Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Power of Prayer -- Adventures in the Life of Naomi H.

People use the words “The Power of Prayer” without really comprehending what they're saying. Have we any inkling of the power we have through Jesus Christ? Maybe just an inkling.

Since we have been scheduled to play several places in the recent weeks, we've been practicing our music. It's a challenge to get four grown girls, all of whom have strong opinions and wills, to practice together and have a good time. Add an 11 year old boy, 8 year old girl, 6 year old boy and a 4 year old girl and life just got a lot more complicated. Attitudes fly around the room like big, nasty birds, everyone is squawking at everyone and everything (each individual, the music, our family team) suffers.

In the past few days of practicing, I've had it laid on my heart that I needed to pray before we began our practice. But I ignored it. For what reason? Simply this, I was afraid. I was afraid that my family would look at me and think, “She's been as bad as the rest of us and she wants to act buddy buddy with God now?” I was afraid also that God wouldn't make a noticeable change and my younger siblings would question God's power. Ultimately, I was afraid that me praying would send my siblings further away from God.

Written out on paper, my fears are shown for what they are: ridiculous.

But they didn't seem so at the time. It finally got bad enough yesterday that I was on the verge of quitting before we were done and sending everyone their own ways. But God spoke to me as I was praying to Him silently. He reminded me of the need for prayer and told me to believe. So I did. I told everyone to be quiet and that I was going to pray. And I did. Then, I held on and believed that God would answer this prayer.

The change was immediate and very noticeable.

God gave us a spirit of love for each other.
Our skill with both our instruments and our voices was much improved.
And above all, we were able to bring glory to God.

We don't always get what we ask for but this time, God answered 'yes'.

Please pray for us, as you think of us. Pray that our focus will be kept on God and that He will keep us in peace and love for each other. It's amazing how much freedom we have in Jesus... when we allow Him to work in our lives.

How easy it is to make excuses when we know what is right. How easy it is to turn away and take another path. How easy it is for our vision to become clouded and our minds filled with things other than truth. How easy it is to depend on other things to replace a relationship with God.

But, take heart! The Bible promises that if we seek, we will find. What are you seeking?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blog Recommendations

note: my apologies for the offensive link! It is now fixed and I highly recommend you brave ones to check it out. :-) I hope I haven't scared anyone off! Lol. :P Again, My apologies.

Since my internet time is so limited, I don't often leave comments but I do read several blogs. :-) I wanted to list some of my favorites...

My friend, Eppie, recently married, more recently pregnant and very, very funny. I love you, E!

Another friend of mine pointed me to this blog and I appreciate her doing so. Jasmine has such a fun attitude towards life... but she's very deep, too. Her blog is a very good read.

Bethany is also recently married. Her blog is full of photographs, scripture, happy thoughts and her signature [smile].

My sister Lydia's blog. Other than the fact that Lydia is my sister, her blog is great fun to read. She has a unique perspective on life that makes me chuckle, shake my head and wonder alternately about her wisdom and stupidity.

Jessica and I have been friends since we first met... at the age of 13. Well, I was 12 and she was just 13. :-) I went to her wedding and have taken real joy in watching her family grow in the years since. :-)

My friend Cheri is a wonderful musician, photographer, blogger and seamstress... not to mention all of her other great qualities.

More interesting Stuff... ;-P

Our darling Dudley... after he finished making a complete mess out of our living room. ;-)

Summer plans:

1: Teaching at a children's camp in the month of July.
2: Helping at another children's camp for the next 6 days.
3: Attending first week of Kenosee Lake Kitchen Camp as a student.
4: Going to John Arcand's Fiddle Fest.
5: Attending second week of Kenosee Lake Kitchen Camp as a student.

Excepting Johnny's Fiddle Fest, our entire summer will be spent at one location. I've never been away from home/family for so long... the longest I've spent away from home was a little over three weeks. This is bordering on 2 months.
My biggest fear is that I will not be the best witness that I can be. The children we will working with are not church going children... they have been sponsored to attend this Bible Camp. It's going to be a challenge. :-) Last summer, the director of the camp came to me and my sisters and asked if we would be willing to teach the next summer. During the conversation, I had a strong feeling that this was what God wanted for me and it hasn't gone away since the moment I heard the request. That alone is amazing because it's not usual for me to feel so strongly about something being God's will. I prayed and others prayed about it and the details have been coming together...
So my fears are unfounded and my excitement is not. I can't wait to experience what God has planned!! :-D

We're making lists of stuff we need to purchase... I would really like to bring as little as possible but it's better to have too much than too little. I hate being away from home and running out of essentials. :-P

It feels good to be on the mend! We're still not 100% but I'm hoping that it will be so, soon. The symptoms from this virus seem to be of the tenacious sort. Some days, I'm good... other days, not so good. We are scheduled for music twice in the near future so we have been practicing each morning before school. Invariably, one of us will have to leave in the middle of a song because suddenly something comes and we can't breath and we're gagging, etc, etc. This morning it was me. :-P Lol. Ever since we've begun practicing, my lungs/back have been hurting quite a bit. It's not too bad but it's getting to where I'm having trouble getting comfortable in any position. However, I'm sure it will pass in time... I'll just have to keep busy to keep my mind off of it. I'm not sure what's happening inside that's making them hurt but I imagine that it's from them being cleared out after having this cold.

We had some 'exciting' times this week when my parents took Sara to the ER to get X-rays of her left ankle, which was very sore. There was literally no swelling... at least that we could tell... and little to no heat. But she was in a lot of pain for a couple days. You feel so helpless when you can't do anything to help. Even Baby Tylenol didn't work that well. :-P Anyway, the X-rays showed nothing was broken. They thought that she had bruised her ankle somehow (we're still wondering how it happened... maybe she slipped while pulling herself up on something?) and that it would simply take time to heal. Since then, she's been obviously in a lot less pain and is starting to put a little weight on it. Such a relief. I hate it when babies are in pain. I hate it when anyone is in pain but it seems worse with babies and young children because they can't tell you how it happened or what hurts, etc.

We have company today... For dinner, we're having fried chicken and mashed potatoes... with tapioca pudding for dessert. It's almost time so I will close this up and get it ready to go for tomorrow. Mom is going into Preeceville so I will have a bit of 'net time, hopefully. :-)

Oh yes. I was going to thank everyone who writes a comment. It makes my day to read what you have to say about my ramblings... In fact, I might even say “I blog for comments”. Lol! :-D Is that bad?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Things That Go On In The Holter House.. and other interesting stuff

Last time I was able to get a connection, I posted three blog posts. I had gone for over a week without getting on the internet so I had been given time and inspiration for that much material. Lol! This time, I have at least two, maybe more. We shall see. I trust it's not overwhelming when I post more than one at a time. :-)

Our music went well the night of the 5th. The first song was the best. No mishaps with timing or anything like that. :-) Plus, with kids of all ages singing, it was pretty cute. Ruth (4) and Uriah (6) were big hits and people told me they could really hear their voices. I was quite pleased.
The second song, however, is a different story. We learned several very important lessons: Firstly, it's best if the musicians can hear each other. If you are playing back up for the fiddler and you can't hear the fiddler, it's called 'bad news'. Secondly, don't set loose sheet music on a playing piano. The vibrations of the instrument will make the music first fall onto your hands, then onto the floor, leaving the poor pianist moaning to herself, “Why didn't I memorize it?!” Indeed! Lol! But since I had played it a million times before and I was only accompanying, I was able to pull it off with only a few mistakes. ::sigh:: :-)

[Uriah (6) was making a huge fuss about his math. He kept insisting that he couldn't do it, no matter how much Mom and I tried to explain to him. Finally, Mom said if he didn't get it done in 15 minutes, there would be consequences. He was done in five. And (get this!) the answers were correct. :-P Kids. :-D]

Zeke celebrated his 11th birthday on the 9th and we had our nice ice-cream and pizza. My portion was eaten with you all in mind, so ::kisses::. :-D Happy birthday, Zeke.

I've been reading lots lately and watching some movies. Here are some titles:

Hunt for Red October (Tom Clancy) [definitely going to watch this movie someday. This book was excellent. I love it. Minus the language. :-) Great story, style, etc. I love Ryan and Jonesy best. President was fun, too. Not written from a Christian perspective.]

The Stone Maiden (Velda Johnson)
The Underground Stream (Velda Johnson) [both books were written in a timeless style that I love. I must say that I appreciated the former more than the other but I liked the mystery and storylines of both. Not written from a Christian perspective.]

And some of the movies I've been watching have been:

Amazing Grace (Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Ciaran Hinds, Rufus Sewell)
[I love this movie. It's like a documentary about William Wilberforce that's a movie. Very interesting, intense, moving, sweet. Great acting.]

Night At The Museum (Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Robin Williams)
[One of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Made me get tears of laughter in my eyes. :-) It's a satire but it's sweet and has a moral at the same time. Really funny. Some minor language and references to evolution... but I must say, I thought they were making fun of belief in evolution.]

Riders of the Purple Sage (Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Henry Thomas)
[I've seen Henry Thomas act in three westerns and in each, he was my favorite character. Lol! This movie is based on Zane Grey's book. Very nicely acted with a great story and mystery. Love the horse stuff. :-)]

The Nativity Story (Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar Isaac, Hiam Abbass, Shaun Toub)
[I thought this movie well done. Well acted certainly and they stuck fairly close to the Bible. There were a couple things that made me go “Yeah, right.” (sarcasm helps some things go down easier ;-)) But I thought for a biblical movie, they did fairly well. :-) I do advise you to go see it.]

Does anyone have any good biblical films they could recommend? Usually they seem to take liberties with the story, therefore missing important things. :-P That being said I haven't watched many biblical films.

Hannah and I are on a committee from church that's organizing an evening called, “Ladies Time Out”. Each year's theme is different and this year, it's The 50's. It's basically going to be an evening for all the ladies in the community to come and hear about God while having a fun and enlightening evening. I'm quite excited about it. :-) We're trying to stay away from buying anything more than we have to so we're trying to keep our eyes open for costumes, magazines, cookbooks, decorations, etc that we borrow (or be given) from that era. Anybody have old Reminisce magazines they would be willing to send to me? We need ideas for costumes, etc.

Do you remember that post I wrote about the Jehovah's Witnesses that came to our door? The old gentleman who came from Hungary, who was telling me about the horrors of WW1? He had a stroke not long ago and isn't looking too good. There might be just a chance that he can think and reason and be convicted... please pray for him as you are led.

[At the children's group we help with at church, the teacher was asking the kids what things we could do to obey our parents. Then she asked them to tell, without names, some things people have done that were disobedient. Right away, a little boy named Dylan (5) piped up, “My Dad--” and was promptly cut off with, “No names!” He sat silently for several minutes as other children said their pieces, then he began, obviously thinking really hard, “My mother's husband...”]

I hope you all have had a great week so far and that the next will be full of joy! God bless and stay warm. :-) :-)

P.S. I recently learned that green was Napoleon Bonaparte's favorite color. I knew there was a reason I liked that color. :-P :-D

Patriot vs. Tory? Is that all?

Before I begin, I wish to say that I thank God for freedom of speech, to own land, guns, animals, etc, etc. I appreciate the sacrifice men and women have made through the centuries to gain this freedom for us. But sometimes it's easy to forget that the winner writes the history. One of the great advantages of living in Canada is the different sorts of literature you can find to read. Authors write from the Canadian viewpoint of history, wars, famous people, etc. It is true that we have a lot of the same material available here that I have read down in the States but there is quite a lot here that wouldn't be as easy to find down there.

I just finished Janet Lunn's book, “The Hollow Tree”. It's about the revolutionary war written from a point of view I had never introduced to before. Phoebe's father fought on the side of the patriots and died for the cause. Phoebe's cousin, who was as close to her as the brother she never had, fought on the loyalist side and was hung as a spy by his patriot neighbors. With loved ones dying for the cause of either side, Phoebe was driven to a point of view that wasn't popular at the time... and still wouldn't be with some people.

“I don't even know for certain which side he's for... and I don't even care. I saw neighbors doing terrible things to neighbors... and those neighbors who did those things do not seem any different from [people she was traveling with who were full of bitterness]. ...I do not care who wins this dreadful war.”

Later, she has a conversation with a loyalist soldier in Canada.

The soldier sighed again, “I reckon fer me 'twas when the mob stripped the clothes off old Obadiah Hanks and slathered him with hot pine pitch and rolled him in chicken feathers [a person's skin starts rubbing off, at this point], then rode him around on a fence rail 'til he screamed. He hadn't done nothin' but call them a clutch of rowdies and roughnecks. That set my blood a-boilin' and I lit into Billy Pierce, and it wan't but a sneeze-up afore the whole clanjamfry of 'em was after me. I lit outta there lickety-split. I was set to hide in the woods fer a time and then go on home, but I was so riled, I up and took myself up to the St. Lawrence River and marched all the way to the British holdings up Three Rivers here in Canada and,” he finished on a low, sad note, “I joined up with 'em.”
“And now you hate it.”
“Wal, I don't see the use of it, much. I been in Gentleman Johnny's army alongside of Captain Sherwood and Colonel Peters and the rest in this here Queen's Loyal Rangers and I seen things worse than what happened to old Obadiah Hanks. What I ain't seen is, I ain't seen anything to make me doubt we'd all be a sight better off getting' the ---- outta here and goin' home, beggin' your pardon, Mistress...”

I love studying psychology. I watch how people react and deduct what makes them tick. I think that's one reason I love Agatha Christie so much. Her stories are all based around the psychology and why people do the things they do. I was reading a story of hers the other day called, “Death Comes As The End”. It's her typical murder mystery but set in ancient Egypt, for a change. :-) In this particular story, there is a family in which the father is the ruler/leader/boss over the entire family. Things have been the same for half of forever when suddenly the father brings home a beautiful and proud concubine. What happens after that isn't pretty but fairly interesting. Forgive me. :-P
But what is said in the end of the story is the interesting thing.
Yes, the concubine was a selfish, evil girl but she didn't change any of the members of the family. She simply uncovered who they were on the inside and let it out for everyone to see.

I believe this ties in with the Phoebe's view of the Revolutionary War. Becoming Patriots or staying loyal to the Crown didn't make people nasty or nice. It simply showed who they really were. And if I may say so, I believe the same thing applies to WW2 and the holocaust (or any other event which causes great strife and contention). People have never been forced, by Hitler or anyone else, to behave any way that was foreign to their innermost heart and will.
If they were selfish, they threw stones and shouted, “Dirty Jews!” or turned Jews in to the authorities. If they wanted to care about folks more than themselves, they hid and helped the Jews.
But it was more than than helping or turning Jews in or working in the underground. There will always be people on both sides who are 'good' or 'bad' people. There were patriots who hung their neighbors or sent them away from their homes to starve because they were on the 'wrong' side. There were patriots who were good and generous people who acted for the good of their neighbors and friends. And there were loyalists who did the same sort of things.
What it really comes down to whether we have the spirit of God in us; whether we are truly selfless. And you know what has to happen between us and God before that can become you or me!

When the time of testing comes for us, I wonder who we will be? Thoughts?

Thinking on blessings...

John 16

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth;
It is expedient for you that I go away:
for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you;
but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come,
he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you,
but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come,
he will guide you into all truth:
for he shall not speak of himself;
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:
and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me:
for he shall receive of mine,
and shall shew it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine:
therefore said I,
that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Book Reviews -- Linda Chalkin & Lynn Austin

Tomorrow's Treasure (Book 1 in “East of the Sun” series)
Linda Chalkin

Welcome to the world of Evy: foster daughter of the vicar and his solemn, stern wife, confident of Mrs. Spencer the house keeper and cook, attendee of the village school, friend to the grave digger, pursuer of a juicy bit of a tale, mistress of a witty and sharp tongue and a heart that sought to do right. Evy's life seems planned and packaged safely. She is to attend conservatory to study music. She is to marry a boy whom she had known and played with her entire life. She is to settle in the very safe but dull countryside of small village in Britain, living out her days among her acquaintances and friends.

But there is a mystery. A well dressed, handsome stranger in the forest, with questions that puzzle her. Whisperings of a stolen diamond and a questionable parentage. And why are the rich and influential neighbors taking an interest in her? Aunt Grace won't talk about it and tells Evy to not think of such things. But when her Uncle is killed, leaving them nearly penniless, life suddenly seems a little less safe.

And then, there's Rogan. “Aye, the young master lives up to his name,” Mrs. Spencer clucked her tongue. Evy divides her time of acquaintance with Rogan the rogue by sincerely disliking him and engaging in fierce verbal battles with him. And yet, he continually surprises her and makes her wonder if the true Rogan is hidden under a facade. In spite of herself, she feels a growing attraction to him that she does not like nor understand.

Linda Chalkin wrote her story in the style of well known author Victoria Holt. I liked the setting, the romance, the style, the message... I usually do not care for series of books that stretch out a mystery. But I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to reading the remainder of the series.

Until We Reach Home
Lynn Austin

“I just want to feel safe!”
Elin has secrets she dares not tell anyone and a promise to keep that she will protect her younger sisters. America is the only way.

Kirsten has a broken heart and secrets of her own. Part of her wishes to go far away from what has been home for her fifteen years. But what will America be like? Will life be as good as Elin promises?

Sofia is timid and it is her fear of change and the unknown that makes her angry. Life was not wonderful in Sweden but it would most certainly be worse in America... the land of no familiar faces.

There are few christian novels that I enjoy. This is because the message is rarely told realistically and believably. But this book was different. I felt every emotion these girls experienced. I struggled with them as they tried to forgive God... and go further by realizing that God loved them, in spite of mistakes and stumblings. In spite of trials. In spite of circumstances. In spite of themselves.

Bravo to Lynn Austin. She is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.

Happy Medium

My family catches the eye. People almost always do a double take the first time they see us. After they are finished with the double take, they usually do one of two things:

1: They set us up on a pedestal of what an ideal family should be.

2: They shun us because they think we think we're better than they are.

It's rare and very refreshing when people take up reaction #

3: Accept and like us for who we are: human beings who have strengths and weaknesses, brilliant observations and misguided ideas, sane moments and others that are characterized by lunacy.

Other than one exception in our Lord Jesus Christ, human beings are... human beings. If I place my hope and faith in any other being than God, I will be disappointed. It can't be helped. Every human being has faults. And guess what? No one knows us as well as God does and no one ever can.

It's not wrong to respect someone. In fact, I appreciate the character of many of my friends and acquaintances. :-) In fact, I'll even go further to say that there are at least two individuals in the world whom I rely on for their wisdom and faith in God... and because I know that they will still like me even if I don't follow their advice. ;-) Friends are a gift from God.
But I've had enough experience with people to know with a surety that perfection resides out of this world. There must be a line to be found between the pedestal and shunning. And since the Bible promises that if we seek we will find, I believe that God will open the eyes anyone who wishes to find that balance.
I find it frustrating when someone looks at me in my denim jumper and long hair and no makeup or jewelry with awe in their eyes. A twenty-three year old girl would actually dress like that? Would actually submit to her authority? Would actually be nice to her younger siblings? (Btw, my siblings are great. Who could not like them? :-)) And these same people tend to feel offended and shocked when I display the part of my character which includes when I do not agree with my authority. Or snap at my siblings instead of dealing calmly with the problem. When I fear tomorrow and forget to trust. Make decisions that they don't think are wise but that I claim are God's will for me. Watch a movie or read a book they think is too worldly.

And it's equally frustrating when people shun me. No, I don't think I'm better than you. (However, if you keep that nose up in the air much longer, I might change my mind.)

I doubt anyone reading this has the same exact beliefs as I do. You may be from one extreme to the other or somewhere in the middle. I don't mind if we disagree or have arguments or if we do agree. But I really want friends. Friends who will stick by me through thick and thin. Friends who like me even after they get to know me.
I don't ask for your praise. I do not ask you to refrain from judging me or be non-critical. I don't ask for you to respect me or disrespect me. I simply ask for your friendship. A love given you by our Lord towards me.

And God willing, I shall the same to you.

For sale: used pedestal. $1567.86 firm or true friendship. :-) :-) :-)

Dudley and other things...

Can ya'll believe it's February already?! I'm having a hard time getting over how time flies. I just can't seem to catch up. :-P Zeke is turning 11 on the 9th and we're having homemade pizza and homemade ice-cream. I'm sitting here feeling sorry for you poor mortals who haven't tasted our pizza and ice-cream...

I have been keeping quite busy here lately. It has been so nice getting back into the flow of things. I'm on helping with breakfast dishes again an I'm also working the kitchen more. The other day I made a pie crust for a meat pie (Ellie made the filling) and it turned out very well. I love it when pie crust turns out nice! We make ours with all butter so it can get a little frustrating sometimes. If you get it right, seriously, it's almost to die for. Hehe. Very flaky and tasty.

Has anyone watched the movie “Hidalgo”? A friend just gave it to us and we watched it last night. My sisters have been talking a lot about doing endurance races before watching it! You should see their eyes shine.
And I can't decide whether I like Viggo Mortensen best as a cowboy or as a King in Middle-earth. :-)

We're singing on the 5th (Lord willing) at the Musher's Rendezvous Talent Show. We were going to do our old staple “I've Got the Joy” but it turned out there there were several problems with doing that song this time... So I suggested “I Saw the Light” and no one had a problem with it. Five days ago, I started teaching the kids the words to it. Cilla and Zeke will be singing verse two and Uriah and Ruth and I will be singing verse three. It's so cute watching them sing. Lol! They really get into it. Since we're going to be using microphones at the show, they decided to make some out of Legos to practice. Very cute. I have been trying to keep it fun and keep in mind that it doesn't matter if they are perfect or not. :-) Sometimes I forget. :-P But I think we're actually not doing too bad.

A couple weeks ago, we got 18 inches of snow in 36 hours. It basically stranded us all of the cold north. Since it fell, it has basically just stuck around and looked like it's beautiful self. I was talking to a lady from church and she said that we actually have it better out on the farm with the snow since we have machinery to deal with it. Those poor folks in the city have had quite a time with it. To be honest, I really don't mind the snow that much. It insulates my perennials... and keeps life interesting. :-) :-)

I still feel as though I'm on the mend. PTL!

What have you all been up to? Has God been teaching you anything specific lately?

February 5th, 2010

We had our first calf two days ago. It was a really hard labor and Dad and the girls ended up pulling it. Afterwards, they brought the calf into the house in a box with sawdust in it. As the calf became more and more energetic, the box was in danger of tipping over, so they cut one side of it down. But that led to even more spectacular events. Thank goodness they had taken up the carpet in the living room! Lol! Finally the dear boy was dry enough to be taken outside to be put under a heat lamp in the barn. But not before he managed to make a mess of sawdust and slobber and bunt Sara over in search milk. (She wasn't impressed!) :-) :-) Oh! And part of his stay inside had us tip-toeing around, whispering, “Shhhh! He's almost asleep!” Lol! :-D

His name is Dudley.