Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Grace 2023

One of my sourdough loaves that turned out pretty!

For the last decade or so I've picked 'a word of the year.'  For me, it has proven helpful to have a topical focus for each year.  God has chosen to use these words to deepen my spiritual growth and keep my gaze on Him.  The last two years...I've had Dwell & Abide and, amid deep suffering, God has used these words to keep me in His Word, for which I am deeply grateful.  

I had a real struggle choosing a word this year.  I started considering Hesed...due to my recent reading of Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mastery of God's Lovingkindness by Michael Card.  But, I decided it was a bit too wide and involved.  It would probably require a re read of the book and I have other books on my long list.

So, I then seriously considered Humility.  

This leads me on a bunny trail to explain a concern I have with this whole "choosing a word for the year" thang.  I have noticed it's led to a certain amount of superstition in the christian church and even myself.  It's ridiculous for us to think, 'If I don't choose difficult topics such as patience, humility, etc. than God won't refine and teach me in those areas.'  God is absolutely faithful to make us more like His Son.  He will focus in whichever areas He sees we need it most.  It doesn't matter if I'm in agreement.  Also, my fears on choosing difficult topics stem from a skewed or inaccurate view of Who He Is.  He is gentle and lowly...He knows all about me and yet desires to draw me close.  Any pain that he brings or allows is for my refinement, not my destruction.  So, all that to say...I didn't choose Humility (lol) was too scary.  But, God is still faithfully humbling me and working on crushing my Pride.  I would expect nothing less.

Where I landed for this year was Grace.  It seemed gentle and simple.  Boy, was I wrong.  I am currently just collecting ways I hear it used...and then I'm going to start parceling out what God's Word says about each.  It brings up interesting Grace/Mercy, Grace & Gracious, Grace-filled...I've already uncovered what I think are some incorrect uses or maybe just secular uses of the word...'giving myself or others grace'...'it's all grace'...etc.  It will be an interesting year.  It makes me thankful that I have decided to write again.  

Do you select a word focus each year?  Why or why not?  If so, what have you chosen and how can I be praying for you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

What are you reading? January Check-in


I have a new journaling bible...a new version to me...CSB.  It has a linen's hardback.  All of things are new and I'm loving it.  I haven't gotten a new Bible in a long time.  As I type that I think how incredibly blessed I am to have multiple bibles, in multiple versions, beautiful and marked with all I've learned by God's grace over the years.  He has done a lot through His Word in me.

Untangling Emotions by Groves & Smith -  this is a reread for me.  Our small group is going through it together.  I read it quickly a year ago, per my normal method.  It is a joy to read it slowly and with a trusted group of friends.  Their insights are very helpful to me in learning to love better.

The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson - this is also a reread for me.  I try to read this annually because it's very helpful to my marriage.  Our marriage has undergone a lot of stress these last few years and all of the truths in this book help get me right side up and viewing things biblically.

Garment of Shadows by Laurie King - I love the Mary Russell series by this author.  Recently my hubby gifted me with the missing pieces of my collection so I'm re reading them.  It's been so long I can't remember exactly how they end and certain details.  I stayed up until 1AM finishing this so it goes down as the first completed book of 2023.  

30 Days of Humility by Crossway - A close friend is doing this with me.  I don't feel I have time to join a group study...but we're going through this bi-weekly.  I think it's silly how superstitious we can be about studying things like patience and humility as if it will bring trial into our lives.  As if God, who only gives good gifts, wouldn't decide we're getting lessons on it whether we 'choose' them or not.  Ha.  

If you happen to be in the blogosphere...I'd sure love to hear what you're reading.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

HP: A New Year

grab button for From this Side of the Pond 

1. Did you set any goals for the new year this time last year? Did you meet them or miss the mark? Tell us more if you're comfortable sharing. 

I am always setting goals...but the last few years have been such a blur of suffering and just surviving that I haven't kept up well.  I have survived (praise the Lord) and am just now beginning to feel like myself again.  I have made some new goals...all manageable.  I don't know that I've lowered my expectations but I've gotten more realistic.  I am hoping I'm learning to not hold on too tightly.  

I can't remember the last time

I smiled weightlessly, without worry

Faking it becoming my mantra

And pushing through second nature

But yesterday, I smiled 

all day

And I noticed it.

Slowly, joy is returning.

~Selina Bergey

2. What are three words that might describe the kind of person you were this past year or describe in some way how your life looked? 

Sinner, Sufferer, Saint....I've heard this used many times in counseling to help evaluate a whole person but this year I've examined each very personally.    I pray that this gives me greater compassion and love for others.

3. What's something new you ate, saw, heard, or experienced in 2022? What did you think? 


Always pray to have eyes that see the best, 

a heart that forgives the worst, 

a mind that forgets the bad, 

and a  soul that never loses faith.

4.  Oxford Dictionary has announced it's word of the year for 2022, and it's this-goblin mode. Huh? Have you ever heard this phrase? Used this phrase? It's defined as "a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations." 

This year they allowed the public to choose amongst three finalists. You can read more about that here

I would love to know what constitutes "the public"...I haven't even heard my young friends use goblin mode.  Gotta say the "unapologetically" part of this definition is unsettling.

If you were in charge, what word would you declare word of the year for 2022? 

I would choose Duolingo because our whole family has gotten into using this app. We are all learning different languages which has been hilarious and fun.  I am getting to the point where I'm going to need a real text book and some friends to practice with but the app is super fun.

5. Any special plans for an end of year celebration in your house or town? The travel channel says the world's best New Year's Eve celebrations will happen in Copacabana Beach-Rio de Janerio, the Orlando theme parks in Florida,  London, Sydney, New York's Time Square, Edinburgh Scotland, and Paris. If you could attend any one of these which would you choose? Tell us why? 

During the day we played lots of games as a family.  It was fun and relaxing.  Poor Em had her wisdom teeth out the day before so I made enchiladas.  I forget that they're so easy to make.  They turned out delicious.  We saved the fizzy sparkling grape juice for another time since she couldn't have carbonation yet and we didn't want to leave her out.  

I'd love to spend New Year's Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland.  It's a beautiful city at any time of the year...and the people are lovely.  I love following @mylittleedinburgh on Insta.  She makes me want to go back for another visit.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I'm sure I've said this before...but perhaps this year I will actually do it. ' I would like to spend more time in this space.'  Writing is good for me...cathartic.  So much has happened since my last post...after surviving a Stem Cell Transplant my Dad got Graft Vs Host Disease and passed away August Mom was in assisted and living six hours away from brother and I sorted and sold my parents home...and then in August of 2022 I moved Mom to live closer to me...the transition was bumpy even though a lot of careful planning was done beforehand.  And it continues to be an adjustment...I struggle to carry an enormous amount of responsibility without adding in self pity and selfishness.  Some days I fall on my face. Every day God picks me up...and carries me.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Happy Hot Hodgepodge

 1. What's something that reminds you of your grandmother? Tell us why. 

This bone china strawberry tea cup.  I use it daily.  Ironically, she was allergic to strawberries...but she loved this pretty mug.  When I wrapped my hands around it I can picture her hands wrapped around it.

2. Is your life currently more 'moonlight and roses' or a little more 'every rose has it's thorn'? Elaborate. 

I think I'm coming out of a season of 'every rose has its thorn' with various trials but I'm not sure I'd exactly say I'm in a 'moonlight and roses' quite yet either.  Seems like sorta begging for it to say that.  Summertime always feel sort hectic to me...I struggle to enjoy the wild ride of activities.

3. June 23rd is National Pink Day...favorite thing you own in any shade of pink? Favorite thing found in nature in any shade of pink? Your favorite pink food or beverage? Your favorite shade of pink? 

I have a dusty pink V-neck t-shirt that almost works as a neutral.  It's very soft.  

These are pink roses from my yard.  The darker rose is from bushes at the side of the house.  The lighter is my family rose from Scotland.  They smell amazing.

4. Last thing that had you 'tickled pink'? 

I finally finished my counseling my Congratulations email.  It was ALOT of work and a long time coming.  I'm so happy!  

5. What are two or three words that describe your style. 

Classic Jeans



6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Summer fun times here...Glad for a break in the weather after a SUPER hot week last week.  So glad for water guns and water balloons.  And AC...very grateful for AC!
Loving coffee time with my girl baby...She is enjoying coffee finally...and just started driver's ed classes online this week.  They grow up so fast.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

I Won't Last A Day Without You, God!

Sometimes I'm struck by love songs written for mere mortals that could be worship songs to my Savior.  It reminds me how easily I put these expectations on my marriage or friendships.  Always, perfectly be there for me... always, perfectly keep your promises...always, perfectly shower love upon me...It's unfair because they simply can't hope to measure up.  But my God, His love never fails.

This song is a great example...

Day after day I must face a world of strangers (I am a stranger here...this world is not my home)
Where I don't belong, I'm not that strong (O Lord, I need you)
It's nice to know that there's someone I can turn to (He will never leave me or forsake me)
Who will always care, you're always there (I am His, forever)

Touch me and I end up singing (He even sings over me and quiet me with his love)
Troubles seem to up and disappear (He delivers me from all my fears)
You touch me with the love you're bringing (through your precious Son Jesus)
I can't really lose when you're near (We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us)
When you're near, my love (God is close to the brokenhearted)

If all my friends have forgotten half their promises (God always keeps his promises)
They're not unkind, just hard to find 
One look at you and I know that I could learn to live
Without the rest, I've found the best (Indeed, I have)

When there's no getting over that rainbow
When my smallest of dreams won't come true (So many unfulfilled longings)
I can take all the madness the world has to give (I CAN'T take it...I need God's help)
But I won't last a day without you (God)

If you're curious for the full lyrics, without my parenthetical thoughts, you can find them Here.  

Thanks for tagging along for an overly analytical musical adventure.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

June Bug HodgePodge


1. Something you've seen recently that's 'cuter than a June bug'? 
I consider these peeps to be pretty cute!  We managed to get away for an unplugged week in TN before the crazy of summer began.  I really loved the cuteness of seeing their faces and spending time with them at waterfalls, around campfires and across board games.  
While wading (yes, bravely with my phone/camera)...I got a picture of this cute water 'bug'...

2. Tell us something about where you were and what you were doing in June of 1988? If you weren't born yet, June of 1998. Or if that doesn't work, June of 2008. 
June 1988: I was in third grade.  I had Miss Dailey as a teacher.  I loved school.  I remember all of my teacher's names.  I feel like school let out in June when I was growing up.  We didn't go back until labor day.  Now that's about a month different.  My kids get out in May and go back in August.  
June 1998:  I graduated from high school.  It was kind of weird because I graduated from a school I transferred to at the end of my Junior year and then I went to the community college for half the senior year.  My friends were largely back in upstate NY where I'd grown up.  But, I do remember my grandparents coming and I was very excited to be going to college on a full vocal scholarship.
June 2008:  I was the married mommy to two adorable children...a three year old and one year old.  

3. A place in your home or outdoor space where you feel 'snug as a bug in a rug'? 
My sewing room/office...this has become more and more my refuge over the past year. 

This is my current project...these are from a pinwheel exchange and I want to get them into a quilt before the Winter state guild retreat when we can reveal what we did with ours to each other.  
I've been working on a counseling certification and much of that has been virtual, so my design wall became a lovely back drop for counseling and the sewing room became my snug, cozy, private space.

4. June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Month. Do you normally get your 4-5 servings each day? What's a favorite summer dish you make/serve/like to be served-ha! made with one of your favorite summer fruits. A favorite summer dish made with a favorite summer veg? How do you feel about cooking in the summer months? 
I love fruits and vegetables.  I don't think I've had one I don't like.  We really enjoy oven/grill roasted veggies with just EVOO, salt and pepper.  I regularly roast cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus.  Strawberries are in full boom here and are sooooo good.  I've made jam and we ate a whole bunch plain.  I'm debating picking another time but I don't want to be greedy.  Peaches are just coming into stores here...and I make a fresh peach ice box pie that is amazing if I do say so myself.  It's my son's favorite.  It's pretty much peach jello and fresh peaches in a graham cracker crust.  
5. Do you have a summer reading list? If so share a title or two we can add to our own. 

Upcoming on my list are...Untangling Emotions and The Making of CS Lewis.

Fun fact about my reading habits.  I generally have a long list of need to reads for counseling education, etc.  So, I 'bribe' myself to read those tougher, nonfiction 'rewarding' myself with fiction before bed.  So, I've always got an Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes on my nightstand for said reward purposes.  I have the complete works of both.  

6. Insert your own random thought here.
My Sweet Emma helped me pass out runner bibs at our church's annual 5K-10K...We usually do it as a family but the boys were down with back pain and allergies...It was as sweet time.
I'm about to head off for a few days of sewing with friends.  I'm very excited.  I'm off to pack...hopefully not everything but the kitchen sink.  I try to be a light packer but I think of too many possibilities. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Five Minutes of Slow



After a season that was absolute, full out sprint....God gave me slow.  Not a full stop...but certainly a decided stroll.  

He knew I needed lean even harder into Him.  There was an adrenaline rush to the fast...a no nonsense clarity to the, "I can't do this and I need you Jesus... a "I am weak and You are strong"...a "gather yourself and RUN"...

So, in ways the slow held hard lessons...quiet, waiting, lonely.  And...I found in it a chance to dwell await His perfect timing and to see His ways are always best.  To again renew and embrace being a helper to my husband...who needed me to go slow and care for his injured back...and a time to embrace my kids who needed me to go slow...listen and love.  

And now as things begin to gather...the old, familiar busy days of summer activity...the slow, abiding remains...the love for an early morning of slow...and the rich, abiding.  God continues to give opportunities to trust Him more.