Monday, March 31, 2014

March gifts and heartaches

March was a terribly hard month for us, as B.'s mother passed away. I'm only now able to write a little bit about it, and share the gifts God gave us to cheer us a little during this hard time. These gifts  are part of my 1000 gifts list.

800. Hand made quilts
My mother-in-law Joy made so many beautiful things. She used to own a ceramics store, and she gave B. and I a beautiful nativity set which she then helped me paint in my favorite colors (green, red and brown). In the last five years she fell in love with quilting, and before she died she made B. and her other four children beautiful quilts. She even finished several for the older grandchildren (Stars's quilt is shown below), and picked material and designs for the rest of her grandkids (her three daughters have promised to finish them)

801. Revelation 21:1-7 "there shall be no more death"
The last words my mother-in-law said were "hi baby," when she saw her five month old great grand daughter, Jocelyn. How wonderful it was to have this sweet baby to lift all our hearts during this hard week, a gift of new life as another life passed on. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law each read from the Scriptures at her funeral, and asked me to read from the Scriptures, too. I read Revelation 21:1-7 "and He will wipe every tear from their eyes; and there shall be no more death."

802. Attacking cancer cells
Blaze and Dreamer and I were studying in science how white blood cells attack germs. Blaze says: "what if you could stick germs to cancer cells, so the white blood cells would attack them and get the cancer cells too. Wouldn't that help Grandma? (this was a few weeks before she died). I told her she needs to become a doctor!! what a brilliant idea.

803. Bambi's children
One of my most favorite and most re-read books when I was a child, and not as sad as the more famous book, Bambi, by Felix Salten. I was reading it to the girls at bed time, but the night we were supposed to finish it, I was out late somewhere with a friend and B. put the girls to bed. They talked him into reading them the end of the book (he'd been surreptitiously listening to it all along and was kind of keen to hear the ending too)

804. What book to read the girl next? hey, how about my book?
After finishing Bambi's Children, I started to think about which childhood favorite I wanted to read to the girls next.  Blaze is 12 years old, and she's getting close to the point where she'll be switching from reading middle grade to young adult. Right now she still loves animal stories and will read anything with horses or dogs in it (or unicorns).  I tried out the first four chapters of my unicorn story (the first story I ever wrote) to see if they liked it. Liked it?? They begged for more! Ah, even if I never get published, this was worth it all!
 color pencil illustration for my book (2001)

805. By faith, not by works
We've been studying American history and we had a lesson on the Mormons trail to Utah. Which led to a discussion of the Mormon religion. Which led to a great discussion of how different religions believe you get to heaven (usually by doing good things), and finally, to how the Bible says you get to heaven: not by anything we do except believing that Christ died for our sins, and "by faith you have been saved through grace, and this not of yourselves, not by works, lest any man should boast." This! This is why I love homeschooling!

806. Russian coins, paper rubles, and Lithuanian amber
Another Laramie homeschooling mom invited other homeschoolers over for an slide show at their house about Lithuania, where they had recently moved from because the government does not permit homeschooling there. We loved learning about Lithuania's history and culture and the family even gave us old rubles and little pieces of amber.

807. Talking like a cat
One of my big goals with homeschooling is to get the girls to love learning, and sometimes the only way I can think of to do that is to make them laugh. I'm not above acting ridiculous to make them laugh (pretending to be someone, including a silly voice). Today I could tell the girls needed a break from the history stuff we were doing so when they started playing with the cat, Cleo, tempting her with a piece of string, I narrated Cleo's take on the situation: "oh no, they've got the string out. I can resist; I will resist! But oh, look! I love the way it twitches when it moves... must POUNCE!"

808. A gift for teaching children
Our children's ministry director at church watched me teach my three year old class and gave me a wonderful compliment afterward: said I had a gift for teaching children and he even learned some thing sfrom watching me, ways to engage children more. Now if I could just apply this home school (Lord help me to teach my own kids with more energy, enthusiasm and creativity!)

809. "This is ready to submit"
Of all my writing and critique partners I've had over the years, the one who has helped me the most gave me her critique of my fourth novel (the science fiction one) and said "This is ready to submit!" The way she described my main character was exactly how I'd envisioned her.  I had edited my opening chapters based on her first critique, and when she saw my edits she said I was an "editor's dream". 

810. An English tea Lipizzaner
While making birthday cards for Grandma and Grandpa H, whose birthdays are within two days of each other, Blaze wanted to draw them things they liked (Grandma, tea and flowers; Grandpa, sailing and golf), but she also wanted to draw horses for them too, because everything she draws is pretty much a horse (just like me at her age!)  So she drew Grandpa's horse on a golf course with a sailboat sailing on a nearby lake (his horse was a mustang). Then she drew Grandma's horse next to picnic blanket with a tea cup and plate of cookies, and flowers (Grandma's horse was an English Lippazaner. I told her it should be a Spanish Lippizaner or an Austrian Lippizaner; but she insisted it must be English, because of the tea)

811. The conference call in real life
Heather shared this with me, and in turn I shared it with everyone at work... makes me laugh everytime. I can relate to every single one of these things during conference calls.

812. Seahorse tails
I took the girls into my favorite aquarium store in Ft. Collins, and we were especially delighted by the tank of seahorses, how they would wrap their tails around water plants and even around each other, like their own version of holding hands

813. Bible game - what part is false?
In my endless quest to make Bible study engaging for the girls, this is one thing that worked: the girls like it when I read them a passage from the Bible in which I change one thing, and then they have to figure out which part is false

814. A love note "blog"

Often times when B. asks me what I'm doing on the computer, I'll say I'm writing on my blog (besides this personal blog, I also have a writing blog that I post at least once a week on). I'm not sure he really gets what a blog is about, but one night I found a love note on my bed-stand from B, titled "My blog".

815. 2 Samuel 22: 29-30 "You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light"
This whole song of David is amazing (see below for another verse); but this one really struck me, how personal it is: my darkness. He can take my dark times, and turn them into light.

816.  2 Samuel 22: 11 "He mounted the cherubim and flew; he rode on the wings of the wind"
This is speaking of God! God riding... made me think of the cherubim as a sphinx, or an angel horse. (yes, my imagination can get carried away. But I love how God's words can set my imagination on fire!) Verse 9 is also fuel for imagination: it talks of God breathing fire. Breathing fire! like a heavenly dragon.

817.  1 Thessalonians 4:1 "live in order to please God"
A dear friend of mine from church in Laramie (Lisa M. S.) now lives in Nebraska, just a half hour away from my in-laws house in Springfield, South Dakota. We went to church with her and her family during our time in South Dakota during Joy's last days: much needed encouragement. The pastor preached on 1 Thess 4:1, about pleasing God. "If you try to live to please yourself it puts you in constant conflict with others. Living to please others also causes conflict because you can't please everyone. Living to please God is the answer."

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