Friday, December 31, 2010

That's a Wrap

The college kids are home for the Christmas break and they wrapped up our year and yard for us. LoL. I can't wait to hear their side of the story because we happened to walk out of the house while a car was parked at the end of our driveway! And then we stood in the driveway talking with our guests (who is an older one of the crew!) for quite awhile and there was far more traffic on our road than usual.

They did a great job, of course. They've had a lot of practice. Here's our internet dish. Since we were still up and online when they wrapped us, we would've known they were here if we were actually still using that dish for our internet, but lucky for them (and us because that service stunk!) it's simply a yard ornament at this time.

We have a large front yard, so they concentrated their work out there and wrapped the trunks of several trees and one of our light posts. Pretty cool, huh? Jim went out last night and said the mailbox was great, but it's been so windy that it was all gone before sunrise so I didn't get to see it.

I just think it's so fitting how they wrapped up the year for us: in a surprising way. This year has been very surprising for me.

Earlier this week I sat and did my yearly looking back and journaling and then setting some goals for next year and last year caught me totally by surprise. A year ago this time I had one thing in mind: writing. I did list as a goal to speak or teach if the opportunity presented itself, but I never-ever dreamed I'd do so much of it this year, let alone that it would take over my year.


In 2010...
**wrote my Clearing the Blog Fog class.
**taught Clearing the Blog Fog class several times online, and LOVED it!
**taught a session at the Faithwriters conference on blogging.
**spoke at A Woman Inspired's One Marriage online webinar in May.
**started teaching a small ladies Bible study.
**co-wrote and published a short marriage ebook.
**helped start and contribute to The Barn Door, a fun midwestern blog.
**moved the author spotlights to their own site: The Book Loft and now run 3 spotlights (and book giveaways a week!!).


That wraps up 2010 for me. Complete with a pretty bow on my mailbox and front door. Nothing like I expected, but so much more. That's God for you. He's so much more than our expectations and dreams.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what 2011 brings! I'll tell you about one of things planned...in a day or two. =] Until then,

Happy New Year!
May God wrap you in abundant blessings--even if they're completely different than you expect. ;-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not by Might

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Each fall we have hummingbirds galore as they stop to refuel on their way south. Those tiny creatures fascinate me and the only way I can understand all they do is to accept it's how God created them. It's not that they're so strong and powerful, it's that God enabled them to travel the miles He has for them.

God has enabled us to travel the miles He has for us--through and by His Spirit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Savoring and Looking Forward

I love this week between Christmas and New Years! It's become one of my favorite times of the year—a time of lingering and savoring and then facing forward, something I'm blogging about today at the Cafe. But here at Patterings is more about the lingering and savoring. It's kinda like when the whole family is at a meal together and long after everyone is done eating we sit there chatting.

Usually sometime on Christmas afternoon I start thinking of pulling out my journal. See, I think best with my fingers, so if I'm not at my keyboard, I need to have a pen in hand with my journal open, and this week between Christmas and New Year's is a time I reserve for my journal.

Through the years I've settled into a pattern—I start with paging back through my journal to see what I've written about through the year. These days my journal captures only the important or confusing times, but before I started blogging, my journal was bursting at the seams. Now I also have to scroll back through my blog to see what went on in my year. This always has surprises for me because I have the memory of a goldfish so I rediscover things I've forgotten. (That makes it fun... in a scarey sort of way. LoL)

Flipping through the year always brings me back to the goals I set a year ago, and sometimes that's not a highlight for me because some years I don't accomplish much on the list. So one time, out of desperation, I listed the things I did accomplish. I was amazed! I hadn't even come close to my writing goals for the year, but I did so much more. It helped me see that just because I didn't accomplish things on that list didn't mean I had failed—I had been redirected.

That's not to say that's always the case! Some years I chicken out and find a hundred other things to keep me busy so I “can't” reach a goal. Lemme tell ya, that's not good! Not at all. But looking back through the year helps me see that. It also helps me savor the things that happened through the year.

But once the savoring is done it's time to look forward and press on! Lingering over the past year is good. Camping out there isn't.

Now it's time to face forward and dream. And dream big! Yes, be realistic, but don't be so realistic there's no dream there. The key here is to spend time talking with God about your upcoming year. You've got a week for this, not just a few hours.

Some years it takes me two sittings with my journal to look back and savor and then look forward, but often it takes working on this for several days. But it's a relaxing time for me and one that I've found makes a big difference in the upcoming year. See, even though I have the memory of a goldfish, I often have at least some of those goals before me throughout the year so they keep me working toward the big picture. Without that I'd be swimming like a goldfish too. Round and round in circles. Know what I mean?

Grab your journal, or some paper, and join me in this week of savoring and goal setting! The more the merrier! Don't forget to join me at the Cafe where I'm blogging about Facing Forward.

So tell me,
what's something you'd like to accomplish this coming year?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Last night I tied up loose ends in my cyber world so I could officially go on Christmas break today. =]

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas...

My friend Lynda of On the Write Track has a Christmas Meme going on and I thought it'd be fun to jump in before I make one last mad dash to town for a couple of gifts that just came in...

1. What is your favorite Christmas song? Joy to the World

2. When do you start your Christmas shopping? I try to pick things up through out the year because it's not an easy job to do with kids always with me. LoL


3. Favorite holiday treat to indulge in? Pumpkin muffins! Yummm! And sweet rolls! Sigh.

4. Do you deck the halls or keep it simple? Keep it simple.

5. Real tree or fake? Fake. Scents get my hubs so we go with the scentless fake.

6. Most memorable Christmas present you've ever received: Dad gave me Jim one year for Christmas and we were married before the next Christmas! (Don'cha know it's not good manners to return a gift?! LoL) You can read about that Christmas here.

7. Favorite Christmas movie or television special: ummmm. I'm culturally deprived so I dunno.

8. A family holiday tradition: Reading Luke 2 before opening gifts. My dad starting doing this and when we're not together, Jim reads for us.

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Christmas morning. We start with opening stockings then do a nice breakfast. After breakfast we read Luke 2 and then open gifts. It's a carry over from my family.

10. A gift you'd like to offer to Jesus this year: Obedience. Without any more procrastination or running away.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Check the Guages

In the recent cold snap we had our furnace worked hard. It ran constantly but it only got colder in our house and the heat unit that sits outside became ice encrusted. My hubs called our repairman friend and a few days later he was able to stop by with his gauges. Once the ice was off (it took the torpedo heater for that!), he put the gauges on and checked the freon level in the heater. There was so little it didn't even register on the gauge. No wonder we were cold!

It's made me think of my life recently. I've been feeling down in the dumps and it's just no fun. I feel like the furnace of my life has been running constantly but it's not putting out. It's left me exhausted and cold. So I tried the repairman's trick and put some gauges on my life—yanno, those little check and balances that we think to look at when things get out of whack.

You know what I found? There's no freon in my pipes—the Scripture level is too low. In the midst of some changes I've been implementing, I've neglected my Bible reading and Bible study and it's left my pipes running low. There's not enough to regulate my internal temperature because I've not been constantly replenishing it like I need to. Sure, I've been in the Word, but it's been hit-or-miss with more misses as time passes. No wonder I've been dreary and cold!

Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ~Colossians 3:16 NAS

It's time to put the freon of God's Word in my pipes so it can work through my heart and life and regulate me.

How about you? How's the Scripture level in your life right now?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shining

When I looked out the window awhile ago, this is what I saw.


The trees where shining. The sun had peeked through the heavy clouds and was making all the ice encrusted trees glisten. It was beautiful, especially with all the dark, stormy weather we've been having.

But yanno, the sun often peeks out and shines on the trees like it did. What made it so noticeable and beautiful was the coating of ice on each and every branch and twig. The ice that was a big part of the storm. The ice that was weighing down the tree limbs and rattling with every hint of a breeze. Without the ice there would have been little beauty—just winter trees in a patch of sunshine.

So often when storms overtake our lives we cry out because of the ice that seems to coat us and weigh us down. When a breeze goes past we rattle, thinking only of uncomfortable and heavy the ice is. Yet when others look at us they may see the radiance of the Son shining off us and through us. Sometimes we need the ice to reflect the Son.

Heavenly Father, help us keep our eyes so fixed on You that when the ice comes into our lives we wait eagerly for the Sonshine so we can sparkle and dance for you. Help us to accept the ice and shine for You so that beauty can come from the storms. In Your Son's Name, amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shattered

This last week, when we went out to warm the car before hitting the road, we discovered the back window of the car was shattered. Talk about surprised! We were instantly thankful for insurance to cover the bulk of the expense. We were also thankful for God's timing—if it had happened the week before we would have been in a pickle since we had been going in four different directions thanks to the kids' college classes—but the day the window shattered was the day of their last finals. Not only that, but it shattered here at home, not on campus, where it had been for a few hours the night before. Isn't God good? Yes, the window shattered and we had the hassle of rearranging things since we only had one car, and we had the expense at a “bad” time for us, but things could have been so much worse!

So why did it shatter? We checked for bullets. Honestly, that was my first thought. Living here in the country there are times when car windows get shot out accidentally. But there was no evidence of it—thank goodness! The car was parked in front of the living room bay window and it gave me shivers to think of what could have happened. Jim called the insurance agent and the window repair people and they weren't surprised. Thermal expansion from the cold snap we had go through our area. The sudden extreme shift in temperature was too much for the glass and it shattered under the change.

Have you ever felt like that? Like things were changing too fast and you were about to shatter? Maybe you did shatter.

Something I noticed when I got in my car and took off after the window had been replaced—I could see through it so much better. The rest of the car was had road dirt on it, but that back window was crystal clear and oh-so clean. After the repair men had put in the new window, they sprayed it with a special cleaner and made it sparkle.

God does that for us too when we shatter. He doesn't always just repair the window, sometimes He replaces it and when God replaces what was broken or shattered, the change is so remarkable that it sparkles and shines. You can't miss it and things appear so much more clear than ever before.

Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, o virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers. ~Jeremiah 31:4 NAS

If you're feeling shattered by changes in your life,  let God replace things for you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Highlight of the Season

So, how do you like this weather? brrrrrrr. I am sooo ready for summer but my kids aren't. Imagine that! *eye roll* This last weekend was our church Christmas program--the living Christmas tree. Jim built the original tree all those years ago, and although this is a different structure, it's still funny how many people remember that Jim built the old wood one. It's one of the joys of living in a small town. Well, okay. We don't live in a small town. We live in the middle of nowhere. LoL, but the church we attend is in a small town. ;-)

Today I'm posting at the Barn Door about the living Christmas tree and I'd love for you to stop by and visit me there.

The Book Loft is also opening today and there's a book giveaway going on. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment (over there at The Book Loft) to be entered.

See ya there! =]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book Giveaways & So Much More!

I've been a busy beaver this week! And I can't wait to tell you all about it...But I will. At least until next Monday.

Nooooo.

I can't wait.
*eye roll* I'm too excited about this to wait that long. hehe. SO, I'm gonna make YOU wait until Monday. hehe.

Here's the deal. I love doing the author spotlights. Love it. But it's a lot of work and it cramps my posting style and my focus here at my personal blog. So, we (my assistant daughter, Esther and I) decided to move them to the Barn Door which was a great idea, except for the fact that we had people interested in joining us there and the spotlights took up two days each week. So then we moved them to Reflections in Hindsight. As Lisa and I tossed ideas around, I had the brainstorm of a Book Loft as a sister site to The Barn Door. I was so excited I about did a happy dance here in my corner of the living room!

Starting this coming Monday, author spotlights and book giveaways, just like I used to have here, will be posted at The Barn Door Book Loft. That's www.BarnDoorBookLoft.net Each week there's at least 2, usually 3, authors and their books spotlighted and given away. LOL. A copy of their book will be given away, not the authors themselves cuz we want them to keep writing books! ;-)

Joanne, the other half of my brain and a bff, has set up a Facebook page for the Book Loft for us and if you don't want to forget and possibly miss a book, you can subscribe to the Book Loft by email, by clicking here!

There. I feel SO much better! =] This is like having my cake and eating it too. And not only that, but the author spotlights finally have a home of their own. =]

Now, since I'm soooooo nice (I heard you laughing!) here's some fun to hold you over until next Monday:
Book Giveaways! 

Faith's Reward by Tammy Barley
 Meet Tammy Barley
an interview with Tammy Barley

A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant:

Sarah's Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis:




Be sure to visit those links and leave comments to be entered in the book giveaways!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Twisted or Strong?

The other day, on our way to church, we passed a house with some wind damage. The play-set they have for their children was twisted and blown over. It was lying on the ground beside the slide and the four posts it had been on.

It made me think of what can happen to us at times. We'll be sitting there thinking all is good, but then a wind kicks up and twists us all around. It can sometimes twist us so much that we're blown off our legs. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can sink our foundation so deep in Christ that a storm can only shake us, not blow us off.

Remember the children's song about the wise man who built his house upon a rock? That's what we're talking about.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compare to a wise man who built house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house and it fell—and great was its fall. ~Matthew 7:24-27 NAS

Building on the Rock sounds like a smart thing to do!
Let's sink our foundation and footer deep so when the rains come down we'll stand strong.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Spotlights

This week as I've been helping decorate our church for the Christmas season and program, I found myself in the spotlights a couple of times. Honestly. I was in the limelight. (Amazing, huh?!) My moments of glory came as I stood on the platform and looked for the next thing to do or listened to directions about bows and lights in the wrong place. LoL. That's as close to the lime lights as I wish to come, too! Those spotlights hurt the eyes! ;-)

But as I stood there in the spotlights I remembered I hadn't told you where the spotlights were and what's going on with them. This month the author spotlights are being hosted at Reflections in Hindsight. Come New Year's a new site is opening: The Barn Door Book Loft and it will be for author spotlights, interviews and book giveaways. I'll keep you posted, but it's gonna be a hopping site. =]

For now, here are the spotlights and book giveaways still open. Be sure to leave comments to be entered in the book giveaways!

Book Giveaways!
Enter to win A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant:
Enter to win Sarah's Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis:


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