Category Archives: Christmas Countdown

Friday thoughts and one more gift idea <3

This blog is going to be in two parts….one is the thing I sent out to my email list and so if you read that you can scroll down to my final gift idea for the week.

Part 1

Good morning and happy day-after-Thanksgiving!

I hope you had a good day of whatever fills your tummy and your heart. 

Holidays are tricky sometimes, aren’t they?

We can be right in the middle of all the good feelings when a wistful reminder of something or someone can cast a gloomy shadow and steal the joy of the moment. 

This mixed bag of emotions happens all year long, but at the holidays it seems our emotions are on over-drive with the excitement and hype that is swirling around us. 

During a particularly difficult season in our lives with extended family dynamics, I received some wise counsel from our friend and pastor. As I dealt with the loss of “normalcy” due to my father’s Alzheimer decline, I seemed to be crying all the time. I mean..more than usual, ok?

I finally went to seek some help dealing with this and our friend told me that I was experiencing a deep grief. He showed me that I was not only grieving the loss of relationship with my father, but also the realization that some things I would have hoped to be with him would never be. He called it “grieving what we never had.” 

My father loved me and I loved him. This is solid. But there were many parts of a father-daughter relationship that someone of my nature would have treasured that were just not possible for someone of his nature. 

No fault of his, please hear me. He would have walked through fire for me, this I know…and he probably did so more than I was ever aware. 

It’s just that he and I…like all of us…are flawed and we love and live the best we can, but we are broken in nature. 

This is one of the zillion reasons I am so thankful for the work of Christ to reconcile us back to God. Not only does His power save us, it helps us live better as we wait for His return. 

As we gather with various family and friends over the course of December, there may be some raw places that get rubbed. In the midst of the joys, we may sometimes have opportunities for offense. 

Perhaps we could just begin to enter into all gatherings with a reminder in our hearts and spirits that we do not and cannot fully understand the struggles and inner processes of those around us.

 Maybe we could just prepare our hearts before we go into that party or dinner or the sit-around-the-tree and take time to thank God for each of the individuals we will encounter and ask Him to help us see one another with His eyes and heart. 

Easier said than done, I understand. But let’s try, shall we? 

Be blessed as we enter the season of Advent to know that God will give us all the strength and love we need to love our people well <3

Part 2

This was a gift for no particular reason…my favorite kind.

I love it for the thoughtfulness of the giver to just want me to have it, but I also love it because it is a modern day take on living the Gospel that is grounded in the same thinking as so many of my favorite devotional authors.

In the line of Oswald Chambers and Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray and E.M. Bounds…so many of those authors who have exhorted me to look at and apply what God’s Word says about this walk of faith that is lived out in the daily.

I am taking my time to read this as part of my morning devotions because it is not something to tickle the ears but rather to exercise and discipline myself as I apply the “breath prayers” and applications of Scripture to the realities of being human.

He uses an “Apprentice Prayer” throughout the book as well as short prayers to breathe in and out over the course of your day.

One line of the Apprentice Prayer that has grabbed my heart for several weeks is this:

Dear Father, I ask you to ordain the events of this day and use them to make me more like Jesus.I trust you, Sovereign Lord, that you won’t let anything happen to my family or me today, except that it passes through your loving hands.

Page 4 of introduction from Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke; Rhythms of Grace to De-Stress and Live , by Bill Gaultiere, Ph.D;

That’s a brave prayer, my friends. And He meets you in the midst of it.

Believe me.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Also check out the ministry of here:

Ok…when we meet up next it will be December and we will be counting down to Christmas.

The past few years I have done a daily countdown and I am feeling like I will do the same again…so fasten your seat belts…let’s start this sleigh ride on Sunday <3

For all my “to do list”, paper loving friends out there <3

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

In keeping with my favorite gift ideas week, I am offering you the perfect item to get for your friends, family and YOURSELF!! as we launch into the busy-ness of December soon.

You all know I love my lists and a place to keep all the ideas and thoughts that are constantly swirling around in my head.

I am always looking for pretty and creative ways to store and organize my words and activities and hopes and dreams and…yes…even my errands….so today I give you…

Some of my favorites.

I have received, given and bought for myself many of these so I am sharing some that are currently in my stash and places I got them. You may not find exact same but so many great ones out there!


This is a great way to journal prayers and thanksgiving in a thoughtful format…

I got this at the Mosaic Cafe at our church – not sure if they still carry them but worth a shot to check out the book selection there <3

You will notice a theme of blocked sections in some of the pads I find helpful.

Here are a couple of weekly planner type sheets that come in a tablet form:

I found that one in the stationery aisle of TJ Maxx and I love the way it gets the tasks organized for you plus offering you a place to make sure you stay well-rounded.

A similar one I found in the same store has been keeping me on track all summer and fall. The front page looks like this:

I put my scheduled tasks in the pink and make my lists in the center. I love the water glass reminder as I am working on things during the day. Above those little glasses I jot down our menu for the week even if it is eating out.

And the best part of this little sheet is…

it has a back side that is even more fun. It divided “work” from “personal” which is helpful for me to keep focused. I love the two sections marked “gratitude” and “memorable events” and the free-form space lets me just jot down loose ideas.

Under the Healthy Habits I list these items:

  • Water (I use my glasses on front to gage my success)
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Study/reading
  • Rest

These are my priorities for staying healthy and balanced. I use a check or a 1/2 or a zero to just hold myself accountable each day. No condemnation – I just strive to hav more checks and 1/2’s than zeros!

I don’t keep these, but before I transfer any unfinished tasks to new week, I can look over the wins as well as what didn’t get done and I have a more realistic grasp of the week that has ended! It helps me focus on the positive instead of just what I didn’t get done.

Here is a similar one:

also from TJ Maxx and with a different look.

The spiral notebook and smaller size is nice as you can carry it with you as you go about errand running or take along to work.

Inside is this treasure of blocking:

I love the simplicity of the blocking and the water glass check in as well!

And then there is this one that I use when I am highly stressed and needing a laugh to keep me going.

It is the desperate to-do list for the overcommitted…and I hope the last section doesn’t offend, but it just cracks me up and we need to laugh when we are overwhelmed….

I think I got this one at The Perfect Pair but have seen at other gift shops. Again…so sorry if it offends but if you grew up a Lochner…this is mild <3

and last of all…

just can never get enough of these…

The light blue one on left was a gift but the other two were purchased on the clearance table at our local upscale department store…check out the gift area sale tables for items like this!

fun and sweet journals of all sizes store sermon notes, prayers of my own heart, ideas for writing projects, teachings from conferences, you name it.

Throw in a pretty pen tied on one of these with a ribbon and believe me, your loved one will be so thankful for a new place to start jotting things down!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Speaking of Thanksgiving…<3

Greetings from the prairie, where the wind is whipping along today at around 30 mph.

I am rather afraid to go see if the light strands are still on the shrubbery out front or if they are winging their way to Oz.

As we continue in the gift idea theme of this week, should come as no surprise to regular readers that I would recommend this delightful cook book and ode to gathering around the table written by Kelly Minter and Regina Pinto…

We have loved everything I have tried so far and the reading material is 100% pure Kelly at her finest.

Whether it is the simplest meal thrown together or something fun you have planned, gathering around the table is where conversation and relationship is the main dish of richest nourishment.

You can find it for around $20 – some places more, some less, here:

Or on Amazon or Lifeway.

Ok – miles to go…be blessed and I will even post tomorrow a little idea…if you have time between football, parades and eating.

And I don’t blow away on the highway…. <3

Because we need a little beauty in our lives <3

Are you getting that house clean and the turkey thawed?

Shocker of shockers, we had a 50 degree day yesterday so I got crazy and put our lights up outside and then assembled a tree in the upstairs and decided the time has come for an artificial tree downstairs so we have a forest that has sprung up inside.

Russ is a afraid to leave me alone again today …ha!

I want to pause on today’s gift idea to say I know I have a few fellows who read this so I hope I don’t lose you this week…but these are nice gift ideas for your wives/daughters/sisters so please don’t feel left out.

Today I am sharing another gift I have received that I have ended up giving to others over the years and I love it.

It started with a Christmas gift subscription from this gem one year…my birthday twin and dear friend Peggy…

Let me say that she is the gift giver extraordinaire and I am forever getting a text to look on my front porch where a little bag of some fancy olive oil or a book or some other delight caught her eye and she thought of me.

And I am not exclusive. She does this for so many.

One year she gave as a gift to several friends a subscription to this magazine…

The magazine comes four times a year so hits the seasons. It is filled with a variety of articles that touch on all the things near and dear to my heart.

Recipes, great pictures, articles on a variety of topics and some of the sweetest studies you can do on an afternoon “retreat” at your table with a cup of coffee or tea.

It is just the right amount of content to inspire me to be creative without encouraging envy or consumerism. It is grounded in scripture without being preachy – just a positive and encouraging magazine that I look forward to getting as the seasons change.

A positive voice that inspires me to be more like Jesus in all the ways, it has become a favorite.

To give you an idea, the Holiday 2019 issue featured articles including:

“In Search of God” – which featured the way The Bible Project came about and how to start reading the Bible

“Gatherings” – a collection of holiday meal recipes beautifully photographed, information to help in preparation and event planning tips

“Lost without a Compass” – a thought provoking article about the “unsaved Christian” – how cultural Christianity is invading the church.

“Not-so-Humble Pies” – yummy pie recipes…which I probably won’t make but had a blast reading about!

There is so much more including crafts, trends for various products and a community Bible reading plan. With the quarterly delivery, I can just enjoy and savor when I have time.

So here is some information to help you locate it:

A year’s subscription is $22.95 which makes a perfect “friend” gift or a little something extra for someone on your list when you are out of ideas.

You can subscribe at their website: under “subscriptions”

Also take time and check out the site. If you are a digital fan, I do think they have the magazine online but I am forever the paper person so haven’t checked that out.

On social media you can find them at Facebook on Life: Beautiful Magazine

Instagram and Pinterest are @thisislifebeautiful

And as I am ending, if you read yesterday’s post before the late afternoon, I want to apologize for all the typos..sloppy of me and I went back and corrected…yikes!

Ok – see you tomorrow!

Thanksgiving week…let the good times roll <3

Hello fellow travelers and happy Monday!!!

We are in one of my most favorite weeks of the year.

Even though we are not hosting a traditional or even moderately traditional Thursday, I really love Thanksgiving. I love, love, love all the foods that are associated with it because starch and sweets are my love language.

And even though we are actually not planning to make a single dish that involves a potato or turkey…I am going to be filled with joy all week because there is just something wonderful about a holiday that centers around family, friends, food and gratitude.

So since we will all be busy doing various things, I am using the daily posts this week to share an idea for gift-giving inspired by some wonderful gifts I have received this year… here we go with Day 1!

My cous-ster (we totally have eliminated the “in-law” but she is married to my blood cousin Kenny and has become a sister and cousin blended…) Betty Everitt Lochner has written a book that uses the most creative and fun ways to develop a heart of gratitude.

Pages like this…

and this….

have tapped into a part of me that gets lost in the every day routines.

There are prompts and then different templates to fill in with your own ideas and methods.

It is divided into 52 “chapters” so you can do one a week. And because these are open ended, I have found myself going back and adding to a previous area.

The photo of the Psalms was inspired by a prompt to meditate on prayer and its place in my life. I decided the best way for me to think about that was to focus on who God is to me and what better place than in the book of Psalms.

I grabbed a variety of colored pens and did my version of coloring…using words and adding some visual beauty to them.

This week is a photo challenge and you all know I DO LOVE my photos!

So I will be looking for beautiful things to capture with my camera lens and then write down why I took it…so fun!

Betty was looking for a new journal and she was looking in particular for a gratitude journal. When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she developed her own and I am so thankful she did!

At about $13, this book makes a great gift friend gift or stocking stuffer…or one for YOU <3

Here are some links to help you order and also check out Betty’s website where you will find great tips (free!!) for growing in your communication skills!

You can purchase the journal on Amazon:

and you can check out Betty’s other books, blog and conferences here:

She also has developed a support community for anyone who would like to develop better communication skills with family, friends and in the market place on Facebook under the page “Cornerstone Coaching & Training”.

Have a happy Monday…and tune in tomorrow <3