Teish Knits

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Redeeming Love

“You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.” – Lamentations 3:58 NIV

I am broken inside. All of us are, truthfully, no matter how put-together we appear on the outside. We work hard to impress people, whether it’s our employer, our friends, or our family. We desperately seek validation from people, only to discover that we do not measure up.

I was pondering this the other day while listening to the hymn by William Cowper “There is a Fountain”. The very beginning of the song struck a chord…

“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”

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Wow. Lose all their guilty stains? When I stand before God, because of the blood of Jesus, He does not see the imperfections. All of those ugly stains on my heart have been washed away. Because of what Jesus did, I stand before God, and I am accepted. I am loved. This means that we are freed from the old way of doing things! Our value is not dependent on or measured by the approval or praise of earthly men. Our value is found in the price that was paid for us. God has seen such value, such potential in us that he was willing to sacrifice His own Son in order to purchase redemption for those who seek it.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

This brings me to another line from the hymn…

“E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply; Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.”

Redeeming love. That’s what love does, it redeems what was broken and tossed aside. It is God’s redeeming love alone that can make me (and you!) whole again.

Thoughts for Tuesday, June 16th

Outside my windows… it’s rainy today. We’ve had some beautiful weather too though. What a mixed bag the forecast is this time of year!

Inside my house… Little Guy has moved to a toddler bed, and for the first time in a lot of years, the crib has been disassembled and put away. It’s a very odd feeling.

Counting 1000 gifts… Cookout Season!

Prayers of the heart… the next month has a lot of stuff going on. Some of it seems really big and overwhelming. Praying for strength and peace.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… it’s pretty evenly split between LEGO building and coloring/drawing right now.

From my playlist… Cat’s in the Cradle. This song is always a bit of a reality check for me. It’s too easy to get caught up in work and let relationships slide.

From my reading list… A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer. I’m not typically a reader of “Westerns” when it comes to historical fiction, but Karen’s books are a must-read for me!

From my needlework basket… I’m finishing up a summer sweater for myself. Just because it’s warm, it doesn’t mean that you can’t wear something knitted.

In the learning room… We do school year round, but the summer months are a bit more laid back than the rest of the year. Of course, there is always plenty of nature study that goes on this time of year. Now’s when our field guides get a good workout!

Random ramblings… Is it possible to make Nutella from scratch? I’m trying to change some of our eating habits for the better, and that seems to include more cooking from scratch with real food ingredients. But I love Nutella! (You have no idea how good hot chocolate can be until you try Nutella hot chocolate…)

Profound ponderings… “And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.” – Harry Chapin

Caught on film… my IT staff and me enjoying some ice cream!

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Book Review: Snuggle Time Devotions

What little one doesn’t love to snuggle on Mommy or Daddy’s lap and listen to a story? All of my children have! I knew when I saw Snuggle Time Devotions by Stephen Elkins that it was perfect for reading to Little Guy!

Snuggle Time Devotions is ideal for toddlers and preschoolers. Each story begins with a Bible verse, and then contains a short paragraph called My Snuggle Up Story that tells the Bible story in rhyme. (The scripture reference where the story can be found in the Bible is included at the beginning of the story.) The My Snuggle Time Takeaway answers the question, “What can we learn from this story?” I think this is a great addition because it shows kids that we can apply what we read in the Bible to our own lives! The section My Bible Time Activity is fabulous for the hands-on kids because the section contains some sort of pretend play, art, or other activity that relates to the Bible story. One of the Noah’s Ark stories directed us to draw a rainbow with the ark underneath it. Each story ends with a hug! For example, the book might say, “Give the one God has promised to love a great big hug!” There are 52 stories that span both the Old and New Testaments.

So many devotionals are targeted towards elementary age children. It’s lovely to find one that’s intended for the younger kids like Snuggle Time Devotions. My favorite thing about it is the Bible stories written in rhyming patterns. I enjoy reading rhymes, and it seems to keep the attention of my youngest better too. I really appreciated that the illustrations aren’t particularly cartoonish, but rather sweet and nicely drawn. Little Guy’s favorite part was definitely the hugs! He also enjoyed the activities quite a bit, so I’m glad that they were included for each story.

Both Little Guy and I love reading Snuggle Time Devotions! When we finish reading one, he always asks me to read another. It’s one of those rare books that I honestly can’t think of anything that I would change about it.

 

Snuggle Time Devotions is the perfect gift for a young child, and it would also make a nice baby shower gift. (It’s definitely the kind of book that my mom would have picked up for her grandbabies!) I think it would be a wonderful addition to any church nursery or daycare as well.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

Knowing Is Half the Battle

“I’ll be honest with you. This family history is very ugly.”

It was something of a wake-up call when the doctor said that to me. I knew there was a lot of cancer on both sides of my family. Some of them were diagnosed as young as in their 30s. But until that day, it had never hit me how unusual that was. In the back of my mind I knew that I was probably at a little higher risk for certain cancers, but it had not occurred to me how serious that risk potentially was.

The doctor strongly recommended genetic screening for gene mutations related to hereditary cancers, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that have been recently receiving media attention due to their link to breast and ovarian cancer. I knew that a couple of my relatives had tested positive for some of these mutations. My husband and I agreed that the test was a prudent thing to have done, despite the cost.

Less than a week later, I met with the genetic counselor to go over my family history of cancer. She too expressed surprise by just how prevalent cancer was in my family tree and remarked that she’d never seen a list quite that long before. I was sent downstairs to the lab to have my blood drawn and then returned the sample to the doctor’s office to be sent off to Myriad labs in Utah for testing.

And then I waited. I can’t tell you how nerve-wracking the wait was! We were most concerned about the BRCA mutations since there is so much breast and ovarian cancer in my family history. I’ve seen people I love struggle through surgery and treatments for both of those cancers. It scared me just how dramatically those tiny gene mutations could increase my own risk of facing those diseases. Admittedly, a positive result does not guarantee that you’ll end up with cancer, just as a negative result doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never be diagnosed with cancer. It does tip the statistics quite a bit though.

IMG_2369[1]When my results finally came in, I was surprised and relieved that I tested negative for all of the gene mutations that they checked for. The genetic counselor was just as surprised! I still have a slightly increased risk based on my family medical history, but it’s much lower than it could have been.

Do I regret having the testing done now that it came back negative? Not at all! The genetic screening for cancer-related gene mutations is not a test that everyone needs by any means, but I more than fit the screening guidelines for someone at risk of these mutations. I have information now that I didn’t have before. That will help me and my doctor decide what screenings I should have and when I should have them.

If you’re wondering whether you should consider the genetic screening for the mutations linked to hereditary cancer, please talk to your doctor. It’s like the line from those old G.I. Joe PSAs from the Saturday morning cartoons, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 19th

Outside my windows… it’s raining today, and things are really looking green around here.

Inside my house… I now have three out of four of my children sharing my tea-drinking habit, especially on days like this that are a bit chilly.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for good test results that came back this week!

Prayers of the heart… I’ve had a decision to make that I really wrestled with. Now that I’ve made it, I’m just praying that things turn out OK.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… creating stories, building with LEGOs, and cobbling together lightsabers out of paper towel rolls and tin foil!

From my playlist… Waiting for Superman by Daughtry.

From my reading list… Fusion Fire by Kathy Tyers. If you love space opera, then you must read Kathy’s Firebird series. It tops my list of favorite books!

From my needlework basket… a cotton sweater for summer. Of course, it may be finished just in time for the first snowfall…

In the learning room… I’ve been browsing field guides for the kiddos. They are always finding plants, birds, and other things that we try to identify, so it’s time to invest in a good, comprehensive field guide. Any suggestions?

Random ramblings… I was pondering last night why superhero stories appeal to me. I decided it’s because growing up, I wanted to save the world. I knew that no matter what I did with my life, I wanted to make a difference and help people. You know, my life has not exactly turned out the way that I dreamed all of those years ago! Along the way, I discovered that we don’t have to do something spectacular to make a difference in people’s lives. Little things can make a difference too! I’ll never find the cure for cancer, explore Mars, or argue a case before the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean that God can’t use the small things that I can do.

Profound ponderings… “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” – Gandalf in Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Caught on film…

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Book Review: The World Needs More Love Letters

I was a prolific letter-writer while I was growing up. I even had an overseas penpal who I wrote to for many years. Though I don’t do quite as much letter writing as I used to because of the advent of e-mail, I still enjoy sending cards and letters to family and friends. That’s why I was so interested in reviewing The World Needs More Love Letters by Hannah Brencher!

The World Needs More Love Letters is a pad containing 40 tear-out sheets of patterned stationery. Write your letter on the ruled side of the page and then follow the instructions on the back of the book to fold and seal your letter. Just address and stamp it, and you’re ready to drop it in the mail! If you’re having a hard time finding inspiration for your letter writing, then take a look at the list of 40 suggestions on the inside cover.

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What I loved:

  • The stationery is more graphic than girly in design, so it works well for both men and women.
  • The fun of writing and then folding up the self-mailer reminded me of the old Aerograms that I used to send to my overseas penpal!
  • It’s a fabulous way to encourage kids to write letters. My daughter immediately snagged a page to write a letter to her grandparents!

What I didn’t:

  • The white circle stickers provided to close up the sides of the letter were rather disappointing. I would have much preferred either a print that coordinated with the stationery, or just plain clear stickers that allowed the pretty stationery to show.

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Overall, I do really like the concept of The World Needs More Love Letters, and I’d definitely purchase similar products again. I hope that the publisher and author decide to offer additional designs in the future! Whether you are a prolific letter writer, or simply want to cultivate the habit of sending “real mail”, then this is a fun addition to your stationery desk.

bfb-125x125-2Note: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

The Messy Side of Creativity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

My kids are creative. I love that about them! I can’t say that I’m overly fond of the chaos that tends to go hand in hand with creativity though…

In a fit of frustration I asked, “How do you encourage creativity without the house getting trashed?” I do realize that I’ll have to put up with some amount of chaos. My husband and I homeschool four kids, have a very large dog, and both work from home. Life (and our home) are bound to get a bit crazy.

I’ve found a few strategies that help reduce the crazy factor though!

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Art boxes for everyone!

Each kid has their own plastic art box. This is where they can keep their art projects that they are still working on, and finished ones that they would like to keep. We store their art boxes in a cabinet in the dining room so that they are easy to get to, but out of sight when put away. Art projects still have a tendency to pile up here and there, but now I can tell the kids that they need to put them in their art boxes. What happens when the boxes are full? That’s when the kids go through the contents and decide what they want to keep, and what they don’t.

What do I do with all of these LEGOs?

I found the cutest LEGO organizer. It held six plastic boxes that would snap closed, keeping the LEGO sets separate and organized. Turns out my kids are much less OCD than I am. They prefer the LEGO kits to be mixed together into a giant mish-mash of creative possibilities! What’s worked the best for us is a set of inexpensive plastic drawers and a couple of plastic bins with lids. Yes, I still have to remind the kids that picking up the LEGOs means that all of them are in the drawers or boxes, but keeping them stored in closed containers seems to cut down on the number of LEGOs that find my bare feet!

Markers, and crayons, and glue sticks! Oh my!

Art supplies will take over my dining room without a plan for corralling them. Magazine holders and plastic shoeboxes are the key for doing that. The magazine holders are perfect for containing all kinds of paper from construction paper to graph paper. They fit on my bookshelves neatly and keep the paper from getting wrinkled. The plastic shoeboxes from the dollar store stack well, and again, they fit on my bookshelves! Markers go in one box, crayons in another, and so on. (This is also a great organizing solution for your hands-on manipulatives.) I get the clear boxes so that the kids can easily see which box has the items that they’re looking for. The lidded boxes work so much better than open bins because they are stackable and things tend to stay better contained when there’s a lid involved.

That is not coming in my house…

Creativity doesn’t stop when the kids go outside! My kids would happily bring every interesting rock, leaf, stick, feather, piece of bark, and frog that they find in our backyard. I have to have limits on what is allowed in the house, and what isn’t. They each have a small tin that they are allowed to keep rocks and shells in. Like their art boxes, when their tin is full, it’s time to pare down their collection. When it comes to living creatures, the only one allowed to come inside is our German Shepherd. A mom has to draw the line somewhere, right?

Creativity will never be mess-free, but having a place for everything is a great starting point. Yes, I still have to remind the kids more often than I’d like that they have to pick up their projects when they are done working on them, but at least they know where to put things! That makes picking up so much easier and faster for everyone.

Thoughts for Tuesday, April 14th

Outside my windows… there’s still a bit of snow on the ground, but it’s melting because it’s such a beautiful day!

Inside my house… the kiddos and I are sipping on this year’s first batch of sun tea.

Counting 1000 gifts… sunny days, short sleeves, and sprouting seeds…

Prayers of the heart… there is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart. I’ve not felt very well since the beginning of the year. I’ve seen a few doctors, had tests, and still don’t have a diagnosis. Over the next couple of months I’ll be making decisions about what to try next. I am so thankful that I’m not seriously ill, but I very much want to get back to feeling like myself again! I’m just praying for wisdom to make good decisions.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… the kiddos have been enjoying the spring weather for certain!

From my playlist… There is a Fountain. I will always love the hymns that I grew up with.

From my reading list… I’ve got some great books on my reading list. But I’m taking a break for some fun reading. Star Wars. I need my space opera fix every now and then!

From my needlework basket… I’m doing the finishing on a cute cardigan for myself. Warm weather is here now of course, but Maine nights get cool enough that I’ll still get some use out of it this summer.

In the learning room… We are still chugging along on the 3 R’s, but I’d like to do a fun unit study or project that will take advantage of the warmer weather. I’m thinking maybe some sort of nature study…

Random ramblings… I found myself thinking last night, “Mom was so much better at this than I am.” I wish that I could ask her for tips and tricks! I have a feeling that she’d just hug me and tell me something like, “Just keep at it, Kiddo.” That’s good advice for just about anything in life I think. Just keep at it. Just keep making progress.

Profound ponderings… “Faith tells me that no matter what lies ahead of me, God is already there.” — Unknown

Caught on film…

A photo posted by Teish (@teishknits) on

Book Review: The Power of a Half Hour

I’m a work-at-home(schooling)-mom. So basically, I’m always looking for ways to get (and stay) organized, and ways to get things done more efficiently. That’s why I was interested in Tommy Barnett’s book The Power of a Half Hour.

The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy BarnettMr. Barnett writes about how much can truly be accomplished in half-hour blocks of time. Each chapter addresses another area of your life that you can apply the “power of a half hour” to. Of course your career is one of the topics, but things like relationships and your faith are also included. At the end of the book are Personal Action Plans for each chapter that summarize the chapter and then give you assignments based on what you just read.

I’m glad that things like relationships and family were included in The Power of a Half Hour. It’s refreshing to read a book of this type that acknowledges how important things like family and faith our in our lives, and encourages us to make time specifically for those things! The action plans were also a nice idea. The fact that the book is written from a solidly Christian point of view was definitely a bit plus as well.

While The Power of a Half Hour gave me some great ideas, and reiterated the importance of making time for my family and faith, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. The half an hour concept is a great idea, but I live a life that’s full of interruptions! I need a plan that will work with my interrupted life. I think in a different season of life, this could work quite well for me, but it’s not quite what I need right now.

I did enjoy reading this book. It does a wonderful job of showing how there are many areas of your life that are important, and why we need to make it a point to spend time on all of those areas. Our lives need to be more than our jobs! While the half hour principle isn’t a perfect fit for me, I still got a lot out of The Power of a Half Hour. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their schedule. It would also be a great book for teens to read!

Please Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

Bright Pink Lipstick

“It’s hard when you miss people. But, you know, if you miss them it means you were lucky. It means you had someone special in your life, someone worth missing.” – Nathan Scott

Six years. Mom has been gone for six years today.

Last year, I finally emptied out the tin of coffee that had been sitting in my kitchen cabinet for five years. Try as I might though, I couldn’t bring myself to throw out her lipstick and perfume though.

IMG_2214[1]Mom used to wear bright pink lipstick. She didn’t tend to wear much of any makeup, but before she left the house she always put on her lipstick. Today I took the caps off her lipstick and smiled over how bright they were before finally letting them go.

Mom didn’t buy expensive perfume. I was never particularly fond of the kind she wore, but over the years I always associated that scent with Mom. When I opened one of the bottles today, there was a lump in my throat. One of the bottles went, and one is still sitting in my bathroom cabinet. I guess I’m not quite ready to let go of everything.

IMG_2212[1]Six years is a long time. Not so long that I don’t still miss her terribly though. I’m used to it most days, but some days are harder than others. As much as I miss her, I wouldn’t wish her back. That may sound like a bit of a contradiction, but I don’t think it is. I think of Mom finally laying down all of the burdens that she carried here on Earth. How could I ever ask her to pick them up again?

2 Timothy 4:7 fits Mom perfectly, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Mom finished her journey. She is in the presence of the King! Knowing that she is well and at peace brings me comfort despite the grief.

I have my own path stretching out before me, and missing Mom is part of that. I wonder about what she might have said to me and I think she would have told me, “Just keep going. Keep trusting God no matter what.”