Christmas Goodies

Do you feel like you have to do the traditions and pass them on the the next generation? I do and I love it. Christmas movies, music, candy, cookies and of course the holiday meal. All the things!

But I’m getting pretty fat and my joints hurt when I eat this stuff. So…

They can have the goodies and this is the path I’m going down…ha ha!

My Morning…

This morning I woke up early, as usual. But what is unusual is I gave myself permission to go back to bed. At 5 am I got up and made my usual mocha cappuccino and then grabbed two books I’m reading and settled back into comfort and coziness. I had forgotten how good that is for the soul.

When my farm kid (youngest son) woke up we went outside and met a glorious and sunny day. We did our chores and headed back I. For breakfast and more coffee for me. Yesterday was a BOGO at Starbucks and yes, I am that person. I brought the extra one home and put it in the fridge or the next morning. It’s worked out well. 🙂It might seem like clutter to you but my coffee table holds nourishment for me! All those books…

Farm kid and I decided on a cozy, long morning inside and then later we will head outside in the sunshine to the barn. The ladies all need Bo-SE shots and Ivermectin. A couple goats are in heat and although I don’t have a buck this year, they still think they should get married and have babies.

The ewes are in with the ram to be bred for lambs hopefully after they are sheared this year. Trying something new. We will see how that works out.All of these pictures are from this morning.A big part of my day is going to be spent wallowing in the soul care of this little gem. Have you heard of this book? No, well you need it if your’e creative in any way.

I’m holding down the couch this morning but the dogs are on patrol. Have a great day and I hope you have the chance to do some things that are restful as well as labors that are useful.

ACFW Contest Vs. Personality Quizz

2018 has been rotten overall. I can give a long list of reasons; totally valid reasons I might add. You would read it and maybe feel as sorry for me as I’ve felt for myself. Well, maybe not quite.

Any who…

Have you taken any of those personality tests? I’ve taken probably half a dozen or more. Now, sometimes they are encouraging, right? They showcase your strengths, and even though they also highlight some weakness in your character or habits, they mainly seem to focus on positives. At the least they help you identify your strengths.

My family likes to do these. I suppose it’s good to take the tests together and discuss them,  and compare them. They help us discover things about ourselves and each other. They are helpful in marriages to understand one another better.

However, I took one that my husband and oldest son rave about as most accurate, and I came off badly. For one thing, it seemed to have too few questions to be very accurate. For another thing, the results are so arbitrary to be dependent on your blood sugar levels, hormones, or mood that day. That’s my opinion anyway. It also said I was pretty opinionated. Whatever.

I scored 100% on creativity and imagination and like a 5% on self discipline. So, apparently I’m like some flighty, artsy type who floats through life never really accomplishing anything? Well, that hurt. I evaluated my life for hours after that. I couldn’t sleep.

I got a low score on empathy for others…what?! Really? As well as some extremes on other areas like a very high score on assertiveness. Now, some things are probably close to the truth, but others I have serious doubts about.

I took the test with my oldest son and his wife, and held up pretty well in spite of my rising discouragement while they were here. But after they left, I kind of fell apart. By fell apart, I mean like cried for about 3 or 4 hours. That’s not like me at all. Perhaps it has something to do with the no good, rotten year I’ve had so far. It all folded in on me and I had a major pity party. Maybe I was mourning for the person I want to be but am not yet. Maybe I’m drained and over emotional. Could be a combination of it all. Maybe I’ll just go take the enneagram test again. sigh. I don’t know about you, but I get sick of navel gazing. Everywhere I go, there I am. I get sick of myself. There are far more interesting things to think about and examine in the world. I suppose some introspection is healthy, though.

The interesting thing is, the same day I also got the judge’s critiques back from the First Impressions contest that ACFW holds every year. I didn’t expect to do well, and I wasn’t upset by the criticism at all. I had entered the contest with the goal of receiving the feedback. I want to know where to focus my studying of fiction writing craft. If you have never heard of this contest, and you are a christian fiction writer, it’s a gem. By the way, thank you judges! Your time is appreciated.

First Impressions is an amazing opportunity for unpublished writers. It’s only $15 for professional judging and 3 critiques on the first 5 pages and blurb of your manuscript. Pure gold!

I had been so cut down by that personality test and yet I read the critiques on my writing with relish. I know it sounds weird, but I’m being honest. I knew going in I hadn’t put forth my best work. I had started with the wrong scene for my genre. I knew that, but had been so focused on getting words down for two books that I didn’t spend much time  polishing those 5 pages before entering the contest. Besides that I could not format the way they wanted to save my life. I spend days and days on that and still ended up needing someone to do it for me. I really wanted to know my weakest points, and I got my desire. It didn’t sting though. The feedback gave me places to go, rather than spreading my time so thin by trying to cover everything at once. I have only been writing fiction for a year, and studying how to do it for a couple months longer than that. You can imagine I have years to go before I get proficient at this writing thing.

Now, why were the results of the contest a blessing to me, and the results of the personality test a curse? For one thing, I still don’t think that particular personality test very accurate, for another it seemed like a personal attack. The judges scores and comments on my manuscript were valuable to me because I want to improve as a writer, and I give myself grace and time to learn. The personality scores lacked grace and maybe even truth, so I found them discouraging.

My takeaway is that maybe when I am passionate about learning something I can take the hits and keep going, but when I merely feel criticized without suggestions of self-improvement I am discouraged. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe I’m wrong. Being self-aware is great. Helpful even. I highly recommend it. But if the feedback in your life merely makes you feel shame, toss it and move along.

I’m going to do something the next two days very well. I’m going to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my beloved family. I excel at Holiday dinners. My gravy would bring a tear to your eye. Then I’m going to watch the Hallmark channel all weekend, and Monday I’ll get back to work on grammar, story structure, plotting and characterization. I’ll busy myself with Novel Academy lessons, and I’ll keep writing every morning. In-between barn chores, laundry, and grocery shopping.

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Since supposedly I have little to no self-control, I’ll make sure to hit Starbucks for my decaf Cordusio and stock my writing desk full of chocolate. Eat that, personality test.

I hope you’re having a better year than I am, and let’s all hope that 2019 is brilliant.

 

I Am Writing, Hashtag

I’ve been busy with writing and life, making soap and dealing with one health issue after another. I won’t go down my list with the fascinating facts, but I could use some prayer.

I’ve been working on 3 books this year and two are in the almost finished phase of their first drafts.

I’m a member if ACFW and usually pretty good about meeting my word goals each month on the Novel Track loop. This month we shall see… I’ve had some kind of appointment or other most days.

Have you ever seen

papaya Art bags? Well, I’m addicted. I found this bag that believe it or not, matches the cover in one of my books. Say what?! Yes, I know. I’m getting this baby from Sage & Rose Boutique. The owner is a neighbor of mine and a veteran. Have you ever been to a mobile boutique? Hers was my first and I’ll just say it’s fun!

If you’re in my area, ask me how to get in contact with the boutique for yourself and friends or google it.

Next week I’ll cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family, then I’ll get busy with Christmas preparations.

Christmas with the little people is always exciting. It’s almost time to put together my annual cocoa bar. The kids love that.

My heart belongs to this sweet girl who makes my day several days a week. I can’t wait until she snuggles up by the fire with a fancy cocoa and writes her letter to Santa.

These are good days. I hope yours are good too.

Fall Y’all

I don’t know about you but this fall has been busy for me. The animals are fat and glossy, ready for breeding season. Apples are peeled and in the freezer for pies. The sheep have full fleeces again, and school pictures have been delivered.

There have been two weddings to celebrate. Soap has been made, cured and orders in.

We have had a few upsets in the family. Just life.

My back freaked out and I was in terrible pain for a month- it still hurts, but I’m functional again- just in time for the Olympic Peninsula Christian Writers conference where I met and learned from Kate Breslin, in particular. She’s one of my favorite writers.

All in all, I’m not sad about winter coming because settling down by the fire with books, coffee, and my laptop is sounding pretty good. Oh ya, let’s not forget Netflix.

I’m writing quite a bit, two projects that I switch between. One contemporary Romance and one devotional. I’m also teaching story writing to a class of homeschooled kids.

 

what are you up to?

Journal The Word Bible Review

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NIV, Journal the Word Bible for Women, Comfort Print 500+ Prompts to Encourage Journaling and Reflection

By Zondervan Bibles
Published by Zondervan

Hey, are you looking for a nice Bible with lined wide margins for note taking, devotional thoughts, prayers, etc.? This handy sized Bible just might be what you’ve been searching for. I like the simplicity, the layout, and new Zondervan NIV Comfort Print font. It’s 9.9-point font, and interesting. I can’t say I would buy a Bible just for that font, but it’s nice. I’m not a particular fan of the NIV translation to study out of, either. It’s a nice reading Bible, and the margins are fabulous.

The cover is navy blue cloth over board. The gold and red embossed design is eye-catching. It fits comfortably in your hands, and is easy to grip. I must say I like the other covers better, and there are a number to choose from.

Check this one out at Amazon here

As you can see the side margins are nice for jotting thoughts, prayers, dates, etc. I love wide margin Bibles. I won’t buy one that doesn’t have some sort. I write in all of my Bibles, and most of my books.

The presentation page is stunning. The devotional prompts throughout are nice. I think this Bible makes an ideal gift for someone who would like a little help getting their own devotions going, or maybe someone who is going through a dry spell and could use someone else’s inspiration to help keep them afloat. Spiritual practices can sometimes use assistance, you know?

This review was done by my own opinion. I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher, and promised to give an unbiased written review.

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Catch Up

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons. It’s too busy though. The holidays coming up keep parts of my mind circling over ideas, menus, and gift ideas.

My sweet boy is still homeschooling but also getting some special help at the little country school down the road. His tutor is a friend from church and he’s already reading! Very proud mom here.

The school is nestled amongst apple orchards and small cattle ranches. I love it and so does my son. He only attends part time but it’s just enough.

The ranch is full of kittens so we are busy trying to find good homes for them.My sweet aunt Merry has been battling stage 4 cancer and strokes. She’s tough and brave. She’s one of my father’s sisters.

I’m making my usual fall goat milk soaps. And… I’m almost done with a romance I’ve been working on. I mean just the first draft of the story. Lots of rewriting and edits to go, but still…I’m enjoying the beautiful scenery on this ranch for the 15th year. Blessings.

Rooted & Blooming Sample

Devotions For Women

The Big If

 

Mark 9:23 (CSB)

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can? Everything is possible for the one who believes.'”

It seems we are always and forever saying to Jesus, “but if You can do anything…” and He is saying to us, “If you can believe…”

We often don’t have the courage to believe God for good things. 

Maybe we think we don’t deserve it. 

We don’t think it’s within the realm of possibility.

We don’t want to get our hopes up.

We don’t want to get someone else’s hopes up.

We. Me. Them.

And therein lies our problem, eh?

The focus is on us and them, when it should be on Him.

With a focus shift, we would see and experience spectacular things. I think in our country of abundance and materialism, we are disadvantaged in the faith department. We have so much we don’t really need to ask God for. There’s less reason for us to rely on Him, than those who live in countries without our super-abundance.

Back to Mark 9: 22-23. Go ahead and get your beautiful Bible in front of you and read this portion please.

You’ll see Jesus set this guy straight about whose “if” was relevant. The scribe offered a piddling, unbelieving, “but if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”

Jesus returned, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

You know, God is so gracious, that even in the matter of our faith, we aren’t on our own. It doesn’t fall to us alone, thank goodness. Let’s thank God, literally, that Jesus is the source and sustainer of our faith. I’m positive we would be in much more difficulty if faith depended solely upon us.

Read verse 24 again, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!’”

This narrative ends with Jesus explaining to His disciples the reason for their failure in casting out the boy’s demon: “This kind only come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (V. 29)

So, denial of ourselves for a bit is necessary for fruitful works against darkness? Yes, I think so.

If we focus less on us, less on circumstances, and less on what seems impossible, and trade out for a clear headed focus on Jesus, we have faith in action.

I’m a believer. I identify as a believer in Jesus Christ and a woman of the word. 

The Bible.

I can’t just say this though. I can’t just read it. Faith requires action. Belief is an action.

Is there anything you know you need more faith to believe God for? Ask Him, and start with, God, I believe you are able, not with, if you can

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Read the verse below and let the words sink in deep and nourish your faith, notice the qualifier- if you remain in Jesus and His words, your prayers will be acted on.

John 16:7

“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (NKJV)

An Unpresentable Glory Review

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Eleanor K. Gustafson has authored quite a story.

I didn’t understand the title and theme of this novel until the epilogue.

A stranger finds his way into the garden of Linda Jensen. He’s in a vulnerable state. She’s highly in tune with the Holy Spirit. Thus begins a journey full of drama and emotion, complicated relationships and unpresentable glories.

So many issues are part of this tale: politics, immigration, mental illness, friendship, christianity, and a legion of others all flavor this story stew. But in the end the love of God and His scandalous mercy are what shine through.

Well done, Eleanor Gustafson, you gave us powerful characters and plot, a satisfying ending, and tied up the loose ends that kept the tension high and threatened my peace. Thank you for a memorable read.

The author does a beautiful job portraying Christ’s love, true discipleship, and being an ambassador for Christ in every nuance of daily life. Some characters are downright mysterious, some wicked, some glowing with goodness, but in the end you will be both surprised and touched. I cried through the epilogue, no kidding.

My Hygge Spots

Lately we’ve had high nineties and triple digit weather. This means of course that I get stuff done early and late. This woman does not do extreme temperatures in either direction. Unlike my handsome, now swarthy husband who likes it hot enough to fry eggs outside. He’s nuts though.

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I have a great love for nature, and the beauty of creation outside, but the honest truth is, there’s still a big part of me that’s an indoor cat. I love to be cozy; thus my fondness for all things hyyge. Of course I love to read and write, and I’m spending a large portion of my days learning to be a better writer. I am devouring craft books, and I’ve invested in a membership to a few writer’s associations, as well as joining Novel Academy, which has turned out to be great fun. I love the classes, and the Thursday night Peptalks, which are live. Last night’s class was spent in front of the swamp cooler, because listen folks, it’s hotter than red chile sauce in this house anywhere else.

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To beat the heat, lately I’m waking up about 5:30 am to have my mocha cappuccinos. (Yes, that’s plural. Don’t judge me)

That first couple of hours of calm, cool, quiet and solitude get me ready for hectic when the 8 year old boy rises. I love him, but gracious he’s loud.

I read my Bible first thing, and this year I’m going through the New Testament a few times instead of through the whole Bible like usual. I’ve been immersing in John 15, which is like an oasis in my soul that was but recently desert land.

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I’m also writing 6 mornings a week, and averaging about 1500 words per session. I’m happy with that, because it’s more than I expected.  I had set a goal for myself of 500 words every morning. My office has a window overlooking the barn, and I have fleeces stored in there from my sheep. The smell of good fleece is dreamy to me. I have some dried lavender and lemon balm in there, brought to me by a neighbor. (the naughty goats ate all of mine) I keep a blue Beta fish on my desk, and all I need now is the comfy looking chair below. Someone tell my husband about this please. It’s at Costco. 🙂

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The air quality alone from all of the fires should keep us inside. It’s pretty bad, although not up to the danger of last year’s air quite yet. Let’s hope we don’t reach that again. I’m saddened by all of the fires, and losing such beauty and wild life is devastating, not to mention all that people have lost in homes and lives. Something to pray about for sure.

This picture was taken by my husband. It’s his hyyge place. He takes the boys camping every year (leaving me home in blissful solitude and quiet) here. They come back not only refreshed, but clear headed. This is my husband’s sweet spot, in addition to home. He’s a family man and homebody, which of course suits me just fine.

When it cools off, I’ll be content to spend most of the day outside again. I love walks through the orchards, and even better to ride my horse around the dirt roads. There’s almost nothing like it.

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When all else fails, grab a book and settle down for a good read. That’s my cure for lots of things. I find that escaping into a well-written book changes my attitude and refreshes my mind. There are so many good books out now, and lots of them are Indie published. I love that. Do you have any favorites?

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What would a good read, or an afternoon, for that matter be without the afternoon coffee? And by coffee, I mean mocha cappuccino. Even better if there’s lots of foam on top and the milk is raw, from one of my own goats or ewes. This is udderly hyyge. (dorky, I know)

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Everyone who knows me, knows that my sweetest spot is among my animal buddies. Either reading, writing, walking, or sun bathing, I like it all better if I’m surrounded by my animals.

Just so you know, all of my pictures were taken by my iPhone 8 Plus, except the nature shot taken by my husband on his phone, and that’s the newest Galaxy. They take such good pictures, we don’t even bother with a regular camera anymore.

Feel free to leave a comment, and tell me what kinds of things make you happy, cozy, or refreshed. I’d love to hear what feeds your soul.