Grading the Year

>> Friday, December 31, 2010

Here it is:  the very last day of 2010.

I can't believe another year has come and gone.

What I CAN believe is that it's probably been at least 10 months since I thought about my goals for 2010!

Just for fun, earlier this month I went back through my archives looking to see if I had indeed posted some resolutions or goals or that kind of thing. I fully expected I HADN'T, since I couldn't think would they would have been.

So you can tell how commited I've been to achieving those goals... Rolling Eyes

There was indeed a post about my goals for the year, and first and foremost, I said I wanted to commit myself to reading through my entire Bible again, this time in just one year.  Three years ago, I vowed to do it in two years and I made it.  Last year, I joined my cousin Tammy over at her one-year Bible-reading blog/challenge, posted a few times, and read through my entire Bible in 2010.  Success!  I plan to do it again in the new year.  (If you're interested in joining us, follow the link and let us know!!)

I also said I wanted to incorporate more of an organized prayer time in my devotions. While I had completely forgotten this goal, it did actually become a reality this fall.  I started a prayer and praise journal and have been going strong since about the middle of September.  This has become a wonderful part of my day ~ and the best way to start and end each one!  Another success!!

But it's all downhill from there, I'm afraid...

I said I wanted to continue working at developing self-discipline.

::sigh::

It comes and goes.  I think overall housekeeping has improved, but most other areas, not much has changed.  Blah.

Thirdly, and closely related to the previous goal, I said I wanted to continue developing better eating and exercise habits.


[crickets...]


Movin' right along then...

Lastly, I wanted to "continue" working at hospitality.  Again, not sure I've noticed much change.  The desire is there, but intentions are still all too often as far as it gets.

But, despite the failures in the more tangeible areas, I think I can still rank this year a good one for goals.  I ended that year-opening post like this:

There seems to be no end to the improvements I'd like to make around here ~ both in myself and my home ~ but I think I'll leave it like this and strive once more to simply be able to sit here a year from now, reviewing this list, knowing I've conscientiously worked towards making progress ~ and been successful in changing.

At least a little.
Well, I guess as far as THAT goes, I can say I've been successful, despite the fact that the goals I kept from this list were purely coincidental.  I haven't given it a second thought since mid-February, guaranteed.  (and that's probably being generous!)  But I HAVE changed a bit.  Not so much in the ways I had in mind at the beginning of the year, but there has been change.  My spiritual life has improved ~ my time with God more regular and meaningful.

And I think that's probably what was more sorely needed.  Developing a firmer foundation bodes well for future changes.

Which means things should just fall neatly into place next year, right?

...RIGHT??!



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Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hosted in December by Iris @ Grace AloneI am thankful for a wonderful Christmas once again.

Thankful for all the incredible food.  Thankful that even though it always feels like there's never enough money, I never feel like there's not enough great food.

I'm thankful for family and that I love spending time with my husband's family as much as my own parents.  (I have no siblings, which is why I said it that way)  Christmas with my parents is basically like any other visit with them, except for the presents, decorations, and ever-present snack foods, but somehow those things just make it special.

Christmas with The 'Man's family is very similar to our other visits, too, though it usually involves a sleep-over with ALL the kids and grandkids.  At times the noise level gets to me and I need to hide for a bit, but the tradition is growing on me.  Now if only I could be convinced to join in the game-playing....  Maybe next year.  ;)

I'm thankful for the many gifts ~ among them two new aprons, 4 new insulated cookie sheets (which I'm hoping will solve my scorched-on-the-bottom-but-still-underbaked problem), a pair of socks, lip balm, a new bathrobe, a new electric knife (my old one is cracking and will give up the ghost someday soon, I fear), a book I've wanted since it came out, gift certificates for my favourite thrift store.... the list could go on.

I'm thankful for the way we saved up cash in an envelope this year to spend on Christmas gifts and will therefore have no ugly credit card bills to pay next month.

I'm thankful for the new Jesse Tree tradition we started in our home this year.  We managed to catch up to the correct readings by December 23rd.  We read the 24th's on Tuesday night when we got home from visiting in The Big City, just before the girls opened their stockings and went to bed.  The 25th was read yesterday morning before we opened the gifts under the tree.

I'm thankful for a reason to celebrate something so much more meaningful than just the shortest day of the year or the end of the year, or a two-week break from school.  I'm thankful God sent His Son in the humblest form there is ~ a defenseless, helpless infant ~ to be the Savior to a spiritually dead and continuously dying race.  I'm thankful He is the Way to life, REAL life.  He IS life.  Eternal life.

And I'm so thankful His Spirit moved in me so many years ago, revealing to me my need for a Savior, opening my ears and heart, urging me to respond to His call, and raising me up out of my tomb of unbelief.

Thanksgiving is the holiday that's all about giving thanks, but truly, I believe there is so much more to be thankful for at Christmas.  Where Thanksgiving often focuses on the material blessings from a gracious God, Christmas reminds us there is so much more than possessions to be thankful for.  So much more than decorations, great food, presents, and family gatherings, wonderful as those things are....

An eternity spent in the presence of God really kinda trumps it all.

And it's all thanks to that infant born in a barn in a faraway country some 2000 years ago.

* Click the "Thankful" button at the top of the post to visit our host and other thankful bloggers.

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Not Only Christmas Day

>> Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lord, this is my prayer:
Not only on Christmas Day,
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:

Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.

And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.

Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.

Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.

Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.

Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You've done.

So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.

I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
"Come, good and faithful servant."
Your Master says, "Well done."

And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day.


-- Mary Fairchild

Three Kings 2 

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Here With Us

>> Friday, December 24, 2010



I think this has to be my favourite Christmas song.

Could be because I don't know many other than the traditional carols. Could be because I love to try and wrap my mind around our Savior being human.

Just for fun, you know. Because I totally can't fathom it.

There's one verse that gets me every time:

It's still a mystery to me,
How His infant eyes had seen the dawn of time
How His ears had heard an angel's symphony,
But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep.


Doesn't that just blow your mind?

I wonder how the lullabies Mary sang to her Savior compared with the angel choruses He was undoubtedly familiar with.

Was Jesus collicky?

Were there times she forgot He was The Messiah and got annoyed with Him?

Did He have a michevious streak as a young boy? Did Joseph ever have to {gasp} spank Him?!

I can't even imagine.

But despite the inability to understand, I choose faith.
However it happened, I believe it did.


I cannot imagine NOT celebrating His arrival here on earth some 2,000 years ago. I cannot imagine NOT agonizing over His brutal crucifixion ~ the whole reason He came in the first place (even more unfathomable than His human childhood!). I cannot imagine NOT anticipating His victorious return.

Though it offers a parallel, the anticpation of Christmas gifts pales in comparison.

May you feel His nearness this holiday season.

May your hearts be opened and warmed by His miraculous love, and may our lives reflect it with ever-increasing intensity this coming year.

Christmas Lights

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Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hosted in December by Iris @ Grace Alone
Today, I am extremely thankful for a certain trio of young ladies who have the unique ability to make me feel young and old all at the same time!

They were born around the time I was graduating from high school.

They have no memories of the 80's ~ mostly because only one of them had been born by the time 1990 rolled around.

Even a good portion of the 90's exist only as haze in their minds.

I didn't know these ladies until we moved out here to The Valley and at that time, they were just entering their teen years.  After living here for almost two years, The 'Man and I became the church youth leaders and that's when we really got to know them.  Two are from families in our church; one is a stray community kid that tagged along and became an integral part of the group.  ;)

We didn't last long as youth leaders, but these three girls managed to weasel their way into the deepest corners of my heart and have just become very special to me.  They're all grown up now and off in far-away cities for college, but when they're home for more than just a weekend, I try to make sure I have them over.  It works out to about twice a year, although for whatever reason, it didn't happen this past summer.

I had them over Tuesday night for a small baking exchange (we had to include all baking because the hostess ~ yours truly ~ just doesn't do cookies very well!!) and movie night.  It was so much fun to laugh, to talk about life, to eat, to enjoy each others' company.  This is the part where they make me feel young, because when we're all together, I don't seem like the old lady in the group ~ I seem to fit in!

Until I ask them if they remember something and they remind me that they were only 2 years old when it happened....

I love these girls.  I hope my girls grow up to be just like them.  And I hope, in some small way, I am passing along something to them that they will in turn want to do with other younger women someday.

And I'm thankful my Christmas baking has been done FOR me!

Gingerbread 
* Click the "Thankful" button at the top of the post to visit our host and other thankful bloggers.

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Winter Solstice

>> Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This is a repost from last year that I wanted to share because it's just as true today!

Hard to believe it's here already, isn't it? The first day of winter.

HA. That's a bit of a joke up here on the Canadian prairies. OUR first day of winter (which to me means the first snow we get that actually stays on the ground) usually comes mid-November and by the time the snow is gone, the calendar says we're well into spring already.

I wonder if I will ever like our winters?

My guess is, not likely. But I have learned to appreciate the beauty it brings. There is a rarity and a special-ness about winter's aesthetics that are beyond compare. Spring and summer, with all their colour and new birth ~ even autumn in its golden splendor ~ still don't quite have the same beauty. So it would seem winter has some redeeming qualities.

Like hoarfrost:

And ice crystals in the air that look like pixie dust...

...turning the trees, weeds and harsh barbed-wire fences into delicate lace.

Or the most exquisite colours at sunrise (which I don't have to get up NEARLY so early to enjoy this time of year as I do in summer!):

The deep pinks, purples, and oranges...

Colours which, under most circumstances, look rather hideous together...

...are somehow transformed by the cold into something quite magical.

Normally, I'm not a fan of the winter blues, but in some cases...

...they're tolerable.

I really have to thank the blogging community for giving me a new appreciation for winter ~ particularly those of you in the deep, dirty south that keep congratulating me on my "survival skills!" If not for you wonderful friends, I likely wouldn't have sought out the beauty of winter the way I have in the last two and a half years. I don't think my camera had ever been outside in winter before December 2007!

And I certainly wouldn't have been driving with my camera on the steering wheel capturing shots like THESE:

Wheeeeee!

But my personal favourite from the last two winters has to be this shot:

The rare and elusive sundog. The crown jewel.

Despite Ol' Man Winter's cold, cold heart and crotchety personality, there are simply too many treasures for him to selfishly keep to himself. A few slip out of his grasp periodically, and if we just happen to have a camera handy at the right time, we can prove it.

Now, this is not to say you'll never hear me complain about the cold, but I always have enjoyed a good treasure-hunt...

Happy winter!


snow globe 2

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If only Facebook had been around back then...

>> Friday, December 17, 2010



Three Kings 2 

Thanks to my friend, Jen, who sent me this link via FACEBOOK today!!

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Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hosted in December by Iris @ Grace AloneWow, the countdown is seriously ON!! Only 10 days now... (YAY!)

This week I am thankful for the "faithful wounds of a friend" reminding me that neither of us has made a great effort lately to maintain our friendship. And even more thankful for the wonderful visit we had a few evenings later after my girls were in bed. I'm thankful she was brave enough to voice what was on BOTH our minds and that we've resolved to do better.

I'm thankful for our pastor's wife who asked if she could pop by for tea Tuesday morning to visit and pray with me. I'm really bad at praying out loud in the presence of others ~ I'm almost instantly overcome with emotion and I can never pray without tears. (It's terribly annoying!!) But still, there is something about praying with others that's just so special. It sometimes feels a bit awkward to start, but I'd encourage anyone who claims they can't do it to be brave and give it a shot. There's something very magical about it.

I'm thankful that my girls are loving our "Jesse Tree Time." We've got a lot of ground to catch up since we started the 28-day Advent journey with only 13 days to go before Christmas and we have to do at least two per day in order to finish on Christmas day, but they've been requesting "just one more" almost each time, so that shouldn't be a problem!!

But most of all, I'm thankful Christmas is almost here!!

Mistletoe 1 
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A word from today's sponsor...

>> Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I had fun walking in it, but I am thankful I have nowhere to be but HOME today!

(At least it's not cold though ~ only -9/16F!
Quite an improvement over the -35/-31F we had on Sunday!!)


snow globe 2 

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