I've just added some files to the Grace Book page. These are bookmarks for A5 and Letter sized binders that cover some great reflection questions to ask yourself at the end of the day. I will be doing an Instagram Live video on Wednesday night, August 9th around 9pm EST about how I use these questions and how I end my evenings. I hope you'll join me!
I do not spend a great deal of time on Pinterest because you can loose hours on that site, but I do enjoy it from time to time. I just added a new board today, Mad for Mod. Drop by and check it out. Click the Pinterest icon on the right hand side of this page. See you there!
"The meaning of earthly existence is not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prosperity, but in the development of the soul." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I love January and July. Those two months are natural resets for me. The beginning of the year is full of promise and possibility and I enjoy setting up a new planner and new goals. And July is somewhat the same. By the beginning of July, I've finished all the work for the church year and I jump into planning mode for the various ministry areas I am responsible for. It's a chance to dream and fix things and take risks and organize, organize, organize.
I have several re-organization projects going on right now, several areas that need a reset. At my job, one I want to do some work on is Kids Church, which I oversee. I want to get some processes streamlined and more clear. And I want to provide more help and resources to my people who serve in Kids Church. I'm also resetting the women's ministry in a fun way with an event I want to promote heavily. The idea came out of a conversation with my mom and my brain has been buzzing about it ever since.
Personally, I have a few reset items at home as well. First of all, I'm resetting my closet as it's become a black hole where junk goes to die. It's a pretty small closet so it gets junked up quickly. The way I've been organizing it hasn't been working so I'm eager to try something different. I also have started a reset creatively, but I'll blog about that another time.
I've been on vacation for all of July so far, but tomorrow is my last day to loaf around. I'm looking forward to jumping back into work on Monday to start new projects and start dreaming.
"Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop. We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages, or get out this report that is due tomorrow. We stop because it is time to stop." - Wayne Muller
You can't. Understanding God is beyond our skill set. I wish I remembered that more often.
I was reading today in Romans 2 where Paul begins telling the Roman Christians not to judge others because they are sinning just as greatly, and probably in the same ways. He says in verse 4, "Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Paul is connecting their inability to understand God to their action of despising God. They thought his patience was approval of their actions because they didn't understand the reason for his patience and kindness toward him. So in turn, they began to despise the good gift God had given them.
This was a timely reminder to me because I can grow angry over what God is or isn't doing in my life. I get frustrated easily when I know God could snap his fingers and fix something that remains broken for years. Does he not care? And so I begin to sin by despising his plan. Because I don't understand it, I grow to hate it.
What this verse tells me is that my frustrated with God and his actions in my life stem from the fact that I don't understand him. Instead of frustrating me, it should comfort me. If it's impossible for me to understand the mind of Christ then there's a high probability that the answer or rescue or intervention or salvation or provision will blow my mind as well.
If I focus on understanding him, I will easily fall into distrust and frustration with him. But if I TRUST him and allow him to work things out in his way then I will see something great happen I coudln't have predicted.
I am an organization junkie! I get excited when I can take something that isn't working or that's become a mess or cluttered and fix it by organizing. In fact, I love it so much I have from time to time messed things up so I can organize them again. I've had an ongoing problem keeping book series organized so that I know what book is next and what books I've already read. When I had paper books this was much easier but since I've started reading ebooks a few years back, it has gotten harder to do. The Kindle or Kindle apps don't have a way to organize your book lists, mark what's read, and add series info to keep them in order. And most online databases or apps have books missing, require too much upkeep or go out of favor and disappear.
I have tried to just write things down but that that wasn't always a good solution either. I didn't want to carry an extra journal or notebook around and invariably I'd need it when I wasn't at home. And if I made lists in my carry-around journal, I'd have to keep rewriting them after each journal is filled. (WHich doesn't take as long as you'd think.) After I spent way too long today trying to figure out which book came next in a series and which one was the last I had read, I decided to find an organized solution.
I recently picked up a planner punch from We R Memory Keepers and had purchased the additional punches for spiral notebooks. The four-holes-per-inch option was the perfect fit for my Erin Condren planner. While playing around with it and testing it a bit today, I came up with a solution: a single page typed list that I could punch and insert into my Erin Condren planner. Here's what makes it work so well:
I get very happy when I've found an easy system that keeps me organized. So today was a very good day!
I grilled fish and chicken today for tacos. It's not a traditional July 4th menu, but it was delicious! I'm just learning how to grill. This was my second attempt and I did a Baja lime seasoned fish and chicken, chili lime corn on the cob, hot sausages, a big cast iron skillet of onions and peppers and even heated up the soft taco shells on the grill. Everything turned out pretty good although I still have a lot to learn about grilling food.
As a side dish, I made pineapple slaw - a real summer favorite of mine. I make it often for pot-lucks, picnics and summer dinners on the patio. It's crunchy, sweet and packed with good stuff. Today, I thought it would make a great compliment to the fish and I was right! In addition to tasting pretty great, it also looks really pretty.
This recipe originally appeared in Taste of Home magazine several years ago, but I've made a few small changes. Maybe it will be a good fit at your next cookout or picnic!
• 1⁄2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
• 1⁄4 cup canola oil
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 2 tbls minced fresh cilantro
• 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
• 1⁄4 tsp salt
• 6 cups shredded cabbage
• 1/2 of a fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces
• 1 small sweet red pepper chopped
In a small bowl, whisk the pineapple juice, oil, lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt.
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, pineapple, papaya and pepper.
Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir just before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.
I have read 40 books so far this year. That's a pretty good pace, although my nonfiction reading has not been where it usually is. My winter and spring were difficult and I didn't have the mental energy to do too much concentrating on books. By the time I had a change to read, I was too tired and depleted to read nonfiction. But I've picked up the pace the last month and I expect to read a good deal of work-related books this summer.
I read seven books in June. The best book I read last month was Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. I highly recommend it. I was happy to know there are more books in the series and I plan to read all of them. They were a great blend of history, mystery and a tiny bit of romance. The author has a great way of creating a scene in your head and a time of history that I never experienced felt very real and familiar in her writing. Her character development was well done and while it can be classified as a cozy mystery, it felt much more substantial and richer than the usual cozy. The herione was likeable, smart and down to earth. She didn't do stupid things for no reason and her battles with being a woman in a man's world were relatable and humanizing. I cannot say enough good things about the book.
I continued my way through the Agatha Raisin books via audiobook. Penelope Keith is a great reader and makes Agatha come alive. My favorite Agatha conversation in the last book was:
Lawyer: I can't do anything. I'm not a criminal lawyer. I'm a business lawyer.
Agatha: Well get down here and learn!
I also read Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option. It left me with a lot to think about. I will likely be writing about it in more detail at some point once I've done some thinking about it.
In July, I am eager to read July Hyzy's latest Grace mystery and I'm finally getting around to the latest Spice Shop mystery. And the third book in the "Map of Fates" series comes out this month and I plan to read it in one sitting, as I did the first two in the series.
As for nonfiction, I'm currently re-reading a few books on spiritual formation for something I'm writing. And I plan to start the book "Loving My Actual Life" by Alexandra KuyKendall a little later this month.
What about you? What are you reading? Anything to recommend we read or something we should avoid? Share in the comments!
I'm not sure why I wrote the plural "readers" in the headline. I'm not sure I have more than one reader. I might not even have one. That gives me a lot of freedom to write poorly although I don't plan to. I don't really know what I want this blog to be. Conventional wisdom says that a blog needs to have a clear theme or area of focus and be updated frequently. You're not likely to see either of these things here. I'm too free-spirited to follow conventional wisdom.
I do know that I need the discipline of writing more often. I've struggled a bit with it since sabbatical and I need to get my inspiration back. I think the daily act of writing something will be a help in that regard. Not that I promise what I write will be interesting or all that good. But I am making an honest effort to put something on the blog every day in July. Maybe just a quote or prayer, maybe a book or movie review, or maybe a favorite recipe. I might post a recent crafty project or rave about a recent new set of pens. I could write about my planners or journals or even share something I learned in Bible study. And since it's in my nature to jump on a soapbox, you might even see a rant or two here and there. I'll go back to some old favorites from my golden age of blogging such as Favorite Things, Currently, and Reading Recaps. And I'll likely come up with something new to add to the mix. I'm unpredictible like that.
So don't have high expectations. But if you do read the blog I'm glad to have you here.