Monday, April 27, 2020

How the 40-day sugar fast went

Some time ago, I promised to check in and share from time to time how the 40-day sugar fast was going for us.  We had started it on February 24, and I thought I would have plenty of time to write a post or two updating how we were doing.  I actually started documenting it on Instagram a bit, using Scripture graphics (like the one above) I made using Canva.  The last post that I did about that was from March 3, so you can see that I didn't keep up with that very long either.

However, we did keep up with the 40-day sugar fast!  And we finished it on April 3!

Neither one of us found eliminating sugar for 40 days as difficult as we thought it would be.  We did determine ahead of time that we would allow ourselves natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, and my hubby did use stevia in his coffee.  But otherwise, we just didn't use sugar during the 40 days.  We didn't even use honey or maple syrup very much.  I had made sure we had a fresh jar of honey, but I'm not sure we even opened it!

Another thing we did in preparation was to buy a couple of packages of pitted dates.  Our daughter and son-in-law have done the sugar fast several times, and Jim likes to make a sort of homemade Larabar to have for snacks.  His recipe uses dates.  Accordingly, I thought we would be prepared.  Would you believe that we never opened either package of dates in the entire 40 days?

So how did we manage without sugar?  We both enjoy sweets, and Mr. T was nearly addicted to sugar.  (Remember how those Christmas cookies would call to him out of the freezer?  Granola bars often called to him out of the cookie jar, too. ) During the sugar fast, we ate a lot of fruit, and when we snacked, it was mostly on either fruit or almonds.  Oh, and cheese sticks.  Our local supermarket carries a store brand of cheddar cheese stick that we really love.

We found that it was best not to create sugar-free goodies to enjoy, as we wanted to break the habit of eating sweets as a default response.  We wanted it to just be a treat when we had something sweet.  So for company, I found a delicious chocolate cake that was gluten free and used maple syrup for sweetener.  The peanut butter frosting is also sugar free.  I will plan to share those recipes soon.  That cake became our default dessert to serve to guests during the sugar fast, since we could also enjoy it ourselves.

One of our biggest challenges was finding a sugar free bread.  Nearly all bread contains sugar.  Mr. T took up breadmaking as a challenge and made -- over the 40 days -- a half-dozen loaves of oatmeal bread sweetened only with maple syrup.  We also bought the pricey but delicious Dave’s Killer Bread in the Powerseed variety, which is sweetened only with organic fruit juices.  It has nice big slices though and we felt that such high quality bread was almost worth the price.  It's definitely worth having a loaf or two in the freezer if you are doing this sugar fast and happen to run out of the homemade sugar-free bread.  Some people handle the bread issue by just eliminating bread entirely during the fast, but neither of us thought we could handle that.

I was much more impressed than I expected to be with the devotional book that went along with the 40-Day Sugar Fast.  My daughter had told me that she enjoyed it very much, so I knew it would be good, but I had expected something more basic.  But no -- each day's devotional reading included not only Scripture and a spiritual challenge, but some real "meat" to chew on throughout the day.  

I had been doing a Scripture writing challenge in February, so I continued that and just read the devotionals and Bible verses from The 40-Day Sugar Fast.  Then in March, I switched over to journaling through the daily devotionals.  I would write out the Scripture verses and jot down thoughts from the readings that spoke to me.  Here is one, from Day 8 of the sugar fast:

"The problem with leaning on sugar as a crutch is, almost immediately it breaks and I break too, because God never intended for sugar to sustain me.  Instead, God says, 'Cast thy burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.' (Psalm 55:22)  All other crutches will break under the weight of your burdens ... So praise God for sending His Son so that you don't have to hobble through another day alone.  Because of Jesus, you can run, full speed ahead, into this abundant and eternal life.  Lean your full weight on that." -- Wendy Speake
On Day 23 of the fast, we were encouraged to crank up the intensity of it -- perhaps by eliminating other foods, such as bread or pasta, or by delaying breakfast until after having a significant time with the Lord each morning (which works also as a sort of intermittent fasting).  It was suggested that we could even use hunger pangs as a nudge to pray more fervently.

My hubby and I talked it over and decided we would delay breakfast until after our time with the Lord.  (Prior to this, he usually ate breakfast while reading his Bible and then had his prayer time.  I usually did my Bible reading and study early, then had breakfast, then went to my prayer time.)  So for the remainder of the fast, we delayed breakfast until after our complete quiet times.  We did allow ourselves to have coffee during that time.  Yes, there were hunger pangs for sure, but it was good to feel them.

Interestingly, this renewed intensity, and the turning of a sugar fast into a daily intermittent fast as well, happened right at a time when we wanted to make praying for our country a priority.  So we were fasting and praying for our country daily during these weeks.  What a blessing that God would arrange that for us!

Wonderful graphic by Little Birdie Blessings
Another thing along that line is that I'm so thankful we were already doing the sugar fast when life turned upside down due to the coronavirus.  Had we not been fasting from sugar, I'm pretty sure both of us would have consumed far more chocolate and other sweets than we should.  So much better to turn to the God of all comfort rather than to comfort food!

Another real blessing is that the devotional book didn't stop on Day 40, but went on to Day 41 to help us move forward into our regular lives again.  There is also an Appendix A with some very helpful suggestions for living life beyond the fast.  As the author notes, "Just because you can eat sugar doesn't mean that you should."

So how are we doing now?  Our intent going forward is mostly to live sugar-free.  If we want an occasional treat on a special occasion, we will have it.  (And if the ice-cream places are open this summer, we will be patronizing them!)  But in general we won't use or consume much refined sugar.  I find that if I do eat sugar, I tend to crave more and more of it.  So it's easier for me to just not eat much of it, and only occasionally when I do.  Mr. T is consuming more sugar than I am, but he agrees basically that he feels better without it.   Both of us feel as if we have more energy for life.

All in all,  the 40-day sugar fast was a great experience and a spiritual blessing as well as a physical one.  I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to feel healthier and deepen their spiritual life as well.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A few ways we are making Sundays special during the pandemic

For most of our adult lives,  attending church has been a given for me and Mr. T.  It's just what we've always done since trusting Jesus as Savior and after purposing to live our lives in a way that pleases Him.  God's Word tells us that we need to be assembling together on a regular basis and even more so as we see the end approaching.  So it is very difficult not to be with our beloved church family during these days of the pandemic.  Probably most believers feel the same.

Since the very first Sunday that we couldn't go to church in our building, we determined as a couple that we would still set aside Sunday as a special day to worship the Lord with other believers as well as a day of rest and relaxation.  So, in case someone else might like some ideas, here are just a few of the simple ways we're doing that.

1.  We get up at the regular time we would on a Sunday.  We don't want to get out of the habit on that!  Since we aren't going out of the house for church, we have extra time which we can spend in God's Word and in prayer.
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2.  We attend Sunday School and church via the internet.  We get our Bibles out, follow along, and I take notes as I ordinarily would during a message or Sunday School lesson.  We have a great number of church services from which to choose, and a few different Sunday School lessons. 

Several local churches are posting recorded messages on YouTube or elsewhere, and those are great because one can listen at any time, even during the week if preferred.  We enjoy watching and listening to a message on a weeknight rather than the news.

Other churches are live streaming their services, and we enjoy that too because it means we can watch a service in a different time zone and it will not conflict with our local church.  We particularly enjoy participating in services from our daughter and son-in-law's church in Nevada, and this past week we also watched one from their former pastor's church in Ohio.  It's especially meaningful when a live stream church service makes provision for those watching to pray corporately or to sing along with the hymns.
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3.  My hubby makes waffles for lunch.  For many years our granddaughters were with us most weekends, and he always made waffles before leaving for Sunday School on Sunday morning.  We had gotten out of the habit when timing changed for our services and we needed to leave earlier.  Also, for just the two of us, we could each eat something simple rather than the "production" of waffles.  Now we have the leisure to prepare a waffle lunch.  I will usually add some bacon or homemade sausage to the menu and maybe some fruit.  I'll add Mr. T's recipe at the end of the post for those who may be interested.
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4.  We try to get out into God's creation at some point during the day. Usually after lunch or before or after one of the services we've watched,  we will get out for a short walk.  It's such a great reminder of God's power and sovereignty to spend time in His creation.  When we remember that it is this omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who is in control of everything that is going on, we can't help but breathe a sigh of relief and praise to Him.
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 I hope that one or more of these ideas will add a special note to your own Sundays.  Certainly my hope and prayer is that we will all be meeting again at church as soon as our governors allow.  But until then, let's continue to make Sundays a special day of rest and worship!

And now, here is the waffle recipe:


2 eggs, beaten in large bowl
2 1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tblsp. sugar

    Add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the beaten eggs in the large bowl.  Sift the remaining ingredients into the liquid and beat until smooth.  Bake in waffle iron according to the directions for your particular waffle iron.  Yield:  10-12 waffles.

    This great recipe is one I copied from The Beany Malone Cookbook, which shared recipes used by the Malone family in the series of books by Lenora Mattingly Weber.  The vanilla was not in the original recipe, but makes a good recipe into a super one!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday five

I'm hoping to get this finished while it's still Friday, anyway.  Let me look over the "Best of My Days" from the past week. 

But before I do, did you notice (as I just did) that the April 1953 calendar above is the exact same setup as April 2020?  It started on a Wednesday, ends on a Thursday, all the dates are the same days of the week as this year.  Kind of fun.

Okay, on to blessings from the week:

1.  Seeing these daffodils blooming again in a field out back of the old home place.  They started life many years ago as several pots of daffodils purchased at Easter time.  My mother tossed them "over the bank" when they were done blooming -- and you see the glorious result.  I believe the photo below was taken with my Kindle last year, so it's not the best, but you get the idea.  There are several large clumps of daffodils out there.  Their bright yellow never fails to lift my spirits!

2.  Much more blogging time this week.  So thankful for a few minutes here and there to put some posts together.  Some have asked about a link to my Etsy shop.   I've never taken time to put one here on the blog, except in the occasional post.  But now there's a link to A New Hampshire Attic in the sidebar!

3.  And while on the subject of my shop, I'm thankful for time to scan and list a few more items this week!  The sweet note card below is one of them.  People who know me in real life will be amused, as I have no affinity for cats.  Lots of kitten items in my Etsy shop, however!

4.  I'm so thankful for folks who are using their gifts and talents to edify fellow believers at this time.  I've been particularly blessed by video devotionals from Reba Bowman at Dare for More.  I've heard Reba speak in person several times and it is such a blessing.  For an example, go here: Meditation: The Key to Communication.  If you enjoy this one, you can access any of Reba's other videos from there.  She does a live video every Tuesday and Thursday.

5.  Thankful in this time for funds to buy groceries -- and a spouse who does the shopping.  It's true the stores don't have everything we'd like to buy (think yeast and unbleached flour), but most things are available and that's fantastic!

And there you have this week's Friday five!  Have a wonderful weekend everyone -- and stay tuned for tomorrow's post, where I'm sharing a few ideas for keeping Sundays special even in the midst of this "pandemic".

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Hodgepodge for April 22

It's Wednesday again, and Joyce, at  From This Side of the Pond,  is again hosting the Hodgepodge for our blogging and reading pleasure.  Wouldn't you like to join in?  Just head on over to  From This Side of the Pond and get the questions, then answer them on your own blog.  You'll find it a wonderful diversion in these crazy times we are all living in.  Here are Joyce's questions for this week:

1. What's something you resolved to do this year? Have you done it?
One thing I purposed to do (I wouldn't call it a resolution, but a goal) was to consume less of foods that contribute to inflammation, especially sugar.  That's actually been a goal of mine for quite some time, but I've been inconsistent about it.  This year, my hubby and I did a 40-day sugar fast, starting near the end of February and ending in early April.  It was such a blessing to realize that we could find victory over sugar to that extent!  Our goal is to continue fasting from sugar on a regular basis, allowing for occasional "cheats" on birthdays and the like.  I'm working on a post about our experiences with the sugar fast, so stay tuned.

2. Where do you go to find quietude?
The outdoors.  Preferably beside water.  My very favorite place for this is Back Lake way up in Pittsburg, NH, but really anyplace by a lake, pond, river or stream surrounded by woods will do.

3. A friend asked this question on her Facebook page and said I could borrow it for the're only allowed to buy 5 things at the grocery store, and all must start with the first letter of your first name. Whatcha' buying?
Spinach, spaghetti, sourdough bread, string cheese, strawberries.

I could make a strawberry spinach salad!
4. The television show Survivor, the Gloria Gaynor song 'I Will Survive', survival mode, survival of the fittest...pick one and discuss.

Now this is a thought-provoking question -- and one that I have no idea how to answer.  I have never thought the television show Survivor was a good idea.  (Sort of like that question from last week's Hodgepodge about something everyone seems to love that we just don't see the point to.)  Human nature is ugly; why encourage it?

Probably best for me right now not to discuss survival mode and survival of the fittest. 

5. Share a favorite quote or saying about strength.

"Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength."  (Isaiah 26:4)

And this one, too, by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
6. Insert your own random thought here.  
Coming down to what may be the homestretch on the cleaning out at my childhood home.  When I look at the number of cards, books and other small items I plan to list on Etsy, it makes me feel quite faint.  Scanning and listing these is a project I really need to work on every day.
This unused note card is one of my most recent listings.
So ends another Hodgepodge.  Thanks, Joyce, and happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Views from a mountain

  Mr. T has been doing a lot of walking lately, with the idea of building up his endurance to do some hiking this summer.  Yesterday, he had the opportunity to take a hike up a local mountain.  He got some great photos of Newfound Lake.  Since his pictures are wonderful reminders of God's power in creation, I thought I'd share them with  my readers.  Enjoy!
 "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God."  (Psalm 90:2)
 "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, ... the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together."  (Isaiah 41:18-19)
"Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars ... Let them praise the name of the LORD: for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven."  (Psalm 148:9, 13)
 "Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, Thou preservest man and beast."  (Psalm 36:6)
 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."  (Psalm 121:1-2)
 "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about His people from henceforth even for ever."  (Psalm 125:2)
 "By terrible things in righteousness wilt Thou answer us, O God of our salvation; Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea; Which by His strength setteth fast the mountains, being girded with power."  (Psalm 65:5-6)

Hope these photos and Scriptures are a blessing to someone today!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Saturday six on Sunday night

Yes, I am moving slowly this weekend.  Not sure why.  I'd hoped to finish a Saturday six post but since that didn't happen, I thought I would just publish it for Sunday night.  So here goes ...

1.  A delicious meatless meal one night this week.  I found the recipe for Pinto beans like Cracker Barrel’s at my friend Denise's blog and finally found time to try it.  So good!

Photo borrowed from RefreshHer
In fact, I copied Denise's entire menu.  She suggested cooked apples (directions given in her post), roasted potatoes, and cornbread.  I had leftover cornbread, and made my own oven potato wedges:


4 large baking potatoes, unpeeled, each cut in 8 wedges the long way
2 Tblsp. olive oil
3 Tblsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
Garlic powder to taste

Put the oil in a gallon size ziplock bag and add the potato wedges. Shake well to coat with oil. Add the remaining ingredients to the bag and shake well again to coat with the cheese and spices. Place the wedges, skin side down, in a single layer in a foil-lined shallow pan. Bake at 350ยบ-375ยบ for 45-55 minutes or until cooked through, brown, and beginning to blister.

The potatoes take awhile to cook (as do the apples) but the pinto beans are very quick and so flavorful.  We both highly recommend this meal!

2.   Work for my hubby this week with our son-in-law.  Their interesting project is renovating a cabin that will eventually become a vacation rental.  Mr. T has been doing the sheetrock work (some will call it drywall).  He told the owner that he will trade his work for a stay in the cabin when it is all completed and ready for rental.  (That won't be anytime soon, so no worries on the stay-at-home score. ) Below is part of the view from the living room:

3.  A productive Saturday getting some cleaning done and even some baking, in addition to time spent at the old homestead.  Mr. T was able to take a good number of bags and boxes to the dump as well.
These daffodils bloom in a sheltered spot near the outside chimney at the home place
4.  Watching God work in our own lives and seeing how He gives us guidance and direction for each day as we commit our days and lives to Him even through this crisis.  This really should be at the top of the list every day.
Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
5.  This is a small thing but an exciting one for me -- seeing my chives a few inches high!  (You folks who live in more moderate climes will not get this.)  On Friday night I decided to prepare a special supper of turkey burgers and potato salad.  My go-to potato salad recipe ( Bacon Chive Potato Salad) calls for chives, so I decided to go see if the chives, planted in a barrel in the back yard, were up.  They were, so I snipped some to use in the salad.  They seemed even more bright and flavorful than usual!

6. Free Honey Crisp apples!  My hubby was doing some work for folks who own an apple orchard.  They gave him a box of free apples.  True, not all the apples are in perfect shape, but most are, and the ones that aren't are still great for cooking and baking.  It's fun to see how God provides not only for our needs, but also gives us some special treats.  Honey Crisp is our favorite apple!
Photo is from Pixabay; these are not the apples he was given!
Hoping to blog more in the week ahead.  I have plenty of ideas, but we will see how the week goes!  Hope you've all had a blessed Lord's Day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge for April 15

It's Wednesday again, and the intrepid Joyce, at  From This Side of the Pond,  is again hosting the Hodgepodge for our blogging and reading pleasure.  She posted the questions from her phone on Tuesday due to a power outage.  If you'd like to jump in too, head on over to  From This Side of the Pond and get the questions, then answer them on your own blog.  It's a wonderful diversion in these crazy times.  Here are Joyce's questions for this week:

1. In Monday’s post I mentioned I would incorporate the word I was given for letter K into this week’s questions. That word was karaoke. On a scale of 1-10 how excited would you be to find out there was karaoke happening at your next gathering/outing with friends? 10=gimme that microphone!, and 1=I suddenly remembered there’s somewhere else I need to be. Have you ever actually done karaoke? If you had to perform karaoke what would be your ‘go-to’song?
My excitement level would be at a "0".  I have not ever actually done karaoke, nor do I intend to, so can't really think what my "go-to song" might be.  How about Make the World Go Away?
My hubby got this closeup of a crocus.  Isn't it gorgeous!
 2. How do you listen to music these days? Favorite app or do you listen the old fashioned way? Do you have music playing often in your home? Is there still a CD player in your car?
I often have music playing in our home, and more so during this current crisis. We have a Bose and I may play CDs on that, but more often I play music on my tablet --usually hymns and usually instrumental.  Lately I've been loving this one:
I've been listening free on Amazon, but you can also find it here: 4TheGospel.  No, my car does not have a CD player.  It's so old that it still has a cassette player!

3. The HP lands on US tax day this year. Or what used to be tax day before everything including filing your taxes was cancelled, delayed, postponed or extended. FYI- filing your taxes has not been cancelled, only delayed for a bit.

Besides staying away from anyone and everyone, what have you found taxing lately?
Life in general feels taxing these days.   Watching or listening to the news has become very taxing.  We need to manage the stress in our lives, so two days last week we drove a few minutes to a deserted state park and enjoyed a picnic and a hike. 
4. You’re without power so no oven, and you can’t open your frig or freezer in order to keep what’s in there from spoiling. And you don’t have access to take out. What will you make us for dinner?
Can I use my stovetop?  We have a gas stove so I could do so in a power outage.  Even so, the couple of ideas I thought of (waffles or pancakes, or boxed mac'n'cheese with tuna added) would require milk, so if I can't open the fridge door ...  I use natural peanut butter, so couldn't even make you a PB&J sandwich!  I guess we would be hungry until the power came back on, or we could just eat crackers or something.  The ones below, from RW Garcia, are some of my favorites currently.
5.  I’ve seen this exercise going around Facebook and thought it would be a good one to include in the HP...what are five things everybody seems to love and go crazy for that you personally don’t care for?
Hmmm ...  I could probably name five different TV shows.  Facebook is another thing I don't personally care for.  Llamas ... they're sort of cute but I don't see where the fascination came from.  Not seeing them as often these days but for awhile everything was llamas.
Another from last week at the state park.  Now there is something I do like.
6.  Insert your own random thought here.
All my thoughts are random these days.  I've been noticing that  although I can remember what day it is fairly well, I often feel unmotivated and aimless.  And yet I have plenty to do ... have probably even stated in the past that if I just didn't have to leave the house for anything, I could keep very busy.  Now I'm at home most of the time and still can't seem to get myself organized.  I am still spending a couple hours a day at my childhood home, and an hour or more walking each day, so something is getting done!  This afternoon I hope to spend some time brainstorming with myself about how to get more of a routine in place and how to prioritize the things that need doing.

So ends another Hodgepodge!  Happy Wednesday, all!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Saturday six

Beautiful graphic from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
I really had high hopes of a Friday five this week, but it did not happen.  Thus,  a Saturday six will have to do.  So let's see.

1.  Well,  Abby's graphic at top shows what should also be at the top of my list today: the biggest blessing of all in my life, without which any others would be meaningless: my salvation and new life in Christ.

2.  The privilege of prayer is another blessing I've been really conscious of this week.  In an email from Samaritan Ministries, the health sharing ministry that Mr. T and I are part of, we learned that many pastors and Samaritan Ministries itself were planning to unite in a day of fasting and prayer on Good Friday.  We were able to spend time in prayer throughout the day and it was such a privilege to be able to beseech God on behalf of our beloved country and the entire world.  What a blessing to know that so many others were also praying.  It will be exciting to watch God work!

3.  The fact that we can know God is such a huge blessing.  And God wants us to know Him.  Really know Him, I mean, not just know about Him or even just know Him as Savior.

"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,  neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
"But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."  (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Paul shared this goal in Philippians 3:10 -- "That I  may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death."

Peter instructs us, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and ever.  Amen."  (2 Peter 3:18)

The rich, rich blessings of getting to know God are innumerable.  But one of the most wonderful things about knowing God is getting to know His character through His Word, the Bible.  When you know His character, you are able to trust Him so much more!

Even in a time like this you can rest in the fact that He is in control; you can know that He is working all things after the counsel of His own will; you can be assured that this coronavirus pandemic did not take Him by surprise; you can know He is in the situation with us and promises never to leave us or forsake us.   And there is much, much more that you can know.

If you have never spent time in the Bible getting to know God, then right now will be a great time.  If you don't know where to start, then Mardi Collier's book What Do I Know About My God? would be one of my best recommendations for a study that will help you dig unto God's Word and begin getting to know Him.  All you will need is your Bible; Mardi's book; and a notebook of some sort.  As you take your Bible in hand and work at copying out the verses in the various categories, you will end up with an entire notebook of truth about our God.  This will become a resource that you will turn to again and again in times of need.  I've linked to the book in the Wilds bookstore, but you can also find it on Amazon or even Thriftbooks, if you don't mind a used copy.

4.  Signs of spring, even though it snowed yesterday and is quite chilly today.  On Monday we discovered these at my childhood home, where we are going daily to complete the task of cleaning it out.
Monday was a gloriously warm and sunny day, though windy.  On Tuesday, another gloriously sunny warm day,  the clump of crocuses looked like this.

I had no idea there were crocuses growing in that spot by the back steps ... and maybe they weren't even there last year, who knows?

And we are making great progress on the cleaning-out process.  Our goal is to finish by the end of April, and that seems possible.   Today I was looking at some photos from mid-February.  Our Nevada daughter had asked us to take some photos of the interior of the house, as she has so many wonderful memories from time spent there.  She said it didn't really matter that the rooms were full of labeled boxes and other assorted junk.  I just got around to looking at the photos (Mr. T had taken them), and oh, my, have we come a long way since then!  I think we will take some more when the rooms are empty, since what she most wanted to remember were the little nooks and crannies, stairs and hidden closets, etc.

5.  Time to get out in nature walking, hiking, and even enjoying a picnic for two in the solitude of a park.  My friend and I have gotten out walking 4 days this week.  Friday was a wintry mix, and Thursday was raining -- but we managed to get out ahead of the rain and got only a bit wet on the return trip.

6.  The wonderful resources available online to help us all be spiritually sustained and encouraged during this pandemic.  This past Sunday we had several services to choose from -- from our own church, other local churches, and the livestream from our daughter's home church in Nevada.  (No one is there except the pastors, but they are doing a wonderful job shepherding their flock through this.)  I'm so thankful for the pastors and other church leaders who are making such an effort to keep messages and other resources before their people.

Some of my favorite bloggers are continuing to write helpful posts, and one of the best things I've seen through this time is this post and video: A biblical response to the coronavirus. It's by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and I found it so encouraging and calming.   I shared the link with both of my daughters and several friends.  Mr. T and I watched it one evening this week and what a blessing it was.  The reminders that Ken shared are really not new to us as believers.  They are all things that we know from God's Word.  But his devotional was so reassuring. 

One of my prayers through this pandemic is that believers will use this time to grow closer to God.  When people don't have much of a devotional life on their own, and sort of depend on what they get from church each week,  it's easy to get discouraged when the church is not meeting together.  It's also tempting to just not take the time to avail oneself of these wonderful online resources.  So I do pray that God's people will use this time to strengthen our faith.  After all, strengthening our faith is one of the purposes of trials, and we don't want to waste this opportunity.

Have a blessed Easter, all!

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge for April 8

It's Wednesday again, and our lovely hostess Joyce, at  From This Side of the Pond,  is hosting the Hodgepodge for our blogging and reading pleasure!  If you'd like to jump in too, head on over to  From This Side of the Pond and get the questions, then answer them on your own blog.  It's a wonderful diversion in these crazy times.  Here are Joyce's questions for this week:

1. How will you celebrate Easter this year?

Still up in the air with plans.  It will look very different from previous years, of course; that is absolutely a given.  One thing we are definitely planning to do is to "attend" (virtually) an Easter service in Elko, Nevada, at the church where our Western daughter and family go.  The wonderful pastors there have been going to an empty church on Sunday and doing a live-streamed service.   It's different, but they make it as interactive as they can with singing and a time of corporate prayer.  We've really been enjoying this, and I'm sure Easter Sunday will be a blessing too.
Above you see some lovely colored eggs made with natural dying materials like spinach, beets, red cabbage, and brown onion skins.  My granddaughters and I did this as a project some years ago.

Usually we have an early outdoor service and a lovely Easter breakfast at church.  That won't be  happening this year, sadly.  Mr. T and I will plan to have something special for Easter brunch or dinner, but not sure yet just what we'll do or at which mealtime.  It's just so different, but our reason for celebration has not changed!

2. Is it easier for you to receive grace offered or extend grace to another? Explain. 

Hmm ... it so depends on the situation.  But I think in general I find it easier to extend grace to another.  Sometimes I have difficulty giving myself grace.
Delightful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings</a>
3. Do you say grace before meals? If so do you have a standard dinnertime grace or is it more 'off the cuff' ? Do you say grace when dining out? Do you have a favorite grace? Any special memory associated with 'saying grace'?

Yes, we do say grace before meals.  No standard or favorite grace; it's definitely off the cuff as the Spirit moves.  We do say grace when dining out, though if the atmosphere is very noisy or chaotic, we will just bow our heads and pray silently.  (However, noisy and chaotic places have not been our usual choice of restaurants.)

I have a couple of memories associated with "saying grace".  One is that as kids, whenever we got together with one particular aunt and uncle's family, we always, always said the "God is great, God is good" grace.  It's so odd to realize it, but of the eleven people who gathered around that table all those years ago, only my cousin Sandy and I are left.

 But the funniest and most memorable "saying grace" memory probably took place 30 years ago or more in our own kitchen.  We were at the table,  just about to pray and eat, when the phone rang.  (Remember, this was before the day of caller ID, and there weren't many telemarketers either.)  One of our daughters ran to answer it and greeted the caller in this way: "Dear Heavenly Father ..."!  Even today I cannot think of this incident without laughter bubbling up.

4. What are some challenges you think the next generation will face? (Generation Alpha -- born between 2011 and 2025)

Good question! Given the challenges we are facing right now, I think maybe their generation could face a lot more challenges regarding health and safety.  Likely many more global challenges as well.

5. Share a favorite quote or lyric featuring the word faith.

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."  (Hebrews 11:6)

Free graphic from Holley Gerth
6.  Insert your own random thought here.  

I hope to write a post about this later, but the past 2 days my hubby and I have enjoyed a picnic and hike at a nearby state park -- our governor is encouraging people to get out into nature and walk or hike, and the state parks up here are open.  Only a few other people have been at the park, and all of them distant from us.  We saw 6 people yesterday and only 3 people today.  We opted to go there two days in a row simply because the weather was beautiful (the rest of the week is predicted to be cold and rainy, maybe even snowy), and after leaving there we went directly to my childhood home to work on that project.
And there is the Easter week Hodgepodge!  Happy Wednesday, all!