November 23, 2015

This and that 11/23/15

See those little hands? Those little hands (which belong to my youngest, Jared) will be 17 years old in just one week. Unbelievable. I took this picture back in 2009 during our family's annual pumpkin farm trip.

The ladies over at girltalk are currently sharing a blog series on emotions. Are emotions good or bad? Do I stifle them or just let it all out? This is such an important topic for us as women to deal with and to teach our children. It's also a timely one because, let's face it, as much as we all love the holiday season, it can also be stressful and emotional. I hope you'll take a look. And if you're a blog reader, girltalk is one worth following.

I saw this on Twitter the other day and loved it so much I asked for the source.

Turns out, it's from a new book by Jon Bloom that Desiring God is sharing for free (e-book versions). The book is titled, Don't Follow Your Heart. Sounds like it might be a nice complement to the GirlTalk blog series, eh? I've added it to my reading stack.

And if this is the year you're adding an e-reader to your toolbag, Amazon has some great deals on several Kindle styles through November 30th. Reading paper books is still my favorite way of reading, but I do enjoy my the Paperwhite that I've swiped from my hubby as a way to read free books, as well for reading in bed (it's backlit!). (Speaking of Amazon, if you're not an Amazon Prime member, this is a great season to join. Try it free for thirty days -- great for fast, free shipping on Christmas gifts -- using this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.)

Thanksgiving Day will mark two months since we left Georgia to head to our new adventure in Virginia. In light of both of those events,  I wanted to share this (from my new-to-me chalkboard wall, which is a whole lot of fun):

 Happy Thanksgiving!

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November 5, 2015

An unrelenting friendship

I mentioned that I was reading this book. It's been very encouraging. More to come, but I did want to share this little gem of a quote with you.

Good to remember.

November 2, 2015

This and that 11/2/15

We're settling in to our new Virginia home and enjoying a beautiful autumn. Last week, Jared and I traveled with some other homeschoolers to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home near Charlottesville. It was beautiful and educational, but most of all it was a great chance to get to know some folks a bit better.

Most evenings, Jeff's been reading aloud to us from To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy hearing him read, and the story has really sucked us in. On my own, I'm reading Everyday Grace: Infusing All of Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus. I won two copies (yes, TWO -- possible giveaway in the near future!) of this a few months ago, but hadn't had a chance to dig in yet. It's been an encouragement so far. And I just finished G.K. Chesterton's Man Alive, which was an odd, yet somehow endearing, story.

I miss a great many things about New Mexico -- dear friends, beautiful scenery, being closer to some of my family. And good Mexican food. So I'm super excited to find that good green chile is available through Amazon. Believe it or not, I first found it at a Kroger in Middle Georgia, but my stockpile is bound to run out eventually.

I've been cleaning my kitchen sink for more years than I care to count, but I recently started taking a more natural approach. I'm mixing about a cup of baking soda with a few drops each of lemon and clove oil and putting the mixture in a shaker. Then, after I do the dishes each evening, I sprinkle a bit of this monkey dust in the sink, add just one drop of dishwashing detergent, give it a quick scrub and rinse well. If I need to do a little extra disinfecting (like if I've been washing chicken), I'll spritz the sink with a diluted vinegar and scrub a bit more. Naturally clean and smells great!

If you'd like more homemaking tips, the Ultimate Bundle folks have brought back their Ultimate Homemaking Bundle for a quick flash sale (ends midnight ET on November 3, 2015). This bundle is an amazing mix of e-books, e-courses, printables, and free goodies (more than $900 worth) for just $29.97. Grab a bundle quick before it goes away! Click the graphic below for more details on what's included.

I hope you take time to look for opportunities to be thankful this month!

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October 28, 2015

Death to Life, or Why I Love the Fall

It's my first October in Virginia, and this desert-raised girl has been eagerly anticipating the fall color. Almost overnight, the leaves have exploded into brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows.

I love the fall. Winter, not so much. But spring? Spring is my favorite.

It seems a bit morbid to love watching the process of leaves dying. And then, depending on the length of seasons where you live, you get to sit in that death for weeks or months. Winter has its own beauty, but it can also be dark and desolate, cold and bitter. Sometimes it seems endless.

But then spring always comes. Spring displays the brilliancy of life, new life, fresh life. Cast against our memory of the stark bleakness of winter, spring's hues seem even brighter and more lively.

As I looked out on the beauty of fall in my yard this morning, I was reminded of the verses from Sunday's sermon, particularly, Colossians 1:5a:
because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
 I love fall. And I hope that when it comes my time to die, I am able to die as beautifully as the leaves of a maple or aspen, all the the glory of God. If I do, it will be because I'm anticipating a glorious spring, the ultimate spring of heaven.

As Jeff told us Sunday, who or what we hope in will define how we think and live. Does my hope of heaven have any bearing on how I live? My future heavenly home should define and give meaning to my life and the way I live. For now, I need God's help to live in that anticipation each day, to allow that hope laid up for me in heaven to inform my heart and behavior.

Who or what do you hope in? How does this shape your daily life?

* (Sorry, summer. Our many years together in the Phoenix area and the Deep South have left us with a love/hate relationship.)

October 2, 2015

Exercising trust

We pray for sanctification and then are afraid God will sanctify us by stripping us of our idols and feel distressed lest we can not have them and Him too. (Elizabeth Prentiss in letter her dearest friend, from The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss)

One day, I'm going to write a post about how calm and peaceful my life is. How we're just trolling along, enjoying a season of rest.

This isn't that day.

Once again, this has been a season (and year) of significant transitions: some complete, some happening how, and others yet to come. This has been a summer of challenges, of hardships, of blessings. It's been a summer of holding on to the important, letting go of the fleeting, and learning to recognize the difference.

It's been a season of trusting.

Trusting in God's timing when plans are unavoidably delayed.

Trusting in God's grace when burdens are heavy and I'm soul-weary.

Trusting in God's strength when I'm physically, emotionally, spiritually worn down.

Trusting in God's providence when I'm near the end of my resources, humanly speaking.

I wish that trust was my default mode. But perhaps that's why God has me exercising that muscle so much lately -- it needs strengthening, it needs to be more defined. The beauty of exercising one muscle, though, is that other muscles usually have to be involved, also. My trust muscle benefits from the strength of my belief, hope, faith, steadfastness muscles... or suffers from their weakness. And those muscles are further strengthened when my trust muscle is exerted.

...train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:7b-10 ESV)

When we think of our heroes of the faith, those who seem to have (or had) strong and stable trust intact, we might think of the Apostle Paul, Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Eric Liddell, Adoniram Judson, and so many others. How did they develop such steadfast trust? They weren't born with it, any more than you or I. Each of them share in common a life of hardship, of regularly being faced with opportunities to exercise trust, strengthening their trust more and more along the way.

A steadfast heart isn't a dead heart; it's a heart that's pulsating with a vibrant, dynamic faith, God-centered thought, and redeemed emotions that bring life and color to every experience. (Elyse Fitzpatrick, A Steadfast Heart, page 110)

Our family has just transitioned to Williamsburg, Virginia. It's been a bit of a long transition, with bumps along the way. We've left behind family (two of our children, Jeff's parents, and extended family) and many friends. As part of the process of this transition, we've done all we know to do to be good stewards and to walk in God's will. We've researched, discussed, planned, consulted, and we've prayed. We've done all of these things before each transition we've made... and frankly, we've not always experienced the outcome we hoped for. In fact, we've faced some really difficult, really ugly situations in spite of our due diligence. It was hard. Sometimes it's still hard. Yet God has been good to give us glimpses of His purposes -- some of them, anyway -- in the midst of the hard and the ugly. These glimpses help me to gaze upon Him, to be reminded of His character in ways that help me continue to trust.


He is all of this and so much more.


September 20, 2015

The Battle

There's a battle raging
Somewhere between the heavens and the depths.
It's a battle to the finish, to the death.
I'm fighting for you, always,
Always fighting.
And when it seems that right and wrong,
Guilt and innocence,
Truth and lies,
Are muddled and bloodied in this cloud of war,
I'm still fighting for you, always,
Always fighting.
Sometimes weakened by the blows,
Even those from friendly fire,
I'll carry you even on my knees,
Whatever it takes.
When you have no will to fight,
I will fight for you because
You matter.
You are beautiful.
You are by Design.
And you are infinitely, wholly loved.
So I will fight.
I'm fighting for you, always,
Always fighting.
Always fighting. For you.

Early this morning, with someone I deeply love on my heart, I wrote these words in hopes they would encourage.

[Photo:  Misty morning over Navajo Lake, Northern New Mexico, October 2014]

June 13, 2015

This and that 06|13|15

Jeff and I have enjoyed watching this in fits and spurts. I always ask him, "Is this one going to be sad?" And he always says yes. Full disclosure: Jeff chooses to watch documentaries during his downtime. I'm a bit less cerebral, with this being my current viewing choice (purely as inspiration and entertainment; I'm not inclined to tackle any major reno projects). Both of these have been available to stream via Netflix.

We're having this for dinner tonight. It's a favorite standby of mine, even in summer, and this time I had leftover grill pan chicken to speed it up even more. Tip: Don't skip the homemade chips. And I always add cubed avocado and a dollop of sour cream to my bowl. ( Note: I used some of the leftover grill pan chicken in these last night for another hit.) I love it when a meal plan comes together.

This post made me smile, nod, and share it with my husband. Summary: preachers, man up!

I've enjoyed photography ever since I took some classes during high school. I've never had an expensive camera; I've used this one for the last decade or so (and used it to take the photo above), but -- like most people -- I tend to depend on my iPhone since it's generally with me. Amateur that I am, I'm always up for improvement! I just downloaded the two free ebooks below and really like what they have to offer. "Guide to Photo Composition" offers some simple, easy-to-remember tips that can make a big difference. "Mastering Lightroom" is comprehensive and makes me want to play with Adobe... I downloaded in case that becomes possible in the future!

What are you taking pictures of this summer? And are you posting them on Instagram?

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