Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When the World Seems Crazy

Recently I needed to run quite a few errands, taking me from my home in the northern part of the county to the far southern part of town and back.  I decided the only way I could accomplish this feat and be home at a reasonable time was to take the new By-Pass.  A road for which I've had a challenged relationship since it opened.

By taking the new By-Pass, I would cut my travel time by at least half.  However, I've become lost taking it twice and the last time I was really lost. I mean, out in the middle of country roads lost.  As it turned out, my husband had missed a turn at the same place and told me where I went wrong.  Let's just say whoever put the traffic signs up should have been more specific.

So to save time, I decided to take the new road.  After all, it would be good to stop avoiding it.  Along the way I saw familiar places in the distance.  When I crossed a bridge over the river and then saw a turn off for a familiar road, I could envision the house where my sister once lived not too far away.  It was like finding a "You Are Here' sign at the Mall.  I could envision a birds eye view of where I was from my house, from Bonnie's old house, the river, and if I took the correct turn... my destination.

Once I had a good idea where I was, I figured out I probably should stay in the left lane so I didn't miss that important turn off... yet, again.  Then I had time to enjoy the scenery and ponder.  Since it is a new road, there are no fast food signs, businesses, or entrances into factories.  Instead one mostly passed by fields and forests with the occasional glimpse of the airport or a smokestack in the distance for a few miles.

I'm pleased to say after (finally) turning on the correct road... you know, the one with the misleading sign... I realized the road I was now on was exactly where I needed to be.  The first stop in my errand was just a couple streets away.  What is more, the next time I take that By-Pass, I won't be quite so apprehensive. Now that I know where the signs lead me.

Sometimes the changes in our world leave me as confused as that misleading sign.  Instead of being where I planned, I'm lost in some outer part of Today where little looks as I once knew it.  It's the same place in which I grew up but not the same world... and realizing that can make me tense and uncertain.

Oh, I'm not talking about Russian planes close to Alaska.  It is just a reminder of the Cold War and those of us above a certain age grew up with news reports of Russia vs. America.  My much older brother fought in the Korean war so that battle has been raging for decades.  Albeit a whole lot more dangerous with nukes involved.

No, it is not even the wars and rumors of wars that are getting to me.  It is the change in morality and what the church looks like.  How those of us who take a more orthodox view of the Bible are deemed haters and if we are all for immigration but want people coming into the country to be vetted (as they always were), we do not care for homeless children in Syria.

We have let ourselves be defined by those who control the media but hate the church... and unfortunately sometimes it is even people within the church that throw stones at us. If one only knows a picture of the world by what they see on TV, in movies, or on social media...

The world seems to have lost its ever loving mind.

Recently I was reading through Romans 1:28-32 in the NIV but the Phillips translation (I believe that is what Elisabeth Elliot used) says it best... 

Moreover, since they considered themselves too high and mighty to acknowledge God, he allowed them to become the slaves of their degenerate minds, and to perform unmentionable deeds. They became filled with wickedness, rottenness, greed and malice; their minds became steeped in envy, murder, quarrelsomeness, deceitfulness and spite. 

They became whisperers-behind-doors, stabbers-in-the-back, God-haters; they overflowed with insolent pride and boastfulness, and their minds teemed with diabolical invention. They scoffed at duty to parents, they mocked at learning, recognized no obligations of honor, lost all natural affection, and had no use for mercy. 

More than this—being well aware of God’s pronouncement that all who do these things deserve to die, they not only continued their own practises, but did not hesitate to give their thorough approval to others who did the same.

Reading these verses brought me peace.  Ummm... those verses?  The verses where we are told the world is going to go crazy?  Yes!  Because it means that... at this time and at this place... where God allowed you and me to be born... He knew it was going to go crazy.

For you see my friends, we are not to look at the past with longing.  Actually, there were plenty of trials back then even when morality was more the norm and the average person at least respected the Ten Commandments.  We are to look forward for this is the day for which we were created.

Whatever gifts  you have been given, no matter how young or how old you are, you were born "for such a time as this".  We are just passing through, we are pilgrims and sojourners in this land.  We are, like Abraham, searching for the City whose Builder and Maker is God.

We are not to long for this world to be perfect, we are to long for that Perfection which is to come.  

What are we to do now?  Well, on one hand we are to stand by our orthodox values and not give in to what people want to manipulate us to believe just so people will like us.  At the same time, we are to walk like Jesus walk... in love and not anger.

I know it is a balance remaining true to the Word in our beliefs but always defaulting to walking in Love.  It has been done before and the One who managed to do it was stoned and crucified by those people for whom He gave so much love. 

But He has given you a Place in this world, not only gifts but a real PLACE.  Where you are living right this very moment.  Draw near to Jesus and then ask how to show Him to this crazy messed up world.  It will take every skill, every talent, every bit of wisdom and grace you have.  Even then you will have to renew your strength every morning by spending time with Him and His Word.

Oh, I also suggest the occasional nap and perhaps coffee first thing in the morning.  Just saying.  Reality you know.

Image:  Cotswolds Evening by Robert Duncan

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - A little at a time continues

We are well into Spring this year with a very warm April.  Except for the blooming of the Dogwood tree, most blossoms have been replaced by green leaves in the smaller trees and bushes.  The tall trees in the forest have only begun to grow buds on their limbs but if past years are any indication, they could all experience a pop of leafy fullness almost overnight.

That beautifully scented tree on my neighbor's lawn near the gravel lane was in bloom only a few days this year but it was lovely.  I wish I knew what kind of tree it is, my husband says it may be a Tulip Tree. The kids and I always thought it amusing that he has a graduate degree in Forestry but can't always tell you the species of a tree.  He reminds us his degree is in Wood Science and Furniture Engineering, so give him a microscope and he may do a better job of identification.

I've been working about thirty minutes at a time outside, mostly near the fence line and around the deck so far.  However, I did clean up the perennial apple mint raised bed in the garden that was neglected at the end of last summer.  It now looks (and smells) lovely.  Even the dead plants and wood from the mint smelled beautiful as I carried it to the forest.

I also cleaned up the very small herb raised bed at the corner of the garden as I plan to plant a few extra herbs there.  The lovage looks quite healthy this year but the thyme plant is getting huge and woody.  I'm thinking I'll plant another one to get it started and then dig up the old plant at the end of the season.  It has served me well for a number of years.

I will continue to grow herbs as part of my "pantry" since since they are expensive when purchased fresh at the grocery (and even at the Farmer's Market)... and anyway, they look beautiful in the garden and on the deck where they grow.  

Part of me wants to grow veggies but the other part... the one that gets tired easily and my back that complains a lot... say it is wise to concentrate on one area this year.  My job is to do everything I can to clear brush, vines, tiny trees popping up, weeds, etc. and then Hubby will take over what I can't do.  The fence line won't need anything else and the area around the deck will only need a little heavy duty work.  But he has to take care of weeds and young trees that have roots on their way to China.

I finally got around to continuing the cleaning out and organizing of my primary pantry cabinets in the kitchen.  I had started it a couple weeks ago and finished last week.  It is a good thing I checked all the Use By dates for I had no idea two of the Amy's Mac and Cheese boxes were from 2013!  I will use a can of non-acidic veggies that far past the date but not a boxed food.

I also tossed a couple cans of crab meat (I just don't have people over and make crab dip like I once did) and a couple other unusual foods which I can't recall at the moment.  All were years past their expiration dates. Otherwise, I was very pleased with how organized these shelves had become and how useful they are to keeping my most used items handy.  Obviously canned crab was not one of them.

Whenever I do this kind of organizing, it reminds me how fast times goes and if one is going to keep even a small pantry, there has to be diligence about keeping an eye on those Use By dates.  Especially being sure to rotate the oldest products to use first and the more recently purchased either in the back of the shelf or on the bottom flats of the cans.

My freezer has been cleaned out and I'm planning to slowly restock it.  It is always good to have that job done before it gets hot in the garage.  Everything accomplished a little at a time and mostly in 30 minute increments.  There are some days that is all I can do and then there are others where I can handle two or even three 30 minute chores through the day (in addition to regular household chores and maintenance).

One thing I can say is this... it looks a whole lot better on the porch, in the garden, near the fence line, around the deck, and in my kitchen cabinets... than if I gave up and did nothing at all because I didn't feel well.  Lots and lots better.

When everything there is to do gets overwhelming, I just go out and do what I can for that thirty minutes.  Knowing that is a possibility.  Thirty minutes.  A slow thirty minutes at that.  I'm hoping my reward will be a few pounds less showing up when I see my doctor this week.  ;)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb, a review

The subtitle of this book by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel is Searching For Jesus' Path of Power in a Church That Has Abandoned It.  That peaked my interest so I started reading the book soon after it arrived.  Basically, have church leaders become more like the world, in their quest for large churches and power... and less like Jesus?

You would think a book about where the church has gone wrong would be boring but this is anything but boring. Rarely does a nonfiction book cause me to not be able to put it down.  The two authors are asking many of the questions I've wondered about over the years only silently.

For one thing, the quest to find the answer to this question led the two men to travel, meeting elder statesmen (and a stateswoman) and interviewing them to glean wisdom about the path many churches are taking today.  These interviews alone are worth reading this book.  These men and women include:

Marva Dawn
J. I. Packer
James Houston
John Perkins
Jean Vanier
Eugene Peterson
Dallas Willard

As you can see from the above list, the authors contacted elders of the Faith from various segments of the Church and every one of them was fascinating.  It was interesting that each person was in a general agreement about the challenges facing the church.

The authors don't pretend to have all the answers.  Instead they bring attention to some serious issues in the church and provide us with rare glimpses into what those interviewed say as well as others.  The book is well written and very readable.  I highly recommend it.

This book was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NKJV The Woman's Study Bible, a review

When I opened the box this Bible comes in, my first response was "Wow"!  The cover is so beautiful.  Then I perused it and found the inside has also been designed to be attractive as one reads through it, like a Spring day.

Having said that, what about the content? That is the most important and I was pleased to see the content is as well thought out as the design.  For this is a true study Bible with biographies of over 100 women in the Bible, verse-by-verse study notes throughout, over 300 in-text topical articles, essays by women in the various subjects (theology, biblical studies, archeology, etc.), introductions and outlines for each Book of the Bible, full-color maps, charts, timelines, a topical index, and a concordance.

When looking through the long list of women who contributed in the notes sections, I was very pleased to see women who do not show up very often in new editions of such Bibles.  For instance, women such as Emilie Barnes, Vonette Bright, Jill Briscoe, Anne Ortlund, and Edith Schaeffer are listed along with recent women of faith.

The Bible's print is a fairly large 11-point font, not too large but large enough for me to read it and that's saying something.  I'm keeping this Bible handy (even though my main Bible will continue to be my old NIV version that I've had for years) just for the notes, charts, maps, and essays.  This Bible is the perfect gift to give someone you know that may be unfamiliar with the Bible for the NKJV is easy to read and the information provided is in an easy to follow format.  Highly recommended!

The NKJV Woman's Study Bible was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information is available... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate Links.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Easter and Peace

I have always loved Easter, from the time I was a little girl getting a new dress (which included a hat and white gloves by the way) to today as I get ready to pop a ham in the oven for our mid-day celebration... expecting my youngest granddaughter as a very special guest.

There is such a homey aroma coming from the kitchen as a ham bakes.  If you have ever put a house up for sale, your Realtor may have advised you to either bake cookies just before showings or to put a ham in the oven to slowly bake.  There is a reason for that...

I wrote last week about the practical ways I have been perusing peace in a time of wars and rumors of wars.  Today I'd like to share the more "spiritual" attempts to find peace.  By "spiritual" I mean Jesus and not the Oprah brand of spirituality. How appropriate that this post would be written on Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

First and always foremost... Peace is a Person.  The Lamb of God, who was born to die as a replacement for us on that cross.  Only He who knew no sin could stand in for those of us who are sons and daughters of the fallen Adam.  He took back the Keys to the Kingdom and overcame death once and for all.

Without Easter there is no true Christianity.  Everything hinged on that first Easter when the stone was rolled away.  If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, he would have been no different than any other religious leader.  There would have been a tomb where one could pay their respect.  Instead it is empty and we give our worship.

I don't have any problem calling the day of His Resurrection Easter Sunday.  For words only have the meaning one assigns and I believe the word Easter is lovely.  When our kids were young, we did the whole Easter basket thing but then again, I have enough of my grandmother's Irish blood in me that I love the idea of rabbits who bring chocolate, mice who live in tree stumps and wear pinafores, and that Mrs. Beaver is a role model for showing hospitality.

If one knows the Real Thing, then the little extras like chocolate bunnies and colored eggs can never take away from what is important... Who is important.  Not as long as our children grow up knowing that the true meaning of Easter is not candy but that Jesus arose from the grave so we can live with Him after our journey here is finished.  
When I need peace.. I usually open the Psalms.  When the days seem long and my patience is short and fear is present... I always open to the Psalms.  There is just something about the Songbook of the Hebrews that brings peace.  The Bible I've used for twenty-plus years opens to the Psalms without trying.

Something else I've been doing lately is to seek wisdom from those who have gone before me... those men and women of God who have passed through wars and rumors of wars and adversity... and remained true to their Lord.  I don't have a written plan as such but I've been allowing myself the luxury of looking through my bookshelves until I find the mentor I need at the moment.

I'll talk more about specifics on my next Book Talk post but it has been good to brush the dust off of some books where I've found wisdom before.  I know some people turn to podcasts or online articles but I'm a bookish sort who loves reading a book that shows chocolate stains of where I read it while snacking one afternoon or water marks splashed from a long ago hot bath such as my old copy of Hidden Art.

I've been sending up a lot of short prayers throughout the day that keep me anchored to Peace Himself.  Sometimes I'll just say the name of Jesus to remind myself it is all about Him. I am finding it necessary to make a quick connection throughout the day as well as longer times of prayer.

For you see, you don't get His peace from hoping for it. You get that peace as He gives it to you when you spend time with Him.  That's why it is described as peace that passes all understanding.  It is how you can go to bed at night thinking you can't make it through another day and be honest with Him about how you feel because He knows all about it, anyway.

Then you awake the next morning and are amazed that you are full of peace and faith and courage to meet another day.  It wasn't you, other than asking Him for these things... that renewal you feel is all Him.  His mercies are new every morning. 

Just as He breathed life into Adam... He breathes new life into you.  Every day.  New hope.  New faith.  New mercies.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Adapting

I have been giving my porch a good cleaning this morning since it is sunny and very warm.  I moved a set of metal shelves from the front porch (where it has been for many years) to the deck yesterday and finished the porch tweaking today.  It needed less... stuff.

I already have a garden bench, a wicker rocking chair (rescued from the neighbor's trash), a wicker side table (Goodwill purchase), and a small black wooden table (Goodwill purchase)... and since the metal shelves can exist on the deck just fine... they were the obvious choice for relocating.

Enough cleaning has been accomplished that my guests tomorrow will not have to view all the dirt and grime of Winter but I'm sure will understand why there is more to be accomplished.  Later.  A little at a time.

When I finish here, I need to do about a half an hour of work near the fence line and then start the Easter dessert, my favorite easy cheesecake recipe.  It is best made the day before serving it and that works great for my planning.  I bought all the cream cheese weeks ago when it was on sale for a dollar each, making for a very reasonable cost for a dessert that takes five (5) 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese.

As everything is budding and blooming around the place, I became more convinced something had to go.  I mean, my To Do list was more than I can handle as I haven't fully recovered lost energy from that illness (and it wasn't that great to begin with).  So I made the decision to not plant a garden this year.  I know.  I may regret it come late July but it seems the best course of action now.

It helps that my husband is in total agreement with where I want to prioritize limited budget and energy.  He worked a lot on the "out of control" landscape last year but there are more areas near the house and deck that the forest has been slowly taking back.  (Note to self: before you move anywhere in and around a forest, remember it has not given up the land completely!)

We need to concentrate on those areas before they get even more out of control.  We are talking trees trying to come up!  I'll still have a container garden with flowers and herbs on the deck.  I'm hoping to be able to buy more at the Farmer's Market this year since we have two excellent markets available.  (I think there is a third market on or near campus.)

It seems there is a constant need to adapt as circumstances change.  Normally with all the unsettling factions in the world today, I would think of doubling my garden space.  However, it just doesn't work this year.  So what God provides energy to do, that will get done... and trust Him for the rest.

Happy Easter!  I hope to write a Sunday Post tomorrow while the ham is in the oven.

Links from this Post
My favorite cheesecake recipe... here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Devotions for the Kitchen Table, a review

I must say that this is a beautiful devotional book.  While none of the devotions are "deep", each is about every day life centered around the kitchen, cooking, and hospitality.

I love the photos throughout the book.  Many such books have pretty covers but no images inside the book.  This one draws you in with not only God centered writing but photos that can make even the darkest days a little brighter.

This book would make a lovely Mother's Day gift or perhaps tucked in a gift basket of kitchen items for a wedding shower.  The devotionals would be fine for any denomination.  Highly recommended!

Devotions from the Kitchen Table was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate Links.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Simply Seeking Peace

This has been a week when the rumors of war screamed from our newscasts.  I was watching a TV show when the Breaking News came on every major network that the U. S. had bombed Syria.  It didn't have the level of shock I felt as when I first heard Russia had moved into that country but it was certainly unsettling.  The war drums have been rattling around the world for awhile now.

Later I will talk about some things I'm doing spiritually to strengthen my peace but below are some practical resources I'm working through.

I have learned to pray for those events out of my ability to directly affect... like wars and rumors of wars... and trust that God indeed has the whole world in His hands.  The Bible tells us what the world will be like before Jesus returns and that lens becomes more in focus every day.  Only God knows when those events will take place.  I have read that many Christians living prior to WWI and WWII thought they were living in that time.

I have written that this year I am once again trying to Live Life on Purpose and part of this includes seeking peace whenever possible... when doing so is in my control.  I am running to that which brings peace and equally running away from those things which steal my peace.  Obviously there are peace stealers that I can't ignore, people especially.

The first area within my control is the use of technology.  Technology can both bring peace and take it away.  For instance, I knew my daughter and son-in-law would be driving through the part of the country where severe weather was occurring on their way to a wedding in South Carolina last week... and a text from her saying they were now safely out of the storms brought peace.

On or about that same day, I stopped following a person in charge of a ministry on Facebook after receiving news reports of atrocities by ISIS supporters occurring in the world, one right after another.  Every single day. Her ministry is a good one and I understand she has been equipped by God to shed light on what is happening but I just can't handle reports showing up continuously in my Facebook feed.  Other than praying, I can't do anything about it.

I have unfollowed at least a third (maybe more) of the people I once followed on Instagram during and after the elections and kept only a few sources of news on my Facebook feed since that time.  I get plenty of news and from a variety of sources to know what is happening.  It has been a recent revelation for me that I do not need to know everything happening in the world.

Creative endeavors is the second area I've been tweaking for peace... or rather, making room for enjoying them more.  I brushed off my scrapbook journal this week to start working on it again.  I've kept a scrapbook journal in one format or another for at least twenty years.

The most recent style was inspired by Jewels (whose blog I still miss very much).  I had set aside scrapbook journaling when it wasn't enjoyable, anymore.  I knew I would come back to scrapbook journaling again so I kept everything I use to create them.  Most of the items are the same as card making, which I still enjoy.

On the other hand, I gave a friend my sewing supplies and fabric after I realized that phase of creativity was behind me.  Sometimes it is just time to let the past go and get on with those creative endeavors which now bring us joy.  We change over time and so do our hobbies.

My third decision... I'm now even more careful about the media I choose to bring into my world.  Even books I decide to review are more carefully chosen.  I still appreciate books that inform but I've also opted for more simpler books of late.  Now there is a balance between serious and lighthearted, which we all need.

There are numerous bookshelves in our house. Shelves are in every room but the bathroom and we'd probably have a shelf in there if the kitty litter box didn't need that space.  I was able to collect books for a long time by attending book sales as a Friend of the Library member, most for $1.00 each.  We still pay $10.00 a year to belong even though we don't attend every sale these days.

When life is particularly stressful, that is the time I like to reread old friends.  I've decided to reread Elizabeth Goudge's Eliot Trilogy when my current stack of books is finished.  I love these books and explain more about them below.  Honestly, I'm tempted to always be rereading books but then I'd miss a new friend.

I have collected favorite movies and TV shows on DVD over the years and I've received them as gifts.  It is quite wonderful to have old favorites available to watch when I need a mental vacation.  Amazon Instant Video has not only movies but episodes of some TV series now available individually.  They can be purchased and then watched anywhere when downloaded to a device that takes the Amazon Video app. I met a woman who travels a lot and she kept her favorite movie downloaded to watch when stressed.

I continue to make Beauty in the home a priority so it is my fourth thought out decision.  Which is why I brought azaleas in last week before the possible snow and freeze hit.  Before that, for a few days I had just two daffodils in a vase next to the sink.  I always need an environment that provides Beauty but it becomes more essential when the world is not so beautiful.

I've been using Mrs. Meyers Lilac hand soap in the kitchen because I'm always washing my hands when cooking.  There is a citrus-lemon grass scented 7th Generation dish soap next to the sink right now but a Lilac scented Mrs. Meyers dish soap is in reserve.  Lilac is a favorite scent so I did a quick re-do of grocery priorities to purchase them a couple weeks ago when Meijers had them available.

Those frugal luxuries are necessary, especially when we are on a tight budget.  It doesn't cost much more to buy Mrs. Meyers dish soap than Dawn but the aromas make me happy when doing dishes... and I do a lot of dishes by hand.  I was pleased to find the Mrs. Meyers dish soap beat out top contenders in a test, including Dawn!

I moved the CD player from the kitchen to the study a couple weeks ago.  Now that the study is warming up each day, I can enjoy listening to favorite music or turn on Moody radio to listen to a program. (I reserve K-Love for listening to in the van.)  It will go back into the kitchen come say... November.  I can listen to downloaded music on the iPad but I have a lot of CDs purchased throughout the years I also love to revisit.

The lawn and garden is fifth on the list and it will be my next endeavor as the weather gets warmer.  The first efforts to bring any beauty to this part of my world will be to clear out, clean, prune, and generally do away with lawn and garden 2016.  Then, as I can afford it, flowers will be added to the deck and veggies and herbs planted in the garden. Although most of the time that doesn't happen until May.

For all I love the way it ends up looking, this area of Beauty is my most frustrating as I'm always battling what I want to do vs. what I can do (for various reasons).  However, doing nothing at all is not an option.  Ever.

I know God does not want us to turn our back on the hurting world.  He equips each one of us to do what we can and then we work within that grace.  There are people who have been equipped to run into the the very areas that darkness currently holds to bring the Light to those people.  Others have been gifted to create a ministry that helps the poor and brings redemption to inner cities.

However, most of us are not called to do great things for Christ.  Instead we are to bring Beauty... and Peace... to the simple, normal, everyday areas of life.  As we bake a birthday cake, take fresh bread to a neighbor, listen to a friend over coffee, or read a Bible story to a child...we  are taking Him to the world... that which is right around us and where we live.

For the big stuff like wars and famine and ISIS and earthquakes and mudslides and all that is completely out of our hands... we can pray.  A lot.  Often.  Believing He intervenes and knowing all turns out well in the end.  Maranatha.

Mentioned in this Post
Frugal Luxuries is a favorite book by the lovely Tracey McBride.
Frugal Luxuries, website... here.
Frugal Luxuries book is available... here.
Fugal Luxuries by the Season book is available... here.

The Eliot Trilogy
I read Pilgrim's Inn first many years ago since it is what was recommended as an introduction to Goudge books.  It is still one of my favorite books.  However, it is the second book of the trilogy so you do miss the backstory.  I read the first book, The Bird in the Tree, a year or two after reading Pilgrim's Inn.

I read the third book in the trilogy, The Heart of the Family, a couple years later after hearing some people didn't care for it.  When it became available to download on Kindle (much cheaper than when only pricey used old books were available), I downloaded it and read it then.  I immediately reread the book.  I loved it.  I will say that I think it is a book to be best appreciated as one grows older for that is one of the themes of that book.

So this time, I am going to finally read the books in order:
The Bird in the Tree (Book 1)... here.
Pilgrim's Inn (Book 2)... here.
The Heart of the Family (Book 3)... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon are Associate links in which I do receive a small amount of credit when a purchase is made.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - One To Do At a Time

Easter is one week from Sunday!  How did that happen?  I guess with the cold and rainy weather we have had for awhile, it didn't seem like winter had ended.  The sun is shining today but it is deceptively chilly.  That's okay because it is slowing down outdoor work.  It is to reach the 70s tomorrow so I'm sure blossoms will be blooming everywhere.

Our azalea bush was gorgeous this year.  We only have one left from the four that were here when we moved in.  They did not survive the crazy warm-freeze-warm-freeze springs we tend to have each year.  This one, in a beautiful lilac/rose shade, is tucked next to the deck stairs where it is protected.  Even then, it usually blooms and then we have a freeze soon after. 

This year, it was windy and cool but we didn't have a freeze until it had completely bloomed.  We can see it out of the kitchen window and each spring the color is appreciated.  With a rain/snow mix predicted,  I cut back quite a few branches and brought them in.  It was like bringing springtime inside.

My daughter-in-law asked if her family could spend Easter dinner with us this year so we could all see Piper in her cuteness.  She has a new Easter frock.  I look forward to seeing everyone and all prayers are appreciated that my health continues to improve so I can cook the extra food and set a pretty table with Great Grandmother's vintage china.  My mother-in-law used it every Easter, too. The house may be far less spiffy looking than it was when they were here at Thanksgiving but they understand.

So the symptoms returning last weekend were enough of a warning to make me rest a lot and eat as healthy as possible.  However, I'm on the mend and all that is left is sinus congestion and a cough, not uncommon this time of year.  The Midwest weather in March and April is always a little crazy but this year seemed to be worse than usual.

I admit to a little stress building as I thought I'd get even further behind on the Must Do-To Do List.  However, I felt the nudging of the Lord to attempt just one thing a day.  I can do that, right?  Without wearing myself down and the infection returning?

So that is what I did this last week.  I took out my planner and wrote one thing for Monday, one for Tuesday, etc.  Monday's "One Thing" was to call the telephone company.  Finally.  Our phone has had static in it for months and it was getting worse, so was our Internet.  I deeply dislike calling for service because of getting the run around.  Especially with the phone company.

But I did and a tech was out the very next day.  We were blessed with a fabulous technician!  He was able to trouble shoot our problem (the line where the lightening strike had entered the house years ago had become corroded, even though it had been replaced after the storm).  He put in new hardware and installed a new modem.  My Internet speed tripled and now people who call can actually hear what we are saying.

All because of doing Just One Thing.

As I felt better, I added one and then two things to the daily planner.  Nothing requiring much energy.  For instance, I usually do all my laundry on Monday (except for gardening season when clothes get dirty fast) but this last week I only did part of the laundry.  So on Friday, I did that last load that was missed earlier in the week.

It was so good reaching the weekend and being able to see what had been accomplished.  Rather than getting cranky that I couldn't do everything on the list, enough was done that I didn't get very far behind on what I wanted to accomplish.  The house will look "good enough" when company arrives.

A couple of things had to be put on Monday's calendar that I wanted to do on Friday but that's okay.  I just wrote (Monday) next to where they were listed on Friday.  We have to be adaptable and this time I had to run a couple of errands that were not in the original Friday plans. 

With the warm up, the outside chores will begin Monday.  That will still require just one or two things on the list each day, going by the highest priority.  I will get a head start by having my husband take the shovels out to the garden shed from the porch and get out the rakes and hoe this weekend.  The annual (always anticipated) changing of the equipment. 

I think spring is here to stay.  Even if it is dipping into the low 30s at night. 

Photo: Instagram - @coffeeteabooksandme

Thursday, April 06, 2017


I haven't written a Florentine (aka: Florie) update in awhile.  Both of the photos I'm sharing today were first on Instagram (@coffeeteabooksandme) but they are so cute, I wanted to share them here.

She is settling in quite nicely.  The only signs of her previous abuse are being skittish to loud noises, never wanting to be picked up, and not liking to be petted on her head when we are standing.  Otherwise, this little cat wants to be loved and petted and paid attention to all the time.  She is definitely still in her late kitten stage.  There is no keeping up with her and much like when one has a toddler at home, I appreciate her nap time.

The photo above is one I took of her when I was reading and she had curled up next to me.  I must admit being distracted by those cute paws and nose and that orange coloring on her belly.  She even looks prettier than when we brought her home from her cage at the shelter.  She has won our hearts.

Although she plays with all her toys her Auntie Bonnie has sent her, this one with the feathers is her favorite by far.  She will stand by it with the feathers in her mouth (I still haven't been able to get a photo of that!) or with a paw on the pole part of it just waiting for someone to stop and play with her.  This photo was when she had conquered the feathers after my husband had been playing with her, much like a jungle cat who had just brought down their prey.

Florie is the poster child for an animal flourishing when given love and the occasional Fancy Feast.  She gets her Fancy Feast on Wednesdays and Sundays but hopes for it every day.  Don't worry, she is spoiled in so many other ways.

I still cry almost every day, missing Victoria so much it hurts.  Victoria was my furry pal, my much beloved Maine Coon soul mate.  The kind of animal friend that only comes along once in awhile.  My friend, Kathy, who recently moved on to Heaven, had multiple cats at any one time through the years but her much beloved was Pudge.  I like to imagine Pudge (no longer aged) came running to her as soon as she stepped into Glory.

Having said that, I am so glad we rescued Florentine.  She has us laughing so often and while we tell her we are laughing "with her, not at her"...  we are laughing at her!