straight across. If Nate got hair cuts more often I don’t think I’d mind as much. But it takes so long because his hair gets relatively long and he wants to see what it looks like about every minute. I don’t mind daddy’s a ton because it’s time with him but it’s so complex – with Nate at least I just use clippers the same length all the way across. But it’s on my list to learn and become proficient at, so I’m sticking with it.

Driving – In January daddy and I started going to a nearby parking lot to drive around. In May we started driving to abandoned and unfinished neighborhoods to drive faster and do turns, lane changes, roundabouts, etc. At first I really hated it, I felt like I was multitasking but everything was happening at the same time and needed to be done at the exact same time and it took me a good two months to get used to. But Lord willing, I’ll get my permit as soon as I’m in WA this summer and then get my license soon after my birthday – and then I can drive in Dubai once we transfer it! I’m not really excited about the driving as much as I am about mobility and being able to help out by driving.

Music – Music practice took up so much time… something I’m trying to cut back on… somehow. Once I finish Hanon on piano it should only take 45 minutes to practice instead of an hour and 15… and I need to stop downloading sheet music and focus on learning the music I have now. I’m thinking next year practice will be even more irregular (I finally got down to a practice schedule that worked and wasn’t too crazy – oboe every day except Friday and lesson days, piano and guitar three times a week each. It was very doable. Most of the time…). We’ll see how it works out next year, especially as I’d love to play with an orchestra (instead of) taking oboe lessons, and may play at church. We shall see. I did learn a lot, and play a lot better now than I did 12 months ago!

Gardening – Well, our gardening endeavors seemed to be going well for a time. If you want a harvest count, you’d consider the garden a flop. Because nothing did more than sprout. But the family time digging and pulling up grass, planning with Candace, studying, learning, growing in discipline to water every single morning was worth it. And next year, we’re trying the front yard as half patio half herb garden. I think that will be much better…

Serving – There were days I didn’t get any of ‘my list’ done. There were days where if you walked into the room you’d hear me muttering “Die, self, die!” And there were other days when I was very eager to head out somewhere, or put aside my daily tasks and bake something for a conference, watch children, help a mother, clean the house… but even when I was so happy to do it, there were times when I had to remind myself, “Your life is not your own.” I want to understand that even more fully, that my life is His and for me to use it as He wants.

Photography – This is going to be like sewing, I think, doing it more on impulse than schedule. I take pictures of what I do and where I go and the people I’m with, and I love it, and love that I can preserve memories so clearly and I’m learning the technicalities of it all.

Piano tuning … the cause of greatest grief but also greatest growth in the past year. This post talks some about that. I missed my first goal, which was to have the piano tuned by Christmas. That was a bit too ambitious, considering I started learning at the end of September and I took a month off when we went to Texas. By Christmas, my vision was crushed and I wanted to quit (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”). Daddy pushed me onwards… and helped me link a lot of things to things that happen in marriages, which helped me be a bit more tenacious, thinking “If I want to quit now, I might want to in marriage, too.” Then the piano tuner came, and that helped. Still, I find it has many ups and downs and some days I love it and others I hate it and never want to see a real piano again. But right now the plan is to tune the piano again (That “again” sounds so wonderful! I tuned it on May 23 for the first time ever!) before I leave for the summer, then again when we get back, and then to start talking to people we know about letting me tune theirs before the tuner comes. … I am so incredibly thankful for a father who would listen to what I was saying and encourage me to keep going and link the lessons I was learning to how I desire to prepare to be a wife and mother and life as a Christian. And something Mrs. Y said to me the other day when I spent the afternoon at their house (it was glorious fellowship. I didn’t want it to end) really helped in a lot of things – when I don’t want to press on in relationships, exercise, tuning, spiritual disciplines – that it’s a calling and duty.

There’s been one main theme coursing through this year: Perseverance. It took on different names, like the second day I tuned, when I was fixing the string I broke. I finished fixing it and re-tuned the strings, but my thought as I put the panel back on the front was, “Wow, I’m going to have to be really tenacious to get this done.”
And then when everything seemed so hard all at once and I kept saying to myself, “persevere, persevere, persevere!
When daddy read “Endurance,” it really put it all into perspective. They were suffering through life-threatening trials, mine weren’t. Which halfway makes it easier because the cost isn’t so great if you fail, but they were often so near to death and so much more exhausted and spread out and suffering than I think I am.
Another thing “Endurance” taught me was the transparency (rather, lack thereof) needed in leadership. Shackleton often couldn’t let his men know he was afraid because it would lower their morale and then they’d really be in trouble. I learned that sometimes we need to push aside what we’re feeling and press on because of calling and duty, and to obey. It seems like such a simple lesson, but it’s been a hard one to learn and apply.
Another lesson learned from “Endurance” was the need to know where you are as well as where you’re going. Some times I know where I’m going all too well and forget where I am and so lose hope because it’s farther away than I think. I learned how lazy I really am (you can be productive without being a hard worker), and how much I want instant gratification.
Learning to persevere. I think I never experienced the need to before for 2 reasons:
1., there was always a break around the corner. Almost everything I did was school related and had a break to look forward to. There isn’t really a break now. That’s taken lots of getting used to.
2., Almost every ‘hard thing’ I did in the past came relatively easily, or I loved it so much and it was such a short commitment or the time of hardship was so short I didn’t really notice it. This WHOLE YEAR has been hard. I kept thinking it would get easier, but it wouldn’t. All uphill. But uphill, “further up and further in,” towards Him.
But with hardship there’s also grace – in being able through Christ to draw near to Him, in Him strengthening me, in knowing it’s not as bad as it could be, in knowing He’s always there and when at the end of the day I realize my weakness and His awesomeness and worship. It was His grace that allowed me to do as much as I did, and His grace that didn’t snuff out my smoldering wick or crush my bruised reed (Isaiah 42:3).
I’ve realized now that the days I struggled the most and had the most heartache were the days I took my eyes off of the big picture – living for His glory, and instead did it for myself or ‘to get it done.’ But life’s not worth it if it’s not for Him.
My cup is full. It’s full with joy and contentment Although some days I look back and think “What did I really get done? I don’t have a whole lot to show for this year. A couple quilts, a rattly piano that isn’t tuned half the time, a dress, some bags, pages of sheet music,” I know He’s taught me so much and worked mightily in me this past year, through sanctification and refinement. Yes, it was often painful. But He was always there, teaching me, filling my cup with Himself and Christ-likeness.
The main question I want to ask myself as I look back on it, is “How have I grown in my knowledge of God?” Because that’s what’s most important. How do I know Him better than I did a year ago? I’ll be pondering that a lot over the next few weeks, and how I can know Him better.

… that was this year. What about next year?
I’ve been realizing over the past few days, as I so easily over-schedule – and I can rush around and get it done, but often with much pain and fretting, and not resting in Christ and really spending time WITH Him and in meditation on His Word and in prayer like I should… There’s a lot I need to cut out. I was thinking about it one day and realized I need to cut myself out.

I’ll have things I want to get done during the year – though I’m not going to set school year goals anymore. It’s too confusing to have 3 different years going on, school year, age year, calendar year. Anyway. Cutting out. No ‘me time.’ Limited computer (only if I have time and drive to reply and write, not surf the Internet), spontaneous sewing and photography, scrapbooking only during movies, having things to do in spare moments so I don’t waste them.
I want a bigger vision, one that goes beyond “Well this year I’m doing this,” and that isn’t just being busy and productive at home and in the church until I get married and then just transferring that over to marriage. I mean a vision that I’d be perfectly happy fulfilling even if I’m not married 10 years from now or never get married.
I want to become proficient in tuning pianos, to the point where I could feel comfortable asking customers to pay by September 2012. A year later than I originally hoped for, which has taken getting used to because it means more time tuning next year than I wanted to put in. I want to spend more time with homeschool mothers, more time serving. I’m starting a reading list, so far it’s all theological, which I’m really looking forward to. Lord willing, I’ll be a member of our church soon, and that will bring other responsibilities. I want more time in prayer, with Him. I often pushed aside the pursuit of holiness for my lists. I’m fighting against that. Shorter lists may be needed. But for the fruit that results, it will be so worth it.
As I look back over the year again, I see how much of it was full of pressing on even when I wanted to quit. There were days I wanted to rest, but knew I shouldn’t/couldn’t (A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man). There were days I lost hope, forgetting to look heavenward and work for His glory and for the hope of His return (For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.)

… this has been a long post. Maybe I should have broken it up more. But I wanted it all together, as a sort of ‘year in review.’ I think it’s a good thing I didn’t know at the beginning of the year how hard it would be because I would’ve balked and ran. Because I underestimated Him. I never want to do that again. Because He is faithful and strong, no matter what.
And I am His.

Pro Christo – Further up and Further in!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials fof various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways…
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death..
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
{excerpts from James 1}

The Dress

This was a thrift store find that was $12. I took it home and reinforced a few seams and took a few tucks in the bodice. It doesn’t fit perfectly, but I still really like it…
Before leaving gramma’s house, Cait and I went outside and took pictures:

Exquisite, isn’t it? The cording on the bodice, the button covers, the seams and fabric…

Drop shoulders! 🙂

I re-did the lace on the sleeves.

Look at those gathers!