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52 Weeks of Giving | 2

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A little closer to home this week in the gifting department. I'm not sure where the idea came from. I think one of the boys might have been playing and singing The Devil Went Down to Georgia, by The Charlie Daniels Band, which they've uploaded to their phones, a long time favorite of Jeff's and because it is one of his favorites it is one of our (mine and the boys') favorite. I wondered if Charlie Daniels was still performing in concerts, because, well, he's not young anymore. Lo' and behold in my internet search he does still perform and he would be in Jacksonville, a 2- 2 1/2 hour drive from here. It took me awhile to figure out how to order tickets. By the time I placed my order the venue was packed out and the closest I could get was row N. 

I was pretty stoked about the gift. Probably expected to much as Jeff wasn't overly emotive. I know he likes Charlie Daniels and I thought it was a great gift just not sure what he felt about it. I'm going with it was the thought that counts with this one and a lesson that not every gift will necessarily be appreciated, or experience the same excitement as the giving.

It truly is in the giving though that counts.

While I would have loved more excitement at my gift I was - and still am - excited about having given him this unique and thoughtful gift. 


Friday, with a cup of coffee | 17

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Photo Source

What a wonderful Christmas Eve tradition this country has! Give a book...

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow...so this photographer may capture more gorgeous photos.

Snow shoes snow art. Beautiful. 

Do you ever want to just load that one more thing into your grocery store cart...a bundle of grocery store flowers...the kind from Publix, or Kroger's, or even some Walmart stores...I do and here is why.

Have you seen Rogue One? I have. It is awesome! Star Wars - Try Not to Cry Edition

Parents (even parents of 19 year old twin boys who are still learning, still growing up), this is for you: It's hard right now.

And for couples: You will stumble. But, if you're lucky you will learn to restore each other.

I will end this post with this last, amazing idea and one I will be talking over with Jeff as a new tradition for our ever-changing family dynamics. What better way!


Prayers for my husband from his head to his feet | Day 29

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Pray for my husband’s legs

Father God, when the enemy, the great deceiver, Satan is prowling after my husband I pray that he will be alert and sober minded (1 Peter 5:8) and that he will put on the whole armor of God so that he may be able to stand against the devil’s schemes and afterwards help him to stand firm in Your strength. (Ephesians 6:11-13)

Thank you Lord for the great cloud of witnesses who surround my husband… Daniel, Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, John, the beloved…may he throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles him and let him run with perseverance the race marked out for him and fixing his eyes on Jesus as he runs who is the author, the pioneer, the founder and perfecter of his faith (Hebrews 12: 1-2).

And Father, You call those blessed whose ways are blameless and who walk according to Your Word (Psalm 119:1). May my husband walk in the ways of Your Word and run in the paths of Your commands (Psalm 119:1,32)

Instruct my husband in the way of Your wisdom and lead him to walk straight paths. When he walks may his steps not be hampered and when he runs may he not stumble, but may he hold on to Your instruction and to not let go but guard it for his life (Proverbs 4:11-13).

May my husband know You, O Lord are an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. You will not grow tired or weary, and Your understanding - no one can fathom. You give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. Keep my husband from growing tired and weary, or stumbling and falling, but instead, may his hope be in the Lord and renew his strength. May he soar on wings like eagles; may he run and not grow weary, may he walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40: 28-31).

I pray my husband does not set his heart on what he will eat or drink nor worry about it for those of this world run after such things instead I pray he runs, seeking Your kingdom, and those things will be given to him as well (Luke 12:29-31).

Father, I pray my husband runs in such a way to get the prize, the prize You have set before him. May he go into strict training for the crown that will last forever. May he not run aimlessly, but may he strike a blow to his body, making it a slave to the will of the Spirit, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, so that he will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27). In Jesus' Name.


Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge | where I stand

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I'm completely satisfied with how much I have read this year. It has been an enjoyable endeavor to read. Challenging myself to read new books (new-to-me-books) has opened an entire new world and I am loving every minute of it. I am so thankful I have a job that affords break times for which I've used the opportunity to READ.

Besides my personal challenge of reading 52 New Books in 2016 which I surpassed in September and went on to read more than 75 new books in 2016, I also participated in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge coming late to the game in August 2016. Her challenge is read one book a month in each category. Because I came in late for the party I had to seriously increase my reading time. Unfortunately, I fell short two books in the challenge. 

Here is how the challenge hammered out:

a book published this year. Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

a book you can finish in a day. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

a book you've been meaning to read. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller. I did not read this book in the challenge

a book you should have read in school. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

a book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, child, or BFF. Night Probe by Clive Cussler

a book published before you were born. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

a book that was banned at some point. The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

a book you previously abandoned. I did not read this book in the challenge (I know! I checkmarked it above but this just didn't happen!)

a book you own but have never read. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

a book that intimidates you. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

a book you have already read at least once. Thankless in Death by J. D. Robb

I'm satisfied with my accomplishments and am ready to join Modern Mrs. Darcy for her 2017 Reading Challenge.

 


15 Favorite Books of 2016

I've read over 75 books this year over multiple genres from memoir to non-fiction to fiction, to science fiction, to spiritual. A few were wastes of time. A couple were highly recommended, highly regarded, highly rated that I couldn't wrap myself around. There were those books that surprised me. I re-visited all the books I've read this year, weighed each one against likability, how it touched me and moved me and chose my 15 favorite books of 2016. These are not books necessarily published this year but books I've read this year.

Non-Fiction

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Uniquely Human by Barry M. Prizant. This one was for Ian. I learned so much about autism. Exceptional book.

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Simply Tuesday by Emily P Freeman. I was surprised by how much I loved this book. It was beautiful. 

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The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz. Anne is truly spirit-filled and gifted. This book will be visited again and again.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Breathtakingly beautiful and quite sad.

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Unashamed by Christine Caine. Seriously grounded in scripture.

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The Listening Life by Adam S McHugh

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Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs. Lovely found.

 

Fiction

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Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb. I will never get enough of Robb's In Death series

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Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb. Ditto from above. And this one was truly wicked.

51PxQCRCx0LHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowlings. It took me years, obviously, to read this. Worth the wait.

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The English Assassin, The Confessor, & A Death In Vienna (a three-book series within Daniel Silva's larger Gabriel Allon series). This is a mini-series within his bigger series and they are my favorites by far. Although I 

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The Revenant by Michael Punke. A very dark book about revenge but it was really good.

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Memory Man by David Balducci. My first Balducci book and I loved it.

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The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Not my usual genre but surprisingly top-notch.

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Long. Really long. So good.

 


one thousand gifts | a homemade blanket to give away

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106. the Journey is finished for the year and until Christmas 2018. It was an amazing time of serving with a really good bunch of people: for Jim, Marlene, Paula, Yvonne, Martha, Shay, Paul, Hendrick, Heather, and Ricky - you guys rock!

107. homemade Christmas cookies

108. finding my way out of discontentment through giving

109. beautiful skies that bless my heart

110. piping hot and soothing homemade noodles and chicken soup with fresh baked homemade bread. The joy is in rolling out the egg dough for the noodles and adding them into the boiling stockpot of chicken and vegetables and spices

111. the lush, soft, warm fabric purchased on huge sale and made into a blanket in under two hours. It's beautiful!

112. the chilly temperatures for snuggling

113. Jesus

114. His saving grace

115. when Jeff and I are in sync

116. giving me my one little word for this coming year: nourish

117. for nudging me to give more

118. for all the books on my shelves I have still yet to read for hours and hours of enjoyment

119. for Prilosac - it keeps the acid reflux and heart burn at bay.

120. for beautiful red skies in the morning.

121. settling in to a slower, less hectic holiday pace

122. listening to Christmas music and songs while Jeff puts together our homemade pizzas

123. Star Wars - Rogue One. Good movie.

124. reading an hysterically funny book that makes me think of Jeff, and me - and my dad

 


December Daily 2016 | Day 12

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There were so many people on the last night of the Journey that Jeff and the boys didn't get home until after midnight. It was a crazy, wild, exhausting 10 days of serving at the Journey. I snagged all of these photos, taken by the Photography ministry, and from our church's Facebook page. I didn't get to SEE the Journey this year (because I was serving too, or sick) but I've never recorded this interactive, outdoor, moving production that requires over 1000 volunteers each night and wanted to document it. Because, it is such a big part of our life for 10 solid days and even more because of all the work Jeff and the boys put in the months leading up to the Journey as they are a part of the Journey build team.

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The scenes cover the three magi, Mary and the Angel, Mary and Joseph, Joseph and the Angel, Mary and Elizabeth, Herod and his palace, Bethlehem and the marketplace, the Shepherds and the Angel, and the Manger scene. One of our pastor's greet the travelers at the Manger. It's just fantastic - the Christmas story told live as you travel to Bethlehem.


52 Weeks of Giving | 1

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Jeff and I purchased the fabric from Jo Ann's fabric during a huge sale the end of November. We originally visited the store for fabric for Roman centurion tunics, where we found appropriate fabric to make 4 tunics. These would be made by a friend of Jeff's who sews for a living. While at JoAnn's I noticed Fleece Anti-pill was also on sale and I immediately knew I'd pick out two pieces to make a large hand-tied throw. 

This baby is thick, warm, snuggly, and I love how it turned out. The biggest surprise, it only took me two hours from start to finish! John helped me lay out the fabric on the rug in the living room and we tried taking turns with the scissors but I think my son forgot how to use scissors...ah, let's just say I took the scissors from him. I made 10 to 15 cuts. Tied. Made more cuts. Tied. All the while watching Netflix. Then I was finished.

We had a white elephant gift exchange during our Christmas party and this is my gift into the mix. No white elephant from me! I was thrilled with who ended up with the gift. I saw how they appreciated it.

A lovely beginning to a year of gift giving.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38


December Daily 2016 | Day 11

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It was a chilly night when we visited the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens December Nights and Christmas Lights beautiful display put on by the University of Georgia. Perfect night for a date night, too. We ate at Hao Mongolian for some yummy Mongolian BBQ, one of our go-to places to eat dinner, then we headed out to the Bamboo Farm off of Hwy 17. I'd seen some pictures on Facebook from various friends but, even still, I had no idea what was in store for our viewing pleasure.

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Simply beautiful. Their creativity - masterful. The display of Christmas lights were everywhere, all over the property. We walked amazed!

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While I loved the colored trees, one of my favorites, and adored the manger scene of white and blue lights, I adored the herd of deer in the Bamboo trees the best. Jeff's favorite, hands-down was the orchard of oranges and the vines of grapes and berries. Like I said, masterful- magical, and clever.

The single drawback to the entire night: as we were walking, my hip(s) swelled and walking became excruciatingly difficult, to the point of shuffling my feet, even. Rheumatoid Arthritis, the primary culprit, is for the birds! 

 


One Little Word 2017

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Class banner for Ali Edwards' One Little Word

 

one little word: NOURISH

to sustain with food or nutriment;

to supply what is necessary for life, health and growth.

to cherish, foster, keep alive.

to strengthen, build up or promote.

to comfort, cultivate, encourage, furnish, maintain, nurture, provide, support, tend

 

Almost every year for the past several years I have chosen one little word. One little word to focus on throughout the year because…”A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow.” (Ali Edwards)

As many years as I have, I also haven’t followed through with my word. This past year I didn’t even contemplate One Little Word. But. This year - I must. It is almost a necessity. It’s what my life, my body, my heart needs. I need nourishment. I am joining Ali Edwards’ One Little Word 2017 online class to guide me through my year of - NOURISH. I hope to embrace my word fully, completely, and live it out loud.

In 2017, I will

NOURISH a spiritual life. Because a near-non-existent prayer life means a near-non-existent relationship with my Savior I will nourish my relationship with Christ; nurture a habit of prayer; keep alive the studying of God’s word. I will finish studying 2 Timothy (with Beth Moore) and earnestly pursue another. I’m looking at a Jen Wilkin study or another Beth Moore or even both. In addition, I will receive nutrition, food that will sustain me, through memorizing scripture. More specifically I am memorizing the book of James this year. Nourishing a spiritual life is life blood. Just as we need blood running through our veins I need the Word of God coursing through my heart, mind, and soul.

NOURISH a physical life by moving more and eating well. I need to head back into the pool, regularly, every week, without fail - and walk. And then walk some more. I have been sedentary for far too long. My weight has suffered. My health has suffered. My heart has suffered. My well-being has suffered. I know from experience I cannot just move more I must also eat well. Fruits and vegetables, and vegetables and fruits, eat breakfast, drink lots of water, decrease my sugar intake - Just do it. I’ve joined an online FIT community, Cathy Zielske's FIT 2017, to help with the accountability. I’ve participated in Cathy’s Move More Eat Well class in the past and lost 20 pounds in a year. While I hope to lose way more than 20 pounds, it would be a small start.

NOURISH a heart of gratitude. I began one thousand gifts this past year. I have stuck with it almost weekly. I have seen many ways to cultivate a heart of gratitude: Besides my One Thousand Gifts journaling, my plan is to incorporate several ways of promoting my heart of gratitude. One of those is bringing back my 52 Gratitudes in 2017. I document one gratitude every week and create a mini-album of all of the gratitudes. The years I have recorded my gratitudes have been very rewarding and have worked to change my heart of discontent to a heart of peace and contentment. Hearts and minds and souls that are grateful are at peace. Content. Gentle. Kind. Loving.

NOURISH a heart of giving. God has blessed me with abundance. I experience that giddy feeling of pleasing God when I give. I want to know that feeling, have that feeling again and again. I am more blessed when I give. I grow when I give; it changes me in amazing ways. The last time I paid for the car behind me in the drive thru my sons told me I have a big heart. Having a heart that gives is setting the example for my children and grandchildren and how I want them to live. Giving does this body good.

NOURISH relationships. We have a small group that needs nourishing. It needs building up, strengthened, cherished, tended to, and cultivated. As an introvert it is easier to not have friends then to have friends thus, I have few friendships and zero really close friends or a best friends. I need to cultivate friendship. My husband and I make it a habit to go on dates every week. That being said these past couple of years have been very difficult. We haven't handled some life changes very well together thus our relationship has suffered greatly. So this year I need to nourish my relationship with my husband. We’ve tested out our 5 Love Languages so I need to work on meeting his particular love language(s), regularly. We need to nourish our relationship and keep it alive. Our home life and our relationship with our kids, depends on our relationship being healthy. One mammoth-sized relational nourishment is praying together. I would love this to be a recurring and frequent habit.

NOURISH learning. The years I homeschooled the boys reignited a love of learning. I want to nourish this passion, as complacency has set in since the boys graduated. I hope to foster learning through reading even more. My goal this year is to read 100 New Books in 2017. Coupled with reading I hope to cultivate writing. Taking time to put pen to paper, so to speak, and write a memoir. I also want to develop a from-scratch a homeschool curriculum for high school meteorology (for sale to the homeschool community). I will tend to these things this year, in addition, to promoting healthy learning habits such as: finding a topic of interest and learning more than just bits and pieces but learn enough to hold meaningful conversation. One subject comes to mind: The Solar System; and, read the same books Ella is reading for school so I can discuss them with her, nourishing our relationship.

NOURISH my creativity. I am subscribed to Ali Edwards Story Kits which provides a wealth of creativity fuel. I need to cherish, foster, and schedule time to create more and maintain a haven that encourages creativity. Clean the scrap office and find a place to work comfortably. I have so many ideas on the back burner that need to be brought out and completed. Continue telling stories and documenting them - regularly, purposefully.

NOURISH simplicity. Nourish seeing the details. Nourish cleanliness. Nourish good, healthy habits. Nourish a heart for service. Nourish contentment.

I can’t think of a better word: NOURISH.