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My personal 2017 Reading Challenge

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It's here! Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge. Guess what?

My personal 2017 Reading Challenge is to complete both tracks. Track one is Reading for Fun and Track two is Reading for Growth. For all the reasons MMD gives I aspire to also reading for quantity. It is true. I admit it. There are a few things I live in conquer mode. My husband will tell you I drive in conquer mode. I also read in conquer mode. While I enjoy every minute of my reading time, I often take notes, underline, am inspired, books change me, and I also read to accomplish goals. Like a MMD's reading challenge or my own # of new books in [year] like my 52 New Books in 2016.

Modern Mrs. Darcy's reading challenge when completed will span 27 books. 

I have decided on my own personal reading challenge for 2017. MMD's challenge will be deftly folded into my own challenge.

Drum roll please.

My reading goal for 2017 is...

100 New Books in 2017.

And so it is out there in the blogging world to hold me accountable. Set a goal and read to meet that goal. Conquer!

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52 Weeks of Giving.

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I began making a list the awhile back and just recently began a 1000 days list of 100 things I'd like to do or accomplish in the next 1000 days (that is almost, but not quite, 3 years). Should Jesus return this list will be null and void.

I've been in the season of heart giving recently and that must have been where the idea formed. Then I read this article titled, Hospitality is Heart Space: Take it On the Road, and it solidified that one line item on that 100 things list. Line item 19. The intention of the article I don't believe was giving, per se, but it snuck in anyway.

52 Weeks of Giving in a Row.

No holds barred.

Just intentional, heart-spaced giving.

I began jotting down intentional ideas of giving, some financially related, others serving related, all sacrificially given.

Bags of food for the Lighthouse ministry at church

Give to HIS Radio

Give blood

Care package to a soldier

Pick a charity to give to

Operation Christmas Child

Read a book to the elderly

Sponsor a child through Compassion International

Serve the homeless dinner

Make a meal for family in need

Buy a meal for a homeless person

Pay for the car behind me in the drive thru

Pay for a military families restaurant bill

Buy a movie ticket(s) for the person behind me

Heifer International

Compassion International

Purchase items from places that then turn around and give back

Give to build a well in Zimbabwe (through our church's children ministry

Sponsor a mission trip

Make blessing bags for the homeless

Blankets and coats for the homeless

Adopt a refugee family

Open my home for some southern hospitality

Handmade gifts

Surprise gifts to loved ones

...and so many other ideas.

I'm going to look for opportunities to give financially, give sacrificially, give by serving, give hospitality, give blessings, give compassion, and then...give some more. My One Little Word for 2017 is Nourish (post to come), and my prayer, my action over this coming year, is to nourish a heart of giving.

Similar to my 52 Gratitudes project I hope to document my 52 Weeks of Giving if for no other reason than to see what God has done. Documenting is what I do. It has become apart of me, documenting my life, documenting my heart, recording the important stuff, and simply keeping a record. Putting my heart of giving, my year of giving, down on paper, for me to reflect on how God has used me, how it has changed me, will be in its own way an Ebenezer - stones of remembrance; visual proof, and a reminder, of the work God does in my life through 52 Weeks of Giving.

Just maybe this year long practice of giving will so mold a heart of compassionate, intentional, giving that I become a gifted-giver.


December Daily 2016 | Day 10

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Playing Santa - and Santa's elves.  I hand-tied two warm, snugly, very long pieces of cream, and blue and cream, anti-pill fleece fabric together to make one throw blanket for one blessed member of our small group. We are having a Small Group white elephant Christmas party and so many people actually try to bring a white elephant but I wanted to bring a really cool gift, something someone can and will actually use.

The page is 6 x 8, of course, and I used a new designer I've found recently, Sahin Designs for all the embellishments and the sweet little 3 x 4 journal card, MERRY.


a 1000 days 100 list

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It is aggressive. It is challenging. It is exciting. It is inspiring. It is doable.

Over the next 1000 days, that is 2 years 8 months and 27 days, I am planning on completing some personal and travel goals. And, I've written them down for sort of an accountability to myself. The list is out there. I'm pretty well stoked! The travel goals will be the most difficult because I'll need to get my husband on board - somehow; approach it like he's helping me complete a challenge - and succeed. All of the personal items are just that - personal. They won't require my husband's participation. He's got his own things. Do I hope he'll encourage me? Absolutely! Do I hope he'll check up on me? Definitely! But, this is about me and a personal challenge to nourish - ME!

For me to accomplish even one thing on this list I will have to be intentional. I will - no - I must make time and be committed! 

Let's do this!

Personal

  1. Finish my 10,000 blessings book (I’m writing 10,000 Reasons to Bless His Holy Name)
  2. Return to my 52 Gratitudes project
  3. Learn how to use chopsticks
  4. Become a swimmer – again
  5. Be part of a learning course, weekend retreat, or trip to document life
  6. Write a bible study
  7. Take a hands-on photography course
  8. Learn my DSLR camera in manual mode
  9. Learn to take good photographs
  10. Write a memoir
  11. Make a set of ceramic mugs
  12. Learn hand-lettering
  13. Make homemade cheeses
  14. Eat more locally, fresh, Farmer’s Market
  15. Make pies from scratch – especially the crust
  16. Read 300 new books
  17. Document a food (eating) journal
  18. Memorize the book of James
  19. 52 Weeks of Giving in a row
  20. Write a high school Meteorology homeschool curriculum from scratch – for sale
  21. Make and Send out Christmas cards
  22. Learn how to crochet
  23. Swim with dolphins
  24. Participate in a color run/walk
  25. Buy a pair of Tieks
  26. Save an additional $5000
  27. Initiate and participate in a Progressive dinner
  28. Lose 100 pounds
  29. Macramé something (a wall hanging)
  30. Make homemade bread (from scratch)
  31. Make 52 new recipes
  32. Read through the entire Bible
  33. Complete 10 Bible studies
  34. Go to 3 concerts
  35. Finish my 1000 gifts project
  36. Participate in at least three- 5K walks
  37. Make 300 scrapbook pages
  38. Make homemade Pina Colada’s
  39. Do as many random acts of kindness on my birthday as the age I am turning
  40. Pay off our car note
  41. Put together a 1000 piece puzzle
  42. Paint a canvas for my living room
  43. Re-do my photo wall with updated photos
  44. Make homemade pop tarts
  45. Have a spa day
  46. Become a mentor
  47. Sponsor a child through Compassion International
  48. Start a prayer journal – again
  49. Drink a 16 ounce glass of water every day before I do anything
  50. Make and can homemade hot pepper jelly
  51. Can a vegetable or marinara sauce
  52. Take Taekwondo or Karate lessons
  53. Snail mail 52 cards and letters and packages
  54. Kiss in the rain and document it
  55. Complete a 30 day No Spending Spree
  56. Finish decorating our bedroom
  57. Make a cheesecake using a spring form pan
  58. Complete a one week no internet, no television, no phone (except phone calls) challenge
  59. Make homemade vanilla
  60. Complete all 12 lessons of my One Little Word class
  61. Improve to the point I can walk 10,000 steps a day
  62. Complete all 12 lessons of my FIT class
  63. Make 3 scrapbooking pages for each Story kit
  64. Go to the movies and watch movies from opening to closing
  65. Go horseback riding
  66. Go Ziplining
  67. Read a 800+ page book
  68. Read 25 classics
  69. Make 10 things from my CREATE52 Pinterest board
  70. Try out for a Creative Team (ie. Ali Edwards, Paislee Press, Sahin Designs, Sahlin Designs, or One Little Bird)
  71. Go to the Vidalia Onion festival
  72. Go strawberry or berry picking
  73. Find a good recipe and eat Brussel sprouts
  74. If a book is made into a movie read the book first
  75. Go to a Steelers football game

Travel

  1. Have a 25th Anniversary trip
  2. Take a Viking River Cruise
  3. Complete 4 vacation in a day trips
  4. Go on a weekend spiritual retreat alone
  5. Visit waterfalls of Georgia and South Carolina
  6. Spend several days in Philadelphia
  7. Take an Alaskan cruise
  8. Visit Washington DC
  9. Travel up the west coast of the US
  10. Vacation in Australia
  11. Bali
  12. A week in NYC
  13. Short term mission trip overseas
  14. Visit the Oregon (Northwest) coast
  15. Visit Nova Scotia
  16. Travel First Class
  17. Visit Niagara Falls when it’s cold
  18. Walk behind a water fall
  19. Soak in the hot springs of Iceland
  20. Go on a hot air balloon ride
  21. See a Broadway musical
  22. Go camping
  23. Be a tourist in my own town and write blog posts about it

Friday, with a cup of coffee | 16

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This kitchen. That backsplash. Oh my! I think my inner BOHO is working overtime.

America Ferrara, does a triathlon and changes her mind about herself. Very inspiring article.

Still in need of a gift for your little one or young child? Try something from this, The 5 Best Toys of All Time. As a parent of 4 children and a grandparent of 5, I can attest to each one being a perfect gift.

This is such a feel-good Christmas story you will not be disappointed. And, it may inspire you in some tangible way.

Depressing...and then encouraging all in one go - but worth the read.

So many of these are where I'm at, regarding my home, right now.

In timely state for the weary...something to rejoice.

 

 


what I've been reading lately | december edition

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Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I have mixed emotions, convoluted views about this non-fiction book on leaving behind the frantic life for a simpler, more soulful way of living. The caveat that makes the book good is the reminder that she, like all of us seeking a deeper, yes simpler, more spiritual and soulful way of living, are a work in progress. This book really is how Shauna came face to face with a reality that was breaking her, and what she did about it. I guess, because I am a fairly mature Christian, yet still very much a work in progress, I can see her spiritual journey weaved throughout the book but she doesn't write about the nitty gritty of her relationship with Jesus before her realization, nor is she hard core 'this is where I'm at now'. This is not a self-help book. But, it can help someone if they are facing similar realities of being overwhelmed.

It was me all Along by Andie Mitchell.  I first read about Andie from her food blog where she shared how she'd lost 135 pounds and how she was keeping it off. I felt [feel] her pain. She is inspiring. I heard her memoir that came from writing her blog was good - real good. Good does not due it justice. Exceptional. Inspiring. I feel like my weight is not a lost cause and that I can do something about it. Seriously.

Unashamed by Christine Caine. I've lived with shame for much of my adult life. And, while I've tried often to leave my shame behind I seem to always be confronted with more shame to be had. It is debilitating, painful, and - well - shameful. I'm seriously tired of it! Caine hits shame hard, right between the mountains of hurt that have taken a lifetime to build and she comes at it straight from the word of God. This book is filled to the brim with scripture-based answers to my (your) shame. Phenomenal!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

In memoir, narrative form, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles a family's adventure and commitment after moving to a Virginia rural farm to live off locally grown foods - eating local, buying local, and a slow food movement (versus fast food). The book offers a wealth of informative and enthralling journalistic investigation to the old adage, you are what you eat. Long-winded at times, good information, got off on tangents that weren't in the least memoir-form, thoroughly enjoyed the parts that were strictly living off the land, eating off the land, buying local, etc.; it was the 'other' stuff that clouded the memoir.

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

For my Advent devotional this year I am reading, and reflecting, The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp and it is amazing. I wanted this Christmas season to be filled with reflection, and peace and joy and giving and remembering Jesus is the reason, always. I knew an Ann Voskamp book would set firmly in - Jesus. And her prose...oh my! Simply beautiful!

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Seeking, daring to find, the abundant life in Christ we were meant to have. Sometimes, the way Ann writes is difficult to understand. I had to read this very slow and often re-read sentences or paragraphs multiple times. That being said, this is a wonderfully gut-wrenching, difficult, beautiful book.

and one piece of fiction in the breadth of non-fiction...

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Shall I confess something? This is, truly, the first time I have ever read A Christmas Carol. Loved it!

 

This is my third month participtating in Modern Mrs. Darcy's What I've been Reading Lately link up. Here are: November | October

You might have noticed I have been making a 12 x 12 scrapbooking page of what I've been reading. After completing my 52 New Books in 2016 project I wanted another way to document what I've been reading. I decided to make a page of each months reads. I love this kind of documentation. Plus, I'll tuck them into my yearly album. For this page I used almost 100% Ali Edwards Design Story Kit READ.

 


currently & December Daily | Day 8

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woefully battling various painful aches: toothaches, thankfully not continuous, but life-debilitating and needing a couple teeth extracted - yuk; back pain that translates to hip and leg and makes walking difficult.

reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp - oh my! I am also reading Voskamp's The Greatest Gift for my Advent devotional - beautiful. I'm also reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover and - yeah - The Christmas Carol.

watching Blue Bloods Season 6 with Jeff; and new-to-me, The West Wing - both very good. The Blacklist Season 3 and Castle Season 7

scrapping my December Daily album. It is all digital and while I'm not staying on track and keeping up I'm not far behind either.

served in The Journey - our church's amazing interactive, outdoor, Christmas production. A production that requires over 1000 volunteers on any given night. For two- 5 day stretches we tell the Christmas story to Bethlehem. I worked at the Special Needs table checking in those who need to ride in golf carts who can not make the 1-1/2 hour journey to Bethlehem on foot. It has been a pleasure. Jeff was Roman cavalry, dressed in Roman centurion garb and riding a very big horse. John and Jarrod were Roman centurion's scattered throughout Bethlehem.

anticipating our small groups Christmas party and White Elephant exchange. My gift will definitely NOT be the white elephant. I am hand-making a tie-blanket with fabric Jeff and I picked up from Joann's fabric store.

needing to finish Christmas decorating and planning my cookie making schedule. Speaking of cookies...

longing for Cherry Walnut Bars, Pecan Tassie's, Butterscotch Brownies, and Brownies in a Jiffy - for just a few.

wearing soft, warm, fuzzy socks at home pretty much everyday.

listening to my grandson Ian talk to me on FaceTime. I love talking to this boy. Ashley calls or texts just so I know Ian is thinking about me.

loving our fake tree. With our life changing, not good, not bad, just different Jeff and I thought, rather than get a real tree and have to take care of a live tree throughout the season we'd start a new thing and order a fake tree - for simplicity, for ease. I love it!

eating M&M peanuts and other yummy candy since I put out my three-tiered-size snowmen and polar bear Christmas bowls.

For Day 8 of my December Daily album I included a taste of my Currents for December. Because I document present participles each month of the year, what is currently happening in our/my life, it was only fitting to include it in my DD album. I kept it very simple using all Paislee Press products to tell the story. 


146 Seconds with God | Finding joy.

This needs to be done. That is checked off my list. What am I going to get them for Christmas? I still need to make this gift. I wish for a more simple, Christ-centered Christmas. My growing, gnawing heart-pounding need to find joy and peace seems just out of my reach. I wish for this and long for that. I'm going full speed ahead and I need to find my way through the maze - the haze - of discontentment that has been slowing making its way westward into my spirit like the covered wagons on the Oregon Trail, slow, persistent, cumbersome, burdensome, killing - my joy.

"How much will we give for our year-end offering above our tithe and offerings? Lay them in the manger symbolizing laying a gift at the feet of Him Who was born King of the world.

A spark ignites.

"Did you know Compassion International has income generation animal bundles?"

"Oh, really!"

"Yes!" And in my heart, "I could also sponsor a child..."

Another spark of joy fueled.

Coats for the homeless.

No longer a spark but a small flame.

And each spirit of giving, each time I drive through a restaurant and pay for the person behind me, the flame is fanned. With each gift wrapped. Fanned. With each hour served. Fueled. With each sacrifice...

Joy is no longer lost.

Joy replaces discontentment.

Joy is fueled by giving.

Discontentment can be wiped off the face of my heart by giving.

Want joy?

Start giving.

 

 


December Daily 2016 | Day 6

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I love, love, love how this 2-page, 6 x 8 spread of December Daily 2016 Day 6 turned out. That being said, I realized nowhere on either page does it say it is day 6. Oops!

By no means did I include all of my favorite Christmas songs and playlist. I also have found over the years some songs that I come back to again and again that I love by specific artists. That is what I've included with the few on the left side and a smattering of album covers on the right side. Christmas album covers can be so pretty, like Peter Hollens' and Travis Cottrell's.

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A very simple page. I used Microsoft Sans Serif and Master of Break fonts. Pretty. The background paper is actually a 3 x 4 journal card by 

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Super easy page: I used a template by Ali Edwards, added album covers I downloaded from the internet and added embellishments by Anita Designs, Sahin Designs, and Ali Edwards Design.