Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday five for January 18

Friday again!  So it's time for another Friday five.  Here goes:

1.  A wonderful evening last Friday with a couple we're informally discipling.  Getting together over a meal and discussing God's Word with believers who are eager to grow ... it just doesn't get much better than that.
Lovely graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
2.  Birthday blessings -- supper at our local daughter's home on Saturday evening, with homemade pizza by Carrie and a pasta salad I brought -- and then Mr. T took me out to our favorite local seafood place for lunch after church on Sunday.  Carrie made a delicious chocolate eclair dessert rather than a birthday cake, as a nod to the eclairs my dad always got for my birthday for many years.  A fun moment of the birthday supper at Jim and Carrie's was when we sat down to eat and Josiah pointed at both his mom and me and chanted, "Two good cooks!  Two good cooks!"

3. A wonderful day in church with great fellowship and encouraging, challenging messages from the book of James.
Gorgeous photo graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
4.  A lovely phone chat with our Nevada daughter on Tuesday afternoon!  It's always a  joy to catch up on the happenings in one another's lives and to share prayer requests and praises.

5.  The opportunity to get out and walk at least four times this week.  The roads were pretty icy and there was often a rather stiff breeze, but we got out there.  Tuesday we were able to achieve a longer loop we've been wanting to try -- at least 3 miles.  It was such a blessing to be out in the sunshine and fresh air.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday Medley for January 16

 Yes, it's Wednesday again, so it's time for the Wednesday Medley hosted by Terri at Your Friend from Florida!   Terri asks the questions and bloggers come up with their own answers. 

 Wouldn't you like to join in also?  Just head over to Terri's blog, get the questions, then copy, paste, and answer them on your own blog.  Then you can go back to Terri's and link up.   Here we go with the questions:

Wednesday, January 16th, is National Do Nothing Day!! National Nothing Day was proposed in 1972 by columnist Harold Pullman Coffin. This day has been observed annually since 1973. Of course, the way to celebrate it is to do nothing! 

1.  To commemorate Do Nothing Day in SOME way, tell us something about your life (or the life of someone close to you) in 1973!! 
I think I would rather commemorate the day by doing nothing ... that is, nothing that must be done.  I would like to spend a day quietly, resting, thinking, praying, pondering, dreaming ... with some crafting time thrown in. It's almost certain not to happen, but what a nice fantasy!

2.  Now that we are thinking back, please tell us what your favorite past time was as a child.
When I think about winter in particular, one of my favorite pastimes was paper dolls.  I could spend hours making them and playing with them. 

3.  What is the best way to cheer you up on a bad day? 
Taking some time to stop and pray and commit the difficult situation or situations to the Lord.  Spending some time in the book of Psalms always encourages me.  And a nice cup of tea or coffee or some chocolate doesn't hurt either.

4.  How old were you when you first started dating? Do you remember your first date?
This was a very informal "date", but I think I was around 14 when a fellow member of my youth group asked me to meet him at a dance our group was having.  I remember very little about it except for the dress that I wore.  The fabric had pastel candy-stripes and I absolutely loved that dress.  (I probably wouldn't have remembered any of this, if not for that question!)

5.  Today is also National Fig Newton day.  Do you like figs/Fig Newtons?
I like figs but seldom have them.  I love Fig Newtons!

6.  Tell us something random about your week.
Getting back to walking after a week (last week) of having to miss it due to rain and snow.  Feels great! 

And that's the Wednesday Medley for this week!   (All winter decorating photos are from previous years ... most from 2010 and 2011.)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Goals for 2019

(The delightful graphic above is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings.)

A new year calls for new goals, and it often takes me awhile of reviewing and reflecting to formulate mine.  Here are my thoughts as I look to 2019:

Personal growth (I included both spiritual and intellectual growth, as well as character development, in this category): Work on character qualities of unselfishness, kindness, compassion, perseverance, graciousness, and self-control.  Work at eliminating the time-wasting habit of procrastination.  Read, study, journal, memorize and meditate on God's Word daily.  As time allows, add to my "What do I know about my God?" Scripture notebook.  Attend a couples' retreat with my hubby and a ladies' retreat or two on my own.  Read and study at least 6 books.  Nurture creativity.
Health (includes physical, mental, and emotional health):  Exercise at least five times per week.  Get enough water, sleep, fresh air, and sunshine.  Cook and eat with health in mind.  Do something creative or craft-related every day.  Journal and write as often as possible.  Continually cultivate the habit of gratitude.  Continually seek to be joyful and to keep my eyes open daily for the little things that make each day special.  Find moments of relaxation with my husband as often as possible.
Marriage/family life (includes homemaking): Plan periodic getaways.  Take the best possible care of my husband and help him in every way possible.  Take advantage of every moment together.  Take time for dates.  Plan fun activities with nearby grandchildren.  Minister to my husband  and others with the gift of a peaceful, orderly home by decluttering the entire house and implementing homemaking routines.  Stay in good touch with faraway family by regular phone calls, emailing, writing, Skyping, and sending packages.
Money matters:  Spend less on groceries on a weekly basis.  Continue listing and selling small vintage items in my Etsy shop.  Pray about eventually making items to sell at craft fairs or on Etsy.  Consider doing some writing for paying publication.  Prayerfully fulfill my trust responsibilities, seeking God's continual guidance in them.
Relationships outside the home:  Be more of an encouragement to my daughters, friends, and the ladies in my Sunday School class.  Stay in better touch with faraway friends and family.  Make myself available to help and encourage those who are nearby.  Continue blogging as a means of encouraging other ladies; take advantage of opportunities to meet fellow bloggers.  Work harder at cultivating extended family relationships, staying in touch with and spending time with my cousins more often.
Ministry:  Deepen my prayer life, praying regularly for those with deep needs, praying daily for our pastoral search.  Continue working on and teaching the study A Woman who Reflects the Heart of Jesus.  Continue cleaning the church with my hubby once or twice per month and providing Sunday coffee break snacks once per month.  Minister to others with hospitality as the opportunities arise.  Continue our informal ministry of fellowship and mentoring with younger friends. 
Have you set goals for 2019 yet?  I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do find it very helpful to consider and set goals for a new year.  You can find further inspiration on this Pinterest board of mine: A new year, a fresh start.  Happy New Year, and happy goal setting!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday five for January 11

Gorgeous graphic from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Friday again!  Somehow they roll around so regularly.  I find myself with a dearth of photos to illustrate this post, so will just use winter photos, most from previous years.

With the help of my wonderful Best of My Days notepad from Ashley at
Under the Sycamore, I'm managing to keep track of my blessings and the good things in each day a lot more regularly.  Below you see a Best of My Days wrapped up for gifting, in a previous year.

So here goes with the Friday five:

1.  A wonderful time of fellowship and a mini Bible study around our supper table last Friday night.  Five young adults joined us and it was just a refreshing, encouraging time.

2.  Celebrating our "Christmas" with two local teen granddaughters who had not been able to be with us for our traditional Christmas eve time with them.  It was sort of nice to extend the celebration a bit!

3.  Seeing our dear friends Dick and Terry back in church on Sunday, thanks to a recent move back to New Hampshire after twelve years away.

4.  A lovely phone chat with my Nevada daughter on Monday.  She told me she had glimpsed a tray of our traditional Christmas cookies in a photo her sister sent her, and could almost taste them right through cyberspace. 
A small cookie tray for friends in 2013 -- several of the traditional favorites are on it.

5.  Getting some serious decluttering of cleaning supplies completed and also getting the Christmas wrappings decluttered and put away.

And that's it for this week's Friday five!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A few more questions as I consider the past year

Delightful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Here are just a few more questions that have helped me in evaluating 2018.  As you will see, they are also helping as I plan goals for 2019.  I found the questions here: Four Questions to Evaluate Your Walk with God for the New Year.  I used these same questions in evaluating 2017 and planning for 2018.  If you're still trying to formulate your thinking and some simple goals for the New Year, you might find them helpful too.  As you will see, it's as simple as 1-2-3-4.

So here goes...

1.  What is one good thing that God did in your life last year?

There were many good things, but perhaps the most wonderful was allowing us to take our local daughter and her family out to Nevada where they could all spend quality time with our NV daughter and her family.  It was such a blessing to be a part of.  It had been three years since they had all seen one another.

2.  What are two things you did right to grow closer to God last year?

๐ŸŒฟ I continued to use and expand upon my prayer journal.
๐ŸŒฟ  I spent quality time in God's Word, doing months of Scripture journaling and completing a study of Colossians.

3.  What are three things that got in the way of your walk with God last year?

* Procrastination
* Poor time management
* Instagram

4.  What are four things you will do this year to strengthen your walk with God?

๐ŸŒฟ  Read through the Bible.
๐ŸŒฟ  Read and actually study more helpful Christian books.
๐ŸŒฟ  Stay off Instagram until afternoon.
๐ŸŒฟ  Begin a more structured Scripture memory program.

Simple questions, aren't they?  Why not take a few minutes and give them some thought?

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Reflecting on 2018

Every year I like to evaluate the year just past and there are various questions I have used to do so.  One list I've used a few times has 31 questions!  Another may have even more.  But this year, as last, I liked the idea of just ten questions to reflect upon the year, and I have finally found time to do so.  These questions from Holley Gerth, which I have used a couple of times before, were just what I needed. 

So here are the questions and my answers:

๐ŸŒŸWhat went well this year?
My quiet times and devotional life;  blogging; preparing and teaching my Sunday School lessons.  Our trip to Nevada went very well and was such a blessing.  I opened an Etsy shop in the early part of 2018 to sell vintage items as part of my responsibility for cleaning out my childhood home, and it's been going very well.  I was also excited to meet two fellow bloggers this year -- Vee and Denise!  These ladies are as lovely and gracious in person as they are on their blogs!

The last few months of 2018 included a number of long walks, which I am really thankful for.   We were able to reconnect a bit with several cousins and other extended family that we seldom see.  I also saw God give guidance, grace, and strength for dealing with estate issues and for trying to encourage my husband and our church family as we continue without a pastor.  We extended a lot of hospitality this year and have had some wonderful opportunities to mentor and disciple younger believers.

๐ŸŒŸWhat did not go well?
My physical life, especially the factors of eating right, exercise, and drinking enough water.  I didn't do all that well with my homemaking responsibilities.  I had very little creative time, but I did manage to do some crafting in November and December.

๐ŸŒŸWhat do I want to do the same next year?
All of the things that went well are things I want to continue with and perhaps even improve upon.  (There may not be a trip to Nevada, and I may not meet new bloggers, but you never know.  I think that Arlene and her hubby are headed to New England this fall!)

๐ŸŒŸWhat do I want to do differently?
 I want to eat more healthfully, walk more often, drink more water, get more sleep and fresh air, and I want to get a much better handle on my homemaking responsibilities.  I want to do something creative every day, no matter how small.  I want to structure my quiet time in such a way that I don't have to break it into segments.  I have begun reading through the Bible  again this year, after several years of not doing so.

๐ŸŒŸWhen did I feel most in my “sweet spot”?
Preparing for and teaching my Sunday School lessons; our informal times of discipleship study with new believers; blogging; learning and being refreshed at retreats; taking time for simple getaways with my hubby.  Working at my sewing machine or my little crafting desk.

๐ŸŒŸWhen did I feel the most exhausted and drained?
When working on estate paperwork.  Whenever I had to deal with difficult people.  Any day that I failed to get enough sleep the night before.

๐ŸŒŸWhat did I say “yes” to that I wish I had said “no” to?
My answer is the same as last year's.  I really can't think of anything in that category.  There were plenty of things I would rather not have been doing, but they weren't things I could have said No to.

๐ŸŒŸWhat did I say “no” to that I wish I had said “yes” to?
Time for crafting and other creative pursuits.  Drinking enough water and making other healthy choices.

๐ŸŒŸWhat helped me stay close to God this year?
Making sure I had my quiet time, even on the busiest days, even if I had to split it up into several segments.  Continued use of prayer journal and consistent prayer life.  Scripture journaling on a regular basis.  Good time in God's Word every day.  The opportunity to be blessed by time at retreats for women and couples.

๐ŸŒŸWhat did He teach me that I want to live out next year?
That I can trust Him for every detail of a very complicated and busy life.  That I can be strong and courageous in the face of many unknowns because He will be with me wherever I go.

Maybe these questions are just what you need, too, to get a handle on 2019?   It's not too late!

Monday, January 07, 2019

Courage: my word for 2019

Beautiful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Sometimes it takes me awhile to come up with a word for the year -- and I should be quick to add that I don't always choose one.  I don't think that choosing a word to focus on for the year ahead necessarily makes anyone more spiritual.  I do know that for me, this practice has been helpful in recent years. 

Sometimes I've even made Pinterest boards for my word of the year, for I find that invariably I run across blog posts or other information that relates to the word.  A Pinterest board gives me a place to put these so I don't lose them and can easily return to them.  Below you see a screenshot showing part of 2018's board.  Here's a link if you'd like to visit the board: Settled — My Word for 2018.

This year  I have chosen the word "courage".  Below you see a dictionary definition for courage.

I thought it would be a good idea to also look this up in a Bible dictionary, since I would be approaching this word from somewhat of a spiritual perspective.

Here is the definition from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary: "the strength of purpose that enables one to withstand fear or difficulty.  Physical courage is based on moral courage -- a reliance on the presence and power of God and a commitment to His commandments."

I like that definition quite a bit better,  don't you?  The standard dictionary definition leaves out God, His presence, and His power!

The Bible dictionary references two verses: Joshua 23:6 and 2 Chronicles 19:11.

Joshua 23:6 reads, "Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right and or to the left."

And the last part of 2 Chronicles 19:11 reads, "Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good."

I will add the verse I am using to encourage myself with courage at the end of the post.

A bit about the "why" of choosing this word:  I know that we all need courage from God to face the unknowns of any given new year.  But to me, this year holds some "known unknowns".  That is, I know there are things that are scheduled to happen in the coming year, but I have no idea at all how they are necessarily going to look.

For example: My trust and estate responsibilities will continue, but the time frame and details could be variable.  My hubby plans at least a partial retirement from his current job in late fall 2019, but how that is going to play out is very much up in the air.  At church, we continue to work at our pastoral search and certainly pray that 2019 will be the year God provides a pastor for us.  There will be innumerable unknowns between this point and that.  Dental or health needs need to be addressed for both of us, along with all of the unknowns that decisions like that can hold.  There are concerns about my hubby's aging mother.  We will probably spend time with our Nevada family, but whether they come here or we go there is still being thought and prayed about.  I could go on and on and on; those are just the bigger things.  I will need courage from God for every one of them.

Joshua 1:9 is the verse I am holding in my heart as I trust God for courage in 2019:  "Have I not commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

A couple of years ago, I studied this verse using the simple SOAP method of Bible study, and thought I would just share those very simple insights here.  The "S", of course, is for "Scripture", and I have written that out above, so we will just go on with the rest of the acronym and see what I found.

O= After Moses' death, God spoke to Joshua, who would be the new leader of the children of Israel.  How amazing it must have been to be encouraged by God Himself!  He assured Joshua that every inch of the promised land was theirs (v. 2-4); that He would be with him and not fail or forsake him; that no man would be able to stand before them (v. 5).  He encouraged and commanded Joshua to keep His Word in the forefront of his thinking, to meditate on it and obey it (v. 7-8).

Here in v. 9, God reminds Joshua to be strong and courageous: "Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of good courage."  This is the third time God has told him this: verses 6 and 7 record the same command.  He expands on it here:

* Be not afraid
* Be not dismayed

And then He tells him why: "for the LORD thy God is with thee wherever thou goest."  What possible need could there be for fear?

A= This is the perfect day for me to be meditating upon this verse.  Things are changing in my life.  There are many things I could be fearful about, from family concerns to legal matters.  Literally,  things will never be the same as they were before.  And yet ...

* I can be strong
* I can be courageous
* I need not be afraid
* I need not be dismayed


* The Lord my God is with me wherever I go and whatever I face.

P=  Lord, how I thank and praise You for Your Word!  I thank You today in particular for this powerful verse.  What a great reminder!  Because You, the all-powerful, all-knowing God, are with me, I can be strong and very courageous.  There is no need for fear or dismay.  I pray that you will help me to keep this verse firmly in my mind as I face the unknown, and thank You for all You will do, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Those things are every bit as true as they were in 2017 when I studied that verse.  So thankful that I can face the unknowns of this new year with strength and courage from God Himself!