God will supply all my needs

Be Sure to Make Time to Breathe

God will supply all my needs

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Join me there as we write for five (mostly-) unedited minutes of writing on the prompt, “breathe”.

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If only I could just find a minute to BREATHE…..

 

Do you ever feel this way?

Or perhaps a better question is how do we avoid feeling like this for much of our necessarily busy lives???

 

I’ve had a hectic month. While January is usually busy as we “undo” from the holidays and get back into the daily swing of things, this year I have felt especially over-scheduled and overwhelmed.

Due to some family transitions and responsibilities (nothing critical or life-altering; just “normal” family busyness), it has simply flown by. And I’ve felt so behind and not on top of things.

I’ve finally managed to put most of the holiday stuff behind me, but am still sorely feeling the need for more time and space to work on goals, resolutions (if you will), and just general overall life scheduling and planning.

Well, today I slept in, and despite the feeling that there aren’t quite enough hours left in this beautiful day, I have been blessed with a quiet day at home.

My dear (and wise) husband left me with his Jesus Calling devotional open on top of my computer, which was the perfect “hint” to put first things first today.

Here is the reading for this day:

Devotional about anxiety and focusing on Christ

I was aptly reminded that my anxiety is based on my focus being in the wrong place. When I simply look at what’s visible around me, I fail to recognize that I belong to a God who will never leave me, who promises to be always by my side, and who cares for all of my needs.

My “verse of the day” from the YouVersion Bible App is also appropriate for me today.

 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:19

 

When we turn our eyes and our hearts from what we can simply see around us, and intentionally place our focus on the One who created, knows and loves us best, we can sit back and rest assured, and breathe.

It’s so important to not only carve out some time from our busy schedules to stop, think, plan, pray and rest, but also that we place our focus firmly in the right place.

God has provided all I need.

I need simply to stop to breathe and take it all in.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

pink blue sky with tree branches and snowy roof

Freedom in Learning the Balance of Control

 

 

pink blue sky with tree branches and snowy roof

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Join me there to read other writers’ brief, unedited thoughts on the prompt, “control”.

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Control.

So difficult a word for some of us. Or is it really quite simple?

I like to feel in control. My personality is most comfortable when I am the one in control.

I don’t always live with intention to control the things I can, such as my time, energy, attention, words, thoughts, and actions. This is an area that I am determined to change.

But there are so many things I cannot control.

It was so much easier when my sons were little. A parent can do well to provide a good deal of control when their kids are too little to understand what they need to do.

But teens and young adult offspring are not only harder to control; they also need to learn to live their own lives with intention.

It’s tempting to try to control those around us, even other adults (ask my poor husband), whom we have no ability nor business to do so.

I’d like to control my circumstances, but aside from using what God’s provided in this season of my life intentionally, I cannot control most of what the ebbs and flows of life bring.

But perhaps it’s really not as complicated as I make it out to be.

I can only change the things I can change. I’m learning to live more intentionally, but have a long way to go.

The rest I must leave to God, trust others to do their part, and chose my response or reaction with love and grace.

I guess this prayer really holds more wisdom and truth than I realized:

Serenity Prayer image

 

By learning to live this way, I may just find freedom.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

gold refining process

Refine

*****Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday. Our prompt for today is the word, “refine”.*****

 

gold refining process

Pouring Liquid Gold

Today I’m thinking about the word, “refine”, and the first thing that comes to mind is the process using fire that refines gold.

According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, the definition of refine is,

“Remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process”,

or

“Make minor changes so as to improve or clarify (a theory or method)”.

This is enlightening to me. What will I allow to refine my life?

I have many “unwanted elements” (weaknesses and shortcomings) and “impurities” (sins) that I would wish to have removed from me. I also wish to continue to make small changes to improve my life.

I can study and learn to work at it myself, and that may help some. I can spend time with people I admire and look up to and glean both from what I see in them and from what they may share with me, and that may help me to grow.

But most of all, I want to allow God to refine me.

The best ways I know of to do just that are spending time communicating with him in prayer (both speaking and patiently listening), and reading the Bible. Many say it is like a love letter from God to us, and I also like to think of it as an instruction manual for life, written by the One who created me.

There are also negative forces all around me that would seek to divert my attention and distract me, drawing me away from God and doing what’s best for me and those around me.

I need to be intentional with my time, my thoughts, my words, my actions, and even in helping to direct my wavering emotions. I desire strength to withstand the onslaught of negativity and evil that exists in the world around us.

Lord, help me to allow you and the good influences you’ve provided all around me to refine me, making me more and more into the person I was truly created to be. Then I will find fulfillment and be a blessing to those around me, and shine like gold that comes out of the fire refined.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” – Romans 5:3-5, NLT

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Managing in the Middle

Tree branch silhouette with half moon

Are you feeling stuck in the middle of anything right now?

Starting something new can be exhilarating and motivating, finishing can be a celebration and a relief, but what about life in the middle?

When you think about it, most of life is spent somewhere in the “middle”.

Just think about middle children for a minute. Not always, but often they can feel lost or have trouble finding their place in a family. They don’t necessarily have the expectations of being the responsible oldest child, nor the easy-going or fun personality of the youngest, yet they are created especially wonderful just where they are. Perhaps being in the middle frees us from expectations; what if we could just rest and be ourselves?

Being in the middle can be challenging. It can be mundane or boring, or on the other end of the spectrum, it can be difficult and stressful.

But what if we could relax and let God lead and provide for us right here in the middle?

I’d like to share a song with you that has really spoken to me, especially in some of those “middle” times.

 

 

It can be messy in the middle. Sometimes it feels so difficult and we feel we don’t have the strength to go on. Other times we feel we’ve lost our vision or our purpose and don’t feel motivated. We may even feel depressed.

I’m trying to learn that being in the middle is just where God wants us to be right now. I’m learning to trust him and his plan, to lean on him for strength, and to run to him for comfort.

I want my life to be a blessing, not only in the exciting new times or in the fulfilling finishing times, but right here in the middle.

Won’t you join me?

*****

This post was written for Five Minute Friday, where you can join us at the link-up to read other quick, mostly unedited writings of other bloggers.

*****

 

If you enjoyed this song, you can purchase it here:

 

 

Japanese kintsugi art

Make Something Beautiful Of Your Brokenness in 2017

 

 

Japanese kintsugi art

Happy New Year, friends!

I don’t know about you, but I feel somewhat behind the eight ball in this new year.

While I keep reading online blog and social media posts about folks who have all their goals mapped out for 2017, I am still trying to adjust to “non-holiday” status and schedule, clean up the pine needles under the tree, and begin to remove our Christmas decorations.

I am only beginning to think, pray and plan for this new year.

Not that I’m behind with my Christmas stuff still out, because I have always really loved Christmas , and in my family we would never even dream of removing our tree or decorations before several days past the new year!

And since my mom’s mother was born in the Ukraine, we have always had Ukrainian Christmas as an excuse to enjoy our things right into the beginning of January. Even though we technically don’t hold to the traditions of this celebration, it was always something we were aware of, and just feels right to keep the holidays going a little bit longer.

This year, I think my celebration on January 7th (the date for Ukrainian Christmas) will be while taking down the tree and lovingly sorting and storing our decorations.

So I think that today’s post is somewhat appropriate.

Although it seems that I do not have my act together (at least according to the timeline and suggestions of others), I can not only enjoy celebrating an imperfect Christmas, but I can celebrate the fact that I am an imperfect human being.

pine needles under Christmas tree

Recently I learned that there is an ancient Japanese art form which repairs broken pottery in a unique way.

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing the artifact with new life.”

You can read a little more about that in this article, and there is even a link provided to order a kit to try it yourself, if you’re so inclined.

The idea is that instead of attempting to hide the imperfections of a broken bowl, vase, or dish, the cracks and crevices are actually emphasized, but also beautified, by being repaired with an adhesive containing particles of gold (or another precious metal).

The result is a beautifully unique vessel. This process is contrary to our way of thinking, but I think we can learn a lot from this Japanese art form and the healthy thought and attitude around it.

Our imperfections are not to be hidden, avoided or loathed, but rather embraced, learned from and celebrated (when we allow ourselves to grow and use our weakness to empathize with others).

kintsukuroi repaired flower plate

This pretty plate has been repaired at the top with gold, making it a completely unique vessel.

Am I suggesting that we forget about goal-setting, don’t attempt to do anything differently or better for the future, or just be satisfied meeting the status quo? Of course not!

But if we accept our lives with our unique limitations, extend a little more grace to ourselves and those around us, learn from and grow in the areas we are weak, share our feelings and understanding with others, and realize that we cannot do it alone, we will be stronger and more happy for it.

We can humbly accept help and support from those around us and ask for guidance, wisdom and strength from the God who created us.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” – James 1:2-5 NLT

***

“…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NLT

 

So as we move forward into 2017 with hope and expectation, let’s let go of the fear, embrace where we are in life, and hold on to those we hold most dear.

Let’s make the most of our brokenness, offering our lives as a vessel made more beautiful to bless others.

*****

 

 

Mason Christmas gift jars

Simple Gifts in Mason Jars – great last-minute Christmas gift idea

Mason Christmas gift jars

Today I’m wondering…..do you have any last-minute gifts to give?

Perhaps you’re going to someone’s home for the holidays and need a small token of your appreciation. Maybe you are looking for just the right “something” for your child’s teacher. Or do you have some close friends or church small group members to whom you’d like to present with a little gift of love and appreciation?

Well, you’re in luck, even at the last minute, especially if you have a supply of mason or other decorative jars at your disposal. While last-minute Christmas shopping is less than appealing to most people, and DIY gifts are too time consuming at this point in the season, this simple make-it-yourself gift is an exception.

By the way, if you like jars like some of us do, I highly recommend stocking up on them when you see a good price or sale, find a great deal on Amazon (like these colored mason jars or these fun, whimsical jars), or come across nice jars from products you use and yard or other sales.

I have purchased several different colors of mason jars (mostly pints), from stores like Target and Christmas Tree Shops. I keep nice-looking jelly-jars and other interesting jars from products I buy or receive. Even dollar stores offer either mason or other interesting jars. And if your family and friends know you love and use jars, they may even offer you some they have hanging around.

If this is truly last minute and you don’t have any appropriate jars, head on over to your nearest supermarket or other local store and I’m willing to bet they will carry an assortment of canning jars for you to purchase.

In a pinch, you can also adapt some of these ideas to other cute or pretty containers you may have or find. (For example, here are some colorful, practical, plastic containers and these organza bags are nice too (and not just for a wedding, as suggested).

empty colored mason and other jars

Once you’ve assembled your gift-giving jars or containers, next you need the gift contents.

In this post, I am presenting any and all ideas I can think of that would make a nice and/or useful gift. I would choose items that you love, especially that you know would suit the one to whom you’re giving the gift, and/or items that you have purchased, received or collected for this purpose.

(I will provide several links to ideas on Amazon, but you may find suitable gift items from just about anywhere: dollar stores, online stores, supermarkets, gift stores, drug stores, big chain stores, warehouse/club stores. Ideally, you may wish to be collecting these items as you go along as well; you never know when you will see a great sale or clearance price on items that can become part of a lovely gift. You’ll stretch your precious dollars most when you can prepare in advance.)

The ideas I’m including here are simple, quick and economical. (Yes, you could fill a jar with precious jewels, money and/or a collection of gift cards if that works for you, but most of us need more affordable ideas.)

Assorted goodies to fill gift jars

Ideas for filling your gift jars:

  1. Hot cocoa mix: layered cocoa (I wrote a whole post about this last year), homemade mix (using a recipe such as this), or even store-bought cocoa mix topped with mini-marshmallows and/or crushed candy canes (crush your own or purchase pre-crushed candy canes.)
  2. Assortment of holiday and/or other tea-bags: maybe you have some at your home already or you can buy some to share
  3. Hot chocolate packets: add marshmallows, mini chocolate chips and/or candy canes to mix in
  4. Votive or tealight candles: fill up the jar with different colors and scents and perhaps some match sticks
  5. Small toiletry items, nail polishes, and/or make-up items:you can include such items as small nail files, individual eye-shadows, bath salts/bubbles, travel size shampoo or hand lotions, cute socks (rolled up)
  6. Christmas candy and/or nice chocolates: my absolute favorites are Lindor truffles; any individually wrapped candy or chocolates would be nice
  7. Combination or theme jars: combine some of the above ideas that work together (tealights, bath crystals, and a shower pouf; tea, hot cocoa packs and truffles; Christmas tea, candy and a small ornament)
  8. Homemade trail mix, granola, or snack mix: make up your own mix with dried fruits and nuts or follow a recipe idea (This Pinterest page has many interesting Christmas recipes for both trail and snack mixes, while this looks like a nice recipe for healthy, homemade granola.)
  9. Small arts and craft supplies: beads and jewelry making supplies; stickers or craft supplies for a child; small crayons and/or drawing supplies; assorted mini gel pens, small colored pencils, markers or crayons and tape or glue sticks
  10. Decorative office supplies: colorful and/or decorative paper clips, pens/markers/pencils, mini stapler and staples, small tape dispenser, shaped or designed erasers, sticky notes or flags

Hopefully this list will provide you with a starting point for designing gift jars that are fun, meaningful and low-stress gifts for friends and loved ones.

Now all you need to do is decorate your jars with ribbon, tags or labels (here are some cool chalkboard labels), or simply top with a bow and enjoy giving them away!

mason jars filled with items for quick gifts

layered cocoa gift jars 2

*****

Have you ever given a gift in a jar? Do you have any ideas to add to my list?

 

breakfast, devotions, clutter, hope

Hope and Peace Amidst the Chaos

I sure love Christmas and the holiday season! I keep wanting to write fun posts about “Christmasy” things, but lately I have been drawn to write about the more “serious” side of things, like finding peace in this busy, festive season.

I’ll try to be brief, but in this morning’s quiet time I gleaned some truths I’d love to share. Because I know I’m not the only one who tends towards feelings of overwhelm and stress during this time of year.

breakfast, devotions, clutter, hope

Do these photos look anything like parts of your home this time of year?

It’s hard to keep up, let alone have any sort of balance in our lives. In my first picture, I like how my Bible and “quiet time” materials are in the foreground (as they should be), and if you look carefully, you’ll see that there is “hope” in the background. Putting our focus on what matters will give us a sense of hope.

my cluttered kitchen

I’ve always loved the Christmas holiday and am tempted to “do it all”. (You can read about that here in my very first post ever.)

For today, allow me to just share a little bit of the devotional idea in this morning’s reading.

My husband really knows me, so when I awoke to his “Jesus Calling” devotional lying open on top of my computer, I took the hint that he wanted me to take a look at today’s reading.

I am so glad I did!

Today’s reading began with,

“Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life”,

which immediately had my full attention in the middle of my holiday “chaos”.

The author then continued with some very practical, yet spiritual advice:

“Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind so I can be in the forefront of your awareness.”

(The readings are written from the perspective of God speaking to us.)

What simple, yet profound advice for all!

If you are a Christ-follower this is especially meaningful, but how practical for anyone to focus only on what’s in front of us, giving that our full attention. I need to hear this at Christmas and other times of busyness, but also each day as I endeavor to use my time with intention, and infuse it with meaning.

The author encourages us to keep our focus on Christ, which is always the best advice, but especially meaningful during the season designed to remember his first coming.

If you’ve never read this devotional, I highly recommend it. My husband is enjoying it’s brief, yet meaningful daily readings. Each time I hear it, it has been an encouragement to me as well.

(No wonder it’s rated at about 4.9 on Amazon’s reviews! Click on the image for more information.)

 

I’ll close with the very appropriate scripture passages suggested for today’s reading:

 

“Commit your actions to the Lord,

    and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3

***

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33

***

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”

    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” – Psalm 27:8

***

“You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”- Isaiah 26:3

(All scriptures are presented in the New Living Translation.)

 

peace decoration on door

I pray that these thoughts and verses will be an encouragement to you as well. Let’s intentionally use each day and each moment this Christmas to focus on what really matters.

 

Have a wonderful day!

*****

 

close-up of calendar day square

Now

close-up of calendar day square

I’ve always been one to look forward to things.

It’s so easy for me to think, plan, anticipate, and sometimes even worry over the future.

I also think a lot about the past.

I like to remember, even re-live good moments, and sometimes find myself dwelling on hard ones.

But living in the moment??? It’s not my forte.

Especially during this wonderful but busy Christmas season, I find myself striving to make everything work, get everything done, and make at least some of the people happy.

cat sleeping with decorative lights behind

 

I long to have peace and celebrate the true meaning of the season.

So what’s a girl to do?

wreath in front of window

I can’t change the past. It’s good to remember and celebrate those moments in which God was with us, helped us to grow, or when things felt “right”.

cat sitting by Christmas tree

I can’t control the future, although I may plan and do my part to make it good.

 

I can only live in the NOW.

 

I can only decide what is the best next step right NOW.

I can only receive God’s gift of grace and peace RIGHT NOW.

 

I’m so thankful that even though God sent his son to this weary world over two thousand years ago, Jesus came for all of my “nows”.

He came to show us the way not only for eternity, but for today….. in both the “good” and the “bad”.

This Christmas, won’t you join me as we rest in the simplicity of the moment, celebrating and enjoying whatever good gifts God has given us right NOW?

 

my Willow Tree Nativity set

*****

Today’s post is written for the last link-up of 2016 with my friends at Five Minute Friday. Feel free to take a few moments from your busy schedule and ponder the thoughts of other bloggers on the prompt, “now”. Enjoy!

 

Hope, window, angel, Christmas cards

Count it All Joy

Hope, window, angel, Christmas cards

Today’s post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday on the prompt, “joy“.

*****

Oh, how I wish to just write a simple, happy post about Christmas joy today!

But the first phrase that came to me as I started to think about this prompt is the scripture that reads, “count it all joy” (probably in the King James version). So I looked it up in a more modern translation.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” – James 1:2-4, NLT

This isn’t the joy we like to experience in our flesh (our natural selves), but it is the type of joy often spoken of in the Bible.

I’ve always loved the Christmas season best of all and most years have been filled with joy.

But there are so many who are hurting around me even now; those who have lost loved ones recently and will spend Christmas alone, those with a chronic illness looming over their bodies, many who face seemingly insurmountable difficulties and those who are simply a little lost.

My own recent “trials” seem so trivial in light of these more serious difficulties.

Yesterday we got a new fridge, but like so many household projects, things began to go wrong. It was an extremely stressful and exhausting day, but in the end (with a fridge stuck in the middle of our dining area and kitchen, a leaky water line downstairs, and my usually easy-going husband frazzled), we still have so much to be thankful for.

We weren’t feeling joy for most of the day, and it got even worse when late at night our water heater started leaking.

But I realized that these are such “first world problems”. They also don’t hold a candle to the pain that so many are facing in these days.

Whether it seems big or small, stresses and difficulties will come as long as we live.

So how do we count it all joy?

One of my favorite scripture passages comes to mind:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13, NIV

When things don’t go as planned…..we can count it as joy.

In the middle of a crisis…..we can count it as joy.

If we feel discouraged, anxious or depressed…..we can still count it as joy.

When the prognosis is bleak or we are in physical pain…..we can count it as joy.

In our times of deepest loss, grief or loneliness…..we can count it as joy.

When we feel afraid or like we don’t have what it takes…..we can count it as joy.

Whatever life throws at us, whether it seems big or small, we can count it as joy because we have hope. We know a God who will never leave us, who walks with us or carries us through every trial and joy, and who has given his very life for us.

He came long ago on that first Christmas bringing tidings of great joy.

When we trust that each moment in our life has purpose and can cause us to grow, we have a reason to find joy in every circumstance.

So whatever you face this Christmas, be it happy or hard, won’t you count it all as joy with me?

*****

Leaf piles in my side yard

11 Things I Learned in October & November 2016

 

Leaf piles in my side yard

I’m so happy and privileged to include this post with Emily Freeman’s What We Learned link-up. Since she is now posting this quarterly and I usually try to post each month, in order to get the full story please be sure to check out my 10 Things I Learned in September 2016 post as well.

*****

In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel set up a reminder for the people of God, so that they would not forget his help in triumphing over the Philistines (after they turned away from their heathen gods):

 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” – 1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT)

I’d like to think of each, “What I Learned” post as a kind of “Ebenezer stone”, a place where I can stop and think not only of what I’ve learned each month, but what God is teaching me in this part of my journey.
My hope is that as I share what I’ve learned, you too will be encouraged, challenged, or even caused to let go of the stresses of life for just a few minutes.
So here’s what I’ve learned these past two months (serious or silly, in no particular order):

10 Things I Learned in October  & November 2016:

 

1. It has been claimed that egg whites will “heal” or protect burns, but in reality, it’s not the best (or even a safe), method.

So maybe this one should be classified as “almost learned”, since shortly after I heard of this idea, I also found out through minimal research that it should probably be avoided.

According to Snopes,

If egg white is at all effective in treating burns (and we’re not at all convinced that it is, 100+ year medical references to the contrary), it’s as an occlusive dressing that would keep contamination out of a raw wound, not as a magical curative of burned flesh. Its effect on the healing process wouldn’t have anything to do with its collagen content or that it’s a “placenta full of vitamins,” but rather that it’s a thickish liquid that would form a barrier. (In other words, motor oil — which has no collagen to it at all — would work equally as well.)

As to what to do with all this confusion, even when the burn is minor and the injury is fully cooled before anything else is done to it, there is a downside to coating such an injury with egg white. Raw eggs sometimes contain or have resident on their shells salmonella, a deadly bacteria. Introducing salmonella into an open wound would be a dangerous idea. Says a physician friend of ours, “Burn-injured, denuded skin is an excellent culture medium, and a contaminated egg white applied to his burn could readily cause severe damage or death to the patient.”

So before you get all excited to learn of another miraculous use for that extra dozen eggs you bought on sale, think twice! It would be wise to avoid the possibility of introducing a possibly even more serious issue into the burn in the form of salmonella.

2. My begonia plant is so much happier in a bigger pot!

begonia plant in small flower pot

Here’s the first pretty little pot to which I transferred my begonia (this photo is April 2014).

After perusing the web for information and pictures, I am fairly certain that my plant is a (somewhat) common wax begonia (or Semperflorens Begonia). I received this cute little flowering plant several years ago when a good friend of mine got married. She was the leader of our church women’s small group, and we wanted to have a special, more intimate wedding shower for our dear friend. Someone had the idea to give out these pretty plants for shower favors. We gave them to guests in a tiny little pot of some sort. Later, I re-potted mine into a bigger, but still small beautiful little flower pot where it lived and did surprisingly well for several years.

Fast forward to the end of this past summer, when I decided to give my poor, growing plant a little more “leg” (root) room. It seemed “happy” enough where it was, even flowering on occasion, but I could tell that it was really starting to outgrow it’s space. I found a larger pot in my basement, re-potted my begonia, and after a brief adjustment period, it started growing like a weed!

 

My bigger begonia plant

November 3, 2016.

My begonia - October

This is my happily growing begonia in a more roomy pot (October 31, 2016).

begonia

My happy, happy, thriving begonia!

 

 

As happy as I thought my plant was before, now I have a growing and really thriving plant! It is probably at least three times bigger and seems to never stop flowering now……it’s way of thanking me, I guess.

3. “Asking the right questions is an art form and it has a name: Social Jiu-Jitsu”.

In a world where online communication and social media is so prevalent, networking and building personal relationships face to face seems even more important. Whether we are just trying to connect personally with people we know and care for, foster good working relationships at a job, or build a brand or online business, making people feel you care and that they can trust you is critical.

I recently read this interesting and informative article online, which discusses this topic and describes the art of “social Jiu-Jitsu”, which is essentially asking someone the “right” questions to get them to open up. The author describes this as “getting people to like you”, and in reality it’s a really useful tool to learn to use if you wish to grow socially.

You probably can immediately think of someone you know who seems to naturally possess this gift. My mother and younger sister are two that come to mind right away. They both seem to be gifted naturally to ask others about themselves, whereas I and my oldest son have to purpose ourselves to interact with others in this less self-centered way.

It really seems to come down to just putting the other person first, which is something many of us (especially as Christians), aspire to do. Whatever our God-given personality, we can all learn and grow in this art.

4. Quinoa really is one of the most healthy and nutritious foods you can eat.

Have you been introduced to quinoa yet? (By the way, it’s pronounced, “keen-wa”, as recorded here, not “quin-oh-ah”, as I was apt to say at first.)

I tried this ancient grain for the first time several months ago, when I came across several recipes which included quinoa. It took a short time to get used to it, but now I enjoy it and even have a few quinoa recipes that I really like.

I had been told it is really healthy, but I really didn’t know why. In an educational article describing “11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa“, the author does a great job in explaining the many and very convincing traits of quinoa that make it uncommonly nutritious. It really is an extremely healthy food, and suggest you try it and join me in incorporating some into your diet.

5. Regretfully, there is a “sex mod” for Minecraft.

I came across this upsetting fact while reading a post one day online. The author is a parent and wanted to inform other parents of this news, so that they we can protect our children. She asked us to check it ourselves, and sure enough, it is true.

It’s really frustrating that even a good game like Minecraft has to have a negative counterpart.  It is disappointing that nothing is “sacred” anymore, not even an innocent children’s game.

However, after I expressed frustration about this to my husband (thinking it would ruin the game for kids everywhere), he assured me that a “mod” has to be purposely downloaded.

In other words, while it may be a temptation to older/more knowledgeable kids (who hopefully should know better or could be getting into far more trouble online already), it will not just pop up accidentally.

It doesn’t make me any happier about it, but at least many can still enjoy the game without incident. It also serves as another sobering reminder of the evil in the world we live in, and challenges parents and adults to be vigilant in teaching and protecting their young children.

6. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important (yet I’ve struggled with it for years).

I’ve been a night owl most of my life. Sometimes it’s fun and even productive, but overall it doesn’t serve me well. As most of my middle-aged friends can attest, good sleep doesn’t always come as easily as it did when we were younger. I’m thankful to not have insomnia or another more serious sleep issue, but I also find it frustrating and difficult that too often I struggle to get a decent night’s sleep.

Recently, I came across a free course online about how to sleep better. My almost immediate reaction was, “sign me up!” (You can sign up for it here too, if you like.)

The videos and lessons are short but packed with valuable information. What I didn’t know initially but found very interesting is how valuable naps can be. I’ve never been a good napper, but may need to try to utilize this form of rest more often.

My husband and father, on the other hand, have been experts at napping for years.

7. I can push myself (physically) harder than I thought, but it takes a lot out of me.

I’ve been exercising regularly now for quite a few years. I generally don’t go crazy, but am consistent and try to do moderate exercise several times a week. I also enjoy just moving, being outdoors and walking.

For the past several months, I’ve found great value and enjoyment in taking part in an online program for a Pilates exercise plan. We have a wonderful, sweet and knowledgeable instructor, and this program has helped me to become stronger and more disciplined, yet maintain a balanced lifestyle. (This is the website, if it sounds like something you’d like to check out.)

I decided to take a week-long “plunge”, and signed up for a more intense program which included recipes for a meal plan and longer Pilates workouts to be repeated for seven days in a row.

Well, I did it! It was difficult at times, but I’m proud to say that this 50-year old made it through!

I learned a lot about healthy and more balanced eating and a good deal about myself. Although I lost a few pounds and am definitely stronger, it did seem to take a lot out of me. It took me a few days to feel “recovered” and rested again.

It’s good to know that I can still push my body, but it needs to be balanced with rest and time to recuperate.

8. Poldark is my new favorite TV show.

My husband and I found another British television show we really enjoy watching together!

It’s really difficult to find good TV shows, (especially after my becoming a Downton Abbey fan). We watched the first season of Poldark by temporarily subscribing to the PBS website, then caught up and enjoyed the current season on television.

I hope the show continues to be mostly wholesome and enjoyable.

9. I finally learned the difference between white and yellow cake (and how to make your own mix).

Before now, I’m not sure I even knew there was a real difference between white and yellow cake (other than coloring).

One of my favorite blogs posted a wonderful new pumpkin dessert called “Pumpkin Dump Cake“, and I knew I had to try it. (It’s already become a favorite fall recipe in our household!) The recipe calls for a boxed yellow cake mix and I only had a white cake mix on hand. I decided to do a little research to see if my white cake mix would stand in for yellow in this recipe.

It seems that white cake is made with egg whites (no yolks), and sometimes a combination of butter and shortening (to keep it’s white, name-sake color). Yellow cake contains the whole egg and usually all butter, according to this post.

I also learned to make my own cake mix which will undoubtedly save money, be a healthier option, and save a trip to the store on occasions in which I find myself without a boxed cake mix on hand. (You can get that recipe here.) It’s too easy, and I actually know what the ingredients are that we are consuming. That’s a win!

10. I really like working at the library!

I am excited to share that I started a new part-time job! I’ve been in transition for the past couple of years or so, when my full-time job as an aide ended (after ten years). I’ve enjoyed several different jobs in the meantime that each ended after a few months, but all along I’ve thought that a library assistant position would be enjoyable and really suit me as my next job. I submitted many applications over the months, but never even got as far as an interview until now.

I’ve only worked about two weeks, and I can already tell that this is a near-perfect fit for me! While I still feel my most important “career” is housewife & mother (with a side of blogging), it feels good to again be doing a job that I think I’ll really enjoy!

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11. Seeing TSO live is an absolutely phenomenal experience!

I apologize right now for those of you, like me, who will be slightly (or more) bothered by my not ending on # 10, but I had to add this one!

We were blessed and surprised this month by my husband purchasing tickets for a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert! We’ve waited for years for this experience, and I tell you, it was well worth the wait!

Talk about a production!

Lights, loud rock rhythms and guitar licks, leather and long hair (often swaying to the beat of the music), laser-light effects, real fire (whose heat you could actually feel!), realistic video and beautiful background media, incredible choreography, quiet and classical elements, all combine to deliver an incredible concert. The artful fusion of rock, classical and theater provides a holiday show like no other!

One of my favorite things about TSO, is that they do not hold back on singing about the true story of the real meaning of Christmas. Traditional Christmas carols are brought to higher heights (in my opinion), and the musicians keep moving and entertaining throughout the entire show.

If you appreciate theater, dance, different styles of music (including some rather loud rock), and a unique and unforgettable Christmas concert, I hope you get a chance to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra someday. I’m so thankful for this fun family experience together.

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Do I have your attention yet???

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(If you find this at all appealing, check back a little later, when I will attempt to post a video to enhance your listening and viewing pleasure.)

*****

It’s been a busy, interesting, and productive couple of months. I wonder what December will bring?