Friday, June 28, 2013

How I Ended up with a Blue and Orange Bedroom

We've always had bedrooms that are either very neutral or based on either blues or purples.  So when we were in the US for two years, we saw this quilt set on sale at B*d, B*th, & B*yond.  It was a different color scheme than we'd ever had, John really liked the colors and thought it was less girlie than some we've had in the past, and it had just enough blue and even a touch of purple in it to make it acceptable to me.  So we bought it and used it on our bed the year we lived in Maryland.

Then we boxed it up, along with the two pillow shams, and blue curtains to send it to Niger on a container.  Well, somewhere along the line, one of our boxes went missing.  
To this day we don't know if UPS lost it, or if it's languishing in a forgotten corner of a store room where they packed or unpacked the container.  Everybody says they haven't seen it.  

While we were waiting for the container with our stuff in it to arrive, we went ahead and got the bedroom wall orange and the other three blue.  Let me tell you, I'm not a fan of oranges and yellows, so this was a stretch for me, but it turns out I really like the orange wall.  Then the container arrived and we discovered that the missing box contained the bedspread and one panel of the curtains.  So, we had three out of four panels of the curtains and the pillow shams.

Last summer I searched every W*lmart I could find and could not find that style of curtains anymore.  So I found a close proximity and reinvented it a bit.  You can hardly tell that it's not the same type of curtain.  I blogged about that here.

I decided to make a quilt to go with the orange and blue walls.  My inspiration was mainly from an article called Quilting as Textile Jazz. (Isn't that a gorgeous quilt!)Tracy Vaughn said "she had just met the quilter, Heather Williams, a historian whose area of specialization is slavery.  Vaughn remembers, 'The quilts had no patterns and that really appealed to me.  They had jagged edges; some of them were circular.  Some had archival images of slaves, which Williams had transferred to fabric.  The quilts were just spectacular and they elevated those in the images, as well as the art form of quilting itself, to a level of nobility.  And I thought: I have to learn how to do this.'"  

The article also said, "For her Northwestern students, they are a tactile connection with an art form that features prominently in the stories of black women....African American quilting reaches almost as far back as the history of colonial America. Slave women on plantations were often needed for spinning, weaving, sewing, and quilting. Some made scrap quilts for their own families with leftover material, discarded clothing, and feed sacks.

“'The enslaved would take these scraps to make quilts to supplement their bedding to keep warm,' Vaughn tells us. 'But even in that was a certain level of pride in its artistry and construction and its originality. What I try to do is to tap into that and show progress from that history and that legacy.'”

Now, I know that I'm not African American, but I do admire the way the slaves made beauty out of poverty, how they took scraps that had been discarded and made something beautiful out of them. I guess it's similar to the way my African neighbors live.  And I have all these beautiful African textiles available in the market, so I chose an orange and blue colors and put them together a quilt.  There is no particular pattern to it.  I just cut and sewed.  

I also had this picture as an inspiration, found here. And I got some practical help from this tutorial.  

I've got the top done.

 I've got a piece for the back (not shown).
 Now to put them together.  I don't really want to use batting since it's so stinkin' hot where we live.
 I think two layers of cloth would be plenty warm enough for our cooler months.  What do you think?  Have any of you done any quilting without batting?  Any words of advice on how to put together the front and back without batting?

Right now I'm procrastinating on putting it all together because I'm not sure what to do next!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Catching My Attention

Here are some things from the internet that have caught my attention in the past two weeks.

What do we really mean by the word "blessed" and do we throw it around a little too easily?  Does being "blessed" mean we have wealth, a strong military, and a "perfect" family?  What about believers living in poverty?  What about the Beatitudes?  Read more at The Problem with Blessing.

If you're just graduating from university, what are your chances of landing a job?  Here you can read about the 10 Worst Majors for Finding a Good Job.

Ann Voskamp, who blogs at A Holy Experience, has traveled to Africa with her daughter to visit the child they sponsor with Compassion International.  I loved this blog so many times have I sat in church in Africa and wished I could say it like she did:  A Letter to American Christians. (I also love that my daughter linked to the very same blog this week!)

I've heard my daughter and daughter-in-law and most recently my cousin talk about the Common Core in education.  I know they are sometimes frustrated with it, but this article offers an interesting perspective:  The Good News of Common Core.

Even though I am not currently in our country of ministry, I know there has recently been a mass exodus of missionaries leaving on home assignment, on vacation, some for good.  All of this means transition, but perhaps the biggest transition is for those who just graduated high school and will be starting a new life in a country they barely know even though their passport says they are from that country.     Fear, failure, freaked out, and frustration are some of the feelings experienced at this time.

And meanwhile, back "home", there have been power outages that are affecting everyone.  Apparently this past week has been better, but they had almost three weeks of hardly any power.  You can read about it here.

And finally, a little humor.  Apparently this went around the internet awhile ago, but I never saw it, so maybe you haven't either.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rhythm

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on the word:::
A jembe
I have very little sense of rhythm.  I enjoy music, but I sure can't keep beat.  At our church in Africa I sometimes get up with the women when they sing but I'm obviously the white lady who has no sense of rhythm!  I stick out like a sore thumb.

My husband, though, is a great musician, and this is a shout-out to him.  Not only can he play the guitar and piano, he is doing his doctorate on the music of the people group we have worked with.  And he is passionate about the subject of worship.

I haven't written much about his doctoral work or what it's like to be the wife of a doctoral student.  He is working part-time and is getting his degree from the Oxford Centre for World Missions in Oxford.  He spends six weeks every year in Oxford, but the rest of the time he studies and researches on his own.  He's working on it part-time so it's a long hard slog.  He is currently half way done.

A three-string "guitar"
I'm just really proud of the way he sets goals for himself, sticks to them, and keeps up the rhythm of studying.  He's had some discouraging moments, but he keeps plugging away (or should I say beating away?). 
A rhythm instrument made from a metal bowl with metal rings attached to the rim
 I'm so thankful to God for giving him some encouragement during his most recent trip to Oxford.  This encouragement will help in him keeping up his rhythm of blending work, studies, and personal life.
Playing a box drum

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Genealogical Wheel

My dad and my uncle have done quite a bit of research on the Hall family history.  We know that they came to the US from the UK on board the ship Griffin back in the 1600's.  Eventually they settled in Wallingford, Connecticut.

This past weekend we were staying with friends from the Wallingford area.  They knew we had done this research and that my ancestors were from the area, so on Sunday afternoon they offered to take us to the Wallingford Historical Society, which is open only on Sundays.

When we walked in our host, Al, asked those at the Historical Society if they had any information on the Hall family who were founding settlers.  The man  rubbed his hands together in delight and said, "Just wait until you see what we have upstairs!"

Upstairs was this genealogical chart, laid out in a circular shape.  It reminded me of a tree trunk cut away to reveal the growth rings of the tree.  Starting in the center was our ancestor who had come from England.  It said, "John Hall was born in England in 1605.  He came to Charleston in 1630. (note, my dad said it must be Charles Town near Boston, not Charleston, SC.) To Hartford with Thomas Hooker in 1634. Was granted 6 acres of land.  Fought in the Pequot War in 1637. Settled in New Haven about that time.  Was probably a trader in furs. He married Jean Wollen an English girl of good education and fine ancestry.  They had seven children:  John, Samuel, David, Sarah, Jonathan, Thomas, and Mary. The family moved to Wallingford and were prominent members of its founders.  John Jr. and Samuel signed the first Plantation Covenant in 1670. But John Sr. did not sign until 1672 when he signed the 2nd Plantation Covenant having probably been detained by business in New Haven where he had much property.  They were all active in business and religious affairs, assisted in building the first church, and took leading parts in establishing good government. As a result of a conference of all members of the town John Hall Sr. was one of thirteen elected to a church of Christ in Wallingford.  The foundation was laid February 16th 1675.  John Hall died a year later."

Lyman Hall who signed the Declaration of Independence descended from Samuel Hall and our side of the family descended from John Jr.  Of John Jr., it says, "John Jr. was born in 1644 in New Haven. He came to Wallingford 1670 when he signed the first Plantation Covenant.  He was the first deacon of the Congregational Church 1675, deputy to the General Court in 1687. He married Mary Parker.  They had nine children. John was a leader in both civic and religious affairs."

From there I couldn't remember who came next, so we need to go for another visit and follow the chart further out.  

The Wallingford Historical Society also has a nice display of historical dress, children's toys, military weapons, furniture, etc.  
The house itself is one of the original houses of Wallingford.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Catching My Attention

Here are a few posts that have caught my interest this week.

Apparently this picture has gone viral, though today is the first time I've seen it.
 This blog was posted four months ago, but the story behind the picture is worth reading. You can read it here. 

Lisa Jo Baker (of Five Minute Friday fame) guest-blogged at A Holy Experience on the subject of hospitality.  Hospitality is something I do a lot of, but honestly, some days I just don't feel like it.  For me it has more to do with tiredness and energy than with worrying about how my house will look.  But if you struggle with the whole hospitality thing, you'll find this blog encouraging.

Another thing I struggle with, but at which I'm getting better....saying "no".  Even if it makes you unpopular.  Even if people give you the guilt trip treatment.  Remember, saying "no" to one thing is saying "yes" to another thing.
 Not So Random Stuff talks about this on her blog.

We hear a lot about young people leaving the church during and after high school.  Larry Alex Taunton interviewed young atheists and asked them, "What led you to become an atheist?"  Their answers may surprise you.  This article is a great reminder to not water down what we have to offer.

Here's one for the teachers out there. A favorite book of kids has long been Where the Wild Things Are. Apparently there is a movie based on the book (released in 2009?? .... I obviously know little about movies!).  Relevant Magazine has an article on the 
movie (and by default the book) about the deeper meaning of the book.  The author writes, "It’s a good trick, but hard to learn—how to be mad without being bitter and keep your catharsis from being a crutch. ... Go ahead. Be mad. Shout your questions. Punch a wall. Color with red and black. Go to where the wild things are. But dock your boat, mark your trail and remember your own weakness. You could never be half as mad at God as He is in love with you."

I can make some basic spread sheets on Excel, just enough to help keep me organized.  I know very little about formulas, though I'd like to learn more.  But who ever thought you could make art using Excel?! Believe it or not, this picture was created in Excel!  Tatsuo Horiuchi is a 73-year old artist who had never used Excel at work, but saw others using it and thought it would be possible to create pictures in Excel.  For more examples of his art work, go to this web site.

And finally, when you were a kid did you ever spin the globe, put your finger down randomly, and say that was where you would travel?  There is now an on-line game called GeoGuessr that lets you play the game in an up-dated format.  Google Earth gives you five locations and you click on a map to indicate where you think the location is.  You get points depending on how close you are to the real location.  After five locations, you start over.  It's challenging to look for clues such as the flora of the area, the direction cars are going, style of houses, etc.  It's also addicting.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Suzanne's Graduation

I just want to say how proud we are of Suzanne on her graduation from Cedarville University!  She worked hard all four years and graduated with a 3.7-something GPA.  That means she graduated with high honors, and just a few points from graduating with highest honors.

She did her last year as a married student and her last semester student teaching, taking a course, and having all sorts of Ohio State requirements thrown in for a lot of extra work.  Theo helped her a lot and we're so thankful for a husband who encourages her, loves her, and helps her out in so many practical ways.

We have been to three Cedarville graduations in a row and I have never once seen a real live graduate actually walk in.  Unless you're sitting a few seats from the aisle, it's just impossible to see the graduates.  Thankfully I saw Suzanne on the jumbotron!

Afterwards we went to a party at Mark and Meredith's house.  They have been such good mentors for Suzanne and we are thankful for the way they pour into the lives of students.
The whole family at graduation
On Sunday my sister hosted an open house at their place for Suzanne.  Natalie, Duane, and my niece, Alesha, did all the work since we had just arrived back from Africa.  I didn't even have enough money to pay for it as all our funds were in places that I couldn't access, so they had to wait a month for me to pay them back!
My sister and my adorable great-niece

I went to Walmart and ordered a cake.  I showed the lady in the display book which cake I wanted and said to use blue frosting instead of purple like the book showed.  She wrote it down on the order card and wrote the order number "JRB" or something like that. It was a really pretty cake in the book with mostly white frosting and then a geometric design.

Sunday, on our way to the party, I stopped to pick up the cake.  A lady brought it out and she couldn't have missed the horrified look on my face when she brought it out.  It was all covered with dark blue frosting, not very nicely applied, either.  Then in yellow frosting was written "Congratulations JRB".  I said to the lady, "That doesn't look anything like the cake I ordered.  And who in the world is JRB?" Not only that, I had ordered a cupcake cake because Suz loves cupcakes and this was a sheet cake. 

She looked kind of concerned, so we went to the book and I showed her the cake I ordered.  She quietly muttered, "No, this doesn't look like that cake at all.  But I'm not the one who decorated it!"  I told her I didn't want the cake because it was such a disaster and I didn't even know any JRB and how could I put that on the graduation party table?  I said, "Of course, if you're throwing it out, I'll take it for free.  In the meantime I'll just buy these cupcakes.  They look really nice."  

Well, by then she decided to call the manager.  He came over and heard the story, apologized profusely, and gave me a 20% discount on the cupcakes.  We finally figured out that the lady had written the order number (JRB) on the line for what to write on the cake.  He also told me he couldn't give me the disastrous cake for free but that it would go to Feed America.  They can't give food to customers for free, I guess.  I was happy to know it wasn't going in the trash.  I can't bear to see food thrown out.

Suz and two of her cousins.  No, Suz is not really a proud Air Force mom!
So, in the end we had a fun afternoon, even if it was a bit chilly.  And the cupcakes were delicious! 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Catching My Attention

Now that I have a little more free time and a lot better internet, I've been able to explore the internet a bit more.  Here are some links to other websites I've found interesting.

John and I were listening to the CBS Saturday morning show while I was ironing.  They featured a group called Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers.  
While I don't necessarily endorse all their content, I love their sound.  They don't do any stage theatrics, but you don't need them.  Indeed, theatrics would only detract from their vocal harmonies and amazing instrumentalists.  While they're on the road, they have jam sessions in the van which they've recorded.  Click here to check out some of their van sessions. 

I think this commercial is adorable and I laughed right out loud when I saw it.  It's difficult for me to believe that General Mills had to disable the comments section because of the rude remarks they got on it.  America claims to be unbiased and tolerant, but apparently not.  (And then I feel intolerant towards intolerant people.)

Can't wait for summer vacation?  And then it's not long before the "I'm bored"s start up.  As a parent, what can you do about it and how can you keep from going crazy?  Here is your summer survival guide.

Ann Voskamp blogs at A Holy Experience, a favorite of mine.  I found her blog, 7 Things to Know When You're Overwhelmed, especially helpful.  OK, I can't remember what the seven things were, but I came away with a better understanding of what "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" means.  

My daughter, Suzanne, is a great blogger, and I don't think I'm saying that just because she's my daughter.
She often challenges me to be a better person with her honesty and her heart to seek after God.  Her post entitled #NoFilter is a case in point.

What's with all the good-byes and constant re-adjusting in the missionary life?  Some times it's just hard.  My friend Richelle blogged about this at Missionary Mom's Companion.  Another blog I could relate to as both a TCK and a mother of TCKs is at Djibouti Jones, an article entitled A Third Culture Kid Talks about Raising Third Culture Kids.

I love the photography at Kids Were Here, a blog of photos giving evidence that kids live in this house.

And one more, just because it's so cute!  A dad and his little boy do a rendition of a Beatles song.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Imagine

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:::


There is something about abandoned buildings that intrigue me.  I can't help but imagine what went on within those buildings.

Imagine living on a farm in Iowa.
How many children did this family have?
Was the farmer good to his wife?
What did they grow on their farm?
Did the wife milk the cows?

What conversations took place while sitting in this room?
How many early mornings did the farmer sit here reading his Bible?  Or did he ever read the Bible?
How many times did the farmer and his wife sit and snuggle while the kids were in bed?

How many times did the doctor climb these stairs to deliver a baby?
How many times did the mom climb the stairs to tuck the children in to bed?
Did the dad ever go marching up the stairs to quiet the talking and giggles of the children?

How often did the farmer or his wife get to sleep in?
How many tears were quietly shed into the pillow?
Did the farmer's wife bear his children in the bed in this room?
Did the children ever stand in the corner after causing trouble?

Why did they leave in the first place?

And this chair I came across today....

Did a dad sit and read stories to his children in this chair?
Did a mom cuddle and nurse her babies here?
Maybe a child curled up here with his blankie and his thumb.

Did the people who lived in this house or used this chair leave a lasting impression on anyone?