December Reflections

I wasn’t sure, at first, whether I’d do an end-of-December post. Probably many of our activities have been the same as yours, with getting ready for and then celebrating Christmas. But there were a few things unique to this month, so I decided to go ahead.

Family news

My oldest son is visiting, as he always does for Christmas. But he’s staying a week longer than usual, for two reasons. First, he usually leaves the Sunday after Christmas. This year, that would have meant leaving the day after Christmas, which would have been an abrupt end to our holiday togetherness. Plus, my middle son’s workplace is its busiest in December. On top of that, the temp agencies they work with this time of year promised 20 workers, but only two came. So Jason has been working nights and weekends for weeks. If Jeremy had left the 26th, he would not have seen Jason’s family much at all. So this week Jeremy is working from home here during the day, then we have more visiting time in the evenings. It has been nice to have the extra time together after the busyness leading up to Christmas subsides.

Jim and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary a few days before Christmas. We usually celebrate with a nice meal out and exchanging cards. This year we went to a ritzier restaurant than usual because when we sold our rental house earlier this year, at closing our realtor gave us a gift card to Ruth Chris Steakhouse. We had never been there before. It was very nice. I’m afraid I could get used to luxury all too easily.

Creating

This has been a banner month for card-making. I buy Christmas cards to send to extended family and friends, but I make them for immediate family. Plus we had some other occasions for cards this month.

This was for a friend’s birthday. The white part was done with a Cuttlebug embossing folder.

This was for our pastor’s surprise party for his 50th birthday. I got the idea from Pinterest and used the Cricut for the numbers and window. The words were stickers.

This was for our anniversary. My husband was a physics major, math minor, so when I saw this idea, it appealed to me.

This was Jim’s Christmas card. The deer and trees were done with the Cricut. I printed out the words for all the Christmas cards on the computer.

I did think about saying deer/dear instead of love, but I resisted. 🙂

This was Jeremy’s. I usually do something with a fox for him. But he has a cat, so I decided to use the feline influence. The cat was made with the Cricut, the presents from scrapbooking paper.

His cat isn’t totally black: she has some brown/tan/gold colors in her fur. But there was no way I could replicate that, so solid black would have to do.

This was Jason’s. I wanted to use the fa la la paper in some way, and he’s the most interested in playing different instruments. The instruments were done with the Cricut; the frame was done with decorative scissors.

This is Mitttu’s. The door was done with the Cricut. I printed the wreath from some free clip art and cut it out by hand.

Timothy’s is supposed to look like a snow globe. I was excited to work with clear acetate for the top of it. I had some little plastic bits from a package of snowflake confetti that I used for the snow–the snowflakes themselves were too big. But static cling keeps the “snow” from moving around much. If I ever do this again, I’ll use sequins. The snowman and trees were stickers.

Jesse’s contains something of an inside joke. For his white elephant gift for a young adults Christmas party, he found some pizza socks—a set of socks decorated with different pictures of pizza toppings, folded all together in a pizza box. So, I thought, since a pizza slice is the same shape as a Christmas tree . . . I’d use that as the base of his card. The pizza slice was done on the Cricut.

This year’s Christmas cards are some of my favorites.

Reading

Since last time I have completed:

  • Christian Reflections by C. S. Lewis. His thoughts on literature, culture, church music, ethics, subjectivism, and more. Challenging, but good.
  • Be Available (Judges): Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White. I had just finished this last month but had not reviewed it then. Lady Elizabeth takes her maid to the Isles of Scilly to escape the marriage her brother is trying to arrange for her. But she is mistaken for another Elizabeth and given strange notes and packages. The local vicar—the other Elizabeth’s brother—works with Libby to try to decipher the messages and find his sister.
  • Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan. reminded me of I Love Lucy, but with a Southern accent. Not my favorite, but if you like that kind of humor, you’d probably enjoy this book.
  • A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas, a Civil war-era novel. A women makes a quilt for her husband while he is soldiering. It comes back to her in an unusual way. Plus her beliefs are tested when she is asked to shelter a runaway slave wanted for murder.
  • A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson. A woman plans to update a seaside cottage she inherited in order to sell it. But her son wants to stay there.
  • Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. Four friends plan to meet for Christmas in Paris after WWI ends. But it lasts much longer than expected. Several decades later, the last of the four travels to Paris for his last Christmas to read the one unopened letter remaining from their correspondence. Excellent. One of my top twelve of the year.
  • The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin. Victorian novel about an anonymous benefactor, the man who secretly guards and admires her, and another not so friendly stalker.
  • The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson. Separated after twenty years of marriage, a woman unpacks the special ornaments her husband had given her every year, remembers their lives together, and tries to figure out if they can get past the resentment and lack of forgiveness.
  • Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien wrote letters to his children as Father Christmas for several years, complete with disasters set off by the kind but bumbling North Polar Bear. Delightful.

That looks like a lot, but most of the Christmas stories were novellas.

I’m currently reading:

I posted my top twelve books of the year here and all the books I read this year here.

Watching and Listening

My husband and I aren’t binge watchers. He can barely stand to spend two hours viewing something. We started watching the last season of the remake of Lost in Space on Netflix here and there. Then one night, after a long and busy day, we got pizza and watched the next episode. And we had to find out what happened next, so we watched on . . . and on until we finished it. It’s such a good series. I love the emphasis on family. It’s much more intense than the original version.

We also watched A Castle for Christmas, a pretty cute movie about an author who travels to the castle where her father’s family worked in Scotland and finds out its for sale. The owner needs to sell but doesn’t want to, so he tries to sabotage her plans. Then we watched Elf with Jesse and Jeremy and found out later that Jason and Mittu had also watched it. I’ve seen it once or twice before, but still enjoyed it a lot.

I listened to a podcast series by Audible set up like an old radio serial: The Cinnamon Bear: A Holiday Adventure. It was a little too much at times—a little loud and bizarre. And the opening note of its intro music is the worst in the history of intro music. But it was cute and clever in places.

Blogging

In the last month, I have shared:

Writing

Of course, writing has taken a back seat this month. But in January I want to map out time to make it a priority.

Sad News

I wasn’t quite sure where to mention this. We found out a few days before Christmas that my husband’s second oldest brother died from Covid and his wife was in ICU with Covid. It’s been something of a shock. He’s the first of any of our siblings to pass. We’re still processing and waiting to hear more.

Looking Ahead

December has been a full month. I enjoyed the time with family so much. But I am kind of glad the Christmas hoopla is over and the last few days have been more relaxed (for me anyway—maybe not so much for those returning to work). We’ll still have some time together this weekend. Then it’s on to new calendars and a bright shiny new year.

I’ve shared this before, but I love this quote from Captain Jim in Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery:

“Welcome, New Year,” said Captain Jim, bowing low as the last stroke died away.
“I wish you all the best year of your lives, mates.
I reckon that whatever the New Year brings us will be the best
the Great Captain has for us.”

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

November Reflections

It seems like we had a very short autumn. It wasn’t just that time appears to be flying by ever faster. But our moderate fall temperatures gave way to winter-like ones seemingly sooner than usual. I enjoyed the fall color and crisp air while we had it.

Family news

We’ve all taken turns being sick, and we missed out on pumpkin decorating with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. They sent pictures, though. I went very super simple with mine and my husband’s.

We did get together for early Christmas cookie baking and Thanksgiving feasting and Christmas decorating. Another round of colds started up before the last two, so we’re hoping they don’t spread through all of us.

I’m so thankful that everyone except our out-of-state son pitches in to decorate here for Christmas even though they have their own places to decorate. All together, we get it done in a few hours. If I had to do it myself, it would probably take me several days. It’s fun to go through all the familiar things and stories.

Creating

I made this card for our pastor’s wife’s baby shower.

I knew she was using blue, tan, and brown with a Noah’s ark theme in the baby’s room. So I wanted to do something with those colors and baby animals. These animals are just stickers, but I loved their expressions and the way they’re drawn and colored. I couldn’t find anything else I liked nearly so well in the Cricut images. With the ark theme, I should have put a rainbow in as well, but didn’t think about it.

I also made a card for a friend, but since she hasn’t received it yet, I’ll have to wait to show it til next time. 🙂

Reading

Since last time I finished:

  • The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, a true story about a disgruntled man terrorizing a pastor’s family and their struggle to love and forgive him as well as protect themselves from him.
  • Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson, Christian time slip novel about a timid bookstore owner whose research of a name inscribed in one of her books leads to surprising connections to her adopted mom.The historical time line takes place in Austria as WWII is closing in. One young man hides his Jewish friends’ treasures, helped by the caretaker’s daughter. She’s in love with him, but he’s in love with a beautiful Jewish violinist. Excellent–will probably be one of my top ten of the year.
  • Be Right (Romans): How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others by Warren W. Wiersbe.
  • The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White. Just finished this one over the weekend and will review it later this week.

I’m currently reading:

  • Treasures of Encouragement: Women Helping Women by Sharon W. Betters
  • 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety
  • Be Available (Judges): Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • Christian Reflections by C. S. Lewis. I always enjoy Lewis, but this one is particularly challenging. I may set it aside for now.
  • Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan, first in a series of novels about friends in a small town in GA.
  • A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas (audiobook)
  • IBS for Dummies by Carolyn Dean and L. Christine Wheeler

I’m looking forward to some Christmas reading in the days ahead.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkage, I had these posts on the blog this month:

  • Is This the Right Way? Sometimes the Christian life doesn’t look like we thought it would, and we wonder if we missed a turn somewhere.
  • What Kind of Roots Are You Growing? Good roots are nourishing and supportive. But bitterness can take over like a stubborn ivy and crowd out healthy growth.
  • Don’t Reject God Because of His People. Those “deconstructing” their belief system often point to the failures of other professing Christians as part of the reasons for walking away. But we’re responsible for the truth we heard from others, even if they don’t live up to it themselves.
  • A Perfectly Ordinary Thanksgiving. In trying to come up with a new angle with which to write about Thanksgiving, I realized Thanksgiving doesn’t need an angle. And we can give thanks even if we don’t feel thankful.
  • Your Soul Needs Food Even If It Doesn’t Want It. When our appetites are off, we don’t want to eat much. Bur our bodies need food to function and heal. The very food we don’t have an appetite for will not only help, but will create an appetite. The same is true spiritually with God’s Word.

Writing

Once again, not much has been done on the book project, though I did have one really good session where I think I got my opening chapter nailed down. I have three different sections to it, and I think I’ve had each one at the beginning at some point. With all that’s involved over the next month, I’ll probably have to wait until January to get back to the book. But then I need to make revising and finishing this book a higher priority!

As we transition into the Christmas season, may we not leave the spirit of thankfulness behind. May we remember to spend time with the One who went to such great effort to be with us.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

October Reflections

We’ve had some quite pleasant days this month. Full fall color still isn’t out yet, at least in the few places I have been. We’ve gotten down in the forties a few nights, but no frost yet.

We’ve had a pretty full month. We started with a trip to Ohio for the memorial service of my husband’s former pastor and father of his best friend. This was our first overnight trip in the RV, which went okay. I don’t think I’d want to take long trips across the country in it, but a night or two is fine. This was also the first time we had seen some of these folks in years, so it was a little like a family reunion. Though we were sorry to hear Pastor Bob was gone, we’re glad he’s with the Lord, united with his wife, without discomfort and dementia. We rejoiced in his testimony and his life. And we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with his five adult kids and their families.

Then Jim, Jesse, and I were sick, and that took up the bulk of the month. Jesse’s Covid test came back negative, and we think our illness came from him, so we didn’t get tested. Some have told us he may have received a false negative since he was vaccinated. But we pretty much isolated as if we had Covid anyway–even if that’s not what we had, we didn’t want to spread it to anyone else.

Our church went back to Zoom meetings only for a few weeks because several people in our congregation had Covid. I think we’re going to try to meet in person again this week.

So in some ways, we felt as we did at the beginning of the pandemic.

We finally felt well enough for a family outing to see the Pinta, a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, last weekend. It was the first time we had been all together as a family for about three weeks, and it felt so good to be out and to see each other. We topped the day off by going out to eat.

I had another interview with the very kind and gracious Kurt and Kate of the Moody radio station in Florida. I am not quite sure how they discovered me, but this is the second time they’ve invited me to their program. All went well—thanks so those who prayed about it! My son recorded the interview and made a link to it here, if you’d like to listen.

One big change this month makes me a little sad. We have one of those big, unsightly transformer boxes on the corner of our property, right as you turn into the driveway—so it’s the first thing you see when you approach our house. I don’t know why they didn’t put it on the other side of the driveway or property, which has open grassy areas. Anyway, the previous owners had planted some little trees around the box. There was a sign on the box saying not to plant any vegetation that would obscure access to the box. But since the plants were already there, we figured we’d leave well enough alone. If the utility company had a problem, they’d let us know.

The trees were the same height as the box when we moved in. Now, after 11 years, they were six or seven feet tall.

We enjoyed putting lights on them for Christmas every year, and sometimes wrapping the box up for Christmas.

From Christmas 2011

But we finally heard from the utility company. They have to replace all the lines underground. And they had to take out our little (now big) trees. Our front corner looks all shaven and shorn.

Some time after they’re done, we’ll have to figure out a way to make the corner more presentable. And I know there are bigger concerns in the world, but I am going to miss that corner Christmas display.

As a aside, these guys only seem to work Tuesday through Thursday. No wonder these things take so long to complete.

Creating

I didn’t make any cards this month—no birthdays or other occasions for them. We didn’t do anything in the guest room since neither of us was feeling up to it at the same time. But I should be able to finish it out soon.

Reading

Since last time I finished:

  • Only Glory Awaits: The Story of Anne Askew, Reformation Martyr by Leslie S. Nuernberg, a fictionalized account of Anne’s testimony, life, and death.
  • Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund, an interesting and helpful study of Jesus’ assessment of himself as meek, or gentle, and lowly which does not de-emphasize his righteousness and holiness.
  • Woman Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood, short true accounts of several women and their activities during WWII.
  • Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, musings about finding balance.
  • Be Strong (Joshua): Putting God’s Power to Work in Your Life by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson, audiobook, a touching time slip novel. One plot takes place in WWII, when two children try to escape Germany on foot. They make it to the English Channel, but are separated. In modern time, one of them hires a reporter to search for the other, who finds unexpected links to her own past.
  • Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson, audiobook, another WWII time slip novel about a group of friends in the Resistance in Amsterdam and their modern-day descendants trying to research what happened to them.

It wasn’t on purpose that I read so much about WWII. I love that era, and some of my favorite authors write almost exclusively of that time. There’s plenty of scope for drama from that period. But I’m ready to read of another time for a while.

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Right (Romans): How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, audiobook, true account of a pastor’s family terrorized by a disgruntled member of their congregation.
  • Treasures of Encouragement: Women Helping Women by Sharon W. Betters
  • 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety
  • Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan, first in a series of novels about friends in a small town in GA.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkage, I had these posts on the blog this month:

  • Thoughts From a Memorial Service, ponderings about life, what we can learn from the end of it, realization that the “old guard” is slipping away and we’re supposed to take up their banner.
  • I Know God Promised, But . . . Having God’s promises but not relying on them doesn’t get us anywhere.
  • How to Read Books and Support Authors Inexpensively. Books ARE a worthy investment, even at full price. Authors and publishers work long and hard to provide books. But for some who like to read beyond what we can afford, here are some ways to read more inexpensively and still help authors.
  • From “What If” to “Even If.” We can scare ourselves to death with “what ifs.” But when we face them full on, we realize that even if the worst happens, God will provide help and grace.
  • What Light Reveals, two childhood stories when light helped distinguish between reality and imagination. We need the light of God’s Word to do that in our hearts as well.

Writing

There has not been much going on in that area, with everything else going on. I did make one decision, though.

I had been considering changing my “official” author name for a long time. There is another “Barbara Harper” who writes about water birth, something I know nothing about. I had thought our content would be different enough to distinguish between us. But people continually link to or follow my Facebook author page when they meant to link to hers. Plus, one article I read suggested looking up one’s name, which a potential agent or publisher is sure to do. When I did, it was six pages into Google results before anything of mine came up—all the rest were this other Barbara. So, to avoid confusion and distinguish myself, I decided to add my middle name and go by Barbara Lee Harper instead.

Some have mentioned the similarity to Harper Lee. That wasn’t intentional. My parents didn’t know I was going to marry a Harper when they named me Barbara Lee. 🙂 But if the name is associated with a good author, well, I don’t mind. 🙂

Another decision I’ve been pondering: I have a Facebook page for the blog here, and all my blog posts automatically go there for those who prefer to follow in that way. Then I created a separate Facebook author page (maybe prematurely? I’ve read different recommendations), which was meant for writing-related news and updates. I post my my devotional blog posts there as well and occasionally others. I’ve considered merging the two, but keep going back and forth.

There’s a writer’s group I looked into, but decided not to join. Their fee was pretty expensive, plus I didn’t feel their services were worth the price. But since I had registered for a free seminar, I still get occasional offers from them. Last week they offered a “summit” (which turned out to be some of their older recycled videos, but they were new to me). We could listen to them free, but the free link was only good for a day—unless I wanted to pay $67 for lifetime access! I didn’t, so I listened while resting or cleaning and sorting.

In one of those videos, an agent said that for a new author to be considered by a publisher, they needed to have about 10,000 followers with about 10% engagement—meaning at least 1,000 of those followers comment, “like” posts, etc.

Well. I have nowhere near 10,000 followers. And the necessity of “seeking followers” seems a wrong emphasis, though it also seems a reality the way things are set up in the business of publishing today.

I’ve considered self-publishing, if a publisher wouldn’t be interested in me due to a small “platform.” Plus, it takes a year or two for a manuscript to be published from the time it’s accepted. And I am not getting any younger. 🙂 Self-publishing would be quicker, though I would still want to pay for an editor and have the highest quality end product I could.

On the other hand—I’ve heard that if you self-publish and your book bombs, that pretty much guarantees a publisher will not be interested in your future books.

So, if you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate your prayers for some of these “behind the scenes” decisions, as well as for wisdom in carving time to actually finish writing the thing.

And I hope you’ll forgive this longer than usual monthly round-up. 🙂

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

September Reflections

Another month is set to pass the baton to the next, without slowing down for the hand-off. We’re ending September in a flurry of activity, which I will have to tell you about later. But I like to take at least a few minutes to try to remember what filled the busy days.

September is a transition month. We’re finally starting to have cooler temperatures. The leaves have begun their yearly changes.

We had big family get-togethers on Labor Day and Jesse’s birthday. And we had several “ordinary” times, too, which were just as fun. We missed the planned time together for Grandparent’s Day: people at our church and Jason’s company tested positive for COVID that week, and just to be safe, we figured we should isolate for a while. But Jason and Mittu dropped off a delicious meal and some sweet gifts.

Creating

I just made one card this month, for Jesse’s birthday. His work and leisure time is mostly spent on the computer, so this seemed appropriate:

The computer was made with the Cricut, but would be pretty easy to make freehand. I found a computer font online (I think it may have been this one) and used it to make the “Birthday wishes” screen.

Watching

Jim and I finished The Mandalorian series. So good! I’m not all that into Star Wars, so I am sure I missed some of the references and connections. But I loved this series.

We also enjoyed Enola Holmes, about the fictitious younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.

Reading

Since last time I have finished:

I’m currently reading:

  • Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
  • Be Strong (Joshua): Putting God’s Power to Work in Your Life by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • Only Glory Awaits: The Story of Anne Askew, Reformation Martyr by Leslie S. Nuernberg
  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkage, I had these posts on the blog this month:

  • Focus Determines Direction. If I look away from the road, I end up drifting the direction I’m gazing. To follow Christ and keep from drifting, I need to keep my eyes on Him.
  • Kindness. We’re not exempted from showing kindness to those who irritate us or disagree with us.
  • You Don’t Have to Write Devotionals. Writing “lessons” is a fine thing to do, if God so leads. But that’s not the only way to share spiritual truth.
  • Pressure. How can small, delicate deep-sea creatures withstand pressure that crushes submarines? And can we learn anything from them?

Looking ahead, one of my favorite things about October is that there’s nothing “big” during the month. I have my yearly physical at the beginning, and we’ll have a costume party with Timothy at the end (in lieu of trick-or-treating at the mall). But there are no immediate family birthdays or holidays that month, which makes it a nice resting place between our “birthday season” and Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How was your September? What are you looking forward to in October?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

August Reflections

Are you starting to see fall decorations posts all over the Internet? It’s still too hot and humid here to think about fall except in longing for cool breezes—but it will likely be several weeks before we get any.

Though I’m looking forward to fall, I like to savor the last bit of summer. When I was a child, school started right after Labor Day. So this stretch of time involved the last trips to the pool, the last days of sleeping in and freedom from homework.

When my kids were in school, I looked forward to having a bit more structure in our schedule while I simultaneously regretting the full calendar of a busy school year.

One of my favorite activities this time of year was getting new school supplies. Crayons and pencils in elementary school. Choosing just the right notebooks in high school. New clothes. I was in Target the other day with aisles full of college students loading up their carts with dorm and class necessities. There was an air of excitement that I missed.

But I’m also glad in this “empty nest” stage of life that our schedule will remain about the same until December.

Family

August is one of the best family months, because my oldest son comes home for his and my birthdays. My husband takes that week off and the other kids are here as much as they can be. We enjoyed lots of time together, talking and playing games. We had a couple of meals out. We missed having one big outing—bowling, if another else, or sometimes a visit to the Gatlinburg area. This year it was too hot to do much of anything outside, and an uptick in COVID cases here discouraged time in crowded areas. But the time was enjoyable for family togetherness.

I mentioned on a Friday’s Fave Five that we had my oldest son here for a few extra days due to Hurricane Henri’s heading toward his state. We changed his flights because we didn’t want him to get stranded at an airport between here and RI. It was good we did, because the second leg of his flights did indeed get canceled. He worked from our home for a couple of days and then flew back out with no trouble.

The guest room is coming along. I have a couple more things I’d like to do in there. The storage bench I wanted has been out of stock for ages, but I hope it will be available soon.

This week on a family group text, a couple of the guys posted family pictures from an app that converts people in a photo to a cartoon character. Seeing how everyone turned out and the comments along the way were so much fun.

Cards

I made just two this month. The first was for Jason and Mittu’s anniversary.

The little couple was made with the Cricut.

This was for Jeremy’s birthday.

He likes foxes. I got this idea from a Pinterest post about using animal faces and brown paper for gift wrapping. I found this template for a fox face to use for the whiskers.

Watching

My husband and I are going through The Mandalorian an episode or two at a time. Some of our kids have finished it and wanted us to see it. Pretty good so far. We also like watching America’s Got Talent, though we have to fast forward through a couple of the acts. I enjoyed the third season of Making It, a quirky craft competition show, as well as College Bowl.

Reading

Since last time I’ve finished (titles link back to my reviews):

Nonfiction:

Fiction:

  • Unconditional by Eva Marie Everson, based on a film by the same name which was based on a true story about Joe Bradford’s helping kids in his neighborhood even though he desperately needed a kidney transplant.
  • The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner (audiobook), historical fiction about German and Japanese teen girls who meet and become friends in an interment camp during WWII. They’re each repatriated to their parents’ countries of birth, lose touch, and then one tries to find the other in her 80s while battling Alzheimer’s. Just finished this over the weekend and hope to review it in a day or two.

It’s unusual for me to read more nonfiction than fiction in a month!

I’m currently reading:

  • The Man Who Was Q: the True Story of Charles Fraser-Smith, the ‘Q’ Wizard of World War II by David Porter. I read Fraser-Smith’s memoir about his war-time activities in July. This is a biography covering his whole life.
  • Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
  • Be Dynamic (Acts 1-12): Experience the Power of God’s People by Warren Wiersbe
  • Tidewater Inn by Collen Coble

Blogging

Besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and almost weekly Laudable Linkages and book reviews, I’ve shared these posts:

  • Under His Shadow. Thinking about what a shadow from the heat meant in Biblical times with no AC or fans and how God shelters and shades us.
  • Fifteen Favorite Posts from Fifteen Years of Blogging to celebrate my blogging anniversary.
  • Strengthening Others, inspired by places in Acts where it says the apostles strengthened people, exploring ways we can strengthen each other.
  • Why Aren’t Christians More Loving?
  • When the World Weighs Heavy. There’s a lot of hard news on several fronts, and it gets to be too much to bear. But that reminds us to give it all to the only One who can truly help.
  • Don’t Forget the Hope. “But this post isn’t primarily about modesty. It’s about remembering to share hope with our children, students, readers, those whom we’re discipling. Sometimes we’re so passionate about whatever we’re warning against that we forget to offer the hope that God extends to His people.”

Writing

Still not much going on there besides blog posts. I sketched out a devotional idea a while back that I want to finish it up and submit. Except for one more birthday and a couple of medical appointments, we have a bit of a lull before the busy holiday season. I’m hoping to carve out some time to work on the book then.

How was your August?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

July Reflections

Elisabeth Elliot used to say that when she spoke on a certain topic, she would be tested on that topic right before or after she spoke. Boy, have I experienced that since writing about impatience and frustration Monday! One example: Tuesday I was making a card that I wanted to send out that day. It wasn’t essential that I mail it off that day, but that was my desire. After I cut out the scrapbooking paper I wanted to use, I noticed red splotches all over the paper and the blank card. Then I noticed blood on my finger. I must have gotten a paper cut at some point. So I had to go wash my finger, get a bandaid, toss the paper and card, and start all over. That made me late getting done and running my errands, and I came home late and very hot and sweaty. Then I requested getting hamburgers for dinner since I did not feel at all like cooking, and happily, my husband agreed. So it ended up well. 🙂 I don’t even remember what the other issues were, but they were all little things and all tested my desire to be calm and patient.

In other news . . . It’s hot. Very hot.

My fifteenth blogging anniversary passed by forgotten until WordPress reminded me. I’ve very much enjoyed it, especially getting to know many of you.

Family

We enjoyed a long 4th of July weekend and grilled hamburgers here. We celebrated my middle son’s birthday this month at his house with grilled chicken and S’mores cake.

We’re continuing to work on the guest room. My husband painted a desk for me and put new hardware on it. My son and daughter-in-law gave us their queen bed since they wanted a king-sized one. We put curtains and shelves up as well as the main piece of art work over the bed. The room is in a usable state for when my oldest son comes to visit next month, but there are still a few things I’d like to get done in there. I’ve been enjoying the process.

Creating

I made a few more cards than usual for July. This was for Jason’s birthday:

The beard was done on the Cricut.

These two were done for different friends going through various issues:

The “I’m thinking of you” sentiment is a stamp that I’ve had for ages.

This one was for friends who just recently revealed they are expecting a new little one early next year:

The little “onesie” shape was done on the Cricut.

Reading

Since last time, I have finished:

  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is a novel that ties together two interesting historical factors: the blue people of Kentucky and the Pack Horse Librarians. Very interesting!
  • Heaven Sent Rain by Lauraine Snelling. Christian contemporary fiction about a scientist and entrepreneur who notices a boy with his dog outside her office building. She buys the boy breakfast, beginning a regular habit. Then he calls her when his dog is in an accident, and she is pulled into his family’s life. Very good.
  • Three Shall Be One by Francena Arnold. An older Christian fiction book (published in 1953) about a young couple with extreme in-law issues. Neither are believers. Despite a couple of implausible plot twists, it’s a sweet story.
  • The Summer Kitchen by Lisa Wingate. Contemporary Christian fiction about a woman getting her uncle’s house ready to sell and who gets involved with several people in the low-income neighborhood.
  • Out of the Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer. Excellent mystery or suspense about a man recalled to Charleston, SC, a city he had agreed never to return to. He’s lured by promise of information about the mother who abandoned him as a child.
  • A Southern Season: Stories from a Front Porch Swing, four stories set in the South by Eva Marie Everson, Linda W. Yezak, Claire Fullerton, and Ane Mulligan. Very good.
  • Ten Words to Live By: Delighting In and Doing What God Commands by Jen Wilkin. Excellent nonfiction about the Ten Commandments.
  • The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith, the “Q” Gadget Wizard of World War II by Charles Fraser-Smith. Fascinating true story about a man tasked with procuring and hiding supplies to British soldiers and agents during WWII.

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Equipped (Deuteronomy): Acquiring the Tools for Spiritual Success by Warren Wiersbe
  • The Good Portion—Scripture: The Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman by Keri Folmar
  • Unconditional by Eva Marie Everson
  • The Man Who Was Q: the True Story of Charles Fraser-Smith, the ‘Q’ Wizard of World War II by David Porter
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life by Susan Hertog (audiobook)

Someone asked me in a comment recently how many books I finish a week. It varies from zero to three, but it’s usually one or two.

I usually finish around 70+ a year. I usually have four going at a time: one on an audiobook that I listen to while driving, dressing, doing housework; one on my Kindle app that I usually read a little while in the evenings until I get too sleepy; one in the bathroom ( 🙂 ); one Christian nonfiction that I read on Saturdays, the day our church Bible reading program doesn’t have anything scheduled. I can only do that if they are all different. If I read more than one contemporary Christian fiction or WWII book or whatever at the same time, I’d get them mixed up. I expanded on this a few years ago in Finding Time to Read.

Blogging

Besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and almost weekly Laudable Linkages and book reviews, I’ve shared these posts:

  • 14 Reasons to Read the Old Testament. Many of us gravitate to the NT, but it’s built upon and entwined with the OT.
  • Remembering How God Has Led. “My heart was tender thinking back over God’s working in my life. As I opened my Bible reading for the day, I came to Deuteronomy 8:2: ‘And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness.’ It’s amazing how God prepares me for what I am going to encounter in His Word.”
  • Don’t-ing or Doing. “The Bible does have a lot to say about what we should not do. . . . But the Bible doesn’t stop with a list of ‘don’ts.’ ‘So flee youthful passions,’ 2 Timothy 2:22 says. But it goes on to say, ‘and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.'”
  • Battling Anger, Frustration, and Impatience. “When a flash of anger or frustration or impatience flares up, I pray for forgiveness and try to gain the right perspective. . . . Lately I’ve wondered if there’s a way to head that flare-up off at the pass. ‘Good sense makes one slow to anger’ (Proverbs 19:11). So I sat down one afternoon and sought some good sense ‘to be renewed in the spirit of [my] mind’ (Ephesians 4:23).

Writing

Not much besides the blog.

In August, our oldest son coming for a visit. His time here will include both his birthday and mine. My husband will take that week off, and we’re looking forward to lots of family time with the whole gang together.

How was your July?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

June Reflections

Even though we’ve only officially been in summer ten days, I think of the whole month of June as summer. We spent more time outside over spring, but it’s getting too hot and humid to be outside much until evening.

Family

Around the house, Jim painted the “guest room” (or spare oom) and a desk and put some shelves and decorations on the walls of the sewing room for me. I finally dug up an aggressive ivy from the front planters and planted a bunch of flowers that are flourishing nicely thanks to my husband remembering to water them. I’ve done some pockets of reorganization—I tend to do just a shelf or corner or box at a time.

Our two main celebrations were Timothy’s finishing first grade and Father’s Day. Everyone helped to bring over the queen-sized bed Jason and Mittu gave us and set it up in our new official guest room, then Mittu made dinner for us all. I had searched for bedspreads and placed the one I liked on Amazon’s wishlist. But when I went to order it, it was “currently unavailable,” and they had no idea when or if they might get more. So I had to start from scratch. The bed is bigger than I was thinking. I realized the futon we had in there before was a full size and therefore smaller. So I don’t think I’ll be able to get an extra chair in there like I wanted. But that’s okay.

Timothyisms

Timothy asked his parents when the next paycheck was coming. When they asked why, he said he was making a list of toys for the next paycheck.

Creating

I didn’t make a Father’s Day card for Jim this year. When I searched for ideas, I found an already-made card that was just perfect, so I got that instead of making one.

The card I made for my step-father draws on his love for a certain sci-fi franchise:

I found a Star Trek font online and then found a template for the badge and colored it in with a gold paint pen.

This was for Jason:

Reading

Since last time, I finished (titles link to my reviews):

  • The Sign Painter by Davis Bunn. A young mom fallen on hard times finally gets a job and a place to stay. But a situation in her place of employment puts her in a dangerous moral dilemma. Meanwhile, a former cop tries to help a church deal with a drug house nearby.
  • Saving Alice by David Lewis. A young man’s first love is killed in an accident. He eventually marries their mutual friend and has a comfortable life, until he has a falling out with his daughter. Trying to reconcile with his daughter brings a lot of things to light in his life.
  • The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli. A time slip novel. One plot line involves Louisa May Alcott and a close friend. The modern story tells of an adopted girl betrayed by her sister who reconciles over the mystery some poems by a friend of Louisa’s discovered in Louisa’s old house.
  • Be Counted (Numbers): Living a Life That Counts for God by Warren Wiersbe. Commentary on Numbers.
  • Be Diligent (Mark): Serving Others as you Walk with the Master Servant by Warren Wiersbe, commentary on Mark.
  • How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren.
  • EPIC: An Around-the-World Journey Through Christian History by Tim Challies. A museum in a book! Lots of good information and inspiration.
  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (audiobook). While traveling in Italy, a girl in a conventional lifestyle meets a free-spirited brooding man who eventually changes her life.
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (audiobook). A little darker and more involved than the Disney version we’re used to. But a good moral illustration of what happens when boys don’t heed advice and instruction.
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder. A play about treasuring ordinary life.
  • The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep. A woman in hiding has to take in an injured man found on her property, and her anonymity and his safety is threatened.
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (audiobook).

This includes the last few days of May–I had done that monthly round-up a few days early.

I’m currently reading:

  • Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands by Jen Wilkin
  • Be Equipped (Deuteronomy): Acquiring the Tools for Spiritual Success by Warren Wiersbe
  • Three Shall Be One by Francena Arnold
  • The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith: The “Q” Gadget Wizard of World War II by Charles Fraser-Smith
  • Heaven Sent Rain by Lauraine Snelling (audiobook)

Blogging

Besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and almost weekly Laudable Linkages and book reviews, I’ve shared these posts:

  • Is It Wrong to Be Right? We don’t have to set up a false dichotomy between being nice or right. We should strive to be right, but we can be nice about it.
  • Giving and Receiving God’s Word. Our hope and comfort come from the Bible, but sometimes we share it in a way that short-circuits its message.
  • What Are You Looking For? Nothing in this life will be perfect. Only as we look to God will we find perfect love, peace, justice, and so much more.
  • With Jesus in the Kitchen. How remembering Jesus’s ministry helped me when frazzled in the kitchen.
  • A Better Blade for Killing Sin. Even if we could cut off everything that leads us to sin, we’d still have trouble with our hearts. Only God’s Word pierces there.

As we turn the corner from June to July, we look forward to the Fourth of July weekend. We haven’t made sure plans yet, but they’ll definitely include family and burgers. We also look forward to my son, Jason’s, birthday this month. I hope to finish setting up the guest room in the next few weeks before Jeremy comes in August.

How was your June? Any fun plans for July?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

May Reflections

Even though we have a few days left before the end of May, I have other posts scheduled until next week. So I figured I’d share my end-of-May wrap-up now.

May feels so different now that we don’t live by school rhythms any more, since all of our kids are grown. May used to be one of the busiest months of our year with end-of-year programs, recitals, etc. I enjoyed all of that at the time, but also felt pressured. I like the quieter pace now.

May is also our transition between spring and summer. Though summer doesn’t officially start until June, we start getting summer temperatures and humidity in May. We’re looking forward to some outings over the long weekend ahead.

Family

Not much going on besides some get-togethers at either our house or Jason and Mittu’s. We enjoyed Mother’s Day together, and Jim and I took the RV for a test drive. I mentioned in a recent Friday’s Fave Five that the Brood X cicadas, the ones with the 17-year life cycle, emerged over at Jason and Mittu’s house. They sounded like Rice Krispies as they molted. They’re in mating season now, so they’re really loud with making noise to attract a mate (though I don’t know how the females can distinguish them from each other with all that noise going on).

We haven’t done much with the sewing room or spare room as we’ve had other things going on the weekends. Jim did put together a couple of over-the-door storage units I had wanted for Mother’s Day. I’m hoping we can get the spare room done before Jeremy, my oldest son, comes to visit in August.

Timothyisms

While at my grandson’s house, he was “playing school” with his Granddad. At one point my husband asked Timothy, “What’s 7 + 7?” Timothy said, “I’m the teacher. You have to guess.”

Creating

I’ve made a few more cards than usual this month.

This was for Jesse’s apartment-warming party.

The building and “Congratulations” were done with the Cricut.

This was for Mittu for Mother’s Day:

I did the wording on the computer, and the flowers are multi-layer stickers.

This was for a baby shower:

The “It’s a Girl” was done on the Cricut.

This was for a young man at church for his high school graduation:

I did the “Congratulations” on the computer.

Reading

Since last month I finished:

  • Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof, (audiobook) sequel to Sons of Blackbird Mountain that I liked so well a few months ago. Three Norwegian brothers live in Virginia, one of whom is deaf. The youngest one wrongs someone and flees the country to go to sea. He feels he should go back and try to make things right, but he doesn’t know how he’ll be received
  • Hungry for God, Starving for Time by Lori Hatcher. Five-minute devotionals for when you need a spiritual protein bar. Very good.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion by Annette Whipple. A great companion to the Little House books, with lots of interesting background information and related activities to try.
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. Classic tale about the boy who wouldn’t grow up. A bit darker than film versions, but fun.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (audiobook). Classic dystopian novel in which babies are designed in test tubes and everyone is supposed to live for pleasure. But if you’re not happy, then what?
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (audiobook). Classic allegory about the Russian revolution and Stalin’s takeover, but also a fable about throwing off oppression and then becoming oppressors.

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Counted (Numbers): Living a Life that Counts for God by Warren Wiersbe
  • Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands by Jen Wilkin
  • How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren (almost done!)
  • The Sign Painter by David Bunn
  • A Room With a View by E. M. Forster (audiobook)
  • Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (audiobook)

Blogging

Besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and almost weekly Laudable Linkages and book reviews, I’ve shared these posts:

  • Have Mercy on Your Pastor This Mother’s Day. “There are different needs among the congregation. No one sermon will meet them all except as it points us back to the only Savior who can help and heal and provide grace.”
  • Faithful in Obscurity. “You may be a busy mom of little ones, a secretary stationed at her desk, a cashier at a counter, a caregiver tucked away in a lonely room, or in any number of occupations where you feel unnoticed. Don’t be concerned if you don’t get as much attention or response as other people. Don’t fret over whether your work seems ‘important.’ Faithfully do what God has called you to do, for His honor and glory.”
  • Trusting God for Our Children’s Safety. “It’s one thing to trust God for my needs—it’s another thing to trust Him for my children’s.”
  • Faith—not Genes—Determines Our Standing Before God. Korah was killed in one of God’s most severe judgments against rebellion. But his sons went on to serve God in the temple and write psalms.

I also had a guest post at Almost an Author: Sculpting a Masterpiece. Like Michelangelo carved “everything that wasn’t David” to create his famous statue, so we need to chisel anything that would detract and confuse in our writing.

Writing

I’ve just in the last couple of weeks gotten back into working on my book. I keep thinking I need a whole afternoon free to work on it. But I find that my brain feels fried after a couple of hours, at least in this revision stage. So hopefully that will inspire me to work when time is more limited. And the more I work on it, the less time it will take each session to figure out where I am and what I need to do next.

I want to give you a heads-up that I was asked to do a radio interview about my Faithful in Obscurity blog post on Wednesday morning, June 2. I was totally shocked! If all goes as planned, I’ll share the details Tuesday, June 1. The site does have a button to listen live. They have some recordings of past episodes, but I don’t know if my segment will be on the recording. I have not heard back from them since I sent an email accepting the invitation, but maybe that’s normal until the day of the interview. I keep thinking maybe I misunderstood, or they accidentally asked the wrong person, or this isn’t really legit. 🙂 But I clicked on the link to their program and listened to a couple of past episodes to see how the program went, so it’s a legitimate program. I’d appreciate your prayers that I would be calm and say what God wants me to, that I won’t blank out when asked something, that all the connections and logistics will work like they are supposed to.

How was your May? What are you looking forward to in June?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

April Reflections

It seems a little cliche to open almost every monthly wrap-up post talking about how fast time flies—but I literally don’t know where April has gone. I just suddenly realized on Tuesday that April ends this week.

I love that April starts feeling like spring, even though spring began officially in March. We still have some cold nights and days, but the air is gradually getting warmer, flowers and trees are blooming, my energy is renewed like a bear coming out of hibernation.

Family

The highlight of April for us is our grandson’s birthday. Facebook always shows pictures and memories from that time seven years ago when Timothy came unexpectedly 10 1/2 weeks early. Those weeks in the NICU were hard on many levels. But God brought everyone through, and Timothy is now a strapping, smart, sweet, funny boy.

We’re continuing to adjust to our empty nest. Jesse is enjoying “adulting” and learning to cook. We got his old room painted and my craft/sewing stuff moved in. We still have to move the things on the wall to the new room, and then Jim will be ready to paint the old sewing room, which we’ll turn into a spare bedroom. I’m looking up ideas for decorating it. My pink-and-flowers-and-lace-loving self would be thrilled to go full tilt. But often men stay in that room, usually my oldest son or my step-father. So to be merciful to them, I’m looking for something more neutral.

I like the idea of a beachy theme (which I just discovered is called “coastal” now) and have a Pinterest board of ideas. I grew up in Texas near Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico, and almost any major event as well as several minor ones took place on the beach. Plus one of my all-time favorite family vacations took place on Folly Beach in Charleston, SC. There’s just something restful to me about the beach—at least, a beach that’s not crowded.

After seeing this Spare Oom sign (a la Faun Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), and decorations like this bookish pencil holder and end table, I was sorely tempted to try to make the room like a Narnian English study. But we’d probably need to spend more for that kind of look. Plus all the rooms like that I see online are dark, and I much prefer light, airy rooms. The furniture that will remain in the room is white. So I think I’ll stay with beachy.

We also fulfilled my husband’s long-standing dream of getting an RV. It was a matter of finding a good deal on a used one in good condition at a time when our finances could take it on. We’re having fun outfitting it and look forward to taking it out for the first time.

Creating

I mentioned on a post about Timothy’s birthday that he’s into Minecraft now, and his party used that as a theme. So I wanted to have my card for him incorporate Minecraft somehow. The Cricut didn’t have anything related, and it didn’t occur to me til I was all done that Hobby Lobby might have had some stickers. I ended up looking up free Clipart images and printing and cutting them out. I even found a Minecraft font I could use for the wording.

I put the heart on as an afterthought and didn’t realize that messed up my centering until it was too late. Oh, well . . . live and learn.

Watching and Listening

My husband discovered the Home Fires series, about the home front in England during WWII. I had watched it a while back while riding my exercise bike, but I enjoyed watching it again with him. The cinematography is gorgeous. It gets a little soap-opera-ish in places, and there are some wrong relationships, but nothing explicit is shown.

I’m still working my way through Lark Rise to Candleford, but haven’t been using my bike as much just due to general busyness.

In-between audiobooks, I listened to several episodes of The Christian Publishing Show podcast. I also enjoyed the Literary Life podcast episode on Why Read Fairy Tales. Originally, fairy tales weren’t necessarily meant for children, and they imaged some aspect of the gospel. I learned that most fairy tales we’re familiar with today (and most that the Disney movies are based on) aren’t the originals, but were rewritten by someone to make them moralistic. Also, did you know that “hero” originally meant the main character in a story, not someone with heroic qualities? And there’s a difference between a cautionary tale, a folk tale, and a fairy tale? All in all, a very good and informative episode.

Reading

Since last time I finished:

  • Preparing for Easter with C. S. Lewis. This was my Lenten reading. It was kind of a disappointment because it didn’t really live up to the title, and too many excerpts were pulled from their context and therefore not as easily understood. But there are always some good nuggets in a collection of Lewis’ writing.
  • Be Confident (Hebrews): Living by Faith, Not by Sight by Warren Wiersbe. A small, helpful commentary on the book of Hebrews.
  • Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof, an excellent Christian novel set in the post-Civil War years. A young widow comes to keep house for her husband’s cousins, one of whom is deaf and addicted to alcohol. Two of the brothers are attracted to her, causing a rift between them.
  • Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (audiobook), the second in his Chronicles of Barsetshire series. A satire of rival clergymen and rivals for a rich young widow’s hand.
  • The Narrative of Sojourner Truth as told to Olive Gilbert (audiobook). A freed slave who later became a well-known speaker for civil and women’s rights.

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Counted (Numbers): Living a Life that Counts for God by Warren Wiersbe
  • Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands by Jen Wilkin
  • Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof, sequel to Sons of Blackbird Mountain.
  • How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren (still . . . )
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Blogging

Besides books reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkages, I’ve shared on the blog this month:

And that just about wraps up April! How was yours?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Grace at Home, Hearth and Soul, Senior Salon, What I’m Into, InstaEncouragements)

March Reflections

It’s hard to believe the pandemic has gone on for more than a year now. But in some ways, it feels like we’ve lived under pandemic guidelines for ages.

There’s hope on the horizon with vaccine availability. But COVID numbers are still rising in our area.

We still don’t know what’s ahead, whether COVID will ever really go completely away, what kind of “normal” might eventually emerge. But we walk by faith and not by sight, trusting God’s guidance and keeping.

I had mixed emotions about the vaccines. I feared that we hadn’t had enough time to see what long-term effects they might have. But then we figured the negative effects of COVID, with our health issues, probably outweighed the possible negative effects of the vaccine. Plus I don’t think quarantine conditions will lift significantly until the vaccine is more widespread. So when my husband’s workplace sponsored an afternoon of giving out vaccines in conjunction with a local pharmacy, and they had the J&J one that we wanted, we went ahead and got them. We had sore arms for a few days, but no other side effects so far.

Almost two weeks after receiving vacations, we went back to church in person for the first time in a year. Our church is small enough to socially distance inside the building. We’re asked to wear masks except during the service while sitting with our families. They’ve been meeting in person for several months, but left the Zoom option open for those who felt they shouldn’t come in person for health reasons. It was good to see everyone in person again, but it did feel weird. Maybe it will just tak a while to get used to beig around people again. Maybe it won’t really feel normal until COVID ebbs away enough that we can meet without masks.

Family

Our biggest news this month is that my youngest son, Jesse, moved out into his own apartment. He was later to “launch” than usual due to going back to college for a few years, then difficulty finding a job, then COVID. He’s super excited to have his own place and he’s learning how to cook. 🙂

We’re adjusting to being official empty nesters. It will take a while to get over the sensation that he’s right down the hall in his room. We’re learning different daily rhythms in everything from how often we need to do laundry, what groceries to buy, how much to cook, taking on the chores he used to do, etc. Plus we just miss his everyday presence. 🙂 But we’re thankful he’s not far away. And, as we experienced with our other boys, the relationship continues and grows. It’s fun to see him take the next steps on his journey.

March also held my husband and sister’s birthdays, Pi Day, and the first day of spring—all reasons to celebrate!

Creating

We’ve had some discussions about possibly getting an RV. We finally decided maybe we should rent one for a short trip and see how we like it first. But I used an RV theme for Jim’s birthday card.

The RV design was from the Cricut, and the background was from a woodland scrapbooking paper set. I printed out the words via computer, cut them out with decorative scissors, and outlined them with a marker.

The other thing I’m creating this month is a new sewing/craft room! I had all my “stuff” set up in the smallest bedroom. When Jesse moved out, I wanted to move my things to his larger room. But first my husband patched up holes, painted multiple coats, and used a wet-vac to clean the carpet.

The whole house interior is painted beige, and after 11 years, it all need to be redone anyway. We want to switch to a light grey. We’re using the bedrooms and bathrooms to try out different shades. There’s an unbelievably wide variety of light grey shades, from yellowish to bluish to whitish to dull to bright. After a couple of tries, we found one we really like.

I thought it would just be a matter of moving a few bits of furniture and cabinets from one room across the hall to the other. But I forgot how much little stuff I had in there! We got the biggest portion done Saturday, but I have several little things to finish up.

Once I get the old bedroom cleared out, Jim will patch holes, paint, etc., in there, and then we’ll buy a bed and turn that into a guest room.

I am so thankful for my husband’s willing hard work, both with painting plus moving my “stuff.”

Jesse had a pegboard in his room on which he displayed his collection of airsoft guns. When Jim asked me if I wanted to keep the pegboard, I wasn’t terribly excited about it, but I figured it would be more trouble to take down and patch up behind it than it was worth. So we kept it and he painted it for me. Then I found tons of craft room pegboard ideas on Pinterest. And I discovered a whole new world of cute pegboard accessories!

Watching/Listening

We haven’t really watched anything out of the ordinary this month. I’m still working my way through Lark Rise to Candleford on my exercise bike, but I m nearing the end of that.

I’m not a big fan of podcasts—I’d usually rather listen to audiobooks or music. But Hope has mentioned the Literary Life Podcast. When I checked it out, they were discussing Silas Marner, which I was listening to at the time. So I listened to and enjoyed those sessions. Then it took me a while to decide which classic to listen to next, so in the meantime I listened to Literary Life’s discussions of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, which I had enjoyed reading a few years ago, and Why Read Old Books. I’d like to listen to Why Read Fairy Tales sometime.

Reading

This month I’ve completed (titles link back to my reviews):

  • Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (audiobook) was actually completed right at the end of February, but reviewed at the beginning of this month. I had never read this Dickens classic, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t like it as well as David Copperfield, but it was good.
  • Silas Marner by George Elliot (audiobook). A man is betrayed by his best friend and falsely accused and disappointed by his church. He becomes something of a recluse, suffering another great loss, but taking in an orphaned child that changes his life. Very good.
  • Hudson Taylor and Maria: A Match Made in Heaven by John Pollock. A brief biography of the famous missionary who began the China Inland Mission, particularly in relation to his first wife.
  • The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones, novel. The Tennessee governor’s family experiences a stunning loss and is helped by the governor’s mansion’s long-time gardener. A good story except for a couple of flaws.
  • Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. Good perspective and tips.
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope (audiobook), the first in his Chronicles of Barsetshire series. A meek warden of a local hospital is caught between a young reformer who thinks the funds are being mishandled and the staunch archdeacon who takes opposes the reformer. Took a while to get into, but I enjoyed it.
  • Be Holy (Leviticus): Becoming Set Apart for God by Warren Wiersbe.

I’m currently reading:

Blogging

Besides books reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkages, I’ve shared on the blog this month:

This is one of my favorite times of year, changing from winter’s gloom and coldness, grass and trees greening up, buds forming, more daylight. Winter is having its (hopefully) last hurrah with temperatures in the twenties again at night this week, but the weather is often delightful during the day. We feel a little like bears coming out of hibernation. Somehow, more warmth and light gives us new energy.

How was your March?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements)