Friday, October 22, 2010

the way she likes it

Yesterday morning as I was reading my Bible in the recliner, Mandy, who had been laying near me, got up and came over to be petted. Nothing unusual there, she does that frequently, but this time, she decided that my cozy blanket and open lap were just too much to resist. Before I could do anything, up she hopped into my lap. Even though she's a 70 pound lab, she secretly wishes she were a lap dog. =)

'course she brought her bone, which she hadn't chewed on since I gave it to her, laid down, and began to chew. I just had to laugh and called Mom who took the pictures.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Leadership: Tyranny or Humility?

Titus Livius, or Livy as he is more commonly known, was a great historian who lived from around 60 BC till about 17 AD. His works included over 140 volumes of Roman History, 35 of which are still in existence today. In his first book, starting with the foundation of Rome, Livy very wisely says, "The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see, and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings, fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid" (pg 30). Livy's goal in writing these accounts is not only for the purpose of knowing the history of Rome, but also that we may identify and separate the good from the bad and learn from the victories and mistakes of our ancestors.

In the early days of Rome, a man named Tarquinius Superbus elected himself to the throne as king and literally threw Servius, the previous king, out of the Senate and down the steps. Some of Tarquinius’ supporters then assassinated Servius. Neither the people nor the Senate had approved of his accession to the throne and thus Tarquin’s strategy to obtain compliance was to rule by instilling fear in the people. He began as Livy says, “To punish with death, exile, or confiscation of property not only such men as he happened to suspect or dislike, but also innocent people from whose conviction he had nothing to gain but their money.” Superbus took it upon himself to decide what treaties and alliances should be made without consulting either the commons or the Senate and by doing so broke long-held tradition. Rome’s self-elected king daily lived up to his well suited nickname of Tarquin the Proud. Though quite competent in the realm of war, Tarquin’s lack of character and love of cruelty, hurt the whole empire of Rome.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a stark contrast to Tarquinius Superbus, was a just man of honor and highly respected by the people. One of his sons, Caeso, acted rashly and committed homicide. The night before his trial date, Caeso fled from Rome. Though the people rejoiced they no longer had this rash man in their town, his departure consequently forced Cincinnatus to sell all that he owned to pay his son’s sureties. After relinquishing his savings on his son’s behalf, he moved outside of town to a small plot of farmland where he contentedly worked to support his wife. Cincinnatus had made a name for himself in regards to his character and was known throughout the land as an honest man of virtue. His prestigious character had left a mark on the people and when the invasion in 458 BC came, military leaders flocked to him seeking his prowess as Dictator. His foresight, judgment, and military skill all made him suitable for the mission. He arranged his troops and led them with such excellence that within days of assuming his position, they had defeated their enemy and were rejoicing in their victory. Cincinnatus is famous for his next move; instead of continuing in his position as ruler and dictator, which he could have held for six months, he resigned after 15 days and humbly went back to his farm. This action made Cincinnatus even more heroic in the eyes of the people; they had become accustom to ruthless, power-hungry dictators.

Though Tarquin had little character to recommend him, he revealed many shortcomings from which we can learn and, as Livy suggests, avoid. Tarquin’s unmerited hatred for the innocent, passion for violence, and unrestrained love of tyrannical power are prime examples of character flaws to evade in our lives, avoid in friends, and steer clear of when voting for political leaders. Cincinnatus on the other hand portrays many estimable qualities. He is a loving and patient father, a hard and honest worker, a strong and humble leader -- all qualities worthy of respect and admiration. These two men set before us, through their contrasting traits, great examples of what to strive for or what to avoid. Not only should we strive to be men and women of character, but we want to do as Livy suggests and learn from the mistakes in history, training up a generation of Cincinnatus’ and not Tarquins.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is a paper I wrote for my Great Books history/lit class. I'd love feed back and comments. You know you have something to say about it.... =D

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Flower "happy"

Sunday some new friends came over for dinner and fellowship. They brought some beautiful flowers. Yesterday, after a difficult day, one of my sweet sons was setting the table as he is supposed to do for dinner each day. This day he decided to make the table beautiful. The result, and the heart behind it, brought tears to my eyes.

(Caity, when you come home I really need a blog posting tutorial!)

the best way to study

I'm a bit late with this but a couple of weeks ago Marissa and I had the blessing of caring for one of our favorite little girls. We had a great time with her spent much of the day cuddling. Here is Marissa "studying".

Monday, September 13, 2010

River of Providence

How often do we got through trials and difficulties and question why things happen the way they do? We ask God why He puts us through certain circumstances and frequently complain about what life brings our way. At least I know I do. I've actually been thinking over the past couple days about a couple things in life right now and wondering why God has brought these trials into my life and what He is going to accomplish through them, though I may not understand why, other than for His glory, I do know that all things happen for a reason. Well, today, as I was still pondering some things in my mind, I found myself at Church hearing the exact answers to my questions. Hearing God's reassurances of love and comfort, knowing that He holds everything in His hands. The text was Philippians 2:13-16 which says:

"(13)for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (14)Do all things without complaining and disputing, (15)that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (16)holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in cain or labored in vain."

Pastor Brainerd did a fabulous job of describing God's "river of providence" and I'm sure I can't explain it like he did, but the whole idea that through all of life we are swimming, so to speak, in a river. I think we would all agree that God is in control of life. Do we really stop to think exactly what that means though? To realize that every situation, every person that crosses our path, every pleasure, every season of life, yes, even every trial, is part of God's sovereign plan. Every one of those things is placed in our life for a reason, as we see in verse 13. We may be able to see the reason, but more often than not, I find, we don't understand it all. We may never know, this side of heaven, why certain rocks in the river are where they are, but we can rest in the knowledge that He has a plan. God directs everything and He is in control of every twist and turn, every spot of white water, every rock. He places them there, what seems maybe randomly to us, but there is nothing random about it in God's eyes.

The human tendency, when we are tossed back in forth in the white water, never seeming to get out of the rapids, is to complain, to be discontent, to wish we were somewhere else. Verse 14 of Philippians chapter 2, however, says to do "all things without complaining or disputing," not just do the thing we enjoy without complaining. Just like submission is not just being cheerful when you have to do things that you enjoy, it's being joyful to do the things you don't particularly want to do.To complain and say we wish things in life were different than they are, is to shake our fist in God's face and tell Him He doesn't know what He's doing. I don't know about you, but I never want to be caught doing that. I don't enjoy telling people their wrong, I don't really have a lot of occasions when that is necessary, but if I ever do, it's extremely hard to do so and I'd much rather avoid it. So to think about the fact that with my complaining or ingratitude for the situations I am placed in, I'm telling God He's wrong! that my friends, is eye opening! May I never be caught complaining again! (I don't think that will happen, but I'm trying). =)

God doesn't just put us through difficulties just for the fun of it or sit back and watch us drown in the water. God is doing a great work in our lives and often we don't, or cannot, fully understand why, like I said earlier. James 1:2-4 talks about this very thing:

"(2)My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3)knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4)But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Also Romans 5:3-4 which says:

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; (4)and perseverance, character; and character hope."

The purpose of the river of providence is all for God's glory and to make us more like Christ. It is all a part of the sanctification process; becoming more like Christ. My pastor used a really neat analogy, one that I could really relate to, to illustrate how we identify with Christ. Just like adopted children do not usually physically look like their family, the are often unmistakably identified as a part of their family. They are alike because they have been through the same experiences, and situations, have a similar sense of humor, etc., so we should resemble Christ. Though we do not physically look like Christ, we ought to be unmistakably identified as children of our Father.

Are you contentedly swimming in the river of God's providence, or you wishing you could get out, dry off, and find a different river?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sublime Sunrise

This morning at the end of family Bible study the sun began to peek over the mountains and illuminate the sky and clouds. A sunrise like this is bound to set your day off to a great start! I grabbed my camera so I could share this moment of God's glory and love with you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flowers for Caity

Caity I thought you might want to see some of your roses. The last two is one that is growing on the bush that looks terrible. The flower, however, is beautiful! The others are just from various bushes in your rose garden. Enjoy.

Neat Experience

Mark had a neat experience today. He was headed outside and came across a hummingbird which had apparently exhausted itself trying to escape from a skylight (they only fly up in fear and therefore can't get out). Anyway, he picked it up so one of the dogs wouldn't get it and found that it was still alive. He took it to a feeder and it took some drinks. Soon it was perking up. Over a 10 minute time he continued to hold it and give it access to the feeder. We got these pictures just before it flew to a butterfly bush and then on to another feeder. It joined in the play/chase with the other birds and was lost from sight. What a neat experience for all of us.
(Sorry about the sideways pictures. I've rotated them in my folder but they are still importing in weird).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Processing Peaches

For years, as long as I can remember really, we have had a tradition of processing peaches every fall. Years ago Mommy, and the three of us kids would go down to Las Cruces where my grandparents and cousins lived. We'd spend several days together, picking, cooking, peeling, slicing, and canning peaches. I remember how the peeling was the coveted job for most of the kids, at least I thought so. Well, that tradition has continued on through the years, there may have been a year or two in there that we didn't put up peaches, but most years we've put up at least some. This year, though half of our crew is absent, tradition carries on. This afternoon, Mommy and I juggled all the jobs and in less than two hours had two boxes of peaches skinned, sliced, and in bags ready for the freezer to enjoy over the winter and next summer. Here are some pictures from the process.

Ready to go



skinned and ready to cut (pits and peals off to the side)

juicy goodness ready to be bagged =D

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sewing Project

Surprisingly over the summer I was able to start and finish a sewing project. I think Mom was worried I'd never get it done after I started it, but it is now complete and in use. What is it? It's a laundry basket.

We have had one of for several years that we have really like. It consists of a metal frame with a large rectangular fabric lining with two dividers. Over time and lots of wear and tear, the old one finally gave out, so I decided to try my hand at designing a new one. Here are the pictures.
It might be a little hard to see, but the corners were ripping off, and the sides were tearing and it wasn't holding up very well.

Time to update? Prepare yourself for a short novel

Apparently life has been keeping us all on our toes and none of us have had time to update our blog. With Caity now up at college, and Mom always very busy, looks like I'll be the main one posting on the blog. We'll see how frequently it happens though. =)
Without further ado, let me go back and briefly recap the summer months in the Spencer family for those of you who don't know what we've been up to lately.

Week days through out May, June, and July found Caity at the pool for an early morning workout with our coach followed by coaching my swim practice and then finishing off with the boys' practice. Tuesday thru Friday either Caity or I could be found surrounded by four little boys who we each babysat two days a week. Curtis spent most of his summer interning at the IT (information technology) department at Dad's bank.

In June we celebrated Russell's 9th birthday, my 18th, and Mom and Dad went on an early anniversary trip to Chicago for 5 days.

The Fourth of July weekend Dad and all of us kids went on our annual backpacking trip with our dear friends the Skeens. Click here to see Curtis' album of pictures from the trip. We were blessed with beautiful weather and wonderful fellowship. The 4th was also Mom and Dad's 25 wedding anniversary. We are so blessed to have parents that are setting such a wonderful example to their children, and other people, in their faithful, loving marriage. In July we also celebrated Curtis 22nd birthday, he went on a backpacking/camping trip in Arizona with several different friends, I staffed Teenpact Survival camp in Glorieta, NM, and Scott and Russell made it to swimming finals in a couple relays and other events.

The last two days of July we were in Farmington, NM at the Skeens house for a brief visit before heading up to Moab, Utah. While in Moab for 5 days we went rafting down the Colorado River, experienced the amazing abilities of a Hummer H1 on a 62 degree incline of slick rock (aka a really fun hummer tour) =D, drove and walked around part of Canyonlands Nation Park, went mountain biking, cliff jumping, and just enjoyed family time and making memories together. From Moab we drove up to McCall, Idaho for one night and then continued up to Moscow, Idaho. Curtis got moved into his new house, which is much nicer than his old apartment, and Caity got all her things settled into the basement of the house where she is living with four other NSA students. Other than doing shopping for her kitchen and such, we play a little soccer, had a belated birthday celebration dinner for Curtis with some of his friends, spent an afternoon with the family Caity is staying with, got to meet several other NSA students and professors, and attended Christ Church. Monday morning found all of us except our college students piled in the car headed to Orem, Utah where we stayed the night and continued on our way home the following day. It was a wonderful trip and I think we all enjoyed it a lot and made a lot of memories together that will last a life time.

The following two days the boys and I spent at home together while Mom had some meetings at the boys' school. Amongst some school, chores, laundry, cleaning, unpacking, and cooking, we managed to have a bit of fun together. I made a scavenger hunt for the boys, we watched some Andy Griffith shows over lunch, made sandwiches grilled with an iron, and read some books together too. Tuesday the 17th the boys began their first day back to school, which of course means Mom is now even more busy than she was before.

Sunday the 22nd, Mom and I met Aunt Jan and Riley in town and I drove back with them up to Farmington, NM where I am currently. We spent a couple days here at their house, just visiting, cooking, shopping, cleaning, packing, playing frisbee, and staying up late. =) Five o' clock Wednesday morning found us all in a car packed to the top and on our way to Denver, Colorado. We made pretty good time and arrived at 12:30 in time to meet with Aunt Jan's uncle who we got to visit with for a couple hours. We then grabbed some lunch and headed to Cherry Creek State Park where were set up our 10 man tent which would be our house for the next 4 days. We met new friends, visited with old ones, played sports, were encouraged by the talks given by the elders of Reformation Church in CO, participated in some family activities, talked and sang late at night around the camp fires, and then finally said our good byes and headed back to the Skeens house on Saturday. Since then we have been recovering from lack of sleep, reading in preparation for school to start, fellowshipping with friends, and playing a bit of ultimate. Tomorrow I'll be packed up again and ready to head home to see my dear family again and begin my senior year of high school!

That was a very long, but relatively thorough glimpse of our family's summer. I'll try to stay up with posting better in the future so I don't have to write such long narratives next time. =)

Friday, July 23, 2010

maybe this will make up?

Today is the day--I leave for college this afternoon! (O my goodness, my summer has flown by with a whoosh and now it's gone)

100% rayon dress:

and a velveteen winter coat:

(of course, there is a fun lining!!)

I also altered a formal gown that I wore the swimteam banquet, serged cloth napkins, made multitude of small cases and bags, mended a pile.

Now that's why I haven't been posting much =). Hopefully Marissa and Mother Dear will keep this blog up and running while I am at school. *wink, wink* If you want to check out what I'm up to, here's the link to my blog:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sour Cherry Crumb Pie

...and the best of it is--the cherries were all from our orchard =D
for the perfect, flaky, buttery crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1/4 cup shortening
10 tablespoons cold butter
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
7-10 tablespoons ice cold water

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the shortening, working it in till the mixture is evenly crumbly. Cut the butter into small cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work it in--don't be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones. Add the tablespoon of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of water. Mix in more additional water to make the dough chunky but cohesive.

this makes two crusts, so either skip the crumb topping, or save the rest of the dough to make another pie or some other delicious treat.
for the filling:
4 cups pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together and pour into crust.

for the topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup) slightly softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans, broken

Mix together, leaving the pecans to be added at the very end. Crumble on top of the pie. Bake the pie at 425 for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 and finish for 30 minutes. Take the pie out of the oven and let stand at least 15 minutes. ENJOY!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

summer métier

Life here at 6 La Canada is non-stop serendipity, 100% verve, completely diverting, and as flexible as we can be--hence the infrequent posting attempts. Here's a quick sketch of what is keeping the 8 of us hopping:
Daddy- work, of course, and an up-coming backpacking trip to plan
Mama- staying caught up with us, reading biographies, gardening flowers and veggies, and keeping our family running so smoothly
Curtis- working in the computers/security department of the bank
Me- swimming at O-dark-thirty, coaching for all of the morning, being a mother's helper 2 days a week, sewing, trying to finish projects in my "never-ending" stack, and spending time with my family and friends before I leave for school (just over a month away!)
Marissa- practicing with the swim team, reading Jane Austen novels, learning to cut hair, and babysitting 4 boys, 2 days a week.
the three buccaneers- playing educational games, reading, reviewing some school memory work, swimming, and jumping on the trampoline/playing basketball

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ahoy me harties!

the Swashbucklers
Tuzoo, 1st Mate, and the Captian

Hawaiian Haystacks and Coconut Lime Cooler on the mess-deck

for all those concerned: we are managing to have fun and eat well while it's just the 6 of us at home