I’m Your Huckleberry

Just letting you all know that God is good! He’s kept me flu-free even to Day Six so I can care for my family. My husband needs your prayers–he succumbed last night and has the grand-daddy of all headaches accompanying the other symptoms. My crit partner, Rhonda, told me about putting two tennis balls in a tube sock, securing them with rubberbands between and at the open end and lying flat on your back with them at the very base of your skull. The balls need to be flush against the base points of your skull, one on each side at the top of your neck. So far, it’s giving dh some relief, and Rhonda says it works great for her migraines.

We’ve had some “hallucination scares” with dd age six when her fever got out of hand–both dh and I bawled and prayed her through them. She was seeing and hearing terrifying things that weren’t happening. I hope we never go through that again.

So, I won’t be blogging till we’re over this hump. Now, if you need foot or back rubs, long made-up stories, chicken soup, fresh drinks on the hour, or freezing cold washcloths for your headaches…

I’m your huckleberry!

Sick Family, Surviving Influenza

Day three of what I’d call influenza…high fever, chills, general malaise, occasional stomach upset. I looked it up online though, and found the following at the CDC website, and by the way, I’m still glad we didn’t get the flu vaccine!

Uncomplicated influenza illness is characterized by the abrupt onset of constitutional and respiratory signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, myalgia, headache, malaise, nonproductive cough, sore throat, and rhinitis). Among children, otitis media, nausea, and vomiting also are commonly reported with influenza illness. Uncomplicated influenza illness typically resolves after 3–7 days for the majority of persons, although cough and malaise can persist for >2 weeks.

We got through the first night by relying on our hand-held radio’s. Yeah, I felt like a night-duty nurse whenever my nine year old pressed the call button. Then last night, I thought I’d recharged the radios but I must not have had them plugged in long enough. At eleven P.M. my fever-flushed girl stumbled out of her room and ended up sleeping in the recliner all night. Since her radio had a low battery I slept on the couch beside her. Poor thing went to bed with a 103.9 temperature. I did give her a fever reducer since it was so high, and bedtime to boot.

Got up early enough today to grab a quick bath before toddler woke crying…and burning with fever.

Six year old feels hot to the touch but won’t let me take her temp. She says she’s “cold” but otherwise acts fine, so I’ll hope for the best. UPDATE: Not acting so fine…she’s joined the ranks…

Nine year old is still running at 101-102 degrees. We’ve had beautiful weather, even into the upper 50’s/lower 60’s which has really been hard on my outside girl! I helped her to the hammock yesterday–all wrapped up in warm blankets and left her armed with a radio while the rest of us girls did the dog chores.

So thankful for praying family and friends! And for juice boxes (I was constantly washing cups), digital thermometers, movies/books…and so far, good patients!

You should see my toddler ensconced on the couch wrapped in her favorite blanket (which she calls “my heavy blankie”–it’s a fleece throw) with a wet washcloth on her forehead. So cute and so sad all at once. I’m always amazed at how sickness affects high energy toddlers.

Well, I’m glad for the weekend starting tomorrow. We’ll be missing 4H Club Days/church/Awanas, but maybe dh will get a day off and be able to help me handle the sickies. The weather is supposed to be crazy all weekend anyway. Remember, if this strikes you guys:

Adults may be infectious and able to spread influenza to others from the day before getting symptoms to approximately 5 days after symptoms start. Children may be infectious and able to spread influenza to others for 10 or more days after symptoms begin.

And everybody, please pray for my friends Jana and Holly. Both of these dear women have 6+ children and they’re going through influenza also.

Love you guys,

Mary

Thursday Happenings

I’m blogging at Writer…Interrupted today on Word Power. More fascinating facts along the lines of my recent post Get Excited About English. I hope you come over and read about American dialects and Shakespeare’s unique contributions to our language…

In the meanwhile, please keep our family in your prayers. My oldest has the flu…her fever peaked at 103.3 and seems to be hovering at 102. Poor little darlin’!

Thanks so much,

Mary

Amazing Grace Movie

Hi Everyone! Are you excited about the Amazing Grace movie that is coming out in theaters this Friday, February 23rd? It’s based on the life of “anti-slavery pioneer” William Wilberforce, a contemporary of John Newton in the 18th Century…

I’ve long loved the song, Amazing Grace…in fact, my two oldest girls sang it for a special in church at the ages of 5 and almost 3 years of age…3 year old knew every word of the first and last stanzas, a fact which I duly recorded in her babybook. (Perhaps because I’d always sung it to her as a lullaby?)

There are many biographies of John Newton’s life–a slave trader who converted to Christianity as a result of many incredible trials…I highly recommend reading his story as a family. Newton reminds me of Apostle Paul in many ways…bent on a path of destruction till God stopped him in his tracks. Only, his transformation came at sea, not on the road to Damascus!

The sad thing is, slavery is still a problem in modern times. The Amazing Change Campaign’s goal of carrying on William Wilberforce’s “vision of mercy and justice” has this as its overview:

Many people find it hard to believe that slavery still exists. Whether it’s bonded slavery with men, women and children toiling on plantations, in rice mills, brick kilns and many other industries; or, the deplorable and prevalent trade in humans to serve as sex slaves, slavery is flourishing in many parts of the world. It is still every bit as ugly as it was 200 years ago and it must end.

It’s estimated that 27 million people are in slavery around the world

Hubby and I get to the theater about once a year…we’re pretty picky about what we spend our “entertainment” money on. That said, I think this is a great cause!

I love seeing more faith-based films becoming available on the big screen! What are some of your favorites, past and present?

P.S. I heard that Francine River’s novel, The Last Sin-Eater was made into a movie recently! Did anyone see it? She’s one of my favorite Christian authors, though I must say, that book wasn’t a favorite!

Get Excited About English

So I’m teaching the spelling rule: English words do not end in I,U,V, or J; and my 9 year old says, “What about the word ‘you’? It ends in ‘U’.” To which I automatically responded, “It must not be of English origins.”

Her question stayed with me though, to the tune of me ordering the following books through inter-library-loan.

Robert McCrum opens his second chapter with this paragraph:

The making of English is the story of three invasions and a cultural revolution. In the simplest terms, the language was brought to Britain by Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, influenced by Latin and Greek when St. Augustine and his followers converted England to Christianity, subtly enriched by the Danes, and finally transformed by the French-speaking Normans.

Fascinating stuff to say the least…that our language is the result of three invasions to Britain in the 400’s, 800’s and in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. That last Battle resulted in the use of English being banned in Britain for almost 300 years! This is an exciting concept to present to young ones, from the perspective of what if? What if another country conquored America and said we could no longer speak our native tongue? For hundreds of years, French was the mandated language. Society became two-tiered: Norman nobility spoke French and illiterate peasants continued to speak English.

Knowing that the majority of English was preserved thanks to the lower class, consider the following breakdown in Bryson’s book on pages 54-55:

First the more humble trades tended to have Anglo-Saxon names (baker, miller, shoemaker), while the more skilled trades adopted French names (mason, tailor, painter). At the same time, animals in the field usually were called by English names (sheep, cow, ox) but once cooked and brought to the table, they were generally given French names (beef, mutton, veal, bacon).

According to Bryson, we adopted 10,000 French words as a result of this siege, and three-fourths of them are still in use today. Words such as: justice, jury, felony, traitor, petty, damage, prison, countess, duchess, duke and baron… He points out that nearly all of our words relating to government and ranks of aristocracy are of French origin.

Back to the word, “You.” All our pronouns have germanic roots (Anglo-saxon). In original English, “I” was spelled “ich” and “you” was spelled “euw” which falls right in line with our English standards of pronunciation. During the rule of the Normans (French), they changed what they considered our awkward spelling of “euw” to “you”…so we kept the Anglo-saxon pronunciation, but adopted the Norman-French spelling.

“ich” became “ic” by the Middle Ages, and then “i” by the 1400s. William Caxton brought the printing press over to England in 1476 and he had to choose a version of English to print that would find favor with a huge region with many different dialects. He decided to print “London English”. He decided to capitalize “i”…”I” to make it distinguishable when printing.

Those old printing presses were far from perfect, in fact, a & o and g & q were confused so often from the printing stamp not coming down evenly, that the fix decided upon was to add the fancier swirls: a & g. From printing presses we also get our “upper and lower case” letters. The capitals were stored in the “upper case”, and the others in the “lower case”.

Our English language contains more than 500,000 words, with new ones being added each year. One begins to see the importance of breaking them down into 70 phonograms and 26 spelling rules! And knowing the history and word origins is not only key to winning spelling bees, it’s stimulating!

The above info is just another reason why I love our Spell to Write and Read curriculum by Wanda Sanseri! English doesn’t have to be difficult, it’s something you and yours can get excited about!

Newest book on my wish-list: The Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto

Metaphorically Speaking

In writing we’re warned against using  cliches. On top of that, if we use metaphors or similes, they need to reflect the point of view (pov) of our main character. Here are some examples of overused cliches guaranteed to stamp “amateur” all over your masterpiece!

  • tall, dark and handsome
  • leopards don’t change their spots (been guilty of using this one!)
  • sleeping like the dead
  • bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

I signed up for a Course on Critiquing through American Christian Fiction Writers and was given an assignment which involved rewriting certain cliches…how do you think I did?

The fog came in on little cat feet.
The fog wisped around rooftops, winding in and out like a slinking cat.

Like a thief, the moon hid behind a cloud.
The cloud-obscured moon lent a dark oppression to the night.

The bed was as soft as a cloud.
The bed’s pillow-like softness embraced her to sleep.

A junkyard dog
Her boyfriends so far had all been territorial–pit bull types chaining her to them, treating her like trash.

Want to take a stab at one of them? It’s fun!

Happy Valentine’s Day

This post is an exciting one for me, because it’s a sneak peek for you at some changes coming up here at Home-steeped Hope. Starting in March, Cyndy Salzmann–wife, mom, multi-published author and national speaker, is going to become a regular contributor. I hope you’ll check out her site, www.cyndysalzmann.com. In the meantime, here is an especially encouraging Valentine’s Day thought for you straight from Cyndy:

It’s Valentine’s Day! And I thought you might like to know the sweet story behind the holiday. Although there are several accounts about who was the true inspiration for St. Valentine’s Day, my favorite is about a Christian in the early church, named Valentine who was arrested because he refused to pray to the Roman gods. While in prison, he formed a close friendship with a prison guard and his blind daughter.

After many years, Valentine was called before the Roman emperor Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel. Claudius offered him freedom if he would renounce his faith. Valentine refused – and went so far as to share the good news of the Gospel with the emperor in an effort to convert him to Christianity.

Claudius the Cruel flew into a rage and ordered Valentine beheaded. Legend has it that before he was taken to the guillotine, Valentine asked his friend, the prison guard, to give a note to his daughter. As the girl opened the letter, her sight was miraculously restored and she was able to read the note – which was signed “From your Valentine.” Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?

The story of strong faith and friendship that’s the inspiration for Valentine’s Day brings new meaning to a holiday which often isolates those who may not be involved in a romantic relationship. This holiday is a celebration of the love of a man willing to give up his very life rather than betray God.

His story also brings to mind the great love Jesus demonstrated for us by giving up His life so that we have access to eternal life (John 3:16).

Valentine’s Day also gives us an opportunity to reach out to those around us with the love of Christ. Who in your circle of influence could use a word or touch to show that they are loved? Perhaps it’s a widow in your neighborhood or a single mother who is struggling to care for her children? Maybe it’s a coworker or a veteran living in a nursing home? Who can you encourage this Valentine’s Day?

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Testing, Testing

Days at home are a gift…but I haven’t always felt that way. Used to be a week spent snowbound at home had me chafing at the four walls closing in around me! Take today for instance…we were all set to attend our homeschool co-op for some quilting fun (assembling table runners) and my two spelling rule classes, but the icy roads and blowing snow put a definite damper on our plans.

To heap ashes on top of ashes, literally, our corn stove has once again bit the February dust. My biggest test in this area (of corn stove malfunctioning in the brrr! of winter) is I know my dh is in for hours of tinkering…replacing stretched belts, dismantling augers to get to a bad bearing, etc.

So we woke up to a cold house, today of all days.

  • Remind myself: “Think it not strange!” (1 Peter 4:12)
  • Dress everyone warm, check.
  • Plug the two space heaters in, check.
  • Bundle up, go outside, check the corn stove. Yup, fire’s out. Worthless thing! (by now I’ve learned that it’s never as simple as just rebuilding the fire!)
  • Time for another reminder: “Rejoice in everything!” (Philippians 4:4)
  • Pray for hubby’s day to go well at work and for his reaction when he returns home on a fire meeting night to instead focus his entire evening on the corn stove (is it complaining to add that this is the 4th time in four weeks that we’ve had to ramp up and deal with no heat in below freezing temps?). 
  • Pray that it’s an easy fix. (and cheap, please God!)
  • Start a bag of 16 bean soup mix cooking with ham shanks and onion, and get a pan of cornbread ready to stick in the oven for supper tonight.
  • Call my friends and ask them to pray!
  • Hot chocolate all around. :O)

After lunch, when the house temps dipped into the 50’s, I decided I’d better get a fire going. Thankfully we’ve kept a small stash of dry firewood on the back porch for such occasions, so I trekked outside, let our goats out to forage what they could and gathered some kindling. With the fire roaring–we have a wood stove insert in our fireplace equipped with a fan to propel the heat–the living room temp steadily rose to 73 degrees F. Cozy~!

Challenges are good for the soul, amen? Now, my dh might not agree…he’s got the stove torn into, found the problem and is headed to town for parts with oldest dd.

1 Peter 4:12-13a, “Beloved, think it not strange, concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice!”

Valentine Meringue Hearts and Other Treats

The adorable pink hearts in the picture to your right are fun to make, tasty to eat, and as you can see, a beautiful way to class up a small gift of normal, everyday cookies. I got the recipe from one of my magazine subscriptions last year, can’t remember if it was Family Fun or Better Homes and Gardens…but I found a similar one online at CDkitchen.com. My girls and I made them and took them round to all the family and neighbors…

Here are some other ideas to help make Valentine’s Day a special occasion at your home:

  • adding a spoonful of strawberry jam or a chocolate kiss in center of muffin (before baking) for a surprise treat at breakfast
  • heart shaped pancakes, pink tinted, or served with strawberries and pink frosting! (for the pancakes, pour your batter sparingly into metal heart-shaped cookie cutters right onto the griddle…remove cookie cutter when pancake is ready to flip)
  • all sorts of Valentine treats and crafts at Family Fun
  • make Gingerbread Lollies–at least go look, they are SO pretty
  • make Valentine’s Day flowers (out of a pencil, pipe cleaner stem, red/pink tissue paper petals) to give out to friends at church and school…
  • make heart shaped pizza (formerly something we always sent to work with dh, but the ranch he works for now always eats out at a restaurant for lunch! We’ll have it for supper instead!)

And lest you think Valentine’s Day is a pagan tradition, there is a really amazing story behind this sweet holiday. I’m looking forward to sharing it here with you soon!

Does your Valentine have a favorite meal? Share your traditions/ideas/childhood Valentine memories in comments, can’t wait to hear from you!

Best Thing About Blogging

At Bible study with my parents last Friday morning, we were discussing how Christians can get together and talk for hours about everything BUT God and scripture. How is that? My dad said it’s probably a case of “what a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 and “for his mouth speaks that which is in his heart” Luke 6:45

Which brought me to realize what I appreciate most about blogging and my community of friends here on the blogosphere…we share from our hearts here–scriptural insight and encouragement. Things we might not find ourselves discussing overly much with the real people in our lives. In agreeing and sometimes disagreeing, we learn and grow in our individual walks. It has been for me, a motivator enhancing my Christianity and stabilizing my convictions.

Interestingly, MInTheGap, in his post today about denominations, has brought up the same concept. Check out the whole post, noting especially his last sentence.

So, I’m curious. Other than Bible studies, do you talk with your friends about what you’ve been reading (Biblically) lately and how God is working in your life? Do you get more of that here in the blogosphere than you do in real life?