Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 In Review

Looking back over the past year brings lots of memories - the great and the not-so-great. It was truly a year of extremes in so many areas of our lives.

My Word - FRESH
Although I was excited to start the year with the word FRESH, I abandoned it after a few months and chose not to pick it up again. I do have a new word for 2019, which I'll be sharing more about as we welcome in the new year.

My Family
The mental illness and broken relationships within my family overshadowed much of this year. Despite having a great deal of stability in my life and a close relationship with the Lord, I myself struggled emotionally to see the people I love torn apart, enduring emergency room visits and psychological rehab centers, and trying to cope with major depression, anger and frustration. Things are much calmer as the year comes to an end, but continued prayers for my family are appreciated.

My Ministry/Business
After a fantastic start to my illustrated Bible journaling classes and teaching engagements early in the year, I took a six-month break to deal with those family issues and my own emotional turmoil. I re-started my classes in November and am thrilled to report that they have been very well attended. Plus, I truly enjoy the preparation, the teaching, the interaction, and the creative time I get to spend in the Word that comes along with this ministry!

Robbie's Job
When Robbie was hired by a local company almost three years ago, they wanted his experience and expertise to help package and sell the company … which happened this year. The sale closed mid-year and Robbie has been busy with the integration process and several international trips.

While we didn't take many vacation trips this year, we thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks we spent in Alaska. It was a wonderful experience that I'm looking forward to scrapbooking and sharing more about in the coming year. I also joined Robbie on one of his business trips; while he was working, I enjoyed several days in Paris. Despite Robbie being ill and exhausted by the end of the week, we took a day trip to see the Normandy beaches.

Our Home
After talking and thinking for the past couple of years about doing some remodeling here at our home, we bit the bullet and had new flooring installed in almost half of the house and updated the kitchen with a larger island, new countertops, backsplash and appliances! We still have some bits & pieces to complete in the new year, but everything was in place in time for us to cook Christmas dinner on the new range!

My Faith
Robbie and I have been sporadic with our church attendance the past few years, but the last few months we've found a new church home and I've joined the ladies Bible study group there as well. Through all the ups and downs this year, I am so grateful for the Lord's peace and the lessons I've learned; for example - It Is Well With My Soul, Hard-Pressed yet Not Crushed, God Is Bigger Than Mount Denali.

I was consistently inconsistent posting on the blog here this year; however, I do so enjoy having this online space to share the bits & pieces of our daily life and am looking forward to continuing to share throughout 2019! Thank you to those of you who have continued to stop by and leave comments. I am grateful for the blogging community and the friends I've made over the past almost nine years!

How was your 2018?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Pulitzer Short Story Collections

While I truly enjoy listening to stories being told in person, I am not a huge fan of the short story when it comes to reading. It seems like as soon as I get invested in a story, it ends! So, I wasn't exactly thrilled to discover that several of the Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winners were collections of short stories; however, I willingly launched into them as I get closer and closer to my goal of reading all the fiction winners from 1948 to 2018!


Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (2000 winner)
A collection of stories about Indians and Bengalis that show contrasts between the Indian and American cultures; some set in America in the Boston area and others set in Calcutta. These had mostly sad endings - an epileptic girl gets kicked out of an apartment complex, the boy's babysitter has a car wreck and he become a latch key kid, the couple separates.

A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler (1993 winner)
Fifteen stories told from the perspective of Vietnamese individuals living in Louisiana around New Orleans or Lake Charles. One story was focused on a middle-age man picking his wife's grandfather up from the Houston airport. (I'm familiar with that area, so I found it interesting that I knew he was on Hwy 90 before he even gave the names of towns they were passing through - China, Nome, Liberty). When he arrived at the airport, he realized that the grandfather couldn't remember anyone or anything; however, no one had let them know ahead of time. Another story focused on a man whose beautiful wife was cheating on him. He went to a voodoo man in New Orleans for help because he could no longer "bring fire down from heaven" like when he was a spy in Vietnam. I learned a few things about the Vietnamese - many of them believe in ghosts, they do not tell things directly or bluntly, some assimilated into American culture more quickly than others, and they build shrines in their homes for deceased relatives.

These stories are mostly set in Mexico or Texas (although one was set in Berlin) and are told from different perspectives. Again, there are quite a few unhappy endings (the guy kills himself or the boyfriend dies, etc). This book includes three small volumes of her works collected together with an additional four stories. In the author's forward, she says, "Every story I ever finished and published is here." Some of these were "short novels", which I enjoyed more than the "short stories" which seemed to end before the characters were fully developed.

Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson (1978 winner)
"Twelve rich, provocative stories that explore the borderline between black and white America." Some of these stories had interesting beginnings and I was expecting something to happen, but the story ends without any conflict or interesting developments. For example, in one story a judge reviews all the testimony in a case and I think he's going to find something important, but he just decides "guilty"...just like the defendant said he was. There was quite a bit of inappropriate language in some of the stories.

There was a huge variety of foreign settings in this collection - Paris, France, Belgium, London, Germany; these stories were mostly about Americans visiting or living in these places. Another section contained stories set in Adams, Colorado, or introduced characters who were originally from Adams. I encountered lots of new words while reading these stories [ex: parvenu (a person of obscure origin who has gained wealth, influence, or celebrity), spill (strips of paper to light a fire),desuetude (a state of disuse)]. These stories were a little longer, but they still had some strange or "non-endings."

Fortunately, of the nine Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winners I have left to read, there's only one more collection of short stories!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Bible Journaling Goody Bag GIVEAWAY!

It's less than a week until we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!

Each day between now and Christmas, I'm sharing Christmas Bible Journaling pages on my Facebook page, and I'm hosting a free giveaway!

I'll be drawing a name at random from everyone who comments on any of the posts from today through Christmas Day to win a free Bible Journaling Goody Bag. Each post you comment on earns one chance to win. For extra chances to win, share a photo of one of your Christmas Bible journaling pages in the comments of any of the posts.

During this busy season, I hope you'll find time to sit with your Bible for a few minutes and illustrate the true meaning of the season - whether that's drawing or tracing or simply adding a prayer of thanks in the margin of your Bible!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Oh Holy Night Christmas Cards

We've been in the midst of some major home remodeling the past couple of months (photos coming soon), so I'm really glad I created some Christmas cards earlier this year!

A few months ago, I grabbed some papers from Echo Park's Oh Holy Night collection and used the 3x4, 4x4, and 4x6 cut apart pieces to create a batch of cards with a variety of card bases and scrap papers from my stash. I really like how this paper line reminds us of the true reason for the season!


One day last week while the contractors were putting in our new countertops, I got these cards addressed and sent out. Did you send out Christmas cards this year?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dolly's Coat of Many Colors Reminds Us To Be Kind

I remember singing along with Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors song when I was a teenager! It's a great country song that Dolly wrote about a coat her mama made for her out of a box of rags someone gave them. She was so proud of that coat; however, when she wore it to school, the other children laughed at her. Dolly couldn't understand why they were making fun of her because she felt so very rich in the coat that her mama had sewed with love.

A patchwork coat made from washi tape and some of the words from Dolly's song were the perfect illustration for the scripture in Ephesians 4:33 that reminds us to:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.

In recent years, Dolly's story has been turned into a children's picture storybook and a movie. The book is wonderfully illustrated and is a great way to remind young children to be kind to one another. The movie shares this story as well as the story of the baby Dolly's mother lost when Dolly was a young girl. It's a beautiful feel-good story with lots of lessons about faith and family and love. The actress that plays Dolly is adorable and does such a fabulous job. We enjoy watching this movie, along with Dolly's Christmas of Many Colors, around this time each year. I highly recommend the book and both movies!


Do you remember this song? (You can hear Dolly sing it HERE.) Have you read this book or watched these movies? Please share your thoughts in the comments.