Practicing Gratitude [01.28]

>> Thursday, January 28, 2016

I almost forgot I was going to post today.  These routine posts have a way of sneaking up on me ~ even if I'm only aiming for once every other week!!

Over the last two weeks, I've been particularly aware of my current attitude towards winter.  It's very different from what it used to be.  I used to really LOATHE winter.  I'm not really even sure why, I just did.  But those were the days when I was either in school or working full time and being outside was only for getting someplace, not for enjoyment.  And in those situations, of course, one often doesn't take the time to put on the proper clothing for the weather.  And then it's inevitably miserable.

(Jan 18/16)
But these days, when my time outdoors is voluntary and I take the time to put on the necessary outerwear, I quite enjoy the season.  In fact, I think I actually PREFER walking in winter to walking in summer.  There are no mosquito bites or little flies insisting on buzzing around right in front of my eyes, there's no humidity, and I can always add or remove layers of clothing to achieve a good comfort level.  None of those are true in the summer!

Winter even has the odd rainsnowbow! (Jan 27/16)
Not only that, but I have come to appreciate the beauty of winter over the last several years.  I used to believe it was only just white and grey and dead.  Now I realize there are more variations in the sky colours in winter than there are in summer, more magic in the ground cover, and the air is (generally) a pleasure to breathe, even though it's cold.  Plus, there's hoarfrost.

(Jan 6/16)
It's still not my favourite season, but it doesn't affect how I feel about life anymore like it used to.  We still have snow on the ground far too many months of the year in my opinion, but the time doesn't seem to pass slower in winter like it always seemed to before.  It's still cold, but I take more time to dress for it now, even if I won't be doing much more than walking to and from the car.  I have come to enjoy winter and appreciate its beauty.  And I'm grateful for that change in my attitude, because it makes life so much  more enjoyable altogether in these cold, dark months.

Last sunset of the year (Dec 31/15)

What are you most thankful for today?


The Day of White

>> Thursday, January 21, 2016

A serious fashion faux pas in some circles, Mother Nature did herself all up in white two weeks ago, well after Labour Day.  And she was absolutely STUNNING.
 Naturally, I had to walk around the yard and take some pictures.
 And then walk OFF the yard and take some more.
 I love the crystals growing out of old fence posts.
 The fog actually got thicker and so lots of stuff disappeared.  Like my yard, for example, from less than half a mile away...
 Or the sparse stand of trees no more than about 3 hydro pole lengths away from the road.
 Even the horizon was just... gone.
A little while later, the fog still very thick, I drove off to town to run a few errands.  Believe it or not, below is a picture of MY ELEVATOR!
We've had fog before, but never so heavy that you can't even see a hint of the massive structure!
 I'm generally not a huge fan of white, but I think it really works on Mother Nature, despite it being completely the wrong time of year according to most experts.
Not many can buck fashion trends successfully,
but I think she nailed it.



Word of the Year

>> Monday, January 18, 2016

Over the last few years, I've noticed this trend towards choosing a single word to sum up your focus for the New Year.  I've never really thought much about it, but in the last couple of weeks, many of the things I've seen, read, and heard in my day-to-day activities contain the same theme:

In a way, it's not surprising, considering I'm currently re-reading Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth's book by that same name.  But some of my morning devotional readings have touched on the same theme.  This past week was an in-depth look at Psalm 5, one of the exercises being a week of not asking God for anything; being content to just praise Him for His attributes as we come across them in our daily Bible readings.  And in the first week of the month, to mark the 60th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot and his four missionary friends and co-workers, Revive Our Hearts ran a 3-day series called "To Gain What You Cannot Lose." Even as I think of my list of goals for this year, I realize many of them actually have surrender at their root ~ surrendering my self-indulgent desires, whether immediate in nature or more long-term.

I have been convicted lately that there are hopes, future plans, and dreams that I have been holding onto too tightly.  As years go by and I feel no closer to seeing them realized, I have had more and more trouble with bitterness, envy, resentment, and self-pity.  I've started to feel like I'm owed some fruition to those dreams.  And yet I know this response isn't healthy or right, despite how natural and common it is. I know and claim to believe my life is not my own, that it belongs to God, but I've struggled to know exactly what that's supposed to look like and work out in everyday life.

This past week, I think progress was made in that direction when I decided to finally let them go.   And to ask ~ and allow ~ God to replace them with something that focuses on honouring Him rather than gratifying me.  Even if that means never getting the things that I've wanted all these years, or attaining the goals I've always considered important to work towards.

It was a little scary to reach that point, and to be honest, I'm nervous about what this will mean for our future as a family. The Man and I talked it over and he'd reached the same conclusions as well.  But there is a new sense of peace and relief, a weight off our shoulders.

It will not be an easy year if surrender is the goal.  The cost seems exceptionally high.  And truthfully, it feels a little disorienting to suddenly not be planning and working towards the things that have carried so much significance for so many years.

But there is a new freedom and hope.


Practicing Gratitude [01.14]

>> Thursday, January 14, 2016

So how's your New Year going so far?  Broken any resolutions yet?  Have ya KEPT any of 'em??!

I keep meaning to quit making them, but year after year, I do it to myself.  So far, I've actually done pretty well, but, of course, the year is still pretty young...

I haven't decided if I'm actually going to post them PUBLICLY or if they're just going to stay hidden in my devotions/prayer journal again this year.  A few years ago, I posted my resolutions and actually revisited the post monthly and I'm kinda sorta feeling like a year of better accountability like that might be in order.  We'll see. In any case, I'm thankful for new goals, new motivation, and new vision for the coming year.

I'm thankful I got my living room closet cleaned out, cleaned up, and organized.  It's an oddly-shaped, big closet (3' wide and 7' deep) and so it's a big job, and therefore I'd been putting it off big time, too!  But now it's done.  It took me a day and a half, but I got rid of SO much garbage that I even have room for our spare bedding in there, which is so much nicer than having it piled on the folding table in the basement spare room!  There are still three bags/boxes of REALLY old random things ~ like The Man's Bible school stuff, hospital take-home papers from when Mack was born, etc. ~ hiding on the floor under the lowest shelf that need going through, but I suspect most of that stuff will just "disappear" as well.  ;)
I also did a bit of furniture rearranging to make it a little easier to access the closet, and I think it actually looks better in the room now, too.  Bonus.

I'm grateful for an absolutely EXQUISITE day of hoarfrost.  You just can't beat this kind of scenery.
I think with each passing winter, my appreciation for the season's unique beauty grows.  There's always sunrise to look forward to.  Or sunset.  Or frost on the windows.  Or purple skies and silvery clouds.  It's magical.
It's sort of hard for me to believe I used to loathe winter.  It's still my least favourite season, but I'm thankful for the change in my attitude towards the dark, cold months of the year.  Sure makes life more enjoyable!

Oh, and guess what?  We're only about a month away from being able to feel the WARMTH of the sun!!  Oh sure, there will still be wickedly cold days, but out of the wind and in the sunlight, those rays will feel warm on my face again.  I can hardly wait!!  Definitely something to be grateful for, especially while enduring the current cold snap with temps hovering around -25/-13F for the last week.  :)

What are you most thankful for today?



January Daybook

>> Monday, January 4, 2016

The Simple Woman's Daybook, hosted by Peggy @ The Simple Woman's BlogOutside my window... the sun is up, but rapidly being taken over by light cloud cover.  It's not particularly cold, especially for this time of year (-11/12F), but it's rather breezy.  Despite the conditions, the Nuthatch, Redpolls, and Chickadees are happily fluttering and twittering to each other in the trees around the feeder.  I love how the weather NEVER affects their mood!

I am thinking... that all the things I planned to get done before Christmas better get done before I head back to work towards the end of next month.  (Ha.  Wish me luck!)

I am thankful... for the motivation and determination that always comes with the beginning of the year.  Some years it lasts longer than others, but regardless of how short-lived it might be, I'm grateful it happens!  And I'm thankful it doesn't just hit me.  The Man spent considerable time cleaning up our basement last week and hauling a truckload of garbage off to the dump, Mack thoroughly cleaned her half of the bedroom, including washing the walls, and AJ plans to tackle her half this week.

I am wondering... why I can't seem to break the habit of making New Year's resolutions!  Each year, I decide I'm not going to make them, and each year, I end up making at least a few.  And even writing them down!!

I am going... to do some tackling of my own ~ the living room closet (EEEEEK) ~ later this week, once I have the house to myself for the day again.  It's a narrow, deep closet that falls into disarray very easily due to its awkwardness.  In addition to decluttering, cleaning it up, and re-organizing it, I want to make a few changes to it so that it will also house our extra bed linens, and rearrange some things in the living room to make it a little easier to get in there!

In the kitchen... I guess I need to get back into regular menu planning!  Monday is my day for menu and grocery list making, so it's on my agenda for this morning.

I am reading... The Lawless (book 7 in the Kent Family Chronicles series) by John Jakes, and Surrender: The Heart God Controls by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.  And for my morning devotions, I just started Chuck Swindoll's Living in the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind this morning, which is a 26-week, daily Bible study.

A quote that caught my eye... 
Enough time.
Enough money.
Enough opportunity.
Enough potential.
Enough stuff.
Enough energy.
Enough healing.
Enough creativity.
Enough space.

What if we started living out of our abundance, instead of our lack?"
(From this post)

I am pondering... how different life would feel if each day began with the attitude that I was starting out with enough of any of the "required" elements for a fulfilling, meaningful, purposeful life.  Why can't "enough" be a positive concept instead of feeling like a limitation?  ("YES, I have just enough!" vs. "I have enough, but...")

I am hoping... to pick up and/or pursue a couple of hobbies this year.  And by pursue, I mean study, practice, and work at getting better at them.  One is a hobby I've been doing for years but really need to work at learning how to do better, and the other is a new one that I bought tools and materials for a year or two ago already, but have never actually done anything with.

Around the house... things feel much roomier again with the Christmas tree all packed up and stashed away, but with all the decorations removed, it sure doesn't feel as cheerful either!

I am looking forward to... using my new slow-cooker!  My old one gave out a few months ago, so I'm just itchin' to try out the one I received as a Christmas gift.  I guess that should probably factor into my menu plan.  :)

Shovelling Snow
* Click the Simple Woman's Daybook graphic at the top of the post to visit our host and other daybookers.


Looking Ahead

>> Friday, January 1, 2016

I'll be honest:  there hasn't been much "laughing at the future" around here lately.  Peace, joy, hope, contentment ~ all those positive attitudes ~ they don't come easy when the present is rather frustrating and discouraging and life isn't going according to my plan.

Nevertheless, I have a hope and an assurance that so many don't.  I have a God who walks beside me ALWAYS, even though I don't always feel His presence.  I know He doesn't enjoy watching me struggle, but I also know He knows exactly what I need to strengthen me, to help me mature, to make me more like Him.  And so I can confidently say...

Another year I enter,
its history unknown;
Oh, how my feet would tremble
to tread its paths alone!

But I have heard a whisper,
I know I shall be blessed:
"My presence shall go with thee
and I will give thee rest."

What will the New Year bring me?
I may not, must not know.
Will it be love and rapture
or loneliness and woe?

Hush, hush! I hear his whisper;
I surely shall be blessed:
"My presence shall go with thee
and I will give thee rest."

~ author unknown

Happy New Year!!

Snowball Fight


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