Winter Wanderings

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
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This week is the letter W.

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I'm not a fan of winter but even I have to admit there's a beauty to winter that just can't be found in any other season.

It's the time of year when I do a lot of mental wandering. I think about the past year, what I did and what I didn't do.

It's a pensive week for me, a time I'm finding I look forward to more and more. Maybe it comes with age and the little bits of wisdom I glean with the passing of time.

It's a time of looking forward too. A time to think about what I want to change and do, what I want to become. A time for dreaming and planning, knowing that plans change faster than corn grows.

But that's okay.

Plans are stepping stones that get me to the next turn, the next thing.

My job in the midst of all the change is to stay flexible and obedient. And there's the crux of it all for me. Obedience. Listening for and to my Savior's voice. Being available and willing.

How does that look for this coming year? Where will that path take me? Time will tell as I take each step as it comes, trusting my Father and holding tight to His hand.

What about you? What do you do with this week between Christmas and New Year's?

If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter W, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.

My Daily Dose of...

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Welcome to A to Z!
We'd love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

This week is the letter V.

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.
So while many of us have been in this...

Not everyone is. My mom and older sister Cheryl are in Puerto Rico.
Truly suffering.

Every day for a few weeks we've been trading daily pictures and they've turned into mini virtual vacations for me and my younger sister Amy.

Here's what we deal with every day. I'll send something like this...

...and Cheryl sends something like this...

I'll send something like this...

...and Cheryl sends something like this...

I'll send something like this...

...and Cheryl will send something like this...

We are juxtaposed sisters!!

You can see why and how I take my daily vitamins virtual vacation.

Want to see more of Cheryl's stunning photography? She's active on Instagram and following her there is a great way to get some virtual vacation for real relaxation in! On Instagram she goes by: cherylmsf. She also has a blog: SeaLevel 320. Her archives are loaded with beautiful pictures that will take you away.

ps--I'm on Instagram too:  pattywysong  But you won't find any beach pictures on my Instagram! Sorry.

So tell me, how do you virtually vacation these day?
If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter V, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.

The Truth about Clichés

There’s a reason that sayings become cliché. It’s because they’re often true and usually the cliché expresses the thought or idea in the best possible way.

As pretty as...
I realized this the other day while chatting with my friend Barb in the comment section of Road Trips R Us. We’ve traveled almost a gazillion miles of road in the last 12 months (only a slight exaggeration but I’m too lazy and scared to do the math) and regardless of the trip and where we went my favorite road was ALWAYS the road home. By the time we got off the interstate, drove through the small town between us and the interstate, left the state highway behind and got onto our small, single lane road, I was rejoicing to be home. Because there's no place like home.

There have been times I’ve said something to a friend and felt trite for saying it because it was SO cliché, but it was true and the cliché expressed it so well. The trouble is, too often we hear the cliché but neglect to stop and hear the truth of it. It zips in one ear and out the other (see, there’s one!) without registering. It’s camouflaged in familiarity.

So tell me, what can we do about this?
Is it true that we must kill all the clichés? Are they so overused that there’s no hope for them, even those that say it best?

Unexpected Treat

A to Z blog hop at Patterings
Welcome to A to Z!
We'd love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

This week is the letter U.

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.

Last weekend we were snowed in and we're still covered with snow now, which is pretty unusual for us here in the southern end of Illinois, and that snow created fog, a snow fog. The other day, shortly after Jim left for work, he called to tell me about the snow fog and to let me know there were some good pictures to be had if I would brave the snow and cold. (Remember, Patty turns into a popsicle below 60 degrees and we are waaaay below 60 now.) I didn't have to think twice though. I woke up Esther, invited her along, and started hauling on whatever winter gear I could get my hands on (and I'm so glad there's no picture of me in that get-up! LoL.) 

Esther rolled out bed and we were out the door within 15 minutes. I'm so glad we did! Here's what greeted us at the end of our driveway...

There was almost no fog though and I was afraid it had all dissipated in those 15 minutes. But then we turned and went up the hill... 

We found the fog and so much more!

We got in and out of the car many, many times in the two hours we spent out shooting pictures, not to mention the times we kept the windows down (and the heater blasting!) so we could shoot from inside the car.

The fog nestled into the low lying fields and hovered over swampy areas.

It added a magical beauty to landscape we normally zip past without really seeing.

The snow fog was an unexpected treat in this week that would have been otherwise burdened with snow.

It reminds me of the difference God has made in my life. He creates the magical beauty that I would miss otherwise, and that beauty transforms the burden of unwanted things in my life into unexpected treasures.

So tell me, is there a burden in your life that God is turning into an unexpected treasure?

If you're joining us for the A to Z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter U, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here. Also, if you don't have the linky gadget on your site, click the link to get the code so you can add it.

Our Singing Tree

Our church is special.
No, don't roll your eyes at me.

We've been blessed with lots of great musical talent--generations of it. So, for over 25 years our church has done a living Christmas tree. Each August the work begins and by the time the Thanksgiving dishes are put away, we're ready (or not) to set up the enormous Christmas tree structure on the platform and choir loft. It's the 'risers' the choir sings from. There's a million lights on the tree (and I don't think I'm exaggerating much at all!!) and the lights are co-ordinated with the music.

**All of today's pictures are taken by my friend Nancy Clark. Thanks, Nancy!!

The tree is a very snug fit so as many people can be squeezed into as possible, without taking up the whole sanctuary. Within the tree there are boxes for some of the ladies to stand on so they can see over the greenery. It's not comfortable for the choir members.

Like all Christmas programs, the Christmas story is told, sung, and acted out.

What's a Christmas program without children? One year they were dressed as children around the world.

Everything about the Living Christmas tree points to the most important thing about Christmas--Jesus. His coming to earth as a baby all the way through to the very reason He came: to die on the cross for our sins. For my sins. It was through His death on that cross and His resurrection from the grave that He offers us salvation. His gift is free to all.

(Okay, so this one picture is mine, but all the rest are Nancy's.)

After the presentation, it takes time, lots of time, for people to climb down out of the tree. Lots of people. Lots of little stairs. Very narrow spaces. One tremendous message.

You're invited!
The tree is singing this weekend. December 13 -15. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at 7 PM.
First Baptist Church West Frankfort.

So tell me, how does your church celebrate Christmas?

The Trouble with Band-aids

My husband is a contractor and over the years, when it comes to home repair, he’s come across different kinds of owners.

  • Do it right—these people want the problem fixed so they aren’t dealing with it again next year. They understand that sometimes it’s better to spend a more up-front than pay for it twice.
  • Only what’s necessary—cash flow prevents most people from doing everything at once. Sometimes it demands that only what’s necessary be done now and the other things will go on the list for future projects. They break it down into manageable chunks and deal with it as they can or as they must.
  • Bargain hunters—they search out great bargains on things that they think they can make work and end up spending more making their bargain work than they would have if they had simply bought the correct thing to begin with. Sometimes spending a little more saves you a whole lot!
  • Band-aid appliers—they want the cracks caulked and the walls painted so the room looks good but ignore the foundation trouble that’s causing the cracks. The problem is that eventually they’ll have a house that may look good from a recliner’s point of view but is crumbling around them.

I’m sure mechanics and many other service providers see it too. Not only that, but I bet if we look at people around us they might fit into these categories too.

What's the trouble with band-aiding problems? (tweet this)

This is something I've been chewing on for awhile as I've watched Jim work with homeowners that are Bargain hunters and Band-aid appliers...

The big question for me here is, which category do I fit into?

Is it the one I want to be in? If it isn’t, what do I need to do to get into a new spot?

Sure, there are times when the best thing to do is apply band-aid. And bargains are fantastic—if it’s truly what you need or you know will work. Doing what’s necessary is a fact of life. It’s not often that we get to everything we want, as we want to. Usually we have to break things into bite-size pieces and that’s fine. The trouble comes when applying band-aids is such a habit that even when doing something right is an option we don’t do it.

And there’s the crux of this issue.

What’s your habit?

If the first thing you always reach for is a band-aid you might want to grab a flashlight, go below, and check things out. Chances are there are bigger problems about to spring on you.

First Things First at Christmas

I love Christmas. If I can get beyond the busyness of the season. Some of the things that help me move to the peace and stillness of the season are the Nativity scenes. Not only do they calm my frenzy of activity and conquering all I need to do, but they point me straight to the truth behind the holiday:
God with us.

The truth of God's grace and love manifested through His Son's coming to Earth, for us, for me, is enough to make me stop every time.

For this reason, the first Christmas decorations that come out are the Nativity scenes. Each is special and treasured.

I have a small set that I brought back from Ecuador, and it sits on my kitchen window sill--it's probably my favorite simply because it came from home. It's small and simple. The kids often like to arrange the snowmen and penguins around the manger scene because they worship Jesus too.

Then there's the set that Jim brought home from Kenya, when he was there on a missions trip just a couple weeks before our youngest was born. This set, with the long faces, isn't pretty, but it resembles the Masai people who carved it, and that's where the beauty is for me. Yes, the wise men pieces are up, and I understand that they weren't at the manger that night, but I can't bear to not put them up, so they're there, too. Besides, when I was a girl, the wisemen were at the manger...until Mom quit putting them out because technically, they weren't there that night. But I missed them. Those wise men traveled such a great distance to worship Jesus and they teach me so much--especially lessons to stop what I was doing and go to worship Jesus--regardless of the time it costs me and distance I might have to go mentally. It's worth the effort. Every. single. time.

The kids' favorite Nativity set, by far, is the set my parents gave us. Mom hunted out a kid-friendly set that will last for years even with constant kid-handling. She found this at a craft bazaar and for a couple of years she added pieces to my set.

This one goes on our school cabinet which is right in the middle of the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Rarely does a day go by that it stays the same because the kids are constantly rearranging it--even now that they're older.

It will be fun to introduce this one to my grandgirls this year. Another generation to whisper over it as they rearrange it.

There's just something about Nativity scenes that draw me in. I can understand why my little ones would stand at the school cabinet and stare at the manger scene for a long time, not moving, just gazing. I feel that same pull, and I'm so thankful.

May we always be like the shepherds and wisemen who stopped what they were doing and went to Jesus to see and worship.

Children's Book, The Potowatomi Boy

As a homeschool mom, finding good historical fiction for my kids has always been a priority. I've found it's the best way to teach history because it makes it come alive to the kids, and these books by my friend Lisa Lickle are great for just that. I've read and reviewed them and wish they had been around when my kids were younger. Green Leaf is perfect for boys, and that's a true treasure because it seems there's more books geared toward girls than boys. A story about an Indian boy has always been a sure way to capture the interest of my boys.

These books have my recommendation and I'm so glad I get to share them with you!

Green Leaf
The Potawatomi Boy
Lisa J Lickel, illustrated by Brenda Hendricks

About the Book:
Green Leaf’s cousins are all older than he and don’t like to play fair. He longs for a friend his own age he can play with, explore and fish with. When he meets a Luxembourger boy, Henri, Green Leaf is sure they could become friends, but Henri’s words are strange to Green Leaf. How can they play and explore together?

Green Leaf’s mother says, “Friends learn to speak one another’s words.” But will Green Leaf learn to say his friend’s words well enough to save Henri when he falls into danger?

Kindle - on special sale during December 1- 16, $.99
Also available in print from online retailers or from your favorite bookseller. $5.95

Ten years in the making, The First Children of Farmington series of early reader books has finally reached book sellers. I spent two years researching and writing this series. Several years after I worked with other community historians to collect and record our early pioneer history, I realized that we had quite a diverse ethnicity to Farmington, Wisconsin. Although these stories are based on real people and real events, they are representative of issues and struggles and joys families face every day everywhere.

The Potawatomi Boy is a character with a running thread through all the books. When I first started out with the project I was taking classes from the Christian Writers Guild. I set out to put together a series of picture books and connected with a couple of different artists. I wrote the text, but learned over several years that it’s harder to get the attention of a publisher for children’s books than it is for adult books. I’d never considered self-publishing, but through connections with my current illustrator and publishing partner, Brenda Hendricks, and others at the John 316 Marketing Network, learned a lot about not only self-publishing options, but how to publish well.

The second book in the series, The German Girl, is now available, as well, about a curious young girl who becomes lost while searching for the family cow, and the third book, The Saxon Boy, about a young boy who must learn to accept a stepfather, may be out by Christmas. I was quite surprised and pleased to have won a prestigious Jade Ring award for the Saxon Boy from the Wisconsin Writers Association. The other three stories, The Yankee Boy, The Irish Girl and The French Girl, are planned for release in 2014.

The books include references, glossaries, and special illustrations and a picture search. They are suitable for early to middle grades, ages 7-9 or so.

Also at Barnes and Noble and Booksamillion

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and The Potawatomi Boy is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to Christian Books and enter the Rafflecopter toward the bottom of the page.

About the Author:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her published novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin magazine. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer, a freelance editor, a writing mentor, a hostess at Clash of the, and enjoys blogging at and She loves to encourage new authors. Find more at

Shocking the World with Generosity

Shocking the World 
with Generosity

by Dineen Miller

I stood on the knoll of a grassy field, watching my youngest daughter, Leslie, then only five years old, as she kicked off her shoes at the starting line. No shoes? How would her little feet grip the grass and propel her forward? Several of the other children in her age group had done the same thing, so I resisted the urge to run over and make her put her shoes back on.

We’d moved to Switzerland in the spring and had spent the summer adjusting to our new surroundings before school started, thus immersing my girls into a culture and language they’d just barely begun to grasp. Today’s event was a big part of kicking off the new school year. I watched Leslie stand there, looking around at the other children so eager to start and win this race. The prize? A round ornately stitched patch declaring the bearer winner of the race for their age group.

Did she even stand a chance?

The starter shouted the Swiss version of “get set, ready, go!” and off went this group of five and six year olds, sprinting down a grassy field. Little legs pumped madly and arms swung back and forth. Seemed like minutes instead of seconds passed as the fastest runners pulled away, and to my amazement my daughter was one of them.

I think my mouth about fell open as my daughter took the lead and won!

Full of pride for my girl, I waited until she’d followed protocol to receive her award and came running toward me. One of her new friends trailed behind her and as my daughter hugged me, I could see her friend was struggling not to cry.

Leslie had noticed too and turned to face her. She held out her new prize to her friend, whose eyes grew almost as big as the patch Leslie held. The little girl looked at me as if to ask, is this okay? My same question—I’d watched Leslie work so hard for this prize, yet there she stood, ready to give it way.

So I asked Leslie, “Are you sure you want to part with that?” I think I was the one struggling with parting with it, not her.

“Yes, mommy. I want her to have it.”

Her friend took the patch and threw her arms around Leslie. The two skipped off together to play. My pride in my daughter grew even larger.

I think at times our children know how to be more generous than we do. I’ve watched my daughter grow into a generous teenager who was always quick to give away what she had and spend her allowance on her sister or her friends before buying herself anything. My biggest challenge as her mother—to let her. To support her in her generosity, even when she gave away a Visa gift card she’d received for her birthday to a homeless person. As I had asked at that race so many years ago, I asked again, “Are you sure?” She said the joy of giving the card away was better than anything she could have bought.

Some kids just get this, others need to be taught. Either way, we as parents have a wonderful opportunity to help our children grow into generous teenagers and adults who shock the world with their generosity. Just as Jesus came into this world and continues to shock us with His.

Along with Jesus, my daughter has become my teacher and inspiration to give more of my resources, my love and my time. I love watching her shock the world with her generosity.

Not Alone - Lynn Donovan and Dineen MillerIn Not Alone, you’ll find encouragement and inspiration from Scripture and true-life stories from other spiritually mismatched moms. Plus, find practical tips for capturing teachable moments with eternity in mind, and discovery questions to help you grow as a parent.

This is a parenting book, but it’s much more. It’s a love letter to all mothers—a message that changes our homes, our kids and our lives. It’s about the Father’s love that impacts those around us and changes ordinary moms into women of extraordinary grace, beauty and wisdom.

You may sometimes feel you’re on your own when it comes to godly parenting, but Jesus promised to be with you always. You’re not alone!

Dineen MillerDineen Miller is passionate about God’s Word and truth. She’s been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk and FamilyLife Today. Dineen lives in the Bay Area with her family and is the coauthor of the award winning book, Winning Him Without Words and author of the ACFW Carol Award winning book, The Soul Saver. Visit Dineen online at
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