Saturday, January 31, 2015

A simple winter-themed table topper

This week I was looking in my fabric stash for something and came across some beautiful winter-themed fabric I had bought last summer.  At the time I had no idea what I would do with it for sure, but I just couldn't resist the print because it looked like Vermont to me.

When I found it again in my stash this week, I decided that the only really good use (for the amount of fabric I had) was a simple table runner or table topper.    After debating with myself for awhile as to which it should be, I decided to make it a table topper so I could use the whole piece of fabric without cutting it.    The print is a really busy one, but I thought it best to use the whole piece to get the perspective of the whole scene.  I would simply hem the edges.   So that is what I did!
on the table
It even has mailboxes!   (I love wintry mailboxes!)
With my little wintry cake dome and 30¢ Walmart plastic placemats
My wintery scene in the cake dome still works with this topper.
 A few minutes' work at the sewing machine and I have a new wintry table topper.  My creative side is very happy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A cross-stitch UFO

Today I'm sharing my progress on one more UFO (un-finished object) on my crafting list.  This one is a hand towel with a band of [very floppy] evenweave fabric near the bottom for a border.  (After the fact -- way, way after the fact -- I noticed a helpful tip in the instructions, to spray the evenweave area with starch to make it firmer and thus easier to stitch on.  Too late now!) 

This was a cross stitch kit from Creative Circle, I believe, and was from someone else's crafting stash which I've inherited.  The kit contained 2 towels and I finished one of them.  I had thought they would be perfect in a relative's pale green bathroom, so took her one as a hostess gift when we visited one time.  She loved it but did say I didn't need to hurry finishing the second one, as that bathroom gets heavy use by her small children and she would probably wait and use the towels when the kids were older.  So as a result, I set the second towel aside with just the center rose stitched and it became a UFO.

In the meantime, I managed to use the same chart to stitch a rose design on pillowcases.  I used waste canvas to do this, and I hope I will have the good sense not to listen to myself if I ever get the notion to do something like this again.  It was, however, a good use of the chart.
pillowcases from the same chart
Now I've decided to finish this cross-stitch towel up and get one thing off my crafting list!  I've actually made decent progress since picking this up again in early January.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A wintry getaway

The view from our room
 This past weekend Mr. T and I enjoyed an overnight getaway to Freeport, Maine.  The pictures I have aren't great; it was snowing Saturday morning and so everything looks white and blurry.  But I thought I would share a few of them anyway.  I'll just simply post pictures and caption them.
hotel that we stayed in

Building at far left is the cafe where we ate supper and then breakfast

A snowy scene

Wildlife display inside L.L. Bean

Model of L.L. Bean's original store

Carved sign in the hunting & fishing store

We loved this fireplace and cozy sitting area

Catalog covers through the years.  I could have spent quite a lot of time studying these, especially the wintry/Christmasy ones.
Hope you've enjoyed this simple picture post.  It's amazing how refreshing even 24 hours away can be!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Progress on the scrap afghan

The first row of the scrap afghan completed!
Just a quick post to share the progress on my scrap afghan.  This is one of those craft UFOs (un-finished objects) that I am hoping/planning to finish in 2015.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a project from Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book #9.  Every motif is edged in taupe yarn, and it takes 113 motifs to make the afghan.  The motifs are sewed together in strips of 12 or 13, and then the strips are assembled.

This weekend Mr. T and I were able to take an overnight getaway.  I took plenty of crafting along, but on the way there I just relaxed and enjoyed the trip and the scenery.  (Hopefully I'll find time to share a few photos from our getaway later -- maybe tomorrow.)

On the return trip, I did sew 13 of the finished motifs into a strip.   I don't have enough completed motifs to sew a second one yet -- think I have 4-5 of them done. 

The picture doesn't really do it justice; I hung it from push pins on a door so the whole length would be visible, but it made the afghan sort of droop.   No matter, you can see the colors and how the afghan is taking shape.  Hopefully I may have more to share next week concerning the afghan progress!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A sweet baby gift to make

The first receiving blanket I made.  The unborn baby's older brother had given him this name and I thought it would be fun to monogram the blanket with it.  This one is solid blue on both sides.
For awhile now, I've been meaning to share the simple directions for something that may become my go-to gift for new babies.  It's a simple flannel receiving blanket.  I made my first one several years ago because I wanted a simple, easily personalized gift.

Since then, I have made two more blankets, both in the past few months.  I really hesitated with making blankets, because typically new moms seem to end up with more baby blankets than they can use.  But the moms who received these use them all the time and have told me so.  The size is really practical for covering baby in the car seat or to use as a coverup when nursing, etc.  So, I will likely continue making and giving these as gifts.  You might like to make some, too.

You need:
2 1-yard pieces of flannel, washed and dried  (you can use the same color, or contrast with another solid color or a print)
Thread to match
Sewing machine

*And, if you wish to embroider a name or design, you will need:
Embroidery floss
Tracing paper
Great handwriting or a computer
Embroidery hoop
Embroidery needle
(Note that if you are going to embroider anything on the blanket, the embroidery must be done first, before assembling the blanket.)

This is so simple you probably don't need instructions for the sewing part, but here goes anyway:

Place the two pieces of flannel (embroidered first, if you are embroidering anything) right sides together and smooth them out nicely.  If you like, round the corners.  I like to do this because it not only looks nice, it makes the corners easy to turn.  Pin the 2 pieces together all the way around.

At your sewing machine, sew all around the edges of the blanket (using the seam allowance of your choosing.  I think I use about a 5/8" seam allowance), leaving a 4 to 6" gap unstitched for turning

Turn the blanket right side out through the unstitched gap, smooth the corners out nicely (carefully poke them out with a chopstick or other implement if you have left them square), and press the blanket, tucking the raw edges at the gap inside the blanket to match the rest of the stitching.  Pin the opening together.

Then go back to the sewing machine and topstitch all around the entire edge of the blanket, using a 3/8" to 1/2" seam allowance.  This closes up the opening, gives a nice finish, and helps the blanket stay together better when it is washed and dried.

Then wash, dry, and press the blanket.

(To embroider a name, either write out the baby's name [or other saying, like Sweet Dreams, etc.] on tracing paper, or -- my choice, because my handwriting is terrible -- type the name or saying on your computer in a word processing document, using a font you like in a large size.  [I like to do the lettering in the "outline" style; I just like the way it looks.]  Then print it out on tracing paper.  Cut around the entire name, leaving a generous amount of margin so you will be able to pin the tracing paper to your flannel.

Pin the paper to the flannel where you'd like the name to be.  Then, using an embroidery hoop, embroidery needle and 4 to 6 strands of embroidery floss, embroider the name, right through the tracing paper.  You could use back stitch, or a stem stitch or even a split stitch or chain stitch depending on the look you are going for.  I prefer to use the back stitch for this.  It is sort of nerve-racking stitching through the paper, but it gives such a nice result it is worth the aggravation. 

Once you get the name all stitched, you can tear away the tracing paper.  You may have to use a pin to pull out the paper from some of the smaller, tighter areas, but it's not that much trouble.  To me, this is just the nicest, most accurate way to stitch a name on fabric.

To embroider a design, you can transfer it in one of several ways.  You can use an iron-on transfer or -- my choice -- print out or trace a simple design onto tracing paper.  Then again pin it to the fabric where you want it, and embroider through the tracing paper as before, tearing away the paper when the design is stitched.  Go on with the instructions for sewing the blanket, then wash and dry it before giving it as a gift.)

Another monogram
This shows the pretty flannel on the other side of this green blanket
Besides Arielle's name, I embroidered some snowflakes in the opposite corner of the blanket.  You can't really tell, but this solid fabric is a pale, pale green.
The other side of Arielle's blanket
Have fun with this idea!  It is such a simple yet fun project, with infinite variations possible!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Three cross stitched ornaments

This one is my favorite of the ones that I did.
 I actually finished these back in July, so that I could post about them over on my Christmas blog, Mrs. T's Christmas Kitchen.  During Christmas in July, I shared little tutorials on several ways to finish a cross stitch ornament.

But, because the one ornament keeps catching my eye as I walk by our still-decorated Christmas tree, and because I know there are people who visit here that don't always get to my Christmas blog,  I decided to just share the photos here.  If you are interested in the how-tos, please visit my Christmas blog.
How "Jingle Bells" looked before finishing.  I found a frame and was inspired to add the real jingle bells and bow.

Unfinished "Sleigh Ride"

Finished product.  This turned out too large for the tree so I hung it from a cupboard doorknob where it added some cheer.

"Silent Night" before finishing

Just a simple finish with glue, trim and cardboard, but it turned out quite nice.

Hope you've been inspired to make some ornaments, if you enjoy cross-stitch! It can be a quick and easy project if you use simple designs as I did.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

UFO scrap afghan

A scan of some of the motifs used.  All will be edged in taupe like these.
The next UFO (un-finished object) on my crafting list is a crocheted scrap afghan I started a few years ago.  The pattern came from Gooseberry Patch Christmas book 9.  It takes 113 of these hexagonal motifs.  I just counted, and so far I have 14 motifs finished.  I think part of the problem has been that in between brief bouts of working on the afghan, I tend to forget just how the motifs are made and have to learn all over again.  So this time, I am hoping to crochet several motifs every week, putting the motifs together in strips as I go, in order to finish this project in 2015.

Of course, I will continue to use yarn, so there will be more scrap afghans in my future.  But there are also a lot of great patterns out there!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Progress on the December sampler -- finished!

A scan of the finished stitchery
Just a quick update on the December sampler.  It's finished!

Of course it still needs to be washed and pressed and I need to figure out how I am going to frame it.

The image above is just a scan, not a photo, so it didn't come out looking completely straight and probably shows a lot more of the ugly details than a photo would because it's really close up.  It was just easier to scan the sampler than to take a picture and upload it, etc.

I'm happy with how it came out!  Not perfect, no, but thankfully I am not a perfectionist.  Life is easier that way!

Monday, January 12, 2015

January goals

This beautiful collage was put together by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Time to set some January goals:
* Follow Bible reading plan each day.
* Finish questions for You Are Loved summer Bible study  -- I've already finished the daily Bible study, just need to finish answering the questions
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Keep up with my Sunday School study -- The Heart of a Woman Who Prays
* Start new study for Sunday School
* Re-read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode; begin to implement what I learn
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night.
* Limit sugar.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Take down Christmas decor and decorate for winter
* Post in both of my blogs as often as possible
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week consistently
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Plan a January getaway with my hubby
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
*  Continue trying to help and encourage my elderly dad
* Sort out and declutter my dad's attic
* Transfer important items to new computer
* Finish typing some family history for my mother-in-law

JANUARY'S HEALTHY HABIT:  Nurture creativity


And here is how December went:
* Read through the December portion of the One-Year Devotional Bible -- DONE!
* Finish questions for You Are Loved summer Bible study  -- I've already finished the daily Bible study, just need to finish answering the questions -- not finished, though I did work on them
* Complete an Advent study: The Road to Christmas  -- DONE!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- DONE!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- DONE!
* Keep up with my Sunday School study -- The Heart of a Woman Who Prays -- DONE!
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- not done
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night -- not done
* Limit sugar -- not done
* Drink enough water each day -- not done consistently
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done consistently
* Attend Christmas events at church -- DONE!
* Do some special Christmas activities with grandchildren -- DONE!
* Take down fall decor and decorate for Christmas -- DONE!
* Attend a Christmas party for Mr. T's work -- DONE!
* Post in both of my blogs every day if possible -- DONE!
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week consistently -- not done
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- not done
* Finish 2 handcrafted Christmas gifts -- DONE!
* Purchase remaining gifts -- DONE!
* Plan a getaway with my hubby -- DONE!
* Wrap Christmas gifts -- DONE!
* Mail Christmas gifts to faraway friends and family -- DONE!
* Send Christmas cards -- DONE!
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- DONE!
* Plan and begin my Christmas baking -- DONE!
* Plan for and carry out plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner -- DONE!
*  Continue trying to help and encourage my elderly dad -- DONE!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's attic -- not done
* Transfer important items to new computer -- not done
* Finish typing some family history for my mother-in-law -- partially done

DECEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Walking/nurture creativity -- Did some of this; not as much walking as I'd have liked, though

WORD FOR 2014: BALANCE  -- in general I did okay with this through the year and especially in December, but it still needs work!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Goals for 2015

The lovely graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Now I guess I can finally focus on just what my general goals for 2015 will be.  I've done lots of thinking and praying; I've reflected on last year and thought about needs for the coming year.  I've reminded myself of God's purposes for my life and His particular job assignment for me.  I've considered areas where I need to grow and change.  I've chosen a word for the year.  Again this year, I've chosen six categories in which to set goals.  So now, without further ado, here are my


Personal growth:  Work on character qualities of unselfishness, kindness, compassion, perseverance, and self-control. Work at eliminating the time-wasting habit of procrastination.  Read through the  Bible using the reading plan I've chosen (which takes you through the entire Bible once, and through the New Testament and Psalms twice.  Read at least 12 books.  Continue working on my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook.  Memorize Scripture on a weekly basis, meditate on it daily, and finish several Bible studies.  Strengthen my computer skills.  Make this the year I finally take that painting course or some online art courses.  Nurture creativity.

Health (physical, mental, and emotional):  Exercise at least 5 times per week.  Get enough water, sleep, fresh air, and sunshine.  Cook and eat with health in mind.  Work on a different healthy habit each month so that in general, I'm taking better care of myself.  Do something creative or craft-related every day.  Journal and write as often as possible.  Cultivate the habit of gratitude.  Seek to be joyful every day and keep my eyes open for the little things that make each day special.

Marriage/family life: 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 family activities.  Minister to my family with the gift of a peaceful, orderly home (translation: declutter the entire house and get back to my homemaking routines!) Plan trip to visit faraway family, if at all possible.

Money matters:  Spend less on groceries on a weekly basis.  Put time into my A-store.   Prayerfully get an Etsy shop up and running if I feel God is leading in that direction.  Plan and prepare items to sell at craft fairs this fall.  Consider doing some writing for paying publication.

Relationships outside the home:  Be more of an encourager to my elderly dad and also to my daughters, friends, and the ladies in my Sunday School class.  Prayerfully fulfill my eldercare responsibilities, seeking God's guidance in them.  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 encouragement to other ladies.

Ministry:  Deepen my prayer life, praying faithfully for those with deep needs, praying more regularly for my pastor.  Finish teaching a class on prayer and seek to encourage each lady to be the prayer warrior God would have her to be.  Start another study, probably in February, with the ladies, and teach other studies as the Lord leads throughout the year.  Write or re-write another kids' devotional book for summer use by our church's Patch the Pirate Club sailors.  Continue cleaning the church with my hubby once per month. 

Word for 2015: RENEWAL

What are some of your goals for the new year?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A word for 2015

The gorgeous graphic is from Little Birdie Blessings
Only ten days late or so, I'm coming up with a word for 2015!  You probably wouldn't believe how many different words I've considered.  Some of the strong contenders were "persevere"; "rest"; "keep" -- and I know there were more.  I seriously considered using last year's word -- "balance" again this year, as I feel I haven't done very well with that and still have much more to learn about it.  However, what I finally know is the right word for 2015 is this one: renewal.

Personally, I feel very much in need of renewal on many fronts.  I'm tired and at times feel on the verge of burnout.  I spend lots of time with an old person and so sometimes I catch myself shuffling, as he does.  As each new day begins, I have physical energy (thanks to a good night's rest)  and spiritual energy (thanks to quality time in God's Word and in prayer), but am mentally and emotionally spent.  Renewal sounds not only good, but crucially necessary.

God's Word has much to say about renewal, which is the main reason I chose this word.  Romans 12:2 admonishes us to "be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Ephesians 4:23 tells us, "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind."

King David prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."  (Psalm 51:10)

Isaiah wrote,  "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  (Isaiah 40:31)

I want each of these verses to be true in my life!

I also looked up "renew" in my very old but very complete dictionary, because, logically enough, renewal means "the state of being renewed."  Here's what I found for the meaning of "renew":
1.  To make new again; to restore to freshness or vigor; also, to gain again as new; as, to renew one's strength.
2.  To make new spiritually; to regenerate.
3.  To re-establish; rebuild; revive.
4.  To repeat; go over again.
5.  To recommence; resume.
6.  To replace; also, to restore to fullness.

All of that sounds good to me! I would love to see renewal in so many areas -- a renewed commitment to God's purposes for my life; a renewed motivation for Scripture memory; renewal in the areas of exercise and eating right; renewed creativity in many areas of life; renewal of old friendships and family ties; renewed mental and emotional energy for the draining tasks of life; times to get away with my hubby and renew our spirits together ... I could go on and on.  God has given me so much hope and expectation with the choice of this word for 2015.  I can't wait to see what He does!

Friday, January 09, 2015

More thoughts on goal setting for 2015

From my collection of antique postcards
I'm still thinking about my goals for 2015 and so, in preparation, I've reviewed my list of some of the purposes I want to take into consideration.

A book I enjoyed studying and then teaching to the ladies in my Sunday School class is God's Wisdom for a Woman's Life, by Elizabeth George.  I would just like to share a quote from that book. (If you have not read this book, you might want to check Amazon or  It is well worth your time.  It's one of those books I consider life-changing.)

 In a chapter titled "I Need Help with My Purpose", Elizabeth wrote that "Busy women tend to bog down in the day-to-day matters of their lives and fail to understand how the work they are doing today fits into God's purpose for their lives and their futures.  We all forget to look beyond the moment with its urgency ... Instead we muddle through each day ... never comprehending its purpose and where it fits in the grand scheme of our life."

I have found this to be so true, and so several years ago I spent a few hours considering God's purposes for my life.  Taking into account God's purposes for all believers and for me in particular, I came up with a list which I wrote out and placed in my prayer journal.   Since doing that, I make it a point to review God's purposes for my life frequently, and always at the beginning of a new year.

God's overarching purpose for me is the same as for any believer: To bring honor and glory to God with my life by using the spiritual gifts and the talents He has equipped me with.    I have broken this down into a 3-part personal "job description":

1) Be a godly wife [this includes being a good homemaker]; mother, grandmother, daughter.

2) Use my teaching gifts and other spiritual gifts for God's glory -- to encourage fellow believers and help them to grow spiritually, and to reach out to those who don't yet know Him.

3) Use my writing talents and other talents to God's glory -- again, to encourage my fellow believers and to point others to Him.

Then I have a list of areas where I need to grow and change to become more of a woman after God's own heart, based on a study of Proverbs 31:10-31 which I went through some years ago.  Here are the areas:
* Myself -- work on kindness, hospitality, careful speech, health & energy
* My husband -- work on taking better care of him, helping him, benefiting him
* My household -- work more diligently at watching over it
* My enterprises -- work  harder at discovering how God might have me use my skills and interests to benefit our family.

All of these are important factors to consider in making a plan for 2015.  Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will share the word God has given me for this year, and then go on to share my goals for the new year.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Quotes for a new year

Graphic from
I came upon some quotes I had tucked into my prayer journal and thought they would be very helpful to anyone considering goals for the coming year.

"Never lose one moment of time, but improve it in the most profitable way possible." -- Jonathan Edwards

"Every morning remember that your goal is simple: you want to have just one good day of living your priorities.  Then keep focused on following God's plan for your life for just this one day.  For just one day, try putting first things first." -- Elizabeth George, A Woman After God's Own Heart

"Little things come daily, hourly within our reach, and they are not less calculated to set forward our growth in holiness than are the greater occasions, which occur but rarely." -- Jean-Nicolas Grou, quoted in Elizabeth George's book God's Wisdom for a Woman's Life

Here is another in the same vein: "Do small things as if they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ." -- Hudson Taylor

A similar thought, this one from DL. Moody, is as challenging:  "Let us not be Christians as to the few great things of our lives, and atheists as to the many small things which fill up a far greater space of them.  God is in both, waiting for the glory we can bring Him in them."

"Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in scheduling time."  -- Theodore Roosevelt

"A great many persons are always sighing for opportunities to minister to Christ, imagining some fine and splendid service which they would like to render.  Meantime they let slip past their hands the very things in which Christ wants them to serve Him.  True ministry to Christ is doing first of all and well one's daily duties." -- J.R. Miller, Come Ye Apart

Maybe these quotes will inspire others as they have me this morning!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Ten Questions for the New Year

Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
As I continue to consider what my specific goals for 2015 will be, I am utilizing these 31 Questions for the New Year from Revive Our Hearts.  I came across these last year and found them really helpful in setting my 2014 goals.  The first 10 questions are the basic ones, and then the remaining 21 are optional.  Today I am just going to share the first ten, plus my answers (in italics).

1.  What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?  Continue building my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook.

2.  What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?  Turn around another impossible situation; bring physical healing to several friends, if that's His will.

3.  What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?  More getaways with my hubby!  We managed several last year and it really helped.  We already have plans in place for some winter getaways.

4.  In which spiritual discipline do you want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?  Scripture memory.  I need to make a list of verses to start with.

5.  What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?  Procrastination.  Pray about it with regularity -- even daily ; make daily schedules and stick to them as much as possible.

6.  What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?  I'm nearing the end of a study of prayer with my ladies' Sunday School class.  If a good number (or even a few!) ladies would become serious about answering God's call to be prayer warriors, what a difference that would make in our church!  And, of course, in their individual lives as well.  I will also aim to be more of an encourager to my church family in the coming year.

7.  For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?  Several elderly relatives.

8.  What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year better than last year?  Try to take better care of myself so I will have increased energy to serve God and others.  Also procrastinate less about everything, including taking care of myself.

9.  What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?  Add to my prayer journal so it's increasingly helping my prayer life become more effective.

10.  What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years?  In eternity? Investing myself in the lives of my grandchildren.

So there you have it.  Ten questions, ten answers to help me finalize my 2015 goals.  Maybe tomorrow I can post the year's goals.  We will see!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Reflecting on 2014

Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
I saw some reflection questions for 2011 from Simple Mom and thought they would help me get thinking.  I did this exercise for 2013 and found it helpful. Again this year, I'm hoping that reflecting on 2014 may help me in my goal-setting for 2015.  I'm still not sure about that, but thought I would post the reflection questions and my answers.  So here they are. I will put my answers in italics for easier reading.

Reflection Questions for 2014
1.  What was the single best thing that happened this past year?  I would have to say unexpected blessing and healing taking place in a very difficult situation.

2.  What was the single most challenging thing that happened?   The entire year was challenging in various ways.  But I guess the biggest challenge has been an increased burden of eldercare due to the sudden death of my only sibling.  It has caused depression and increased confusion in our elderly parent.

3.  What was an unexpected joy this past year?  I can think of a few.  A fun road trip to a different part of Nevada with our daughter and family while visiting them.  The birth of a new granddaughter in November -- a surprise to all!  Being able to encourage other ladies in unexpected ways.

4.  What was an unexpected obstacle this past year?  Needing to give much more time to my elderly dad.  Aside from that, my biggest obstacle is clearly myself -- I tend to get in my own way.  (Isn't that interesting that this was also my answer to this question in the two previous years I've reflected on?)  Tiredness, too, has been an obstacle of sorts.  And this year I've also felt more under attack by Satan than ever before.

5.  Pick three words to describe 2013.  Challenging.  Interesting.  Stressful. 

6.  Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2013 (don't ask them; guess based upon how you think your spouse sees you).  Stressful.  Stressful.  Stressful.

7.  Pick three words your spouse would pick to describe their 2013 (again, don't ask them).  Challenging.  Frustrating.  Stressful. 

8.  What were the best books you read this year?  I didn't read a lot of books, but the best were probably Off Script, by Cary Schmidt; Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, by Crystal Paine; and The Power of a Godly Grandparent, by Stephen and Janet Bly.

9.  With whom were your most valuable relationships?  My husband, my daughters, my grandchildren, several e-mail friends; the ladies in my Sunday School class.

10.  What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?  My sibling's death threw my dad into depression and further confusion, requiring me and my husband to spend much more time attending to his needs.

11.  In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?  In general, through most of the year, I was able to trust God, not my wildly wavering emotions, and was able to keep my emotions under better control.  I definitely lengthened my fuse.  This was an answer to my ongoing prayer to grow in emotional stability.  I think I have also become more empathetic, which is a good thing.

12.  In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?  I became more dependent on God and deepened my knowledge of Him.  I've also seen some progress in various sin issues in my life.

13.  In what way(s) did you grow physically?  Again this year, I regressed pretty seriously in this area, although there have been some isolated areas of victory.

14.  In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?  I felt that I grew much closer to my husband; we were especially encouraged by a couples' retreat we attended in October and several nice getaways.  On the one getaway, we were able to go over a lot of the material that had been covered at the retreat.  It was great for us.

15.  What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?  Creativity; using my talents and spiritual gifts.

16.  What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?  Caregiving is easily the most challenging.  It doesn't come naturally to me.  I also found it very challenging to try and balance that with homemaking, ministry, and so on.

17.  What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?  Procrastination(Would you believe this was also my answer in previous years?)

18  What was the best way you used your time this past year?  Writing, studying, encouraging,  teaching (both ladies and granddaughters), creating; spending time with family.

19.  What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?  I truly can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.

20.  Create a phrase or statement that describes 2014 for you.  "Unexpectedly challenging, but no surprise to God".

Now to think these things through in relationship to my goals.  I hope to share my 2015 and January goals tomorrow.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A blessed 2015 to you!

Vintage card from my collection
I hope that each and every one of you will have a happy, healthy, and spiritually prosperous 2015!  Although we cannot know what the future holds, we do know beyond doubt Who holds the future.

I have always liked this little New Year blessing:

God bless thy year!
Thy coming in, thy going out; 
Thy rest,
thy traveling about;
The rough, the smooth,
The bright, the drear,
God bless thy year!

God bless your year, my friends!