One Word 2015

One word.

Safe - Blueandgreentogether.com

I spent the last year reading a Psalm and Proverb pretty much every day.  (P.S. This was one of many Bible reading plans you can get on with the YouVersion app–highly recommended!) That’s 12 times through the book of Proverbs.  Every day there would be new truths and surprises, as if I had never read them before.  However, one verse often caught my attention:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Here is another Proverb my husband often quotes to me (in a kind way, of course!):

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Finally, we just started with Heart of Dakota curriculum in our home school.  The kid’s verse to memorize this week just happens to be this one:

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

I admit it, this last verse is where I need the most help.  Often you will find me awake in the wee hours, worrying about my family’s safety.  I’m the queen of finding worse case scenarios.  That’s why my word for 2015 is safe.  It’s a reminder to myself that with the God the Father’s protection, we are always safe.  His Word says it.  It’s true. It’s true even when things happen don’t feel safe.  (Think about the situations David was often in when he wrote the Psalms—fleeing for his life.) Time to put my faith in action and believe.  Incidentally, believe was my 2nd choice for one word 2015.

Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep better?  That’s my hope for 2015.

Our (Frugal) Christmas Traditions

This week for The Loft we are linking up to share some of our Christmas traditions!

My husband and I have enjoyed celebrating Advent season with our children. The past couple of years we’ve wrapped up our manger scene with wrapping paper in individual pieces. The kids were allowed to unwrap one piece per night as we shared each part of the Christmas story, culminating in the cradle with baby Jesus.

Manger Scene

This December we are reading through Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift”. We printed out the free printable ornaments that are on her website and carefully colored them. After each story we hang the ornaments on our Jesse tree, (in our case, it’s a tree drawn on our chalkboard wall). The kids look forward to it every night, as do the adults.  The readings are helping us keep our focus on the the love that God has for us through His son, Jesus Christ.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

My husband’s family loves playing board games, so we started a tradition of buying a game that our family can play.  This is the only gift that our children receive from us.  (They get plenty of gifts from their grandparents, aunts and uncles!) In 2013 we purchased Enchanted Forest. It is interesting and challenging enough for children and parents alike—we are all on equal footing! Our family has played it many times over the past year, and you never know who will win. 🙂

Playing Enchanted Forest

Playing Enchanted Forest

Last week, my mom and I made a large batch of banket, a Dutch almond pastry, and not only did we have the fun of baking together, but we gave them as gifts for my husband’s bosses, co-workers and others. In other years we have made babbelaars a Dutch candy.

Making Banket with my Mom

Making Banket with my Mom

Our Christmas tree  was purchased at Wal-Mart after Christmas for less than $4.00 nine or ten years ago—when I was still single! Yes, it’s a half-sized pitiful sort of Charlie Brown artificial tree, but my kids know nothing else, and they ooh and ahh over it every year, and have great fun putting on the ornaments.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our (frugal) Christmas traditions.  What is one of  your favorite holiday traditions?  Feel free to comment below!

Come to God

Come to God, then, my brother, my sister, with all thy desires and instincts, all thy lofty ideals, all thy longing for purity and unselfishness, all thy yearning to love and be true, all thy aspiration after self-forgetfulness and child-life in the breath of the Father; come to him with all thy weaknesses, all thy shames, all thy futilities; with all thy helplessness over thy own thoughts; with all thy failure, yea, with the sick sense of having missed the tide of true affairs; come to him with all thy doubts, fears, dishonesties, meannesses, paltrinesses, misjudgments, wearinesses, disappointments, and stalenesses: be sure he will take thee and all thy miserable brood, whether of draggle-winged angels, or covert-seeking snakes, into his care, the angels for life, the snakes for death, and thee for liberty in his limitless heart! For he is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

-George MacDonald

Untitled (2)

I was going through a file and found the above quote from a sermon of George MacDonald.  It was something I hand-wrote, word for word several years ago, but don’t remember my source at the time.  Thanks to Google, I found the entire sermon written out, so if you like, you can see the context here

My heroes

A hero – The classic idea of a man who gallantly rescues a damsel in distress.

In some way or form, all of these men have been heroes in my life:

Heroes I’ve met:

  • My husband. With his calm, quiet ways, taking on this crazy, up and down, enthusiastic and sometimes troubled wife, working all day and coming home to help with the dishes at night. He always prays with and for me.
  • My dad. Hard working and STRONG. He has had some physical struggles the past few years, but is still that strong dad– and always will be in my mind. I think of His fortitude and dedication to his faith, my mom and the farm.  Perhaps the only person I know as stubborn as myself. (Well, maybe brother Fred, too?)
  • My Grandpa B. Another super strong man but with the greatest personality and so generous. He will get his own blog post some day, but it’s hard for me to think or write about him without a few tears, because I still miss him.
  • Steve Schlissel. I first heard him speak when attending “Concerned Members of the Christian Reformed Church” meetings. He spoke up bravely in the middle of a dark time in the CRC. I spent a couple of weeks visiting with him and his family in Brooklyn when fresh out of high school.  The experience opened up my world and changed my life.
  • Uncle Dave B. He faced cancer with courage and faith. He lost the battle at age 39, but won the victory. He comforted others (including myself) in his last days. “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
  • My brothers. When it all boils down, they are there for me. They have rescued me off the side of the road  with car trouble at one time or another, and helped me financially when I was going through the divorce. My former childhood arch rivals.
  • My friend Greg. Greg was a hero to me after my divorce. He was kind to me and brought me back to the  gospel and who I was in Christ. He kept insisting I attend his single’s group, where I met other guy hero friends and eventually met my husband. Also a former arch rival.
By chanter Angelos Akotandos (1400 - 1457)

St. George the Dragon Slayer by chanter Angelos Akotandos (1400 – 1457)

Heroes I haven’t met (yet):

Three of my great-grandfathers. They made the brave choice to leave their home country in the Netherlands and travelled by ship to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity.  I met one of my great-grandfather-heroes and remember visiting him as a child, but the other three died before I was born.

C.S. Lewis, my author hero.

St. George the Dragon Slayer.  His story has always intrigued me.

Heroes of the faith.  If I had to pick a few favorites out of the list they would be Abraham, Gideon and David.

Jesus.  My ultimate Hero of all heroes.

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. -Psalm 18:6 (ESV)

If you don’t know Jesus, here is a good place to start:  The good news

 Note: Don’t think I am neglecting my heroines!  I am currently working on a couple of posts about my grandmothers, and look forward to sharing them soon.

Favorite Books

 

This week on The Loft we are sharing our favorite books!  Here are just a few of my favorites, in no particular order.

Adult Fiction:
A Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton Porter
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
St. Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans (a favorite of my grandma that I enjoy)
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
The Song of Albion series by Stephen R. Lawhead
A Sweetness to the Soul by Jane Kirkpatrick
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (young adult)
Journey Through the Night series by Anne deVries (young adult)
Any of the classics by Jane Austen (I found it helpful to watch the movies before reading.)

 

Children’s Fiction:
The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Piggy’s Pancake Parlor by David McPhail
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (series) by Maryrose Wood
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Little Britches series by Ralph Moody
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Biography/Autobiography:
Things We Couldn’t Stay by Diet Eman
What is the What by Dave Eggers
Joni and Ken: An Untold Love Story by Ken and Joni Tada
The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot

Poetry:
If by Amy Carmichael
Before the Palm Could Bloom by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
The Complete Works of Christina Rosetti

 

This list does not include non-fiction or children’s picture books. That would require another post altogether!

Do we share any favorites in common?  Would you recommend any  fiction/autobiography or poetry books I would like to read, based on this list?  Please share in the comments below!

The Loft

 

Image source for picture in the Jane Austen quote above:   Cassandra Austen (1773-1845) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

God’s Amazing Lake Michigan: Four Seasons



Lake Michigan Summer

Lake Michigan Summer



Lake Michigan Fall

Lake Michigan Fall



Lake Michigan Winter

Lake Michigan Winter

 

Lake Michigan Spring

Lake Michigan Spring

 

Lake Michigan Sunset

Lake Michigan Sunset

 

The them for The Loft this week is “My town”.  We live just four miles from this beautiful beach.

 

The Loft

 

 

At the loft this week: Practical Advice

The topic at The Loft this week is “Best Practical Tip”.  I hope my fellow Loft folks don’t mind, but I’m going to cop-out on writing something fresh.  In addition to this blog, I write articles at Hub Pages.  These can best be described as “practical advice for tough times.”  Here are my five top advice hubs, in order of popularity:

  1. Coping with Separation:  Surviving the First Few Days
  2. Dating after Divorce:  Why should you wait?
  3. Surviving Unemployment: A guide for the stay-at-home mom
  4. Planning Your Move on a Tight Budget
  5. Preparing for a Natural Miscarriage:  Supplies

This past week I finished another hub related to moving:

Top Ten Hints for Organizing Your Next Move

Truthfully, I hope none of these apply to any of you right now, but if they do, I hope you will find something helpful! 🙂

Some treasured every day practical advice comes from the words of a poem, often quoted by one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot:

The Loft