Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy 15th Birthday, Ellen!!!

Her favorite color defines her so well!

She is all of those things and so much more!  
 I am so thankful for all of the things we do together: talk about crazy things, stay up late, watch movies, play games, take pictures, go places by ourselves, babysit, and so much more!  She makes me laugh and helps me enjoy the lighter things in life.

Happy birthday, sweet sister!!!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Summer Review

Hello everyone!  I know I have been rather hit and miss this summer, but I am going to post at least one more time before school starts on tomorrow.  :-)

At the beginning of summer, I wrote a list of goals for this summer; and in order that I would not get too overwhelmed or discouraged, I wrote another list of  things I did accomplish.  My "Summer Goals" list contains sixteen items and, as of now, my "Things I've Done This Summer" list contains 63 items (including a couple repeats, social events, personal achievements, and random "goings on").  The following are highlights from the latter list.  This post is not meant to brag about all the things I've done this summer but to give you a taste of what I've been doing and to remind myself of what a blessed three months I've had and that I've not entirely wasted the summer.  :-) (The list is roughly in chronological order. :-) )

  • Went to a game night with the Ellen's speech and debate group
  • Helped with the VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our church
  • Took the ACT
  • Went to volleyball get-togethers with friends
  • Spent the night and watching movies with Grandma
  • Swam in our cousins' lake and spent a lot of time with family
  • Went to the College World Series
  • Had a Strength Finders consultation
  • Blogged more (hehehe at least for a while)
  • Drank my first chai tea latte :-)
  • Shopped with Mom and Grandma (several times)
  • Visited Red Mango several times :-)
  • Took pictures
  • Babysat two kids from church with Ellen
  • Read and listened to fun and interesting books--I would highly recommend: Jesus Among Other Gods Youth Edition by Ravi Zaccharias and Kevin Johnson (recommended for 13 and up) and Knight's Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff 
  • Went to a church cookout
  • Crocheted and knitted several blankets and mason jar cozies
  • Took Driver's Ed and earned my driver's license! 
  • Caught up with friends in my Bible Study group
  • Started kitchen remodel
  • Went to Two Rivers in August with friends
  • Assisted in Ellen's piano recital
  • Taught piano for some of the summer
  • Practiced more violin (one of my sixteen goals)
  • Went to our family reunion in August with Grandma where we spent time with family and also did some paddle boating :-)
  • Went to Campy Rivercrest!!!
  • Listened to new Christian contemporary songs
  • Went to see Finding Dory :-)
  • Played games with Ellen and had fun together (several times)
  • Baked breakfast snacks with Grandma (for when school starts)
  • Went to a Labor Day weekend game night with families from church
So I hope that gives you bit of a glimpse of what I've been doing (in between blogging).  It was a very fun summer, but now I am ready to start school and get back into routine.  Time for fall! :-)

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven".
Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Crochet Projects

This summer I have returned to my hobby of crocheting!  The College World Series and movie nights at Grandma's have enabled me to make tremendous progress on several projects.  I have completed three baby blankets for friends with newborns, two others in progress, and one yet to make. 

And for my newest project...Mason jar cozies!!!  I thought of the idea in bed the other night and then searched for patterns the next day.  I found plethora of patterns online,  but I particularly liked the felted ones.  They are made of wool which will insulate and wick away moisture.  

This is how my first one turned out.  The pattern was for a smaller pint sized jar.  I could have washed it more to make it fit a pint jar, but Mom and I liked how it looked on a quart sized.  This one made me pull out my knitting needles which I have not done in months (as I usually prefer crocheting)!  :-)
My second one in progress. 😊 

Handwork by Hannah! We'll see how this one turns out.  😊

Friday, July 29, 2016

In the Rain

I am sorry about the several weeks absence.  This is a post I've been meaning to do for almost a month but just haven't.
Ellen and I took a short walk in the rain on a Saturday when it had rained all day.  It was an uplifting reprieve from a rather stressful day.  Rain gives a beautiful effect in photography so I took some pictures too. 
The bumble bee didn't mind the rain either.

As I've tried to think of a quote or poem to go with this post I thought of several things: Jo March's heartbreaking poem "Four Little Chests all in a Row" and her proposal in the rain in Little Women (smile), a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson in his A Child's Garden of Verses, and other analogies that could go along with rain.  But the one I think fits that walk in the rain is the hymn "There Shall Be Showers of Blessings" because that walk was a great blessing even on a difficult day.

"There shall be showers of blessing:"
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Words: Daniel W. Whittle (w. 1883)
Music: James McGranahan (w. 1883)

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Declaration of Independence

(Note: this is a long post!)

In honor of the Fourth of July, I decided to share with you what I learned in studying the Declaration of Independence and its background as one of my great books for history.  Please give me grace as I am far from an expert on this subject and I know there are many sources out there that give much more information and depth than I do.  However, I am going to share a slightly modified form of what I wrote in a context page and final paper.  I hope this gives an overview of the founding of our nation and its leading document, the Declaration of Independence.  

The Context of the Declaration of Independence 
  The Declaration of Independence is one of the two most important documents in the history of the United States, and many important events resulted from its writing.  The most important of which is the American Revolution.
It is important to note that prior to the American Revolution there had been many other wars between European countries such as England, France, Spain, Holland, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, each desiring power, wealth, and prestige over the others.  Many of the wars involved ownership of land in India, Africa, America, and Canada.  Specific wars were the War of Spanish Succession from 1701-1714 (called in America King William's War and Queen Anne's War), the War of Austrian Succession from 1740 to 1748 (in America King George's War, after King George II), and the Seven Years' War from 1756 to 1763 (the French and Indian War in America, started in 1754 and was part of the Seven Years' War).  These wars affected America because the colonies helped their mother country in Europe by fighting their foes in America, and many hard and courageous battles were fought.  In the peace terms of the Treaty of Paris 1763, France relinquished its lands in Canada and all the land east of the Mississippi River,  and Spain was given New Orleans and the parts of Louisiana west of the Mississippi.
  These wars cost each country a significant amount of lives and money.  King George III of England tried to raise money by taxing the American colonies, and he placed a British army in America (which the Americans had to house and support) to keep his land secure from the French.  The colonies resented the taxes as they did not have a say in parliament and believed that the king did not have the power to make them pay without their consent.  In 1765, the colonies sent the king the Declaration of Rights, which explained the freedoms of the colonies, but Parliament rejected it.  So some of the colonists rioted and formed meetings of the Sons of Liberty.  They scorned and mocked the British soldiers stationed in Boston until one day several of the soldiers turned and shot at a mob of colonists, killing five and wounding others.  This was later called the Boston Massacre (1770) which sparked the anger of the colonists.  After that, Parliament repealed all of the taxes except that on tea which the colonists then refused to buy.  When ships continued to be sent with tea to Boston, a group of daring men boarded the ships disguised as Indians and dumped all the tea into the harbor, an act which is known as the Boston Tea Party (1773).  To punish them, the king closed Boston port cutting off its trade and food supplies.
  However, for the first time, the colonies united together against England and helped Boston survive, although previously each colony had quarreled and wanted more power for itself.  The colonists called together the first Continental Congress in 1774 with representatives from each colony except Georgia.  Because the colonists continued to rebel, British troops in Boston were given orders to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, two of the leading patriots.  This led to the Battle of Lexington fought on April 19, 1775, which was the first American armed resistance against the British.  After that, war was imminent and the colonists longed for freedom from England altogether.  The second Continental Congress was assembled on May 10, 1775, where they appointed George Washington as the commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army.  The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on the same day and was the first official battle of the revolution; and even though the Americans lost, it gave them a sense of their strength against the well-trained British regulars.  Yet Congress was slow to actually declare separation from England and hoped that they could still make peace, but the people were ready and willing to fight.
This led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence.  Congress commissioned Thomas Jefferson to write it (shortly after he had written the Virginia Bill of Rights), and then it was revised and agreed upon by Congress.  It was brought before Congress on July 2 and was agreed upon on July 4, 1776.  A few days later, it was read to a crowd of excited people outside of what is now called Independence Hall where Congress met.  It was an important and daring act, and some believed it might be too soon to make such a drastic step.  But that was only the beginning.  It took eight more long years, hard fighting both on land and sea, many lives, great valor on both sides (and some treachery), and difficult negotiation with allied countries and Britain to end the war.  King George did not want to admit to defeat by the colonists and offered many times to pardon them if they would only return to how they had been, but the Americans wanted freedom and would not have that taken away.  England, however, had lost many troops, spent much money, and were now spread thin with war against Spain and Holland in addition to the Americans and France (America's ally).  After much time had passed, peace was officially agreed upon in September, 1783, and the United States was recognized as free and independent.
  After war was over, the colonies nearly fell apart as they did not know whether to continue being separate states as they had been prior to the war or to set up a central government.  If so, how could it be organized without giving the government or anyone else too much power?  To fix the crisis, they held the Constitutional Convention in May 1787 with representatives from each state.  There they drew up a constitution forming a new government which would protect the rights of the people.  The Constitution was then sent to each state to be approved.  After much consideration, nine states agreed to it, and later the rest did too.  The people elected George Washington, former commander-in-chief during the war, as their first president of the United States of America.
  This was quite an undertaking.  Many of the ideas of the revolution and founding of the United States such as human rights, government's purpose of the protection of the people, and government by the consent of the people came out of the thinking from people like John Locke, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Rousseau, and Thomas Paine.  The Americans took those principles and fought a war and founded a nation based upon them which had never been tried.
The Purpose and Key Ideas of the Declaration of Independence 
    The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to officially announce to the colonists and to England the official decision to separate completely from the English government, no matter what the cost.  The document itself is divided into three main points:  1) the introduction and fundamental principles, 2) the unjust actions of the King of Britain against the colonists, and 3) the official declaration of the assembled Continental Congress that the United Colonies were free and independent. 
     The fundamental truths outlined in the first and second paragraphs set the basis of why the colonists believed it their duty to separate from England and the basis on which Congress would later form the Constitution and the government of the states.  The declaration was founded on the belief in a higher, absolute law (the "Law of Nature and of Nature's God") that governed the ways of men and gave the colonists the right to be separate and equal to any other country.  They named five specific truths which they believed justified their separation.  In my own words they are as follows:  1) All men are created with the same amount of inherent worth and no individual (or nation) has natural domination over another.  2) They are given by their Creator certain rights that must not be taken away or given to another person.  3) Three specific rights are Life (the right to protect and preserve oneself), Liberty (the right to do what one chooses, under the guidance of natural law, without being hindered), and the pursuit of Happiness (the right to seek one's best interest within bounds of the law).  4) Governments are formed to secure (protect) men's rights (as named above) and that those governments must be formed and given their power by the people who choose to submit to that government.  5) When a government does not protect the people's natural rights, they have the right to change it or destroy it completely and to establish a new and better government as they see fit.   
     The colonists agreed that the government should not be replaced for "light and transient" causes, but they firmly felt that the King of Great Britain, George III, was guilty of a "long train of abuses".  The declaration lists all his misdeeds towards the colonists from least to greatest importance.  These include enforcing his power over the laws and legislative bodies of the colonists in numerous ways, manipulating the laws of migration to limit those who could emigrate to America, passing laws contrary to their Constitution and unacknowledged by their laws (including quartering British armies in Americans' homes without the consent of their legislatures, cutting off their trade, levying taxes without their consent, and taking away their charters,) and openly waging war against them.  With the quartering (and other acts), the king treated the Americans unjustly not only because they had no option to dispute it but also because quartering was illegal in England yet he made the Americans do it while the Americans were supposed to be under the same rule as England.  These facts show that he was not merely lacking in ruling abilities or making poor governing decisions but that he was purposefully trying to exert his own power over the colonies, "having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over the states" (emphasis added).  The king believed himself to be the head ruler with the right and the power to do as he pleased and not the protector of men's rights with the responsibility of maintaining justice which is what a ruler ought to have. 
In the two paragraphs following the accusations against the king, Congress said that they had made many petitions to the king, humbly objecting to the way he was treating them; but he had spurned them and only punished them for it.  Instead of listening to their petitions, the king and Parliament used warfare to solve the issue, making them enemies.  Congress had also tried to use the ties of kinship between the colonists and their English relations to find redress and aid in their struggle, but to no avail.  Out of necessity, they made those people "enemies in war, in peace friends."
In light of those truths, offenses, and failed attempts to receive justice, Congress, in the name of the people and by the authority given them, declared the states free and independent.  They appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world to judge their intentions, showing that they believed their cause to be just and that they were accountable to no one but the Supreme Judge.  The declaration also declared the states to have the power to act as independent states, naming specifically the powers to "levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce".  No longer would they depend on England to dictate such things for them.
Those who signed it knew the risk they were incurring by making such a drastic step, but they firmly relied on Divine Providence and willingly committed their "Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor" to their cause.  This resulted in the founding of the United States of America which has since become one of the most prosperous nations.
(All quotes taken directly from the Declaration of Independence.) 

In addition to what I wrote, I believe that God lead the founding of our nation.  Christianity was at the heart of the founding fathers' purpose and foundation for America.  I owe much to those who put their trust in God, believing that He was calling them to stand up for what was right, and gave their lives to create new nation founded on Christian principles.  The freedoms and national legacy we enjoy today came at a cost, and we must continue in those principles and be thankful for them.  May we continue to be a nation where "In God we trust".  But in order to be that nation, we must start with each individual who chooses to believe in Jesus Christ as their one and only Savior; and that is what God calls us to do.  

Thank you for reading this long post, and I hope it encourages you.  Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hydrangea Pictures

     Yesterday Ellen and I were playing volleyball in the front yard; and as we both are novices (to say the least), the ball hit the hydrangea bush (among plants).  The sweetest little sprig was broken off, and I just couldn't let it go to waste.  So I took it inside and put it into a little vase with water.  This morning I walked past it and knew it was picture-worthy.  So I grabbed the camera and put on my creative photographic thinking cap.  I had so much fun with it!  It is such a sweet, simple little testament to the beauty of God's creation.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, 
I know that full well." 
Psalm 139:14

If you can't quite read it from the picture, this is an encouraging quote by Elizabeth Elliot that I came across on someone's blog over a year ago. 

"Whatever you want, it's going to cost you something...if you want God's will more than anything in the world it is going to mean endurance." 

It is so true, and I need to remind myself of that every single day. Often I know I want God's will for my life, knowing His way is always the best, but I struggle with the endurance part.  But He does not leave us alone to endure.  He gives us His strength to endure with us.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Zoo

I'm a bit tardy in posting this, but I will anyway.  :-)

     Over a week ago, Mom and Dad's investment agent hosted a 20 year celebration of her company at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.  Even though it was a hot evening we took Grandma and went to see the new African Grasslands exhibit.
     We rode a tram halfway down to one of the zoo's new buildings.  We got off to get some soda, and it started again without us!  But that gave us a chance to get a closer look at the new elephants and giraffes and take some pictures.

We walked the rest of the way down to the dinner area where we enjoyed delicious food and air conditioning.  :-)  
 We were able to pet an armadillo!  Dad got a picture of the snake, but I didn't want to see it!
 Waiting for the tram to take us through the zoo to the entrance
(Ellen insisted on me taking a picture of her hand. ) :-)
What a beautiful, exotic looking plant!
Tram pictures:

Selfies of course!
The tram driver said that is was very rare to see a leopard lying on the hill.  (Sorry about the fence!)
Hello, Mr. Turkey!
The prarie dogs are my favorite.  They live on the zoo property and have made themselves an exciting exhibit all on their own.  They were just everywhere!
And this time of year they also have babies!
Do you know how hard it is to snap a good picture of one of those fast little things when you are on a moving tram!
This one obviously didn't want company.  :-)
What beautiful peacock!
How nice a splash of cold water felt!
I couldn't resist getting a few pictures of some of the beautiful flowers during the last little bit up the hill.

Despite the heat, we all had an enjoyable time.  It was fun getting to see the new improvements at the zoo, and spend time together as a family (and have a nice dinner and take some photos.) :-)