8.29.2011

The List that Never Ends: # 381-390

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanking God today...

381. ... that Josh's wedding ring was still where he accidentally left it on the golf course! Whew!

382. ... for seeing a friend so excited about a new opportunity in life.
383. ... for some unexpected visits from family.

384. ... for safety for friends and family during the hurricane.

385. ... for the relief of lotion on dry skin.... ahhh.....

386. ... for friendship.

387. ... for encouragement in the most unexpected places...

388. ... for my new favorite lunch - bacon, avocado, garden-fresh tomatoes, basil, lettuce, mayo, and salt and pepper on a whole wheat tortilla wrap. Yum.


389. ... for the Internet and how much easier it makes things sometimes.

390. ... that God is always faithful, even when people (including me) are not.

Linking up at:

8.24.2011

Quotables: My Niece Laurel

Lines hollered down from the bedroom where she was SUPPOSED to be going to sleep:
:o)

"I can't go to sleep! Ivy's crying! Ivy's crying! Ivy's crying, and Kaedon's.... Kaedon's.... Kaedon's not doing anything.... and I'm not being quiet!"

"I need a bandaid! I need a BANDAID! I've hurt myself very, VERY badly, and it's VERY, VERY bleeding! I need a BANDAID! And Kaedon needs a bandaid!"

- Laurel, age 2


8.22.2011

The List that Never Ends: # 371 - 380

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
- Romans 1:21

...and because I don't want that happening to me,
I continue my list...

Thanking God today...

371. ... for a fun weekend with my family and Josh at the lake.

372. ... for row boats - one of my favorite things.

373. ... for the person who keeps the walking path mowed in the back field so that the whole neighborhood can enjoy it.


374. ... for Lindt truffles. 'Nuff said.

375. ... for hugs from Josh when I need them most...

376. ... for the hope of knowing that the truth will prevail.

377. ... for friends who pray.

378. ... for (slightly) cooler weather - a hint of fall, my favorite season.

379. ... for the hilarious lines kids come up with... (these kids, this past weekend)


380. ... for my brother Zack.


Linking up today at:

8.21.2011

One year ago today...

...our friend Todd went Home to be with Jesus.


To read about Todd's life, watch the music video tribute, or purchase the song inspired by Todd's life,
please click HERE.

Thanks again to all of you who prayed, joined the facebook page, sent financial gifts, and offered words of encouragement and comfort to Todd and his family during that difficult time. Please continue to remember Todd's wife Barbara and their two children in your prayers...

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

- I Thessalonians 4:13-18

8.17.2011

Quotables: C.S. Lewis and a Moment on the Ol' Soapbox

"The complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered. Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, 'Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words.' A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?"

- C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
(I'm an Amazon Associate. I make a teensy, tiny little amount of money if like a billion of you order through this link.)


*****

I feel inclined to wax a little eloquent (or not so eloquent, as the case may be) on today's quote... so buckle up.

I've written about this book at greater length before, but this quote in particular has been on my mind a lot lately. The imagery of this scene really struck a chord with me when I first read it....

The story is complicated, but to give you a brief summary, a very bitter character comes before "the gods" (the setting is a Greek myth) to give her "noble" complaint about her life circumstances - she feels she has been treated unjustly. However, when she opens her mouth to read her carefully-written complaint (which comprises the entire novel up to this point), her lengthy book has turned into a nasty little piece of paper with ugly writing scrawled all over it, and she simply starts spewing forth what we here in the South would call a "bratty, selfish hissy fit." As she listens to herself say what's really in her heart, she finally becomes aware of her true self and is confronted by her own sinfulness.

I've already shared with you about the "sucker punch of truth" effect this had on me when I first read it... It definitely opened my eyes to some of my own sinfulness and failings in areas of my life, and I think every professing Christian should read it.

It's really, really easy to get consumed with any of the following behaviors:
Our false self-justification and all of the external "good stuff" that we're doing  (or, as Lewis puts it, "the babble that we think we mean") doesn't mean squat if "the speech which has lain at the center of your soul" for years is simply a stewing mess of bitterness, anger, hatred, unforgiveness, rebellion, or (insert your own brand of sin here).

God looks at the heart, and our hearts are naturally wicked, deceitful, and rebellious. Despite what bumper-sticker worldly wisdom may tell us, it's never a good idea to follow your heart. The human heart (without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit) is apt to lead you into all kinds of evil and wrong thinking....and it certainly will. This is the natural state of the unsaved person, but Christians who have been quenching the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives can go down the wrong road very easily too.... and the farther you go down that road, the harder it is to come back from it... and the more susceptible to deception you will become.

That's why Paul is careful to warn us, "Quench not the Spirit." in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and why Solomon advised, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." in Proverbs 4:23.

It's tempting for me to simply say, "Go read this book," (which I still think you should do), because that's what got my attention. But I believe that it got my attention because I was still open to listening to the Holy Spirit, and He used this particular book in my life to get His point across. However, the essential point is to be constantly open to the Holy Spirit, and not quench Him....and for the sake of the testimony of Christ to the people around you, let Him dig down to that thing, whatever it is, and deal with it...

Because, ultimately, you and I on our own do not have the power to root out that "speech" we have been clinging to and hiding down in the depths of our sinful hearts. That kind of transformation is only possible when we see our own sin for what it is, repent, and are converted by the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. That's the first step if you aren't truly saved....and the next step (for the believer), is to remain open to the working of the Spirit in your life, and not to harden yourself to His promptings.

The world needs to see real Christians. Nothing turns them away from the Gospel more quickly than a hypocrite.... and not turning into one is a constant battle for all of us...

...including me.

8.15.2011

The List that Never Ends: #361-370

First of all, my apologies for being MIA last week. When Shakespeare said, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions!" he wasn't kidding. Last week was like that.... It began with a trip to the ER with my Mom on Monday (which is why I had no list last week), and it went downhill from there. I can't go into all the details here, but I'll just say that several people in my family are going through an extremely difficult time right now, and I would appreciate your prayers.

Nevertheless, God is still good, and there are still blessings to be counted, even in the hard times. So here we go....

Today, I am thanking God....

361. ... that my Mom didn't have any serious injuries from her fall, and that bruises heal on their own.

362. ... for good, lifelong friends you can call or write at any time (even if you haven't seen them in years) who you know will be there for you with prayer and encouragement.

363. ... for a sweet little note Josh left on the mirror for me one day last week, when I was pretty down in the dumps about everything going on.


364. ... for the story of the Prodigal Son, and knowing that there's hope, even for people who have to learn the hard way....

365. ... including me, sometimes.

366. ... for a share time in our service that seemed "tailor made" just for me yesterday - exactly what I needed to hear, and only God knew that. Neat.

367. ... that the only thing wrong with my car last week was that it needed a new battery (between our two cars, they have been in the shop probably 4 times in the last two months).

368. ... for a husband who dealt with my dead battery for me.

369. ... for Dairy Queen mint Oreo blizzards.

370. ... for 7 years with my furry little ball of sunshine. Happy birthday, Harvey. :o)


 
Linking up at:

8.10.2011

Quotables: John Donne

"Of all commentaries upon the Scriptures, good examples are the best and liveliest."

- John Donne

8.07.2011

This little light of mine...

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

- Matthew 5:14-16

8.06.2011

The Weekend Gallery of Miscellany

It's been a while since I've done one of these. The idea is to round up all of the random items that I've wanted to blog about during the week that don't necessarily "fit in" with the overall theme of this blog. So, I gather them up, lump them all into a numbered post, and slap a title on that makes it sound sort of like an eclectic art gallery, and BOOM! - there you go.

What do you think - do you enjoy this type of thing? Let me know... we aim to please, or at the very least, to avoid being annoying... ;o)

So without further ado, here is the gallery for the weekend....


Exhibit A

Pinterest 

Hello, my name is Beth, and I am a Pinterest addict.
Photo Source: Where else? Pinterest!
But seriously, have you signed up yet? It's a virtual bulletin board where you can "pin" photos with links to the source. You can also have "friends" whose boards you can follow, so there's a never-ending stream of beautiful photos and great ideas, collected right there in one spot. It's amazing. If you'd like to see my boards or follow them, here is the link...


Exhibit B

 The Shred


Well, after setting up my art tent twice last week, I realized that I am seriously lacking in the upper-body strength department. I walk a lot, but I haven't really been doing any kind of strength training. I'm not exactly the type of person to get into body building... No, I'm more in the category of people who might be tempted to guess that a "trapezius" is a circus trick and a "deltoid" is an airline.... Nevertheless, I would like to be able to lift heavy objects above my head without worrying about dropping them and knocking myself out.... that sort of thing. I also know that it's important for my health, bone density, etc. to be doing something involving weights regularly....So, something had to be done.

Therefore, I'm about four days into Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. Let me just tell you, not all workout videos are created equal. I have a few others that are like a walk in the park compared to this one - a rather ungraceful walk in the park, in my case.... I will never have the coordination for the "grapevine" move...which is one reason why I like this video - Jillian sticks to "normal" exercises like jumping jacks and crunches, and you don't have to have a history in jazz dance lessons to be able to follow along with it.

However, you might die.

Yeah, she's tough. I'm pretty sure she missed her calling as a drill sergeant or a prison camp guard or something...

But no pain, no gain, right? I do like the fact that it's only 20 minutes long, yet by the end, you feel like you've been working out at the gym for two hours... It combines strength training, cardio, and abs so that you get a full-body workout in a short amount of time. And by the end of it, your body is going to feel like jello. Mine has been, at least.... But it gets easier as you go along (supposedly). We'll see... if I end up with washboard abs, some upper body strength, and better endurance, I guess it will be worth it... :o) Anyway, I got a pretty good deal on it through Amazon - I've included a link in case you're interested (and yes, I'm an associate, so I earn like a bazillioneth of a cent if 5,000 of you order it - whoopee!). The only other things you need are hand weights and a mat if you're on a hard floor.


Exhibit C


Also in the fitness department, this handy app for the iphone or other mobile devices lets you keep track of your walks, runs, bike rides, etc. using GPS. It will tell you the distance/route you've gone, your average speed, etc. For instance, my daily walk with Harvey is exactly 1.32 miles (give or take a few points - depends on whether or not we have to chase a bunny or something). There are a lot of other neat features - you can manually log workouts at the gym, you can keep track of a training program, you can even link up with your friends and follow their workouts, if you're into that sort of thing (which I'm not). I haven't looked at all of the features, so there are probably more. I just like knowing how far I'm walking.... and it will run in the background, so you can still use your ipod at the same time. Cool stuff. I can use all the motivation I can get...


Exhibit D

The Revenge of the Protein Powder

A question for you: have any of you ever developed stomach pain from drinking protein powders? I've had to revise my favorite smoothie combo, because I think the egg protein powder I was using was making me sick. I can eat regular eggs with no problem, but after drinking the powder, I would get horrible stomach cramps that would last for about 8 hours. Not fun. (My husband's solution - "Don't drink it." Yep, he's a smart one, that Josh.) Just curious to see if any of you had experienced the same thing or if you had any ideas as to why....


Exhibit E

Clean House = Clear Mind

My house is clean! I mean like, everything-is-dusted-including-the-fan-blades-and-I-even-magic-erased-the-scuff-marks-off-the-walls clean! What a nice feeling.... This is the cleanest my little studio has been in months - the two shows I did recently had created their fair share of carnage in that area.... Ahhh... it's nice to feel caught-up - and I'm ready to get back to work on my next hymn collage!



Exhibit F

The Year of the Praying Mantis

Not in the Chinese sense (do they even have a "Year of the Praying Mantis"?), but at my house!  I see at least one almost every day.... that's never happened before. This little fella and one of his friends hung out on my window all day on Wednesday...


Have you had them at your house this year?


So, that's all I've got for now!
I hope you have a lovely weekend.
:o)
Thanks for reading...

8.05.2011

To Blog, or Not to Blog?

That is the question....

My friend Carrie recently did a post in which she was having an, "Is anybody even reading this thing?" moment... I can relate - I think everyone who writes a blog feels the same way at some point. Whether it's from the lack of massive numbers of followers or comments, or simply from the frustration of trying to come up with regular, interesting content that will keep your readers coming back for more, it's easy to start wondering if blogging is worth the time and effort.


Photo Credit: http://www.despair.com/

(Incidentally, I do read Carrie's blog regularly and think it's great - be sure to stop by and check it out!)

So that got me thinking...

What exactly do I look for in a blog, and why do I enjoy the ones that I read regularly? I've come up with a list of what I like, and also what I don't like... partly to answer Carrie's question, but also partly to brainstorm a little with all of you on what kinds of things you'd like to see here, and what you could do without. So, here we go...

First of all, some basic, essential elements for any successful blog (in my humble opinion):
  • Great photography - your writing can be excellent, you can be hilarious or helpful or really brilliant and wise, but if your pictures are crummy, it's just not a fun experience. Photos are the "first impression" of a blog - make sure they're great, and make sure you include some in every post, even if they don't necessarily go along with what you're talking about - they simply make it more visually interesting and break up the text a bit. Here are some of my favorite photo tips, if you're interested.
  • Good grammar and correct spelling- while it's fine to be "conversational" in your posts, it's also important to follow some basic grammar and spelling rules to avoid confusion. Use spell check, but don't rely on it completely - it might catch misspellings, but it doesn't catch malapropisms or grammatical errors. We are all guilty of an occasional typo. However, knowing the difference between the proper usage of "your" vs. "you're," for instance, not only makes your blog more readable and user-friendly, but also keeps you from looking, well, dumb. :o) So, break out the ol' grammar books and do a little refresher course, or get a word-nerd friend to proofread for you! Along the same lines, dOn'T DO a LoT of....really....ODDLY-dOnE, caPilitIZatioN or.......strAngE puNctuAtioN!!! It's hard to read! ;o)
Found this on Pinterest.

  • Kindness - this goes a long way, both in blogging and in life in general.
  • Also from Pinterest
  • Authenticity/Humility - I appreciate bloggers who are honest about their struggles and shortcomings. So many bloggers out there present "amazing super-woman" facades to their readers - you know, she's running a business; she's got ten billion readers; she posts 5 times a day; her house is being photographed for Better Homes and Gardens next month; her 10 children are well-behaved, sweet, and are 5 years ahead in their home school; she grows, cans, and artistically serves all of her own food (organic, of course); she spends only $10 a year on groceries and household supplies because she clips coupons and organizes them in a special binder system she invented and is offering to YOU as an e-book for a mere $19.95!; and speaking of books, her third book is being published next month; and she somehow still manages to run five miles a day and hit the gym after her three hour quiet time she began at 4 this morning, while you - SLUG! - were still snoring in your bed! .... Maybe there are people out there like that, but I don't know any of them.... and chances are, if they're painting themselves in that sort of light on their blog, it's not reality. Nope, while I do appreciate seeing people working hard and having successful moments, I also find it reassuring to know that I'm not the only one whose plans for the day got totally waylaid because my dog had explosive diarrhea all over the carpet or that I completely blew something by sticking my foot in my mouth and will have to just try again tomorrow...
I found this on Pinterest when I was random internet surfing.
  • Humor - not so much the slap-stick, banana-peel kind, but rather the clever, witty, ironic kind. If you can deliver that and do it in a way that isn't rude or malicious, I'll always be back.
So those are the basic elements I like in any blog... Next, I'll give you a list of specific types of blogs/posts that I find most interesting. Now remember, this is purely my personal taste and does not necessarily mean that you're not a great blogger if you aren't doing something included in this list . This is simply what appeals to me.

My favorite types of blog content:
  • Art - I love seeing what other artists are creating - finished pieces or "works in progress."
  • Beautiful photography - it can really be of anything (as long as it's appropriate!): travel, portraits, flowers, home/garden, kids, pets, nature - I love seeing great photos.
  • DIY/Tutorials - I love learning new things, and blogs are a wonderful source for instruction. I like tutorials on: 
    • art techniques
    • crafts (and by crafts, I mean real handcrafts - like making baskets or tatting or some other traditional craft... not so much anything that involves popsicle sticks or hot glue guns, although posts like that probably great for people with kids.... just not my thing.)
    • furniture building or refinishing
    • home renovations/projects
    • home decor knock-offs
    • paint techniques or murals
    • sewing, knitting, crochet
    • homemade cleaning products or cosmetics
    • gardening or farming (especially if you're giving me good tips!)
    • bee-keeping or other animal-keeping
    • living off the land / herbal medicine / survival type stuff - I hope to never need it, but it's good to know, nevertheless!
  • Humor - funny stories or pictures (again, as long as they're clean!); witty, wry commentary on everyday life and events 
  • Inspirational posts
    • Spiritual growth
    • Lessons learned in life or through Scripture
    • Encouragement
    • Gratitude for what God has done in your life
    • Experiences of missionaries or people who are serving others - being God's "hands and feet."
  • Book reviews
  • Great quotes
  • Entertaining ideas - party & holiday decorations, food presentation ideas, neat gifts (especially homemade ones)
  • Helpful tips - how to organize things, brilliant solutions to everday problems, etc.
  • Good "finds" - books, movies, products, places, recipes, shops, etc. that are worth sharing
  • Travel/culture blogs- I enjoy seeing what life is like in other parts of the world, and I LOVE seeing photos of unique and beautiful places.
  • Opinions/editorials - tell me what you think about something - what you really think. I may not agree with you, but I enjoy hearing a thoughtful, well-presented argument on a subject about which you are passionate.
  • Personal stuff - you'll notice this one in every category.... there's a fine line between being "real" with your readers and giving them "too much information." - I enjoy personal stories if they're funny, encouraging, or facilitate "getting to know" the writer a bit better. More on this topic below...
Stuff that is perfectly fine but less interesting to me:

(Let me stress again that I don't have ANY problem with blogs that feature this type of content.... they're just not my personal interests. If you write or enjoy a blog that focuses on one of the topics below, go for it! That's the beauty of blogging - there's something out there for everyone...)
  • Fashion - I appreciate classic and pretty clothing, and I enjoy an occasional outfit idea, but I'm just not that into fashion or shopping. Probably because most of my clothes wind up with paint on them anyway. :o)
  • Cooking, meal planning, or freezer/pantry stuff - I know this is a popular blog topic, but again, just not my thing. I do like an occasional recipe, and I like learning good "tricks" - like how to get bread to rise when your house is cool, or how to keep your guacamole from turning brown, etc.
  • Couponing/bargain shopping - again, I know a lot of people love it... I just get overwhelmed when I try to keep up with the concept of "extreme couponing," and I wind up buying stuff I wouldn't have bought in the first place just because I'm trying to get "great deals."
  • Blogs about blogging - I find an occasional helpful article on blogs like this, but in general, I steer clear of them. If I spend too much time there, I start feeling pressured to "turn my blog into a blogging business," and that's really not what my goal is. The posts on this type of blog feel very repetitive to me as well. (I guess this post could fall into this category, but this is an anomaly for me... :o)).
  • Personal stuff (see comments above) - again, this can go either way. I enjoy "getting to know" different bloggers, but too much personal information is just....too much (this would include things like personal finances, lengthy newsletter-type posts on the daily activities of every family member if I don't know any of the people in real life, etc.)
  • "Mom" or "home schooling" blogs - these can be wonderful resources - I'm just not in that season of life right now. I do appreciate thoughtful posts on parenting - better to learn beforehand, right? But I don't really keep up with blogs on baby products, kids' crafts, or home school ideas for now... Maybe later...
  • I'm sure there are a gazillion other topics that other blogs cover that just don't interest me much- for instance, body building, surfing, computer programming, sports, etc. I won't bore you with a list....
Total turn-offs:
(Please note: this part isn't meant to be snarky or malicious. I'm as guilty as anybody of indulging in some of the following blogging-behaviors... However, these are turn-offs for me when I come across them in blogs, and I annoy myself when I realize I'm doing any of the following on my own...)
  • Narcissism - Social media in general feeds this trend, and therefore most of us are guilty of it to a certain degree. However, while I enjoy seeing the personalities of my favorite bloggers come through in their posts, there's nothing charming about bloggers who ramble on and on about their own idiosyncrasies. Gag.

 Please don't feed the narcissists!

  • Whining - we're all prone to an occasional vent-session now and then (hey, we're blogging, after all), but if you're blogging in the first place, there are probably about 6.5 billion people in the world who are a lot worse off than you or I will ever be. Suck it up. Count your blessings.
  • Bragging - there's a fine line here... It's fine to share the occasional triumph or success, but if your blog is a never-ending gloat fest of how successful / talented / amazing you are, how wonderful your life is, how many famous or "blog-famous" people you're rubbing elbows with, etc. - just, gag. I'm happy for you, but I'm still cleaning up the explosive diarrhea the dog deposited on my carpet, and I can't relate much to your perfect life. :o)
  • Rudeness/Arrogance/Elitism - never pleasant, whether on blogs or in real life...
  • Materialism - I'd rather read about what you're thinking or what you're doing or making rather than simply seeing the stuff you own or want.
  • Too-Personal stuff - yet again... some stuff simply does not need to be shared on a blog...ever. e.g.-personal vindettas, gripes about a spouse's shortcomings or other relationship problems, pictures of a child's first "deposit" in a big-girl/boy potty, or photos of that weird rash you've developed. Please.... :o)
So, there you have it. This list is by no means comprehensive, and of course, it's my personal opinion, but I hope you found it helpful (or at least mildly entertaining)....and now, I'd love to hear from you... What do you like or dislike in a blog? Is there anything I can do here (or should stop doing) that would make things more interesting? I'd appreciate your feedback.... (and if you get a chance, Carrie would like your feedback about her blog too!)

I hope you have a lovely weekend... Thanks for reading!

8.03.2011

Quotables: Henry Ward Beecher

"Despondency is ingratitude; hope is God's worship."

- Henry Ward Beecher

8.01.2011

The List that Never Ends: # 351 - 360

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
- Psalm 68:19

Still counting...

Thanking God today...

351. ... for not having any rain on Saturday during the art show- the answer to a prayer (I should have added in "slightly cooler weather, please" in my request too, but oh well!)


352. ... for a good turn out at the show - we had a steady stream of folks almost all day, despite the 95+ degree heat!

353. ... for parents who came and helped me set up, man my booth, and tear it all down at the end since Josh was up to his eyeballs in books that day... (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

354. ... for sales! Always amazing to me....

355. ... for cold drinks and ice cream on a super hot day.

356. ... for garbage collectors and the people who deal with all that stuff. (Random, I know - but it occurred to me this morning as I was emptying my trash cans around the house that I really am thankful that we have a system of dealing with our garbage here in the USA.)

357. ... some unexpected gifts...

358. ... for some greatly-anticipated "down time" this week now that the show's over - time to catch up and hopefully paint!

359. ... for blueberry muffins from scratch. Yum.

360. ... for encouragement from friends and family...

Linking up today at: