Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Book Talk - Holiday Edition


November has flown by and it is already time to share favorite Christmas books.  Many are books I have shared before but they are long time favorites, as well as a new favorite.  

Please also forgive the odd spacing now and then.  I think I tweaked it enough that it looks better than it did originally.  Blogger is not amused when you do some cut and pasting.  ;)

Books - Nonfiction
~When my friend, Heather LeFebvre, told me she was writing a book about the traditions of Christmas, I knew it would be good.  Heather is an excellent writer and artist (as well as the friend who knitted my Mrs. Beaver tea cozy and put together the best wedding survival box for me to enjoy after my son and daughter-in-law's wedding).

The History of Christmas came out last year and I was right, it is lovely and enjoyable to read.  This is not only a book of stories but contains many hands on activities a family can do together to celebrate the various traditions,  She was right when she predicted the chapter on Colonial Williamsburg would be my favorite.  I gave this as a gift to loved ones last Christmas.  More information... here.

~Nigel Slater is a British writer best known for his books about food but he is oh so much more than that.  I'm sure we do not share the same opinions on politics and religion but there are times we can find an area of agreement with people and this author is proof of that, especially in his book which is an ode to both Christmas and Winter called Christmas Chronicles.

I love Christmas like many people but I also love Winter... a season many people do not love. I think those of us who are introverts enjoy an excuse for reading and candlelight. I adore snow as long as I don't have to drive anywhere.

He also made a podcast talking about Christmas Chronicles and it is available again this year by searching your podcast app for that name. You can also listen to it on the website. I can't think of anything better to listen to during the season (other than Christmas music!).

More information on the book Christmas Chronicles is... here. (Also available on Kindle.)  More information on the podcast is... here.

~I only own a few cookbooks specifically for Christmas and sometimes they don't even make it off the shelf in December.  I keep them more for reference.  However, one book I always take off the shelf is Christmas Thyme at Oak Hill Farm by Marge Clark.

This is a book full of recipes, crafts, and lots of photographs of Marge's Oak Hill Farm all decked out for the Holidays in the 1990s.  It is good anytime of the year when you need recipes for when you have guests. Marge was a well known cook, gardener, and herb specialist.  I was saddened when I heard she lost her life in a traffic accident many years ago now.

I also own her cookbook called Best of Thymes, which I refer to often when wanting a recipe to use a specific herb.  It doesn't have photos but it has lots of recipes and information about cooking with herbs.

Info about Christmas Thyme at Oak Hill Farm can be found... here. (Third Party)
Information about Best of Thymes can be found... here. (Third Party) 

~Christmas with Rosamunde Pilcher is not a recipe book but it does contain some of her favorite Holiday recipes.  If you are a fan of Pilcher's novels, you will love this book with a lot of photos sharing her family's Christmas as well as a short story by Pilcher.

Info about Christmas with Rosamunde Pilcher is... here.

~Christmas in the Heartland by Marcia Adams is a book I've had for a very long time.  I loved her old PBS show about Amish cooking.  This book is full of chapters about various places in the Midwest, their recipes, and their crafts.  Many of them come from an ethnic perspective brought by the original settlers of the towns.  The photos are beautiful.

Info about Christmas in the Heartland can be found... here.

~Cozy Christmas Baking: A Hygge-Inspired Christmas by Abby Jo VanHoutain is a beautiful cookbook by the blogger at Forgotten Way Farms and her daughter.  Each recipe has its' own page (two if needed) with a photo of the finished product.  I keep this in the basket that holds my most used cookbooks all year round.  It is lovely and the recipes are excellent!

Info about Cozy Christmas Baking can be found... here.

Books - Fiction
~A City of Bells is one of my very favorite of the Goudge books.  At least part of it takes place at Christmas and as with most Goudge books, I came to love these characters.

~The Dean's Watch is set during the Christmas season and it is a favorite Goudge book of many readers.  ~Pilgrim's Inn has a Christmas section, also making it an enjoyable reread this time of year.  I think Pilgrim's Inn is a great introduction for someone who has never read a Goudge book before.

Of course, there is Goudge's "children's book" called I Saw Three Ships.  It is a beautiful Christmas book, one of her rather mystical stories.  The black and white illustrations are beautiful.

~I've mentioned her A Christmas Book on previous posts.  It is quite difficult to find right now but it contains Christmas scenes from the afore mentioned books.  I bought a very reasonably priced copy a few years ago that was a library discard.  I kept the title on my Wish List and would check when a low price was available.

More information about A City of Bells in paperback is... here. (Third party)
More information about The Dean's Watch in paperback is... here. (Also available in Kindle.)
More information about Pilgrim's Inn in paperback is... here.  (Also available in Kindle.)
More information about I Saw Three Ships in paperback is... here.

More information about A Christmas Book is... here. (If you are interested, I would keep it on your Wish List on Amazon for when more copies are available at reasonable prices... or look elsewhere.)

~Christmas at Fairacre by Miss Read contains three of her Christmas novels in one volume.  They are Village Christmas, The Christmas Mouse, and No Holly for Miss Quinn.  I reread these stories every year!  They are so cozy as they speak of quaint English villages.

The newer edition of the paperback version can be found... here. More information on the hardback version of Christmas at Fairacre can be found... here

~Jan Karon's lovely Christmas novel called Shepherd's Abiding is a favorite of many people.  It is a stand alone novel, which can be read even if you have never read any other Mitford books.  Although, if you are a fan of Mitford, you will love it even more.

More information about Shepherd's Abiding can be found... here.

Enjoy your Holiday Reading!

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Image:  Book Shop by Kim Sung 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Tea - My Holiday resolutions in the time of COVID


Long time readers may remember that I have published a "Sunday Before Thanksgiving" post for at least eleven years.  In it, I shared about the year I realized I had to enter the Holidays having written out what is most important to enjoy each year.  I will link to last year's post below but obviously while it has been updated through the years, it would have to have been tweaked too much for this Holiday season.

This year, we cannot go into places like restaurants and in the Midwest, it is now too cold to eat out of doors.  Crowds are either discouraged or illegal, according to where you live so no parties, no parades in many towns, and most large concerts and church activities are changed or cancelled.  

So far Thanksgiving dinner still looks like it will happen for us.  Our son and his family purchased a house in town and moved in completely over the weekend.  We are beyond happy to have them close again.  We will then celebrate the birthday of two year old Oliver a little late, Christopher's birthday just a few days late, and my daughter-in-law's birthday a little early.  I have something for four year old Piper so she does not feel left out, we both celebrate birthdays in July.

It was a favorite pastor on a video recently who reminded listeners that it is not only okay to be sad this year but grief is appropriate.  We are grieving the loss of what was normal in our world.  Some have lost loved ones, many have lost jobs, and almost everyone has lost their usual Holiday traditions.  At least those that range from difficult to impossible to accomplish.

Sometimes I honestly feel like I went to sleep one evening and woke up in a dystopian novel.   While there may be a resemblance, and we indeed have experienced a TEOTWAWKI event, most of us can go on with our day to day activities... no, we must go on with our day to day activities.

So, what does that mean for this Holiday season?  I've been pondering this a lot and what I have come to realize is that we need Christmas more this year than usual.  I need to give more thought to my plans after Thanksgiving but I do know some already that I hope to accomplish.

When I look at the list on the blog post from previous years, I realize many of them are no longer possible to do, long before COVID.  Some people are no longer with us, favorite places to eat with the family have closed, and I find the Food Channel has changed to where there are few shows I enjoy,  So, it is not with great sadness that I'm refocusing my Holiday list.

I'm breaking my long standing rule of not decorating until after Thanksgiving.  Instead, I plan to put up our small artificial tree early this next week and decorate it.  Then each day, a little at a time, I will bring out some more decorations.  Not everything perhaps, but those that mean a lot to me.

I will continue to light candles and sip hot beverages as I have been doing since the beginning of September but I will love sipping my first morning coffee to the light of the Christmas tree. A favorite tradition that costs nothing.

I also plan to dust off the Christmas music.  This year I need nostalgic music more than ever but there will be room for new favorites.  I even have some Christmas music YouTube videos that I have come to enjoy.  I hope they are still available.

I have a small collection of Christmas DVDs and they will be chosen one at a time to watch.  I started collecting the DVDs when many old favorite Christmas movies were no longer shown on television.  There are Christmas movies that play on TV from Hallmark to channels like Turner Classic Movies.  Some are good and some are... not.  

Although Christmas baking used to be for kids at home and close friends, today I still love to bake a little at a time.  I can no longer do those long cookie making marathons but I can bake a couple kinds of cookies for the freezer on days when having the oven on will feel lovely.  I can drop off packages of cookies... staying a good distance, of course... to people this year.

Except for Thanksgiving, I have decided this year Holiday meals will be simple.  Especially when it is just my husband and me at home.  Last Easter, I had already purchased everything for the meal when we realized we were not going to be able to have family over, so I made the meal for just both of us. It worked fine but I think having less dishes to wash would be a gift to myself. 

Most of all this Holiday Season... more than any other time in my life... I need to surround myself with those things which will draw me closer to the Lord.  After all, it is that time of year when even the world has to hear about His birth.  ;)

I'm still putting together books, music, and video that will serve this purpose.  Carefully.  Determined to walk this Season with Him because it is the only way I can find peace and joy.  I will let you know what I come up with.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving if you are an American and enjoy giving thanks wherever you live!  

Mentioned in this Blog Post

My annual Sunday Before Thanksgiving blog post from last year... here.

Image:  Autumn Rain (Blog readers told me the artist is John Sloane, I will have to check out his calendars.)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Thanksgiving week in 2020


I usually love Thanksgiving but as with everything in 2020, it is very different this year.  There is uncertainty in this Holiday season but we can always find a great deal for which to be thankful.

I know friends in places are already experiencing a lockdown and it is beginning to look like that may happen here as the hospitals are getting full again.  The overall new cases have been spiking more than in the Spring.

We have been hoping it does not happen until after Thanksgiving so we can spend it with our son and his family.  There was uncertainty when our daughter-in-law was exposed to COVID but she was wearing a mask and social distancing and so far she is fine. A well known pastor who caught COVID said he is certain it was because he became lax about washing his hands, a good reminder to all of us.

I had a call on Monday that the dentist had an open appointment Wednesday morning.  So, I started antibiotics as soon as I got off the phone (she had already prescribed them) and Wednesday morning, the infected tooth was extracted.

I am so glad to have that done, it was worth spending part of the week on the sofa and being on antibiotics again for a full ten days.  My gums are still sore but none of the possible side effects occurred, thank God!

I went to the grocery store briefly on Friday morning and the only nearly empty shelves were where you would expect, like the paper goods aisle. There are limitations on a lot of items, not only paper goods. I use inexpensive white bread to make my dressing and when I bought the Meijer brand on Friday morning, there was a 2 per person limit on it already.

I purchase fresh cranberries each year for the deep freeze and Aldi had them for only 99 cents a bag with no limits. I bought three bags, dropped the three bags into a gallon size Ziploc bag, and took them out to the deep freeze.  It's pretty obvious what they are so I didn't even have to label the bag.

I will buy three more packages while they are available to use during the year. They freeze very well and they are unavailable around here after the Holidays.  I bake orange-cranberry bread and pumpkin bread all year.

It looks like the Christmas season will be very different than in past years but the gift of baked goods are always welcome.  Perhaps more so now is comfort food appreciated.  Especially those that are familiar to our friends and family.

I've been asked before as to what are some of my favorite preparedness type gifts to give.  I'd say mostly those that I find important in my own home.  Below are just a few of my very favorite items that are reasonably priced for gift giving (or your own use).

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Favorite Emergency Lighting Items

My favorite battery operated lanterns... here and here.  They are the same except for how bright they can get.  They are surprisingly sturdy and although they are small, they both provide good light when needed.  I keep one next to the garage door, too.

These are especially good when you do not want any open flames from candles.  I have given one of these lanterns to a family member who loves to camp as a Christmas gift, too.

My favorite flashlight... here.  I bought my first MagLite almost seven years ago and it has proven invaluable over the years.  It is very sturdy (after being dropped a few times!) and provides great light when needed.

Favorite Gardening Tool

This soil knife was my very favorite gardening tool besides an old hoe (which broke eventually).  My husband kept "borrowing" it and now that I no longer garden, he uses it for lawn and landscape maintenance. This tool has taken abuse and lasted for a very long time!  More info... here.

Favorite preparedness books

I have two different nonfiction books that are both excellent, according to what you need right now.  Also, a well known fiction series from a Christian perspective that a lot of people find helpful.

Dare to Prepare is the best extensive preparedness book I know.  It is a huge book with a lot of information (and photos).  Stan and Holly have been experts in preparedness for decades and I believe this is the latest edition of their book... here.   

Survival Mom is my favorite everyday smaller preparedness book.  It reads easily and offers basic information in a way that anyone new to preparing for the unexpected would appreciate.  Info... here.

Last Light by Terri Blackstock is the first of four novels in her Restoration Series about what happens in a specific family and a community when the electricity fails.   This is one of my husband's favorite series of books.  I've heard many people started thinking about the "what if's" after reading this series.  Info... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Honor, Loyalty, Integrity, Patriotism


There are films I most often watch in the proper season and sometimes with added ambience.  You've got Mail is best in the Fall.  Independence Day on... July 4th.  The Bishop's Wife in December.  But my very favorite movie, Casablanca, is best watched on any blustery and preferably rainy day with candles lit and a hot beverage sitting next to me on the coffee table.  

However, one day last week I noticed it was going to be on Turner Classic Movies that afternoon and being that it was a slow day as far as the To Do list... I had to watch it. Even without wind and rain as a backdrop.

You may know that they colorized it once, along with numerous classic black and white movies.  Which to many of us was akin to messing with Shakespeare or Dickens.  Part of the beauty of those old movies is the way they played with shadows and light.

So why would a movie made before I was born continue to be my favorite of everything I have ever watched?  Possibly because "they don't make them like that, anymore".  The combination of the black and white background, the old movie stars, and the subject matter always make me feel warm and cozy... even if it is about people suffering due to the war.

If you have never seen it, Casablanca takes place in... surprise... Casablanca during WWII. Although it was filmed in the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank.  The movie, told as a love story, is based on the area being a destination for many refugees fleeing the war.  Most of them were Jewish.

Many of the actors in the movie were actually real life refugees from the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (aka: Nazis).  Remembering that the movie was made while WWII was still in process.  It was a place where many refugees had to wait to find a way to America or other countries where they would find freedom.

Each time I watch the movie, I think of the values it reflects which one rarely sees these days.  Values such as what I listed in the title.... honor, loyalty, integrity, and patriotism.  But it could have been different since the ending was not told to the actors until the very end of shooting the film.

It would have been a such a great movie if it had an ending where honor and integrity were not the decisions of the people involved.  I believe it has made the list of favorite movies for seventy-five years because of the message. People need heroes, those that do the right thing in spite of it being difficult.

If you need a respite from today's unsettling news, may I suggest a trip to Morocco circa 1942?   The background of the war, the uncertainty of the refugees, the humorous lines that lift us from what could have been a very dark plot, the music (As Time Goes By, does it get any better?), the story... they all come together to not only entertain but to remind us of the values that matter.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Casablanca in DVD here and Casablanca streaming... here.

There is a book called Destination Casablanca, which is about real life Casablanca and Morocco's role as a place for refugees escaping Europe that I have heard is good but I haven't read it, yet.  Info... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links... where I receive a tiny amount of credit and it cost neither of us anything but you entering your Amazon shopping through a link or the Widget on the sidebar.  I thank you.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Possible lock-downs and some diabetic pantry related Q&A


I'm a little late writing today after what was to be a "quick trip" to the grocery store for a few items I needed for dinner.  I haven't seen the store that packed except for the days leading up to a Holiday.  They had most of the cashier lines open and even then, the people waiting to check out were five and six carts deep at each line. 

The local news was reporting grocery stores being busy with people stocking up, not only for the Holidays but "just in case".  I hadn't seen it before today.  One grocery store representative said that if you need some specific item, for instance spices for your Holiday cooking, you should get them now.

I have to admit that while I had another lock-down on my radar, I was thinking more after the Holidays as a possible time frame.  Within the past week, our COVID numbers have started spreading "like wildfire" in our state after steadily but slowly increasing for awhile.

New guidelines are being put in place to decrease the size of groups allowed in places like restaurants, bars, etc.  The University is increasing steps to keep students and the community safe.  While no one has come out and said there will be a statewide lock-down, there are enough hints here and there to be prepared.

The possibility of a trucker's strike is still on the back burner and I hear about it off and on.  Of course, such a strike added to possible lock-downs would definitely bring the possibility of shortages at stores.  The possibility of civil unrest remains high, too.  We live in interesting times.

The two stores I go to the most have been well stocked since they have been preparing for this possibility.  There are pockets of shortages here and there, though.  I've mentioned a few of them already.  I hadn't budgeted for pantry stock up at this time but I decided to add a few cans of Essenhaus chicken when it was back in stock (it only contains chicken and salt). 

Q&A

I had a comment with someone confused how I would use vodka.  When I wrote that a friend reminded me (it was in a comment) that alcohol like vodka can be used in place of the 91% isopropyl alcohol that I can't find, it was to use it for cuts and wounds.  The leftover vodka that I had used to make vanilla is cheap so it wouldn't bother me to use it on wounds at all.

I have also been asked questions about stocking up for diabetics, some people are surprised at what I keep in my pantry.  I don't want to give medical advice that would conflict with what others have been taught.  This is what I was taught in a series of nutrition classes over a few years.  I learned that there are very few things a diabetic cannot eat.  It has to do with portion size, when a food is eaten, what is eaten with it, etc. 

Remember that there is a difference between Type 2 diabetes (which most diabetics have and is controlled by diet and medicine, some Type 2 diabetics eventually require insulin) and Type 1 diabetes (which is an autoimmune disease controlled by insulin and diet).

However, the recommended diet would be good for the general population, not just diabetics.  The main difference would be that people with Type 1 diabetes like I have and insulin dependent Type 2 diabetics must be more careful about avoiding low blood sugar, which is highly dangerous.  My favorite diabetic educator died from low blood sugar while she was sleeping and she was a professional in the field!

I learned that most sugar free products are not worth it (except sugar free soft drinks, Jello, etc.) because their carb count tends to be just as high as those containing sugar and it is total carbs that are important, not just sugar.  I learned to avoid most fat-free products because they often contain more sweetener to make up for a reduction in fat.

Diabetics do have to be careful with white bread (can be eaten with butter, meat, etc.) and white rice eaten eaten alone but one of my doctors, a diabetic specialist I saw about fifteen years ago, told me brown rice is very good to have in moderation because of its high fiber content.  I buy Birds Eye frozen brown rice and use it at least a couple times a week.

However, white rice mixed with say... dried or canned beans... are good for diabetics and beans are a great pantry food.  The beans actually help lower blood sugar (it's that high fiber content again) so people taking insulin may need to eat a carb with them like beans and rice or cornbread/corn muffins.  I have to do the same with my chili recipe by usually adding some crushed corn chips on top of the bowl. 

Having such knowledge helps when buying for the pantry.  Having cans of refried beans in the pantry can be used to make a low carb taco or burrito for the entire family, they are especially good warmed with some cheese if one is not a vegan.  I always keep flour tortillas in the bread box to make a quick roll up "sandwich" or burrito.

I make Cowboy Casserole by browning ground beef and adding a large can of baked beans along with onion powder, a little ketchup, a dab of mustard, and sometimes other seasonings.  Sometimes I add chopped onions... sometimes I don't.  It is that kind of recipe.  But I always have ground beef in the freezer and large cans of baked beans in the pantry.  Bush's baked beans have sweetener but when mixed with ground beef (and onions!), the carb count is much lower.

There is a complex formula one can follow that combines the fiber content of food, along with the fat content, serving size, etc. but honestly, that stuff drives me nuts.  Over time and experimenting with combinations, I know what works and what doesn't.

That is why I have things like pasta, white flour (as well as whole wheat flour and wheat), baking supplies, etc. in my pantry.  My A1C numbers have been below 7 for awhile now, which is very good.  Good numbers are from a combination of what and how I eat as well as the mixture of two kinds of insulin.

I can fairly easily get away with eating something high carb in the morning.  That is when I have a pastry treat or make pancakes to serve with real maple syrup (which is better for diabetics) sometimes.  I cannot get away with a high carb meal at night.  

When I make a pasta meal, I have already mentioned that I learned to add vegetables to the mix and unless it is a specific recipe, I use less pasta.  You really have to experiment to see what veggies work best in your recipes but if a recipe already calls for vegetables, you can easily just add more.  

I found out by experimenting that a bag of frozen cauliflower (especially cauliflower "rice") added to the macaroni and cheese recipe is delicious and cuts the total carb count.  I used to not be a fan of frozen cauliflower because of its' texture but when adding it to recipes, that doesn't matter.

Diabetics can eat potatoes but must be careful at the kind of potato and serving size.  Because the skin on potatoes helps with blood sugar spikes, I use mainly very small Yukon gold potatoes with the skin on and they tend to work well, especially served with meat.  

I usually roast them in the oven but sometimes I boil them in just a little water and then dry them off to cook with onions, one of my husband's favorite side dishes.  I especially like to boil them in the morning and then cut them in half and saute with onions just before dinner.

Potato skins with cheese and sour cream on top (and maybe some taco meat?) are good because of the higher skin to potato ratio and the added fat.  Hey, I didn't say it was low calorie! Veggies like chopped tomatoes and/or salsa can be added.  I always have salsa in the pantry. But if you are tired of celery and peanut butter as an appetizer, go with potato skins or something similar in moderation.

Sweet potatoes with butter and just a tiny bit of brown sugar are allowed but cut in half if they are very large. I always add cinnamon, which is great for blood sugar.  I still fix Idaho baked potatoes from time to time but my portion is half of a large potato and always with butter and sour cream, which slow down the carb spike.

I keep packages of Idahoan mashed potatoes in the pantry, they are just enough for two people.  They are served usually with meat and gravy which, you guessed it, slows down any carb spike.  I also make shepherd's pie with the top being one package of the Idahoan mashed potatoes made according to direction.  There is a balance of potato to meat mixture.

I was taught that diabetics are even allowed a treat off and on but they should be planned.  I love pastries of various kinds and I can eat a pastry, or a piece of pie, or even a small piece of cake.  However, it must be combined with protein and/or fat to control carb spikes.  Portion control means a couple cookies to enjoy with coffee or tea and not five or six... even chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven!  

My first nutritionist told me she recommends diabetics have a planned "cheat" once a week.  Especially of their favorite food whether it is a dessert or another high carb food.  She said to have it at the end of a high protein meal where no other carb side dish is served, which helps prevent carb spikes.  She found that patients are far more likely to stay on a diabetic diet if they know they can have a treat to look forward to each week.

Having written all of the above, there are some things I am never to eat or drink and alcohol of any kind is one of them.  Absolutely no mixed drinks and I don't even drink wine at a nice dinner since I'd rather have my allowed carb in some form of chocolate.

Other things I am never to eat or drink include non-diet soft drinks and fruit juice of any kind.  Which means, I have to be careful about my favorite apple cider.  A very small cup of hot cider is fine as long as it isn't enjoyed too late in the day. 

I have kept small cans of orange juice on my bedside table off and on for when I develop dangerously low blood sugar at night, that is how quickly fruit juice adds sugar to your body.  Which I assume is why pediatricians now warn against too much juice for children.

I hope this answers some of your questions about the diabetic pantry.  Once again, we purchase for the pantry what we actually eat and when you are cooking for more than one or two people, it helps to know how to cook for a diabetic as well as everyone else without making two different meals.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Tea - A good word fitly spoken

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.  (Proverbs 25:11)

There was a day last week when I stayed in my red flannel housecoat from morning to the time I returned to bed.  Something I never do!  It was the first day in about a month that I had no good disruptions (like family visiting), no antibiotics, no doctor's appointments, and I had been to the dentist the day before. 

I felt wrung out, discouraged, much like Elijah after the incident with the prophets of Baal except I had not just called down fire to consume water-soaked wood and taken out the prophets of a false God.  

While his great victory is written in I Kings 18 (along with one of the most amusing incidents in the Bible), it is the aftermath of that victory in I Kings 19 that I love to read... and learn from.  I think we all can empathize with Elijah, after using so much of our physical and spiritual energy, we become fatigued and the enemy can whisper falsehoods we tend to believe.

Honestly, I was ready to just sit in the recliner the rest of my days.  I was physically tired.  I was spiritually weary, the election seemed to cast a shadow over everything.  I was ready to give up blogging because my mind was mush.  I was way behind in answering blog related emails. My old iPad, which I used to take photos and share them on Instagram, had finally died so I was not looking for pretty items to put on Instagram.

 Life was too... hard.  It feels that way when one is physically exhausted, doesn't it? 

That same day, God encouraged me with a gift from a long time blog friend who sends a favorite Holiday tea every year.  As much as I know I will enjoy the tea, it felt so good to hear from a friend I only communicate with once or twice a year.  I have a few blog friends like that, we don't communicate often but they are still dear to me.

It was that same day... or the one after... that I had a Facebook Message from a dear friend who now lives in England with her husband, they retired to his home country after completing work on various mission fields.  They became friends when her husband came to the University for further education (already in middle age!) to help the work they did with missions and we attended the same church.

We haven't talked in many years but she was reminded of us as Autumn leaves fell at her home in England and she remembered my husband's allergy to leaf mold.  God had to bring that memory to her mind!  It was good to catch up with someone who had been an important part of our lives many years ago.

Both friends had no idea how much just hearing from people who cared would help overcome a worn out spirit.  Avoiding the news had not helped.  Watching a cute Hallmark Christmas movie or two had not helped.  Honestly, while the Psalms brought peace even they did not lift my spirit.

Talking to family and receiving my daily email correspondence from a dear friend helped a little but I guess God knew I needed a booster shot of encouragement at that time.  He also reminded me of what I have been reminded of recently... our words and our actions have an affect on people around us.

With the Holiday season approaching, we need to especially guard our words this year.  I decided long ago that agreeing with my political opinion cannot be a litmus test for those receiving my affection, whether friend or family.  Election seasons come and go but people are most important to me and to God.

Friends come from various backgrounds and even those who grew up in our home will see things differently because they are of a different generation.  We view life a certain way depending on our background and someone born in the 1950s has far different experiences than one born in the year 2000.  

When we are all believers in Christ, you would think that would cause us to see things the same but it never has and it never will until that day that we go to be with the Lord and we finally are not looking through a glass darkly.  The Word say we will some day see all things as they are and this side of Eternity... we do not.

It is the Holy Spirit at work in the world that is bringing everything together for the return of Christ and neither you nor I have the entire picture.  We do not have a small smidgen of it compared to the Lord's viewpoint.  Whatever the outcome of an election in our country or any other place in the world, God can and will use it as He prepares the world for His second advent.

Only Jesus is our Savior.  Not our favorite politicians.

Just as hearing from my friends renewed my spirit last week, I want to be an encouragement to others.  So, this next week... let us speak good words to those around us.  Words that bring peace.  Words that bring joy.  

Remembering that that while we can continue to pray that His will be done in our nations and in the world, what the world really needs most right now is a person who knows the joy of the Lord. 

Note:  Just in case you wonder, I do guard my social media, especially Instagram.  It is my happy place online. That is the one place I choose carefully who I follow and who I "un-follow".  It has to be a stress free environment and I do tend to follow more like minded people there.  We all need a place online where we know we will not cringe when we read a post.