November Reflections

November has been another quick and busy month. We’ve had some frigid days and frosty nights interspersed with temperate ones.

We started the month with a couple of big gatherings. The church we’re visiting had a joint service with a “sister church” in another area. It was a wonderful day of worshiping together. Then our neighborhood had its first big get-together in a long time, something we used to every year.

We were thankful for the privilege of voting earlier in the month. We had some fun get-togethers with the family, including some dry ice “experiments” that Timothy loved.

We got to experience a couple of Thanksgiving testimony times in the church we’ve been visiting. I mentioned last Friday that churches we’ve been in used to have testimony times regularly, especially right before Thanksgiving, and I have missed them. Especially being new to this church, we don’t know everyone’s backgrounds. What a joy to hear how God has worked in lives.

Then, of course, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the kids except our out-of-state one, and he had “piesgiving” with friends (all the food was in the form of a pie).

Creating

We had no birthdays this month, but I made these for a couple of friends going through different trials.

The message for both cards was made with a stamp. The leaf shapes were made with the Cuttlebug, which usually just does embossing. But I have a couple of folders which actually cut out shapes.

The strip of leaves is one of my favorite things. I have a square stamp with four leaves on it, and I use a multi-colored stamp pad and turn the stamp a quarter-turn each time. I didn’t come up with this idea; I saw it demonstrated somewhere.

I had wanted to use another leaf strip on this one, but the one I had got messed up when I touched it with damp hands. It takes a long time for that kind of ink to dry, so I looked for another idea to use instead. The roses were from a small embossing folder for the Cuttlebug. The color of the paper reminded me of some beautiful off-white roses I saw in a fall wedding once.

Watching and Listening

I enjoyed the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, though the player I was rooting for was robbed. You may have heard about the Bible question used for a final Jeopardy! round that the writers got wrong (if not, you can read about it here).

We enjoyed watching Disenchanted with the family, the sequel to Enchanted. In the first movie, an animated princess finds her handsome prince and is about to start her happily-ever-after when the stepmother of her groom-to-be pushes her down a well into the real world, which is quite a culture shock. The people in the real world don’t know what to make of her, either. But over time she discovers a handsome lawyer and finds that fairy tale love is shallow compared to the real thing.

In the sequel, the little daughter from the first movie is now a teenager, and daughter and stepmother clash. The stepmother, Giselle, thinks a move to a castle-like house in the suburbs will help. But it makes relationships with her stepdaughter worse. She finds the means to make a wish and desires a “fairy tale life.” Immediately, people are clothed with fairy tale attire and start singing and dancing in the streets. Giselle’s husband goes on a quest to find some way to display heroism. But Giselle forgot that stepmothers in fairy tales are evil. Her family and friends have to find a way to reverse the wish before it becomes permanent.

The second movie wasn’t as charming as the first, but I liked the twist on the usual fairy tale arc. I loved some of the nods to other fairy tale movies. But I thought some of the song lyrics were silly.

I’ve been listening to the Literary Life Podcast episodes on Dracula–not my usual fare, but I read it along with my son through Dracula Daily, which sent out the diary entries, letters, newspaper articles that make up the book on the dates listed. It was a fun way to read it, and the podcast has brought out much more than I gleaned on my own.

Reading

Since last time I have finished (linked to my reviews):

  • Three Fifty-Seven: Timing Is Everything by Hank Stewart or Kendra Norman-Bellamy. An elderly widow finds new purpose in making herself available to help various neighbors. This was a really sweet story but was marred by too much detail in a couple of the characters’ bedrooms.
  • Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Hazel’s little sister, Maggie, was lost when Hazel was ten, and Hazel has borne the guilt of that for sixty years. Her losses cause her to be perfectionist and anxiously controlling, which causes her daughter to rebel. She hasn’t told her daughter or granddaughter, but the latter accidentally stumbles across some old photos. The granddaughter, Meghan, is a cold case detective who investigates Maggie’s disappearance. This is one of Kim’s best.
  • Worthy of Legend by Roseanna M. White, the last in her Isles of Scilly series. Two background characters from the previous books come to the forefront in a race against another group to find a long-hidden artifact. Excellent.
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker.
  • Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe. I reread the book this month, but the review is from a couple of years ago when I first read it.
  • Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth. A good book of a midwife’s experiences in the 1950s, but marred by graphic descriptions of a dancer in a brothel.

I read the section on Ezra in Be Heroic (Minor Prophets): Demonstrating Bravery by Your Walk by Warren W. Wiersbe. Ezra is usually grouped together with Nehemiah, which follows on its heels in history. Wiersbe put Ezra in with the minor prophets instead, since the timeline does fit there as well. I had read the rest of this book a while back when reading through the minor prophets–but didn’t review it then because I hadn’t read the Ezra section yet.

I’m currently reading:

  • Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback
  • Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God by Tim Challies
  • Writing for the Soul: Instruction and Advice from an Extraordinary Writing Life by Jerry B. Jenkins
  • Be Determined (Nehemiah): Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • Snowed In for Christmas by Cami Checketts (audiobook)

I’m looking forward to some Christmas reading in the next few weeks!

Blogging

Besides the weekly Friday Fave Fives, Saturday Laudable Linkage, and book reviews, I’ve posted these since last time:

  • Careful of Our Strengths as Well as Our Weaknesses. We’re often concerned about our weaknesses tripping us up. But we can fail in areas of strength as well. We need God’s strength and guidance for both.
  • You Don’t Have to Choose a Word for the Year. Many people benefit from the practice, but it’s not a must. What’s most important is regularly spending time with God in His Word, seeking His guidance for the day.
  • Hope in Darkness. The time change caused darkness to descend earlier in the evenings, which can be depressing for some of us. I did a quick Bible study on darkness and found the Bible had some encouraging things to say about it..
  • God Is Always Working Even When We Don’t See. It’s discouraging when we pray for a long time with seemingly no response, especially when praying for spiritual needs. But God is at work under the surface.
  • A Confession of Praise. One Hebrew word can be translated as either “confess” or “give thanks or praise.” When we thank and praise God, we’re confessing that He is who He proclaims to be.
  • Benefits of Giving Thanks. Our US Thanksgiving holiday reminds us what we’re supposed to be doing every day and how much we have to be thankful for. I found several other benefits to giving thanks as well. Let thanksgiving continue!

Writing

I dug into my work-in-progress a bit this month. I’m not sure there will be time to work on it any more through the holidays, but we’ll see.

I continue to enjoy our writing critique group. We’re about to take a break for the holidays.

Several months (maybe even years?) ago, I saw a free online conference for hope*writers, so I signed up for it. As it turned out, it wasn’t really a conference. It was a replay of some of their teaching videos. Since I was on their mailing list, I began to receive invitations to membership as well as more videos and even a free class. I decided not to join them, for several reasons. But I’ve been working my way through the things they sent me so I can clear them out of my box and then unsubscribe from their mailing list.

One common theme that emerged from the videos for me was that we can’t do everything aspiring authors are supposed to do all at once. One video encouraged us to just work on the thing at hand and take everything else as it comes. That was a help, as it’s easy to feel overloaded with everything else to the point that we can’t even make time for writing the book.

As we turn the corner into holiday season, may we each have some quiet moments to reflect on the greatest gift God could give: His Son.

October Reflections

Once again, we’re nearing the end of another month that flew by quickly. Though there are a few days of October left, I thought I’d go ahead and take a look back.

October is usually a quiet month, with no family birthdays (except my brother’s near the beginning) and no major holidays. I had completely forgotten about pumpkin carving/decorating with the family. We enjoyed doing that last weekend. And I had a couple of medical visits this month. On one hand, it’s nice to have those in a month where nothing else is going on–on the other hand it would have been nice to have a month without anything else on the calendar. But they have to be done some time.

We’ve really enjoyed the changing leaves and cooler temperatures. We’ve had a couple of early morning freezes, but otherwise, the weather has been quite comfortable. And the fall color is hanging on for a good while this year.

I haven’t quite known whether to mention it here, but we recently made the sad decision to leave our church. We love the people, and because of that tried to stay as long as we could. But we have some major differences in doctrine and emphases. We don’t consider each other heretics or anything like that. 🙂 The church was becoming incorporated and encouraging “official” membership, which we hadn’t had yet, since the church was just started a few years ago. Part of the pledge for church membership was promising to support the church’s teachings, and there were some we felt we couldn’t.

It’s a bit difficult to seek a new church, both in feeling “homeless” and in evaluating new places. As I said in Monday’s post, we know no church will tick every box. And churches with the same statement of faith can still vary widely in personality, emphasis, and secondary doctrines.

Creating

I didn’t make any cards this month, though I need to work on one in the next few days.

Watching

We seem to be the only people who enjoyed The Rings of Power, kind of a prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

We also enjoyed Red Tails, about an African American crew during WWII (warning: a smattering of bad language).

Reading

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

  • Always, Only Good: A Journey of Faith Through Mental Illness by Shelly Garlock Hamilton. Ron and Shelly Hamilton’s oldest son began experiencing mental illness in his teens, eventually taking his life in his early thirties. Shelly tells his story and offers encouragement to those whose loves ones walk the same path.
  • Women and Stress: A Practical Approach to Managing Tension by Jean Lush and Pam Vredevelt. I didn’t agree with every little point, but the authors provide a lot of great, practical tips.
  • Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson, fiction. A young American woman travels to the Lake District of England, where her mother had visited twenty years earlier. An unsolved disappearance from that era hangs over the reputation of a young man, and he and the young woman try to find out more. Very good.
  • The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart, fiction. A talented hatmaker is both stifled and used by her employer. Meanwhile, the young man she thought she would marry is interested in someone else.
  • The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron, fiction. After her grandfather’s death, Delaney Coleman hears from an Italian family claiming he had something that belongs to them. A trip to Rome and some old letters reveal a side of her grandfather that Delaney had never known–including an orphaned Jewish girl, a British ballerina, and “Syndrome K,” a fake illness manufactured to keep Nazi soldiers away from efforts to smuggle Jews to safety. Excellent. Will probably be one of my top ten books of the year.
  • The Search by Grace Livingston Hill, fiction. A society girl and an old friend going to war realize they are nor prepared for death, and they embark on a search for God.
  • A Daily Rate by Grace Livingston Hill, fiction. A single girl on her own for the first time wishes she could spruce up her depressing boarding house and help its inhabitants. When she receives an inheritance, she’s able to pursue her dreams. But the results aren’t always what she planned.

I’ve been going through 2 Chronicles in my devotional time. Warren Wiersbe combined his commentary on 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles in Be Distinct: Stand Firmly Against the World’s Tides, Since I just read and reviewed that book back in June when I went through 2 Kings, I just looked at the parts specifically dealing with Chronicles this time. Most people don’t think of Chronicles as one of the most exciting books of the Bible. But I really got a lot out of it this time. Between Wiersbe’s book and the ESV Study Bible notes, I think this may have been the first time I realized that Chronicles was not just a rehashing of Kings, but it was written when the Jewish exiles in Babylon were about to come back to Israel. It was meant to encourage and remind them that they were still God’s people and His promises to them as a nation were still in effect. And it was also perhaps a warning–they had gone into captivity because they had disobeyed God, worshiped idols, and would not listen to His prophets. They needed to be careful not to go down that same path again.

I’m currently reading:

  • Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback
  • Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God by Tim Challies
  • Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe
  • Worthy of Legend by Roseanna M. White
  • Three Fifty-Seven A. M.: Timing Is Everything by Kendra Norman-Bellamy and Hank Stewart

Blogging

  • The More We Know Him, the More We Trust Him. “If we’re not careful, we can approach Bible reading with an ‘all about me’ attitude. What’s in it for me, how does it relate to me, how does it make me feel. Instead, the Bible is all about God. God wants to meet our needs, but more than that, He wants us to know Him”
  • Offers of Safety Are Not Always Safe. The world wants to quiet opposing voices in the name of providing a safe haven. But the safe haven is actually a trap where Satan is enfolding people in error.
  • When Is It Wrong to Complain? Sometimes complaining isn’t so much about the words, but the attitude behind them. It’s not wrong to share burdens or problems.
  • Ministry Beyond Church Membership. It can be discouraging to invest time in church visitors who don’t stay. But our ministry still counts if done as unto the Lord.

Writing

I continue to enjoy our writing critique group and have started implementing some of their suggestions for my manuscript.

But I was recently discouraged by a podcast where a literary agent said an aspiring author needed to have 50,000 followers before even seeking an agent. My jaw dropped and my spirit plummeted. If you don’t know, the days are gone when an author submitted a book to a publisher who did all the marketing. These days, new authors are expected to have an audience before a publisher will take a chance on them. Part of that is due to changes in books and publishing over the last several years (more online purchases, fewer bookstores, cuts in publishers’ budgets and personnel) and to the fact that word of mouth is the best way to promote books.

But when a blogger’s focus changes to getting followers, there’s a subtle shift in everything else they do. And I don’t want to have that shift in focus. I want to keep coming alongside and encouraging others here, sharing what I am learning.

It’s not wrong in itself to seek a larger audience. People in the Bible sought ways to share their message. But when that becomes a primary focus, it can skew everything else.

So I am praying about that and about time to write. If you feel led, this writer and others would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and balance and God’s leading.

As we turn the calendar to November in a few days, we’re expecting another fairly quiet month until Thanksgiving week. I enjoy that there is a theme of gratefulness through the entire month of November.

How was your October?

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

September Reflections

Wow, this month has sped by. It’s hard to fathom that September is almost over.

We celebrated Labor Day with traditional grilled burgers and a much-appreciated long weekend. The next weekend, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson made dinner for us for Grandparent’s Day and brought over flowers and a colored picture from Timothy. We attended the state fair for the first time in years. Mid-September, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday.

My daughter-in-law made the cute lemon blueberry cake.

Then my family from TX (two sisters, my step-father, and nephew) came to visit for a few days, and just left Wednesday morning. One day we all drove to SC to see family there (two sisters, my niece and great niece). It had been three years since we had all see each other. We missed my brother and sister-in-law in CT. We got this picture of all five sisters, with my brother and s-i-l’s picture on the phone:

And this one of all five of us with my step-dad:

This was the whole group after dinner in SC, minus Jesse, who couldn’t come that day:

It was so good to catch up with each other, more than can be done on FB and through texts and messages. We laughed (and ate!) so much! Timothy got to meet his second cousin for the first time. We took the kids to a park one afternoon and visited the mall in TX. We played lots of games. Most of all I enjoyed just talking with everyone.

Creating

I just made one card this month, for Jesse’s birthday. You can tell his interests by the card and the shirt he wore in the first picture. 🙂

“Gamer” was done on the Cricut, “Happy Birthday” on the computer, and the border at the bottom was a sticker.

Watching

We’re enjoying our regular shows being back on with the fall season. We’re trying out the new version of Quantam Leap, but the jury is still out—we’ve only see one episode so far. We like the College Bowl, where college quiz teams compete against each other, hosted by Peyton and Cooper Manning.

I have not found anyone who likes the new Rings of Power, based on Tolkien’s writings. But we really like it. That may be because we’re not familiar with Tolkien’s work outside LOTR and The Hobbit. I hear this program is basically writing their own stories. But the feel of it is very Tolkien-ish to me. The main thing that would ruin it is if they bring modern-day sensibilities into it, especially “woke-ness.” So far that hasn’t happened. The one thing I don’t like is that they’ve made the main character, a younger version of Galadriel, arrogant and angry and sullen. But she’s fighting a battle no one else sees the need for so far, so maybe she’ll mellow out over time.

We also watched an old movie called Desert Rats starring Richard Burton. It’s based on a true story abut a little-known battle in Tobruk during WWII.

Reading

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

  • The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, first in the Ladies of the Manor series. A young woman in Edwardian England finds she is the missing daughter of an earl. She doesn’t realize she is carrying a hidden treasure that an enemy will try to get first by flattery and romantic insinuation, and then, when that doesn’t work, by force. Excellent.
  • The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White, the second book in the Ladies on the Manor series. England’s most eligible bachelor rescues a Scottish young woman from an abusive father and even more abusive fiance by marrying her and taking her to England. But she struggles fitting in to her new role as a duchess, and their relationship does not go smoothly at first. Then there’s that pesky hidden treasure from the first book that bad guys are still after
  • A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White, third and final book in the Ladies of the Manor series. Lady Ella Myerston is sweet and cheerful. She wants to help protect her brother’s family and their friends from the danger that has haunted all three books. But everyone else want to shelter and protect her. She feels she’s not being taken seriously, but she’s determined to do what she can. Lord Cayton is a changed man from the cad he used to be, but not everyone trusts him. The two become an unlikely pair to bring the series to a close.
  • Jesus Led Me All the Way by Margaret Stringer, an autobiography of her 40 years as a missionary in what was then Irian Jaya among former headhunters and cannibals.
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. From the back book cover: “Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. Only once we discern what is absolutely essential and eliminate everything else can we make our highest possible contribution towards the things that truly matter.”

I’m currently reading:

Blogging

Besides Friday Fave Fives, Saturday Laudable Linkage, and book reviews, I’ve posted these since last time:

  • Passive or Pursuing? Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit something we passively receive or something we actively pursue? Both.
  • Daily Light on the Daily Path. I’ve been using this devotional book, made up entirely of Scripture, for about 30 years. A friend had never heard of it, so I thought I’d share about it.
  • When You Have to Say No. We have more opportunities than we can handle these days. I shared some ideas for discerning when to say no.
  • What Is God’s Highest Calling? Sometimes we hear that motherhood or full-time professional ministry is God’s highest calling. But that’s not what the Bible says. What is, then?
  • When Spiritual Routines Get Boring. Routines are helpful in many ways. But prayer and Bible reading on autopilot aren’t spiritually healthy. Here are some ways to alleviate our frail human tendency to lapse into thoughtless routine when spending time with God.

Writing

I was asked to participate in a critique group which meets every other week via Zoom. We take turns presenting our work for the others to edit and make suggestions about. It’s been so helpful, no matter whose work we’re critiquing. I’ve started implementing some of the suggestions.

I enjoyed all the activities of September, but I am looking forward to a quiet October. So far, the only things I have scheduled are lunch with a friend and a couple of medical appointments. We usually carve pumpkins sometime during the month as well.

How was your September? Are you looking forward to anything in October?

August Reflections

August’s heat and humidity have us longing for cool fall breezes. Each day brings us closer to them!

We enjoyed an extended time together as a family when my oldest son came to visit for about ten days. My husband took a week off, and Jason, Mittu, Timothy, and Jesse were here much of the time, though Jason and Jesse still worked most days.

I think I only ended up making dinner 3 nights. We went out some nights, Jesse made dinner for us one night at his place, and Mittu made dinner a few nights. We hadn’t coordinated beforehand spreading meals around, but it worked out nicely.

We celebrated Jeremy’s birthday at the beginning of his time here and mine near the end. It’s nice when the calendar works out so he can be here for both celebrations. We joked at the beginning of his, “Should we Face Time Jeremy?” We’re used to putting him on the TV screen for other celebrations when he can’t be here in person.

We played lots of Jackbox games, enjoying some old favorites as well as trying out some new ones. We also played Uno and even got out Settlers of Catan for the first time in a long time. It was Timothy’s first time to play the latter, and he lasted through most of the game. It’s a lot for a 8-year-old to take in.

We usually try to have one major outing during the week and maybe a couple of smaller ones. But this time there were several interesting things occurring that we took advantage of. I’ve mentioned a few of them during Friday’s Fave Fives, but wanted to go into more detail here. But that ended up making this already long post twice as long, so I am going to share details and photos in a separate post tomorrow.

Creating

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

And this was for Jeremy’s birthday:

Watching

We really enjoyed War Horse. It’s been out for a few years, and I remember when I saw it advertised that it looked good. But then we forgot about it. It follows a horse’s path from a farm through many hands during WWI. I was especially struck by how just one person in each scenario saw the horse’s worth and made a difference in its treatment or next step, which enabled it to continue on–an apt metaphor for making a difference for good in the lives of people we meet. I don’t think that was the main point of the movie, but that’s something I got from it.

A Call to Spy was very good as well (except for a few instances of taking God’s name in vain. 😦 ). It was based on true events about women being recruited as spies during WWII, and followed the path of two in particular.

Reading

Since last time I have finished (linked to my reviews):

  • Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope by Katherine Elizabeth Clark, a true story. Katherine was playing tag with some children at her son’s school playground when a boy jumped off the jungle gym and onto her head, breaking her neck and paralyzing her instantly.
  • Something Good by Vanessa Miller, a great novel about “Three Women. Two Mistakes. One Surprising Friendship That Changes Everything.”
  • The London House by Katherine Reay, a novel about a woman who seeks the truth when an old friend tells her he is about to publish an article that says her great aunt was a Nazi sympathizer. (Audiobook).
  • The Stranger by Melanie Dobson, a novel set in the Amana colonies in 1894. A stranger with a sick daughter stops to get help in the commune and falls in love with one of its inhabitants. But the group is wary of outsiders.
  • To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna White, a novel about a race to discover pirate treasure, but with surprising depth and truth. Very good. (Audiobook).
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Lady Carnarvon. The current countess of the castle that was used for Downton Abbey tells some of the castle’s history, particularly that of Lady Almina, who converted it to a hospital during WWI. (Audiobook and Kindle).
  • O Love That Will not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence, complied by Nancy Guthrie. Nancy has collected excerpts from writings as far back as the Puritans to modern-day writer on the subject of death and dying. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Normally I have a Warren Wiersbe commentary in my reading list. I am in 1 Chronicles now, and Wiersbe included it in with his book on 2 Samuel, Be Restored: Trusting God to See Us Through. I’m not rereading the whole thing, since I did in April, but I am looking through the parts that specifically mention Chronicles.

I’m currently reading:

  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  • Jesus Led Me All the Way by Margaret Stringer
  • The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart
  • The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White (audiobook)

Blogging

Besides the regular Friday Fave Fives, Saturday Laudable Linkage, and book reviews, I’ve posted these since last time:

  • Labels and Lenses. Labels are helpful and necessary. But we need to look at our lives and theology through the lens of Scripture, and not look at Scripture through the lens of our labels.
  • Why Keep Reading the Bible, especially when you’ve read it several times before?
  • Making Time to Read the Bible. If we don’t make time for it, we likely won’t find time for it. Some tips to make that time for what Jesus called the one necessary thing.
  • How Can We Make Our Souls Fire Resistant? Just as leaves can smolder and then erupt into flame, sin can flame out in our hearts. What can we do to avoid that happening?
  • What Can We Learn from Bible Genealogies? Genealogies are probably no one’s favorite part of the Bible. But what might God want us to learn from them?

I overlooked my blogging anniversary at the end of July. 16 years! And, as of today, 5,189 posts. Thank you for reading and making blogging such a blessing to my heart.

As we turn the calendar to September tomorrow, we look forward to Jesse’s birthday and a visit from my folks at the end of the month.

How was your August? Anything interesting happen?

July Reflections

This July has been one of the stormiest months I can remember. Our days seemed to oscillate between over-100 degree heat indexes or storms. I took this picture of the sky right after a storm early in the month.

I didn’t quite capture the beauty I wanted to. But I love the light at the edge of the cloud, which shows more brightly on my phone than it does here. I thought it was a poignant symbolic reminder that storms may seem to come between us and God, but He is always there.

In-between the heat and storms, we had fun celebrating the birthday of our country plus the birthday of my middle son a couple of weeks later.

I mentioned this a few times already this month, but in case you missed it, I had an interview with Kurt and Kate Mornings on Moody Radio Florida to talk about my blog post on regret. Here’s a link to the interview. I started out with some technical glitches, but thankfully everything worked out.

I mentioned on my last Friday’s Fave Five that my husband had discovered this weird but fascinating creature on our patio. It looked like a cross between a bee, a hummingbird, and a moth. My son looked it up, and it’s a hummingbird moth, also sometimes called a hawk moth. Jim took a video, but I can’t upload videos directly unless I invest in the next tier of paid WordPress blogs. But I did manage to capture this photo from the video.

Timothyisms

My daughter-in-law texted me that she asked my grandson, Timothy, where he got his cuteness. He answered, “Mommy.” She said, “Annnd?” meaning, I think, and Daddy. But Timothy said, “And Grandma.” I’m honored to be considered a contributor to his cuteness. 🙂

One night we were playing Uno at our house. Timothy noted that our Uno cards looked different from his. I explained that ours were an older set. Someone else said, “These are classic Uno cards.” Timothy said, “That’s what classic means”–older. 🙂

Creating

This card was for a couple in our church celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary:

The birds, branches, and leaves were made with the Cricut.

This was for Jason’s birthday:

I had an interesting time with this one. I try to incorporate something of the recipient’s interests when I can instead of just making a generic card. All I could think of for Jason is that he liked his family, the Mandalorian, and electric cars (and coffee, but I’ve used that motif in cards several times before). I looked up electric cars in the Cricut image data base, but they didn’t have much of a selection. This one was originally part of a design that had several tiny pieces that I was growing frustrated trying to piece together, then gave up. I tried a couple of other ideas that were ok, but I wasn’t thrilled with. I picked up a scrap that had this part cut out–this was the paper left after I took out the designed part–and I decided I liked it as it was. So I cut it out again and placed it in a better and then cut out the bolt after seeing that incorporated in another design.

This is for a great nephew’s wedding coming up this weekend. I meshed together a couple of ideas I had seen on Pinterest.

The embossing was done with the Cuttlebug. I printed out the “Mr. and Mrs.” on the computer and colored the edges by tapping a foam brush on a silver ink pad and brushing it against the edge of the cardstock.

Watching

I’ve thought about eliminating this category, but I enjoy when others share what they have watched. If you have any good, clean movie or series recommendations, let me know!

Jim likes WWII movies, so we’ve watched a few. One movie we really enjoyed was The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, based on the true story of a Polish social worker who worked with the Polish Underground Resistance and smuggled over 2,000 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto and placed them with other families until the war was over.

We also watched a few old ones. I remember seeing The Great Escape when I was a kid, and it was interesting to watch it with adult eyes now. The Bridge on the River Kwai was good until its very frustrating ending. The Eagle Has Landed was a bit of a disappointment. If I had known it was fictional, based on a novel about German paratroopers trying to kidnap Churchill, I probably would not have watched it. It also had a bit of language, which is not usually a problem with older films. With all of these, it was kind of fun to see actors in their younger days that I had only seen when they were older.

Reading

I’ve enjoyed several good books this month. Since last time I have finished (linked to my reviews):

I’m currently reading:

  • Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope by Katherine Elizabeth Clark
  • The Stranger by Melanie Dobson
  • O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God compiled by Nancy Guthrie (not that any of us is facing imminent death, as far as we know. But I saw several quotes from this in Aging With Grace and loved Nancy’s other compilations).
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon

Blogging

Besides the regular Friday Fave Fives, Saturday Laudable Linkage, and book reviews, I’ve posted these since last time:

We have a lot to look forward to in August, which my oldest son’s birthday and visit and my birthday.

How was your July?

June Reflections

We began this month with an end-of-school party for Timothy. We enjoyed celebrating Father’s Day 2/3 of the way through the month. And now we’re gearing up for the Fourth of July.

It’s been too hot out to do much else, but Jim did get the patio spiffed up for summer. We need to get new patio chairs but haven’t looked yet. We’ve had a couple of cookouts already. One evening,Timothy brought over sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and “pop-its”–those things you throw on the concrete where the make a loud pop. The weather was nice that evening, and it felt like a summery thing to do.

My middle son, Jason, had to leave his employer when the employer couldn’t pay his salary for a few weeks. He’s been making deliveries for a few different companies and has been able to make just about his regular salary. He likes the flexibility, and he says it’s kind of like playing Santa Claus–you get to deliver stuff to people and make them happy. I don’t know how long he’ll do this kind of thing, but it’s a nice change from the pressure he was under.

Timothyisms

When we play Jackbox games together as a family, we have to sign in with our names. Timothy usually calls me Grandma, but one night I just put “Gram” in for my name. Then he started calling me Gram Cracker, and more recently, Gramster. 🙂

But what really cracked me up was when Jason texted that Timothy had said, “Oh, man! I need to pay my bills! I haven’t paid any in 8 years!” Thankfully, he won’t have to worry about that for a few years yet.

Creating

The first card I made this month was for Timothy’s end-of-second-grade party:

I made the words on the computer and the sign on the Cricut.

This was for my step-father for Father’s Day:

Once again, the words were done on the computer and the mustache on the Cricut.

This was for my husband for Father’s Day:

I had gotten the idea for these two on Pinterest and adapted them. The tape measure was done on the Cricut.

And this one was for Jason for Father’s Day:

The silhouettes were cut on the Cricut, but the moon and stars and squiggles were drawn by the Cricut with markers my oldest son just got for me either for Christmas or Mother’s Day. It was fun to experiment with those. I loved how much this design looked like Jason and Timothy.

This was for a friend’s birthday:

The bird and butterflies are multi-layer stickers. I did the words on the computer and then used two different-sized scalloped hole punches.

Watching

There’s not a lot on this time of year. We enjoy America’s Got Talent (though you have to have the remote at the ready sometimes) and reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos (usually I’ve forgotten enough of them that it is like seeing a new program. 🙂 ).

We streamed a really good movie titled In Harm’s Way about an American pilot who heads a bombing raid on Japan just after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He crashes in China, and a young widow helps nurse him back to health and hides him from the authorities. I don’t know if the movie is based on a particular true story, but the end screen said many Chinese helped Americans in such ways, and, sadly, the Japanese killed many Chinese because of it. Even though much of the film was in subtitles, it was easy to follow and get caught up in the story. It was one of the best movies I have seen in a while. Here’s the trailer:

I had watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas a few years ago after reading the book, but Jim had never seen it. So we watched it together one night. It’s about a boy whose father is put in charge of a work camp in Germany. The boy thinks the camp is a farm and the people where funny striped pajamas. One day while exploring, he sees a boy on the other side of a fence, and they start talking. Eventually they become friends. The ending is very sad. But maybe because I knew what was coming, I noticed other things this time, like the various attitudes of different people and the boy’s wrestling with whether or not his father is a good man.

Reading

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

I’m currently reading:

  • Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp
  • Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott
  • Victorian Short Stories of Successful Marriages by Elizabeth Gaskell and others.
  • Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know Jesus Cares by Warren Wiersbe
  • Aging With Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt InstaEncouragements is hosting a study of this book on Tuesdays through July.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Saturday Laudable Linkage, I’ve posted these since last time:

Around the corner

We’ll probably have a cookout on the 4th. Jason’s birthday is this month. Otherwise, I am not sure what’s on the horizon yet.

How was your June? Anything you’re looking forward to in July?

May Reflections

It’s nice when my end-of-month post lines up with the actual last day of the month!

Once again, the month has flown by. May is not the busy month it was when we had kids in school with all the end-of-year programs, recitals, etc. It’s odd how I am mostly glad not to have those activities any more, yet I still miss them sometimes.

Also, with all my mother-figures no longer living, I don’t have to do anything for that day except make a card for my daughter-in-law. While I miss my mom and other “moms” in my life, I enjoy the fact that the rest of the family makes plans for that day. They do a wonderful job making me feel special. My husband used to take me out to dinner that day. But the restaurants were so busy and waits were so long, he began making Mother’s Day dinner at home and employing the kids to take care of different faces of it. Nowadays he usually grills something. The last two years, Jason had made Chocolate Pretzel Pie, one of my favorite desserts (probably second to Texas Sheet Cake, which Mittu usually makes for my birthday).

The other big event this month was a road trip with my husband and my friend, Melanie, to Jan Karon’s Mitford Museum in Hudson, NC. Jan Karon authored a slew of best-selling books set in the fictional Mitford, based on the town she grew up in. I posted about the trip with lots of pictures here. It was something we’ve been planning and looking forward to since last fall, and it was so nice to finally go.

I also had a colonoscopy this month–not fun, but I was glad to get it over with and to have clear results. We’re still trying to figure out my stomach issues, but I am glad the procedure ruled out some major concerns.

We got wills and living wills and such made us and notarized, something that’s been on our need-to-do list for ages.

So I guess May was still busy in a different way!

It also seemed like this month turned from spring to summer quickly. Even though it’s not officially summer until later in June, we usually count summer as starting from the Memorial Day weekend. This year, however, it has started to feel like summer the last couple of weeks.

Timothyisms

My daughter-in-law sent me a couple of exchanges with my grandson, Timothy.

One day they were talking about roadkill. Timothy asked, “Do people eat bear?”

Jason said, “I don’t think that’s allowed in America.”

Timothy responded, “Maybe in Texas?”

🙂

Another time, Timothy asked his mom if it was fun in the 90s. She said yes and asked what he thought they did in the 90s. “Probably watched TV and wore cool clothes.”

Creating

I only made one card this month, for my daughter-in-law for Mother’s Day.

She likes sunflowers, as you might guess. The arrangement in the center is a multi-layered sticker. I was very pleased with myself for learning how to arch text on the computer without having to ask one of my sons! I did find a YouTube video that helped.

Watching

I watched Spiderman 3: No Way Home and loved it (except for a bit of language). I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it (and have missed spoilers everywhere), but it had a lot of neat parts.

As a family, we watched the first live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie and Clifford movie. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the Sonic one, but I did. Clifford was a disappointment in that they changed just about everything from the books except the dog’s and girl’s names.

Reading

Since last time, I finished:

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Distinct (2 Kings): Standing Against the World’s Foes by Warren Wiersbe
  • The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine, audiobook
  • Shadows of Grace by Cara Putnam
  • Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Saturday Laudable Linkage, I’ve posted these since last time:

  • Content . . . with Thorns? A look at why God allows weaknesses and needs in our lives and how Paul could say he was content with his.
  • Ministry in the Mundane. We want to get past the everyday necessary tasks in order to do something meaningful and important—yet our ministry most often is in the everyday mundane details of life.
  • Our Responsibility to Discern False Teaching. False teachers are accountable for leading others astray and misrepresenting God’s truth. But God also gives us plenty of warnings about them. We need to know His Word well enough to spot false teaching.
  • Assorted Stray Thoughts. A collection of random things I wonder about.
  • Encouragement in the Fight Against Temptation. I get discouraged that I am tempted by things I should have victory over. But I can use those temptations as a call to arms and defeat Satan at his own game.
  • Are You a Big Z or an Ordinary N? We can’t make words in Scrabble with just the high-scoring letters. We need the ordinary ones. People, too, don’t function alone. The stars and executives have a whole support staff. Even if we’re just an ordinary “N,” God has essential things for us to do.

And that just about wraps up May. I hope yours was good as well!

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

April Reflections

I don’t know what happened to April. It seemed to zoom by more quickly than usual.

We’re still in up-and-down weather, but we’re gradually having more warm days than cool ones. We’re getting plenty of “April showers,” so hopefully that will make up for the dry spell and fire warnings we were experiencing and prepare us for an abundance of “May flowers.” I’m relishing these warm days before the heat of summer sets in.

We celebrated my grandson’s birthday and Easter this month. I don’t think we had any major outings.

Timothyisms

Last week I included in my “Laudable Linkage” this video of a new baby who seems unimpressed with the outside world.

When I showed it to Timothy, he said to the baby, “You’ll get used to it.”

Creating

I only made one card this month, for Timothy’s birthday. For years he has loved “balloon men,” or, as we discovered they were called, air dancers. I had seen a couple of cards with them on Pinterest, but I didn’t want to copy them exactly (especially since they were both items the makers were selling.) But Cricut didn’t have any images of them, and I couldn’t find a template of them. I’ve mentioned before that I am not at all good with freehand drawing. But I printed out a couple of samples and got out my ruler and pencil, and came up with a reasonable air dancer.

I cut out the eyes from white cardstock with a hole punch and then used a Sharpie marker to color in all but the little white dot. I thought about using tissue paper for the “hair,” but in the end decided to make it simple by just cutting slits in the top and then fanning them out a bit.

Watching

Jim and I saw a few movies, but the only one I thought really good was The 12th Man. It’s based on a true story. Twelve Norwegian men disguised as fishermen sabotaged several German facilities in Norway during WWII. But then they could not find a man they were supposed to meet, running into another man by the same name instead. That man, fearing he was being tested by the Nazis, reported the group. The Nazis found and killed all but one of the Norwegian men. The head of this Nazi group followed the escapee, Jan Baalsrud, with Javert-like persistence. Jan headed toward neutral Sweden, but the brutally cold weather, lack of supplies, injury, and other factors hindered his progress. Jan became something of a national hero, symbolizing hope to his fellow countrymen.Those who helped him were taking their lives in their hands. The majority of the film is in other languages with English subtitles, but after a while we got caught up in the story and didn’t mind watching that way. There is an annual event in Norway following Jan’s pathway. (Warning–a few bad words).

Reading

I felt a little bad that the first couple of weeks, I only finished reading and reviewing one book each week. Then the last couple of weeks, I finished and crowded in several. I’d like the book reviews to be spread out a little more evenly, but that doesn’t always work out.

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

I’m currently reading:

  • Ten Time Management Choices That Can Change Your Life by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims
  • “Don’t Call Me Spry”: Creative Possibilities for Later Life by Win Counchman
  • The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
  • The House on Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
  • IBS for Dummies by Carolyn Dean and L. Christine Wheeler

Usually I read much more fiction than nonfiction. But somehow, I’ve been dipping into more nonfiction lately.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Saturday Laudable Linkage, I’ve posted these since last time:

  • Dormant Souls. “Believers have their winters too,” says John Newton. Yet dormant is not dead. With the light of God, the nourishment of His Word, and “springs of living waters,” He can bring us out of dormancy and into vitality and growth and fruitfulness.
  • What We’re to Be Before We Teach. Most teaching from Titus 2 centers on the content older women are to teach younger. But first, Scripture talks about the character of older women.
  • Lamb of God, who died to take away our sins when we believe on Him.
  • Why Is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Important? I really enjoyed this study. It gave me new appreciation for all the resurrection means and accomplishes.
  • At Least I’m Still Good for Something.” Sometimes we’re so caught up in taking care of loved ones’ needs, especially elders’ needs for safety, that we forget to let them know they still matter.

As we change the calendar over to May this weekend, I look forward to a short road trip with a friend (more on that later), Mother’s Day, and filling our planters. Jim takes care of the yard work and what landscaping we have, but I enjoy arranging two big planters in front of the house and one on the patio. Somehow these plants survive my lack of green thumb more than houseplants do. I want to try planting peonies somewhere in the yard. I may start a sewing project. I’ve mended and made curtains and pillows, but I have not sewn clothes in ages. I’m not looking forward to a scheduled colonoscopy except for getting it over with.

How was your April? Looking forward to anything in May?

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

March Reflections

March has been springy one day and wintery the next. But I am glad spring is officially here, and soon the weather will settle in to consistently warmer days. We’re enjoying the blooms and buds appearing in the yard and around the neighborhood. Both the warmth and new life are welcome after the cold, drab palette of winter.

We celebrated my husband’s birthday this moth as well as “Pi Day” on 3.14 (really an excuse to eat pie). We didn’t do anything for St. Patrick’s Day this year. In the past I’ve made corned beef and cabbage or at the very least played some of my Irish Tenors CDs.

Otherwise, it’s been a fairly quiet month. Except for car situations. Jason had one tire blow, then had to place an order for new tires, then found the place he orders from had been hacked and closed down. It took a while, but he finally got his tires. Then Jeremy’s car was sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver, thankfully not while he was in it. His car is in the shop now. Then when Jim got out his lawn mowers, both the riding and push lawn mowers didn’t work. After ordering some parts, changing spark plug, etc., he got both of them going.

Timothyisms

While energetically pretending that a cardboard box was a boat in a storm, Timothy said, “My abs are popping out.”

Creating

I just made one card this month for Jim’s birthday. He has taken Timothy fishing once and would like to again soon. So I decided to base his card on fishing.

masculine birthday card about fishing

This Cricut silhouette reminded me of this photo from the former fishing venture:

Watching and Listening

We had some hits and misses in the viewing department. One of the not-so-good ones was The Angel of Auschwitz. The premise was good and based on a true story: Stanislawa Leszczynka was a Polish Catholic midwife who was sent to Auschwitz after being arrested for helping Jews. There she delivered over 3,000 babies. Unfortunately, one of the nurses (?) in the camp was tasked by Mengele with drowning newborns. I didn’t remember until after the film that Mengele was called the “angel of death,” and then realized this film meant to contrast his activities with Leszczynka’s. But I think the film’s makers tried to be too artsy about it. There were a lot of scenes where we didn’t know what was going on, like the agonizingly slow opening.

One that would have made a good candidate for Mystery Science Theater mocking was Flight World War II about a modern-day overseas flight that passes through a weather anomaly and ends up over Europe during WWII. Even suspending disbelief over the premise, there were so many improbable situations and plot holes, we ended up laughing through the last half, even though it wasn’t meant to be a comedy (warning: 3 or 4 bad words).

The only one I recall that we did like was Casablanca. Somehow, even though I was familiar with some of the iconic lines and scenes, I had never seen the whole film. I enjoyed it.

Jim also watched This Beautiful Fantastic with me–not his usual style, but I wanted to see it again, and he tolerated it. 🙂

One night while Jim was away, I watched Finding You, which I had seen recommended by a few people. The film is based on a book by Jenny B. Jones (which I haven’t read), who usually writes Christian YA novels. There is no Christian content in the film except a verse on a tombstone and a vague mention about prayer and not being alone. But the film was sweet and cute. A violinist, failing to get into the conservatory she wanted, takes a course in Ireland. There she meets a teen heartthrob actor doing his latest film with his supposedly girlfriend/costar. The violinist immediately doesn’t like or trust the actor, but circumstances throw them together. She finds there is another side to him–but which is the real man?

I also enjoyed watching Letters to Juliet one night when Jim was away. The premise is based on a place called Juliet’s Balcony in Verona where people leave letters asking advice about their love lives, and “Juliet’s secretaries” answer them. In the movie, an American girl, Sophie, flies with her boyfriend to Verona. He’s a chef and busy looking for supplies, touring vineyards, etc. She goes by herself to Juliet’s balcony, meets the secretaries, and joins them for a while. She finds a 50-year-old letter in a crevice and answers it, leading to the recipient traveling to Italy to search for her long lost love, and she asks Sophie to accompany her. My favorite part is that Vanessa Redgrave plays the older woman, and her long lost love is played by Franco Nero, her real-life husband. They were Guinevere and Lancelot in Camelot in 1967.

Also while Jim was away, I watched the new remake of West Side Story (some great parts and music, but a little vulgar in places) and the 2016 Anne of Green Gables (with Martin Sheen as Matthew). I don’t think any version of AoGG will ever beat the 1985 Megan Follows series. This one was ok in the first half, but changed the “puffed sleeve dress” scenario and the way that Matthew and Marilla decided to keep Anne, plus added in some scenes not original to the book.

Reading

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

  • 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety, a devotional book by various authors. Good.
  • Be Successful (1 Samuel): Attaining Wealth That Money Can’t Buy by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • The Enchanted Places: A Childhood Memoir and The Path Through the Trees, both by Christopher Milne, A. A. Milne’s real-life son, reviewed together here. The first book tells of Christopher’s childhood; the second tells of his adult life. He enjoyed the fame of being “Christopher Robin” at first, but resented it later on.
  • Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge, a novel about several families in different stages of child-rearing, realizing the time is short to have an influence on their kids.
  • The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope (audiobook), the fifth in his Barsetshire Chronicles, had numerous threads, but the main plot focuses on a widow and her two daughters who live in a small house on the property of her brother-in-law, who owns the manor house and never liked his sister-in-law.

I’m Currently Reading:

  • IBS for Dummies by Carolyn Dean and L. Christine Wheeler. Just picking this one up here and there. I need to get done with it.
  • Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers. Excellent so far.
  • Be Restored (2 Samuel & 1 Chronicles): Trusting God to See Us Through by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • I Must Decrease: Biblical Inspiration and Encouragement for Dieters by Janice Thompson
  • Ten Time Management Choices That Can Change Your Life by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope (audiobook)

Blogging:

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Saturday Laudable Linkage, I’ve posted these since last time:

  • How Well Do We Know Him? We like to be known for who we truly are. But do we know God as He truly is, or our preferred version of Him?
  • We Don’t Know What to Do. When we don’t know how to pray, we can borrow Jehoshaphat’s prayer: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
  • The Dangers of Success. “There are scores of books, articles, blog posts, podcasts, and sermons about dealing with trials and suffering. And that’s good, because we need them. But I don’t know that I have ever seen any material about the dangers of success. What danger can there be in success? Especially success that we’ve prayed and trusted God for?”
  • How Do We Adorn the Doctrine of God? I explored this question after coming across the phrase “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” in Titus.
  • Comforted by the Ways God Uses Us. I felt out of my element much of my time caring for my mother-in-law. God taught me much through my weakness and inability, but recently I saw ways He used the skill set and personality He gave me.
  • From a Weight of Care to a Weight of Glory. When Paul says “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18), he’s not minimizing our affliction. He’s saying the glory will be that much greater.

Writing

I actually have gotten back into the book I am working on! I’m wrestling with the hardest chapter: it has so much information, I am trying to figure out the best way to present it without having readers’ eyes glaze over (or worse yet, causing them to skip the chapter).

As April comes to a close, we look forward next month to more warmth and growth as well as Easter and Timothy’s birthday.

How was your March?

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

February Reflections

Once again the end of the month is still a few days away, but there will probably be other posts between now and then. So I thought this might be a good time for my end-of-month post.

February is when winter starts getting old. However, the month has its highlights. One is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. Another is Valentine’s Day, which we celebrate as a family. Another is that the daylight that has been steadily increasing since the winter equinox finally becomes enough to be noticeable.

This year we had the added benefit of the Olympics in February. I rarely watch sports on TV except when the Olympics are on. We watched mostly figure skating, but caught some skiing, bobsledding, and snowboarding as well. One night when we were looking for something from the Olympics to watch while eating take-out, all we could find was a curling match between the US and China on the NBC app. There’s a reason curling is only shown in clips in prime time! It’s not the most exciting sport to watch, though I am sure a lot of strategy is involved for the players.

My favorite Olympic moments: Nathan Chen’s gold medal free skate program, Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner’s win in the mixed snowboard cross (with the two of them being among the oldest Olympic competitors), and Shawn White’s last run and then closing interview with Mike Tirico.

Home and family

A couple of organizing projects had been tugging at me since before Christmas without the chance to do anything about them. I finally got to them this month. It would be too long and boring, probably, to tell all about them. But one involved getting things I only use once or twice a year, like seasonal cookie cutters and pumpkin-carving tools, out of a kitchen drawer and into the pantry. I didn’t take “before” pictures, but here are the bins in the pantry afterward:

And here’s the drawer, the deepest one on the kitchen. Imagine it with most of the stuff in those bins in here in plastic bags. It seemed whatever I wanted in here was always at the bottom of the drawer. I’m so much more pleased with it now.

I used to post Timothyisms, funny little things my grandson would say. He still says cute things, but I don’t think to write them down. He likes jokes now, so I collect them and share them with him. My favorite recent one: Why don’t anteaters get sick? Because they’re full of anty-bodies. 🙂

Jason just took this picture of Timothy and me last week. He’s only 8 (next month), but is almost as tall as I am!

And, yes, he’s in the making-funny-faces-for-the-camera stage of life. 🙂

Creating

February was a banner month for card-making, between Valentine’s Day and a couple of birthdays.

Going in chronological order, this was a card for a friend’s birthday. Only . . . I had the date wrong. I had it on my calendar and gathered a few things together and made her a card. Then the night before, I thought maybe I should check the church directory and make sure of her birth date. And I discovered it was in July, not February! I decided to go ahead and give everything to her since she’d probably get a kick out of it. We could almost call it her half-birthday. 🙂 Plus, I didn’t want to have to keep up with the things until summer. As it turned out, when I dropped the things off at her house, she had had a very draining couple of days. So an unexpected non-birthday gift was a day-brightener.

She likes blue-green and sunflowers. The flowers here were multi-layered stickers.

Here are the Valentine’s cards:

This one was for Jim:

The heart and EKG-type readout were done with the Cricut. The original idea I had seen for something similar to this said, “You make my heart beat faster.” Since I have afib, I thought that might not be the best wording. 🙂

This was for Jeremy, who likes foxes:

The fox here is a puffy sticker. I used a heart-shaped punch for the cut-out and did the wording for the sign on the computer. Everything else is scrapbooking paper.

When I saw this, I couldn’t resist it for Jason, even though it meant downloading and printing a file rather than cutting and pasting. 🙂

If you are not familiar with these characters, they are from the Mandalorian. I don’t know much about Star Wars and haven’t even seen all the movies, but we loved this series. Jason especially like the fatherhood theme in it. “This is the way” is something the Mandalorians say repeatedly. This was designed by Karen, which she generously offered as a free download. It’s designed with multiple cards on one page that can be cut out and distributed to kids’ friends. I adapted it for a single larger card.

This one was for Mittu:

The cupcake was made with the Cricut, the hearts with hole punches, and the words with stickers.

This was Timothy’s:

It’s also Mandalorian-inspired, designed and generously offered free by Mandee. And she even included a link that explained how to download this into the Cricut to be cut there, so I learned a new facet of the Cricut. I hadn’t thought about Baby Yoda when I was at Hobby Lobby buying supplies, and I was relieved to have just the right shade of green paper among my stash.

This was for Jesse. I just liked that paper for him, as he likes red but doesn’t like overly mushy cards.

The “love” and “hugs” were stickers.

Finally, this was for Mittu’s birthday. She likes sunflowers and purple, but until now I had not seen paper that combined the two.

The “Happy birthday” and sunflowers by it were stickers. The rest was from a scrapbooking paper set.

Watching and Listening

As previously mentioned, the Olympics took up most of our viewing time this month. Though I enjoyed them, I’m kind of glad they’re over.

We’re still watching The Amazing Race and the Holderness family podcast/video recaps the day after each episode airs.

Around the World in 80 Days wrapped up on PBS. As I said last month, though no film adaptation is going to be exactly like the book, they rewrote too much of this one. Really, I felt they just hijacked the characters and main story arc to write their own program, adding in modern-day dilemmas and sensibilities. But . . . if I stopped comparing it to the book and just took it as it was, I enjoyed it. My husband had never read the book and enjoyed the series a lot. I tried to resist saying “In the book it was like this . . .” too often, but I did let it slip sometimes.

All Creatures Great and Small on PBS Masterpiece Theatre finished its second season this last Sunday. I’ve only read the first book in Herriot’s series, and that was a long time ago, so I am not sure how much was changed between book and film. But I loved this series–so heart-warming. I’m looking forward to their third season.

Jim and I watched the old movie The Guns of Navarone one night. Another night, we watched Good-bye Christopher Robin, kind of a sweet and sad telling of A. A. Milne and his family: how he came to write books about Christopher Robin (his real son’s name, though he didn’t go by it in real life), how the fame affected all of them. I knew that Christopher had liked the fame at first and then resented his father’s sharing of his life later on. This might be a cautionary tale for those who write about their real-life children. In the film, Christopher eventually overcomes his resentment when he realizes the comfort and joy the Pooh stories gave people in their childhoods, the memories of which brought comfort to them even as adults. I had Christopher’s book, The Enchanted Places, in my Kindle app and immediately started reading it, hoping he came to a similar conclusion in real life. Pooh was a big part of my children’s growing-up years, though we were more familiar with the Disney videos and toys than the original books. But Pooh and Christopher Robin and the rest will always have a soft spot in my heart.

One other series I watched was on PBS was the two-part A Very British Romance, tracing romantic rituals through English literature. Pluses: the literature, courtship history, host Lucy Worsley’s dressing up as some famous literary heroines, some elaborate original Valentines. Minuses: the feminist lens through which much of this was processed, the looking down on virtuous heroines and equating virtue with weakness, the amplification of sexual liaisons or reading into books more sexuality than was originally meant. Since I recently listened to The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, where Mary Bennet read much of Thomas Carlyle, it was interesting to hear more about him here.

Reading

The Olympics cut into my reading-before-bed time. But here’s what I managed to finish this month:

  • Half Finished by Lauraine Snelling (fiction). A group of friends starts a UFO club, not for exploring extra-terrestrial life, but for finishing unfinished projects while fellowshipping with each other. Relationships form and people band together to help each other through the sorrows and joys they encounter.
  • The Road Home by Malissa Chapin (fiction). A woman running from her past encounters a recipe box in an antique shop. An attempt to return the box to the owner’s family leads to a road trip in a pink Cadillac and the story of another woman who tried to hide truth. A very good debut novel.
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope, the fourth of his Barsetshire Chronicles (classic fiction, audiobook). A young vicar trying to get in with society’s elite gets into trouble. The village matron’s son falls in love with the vicar’s sister rather than the beautiful but cold society maiden his mother had picked out for him.
  • The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You by Lisa-Jo Baker (nonfiction). Lisa-Jo discusses the impact of our middle years in eight areas: our bodies, marriage, parenting (which gets two chapters), in a breezy chatting-with-girlfriends style.

I’m currently reading:

  • 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety (still. Almost done.)
  • Be Successful (1 Samuel): Attaining Wealth That Money Can’t Buy by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • IBS for Dummies by Carolyn Dean and L. Christine Wheeler
  • The Enchanted Places: A Childhood Memoir by Christopher Milne
  • The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope (audiobook)
  • Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge

Next in the queue: The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis, Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers, The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope, Wiersbe’s “Be” book on 2 Samuel.

Blogging

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

  • Ways to Disagree Without Tearing Each Other Down. Disagreements are inevitable, even among those we love best. But we can disagree graciously and constructively without belittling each other.
  • Don’t Let Truth Become Cliche. If some parts of the Bible seem trite or overly familiar to us, the solution is not to scale back on our Bible reading. I share some ways to refresh our view and renew our love for the Word.
  • Does He Still Love Me? Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend God’s love for us when we continue to mess up. Maybe that’s why Paul prayed the Ephesians might “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).
  • What Can We Know for Sure? Some say there is no absolute truth, even in Christianity. But, though people will argue about some things until we get to heaven, God has given us core truths that we can know for sure.

Incidentally, I noticed a while back that I had passed the 5,000 mark in posts. I’m at 5,059 now in 15 1/2 years of blogging.

As we wrap up February and turn to March, we look forward to my husband’s birthday early in the month and Pi Day (when we eat pie on 3/14). Then the calendar is pretty much free until mid-April. I hope to dig into some writing then.

I’m aware of the news, though I don’t mention it much here. I figure it’s mentioned plenty elsewhere. There’s not much we can do about any of it except pray, but that’s the biggest, best, most important thing we can do. Among my prayers: wisdom for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), that events will cause people to turn to the Lord, “that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you” (1 Kings 8:43), that those suffering may know “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9-10).

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