December 30, 2009

December 26, 2009


I looked up the word "decadence" in the dictionary and the definition it gave was "luxurious self-indulgence." That just might describe your experience when you make - and more importantly, eat - these little bits of chocolate delight.

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

This is a winter tradition of ours that my sister and I make chocolate truffles every year. We've experimented with different flavors, like orange and almond, but we've found that our favorite by far (and the most popular among others) is the peppermint. Chocolate and peppermint seem to have been made to go together! Try these out and you'll see why.

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

1 8-oz.(eight ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 tsp. pure peppermint extract (or extract of your choice, such as vanilla, orange, almond)
Crushed peppermints for rolling, optional


1. Beat cream cheese until smooth in a large bowl. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended.

2. Stir in melted chocolate until no streaks remain. Mix in peppermint extract. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in crushed peppermints. Store in parchment-lined candy tins in a cool place. Makes about 60 truffles.
P.S. I'm having a year-end special over on my graphic design website! You will receive a FREE custom button with ANY purchase - even if all you buy is a signature or a pre-made Twitter background for $5 (buttons are $7! That's getting $12 worth for only $5!). For those who want lots of work done, if you purchase $50 or more in graphics you'll get the free button PLUS a free custom Twitter background! These offers expire at midnight, December 31st, 2009. Go to to take advantage of this special! :-)

December 3, 2009

Tell Me Thursday - My Goofball

Once again, I apologize for the lack of posting. Sometimes life gets in the way and blogging is not always my top priority!

I decided that once in a while I will do Wordless Wednesday as I LOVE photography and this would be a good way to actually use some of the photos I take. :-) (Please note that my photos are copyrighted and may not be reused without permission).

And then the Thursday after, you can come back and read the story behind the photo - if there is one!

I posted the above picture yesterday for WW. This is my kitty. Her name is Gavana - fancy name, isn't it? That's because she is from Russia; she is a special breed which is (mostly) hypo-allergenic, which is important because both my sister and my dad are pretty severely allergic to cats! But with this breed, they are fine - strange, isn't it? The reason is that this breed doesn't have dander, which is the cause of most cat allergies.

Gavana is an extremely talkative, social cat as long as it is only the family around. The second she hears a car in the driveway she bolts upstairs and doesn't come out until the company has left!
She is quite the goofball sometimes, as you can see from the photo. :-) She enjoys sunning herself in very strange positions that look decidedly uncomfortable to me, but seem to be satisfactory to her. She gets in lots of trouble but we love her anyway! :-)

December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - My Goofball

Come back tomorrow to read the Tell Me Thursday for this photo!

October 3, 2009


I hope you'll forgive me for inserting a little commercial here. :-) Over at our home site,, I've marked down my custom-made boa scarves for the chilly weather season!


These fun scarves are warm and feminine and a stylish accessory to add to your fall and winter wardrobe. Hand-crocheted in a cozy homespun yarn in the color of your choice, they make great gifts or get one for yourself! (Or both! Hee hee).
If you are interested in a different type of yarn, like a chenille or chunky yarn for example, just let me know and I'll see what I can do (this may cause the price to be different depending on the yarn).
Please feel free to pass this on to your friends and family who may be interested, or if you're REALLY excited (as I'm sure you all are :-) ) you can post it on your blog. Want that cute graphic? Here's the code (will be deleted after the sale is over):

October 1, 2009

It's October!

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?"
- "Anne of Green Gables" by L. M. Montgomery

September 5, 2009


Apples in Basket
Photo courtesy of my sister.

Our apples on our trees are starting to become pick-able, and picked they have been! We have two trees, and we're waiting on the other tree as the apples are smaller. These are green, those are red and green. We don't spray our trees (or at least we haven't yet so far) so lots of them have bad spots but you can always cut out bad spots. :-)

And then, this morning, Mom whipped up this WONDERFUL breakfast with our freshly picked apples:

A German apple pancake, baked in a cast iron skillet... OH. YUM. Wish you could have been here to enjoy it with me! (On second thought, maybe not, more for me! :-) ).
Anyway... just a little snippet from our daily life... I have some more serious posts mulling around in my head - I realize it has been quite I while since I did one of that nature. Thanks for stopping by!

August 4, 2009

Refreshing Summer Cooler

Watermelon Slushi
I'm sorry for not posting in so long... things have been busy around here. The weather has been unseasonably cool this summer, though yesterday and today are warmer. On those very hot days, it's always nice to have a little pick-me-up.

Something we have enjoyed lately are watermelon slushies. These are super easy to make and very co-o-o-ld to cool you down on a hot day. This is a recipe we really just make up as we go, so there are no real measurements.

Cut up watermelon into cubes. Most watermelons are seedless nowadays but if you have one with seeds, make sure you get those out. Put your watermelon in your blender. If you are looking for amounts, probably 1/3 full is good. Then add some ice. We start with a bit less than the amount of watermelon we put in. Blend that together. Continue to add more ice until you have reached a thick slushie consistency (no longer runny). Spoon into glasses and enjoy! Oh, and a word of caution - it's a good idea to scoop instead of pour the slushi into the glasses... take it from me, you will end up with a mess on your counter if you don't. :-)

Though we haven't tried it this way yet, you could experiment with flavors too - add a little lemon or orange juice to give it some zing, or maybe mint?

July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity."
- John Adams

June 30, 2009

Book Review: Stay in the Castle

I have been meaning to review this book for some time now but hadn't gotten around to it till now. My dear friend sent me this little booklet, called "Stay in the Castle." It is a short story - I think only 24 pages and easily read in one sitting. For those of you familiar with "The Princess and the Kiss," this is similar.

The book begins with a true story, about the author and a young 16 year old Mexican girl, whom he encourages to stay pure till marriage and in addition, pure for a Christian man, not just anyone. She is struggling with this, so he tells her a tale of a princess who has lived in the castle all her life. Her father, the King, tells her that someday, a young prince that he has already met and chosen, will come to marry her. She believes him for a while, but she begins to yearn to leave the castle and visit what appears to be the merry, glad village below. Her father warns her against this...

And here I will leave you hanging to find out what happens. :-) Isn't that sweet of me? I enjoyed this little book very much. You can order it HERE for only $2.50. It is the first book on the page (I have not read any of the other books listed there and do not recommend them in providing the link).

June 27, 2009

An Update

I apologize for not posting in a while. I have been busy with life in general! This is a very short post just to let you know about a couple of things:

1. My new graphic design business is now open! I make website/blog headers as well as banners and buttons. Right now I am having a grand opening SALE, 20% off all normal prices including my already-marked-down package deals. The sale goes through July 10th, 2009. Visit if you are interested.

2. And for all you seamstresses out there who like Sense & Sensibility patterns, all S&S e-patterns are 15% off through midnight of July 5th! Click HERE.


June 8, 2009

Next Year's Contest

I figured I would start a poll going now so more people will vote on it. :-) *Update: Poll results are below.*

What should next year's (2010) Maidens of Virtue contest be?
  • Poetry Contest (35.0%, 14 Votes)
  • Essay Contest (35.0%, 14 Votes)
  • Either one! (10.0%, 4 Votes)
  • I don't like writing poetry OR essays (20.0%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 40

The Hope Chest Record Book eBook

We have a new product over at Maidens of Virtue - an eBook version of The Hope Chest Record Book! Our runners up in the essay contest all received this as their prize (I hope you all are enjoying it! :-) ).

Anyway, it's now available for sale HERE. It's only $3.00 and includes two files; one to print a full page size and the other to print a half page size book. And with an eBook, you can print as many pages as you need!

Click HERE to buy this book or the original print book!

June 1, 2009

2009 Essay Contest Winners!

I am so excited to announce the winners for this year's essay contest! We received so many wonderful entries as you will see when you read the winners and runners up. I'll post the winners/runners up with the titles of their essays and the actual essays will be posted below. I'll not keep you waiting, so here they are!

(Please remember that these essays are copyrighted by their authors and may not be copied to other sites without permission).

9-13 Category Grand Prize Winner:

Miss Hannah H.

"True Beauty"

1st Runner Up: Miss Robyn G. ~ "What is True Beauty?"
2nd Runner Up: Miss Desiree M. ~ "Beauty That Counts"

14-25 Category Grand Prize Winner:

Miss Emily C.

"A Matter of the Heart"

1st Runner Up: Miss Toria H. ~ "Real Beauty?"
2nd Runner Up: Miss Danielle S. ~ "True Beauty is God's Way"

True Beauty - Grand Prize Winner (9-13)
By Miss Hannah H.

There are two types of beauty. There is the way the world sees beauty and the way God sees beauty.

The magazines tell us that the world looks at you, to see your beauty. It looks at your body, makeup, clothes, and hair. It says you can't be fat and you need to show your body. You can't look old and you have to wear makeup. You also need to color your hair. They even like it when you wear tight clothes, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.

The Bible tells us that God looks in you, to see your beauty. He looks in your heart and in Matthew 23:27 He warns us you can "outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." Psalm 129:14-16 tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and we don't have to worry about being fat. We are made by God. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness." Proverbs 14:30 tells us, "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."

Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." These things in our heart are what make us beautiful. God wants us to know that. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth." Joy means to be happy and content. Peace means to be clam. Patience means being able to wait. Kindness means to be nice to other people every day. Goodness means to be good. Faithfulness means being trustworthy to do what you say. Gentleness means to no be harsh, rough or loud. To have self control means to keep your body from doing what it shouldn't. These are all things we need to work on.

It's ok to be not perfect on the outside in your eyes, it's your heart that matters to God.

What is True Beauty? - 1st Runner Up (9-13)
By Miss Robyn G.

What is true beauty? Well, the world’s definition of beauty is not at all like God’s type of beauty! The world seems to think that beauty is looking like the cover of a magazine. 1st Peter 3:3-4 NKJ says: “Do not, let your adornment be merely outward- arranging of the a hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” I would much rather NOT look like a star, and have a meek and quiet spirit, than look like a star, and not have a meek and quiet spirit. I have nothing against beauty, but we should ultimately be more concerned about how our heart condition is than what color we should dye our hair this week!
Webster’s 1828 dictionary’s definition of beauty is this: 1. “A beautiful person, the chief dignity or ornament.” 2. “Joy, gladness, order, peace, holiness, purity.”
It doesn’t say, “Beauty is looking like a celebrity,” no, but beauty is a beautiful person or ornament. Did you notice the second definition? Yes, it basically says that, True beauty is: “Joy, gladness, order, peace, holiness, purity.” Now, let’s look at the Merriam Webster 1988 version:
Beauty- “Loveliness.” It, says nothing about Joy, love etc, etc! So, as you can see, the world’s version, and God’s version are clearly two very, very, very different things! Take for instance the Proverbs 31 woman, Proverbs 31: 10 says: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” The Proverbs 31 woman is truly, a virtuous, wise and loving woman! She may not look like the world’s standard of beauty, but her character is truly a beautiful woman! Proverbs 31:30 says: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Once again I would rather be that Proverbs 31 woman, whose character is greatly to be praised then a celebrity, who yes, may be pretty, but what about her character? What about her heart condition? What about her attitude? Yes, I would much rather be that Proverbs 31 woman! 1st Samuel 16:7 says: “For man looketh on the out-ward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
So, we have defined and found out that God does not look on the out-ward appearance, but the heart. However, what are exactly some characteristics of True Beauty? Well, here are just a few:
1. A heart devoted to God.
2. A heart that cares.
3. A heart that loves.
4. A heart that is marked by purity.
5. A heart that serves and many, many more!
Sadly, though in this day and age, most girls are more concerned about their clothing, hair, how they look, etc, etc, and could care less about True Beauty. When one day we stand before the King of Kings, and he asks about True Beauty are you going to be able to say: I served others, I cared, I loved, I am devoted to you, I kept myself pure, etc, etc??? Or, will we fumble and say, “Oh, I bought 5 cases of makeup every week, or I ONLY dyed my hair every Monday.” Really? God, cares more about our hearts and if we have true beauty than if we “ONLY dyed our hair every Monday.” This world really is a lost and hurting nation! So, my challenge to you is this: Try, just try for 1 week, how it is to serve others, love others, care for others, and be devoted to God. And not think so much about how you look. Now I am not suggesting that you go out looking like a raga-muffin, no, not at all! Just try not spending 50 minutes in front of the mirror just to go shopping!
So, let’s try to be more like Jesus and caring more about True Beauty, than looking like the cover of a magazine.

Beauty That Counts - 2nd Runner Up (9-13)
By Miss Desiree M.

True Beauty, what is it? How do you get? Where is it found? How do you see it? What do you need it for? There are so many questions surrounding it. But through this I hope that I will help you find answers.

So what is it? Well for one it counts! Most others think you beauty on the outside, but does that really count? Will people really remember your makeup or your “True Beauty”? It is what God sees and he sees your true beauty and that counts. “... Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). You may put on makeup, perfume, nail polish, jewelry, and make your hair nice and cute and make others think you look pretty. But God does not see that. He sees the INSIDE!! He wants beauty that truly counts! It is the heart that he wants to make beautiful.

“You’re beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the quiet sprit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4-5). If you looked deep down in your heart what do you see? Discouragement, anger, discontentment, bitterness, lying, fear, sadness, or selfishness. If you see these things inside your heart then go to God’s Word and see how He will help you change that. On the other hand do you have True Beauty: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control? That is what God see, and to Him all that counts. God’s Word clearly states that we need His help to have True Beauty. Nowhere else can we find True Beauty. But we are around people all the time that have this view that it is the outside that counts. We need to stay close to God’s Word. I have already stated two very clear verses that show what God thinks on this matter. But God truly wants to see it. So I want give you some ideas on how you can have True Beauty. For one ask, God

He is always VERY happy to help. Read good books that will help, they are such a help. You can see how God can use other influences. By seeing how they struggle, we can see how through Christ they have overcome the world, and you can too! Next, work with other young ladies that might be struggling with this problem, then you can strive to encourage each other. This can be not only encouraging, but also fun! Talk with parents; they see things that we need to improve. They can help by showing us how we can improve in a certain quality and encouraging us. I am sure that they and God are happy when they see us striving to please God. There are many more things that can help us, so pray and see how God wants to help you. Then as we strive to be more Christ like, we can truly say (no matter how we look) “I am beautiful”!!

A Matter of the Heart - Grand Prize Winner (14-25)
By Miss Emily C.

Every year People Magazine issues a special edition called “100 Most Beautiful People.” The physical allure of celebrities, actresses, and models is promoted as the epitome of beauty and the ultimate goal for every young girl in America. Yet, the moral decline of America’s youth exemplified in the rise of teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and eating disorders seems to prove quite the contrary. Since these beautiful people, the “cultural gods”, if you will, have been set up as role models for America’s children, we have seen a generation of young women arise who have not become any more beautiful, but in fact increasingly morally repulsive.

As America moves more towards an image based culture it is perfectly logical that the way one looks makes a difference. In order to become the face to represent America, women tout their charms in beauty competitions such as the Miss America pageant every year with killer television ratings. However, beauty is not a new obsession, if one will recall the Biblical account of Esther. In order to find a new queen, King Xerxes collected the most beautiful women in his kingdom and held an episode of “extreme makeover” in his palace so that these women would look their best for him. People throughout the ages have always been enamored with physical beauty, but the extent of the obsession has become ingrained in some cultures more than others. Usually, the cultures which value beauty the most are the cultures that are highly developed and sophisticated; such as ancient Greece, Rome, and the modern day United States of America and Great Britain, to name a few. These countries have all created a lofty, and often unattainable ideal image and the women of their cultures have suffered greatly for it. Television corroborates this point clearly. From commercial actresses to movie stars it is rare to see an unattractive woman in the bunch. And yet, when one investigates the lives of these women, they are often riddled with immorality and heartache. Yet the culture doesn’t seem to care what is in your heart as long as you look good. Why is this? It is because beauty sells. Smart advertisers know that to catch people’s attention it is advantageous to use a beautiful woman. Because of this, children and young women alike are constantly being assaulted with a Grecian ideal of physical allure. Nevertheless, this ideal beauty does not make its bearer any happier. Models starve themselves to fit into the latest trends, actresses become addicted to plastic surgery, and many young women in America admit to feelings of inadequacy and desperation at not being able to attain this paradigm of loveliness.

So in truth, it seems that though the world’s view of beauty sells, it does not fulfill. The reason for this being that no matter what one’s outward appearance may be, a heart bankrupt of Jesus Christ and His righteousness can never attain true, unfading beauty. The true unfading beauty described in God’s Word does not come from the outside, but from within. Isaiah 61:10 says, “... My soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness...” Thus, beauty begins when a sinner looks to Calvary, where Christ made it possible for everyone to be reconciled to God and to wear the robe of His righteousness. Though it is true that beauty comes from within, it is not self-perpetuating; and the external force is not makeup, surgery or expensive clothes, it is Christ. With His sacrificial death, Christ paved the way to true beauty and true fulfillment in a life led serving Him.

True beauty starts in the heart, but is to be constantly emitted through one’s actions and words to others. One example of this is Jane Austen’s unlikely heroine, Anne Eliot, of Persuasion. Still unmarried at twenty-seven, poor Anne has lost her bloom. Her vain father finds little attractive about her appearance and thus ignores her, turning his attention to his eldest and most attractive daughter, Elizabeth. Anne is not much more than a servant in her own home, yet she bears it all with grace and patience. Instead of going to parties, she stays home and watches her nephew; instead of visiting royalty with her father and sister, Anne chooses to visit a sickly friend. Anne’s selfless attitude in the face of a disagreeable situation endears her to the reader and creates a picture of true beauty to which women may look for guidance and encouragement. Another example of true beauty is the woman described in Proverbs 31. She is described as a positive influence on her husband, a hard worker, an entrepreneur; wise, compassionate, kind, and strong. Note carefully that the woman’s physical stature is not mentioned at all, but her heart attitude, actions, and reputation are. We do not read that this woman is suffering from poor self-image, nor do we read that she is touting her perfect size 0 figure in the gates. Proverbs 31:26 states that “in her tongue is the law of kindness”, and verse 28 says that her family rises up and praises her. Proverbs 31:31 says, “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates”. She is a clear representation of the principle set forth by Christ in Luke 6:45 which states, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good... for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” The beauty of the Proverbs 31 woman is manifest in her heart, and then demonstrated through her words, actions, and reputation.

It is clear to see that God’s idea of true beauty is far different from the world’s standard. People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People” may be attractive to the eye, but let us leave true beauty for God to determine.

Real Beauty? - 1st Runner Up (14-25)
By Miss Toria H.

Her complexion was smooth and creamy, and her eyes were vibrant with color.

Long tresses of silky hair graced her head and formed ringlets around her fair face. Her cheeks had a healthy blush to them, but no blemish was upon her. Rosy lips and pearl white teeth graced her sweet mouth, while her hands were soft and white and her slim figure glided softly on dainty feet…

Every girl dreams of possessing perfect qualities. No girl wishes to have blemishes, red, chapped hands, or frizzy hair. We all get upset at the appearance of a pimple, and many wish our eyes were brown instead of blue.

The mirror is a girl’s best friend, along with her cover-stick, of course.

You see, every girl wants to be beautiful, lovely, and stunning, but the fact of life is that very few are the perfect image of beauty…or are they?

You see, the image of beauty has been corrupted in this world we live in.

According to the world, you have to “fit in” to be beautiful by wearing the hottest name-brand clothing, styling your hair the way the movie stars do, and acting like the most popular girls. If you don’t bend to the trends, you’re out of the “in” group...and out of beauty. Beauty to them is twig figures, painted faces, blackened eyelashes, and clothing that pushes the comfort zones. But is this real beauty? Or is it something else?

Unfortunately, the world entraps many a girl looking to be beautiful.

The world’s girls practically feel naked without makeup…yet they feel no shame when wearing low-cut shirts. But what about God’s girls? Can God’s girls be really beautiful compared to the world’s high…er, “low” standards? Let’s take a look!

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing for gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” -1 Peter 3:3-5, NIV

I think the above verses speak plainly by themselves. If you’re God’s girl, your beauty shouldn’t come from the outside. In other words, people shouldn’t be attracted to your appearance, but rather to your devotion to God. God doesn’t want your eyes to be blue instead of brown…He made them that way! He doesn’t care if your clothes aren’t up to the world’s standards; rather, He cares about your inner self.

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV

Again, it’s clear that our Master doesn’t look at the outward appearance. Beauty doesn’t come from the outside in His Mind like the world thinks it does. So, if we’re God’s girls rather than the world’s, why are we worried about being beautiful? I think it’s fine to fix up our hair, coordinate our skirts with our shirts, and maybe don a necklace, but we shouldn’t believe that’s where our beauty is coming from. Instead of focusing on being beautiful on the outside, we should be more concerned about our beauty on the inside, for this is where real beauty comes from!

We need to decide who we want to please, whose attention we want to draw to us, and who we want to accept us. Who do you think is more important to please? Would you rather live your life for the world in order to be called beautiful for a little while, or would you rather live your life for God in order to be called beautiful forever?

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” –Proverbs 31:30, NIV

We won’t always have a smooth and creamy complexion, or eyes that are vibrant with color. Our hair won’t always be silky and curly, and our cheeks won’t always have a healthy blush. We won’t always have rosy lips and pearl white teeth, or white, soft hands. We won’t always have a slim figure and dainty feet. We may never be perfectly beautiful without blemishes on the outside, but we can definitely work towards perfection on the inside. After all, the inside is where true beauty… real beauty, comes from.

True Beauty Is God's Way - 2nd Runner Up (14-25)
By Miss Danielle S.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.” (Proverbs 31:30, ESV)

What is charm?

“Charm is the power of pleasing and attracting, as through personality or beauty.” (Webster’s American Family Dictionary)

Charm is not necessarily a natural thing; it can be created on purpose.

Some people often put on a front of charm around particular people who they want to please and attract. They do this because they realize the person will not be pleased by their true character. If a girl has not taken the time to develop an upright and beautiful character and if she wants to be liked and admired, she must deceive.

Charm often deceives those who are attracted by it, as the charmer intends.

Sometimes this happens because the girl isn’t around them often, and they do not have the opportunity to watch her carefully. Someone might also be deceived because they are also shallow and foolish, looking only at the outward manners and not the inward character.

Unfortunately, charm will sometimes also deceive the charmer into forgetting the ugly character that lies behind the front. She might become so influenced by the complements and remarks of those who see her false charm and believe that is what she is really like on the inside.

What is beauty?

“Beauty is the quality present in a person that gives intense aesthetic pleasure or deep satisfaction to mind or senses.” (Webster’s American Family Dictionary)

But beauty which is merely on the surface is vain—it is futile, it doesn’t give deep satisfaction to the mind or senses, it has no real value, and it is unsuccessful in its goal of giving intense pleasure, for two reasons.

1) Outward beauty fades. No one has found the fountain of youth, and it isn’t likely that anyone will. False beauty can deceive—but not forever.

“For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes.” (James 1:11, ESV)

2) Outward beauty is usually not proportionate or seemly. True beauty is apt, it fits the person and the occasion and creates a beauty out of that seemliness. False beauty tends to be immoderate and overdone.

An example of this can be seen in Shakespeare’s play, King Lear. This king had three daughters, and he asked them how much they loved him. King Lear’s two oldest daughters were prideful and had no true beauty. They answered in exaggerated words, saying all their happiness depended on him, nothing gave them more joy than being with him…but his third daughter said she loved him according to her duty—no more, no less. This reply outraged him, but the king eventually discovered her sincere love for him after the other two daughters deserted him.

On the other hand, true beauty does not need to be exaggerated to be appreciated. A person with true beauty has no need to put up a false front, their character shines forth for all to see and admire.

The woman of Proverbs 31 simply did her work, she did it with all her heart and that was enough.

She wasn’t too concerned with the latest hairstyles to plant a vineyard for her family, “…with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard,” (vs. 16b).

She did not mind that she might have dark circles under her eyes after being awake during the night, “Her lamp does not go out at night,” (vs.18b).

While many women get manicures and nail polish, this woman didn’t hesitate to use her hands for rough work, “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands,” (vs. 13).

Instead of going on diets and exercising so she would look good at the beach, this woman “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong,” (vs. 17) so she can work hard and not become tired.

She is concerned about all those around her, and is not self-centered.

Proverbs doesn’t say she made sure to have “me-time” every week, or every day. She does her husband good, all the days of her life, and wants to make sure his character is respected in the town. She provides food for her own household, including her servants. She is worried about the poor in her town, and shares some of her hard-earned fruits with the needy.

This is true beauty because it is the beauty which God intended. The world and Satan have created a “pseudo-beauty” that they want everyone to have. Their beauty is self-centered, and unseemly.

True beauty is beautiful because it is God’s way, and for us to accept the world’s standard of beauty would be to reject God’s plan for human beings.

“A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

I would like to thank the following companies for their generous contributions to the grand prizes:
Please comment and congratulate the winners and runners up on their wonderful work! Or, if you ARE a winner/runner up, you can comment with wild exclamations of delight.... :-)

See you all for next year's contest.... whatever that may be!

May 21, 2009

Essay Contest Wrap-Up

Well, the contest is now closed to entries and we are in the process of judging and evaluating all the wonderful essays we received!

This post is to say that if you submitted a snail mail entry and as of May 21, 2009 have not received an email confirming that we received it, please email me.

We are looking forward to announcing our winners and runners up on June 1st!! Check back then!

May 12, 2009

Calling all bakers!

CCB buttonI want to let all of you know about a fun baking club! It's called "Cross Country Bakers" and was started by two Christian sisters who want to help other ladies expand their baking repertoire. They are looking for more people to join!

It is open to Christian ladies of any age. Each month we pick an overall theme, and a recipe within that theme for each week. Every week everyone in the club makes the recipe (you are free to be creative and substitute ingredients, or even change the recipe around into something else - we've had coffee cake turned into yeast bread before... :-) ). Everyone takes a photo of their finished product and on Saturday posts it on the CCB blog along with their synopsis of how they liked it, what they would do differently next time, and any changes they made.

All you need to join this club is a camera, a Blogger (Google) account (which is free!), an oven and a love of baking! :-)

You can visit the CCB blog HERE. If you have any questions, or to sign up, email Hannah at crosscountrybakers (at)

May 11, 2009

A Reminder!

PRIVATE-Essay Contest buttonDon't forget that FRIDAY, May 15th, is the deadline for entries to the essay contest!!

Electronic essays will be accepted through midnight of the 15th and snail mail entries must be postmarked by the 15th.

Enter soon! We will not be extending the deadline again!

May 8, 2009

Another Giveaway

Well, there are just chances for you to win stuff all over the place! This time it's a DVD of Ken Ham giving a message titled "Top 10 questions about Genesis and Creation."

This giveaway ends on Monday, May 11th. Hop over to to get the details and enter for your chance to win!

Oh, and the graphic giveaway on ends at midnight tonight (May 8th).

Hope you win!! :-)

May 6, 2009

I'm in love with crabapples!

The tree, I mean. :-) I've never tried an actual crabapple but around this time of year, the trees are bursting with blooms. I don't think it's possible to squeeze more flowers together. These trees are just loaded with flowers!! This is one of my favorite times of the year because I can go out with my best friend - my camera :-) - and take millions (that is almost not an exaggeration) of floral pictures! I'm sharing some with you. All of them are crabapple varieties except the fourth and last pictures, which are of our cherry tree, which I love just as much as the crabapple trees.

Images are Copyrighted © Kathryn Grace Photography

April 30, 2009

***Essay Contest Deadline Extended!***

Apparently Maidens of Virtue cannot have a writing contest without extending the deadline. :-) We have had to with both previous contests and this one is no exception!

The new deadline is May 15th, 2009. Winners will now be announced June 1st, 2009.

So if you haven't entered yet, you still have a chance! Click here for the contest information!

April 27, 2009

I was interviewed...

April from Once Upon a Qpon interviewed me about Maidens of Virtue and at her blog you have a chance to win a free copy of The Hope Chest Record Book!

Check it out! :-)

April 25, 2009

One week...

Just a reminder that it is only 1 WEEK till the deadline for essay submissions to the contest! May 1st... email entries must be received by this date and snail mail entries must be postmarked by it.

I'll let you in on a little secret... there's a great chance for winning. In other words, the first three entrants in each category will receive a little gift from us, and you have a very good chance of getting in the first three (in plain English, we need some entries... we have some really great prizes and they need to go to winners!).

So... start writing and pass the word on!!

Here's the link to the contest details if you haven't seen them yet:

April 14, 2009

Win a free custom graphic!

I just started a new website for graphic design, making custom headers, banners and buttons. I haven't opened up for paid business yet because I need more experience working with people and doing what they want, instead of just me picturing something and making it. :-)

So I am having a giveaway, and am giving away a free graphic - your choice. To be entered in the drawing, go to and enter your name, email and website/blog (whatever site you would use the graphic for). You can get more entries when you tell your friends and they enter and mention your name.

I'll announce a winner probably sometime in early May... exact date is not decided yet!

April 3, 2009

Seeking Starchless Recipes

Our family is trying to cut out flour, starch and sugar from our diet... not permanently (I hope!! :-) ) but for a while. For someone who LOVES pasta and bread, it's been really tough planning menus. I went through my recipe box and there are barely any recipes that don't have some form of starch in them (flour, potatoes, etc.).

Soooo... I'm wondering if anyone reading this has any good starch-free recipes, specifically main dishes, though sides are helpful too. If you do, PLEASE leave a comment with your recipe!

March 31, 2009

Cauliflower Wraps

A friend of mine sent this recipe to me and it's become one of my favorite lunches.

cauliflower wrap

And here's how to make it!

approx. 6 flour tortillas


1 large head cauliflower
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard (I love dijon mustard, so sometimes I add more... :-) )
1/2 to 3/4 cup Almond Spread (recipe follows - you can also use mayonnaise, but the almond spread is really good!)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt

Cut the cauliflower into chunks and steam until very soft - about 15 minutes from the time there is actually steam. Meantime, make your almond spread. Drain the cauliflower if necessary and mash it with the remaining ingredients (I like to mix the remaining ingredients together first, and then add to the cauliflower). Set aside.

Almond Spread:
about 1/3 cup raw almonds
about 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, pressed (optional - my sister thinks it's too sharp with the garlic raw)
pepper or cayenne pepper if desired

Boil about 2 cups of water (separate from the 1/3 cup). Place the almonds in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let them sit for about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water to cool and then squeeze the almonds to pop them out of the skins (fun for little kids who want to help :-) ). Place the almonds in a blender with the 1/3 cup of water and blend well. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy, about 2 minutes.
(This will make more than you need for the wraps - you can save the excess as use as a healthy substitute for mayo on sandwiches, etc.)

1 to 2 tomatoes, chopped
lettuce leaves, torn
1 grated carrots
1/4 cup black olives, sliced (optional)
(you can add any other toppings you like)

Spoon cauliflower filling into tortillas and top with veggies. You can serve this warm or chilled. Fold up and enjoy!
Serves 3 to 4.

March 24, 2009

Regency: Modest?

Lately I have seen a lot of Christian young ladies, particularly homeschooled ones, who are very enthusiastic, you might say, about Regency style fashions. I've been wondering if this style is really modest or not. Obviously most of the original gowns of the period were not, being very (very) low necked, but most girls these days are making them with higher necklines. But is the shape of the gown modest?

This is not going to be a long post about my opinion since I am still rather undecided myself. I have a poll up, and I would love it if you would vote and afterward, comment on this post with WHY you voted that way (why you think it is/isn't modest).

*Update: Final poll results are below.*

Do you think the Regency (empire waist/Pride & Prejudice style) is modest?
  • Yes (55.0%, 28 Votes)
  • No (29.0%, 15 Votes)
  • Haven't thought about it (16.0%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 51

March 17, 2009

Dress Up Your Letters

I just wanted to share a cute way to seal your letters that my sister did recently. Even if you are putting them in an envelope and mailing them, this is a cute way to fancy it up a bit.

Letter Cases

If your letter paper is 8.5 x 11 inches, fold it in half lengthwise and then in thirds. Then cut a piece of colored paper or cardstock to 5.5 x 7 inches. Place your letter on the cardstock and fold the cardstock over it in uneven thirds, so that the top flap comes to the middle (as in the photo). Then you can just place a sticker to seal it, or do as we did and punch out a circle, write the recipient's name on it, and attach it with adhesive such as double stick tape. My sister added a little bit of whimsy to the sticker by putting little dots all around the circle.
Of course your paper can be any size - just adjust the measurements as needed.

March 12, 2009

The Maidens of Virtue Essay Contest!

PhotobucketWell, here it is! Our first essay contest!! *cheers* I hope you all will enter! :-)

This year we have 2 categories as usual (9 to 13 and 14-25) BUT  this year they will both write on the same topic. Each category has different word limits so make sure you check which category you are in.

This year's topic is True Beauty. It was a bit harder coming up with an essay topic than a poetry topic - but hopefully this one won't be too hard for you and will allow you plenty of room for creativity.

We'll be awarding one grand prize in each category, along with several runners up - the number depends on how many entries we get! Prizes are to be announced...

AND the first three entrants in each category (that is, the 3 earliest postmark dates or email dates) will receive a little gift... So get busy!! :-)

Please tell all your friends about this! Oh, and if you want to put that button on your blog or website, you can grab this code (it's on our sidebar and website too so you can always come back and grab it again):

(The button will be deleted from our server after the contest is over and will no longer be visible on your site).

If you have any questions you can email me or you can always leave a comment. HAPPY WRITING!

March 10, 2009

And the verdict is...

Well, it's been a week since I posted the contest poll and the results are that essays and poetry tied! That put me pretty much back where I started - not really, since now I know there's interest on both sides. I did a random drawing between the two and so... this year we will be having an essay contest!

For those of you who voted for poetry... please don't go away. I'm sure we will do a poetry contest again!

Stay tuned for more information on the contest coming up soon... and thanks to all those that voted! :-)

March 2, 2009

Essays or Poetry?

It's March and March is usually the time when I announce my Maidens of Virtue Poetry Contest. This year, however, I started thinking about whether or not to continue doing poetry. Both times I did the contest I didn't really get great response - I got enough to actually do the contest but still comparatively few entries.

So I was contemplating doing an essay contest this year instead of poetry. I'm looking for feedback - if those of you who visit my blog and website would prefer to enter an essay contest, or a poetry contest.

Please comment with your opinion - the more feedback I get, the more accurately I can decide which type of contest I should do this year! I'd like to get as many opinions as I can within the next week or so. Thanks for your help!

February 20, 2009

Doll Dresses on Sale!

Just letting you know... the doll dresses at Maidens of Virtue are now on sale - save $3. Please head over and check it out!

Remember, these will be discontinued on February 28th!

(By the way, I apologize for all these "announcement" style posts... yes, some more thoughtful posts WILL be coming soon!) :-)

February 17, 2009

Another chance for a free ePattern...

A little while ago I posted about the e-pattern giveaway at A Pondering Heart. In case some of you entered and didn't win, you can have another chance as Miss Jocelyn is giving away another one!

All you have to do is comment with your favorite Sense & Sensibility e-pattern to be entered in the drawing.

Click here to check it out! :-)

February 12, 2009

Last Chance for Doll Dresses!

It's time to say good bye to our charming doll dresses in the Maidens of Virtue shoppe. :-(

Due to the recent child product law, we can no longer carry them. But instead of them going to waste, we would love to get them into people's hands.

So this is it! By the end of February they will be GONE! Hurry over and pick one up - there's only two in stock and they are one of a kind.

February 10, 2009

Napkin Folding Tutorials

Just wanted to let ya'll know that I updated my napkin folding instructions on Maidens of Virtue. There are three new folds, and all the instructions have been updated to video tutorials instead of pictures. Here's a sampling of one of my favorites - and check out the others for some fun ways to dress up your dinner table tonight!

February 9, 2009

Real Girls Shoot Guns

All right, I'm not sure if that is necessarily true but I had to think of a title for this post. :-)

The reason I am posting this is because on Saturday something happened... I shot a gun for the first time in my life.
K Shooting

My dad has been "studying" guns and all the laws regarding them, etc. a lot lately and recently purchased a few BB guns. So on Saturday he took us out to "sight in" the rifles.

And I had to shoot one. *gasp*

Sometimes I wonder if there is a particle of tomboyishness in me. Sure, I like to ride bikes and be outside, but shoot a gun? That's taking it a little far. Plus I had just been interrupted in the middle of writing a letter - to go shoot a gun. Really, I don't see what amusement there is in it. You look through the little hole (and by the way, I hate the face I have to make in order to see through that thing :-) ), and after a long time of trying to get it lined up, you pull the trigger - and that's it. What a reward - a little hole in a piece of cardboard!! :-)

Ok, I do have a point to make in this post, beyond establishing the fact that I don't care much for guns. I know there are a lot of girls out there who enjoy shooting - I know some of them. And I think that's ok.

Some people have a distorted view of femininity, that says you can only be feminine if you wear lace and frills, sit in a rocking chair knitting all day, scream when bugs land on you and faint at the sight of blood. That is not true femininity. Sure, feminine dress is an important element and young ladies should learn to sew and knit -  but it's much more than that. It's more a way of thinking and a way of life. Feminine girls can get down in the dirt and still be feminine. They can climb trees and still be feminine.

And they can shoot guns... and still be feminine.

February 6, 2009

New Look

I was getting a little tired of the purple design, so I decided to go with this one. What do you think? Like it better? Wish I would go back to purple?

January 29, 2009

Words of Wisdom

One of the ladies at our church once shared a little piece of wisdom that she would tell her children when they were younger and were less than enthusiastic about doing a job.
"You can do it happy, or you can do it sad. Either way you have to do it, so you may as well do it happy."
This sounds like just a good piece of advice to give little ones - but it applies to "big kids" too, and I don't think it exempts adults either. Much too often I find myself complaining or grumbling about a task I find disagreeable. I may not be outwardly "doing it sad" but in my thoughts I am thinking, "If only I didn't have to do this. I would much rather be _________(fill in the blank)."

Two Sundays ago our elder challenged us all to really evaluate how much we complain and make it our goal that week not to do it. Did I? Welllll.....

Remember why you are doing those seemingly mundane tasks. Remember to do it as unto the Lord. After all, as the quote above explains, you have to do it whether or not you want to; so while you're at it you may as well have a cheerful attitude.

January 22, 2009


The past couple weeks we have started a new ongoing project - faithbooking. A faithbook is basically a scrapbook centered on your faith. We have expanded it to include family history, and things about us so that we can pass these books on to our children and grandchildren - and great grandchildren!

We've been using a faithbooking kit called "This is My Story" as our base and working off of it. The kit comes with a book and pre-made, fill-in-the-blank pages, but we are just using the workbook and creating our own pages. We're only 2 weeks into it. Each Friday we plan a set of pages in our "draft book" - just a marble notebook where we can jot down our ideas before creating the actual page. Then the rest of the week we turn those draft pages into the real thing.

It's a lot of fun; this week was very... um... interesting as we had to do a few seemingly random things. Things like:
• If you were a type of fruit, what would you be and why?
• If you were a room in a house, which would you be and why?
• If you were a musical instrument, what would you be and why?
It was rather weird to have to come up with answers to these - it took me forever to think of what fruit I'd be and eventually I gave up and did a flower instead. :-) What kind of fruit would you be? Or room or flower or instrument? Why? :-) (I was thinking, why do we need to write this down? But just think how funny it will be for my great grandchildren to read it...)

But then of course there's the meaningful things too, like favorite childhood memories, people who have influenced my life, writing a letter about myself to the next generation, and things about me like the meaning of my name, etc. Those are the kinds of things we are doing now, though I'm sure down the road we will be making pages about what we believe and why.

Scrapbooking is a lot of fun, though I am a hopeless perfectionist. My mom and sister have finished three pages in the space of time it takes me to make one. :-)

I would encourage you to create your own faithbook in some form. It doesn't necessarily have to be a scrapbook, though I think the scrapbook idea is the most fun (you can put pictures and everything in it and make it look nice); it could be a journal, or my mom had the idea for the scrapbook-phobic people to just do the draft book - even if you don't make the actual pages, at least write it down! Future generations will thank you. Oh - and do it in your own handwriting. You may have beautiful neat writing or horrible sloppy writing - but either way it will be much more meaningful to have everything in your own hand instead of some nice - but impersonal - computer font.

January 21, 2009

ePattern Giveaway!

Hop on over to A Pondering Heart and have a chance to win one of Sense & Sensibility's E-patterns of your choice!

Click HERE to enter!

Make sure you also check out her other items being given away - there are a LOT of great things on there!

Have a great day!

January 17, 2009

For God So Loved the World

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
This is one of the most widely quoted verses in the entire Bible. If you've gone to Sunday School, you've heard this verse. You've probably learned it as one of your memory verses. It's considered one of those verses that you read when you are witnessing to someone.

Generally the verse is read and you hear something like this, "See, God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us." But here's the interesting thing - rarely is the verse quoted in context. With the context, it actually doesn't mean that "God loved the world so much."

With the surrounding verses, it reads:
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:14-17)
The root word for "so" in verse 16 doesn't mean "so much." It means, "in this way," or "in like manner." So it might read, "For in this way God loved the world."

I had always thought that it meant God loved the world so much, from everything I had learned and been told, until a year or two ago our elder at our church preached on this and pointed out the difference.

All too often I think we read a verse without the context and get a distorted view of what it means. Though even with this set of verses, I don't know if I would have gotten the correct meaning if I didn't know what the root word means. I know there are Bible programs out there that allow you to look up the actual Hebrew or Greek words and what they mean, which is very helpful for getting down to the true meaning of verses such as this one.

January 13, 2009

Movie Review: Fireproof

fireproofThis post is a bit overdue... we went to the theater to see "Fireproof" on its opening day. I was eager to see it, having seen both of Sherwood Pictures' previous movies, "Facing the Giants" and "Flywheel," and really enjoyed them.

Fireproof definitely lived up to my expectations!

It's the story of firefighter Caleb Holt, whose marriage with his wife Catherine is falling apart. They are about to get a divorce, when Caleb's dad challenges him to hold off on it for 40 days and do "the love dare" - a booklet he sends him with specific things to do for 40 days. So Caleb sets out to win back his wife's heart.

He isn't a Christian at the beginning and his heart isn't really in the challenge, though when you watch the movie you will see that changes. :-)

Fire and rescue scenes make it exciting, and there are several comic relief characters that had me nearly falling off my seat laughing.

The whole movie communicates a message a lot of people need to hear. Marriage is worth saving! And of course the gospel is presented in the film as well (I can't remember exactly, but I think it may have a bit of an Arminian bent to it). It's probably the best movie I watched last year!

Due to the mature nature of the film, dealing with marriage issues, I do not recommend that children under 12 or 13 watch it (though of course that is up to the parents' discretion). In the beginning, Caleb and Catherine have a very heated argument which could be disturbing to young children. Caleb also deals with pornography, though it is very discreetly handled (my 14 year old sister didn't even catch on to it).

In summary

• Theme of the movie is great - marital fidelity, marriage that honors God
• Clean - no swearing or bad language of any kind (YES!)
• Good balance of humor and seriousness

Cons (if there are any :-)):

• I would have liked to see the women dress more femininely. They generally wear pants. Towards the end of the movie Catherine wears a fairly low-necked dress (not terrible but not great either), and at the very end wears a halter-top dress.
• I don't remember seeing Caleb read the Bible after he becomes a Christian - he mostly reads the Love Dare book. I think it would have been better if he would have read his Bible more.
• There is a section where Catherine is becoming a bit partial with a doctor at the hospital where she works. Thankfully, however, his true character is revealed, Caleb confronts him about it, and he backs off. So I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bad part, it's just that it IS there, fyi.

You can preorder Fireproof now, and it comes out in stores on January 27th! I would highly recommend you get this movie; both because it's a good movie and to support Sherwood Pictures in making God-honoring films.

CLICK HERE to order Fireproof online.

sherwood pictures dvd setYou can also get a 3 DVD set of Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel when you click HERE.

January 7, 2009

Winter Bundle Giveaway

Miss Jocelyn over at A Pondering Heart is having a fabulous giveaway! She just posted week two of the giveaways and you have two days left to enter the week one giveaways. There are a ton of great prizes to be won; head on over and check it out!

Click here for the complete giveaway info!

January 3, 2009

Miracles Happen

And sometimes it's your mother who works them.

This morning I asked mom if she would upgrade my version of WordPress that I use to the latest version. She had just upgraded one of her blogs with no problem so she went ahead and did mine. WITH problems! My entire blog was lost, except for a couple of posts and the ones I still had on the old blogger blog.

In short (not really) my poor mother has sat in front of her computer almost all day trying to recover my blog for me. She tried everything it seemed to no avail - but finally she was able to rescue it!

It seemed nothing short of a miracle! :-)


January 1, 2009

Another Year Has Gone

2009 is here! It does seem as though every passing year goes by faster than the last one, doesn't it? Looking back on 2008 I see many blessings and a few hard times that we've gone through.

We celebrated living in our "new house" for one year in February. It's been wonderful. We live on six lovely acres, 3 of which are beautifully landscaped (by the previous owners). This brings its joys and its sorrows since we have to try to keep it looking nice and have a LOT of trees that always seem to need trimming. :-) We are surrounded on two sides by a golf course and in the winter season it's beautiful because you can't tell it's a golf course. :-) This year Dad bought us snow shoes so we have enjoyed snow shoeing out there.

Also in February my grandparents (on my mom's side) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary - what a blessing! We see less and less of that these days. My grandparents are a wonderful example to us of a strong marriage. In May we had a grand party and it was great to see so many people get up and honor my Opa and Oma (grandpa & grandma in Dutch) for their commitment to each other. We love them dearly and look forward to seeing many more years of marriage for them!

Oh, let's see... what else? I turned 16 in April and had the pleasure of being bombarded with questions about if I am driving yet. :-) I am not - probably this year!

In 2007 my Nini (grandma in Chinese - Dad's side) was diagnosed with colon cancer and went through a very trying series of events to get rid of it. This year we were so glad to see her recover and gain back strength. Praise the Lord!

Toward the fall we were saddened to lose Tara's cat Scamper after a very long illness. We miss him a lot as our kitties are very dear to us. He was very sweet and lovable and we have many fun memories of him. Sweetest of all was that the night before we had to put him down, he climbed the stairs even though he could barely walk and climbed in bed with Tara for a snuggle, and did it again in the morning, though she had to pick him up because he couldn't get up on the bed himself.

scamper 3

We enjoyed celebrating our nation's independence with friends from church. Though our country is far from perfect, we are grateful for the liberties we enjoy.

In August I was immensely blessed by my friend, Raeanne. I have for a long time wanted to play the harp but I didn't think it would happen for a while (if ever) due to the expense. Raeanne is from our church and has played harp for several years and a few years ago upgraded from a small, 27 string harp to a larger one. When we were over at her house one day she offered to let me borrow her old one, as it was just sitting in her closet. I accepted. :-) I am so grateful for her generosity and for the opportunity to start learning much earlier than I would have if I had waited till I had saved enough to buy my own. Thank you, Raeanne!!

I'm sure there's a LOT I am leaving out but this is getting rather long. I can't forget to mention blessings such as, Dad still having a job when so many are losing theirs, blessings in our church - especially the babies that were born this year (including one born New Year's Eve!), and homeschooling, etc.

I am looking forward to what God will do in 2009!