Category Archives: Encouragement

Christmas Countdown 2021 Day 4 <3

Back in the day, I looked forward with anticipation for the arrival of the ornament display at the local Hallmark store. I am a sucker for anything miniature in scale so the scenes and figures with small details added to tell a story were right up my alley. 

Spending much time looking over the offerings for that year, I would carefully select just the right one to represent each member of our family. 

I have to be honest. I don’t know if I bought this one for Russ or he bought it for me or I bought it for myself, but it is the story of our public life. 

A routine trip through the check out lane, purchasing stamps at the post office window, standing in the church lobby on Sunday morning, scanning a menu in a restaurant – we are a magnet for people’s stories. 

Complete strangers – clerks, wait staff, random people just walking past us and others who are only barely acquaintances seem to freely share what’s on the mind and heart with both of us.  

Our eldest, who also has inherited the “a penny for your thoughts” gene says it is because we make eye contact. I can’t see where that is the case as I have had people approach my back and begin chatting with me like I know them. 

Russ used to comment that my shingle must be out again after we would walk away from some outpouring of far too much information and we would marvel that someone felt safe to unload on us. 

The thing is, we really do care.

We do listen and commiserate and step into the story being shared. It isn’t always convenient and while I am not punctual on my best uninterrupted-by-others days, I am often even later because of divine appointments. 

I often try to think how Jesus would live in the times in which I was placed and I think that is how He would move through the day.

I don’t do it well but I think engaging with people, even just briefly and letting them know they were seen and heard for a few minutes is a ministry. 

It isn’t one I would seek based on my introvert tendencies and social awkwardness but it has become one that I thank God for as He has caused it to happen over and over again. 

It starts with a simple prayer:

God help me to see others today with Your eyes and help them to see You in me. 

Blessings and happy Saturday, my friends <3

Share and Save:

Christmas Countdown 2021 Day 3 <3

This month on the Journey Onward blog I am doing a story-telling 25 days of Christmas based on various ornaments on our tree. 

Day 3

Today’s ornament is one our Rachel made from her Sesame Street magazine many Christmas’s ago. The December magazine had some picture squares to cut out and make ornaments. 

I handed her some scissors, glue and whatever construction paper we had in the drawer and the result is a magazine picture of a menorah glued to brown paper with a hole punched slightly off-center for hanging on the tree. To add to the humble nature of this treasure, I must have provided her with some yarn to make a hanger for it. 

As simple as this ornament may seem, it holds a volume of thoughts and memories and stories. 

When I hang this ornament each year, I am taken back to our little girl working on cutting out these squares and fitting them to a background paper. I see her tongue sticking out as she cut and I smile because two of her offspring work with this same kind of concentration. She was quite proud of her work and so the ornaments were hung and continue to be hung year after year. 

The uneven cutting, the inclusion of the actual dotted lines marking where the scissor should have snipped, the globby glue marks under the surface…all of these challenged the perfectionist in me. They remind me of how in things like neatness of projects and choices in clothing and how we kept our rooms (or more accurately didn’t keep our rooms) stretched me as I fought back the part of me that wanted to exert control and gave me strength to let our children be who they were made to be.

To give each child room to be themselves sometimes meant things weren’t the way I wanted them to be. Okay…often…but the space we gave them opened up wide places in our hearts and helped us grow up as we raised them. 

While Rachel was quite young when she made this ornament, a few years down the road and a few houses around the corner, we would find her best friend for a number of years and a friendship that continues through social media. Taryn and her family are Jewish and so Rachel would be invited to share some of the Hanukah festivities. In return Taryn helped decorate the tree and iced sugar cookies and we exchanged gifts for our respective holidays. We learned about each other’s faith in mutual love and respect. 

Over the years, I have learned more about how we are grafted into Taryn’s faith through the blood of Jesus Christ.We have been adopted into this family that God calls Israel. The Old and the New Testament are the same story woven with the promise and the fulfillment that God will live among us and we will be His people. 

Now also, the ornament continues to remind me of Taryn as she works on the front lines of a pandemic in a large city on the East Coast. I say a pray for her as she faces some of the hardest parts of the turmoil and consequences of decisions made during these “unprecedented times.” 

So this unassuming ornament holds a rich assortment of thoughts and prayers and memories. 

How is your tree speaking a story this year? 

If it is perfect and beautiful and worthy of a magazine itself; then this is a gift of beauty you have made and your talents are expressed on each branch. If it holds ornaments that are unashamedly sporting glue and a bit too much glitter, than celebrate the little hands who made this for you. 

I would love to look at each of your trees and oooh and aahhhhh and here your stories, too. 

God bless you my friends.

Share and Save:

Reentering blog world with some pictures and a few words <3

I hope you all had a good week and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We got to share the holiday meal with this crew and Zach’s family at his parent’s lovely home. We ate our fill and felt blessed to have been so richly provided for with all that God has given us.

Now we are looking ahead to Christmas and have started the process of decorating…

Rachel and I did a little shopping yesterday and I found this sweet tree at Marshalls to hang my grandma’s ornaments on and added some small mercury glass ones from the Growing Grounds.

I haven’t put her ornaments on a tree in years and this is making my heart kind of happy.

Tomorrow is our book review day to end the month and then I am working on a special Christmas Countdown 2021 for us to enjoy the 25 days of Christmas together.

So for today, here are some favorite memories from this past few days of family, food and friends….


f you are near a Trader Joe’s I highly recommend…

they are excellent with coffee, milk, hot chocolate and just air…seriously.


After a life time of me getting to do fun things while Dad had to work, the roles were switched and this guy…

got to road trip with the Fab 4 to visit Tia on her turf for Friday.

She took them to several places in the area where they could see birds and elk and all manner of wild life…which of course, they themselves probably qualify as a bit of wild life too…

Meanwhile, Zach and I kept the economy going…

working the Black Friday/Vaccine/Med madness of his world and mine.


On Saturday we supported some small businesses and headed over to Amish country…

Where parking lots have their own kind of challenges.

We shopped downtown Arthur and then headed over to Arcola, IL where we found our good friends…

Mike and Dorinda.

They opened the cutest shop in March and we did some serious Christmas shopping while we were there.

Local friends, you MUST make this a destination sometime soon..

They do not serve coffee but sell an amazing variety of bags along with teas and so many fun things for the home.

So there is a peek at what we were up to the past week.

Now it’s off to do the regular Monday chores as well as continue with trimming the house and working on the cards.

Hope you have a great day and I am looking forward to sharing a quick book review tomorrow and then counting down to Christmas Day with you <3

Share and Save: