Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17 Hodgepodge

 Wednesday again, so it's time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to get the questions; answer them on your own blog.  Then head back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are this week's questions:

1. What keeps you blogging?

Let's see.  I started this blog in 2005, mostly as a place to jot my thoughts and memories so I wouldn't forget them.   I started my Christmas blog in 2007, again as a place to put my memories, share crafts, recipes, and decorating ideas, and just share my love of Christmas with others.  I honestly just plain enjoy blogging. I still have more that I want to share, and would actually blog much more often if I had more time to do so.  I so enjoy connecting with readers and other bloggers, and it fascinates me to know that there are people in many other parts of the world who read my blogs.

I consider blogging a part of one of the purposes that God has for me -- that of encouraging and reaching out to other women.  That would keep me going, if nothing else did.

2. Some people like to travel in the winter months. Do you enjoy the beach in winter? 
I enjoy the beach more in the off season, actually.   Less people, plenty of room to walk ...

According to Southern Living the best U.S. beach towns to visit this winter are-

St Simons Island (Georgia), Hilton Head (South Carolina), Bald Head Island (North Carolina), Seaside (Florida), Bay St. Louis (Mississippi), Cape San Blas (Florida), South Padre Island (Texas), Folly Beach (South Carolina), Chincoteague (Virginia), Duck Key (Florida), Nags Head (North Carolina), and Fairhope (Alabama)

Have you been to any of the towns listed (in any season)? Which on the list appeals to you most this winter? 
I have visited Seaside, Florida and Fairhope, Alabama.  As to which town on the list appeals the most this winter, I would say Fairhope because Mr. T has family there.  But realistically,  the only beach town we are likely to get to this winter is probably in Maine.  (See above photo.)
3. What's a song you're embarrassed to know all the lyrics to? Are you really embarrassed or do just think you should be?

 I don't think there are any songs I'm embarrassed to know all the lyrics to. Probably as a young teen I knew the words to many pop songs, but no more.  I do know all the lyrics to many hymns, but obviously am not embarrassed by that.

It's actually a huge encouragement to be able to sing all of the verses to precious hymns without looking at a hymnbook.  I often sing while vacuuming, for instance.
Delightful hymn graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
4. When you were a kid what's something you thought would be fantastic as an adult, but now that you're an adult you realize it's not all that fantastic?

Hmmm ...maybe certain flavors.  I know there were some flavors, like anise for one, that I didn't care for and my parents told me I would probably like them as an adult.  I still don't.

I really can't think of much, if anything, that I couldn't wait to grow up to do, only to find out it wasn't all I thought it would be.

5. Share a quote you hope will inspire you in 2018.

I saw the quote below, from Sally Clarkson, on Instagram and really liked it.   It has definitely been true for me.  The more I trust God, the more I do literally see His fingerprints all over my life.  It's a very exciting and encouraging way to look at life.  I hope that in 2018 my own life experiences, seen in this light, will inspire me to share my faith with others -- to help them understand that this is possible, and actually what God would want,  for everyone.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I've got a lot on my mind as we head into a new year, and much that I had hoped to accomplish in January.  Just a couple of weeks left, but strangely, I'm feeling pretty relaxed about it.
Beautiful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Happy Wednesday, everyone!  It's a snowy one up here.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Goals for 2018

 (The lovely graphic is a free desktop wallpaper from Baptist Bible Hour.)

It has taken me awhile to formulate goals for 2018, but I think at long last I have my thoughts in some sort of order.  I've looked back at previous years' goals and I've gotten ideas from people like Sally Clarkson and from Aunt Ruthie's chat about the new year at Sugar Pie Farmhouse.  Most of the goals they were zeroing in on looked a lot like mine, and they broke the categories down a little differently, but it was good to get the refreshment of their advice.


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, and self-control.  Work at eliminating the time-wasting habit of procrastination.  Read, study, memorize and meditate on God's Word daily.  Continue working on my "What do I know about my God?" Scripture notebook.  Read at least 12 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 with the gift of a peaceful, orderly home by decluttering the entire house and implementing homemaking routines.  Plan trip to visit faraway family.

Money matters:  Spend less on groceries on a weekly basis.  Prayerfully get an Etsy shop up and running.  Pray about 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.  Work harder at cultivating extended family relationships.

Ministry:  Deepen my prayer life, praying regularly for those with deep needs, praying more faithfully 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.  Minister to others with hospitality as the opportunities arise.

Have you set goals for 2018 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 12, 2018

2018 word for the year: Settled

This absolutely gorgeous graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Finally I'm finding a few moments to blog about the word I've chosen for 2018.  It's a little different.

Let me say first that there is nothing magical about choosing a word for the year.  If you've never done this and don't feel led in that direction, don't stress about it.  Choosing a word for the year doesn't make a person more or less spiritual than another, and not choosing a word doesn't mean we're some sort of second-class Christian.   As Barbara H. wrote over at Stray Thoughts, "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."  Barbara gives this wise counsel in the post: Homemade Christmas cards and other stray thoughts.  If you go over to read it you will also have the blessing of seeing some of Barbara's lovely handmade cards.

I've felt led to choose a word for the year for the past five years.  Every year I'm really not sure if I'll have a word or not.  My words in the past have been purpose, balance, renewal, faithfulness, and stewardship.  This year I have chosen the word "settled".

Many times throughout the past few months I've caught myself saying something like this: "I will just be so thankful when everything is settled!"  There are a number of unsettled situations in our lives right now, and I'll truly be thankful when they are settled.  But in recent weeks I've started to think of "settled" in somewhat of a different light.

In Colossians 1:23 Paul writes about "continuing in the faith grounded and settled" and he encourages his readers not to be moved away from the hope of the Gospel.  Warren Wiersbe wrote concerning this phrase: "Paul used an architectural image in this verse -- a house, firmly set on the foundation.  The town of Colosse was located in a region known for earthquakes, and the word translated moved away can mean 'earthquake stricken'.  Paul was saying, 'If you are truly saved, and built on the solid foundation, Jesus Christ, then you will continue in the faith and nothing will move you'."

So even though things feel unsettled in my life, I can continue in my faith grounded and settled.  My faith is not in the uncertain things of life but a faithful, all-knowing, all-powerful God.

The verse that has really sparked my thinking concerning this word is 1 Peter 5:10 -- "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

M.R. Vincent tells us that the Greek word that is translated "settle" here in 1 Peter 5:10 is themelioo, meaning "to lay a foundation or provide with a foundation, to place on a firm, secure foundation. The radical notion of themelióō is to ground securely. Figuratively, it refers to providing a firm basis for belief or practice, establish, strengthen, settle (place so as to stay, establish or secure permanently), cause to be firm and unwavering".

William MacDonald writes in Believer's Bible Commentary, "God wants every believer to be firmly planted in a secure place in His Son and in His Word." 

Harry Lacey, quoted in the commentary mentioned above, says: "The inevitable suffering of the Christian life always yields the same blessed result in the character of believers: it will refine the faith, adjust the character, establish, strengthen and settle the people of God."

One of the commentators quoted on this passage at Precept Austin writes,
"Peter says that the God of all grace Himself promises to place suffering, storm tossed saints on a firm foundation ... themelióō refers to the secure foundation on which something rests, in this verse referring to the solid spiritual foundation on which God will establish Christians.

"The picture conveyed by themelióō is that of a house which is so firmly fixed on a foundation that it is not moved by winds or floods or figuratively by the stormy waves of suffering or the loud howling roar of our adversary, the devil."

Yes, that is what Peter says -- that the God of all grace will place storm-tossed believers on a solid spiritual foundation.  No matter how unsettled things in our world or our personal lives may be, God would have us to be settled, firm and unwavering, on that solid spiritual foundation that cannot be shaken.

His Word tells us so ... and His Word is "forever settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89)!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Reflecting on 2017

I'm really slow with reflecting on 2017, setting goals for 2018, and choosing a possible word for the year.  No real excuse, although I must say we had a rough couple of days last week with our furnace smoking inexplicably.  On Friday Mr. T finally found and took care of the problem, but there was lots of smoke in the house (not to mention lots of cold air coming in from open doors and windows) and also a lot of time wasted on my part trying to take care of this finicky heat source so that it would not smoke.

The smoke made my eyes and throat burn and I ended up with a humdinger of a cold. The beginning of this week was rough, with the need of a 2-hour nap each day in order to be able to function at all.   I actually did this reflecting on 2017 last week, but am just getting around to post it.

Every year I like to evaluate the year just past and there are various questions I have used to do so.  This year, as last, I liked the idea of just ten questions to reflect upon the year, and last week I finally found time to do so.  This year, as last, these questions from Holley Gerth were just what I needed. 

So here are the questions and my answers:

🌟What went well this year?
My quiet times and devotional life;  blogging; preparing and teaching my Sunday School lessons.  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 and he is on the search committee.

🌟What did not go well?
My physical life, especially the factors of eating right, exercise, and drinking enough water (although I will say I got far more exercise in 2017 than the previous year).  I didn't do all that well with my homemaking responsibilities, mostly because of caring for two houses.  And I had an almost complete dearth of creative time.

🌟What 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.

🌟What do I want to do differently?
 I want to eat more healthfully, walk more often, drink more water, get more sleep, 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.
🌟When did I feel most in my “sweet spot”?
Preparing for and teaching my Sunday School lessons; blogging; learning and being refreshed at retreats; taking time for simple getaways with my hubby.

🌟When did I feel the most exhausted and drained?
Almost all the time, actually.  Especially when working on estate paperwork.

🌟What did I say “yes” to that I wish I had said “no” to?
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.
🌟What 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.

🌟What 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.  Good time in God's Word every day.  The opportunity to be blessed by time at retreats for women and couples.

🌟What 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.

Maybe these questions are just what you need, too, to get a handle on 2018?   It's not too late!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 9 Hodgepodge

Wednesday again!  That means it's time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to get the questions.  Answer them on your own blog, and then ski, skate or toboggan back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are this week's [somewhat less challenging] questions:

1. January is National Mentoring Month. Have you ever had a mentor? Been a mentor? How would you rate the experience?

I have not officially been a mentor, but I have been involved in the mentoring process -- once to a younger mom and then later on,  my husband I were blessed to mentor a couple that had only recently trusted Jesus.   Of the two experiences, the first was exhausting and a bit frustrating.  The second was a rich blessing that continues to this day.  I have also not ever officially had a mentor, but there are a number of older women I have been able to look to for examples.

2. What current trend makes no sense to you?

There are quite a few current trends that make no sense at all to me.  The "man bun" is possibly the smallest and silliest of those trends that make no sense to me.  Others are much bigger and have much more of an impact on society. 

3. I saw a cartoon on Facebook highlighting a few 'weird' things that make you happy as an adult. The list included-writing with a nice pen, having plans cancelled, freshly cleaned sheets, eating the corner brownie, cleaning the dryer lint screen, and sipping coffee in that brief time before anyone else wakes up. (Credit for the cartoon goes here) Of the 'weird' things listed which one makes you happiest? What is one more 'weird' thing you'd add to the list?

The one on this list that makes me the happiest is freshly washed sheets.  They just feel so good when one lies down on them.  I must admit that I am not as happy eating the corner brownie as I am eating a nice gooey brownie from the center of the pan.  Edge brownies are good too, where one gets a bit of the crunchy crispy edge and plenty of moist brownie as well.

Trying to think of a 'weird' thing I'd add to the list.  How about this -- caller ID.  We didn't have it for years, and it's such a relief to know I can completely avoid telemarketers and charity pitches.  The winter sun on my face also makes me ridiculously happy.  And a day when I don't have to go anywhere unless I want to ... bliss.
4. What's the last good thing you ate?

Well, most of the food I eat tastes good to me.  One very delicious thing I recently consumed was a meat loaf omelet at a local diner.  Another delicious thing I recently tasted was the Almond Jam Thumbprints (at right below) that I made as part of my Christmas cookie baking this year.  Thanks to Mr. T's frequent raids on the cookie tins, only a handful of these remain.

5. Describe life in your 20's in one sentence.

My three children were all born while I was in my 20s.  That says it all, does it not?
6. Insert your own random thought here.

It is lovely to see the sun and the temperature all the way up to 25º, with the potential of climbing to 34º.  After last week's deep freeze, this sounds positively wonderful!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

First hodgepodge of 2018

Well, what do you know?  It's Wednesday again,  time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to get the questions.  Then answer them on your own blog and go back over to Joyce's to link up!   I'm a little slow on the uptake today, but here are this week's [challenging] questions:

1. It's that time of year again...time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words (or phrases) they'd like to see banished (for over-use, mis-use, or genera uselessness) in 2018. You can read more about the decision making process and word meaning here, but this year's top vote getters are-

unpack, dish (as in dish out the latest rumor), pre-owned, onboarding/offboarding, nothingburger, let that sink in, let me ask you this, impactful, Cofefe, drill down, fake news, hot water heater (hot water doesn't need to be heated), and gig economy

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?

I have to admit I use "tons" a lot.   (That was #2 on the list.)  I also have to admit I haven't even heard of four of these words/expressions -- onboarding/offboarding, gig economy, covfefe, and nothingburger -- and that it never occurred to me that "hot water heater" contained an unnecessary word.

 I guess of those on the list, I would choose "dish" as I do think that's rather silly.

I would add a couple of words/phrases not on the list -- one would be "Well, look," as a preface to any answer being given in news interviews.  It annoys me no end.  My second choice is the same as last year: "crack" or "cracked out" as a description for some supposedly addictive recipe.  Drug addiction is no joke.  It's even less funny this year than last.

2. What's something you need to get rid of in the new year?

A number of excess pounds and a lot of extra possessions.

3. Where do you feel stuck?

Between a rock and a hard place.   Too much to do at two houses and not enough time to do it.

4. January is National Soup Month. When did you last have a bowl of soup? Was it made from scratch or from a can? Your favorite canned soup? Your favorite soup to make from scratch on a cold winter's day?

I last had a bowl of soup for supper last night.   It was a homemade Kale, Sausage and Potato Soup made in the slow cooker and it was absolutely wonderful.

I'm trying (and failing) to think of my favorite canned soup.

Favorite soup to make from scratch on a cold winter day: just about anything, really.  We eat a LOT of homemade soup.  This is a particularly warming one:  Fiesta Sweet Potato Soup.

But really, I encourage you to click on "Soups" in the label cloud in the sidebar at right if your family enjoys soup.  There are tons (there I go!) of good soup recipes there.

5. Tell us one thing you're looking forward to in 2018.

Hopefully another getaway or three with my hubby.
6. Insert your own random thought here.

It's along the same lines as my random thought in this same space last year.   It's wonderful to have frozen Christmas cookies still on hand,

as they work out great as a potluck dessert.  I just make up a platter with a nice assortment and we are good to go.  Still, in other ways I wish they were gone already.  I'm able to avoid them (they are frozen solid in tins on the icy screened porch) but not my hubby.  He has found that most of them thaw out easily in the microwave, and a nightly visit to the porch has become part of his routine.😊⛄❄

And there you have it.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year ... and some goals for January

Again this year, my wish and prayer for each of us is a happy, healthy, and spiritually prosperous year in 2018.  I often think about what the apostle John wrote to his friend Gaius in 3 John, verse 2: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."  Gaius obviously had such a strong, vibrant spiritual life that John prayed for his physical health to be as vigorous as  his spiritual state.  I wonder, what would our physical health look like if someone were to pray that prayer for us?  Something to think about in a new year!

🌿     🌿     🌿     🌿     🌿
Meanwhile, even though I haven't set actual goals for the year yet, I have set a few goals for January:
 * Spend time reflecting on 2017 and considering my goals and a word for 2018
* Resume my informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, for my quiet time
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 to 8 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week.
* Do something creative each day
* Post in my Christmas blog at least once or twice weekly
* Post in this blog most weekdays if possible
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Plan for family birthday gifts and begin crafting any handmade ones
* Set up an Etsy shop and begin selling vintage items
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Send lengthy emails to several friends
* Call faraway friends to chat
* Learn more about cultured foods and begin making more of them
* Declutter and reorganize my closet
* Declutter and revamp computer room
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate
* Possibly plan a getaway with my hubby
* Make 2 photo calendars
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating

JANUARY'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully
WORD FOR 2017: Yet to be determined

And here is how December went:
* Work on Colossians Bible study in my quiet time † -- not done; I opted for a Christmas Scripture writing plan instead.
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- only memorized 1 new verse, though I did review several older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook  -- not done;  this is something I would typically do on weekends, but my Scripture writing plan included every day.
* Continue new study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus -- done!
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- not done; I think I managed perhaps 10 times
* Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- not done consistently, but there were a few nights we got there by 9 pm, so that's my new goal.
* Limit sugar and red meat -- did quite well with red meat; not well at all with sugar.
* Drink enough water each day -- not done
* Drink kombucha each day -- not done; my kombucha became moldy (due to a small fly in it, I think) and I had to throw my scoby away.  I probably won't resume making kombucha until spring when the wood is out of the cellar.  These little flies came in with the wood.
* Keep up with cleaning and decluttering missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done consistently, though I haven't done too badly with it.
* Post in this blog every day in December if possible -- not done; I managed 13 posts, though.  Not bad. 
* Post daily in my Christmas blog through December  -- done!
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- actually completed one of them!
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and work on crafting any handmade ones  -- done!
* Declutter filing cabinets and bookshelves -- not done
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- done!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- not done as often as I'd like to
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- done!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate -- not complete, obviously, but I'm saying done! because I did go there and work at it nearly every day.
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating  -- not done consistently
* Decorate for Christmas -- done!
 * Participate in an Instagram photo challenge for December -- done!
* Finish purchasing Christmas gifts; wrap; mail distant ones -- done! and the mailing was actually done early!
* Take three of our local grandchildren for our traditional Christmas outing -- done!
* Send out cards for a Christmas card swap I'm participating in -- done!
* Host a cookie swap for friends -- not in my original plan, but -- done!
* Make and carry out plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- done!
* Focus on Advent each day this month -- done!
* Continue upholding my husband as he continues on with our church's pastoral search -- done! (But unfortunately the search is not -- it continues on.)

 † I'll resume my informal study of Come Before Winter, by Charles Swindoll, sometime in the new year, depending on how my study of Colossians goes.

DECEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/drink kombucha

WORD for 2017: Stewardship

I can hardly tell you how appropriate my word for 2017 turned out to be.  For a reminder of how I chose it, you can look back at this post: My 2017 word of the year.   Recall, too, the definition of "stewardship": "a person employed to manage another's property;  a person whose responsibility it is to take care of something." At the time I chose this word, in January, I had absolutely no idea that in a few short months I would literally have become a steward of an entire estate.  But that happened, and I take this stewardship very seriously.

In a few days I hope to post my new year goals and my word for 2018.  Stay tuned ....