Monday, January 30, 2023

Strengthening your prayer life


A meaningful graphic by The Daily Grace Co.

 I often find great ideas for blog posts on Instagram, especially in encouraging graphics from The Daily Grace Co.  The one above, titled How to Strengthen Your Prayer Life, is a great case in point.  Many of us have a goal to strengthen our prayer life in 2023, so I thought I would make use of this little graphic to share how I intend -- with God's help of course -- to do so.

πŸ’š  Make the time. πŸ’š

It's so important, if you intend to strengthen your prayer life, to set aside time to pray every day.  If setting aside time to pray is new to you, start with 5 to 10 minutes and spend every bit of that time praying.  Set a timer if you have to.  At this point my prayer time is between 30 to 60 minutes.

πŸ’š Create a specific place. πŸ’š

It's true that you can pray anywhere, at any time.  Think of Nehemiah and his "arrow prayers".  However, it's also important to have a specific place where you meet with God every day.  My prayer place has been a cozy corner in our bedroom, a comfy rocker in an upstairs hallway, and is now a comfortable chair in a corner of our living room.

πŸ’š Write them down. πŸ’š

Write down your prayer requests in a notebook or journal.  I've written a number of posts about my prayer journal and how to build one.  Just click on " prayer journal " in the label cloud.  I believe it's important to write down our requests so we don't forget them and also so we can cross them off with a "PTL" when God answers.

Sometimes I also like to write out some of my prayers.  I keep these in the front of my prayer journal, and sometimes I go back and pray through them again.

πŸ’š  Reflect and give praise.  πŸ’š

Reflecting on all that God has done, and praising Him for those things as well as for the various aspects of His character, is an important part of every prayer time.  In my prayer journal, I have pages for many of God's attributes, along with relevant Scriptures for each one, and I pray through one of these each day.

πŸ’š Be persistent. πŸ’š

Keep on praying, even if you don't feel as if you see God working.  He is always working behind the scenes even when we don't see it.  Don't give up.

And be persistent in having your prayer time every day.  Don't get discouraged if you miss a day, or even a week.  Just jump right in again and build that habit!

πŸ’š Pray in community. πŸ’š

If your church has a midweek prayer service, make it a priority to be there and to pray with others.  If not, or if you can't get there, find a like-minded friend and get together to pray.  Praying in community is powerful.  I know one lady who prays with a friend on the phone every Monday night.  They have been prayer partners for years.

These are some of the ways I plan to strengthen my prayer life in 2023.  How about you?  Do you have some goals for prayer this year?  With God's help and in His strength, you can achieve them!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Scripture


 Again this Sunday, I'm sharing from the Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I worked on back in 2015.  With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer.  The eighth section is Made for Community Challenge Week.  So here we go with the Scripture for the second day of that section.

S= "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality ... Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  (Romans 12:13, 21)

O= Paul has begun chapter 12 by instructing the believers -- indeed, by beseeching them -- to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God, which is simply their reasonable service.  He has added that they are not to be conformed to this world, but are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, so that they may prove the will of God.  

He goes on to list many of the ways this transformation is lived out by use of one's spiritual gifts, both within and outside of the family of God.  Verse 13 deals with our fellow believers: we are to be "distributing to the necessity of saints."  Here are some cross-references:

"But to do good and to share forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."  (Hebrews 13:16)

"Use hospitality one to another without grudging."  (1 Peter 4:9)

Verse 13 of Romans 12 goes on to add that believers should be "given to hospitality."

Then Romans 12:21 states that believers are not to be overcome by evil.  Instead, we are to overcome evil with good.  The cross-reference here points back to verses 1 and 2.

A= Am I doing good and sharing with my fellow believers? I try to; that's certainly my mindset.  Over the years my family and I have also been definitely "given to hospitality".  And it is such a blessing!

And how about when evil comes my way?  Am I overcome by it?  Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed by it.  But instead, my response to evil should be to overcome it with good.  

As I look at this, verse 13 seems to be a natural result of using my spiritual gifts (two of which are giving and hospitality).  Verse 21 can only be lived out as I yield myself to God as a living sacrifice with a transformed mind.

P= "Lord, I pray that You will help me in the areas I've considered here.  Giving, and showing hospitality, come fairly easily to me as as a result of the spiritual gifts You've given me.  But I must admit there are times when I don't feel hospitable, and I need help from You.

"Overcoming evil with good, however -- that does not come easily at all.  When I'm able to do this, it is completely supernatural.  In my flesh, it would never even occur to me.  When I am faced with evil in any form, I pray You will help me not to be overcome by it, but instead to overcome it with good.  I thank You for all You'll do, in Jesus' name, Amen."

And that's the Sunday Scripture for this week.  I hope it was a blessing to someone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A bit of winter decor


Just a quick post to share some of my winter decor (and yes, a little bit of Christmas too).  Above is  a January display atop a bookcase.  Our friend Terry gave us the gorgeous lighted snow globe last year.  My friend Judy made the January garland for my birthday some years ago.  The pretty pitcher was a thrift store find this year.  Here's another look...


The pretty machine embroidered snowflake was a fun enclosure in a Christmas card this year.  I found the cardinal in a kitchen drawer at my childhood home and delight in displaying him when I can.

This picture makes this little sign look larger than it really is.  I haven't measured but it may be 4x6.  Not large.  But isn't it pretty?  A gift from my daughter last year.

This sign was a Dollar Tree find this Christmas.  As you can see we still have our Christmas decor up.  The tree will be coming down in the next few days, but the lighted houses will be coming out in its place.  Still need light and sparkle here!

Above, a closer look at that sign.  I like that except for the "fresh cut Christmas trees" this is just a winter sign.

My friend Cyndy brought me the snowman candle.  It's a vintage Gurley candle.  I like how he seems to be tipping his hat to the passing station wagon.
And just another look at the shelf the snowman is (or I should say was) on.  He's still on the shelf but I have changed out the plates.  Guess I will need to take another picture!  But not today.  Other tasks await!

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Sunday Scripture


 Again this Sunday, I'm sharing from the Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I worked on back in 2015.  With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer.  The eighth section is Made for Community Challenge Week.  So here we go with the Scripture for the first day of that section. 

S= "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth."  (1 John 3:18)

O= The epistle of 1 John has been described as "a family letter" from the Father to His "little children who are in the world."  C.I Scofield notes, "John's Gospel leads us across the threshold of the Father's house; the First Epistle makes us at home there."

Chapter 3 is contrasting God's children with the children of the devil and is noting their distinguishing characteristics.  And verse 18 is part of that description.  We are not to love only with our words, but in deed and in truth.  One of the cross-references for "love" is 1 John 4:21 --

"And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also."

We are to show our love not only by what we say, but by what we do -- and it needs to be real, not false.

A= It's easy to say we love God and others.  But as the saying goes, talk is cheap.  His Word tells me that I am not to love merely in word.  In addition to showing love with my words, I am to love in deed.  My love for God and others needs to be seen in my actions.  And also, I am to love in truth.  My love must be real and not feigned.  Jesus said, "If a man love Me, he will keep my words."  (John 14:23)

P= "Lord, I pray that You will help my love for You and others to be real and true.  Help me to love You and others in deed and in truth -- to live out the love I say that I have.  Your Word tells me that those who truly love You will obey what is written there.  I pray that You will help me to do this consistently, thanking You for all You'll do, in Jesus' name, Amen."

There you have it -- this week's Sunday Scripture!  I hope it was a blessing to someone.

Friday, January 20, 2023

End of the year book talk


 Yes, of course it's a little past the end of the year.  But I wanted to at least share something about the books I read in 2022.   Here goes:


Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the KJV Bible, by Marc Ward

I read this as I was taking part in the constitution committee for what would be our merged church.   An interesting, informative read.


The Green Ember, by S.D. Smith

I blogged about it here: One New Thing (that would be reading a genre of book completely out of my usual comfort zone).  Through the ensuing months, I read many more from this series.  Anytime you see a book on this list from S.D. Smith, it will be from the same series.   Rabbits with swords.  I guess you would call it allegorical for lack of a better description.  Suffice it to say there are many important lessons in these books.  And the kids I know love them.


The Black Star of Kingston, by S.D. Smith

The Big Lie, by Dinesh D'Souza  -- A challenging read,  but very interesting and informative.  The subtitle says it all.  Quite surprising but all true and all documented.

 Ember Falls, by S.D. Smith

The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner -- This is one I had dipped into over and over, but I finally got all the way through it.  It's one I'll probably read again because I can use the ongoing reminders concerning time management.


The Last Archer, by S.D. Smith


Ember Rising, by S.D. Smith

Passionate Parenting, by Cary Schmidt.  This was a Mother's Day gift from our church.  Although it was written mainly to parents of teenagers, I thought it was very good and have already shared it with friends who are parenting a teen.

America, by Dinesh D'Souza -- another challenging, but important read.  The subtitle is Imagine a World Without Her.  Unfortunately that is becoming all too relevant.


The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner, by S.D. Smith

The First Fowler, by S.D. Smith

Persuade Me, by Joanne Markey -- this is a Christian romance, set in Australia where the author grew up.  I didn't know what to expect, but I truly enjoyed this book.  It was a Kindle edition which I won in a giveaway.  It's one of those books I will definitely read again.  Even more fun, the author is my daughter's sister-in-law!


Ember's End, by S.D. Smith

Captured! by Carolyn Paine Miller -- This was the true story of a missionary family captured by the North Vietnamese in the late 1960s.  A fascinating historical read with a happy outcome.  I'd suggest this would be a great book to read aloud as a family, or as part of homeschooling history.  I found a copy on Thriftbooks for $4.79.


Miracle on the Hudson, by William Prochnau and Laura Parker -- This was the true story of the flight that landed in the Hudson river after a bird strike by Canadian geese disabled its engines.  It was written by two journalists who put together the account from the stories of those on board the flight.  

Here's the description from Thriftbooks: "The remarkable true story of Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's heroic crash landing in the Hudson River, as told by the passengers who owe him their lives. Millions watched the aftermath on television, while others witnessed the event actually happening from the windows of nearby skyscrapers. But only 155 people know firsthand what really happened on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. Now, for the first time, the survivors detail their astounding, terrifying, and inspiring experiences on that freezing winter day in New York City."  

Tales of the Maine Woods, by Edmund Ware Smith -- We thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Each chapter was its own story of the Maine woods and the people who lived there back in the mid-20th century.  Lots of real-life Yankee humor in these stories.


The Personal Touch: Encouraging Others through Hospitality, by Rachael Crabb -- another lightish read that I just read to see if I wanted to keep it.  It was good but really didn't impart any new information.

Lighthouse in my Life, by Philmore Wass  -- a very interesting true story of a family growing up on a remote Maine island as their father was one of the lighthouse keepers.  I had no idea that the US government maintained a Lighthouse Service.   You can read about it here: US Lighthouse Records.  But the story of the family's day to day life on the island and how they managed things like groceries and school was the most interesting part.


Make Room for What You Love, by Melissa Michaels  -- a good, practical read, and the title says it all.  I'm still working on putting its principles into practice.


The Daniel Dilemma, by Rand Hummel -- This one is subtitled Real Courage for Real Life.  Important lessons from the book of Daniel for believers today.  It would be great to read this one (as I did, without really planning to) in conjunction with Rand's Bible study on the book of Daniel: Living with Lion-Like Character.  I highly recommend either book, or both.


Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home, by Emilie Barnes -- this was one of those "before-bed reads" that was light and undemanding.  Although I enjoy the author's writing, this was one I could read once and then pass on to be enjoyed by others.

Lumber Queen, by Ellen Anderson -- this is subtitled The Life of Woodswoman, Ruth Ayer Park.  It's a fascinating true story of how a Vassar graduate became " the only lady logger in the United States who swung an axe,  handled a cant-dog, drove a team; and ran her own [logging] camp."  It was even more fascinating to me because Ruth Ayer Park grew up in our town and carried on logging operations all around our area.


No books completed.

In January 2023 I finished my annual reading of Shepherds Abiding, by Jan Karon.  I also completed A Rockwell Portrait, a biography of Norman Rockwell by his friend Donald Walton.

I'm pretty tickled that I managed to read 24 books in 2022!  A huge improvement from 2021 when I completed only five books!  I think the main thing that helped me get so much reading done is that I read aloud a lot in the car as we traveled places together.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A word for 2023: Focus


Graphic from (in)

 I understand, and I'm sure most of my readers do also, that it's not a necessity to choose a word for a new year.  It's not in any way a practice that makes one any more spiritual, any more committed, or any more anything.  Vast numbers of believers don't choose a word for the year, nor do they need to.  I had never thought of doing such a thing until 2013.  I'd read in the past of others doing so and in 2013 I prayerfully considered it for myself.  That year I ended up with the word "Purpose".  I found it incredibly helpful throughout the year to zero in on God's purposes for me.

Each year since (except for 2022, when I just didn't feel led to do so), I have prayerfully chosen a word for the year.  Some times it has seemed as if God laid a particular word on my heart, and that has truly been the case this year.   He has impressed upon me without any doubt that my word for 2023 is to be "focus".  The word came instantly, a few days before the end of the old year. 

I don't feel as if I have lost my focus -- which, bottom line would be "all to the glory of God" -- but rather that my focus needs to be sharpened.  

 "Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."  (1 Corinthians 10:31)


I knew I would want to use this word in both its noun and verb form as I consider it this year.  To begin I would need to look at definitions.  Below are the definitions for "focus" as a noun.

 For definition #1 we see that focus means "the center of interest or activity."  The central interest in my life should be God, and of course it radiates out from there.  All of the activity in my life should also be centered around His purposes for me.  As the definition goes on to say, I will want to concentrate on what God wants for me.

And then there is that definition #2 -- "the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition."  I want to clearly look at God, at who He is,  at His purposes for my life, and make a clear plan for fulfilling them, with His help and in His strength.  

(Obviously, definition #3 is not one I would need to consider. )


Back in 2010, 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.

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. 

These things are to be my focus.   In her book God's Wisdom for a Woman's Life, in a chapter titled "I Need Help with My Purpose",  Elizabeth George 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."  To me this quote gives a very accurate picture of how we can lose our focus.

2022 was a very challenging year for us, in a number of areas but especially with extended family concerns like my mother-in-law's deterioration in health, her admission to a nursing home and her eventual passing -- and also my work on the final land sale for my dad's trust.  Even though I sought every day to keep my focus on God's purposes for me, I know there were a number of days when I did muddle through without paying a lot of attention.


And here are the definitions for "focus" as a verb.  

So for the verb meanings, definition #1 speaks to me in a couple of ways.  To adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly -- well, not to spiritualize things too much, but I think adapting my vision to the illuminating light of God's Word will help me be able to see more clearly.

Adjusting the focus is an important thought to me.  Most often my focus is on God, where it ought to be, but I need to fine-tune and sharpen my focus so that I am truly, intentionally, living out His purposes for me each and every day.  One thing I am focusing on this year is to improve my health and energy so that I am better able to serve God and others -- and most likely that will help me to think more clearly, also!

 And definition #2 -- to pay particular attention to what God wants me to do,  and to concentrate my thoughts on those things -- is obviously equally important.  It's really my reason for choosing this word -- along with the obvious fact that God inclined my heart to choose it.


And then below we see the origin of the word "focus".  I'm including this because I thought it very interesting and meaningful.  In ancient times the "domestic hearth" was the focal point for the home.  And taking proper care of that "domestic hearth" is an important part of my purpose.  I'm seeking to take better care of my home and to live more frugally this year.
 And that is my word for 2023.  Have you chosen a word for this year?

Monday, January 16, 2023

A fun surprise in the mail


 Last week I received a really nice surprise in the mail.  Although I had advance notice months ago that this package would be arriving in January, of course I had forgotten all about it.  

For years I've submitted recipes and memories, and the occasional craft idea,  to Gooseberry Patch for possible publication. It's always fun to get a note from them letting me know they'll be publishing one of my submissions.  Best of all, that means I'll get a free copy of the book when it's published!

This time the book is Mom's Best Sunday Suppers, -- subtitled Tried & true recipes for gathering family around the table -- and it's a great one from what I have seen so far.

I'll be writing a review eventually, but for now I'll just share the chapter titles: Sunday Dinners with Family; Casual Sunday Suppers; Simple Soup Suppers; Fresh Side Dishes; Pass the Bread, Please; and Treats from Mom's Kitchen.  Just paging through it, I've seen several recipes that fit into our current low-carb eating plan, and I have already tried one recipe, for Crustless Green Chile Quiche.  We thought it was wonderful!

Wondering what recipe I submitted?  It's a favorite recipe for focaccia bread.  The link takes you to a 2015 blog post about it and links to Taste of Home, where I found the original recipe.  Since then, I have tweaked it often, as I mention in the blog post.  In fact, even since submitting the recipe to Gooseberry, I have changed it even more since I no longer have a bread machine.  I have loved the way a bread machine produces perfectly risen dough, but this focaccia bread still turns out great even without one.

Gooseberry Patch has let me know that I'll be receiving another free book in June, when a memory of mine will be published in a fall cookbook.  I'm sure to forget about it, so it will be another truly wonderful surprise!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Sunday Scripture


Again this Sunday, I'm sharing from the Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I worked on back in 2015.  With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer.  The seventh section is Living in Community in Our World.  So here we go with the Scripture for the fifth day of that section. 

S= ""Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.  Amen."  (Matthew 28:19-20)

O= After Jesus' resurrection, He met His disciples on a mountain in Galilee.  Verse 19 begins "Go ye, therefore". Whenever we see that word "therefore", we need to ask ourselves what it is "there for."  In this case, Jesus has just declared in verse 18, "All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."

Since Jesus has all authority, He can commission His people to do His bidding.  So His disciples are commissioned to go and and teach all nations.  A cross-reference of Mark 1:1 clarifies what we are to teach them:  "the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God".

After these new believers have accepted Christ, we are to baptize them "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".  Then they will need more teaching so they will continue to grow spiritually.  They must learn God's Word so they can observe all things that Jesus has commanded His followers to do.  The cross-reference below reminds us, 

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."  (2 Timothy 3:16)

Back to our passage in Matthew: Jesus then promises that He will be with His people always, "even unto the end of the age."  

Several cross-references from the book of Acts show instances of this:

"And when they had prayed ... they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness."  (Acts 4:31)

"For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have many people in this city."  (Acts 18:10)

And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts 23:11)

This is really neat, to see the fulfillment of Jesus' words.  He truly was with His people as they followed through on His command to go and teach all nations.

A=  The great commission is the same for me today as it was for Jesus' disciples.  I also am to be sharing the Gospel with all people and helping to disciple those who believe.  As I do, I have the promise that Jesus will be with me always.

P= "Lord, once again I am so thankful for Your Word and how it instructs us.  I have read these verses many times in my Christian life and have heard numerous messages on them, but I am so thankful for how the SOAP method helped me to dig into the passage for myself.  I thank You for an opportunity yesterday at the supermarket and how you gave me not only an opportunity but the words to say.  Thank You for how You will continue to work in this area, and for Your abiding presence with me.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

That's the study for today!  I hope it was a blessing.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

This 'n' That


A vintage postcard from my collection

 This snowy January morning I just feel like sharing a few random thoughts.  I'm working on some special New Year posts (and also some end-of-the-year book talk) but they aren't ready yet.  Hence, a few minutes of this 'n' that.

January is a wonderful month for new starts and so yesterday I got everything together for a new cross-stitch project:  a January sampler from Prairie Schooler.  I got this pattern in 2021 along with the one for the February sampler one,  but started the February one first.  

 My plans are to stitch each of the patterns in this booklet.  I already started the tiny "Snow Day" one just because I think it is so cute and would make a fun addition to winter decorating.  Also, it will be super quick to make!

The February sampler has been finished for awhile and I've just washed it.  After it dries I plan to press and then finish it as I did December to use in the same way on a clipboard:

 I am not a fast or prolific cross-stitcher, but I do love it!

In other crafting news, I just finished some play food for our friends' children:

felt cheeseburgers like the one below  (I skipped the sesame seeds this time, feeling that these kids wouldn't go for them)

and crocheted donuts similar to those below (only I skipped the bead sprinkles thinking they might be unsafe in the hands of rambunctious little boys).  I did two strawberry frosted ones, two chocolate ones, and two white frosted chocolate ones.

Another project I never showed any photos of (except, I think, on Instagram) is some crocheted covers I made for wooden hangers:

I have one more to go, I think.

Does anyone else feel like doing little puttery things in January?  I think maybe a lot of us do, or possibly it's just me.  But I don't think so.

One little task I'm hoping to tackle today is to take all of my post-type earrings off a simple plastic canvas holder I made years ago.  

This holder is stuffed full of earrings by now and I literally can't find room for all my earrings on it.  The other day it struck me that if I just removed all of the earrings I no longer wear, there would be room and I would be as thrilled as I was back when I blogged about it in 2016.

So my plan is to remove all of the post-type earrings, clean them, and put them away.  Maybe eventually some of my granddaughters may want them.  I only wear dangle type earrings at this point, now that my hair is a lot longer than it used to be.  I honestly prefer them and don't see myself going back to the other type.

Another task (my hubby and I are working on this one together) is going through all of our food storage and taking inventory using this form:

We did this a couple years ago, but it needs doing again.  We weren't as good as we could have been about checking off the boxes when we removed something from storage.  We've gone through our main big pantry, but still have a couple other storage areas to do.  That's probably happening today since it's snowy outside.  Eventually we plan to inventory the freezer also.

I've also been going through books, mostly cookbooks, and being more ruthless about donating them.  I've got a "Making Space" box going with a variety of items in it that I'll be donating.  As I come across things -- a pillowcase, a pair of pants, boxes of Christmas cards, books -- that I'll never use again, into the box they go.  A Making Space post should be coming later this month.

 I don't think I ever posted about a new bedspread we got.  It was inexpensive but the color combination is something I've been wanting for a long time.  I love it!

And then there were some recent sunrise photos I never shared here.  Here are just a couple.  We don't often see pretty sunrises from our vantage point here in the woods.

Well, I'm sure I must have wasted enough time for today.  There is so much to do and I'd better get back at it.  What are you up to on this snowy day?

Monday, January 09, 2023

Quiet-time musings


 Just taking a moment on this January Monday morning to muse for a few moments about quiet times.  I've been wondering what others are doing this year. 

Last week I had the opportunity to ask a few ladies at church about their plans for spiritual growth in the new year.  Several planned on reading through the Bible, using various reading plans.  Some had a goal to improve their prayer lives and planned on starting a prayer journal.  A couple had purchased Bible studies they would be working through to begin the year.  Of course we do realize that attempting any of this in our own strength or determination would be impossible.  We must have God's guidance and help in this, as in all things.  Without Him we can do nothing.

I am personally reading through The Daily Walk Bible this year.  I've read through this several times.  In 2021 I journaled my way through all of the readings and devotional thoughts.  Last year I didn't read through the Bible.  I read in Proverbs every month and read through the New Testament a couple of times, but for 2023 I decided to read through the Bible again.  

I've done this a few different ways in the past, using a chronological Bible a couple times (which I loved), a plan that has you in both Old and New Testaments plus Psalms and Proverbs, other types of reading plans, and then a one-year Bible like this one.  I actually own two one-year Bibles, but the Daily Walk one is my favorite.

I'm also working through a Bible study from The Daily Grace Co.  I've done several of their studies and enjoy them so much.  They are not only well-written, deep dives into Scripture, they are absolutely beautiful and a joy to work on each day.  Currently I am working through their study on Lamentations, Between Grief and Glory.  

I am seeking to maintain a rich and meaningful prayer life in 2023, and my prayer journal is a wonderful help with that.  You can read much more than you may want to know about my prayer journal by simply clicking the "prayer journal" label in the label cloud.

Coffee is an integral part of my quiet time, and I'd like to share a fun little tip that I've recently tried. 

 We love flavored coffee, but the flavored creamers are not very healthy and the flavored coffees are sometimes artificial tasting.  I had the idea -- I'm sure I read it somewhere -- of adding a flavored tea bag to the coffee grounds when brewing. We enjoy the gingerbread coffee at our local supermarket cafe very much, so I tried adding a gingerbread spice tea bag to my coffee as it brewed.  It was very good!  Sugar Cookie may be up next.

The photo at top has really nothing to do with my quiet time -- in fact, it's from 2016 -- but it has a lot to do with my view right now.  We had friends over for brunch on Monday, and another set of friends over for lunch yesterday, and I brought out this gorgeous table runner and place mats for the first time this season.  I managed to snip some greenery to fill the heirloom pitcher, as I love the way it looks with these table toppers.  It makes me smile every. single. time I look in the direction of our dining table.  For many reasons -- the love of family, and friends,  the kindness of God to allow me to cherish some family heirlooms and to give me time and (admittedly limited) skill to create the runner and mats -- and also seeing the beauty of God's creation in the form of evergreens that symbolize growth.

We have so many wonderful resources available to us in 2023, including some that I haven't mentioned, such as Bible reading apps and a variety of excellent podcasts.  What is your quiet time looking like this new year?

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Sunday Scripture


Again this Sunday, I'm sharing from the Made for Community reading plan from Love God Greatly that I worked on back in 2015.  With this study, as I have often done, I used the SOAP method of Bible study.  Just a quick reminder that the S is for Scripture, O is for Observation, A is for Application and P is for Prayer.  The seventh section is Living in Community in Our World.  So here we go with the Scripture for the fourth day of that section. 

S= "Which, now, of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor to him that fell among thieves?
"And he said, He that showed mercy on him.  Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."  (Luke 10:36-37)

O=  This parable of the Good Samaritan is Jesus' answer to the questions of "a certain lawyer" in verses 25-29.  He had asked what he should do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus replied by asking this man what the law said about that.  The lawyer correctly answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, strength, and mind, and thy neighbor as thyself."  

Jesus told him his answer was right and added, "This do, and thou shalt live."  But the lawyer, seeking to justify himself, questioned Jesus further, asking, "And who is my neighbor?"  This parable is Jesus' answer.  

Upon finishing the story, Jesus asked the lawyer which of the three -- the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan -- was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves.  The lawyer responded, "He that showed mercy to him."  This would obviously be the Samaritan.  Jesus then told the lawyer, "Go, and do thou likewise."

A couple of cross-references are:

"He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth; but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he."   (Proverbs 14:21)

"But go and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners unto repentance."

A= God wants me to show mercy to others, also.  There are so many in need today.  Whether it is persecuted believers on the other side of the world, or people living in poverty in my own community, God would have me to show mercy on them.  He doesn't want us to turn a blind eye to their need.  Sometimes showing mercy will involve giving money -- as to the disabled veterans or Teen Challenge outside Wal*Mart or to Samaritan's Purse to aid those escaping persecution or natural disasters.

Other times, it will mean sharing goods, like donating food to a food pantry or household goods to the homeless shelter.  Sometimes it means sharing meals, rides, or even big things like a car or a home with other people.  Often, it will mean fervent prayer for the needs of people.  Whatever it takes, God wants us to show mercy and to love others as we do ourselves.

P= "Lord, I know that You would have me to love others as myself and show mercy to them.  Thank You for helping me to understand that my neighbor may be thousands of miles away, but I still have an obligation to help in prayer and/or giving if I'm aware of his need.  Help me to be faithful in doing this, I pray in Jesus' name, Amen."

That's the study for this week.  It was a challenge to me .. maybe it will be to others, as well.

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

A few goals for January


 It's a new month (in addition, of course, to being a new year) so here are a few goals for January:

* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week
* Continue working through the "Make Room Challenge" from Make Room for What You Love
* Post in this blog as often as possible -- hopefully several times per week
* Post in my Christmas blog as often as possible
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones
* Craft some homemade Christmas gifts and decorations (yes, even now!)
* Do some sewing projects ( a few more sachets to stave off musty odors, plus maybe curtains) for the cottage
* Finish 2 pillow quilts for youngest granddaughters
* Spend a little time on some UFO craft projects
* Begin decluttering the entire house, zone by zone (I plan to start today!)
* With my hubby, set some goals for 2023
* Plan a winter getaway with my hubby
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items
* Spend some time on my trust responsibilities
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
* Memorize several Bible verses and review some older ones
* Get back into our study of the book of Daniel with younger believers
* Continue to help a widowed friend with the challenges of life in general
* Drink enough water each day
* Walk and/or exercise at least 4 times each week

HEALTHY HABITS FOR JANUARY:  Drink more water/get more sleep/get more exercise/intermittent fasting/limit carbs