Veterans in Watership Down

I listened to Watership Down at the end of last year. It’s quite an interesting story about rabbits searching for a new home, figuring out problems, and fighting through dangers. The author, Richard Adams, was careful to have the rabbits act like rabbits, not humans, except for the ability to talk and think, which naturally led to a rabbit history and mythology.

Part of their mythology revolved around a folk hero rabbit, El-ahrairah, clever, cunning, strong and brave. In one of their stories, El-ahrairah has just finished a long, harrowing battle at great personal sacrifice to protect the warren. I took him three months to get back because he had to stop and rest and heal. This is the scene when he returns:

They made their way along the hedgerow, but could not altogether get their
bearings, because apparently the warren had grown bigger and there were more
holes than before, both in the bank and in the field. They stopped to speak to a
group of smart young bucks and does sitting under the elder bloom.

“We want to find Loosestrife,” said Rabscuttle. “Can you tell us where his
burrow is?”

“I never heard of him,” answered one of the bucks. “Are you sure he’s in this
warren?”

“Unless he’s dead,” said Rabscuttle. “But surely you must have heard of Captain
Loosestrife? He was an officer of the Owsla in the fighting.”

“What fighting?” asked another buck.

“The fighting against King Darzin,” replied Rabscuttle.

“Here, do me a favor, old fellow, will you?” said the buck. “That fighting — I
wasn’t born when it finished.”

“But surely you know the Owsla captains who were?” said Rabscuttle.

“I wouldn’t be seen dead with them”‘ said the buck. “What, that whitewhiskered
old bunch? What do we want to know about them?”

“What they did,” said Rabscuttle.

“That war lark, old fellow?” said the first buck. “That’s all finished now. That’s
got nothing to do with us.”

“If this Loosestrife fought King What’s-His-Name, that’s his business,” said
one of the does. “It’s not our business, is it?”

“It was all a very wicked thing,” said another doe. “Shameful, really. If nobody
fought in wars, there wouldn’t be any, would there? But you can’t get old rabbits
to see that.”

“My father was in it,” said the second buck. “He gets on about it sometimes. I
always go out quick. ‘They did this and then we did that’ and all that caper.
Makes you curl up, honest. Poor old geezer, you’d think he’d want to forget about
it. I reckon he makes half of it up. And where did it get him, tell me that?”

“If you don’t mind waiting a little while, sir,” said a buck to El-ahrairah, “I’ll go
and see if I can find Captain Loosestrife for you. I don’t actually know him myself,
but then it’s rather a big warren.”

“That’s good of you,” said El-ahrairah, “but I think I’ve got my bearings now
and I can manage by myself.”

El-ahrairah went along the hedgerow to the wood and sat alone under a nut
bush, looking out across the fields. As the light began to fail, he suddenly realized
that Lord Frith was close beside him, among the leaves.

“Are you angry, El-ahrairah?” asked Lord Frith.

“No, my lord,” replied El-ahrairah, “I am not angry. But I have learned that
with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity
them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a
slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.”

I fear too many of us are like those young rabbits who had no knowledge or appreciation of the sacrifices made for them, of what could have happened to them without those who fought for them. Whether we agree with certain wars or not, we can appreciate those who serve their country – who serve us – at great cost to themselves.

To all our veterans…Thank you.

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(Sharing With Literary Musing Monday)

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Free Indeed

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Glorious Freedom

by Haldor Lillenas

Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters,
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain;
But I received a glorious freedom,
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

* Refrain:
Glorious freedom, wonderful freedom,
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator,
Now and forever He shall be mine.

Freedom from all the carnal affections,
Freedom from envy, hatred and strife;
Freedom from vain and worldly ambitions,
Freedom from all that saddened my life.

Freedom from pride and all sinful follies,
Freedom from love and glitter of gold;
Freedom from evil, temper, and anger,
Glorious freedom, rapture untold.

Freedom from fear with all of its torments,
Freedom from care with all of its pain;
Freedom in Christ, my blessed Redeemer,
He who has rent my fetters in twain.

John 8:32, 3: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Happy Easter!

See, what a morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce, “Christ is risen!”
See God’s salvation plan,
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping, “Where is He laid?”
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty.
Honor and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with pow’r and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

– Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Recent Cards

I thought I’d share with you some cards I’ve made lately, most of them for Valentine’s Day.

This one was for Jim, from an idea I saw on Pinterest.

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None of my heart punches was big enough for the size I needed for the heart cut-out, so I traced a stencil on the back to cut out with an Xacto knife. But I forgot that, since it was on the back, I needed to tilt it the opposite direction from what I wanted it to be on the front. So trying to write the initials the right direction was really confusing – I guess that must be the way left-handed people feel about much of the right-handed world. In fact, after a number of tries, I ended up tilting the paper with the initials on it to line up with the direction of the heart, resulting in the “grain” of the wood print underneath to run diagonally instead of vertically. But don’t tell anyone – maybe they won’t notice. 🙂

This was for my oldest son, apt since he lives in another state:

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This was also spurred from a Pinterest find. To take you behind the scenes a bit, when I clicked through to the web site from which it came, I read that the box came from a stamp. I didn’t want to buy a stamp for a one-time usage and didn’t know if I could find one anyway, so first I tried to draw one. That didn’t go so well. 🙂

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So I thought I’d look for a clip-art box online that I could trace around, and then it dawned on me that I could print off a clip-art box and then just cut it out (duh!). So I did that and used an Xacto knife to open a slit to put the little hearts into. The hearts were made with a heart punch and several scraps of red paper. The letters were stickers, which I ended up not being too crazy about because the sticker wasn’t just the letter: it included a little plastic around the letter, and when the light hits it just right, you can see all the plastic. But I did like the script and the way it came out overall.

This was for Jason, also inspired by Pinterest:

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I just noticed the title there said this was from designs “for her,” but I thought this was masculine-looking and used it for that reason! I found a world map online, printed it out, and used a stencil to make the heart shape.

This was for Mittu. She likes purple, so I looked through my purple papers until I came up with an idea. The design was embossed with a Cuttlebug folder, one I don’t think I had used yet.

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The wording on all of these except Jeremy’s was done on the computer, and I used scrapbooking scissors to make the edge on this one.

This was Timothy’s:

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You can tell who he likes. 🙂 This idea was also from Pinterest. I found the cityscape on the Cricut and cut it out there. I found the Batman logo online and finagled the ray of light myself. I was going to put “Have a SUPER Valentine’s Day” in the light, like the example did, but the space ended up being small, so I just put a heart there and wished him a “super-duper” Valentine’s Day inside – apt not only for the superhero logo but also because he says “super-duper” sometimes.

This was Jesse’s:

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I found this design on the Cricut Design Space and and used the Cricut to cut it out, so it was pretty easy. And this was good for him – conveying the thought without being mushy. 🙂

This one I was going to throw away, but I ended up not having time to make another one. It was from this idea and was going to be for my husband. Though it looks cute there, my version ended up looking childish, so I put it aside and went with the other idea I had for him above. As I worked on the other cards, I thought perhaps I could rework this for my mother-in-law and decided to use that idea if I didn’t have time to come up with something else. As it turned out, I didn’t have time – somehow I miscalculated and thought I had another week before Valentine’s Day, and then it hit me I think on Sunday that Valentine’s Day was THAT week. So I had to do all the cards between Monday and Wednesday. I changed the sentiment to “You planted love…” on the outside, and inside, “…and grew a family,” and went on to say that her love started it all for the rest of us. I liked the thought but still didn’t like the design itself – primarily the stems. I had tried to cut them out freehand and that just didn’t work very well.

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Then we celebrated my daughter-in-law’s birthday recently, and I made this card for her:

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Once again I looked through my purplish papers for inspiration, and when I started to use this one, I decided to keep the design simple since the paper itself was so pretty and had a lot of design in it. The wording and mat underneath were done with two different-sized punches.

The hard time I have with making cards for Mittu is that, since she’s the only daughter-in-law in the family so far, I have all these feminine ideas pinned and have a hard time narrowing down which one to use! And then I ended up not using any of my pinned ideas at all for her cards. But I liked how they turned out.

So, that’s it for this time – not perfect or professional, but heartfelt. 🙂

Homemade Christmas cards and other stray thoughts

Today is the first “back to the old routine” day in a while. I love all the holiday activities, and God was kind to grant me some pockets of quietness and rest amid the busyness. Getting out of the normal routine for several weeks was fun and refreshing. Getting back into it feels both good and sad at the same time. We had a wonderful Christmas with all the family home and then a very quiet but enjoyable New Year’s Eve and Day.

I thought I’d show you the Christmas cards I made for the family. I buy boxes of them for extended family and friends – I’d never be able to make as many as I send out – but for our own family I like to make individual ones.

This is Jim’s:

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It doesn’t show up in the photo, but the white words are flocked. If I had been thinking, I would have cut off the bottom pine cone so more of the word Noel showed up.

This is Jeremy’s:

Jer Christmas 17

Sometimes ideas come from others I’ve saved on Pinterest, sometimes from something in the Cricut design space, and sometimes they come as a result of looking over the materials I have. This one started out with the fox sticker, as Jeremy likes foxes, and then the other elements came one by one. This is one of my favorite cards I’ve ever made.

This is Jason’s:

Jason Christmas 17

I had wanted to use blue because he likes blue, and I had also wanted to use the snowflake embossing folder on one, so those came together here.

This is Mittu’s:

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I love that cozy sweater background paper, and they love coffee, so these seemed like a good pairing. The cups were done with the Cricut.

This is Jesse’s:

Jesse Christmas 17

This started with the word sticker – that just seemed to fit him. Everything on the white part is a sticker.

This is Timothy’s:

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I had seen the cookies on a cookie sheet idea on Pinterest, but the shapes on it were three of the same gingerbread men. As I looked through my scrapbook paper, I found one with these gingerbread figures on them, so I cut them out. Thankfully I had enough of a scrap of the metallic paper for the cookie sheet. 🙂

This is Jim’s mom’s:

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And this was for Jim for our anniversary:

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Other stray thoughts this morning:

  • We had turned on the TV New Year’s Eve long enough to see the ball drop, and I commented that I always wondered how they did bathroom issues in Times Square during that event. I envisioned a long row of port-a-potties somewhere. Jeremy looked it up and said there are no port-a-potties – and businesses don’t let the crowds come in to use the restrooms. And some people are there as early as 8 in the morning! They also don’t allow backpacks or large bags, don’t allow people to sit down, and they kick out the food stands to make more room for people. I looked up a couple more articles this morning (here and here). I never had aspirations to go to this anyway, but it’s definitely on my “Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do this” list – which is guess is the opposite of a bucket list. 🙂
  • I’ve rediscovered cheese and crackers as a snack. My mom used to always send Swiss Colony cheese and sausage packages for Christmas until the kids all got older and it got too expensive to send them. But usually one of us gets a Hickory Farms package at some point during the Christmas season. This year we opened it on Christmas Eve. Then I had mentioned earlier that somehow we got started having the Chicken in a Biskit and Easy Cheese during the holidays, so I have enjoyed munching on them all month. They may not be the healthiest snack, though – especially the Easy Cheese – so I probably need to find a better salty snack.

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  • One of the things I miss most about putting Christmas decorations away is the lights. But not enough to keep any up year-round.
  • I’ve also enjoyed several weeks of Christmas music. I got a new Christmas CD this year, Worship the Newborn King from the Wilds Christian camp. I especially loved the Candlelight Carol. I’ve loved that for years but rarely hear it. Other long time favorites have been their Christmas With Friends album (although that doesn’t seem to be available any more) and Sacred Music Services’ King of Glory. I also like some of Pentatonix – not the more raucous stuff, but I especially like their versions of Silent Night, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mary Did You Know, and others in that vein.
  • I don’t make resolutions per se, but I do like to make reading plans for the year and map out some projects I want to work on, so I hope to do that this week. I like to incorporate some purposefulness in my reading but with some flexibility in case I come across something new I want to read during the year. I hope to have my reading plans posted in the next day or two.
  • Also this time of year you see a lot of people writing about words for the year. I’m not sure how that got started. A lot of people derive great blessing from it, and that’s great. Personally I have never felt led to do so. Usually God has more than one word to work on in my life at any given time. 🙂 But can I say, if you feel stressed about choosing a word for the year or guilty because you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. Seek God about it, and if you sense His leading toward one area of concentration, then go for it, but if not, just seek Him in His Word and seek His will every day.
  • This is also a good time of year to find a good Bible reading plan if you haven’t already. I wrote on that extensively here. There are all kinds available. Probably the best plan is one you’ll actually use. Reading the Bible through in a year is a good thing for several reasons. A Christian radio station I listen to reads through the Bible throughout the year during daily 15 minute segments, not really too difficult for anyone. The last few years I have continued to read the complete Bible, but not in a year. I am not sure how long it takes me. I aim for a couple of chapters a day, but vary it according the the length, difficulty, or density of the passage I am in and whether I want to stop and slow down in certain passages.

And now I had best get on to some of that daily routine that needs attending to. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

(Sharing with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer)

Happy New Year!

“Welcome, New Year,” said Captain Jim, bowing low as the last stroke died away. “I wish you all the best year of your lives, mates. I reckon that whatever the New Year brings us will be the best the Great Captain has for us.”
~ From Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery

“What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, ay, and every drop of their fullness in Him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, Thou art the present portion of Thy people, favor us this year with such a sense of Thy preciousness, that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in Thee.”
~ Morning and Evening by Spurgeon

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“Managing” Christmas

Most of us are in a quandary to some degree during the Christmas season. There’s more to do, a lot of it enjoyable in itself, but it adds to an already packed schedule and can leave us feeling frantic rather than enjoying the season, much less pondering the meaning of it. Though I am not an organizational expert, here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

Start early. Some people shop all year for Christmas. That doesn’t work for everyone – they might not have the storage space, or desires might change over the year. It’s been a big help to me to buy Christmas cards fairly soon after they first come out, usually in November before Thanksgiving. I can find a good selection at a discount store then, whereas later they’ll be picked-over. The last few years, we’ve asked for everyone’s “wish lists” by Thanksgiving week, and by taking advantage of online sales that week, we’ve gotten the bulk of our Christmas shopping done then.

Evaluate traditions. Composer Gustav Mahler said, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” Traditions are lovely ways to enhance a season and create family memories, but sometimes they become a burden rather than a blessing. I recently read of a family where the mom/grandmother had passed away, and the first Christmas afterward, someone made the special dish that she had always made for Christmas dinner. But then they realized that none of them were that crazy about it, and there were other, better ways to remember their loved ones.

Involve the whole family. We always decorate the house for Christmas together as a family, and, though some years we didn’t get Christmas cookies made, I did that with the kids. My husband and I divide up the shopping. The kids help clean the house.

You don’t have to go to everything. Every group or organization seems to have get-togethers at Christmas, there are school programs and recitals, special things going on in town. Choose the most meaningful things for your family and forget the rest – unless you’re one of those people who likes being out a lot.

Some activities can be scheduled outside of December. I’ve known some people to do their annual Christmas family newsletter around Thanksgiving or just after New Year’s rather than at Christmastime. We had one Sunday School class that scheduled its class party in January rather than December, both to relieve everyone’s December calendars and the church facility usage, and give us something to look forward to in January, when there was typically nothing special going on.

Put off what can be put off. In addition to what was mentioned in the last point, December is not usually the time for massive organizational or home projects. I also try not to schedule doctor’s or dentist’s appointments in December unless it can’t be helped. By the way, you might be thinking of getting appointment or procedures in before the end of the year if you’ve already met your deductible for the year so it will cost less: check with your insurance about when their year starts and ends. We just found out a few months ago that they count our year not from January to December, but from December through the following November, so December expenses count for the new year, not the current one.

Take shortcuts. It’s ok to buy pre-made cookie dough or even bakery or restaurant items rather than making everything from scratch for every activity or gathering. I store my mini Christmas trees (some maybe 10 inches tall, some about 2 feet) with the decorations on in their own containers, so when I put them up, all I have to do is fluff them out a little and put back on any decorations that fell off rather than decorating each from scratch each year (If you have extremely fragile ornaments, that might not work). It makes it easier to put them away as well.

Acknowledge changes in circumstances and seasons. A friend grieved one year because she was in the hospital with a kidney infection Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She felt she was “ruining” Christmas for her family. While I can understand that, in a sense her lamenting made it worse. Since nothing could be done about the circumstances, it would have been a good time to teach her kids to adapt and to maybe try to turn it into something fun for the kids in some way (maybe Dad bringing doughnuts for Christmas breakfast in the hospital room, opening stockings there and saving the big presents for later, etc.). Another friend’s husband was in prison over several Christmases, another was homeless one Christmas. Some people get stranded in airports or can’t make planned trips due to bad weather. It is sad and frustrating, but since it can’t be helped, it’s best to make the best of it in some way. And it’s funny how those “different” Christmases are the ones that we sometimes remember the most. On the other hand, some Christmases are filled with grief, and it’s ok not to be into the ‘frothy” aspects of the season. Also, as the family grows, or decreases when kids move out, the different things you do as a family might change. We used to get Christmas presents for all the siblings, then their spouses, then as families grew, we just got gifts for all the kids and the grandparents, then as we were too far away to really know what anyone liked and it was getting too expensive, we eventually just got gifts for our own children and parents. Empty nesters might or might not do all the decorating they did when kids and grandkids are no longer coming to their house for the holidays.

Find ways to focus on the meaning of the season. There are Advent Bible reading plans online that incorporate OT passages prophesying the Messiah’s birth as well the familiar NT passages about Christ’s birth and other applicable NT passages. I’ve been blessed by focusing on one Christmas devotional book in December. Some I’ve read are (linked to my reviews):

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas compiled by Nancy Guthrie, containing sermon excerpts or essays from as far back as Augustine and as current as Tim Keller.

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent by Nancy Guthrie is geared for family usage, but I enjoyed reading it by myself as well.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs.

From Heaven: A 28-Day Advent Devotional by A. W. Tozer

I’m currently reading a new one, Gospel Meditations for Christmas by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, and Michael Barrett. I’m only a third of the way into it, but it’s good so far, and I have enjoyed others in the Gospel Meditations series that I’ve read.

Don’t expect perfection. I wrote about our idea of a “perfect Christmas” a few years ago and compared it to the first Christmas, which would be far from our idea of perfection: having to travel 9 months pregnant, not being able to find a place to stay other than a stable, giving birth in that setting, etc. But that’s the Christmas setting of our nostalgic carols, and, more importantly, the Christmas the resulted in the Savior of the world being born. The point of Christmas celebrations is to remember and celebrate that birth, so if every bow isn’t straight or every cookie isn’t baked and decorated just right, it’s not the end of the world.

How about you? What ways have you found to get the extras done at Christmas and still have time for reflection?

“Christmas is so much more than a holiday. So much more than buying and wrapping and cooking and eating and trimming with tinsel and mailing out cards. It’s a season for reflection, for preparation, for renewal.” ~Liz Curtis Higgs, The Women of Christmas 

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

Happy Independence Day!

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(Photo is a free printable available here)

A Creed

Lord let me not in service lag.
Let me be worthy of our flag.
Let me remember when I’m tired,
The sons heroic who have died.

In freedom’s name and in my way,
Teach me to be as brave as they.
In all I am, in all I do,
Unto our flag I would be true.

For God and country let me stand,
Unstained of soul, clean of hand.
Teach me to serve and guard and love,
The starry flag that flies above.

~ Edgar Guest

As much as I love my country and am thankful for it and believe it is the best one on the planet, I also believe it is in need of much prayer. How to Pray For America has some good tips along those lines.

And Happy Independence Day (From a Brit?) is a really good article.

Hope you have a happy 4th! The past few years, one set of neighbors has hosted a neighborhood cookout on the 4th, where they grill burgers and ribs and everyone else brings everything else. But the hosts didn’t want to do that this year, so we’re having a family day grilling here. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll get out the wading pool for Timothy. I’m looking forward to a relaxing day!

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