Tim Horton's iced coffee and sandals

How to Take a Vacation

Tim Horton's iced coffee and sandals

Today I’m linking up with the folks at Five Minute Friday, where we are writing on the prompt vacation.

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What is a vacation?

It’s a special break that can be taken near or far away. It can be a brand new adventure in a place we’ve never been, or coming “home” to someplace familiar, already filled with pleasant memories.

A vacation can be enjoyed with family, friends, or even by oneself.

Some folks take “staycations” at home, but I find this to be difficult for me, as it’s hard to wrestle my thoughts and hands away from the many responsibilities there. But enjoying our homes in a different way, perhaps with no work and less technology, and doing things we don’t normally do there can be refreshing. Or we can venture out for day trips and explore the world around where we live.

Some people travel to different countries; many to explore new places and different cultures, but some of us cross borders to return to the familiar; such as our first family and home or a special place we like to visit regularly.

Wherever you decide to take it; whatever you decide to do (or not to do, which is also important!), I believe that vacations are important.

We need to set aside intentional times to stop, rest, relax, explore, admire, bask, play, think, or not think. We need to allow our minds and bodies and even our emotions to rest and be rejuvenated.

There isn’t any one way to take a break; there is no magic formula or time or place.

A vacation allows us to enjoy a different type of rest and fun, and then come back home with renewed energy and motivation for our everyday lives.

I thank God for vacations!

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backside of hand decorated wreath

Twisted Can be Beautiful

Welcome to my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge, twisted.

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In our society, “twisted” seems to have gotten negative connotations. Sometimes this is obviously for good reasons.

But I believe that often we can find beauty and art in those objects or even life situations where things did not go as planned or turned out differently than we expected.

Sometimes we just have to make the best of what we’ve been given.

backside of hand decorated wreath

Hand-decorated wreath (backside).

I bought this cute, oval, grapevine wreath for a few dollars at a second-hand store. I then decorated it silk flowers and leaves I had left over from other projects. At first I thought that because I didn’t have any ribbon left from the larger wreath I had just finished at the time, I’d have to buy more for this wreath. But then I decided to use what I had and fashioned a design without the traditional use of ribbon or a bow. The twisted vines provide the perfect backdrop for my kitchen door wreath.

 

 

oval floral wreath on door

Proud of my pretty, economical decor.

 

I wrote more extensively about making something beautiful of our imperfections some time ago, and about using what you have as well.

Even twisted can be beautiful.

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my wet black mailbox with white post

Liquid Beauty

This post has been created for The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, where the prompt for the week is liquid.

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A rainy day this week provided all the opportunities I needed for my liquid photos, right in my front yard.

 

my wet black mailbox with white post

 

 

wet copper hummingbird feeder

 

 

rain droplets on red and green bush leaves

 

 

raindrops on dwarf blue leaf arctic willow

 

 

magic carpet spirea in the rain

 

 

raindrops on car window and mirror

 

Beauty can be found anywhere, even in the rain.  We just need eyes to see and hearts that are open.

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shoe rack under windowsill with potted herbs

Place in the World

Today I’m trying something new. I’m participating in The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is Place in the World.

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Where do I belong? Where is my Place in the World?

My initial response is at home.

our shoes under kitchen window

…with my three tall, wonderful men,

cat and slippers

cat on chair pillow

…and my two boy kitties.

 

And although I love my home here in New England, I come from a neighbouring country.

coffee on car dash

Whenever I cross the border,

Canada US customs

…I feel a sense of relaxed belonging, even after twenty-plus years of living here in the US.

I still have family there, especially my parents, a 100-yr. old grandmother, and many close relatives and friends.

And on some vacations, if we keep driving north, we reach one of my favourite places on the earth, the Algonquin Park area. It’s a place shared by my original family and the one I’m part of now with my own husband and sons. We still meet here together with my parents and sister’s family and make new memories to add to those collected over the years.

We stay in cabins and soak in the beauty of nature for a week…

cottage dock at Oxtongue Lake

…relaxing,

Oxtongue Lake rowboat and neighbour cottage dock

…having fun together,

Oxtongue Lake evening canoe ride

…admiring the tranquility of God’s grande creation.

So if you ask me where I belong, I will tell you that these places inspire feelings of familiarity, comfort and peace.

But the greatest thing that unites them all is my family.

They are my place in the world.

Place in the World

Family plaque and photo

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Sunny winter sky over buildings

Being Intentional with our Intentions

Sunny winter sky over buildings

 

Today’s post is written for the Five Minute Friday link-up, and the word prompt for this week is intentional.

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Can I let you in on a secret?

Being more intentional has been on my thoughts and mind for some time now. It’s an area where I feel like I need a great deal of improvement in my life, although in some areas I am very disciplined. When I was naming my blog, I originally wanted to use the words simple or simply and intentional. They were both thoughts that I believed to be important areas for myself and other women (or men) to implement in our daily lives to live successfully (flourishing).

On my childhood report cards, I generally had really good grades often accompanied by the negative (constructive) comment that I needed to work on being self-motivated. As an adult, I’ve still had trouble with time management. I seem to be able to be quite disciplined in some areas, but lacking greatly in others.

And so I want to be more intentional with my intentions. 

You’ve heard it said that as individuals we generally judge ourselves by our intentions (what we mean to do) and others by their actions (what they actually do). Apparently this idea was originally quoted from Stephen M.R. Covey,  He is well known for his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, so his wisdom in this area is not surprising.

So just how can we accomplish more of what we desire, and better yet, what God desires of our lives?

That is something that in middle age I feel like I’m just starting to really learn. I’ve been actively taking some steps to make better use of my precious time. So at least I know where to start.

I know that my goals or intentions, if you will, will only come to fruition if I take practical, measurable steps. It will require some planning and ideally a good deal of praying, but in the end I just need to move forward with discipline, one baby step at a time.

Being intentional requires planning and action.

The first definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the word intentional reads,

“done by intention or design”.

Won’t you join me in designing a more intentional life?

My good intentions can only come to be when I learn the discipline of being intentional.

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coffee and computer

YouVersion Half Year Challenge 2017

coffee and computer

 

Do you need a little encouragement to read the Bible? Are you feeling like your quiet time has felt a little stale? Or perhaps you just wish to try a new devotional to change things up a little?

Well, you’re in luck! YouVersion just started a challenge to help us along the way.

All we have to do is complete 7 consecutive days of any of their wonderful Bible plans to participate.

You can use any existing plan (no need to start over), start a new plan or plans (one or more than one). Just be sure to check off each day that you’ve completed the day’s reading and be sure to share using the hashtag #HalfYearResolution (and be sure to change your settings to “pubic” for the share to social media).

There are prizes to be won (just follow the simple instructions to share), and a badge to add to your YouVersion accomplishments.

I realize that there are many good ways to spend time reading and studying the Bible, but I love the Bible app to remind me each day with a daily scripture and many different plans to help me to be more consistent in reading my Bible each day.

I hope you will join me in this year’s YouVersion 2017 Half Year Challenge, and jump-start your Bible reading today.

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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?

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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.

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

 

 

Coffee, candle, pumpkin on table

What Am I Choosing to Collect?

Today’s post is written for Five Minute Friday, a fun and inspirational link-up with many other bloggers who write for five minutes, unedited, on a given prompt.

(Confession time: I’m working on sticking to the five minute, unedited “rule”, imperfectly, but have grown towards these goals as a “recovering perfectionist”. That’s one of the reasons I chose to participate in this weekly challenge.)

Today’s prompt is, “collect”. I hope you are encouraged or inspired, too.

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Coffee, candle, pumpkin on table

 

What am I choosing to collect?

A life is full of collections, some of physical things, such as stones, shells, books, stamps, jewelry, coffees or mason jars.

But every day we are collecting things we cannot see.

What am I choosing to collect … emotionally, mentally, even spiritually?

I often make poor choices (or automatic, it seems), to collect regrets, discontent, complaints, stress, grief, hurt or negativity.

But I wish to collect something better, a collection of unseen gifts that I can share through my life with those around me, and pass on to my family and future generations.

With God’s help, I would rather be intentional about collecting good things.

I choose to collect thankfulness, cheerfulness, peace, happy memories, good thoughts, positive words, grace … simple treasures that I wish to keep.

I do have a choice as to what I collect.

 

” And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” 

– Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

 

 

We can make a positive impact on our own lives, and of those around us.

 

 

” The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

– 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG)

 

 

What are you choosing to collect?

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misc. items at home

Created to Create

misc. items at home

 

Create……

The word conjures up images of fine art and music and accomplishments for which most of us feel rather unqualified.

But what if we used whatever gifts we were given to create whatever it is that we were designed to do?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10

 I believe that we were all created by a loving, creative God, and given gifts and talents to do many creative things.

“I’m not creative” , you may be saying to yourself.

But I think that we all have very different areas of creativity.

Some are gifted to do obviously creative works in art, music or drama.

But what about creating a beautiful home, or a “lived-in”, but loving home? How about creating a family atmosphere where our children can grow to become who God intended them to be?

What about creating a thriving business, a cure for cancer, an inspiring book, a delicious recipe, a system for organizing?

We can create a place for people to learn, get healthy or become connected.

Don’t forget to think outside the box when it comes to what you can create.

God created you with just the right strengths and talents to do what you were meant to do.

Now get on out there and be creative!

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I’m linking up today with some wonderful folks at Five Minute Friday. Please join me over there to view some other ideas about today’s prompt, “create”.

 

30 Day Pilates Body Challenge

I Can’t Resist Sharing This Ten-Minute Pilates Challenge With You!

30 Day Pilates Body Challenge

Care to Join Me?

OK. I wasn’t going to do this, but I simply can’t resist!

It’s already Day #3, but I’d still like to invite you to join me for this 30 Day Pilates Body Challenge hosted by my new friend, Robin Long.

You see, I don’t know Robin, but after just a couple of days, she seems like a kind friend. She is an encouraging coach for this wonderful Pilates exercise challenge for the month of March! If you chose to join us and sign up for the challenge, she will send you a motivating email each day this month, along with a ten-minute daily Pilates workout video to complete. In case you think that ten minutes isn’t enough, I suggest you listen to her comments on that idea, here.

The emails are brief, but filled with encouragement not only to do the exercises, but also to create other healthy habits along with the exercises. So far, Robin has also encouraged us to have an accountability partner, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and to chose another goal in partnership with the workouts this month.

This 30 Day Challenge is all free, but if you want more, you can explore her Pilates subscription service, which can be purchased for a small monthly fee. It offers even more support, including new monthly workouts, missions, recipes and membership to her private “Sisterhood.”

Here are some fun (not exactly breathtaking) photos I’ve already shared on Facebook to mark and celebrate my success. And I must not forget that we are also encouraged to share and support one another on social media, including an encouraging, private Facebook page for those of us participating in this 30 Day Challenge.

Pilates, mat, workout

Day #1 complete (with cat).

Pilates video, water, cats

Day #2 completed, although the cats didn’t move a bit. Drinking water on side table.

Pilates workout, bridge pose, checking in

Day #3 slightly awkward “bridge pose” photo….just checking in.

Prayer & Bible reading, Exercise (Pilates & other), Drink water, "Me" time (read, photos, blog).

Day #3 – My personal goals for this month.

I’ll end by sharing my additional personal goals for this month. We were only asked to chose one, but mine’s a package deal of some daily basics:

  • Prayer & Bible reading
  • Exercise (Pilates challenge plus indoor or outdoor walks)
  • Drink enough water
  • Do something fun for ME each day (read; take or work on photos; work on blog)

These are priorities that I would like to do consistently every day, creating a life-long habit of self-care. This is one challenge that will help me to flourish!

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So, how about it? Can you commit to just ten minutes of Pilates a day for this month? Have you always wanted to try Pilates, but just needed a little push? Perhaps you could share this challenge with someone you think may also benefit. Please let me know if you sign up!