Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Devotional: Moving Forward

      Moving Forward Toward The Light

Photo by Bill Ross

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:”

                                         Exodus 14:15 (KJV)

Today's scripture is taken from the book of Exodus and comes from the time the Israelites had left Egypt, led by Moses, and were now camped in the desert frightened and afraid. They knew that Pharaoh's army was coming after them and feeling lost and alone cried out to God to help them and then began whining to Moses, blaming him for bringing them there. Just think of it! They had escaped bondage and slavery and yet were now feeling stuck and fearful. They simply couldn't find the courage to move. Moses kept reassuring them to not be afraid. He told them that they would see the wonderful way that the Lord would rescue them and fight for them. Here is how The Living Bible translates these scriptures from Exodus 14:13-14.

"But Moses told the people, Don't be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch, and you will see the wonderful way the Lord will rescue you today. The Egyptians you are looking at-you will never see them again. The Lord will fight for you, and you won't need to lift a finger!"

Moses, in essence, was telling the people to just stand still. Don't move and watch was God will do. But, God, however, had a different plan. And standing still and watching was not what he wanted. He called for movement forward! And, He even called on the people to stop praying. Stop praying and get moving! Here is how The Living Bible translates these verses from Exodus 14: 15-16

"Then the Lord said to Moses, Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march! Use your rod -hold it out over the water, and the sea will open up a path before you, and all the people of Israel shall walk through on dry ground!"

You know, sometimes in life we get stuck. We find ourselves in places in our lives where forward movement seems impossible. We cry out to God to change our situation or to change us in some way and yet we feel that nothing is happening. Nothing is changing. Like the Israelites in the desert, we live in fear and can simply not see a way to move forward. 

There can be many types of "desert" situations in our lives. Six years ago, I lived through the desert of retirement. After many years of looking forward to retiring and being able to call my time my own, I found myself feeling lost and unsure of who I was now. After years of being a "classroom teacher" and then an "AIG Specialist" I felt like I suddenly had no title, no career identity. While I enjoyed many aspects of more freedom there was still a sense of being a bit "lost" and wondering what to do with myself that "counted" and felt like I was still productive and had something to give. Over time, I felt the same call from God that the Israelites experienced. I had prayed for God to show me the paths I should take and I began to sense that God wanted me to get moving and try things that were new to my life and yet would still use the skills I had acquired over my many years of teaching. Doors opened up which I had not seen before and I was able to use my teaching skills as a tutor to a little girl who needs help with reading, math and writing. I was offered the position as handbell director at my church using the music training I have received in college and over many years as a musician. I was called to continue blogging and sharing the joys of devotions, creative endeavors, home decor and my interest with fashion. Like the Israelites, I was questioned by God, "Wherefore criest thou unto me.....go forward."

Now I realize that going forward is not an easy task. And some deserts in our lives are more challenging than others. So, I don't mean to minimize the many, many things that can happen in our lives to cause us to be "stuck" so to speak in a desert. Adjustment to retirement is not the same as illnesses, deaths, sudden job loss, divorce, wars, the list goes on and on. 

Recently, I have been experiencing another type of desert in my own life. The death of my oldest sister. The grief over this loss has been palpable. I have spent many hours crying and feeling lost. Grief has a way of ebbing and flowing and sometimes I don't feel it coming on and then, without warning, a memory comes or music plays or a picture reminds me and, once again, I am overwhelmed with the feelings of loss once more. Just as when I retired, I wonder who I am now without the earthly relationship I shared with my oldest sister. She was the "mother figure" of the family after our Mom passed away almost 28 years ago. The one I talked to on a weekly basis and shared my life with; the ups and downs. I used to get a little peeved at always being called "the baby of the family" by her. But, now that she is gone, I miss that term. I was her medical power of attorney and the last months of her life were filled with me working with my other sisters to make decisions for her care. Just as when I was teaching, I had "titles" and ways to define myself in the relationship I had with her and the rest of my family. Now she has passed and I am, once again, in a desert of figuring out who I am. How do I now define myself within our family? Relationships have shifted and family dynamics have changed. 

I have prayed and cried out to God many times over these last months of being in this desert of loss and grief. Wanting reassurance that Star is with Him, questioning why and how things happened in her last months of life here on Earth, worrying over the decisions I made, wondering how our family will adjust to this loss and how my relationships with my other sisters will change and grow. 

This past weekend, I began to sense that God was speaking to me using the same words that He gave to the Israelites. I sensed Him telling me to "move forward." When those words descended on me, it gave me a great feeling of peace. And I knew that the time has come for me to look forward and to move towards the path that God is opening up on the sea for me. To move toward the "light" and not stay in the darkness of grief. Just as the Israelites moved forward through the path that God opened up in the waters, so must I.

A dear friend recently spoke to me of something she had learned about grief. She said there was a term used in grief counseling called "emergence" from grief and that in grief one doesn't leave it behind but emerges from it gradually. I became really interested in the word "emerge" and looked up several definitions of the term. One such definition was, "to move out of or away from something and to come into view." How striking is that definition of emerging in terms of grief? Once again, movement is involved! I also love the "coming into view" aspect. God has shown me, or brought me into view, in wonderful ways that I am not sharing here, that my sister is with Him and is safe in His arms. 

I also looked up the term "emergence" and its synonyms and was touched with one example of emergence as "coming into the light." 
With my choice of "light" as my word of the year, this was an especially poignant find and reassured me, once again, that God was separating the sea of grief in the desert that I have been in and that I was slowly moving forward on this new path toward the light that God gives to each of us.

Friends, all of us experience deserts in our lives. Sometimes we are in multiple deserts at one time! But, God is always faithful in our lives to show us a way forward. A way to emerge, even if the emergence is slow and gradual, toward the light, toward the path forward, that He has for us. And just know that the path forward will be good, even if it seems scary. Because God is good. All the time.

This has been a long devotional. I pray that it blesses your life.
Blessings and Peace Until Next Time,

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Valentine Pink for Top, Table Decor and More

 Feeling In The Pink for Valentines Day

Hello friends!  Guess what I'm starting to think about?  Yes, Valentines Day which will be here before we know it. I'm loving putting all of the pinks and reds together for Valentine wear and table decor. It's so fun to see what I can come up with and I hope you enjoy and get some inspiration for your own creativity. Remember, that Valentines doesn't have to be all about romantic love. You can enjoy decorating for Valentines Day and wearing pinks and reds whether you have a significant other or not. So the inspiration I am sharing today is for ALL!

The pink sweatshirt I'm wearing is a Blair brand that I ordered from Poshmark. I didn't know if I wanted to keep it when I first got it but now I'm so glad that I did! It is fleece lined and very warm and soft. The collar is unique for a sweatshirt with buttons that work and add a little "oomph" to what would otherwise be a regular round collared sweatshirt. It's also longer than typical sweatshirts which is a staple of Blair brand tops that I love. I've paired it here with jeans, white socks and multi-color pink Skechers shoes that I wear all. the. time! So comfy!

I typically wear either a sweater or jacket around the house. I think this longer off-white cardigan fits perfectly with this pink sweatshirt. It adds a nice texture to the look and an additional layer of warmth for a chilly day. I'm really enjoying looking closely at what "works" for me from my closet in this season of my life and this outfit definitely fits my lifestyle perfectly.

As I'm beginning to think about Valentine table decor, I feel like I don't want to give up my winter decor yet so I decided to "tuck" some Valentines into what is already on display. This red hearts, red berries and pine cone arrangement looks like it was made to go on the round table in the corner of our living room. It matches beautifully with my white light pine tree and snowmen. The the white lights glint off of the red hearts and add such a sparkle to the round table. I really like this look. 

In the family room, I decided to add a little Valentines to the three tiered table. Each tier holds some pink, white and red that gives such a cheerful vibe to the room. Dollar Tree has the little gnome boxes and I already owned the red gnome so it was a no-brainer to put these items together on the bottom shelf. I pulled out the table away from the wall so you could see the items better. Usually, this table is next to the wall and the heating vent tucked out of the way. 

I'm sure I'll continue to add Valentine touches here and there as February 14th gets closer. Here is a peak back at some of last year's decor starting with a Valentine table setting. 

And last year's Valentine decor displayed on a flat tray. I could use some of these items again this year on my tiered tray which I haven't even started decorating yet! We shall see how my creative juices evolve for this year's tray!

Tell me, are you starting to think about Valentine decor or wearing Valentine colors yet? Be sure to let me know in the comments. Or share anything else you would like to share. And I hope that you are having a wonderful week!

Until Next Time,

Friday, January 13, 2023

Snow Days Are For Eating


The 4th or 5th flower arrangement!

Hi friends: I've been doing a whole lot of messing around today, rearranging my flowers for the umpteenth time this morning. This is the latest iteration of the arrangement since I started back around my birthday. I keep feeling like I'm getting new flowers each time I toss the dead stems and come up with a new look. 

Speaking of "messing around," that's what I've been doing a whole lot of today. It's supposedly a "snow day" today and many of the schools were either closed or on two-hour delays this morning. There hasn't been much snow at all. Just flurries or snow showers off and on. As you can see, there's nothing on the ground at our house. 

Nothing to see here-at least snow-wise!

I had already decided that today was going to be a stay-at-home day, so I have "looked" for things to do all day. Let's see, I made breakfast and then lunch for The Mr. and myself. Today's menu for lunch featured homemade vegetable soup with couscous added in the bowl. Days like today make me want to "munch" and I have been munching on carrot sticks, honey-oat bars and cookies. (Sigh) Yes, cookies...oh well. Two out of three isn't bad!

Why do snow days feel so different from regular days? I think of when I was a little kid and we actually had snow days off from school. Now, there are only possible delays and "virtual school" days, more's the pity. I feel sorry for kids today who don't have the pleasure of a true "snow day." Waking up to see snow on the ground, waiting by the radio (no television closings in those days) to see if your school district was closed and then hearing those magic words...."Wood County Schools are closed, " oh that was sweet to the ears!!

I was never the type of kid who wanted to play in the snow much. I might put on my coat, hat and gloves and walk around outside a little but I wasn't into building snowmen and such. I really didn't have anyone around my age to build a snowman with or throw snowballs at. But, I still looked forward to having snow days off from school. On those days I could spend time reading, watching favorite television shows, sleeping late and, yes, munching on my favorite snacks. Guess old habits die hard, right?!

Of course, not all snowfalls back then resulted in a snow-day off from school. I can well remember pretty heavy snowfall in which the schools stayed open and the bus drivers would put chains on the bus tires. I can still recall the sounds of the tires with those heavy chains ka-lugging through the snow and pulling up to the bus stop. It would be freezing outside and, sometimes, inside the bus. It was always wonderful to finally pull up to the school and exit the bus moving into the warmth of the classroom. Sometimes, you could smell lunch cooking from the cafeteria and the delicious smells of hot rolls, mashed potatoes and meat gravy would waft down the hallways. There was a feeling of being safe and sound, snug in the surroundings, that I think I still wish for on days like today.

As I have been composing this post, the snow has increased, blowing strongly against the window panes. The flakes are bigger and the fog has descended into the valley. It's looking as if the snow may decide to lay-on after all. 

Maybe, if that happens, there would be another snow-day tomorrow! A day for staying warm and cozy, munching on good foods, reading interesting books and day dreaming of snow days gone by!


Speaking of books, here's a peak at what I have been reading. 

I'm delving back into the "Cat Who" series by Lillian Jackson Braun. I find her books so entertaining and cozy. Just the perfect type of book to curl up with on a snow day. The antics of Koko and Yum Yum, the two Siamese cats who live with Jim Qwilleran and help him solve mysteries, are the perfect combination of cuteness and cat intelligence. 

I'm also giving Susan MacNeal another try with this book in the Maggie Hope series. This time, Maggie is traveling to Washington, DC soon after Pearl Harbor was attacked and is helping Eleanor Roosevelt out while also acting as Winston Churchill's typist. These books remind me of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. However, I haven't been able to get into this series as much as I did the Maisie Dobbs series. I find that too many WWII books are not good for me to read. While the books are interesting historical fiction accounts, the subject matter can still be a bit traumatic. That's why the Cat Who series is lovely to sandwich in-between readings of these other heavier tales. 

Hope you are staying warm and dry, friends!  How do you handle cozy snow days?

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Winter Decor, Shackets and More

 Little Bits of This and That

silly metal snowman

Hello friends!  Today, in true "this and that" fashion, I'm sharing several things with you. I did do a little more winter decorating and thought you might enjoy and get some inspiration from what I have done. This is a favorite silly snowman that I leave out all year in our downstairs family room. I moved him up to the foyer to have pride of place on my little foyer table. There is an opening on the back for a tea candle to be inserted so I placed a flameless candle inside to light up prettily at night. I think the snowman's colors, big shoes and crazy hat are just hilarious and add the right touch of winter humor to the table!

Here's a glimpse of how the foyer table looks at night with the snowman glowing and the Amazing Grace lantern shining forth from the bottom tier. The foyer gives off such a warm glow when the lights shine forth. And you know that light is an important word to me this year!

winter wreath

To add a little winter to the front door, I decided to hang my ice crystal wreath that I fashioned a couple years ago. You know I love the blue and the ice crystals add just the perfect touch pinned to the styrofoam wreath. This was probably one of my easiest and most favorite crafts that I have created over the years!

blue and cream shacket

And now, on to something entirely different. Have you jumped on the "shacket craze" yet?  I bought this shacket for myself, actually before my birthday, and then decided to delay gratification until Christmas. So, I wrapped it up for under the tree. I am so very happy I bought this for myself! It is extremely soft, warm and cozy and the blue/tan goes with several tops I own. I just love it. I had a shacket from years and years ago (probably the last time they were in style 20+ years ago and called something else!) and I had worn it to the point that the material had worn down to the nub and there were balding patches on the sleeves! I truly wore it out! So, I'm really happy to have this cross between and shirt and a jacket to wear once more. (Still not sure I can part with my old one, though! 🙄🥴)

On the day I took these pics I felt like adding some jewelry to the look. I'm wearing my silver disc earrings and the blue crystal butterfly necklace that my wonderful AIG friends gave me for a retirement gift.

You can see the necklace a little better in this pic. So pretty and I treasure it. 

bears at my back door

In other news, here's a visitor we had at our back door the other day. He wanted to know if Cassie would like to come out and play. She decided to decline the offer. 

pancakes for breakfast

Yesterday, I woke up craving pancakes. I set to and whipped up a batch and I couldn't resist snapping a pic of how mouth watering they looked on the plate! They were delicious, if I do say so myself, and I enjoyed every bite. I use a Heart Healthy Bisquick mix and add milk rather than water. I also always add vanilla to the mix which I think creates a delicious flavor. Sometimes, I only use egg whites, which results in less fat/cholesterol as well as a thicker pancake. Yesterday, I added a whole egg, however.

The Mr. has done a good job keeping me in fresh flowers since my birthday. These were purchased for our 40th anniversary. They smell wonderful and are staying fresh for a long time. I still have some of my original birthday ones on the mantel. I just keep taking out the dead flowers and changing up vases and adding fresh water and some of the flowers go on and on. I do enjoy fresh flowers during the winter time when there are no pretty live flowers in my back porch planters. It cheers me up no end!

black and white cats

And finally, Garden says that since Cassie was in the bear picture that I need to put a picture of her in the post. So, here she is looking cute on our living room rug. You know how these clever cats are.....they both demand equal billing!!

And that's it for a little bit of this and that in my life right now. How about you? What's happening in your life that you would like to share? Any bears at your back door? Cats on your rug? How about pancakes for breakfast? Be sure to let me know about your "this and that" happenings in the comments. I can't wait to hear from you!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Welcoming the New Year and A New Word


Hello friends!  I certainly hope your new year is off to a great start! After saying that The Mr. and I would be spending New Year's Eve in our living room watching the ball drop I actually ended up going to bed and to sleep and slept right through midnight! How's that for an exciting evening? I'm still finding that I am pretty tired each day, with the aftermath of Covid, so I actually wasn't that surprised when I slept through welcoming the new year! We also had a lovely day celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday but, again, it was pretty low-key. The Mr. took a hike and then we went for a drive. We may do something more exciting later but we were both happy with our day and that's all that counts right? If you missed my last post about our wedding 40 years ago you can catch up here

I want to introduce you to my "word of the year" in today's post and I must tell you that I have gone round in circles trying to decide on this one. Several really good words have come to mind and I have gone back and forth before deciding that my word for 2023 is going to be "light." I finally decided on this word after reading and re-reading Psalm 27. 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? "

I also have spent a lot of time thinking about this verse from I John 1:5

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. "

I just find that I am looking for ways to put light into my daily living (such as with candles and my little white light tree) and I am looking for where light is shining in my life and in the world around me. I want to really be on the lookout for the "lighter" things in life that bring me moments of happiness and joy. I want to notice when good things happen and not just dwell on the negative. Last year was a really tough year for me and for my family as a whole. Losing two beloved family members was hard. But, along the way there were also good things happening. Hope was a major part of last year (you may recall that hope was my word for 2022) and I continue to hope for positive things. But, I also want to be the light in all of the situations that occur in my life and to bring the light of Christ to the world around me. And, to recognize the light that Christ brings into my life on a daily basis. 

So, my word to focus on for 2023 is Light! I hope that you will take the time to read all of Psalm 27 and I John 1 for yourself. Remembering that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all is so important, I think in today's world. There is a lot of darkness around but God's light shines through all the darkness. I am going to work on keeping that uppermost in my heart this coming year. 

And here is my little white light tree that I typically put out each year after the Christmas tree comes down. I added a couple of my favorite little snowmen to create more of a winter vignette. This is the extent so far of my winter decorating. Time will tell if I add more or not. One of the words I kept pondering as a word for the year was "simplify." And I still think it is an important word for me to ponder. I think that simplifying life as much as possible is probably a good idea. I had "simplicity" as one of my words in both 2019 and 2020 and I didn't want to choose a similar word again. But, somehow, simplify seems different from simplicity. Perhaps I am splitting hairs here but simplify seems to be much more about just making life easier in all the ways we can. Sometimes, life just gets way too complicated whether it is with daily schedules, too many "things" to keep up with in the house, etc. So learning how to simplify life in general would be a wonderful way to also be able to see all of the "light" around us wouldn't it? And, it would make life a little lighter, as well. 

Lots of ideas to think about here in 2023! How about you? Have you chosen a word (or words) for the new year? And where in your world do you like to bring light or see light? Be sure to share in the comments, okay? I love hearing from you!

Until Next Time,