February Musings

my photo, my valentines

Do you have favorite things that you take note of throughout the day, month and year?

Yeah. Me too. It could be something as basic as your morning coffee; or as complex as a benchmark anniversary.

For some reason, I like beginnings. I guess it’s the possibility of new things and new opportunities that creates extra hope at the beginning of a day, week, month or year. As we learned last year (and, indeed, so far this year), you cannot always trust that the “newness” is going to be a good thing. It’s a chance we take- entering into something new. Of course, we usually don’t have a choice when it comes to beginning days, weeks, months and year. If I’m alive, it’s going to happen, whether I like it or not.

I really like double beginnings; such as the fact that February 1st was not only the beginning of the month, it was also Monday, the beginning of the week! Since I like these beginnings and double beginnings so much, why didn’t I blog about it? I did “mark” it but only by noticing it. I didn’t say a thing. This double beginning isn’t like missing Christmas or forgetting a birthday. Those are big important events. This double beginning isn’t so much as a blip on most peoples’ radar but to me it’s of importance, in fact, it’s a medium important event to me. But I allowed it to slip past. Why, I wonder? Do you let medium important things slide past?

Perhaps I let this double beginning of medium importance slip past because, if I’m totally honest, I am becoming just a little disillusioned by “beginnings”. There isn’t, and never has been, anything magic about a beginning. For years, I have looked forward to a beginning as something hopeful, a new chance at change (and it certainly can be that). But you can begin almost anything at any time. And the main problem with being disillusioned is just that… it (whatever you are hoping for in a wish-it-happens kind of way) is an illusion. It’s something you only vaguely wish for, often something that is not even based on fact, a fantasy. If I am looking for a beginning to change my situation and do nothing to bring that change to fruition, it’s an illusion, a lie. Rarely does anything suddenly change without some sort of effort on my part. I might need to simply change my mind or I might need to take a walk or even take a class. But usually something is required on my part in order to see a change. The action doesn’t need to be big; it can be as small as that change of mind I mentioned. But any change is bold and often scary and that in itself is worth celebrating and taking note of- it’s of great importance! Do you ever feel disillusioned about things you’ve done for years?

Back to February! I really like Valentine’s Day. I love the colors: red, pink, white, purple. I love that there’s so much talk about love: loving each other, romantic love, giving love, how to love better, all the scripture about love and loving. I love the heart shape. (Of course, I love hearts- the ones that beat and keep us alive!) There’s something to talk about- February, the shortest month has the sweetest “holiday”! On the 1st of February, my pink and red heart flag goes on the porch. The string of hearts, saying, “welcome” goes on the door. This year I added shiny red hearts behind it. A little sparkle, you know! I don’t have a wreath, per se. Maybe I should get hearts and flowers and ribbon when they go on sale and make a pretty one this year. Do you have a Valentine wreath? I don’t expect gifts and dinner in a romantic spot. I plan dinner for whoever is going to be around because, usually, there is more than just the hubs and me. I plan to put the red table cloth on the dining room table, and get out the candles. I like to plan something special for dinner, and especially something special for dessert! Dessert must be something involving chocolate and something red or pink… and whipped cream, of course! What is your favorite Valentine’s indulgence?

LOL! I was just talking to a friend about Valentine’s indulgences. She said she’d call my Friday and remind me to be sure to have a good-for-you dinner and a sugar-free dessert. HA! We got to laughing about crazy ideas and decided I should serve dark chocolate-covered carrots! That’s just hilarious to me! What kind of pretend good-for-you dessert would you serve? (Make it outrageous! Strawberry frosted Brussell sprouts, perhaps?)

I almost always THINK about making and sending Valentines to family and friends. What’s more fun than creating something pretty out of paper, adding encouraging, loving words and sending it off in the mail? This year, I managed to make a dozen cards and get them all in the mail. If you didn’t get one, I’m sorry. Believe me when I tell you that I thought about making one for you and I WANTED to make one for you, too. It’s just that I ran out of time and blank cards. I hope you’re not offended. You really are in my heart and I love you truly. If you do get one, I hope you are encouraged by it. Do you send Valentine’s cards?

I realize that Valentine’s Day is a sore point for many people, particularly us women, and I am sorry. It can be that way for any of us. That’s why I take the bull by the horns and plan what I like to do! I also think of it as Happy Heart Day, or Happy Love Day. That takes the broken hearts and not-received flowers out of the mix. We can all celebrate love… the love of a spouse, hopefully. the love of a child, perhaps. the love of a good friend, for sure. the love of a teacher or mentor, sometimes. the Love of Father God, always and unconditionally, faithfully. I deeply desire for you to know you are loved and lovable.

February is the birth month of our first grandchild… and my really good friend…. and my friend’s son, who is our “other-son”. All those beginnings and celebrations along with Valentine’s Day make it a fun month for me. That first grandchild? She’s turning 21 this year! How the years have zipped past. She is, and has always been, the “best thing since sliced bread”, the “cat’s meow” and the “bee’s knees”. She is smart and confident and kind and loving and beautiful inside and out. (Ok, full disclosure, every single one of our grandchildren is all those things and more in their own unique and wonderful way. I guess it’s just that she is the first. And it’s her birthday month!)

One sad thing about February is it’s the month my really good friend (see above) passed away. A death anniversary always makes a month emotionally tricky. Do you take note of the hard stuff as well as the good?

And finally, one more thing about February: the possibility of getting a good snow event here in Central NC. If we are going to get snow, February is our best bet. Now I know you folks who live with snow from October to May probably can’t understand this but to us, 4 inches of snow is a big deal. Schools close, everybody stays home (oh wait…) and, well, it just feels so nice to be cozy inside while everything you see is being covered with a soft blanket of beauty. Usually our “big snow” only stays around for a few days and then we all move on and resume our normal lives (whatever normal is). It’s a bit like a holiday in the middle of a dreary, dull winter. Snow covers dead grass and bare tree branches; it sparkles in the sun; it provides hours of cold fun for playing; it encourages warm cocoa with marshmallows (if you’ve thought to get them along with your bread and milk, beforehand!). And yes, it also messes up everyone’s schedules. But that’s part of the experience. Even us old folks secretly pray for snow! Do you enjoy snow?

I’ve asked a lot of questions along with my musings. If you would answer one- or all!- of them, I’d be so happy to hear your thoughts.

Whether you respond or not, I hope (the believing kind) that your month is pleasant and that (Valentine’s) (Heart) (Love) Day is a nice day for you. Blessings….

Welcome, 2021

Happy New Year!!

It’s time for “New Year’s Resolutions!”

Here it is the third day of new year and we have yet to see the sun! It’s been a cloudy, rainy beginning to 2021. But that’s okay. It’s been relatively quiet politically (that’s about to change) and we’re still basking in the soft lights of Christmas, so we can endure some clouds.

I think this is a good year to make monthly intentions (aka: resolutions), rather than the typically set yearly ones. Consider it. Neither you nor I have a clue what this year will try to dish up. You do remember 2020? There were some months last year that the goal was simply to stay close to God and rest in Him. Pandemic with a side of cancer (hubby, but he beat it again- thanks be to God!), was just not on my radar at the beginning of the year. It took a lot of effort to stay upright. Produce something? I could barely produce dinner at times. And I felt guilty that I wasn’t “using the time wisely”. I didn’t need the guilt, thank you very much. Intentionally taking a month at a time helped me, once I realized I needed to see things in smaller chunks.

I am seeking a word for the year as an overall guide. It’s amazing how one word really can carry you even in the midst of the unexpected. But intentions are going to be monthly. It’s also possible that this month’s intentions will become next month’s as well- might even carry through all 12 months. That’s fine. But a monthly check-in is my plan. I had been doing a seasonal/quarterly goal re-check, that was helpful. And I’ll still reconsider my word for the year quarterly.

Since one of my intentions for January is to de clutter (that will become more defined), I’m pretty sure it will be necessary to continue that one for many months!

Another is to read BOOKS. So again, that’s one that will become more defined, and I do intend to carry it into the rest of the year.

After last year, though, I can see that these good intentions may need tweeking- or even let go entirely- if the need arises. Even the Best intentions and goals need a good dose of reality in the cold hard light of circumstances beyond my control, I will not be held hostage to something that doesn’t serve my immediate needs. No matter how much junk is piled up or how many good-for-me books there are to read, in order to do more that squeak by, I have to be realistic.

No. I’m not waffling on my goals, just realizing there’s a hierarchy to everything and there are times we simply need to focus on the very most basic of basics.

I’m not expecting 2021 to be “unprecedented”. But if it is, I feel like I’ve learned important things that will keep me going and actually enable me to turn challenges into opportunities. My mindset is different. I’ve given myself permission to do what I need to do and what I need to do, always, is rest in Jesus and listen for His guidance, living in His love and knowing that what whatever happens, in the end, it will all be alright… because of Jesus. If I happen to “produce” something in that process, hooray for me!

What are your thoughts on Yearly Goals/Intentions? Are you making them?

Has 2020 brought you new ways of thinking about Yearly Goals/Intentions?

December, 2020

I haven’t had much to say lately. Not totally true, actually. I’ve had a lot of stuff to say. It’s just that it wasn’t worth saying and certainly not saying to the “world”.

But it’s December 1st. That change of seasons and the change of month… the beginnings and the endings… also Advent just began a few days ago. Advent is a season of waiting, preparing, anticipating, a season of it’s own.

You know how I like to mark the seasons. Therefore, here I am.

I grew up in the Baptist church mostly. We didn’t hold to that “high church” stuff, like Advent. (Or if we did, I don’t remember it!) Advent has always held an attraction for me but I’ve never really embraced it- don’t have the candles, or a devotional. This year, though, I want something different. I want to embrace it. I want to embrace the darkness and the waiting. I want to prepare my heart for the Light that is coming. I want to be still and listen for His still small voice that whispers, “peace”, “calm”. I want to anticipate His Light coming and bringing relief to the craziness of this world. “Your Kingdom, come, Lord. Your will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

I am looking for the rejoicing in this weary world.

I am anticipating the glorious Light that in breaking yonder.

I want to feel the thrill of Hope.

Although it feels like slogging through mire, we have the Light with us all the time and, really, we don’t have to wait. Thanks be to God.

Even when we are wondering what’s going on, we know, it’s going to be OK in the end, because we know Who is calling the shots. And we can participate in the form of prayer- if only we would stop complaining and worrying and judging each other and simply Believe.

I’m learning, the first candle of Advent is Hope. And Hope is always with us even when it feels like we can find barely a mite-sized bit of it. A thrill of HOPE… You know what that feels like! We might not feel it often, but it’s there and it is truly a thrill. Hope is worth hanging onto.

Will you join me in the darkness? Will you join me in the waiting?

So many good things take place in the darkness. Think of a seed germinating.

So many good preparations are made in the waiting and breathing and anticipating. Things we are not always aware are happening until we’re called on to do what we’ve never done before.

We’ve made it through this amazing year. We have grown. We’ve learned more about ourselves and others. We’ve learned that people are more important than things. We’ve learned that slowing down will not only not kill us, it’ll actually help us live better lives.

You don’t need to make more big goals and try to add a millions subscribers this month, but there are a few goals we might want to consider. Small but important steps that will bring us to a good ending and set us on an upward path no matter what 2021 will bring.

Don’t be afraid of the darkness, because you know the Light is with you always.

Listen to the silence and hear His whispers of Love and Peace.

Darkness is always shattered by Light. Darkness cannot win. We are already victors.

Look for and anticipate the good and the beauty, no matter where you are, or what circumstances surround you.

Praying you have a meaningful Advent season, whether you “follow the Advent rules” or wing it your own way. Whatever you do, please, stop and hear the angels sing, hear His whispers of Love in the stillness of the night. Seek out the Light and share it far and wide.

Blessings to you, and love….

Good-bye October…

Photo by David Besh on Pexels.com

Today is the last day of October. Like the tendency this year, the month has flown by.

Before we say good-bye, though, let’s take a look at this October 31st… Because today isn’t just any old last day of the month.

Oh no.

It’s halloween- the day we not only celebrate evil, but flaunt it! And hasn’t evil just had a hay-day this year? Evil is in it’s “glory”- destroying and pillaging for all it’s worth. No holds barred. And anyone who calls evil by it’s name is “intolerant”.

While evil is the worst of it, that’s not all.

Many consider this evil as well and I tend to agree… It’s time to change our clocks back to “sun time”, original time. Time to stop saving daylight! Truly, time is just an artificial instrument used by humans to help maintain order. Twice a year, though, when we “change” time. I always wonder what Congress was smoking the day they decided that changing time would be beneficial to the country. Sure, there might have been some “reason”, at the time, maybe for a season. But really. That season has passed… it’s beyond past. We all know that changing time for just that one “little” hour, confuses our bodies and it takes us weeks to recover. That is really not helpful at all. We don’t need to add confusion to our lives- especially this year!

But wait! There’s more…

Today is the SECOND full-moon of the month. It’s 2020, why not have an extra full moon? Why not have 13 full-moons this strange year? A full-moon makes a difference- it’s not just myth or superstition, although plenty abounds. It increases the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, messing with the tides, reproduction, mental health, our sleep and the body’s cardiovascular system, among other things.

While all this truly can be upsetting, we can know we are safe in the Hands of our loving and gracious Heavenly Father. He is our protection and our comfort. He keeps us safe and gives us peace in every situation. If all that isn’t enough, we have only to ask, and Father God Himself will give us HIS wisdom. We also have a “great cloud of witnesses” in Heaven, who are cheering us on, and a “community of the spirit” (us) to encourage and uplift each other. We really need God’s wisdom in these current days. Halloween, full-moon and time change are nothing compared with the possibility of impending catastrophe that this election presents. The very fiber of our existence, our very lives are at stake. If ever we need Godly wisdom, it is now.

Ends and beginnings are a transition time, a threshold. They are times to check in. They are times to consider and re-consider what’s happening in our lives. They are a time to get with God, connect deeper with His wisdom as well as His grace and love.

If you find yourself anxious about the current events of the day, or are tempted to become anxious, stop! Take a deep breath. (Hey! Take ANOTHER one!) Change your focus and express gratitude. Take another deep breath and thank God for His presence with you.

God bless us, every one.

Searching for Certainty- Book Review

Searching For Certainty - Shelly Miller

I’ve had the honor of being on the Launch Team for Shelly Miller’s newest book, Searching for Certainty. I’ve been following Shelly on Instagram for several years and she’s become a far-away friend, even though I’ve never met her. I appreciate her honesty while still being able to find the beauty in life. She takes beautiful photos. She’s a writer, a speaker and in ministry with her hubby in London. Even in the face of challenges, calling them by name, Shelly always leads herself, and me along with her, back to God and His Word.

She’s had some big challenges in her life. Who hasn’t, right? But Shelly has been able to find beauty in the ashes, grace in the waiting, peace in the unknowns. In her book, she shares her life’s realities but also points us to the truth of God’s love and presence, using scripture, stories, and references to photography to encourage us in our present day struggles.

Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads and Amazon:

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Are you feeling anxious and stressed by the uncertainties you are facing right now? Of course you are! We all live with varying degrees of uncertainty all the time. Life is generally an uncertain enterprise. Whether we are uncertain of saying “yes” to a commitment, which spaghetti sauce is most like homemade or awaiting a diagnosis, stress can begin to take over. When our eyes and mind are clouded with the unknowns, we often need help refocusing on the certainty of Father God’s presence and love.

I feel certain that the timing of Shelly’s book is a God thing, just in time to help pull us closer into the refuge that is Father God. Just in time to encourage us to keep on going in faith and confidence.

Who could have imagined the challenges this year would bring us? No matter your theology or political leanings, this pandemic mess colors our lives in one way or another. We need a place of quiet assurance. We need God’s rest in our souls.

Like so many, Shelly has been through some hard stuff. She knows what she’s talking about when she reaches out, takes our hand and, like a sister, grieves with us, brings compassion and understanding, then points us back to our Firm Foundation, our Heavenly Father. Combining her own stories, and experiences, scripture and analogies from photography, she helps us find rest again, a place where we can exhale and be at peace.

Shelly doesn’t just fluff over the hard stuff nor does she let us off the hook. She asks deep questions and guides us to take a hard look at our own lives. It takes interaction to afford a change and she gives each of us that opportunity as we read and work through the book with her.

Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer (we are praying for healing!), Shelly is now walking through this hard unknown. Yet even so, her words ring true. She brings comfort to our anxious souls by reminding us of Father God’s promises and loving presence with us.

If you are feeling anxious, unsettled, read this book. Just do it. Your soul will breathe a sigh of relief as it releases anxiety and breathes in the comfort of God’s presence. Your soul will thank you. At least, that’s the way I feel! This is a book I will read and re-read and pass along to my friends.

God bless you, Shelly, in your fight for victory over the uncertainty of disease. And Thank You for sharing your love, kindness, knowledge and compassion with each of us.

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I’m serious about this book being a great help and comfort. Yes, it’s true we know Father God and His promises and we live in His presence. However, I, for one, can too easily lose sight of all that knowledge and experience when yet another challenge whacks me upside the head. We all need reminders to bolster us in our growth to be more like Jesus. I really believe Shelly’s story helps fill that bill.

You can pre-0rder the book right now on any number of platforms or you can wait til the release on Tuesday, October 13.

And one last thing: Hang in there friends! We have a sure foundation that will never leave us or fail us- even in a world of upside-down uncertainties. God bless you good!

Psalms 91:4, The Passion Translation
His massive arms[f] are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.”

Autumn!

Here it is- the first Sunday after the Autumnal equinox.

Nearly a week into Fall and I have not said one thing about it. It’s my favorite season but I haven’t yet paid homage. The really amazing thing is that our Central NC weather has actually been rather fall-like. Cool weather usually makes my heart sing! It’s another odd (but welcome) occurrence in this year of oddities. Autumn- like weather usually triggers me to wax poetic and revel in the cool air. Maybe knowing it’ll get all warm and muggy again has tempered my reaction- or maybe I’m getting lazy or becoming jaded. No! I am determined to fully celebrate and enjoy Fall!

Warm or chilly, I put my Autumn wreath on the front door the first of September and it looks so beautiful- orange pumpkins and ribbon, yellow sunflowers with a white pumpkin for contrast. I love my Fall wreath! I love putting a pumpkin and a few gourds on the porch. And please pass the mums!

Much as I like Autumn, I also like beginnings and Fall is a great time to begin again. The cooler, clearer weather cools and clears my brain. It’s a good time to take a look at the previous three-quarters of the year and decide if changes are in order. I think that’s always a good practice, but this year, crazy and confounding as it’s been, especially calls for contemplation. Have goals gotten ambushed? Have plans been sidetracked? Have you felt overwhelmed?

On this first Sabbath in Autumn, rest your body and soul in the presence of Father God. Remember all the ways He’s brought you through uncertain times. Think of all the things you’re grateful for. Now consider changes- whether in intention, mindset or physically- that you can make. You know this year isn’t over yet and you still have a change to achieve things that are in your heart. Maybe you can pull a goal out of the 2020 mess and make it happen. Maybe you can create a new plan, allowing 2020 goals to be set aside for now. In the presence of God, think about the desires He placed in your heart and ask Him if it’s time, and how to make it happen.

Fall clears the air an gives us bright, clear blue skies and sharp, crisp nights. Now that the air is clear and crisp and your brain has had time to settle down after the shocks of 2020, what will you do? Will you dust off a 2020 goal? Will you make a new goal to accomplish? Will you begin a new project?

What can you “harvest” from this crazy year that will enable you to move forward in confidence?

If you feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and declaring 2020 a wash- don’t! Don’t give up! Rest awhile in God’s presence. Refresh your self. Thank Him for what’s good. When you know you’re safely in God’s Hand, you can relax in Him. Rather than a breakdown, look for a breakthrough.

Even though it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, there’s more going on than what the media (social and otherwise) is screaming in your ear. Look beyond that. Seek Truth and peace, and resolve to be the kind of person you wish others were. Be kind, do a good deed, practice empathy, look for the good.

How can you finish 2020 with enthusiasm and excitement?

Happy Contemplating.

Happy Planning.

Happy Fall, Ya’all!

Seasons Change. God Does Not Change.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know I write and think a lot about having no control and feeling uncertain. I don’t apologize for that. It is true. And this year has really opened our eyes to just how small we are. But we are not at the mercy of a weird year and all the challenges it’s brought us.

Although I write and think about feelings of teetering on the brink and of utter disaster, I know (and you know it too!) we are truly safe and secure in Abba Father’s love. I apologize for not reminding us of that every change I get! Please forgive me.

We are not at the mercy of misfortune and wicked intent, we are IN God’s mercy. We don’t have to have all the answers but we do have God’s wisdom and grace to face whatever comes along. We do not fight battles alone, we have our Risen Savior who has already won every battle and He is with us every moment. In a messed up, impossible world of unknowns and shifting information, God- the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, our Abba Father, God, the One True God- He is our constant. Our peace does not depend on the circumstances surrounding us. Our peace is in His constant, unfailing love. Our peace is constant because our Peace is the Prince of Peace and we are safe. Seasons change. God doesn’t.

What are we waiting for? It feels sometimes like we’re waiting for disaster: for the hurricane, tornado or snowstorm. It feels sometimes like we’re slipping in slow motion into oblivion and all we can do is keep waiting; paralyzed, with heart pounding. God can and does change things for us in a heartbeat. Impossible becomes forgotten on the path of fullness of joy. Hang on with your last shred of hope because God is at work doing far more than we can ask or imagine. (I don’t know about you but I can imagine some very amazing, awesome things!) Peace and joy will be the norm rather than the prize we battle for. Circumstances may or may not change, but the constant awareness of the Presence of God changes everything and opens extraordinary doors. God’s faithfulness is unfailing like His love.

Seasons change. Circumstances change. We change our minds.

We can rest, even in the middle of chaos because God never changes His season of mercy, His circumstance of Presence nor His mind about loving us.

Exhale. Rest. Abba Father God has us safely in His hands of love and mercy.

Journals are Seasons

3 journals

(The Old Journal is the light green one with the leaves, fyi.)

Ode to a Journal by Sandy B, August, 2020

this journal

this confidante

this bound pile of paper.

why do i hate to say “good-bye”,

when at first i shunned you?

your hard-bound, book-like bigness

pages feeling oh-so-huge.

oh, you were coy, not bold or boasting;

quiet, with the hint of a smile

somehow you knew

i’d fall in love

come to depend

not want our time to end.

you came to be my best friend

shared my ideas, secrets, musing

you shared my writing and revelation and wondering.

i never knew

didn’t expect

when first i bought you for a song

(thought i’d gift you to someone else)

but you knew

you were mine all along.

you’re now full, filled-up and

though i have new, flashy and expensive

i still carry you with me

still love your weightiness- both physical and in spirit.

this new feels unfriendly, unknown

the new- uncomfortable- not the same nor what i really wanted

paid too much

boldness taunting, because i fell for bright colors.

i first wrote this in neither old nor new

on in-between, neutral ground

now copying into new what really belongs to old.

who knew journals are seasons too?

sometimes seasons are hard to relinquish

sometimes seasons are hard to embrace

but there’s no avoiding

time marches on relentless, regardless

-either join or be trampled

-either embrace or be lost.

Hello new journal (i write at the bottom of the page…)

I’m your master, you will do as I command.

you will serve me well.

i will love you- eventually.

 

 

Why am I still carrying around 2 journals and a cheap notebook?

After nearly 10 years of journaling (and longer of buying journals- that’s a story in itself), I finally have realized that a journal is a season of it’s own.

Season within season within seasons.

Releasing one season, trying to embrace another. Pay attention.

Why am I carrying around a used up journal, a brand new flashy journal and a cheap notebook? Because I am having trouble letting go of the old and embracing the new. There’s nothing wrong with the new. In fact, it’s a Cadillac and gorgeous. What’s not to love? Maybe I feel like the used one and I have been through a lot, since the beginning of 2019. The used one is full, the new one feels too “good” to just write any old thing in and the cheap notebook is safe, disposable, just paper (and not that great a quality either). Therefore the cheap notebook is safe.

It’s just a book. But, “let not your heart be troubles, neither let it be afraid…” Jesus is our Peace.

There have been times I’ve looked forward to beginning a new journal. And there were other times I didn’t know which one to use. Truly, a ten-cent notebook or a fifty-cent composition book will work- indeed have worked- just fine. But it’s nice when the outside makes you happy and you don’t have to fight the pages to write on them.

I know there are people who use the exact same brand and style journal, year after year, for decades. I guess I’m kind of fickle. I like sparkly, pretty things- sometimes flowers, sometimes landscapes, sometimes abstracts, sometimes botanicals. I’ve learned that I like a spiral binding because it will lay flat and can fold back on itself. I think the large page is nice too, but I still haven’t completely gone all-in for it. Good quality paper is a must, for sure.

So, here are some things I’d like to know: do you journal? What are you must-have features? Do you use the same brand all the time or do you change it up?

Thanks for joining my musings regarding journals.

Funny how some things become important over the years.

This Summer, Make Your Bed

 

bedroom interior
Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

Huh? What’s making your bed got to do with Summer?

I thought summer was the time to be lazy: do less, not more.

And why THIS summer?

Summer 2020 has brought us pandemic living, not summer easy-living. Nearly everything seems up in the air and we have no idea when it’s going to come down again, nor where it’s going to land when it does. If there’s one word that describes Summer 2020 it’s “uncertainty”. We weren’t sure we could go away on vacation. We weren’t sure we could get a spot at the neighborhood pool. We weren’t sure there would be a summer camp, or sports camp, or a baseball game. People in California aren’t sure they’ll have AC to survive the blisteringly hot temps.

Summer is beginning to wind down and schools are unsure if they will open remote or in-person. Will there be a volleyball team? Football? Can we go shopping safely for school supplies, will I even need school supplies? When will this all end?

There’s very little we control in our lives on a good day. It’s even more evident now that we have very little control over our lives. We can plan and pray and work hard and hope but ultimately we have control over ourselves only (and sometimes even that seems questionable). Add our general lack of control to all the uncertainty the Pandemic mess has spotlighted and the realization of no control can be very hard to deal with.

Since very few things are strictly under our control, it’s worth the effort to choose to take charge of what we can.

Getting to know Father God is a good choice. Reading a scripture a day, perhaps, Reaching out to others is a choice (but there’s no guarantee your efforts will be returned). Putting dishes in the DW is a choice.  Hanging your clothes in the closet is a choice. Sitting down to eat dinner- even if you’re single (especially if you’re single!) is a choice. Making up your bed every morning is a choice. Really, there are many choices. Turns out we have more choices than we first thought!

Our brains love repetition and find calm in routine. They like order- even if our brand of order might seem chaotic to someone else. We’re becoming worn out with our wondering and “what if’s”, so let’s add an element of order.

If there is just one small way to know you have control over one small thing, it eases our brain and enables us to be stronger, having one constant in our lives. Like I said, there aren’t many big things we can control but we CAN control whether we make our bed or not. Personally, we make up our bed every day. On days when I wash the sheets, once they’re dry they go back on the bed but we don’t pull up the comforter, just for a change. And even that creates a relaxing venue. My bedroom isn’t beautiful, in fact, it’s pretty messy (although, I have to say we’re working on it and it’s improving!). The neat bed, though, makes all the difference; creating a room that feels like a haven. (Nope. The picture is not my bedroom, sadly.)

Do you make up your bed everyday? Even if your bedroom is a mess of piles and clothes thrown over every surface, when your bed is neatly made up, you have an island of order and calm. Your bed is usually the biggest thing in the room, so it’s the first thing you see when you enter and the last thing you see when you leave. And that subconsciously gives you a good feeling. You have created that neat, calm spot in your life. You have taken control of one thing and successfully helped your brain gain a bit more peace.

Remember the Serenity Prayer?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

(Written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971).)

You don’t have to choose to make up your bed. But you CAN change one thing in your life to add an element of peace and order.

What will you decide to do that will bring you a sense of control and help calm your daily chaos? Perhaps pray the Serenity Prayer. What one small thing will you do to bring rest and peace to your life?

 

Summer Doldrums, Refreshed

AA on fireplace

Summer is winding down. It IS the middle of August and time marches on, waiting for no one.. One day after another, until the season- on the calendar and in the daily sky- moves from hot to cool

I know, much as I desire Autumn’s chill and the refreshing it brings, it won’t really show up here in NC for another month and a half or more. And I feel like I’m still stuck in the summer doldrums.

Doldrums:

noun
  1. a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.

Many folks love summer and hate to see it go. I’m not one of them. Sorry, but I can hardly wait for Fall and chilly days and wearing socks and sweaters and feeling alive again. Meanwhile, I want, no NEED, a distraction from this hard summer.

I’m feeling grumpy (who me?!). Tired of heat and tired of pandemic and tired of the endless political bickering and tired of … You get the picture. Grumpy. I’ve prayed, meditated, done an art challenge, talked to friends, read. It all helped but only for a little while. Then I realized. What I needed to do was something crafty!

But what? That question almost put me back in the grumpies. WHAT shall I craft? I didn’t want it to take too long or cost anything, I had to have the supplies on hand. I’ve always loved those gorgeous macrame wall hangings but I really don’t have the patience to learn something new right now.

How about a version of said wall hanging? Something fun. A pop of color. Something a little boho and funky. I read of a maker creating a wall hanging from a cut up man’s shirt. I could probably have commandeered a shirt but why not use an old tee shirt. Something colorful and very forgiving. I literally pulled my material out of the rag bag! If you don’t have an appropriate tee shirt in your rags, check out the bottom of your tee shirt pile. I’m sure there’s something there you no longer wear.

To give my wall hanging a little extra character, I used a nice fat stick. I had salvaged a few limbs from our latest bushwhacking adventure,  (We like to trim our bushes back- a lot!)  and one stick was exactly the right length.

After pulling a tee shirt from the rag pile and picking up a stick from the yard, I rummaged through my bead and button collection and found some pony beads and s few nice fat polished nuts with big holes. Perfect.

There is no hot pink in my home “decor” but I’m not going for match-y, I’m going for fun and summery! You can use any color at all, whatever pleases you. You can even use several colors!

Using materials you have on hand is a fun challenge. However, if you just don’t have anything that makes you happy, you could buy new supplies from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s (or even Walmart or Amazon!) and still not have to spend much money.

My hanging is about 12″ by ~26″ (top of hanger to bottom of longest strand). You can easily go bigger or smaller and have a fun new detail for your end of summer decor. Something to change up the interior while waiting to bring out the pumpkins!

Go bigger or go smaller. Use a pencil (or three) for your stick if you want to. It’s totally up to you and how ambitious you are feeling. However, if you want to go big, I suggest you use this size first to get the feel of the project and then make adjustments. Since it’s basically free, you can afford to make a smaller prototype. As for going smaller, I think it’s a great idea to make a small one and give it as a little gift or addition to a thank you card. You could make a tiny one and attach a magnet for a fun addition to your frig! Use different material- an old shirt, denim, yarn, twine. Perhaps there are vines nearby that are pliable and flexible enough to knot. That would be a great transition piece to take you into Fall, Decorate it with late summer flowers now and then change them out for Autumn leaves when it’s finally Fall.

If you look closely you’ll see that I braided a few strands to add a different texture. If you know any macrame knots, add a few! Plain square knots using two or three strands would add a nice pop of interest, too. If you can’t thread the beads onto the tee shirt strands, you could easily sew them on.

As you can see, the possibilities are many! If you are interested in more details, please let me know and I can provide them.

What are you doing as we finish Summer and wait for Fall to arrive? Are you bored with Summer or are you cramming in as much hot-weather activity as you possibly can?

If you have an end-of-summer project, please share! I just might need another diversion before Fall finally gets here! Thanks!