Our adult Sunday School class today included some talk about our love walk with God and each others.  As an exercise, we read out loud together those few famous verses (4-7) from I Corinthians 13 in the Amplified version, personalized with "I" in place of "love".  Wow, powerful:
I endure long and am patient and kind; I never am envious nor boil over with jealousy; I am not boastful or vainglorious, I do not display myself haughtily.
I am not conceited--arrogant and inflated with pride; I am not rude (unmannerly), and I do not act unbecomingly.  I do not insist on my own rights or my own way, for I am not self-seeking; I am not touchy or fretful or resentful; I take no account of evil done to me--I pay no attention to a suffered wrong.
I do not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but I rejoice when right and truth prevail.
I bear up under anything and everything that comes, am ever ready to believe the best of every person, my hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and I endure everything without weakening.
 O, Lord, how I fail You in this, how many times a day do I let my flesh take over.  I'm so sorry.  I want to love without reservation and definition, without "self" tainting any relationship. Thank You for loving me this way!


Plugging along

Yay, it's Friday!  We like Fridays around here, not only because we can wrap up our school week, but because it also means something fun for SweetPea.  Today it's art class where they'll be doing a monochromatic watercolor of a sailboat on the water (blacks and grays).  Monica teaches out of her home and I'm quite impressed with the results of her instruction to this group of teens--and my dad's an artist by profession so I tend to have higher-than-normal expectations!  Her students are having a chance to show their work this month at a local library, so I'll try to get some pics.

And it's Family Night, so that means fun food--maybe tacos--and a movie or games.  Tomorrow is more fun; we're headed to an international snow sculpture festival at a ski town, something I've wanted to do for years. These things are huge and amazing!  I'll post some pictures of that, too.

A couple of mini-breakthroughs this week brought some nice help to our school.  One was figuring out some specific help for SweetPea with her Algebra program, Teaching Textbooks.  Thankfully, the program provides a complete work-through of every single problem, so with some careful review and some help from dad, I think she's on higher ground. 

Another improvement for me was to decide that I should create my own weekly instructor guide.  We use Sonlight, which provides a wonderful schedule and which has always worked for us.  But I've ended up using so much White-Out to customize it this year, I finally broke down and made my own look-alike template and put everything and only what we needed on it.  I can color-code tests or out-and-about events, etc.  It's wonderful!  And of all the silly things...not having those boxes I didn't plan to check off (optional stuff Sonlight puts in), my guilt level has plummeted.  :-)  All you box-checkers out there will know what I mean.  Why didn't I do this before???  I actually think there's been this suggestion posed to the Sonlight people, the option of an online/customizable template, but I don't know where they're at with it.  In any case, what a time-saver.

Time for breakfast and off to art!


What to do for colds and flu

I sound like an expert with a title like that!  I'm not an expert, but having just come off a two-week round of both colds and flu circulating among the three of us, I was reminded--and used--these good helps the Lord has given.  So let me share them with you...

Bad-guy fighters

Here are three "big guns" you can take when you feel something coming on or are in the throes of it.  Also, excellent for preventive during colds and flu season to take on a daily maintenance basis.

Oreganol P-73
This stuff is incredible.  We discovered it a few years ago upon the recommendation from a guy at church who had gotten rid of a sinus infection he'd had for twenty years taking this.  Flat-out kills bacteria, fungus, and viruses.  We've had wonderful results with this for all sorts of things and I wouldn't be without it.  If you can't get it at your local health food store, you can order it online from the company here.  I'd also highly recommend the information at this website, where you can read about uses and dosages.  I also might add that there is a whole family of related products and versions that target more specific needs, like easy-to-take capsules for children, a product for lung and respiratory issues, etc. 

I also purchased a book written by Dr. Cass Ingram called The Cure is in the Cupboard--a definitive work on uses of wild oregano, specifically in this product, and a page-by-page listing of conditions where this is effective and how much to take.  Wonderful reference!  I learned Oreganol is terrific for burns...and it really works!

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Again, here is a super-hero product that God made!  All natural, highly concentrated, it does much of same thing that Oreganol does.  You can even 'sterilize' drinking water with it, as many farmers do for their animals.

You can find a lot on the internet about GSE, but this website is a great starting point.

I'd like to add that both GSE and Oreganol do not take out the "good guys," the probiotics in your gut that your body needs as its first-line defense.  A good thing!

This was a more recent discovery for us, a recommendation by our naturopath chiropractor.  Monolaurin is a natural derivative from coconut (yay, God!) and is actually found in mother's milk.  It's form of attack is to dissolve the lipid coating around virusus, bacteria, and fungus (which is acid, not alkline--the good guys in our body have an alkaline coating--amazing!), which allows your own body's defenses to come in for the kill.  Great for flu!

This is not an expensive product and is put out by various companies and in varying strengths.  I'd recommend starting with the 300 mg. to start with until you know how much you need.

Other helps and immune boosters

These are all wonderful helps both before and during an illness to aid your body in the fight.
  • Vitamin C - My chiropractor recommends up to 6000 mg. a day when you feel something coming on.  If high doses bother your system, try taking the Ester-C version which is alkaline.
  • Echinacea - A come-alongside-and-help-whatever herb.  It seems to assist the effectiveness of Vitamin C.  We try to get the standardized version instead of just the straight herb so we can count on a consistent potency.
  • Garlic - In any form this is fantastic, God's natural antibiotic.  However, the very best and most effective way to take it is raw.  We chop it up and sprinkle it on cook veggies with some lemon juice, or sprinkle it on brown rice.  Actually, it seems to enhance anything from salads to main dishes.
  • Goldenseal - Another natural herb that acts like antibiotics.  In fact, they recommend you limit taking this to a week as it takes out the good guys, just like antibiotics do.  Great for bacterial infections.
  • Olive leaf - A potent herb that is also good for sinus, dental, and other bacterial infections.
  • Probiotics - I never knew how critical these were to a person's overall health until a read a book by Dr. Jordan Rubin, The Maker's Diet.  When you take regular antibiotics, they kill these off in your system, leaving you with a reduced immune defense.  This happened to me a few years ago, which opened the door to candida and other difficulties.  SO...you should have these every day in some form--plain yogurt, kefir, capsules, etc.  An excellent discussion about this in in my favorite cookbook, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. 

So there you have it!  I can attest to the value of each thing I've mentioned here, and would recommend your own research if you're not already using any of these natural remedies.  It amazes me how wonderfully the Lord has provided what we need right in the things that we grow and eat.

And of course I would be remiss if I did not say that the BEST help of all is prayer and trust in the Lord's wonderful provision for healing for us!


A winter day's bouquet for you

Gray is not my favorite color.  Nor is brown or tan.

Green is!  But since this is usually not a very green time of year around here, I thought I'd cheer us both up with remembrances of a few months ago, some lovely flowers in my yard.

The first brave posies that pop their heads up, usually in March, are Grape Hyacinths.  In case you've never had a whiff--yes, they smell just like grapes!

Then in early May my favorites bloom in happy profusion all along our fence, lilacs.  Wish I could bottle that smell!  I love to open my kitchen windows and fill the room with it.

In my terrace garden, I have some lovely, old-fashioned Canterbury Bells.  They reseed themselves every year (they're actually biannuals) and I discovered I can get a second blooming from them if I cut the stalk down by two-thirds when they're beginning to fade.  I caught these one morning just as the sun was rising:

And I love the old stand-bys of every gardener, geraniums.  My only regret is that I don't a have a south-exposure window for them to winter in, so I have to replace them every year.

And as summer comes on, my clematis vine goes crazy.  What's nice about this one is that it thrives in a complete-shade environment, which this north side of our patio is.

There you have it.  A walk in the garden in the middle of winter!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!  :-)


(A) cold and snow

Well, I can't remember the last time I spent the day in bed feeling icky...a l-o-n-g time.  I've been fighting a cold for the better part of the week, and if I had to take off time to rest and get well, this was a good day.  Ten inches of snow last night and bitter cold is not a recipe for out-and-about in my book!  It's done me good, as they say, and I expect to rise and shine tomorrow with a bit more pep than I've had.  Rather important, too, since I have a trip coming up later in the week.

For all those Jan Karon lovers out there, here's a quickie book review.  I've been on the library wait list for her latest book, In the Company of Others, for months, so I had to read it quickly since I can't renew it.  I loved her Mitford series, but found Home to Holly Springs, the first in the second series, a bit heavy, not quite as satisfying.  This new one takes place entirely in Ireland where Father Tim and Cynthia are vacationing, the plot largely about their ministry to the extended family members of the inn and their complex troubles.

While I enjoyed the 'slice of Ireland,' and her typically interesting and rich characters, I didn't care for this book as much.  Seemed to take a long time getting into the conflict of the story and I missed the character struggles and changes that we have usually seen in Fr. Tim.  Not that he always has to be struggling, but it makes for a more satisfying and reader-connecting story.

If you're a Karon lover, you'll probably enjoy it.  I don't think I'll buy it for my collection, though.


New motto

"Happy is the homeschooling mom who keeps her Expectations Bar for the first day back from vacation really low."  :-)


New beginnings

I love, love, love a new year.  I start getting excited about mid-December when Christmas and it's clutter is weighing heavily on me and clean-up sounds inspiring.

I met a big goal this year, reading the Bible through.  Usually I'm at it for a lot longer, studying and chewing on what I learn, but it was wonderful to get the 'big picture' again.  I'm aiming to do again this year, though not to the exclusion of deeper study.

I had mixed results with my home goals.  On the one hand, I did a lot of clean-out and organizing of drawers and closets, boxes of stuff donated to the thrift store, better time-saving methods in the kitchen, etc.  But my nemesis, The Basement, still defies me at every turn.  I suspect I need more shelving and less stuff...the two best weapons to conquer the beast.  So that's high on list for 2011.

Our transition into high school has been a bit bumpy this year, not so much about content or results as organization and vision.  I know where I'd like us to get (I think).  I like the path we're on (I think).  But it has been unsettling to consider that the once-endless-seeming homeschool journey will end in 3 1/2 years.  What do we still need to do?  What is really important?  What does she want to do with her life?  And when am I going to get a handle on all this high-school record-keeping for hours and credits and requirements and testing?!??  Hopefully in 2011.

I met a few of my writing goals this year...attended a conference, stayed consistent with a small networking group, got published, learned a ton.  I'm praying a lot about truly, deep down, viewing my writing as a call from God rather than "I'll-get-to-it-when-I-can"--and acting accordingly.  I've been working on a children's devotional for years but I think it's time to get it written and out there where it can do some good.  So I'm planning on a regular writing night (thank you, Sandy, for the kick in the pants!) this year, along with any other time I can squeeze in.

And I'd like to see progress this year in...time management and priorities, praise and thanksgiving, being a good wife and mother, hospitality, friendship, financial management, health and fitness, and peace.  Today the Lord reminded me in Psalm 1 what His formula for progress and success really is--seeking Him first and always.

So I commit 2011 to Him and pray I'll cooperate with all He wants to do in my life!

May your year be abundantly blessed above and beyond all you can ask or think.  :-)