As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Thursday Chat...and a Little Blogging Break

About that highboy...

First of all, I loved reading your comments and advice! You all had me grinning from ear to ear as you offered your opinions, both here at the blog and on my personal Facebook page. One friend, in a private email, made this concession: 
"I promise not to be so opinionated if that piece turns up black someday. I'll just say How lovely!"

Of course, I know that the world is not hanging on my decision. But just in case anyone is curious, I will tell you that the highboy is not going to be painted. (For now.) The more I look at that beautiful cherry finish, the less I can imagine painting over it. 

However, I have also decided that it cannot live in my living room. I really wanted to make it work, It is such a beautiful piece, and I love it! But I have lived with it her for several weeks now and it she is The Queen among more humble residents. It she stands there looking elegant and Queen Anne-ly...and she steals the show. So she is going to go upstairs to my bedroom where she will still steal the show...but fewer people visit my bedroom, and I will have time to decide what to do with her. (That is, after I sell my current bedroom suit. I tell you, there is a lot of furniture coming and going in my house these days! First world problems.) 

It's been a while since Kati has hosted a photo challenge (the girl has been busy!), but July is the month and I am excited about it. I tend to get into picture taking ruts, but a photo challenge causes me to think differently and try new things. I am hoping for a burst of creativity!

Kati will be posting her rules for the challenge in an upcoming blog post. Want to join us?

Have you had a chance to peek at Nora Murphy Country House's summer e-mag? Oh, please do! You do not want to miss it!

Now it is time to take a little blogging break.

We're expecting some good times here at The Farmhouse, and I need to be able to be all here! I'll keep my camera handy (and try to remember to use it), and I'll be back in a week or so.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Always Books {Genevieve Foster}

This post is a part of my series Always Books in which I share some of our family's favorite living books. Gathered through our twenty-four (so far) years of homeschooling, they are books that we have loved, books that are inspiring, books that we heartily recommend. These are books that will stay on our shelves...always. 

I wrote about the history books of Genevieve Foster a couple of years ago, but since dear Genevieve's books will be on our shelves always, I thought that she needed to be added to this series. 

A few weeks ago, I began reading George Washington’s World to my youngest child, my last homeschool student.  As I opened the book, I wondered if this would be my last time to read this aloud.  Secretly, I hoped not, although it is likely to be.

You see, I have read George Washington’s World to my students several times over the years.  I have also read Augustus Caesar’s World, The World of Columbus and Sons, The World of Captain John Smith, and Abraham Lincoln’s World, all by Genevieve Foster.  And can I say that I have enjoyed these history books every bit as much as my children have? 

Genevieve Foster (1893-1979) was a commercial artist turned housewife who believed that there must be a better way to learn history than the way that she had learned it.  I believe that she found a better way!  She wrote history for children “horizontally” as opposed to “vertically,” an innovative approach.  Foster would take a central historical figure and write not only about that person’s life, but about key people who lived and events that were taking place all over the world during the time that that person lived.  Learning history in the traditional way, she said, “was about as dull and unsatisfying as a play might be, if only one character appeared upon the stage, while the others faintly mumbled their lines in the wings, out of sight of the audience.”

Foster wrote and illustrated nineteen books, four of which were Newbery Honor books. 

Each of the five books that I have named above is divided into five parts, each part a section of the main character’s life span.  At the beginning of each section is a double page spread of illustrations featuring other historical figures and events that take place during that life stage, with a very brief description under each illustration.  We take the time to look at each one and read all the captions before we read that section, familiarizing ourselves with the main players before we read the details. 

Then comes the narrative, masterfully told as a story (for isn’t history a story?), engaging readers young and old.  Even my youngest children have listened in as I read aloud to their older siblings.  We learn of the main character, his parents, siblings, childhood friends, little-known stories about his life.  We get to know him.  Then we are introduced to other people who were alive in his world, those near and those far, all across the globe.  Chapters are brief, the stories well told.  At the end of the section, we go back to the illustrations and review the characters and events we have just learned.  (Charlotte Mason would call this narration.) 

We continue this pattern through the remaining sections of the book, continuing to add to our knowledge of the main character and of the other players, adding more as we go along. 

By the time we have finished our story, we have developed an intimate acquaintance with the main character (as well as many others), and feel as if we have lived in his time. 

While these books are not specifically Christian (there is discussion of other religions and cultures, and these are treated with equal respect), there is also fair representation of Christianity, much more than would be offered in a typical modern history textbook.  Let me share a passage that moved us when we read Abraham Lincoln’s World.

It was the mid 1830’s, and four Nez Perce Indians from Oregon had traveled eastward seeking the white man’s Book of Heaven.  At the end of a 200-mile journey, they came to St. Louis, where they were warmly received by General William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark expedition) and his men.  They spent the winter there, and were lavishly “wined and dined,” so to speak,

...but they were disappointed. At the farewell dinner in the spring, one of the Nez Perce rose and addressed the company.
“I came to you over the trail of many moons from the setting sun. My people sent me to get the white man’s Book of Heaven. You took me to where you allow your women to dance, as we do not ours: and the Book was not there! You took me to where they worship the Great Spirit with candles and incense, and the Book was not there. You make my feet heavy with gifts, and yet the Book is not among them! I came with an eye partly open for my people who sit in darkness. How can I go back blind to my blind people? I have no more words.”

Isn’t that poignant? 
“The book was not there.”

We began by learning history; we discovered a treasure.

Here within the pages of our history book, we were saddened by the disappointment of the men who had come to find truth and did not find it. We were inspired to look through spiritual eyes in our interactions with people...and not be so ready to offer them entertainment or earthly treasure, when their hearts are searching for eternal treasure.

So do you see why I do not want this to be my last time through the Genevieve Foster books of history? 

Foster's books will remain on our shelves. Mostly, they are informative and inspiring (and true!) stories, but they are also a handy reference. Perhaps my children will come to borrow these books as they teach their own children...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: Father's Day

Yesterday, we honored the fathers in our family. 

It was a casual gathering with lots of good food. Crab dip and crackers and a veggie tray to get us started. Chick-fil-A chicken strips, Mom's potato salad (by special request...again), a colorful tossed salad, deviled eggs, sweet potato biscuits (made by Maddie and Owen). Four desserts. No one walks away hungry at our family gatherings! 

We reminisced and told stories about family vacations. 

We gave tokens of love to the dads.

We passed around some more old photos. 

Kati took some photos of a "visitor" on our porch.

Kristin and Owen played a piano duet. 

The kids all piled on our bed to watch Puss and Boots on Netflix. 

We braved the heat and humidity to take some family photos. 

Later in the evening, Ron's mom, his brother Max, and sister-in-law Pat stopped by for a visit and we had more cake and coffee and lots more conversation. 

Uninvited guest sunning himself on the porch ~ photo by Kati


 Daddy and his daughters
L to R: Linda, Daddy, me

Ron and his daughters
L to R: Bekah, Kati, Ron, Kristin

My son-in-law Brian and his children
L to R front row: Ben (6), Alaine (4)
Middle row: Owen (8), Maddie (10)
Back row: Brian, Gavin (12)

It was a lovely day of memory-making moments...the kind of day that reminds me that I am most blessed! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elisabeth Elliot

On Monday morning, Elisabeth Elliot slipped from her earthly body into eternity to meet the God who she loved and served. 

I will always consider Elisabeth my teacher. No, I never met her, never sat in one of her audiences, but she was my teacher nonetheless. Through her books*, through her radio show Gateway to Joy, and through her newsletter, she passed along invaluable truths and wise, straightforward advice. 

Who can forget her low, soothing voice opening each radio show with these words:
"You are loved with an everlasting love -- that's what the Bible says -- and underneath are the everlasting arms." 

Oh, how I appreciated her gentle, quiet instruction! Her demeanor was calm and reassuring. When she advised us to "Do the next thing," it was with quiet authority and I believed that I could do that thing, whatever it was. No fretting or spinning my wheels...just doing the next thing. 

Elisabeth encouraged us to live a life of submission...primarily, submission to God and to His plan for our lives, but also to our husbands as God has set the order. 

She understood and taught the value of femininity, contrary to popular opinion. (But Elisabeth was not swayed by popular opinion!)
"A Christian woman's true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate -- humble obedience --but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male, and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested."

She taught the Biblical principle of servanthood and how it looks in everyday life. Changing the baby's diaper. Preparing another meal. Cleaning the bathroom. Buying the groceries. And offering it all to the Lord as a sacrifice. The most mundane task is not demeaning, but holy when offered to the Lord. Servanthood is "a chance to die." 

And she taught acceptance, adopting Amy Carmichael's words, "In acceptance lieth peace" as her own guiding principle for living. We could accept these words from Elisabeth in the midst of our own hard things, because we saw her demonstrating them throughout her life. When she became a young widow after her husband Jim and his fellow missionaries were killed by the Auca tribesman, we saw her acceptance of God's plan, even returning to that same tribe to carry the Gospel of Jesus. We saw her acceptance of His will in the death of her second husband. Through her writings, we saw her acceptance of God's plan in big and small ways, in her encouragement to "keep a quiet heart" even when we don't understand what His purpose is.

She continued to demonstrate that truth to the end. She faced the final stage of her life as she had faced so many other things...with quiet acceptance and submission to her Heavenly Father who does all things well. In this article that appeared online early last year, Elisabeth's husband Lars Gren talked about her final years with dementia. I found this touching, and so encouraging.

Gren says Elliot has handled dementia just as she did the deaths of her husbands. "She accepted those things, [knowing] they were no surprise to God," Gren said. "It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it."
Hearing these words, Elliot looked up and nodded, her eyes clear and strong. Then she spoke for the first time during the two-hour interview, nodding vigorously: "Yes."

Although my teacher has stepped "through gates of splendor," her lessons live on. 

*Books by Elisabeth Elliot that I have read and recommend: 

  • Through Gates of Splendor The beautiful story of the life of Jim Elliot. This book was influential in my son's life as a young adult. 
  • Keep a Quiet Heart A compilation of essays, many taken from her newsletters. This is one of my favorites. I read it over and over, and have given many as gifts.
  • Passion and Purity The story of Elisabeth and Jim's courtship. This is required high school reading in my homeschool.
  • Let Me Be a Woman Letters to her daughter about what it means to be a Christian woman.
  • The Christian Family The story of Elisabeth's family of origin.
  • A Chance to Die  Elisabeth's biography of missionary Amy Carmichael.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Weekend Snapshots: What Snapshots?

A hazy Monday morning

My, but it was a busy weekend! The busyness actually began on Thursday and we went from one thing to another until we went to bed on Sunday night. Projects, outings, and gatherings. 

And the snapshots? Hardly any. 

Blogger fail. 

On Thursday, Mom, my sister Linda, and I met at my aunt's house where we began a family photo project. Robin has albums and boxes full of family photos, ranging from the very old...

This one is old, but there are even older ones!

to more recent history.

Ron and I, circa 1979

Linda is scanning and organizing the pictures and she will upload them to an online storage site where anyone in the family can access the photos. It's a big job, but it will be a wonderful way to preserve family history. 

Our Keepers at Home club met on Friday and the girls worked on embroidery projects. I have no photos of our meeting, but this is a picture of Bekah's project. 

Will be pressed and made into a pillow...

On Friday night, the four of us went out for dinner to celebrate Ron's fifteen year anniversary at his company. Ron is a good and faithful provider for his family and we wanted to honor him for that. We let him choose the place and we were not at all surprised that he chose a steak house! We were all set to take a few selfies on Kati's phone when the server came with our appetizer and then we forgot. (Did I say blogger fail?)

Saturday found us all over the place! Ron had a breakfast meeting and then came home and did yard work. Kati worked both of her jobs and then went out with her coworkers on Saturday night. Bekah went to Kristin's house for her summer sleepover. I took Bekah to Kristin's, made a quick stop at my parents' house, ran errands (which may have included a stop at Starbucks for iced coffee), and grocery shopped. Ron and I ended the day with a date night, fajitas-for-two at a Mexican restaurant.  

Sunday was the day for a big house project! 

Ron finally hired a man to replace the duct work under the house for the heat/air conditioning. I say "finally" because people aren't exactly lining up to do such work under an old farmhouse that has very little crawl space. Now Ron is a DIY kind of guy and he has worked under the house many times over the years, doing plumbing, insulation, and wiring. But that was back in the day...and now...let's just say that when he ran a line to the computer desk a few years ago, it nearly killed him. 

No, such things are better left to the (young) professionals these days.

Knowing it was supposed to be hot on Sunday (it was!), and that the air conditioning system would be turned off for an indefinite time, we canceled our usual Sunday afternoon gathering and Kati canceled a game party that she had planned for the evening. But by the time Kati and I got home from church, the men had already finished the work, cleaned everything up, the AC was humming right along, and the house was pleasantly cool! No need to have canceled anything. Oh well.

The three of us drove down to get Bekah from her sleepover, and Brian and Kristin took us all out to a local pizza place that they like. Now we like it too! 

We wrapped up the weekend by attending a birthday celebration for Ron's sister Debbie who was born on Flag Day! 

Lots of activity. Lots accomplished. Lots of fun. Little cooking. That sums up our weekend.

How was your weekend? Did you take any snapshots? :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Around the House

I haven't moved into the "lazy, hazy, crazy" days of summer yet. There have been too many things to do and too many happenings. (Okay...maybe we're into the "crazy" part.)

Meanwhile around the house (the house that is waiting for my attention in every nook and cranny)...

Can you believe that I bought more Blue Willow dishes? (You probably can.) When Ron brought home the dinner plates and platter in April, I was thrilled! I gave away a set of red plates to make room for them in my china closet and all was well. But...on a little antiquing excursion a few weeks ago, we came across a small pile of Blue Willow. Hmmm...a few cups and saucers would be nice. We couldn't find a price on them. In fact, we could only find one price anywhere near the pile. It was unbelievably low, so we knew it couldn't be the for the whole collection of various and sundry pieces. Ron went to the proprietor to inquire the price of the cups and saucers...and, lo and behold, the entire group was $19.00! Sold!! So now I have five cups, six saucers, six dessert plates (four old, two new), five luncheon/salad plates, four bowls, a creamer, and a sugar bowl sans lid. Most of the pieces are old and have some crazing, which I love! 

Hi, my name is Cheryl and I'm addicted to dishes. (But they were only $19.00!)

The new tea towel was free (to me), as I purchased a set of two with a Marshalls gift card. It brings a touch of summer freshness to the kitchen.

I decorated the dining room mantel for summer...light and airy and my favorite topiaries.

And then there's this. The beautiful highboy that had belonged to my Aunt Lynn. You may recall my discussing it when I shared our Changes in the Living Room.

It had sat in Ron's mom's garage since late December, but last night we brought it home. I want to live with it for a few days so that I can make some decisions. 

  • Do I keep it here in the living room? Is it too formal for my space? Is the old cabinet a better "fit"? Or does it add an elegant air to my colonial farmhouse look? (If it doesn't stay in the living room, I could use it in my bedroom.)
  • If I keep it in the living room, do I paint it black as was my original plan? Or do I leave it as it is? (It is cherry, but the Windsor chair and my Shaker-style table are pine. I'm not sure what the old trunk/coffee table is, but it is rather dark.)

Everyone in my house has an opinion! But I'd welcome yours!

Feel free to join in the discussion! Tell me what you'd do with the highboy...or tell me what you're doing to freshen up your house for summer! (I loved reading about what Deanna is doing!)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

At Home With Linda

I am so excited to share my sister's house with you! 

That said, it has taken me a while to get around to doing so. It's been a busy week. (Aren't they all?) We put the finishing touches on our "formal" school year on Tuesday, and I have been finalizing our records and Bekah's portfolio in preparation for our end of year review scheduled for next week. But today is the day. It's been rainy here, and aside from a dash out for coffee and a six-dollar skirt at Old Navy, I've been here at the computer, editing and compiling pictures to show you.

My sister Linda and I have lots of things in common. One thing we do not have in common, however, is the number of homes in which we have lived. I have lived in only two places since I have been married (we have lived in our current home for thirty-five years). Linda has lived in...well, I'm not sure. I'll just say "many." But every single home she has made lovely. Her style has changed over the years and she has had different furniture and different colors. She has lived in rented homes and apartments and she has owned homes. She has lived in old places and new, some average-sized, some very small. Whatever the circumstances, she has made each one uniquely beautiful

This home happens to be a rented apartment, which comes with limitations as far as architectural features and colors. No problem! Linda has worked with those limitations and has made it her own. I think it looks like she has lived here for years! Come with me and we'll take a look around!

This pretty pot of annuals (planted by our dad and mom) sits at the entrance, a statement of welcome. 

Here is the living area. What do you think? Do you want to move right in?!

I am going to take you clockwise around the room, showing the big picture as well as a few closer shots for detail. 

(I love this gallery wall featuring family photos.)

Adjoining the living area (and separated by the sofa) is the dining area. 

I'll insert a bit of reality here. While Kati and I were taking house photos, there were eight people in the house. Mom, Kati, Bekah, and I. Linda, of course, and her daughter Amy and granddaughters Isabel and Ivy. We had eaten lunch and there was baby paraphernalia and children's books and purses and various and sundry bags. And a cat and a dog. So we scooted things here and there while we snapped pictures, and we only had a few shots where faces were in mirrors or a hand or foot was in a corner. Amazing! :) 

Anyway, here is the dining area, cleared of people and lunch. 

(Proof that we had lunch. It was delicious, too!)

A little corner of the kitchen...

...and just outside the kitchen, at the top of the entry stairs, is this cabinet, perfect for pretty kitchen storage as well as a lovely focal point. 

 Yes, I even sneaked my camera back to the bathroom.

Although Linda has some lovely furniture, it might be worth pointing out that a lot of beauty can be found in the details. She has used some ordinary things to enhance the overall look of the rooms, and to draw the eye into the nooks and crannies. 

Did you notice her use of old books?

And how about the placement of plants and green things? (I love the preserved boxwood wreath. I'm not sure I would have thought of hanging it in a cabinet.)

And then there is the repetition of blue in her accessories, from coasters to throw pillows.

I hope that you were inspired by our tour of Linda's beautiful home! 

Did you take away any ideas to use in your own home? 

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