Monday, October 15, 2018

Friendship Blessings

We had such a wonderful, happy visit with friends today! Some of our dear friends from our church in Virginia spend almost every October at Myrtle Beach, and since they are "only" 3 hours away from us, they make that time sacrifice to come and see us. Today they even brought lunch with them, so all we had to do was enjoy their visit... they are such sweet, kind people! 

It was so nice to catch up on what is going on at Friendship, to hear how some of our friends that we haven't talked to for a while are doing, and to share some memories and friendship once again <3. As a testimony to how much we love them and they make us feel loved, I was telling Josiah, who was only 3 when we last saw them, that we would be having some friends over, who he "might not remember, but they..." and I as I started describing them, Josiah says, "I remember them." And then follows it up with something about how nice they are to us. I mean, they made an impression on a 3 year old that lasted a whole year (well, minus 8 days according to Tori). Friends like this are definitely one of God's blessings to us in life <3!

After lunch (and a fun ice cream cake, because Miss Karen wanted to celebrate all the birthdays she missed <3), everyone had lots of fun playing games and talking. Josiah soundly won the "Find it Fast" game that Peter pulled out... I am 99% convinced he has just memorized the cards, but, you never know, maybe his eyes really do work that fast ;)... Miss Karen and I also spent a short amount of time discussing a project we are working on, while Noah especially had fun with their little dog, following her around the house, laughing, 'It's walking! It's walking!"... haha! It is hilarious to us that Noah's hair practically looks identical to the puppy's fur. It was also their first time meeting little Isaac - and Miss Karen and Mr. Jim were his first out of state visitors!

It felt like we picked up right where we left off... but the time went by so fast! We are hopeful that they may make it back down once more before they go home, with Miss Karen's sister who is planning to come to the beach for a few days as well, but we are also very thankful that this visit worked out! It's easy to take the normality of seeing people every week for granted when it's a regular part of your life... it makes you stop and realize what a precious thing it was, when you no longer have that ability! And while it is a wonderful thing to be able keep up with people long distance through technology and letters... there is nothing like being able to sit beside someone and just spend some time with them! The Lord is kind to give us these additional earthly gifts on top of His unmerited gift of eternal life <3.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Ramblings

Moments that probably made people question my sanity today:

-I hit save instead of publish on a post I was starting for my month wrap up that I typically work on all month long... soooo, for those of you who get email updates... I am sorry for the lack of background that was supposed to be given to that snippet, but you're welcome for the laugh that the randomness surely had to give you ;)...

-At our church potluck today  I realized... my life is not normal to other people. As I filled my 14th plate of food. During my 5th time in line. #ipromisemostofthisisnotmine

*me as I see a young mom trying to juggle two plates and a baby* she might like some help.
*looks down at my two plates and all the little people around me* she would probably be able to get done faster by herself. Oh well, haha!

Our day got off to an interesting start when we barely got out of the door on time and then had to immediately turn around for the serving spoons we forgot... then our van started making an atrocious grinding noise! Thankfully, Daddy can figure out almost any problem within minutes, and after stopping to pick up some power steering fluid, the noise immediately stopped. But Mama noticed the car needed fueled, and after taking the time to fill up, we made it to church just as service started. Oh, what a morning! But still, we were able to enjoy good teaching (finishing up the 11th chapter if John), the wonderful reminders of communion, and some fellowship with others, and it was a good morning/early afternoon regardless!

Our later afternoon was spent preparing for some special guests we have coming tomorrow (!), and this evening we settled in for a family movie night. While preparing for it, I managed to break a pan lid (and do you know how terrifying it is to have to fish a pan lid screw out of a pot of hot oil with kernels ready to pop at any time? Leave it to me), but we survived ;). JoJo, who never finishes his popcorn (or... like... food), finished his cup tonight, crawled onto my lap, and started to eat out of the bowl Andrew and I were sharing... and then, not too long after, gives a little "wow" sigh, and says, "...I didn't remember this movie was so long..."
We were just over half way through. Lol!

Now we're ready for a new week of projects and plans and learning, whatever it may hold for us... and, despite feeling like this is a rambling, pointless post, I am ready for bed, and, honestly, couldn't write anything more concentrated until I have had a chance to journal and chronologically catergorize if I tried, haha. I spent my afternoon catching up in my bible reading instead of writing, because that was my priority no matter my "routine"! And that is as it should be... but it also means I will have to find some other time to sort my thoughts ;). And hopefully get some pictures taken for some post ideas I have (and maybe blog on my computer instead of my phone for once, because why don't I do what's best instead of convenient? Haha...)

What are your plans for the upcoming week :)?

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Friends in the Gospel

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." -Proverbs 17:17

Friendships are something to be cherished - whether between family members or those outside of your immediate family, each person that you have a friendly relationship with has the potential to be one of the ways that the Lord enriches your life and prepares you for the work that He has for you. I don't know about you, but I find simple acts of friendship, not only from friends, but from family, and, even, at times, strangers, to be the moments that I most appreciate in life.

But what makes a friend? 

Friends usually have common ground between them. The more similarities that you have with someone, the more likely you are to get to know them more and have a mutual sympathy that builds up that relationship. Maybe it's your love of an underrated book or errily similar life goals, but you probably first talked about something that made you think, "wow, this is neat, I'd like to get to know them more!" before you actually became friends with this person. Sometimes the common ground may simply be your age, and that you feel like you can relate to the stage of life that the other is in. There are also many similarities, in tastes or situations, that can be shared between different age groups as well, and there is a lot to be gained in that difference in perspective that you each will be able to bring! But as a Christian, we have a common ground that "glues" us to other believers that others do not have. 

One of my favorite parts of the letters of Paul is the wonderful greetings he includes in each letter... greetings like, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now." -Philippians 1:3-5

"Because of your partnership in the gospel". I love the story of how God used Paul. I love the personality we get from his writings, inspired by God, but also very much a part of who he was himself. Paul was eager for the truth, was not afraid of holding unpopular opinions, was firm to hold all believers to the path of righteousness... but Paul had an abiding love for people. He preached to the unsaved because he cared for them; he shepherded the church because he loved them. He literally wrote letters to people he had never met before that demonstrated a deep love and concern for them. And in the age before the ability to converse together freely and get to know each other through texts and emails, what was it that made Paul love these people deeply? They were partners in the gospel. They were heirs to the kingdom together. They were all bonded with a common thread, a life changed by God through no work of their own. That was who they were - and it bonded them together whether they had met or not, because it bonded them together for eternity. 

And because they were living in, but not of, this world together, it gave them a unique sympathy and love for each other. It was the driving force behind their friendship, and it created a desire to "bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). By prayer. By exhortation. By example, rejoicing, weeping. By working together, serving together, serving each other, serving Christ. 

As Christians, we are not just privileged to uphold one another; we are commanded by scripture - "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25) God did not make mankind to be alone; He planned from the very beginning that we would work together and serve together, love each other and sympathize with each other. And even though, in our sinful nature, we may have friendships that are not in that perfect order of using our gifts to serve God together, we have never stopped needing each other to exceed in many areas of our lives. But when God brings our heart back to it's intended state of friendship with Him, it also brings to our earthly friendships a greater purpose and meaning, one unique and joyful, by our partnership in this gospel.

So, as we look forward to our day of worship on the morrow, let's also look forward to our ability to edify other members of the body of Christ who join us in this worship. We are partners, friends, in the gospel, and we can serve Christ far better together than we can apart. 

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri ❤

Friday, October 12, 2018

Thoughts at Midnight

Here it is at 11:47, and  I am just now starting my blog post - again. This seems to happen each time I do this blogging challenge. I start the month really good, but by the 10th, it's getting just a little hard to keep up with. For a couple of weeks, I ask myself, about every other day, why did I sign up for this? It's harder to fit in than you may think. But about the 25th, I am going to be so close to the end, that I will realize that I can really do this, and I'll finish well... it's just that a lot of times the things that you feel are important or worthwhile are hard, too, you know? This carries over into all areas of life... and that's okay. In fact, it's wonderful! It shows us what is really important. It shows us where we might be holding on too much. It allows us to truly appreciate the end result. Often, these things remind us just how much our Heavenly Father cares about ever single little detail of our lives.

My day has been full, busy, insane and yet at the same time, very meaningful. Did I mention it was full? Just last Wednesday morning, I had absolutely no plans whatsoever for Friday. But today "has been another epoch in my life", and it was so neat to see how a lot of things worked together. Personally, I had a lot that happened - some of it quite unplanned by me, and some of it somewhat unexpected. But all of it so obviously planned by Someone down to the very last detail. The Someone who made the universe plans my life by every detail; why is that so hard to realize sometimes? Why do we need reminders at times? And yet, on the other hand - how gracious of the Lord to send us those reminders. Aren't you glad that He repeatedly draws us to Himself in so many ways?

So yes, my day was full (and was, apparently, the 21st anniversary of my first road trip, according to my Gramma, who drove my Granny and Aunt Donna down to meet Isaac <3). And a lot of the upcoming days may be full. I really, really wanted to write this month, because it's going to be the last Write31 challenge, and I wanted to know I had "finished well". Am I still going to aim to finish well? Of course. But my life is in a season of change right now, and that's okay. If I miss a day, I'm not going to stress about it. God has given me things to do, and I want to do my best. Sometimes, that best can take twists and turns - the journey takes stops along the way that you didn't plan on your road map. And sometimes, the unplanned adventure is just as useful or enjoyable as the one you started out on. So while I always want to do my best, I also need to learn that sometimes it's best to be "best" at a few things instead of "stretched" between a lot. So if I have to drop good things to make room for better things, that's not just okay, that's wonderful.

But don't think you'll get rid of me completely if that happens... because, remember, rest, don't quit ;).

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday ✽ 10/11/18

It feels like it's been a long, long time since I've done a Thankful Thursday. Truthfully, it's been less than a year and I have put together some lists in my journal... but, considering they were a weekly thing when I first opened Forget Not His Benefits, it's still quite a long time! I am hopeful that I'll be able to do Thankful Thursdays weekly again in November, but I really wanted to put one together today... so why not?! You can never thank the Lord enough for the many blessings that He has given you, and I think that sitting down to write out some of the things He has given is wonderful to help you do that.

This week, I am especially thankful for...

-Hope. And endurance. And the promise that in Christ, we have everything we need.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe." -Proverbs 18:10

-Beauty. Beautiful words, beauty for our eyes to see, beauty for us to feel.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

 -Smiles. Isn't it amazing how just seeing a smiley person can make you feel like smiling :)?
"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face." -Proverbs 15:13

-Daily encouragement to dig into God's word. Accountability is great!
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." -1 Thessalonians 5:11

-These videos by The Bible Project (this one is for Matthew). Mama recently found these and we are going through them as we reach a new book in the bible in our read through, and they are amazing - I love them!
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." -2 Timothy 3:16

-Kindness. It takes so little for your whole day to be made brighter by a word or an action from others. God has given us the duty of being His representatives, and this is one way we can build relationships with others that allow us to share His truth more meaningfully!
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:32

-Water. Have you ever thought about the fact that every time you find yourself thirsting for water, it is a physical, tangible reminder of how desperately we need Christ, the Living Water?
"On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said,"'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."'" -John 7:37-39

What about you? What are just a few things that you are thankful for this week? Sitting down and remembering your blessings doesn't have to be a long chore or something you put on your to-do list. Even just making the decision to look for one or two blessings you have been given, randomly, can help you cultivate a heart of gratitude, and give you an extra chance to worship our worthy King above all kings!

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Top Ten: Christian Songs

Today, I am just going to do a short and simple post... which was kind of planned, but let me add that, that isn't a bad thing, since it's already after midnight and I haven't posted this yet. (If I haven't slept yet, it still counts as "today", right?...) My day just got away with me! Two things I did today were finished up a custom order and made chocolate chip frappes (recipe will come soon, because I am quite pleased to say that my version is better than the original ;)...), which made the day quite enjoyable. And the rain is coming down quite steadily and sounds beautiful right now <3. I do have a dentist appointment tomorrow, so it would probably be better if I slept than blogged :P, BUT, the Bri made a commitment, and so her logicality has been placed on the back burner ;). What else is new?...

Today I decided I'd participate in Muddy Shoes' "Top Ten" day! It's always something that is open to other bloggers to take and share on their own blogs, which I thought was fun, but I haven't posted on the tenth of a month since it started. This month's conveniently worked nicely as an excuse, because I was already planning to do a five favorite hymns post after asking some of you to answer that question in a tag last summer ;). And so, here are 10 of my favorite hymns/Christian songs (which is by no means an inclusive list), and my favorite verses/lines from that song :)!

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
"Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I've come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood."

Oh To Be Like Thee
"O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinners to find."

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
"O Love that will not let me go, 
I rest my weary soul in thee; 
I give thee back the life I owe, 
That in thine ocean depths its flow 
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way, 
I yield my flickering torch to thee; 
My heart restores its borrowed ray, 
That in thy sunshine's blaze its day 
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain, 
I cannot close my heart to thee; 
I trace the rainbow through the rain, 
And feel the promise is not vain, 
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head, 
I dare not ask to fly from thee; 
I lay in dust life's glory dead, 
And from the ground there blossoms red 
Life that shall endless be."

(I really tried to pick a verse, but one is my favorite, one fits my season of "learning" right now, and one was an important verse... then the other couldn't be left out, haha... so we get to enjoy all four!)
Just Be Held
"When you're tired of fighting, and chained by your control; there is freedom in surrender, lay it down and let it go."

At Calvary
"Oh, the love that drew salvation's plan! Oh the grace that brough it down to man!
Oh the might gulf that God did span, at Calvary!"

Behold the Lamb
"And so with thankfulness and faith
We rise to respond: and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering,
We proclaim: Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven
Around the table of the King."

Oh Glorious Day
"Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day."

Be Thou My Vision
"Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light."

Blessed Assurance
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine

O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love."
It's so hard to just choose 10, because there are so many other wonderful songs! But I believe that these are the ones that I find running in my head most often... along with at least five more, of course... haha! Which of these is your favorite? Or do you have another favorite that isn't on this list :)?

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

You Are What You Eat

"You are what you eat" - how many times have we heard that statement? It is typically used to remind people that you want to watch the quality of the food you consume; avoid dyes, toxins, sugar. *throws away my candy wrappers somewhat guiltily but quite contentedly* But I believe it's just as important to watch what we feed our minds and form into habits.

Just like it's easier to grab some junk food then to make a meal, it's much easier to slip into bad habits or wrong thinking than it is to reach for what is "noble, right and pure". These habits are things we don't even think about - we just do them, whether we would agree with them or not if we stopped to think, because it happens so fast. We find ourselves thinking, "whoops; I shouldn't do that again." But without something to direct us away from it, it rarely works; we find ourselves doing it again and again.

One suggestion I have heard and used at times has been, when you find yourself doing or saying something that you shouldn't, to recite a bible verse - one you have chosen and memorized beforehand specifically to remind you of why you are trying to break this habit.

This can be a slow and discouraging process, but it does help. Instead of just noticing when you fall, you are noticing and correcting, and this helps re-train your mind through repitition. Slowly, you will begin to notice that, as your mind is renewed, you stumble less and less.

Abbi has recently been doing something similar. Abbi lives life fast paced; she is always running, hurrying, in the thick of the most action, excited and exuberant. This can sometimes be a danger to people, including herself. She's probably taken a tumble down the stairs more times than the rest of the family put together! Mama has asked her countless times to please, please not run on the stairs, so she doesn't injure herself, but Abbi just couldn't remember to slow down; there is so much to do! So she decided that whenever she found herself running down the stairs, she would make herself go back to the top and walk down. And you know what? After a few weeks, she had to turn around less and less, and it's been quite a while since we heard one of her formerly quite recent tumbles!

Breaking a habit or thought pattern requires replacing it with something. Just like saying "no" to a food you usually eat that isn't very good for you doesn't mean you skip a meal, it is helpful to find something to replace your thoughts or activites. This is why, when I am discouraged or rushed, I like to try to sit down and read the bible or a book that encourages living for Christ. It's also why, when I take a break from being online, I usually put together a list of extra things to get done. I am replacing those habits with something more in line with my goals :).

Eventually, those replacements will become what you desire. It will still take "feeding" to remain healthy, but you will find them more satisfying and refreshing, and won't be as often tempted to reach for lesser things. It had been interesting lately, because my Mama was going through a christian history book with my younger siblings lately, and it's obvious how the Lord has renewed her mind through her diligent searching out of His truth. The book has wrong theology sprinkled all through it, but as a young christian, she didn't even know it was wrong theology when she first read it to me when I was their age. Now, she has so steeped herself in God's word and godly teaching (and, by God's mercy, been given "eyes to see"), that it is a struggle for her to realize that this was the christian history we once read and excepted!

Of course, as everything else in a believer's life, it all goes back to honoring our Heavenly Father. We don't read the bible to have an easier time or be better people; we read it to understand more of Him, to serve Him better, to have the tools to share His light with those He places in our pathes. In all that we face and question, God has given us His standard in His holy scriptures, and they are always the first thing we should turn to in dificult situations, but we should also be dwelling in it continually, to prepare ourselves before the battle.

Sometimes, you might not feel like reading; you might feel too tired, or distracted, you might think you will get more out of it at a later time, you may even feel guilty reading God's word without being "perfect" at it, and you may want to let this discourage you; But one thing I have found to be true is that this is the very time you must come to the throne in prayer and scripture reading! Ask God to give you a heart soft to His word, and then just read. While you may not feel like you are retaining much, you are whetting your appetite for it, and you will find yourself craving it more and more! This has been on my mind frequently recently, as my family and I have been doing a bible study online with thousands of others - a reading through of the bible that is described as "feasting", where we are frequently told to "come to the table and eat". And I love that!

So watch what you eat - spiritually! Find an accountability partner if it helps, set aside a time that you can make it a priority, find ways to incorporate the word of God into your daily life... you are what you eat!

Rejoicing in Hope,

Monday, October 8, 2018

Ever Singing, March We Onward

"Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!"

Today, in VA, a memorial service is being held for a dear friend, who invested so much into so many, a man with a passion for Christ and a passion for music - our former choir director.

Mr. Walter Pendleton was gentle and kind to everyone he spoke to, but he had a firmness that won respect, as well. Even now, 4 years later, I find myself hearing my head repeat, almost every Sunday, "Remember - we WILL be observing the commas. I know it doesn't sound like much, but if you will listen, you will see what a difference that makes in our singing." This is usually followed in my mind by a fellow choir member's question - "How are we going to pronounce this word so that we are all on the same page?" There are just certain things that you have to think about a little harder when you have varying degrees of southerners all singing the same song. (My favorite answer to that question was the time that we were told, "we will pronounce THIS 'the' as 'the', and THIS 'the' as 'thuh'" - in the same song).

When Tori and I joined the choir at Friendship, we were "bribed" by a couple of the members of our church - one of our friends even told us that she would join choir, at least when she could (she was also the fill-in pianist and frequently the page-turner), if it would get us there - which she did, helping us settle in, that first time. We were welcomed with open arms and hearts, and our first introduction to public singing could not have been more pleasant. We were about 30 years younger than the next youngest singer, and so we quickly became known to the choir members as "our two little girls", and it was truly a second home to me, with lots of adopted grandparents to look after us while we were so far from our family.

It wasn't long after we joined that Mr. Walter started facing terrible health issues, often being hospitalized for weeks at a time - but he always supervised us from his hospital bed, picking the songs to go with Pastor Todd's notes, asking how everyone was doing, coming right back to choir as soon as he would be discharged, always eager to lead worship to the Lord he loved. His dedication was astounding, and when he finally truly could not physically make it anymore, we were all saddened over the very big hole it left in our choir. But even at that point, he still took an interest in the church, encouraged us by making an effort to show up to any special service or music ministry, no matter how much help he needed. And frequently he would send word to Tori and I via Miss Mary Lou, our pianist - "Mr Walter asked me if our two little girls were still coming to choir, and I told him, yes. He wanted you to know he was thinking of you, he loves that some young people joined our choir."

He was compassionate, he was gentle, he was firm, he knew what he was doing, and knew how to impress on us that our work was not about our talent, but about serving our heavenly Father in one of the areas he had directly commanded in scripture. But he also knew how to remind us that we needed to do the best we could with our talents, because the One we were using them for was worthy of our best. He never did tell me whether I was alto or soprano... but it didn't matter. He taught me that music could be an act of service and an act of love, and that was enough.

We left VA about a year after he had to leave his position, and we haven't had much contact since then, but this last week, I got the news that Mr. Walter had moved on to a better choir - directly at the feet of our Savior, to worship Him forever. It wasn't unexpected, but it did take me aback a bit. I shed a few tears, because no matter the fact that, given the distance, we aren't directly touching each others lives now, the truth is, he will always touch mine, because of who he was and the example he set for all of us in his choir. He did not ask us to do anything that he was not willing to do himself, and he showed that over and over and over again. And while his time in my life was comparatively short in light of the many full years he lived, he made a wonderful impact on my life, one for which I am grateful. 

"Mortals, join the mighty chorus
which the morning stars began;
love divine is reigning o'er us,
binding all within its span.
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music leads us sunward,
in the triumph song of life." 

P.S.... read this, too. Written by our Pastor in VA, this perfectly sums up Mr. Walter. Both of these men worked together so well to bring God's truth to our church, and it has blessed so many <3. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Words of Simple Black and White

It's a quiet Sunday evening, and I really don't have a definite post plan to share today. My mind has been spinning all day; thinking about the sermon series on the raising of Lazarus that our Pastor has been holding at church; thinking about the best way to make up an order, and the best way to force myself not to do handwork for a couple days when I'm done; thinking about our old friends in VA, about stories and bends in the road.

It's been a day to just be on. Not do, not worry, not rush, not force, but just be, if that makes any sense to anyone's mind but my own.

I've enjoyed fellowship, and worship, and biblical teaching at church, crocheted, and written because I couldn't help myself. But right now I don't really feel like writing shareable words... they so often fall flat.

That's the thing about writing. I love it. I love words. I love thoughts and feelings. I love connecting through language.

But sometimes the written word just doesn't hold the tone that the spoken words would have.

And even worse, sometimes, once you put thoughts into words, they lose their beauty. Sometimes the composition in your head simple can't be rearranged into correct grammar without feeling broken.

"The words just cannot match internal rhyme;
When they go from mind to sight,
They lose their luster,
Stop their step.
Gone the gray between the shadows,
Gone the color framing light,
Suddenly arrested motion,
Now turns to simple black and white."

And so, though many of the things that played through my mind today will be shared on my blog and in my words or writings later on, right now, it's just a day to be on. There is time to share all these things later. Right now, I have little siblings around me who are eager to be loved on. To empty my drawer of old toys, to be read to and played with, who will sit with their chins in their hands, mimicking me, as long as I will let them stay, and turn my blog post writing into a chance to find out what all the letters say again. "Where is the X? What does that say?" Right now, words aren't as important. And that's okay.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How I Prepare for a Week Long Internet Break

It's no secret to those who know me that I do a lot of work on the internet. Between my shop, my blog, keeping up with long distance friends, and all the other little things that seems to constantly be more and more dependent of the internet now, it seems like there is always a reason to be sitting in front of a screen. It's honestly exhausting, although I never realize just how exhausting until I have taken a bit of a break and notice how much more I am enjoying everything happening around me.

The truth is, the internet is not a bad thing - but distractions and interruptions can be time consuming and bombarding.

Think about it. You go to start supper. Your recipe is on your phone or laptop. You open your phone to retrieve the recipe from your inbox, and end up checking email first. Then you pull up the recipe and start to work. You get a text message and since it's right there, you just answer it really quickly. Then the conversation changes to something that you don't know too much about, but sounds intriguing, and so you might pull up a research page to read while you cook... and soon every thing is taking twice as long and you haven't enjoyed the experience of making a meal.

It happens to me all the time - or some other variation of that might. When I look for a pattern, or when I start looking for things for a blog post or a graphic. Nothing I am doing is wrong; but it may be the wrong time. And so I try to multi-task, but I'm not nearly as efficient at it as I may think (or, more likely, just as efficient as I feel, and that's not a good thing).

I first started taking "internet breaks" about 3 years ago, and I can't tell you what a difference even 1 day fully offline can make in my sanity level. Back then I could take a whole week off at a time... I admit that I miss that. Haha! Nowadays, it's much harder; the last break I took, I scheduled days to come back to check email, so I could stay on top of my etsy shop, and the length ended up being cut short, because I had some work that came up that took a couple of days to complete, and by then I was out of time. But that doesn't change the fact that it was wonderful to be off, even for just a few days (and partially for a few more). I honestly don't do it enough!

The thing is, though, that you really can't just ditch the internet, even for just a couple days (I do ditch it on Sunday frequently, though, so, I guess one day is usually possible ;)...). It takes quite a bit of planning beforehand, and over the years I have gotten into a pattern of what I need to do before I leave for a week - and I am actually not missed at all, truthfully. It also doesn't hurt my shop stats - this is the first fear of all small online business owners.

The way I do this? Work like crazy for two days beforehand (lol!) doing a lot of scheduling, for the most part.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive to do extra work so that you can do less work; but trust me, it's not. When you sit down with an agenda once, I am pretty sure there is 75% less distraction and time spent than you get when you sit down to do the same thing in small batches 5 or 6 times in a week. Or at least it feels like it. I mean, for me, just opening photoshop on my computer can take a couple minutes sometimes. I could open photoshop once and edit all my pictures/make graphics/templates all in one sitting, or in little chunks through my week, which could add ten minutes opening time to my week. It's not much; but that's just photoshop! The same thing applies to each website, browser, or program I open.

Over time, I have put together a check list that I go through every time I feel like I need a bit of a break from the constant pull, and I thought I'd share it here with you today! Your list will look different depending on what demands you have, and how much of a perfectionist you are (I literally organize my desktop photos before I get offline...). But I find it helpful to be given ideas that I might not think of ahead of time, and the more prepared you are, the better your efforts will be!

Schedule. Schedule your blog posts for the week. Schedule business page updates for the week. Schedule as far out as you can - schedule through your intended break, and, if possible, the day after, so you have time to catch up afterwards, as well. I try to draft any Etsy listings that need to go up, too. Unfortunately, you can't schedule listings, but if I have done every thing but hit publish, it usually takes five minutes to scan my inbox for urgent emails and post the listing, which lately I have been doing about every 2 days, given my shipping estimates.

Print patterns and recipes. Neglecting to do this is usually the only thing that messes up my plans - usually because I forget what all I need. So it's helpful to have a plan for your week off before you take it. What new foods do you want to try? What project are you going to work on with your extra free time during the week? I almost always end up crocheting, so I try to decide what I want to crochet ahead of time, so that I can print the patterns I might need. I also make and print any templates I want to use to make a new canvas design.

Think long and hard about what little things typically take you extra time because you forgot it during your work time. For me this is things like updating my Etsy announcements, cleaning off my camera card (so that I can take pictures without having to open my laptop and getting distracted), placing orders, sending links I promised someone... cleaning my desk top so that I know it's done, even though I tend to just deal with it if I know that I'll be opening my computer again within 12 hours... it doesn't make much sense, but it's nice to have done when I come back!

Answer emails. I might go weeks without answering an email, but for some reason I can not know that I am leaving for a week and leave people unanswered. It's rather handy... if my email gets too full, I make myself get ready to leave, hahaha. Here's a little tip: I like to draft emails as I answer them, and then send them all at once when I finish the last one - it may sound silly, but it's much better if your goal is to have a clean inbox when you are done. Nobody can reply before you get through answering the 5 other friends, if they haven't received your email yet ;).

At this point, I can be all set to ignore everything for the week, if I like. Typically, though, I do things like make a couple of graphics for KBR, post on Instagram, and catch up on any blogs I haven't been keeping up with - things that I don't have a set time for, and could easily skip for a week, but like to have done as recently as possible, just so that it's not a temptation/nag on my mind as having not done it for a while. I also answer texts, if I plan to take a break from my phone as well. Usually I don't count texts as online time (although I try to answer them just once a day, it possible, when I'm on an internet break), but sometimes my reasoning for not touching my devices is not that my brain needs a break, but that my wrist does... haha. That will change things a bit, because texting is actually more of an issue than typing for me at that point, so I might ditch my phone as much as possible, too ;).

My suggestion? The first internet break you take needs to be short, just a day or two. This will help you identify where your unexpected need-to-plan-aheads are, without making you feel like you failed the first time. After ironing out those, it's much easier to take a longer one!

And if there are things you truly can't leave, schedule when you will check up on them, and for how long! For me, last time, I checked email + my business page replies once every 2 days, and responded to my texts for the day immediately afterwards, then got directly back offline :).

Do you try to schedule regular time offline? What tips do you have?

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3

Friday, October 5, 2018

Commanded to Rest

We looked yesterday at how rest is a command in scripture, and how it better ables us to to obey other commands (we specifically focused on joy, but there are so many other areas it touches, as well!). Today, we'll look at that command a little closer.

In one of my favorite passages about the taking of rest, the disciples have just come back from their ministering around the area, "proclaiming that people should repent". They are eager and diligent to give Jesus a full report of all that they have done for Him since they were last with Him. But there are people every where, and Jesus sees that His disciples need a break before they continue to serve. He commands them to rest, and they obey. We aren't sure how long this rest is, or whether they really had much more than a bite to eat and the quiet of being on a boat away from the crowd, able to talk to Jesus, who came with them, without interruption, before they jump back into work, because the crowd follows them. But we do know that Jesus knew that rest was important for them, and that He cared for them, so I am confidant that they were refreshed before Jesus landed, and, having compassion on the people, started serving, and asking His disciples to help, once more (Mark 6: 31-34).

Most of our timelines in life are found in the pattern of the sun and moon; our year, our month, our day, our seasons, the tides. They all depend on these "neighbors" in our home, the Milky Way. But were did the timeline of our week come from? Where did we get a seven day week? That comes directly from scripture, and Genesis 1-2, where God created the universe in six days... and created rest on the seventh.

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation." (Genesis 2:1-3)

He then makes the observing of this day of rest a holy day, and lays down His expectations for this day to the Israelites when He brings them out of Egypt: "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places." (Leviticus 23:3)

Jesus explains to the Pharisees in Mark 2:27 that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

And here in these 3 verses we find the balance to this command of rest. The Sabbath was created
by God,
for man,
to the Lord.

Over and over, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, we are given examples of how the Sabbath was "a day of rest for the people", but "a day of worship for the Lord". And the reason for this is simple; when we worship the Lord, we come into a deeper fellowship with Him, and when we are abiding in Him, our hearts find rest; when we are resting in the Lord, we have the strength to serve Him and those around us; and as we work for Him, through Him... we find ourselves ever more grateful for who He is, and ever more desirous to worship Him.

Our week was set up to give us this natural rhythm of savoring Christ and sharing Christ, but it also happens on a smaller (and larger) scale all through out our lives. We give our bodies physical rest every night, but there are times that we take additional rest when sick or suffering from too-short nights too often. The same should be true of our Sabbath rest. We have a time set aside to habitually worship and spiritually rest, but we also must learn to come and sit at His feet when we are "weary with much care". To remind our hearts to be still; to learn of Him; to feast on the truths of the gospel.

There are different ways to do this at different seasons. Bible reading, prayer, hymns, extra scripture study, online sermons, edifying books. It may depend on your resources at hand, the time you can make available, and the level of your need. But He is always there to carry your burdens, to still your spirit, to bring rest to a troubled sea of doubt. And He does this for us - to His glory.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Joyful Rest ✽ Restful Joy

Joyful rest, restful joy

"Joyful rest, restful joy".

To be honest, I'm not sure where the phrase came from; but it's been going through my head frequently over the past several weeks, since it first came to my mind. The more I think of it, the more I feel like it is the best short and simple description I can give of a lifestyle of rest. Simple, at least in it's wording. But, like most things that are worth any thing, once you dig deeper, it's not really simple; and that makes it all the more worth it.

Joy is often seen as happiness. Rest is often seen as sitting down after a long day. And, while those things may often go together, in reality, they are not connected. Happiness and the ability to slow down can depend on our circumstances, but joy and rest are actually a command from God; these are qualities that believers are supposed to be known by...

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)

"Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is: and walk in it, and find rest for your souls..." (Jeremiah 6:16)

And I have found that these two things often feed each other. When I purposefully make the decision to trust that the Lord is working His perfect will in my life, and that He will use me for His glory; that the bends in the road can be used to serve Him just as well as the straight path I expected to travel; I find it exponentially easier to be content and joyful where He has me.

On the other hand, when I take the time to rejoice (which is a form of purposeful worship), no matter what my circumstances, then I find that I am instantly better able to look at my circumstances with a peaceful heart, rather than an anxious one.

Joyful rest, restful joy.

Trust, worship, obedience.

Because the one who died to save my soul can be counted on to know the best use of my life.

Because the one who saved me from my own life of sin, not because I was worthy, but because He is merciful, is worthy of honor.

Because a sinner made new, bought by the blood of the Lamb, has no way of paying back our Gracious Lord, and so out of our debt of thankfulness, we obey Him to show Him our love.

And He in turn uses our obedience to bring us closer to Him, and into a deeper Joy and Rest than we have ever known.

How kind He is!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Lifestyle of Rest

I already shared about this quite a bit earlier this year, but I have some plans to do a mini series about rest in the midst of the bigger series of miscellaneous posts, and so I felt like I should share an "introduction" post, even though it may sound like a rehashing of thoughts I have already shared here in bits and pieces.

As many of you know, my word for 2018 has been "Rest". At first, my idea was simply that I was going to choose to rest in fact that the Lord knew what I needed in my life, and not to stress over when things would happen; I knew I could fill my resolution list with things I *wanted* to do, but wasn't sure would be brought about in my year (life?), or I could admit that I don't know everything and could rest in the Lord's path for me. This is something I constantly have to bring myself back to... but I know for sure that I made the right choice. It is so much better to purposefully be reminding myself that God's timing is better than my plans, than to realize that the time is not right for something I was reaching for, and feeling like I have failed when, in reality, because I believe I am where the Lord wants me at this time, I am not failing, but obeying.

Slowly, I began to realize that resting took work; and that there were practical ways that I could encourage myself to rest. Sometimes, resting actually means working harder for me... the truth is, I am prone to procrastinate because I feel like I have to do everything perfectly in one session. This is not really a good thing - it means I constantly have something nagging at the back of my mind, and that means I never really feel done. I made a decision to purposefully keep on top of my to-do list, even when it was hard, so that I would have moments of being "done", when I could mentally rest, as well resting in God's plan.

Then, as I looked at how I was using my extra time, it dawned on me that resting didn't mean that I didn't have anything to do. Being ahead of my to-do list often meant that I had extra time for extra work - work that I seem to find extremely refreshing. I truly believe that we are meant to be creative and productive, and I found that it was very fulfilling to me to use that extra time to cook, to garden, to learn, and to invest in others. As I started being more purposeful to fill my spare time with things that would last, I found that it was simple to do things like pull up a sermon or do an extra bible study, but it was truly the most refreshing thing that I could be doing at those moments when I was ready to give up for the day.

And once again, this word began pointing me again to grow closer to Christ. I started finding little rabbit trails to the word rest - trust, surrender, worship. So many other things were wrapped up in the word rest as I was striving to live it out.

Within a matter of weeks, I realized that I wasn't committing to not worrying as much about my future. I was committing to a totally different mindset. One that looked ahead to eternity, not to the here and now. One that was lived with purpose, not to fill up the day.

So it's been an interesting balance of the practical and the eternal.

It's meant that when I can tell that I have worked so long that I am becoming frustrated (usually on technical shop things), I make the choice to put up the work and do something else (even if it is more work). When I have some free time, I work ahead of my to-do list. When I feel like my brain is scattered over a dozen problems and it's weighing down my spirit, I purposefully fill my mind with God's truth in some way or another. When I feel led to do something, I do it no matter how uncomfortable it might make me (this is honestly the hardest resolve to keep - but it has been so rewarding!).

And it does take some balancing. A friend sent me these lines last week, and I loved them:

"When things go wrong, as they sometimes will:
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill:
When the funds are low and the bills are high:
And you want to smile but you have to sigh.
When all is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit
Success is failure turned inside out:
The silver lining on the clouds of doubt:
And you never can tell how close you are:
It may be near when it seems far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit."
(John Greenleaf Whitter)

Rest - in the Lord. Not to give up, not to turn a blind eye to things that might be hard, not to pretend all is well. But to obey, to surrender, to live for eternity. Rest. So you can better run the race with endurance.

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri <3

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Of Dragons and Novels

Let me start off by wishing Tori a very happy 17th birthday <3!!!

Since this is Tori's birthday, and Tori both loves Lord of the Rings, and is the main reason that I came to love Lord of the Rings (it's not that I didn't love the books... it's just that 56 page chapters are really hard to find time for when you refuse to read less than a chapter in a sitting), and because Tori is having us re-watch some of the movies with her because she's re-reading the books, and because we celebrated her birthday today with a dragon theme, and because there was a neat blog party that happened, thrown by The Edge of the Precipice, that I totally knew was coming and totally forgot about while it happened... I decided that this would be an appropriate post to share today, despite it's being too late to be a part of the blog party (if I read my own sister's blog regularly, I wouldn't have missed it... but one fun fact about Tori: she changes blog/addresses frequently, and it means that I AM NEVER SUBSCRIBED TO HER BLOGS, and it's a problem, hahaha). So, without further ado, some of my thoughts on Middle Earth...

1.  What's your favorite Middle-earth story/book? Confession... I have only read one book of the smaller stories. So, I'm not exactly an authority here. Next time I read the series, I want to start with the Silmarillion and go through completely in order, but it is safe to say that I don't see that happening until after Christmas. But thanks to Tori, I have quite a good working knowledge of the other works, because she used to explain to me frequently at night the story line of each new book she read (I managed to stay awake about 50% of the time). But I believe my favorite book will always be "The Return of the King". Faramir, Aragorn, and Samwise all get their (mostly) happy endings, and it's got the death of Theoden, which I do not appreciate at all, because I wanted him to have a happy ending too, but also I do, because it's one of the few book scenes that has ever made me actually cry tears. So most of my favorite characters are taken care of, anyway... Second would be "The Hobbit". Let's face it, the style is wonderfully humorous but careful not to be a real comedy given it's perilous setting.

2.  Do you have a favorite subplot? When the people of Rohan get brought into the story, I feel like everything gets even better. It doesn't hurt that they are known for their horses, the Rohan music is my favorite theme in the movies, and that I love how kind Theoden is to the hobbits in the books. I mean, I love Aragorn's story, and I love the way Sam does everything he does out of loyalty for others, but I often think of Rohan/Rohan people when I think of the parts of the story I like best. But this seems like a main theme to me, so I am not sure it counts as a subplot. I think the smaller subplot that I love the best is Boromir + Faramir, trying to serve their people and please their Father, and both having huge struggles through that... Faramir staying true, no matter what is thrown at him, and Boromir's repentance after he succumbs to his Father's path/the ring.

3.  What's your favorite theme in Tolkien's books?  (Can be in one specific story, or overall.) I love that throughout the darkest time Middle Earth has ever faced, they face the future with hope. They fight not for power, but for right; and it's often the small things that bring the biggest change. They refuse to give in to despair, but do just what has been give to them to do, so that other's may know joy.

4.  Do you have a favorite weapon from Middle-earth? I'm partial to the swords, just because they have backstories, and I am all for your possessions having sentimental value. Haha... yeah, I'm not a weapons-loving person at all.It has to have some other purpose as well, haha.
If it had said tool instead of weapon, the answer would have been Sam's rope and herbs ;).

5.  Would you like to be a hobbit? Let us think about this: Hobbits love food, are very social, but love home, but also love to do something new just often enough for you to wonder when it will happen next, love to garden, are short... don't ask if I'd like to be one. Just give me a Hobbit hole, because I already am one ;). 

6.  Do you have a favorite romance/couple? Aragorn and Arwen's romance is my favorite. They are so patient and so willing to lay aside their own happiness for those who need them. It's kind of a back story we don't know enough of in the actual book, but we learn more in the appendix (Mama actually went years thinking that that was all elaborated in the movie, haha), and I think it's sweet. But I kind of like elements from them all, haha :). Someone pointed out that one of the biggest theme's in Tolkien's romances is that they all go through a period of waiting before their romance is realized, and that was based off of his own relationship with his wife, and I thought that was a really neat take from that!

7.  What's your favorite Middle-earth creature?  (Can be "real" or "imaginary.") ??? I mean, by creature, do we mean... everything but the men? I don't want to think that hard, haha. My favorite animal is Bill the Pony. He deserves all the apples Sam was able to give him.

8.  What character do you look the most like? Ah, yes. If you were to ask my sister and her best friend, I am the spitting image of a random elf in the scene where the dwarves first arrive in Rivendale in AUJ, if I would just straighten my hair (the elf who first talks to them, and says Elrond isn't there just to turn around and see him coming). I don't find this very flattering, but... really, there isn't anyone better, because I don't look like anyone,  so, I guess you can laugh over that if you know who that is...

9.  Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) you recommend? Ahem. I've never read any, haha. The closest I came to reading a book about Middle Earth that wasn't the books themselves was also written by Tolkien, but compiled by someone else, "The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien". Seriously, he reminds my sister and I of a gentleman from our VA choir, and he was really quite neat! 

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies.
Sam's quote. Obviously. Who does not find that quote (you know the one) the best quote and the perfect theme explanation of the story? So I went with a few "lesser" ones, since it wasn't "top ten" quotes that were supposed to be listed ;). In no particular order, here are ten of my favorites that come to mind/I have previously saved. (But I am thinking of so many other parts that are too long to quote - most of them surrounding the people of Rohan. Or Sam.)

"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

"'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'"

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

"Bilbo knelt on one knee filled with sorrow. 'Farewell, King under the mountain!' he said. 'This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so; and not a mountain of gold can amend it. Yet I am glad that I have shared in your perils - that has been more than any Baggins deserves.'
'No!' said Thorin. 'There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!'
Then Bilbo turned away, and he went by himself, and sat alone wrapped in a blanket, and, whether you believe it or not, he wept until his eyes were red and his voice was hoarse. He was a kindly little soul."

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."

 "Praise from the praise-worthy is beyond all rewards."

"Hold your ground, hold your ground. Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!"

“I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.”

"I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them."

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Look at September ✽ Write 31, 2018

Happy October! It's time for me to share about the past month! This is also the first post in my Write 31 Series this year... because I have decided not to really have a theme this year, I am just going to do one of the free write options ;). I just felt that would be much more manageable this year, and I have several ideas that didn't really relate to each other, so I thought, why not ;)? I'm excited for this year's October blogging challenge :)! For those of you who may be new here thanks to Write 31 - hello! Thank you for stopping by, and feel free to visit my about page and leave a comment to introduce yourself :)!


Sweet cuddle bear making my work a little more pleasant :)!

Granny gave us these mexican sunflowers this spring, and they 
finally bloomed, haha. They are gorgeous!

Quality time with the two who have been dubbed the twins ;).

I made a taco lasagna, and it was delicious!

Sneak peek at the little blanket set I made for a certain little boy <3. We got pictures of him with it....
but he'd already outgrown the hat. The child won't slow down his growing, haha!

 A terrible picture from my phone, but he smiles the whole ride to church every week, and I love it!!!

 Isaac's beautiful smile <3 <3 <3.

 Josiah waiting very patiently and expectantly for a cookie ;).

Andrew turned 12 yesterday <3!

Our month was really quite wonderful; productive but fairly relaxed, for the most part, barring inventory week for Daddy. I turned 21 (thank you all for the birthday wishes!), and Andrew just turned 12 yesterday! Way back when, he was due the day after my birthday, and I wanted him to come a day early so we could share, but of course he was 17 days late, instead ;). Since his birthday was on a Sunday this year, he and Daddy took his birthday outing (he wanted to go canoeing again) on Saturday, and we made it to church early yesterday to hear our elder's report on the Kenyan mission trip... then we did Andrew's party that evening :). I enjoyed trying out some new recipes this past month (some where a hit, some were... not ;)...), and autumn arrived, so I am very much enjoying all the coziness that I stuff into the season, haha ;). I saw the first leaf shower last week! And I haven't seen one since. But as Mama pointed out, it's still hot, but we CAN sit in the car without the air conditioner running without roasting, so we must really be having a fall this year ;)...


Noah: *completely scared by thunder and confused as to why "Lighting McQueen" is being so loud tonight*

Noah just a couple weeks later, sees lighting: "Ope, next comes the crash!"

Noah a couple weeks later, as Daddy's camera flashes: "Lightning!!!"
It was a very short lived fear ;).

Peter: "Andrew, how do you spell diary?"
"Someone was rude to me."
Several questions are raised: 1. We call them journals at our house, not diaries. 2. We don't use them that way?!?!?! Where did he get this idea?!

Peter: "Bri should marry."
5 days later, Abbi: "I'm glad Bri is 21 now, that means it's less likely she'll marry."
Twenty. One. And an old maid, hahaha....

Noah, while Mama reads the account of Noah's Ark: "Yeah, I did that."
"Oh, really?"
Tori: "What did you feed the animals?"
Noah: "Tea."

Incidentally, Noah reciting the 7 C's of History is just TOO CUTE. But Noah hearing his own name is just too distracting during bible study, hahaha! The monologue gets longer the more he learns. But, he's listening and retaining. So that's good!

Emmi: "I don't know how to separate eggs. Can someone come do that so I don't ruin the cookies?"
Abbi: "Oh! Oh! I know how, I know how, can I do it for you? Can I do it, Bri?"
*Separates the eggs successfully*
Abbi: "YES!!! I DID know how to do it! I've never done it before, but I watched one time."
Emmi and I: "YOU'D NEVER DONE IT?!?!?!?!"

Bethi, with a touch of concern in her voice: "Would you like me to get you some chocolate?..."
Me: *gestures vaguely at chocolate cookies in the kitchen* "Oh, don't worry. I'm already making me some..."

Josiah eating a new meal: "It's gross, but I like it."
This child is getting worse instead of better as he gets exposed to more foods; he would live off of pizza and cinnamon rolls and cookies if he could, and not much of those foods. So that was actually an A- rating from the Joe, and I felt like I had won, hahaha.

Mama texts me from upstairs: "It's quiet. What happened?"

Me to Bethi: "I put 'start blog post' on my to-do list. If I open blogger and type one line, that is officially starting, right? Please?"

Tori, explains the difference between step siblings and half siblings: "...and then if your mom and new dad have another baby, that baby is your half sister AND your step brother's half sister."
Abbi, so done: "You have to share?"

99% sure I accidentally threw away a paper with 4 funny snippets on it while cleaning out my desk drawers, and it's driving me insane, but it's fine...


Etsy did some major updating starting in late August, and they finally finalized it a couple weeks ago... and I have to say, I love some of the new changes! There is a new notifications for shops you follow section, which I enjoy, and there was a whole overhaul with the SEO (yep, that again), and it seems so much more streamlined now, it's awesome! I've not created any new products this month, but don't worry! The plan is that you'll be able to see many more items by the end of the month, as I overhaul and add going off of Etsy's new methods! And I'll share a couple of pictures later of two custom orders I am working on right now!

I also mailed out these items:

 Jeremiah 29:11 canvas (link here).

And these dishcloths, requested in a custom color :)! (Link here.)

There are a few new listings added that you can check out at, although they are projects that you've already seen revealed before they were official ;).

 Annnnnd, listed today, because, HAPPY OCTOBER!!! is this canvas, one of my all time favorites!

And blog posts from the past month...
-Sunshine Blogger Award
-99 Life Lessons from 21 Years
-Recipe Review: Iced Caramel Macchiatoes
-Summer and Autumn


And there's a look at my month! Now let's talk about yours! What was one highlight of your September? What is your favorite fall quote? If you are new here, please introduce yourself and leave your blog link down below!

Rejoicing in Hope,