Thursday, December 31, 2015

Enjoying The Year

Here we are in a new year, and perhaps many of us are writing down some plans and goals for the future. 

The New Testament talks about the future in a healthy manner  when it says:

 "..forgetting what lies behind, I press forward to the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 3:13-14)

It is apparent from this verse that God approves of us setting goals and trying to press forward and achieve them. In other scriptures, the achievement of goals is likened to a race of an athlete who tries to make it to the finish line, or the marker. (Hebrews 12:1)

Observe, however, that pressing forward necessitates forgetting unproductive regrets and failures of the past. Instead, use these mistakes as reasons to start over and try again, with more determination. You can analyze where you "missed the mark" and try again.

If you are too often sad about missed opportunities, you may be living in the past. In the trials of life, you cannot keep regretting the prize you did not win. You have to try to get another prize. 

The plans you make must have the qualities of a higher calling. They must be of a noble nature; something worthwhile.  We cannot ask God to bless our plans if they are contrary to the good, the pure, the noble and the lovely.

I believe it is important to make some plans and goals and not drift through life with no apparent purpose.  Many years ago (maybe decades) my husband attended a class related to self-employment, which taught how to set goals and create steps to achieve them, and so today I will relate some of the main points of this lesson.

Using what he learned about setting goals, he accomplished in 18 months what many young people find to be overwhelming. In that time, he got out of debt, developed his career, bought a house, and got married.  He did this by creating smaller steps which he could accomplish daily.

Ladies at home benefit from setting goals, so here are a few ways to set achievable goals:

Setting and Reaching Worthwhile Goals

1.  Things for the present:

These are things that are easier to get, such as quick comforts for yourself and your family that make life a little easier and relieve the pressures of the world. They can be things that contribute to rest and relaxation, or things that give you a sense of well-being, that have nothing to do with the future, but with the present. These right-now, present goals will help you with contentmentcwhile you work on plans that take longer. Contentment is evidence of being happy in the "now." 

 Children respond to regularity in the home, where they know they will be eating at a certain time, reading at another time, bathing and sleeping at another time, and so forth. These habits are developed out of necessity but sometimes can be neglected, whereupon you may find your family less emotionally stable. You will find that listing a few present-time goals is very satisfying and reassuring to you and your family and add to your over-all contentment.

If you are happy and content, you are living in the present.

There has been a great deal of criticism of the idea of living for the moment or living in the present, but a Christian will keep in mind that although we learn from the past and hope for the future, we still must live in the present, hour by hour and day by day, and the present can be treated with great respect and appreciation by the things we do right now.  I believe a regard for the present has to be taught in childhood, but it can be learned later on, as well.

You can test the results of goal setting by making small, easily accomplished plans for the day and completing them. You may find it very freeing.

2. Things for tomorrow and for next week, or short-term goals: 

 In making your list for tomorrow or next week, be sure to allow for any kind of reasonable interruption, but keep the goal in mind and be sure to pick up where you left off as soon as the temporary crisis is past. For example, you may want to rearrange your furniture, organize your sewing room, catch up on correspondence, or start getting rid of things. Unexpectedly, you receive visitors, or there is a meeting you need to attend, or someone calls you and needs your help. Maybe you spill something or something in the house quits working. You have to put aside your own plans and take care of the matter.

 You will pay attention to the more urgent things that come up, and then go back to where you left-off  on the work you were doing. Always go back to the uncompleted thing. 

Short-term  goals are very important because it is encouraging to see instant success. In your daily life as a guide and guard of the home, your cooking, cleaning, teaching and encouraging are things you can see results from almost immediately and they bring a strong sense of personal contentment.

As you fulfill each goal, it is easier to enjoy a day, since that day was prepared by you before it arrived. 

3. Long-term goals: 

Set your sights on some things that will affect your future, and list them. It may be a place to live, a place to travel, or a private business of your own or something to do with teaching your children or improving manners. It could involve finding ways to protect your income and use it wisely. It could be making plans to invest or save.

 Maybe you want to take a course in something like art or cooking, cake-decorating, or calligraphy. You might want to take on a different direction with your blog, the classes you teach, the example you are showing, or any number of things.

 These long term goals can seem so distant that it may discourage you from listing them, but list them anyway. It is possible that many goals are not realized because the person was not interested.

Not every plan on your long-term list will be realized, but when the days come for the end of other goals, you will find yourself more confident and your family happier. The work done beforehand to achieve the things you put on your list will be finished and you can enjoy living in the present without worry or intense pressure.

 Interest will be the big key to listing and completing a goal.

Long-term goals can become the source of anxiety unless we learn to just list them and make day-by-day plans to complete them.

 Women tend to worry a lot about everything (family relations, impending disasters, security at home, financial stability, church things, and just about everything in the whole world) and so it is important that although you have long-term goals, you put it in the hands of the Lord. You say, "Lord, this is my desire, my request, and my hope for the future, if it be your will."  This does not mean you give up on any worthwhile dream or goal, but that you try not to stress over it. 

If you find yourself feeling anxious all the time, you are living in the future.   Although we "press toward" the mark, we must live in the present and use this present day to concentrate on a step for that high mark.

The next thing to do is take one goal and list the steps required to achieve that goal.  It can be learning to upholster a chair to taking a trip, buying a house, or creating a business.

1. Name the goal.
2. Gather information about it, through  books, searches, etc. 
3. Find the cost.
4. Gather the materials.
5. Make a list of everything you need to do, item by item.
6. Determine a start time and a finish time.
7. You may want to write on the calendar squares what to do each day until the goal is completed.

Test out this list with a small goal, such as catching up with the dish washing or cleaning a room:

Clean the guest room:
1. Remove bedding.
2. Replace sheets and pillowcases with clean ones.
3. Re-make bed.
4. Clean the surfaces of table, desk, dresser.
5. Remove unnecessary items.
6. Clean the floor and carpet.

The above is an example of making steps to achieve a goal.

I would recommend reading all you can about goal-setting and achieving, by doing a web-search, until you find an article that has steps you can follow.

Setting goals requires not just writing down personal plans and dreams for adventure and financial achievement, but taking a personal look at ourselves and listing the things we want to improve.

A Christian lady will always keep in mind that the foundation of  all of her plans and dreams and goals is her goal of pleasing the Lord and improving herself in His sight. She gently guides her family according to the spiritual values learns from the Word of God.  

I thought it essential to state this because there will be some physical goals that are essential in living life on this earth (maybe improving the house, making life more comfortable at home, helping children to appreciate the home, etc) that appear to be "materialistic" but have strong spiritual connections.

One important thing about setting goals is to have in mind the appreciation of the life God has given you and to get to see His hand in everything. When you make a goal of travelling or getting a new piece of furniture, it is ultimately so that you can serve the Lord in a better way.

(I feel I have to say this because there is always a religious philosopher who thinks we are not to be concerned about cleaning house, losing weight, improving our temperaments, or reach for higher goals of taking care of our families in the best way we possibly can. Such a philosophy teaches that it is affectatious and silly to want to improve our lot in life. This belief can cause people to live far below the excellence they are created for and capable of.)

Some of the self-improvement areas to consider may be things like the following, which you may want to choose a couple of things from:

Abundant living

Increasingly skills and knowledge

Correcting health problems and maintaining natural health

Improving posture  

Improving our manner of speaking 

Better and more thoughtful communication (answering calls and mail, calling those who need our encouragement, keeping in touch with those who have benefited us, and with those we wish to benefit)

Being more honoring of those God has put in our lives.

Develop listening skills (this is really an enjoyable thing to teach children)

Being more organized

Find new ways to extend hospitality

Teaching the things we know and value

Helping someone else with their goals in life

Being more organized in your office with paperwork

More organization in the kitchen

Effective Bible study, Prayer

Learning a skill that can help you in your particular walk in life

Material goals can include home repairs, house improvement, a new kitchen, new windows, a new door, and other material things that suit your needs.

Goals are seen in many areas of life, that you may not realize. For example, a book that tells you how to repair something or make something has the step-by-step directions from beginning to end, in the order necessary to complete the project. Even a lesson on how to wash dishes includes the logical steps to completion. When you cook, there is a goal which is reached by making simple steps in an order that leads to the finished product.

So dear ladies, while we do live in the present, the past and the future can be used to help us live happily in the today of our lives. We plan for the future because it makes us less anxious and we can relax, knowing the goals and the steps. We learn from the past and we can be happy knowing that we know better than to make the same mistakes and we can be wiser.

This concludes what I have to say, at least for now, on goal setting. I thought you would enjoying seeing how Philippians 3:13-14 is written in the KJV, and the Tyndale Bibles.

Philippians 3:13-14 [Full Chapter] King James date - 16ll
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Tyndale Bible: approximately 1522-35
 William Tyndale. Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to work directly from Hebrew and Greek texts.

It says: "Brethren, I count not my self that I have gotten it: but one thing I say: I forget that which is behind and stretch my self unto that which is before, and press unto the mark appointed, to obtain the reward of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Notice the words "I stretch myself." 

 I like this, because it sounds like a person trying to reach
something on a high shelf; a truly picturesque way of 

describing the act of "pressing forward."

Here is how it is originally written:

 (the original spelling is below:)
13 Brethren I counte not my silfe that I have gotten it: but one thynge I saye: I forget yt which is behynde and stretche my silfe vnto that which is before 
14 and preace vnto ye marke apoynted to obtayne the rewarde of the hye callynge of god in Christ Iesu.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One Overcast Day


We are enjoying the noise of rain here and although the skies are clouded, I manged to get a picture. This creature was quite attentive.

We are so very connected to the past and the future with scenes like this! We can identify as much with the shepherds in the fields when Christ was born, as with the caretakers of sheep in the fields around us today.  We are just as  affected by the past as we are the future, for there are many things that never change.

I hope everyone is having a lovely day.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tea at the Empress

In our homeschool studies, we used to find out everything we could about a subject. History and Geography yielded a host of things from customs and food to national clothing and celebrations. Nearly every land had some kind of tea time, and we took advantage of that fact by finding foods and drinks as close to the national ones as possible.

With the festive season all around us, today we wanted to go to the Empress hotel for tea and enjoy the accompanying flavors of the season. The distance and the cost was quite high, both for the travel and the tea, and we decided to set up a similar tea here at home. Besides, we needed to be back by this evening, because of our obligations the next day. The "owners" of the "tea room" laid out the table while we went outside for a walk. When we came in the front door it felt as though we were somewhere else. (A pleasant walk can change your perspective on everything!)
In all our homeschool years we took many trips this way. One mother I know whose children are now grown, had an interesting custom of sending her children outside with their lunch boxes and books, to walk down the driveway and back so they could come to the door and enter as though it was a pioneer country school room.  The chiildren sometimes wore historical type clothing and theor Mother was the School-Marm who greet d them at the door, helped them hang their coats and hats, and let them stan near the fireplace to get warm before they began their lessons. She rang a little bell, which belonged to their grandmotherWhat delight the now-grown children have in relating this memory!

Above: Returning from our walk, we entered the tea room where we heard the music of the season and were led to our table.

Throughout the years our home became many things: a train, a cruise ship, a cabin in the woods, a resort on the beach, a lodge in the snow-country where we went on a sleigh ride, a ranch on the desert, and many other places too numerous to list here. We visited the library (our book shelf) here and checked out books using our library cards. We learned to make speeches, play music concerts, attended dinner theatre with our own acting troupe, had historical fashion shows, and went to cooking school. We dressed up for dinner and practiced our manners. 

We greeted customers, served food, provided country tours, attended lectures about people, places and things, became a repair company and a construction crew, as well as a travel agency and a delivery company.

We packed our suitcases for a stay in a bed-and-breakfast. We paid our bill and bid farewell to the proprietor and then planned another trip, for which our house was quickly revamped. Sometimes we traded the dining room for the living room and enjoyed a change of place with a different scene.

There was no end to the things  we could do at home with children which were equally as interesting to the adults in the family. We did go to real places when we had  opportunity, but the travel from home was so much more. Sometimes we changed the furniture around to make a room feel like a different place. We learned how to welcome customers and make transactions in our store, where we sold everything we had to each other, just for the experience. We practiced introductions when we arrived at the chateau for dinner, and practiced polite conversation, learning how to find things to talk about with ease. 

These things did not all go on contunuously, but often enough to make life interesting. I learned some of this at home with my own Mother, who came from hard times on the Prairies in Alberta in the 1930's. Today there are marvellous trips and amusements, but to live so many ways at home is a great privilege to a child, and yet enriching to the adults.  

Can you remember dull, dark days when it was impossible to go anywhere, and restlessness was about to take over your mind? Reading a book would lift you out of the doldrums* and take you away. I can still feel the effect of getting lost in a story, whether fictional, historical or biographical. Reading made the burdens of life lighter and gave my siblings and me a sense of optimism about life. We would emerge from a book ready to really live better. 

At home, our innovation was not tethered, as we had our library, our music room (a corner where we kept our instruments and record player) our writing desk, our theatre and our restaurant.  The ones who made this possible for us were our parents: our Dad, because he spent a lot of time working to provide for us, and our Mother, becaise she stayed home with us and guided our play and our thinking with good values. To a child, a house is many places, as it is the source of rest, learning and playing.

*doldrums:- a placid place near the equator where the ships could not move because the wind was not forceful enough to push the sails.  Later, being stuck and unable to do anything, or bored, was referred to as the doldrums.

Below: Afternoon Tea at the Empress.  Many things we long to do are so far away and we are constrained by local job obligations, weather problems or finances, but we can use our homes as settings for many enjoyable events, creating happy memories for the future.

Below: These tea cups are used in the Empress Hotel, and are also sold there.  Sometimes you can find them in thrift stores. They are called Fairmont tea cups and are replicas of the ones used when The Queen of England first visited The Empress Hotel, shortly after she was married.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

True Happiness

A Summer Shower by Charles Edward Perugini 1888

Personal happiness has been a big concern in our culture. Our forebearers, however, would have been surprised at our focus on happiness. They would have, instead sought to do the things and make the sacrifices that result in peace of mind and personal satisfaction. The idea of trying to do good in order to feel good is something each generation has to be taught. 

While searching the scriptures for references to happiness, I was interested to find that things relating to happiness are not exactly easy or pleasant.

Consider the Beatitudes in the gospels: Each one begins with the word "blessed", which in the Koine Greek is "happy." When you use the word "happy" in place of "blessed", it brings out the meaning in these verses in Matthew 5:

"Happy are they who mourn..."
"Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake..."

These are just two of the verses that seem like contradictions to we moderns who have a shallow understanding of happiness.

"Happy are they who mourn" - Do you tend to hold back tears, not wanting to indulge in grief or sentiment? Consider Acts 20:37 when the Apostle Paul was departing: "And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him."  We know these people can shed tears in moments of trial and pain, amd yet still have deep happiness. 

Happiness comes from things that do not always bring about giggles and smiles: reverence, chastisement,  endurance,  suffering,  reproach,  labor,  wisdom and understanding-- these are hard things!  One does not automatically think of them when they hear the word "happy".

Happy is the man who is always reverent.. Proverbs 28:14

Behold, we count them happy which endure.. James 5:11

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: 1 Peter 3:14

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;  1 Peter 4:14

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth:  Job 5:17

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Psalm 128:2

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Proverbs 3:13

It can be reasonably concluded by the study of these things, that a person under adverse circumstances, who is going through disappointments, can still be happy. Sometimes we judge a person who is always smiling and laughing as being happy, while a person who has a pensive look on his face is not happy, but the opposite can be true.

 If you have ever raised children, you know there were times when silliness had to be quickly corrected because it was the result of foolishness that could endanger the child both physically and spiritually. Mature parents need to be alert and recognize the sound of pure, good laughter and derisive mocking and sarcasm. It is good to laugh, and laughter must be for the right reasons and in the right spirit.

Teach your children to strive for personal happiness that comes from self control, willingness to learn, doing jobs well, and being polite. These things will result in a feeling of well-being. The pursuit of "feeling good" has been so strongly promoted that few people today understand what true happiness is.

The scripture references to happiness makes it a great deal easier to understand what our Founding Fathers meant by the words, "the pursuit of happiness."  It means we can gain happiness by the hard work that it takes to reach a worthy goal.

Today I think many people who have not carefully investigated the word "happy" believe they have the right to do as they please if it makes them happy, but a careful study of the concept of happiness will make it clear that happiness is something that comes from things like faithfulness, perseverance, and contentment.

Certainly, much more can be said about the subject of happiness. I have not written in detail of the way these various hard things contribute to happiness, but perhaps you may define and analyze them with your children. They need to understand how the qualities of endurance, perseverance, labor, amd suffering contribute to their happiness.

People who really understand happiness can get through the ups and downs of life without despair or bitterness. Like the spider, they start all over each time the rain washes out their work.  True happiness is derived from a deep spiritual desire to do what is good and right. We must train our thinking so that when we hear the word "happy" we know what it is really made of.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sunny and Bright

It is sunny and bright here, although my camera doesn't quite catch it, and it is not like winter at all. 

So this morning I am sharing some festive color with you. 

We are getting ready for the Ladies Bible Class, where we always have teatome afterward.

That Holiday Bliss magazine was brought to me by someone and I am looking forward to reading it.

If some day you want to come to the Ladies Class, you may do so on Skype by contacting me first.

Also, if you need personal encouragement in your life as homemaker, I would be happy to start a Skype class for that. I also teach a class that began in the 1970's by Gwen Webb, called Training Up a Child, which is by far best teaching I have ever heard.  It outclasses anything written since then!

Please click the contact tab on the left and let me know if you would like to have a class. It can be limited to just a few sessions, or it can go on longer.

God bless you all.


Here is an idea for  some light on the table: wrap one of those dollar store led-light necklaces around each charger or placemat, and around the centerpiece.

The chalkboard bag and scarf are from Dollar Tree, as well as are many other items in this post. Some of them were purchased in previous years, so may not be available this year.
Those are Victorian boots from Goodwill, but they look like they have not been worn. They fit me fine and I wore them to the outdoor winter wedding in the previous post.

Skinny trees are very much in demand these days, as they fit nicely in corners and do not take up so much floor space.  I have admired the ones at Hobby Lobby but did not want to spend the money or accumulate too many seasonal things.  Many years ago when Walmart had layaway,  I got this pre-lit artificial tree, but have not enjoyed using it because it requires shifting furniture around to make room for it.  This year as I pulled out the box in which it came, it occured to me that the box was quite thin for such full branches. The tree was always squashed down to fit in the skinny box, so I discovered there was already a skinny tree--I just did not fluff out the branches.  Maybe you have a skinny tree in your collection, too! 

Since the tree was already quite old, I felt I could alter it a bit, so I took it outside and spray painted the outer part with flat white paint, which also covered the lights, giving them a softer glow when plugged in.  To eliminate any leftover paint oder I got some of those pine scented ornaments.  I am really enjoying this much better this year, as it did not require so many ornaments. Arent those cameo ornaments nice? They are plastic, from Walmart.

I do have a  small tree  which my grandchildren decorated. I pressed the wired tree limbs downward to make another skinny tree, and also spray painted the flocking on this one. Those cute skate ornaments are from Dollar Tree, two for a dollar.


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