Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: holidays (Page 1 of 2)

Memorial Day 2016

memorial-day-2016

 

It’s a lazy Monday. Mr. B made hot dogs for lunch (inside, because weather), but not before we paused to remember those whose sacrifices paid for the freedom we still enjoy.

A Thanksgiving Prayer for the Would-Be Mamas of the World

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Yesterday, I pulled up one of my favorite daily devotional blogs and read a post that was ostensibly about not letting perfectionism ruin your holiday. But really, what it focused on was creating good holiday memories for your kids. While I read the post, as still happens to me from time to time, I was hit with sharp pangs of envy, followed by a fresh wave of grief and disappointment that brought me to tears.

Don’t worry, reader, it didn’t last long. I quickly confessed the jealousy, cried it all out, and gave the negative feelings to God. He replaced them with His peace, and I was okay the rest of the day.

But I woke up this morning with a burden on my heart for all of the would-be mamas out there who are struggling to find something to be thankful for today after yet another disappointment-filled year has passed them by.

If this is you–whether, like me, you’re struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss; or you’re enduring the unimaginable grief of having lost a child; or you’re dealing with disappointment in the wake of a failed adoption attempt; or you don’t have the financial resources for either adoption or fertility treatments; or perhaps you long to be a mother but you’re still single, still waiting for God to connect you with your future mate so you can finally start building your family. Whatever your situation, for you mothers of the heart who lack living, breathing children of your own to pour your heart into, I want you to know today that you’re not forgotten. God sees you, and He knows. He collects every single one of your tears.

And I’m praying for you today. I don’t know your name, Dear Sister, but I know how you feel, and I’m lifting you up before the Lord just the same.

My prayer for is that your heart will be strengthened and encouraged today as God gently reminds you not only of the promises in His word, but also of all the times in your life that He’s proven His faithfulness and His unending love for you, and that your heart will be filled with thankfulness. That He will give you the courage to hope, and the patience to endure, and that as you wait for His best to be made reality in your life, He’ll create a renewed spirit within you. I pray that you’re able to surrender all of that grief and disappointment and envy and pain to Him, and that He will give you joy for mourning, and His peace that passes all human understanding will envelop your heart and mind today.

Have courage, Dear Sister, and take heart. You are loved, and you are seen.

In love,

Jean

 

 

 

{Linking up with Holley Gerth. Find more encouragement for your heart here.}

Still Alive

I have made myself miserable. I’m not saying this to whine, but as an impassioned plea to my future self to please do a better job next year of refraining from gluten and dairy-based treats. All of the cheese and butter and eggnog and cream and gravy and such that I’ve been eating lately is wreaking havoc on both my digestion and my PCOS, and all the bread, rolls, biscuits, cookies, stuffing, and other gluten-laced deliciousness has caused my energy levels to flat line. Now we just need to be sure we’re rid of all the Christmas leftovers by New Year’s Day so we can both get back on track and start feeling healthy again.

Between the self-induced misery of holiday eating habits, seasonal affective disorder brought about by the fact that the sun has only been seen here about three times in the last two weeks, and ongoing frustration with the insurance company regarding our totaled truck, I haven’t been feeling very sociable lately. My freelance work slowed way down by the end of last week, so I’ve been taking the opportunity to enjoy a vacation from any type of computer work (besides, I had a ridiculous amount of knitting and crochet I had to get done before the big day) and recharge my mental batteries — hence my absence from the blog and scant appearances on social media.

Despite all of that, though, we had a lovely Christmas. We stayed home and stayed in our PJs and just hung out with our four-legged “kids,” enjoying and celebrating our own little family while marathoning a Christmas movie roster that included Scrooge, A Christmas Story, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. Yes, those are too Christmas movies.

The bulk of all that frantic knitting and crochet was for the furbabies. Pete got a new sweater and a knitted plush bone squeak-toy in his stocking, and the cats got a new bed and a door hanger bouncy cat toy in theirs. Matilda the box turtle got left alone to sleep, which is, I’m sure, what she preferred.

In addition to books, warm comfy pants and a nice bottle of Scotch (a present to himself), Matt also got a replica of the scarf Jeremy Brett wears in the old Granada Sherlock Holmes series, which is the other thing I was frantically trying to finish on time. I failed, but mainly because I ran out of yarn. I need to add at least two more balls of yarn before the length is right. Still, Matt said it’s his favorite present. *beams and twirls*

As for me, so far I’ve gotten books and chocolate, which is enough to make me happy. Besides finally getting the most recent Dresden Files novel and the illustrated trade paperback version of The Dark Tower: Book VII, Santa/Matt also got me a copy of The Little House Cook Book, which is my favorite so far (sometime soon I will have to talk to you about my new Little House obsession). I hope it will teach me a few old-timey skills that I can incorporate into my zombie plan. I’ll also be getting the new Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography, Pioneer Girl, once Amazon gets it in stock, and I’m kind of chomping at the bit to read it.

In other news, we’re still waiting for State Farm to settle up and pay us for the truck, going on over two weeks now since we reached a settlement agreement. First we were supposed to be able to pick up the check the Friday after settling, and then for some mysterious reason that got pushed to Wednesday of the following week, and then the State Farm office where we’re supposed to pick it up and sign over the truck still hadn’t received it and nobody had an explanation as to why and we haven’t heard anything from them since. On the bright side, at least the insurance adjuster finally stopped giving us deadlines to return the rental car that Matt kept having to call and extend, and just told us to keep it until we get the check and can finish making our Aveo road worthy. Whenever that will be. I’ve given up on expecting it to happen this year.

And now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a magic cookie bar calling my name in the kitchen. Hey, I can’t very well expect the husband to polish off all those leftovers by himself. That wouldn’t be fair to him, now would it?

How was your Christmas this year?

101 in 1001

101 in 1001In lieu of traditional resolutions this year, I’ve decided to put together a list of 101 things to accomplish in 1001 days. This is not an official 101 in 1001, partly because I’m not strictly adhering to the official rules, and partly because I don’t plan to track them publicly through the community website (although I will post updates and progress reports here). If you’d like more info on the official 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge, you can click here.

My version is mostly made up of things that need to get done that I keep putting off, although I didn’t completely neglect fun and personal growth. There are also a few goals that are about obtaining things rather than accomplishing tasks, but these are things that we need and/or will help accomplish some of the tasks on the list. Also, several things on the list won’t be doable unless/until our income picks back up, but with two and three-quarter years to get it done, I’m going to be optimistic.

So without further ado… Continue reading

2013: Blessing In Disguise

I’m not going to beat around the bush: 2013 was not a good year. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it had very little to offer in the way of high points and was filled with a lot of very low lows. Low-lights include losing one of my uncles and one of our cats, substantial freelance income loss and a whole lot of stress and frustration.

There was also a lot of blaming myself and beating myself up, feeling completely helpless and useless, and wondering why God was punishing us. What can I say? It’s hard to think healthy and helpful thoughts when you’re standing knee-deep in the doo.  Continue reading

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We’ll be having a quiet, homemade Christmas at home, just the two of us and our pets and more food than two people should eat, relaxing in our jammies and watching Christmas movies (…what do you mean, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard aren’t Christmas movies?).

In the meantime, I invite you to listen to this special Christmas message from our pastor (MP3). It contains some new insight into the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth that kind of blew my mind.

Here’s hoping you and yours have an equally peaceful and satisfying Christmas!

28 Frugal and Natural DIY Holiday Ideas (Link Roundup)

28 DIY Holiday IdeasIf you’re anything like me, you’ve grown weary of the rampant materialism of the Christmas season. You might also not have a lot to spend, so you couldn’t participate even if you wanted to.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ideas and possibilities for giving meaningful gifts that don’t cost a lot to make and, in a lot of cases, make use of stuff you already have. Whether you’re looking for gifts for loved ones, ideas for expanding your Christmas decorations without expanding your budget, or even some relaxing gifts you can give yourself to maintain your sanity this season, I’ve been collecting links along these lines all year (thanks to Pinterest), and I’ve rounded them up to share with you.  Continue reading

Being Thankful in Difficult Times

Phillipians 4: 4,6I’m not gonna lie: this has not been an easy year. We’ve experienced a lot of loss — extended family loss, pet loss, employment and income loss — and not a lot of gain to make up for it. All of that grief and stress piled on like that can make it really difficult to be thankful, let alone to find the joy in each day. I confess, some days I cave in to thinking that it’s downright impossible.

But it’s not. Would my God command me to do something that isn’t possible? No, I don’t believe that He would.

The thing that I’m finally starting to figure out, though, is that, for me at least, it’s not possible apart from Him. I need help with it, and that’s okay.  Continue reading

It’s a New Year, And That Means New Old Goals

Happy New Year!

We survived 2012, although I’ve got to admit, there were times when I thought a little wistfully about our supposed impending doom, because that would’ve been a great excuse to take a vacation. Between hauling hiney to get my book done and published before the end of the year, and then marketing it, and juggling all of that with both finding and doing freelance work, I was feeling pretty burned out by the end of the year.So it wasn’t too hard to force myself to take full advantage of the last two four-day weekends and recharge my batteries.

This last weekend was particularly restful. I stayed in, and caught up on sleep, and was totally lazy for most of it, and actually read a whole entire book just for fun (Cold Days, the lastest Dresden Files entry — it was good!). Then we spent yesterday the same way we’ve spent all New Year’s Days since we moved into this house — cleaning house and putting away Christmas decorations. Now I’m feeling quite a bit closer to normal and am actually able to think straight and have creative ideas and such once again, and I’m ready to tackle some goals for 2013.

Usually, before I set goals I spend a whole blog post reviewing the previous year. But there wasn’t a whole lot to 2012, really. I mean, on a national & historical scale, there was plenty. But on a personal scale, it was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t wholly without highlights, though: in addition to publishing my second novel, I also lost some more weight and made some brief forays back into Full Time Office Job territory, and got back into the practice of doing job interviews. Also, thanks to Un-Eff Your Habitat, I actually experienced having every room in my house clean at the same time, and even maintained that state for a while before everything became ridiculously hectic. Mostly, though, 2012 turned out to be one big hunt for paying work, which is boring, so that’s all I’ll say about that.

Looking ahead to the new year, instead of resolutions, I have some goals (yes, I’m one of those people), primary of which is to achieve some prosperity. We’re off to a good start, thanks to the fact that the Big Job/Gig Hunt of 2012 actually paid off, to the effect that here at the start of the year I have three steady, long-term freelance gigs and two short-term web dev projects, one of which could turn into a steady retainer. There’s also still the IT contract employment agency I signed on with back in November, although I have a feeling all of the positions they were considering me for are on hold until their client companies see what’s going to happen with this whole fiscal cliff thing. Honestly, this whole business is making me more thankful to be a freelancer than ever before, since I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m going to lose my job in the next few weeks. And Matt has decided to take the semester off to work on his various business pursuits and help me with mine. So, we’re starting out the new year in a good place. Here’s hoping the work stays steady long enough to make some real headway.

Naturally, I have a weight-loss goal–I’m about five pounds away (according to my cheap bathroom scales, at any rate, so it’s probably more like 10 in reality) from achieving my ultimate goal weight, which will put me firmly in the middle of the healthy BMI range. So I’m going to focus on shedding those last several pounds, and also toning up and making my butt look unlike the butt of someone who sits at a computer all day. This will necessitate rebuilding my wardrobe, because everything in my closet will officially be one to three sizes too big, so that ties back into the first goal.

My other major goal for the new year is simply to keep making time to write, and to not let the hectic freelancing schedule deter me. I haven’t been writing lately — after scrambling to finish revising and polishing Dominion and then publicizing it to death, I needed a break. But I’m back in the saddle as of this morning, during which I wrote the next scene of Eucha Falls. I hope to finish that by next week. As for what I’ll write next, that’s not quite decided and it probably needs to be its own blog post, along with my publishing goals for the year.

I have smaller goals, too, which probably count more as resolutions: to get back into the UFYH habit, as mentioned above, although for the last six months I haven’t even had time to read that blog, let alone put any of it into practice; to make more leisure time for myself and spend it away from the Internet, doing things like going outside and reading books and playing my bass and actually making craft projects instead of just pinning them on Pinterest, to keep myself from getting so burned out again; and to take a real vacation this year, one where we actually leave the house, even if it’s just a long weekend camping at the lake.

Pretty much it all boils down to that I need to work on balancing things better this year, and on doing a better job of budgeting my time.

What about you guys? Did you have a good New Year’s weekend? Let’s hear about your big goals for 2013!

Friday Five – Thankfulness

I hope all of my readers here in the States had a happy Thanksgiving. I put so much food in my belly yesterday, I’m surprised I didn’t explode. I really thought I might at one point. Even though the holiday is over for another year and practically everyone I know has moved on to doing their Christmas shopping and putting up their trees and lights and whatnot, I thought I’d use my Friday Five to list a few of the many things for which I’m truly thankful.

1. My husband. We have our share of disagreements and times when we’re each just plain disagreeable, but the vast majority of the time, we truly enjoy each other’s company–which is a good thing, considering we both work at home and are up in each other’s business 24/7. But the rare times that we do spend apart, we miss each other and prefer to spend our time together. What can I say? He’s my best friend. We’ve traveled some really rocky ground together over the last few years, really testing out that whole “for worse” part, and it’s only made us closer and stronger. He always comes through for me, and I feel like I can face just about anything as long as I know he’s got my back. I love that man o’ mine, and I couldn’t be more grateful that he’s part of my life.

2. My mom. I’m so thankful that she’s here, and that she’s healthy, and I pray that she’ll stay that way for many, many more years. I’m thankful for all of our family and friends, and that each and every one of them is in relatively good health, and I’m thankful that everyone still lives close enough that we can gather together on the holidays.

3. My “frans” — my friends who are also fans of my work. They support me every way they can and help evangelize my work. They cheer me on and don’t let me get away with doubting myself or my abilities, something that I need way more often than I’d like to admit.

4. My dog. Of course I love all of our four-legged kids — we also have three cats and a box turtle — but our chihuahua, Pete, is such a little delight. His personality is about a hundred times bigger than his size, and he tends to be hilarious, not to mention so cute it hurts. In a lot of ways, he’s so childlike, and he goes a long way toward filling that particular void in our lives.

5. The talent God gave me. Without it… actually, if I didn’t have creative talent, I’d probably have an easier life. I would have made sure to get a practical degree in college, and I’d probably have a good job, and I’d put in my eight hours and then come home and watch TV or read and I’d be satisfied and so much less exhausted. And yet, I would still rather have the ability to spin stories out of whole cloth and write them down and occasionally have people tell me how my stories touched them, or made them just a little happier for a moment, or helped them through a rough patch. I am, quite honestly, terrible at speaking my thoughts, which makes me entirely grateful for the ability to write them down coherently. Also, having a writer’s imagination is a wonderful cure for boredom that I always have with me. So yes–I am tremendously thankful that God made me a writer.

What are you thankful for, dear reader? And did you have a good Thanksgiving?

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