The Circle: Spring Favorites

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This month's link-up is hosted by Kiki and Meg. The questions are all spring related and I am excited to include some pictures that I took on a walk the other day! I look forward to spring each year because it means SUMMER IS COMING!!!

What is spring like where you live?
You never know what spring will bring where I live. In general you can expect there to be a good mix of sunshine and rain with lots of wind and deceivingly cold temperatures. Basically, it flops back and forth between feeling like almost summer and winter until June.

What's your favorite springtime accessory?
My winter coat? I am always tempted to pull out the bright colored skirts, but the truth is, it's just too cold for them! I asked my family how I should answer this question and they said gardening gloves!

Do you have any springtime traditions?
Planning my garden for the year and going outside as much as possible.

What is your favorite spring treat? 
Italian sodas, peeps, and cream pies.

Favorite spring holiday?
Easter is my favorite. We usually spend it with Ron and Julie. Julie fixes a wonderful dinner with ham, scalloped potatoes, a fancy salad, and there's usually some kind of fruit. I usually bring a dessert and we always plan on eating outside if it's not too windy or wet.

What's your favorite thing to do in the spring?
Getting my garden spots ready. I love the work of clearing out the fresh weeds, the leaves that gathered over winter, and tilling up the soil. Then comes the planting of new seeds and plants. Once all of that is done, I look forward to weeding and water and pruning, but the initial work of getting is ready each spring is definitely my favorite!

And here's bonus challenge for you over-achievers: find and capture your favorite sign of spring and tell us about the photo!


Come to the Light

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The other day, Emily Freeman posted these words:

"...may I not be surprised by my own ability to mess things up. 
May I refuse to be shocked by my own, jealousy, stubbornness, impatience and indifference..."

She went on to talk about being surprised by God's grace and delighted in His presence instead. 
Couple that post with the Bible study time happening with "Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically" by John Snyder where I'm currently studying how my own sin makes knowing God impossible without His help and you've got a recipe for something GOOD.

James 4:8 says something we're all familiar with:

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..."

What we may not be familiar with are the rest of the words that follow, that same verse ends like this:
"Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

When God looks at humans, He assumes sin. He knows it's there and He does not ignore it. 

Why is it that when we look at ourselves we assume goodness? Why is it that we are consumed with being surprised when sin bubbles up and then quick to shift any attention it's receiving away from it? 

Talk about DUMB. 

God is in the business of exposing sin. From there He may dole out consequences. From there, He may clean or punish...That part is really up to Him. 

As Christians, we know that exposed sin ALWAYS leads to forgiveness! Sure, we'll have to deal with consequences, but what are consequences in light of the LIFE that we have in Christ?

Why do we act surprised? Why do we hide? Forgiveness is OURS! 

Ladies...You are SINNERS. You are going to mess things up with your jealousy, stubbornness, impatience, indifference, and a million other things that are all coming from that wicked heart inside of you. That's truth. The rest of the truth is this:

"Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he had not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. Fore everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God." 

When sin comes and you're tempted to be surprised and then to make light of it, remember the light that Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension have shed on it! 

Remember that because of Him and the work that God has done in making Himself known to you, that sin does not condemn you! Thank God for making a way for your hands to be cleansed and your heart to be purified and join Him in seeing to it that you are walking in the light that is His presence. 

Lately I have been captivated with the fact that the God who made ALL that exists invites His people to KNOW Him and to WALK with Him....He knows His people and leads them to become more like the Son whose name they have taken as their own. 

Christian, your life here will be over before you know it, won't you spend it in pursuit God, the very fountain of Living Water?

First Weekend of Spring

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm writing this post on the first Sunday evening of SPRING. I made that pie (a butterscotch cream) earlier this evening and enjoyed a piece of it over a game of "Politics" with my Mom....This weekend really began on Friday.

That day was full of grocery shopping, errands, and PAINT BUYING. I'm so excited about this little project that it actually makes me feel a little silly. Lunch at Arby's also happened which is becoming a favorite of mine for every once in a while.

Saturday the goal was to get a cat house built and begin sanding my ceiling. The cat house took FOREVER so the ceiling gets to wait some more. Still, the day was super productive! I did a bunch of cleaning, dishes, clutter busting, laundry, and I detailed my car because it was super warm outside. We didn't eat until like 8pm, but by then, the BBQ ribs, beans, and cornbread HAD to happen.

Today the day started out slow with a cup of tea (I discovered Irish Breakfast Tea recently and I am really enjoying that) and some time to read. I fixed a big breakfast, went for a walk, and then gathered for Bible study with my Mom and brother. From there, I spent some time skyping with my friend Shauna...I feel like I've known her FOREVER and I forget just how much I wish we lived closer.

After skyping it was time for more food. I tried my hand at a nacho dip inspired by Ree's "Queso Fundito". It was good and definitely hit the spot, but I'm thinking freshly grated cheese might be a good idea.

The rest of the day went something like reading outside, updating goodreads, realizing just how beautiful this time of year is when the temperature actually gets above 60, baking a pie, and playing games.

That's the makings of another great weekend if you ask me.

Maybe you can't be with EVERYONE you love...Maybe you aren't feeding the poor or helping the sick...But, maybe you're enjoying God with some of the ones you love and sometimes that's just what your soul needs.

Weekends like these are certainly nice and I pray that a day will come when they include people who need a little help seeing God in their lives.

How was YOUR weekend? 

Did you try any new recipes?

Blog Award Fun

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award a few other times but I've never taken the time to play along (sorry....). I was recently nominated twice, so I am putting them together for a whopper of a post. Thank you to April and Jess for providing the kick in the pants that I needed to join in on the fun! :) 

The Rules
1. You must link back to the person that nominated you.
2. You must answer the 11 questions given by the nominee before you.
3. You pick up to 11 nominees with under 200 followers to answer your questions.
4. You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.
5. You must tell the nominees that they have been nominated by you.

My Answers to April's Questions

1. If you knew you were going to be suddenly stranded on a desert island, and were only allowed to bring one item, what would it be? Socks.

2. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? The person in the Drive-Thru window at McDonalds.

3.Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry? Chocolate

4. Are you an outdoor or indoor person? I love being outside. As long as there is running water in my future, I'm up for anything. 

5. What made you want to start writing a blog? The opportunity to write and connect with other people. 

6. If for one day, you could have unlimited access to the closet of your style icon (real or fictional), who would it be? Grace Kelly

7. Do you think the early bird gets the worm? Or are you a night owl? I am now an early to bed, early to rise person. But I can still stay up late if I need to. 

8. Where is your favorite vacation spot or place you would most like to vacation? I would love to go to Carolina Beach again. 

9. Favorite food to make? And favorite food to eat? I love making biscuits, meatloaf, and enchiladas. My very favorite food is a hamburger with french fries or onion rings. 

10. Favorite book? Or movie? "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper and "Remember the Titans" 

11. What is your all time favorite craft that you have made during your lifetime? A kite - I made it with my Ghiddu and we took it to a sports complex to fly it. I was just remembering that memory the other day. :) 

My Answers to Jess's Questions 

1. What is the number one place in the world you want to visit? Currently, New Orleans. 

2. If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be? I would love to have dinner with my Grandma Bingo. 

3. What is one food you could eat for the rest of your life? Beef, does that count? 

4. Who is your favorite character (tv, play, movie, book, etc...)? Skeeter Phelan from The Help

5. What is your favorite childhood memory?
Ordinary summer days at my Grandma and Ghiddu's house...Especially the ones that included time out on the front walk with my Mom.

6. Reach into your purse or bag nearest you and pull out the 4th item. What was it? A little makeup bag that has things like hair clips, hair ties, lotion, and chapstick in it. 

7. Are you organized, messy, or an organized chaos kind of person? I can function in organized chaos, but my preference is a place for everything and everything in its place.

8. What is your favorite activity to do outside?
I love to garden. 

9. How many of the states have you visited? A LOT....I have no idea how many. I have vacationed in about 15 or so and I've driven through many, many more. 

10. Do you have an alter ego? Describe them.
Hmmm...The lady who even wears pearls and heels while she vacuums. 

11. If you could be any animal, which would it be? A dolphin, I suppose. 

I Nominate:
If you decide to play, your questions to answer are:

1. When did you begin blogging?
2. What is the last book that you finished?
3. Describe the first time you made it to one of your dream destinations:
4. What is your favorite Disney film? 
5. Tell me about one of your dinner menus from last week:
6. Do you like choosing a place to eat out? Where do you usually pick if it's your turn?
7. What is your favorite game to play?
8.  What is a Scripture that encourages your soul?
9.  What was the last movie you saw in theaters? 
10. What is your favorite thing to receive as a gift?
11. What age so far has been your favorite?  

Seek His Face

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I wanted to share with you a quote straight out of a Bible study workbook I'm going through right now. The name of the study is "Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically" by John Snyder.

The quote comes from St. Anselm (I actually have no idea who he is, but these are some great words):

"Up now, slight man! Flee for a little while your occupations; hide yourself for a time from your disturbing thoughts. Cast aside now your burdensome cares, and put away your toilsome business. Yield room for some little time to God, and rest for a little time in Him. Enter the inner chamber of your mind; shut out all thoughts save that of God and such as can aid you in seeking Him. Speak now, my whole heart! Speak now to God, saying, 'I seek Your face; Your face, Lord, will I seek.'" 

At the end there, he was clearly thinking of Psalm 27:8 "When You said, 'See My face,' My heart said to You, 'Your face, Lord, I will seek.'"

Let me just say, I've had a lot on my mind lately. Don't we all? It's March, spring is slowly easing its way in, we're thinking of all the things that need doing, and beginning to be bombarded with the busy-ness that this time of year always brings along.

BUT! There is something more essential than any yard work, organizing, party planning, or whatever is on our minds.....Namely, our pursuit of God.

Christian, you must take time to pursue Him. Quiet your soul and your mind and gather around the fire that is His Word to see HIM.

God calls us to understand and know Him. Jesus made the way for us to have the same fellowship with the Father that He has. And yet, we act as if we would rather just piddle along with these joys and worries that are always in front of us.

God is showing Himself and He is calling His people to His Word. Go there. Listen. Behold your God!

A Spring Read

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The blackberries on the cover of "A Stillness of Chimes" got my attention and then things only got better after I realized that Meg Moseley would be taking her readers to the south once again.

This is a quick and painless read about the struggles Laura Gannt faces after the death of her mother and the rumors that perhaps her Dad isn't dead even though he is supposed to have died 12 years ago.

Moseley worked a little more romance into this one. The truth is, I can do without that stuff in my books and movies.

She also drags her feet in telling us if Laura's Dad is really dead or not...I'm not going to spoil anything for you. You just need to know that it was a little slow.

Aside from the romance and the slow factor, the story really was great! Moseley paints a picture of life in a small southern town and weaves plenty of subplots in to keep your mind off the fact that all you really want to know is, "What's the deal with Laura's Dad?!?!?!". You might "know" a few of the characters from your own town or maybe it'll be so unfamiliar that it's intriguing to see the dynamics that small towns function around.

You can get your copy of the book by clicking HERE.

Where is your bookmark these days? 

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All thoughts and comments are my own. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

I've been saving those pictures of that beautiful sunrise from February 4th. It was one of the mornings that started early and slow. My mom pointed out the sunrise so I had to step outside and get a picture of it before the day really began.

Now, let's talk about the weekend...

After Bible study on Saturday I went shopping with my mom and sister. We had lunch out and spent far too much time at Sherwin Williams. Here's a far too yellow picture of my key pieces:

As I stood looking in certain areas of the display I realized that I have no idea which direction I want to go with the paint in my room. Trivial? Yes. Should I go bold with a deep navy? Or go with a neutral that's not quite white, gray, or tan? I'll keep you posted. For now, what would YOU do?

Sunday was full of wonderful things...I sipped a cup of tea in a mug that I only use during spring. I baked and enjoyed some chocolate chip cookies. I made dinner for the first time since last Monday (I was out of commission last week). I finished a book that I've been reading.

Today began with these words from Psalm 27:8

"You have said, 'Seek My face.' 
My heart says to You, 'Your face, Lord, do I seek.'"

May this week be one where we DO seek His face. He's there, everywhere really, to behold. We only have to LOOK.

I'd like to hear about YOUR weekend. Will you share?

The Scenic Route: Sunshine and Rain

Monday, March 10, 2014

This weekend began and ended with sunshine. It got up to about 64 degrees and as usual I was soooo tempted to begin working in the flower beds. 

With a little sickness going around the house, I ended up spending a lot of time reading aloud. We finished one of my favorite books called "Stepping on the Cracks" and moved on to its sequel. 

There was also a little bit of rummicube and discovering a new tv series (I think it's called Vera). 

 Saturday was filled with rain and with that came some time to read my first novel of 2014. I'll be posting about this before the month is over, so stay tuned! I'm about half way through and I can't wait to discover how everything will turn out!

Julie and I visited for a good long while when I returned some books at the library. We talked about books that we've enjoyed and just caught up on life in general.

Sunday was very restful. This winter I've gotten into the perfect Sunday routine...This one happened to include the perfect cup of chai with a shot of coffee and some extra quiet time.

To be honest, the whole weekend kind of felt like one long "patio moment"!

I took this last picture this morning. As I write this post, the birds are singing and the rain may or may not continue. I'm off to spend the afternoon working at the coffee shop!

How does the weather affect your weekend? 
What happened wherever you found yourself? 

Through the Rain

Friday, March 07, 2014

I had a shadow again this week. We did lots of driving, went for a few walks which included stops to pick things up or find the wind chimes or a bird that we could hear, played Uno, went to the library, read stories, made biscuits, cleaned the sink, and learned about coins.

Yesterday when I took Heidi's daughter home, it was drizzling. I love driving in the rain! I noticed a lady sitting out on a covered patio looking out at the road. It seemed a little cold to be sitting outside, so I wondered what she was doing. That's when I noticed that there were two other people with her. One was leaning up against the wall with his back to the road and the other was sprawled out looking the same direction as the first lady I noticed. 

As I drove by, I only saw them for a few seconds, but my thoughts stayed on them for a while.

What were they talking about? How did they meet? How was it that on a Thursday afternoon they decided to sit outside while the rain came down silently all around them? 

There they sat visiting and enjoying the quiet that rain brings. 

I drove by enjoying the same rain and the same quiet.

Whoever they are, however they met, and whatever they were talking about - sitting there, they reminded me that for all the trouble in this world, there are still patios where people sit and visit without the pressures of life weighing them down, if only for a moment. 

Maybe this weekend will hold a patio moment for you...If it does, get comfortable and let it help you look beyond whatever troubles you. Maybe that moment will be there to remind you of the work that God is doing in your life. 

Whatever you're facing, He's there using it to make you more like His Son. Jesus served well, loved with His whole being, and stayed close to God. How often did He go away to pray? I believe it was His communion with God - not the pressures of life on this earth, or the needs of the people around Him - that kept Him going.

God led Him and God is leading His people today. This weekend, use those patio moments to be with Him and to share what He's been up to in your life with whoever ends up in the quiet with you. 

Would you do me a favor? Would you take a minute now to tell me about a verse or book or scene that left your soul reminded of its anchor?

While My Mind Remembers

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The pull of other places is one I am very familiar with. Ever since moving across the country when I was five, I have known what it is like to long to be somewhere else. Throughout the year I couldn’t wait to go back. When I went back to spend the summers there, I’d be wishing I could return to my Mom and our new life. However much I missed one place, getting there would only make me realize I wanted the other too.

I learned that you can’t be everywhere, with everyone, no matter how much you might want to...

I want to be able to go to that brick house at the bottom of the hill and find my Mom’s parents still sitting in their chairs watching a ball game. I want to be able to walk down the hall to find my Grandma sitting at the kitchen table with her coffee and orange juice and rice krispies and my Ghiddu at the stove stirring cream of wheat. I want to load up their car and go for a drive to visit one of my aunts and find all of the cousins there ready for a swim in the pool.

I want to get on a plane and go to Cape Cod to find my bedroom at the top of the stairs with the lace curtains and the beach theme. I want to wake up to the sound of the fog horn on the barge and decide to take the bikes out on the shining sea trail. I want to get a call from my friend Shauna asking if I want to go walk on the canal or meet up with Rachael at her house. I want to make my way down to the beach with Hannah or just sit in the living room watching Monk reruns with her parents after sitting around the table long after dinner is over and heading to the kitchen to clean up the mess from earlier. I want it to be October, the tourists to be gone, the neighborhood kids to be out in the street playing hockey, and I want to go to Friendly’s for an ice cream cone after a day of teaching.

I want it to be summer and I want to head to the ranch to find all of my friends waiting for a retreat. I want to go in the kitchen to find Darlene and Anna and Ruth working away. To head out to the swings to find Dennis quietly tending to his flowers while Verle stands by munching on popcorn. I want to play volleyball until we can’t see the ball anymore and then move into the multipurpose building to play rummy.

I want to go work in the ringy dingy garden WITH Alice. And when every ring is clean and all the vegetables are picked, I want to come up with ten more jobs that don’t really need doing just so we can spend more time together. I want to hear her stories and learn more of the wisdom she has to share.

Sometimes I even want to walk home from school with Jordan to find my brother and sister waiting for me. I want them to come into my room and sit on the floor while I do my homework. I want to make macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly for three and watch whatever they want to watch on the little tv in the kitchen. I want to load them up in the stroller and take a long walk to anywhere.

I want to sit on the porch swing stringing beans with my Granny on a hot summer day hearing stories about the devil (that’s another one for another day). To load up the car with my Dad and his parents to head to my aunt’s condo at the beach where we’ll spend our days in the sand and our evenings walking around the deserted streets or watching Shirley Temple. I want to eat bacon sandwiches with carrots and ranch or drink ice cold YooHoos with my brother.

I want to get off the bus and run over to Terry’s house to play with hot wheels underneath that big pine tree or maybe watch his rats play in their little cage. I want to race my brother on bikes around and around the house or play baseball in the side yard. I want to sit on the dog house with fishing poles pretending we’re on a boat in the ocean.

I long for plenty of places…but mostly, I long for the people that I knew in each one.

Some of the people are gone, some have grown up or grown old, but every single one of them hold places in my mind. Those are places that I can go back to, at least for now, while my mind remembers. As long as it doesn’t forget, I have a feeling I’ll be taking a lot of trips. 

This post may look and sound a bit different than what you usually find here. It's a response to the prompt: "Often we feel pulled between two places...Tell us about them. Give us the pull, the conflict, the desire. " 

This post is part of the "Old Friend from Far Away" writing exercises I've decided to do. Find out more about these exercises by clicking HERE

The Scenic Route: A Weekend in Winter

Monday, March 03, 2014

I'm writing this towards the end of Sunday afternoon while drinking a glass of orange juice and watching the snow continue to fall outside my window. What a pleasant weekend this has been!

My goal Friday was to record a speech for my English class so that I could really enjoy the weekend. I recorded it that evening and finished the day with a plate of chili cheese fries and the second episode of Wives and Daughters.

On Saturday  the wind was blowing like CRAZY. It was March 1st and for some reason it just felt like SPRING. I decided to make waffles, mainly because I've been wanting to have some on hand in the freezer. Then it was time to head to a new Bible study group. Afterwards I fixed lunch, rotated the laundry, tidied the kitchen, cleaned the bathroom, and settled in for episode three.

Jay came over for the rest of the afternoon and tacos since he's getting ready for a trip. The wind was still blowing and a million of the tiniest snowflakes I've seen all winter were swirling through the air. It was too warm for it to stick, but the peace that snow brings still came. Before I started dinner I was by myself in the kitchen and I just felt so happy all of a sudden.

Over the last few years I've come to love a good, quiet weekend filled with nowhere important to go, good food, friends and family, and plenty of time to be still. That's exactly what this weekend was turning into and realizing it just filled me thankfulness.

The evening ended with an affogato (I'll be telling you more about this another day just in case you don't already know) and the final episode of Wives and Daughters.

Salad wars...mine vs. 
my brother's 

Today I really haven't done much except for enjoy a nice long shower, fix a salad bar, and continue to watch the snow come down. It happens to be piling up today. I plan on spending what's left of the afternoon finishing Emily Freeman's book "A Million Little Ways" and reading my Bible. After that, we'll see what the rest of this weekend holds!

How was YOUR weekend? 
What has left you feeling happy and thankful lately?