Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the last Friday of January. We’re 1/12 of the way through 2023! It’s nice to pause the swiftness of time passing by to reflect on God’s gifts and blessings of the week with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. Lunch with Melanie is a highlight whenever we can meet to do so. I always enjoy our fellowship.

2. Cracker Barrel is one of my favorite restaurants, but my family isn’t crazy about it. Plus they have little to offer the gluten-free members, and I wouldn’t trust any of their food not to be cross-contaminated with gluten. But that’s where Melanie and I often meet. And as usual, I took home a slice of the Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake, which I divide over two days.

3. A long afternoon of errand-running was tiring and didn’t result in finding what I was looking for. But it was nice to push through and get everything done so I could stay home the rest of the week. And at least I can say I checked at various stores, so I can now eliminate them as places to look.

4. Perspective. We’ve been visiting churches, the most recent one just a few minutes from our house. I was hoping that this might be “the one” rather than another we visited that was almost 25 minutes away. Then I read the prayer letter of friends who minister in Papua New Guinea. They were rejoicing that a recent trip to a new area they are trying to reach for the Lord took “only about 1.5 hours of backpacking compared to the usual 4.5 hours” due to some “bush bridges” that the people had built.

5. Live-streaming of funeral services. I mentioned a few months ago that Debbie Talbert, who ministered with her husband in Alberta, had pancreatic cancer. She used to participate in FFF at a blog called Purple Grandma (which is no longer online). We knew Debbie and her husband in early married days as we attended the same church and went to the same college. We had lost touch over the years and then reconnected through our blogs. It was a blessing to be able to watch the funeral service online.

Bonus: My son and daughter-in-law had us over for dinner and games last Saturday, which we always enjoy.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

The rain and cold has given way to warmth and sunshine as I write on Thursday. Welcome changes. Not all changes are welcome, but there’s no way around them: only through them. But God is with us every step of the way. I like to pause on the journey to count God’s blessings and gifts with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

1. A movie/symphony combo. When we went to a Christmas concert last month, we had some problems that caused my husband to call the management the next day. He didn’t want to complain, but to let them know of the issues. They were very kind and interested, and offered us free tickets to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s next program–which happened to be a showing of Jurassic Park, with the orchestra playing the soundtrack live. That would not have been my first choice of a movie to see–but it was what they were playing. And the music is gorgeous. It had been a long time since I had seen it, and there were some fun parts. Jesse enjoyed seeing what would have been cutting edge technology when the film was made thirty years ago. Jason, Mittu, and Timothy didn’t come: larger-than-life rampaging dinosaurs would have been too much for Tim, and there were a couple of quite violent scenes. But overall, it was a really fun experience, and the orchestra did a wonderful job. And we had great seats–row Q!

2. Celebrating our first date. I hadn’t thought about our first date in years, but it suddenly hit me that it was Jan. 13—also a Friday the 13th that year (1978), which is probably why I remember the date. Inspired by Intrepid Reader’s first date anniversary celebration (at the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower!), I asked my husband if we could commemorate ours in a more homey way. ๐Ÿ™‚ We decided to order take-out from Ruby Tuesday’s.

3. A half-off coupon. As my husband looked up Ruby Tuesday’s web site to order online, I rummaged through my sales offers email folder–and found one coupon for buy-one-get-one-free ribs entrees, which was what we were going to order anyway. Nice!

4. An appointment changed to a tele-health call. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a few years ago, and consequently have to have an appointment with the sleep center once a year. Last year I thought this appointment really could be phoned in, as it was mostly just answering their questions. This year, because they were in the process of moving their offices, they did change the appointment to a FaceTime-like phone call. I asked about keeping it this way for next year, but they said no, they prefer in-office visits. But it was nice to have a reprieve from driving in this once.

5. Puttering, which for me means little jobs like decluttering my desk, cleaning out my catch-all basket, putting things in place, etc. When it’s busy, those kind of things pile up, and it feels incredibly good to get to them.

And that’s it for another week here. How is your January going?

Friday’s Fave Five

Itโ€™s Friday once again, time to pause with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story to remind ourselves of and thank God for His gifts of the week.

1. A family outing. We went with Jason, Mittu, and Timothy last Saturday to a car show. I’m not so much into looking at old cars, but Timothy asked. ๐Ÿ™‚ And it was fun to do something together. A bonus was finding some pink cars!

I thought this British one was cute as well:

You probably can’t make it out in that picture, but on top was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth.

Afterwards, we went out to a new-to-us Mexican food restaurant. I love Mexican food and hadn’t had any in a restaurant in a long time. After we ate, someone (maybe the owner or manager) came over and told us about their desserts, then brought us a free sample of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake to share.

2. Churros. These get their own listing. ๐Ÿ™‚ At the restaurant, we ordered some churros to go. It was only the second time I had ever had them, and the first time to have them freshly made. Oh my. So good.

3. Popcorn experiments. Some time ago, Jason and Mittu had given Jim a set of different types of popcorn. We made some the night they brought it, but had not done much with it since. But lately, Jim’s has gotten out the air popper and tried several different flavorings. My favorite so far was kettle corn mixed with honey roasted peanuts. But we just found white cheddar flavoring yesterday, so I look forward to trying that. And to his credit, whenever Jim experiments in the kitchen, he always cleans up afterward.

4. A fun outing. I had a dentist appointment yesterday afternoon–not fun, especially when she couldn’t do the planned filling because the damage was too extensive. The affected tooth is under a bridge, and I’m going to need either a root canal or an implant. While I try to gather more information to make a decision, I have to take antibiotics because there is a little infection in the tooth.

I had planned to run some errands and get my hair cut after the appointment, but thunderstorms started about an hour before I needed to leave (two of my least favorite things at the same time: dental work and driving in storms!) I almost decided to just go back home after seeing the dentist. But the rain let up, so I went on. Then the rain stopped completely. One of my stops was at a new Michael’s craft store recently opened nearby. The only other Michael’s was 30 minutes away, so I rarely got out there. I had some gift cards for them, and it was almost like a second Christmas being able to use them. Plus, craft stores are some of my favorite places, and it had been a long time since I had just wandered around one just for fun. One of my new treasures is this:

5. A fantastic cookie. Jason had once brought me a cookie from a new Crumbl Cookies shop. I wanted to stop in there and see what else they had, but hadn’t made it yet. I finally did on my outing yesterday. This is their Reese’s peanut butter cookie. Oh. my. word. So soft and so good! It’s too much to eat in one sitting, but I’ve enjoyed parts of it and have some left for today.

So it’s been a “sweet” week in more ways than one. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you’ve had some sweet moments as well.

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s hard to believe we’re near the first week of January already. These Friday pauses with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story invite us to capture and be thankful for the blessings that come our way.

1. Bowling and pizza. Our last Saturday when everyone was here, we went bowling in the afternoon. I don’t think we’ve done that since before the pandemic began. We went home to rest and met up again at Timothy’s favorite pizza place. The people working that night were exceptional in their service. When I got a chocolate chip cookie for dessert, they warmed it in the same oven where they warm their pizzas. It was so good.

2. A new iPad mini was one of my Christmas presents. My old one was acting clunky and running out of battery way too quickly. The new one has been a pleasure.

3. A leak in our bathroom seems to have been coming from the handle that turns off the water rather than from under the toilet, as we had feared. My husband’s fix seems to be holding.

4. New calendars are one of my favorite parts of January. Even though we all have calendars on our phones and tablets, I still like the big family calendar in the kitchen and one near my desk I can glance at. Plus I like turning the pages and seeing new photos or art work every month.

5. A quiet week was much needed after the holidays, though I loved the activities and family time. I had intended to take one whole day just to vegetate. That didn’t quite work out, but the week has been more relaxed. Plus we got take-out for dinner a few times and had leftovers one night, so it’s been a light cooking week.

Bonus: beautiful weather. After enduring 3 degrees during Christmas, afternoon highs in the 50s this week felt great. Plus we’ve had sunshine and blue skies toward the end of the week. Winter’s not done yet, I’m sure. But I am basking in the nice weather while we have it.

Bonus 2: Normalcy. I was struck this week that with the activities we went to over the holidays and even just going to the grocery store this week, it feels normal to do these things for the first time since the pandemic started. I guess it has felt that way for a while now and I just realized it. Covid is still out there, and we’re thinking it probably always will be. And we still have some supply issues. But it’s so nice not to have it all hanging over us like a dark cloud, as it did for so long.

What’s something good from your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the last FFF of December, and of 2022. Before we set up next year’s calendars, it’s good to pause and think through the blessings large and small of the last week. Susanne at Living to Tell the Story invites us to do just that.

1. Christmas cards and letters. Fewer people seem to be sending these, understandable with rising postal costs. One friend said that since many of us stay in touch through the year on Facebook, she wondered if a yearly recap letter was really necessary. But, thankfully, she sent one anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ I enjoy sending and receiving them and having a little visit with friends through them.

2. Wellness in time for Christmas. I mentioned some of these faves on my end-of-December reflections yesterday, but I know some are only here for FFF. So I hope you’ll forgive a bit of overlap. Timothy had Covid right before Christmas, causing us to wonder if we should push the celebrations back a day or two. But his fever broke and symptoms abated just in time to be able to go ahead as planned.

3. Christmas and all its blessings: family together, feasting, thoughtful gifts. We also enjoyed a disposable tablecloth that had puzzles, games, and pictures to color. We all worked on it at points throughout the day.

4. My husband made numerous trips to the store for me the last couple of weeks since he was off. That was immeasurable help in freeing me up to get things done at home.

5. Extra time to visit. My oldest son is here for an additional week. He did this last year, too. Even though he is working from our home during the day, we have evenings and an extra weekend before he heads back to RI. That’s been so nice, especially with how busy last week was and with Timothy and Mittu not feeling well part of the time.

Bonus: Friends. Jeremy got a call this week that his refrigerator in RI died. A friend who stopped by to feed his cat noticed a bad odor and discovered the frig was at room temperature with a puddle of oil at the bottom. She cleaned up the puddle and another friend came over and cleared out the ruined food. Thankfully, he had already planned and budgeted for a new refrigerator, so it should be there a couple of days after he gets home.

As we head into a new year, I hope and pray it’s a blessed one for you.

Friday’s Fave Five

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! Or Christmas Adam–since Adam came before Eve. ๐Ÿ™‚

This has probably been a busy week for all of you, making final preparations for Christmas. But it’s helpful to pause even in the busiest weeks to be thankful for what God has done and allowed. Some of us join Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story on Fridays to recount the blessings of the week. Feel free to join in!

1. Our 43rd wedding anniversary. We enjoyed a great meal at a nice restaurant. We even had the same waitress that we did at our last anniversary dinner. The restaurant put flowered confetti on the table and wrote Happy Anniversary in chocolate sauce on our dessert plates. They even added little candles on our plates.

2. Time with all the family. My oldest son flew in last weekend. Jim was off this week. Jesse was as well all but Monday and has been over most days. Jason and Mittu came most evenings until Timothy got sick–we’re hoping and praying all will be well by Christmas and that this won’t spread through everyone.

3. A full Sunday. It was a special blessing to all go to church together Sunday morning. Then we stopped at a favorite Asian restaurant. Then we went to a Christmas concert with the Knoxville Symphony and other groups that afternoon. There were a couple of glitches. We didn’t know the Civic Auditorium had a clear bag only policy—thankfully someone let us know just as I got out of the car, so we didn’t have to traipse back to deposit my purse in the car. And then we didn’t know that the CHR beside our seating selections on our tickets meant “Chair’—as in a row of folding chairs in front of the second tier in the balcony. But once we got settled in and the concert started, we enjoyed ourselves. A few days later, Jim called the KSO office to complain about the folding chairs. We felt that at the very least, they needed to be clear on their web site that certain tickets were for folding chairs rather than regular seating. But at the worst, chairs in the aisle were a fire hazard and would cause a problem in an emergency. They hadn’t even known the auditorium used folding chairs and planned to talk to them. And they offered us free tickets for their first concert next year.

4. Christmas light show. There is a big drive-through light show in Sevierville that we’ve been to a few times. But this year we opted for a smaller new one in Townsend. The lights were great—the biggest one was this scenic mill with a moving water wheel. I think it is supposed to represent the one at Cade’s Cove.

And this one showed Santa camping. ๐Ÿ™‚

The web site had said there would be food trucks and vendors—but there weren’t any on Tuesday night. But thankfully Jason and Mittu were familiar with the area and knew of a good restaurant nearby. All the other restaurants we saw were closed, so we were especially thankful they knew of this one. They only had outdoor seating available, but they had several big heaters out there, so we were pretty comfortable.

5. Christmas cards and letters. I always love hearing from friends near and far this time of year.

Bonus: Warmth. It is currently 7 degrees F outside, and it’s supposed to get down to 4 in an hour or two. That’s very cold for East TN! I’m praying everyone’s power stays on. I’m thankful for a warm home, hot beverages, and throw blankets.

I hope you all have a very special Christmas this year, especially in remembering the One who left His comfortable and glorious home to come to Earth, live a perfect life in our place, atone for our sin by taking them on Himself on the cross, and conquer death.

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor,
All for loveโ€™s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor,
All for loveโ€™s sake becamest poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for loveโ€™s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising,
Heavenward by Thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for loveโ€™s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship Thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what Thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship Thee.

โ€”Frank Houghton

Friday’s Fave Five

I didn’t intend to be silent here since Sunday—but it has been a busy week. I’m trying to get as much done for Christmas as I can, as well as pre-company cleaning, before my oldest son gets here this weekend. That way I can relax and enjoy his time here as well as the time the rest of the family has off.

But I enjoy stopping a moment with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to recount the blessings of the week.

1. Running into old friends. We visited a new-to-us church Sunday and ran into some folks from our church in SC before we moved here 12 years ago. We didn’t know they had moved to the area. It was fun to catch up.

2. A cheerful encounter in an unlikely place. Walmart is (in)famous for only having two checkouts open. I waited patiently in line until the older couple before me bought their purchases. As the older man was putting his change back in his wallet, he told a funny anecdote from “back in the day.” Somehow he turned to me and included me in the story as well. There were two girls at the register (one in training, I guess), and we all laughed. His story only took seconds and didn’t hold up the rest of the line. As he moved on, the lighthearted conversation and laughter continued through my transaction. Funny how one small moment and short encounter can brighten everyone’s day.

3. A return pick-up. One of my online purchases arrived with both the wrong type of item and wrong size. As I initiated a return on the store site, one of the options was to have Fed-Ex pick up the item at my house. That sounded a lot simpler for a busy week than my having to go stand in line at a post office. There was one small glitch when they called me to say the driver had come to the door but didn’t get an answer (while I was in the shower at 8:30 because the notification said he would come after 9…). They offered to reschedule for the next day, but I asked if there was any way possible someone could come back the same day. There was, and he did.

4. Christmas activities clicking along. Cards addressed and mailed, most presents wrapped, a few of the family cards made, cleaning today (Thursday) and tomorrow, big grocery shopping outing Friday. I’m not quite as far along as I’d like to be. But I’ll have some time next week to finish.

5. Sunshine. It has been mostly rainy or overcast for the better part of the last two weeks. I’m glad the temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s so we haven’t had ice and snow. I’m fine if it snows Christmas day or after, but hopefully it won’t before. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was so good to see the sun out today.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well and you’re having some quiet reflective moments about the season as well as some merry ones.

Friday’s Fave Five

It hardly seems like it is time for another Friday. They’re coming around fast these days. That makes it a good time to stop and reflect on the blessings of the week with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. Turkey bone soup is traditionally the last thing we do with the Thanksgiving turkey. We had all the family over last Saturday to partake.

2. A light cooking week. An overextended shopping outing (one whole hour in W-Mart’s pick-up section waiting for my online order!) led to bringing home Wendy’s for dinner Friday night. We got Panda Express after church on Sunday. Then Mittu came over to make “Taco Tuesday.” Jim had said he’d be home late Wednesday, so I planned to just make frozen pizza. Then he ended getting home at the usual time–but I decided to stick with the pizza. Jason and Mittu asked us to watch Timothy tonight (Thursday) and offered to bring over dinner as well.

3. Online manuals. I was (strongly) encouraged by my dentist to use my WaterPik. I hadn’t in a long time–and it still had water in it. I wanted to clean it thoroughly before using it again and tried to find the manual to see what cleaning items I could and couldn’t use on it. I found the original box, but the manual wasn’t inside it or any of the bathroom drawers. I looked online and voila–detailed instructions for cleaning my model and a link to the manual.

4. A routine cardiologist’s visit. I am thankful for stability in that department and pray it continues.

5. When old blessings bless again. A few years ago, my pastor’s wife gave me a “writer’s survival kit” when I came home from my first writer’s conference. I was looking for something in one of my desk cabinets this week and rediscovered it. I had taken out some of the things, like the candy, but kept the notes with the rest. It was fun to look at them all again and remember her thoughtfulness. One of the items was a small Christmas puzzle, and Timothy and I put that together the other night while his mom was making tacos.

Bonus: Wrapping presents. I try to do several at a time and got the first batch done last Saturday. It’s fun when the kids come over and mosey to the Christmas tree to investigate. ๐Ÿ™‚ A few more gifts have arrived this week, so I hope to have another wrapping session this Saturday.

Another bonus: I’m reading Hannah Andersonโ€™s Heaven and Nature Sings: 25 Advent Reflections to Bring Joy to the World this month, and it is wonderful so far.

I didn’t quite get everything done I wanted to this week–like finishing my Christmas letter and getting Christmas cards addressed. But here’s hoping I’ll be able to finish that this weekend.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well!

Friday’s Fave Five

Just like that, we’re into December and Christmas preparations. I love these brief pauses on Friday with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to reflect on what God has done in our lives this week.

1. Getting a Christmas tree. So far, we still go out each year to choose a live tree. I think Jason and Mittu have come with us every year since Timothy was little, and maybe before. Past Christmas photos showed one with Timothy bringing his little toy chain saw one year. ๐Ÿ™‚

This year Jason arrived first at our usual place only to find an empty lot. So we looked at another place we went last year because it was nearby and run by a local church. We didn’t like the experience, but it was the only other place we knew of.

But their prices were really high and the experience was really nerve-wracking. They had way too many helpers there–we couldn’t take a step without someone asking if we had any questions. No, we just needed to look and see which one we liked, and no sales person could tell us that. Jason heard a guy behind us ask one of the salespeople if anyone was helping us. She said we wanted to just look around. The guy said, “You need to use more force!” Force? For selling Christmas trees? We got out of there as soon as we could. Fortunately, Mittu saw an opening the back way so we didn’t have to run back through the gauntlet of smiling faces asking if we had any questions.

I searched for Christmas tree lots on my Google maps app, and it brought up a tree farm about ten minutes away. So we caravaned over there. It was a delightful little place open for business for the first time (in which case, I am not sure how they showed up at the top of my search results. But I am glad they did). They told us how things were laid out and left us to look around. They had a gift area, and I think they may have had hot drinks. They also had a little picture-taking station.

Their prices weren’t any better than the other place–but the experience was far superior. We may have to break down and get an artificial one before next year.

Then, there was a very old blue truck in the lot with a tree in the back. I thought they had it there just for effect—you see truck with a tree on a lot of Christmas decorations and cards these days. But then an older couple, the man with a long white beard, got into the truck and drove away. The guy tying our tree to our car roof said the older man dresses up as Santa and takes a tree and presents to Cade’s Cove every year. So that was fun.

2. Tree decorating. Even though Jason and Mittu decorate their own house for Christmas, they help decorate ours as well. Jesse came over, too, and was a big help getting boxes down from the attic. For the past few years, Mittu has made lunch for us all on tree decorating day. I’m so thankful they all do this. With everyone pitching in, it only took a couple of hours to get everything up, not counting transporting the bins to and from the attic.

I wasn’t feeling Christmasy until we got the house decorated. Now I am ready to start the holidays.

3. Lunch with Melanie, a dear friend, at Cracker Barrel, one of my favorite places. None of the rest of my family likes Cracker Barrel, so I am glad I can indulge with Melanie. We both had the maple bacon chicken, which was excellent. We had a great waitress who, when she found out Melanie’s birthday was the next day, gave her a free piece of cake. And they let us sit and talk as long as we wanted without kicking us out. ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Encouraging words. It’s such a blessing when someone says something that encourages you right where you needed it, when they could not have known that their words were needed. I feel God orchestrates those things. How we need to walk closely with Him so He can use us that way.

5. Timothy recordings. Jason and Mittu were here for another marathon cooking session to make up microwave meals while they are still painting in their kitchen. At one point Timothy started playing some old recordings on their iPad–some of them were him singing when he was about four. So sweet.

I hope your week went well!

Friday’s Fave Five

Some weeks overflow with blessings. Other weeks, we have to be more intentional in looking for them. This week has been full, and it’s a joy to share with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story. Please feel free to join in!

1. Thanksgiving. I am thankful we have a day set aside to remind us to be thankful. We had a wonderful day with all the family except our out-of-state one, plus had an abundance of good food. We watched a couple of episodes of The Santa Clauses, though we each dozed in different parts. ๐Ÿ™‚ We tried to play some Jackbox games, but the system kept crashing–probably a lot of other people had the same idea. We did our “Thanksgiving tree” throughout the day, writing on leaves the things we were grateful for.

I forgot to mention last week I’m thankful we found a turkey! I had heard they might be scarce and expensive, but we didn’t find that to be the case.

2. Testimony times. The church we’ve been visiting had an opportunity both in Sunday School and then in the midweek service to share what we’re thankful for. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a service given over to testimonies, and this one reminded me that churches used to do this regularly. It was such a joy to hear different ones’ stories of how God worked in their lives.

3. Bad news/good news from the dentist. I hadn’t had any dental problems for years and wasn’t expecting any. But at my regular dental cleaning, the hygienist found a cavity in a tooth under a bridge. She thought that repairing it would mean removing the bridge, and if there was not enough of the original tooth left, she predicted I’d need an implant. She went on and on about what getting an implant involved (a six-month process). I was pretty overwhelmed and discouraged. There are worse things to endure, but it was still dismaying to discover out of the blue that all this would need to be done. But when the dentist came in to check me, she thought she could patch the cavity with a regular filling. She said there was a small chance that, once she got in there, she’d find that more work needed to be done. But she felt pretty confident a filling would do what was needed. That was a relief.

4. A productive errand-running day. Whether due to age or physical issues–or both–it’s hard for me to be out all day. But while I had to be out to go to the dentist, I wanted to try to get as much errand-running done as I could so I didn’t have to go out again later in the week. I prioritized my list and got everything done except the couple of things that there was no urgency for. Those things could even wait til the new year if need be.

5. Safety. While out on those errands, I was trying to tentatively back out in a busy parking lot. It was nerve-racking because cars and people were coming from all directions, so I inched out a bit at a time while trying to look every which way. Then I saw in my rear-view mirror the car behind me was backing out quickly, coming straight towards me. God gave me the presence of mind to hit the brake and horn at the same time, and the other car stopped and then pulled back into its space.

Are you Black Friday shopping? We’re gratefully spending the day indoors, but we might shop online a bit.

Happy Friday!