Monday, October 31, 2011

Commandments & Coveting

A little chain of thoughts concerning commandments. Forgive me if this is choppy. I don't do my best writing when sick... but I wanted to get my thoughts written out before I forgot them!

1. Today driving home I was thinking about how Christians are supposed to care for the orphans and fatherless. And instead of me feeling the sometimes-guilt that "Oh I should be doing more." I realized that not only does that command tell us to actively take care of the orphans and the fatherless, it is also telling us to be proactive in not adding to the existing orphan and fatherless population.Such as, promoting Christian marriages and Godly parents. Sometimes I think that a lot of American youths are half orphaned. I mean, if growing up you are put in day care/school 8 hours a day and on top of that add homework, early bedtimes for little kids, no family meals and the billions of TV watching that the average kid does, do you really bond with your parents?

2. I've been thinking alot about the proactive side of commandments thanks to the sermon series that our Pastor is going through on the 10 commandments. Right now, we are Thou Shalt Not Covet. So last week he talked about coveting within marriages. Well, obviously I'm not married, but does that mean I can say "Hah, I'll wait til later to deal with that?" Um, no. I need to control my thoughts now. I have to be proactive in applying that rule now.

3. Which leads to modesty. And this wasn't the direction I was going with this at all, but it just came to me. Growing up in a culture that emphasized modesty I remember having a good laugh when I heard some pastor comment that no where in the bible is it mentioned "Thou Shalt Be Modest". And so yes, people can take it to the extreme and say that it doesn't matter what you wear on the outside, it's all about the heart, but really thanks to that sermon, I now think that when it comes to modesty, it's all about coveting. The girl wanting the guy to covet her and the guy wanting to covet the girl. So really, this commandment does directly deal with modesty and that it is both an extension of the heart and helping others to avoid coveting.

4. Um, now I don't remember the brilliant point that I was going to make instead of the third one. Humility, eh?

5. {5 minutes later} So I guess that the point that I was getting to was...that instead of looking at a commandment and thinking, Okay, I guess I won't murder anyone today." We should look at a commandment and think, "Okay, that's what I'll not do. Now what SHOULD I be doing?" And that's a lot harder!

6. {added the next day} I've also now been thinking about how God through the Bible moves Israel/The Church from being told "DO NOT" (reactive) to "DO THIS" (proactive). I'm guessing that's a sign of maturity? For instance as kids are immature, there are very simple black and white rules. "Don't do this, Don't do this" they get told over and over again. But once those building blocks are firmly cemented, then that's when all sorts of beautiful character traits can be emphasized... And then in the Bible, God  has filled the Old Covenant with Do Nots, which the Israelites then get punished for not obeying. But by the New Covenant, the Israelites are obsessed with following the rules and have failed to move beyond those basic building blocks. So in the New Covenant (Or New Testament) part of the Bible God hardly ever says "Do Not" (Compared to the OT) but instead mostly says "Do This" trusting that we understand the foundation that this is based on.

Thoughts, anyone? I would love to flesh this more out later...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jane Austen & Regency Tea Party

This week started and ended with Jane Austen. I could say that I planned it but I didn't... (all pictures taken by the lovely Hadley who never put herself in a photo... silly girl.)

On Monday I hosted our third annual Regency Tea Party. So much fun. I feel hesitant about blogging about it as I don't want people to feel left out. I think pretty much every gal I know is a Jane Austen fan! The last couple of years we've done it outside so it was easier to invite more people. Plus, this was a good year to just keep it simple because of my silly memory. I kept forgetting about the whole thing. I even forgot to invite specific people.. please don't get mad! In fact I think I forgot about it each day the whole week before. Oops.

This year, at the encouragement of my friend, Kaitlyn, I did a more specific theme of Jane Austen. I asked people (if they wanted!) to share one of their favorite passages from her books. We then took turns reading them out loud which felt quite Jane Austen-ish.I chose the passage from Pride & Prejudice when Lizzy learns that she will be a stranger from one of her parents.

Here I am enjoying the party. I have no clue when Hadley took this picture, but I love it! Plus, those are my favorite-est earrings!

 Also, now I'm kicking myself for not taking more pictures, but I was actually enjoying the moment and not thinking of how I was going to be blogging this later.

After the readings we played a game. I wrote out various characters from the books onto cards and then taped them to everyone's back. The goal was to find out who you were by asking yes/no questions from other guests. You could only ask one question from each person at a time, ie, not standing there and grilling the other person! I turned out to be Mrs. Bennet which was funny as I had forgotten I had written her down!

Some of the younger ladies (and a very young lady) in their Regency Finery.

 After the game, we sat down to eat. What I've learned from hosting tea parties is that one of the funnest ways to do tea parties is for everyone to bring a dish for each lady coming. That way, there is usually a nice variety and the hostess (ie, lazy me!) doesn't have to do lots of cooking. And I think almost everyone enjoys having an excuse to make their favorite tea party recipe!

Also, I ask each lady coming to bring their own tea cup. That way I don't have to worry about not having enough tea cups and who doesn't love a chance to show off their favorite tea cup. :) After this tea party, I realized it really makes clean up much easier if you don't have to wash a whole bunch of tea cups!

Before the tea I also placed cards on the table with two conversation starters along the lines of: "What Jane Austen character are you most like?" and "What is your favorite Jane Austen movie/book?" It was delightful to hear everyone's thoughts. The girls then headed off to take some photos and we squeezed in a group photo with almost everyone!

Dog, knitting and wood fire. Not pictured: Pride & Prejudice on the screen.

Skip forward to today. I've now been sick with some weird nausea virus for four days. It's the weirdest one I've ever had. I'm kind of afraid to google it as I don't want to have anything really nasty. Anyways, today everyone went off to a wedding while Mom and I stayed home. And I was in the mood for Pride & Prejudice. So I sat and watched and knitted. Which sounds pretty ideal if it had only included something besides jello and chicken noodle soup to eat!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The newest member of our cast

 Please join us in welcoming Brutus!

Brutus was graciously given to us by our friends the Paynes.
We are hoping that he will be insturmental in eating weeds in the pasture.
Fingers are crossed that he might, just might, eat some thistles.

Which, if it wasn't for that promising thought and the fact that he's extremely friendly,
he might not still be ours.

I believe his escape count is so far at 5.
This is why we swore we would never get a goat!
This only includes escaping far enough to eat the roses around the house.
Not the times hes escaped from one pasture to the other!

Also the sheep were hilarious. It might take a while for him to gain their acceptance.
He trotted after them wanting to be friends and they would run away in horror.
Then when he turned around and started walking away, they would timidly follow him. 
Even though they were sure he would kill them any minute.
Curiosity might have just killed a sheep, let alone a cat.

Well, that's all for right now. Sorry for the bullet point writing, but my brains fritzed tonight!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Random links of various interests

Just a few links that I thought would be fun to share....

First off, The Art Of Clean Up is pretty awesome. It's written in Spanish, but the main idea seems to be that he takes ordinary scenarios (parking lot, or a fir branch) and organizes them.

Second, I just discovered this, Semester at Sea. I want to do the Summer 2013 trip. England, Europe & Egypt! Yes please. Although, it is lacking Holland, France and Germany. But that's okay, it would be a good intro, right?

Third, if you like to travel, I just discovered this blog, Prêt à Voyage. Very fun! I'm enjoying her posts about {Un}glamorous Paris.

And one more thing, if you like dollhouses, you might want to check out this Dollhouse Challenge. I've always loved anything miniature and I do have a dollhouse I could decorate. So it looks awesome. (I'm not doing the challenge though, I already have too many projects going on....)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Women & Winnie-the-Pooh

 Jacob tells a joke

While digging up potatoes this afternoon, Jacob came wandering by. I told him to grab a shovel for me and then come into the vegetable garden so he could see what I was doing. On his way over we had the following conversation:

Jacob: "Sara, do you want to hear a joke?"

Me: "Yeah, sure".


Jacob, in his deepest possible voice: "women."

 I laughed, as it was so unexpected.

Jacob: "I just don't know why that is so funny."

We then spent the next few minutes talking about why it's a funny joke. I wasn't much help.


After growing up watching Winnie-the-Pooh my whole life, I am rather embarrassed to admit that I am finally reading it. Jacob and I have been reading through Winnie-the-Pooh in the mornings and my goodness, is it hilarious. It's not just a childrens book. This section made me laugh out loud yesterday morning....

During the flood, Pooh sets out for Piglet's house...

Then he had an idea, and I think that for a Bear of Very Little Brain, it was a good idea. He said to himself:

"If a bottle can float, thena  jar can float, and if a jar floats, I can sit on the top of it, if it's a very big jar."

So he took his biggest jar, and corked it up. "All boats have to have a name," he said, "so I shall cal mine The Floating Bear." And with these words he dropped his boat into the water and jumped in after it.

For  a little while Pooh and The Floating Bear were uncertain as to which of them was meant to be on the top, but after trying one or two different positions, they settled down with the Floating Bear underneath and Pooh triumphantly astride it, paddling vigorously with his feet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Walking the valley

Today, for eight hours, minus half hour for lunch, Mom and I were either driving to hospitals, walking around them, or sitting in doctor's waiting rooms and offices. And we thank the Lord that our visits are just that, visits.

We had two appointments today for Mom. Not neccessarily the best idea. And, one lesson learned is, don't pile up appointments. But sometimes with these doctors you have to take them when you can get them.

Mother is eternally optimistic that the doctors will have the answers. The right answers. The clear answers. And today was supposed to be the culmination of a years worth of appointments.A meeting about her brain "freezes" and a meeting to discuss spinal surgery. And by now, most of the normal things have been tested. But it turned out to be like many other appointments. No easy news, no "we can fix it and make it all better" news.

Now, things are not hopeless, and there are still more avenues to pursue. But the avenues are shrinking. Instead of one of those confusing intersections with five broad boulevards, it's more like a road, a few alleyways and maybe a dirt path.

I'm making tremendous progress on my never ending sweater.
It's looking more and more like Mom will always have debilitating pain in her upper back (which medicine can only somewhat take away). And she'll probably always be on medicine for her brain "freezes". In fact, the doctor wasn't even sure what to call them. They're not seizures. They're not epilepsy. Epilepsy only takes place in the cortex of the brain (the outer part) whereas these originate from deeper within. They're just a  pain in the butt to have to deal with daily. And to manage. The doctor said that it's better than having epilepsy, but of course, it's something that is not as well researched, so thus there is not the same regime of meds available.

So after a quick lunch at a friends house, off we sailed to another appointment. We had been warned that this doctor probably wouldn't have any simple answers. And he didn't. More testing is needed. More questions to be pondered. Is it worth the risks? Would it solve pain or mobility issues?*

There's nothing like talking to the doctor and finding out that they don't have all the answers. And that once again, you're the "weird one" The special case that doesn't fit into any of the boxes. Not just normal whiplash and concussion, but, no you're special.That hurts. And it hurts in it's own way when it's someone you love. It hurts to watch hurting. It hurts when its your mom.

When you're little, Moms are infallible. Moms aren't supposed to be sick. They aren't supposed to get injured. They aren't supposed to get cancer. They aren't supposed to die. You  never expect tragedy to strike. You know that someday they might get sick, but it will happen one day; it will be some other day. Later.

Thankfully by the grace of God, my mom is strong. And brave. While she can't be as strong as she used too be physically, (how many 50 year olds still climb trees?) she's growing stronger spiritually. And that is precious to watch. To know that we are never to old to lean on Jesus.

I often mentally give hospitals different awards.This hospital won the award for nicest bathroom.

Afterwards, because Dad had meetings in Portland, we were able to meet up at a Olive Garden for dinner.And that was exactly what God knew we needed. To see Dad's support and love for Mom as she walks this valley was sweet indeed. The way he listened with love and then insisted that the waitress write something beautiful on Mom's "doggy box". Because she is beautiful. To him, to us and to Jesus.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Laurelhurst: Explored

Today we explored Laurelhurst neighborhood. It's one of those neighborhoods that we always drive through and think.. "we should walk here sometime". Well, today we did. We mostly walked through the parks, but we did put in some house spotting.

1. Unusual double peaked dormer. Daniel disliked the "messy" ivy haning over the garage door.
2. A very rambly many storied house.
3. Mediterranean inspired house with a owl weather vane on a tower. Awesome.
4. The house of mystery.  The lawn was basically a meadow. And I think we counted 10 chimneys.
5. Close up. Where the front door should have been there was an elaborate grille work box around it. Also, now that I checked out on zillow, it sounds like it has a ballroom....and it was quite better looking when it was sold! Later: I just found this article on it.. It's called the Bitar House and this link has some awesome pictures.
6. The house that is for sale that we imagined buying. Apparently it was built for a former Portland Mayor and Senator...

Laurelhurst park was beautiful. 
Here we are setting off in search for the elusive play ground that we saw a sign for. 
It never appeared. Sadness.

We were very amused to see puffball ducks in the pond... 
Maybe they were somebody's pet?

Mental Note: We should go back here in a couple of weeks when the trees begin to turn color.

Jacob made friends with someone's pet lion. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Weekly round up

This week in pictures:

1. Learning how to use a router
2. The sheets I would make my mommy buy me if I was five. Sniff. Please, mommy, please?
3. Running errands in style (ie, my out and about outfit.- Brown coat, denim skirt, brown boots.
4. Daniel & Jacob playing on the rope pyramid thingy at the park.
5. Texting Ellen & Sally about my skinny jeans. Ssh.
6. Started the week out with a wedding.
7. Soap making with friends. Too much fun.
8. Delicatta squash & bacon soup and smoked Gouda at the park. It was cold, but the soup was oh so warm and yummy!


Did you know that the phrase Tah-dah comes from the Hebrew word for thank you? At least I think it does. Because I've been learning some Hebrew (well, kind of, but not really) and in Hebrew "Thank you" sounds like Toh-Dah. At least to me it does. Aren't you glad you learned that? Although, here I mean it in the traditional American sense of "Look at this accomplishment!"

And now I have to go investigate a VERY loud purr that just started from my wardrobe. Just a sec. Okay, purring investigated. And yes, there is a cat in my wardrobe. And, yes, it really is a wardrobe  just like in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Although I don't keep fur coats in it. Just furry cats. Sometimes.

Anyways, I digress.

The house in it's current glory! We still need to paint the door.
And we are hoping to add shutters in the not to distant future.
And as long as we're talking big... 
expand the porch out and put in more landscaping. :)
Oh, and a bench swing! Definitely need one of those....

Also, notice the lights on either side of the door?

They started looking out like this. Stained and simply hideous brass. 
In fact, I rescued them from the garbage!

But add a little spray paint magic, and they're beautiful!

I love them so much now. Yay!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Simple Life. (Part One)

Lately, I have come to realize that I don't believe in choosing to live "the simple life".Which, considering the amount of blogs I see out there about living the simple life, or about choosing simplicity, this may be somewhat of a shocker statement to put on a blog. But let me explain...

Now, granted, if you live a life where a) you're never at home and b) you have tchotchkes lining your shelves like can-can dancers, you might need to simplify your life some.

But, my worries are, that all too often living the simple life, means living the selfish life. The question is, does living the simple life equal living the Godly life?
I doubt it.

Also, I worry that there are wonderful women out there, feeling guilty that they are not living up to someone else's standard of the perfect life, the simple life.

I think the magazine, Real Simple, with the motto, "life made easier" pretty much sums it up. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for reducing repetitive tasks or finding clever solutions. And I like anything that involves efficiency and effectiveness. Although, much to my own sinful dismay at times, I've noticed that God isn't a huge fan of efficiency. But, life made easier, isn't what it's all about.

Kitties complicate life.

Another beef I have with this movement is the word "simple", itself. Look it up in a dictionary. It isn't exactly a compliment. Or you can read the definitions below from Merriam-Webster...

1: free from guile : innocent
2a : free from vanity : modest b : free from ostentation or display <a simple outfit>
3: of humble origin or modest position <a simple farmer>
4a : lacking in knowledge or expertise <a simple amateur of the arts> b (1) : stupid (2) : mentally retarded c : not socially or culturally sophisticated : naive; also : credulous
5a : sheer, unmixed <simple honesty> b : free of secondary complications <a simple vitamin deficiency> c (1) : having only one main clause and no subordinate clauses <a simple sentence> (2) of a subject or predicate : having no modifiers, complements, or objects d : constituting a basic element : fundamental e : not made up of many like units <a simple eye>
6: free from elaboration or figuration <simple harmony>

 Looking at these terms personally leaves me with no desire to simple. In fact, it makes me want to be pretty much the opposite. 

In the Bible, no where does God call us to simplify our lives. Nor does he call us to be simple. Usually, women in the Bible have lives that are just the opposite. Most gals in the Bible are, gasp, rich. That's right rich. And that wasn't in opposition to being Godly! I've been reading through Acts lately, and I'm amazed how often Paul visits a city and the prominent women of the city are mentioned.

These women in the Bible had anything but simple lives,yet they were considered Godly. In fact they had undoubtedly had way more complicated lives than most people living in America. They had servants. And if there's one thing that makes life complicated and that requires wisdom, it's people.
And so do brothers who play with your camera and take pictures of kitties.

Simple & easy isn't what the Christian life is. Simple and easy does not force us to cry out to God for help. In fact, often he calls us to the opposite in our lives. The people I admire the most have usually had great hardships that have had to overcome. And what classic literature is about the hero decluttering his closet?* Classic literature is all about hard and complicated situations.

Instead of Simple & Easy, God often gives us Complicated and Hard.  Because Complication in our life brings wisdom. Hardness brings perseverance. Both bring growth and depth to our life. And dependence on God. Often it seems like you've just mounted one hurdle and then God brings another need, another person, another problem into our life. Should we run away from these, because they'll ruin our Simple Life? Our family often says "Life is Tough and then you die." And while we say it with half a smile, there is a great amount of truth to that.  Life is tough, and that's okay. Praise the Lord.

Are people going to remember you for having the time to do everything that was important for "you" or
are they going to remember you for having the time to do everything that was important for others?

What story are you leaving behind?

*Yes, yes, there is balance in managing our possessions wisely. More later...

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Cabin

Thus ends our time in the Sierras. I've more or less collected some of the photos that were taken at the cabin and the pond (ran out of room, guess there's another post in order) and collected them into this post, so things aren't in chronological order.

So here's the quick low down on the cabin. About fifty years ago, two couples (one set being my mom's parents) decided it would be neat to build a cabin in the Sierras. They each invited another couple to join them. Then they set about building a cabin that could hold quite a few people, but still seemed rustic and small. Over the next couple of years the families worked on building it together. My mom's family was in Europe quite a bit at the time, so at one point, my grandfather flew back and built all of the cabinets on trip. Mom also has memories of nailing the cedar planks onto the walls. Hopefully I'm remembering this right? Mom?

Then after a while, one of the families moved to Florida. The other couples decided to invite my other grandparents to join. Of course, this was before my parents were even dating...  ;P  So I have lovely memories of going here with both grandparents. :)

Here be the outside. It's nothing fancy. And check out the street names... Muriettas Roost refers to a stage coach robbers hangout. Pretty awesome in my book.

The boys playing Dominion. 
Notice all the swim towels on the deck? It may get cold at night, but the air is so dry things dry out really quickly!

We play a lot of games at the cabin! Here Jacob is teaching Grandma how to play nine square. 

And on another day, Dad, Jacob and Mom playing Bingo while Grandma observes.

When I was little this table was SO HUGE. Then in between trips I grew like four inches and I came back and was totally shocked at how it had shrunk-ed!.

Also, when they built the cabin, the group decided NOT to put in a dishwasher. Thus, doing the dishes is an integral part of the cabin, too.

Scot and Juli whipping up a delicious something.

Not a super exciting photo, but it does show the banister. And yes, this a real banister that you can slide down. And yes, I slide down it every trip.

Every laundry/mud room should have swinging saloon doors.

And there's no garbage service either. Here Andrew and Jacob are taking care of that problem.

And just a sample of the awesome decor.... Every cabin should have reward posters, right?