It’s a new year!

We’re several days into 2017, and I have a confession. My goals, plans, and dreams for the year are still on various scattered papers, completely unorganized. December was a pretty heavy month at work, and I wasn’t able to take off as much at the end of the year as I usually do.

I don’t make resolutions, but do always a set of goals I am always working on and updating. I also like to make a list of things I would like to try, accomplish, learn each year. This year, I’m assigning a country to each month. The plan is to each month spend time learning about the country, cooking some traditional dishes from the country, and reading a novel or collection of short stories by an author from that country.

What’s on your list for 2017? If you are still looking for an easy way to keep up with what you want to do, I’ve made this form (or click the image below) for download (Adobe Reader needed).

2017 Dream List | Always with Grace

Thanksgiving 2016 . . . Today I am thankful for

4:00 a.m.: Waking up to a new day and seeing my pup first thing
5:00 a.m.: Hot coffee and quiet time
6:00 a.m.: Being able to connect with family and friends near and far
7:00 a.m.: Beautiful, cool weather for a Thanksgiving Day run
8:00 a.m.: Autumn light
8:00 a.m.: Having multiple ways for creative expression
9:00 a.m.: Creativity
10:00 a.m.: Sweet potatoes that are finally cooking
11:00 a.m.: A great team of co-workers
Noon: Rest
1:00 p.m.: Technology
2:00 p.m.: Warmth
3:00 p.m.: Puppy Sounds
4:00 p.m.: Laughter
5:00 p.m.: The return of 24
6:00 p.m.: God’s provision
7:00 p.m.: Chocolate cake
8:00 p.m.: Words of wisdom
9:00 p.m.: Good health
10:00 p.m.: A good book for bedtime

Always with gratitude

This month, as many do in November, I set out to record thanks givings daily. I wanted to be more intentional in recognizing and recording something specific each day. As I began, I knew there were some things I could not overlook – the grace we have from God, my family and friends, good health – but I also hoped I would find myself grateful for the small and unexpected parts of life, and those things that just happen and that we don’t often give a lot of thought to.

My list so far:

  1. God’s saving grace
  2. Loved ones
  3. Good health
  4. Puppy sounds
  5. Restful weekends
  6. Freedom to worship
  7. Rain
  8. Freedom to vote
  9. Freedom to speak for and against our government
  10. Opportunities to pursue a passion – learning French
  11. An encouraging note from a sweet friend, landing just when God knew I needed it
  12. Quiet
  13. Colorful leaves (we finally have some!)

Perhaps more than anything, this exercise is making me really stop and consider my abundances, and how fortunate I am to have a life that allows joy and thankfulness for things such as puppy sounds and colorful leaves.

 

What I’m reading on a warm November weekend

It’s November, and still warm – not really the curl-up-with-a-blanket,-coffee,-and-book weather that I like at this time of year. So I just skip the blanket and get the book and coffee anyway.

I love to read and to dive into new books, although I confess that I don’t read nearly as much as I would like. The intentions are there, but the reality of a limited number of hours usually gets the better of me. At any given time, I am usually working through a stack of books. I’ve read that most people will actually get through more successfully if focused on one book at a time, but my mind is all over the place, and I need a collection of “reading now” books to match. The usual lineup includes a history or biography, something about France, a cookbook or other food-related selection, a Bible study or commentary, and a novel.

So, all of that said, here’s what I’m hoping to spend some time with this weekend. I’m at the start of a new round of books, so not too far into most of these.

Seated with Christ  (Heather Holleman)
I discovered Heather Holleman about six weeks ago, as I was scrolling through Instagram feeds. Someone had posted their preview copy of her new book, Guarded by Christ. The title caught my attention (and I won’t lie, the cover – I may have one or two books in my collection for no reason other than the cover), I did some digging, and landed on her blog, Live with Flair. I love her writing, the elegant simplicity of her words, her view and outlook on our lives as children of the King. It didn’t take long for me to place orders for both of these books, and I decided I wanted to read them in the order that they were written. I’m only a few pages into Seated with Christ.

Avenue of Spies (Alex Kershaw)
Summer Jackson, an American doctor, lived with his wife and son on the elegant Avenue Foch, neighbors to various German officials in occupied Paris. Their work with the French Resistance, right under the noses of the Nazis, puts them at incredible risk, but they remain committed to the work. This is a true account, not fiction. Definitely recommend for anyone interested in World War II history and espionage.

The Insanity of Obedience (Nik Ripken)
I recently finished Ripken’s first book, The Insanity of God, which has to be one of the most powerful books I have every read. I really believe every Christian – especially those of us who take our freedoms for granted – should read this book. Ripken is speaking at my church this weekend, and I had hoped to have The Insanity of Obedience completed by now, but the schedule of the last several weeks just didn’t permit getting it done.

Hungry for France (Alexander Lobrano)
So much more than a cookbook! The photography is beautiful, and Lobrano introduces readers to chefs, restaurants, and inns around France, along with some incredible recipes. I have this one out to select a few special recipes for the holiday weeks that are ahead.

No fiction, currently. I have several to choose from, but nothing is really grabbing my attention as a must read, when weighed against all else going on in the next several weeks.

Photo: freestocks.org @ Unsplash