Sunday, August 20, 2017

Feeding the Birds

What a busy (and fast) summer this has been!
I hope that you have had a wonderful summer thus far, dears,
and that you have enjoyed a safe and joyful one with your loved ones.

Ahh, the magic of summertime... dreaming, swimming, traveling, family time,
the cool grass on your warm feet, watermelon dribbling down your chin,
BBQ (I can't leave that out since I'm from Texas, hehe), baseball-playing
and watching- and the sheer elation of the freedom of long, dreamy days.

It has been a lovely summer here, but I cannot believe how quickly
it has passed by so far and that blessed autumn will soon be upon us.
Are you looking forward to the crisp fall season?  I know I am.

.           .          .

One of my favorite parts of both spring and summer of this year has been
getting out to enjoy our Creator's wonders in nature, especially to photograph
and watch the wildlife.  I had the privilege of exploring woods and state
park beauty, as well as some recent trips to explore local history.
But I digress ;) ....back to nature and wildlife, what a joy it has been to
watch curiously as the birds have visited us all summer.

A couple of months ago, I had so much fun painting and putting up a little
bird-feeder for the sweet Blue Jays, Carolina chickadees, and other birds that
visit our backyard often.  It was a very simple project, but I spent a fun
afternoon painting it and thought I would share ☺

A Carolina chickadee rests above the bird-feeder just before he lands inside it
to eat some of the bird seed.


This is not a tutorial by any means, just something I wanted to share for an
 inexpensive way to do a cute bird-feeder... I kept looking for a brightly
colored one at the stores and could not find any, especially not for a good price,
so I decided to make my own from a plain wooden model at the craft store.

Here are the things you will need for this type of design,
all of which I purchased at Hobby Lobby:
Wooden birdhouse/bird-feeder
Paintbrushes
Craft acrylic paint 
Sealant Spray
Fence mount or shepherd's hook


I used 5 different colors; one for a main color on the roof, one for the "columns",
one for the flowers, an accent shade for flower stamens and dots, and one
for the ridges on the roof.  These are very cheap acrylics in the craft section
(about .70 to 1.00 each)- you can also use "Patio Paints",  I believe they are called.
They are made to outlast sun fading and better withstand both sun and other elements.

The spray sealant (you can use a Krylon craft seal spray or other brand) is probably 
necessary if you use non-outdoor paints like I did- but make sure to COVER the area where
the food will go with a cloth or paper when you do the spraying so that it does not
end up on the area where the bird seed will go (for safety and health of our
feathered friends☺).


Once I had my supplies, I sipped on an icy lemonade and painted away, using my
imagination to come up with a very simple, yet cheery design- and a colorful one, too.
And I had good company nearby as I painted (see below), haha.
Whether I'm outside reading, doing a project, painting, or whatever it may be,
Lucie enjoys the breeze and sniffing every snail and blade of grass in sight.

Once you're paint or sealant spray (whichever you used, if not both) dries- sealant may
 take overnight- you can add in your wild bird seed and you're reading to
hang up your bird-feeder on a fence mount hook or a shepherd's hook!

All finished and set up...



And after you hang it up, what sweet mornings you'll spend with a cup of tea or
coffee as you watch the Jays and Cardinals and other gorgeous species
delight and eat the bird seed.  I know we have all enjoyed it so much.
As the blue jay chicks began to grow and mature from spring, we have especially
loved watching the adolescents visit the bird feeder and observe the differences
between them compared to their mature parents.
My favorite memory of bird-watching this summer was observing a Cardinal
chick visit with a couple of larger ones, and it looked like he was learning
to fly.
It is in those moments that I often stop and think, 'Oh what precious
creatures you made, Lord!' and how privileged we are that He
has allowed us to take in the majesty, wonder, and grace of each one
of His creations.



Dear friends, how happy my heart is to get to share a little something with you
and think of many of you who I have missed talking with and visiting in the time
in which I have been absent from blogging this summer.  Time truly seems
to get get away this time of year as it does in no other season. 

Praying you have a wonderful Sunday evening!
Blessings,

-J


Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Godly Role Models

Happy almost weekend!

I hope your week has been joyful and blessed.
I am so delighted to be writing today and to share something on
my heart in a post I have been working on in the moments I have
been free over the past several weeks.

Before I get to that, though, oh what a lovely Spring we have had this year,
 lovelier than any other I remember in terms of wildlife and the nature blooming
 all around- I can't tell you how sweet it has been to see more birds than I ever
have, all in our backyard.  Alas, summer has crept in slowly
and our temperatures have soared this week, but I'm thankful for air
conditioning and lemonade as we head into this summer.
How is the weather where you are?

.          .           .


Lately, thoughts revolving around identity have rested on my heart,
something I have been pondering for years- I feel like growing up and
living through the years of 16 or so into your 20's (and surely beyond)
is such a strong period for having realizations of the type of identity
you want to have...  essentially what threads you want to make up the
 embroidery of your character as a young woman.

I'm thankful for growing up in a bible- and faith-based home... eternally thankful.
There were times that, in earlier years, being at perhaps the most impressionable
age in the early teens and also being in school, there were influences that
sometimes led my thinking to places that made me feel I should be
more like certain individuals that the world accepted and praised.
But I am so thankful that God was still always the foundation that gave me
the reasoning to get away from that thinking that would have led me
into places I surely did not want to ever go.

And in those years and up to now, I have been so truly blessed
by the right influences that I feel were put in front of me to show me the
type of woman I wanted to grow into.... a godly woman most of all.
In fact, a year or two ago, I was compelled as I pondered this very thing while
writing in my journal one day, to make a list on a sticky note (to
always have in the back of my current journal) of the women whom I admire,
from characters portrayed in film to bible characters and women I
have known in my life, for certain qualities they display.
Each time I open up that back cover of my journal and gaze at that list,
I am encouraged and inspired, and it is a list I keep adding to.


.           .           .

While I of course admire the work, pursuits, & passions of countless others-
such as women through history who have been teachers, writers & poets,
marine biologists (Eugenie Clark the Ichthyologist, for example), naturalists,
historians, abolitionists, brave ladies like the WASPS of WWII,
or fictional girls and ladies I grew up admiring (like the intelligent,
shrewd Nancy Drew, or the charming and witty Anne Shirley), as well as
others who have been a part of eras and fields that captivate me-
 my list here encompasses those whose qualities and individual character
reflect values, godliness, and inherent goodness that have influenced me most.


Some of those influences are what I want to share today-
a few of the women who became my truest role models and
whose character I hope reflects in my own life...

Caroline "Ma" Ingalls-
for her always selfless attitude, love and care for her family with a joyful spirit, 
her strength and determination through trials, and most of all her dedication to
the Lord and to teaching her children about Him and to have a 
foundation in Him.


Ruth from the bible-
for her giving and caring heart and selflessness as she loyally stayed with Naomi,
her mother-in-law, and showing a godly spirit with a servant's heart that I admire;
her strength of character is truly an inspiration to me as I seek God.
Ruth is also tied to one of my favorite bible verse, in which she tells Naomi
that she is devoted to her and will stay and care for her always: 
"And Ruth said, 'Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from
following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go;
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God.'" -Ruth 1:16



Livvy Singleton from The Magic of Ordinary Days-
If you have seen the film, you know that Livvy's circumstances and some of her
choices start out as not ideal, while she also struggles with inner turmoil and
decision making as to which direction her life will go as she deals with her situation.
  But she grows and matures into a woman who is more and more selfless, 
comes to deal with the hurt of having done something out of loneliness
that was not characteristic of herself, and has a caring, compassionate spirit,
helping those she meets in the film in any way she can and also taking
joy in serving her family and caring for the farm and home.
As an added bonus, I admire and relate to her character as a knowledge-seeker
and lover of learning about archaeology and historic artifacts, areas of
study that fascinate me and leave me awe-inspired, as well.
(And did I mention her 1940's fashion? If you watch the movie, you
may drool a little over every one of her wardrobe pieces shown if you
have an affinity for that era.)


Olivia Walton-
for her immense strength in character as she worked tirelessly to
make her home a welcome fortress and a place of warmth and goodness for
her family, especially her children, and her grace and poise in all she did.
Her faith was a monumental part of her life and she laid down her heart and
her worries in all she and the Walton family dealt with.
Mrs. Walton was also even-tempered, generous, kind, a great encourager,
and loving, even during trying difficulties and hardships as her family lived 
through wars, family tragedies, and other great trials throughout the years.


Laura Ingalls Wilder-
for her strong family values and treasuring of the simple, old-fashioned things,
especially leading a life of honesty & faith, intentional living, the importance of 
traditions, caring and kindness, and treasuring memories and where you come from.
I also admire so much so Laura's attitude of self-sacrifice in caring
for her sister, Mary, and putting her family first, both as herself as a character
in her enchanting books and I'm sure as the person she was in real life.


.            .           .



It is so easy to get wrapped up in what we want to pursue and do with our lives,
but I am so grateful to have learned through that process that to take a step back
 and get back to who you we are in Christ is the absolute best way
to truly figure out your purpose and your identity.
Placing my hope for the future and my life in God is the one sure
way that I have found leads to being the best version of myself as I was
created to be.

Choosing and learning from role models who display a lifestyle,
manner, faith, and strength reflecting godly character has been an immense
blessing to me, especially at the key times during growth and development
toward becoming the young woman I hope to be.
Whether biblical, fictional, or living, these role models and their
admirable qualities have inspired me so positively in becoming who I
DO want to be as I leave behind and try to avoid the "role models"
the world admires who, for me, are the type of woman I DON'T want to be.

My true role models are women who bring me back to my roots and my faith.

I strive to grow toward God in my character and toward
my precious Savior, and I am thankful for lessons and examples that
have led me here- to realize I want to be a woman who most of all honors:
Faith, Family, Tradition, Roots, Old-fashioned Values,
and trusts the Lord above all.


Others in my personal life God has blessed me with as the greatest examples
to me in my identity and character are my mom, my paternal grandmother,
Patricia Ann, my aunts, and ladies I grew up admiring in church...
And may I say that so many of you whom I have
had the privilege of getting to know or have read your posts have become
role models to me as well, in modesty and dress, Christ-like identity,
and having a spirit of pure-heartedness and serving others:
Stephanie, Sarah, Debbie, Tammy M. Grace, Joy, Tammy S., Kelly-Anne, Tyrie,
Dianna, Arlene,  Mildred, the Boyer Sisters, Jerralea, and Hannah,
to name a few.



What a treasure it is to seek inspiration from pure and good individuals,
characters, and others God has placed in our lives or allowed us to see.
In the toughest moments, sometimes their personas even become
a strength and a light of encouragement.

Who are your role models, or who were they when you
were growing up?


I hope you are having a wonderful first week of summer,
dear friends!

Blessings to you,

-J

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Seeking God for God, Not for Good


Hi, everyone!
I hope that you are well while reading this and having a wonderful weekend ☺
As it always is after too long away from writing here, friends, I
am filled with elation and delight at getting to say hello and write.

I pray your spring season has been full of joy (or if you are not here in the U.S.,
I hope you're enjoying your weather where you are)!  How delightfully
gorgeous this spring has been so far.  The wildflowers are a constant reminder
of goodness and beauty in their lovely appearance scattered through meadows
and along the roads here, especially in the country.

.          .           .


With these wonderful, breezy spring days, I have been blessed to spend
quite a bit of time outside lately, and in doing so, I have been pondering and thinking
of so much as I observe the wonder around me. 
This was absolutely the case as I took a hike and walked by the picturesque
creek on a day-trip to another town last weekend.
And being there as I sat taking it all in, just quiet and alone with my thoughts
out in God's creation, I pondered much and also had the chance
to think about something that has been on my heart lately...

I had recently read a quote that drove home this beautiful point
(although I'm afraid I can't recall the exact wording):

Love God because you love GOD,
not because you want Him to bring you GOOD.


When I read something that makes me think for a moment, I know a quote
or thought has really impacted me, and this one did.
I had never thought about it so distinctly or quite in that way before.

If we think of all the times that we pray to God to ask for something good or
something we are hoping dearly for, or of the times that we may
be going through something difficult and the thought may cross our
minds, Lord, I love you and and try to be the best person I can
and live by your word- why are bad things happening to me?...
how does it compare with the amount of times you prayed just to tell Him
you loved Him or were thankful for Him in your life or for blessings
and the greatest blessing of having a relationship with Him?


This is not to say of course that asking God for things to happen in your life
is wrong in any way at all.... it is the opposite.  God ASKS us to
bring our hearts and our troubles and burdens to Him (1 Peter 5:7)!
But... in thinking of this, I began to think more deeply
than ever of exactly how I view this area of my relationship with the Lord...

I also began to reflect on this thought in terms of a thought in a sermon
I heard many years ago.  It talked about how some servants of God
have fallen away from Him because they have prayed for things to be
better in their lives and they felt their prayers were unanswered.
Or they felt discouraged and unloved by God because their hopes
 did not come to fruition.
As I thought more about this, I thought of how much an
 attitude like that can hinder our relationship with God and our love for Him. 
If we serve God for the benefits and blessings and wants we think we'll
receive as someone "in His favor", we are showing Him
that we only want something from Him- that loving Him for
who He is and His mercy, love, and glory is not important to us.


As a young woman, being at the age where many of my friends or other
girls I see or have known are hoping to get married (or are), I think of how it is 
easy to fall into this line of thinking....  to watch the years go by and wonder
why God hasn't brought the one you believe He has for you yet, or why,
he hasn't allowed a certain something to happen in your life
that you have prayed for for years...
It could be that you are praying for a friend, a marriage mate, a more
peaceful life or family, or a health issue to be resolved.

Thinking about seeking God for Him and all that He is instead of
doing so because we hope that by living a life pleasing to Him, he will give
us what we hope for, is such an interesting thing to ponder...
it made me realize how fine that line can be between BELIEVING that God 
will care for your needs and hopes and praising Him for His love,
and serving Him BECAUSE He is going to allow those things in 
your life if you do.


In struggles and trials, it is SO easy to lean the other way,
perhaps especially since we are feeling discouraged and perhaps
like God is not hearing us.  But I have learned that if I am patient, He
does open a door that will lead where He knows I am meant to be.
It may not always be exactly what we thought we wanted, but it
will be even better.
And times like those, as well as every day, we can be inspired to love and
follow God for GOD, not for good or reward... and to love Him
for the right things that will lead us to God and to contentedness and joy
that is only found IN Him, like:

His love, His mercies, the privilege of prayer,
the natural beauty in His creation that He has surrounded us with,
the goodness in the place He has us in right now, & His
 incredible gift to us of having a relationship
with Him and His son.


And we can know that our heart and our serving God
is pleasing to Him when we seek Him for these things that ARE what He
 is instead of what we hope to gain.
If we ever struggle with this, we can also take heart that the things we
 feel we need are prayers that will be answered in God's timing,
and if He does lead us in another direction, we should not get discouraged,
because undoubtedly our God knows better for us than we ever could.



.             .             .


Have a blessed and lovely weekend, dears!

Your sister in Christ,

-J



Friday, March 10, 2017

How I Love Stepping Back in Time

Dear friends, 
I truly hope you are well!

Has your weather been turning to spring where you are?
Or is still feeling chilly (if you're here in the U.S.)?
It is beginning to feel quite a lot like spring here in the South,
with wildflowers shooting up all along the roads and vivid green grasses
 filling  the sides of the trails and sidewalks at the park once again.

I was thinking about it the other day, and realized that the last time 
I pressed "publish" here, it was closer to the beginning of winter and now
Father Winter has almost gone away for the year.  It has been nearly two months...
how I always miss writing and visiting all of you lovely, sweet friends I've
made through blogging when I am absent for a time.

This year so far has simply been just busy each day with full days- both with
challenges and trying things and then wonderful ones as well-
and spending time deepening my faith, creating, working, refocusing, pondering,
and working to balance my time to be most well spent
...and amidst all of that and then my ever more frequent wireless
 internet troubles, I have found less and less time to be able to be online.
 And while that is a blessing in disguise  in one regard, I do love blogging
 and sincerely miss it when time gets away from me.


As I've shared before, in some of my free time, one thing I greatly enjoy
is finding, collecting, and learning about history through antique photos...
getting to have a virtual portal to the world as it was in
the 30s, 40s, 50s, and even earlier, to get a sense of the eras I dream of
or even a glimpse into the narrative of the wars or other
major historical events of those years so long ago.

I have added many to my collection recently (and also am thinking about starting a
small online shop to sell some to other history and vintage lovers) and thought
I would share a few that I picked up most recently...
for those of you who also enjoy vintage loveliness and stepping back in time
to those fascinating old eras through antique photos ☺








I hope you enjoyed these.   Ahh, I just love taking in the qualities and facets of
 the time periods and eras in each photo I find... 
stepping into that moment in a way as I gaze upon the fashions worn, 
expressions of each person, and characteristics of the time.
Thinking about where those people were and what they were doing, 
celebrating, thinking... it is so neat and so interesting.

And perhaps my favorite part is the privilege of holding onto and protecting
these moments and memories of others who have passed on...
by caring for their photos and collecting them, those faces inside each
photograph are never forgotten, and neither are the moments.


I hope to be on again as soon as I'm able.
Until then, many hugs and blessings to you all!

Love in Christ,

-J

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy 2017!... My Year Word and Bible Verse (and their inspiration)

Happy fresh, lovely new year, dears!
I hope that you have been well and blessed this year thus far.
A smile is definitely on my face  as I write here for the first time in 2017,
twelve days into this bright, new year.

.          .          .

Ahh, the exhilaration of a new year!
The few moments ringing in the new year were full of both
relaxation as we sat cozied up and drinking tea, watching old classics,
 and listening to the pops and crackles of celebration
outside all around us as it turned midnight.
And with each crackle, the sheer excitement for the blank slate ahead
 grew inside me!


What a miraculously refreshing feeling for the soul and heart to begin anew
in a "shiny, brand new year", with the hope and joy of new delights, things to learn,
adventures to be had, faith to be strengthened, and to experience the ever-
continuing love and mercies of our Lord as He grows us in new ways than before.
The feeling of that last aspect of a new year is most exciting to me...
to think of the new proportions and reaches of my relationship with my Father
in heaven as he speaks to my heart and mind and the ways He'll reach my
heart or speak to me through means of His word. 
I feel that each year I learn so much more about God and His glory and
 wonder how I never realized or knew those things before! 

Just before the new year, I had the privilege of visiting and walking the trails
of the gloriously beautiful state park a couple of towns away.  What a heavenly time 
spent among the winter landscape there, a palette before us of mostly gray, taupe, and 
faded out hues of a monochromatic forest scene... while in a few spots down
the trails and throughout the woods, there were pops of amber, bronze, 
and umber shooting forth in the form of autumn's remnants.

What a magical sight to behold the sigh of fall transitioning to winter.
This experience of a walk through natural beauty showing God's handiwork is always
one of my greatest delights...

...and reflecting on the time I spent out among those trees and the landscape
 is what inspired me to realize both my word and scripture for 2017.


As I walked among the trees and gazed up at a powdery winter
sky through a canopy of branches, and looked deep into the woods to see
those pops of firey, leafy wonder, I realized that it had been so long it seemed
since I had just been quieted by nature, IN a quiet moment with just
the serenity of nature and my thoughts... and I realized that that calm I felt
so relieved by in those moments as I walked was indeed a result of finally
being one thing.

Undistracted.

After I got home from our state park trip, of the photographs I'd captured,
this photo just below is one that I stopped and looked at the longest.
I noticed just how absolutely, resplendently, irrevocably beautiful that little leaf was!
The detail on it is something I admired as I stared at it and even zoomed
 in more, and I thought about how this was one of my favorite-
 if not my favorite- photos I took out in those woods that day,
and that photo was of something so seemingly simple- even boring to some.
It was such a "small" part of the view, and I only came upon
it to admire its beauty as I walked that day for the reason that I was
not distracted.

I was undistracted because my mind was relaxed and free of the everyday
rush and because the leaf stood out to me, being the only bright spot in
a sea of gray tones of twigs and branches in a newly winter scene.
And I thought from there about how that is so much like life, and especially like
our walk with the Lord- I constantly feel so distracted, both by things I
maybe need to back away from because I willingly do them and they
take up too much of my attention and time and then things that I have 
to do that keep me busy and constantly focused on them.

Just like that exquisite piece of the view, so small and unassuming,
my walk with God and my relationship with Him is the ABSOLUTE most
important part of my life and the part that keeps me going...
yet sometimes I'm so distracted by the scenery all around me that is
easy to focus on, that I miss out on spending time with my Savior.

When I really think about it, God laid it on my heart that a lot of those
things that I think are so important or even things that take up
my time because they seem to be fulfilling or joy-bringing are largely
not fulfilling at all, but actually empty.  I want to be no part of this world
or the things it loves and I want to not be distracted by anything
this world has to offer...
because there is no way it could ever compare with God and Jesus.



In the past few years, although I make the effort to seek the Lord,
if I'm being totally honest with myself and with Him, I do let those little
distractions get in the way.  And as I ponder my thoughts above,
it becomes more evident to me than ever that I don't want to miss out on God
because of distraction- 
I don't want to miss out on the REAL view, the most beautiful one that
can be missed if we walk by it and are not careful.

And part of that best "view" of the important things are those that matter most-
being UNDISTRACTED means letting the trivial things go and
in turn growing ever closer in my relationship with my parents and loved ones,
and taking better care of myself, and most importantly serving others.





In looking it up for a Webster's definition, curious as to what the finite definition read,
it appears that "undistracted" may not technically be a used word, but it serves
best the purpose for meaning that is in my thoughts as this year begins.

And along with a word for this year, I also enjoyed choosing a bible verse!
My verse for this year is one that, you could say, found me when I came upon it,
and it transcended the things on my heart that I had been praying over 
for sometime:

Lead me by your truth
and teach me,
for you are the God 
of my salvation.
All day long I put
my hope in you.
-Psalm 25:5

It has been my fervent prayer that any of my confusions or worries
about certain aspects of my faith would be cleared away by true understanding
of God, and that I would see and know Him for who he TRULY is... to be led
by His TRUTH only, and nothing false- again, not being distracted
by falsities that cause me to miss out on God's truth. 
So this was glaring to me as I read the first few words of verse five.

The second part of it that resonated with my heart and mind
is that this beautiful verse convicts me to put my hope in the Lord ALWAYS.
This is something I struggle with- to shed my worry and give my problems,
quandaries, fears, and struggles all to God.  I often innately feel
like I have to handle everything on my shoulders, and I so quickly forget that
the Lord is where my hope can truly lie, where I can rest and 
where my burden is lightened.  I want to aim to live by this verse, to
show God I trust Him with my whole life and every facet of it,
that I put my hope in him all day, every day!



I have such fervor in my heart for seeking the Lord with all my being,
as well as enjoying the things that bring a smile to my heart this year.
I suppose my intent as I pray to be undistracted also lies in doing things
that really bring me fulfillment inside; Of course nothing is more fulfilling
than THE source of greatest fulfillment, but how loving He is
 to provide us here on Earth with things that delight and bring us enjoyment,
like working with our hands, taking on fun projects,and learning...
and I seek to find those things that are not empty, but bring real joy,
and to keep doing those things that already do.

I have thrill inside me for the these things I hope to do this year:

Wander, travel, and explore nature more
Hone and learn new skills: sewing & embroidery, especially
Improve and expand my nature photography
Start a real nature journal
Achieve a writing goal I've had for awhile
Complete a landscape painting
Take part in ministry opportunities


Does the moment a new year comes in bring elation and goal-making
and certain hopes to your heart,  mind, and soul, too?☺


I am so thankful for the joy of beginning a new year with a new word
and bible verse to pray over and aim with all I have to live by, and these that have
 been laid on my heart leave me confident and stronger in my relationship with God
and looking forward to how they will change and strengthen my faith.

Each January brings with it what feels like so many"new beginnings"-
 starting anew in a fresh calendar year, a fresh new year of life,
and of new hope and looking forward with joyous  anticipation at what may lie ahead.
I have to say that 2017 more than ever has this feeling that came in along
with it that there is so much to look forward to, and I know with my focus
on my Savior, it can be the best year yet.

It's a warm, splendid feeling to feel so grateful for the place where God has me
 and has brought me to at this time and year in my life.



Prayers and wishes that you may have a year ahead of great blessing!

HAPPY 2017, friends!



What motto, phrase, word, or verse are you focusing
on in this year? 


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