Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ready for Christmas!

Having our Thanksgiving a day early allowed us to get a head start on decorating for Christmas. That’s good, because we like to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in our house as long as possible!

And here are the next two paintings in my series of eight from Maria Raczynska’s 12 Days of Christmas (the first two appeared in yesterday’s blog post; I didn’t complete all 12).

#Christmaswatercolor #watercolornutcracker #decoratingforChristmas #Christmastree

Friday, November 26, 2021

“Thankful For” Time

One of our family traditions (not unlike many families, I’m sure) is our time around the Thanksgiving Dinner table when we share what we are especially thankful for this year.

We usually have this special time somewhere between the meal and the pie (Autumn Gold Pumpkin and/or Pecan), over coffee, of course.

This year’s Thanksgiving was celebrated in our Washington home, which is now our only home, and that was one of my “thankful-fors,” that we were able to sell the big house/property in Missouri and move “all the way” out here to Washington state, where we have 6 of our immediate family (7 when Tory is Stateside, usually in Mexico). 

We really miss our family that is not out here (daughter and her family and our siblings/spouses). But we are thankful to be “unburdened” with the whole two-home thing (which we did for seven years) and to be able to spend a lot of quality time with our son and wife (Mark and Kristy) and our grandson and wife (Conner and Caroline) and their two little ones, Leeland (3 1/2), and Lily (8 months). It is an extra blessing to be able to be in the church that Mark planted here in our town three years ago, where Conner is the Worship Pastor, and Kristy and Caroline are also involved in ministry leadership. Huge thankful-for right there!

Also making my shared list this year is “my family,” and that is more than just “I’m thankful for my family.” For me, I am so thankful for the blessing of family members following God and raising their families to follow Him. Such a rarity these days, it seems to me, and I do not want to take that blessing for granted. God is so good to my family.

I’m just going to say this: My children and their children and their children (whether in Washington or Missouri) are just beautiful people, in every way. I know they’re mine, but they just are, and I recognize this as just one of the ways God has chosen to bless me, the Mom and Mamo to 12 (so far)! Thank you, Lord.

I also shared this year about how thankful I am for my husband—always, of course, for the way he loves me, takes care of me (spoils me), provides for me, and on and on. But this year I’m especially thankful that, as the mirror is less and less kind to me, his rose-colored glasses just get “rosier,” and he just tells me how beautiful I am all the time. I’ve always loved that he does that, but it seems like especially recently, I’ve NEEDED for him to do that (how does he know?)!! So I’m thankful for him and his rose-colored glasses (may he never lose them!).

Not mentioned in our family sharing time, I am also thankful for my art hobby. It truly is a personal blessing that I have found and am developing a hobby that is challenging but also enjoyable and relaxing. I created a few Christmas-themed pieces around mid-November (mainly while my three guys were hunting). Now that Thanksgiving is over, I will share a few of them here, a couple of them at a time.

To all my readers, thank you for following me, and to those who send me notes or leave comments, thank you for your encouragement. I’m thankful for all of you, too!

#thankfulfortime #Thanksgiving #Christmaswatercolor #ThanksgivingDinner #ThanksgivingTurkey #Family #watercolor

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Always Busy (and some Watercolor)

There is an old saying, “Well, that says a lot about you.” That’s rather nebulous, and I wonder if using that “inclusive statement” might sometimes be jumping to conclusions, and maybe while a statement might say “SOMETHING about you,” it may not necessarily say A LOT about you? Just rambling here, no answer.

But an example of the above would be this: I am always busy. Does that say a lot about me? If it does, I hope it’s good, because it’s true.

Sometimes my “busy” is more a worthwhile use of my time than at other times. 
Sometimes my “busy” is doing fun things, sometimes it is doing serious things.
Sometimes it is doing helpful things, sometimes it is doing self-centered things.
Sometimes it is serving others, sometimes it is not. 
And so on.

But I am always busy.

At this point, I have several projects in progress. Well, I should say, I ALWAYS have several projects in progress. I’m always busy.

But right now, I am
-preparing for Thanksgiving at my house (menu plans, grocery lists, timetable for preparations, etc.).
-preparing for Christmas (shopping, wrapping, addressing cards, formulating Christmas letter, doing Christmas watercolor art, planning menus, working on lists for when to do what (decorating, etc.).
-planning trip to Missouri to see daughter and family and siblings during the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
-planning/preparing Sunday dinners for my family at my house.
-keeping up with church activities.
-keeping up with Bible study/devotionals (about to start an Advent study).
-keeping up with some watercolor art (some seasonal, some not).
-keeping up with my fitness/health goals.

I will soon be posting some Christmas watercolor art pieces I completed a couple of weeks ago.

This week, I painted a couple of watercolor birds, following a teacher I enjoy, Louise De Masi (from Australia). 


Fairy Wren (Australia)

My Bible passage for today:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Matthew 6:25-26

#birdsdonotworry #Idonotneedtoworry #projects #alwaysbusy #thatsaysalotaboutme #hopeitisgood #planning #watercolor #kingfisher #fairywren #Australia #LouiseDeMasi #busylife

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Caught Up, Catching Up, and Up Next {Bible Study and other Projects}

There are many things I enjoy about being “retired,” which has described my status for many years, actually. My last year of teaching was 1998-99. One of the things that brings me such contentment and joy is that I am free to do my Bible studies, reading and devotionals on my own schedule and in my own time. 

Since it is up to me, apparently it is my choice is to have several things going at once. I may have two Bible studies, plus a year-long Bible reading challenge, plus a Christian book, plus more than one devotional going on at the same time. That has been the case lately. While I was at times a bit overwhelmed with “today’s do list” in my notebook, I will say that finishing several projects virtually simultaneously is quite a feeling of accomplishment!!

So, since I’m usually not really sure if anyone is actually reading my blog (though I’m always amazed at the number of page “visits”), I will recount these things mainly for my own accountability.

Caught Up

(1) Probably the biggest sense of relief for me is that I finished every single day of The One Year Chronological Bible. I actually did it in about 10 1/2 months. I started it December 24, 2020, and finished it last night. It was very challenging, and the next time I do a read-the-Bible-through plan, I will not do chronological (didn’t really like that order). But I am glad I was able to keep my commitment, through a very stressful and strenuous year (including selling our place and making a cross-country move).

(2) Last June I started reading Woven by Angie Smith. This book has my highest recommendation. 

Having done Angie’s Bible Study, Seamless, I already knew I loved her style and her grasp of the Bible as a seamless story. That’s what Woven is all about. As it says on the back, “In her unique and remarkably readable way, Angie Smith helps you tie together all the loose, disconnected threads, weaving them into a beautifully crafted story line…from separate stories to the One they are all about. Because once you see the big picture, you’ll see it on every page.”

Even though I was concurrently reading the Bible through in a year, this book kept me engaged and not wanting to put it down. It actually helped me see the bigger picture in the daily reading I was doing.

(3) Bible Study (with workbook), “Joy is a Person,” by Robin Meadows. This was an in-depth study of Philippians. I chose to do this one because I sometimes get bogged down with stress and worry (another topic!) and forget to remember the JOY. I just finished this one two days ago.


Catching Up (in Progress)

(1) I am enjoying the book As Long as I Have Breath: Serving God with Purpose in the Later Years.

This little book, written by Bruce Gordon and published by Focus on the Family, is actually 52 devotionals, one for each week of the year. I started it at the end of September, reading one devotional each Monday (for a year). From the back, “In this 52-week devotional, Bruce Gordon challenges the idea that youth is the best part of life. He asserts that we make too little of our opportunities in later life… These practical devotionals, steeped in Scripture will help you transition to a time of life that can be rich with purpose, significance, and hope as you serve God…Discover for yourself that the best years, the most impactful years of your life are still to come.” 

Gordon provides reminders for me that I need to hear, about the need to find a place of service, regardless of age/season of life.

(2) I love the writings of Suzie Eller, and I am refreshed and renewed by the reading of her book (free on Kindle), The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without Borders. 

I’m almost finished with this one, and interestingly, looking back at all the readings/studies I have been doing lately, it’s like everything came together recently into one huge emphasis on the New Testament. I kept thinking, “Didn’t I just read this?” Yes, I did. It may have been in the chronological reading where I was in the NT, or in the Philippians study, or Angie’s book, or this book by Suzie. Interesting coincidence.

(3) Always in progress is my artwork. I came to a stopping place with my usual subjects (like fruit, animals, birds, etc.). Most recent of those:

But I have also completed 9 of 12 Days of Christmas watercolor art projects, which I will begin to share after Thanksgiving.

(4) I always have the current year Scrapbook in progress. I am currently caught up through October.

Up Next

(1) As soon as I finish Suzie Eller’s book, I am looking forward to reading Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, by Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD.

I actually already did a sneak peek of the first few pages and am even more excited about reading it. I have written many times about how much I love the word and the meaning of REST. 

Dr Dalton-Smith is a board-certified internal medicine physician, and a Christian speaker (Focus on the Family, etc.). From the back, “In this book you’ll discover a time-tested secret to living your best life. Discover the seven types of rest—physical, mental, emotional, social, sensory, creative, spiritual—needed for you to thrive in your relationships, career, and personal goals. Her insightful and practical approach to correcting your work-rest imbalance will help you experience deeper and fuller levels of satisfaction in your life.”

I have a feeling I am going to be putting my phone down a little more often after reading this book.

(2) I love Thanksgiving, and I love Christmas, and I love the time between those two celebrations. So I sometimes (not always) plan to do an Advent study of some sort. This year, I will be doing Prepare Him Room by Susie Larson. It is a Daily Advent Devotional.

This book “invites you to give God sacred space in your holiday season as you ponder the miracle of Christ and respond to His work in your life. As you begin your Christmas preparations this year, journey through Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and ultimate resurrection. God invites you to be still and let Jesus radically transform you this holy season. Let earth receive her King!”

So, yes, it does feel good to be caught up, and yet still have some things in-progress, and also to have some things ready to do.

I guess that’s kind of me, it’s how I roll: feeling good about finished projects, never without something going on, and already looking forward to what is “up next.”

#BibleReading #BibleStudy #Woven #SpiritLedHeart #AsLongAsIHaveBreath #AngieSmith #SuzanneEller #Rest #watercolor #watercolorplum #Advent #PrepareHimRoom #SusieLarson #JoyisaPerson