This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, April 14



FOR TODAY ...April 14 , 2014

Outside my window...it is COLD!! And considering snowing...on trees that have budded and birds who were cheerful yesterday. Hrrrumpf!

I am thinking...how I came to be here. This day. This hour. This point in my life.

I am thankful for...my husband, my children, my faith.

From the learning rooms...the end is near! How do we finish strong?

From the kitchen...left over brisket from yesterday.

I am wearing...my old striped sweater.

I am creating...still working on a very beginner quilt. Pondering beads that have found their way into my collection.

I am going...back to work. Very likely this time next week I will start a new chapter.

I am reading...One True Thing by Anna Quindlin. Just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larson.

I am hoping...I figure things out one of these days.

I am hearing...chilly birds outside. A clock inside.

Around the house...I did not accomplish as much as I wanted to on my Lenten Spring Cleaning.

One of my favorite things...cool sheets, warm blankets.

A few plans for the rest of the week: tie up loose ends so my boys (all three, the tallest one, the first-born, and the one I married) can have a semblance of order in my absence.


 Have a joyful week!!


Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook to find more daybookers.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Big Picture Interactive Bible


I received a copy of the Big Picture Interactive Bible to review. My first thought when the Bible came was "Wow!"

 Not sure what I was expecting when I agreed to review, but it was certainly not a full-sized Bible with a sturdy and very eye-catching cover. So out of the box (or mail bag, as it were) the quality was impressive. I was not familiar with the Holman Christian Standard translation, but some research allowed me to get acquainted and I must say the translation is one that I am very comfortable with--very easy to read, and yet with the impression that there are not "additions" to the Word.

This would be a great gift for an older adolescent, a tween or young teen.

Read my full review at Joyful Days Reviews & Recipes

From the publisher: Are our children really getting the full meaning of the stories as we read the Bible to them? When we read the Bible to our children, the stories are often in bits and pieces and focus on "being good." But children should get the message of "being saved" from reading the Bible instead. The Big Picture Interactive Bible (B&H Kids) is the first children's Bible of its kind-the Jesus story from start to finish, filled with features and interactive elements that capture the true meaning and significance behind all of the verses and stories.

Thanks to B&H Publishing Group for the Bible and the chance to review The Big Picture Interactive Bible.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Feast vs. Fast

How are your Lenten fasts/goals holding up? Are you the person who endures more than the forty days? Does every day count as fast or do you allow the "mini-feast" of Sunday? There are merits to both approaches.

I've practiced both this year. There were a few Lenten fasts that I've allowed myself to break from on Sundays and a couple that I've held tight to everyday. Then, if I'm being honest, there's one I've just not managed well.

The ones I've not allowed Sunday "breaks" are the one that seemed to me to control me in the area of time. They have the potential, I am sad to say, to consume my attention, to consume my better judgement. They are the ones that I am going to have to continue to wrestle with outside of Lent.

The fasts that I've broken on Sundays have been the ones that I felt I needed to see where I stood with. They are choices that I will probably continue to moderate during the year.

We live in such a rich and abundant society, I doubt we have to look very far to find something to "give up for Lent." First world problems...

Counting it all joy,

Julie

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The fifty yards of tulle has left the building.

A young dancer friend, a budding choreographer, was promised access to a professional company's costume shop and then in the eleventh hour that was changed and he was left with a lovely piece of choreography and no costumes. Two tulle skirts and some dyeing of leotards and tights later, I am grateful I had the chance to be of help. It was fun to play with the fluffy stuff, but I need to get back on the track of Spring Cleaning. I am grateful to be done, as well.

The boys have been pretty good about keeping their rooms in good shape. That was where the cleaning began. The younger is a minimalist and so that takes him very little time. The oldest reminds me of....well, me at that age and if I look at it in that context, his room is awesome. It still may teeter precariously on the fire code's desire for clear exits, but it's not bad, I guess.

We are coming to the realization that the oldest will most likely be leaving us in the fall. He is definitely leaving for part of the summer, but it looks like he may have a chance at a boarding situation to pursue his dream. We are focusing on getting him prepared to be a little more responsible and able to feed himself, make healthy decisions, maintain clothing and necessities.

He's also earned a learner's permit for driving and we are dealing with that. I am grateful my husband has taken that teaching hat for the beginning portion. I'm sure I would be able to do it, but I'm a bit more reactive and emotional. And...nervous. Yes, I admit, I am a Nervous Nellie. Once he gets going I will be fine (relatively) in the passenger's seat, but it's better I don't sit there for a while.

Random occurrences, thoughts and observances:

I scored some drapes for the dining room at my favorite thrift store!!

I've had a lot more scrutiny than usual on the homeschool aspect of our lives.

I have a lot of stuff...Moving has always been good for getting rid of stuff, it's just that we stayed in the last place nearly ten years. So, I'm wondering if I can get rid of some more stuff without moving to help...I guess that means I'm pondering a garage sale...sigh...

Many thoughts about what "acting one's age" means to me. As I near the half-century mark I'm looking forward and backwards quite a bit. Asking myself how the road led here and where does it turn over the next hill.

It smells like Spring outside.

Counting it all joy,

Julie




Friday, March 21, 2014

Re-Entry

How many days does it take you to recover when you get home from a trip?

Trips (both fun and otherwise) exhaust me. It takes at least two or three days to get ready. I like to come home to a relatively clean house. I like to have the only laundry in the pile be what I am bringing back. I like to not see forgotten dishes in the sink.

And then I've come to the conclusion that for every day I've been gone it takes me at least one, and maybe two, to "recover." What I want to do when I come home is flop in my chair and veg for a bit. What I need to do is all the things that got left undone while I was gone.

Since I left the three boys...my dear husband kept the kitchen in good shape. But they still wore clothes (I am grateful for that) so the laundry was waiting. The boys spend a lot of time in their room, so the general public area was still pretty nice. And we needed a few odds and ends that I forgot to pick up before I left.

Yesterday involved shopping with a good friend for fifty yards of tulle (yes fifty) and some other sundry items. Shopping at the great "Stuff Mart" that I try to avoid. Resuming the chef's toque...okay cook's hat. I do realize I'm no chef. Putting back on my teaching tiara. Wrapping round my metaphorical laundress's apron. And sitting down to do the paperwork that is involved with being my eldest's secretary and personal assistant.

Not as much Pintrest time as I would have liked...just saying...

Today involves my chauffeur's cap, and continuing paperwork. Meatless menus. Long list-making. And fifty yards of tulle.

So I better get in gear...

Counting it all joy,

Julie

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When We All Get to Heaven

After a long four days, I am home. Home to my chair, my bed, my kitchen, my coffee mug. Home to my sweet guys who missed me. It's not that where I was, was a bad place. It just wasn't home.

HOME.

My earthly home brings comfort and relief from the wearying world. Can you imagine our real home? There is a deep and real longing in my heart for my my real home. My heavenly home.





 Going to leave it at that. I've got some catching up to do.

Counting it all joy,

Julie

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

Posting has been and will be limited for a few days. Traveling. Left the three "boys" at home: the big one, the bigger one and the old one. They seem to think it's party time with me gone. Pondering how that makes me feel.

Today is St. Patrick's day. A saint's day turned Hallmark holiday and excuse for bad behavior in the United States.

The verse I am pondering on is from today's Terce reading:

 Lord, you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent. Yes, you love all that exists, you hold in abhorrence nothing of what you have made. Wisdom 11:23-24 

Hope you have a lovely day and find a blessing!



Friday, March 14, 2014

Not My Map

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1: 27
Who are our "widows and orphans"? Sometimes I wonder if they don't perhaps come to us clothed in just an average person in our daily life needing our help.
I had my plans for Lent...my "desert" that I envisioned. Somehow I am not where I thought I would be. Somehow my map got changed.
Life, it is called. Life does not follow my map, my plans, my Lent. Others needs, the needs of my family, the needs of others raise their voices and ask me to veer off my planned path. And selfishly, I sit and dig in my heels and consider not helping, not serving, not doing what I am capable of. I make others worry they have asked too much of me.
Then I realize if I don't...it's not that I'm spectacular or anything. I am just in the place at the time of need...I consider my prideful and selfish motivations. Humility is not a virtue I am good at. Oh, I make it seem like I am, but false humility is a pride. So now there's more sin to contend with. Now that I'm weighing that, both options are in question.
Not exactly the same but, through my mind while I ponder...
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--Robert Frost

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hosea 14:1

Come Back To Me - John Michael Talbot 
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lenten Cleaning

I am an awful organizer--well that's not really true. I can organize. To me it's kind of like a Chinese puzzle that you shuffle the pieces around without taking them out. What I am awful at is getting rid of stuff. No one would ever accuse me of being a minimalist. But I am trying to pare down over Lent.

I've read some other blogger's Lenten cleaning schedule where they spend a week on a certain room. Sounds awesome deep cleaning like that, but I also have a hard time staying focused on one thing very long. So my 40 day goal is to move from room to room daily, each time getting another layer deeper in the hopes that by Easter the house will be in good shape (truthfully my goal is to be done by Passover).

I'm trying to be the tortoise and not the hare--my usual role model. I want to maintain and not get burnt out fifteen days into this.

To date, I have gone through both boys closets--shaking my head in amazement at what they have outgrown. Given away two large black trash bags full of clothes. I've mended some items so they can be used again. The living room has had a couple of minor rearrangements and boxes removed. The dining room has acquired some books from the living room. And the garage looks better. Well, to me anyway.

The garage is a metaphor for my life. Full of things that need to be offered in the Great Garage Sale, yard tools and the things we only use occasionally (like Christmas decorations). Things I should get rid of , things I should use to work and things to decorate. If you guessed that there are more decorations than anything else, you'd be correct.

I took a good portion of what was in the garage out to the driveway and rearranged so that the sale items and the left-over packing we can't seem to bear to part with are at the front, the yard tools are more towards the middle and the decorations are back. Hopefully the first two will be gone when we need the mower.

Since we moved to this house we've had the luxury of parking one car (mine) inside. What a treat when it is below freezing to get into a warm car. But my husband's poor car sat outside and we haven't been able to squeeze it in. What I accomplished was that now, if there was bad weather we could move a few things and  his car could come to shelter. We wouldn't be able to walk, but the car would be safe. My goal by Easter is that his car will find a permanent home in the garage. I'll revisit it next week. On to the kitchen and my room...

Step by baby step,
Counting it all joy,

Julie

Monday, March 10, 2014

Daybook, March 10, 2014



FOR TODAY ...Monday, March 10, 2014

Outside my window...It is still dark, thanks to the time change.

I am thinking...I have much cleaning to do today.

I am thankful for...Boys that are able to help lift, carry and lighten the load.

From the learning rooms...The oldest is ploughing through his work in order to be able to leave in June. The youngest is ploughing through his work to see if I will really allow him to be done when the work is done. And I will. No one should be punished for finishing a job. Math and reading are year-round here, but the other subjects...done is done.

From the kitchen...I'm visiting Pintrest when I'm done here.

I am wearing...something warm.

I am creating...I just got done making a tunic for the oldest's performance a week ago. I will be picking my first quilting attempt back up. I really want to finish some (okay, several) knitting WIPs.

I am going...to drive the oldest this afternoon, just like I always do. Driving to dance, driving to dance.

I am reading...Just raced through Marie Lu's Legend and gave it to the youngest. Debating between Daughter of the Forest and A Song for Summer .

I am hoping...

I am hearing...the clock tick, the furnace run and a few neighbors leaving for work.

Around the house...Lenten cleaning.

One of my favorite things...My new sewing machine.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Same song, next verse.

 Have a joyful week!!


Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook to find more Daybookers.

All or Nothing? Or Maybe a Little...?

 Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31
Before Lent I read a suggestion that instead of giving some things up to try moderation. The writer suggested that moderation is harder than total fasting from a thing. I would be inclined to agree. And apparently Ezekiel was of the same mind. The Scripture says "Cast away from you all your transgressions..." The Scripture says to be "new". 
Some families choose to honor Sundays as a "mini-feast" or a "mini-Easter." Some families choose not to practice this with vehemence. Until ten years ago, I didn't know it was an option! I don't know where I was, maybe I missed that day at Parochial school. If you count "these forty days of Lent," indeed, there are more than forty if you count Sundays, so the practice makes total sense. Late to the party, I thought this was brilliant and decided to give it a go. Truly it was harder to indulge on Sundays and resume abstinence on Mondays.
I'm not diminishing moderation. I can't give up eating, totally. I must learn to eat in a manner that is healthy. I must choose to put the best things I can into my body. There may be things that are fine for other people that will not do for me. I may be more sensitive to some things than most people. I may be fine with things that others cannot have. But it is easier to get rid of something completely than to try to maintain control. In the last year my family moved. I found it was easier to change some bad habits living in a new home. Sadly I found some other bad habits...or perhaps they found me. 
This Lent I am trying both methods--total fasting in some areas and moderation in others. I think I am seeing many areas of weakness brought to light both ways. 
What practices do you observe and do you choose fasting and abstinence or moderation?

Counting it all joy,

Julie

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Time Change!!


Which one speaks to you more?




 Most of us tolerate the "Fall Back" time change a little better than the "Spring Forward," but I think most would agree that messing with "time" messes with us.

We went to Mass last night. The chaotic rush to church on the Sunday of Daylight Savings time does little to exhort us to holiness. In fact it may cause us to dance a little too near sin. So we agreed to Saturday Mass and I changed the clocks when we got home.

I have two teens, so sleep is premium around here. My oldest is on a kick that time is relative (he's right). And my youngest lives virtually in England (in his heart and via the internet). My husband has periods of 24 hours on call and occasional technology crises. So this household is not unaccustomed to dealing with messed up sleep, But I always dislike the socially imposed time change.

I wonder what would happen if I refused. Hmmmmmm....

Joyfully adjusting,

Julie

Looking in a Mirror

From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the Lord your God and heed him. Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them. Deuteronomy 4: 29-31
When I read the Old Testament I am always amazed at how easily the Children of Israel forget...
Wow. That's pretty ironic isn't it. Of course it doesn't take long for me to see how easily I forget. Much more so than Israel.
"Surrender don't come natural to me 
I'd rather fight you for something
I don't really want
Than to take what you give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees"--Rich Mullins--Hold Me Jesus
The good news is that God does not forget. God is forever merciful. All I have to do is return. All I have to do is heed His voice.
Isn't it lovely that Jesus will walk with us as we return?

Count it all joy, 
Julie

Saturday, March 8, 2014

image011

...for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 7-8
Gardens are magical. Whether a formal garden with carefully arranged flowers, trees, shrubs and decorations or a humble backyard vegetable patch,  there is something about a garden that causes the visitor to breathe deeply, pause and admire and feel life. 
If a garden is planted with poor seeds or sickly plants it will be hard to cultivate and difficult to harvest good things. 
I know a woman, though, who waits until the last of the gardening sales to buy half dead plants at the lowest prices. She has a limited budget and a grand plan. Then she takes them home, plants them in good soil, fertilizes and nurtures them and with much time an devotion they revive and bloom and by the end of the growing season you would never know how her garden started differently than her neighbors. 
Perhaps we have sown poor seeds. Perhaps we have offered withered plants of kindness and generosity. Perhaps if we "soweth to the Spirit," if we water our offerings in the love of Christ and the mercy of God perhaps we shall "reap life everlasting."

Counting it all joy,

Julie

Friday, March 7, 2014

Backsliding Children

I don't like to be called childish. I've attained a certain number of years. I spent much of my past feeling very immature compared to my peers. Whether I was or not was perception I suppose. But events through the last few years have changed me and finally I don't feel like a child. I get up and I creak. I move slowly. I take medications to keep me functioning properly. I have learned to think before I speak more often than not. (A miracle some might say.) I hardly ever watch television. I put others' needs before mine--albeit grudgingly sometimes. I do what needs to be done. Perhaps not always cheerfully. But I do it. I go to church. I say my prayers. I'm not perfect, but pretty good. Right?
But GOD tells me I am childish and worse yet, backsliding. 
And, of course, He is right.
 Go and proclaim these devarim toward the north, and say, Return, thou meshuvah Yisroel, saith Hashem; and I will not cast down Mine anger to fall upon you; for I am chasid (displaying chesed, mercy), saith Hashem, and I will not keep anger l’olam. Only acknowledge thine avon (iniquity, guilt of wrongdoing), that thou hast rebelled against Hashem your G-d, and hast scattered thy favors to the zarim under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed My voice, saith Hashem. Shuvu (Turn), O banim shovaviv (backsliding children), saith Hashem; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one from a town, and two from a mishpakhah, and I will bring you to Tziyon  Yirmeyah 3: 12-14 OJB
From today's noon reading in Jeremiah we hear GOD speak to His people, His children who have turned away. I looked through a few translations some say "fatherless children," one says "revolting children," a couple say "backsliding," one says "disloyal."  some calls the children "faithless." All but one that I looked at called them/us--me--children. 
If I am "fatherless" it is not the Father that has changed. It is me...I backslide--I have good plans and then I get distracted by my poorer, previous choices. I revolt. I change my ways. See the new way is better. I feel better. Life is better. But then I listen to sin and say..."Just once more won't hurt." I am disloyal. I pick the world over the Father. I am "faithless." For if I were "faithFUL" I would believe what I know to be true and behave accordingly. Oh, yes...I am childish. 
Not even three days into Lent and I am wrestling with habits and temptation. But not to despair. I can pick up my cross again and again. I can turn back and try once more to be mature, loyal, faithful and loved by my merciful Father, through the blood of His most holy Son. 
So go and shout words towards the north, and say: "Come back, disloyal Israel, Yahweh/the LORD declares, I shall frown on you no more, since I am merciful,Yahweh/the LORD declares. I shall not keep my anger for ever. Only acknowledge your guilt: how you have rebelled against Yahweh/the LORD your God, how you have prostituted yourself with the Strangers under every green tree and have not listened to my voice,Yahweh/the LORD declares. "Come back, disloyal children,Yahweh/the LORD declares, for I alone am your Master, and I will take you, one from a town, two from a family, and bring you to Zion Jeremiah 3:12-14 NJB
Again, today I choose Christ. 
Counting it all joy, 
Julie

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Sin of Pride


"Excuse me...you have something on your head." says some tentative stranger. "Ummm...yes, those are ashes. It is Ash Wednesday." I reply.

"Oh, I forgot it was Ash Wednesday!" exclaims a non-practicing friend.

One day a year I allow a mark to be placed on my head and go out into the world to face strangers. The mark proclaims who I believe I belong to. It is more personal than any t-shirt or any piece of jewelry. It is right between my eyes so that if someone is to talk to me directly they have no choice but to see it. To see the cross in the ashes on my head.

That day was yesterday and while I've practiced the acceptance of ashes for a good part of my life, it never fails to make me uncomfortable. It is hard to walk around with a cross on your head. Our society is uncomfortable with that. The cross is not gold, not wooden, not even the palms that we sometimes weave out of Palm Sunday palms...but ashes. It is not a cross of pride, but admittance that we are unable to fix our situation of sin on our own. We need the cross that was on Calvary. We need the Lamb who bore our sin and suffering. And He did. And He will stand before the Father for us. To allow us to have the joy of heaven.

Why is it so awkward to walk around with ashes on my head for less than twenty-four hours?

Count it all joy,

Julie

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finding Stillness on the Internet




Return to me, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will return to you. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the prophets in the past cried ‘Turn back from your evil ways and evil deeds’ but they would not listen. Zechariah 1:3-4

I've been yearning for Lent, lately. Things have gotten out of hand. The world has gotten loud. While I've gotten rid of some bad habits, I've also given into other bad habits. Why couldn't I just let go, use a little self-discipline and make better choices on my own? I don't know. Sometimes, for me it takes Lent to refocus, re-prioritize and reawaken the desires for simplicity. The desires to choose better choices. Maybe it's just me. 

Lent begins today, and on a day when many people are giving up all things internet, all things technology, all things social media...I...am not. 

My poor desolate, little blog...I realized it has been nearly two years since I have updated. And I miss it. It was my quiet space in the midst of all the chaos. I think I am going to try blogging for Lent. Looking back, blogging often was a good time to sort out questions and theories. Blogging caused me to pray differently. It was a good journal for memories that I might have otherwise forgotten. And truthfully when I say that I am a bit sad that I've let two years go by. But I had my reasons. And now...I have other reasons to return. And times I know I am not going to want to forget. 

No promises for how well I will do visiting. I am setting timers for myself during Lent to prevent falling down into the rabbit hole and getting sucked into the Wonderland of the web. For now...I'm just going to see where I am led. 

Count it all joy, 

Julie