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Giving thanks - that God never leaves us where we are. He is at work even and especially when we can’t see any movement. Good times will be interrupted by hard times, and hard times will at some point be improved by better times. This is my experience. The older I get the more the lines blur between good and hard times, and it becomes more evident to me that they often occur simultaneously. It seems odd to give thanks for hard things, but more often than not those hard things are teaching us something and growing us into the people God created us to be. In our humanity, it’s improbable that we can actually utter genuine thanksgiving for the pain and suffering without surrendering it to the Holy Spirit who leads us in that direction. I am thankful, not so much for the suffering, but for what it produces in me and for me.

Outside my window - Winter solstice takes place in the midst of Christmas festivities and can be forgotten as the turning point back to days of longer hours of sunlight. I, for one, need the reminder right there in the middle of a season that is becoming harder and harder for me to cope with that we are on our way back to warm weather and more daylight hours. Winter is increasingly difficult for me. I don’t like extremes in weather either way - too hot or too cold, I’m simply discontent with the whole deal.

That being said, I had the brilliant idea to get my hands on a supply of bird seed and feeders to invite the feathered friends back to our deck. Rather than leave the real tree we enjoyed for Christmas at the curb for pickup, we just moved it to the deck to fill up with space for the birds. And I’m so glad we did. Seeing them come again makes my heart happy. It’s a small thing, but it has a big impact.

Clothing myself in - Pajamas right now. My closet and dresser drawers are calling to me and telling me it’s time to purge. I do much better if I hit the ground dressed with shoes on in the mornings. I’m much more productive on those days. When I say productive, it’s not always about work; sometimes it’s about creativity and play too. When weather permits, it’s more likely I’ll hit that walking trail if I’m dressed and ready to go. I’ll declare evenings relaxing with the family as an acceptable time for pajamas. LOL

On the home front - Rachel has been a Godsend during one of the hardest seasons of our lives. While we walked with my mom through a stroke, then Covid and the resulting pneumonia, and a terrifying issue with her blood pressure that remains a mystery, Rachel managed the kitchen and so much more. I didn’t have to split my time and attention (and limited energy) between keeping the house in order, especially the kitchen, and caring for my mom and keeping myself from falling apart. I am so grateful for this girl of ours. I’m also grateful that in his mercy, God kept her available to us during a time most young people would be working and involved in other things that would have her gone much of the time.

The list of things we hope to do in the house and yard before John retires will be updated soon. Not sure how much longer he’ll be willing to tolerate the work environment he currently faces each day. Since we won’t be able to draw on his retirement for a while, we’ll both need to find ways to live with less. I’m confident this can be done. Whether we’ll stay in this house long term or be moving in a few years is on the table for consideration. That has an effect on the way we approach any updates or renovations on this house. For now, we’ll keep it simple. Some fresh paint, new curtains and rugs are likely and a few necessary repairs will be priority.

On the menu - I have a pool of meals to choose from. That’s a good start. :-)

Writing - I have resumed morning pages, and obviously I’m writing this Daybook post. So there’s a little progress in that area. Also, I found a bible study series on RightNowMedia this morning that jumped out at me and prompted me to pull a work-in-progress off the shelf. I’m hoping for some inspiration and motivation to return to the project with renewed energy.

Reading - Nope. Mostly watching this week.

Watching - Vampire Diaries. Don’t judge me.

Listening - Returned to Out of the Ordinary podcast yesterday and more music while I work in my space with fabric, sewing machines, Cricut projects, and other miscellaneous things that have been waiting for me.

Making - Yesterday, I figured out how to make labels for Rachel’s notebooks with the new Cricut. This machine has never really caught my attention. I love what can be done with it but I don’t possess the kind of patience it requires for the most part. I had observed enough to make this small thing though and that felt like a great accomplishment LOL.

I cut fabric for a second table runner for Mom to sew when she feels up to it. There is much more to be cut according to the dream list of projects we created before she had the stroke. I’m kind of enjoying this whole sewing thing. Who knew?

Also, cookbooks. I need to get started on the cookbook pages to add to the kids’ binders.

The week ahead - I have hope for a little time to work on creative projects of my own. I’d also love to have some time for a lingering chat over lunch with my kindred spirit. I’d also love some time with my kids and their kids. I miss them all so stinking much!!

Naming what matters - life. I could say so much about this but I don’t think I will. I think we all need to find what matters about life. This is a work-in-progress for all of us.

Something to remember - Faith that this finite time on earth is not all there is. I am a Christian. I believe in God and Heaven and Hell. But there are times when fear creeps in and tells me that this is all there is. Hopelessness follows close behind. Hopelessness drains me of every ounce of enthusiasm and distracts me from every good thing in my life. It causes melancholy to take hold and the world crashes down around me in every way. I forget that it will pass. This doubt and fear and melancholy will pass and I will feel my joy again. I know my joy never leaves - the real joy - the joy I have in Christ. But knowing joy and feeling joy can be very different. I’m thankful for the confidence I have that God never changes, never leaves me, always carries me when I can’t walk on my own.

And strange as it might seem - or wrong as it might be - this is what helped me this past couple of days when that doubt had reared its ugly head for far too long; if I live as though there is life after this, the one I believe in even without knowing what that looks like but believing that it is infinitely better than this life and I am wrong, and there is only death, I will be unaware of it and I lose nothing. However, if I live as though there is nothing beyond this life, no reason for hope or joy, and I am wrong - I lose everything if I have not persevered in my faith. I lose the good I could have experienced from this journey on the way AND I lose the eternity that I believe is promised. Pascal’s Wager is similar to this so far as it talks about our behavior. But I’m talking about more than how we choose to behave toward others; I’m talking about how we choose to behave toward ourselves. Do we embrace hope and live with joy or do we risk the possibility of joy and hope by letting fear tell us there is nothing more? I choose what some would call blind faith. Either way, this life - whether it be all there is or simply a journey to eternity - will be better lived with hope and joy.

Maybe too much for a Daybook post, but it’s what has been weighing on my mind.

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