Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Christmas Shoppe, a review

The small town of Parrish Springs is not ready for Matilda Honeycutt. A strange older woman with scraggly gray hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda is certainly not the most likely person to buy the old Barton Building on the town's quaint main street. When it becomes apparent that her new shop doesn't fit the expectations of Parrish Springs residents, a brouhaha erupts. After all, Christmas is approaching, and the last thing the town needs is a junky shop run by someone who looks and acts like a gypsy. But as townsfolk venture into the strange store, they discover that old memories can bring new life and healing.




Matilda Honeycutt is an eccentric, spirit filled woman who insists on those who enter her store will indeed find something that is useful, or needed. Years back I had a movie described to me in which a man used "things" as a way to accomplish evil. I have to be honest and say that when I began this book, that is all I could think about, and was just waiting for something to go downhill. However, this book is written to be INSPIRING, encouraging, LOVING, giving, AND life changing for those characters who do interact with the storekeeper of the Christmas Shoppe. It is a sharp contrast to the other tale and is a blessing to see an author with much integrity and skill take on such a story.

There are people who wish to get rid of Matilda and her shoppe. There are those who are endeared to her. Their lives mingle, and God works through Matilda to show the holes in their lives that need to be restored and repaired. All in all, this is a sweet story, with interesting ways that Ms. Carlson weaves the things the character needs with the character's history.

This review is of my own opinion. Thank you for Revell for the review copy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

we had a relaxing day.

read books to each other.

buddy and i learned several "knots" from an old boy scout handbook (that has my dad's name on it..hehe..)

wrote 2,000+ words

cooked chicken in the crockpot

choir practice

kids played outside for a little bit

listened to music, Christmas and Celtic

played with trains and train tracks

read some more

and drank lots of hot chai tea

we're ready for a quick morning here tomorrow. a few things in the kitchen, including making these cookies that look like acorns. get the corn ready. pop my sweet potato surprises in the oven. watch a bit of the parade. and go to my parents house for the grand meal. the little crafts we worked on this week are all ready and in the car. the kids say this will be the best Thanksgiving ever.

it will be because we are all here. i thank the Lord for this.

every. day.

have a wonderful, thankful, Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

DWELL

That's my word for the season. I want our family to "dwell in the Savior." To ponder the birth and life, death and resurrection, of Jesus.

Several things must take place in order for us to do this.

First, school must be shortened.

After Monday and Tuesday of this coming week, we will no longer have the regular scheduled school days like we've had since late August. We will continue with math, reading, and some writing for a couple of weeks in December.

However, we will not push anything else. I want to read to them, and work on projects. Watch holiday movies. Have fun. Enjoy one another. Think upon the Lord.

Time is essential! This year, the kids will actually BAKE cookies, make ornaments, and other fun things. Also, work on a service project, which we really haven't decided on yet. That could be one of our goals this week, in making a decision for the project.

We have two days left to complete the third unit (Pilgrims) in our curriculum called Paths of Exploration. I shortened it quite a bit- from six weeks to three, but it worked out for us. Friday we worked on a couple of projects. Philip made a floor length Native American headdress. We worked together, creating the feathers, etc. He had a blast. Ella created a little play set- a tepee and fire. And I made a canoe like boat the Wapanoags dugout using fire, clay, and water. We had watched several videos concerning the Pilgrims and Indians they met- the kids were fascinated. I was quite proud of Friday, even though we took well into the afternoon to finish school!

And as the month is more than halfway over...

and we near Thanksgiving....

Are you dwelling upon the gifts you've been given?

Life.

Love.

Warmth.

Nourishment.

Clothing.

Or dwelling on what you do not have?

More excitement in your life.

Better clothing.

Bigger house.

More things.

I find it hard at times to stop myself from discontent, but when November rolls along, I think we all get that gentle reminder to gain the proper perspective on the "things" in life. The "things" don't give us the satisfaction that can sustain our hearts, minds, and souls. No, only the Lord can do that.

I think upon a woman at church who spends time each morning, along with reading the Word and praying, PRAISING God. For His mercies, grace, holiness....everything. I think of how the example she gave me that day when she described her morning routine, not with boastfulness but in humility. How could our own hearts be changed as we do that? Simple praises to the One who deserves the highest praise. The simple praises we give him are truly what He desires. In our lives in this 21 century, it's more likely for us to spend hours upon hours being socially connected, working, eating, sleeping...then to kneel down or raise our hands with praise.

That woman gave me something to think about. She hadn't realized it, but she grew a tiny seed in my heart. I want to do what she does each morning. And guess what...I haven't yet. I haven't turned that willingness into obedience. It's hard. My excuses are many, but then again...I do ponder the Lord in my daily duties, as a homeschooling mom and wife. I give way to thoughts of praise in other ways, sometimes not as tangent or on a schedule, but I do. My heart loves Him fully!

A humble praise...will I give Him what is due Him today? Will you?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Redemption of A Tea Spoon

Some time ago, my Grandma Duvall passed away. She was a vibrant, generous, extremely giving and humble, devoted to the Lord kind of lady.

My mom is like her. And I'm like my mom. So, that said, I hope I have some of these positive qualities some day.

My grandmother loved knick-knacks. Paper clippings from magazines and newspapers. Loving people who didn't have people to love them. Helping those who most often go unnoticed.

She was full of unselfishness.

This world lost a rare gem, but gained even more insight upon her character and God's, as well.

Shortly after her death, my Grandpa Duvall passed away. I struggle with feelings towards him and his family, but I do love him, and hold respect for how much he loved the Lord.

He was extremely devoted to the Word, and prayer. He was gifted with wood making. Had a shop for years, into his 90's in fact.

He made me a dollhouse which I still have. I do remember some soft smiles and strong, hefty hugs. And the way he could spout off a long poem- most remarkable!

But, after his death, somethings went on that were directly hurtful to my mother and her siblings, and myself as well.

I will only say this- we were given a great example of the worth of material, worldly possessions.

We were not given the chance to correctly and thoughtfully see if there were any items of my Grandmother's that we wished to keep.

Those knick knacks that I so lovingly dusted off for my grandmother when I visited? Gone.

Her paper clippings, different momentos....not for me to cherish.

My mother had been blessed with the opportunity to put together a book soon after her mother's death of poems my grandmother had loved. THAT we have.

My grandmother gave me a couple tea cup sets the Christmas before Ella was born...THOSE I have.

I suppose I should feel that is enough.

I should. But I don't. I wish I had been given the chance to really love her presence in that house again, but now that house my grandfather had built is condemned due to other peoples' living there.

It makes my heart ache.

There was a garage sale after my grandfather's death but I did not, could not, attend. It hurt too much. We weren't in charge of it. My brother went, and got some things. He and my mom talked later, and it was like he was able to "redeem" some of the things of my grandmother's. I wish I had been able to go there, to see what I could've purchased from family of my grandmother's. Well.....it just didn't seem right.

Anyways, I have sadness, but not bitterness towards anyone over this, and I am sharing because I hope that even when things like this happens, we don't lose focus on what really is important.

Last week, I was given an unexpected blessing...

My mother in law is an avid garage saler. She went to the garage sale after my grandpa's death. She got some things, and I was glad for her.

Now, several years later, she has given to me one of those items...a beautiful silver spoon, a "tea" spoon.

To say how much this simple gift touched me is something I cannot do...I have not enough words, I can't find the words.

You see, I have a beautiful spoon my grandmother held in her hand.

Carried. Used. Washed in her special way. Dried in her special way with one of her special towels.

And lovingly placed in a drawer, or left on the counter, or placed elsewhere. You never know about my grandmother. :)

This gift was precious....it was a little bit of my grandma's life breathed back into my own heart, a little part of the mess redeemed.

Today, I struggle to write this because I knew tears would follow. I think upon this simple gift, simple act, and think of the greatest gift of all, and the redemption God gave us through his Son on the cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

finding good books

at thrifty prices is treasure hunting at its best...

C.S. Lewis' The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe (a stunning, hardcover edition)

The Moffats, by Eleanor Estes

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician's Elephant by Kate Dicamillo

a vintage copy of Pooh's Birthday Book, by A. A. Miline

a needed Rod and Staff book for homeschooling called Gone to the Zoo, and other Stories

John Henry, by Julius Lester (a Caldecott Honor book)

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe (A Caldecott Honor Book)

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock

Mozart Tonight, by Julie Downing

A Day in the Woods (by National Geographic Society)

A Hank the Cowdog book- The Case of the Blazing Sky (been looking for one of these forever for Buddy!)

a few horse books for ella (go figure)

and a gift book for buddy for his Christmas stocking about puppies. He loves books like that.

Total, about $20. Happy, Happy day that was.