Sunday, April 22, 2018

Weekend Inspiration-Running A Good Race

Walking A Good Race

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Races require the runners to have much fortitude. Runners must prepare for the day weeks and months ahead. They spend time practicing their running, working to improve running style and times. They also must have good nutrition and hydration, because if they don't, when race day comes, they might find themselves tiring easily and even fainting. We've all seen marathoners running on TV and seen how some of them can barely make it to the finish line. They might run across the finish line and then collapse because they have given their all. Tomorrow, I will be participating in my first race ever. Except, I'm walking, not running, and I'm really not racing. I'll just be participating in a "fun walk." But, I've still been "practicing" by walking a mile, timing myself and working to make sure I have proper hydration. Even when the "race" is more of a stroll, there is energy that will be expelled.

As Christians, we run races of faith on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. We can grow weary at times in these races because our faith can be sorely tested. Isaiah 40:31 reminds us that we are not alone in our faith race. When the going gets rough we can have confidence that the Lord will renew our strength giving us the stamina to finish the race. 

May you feel God's eagle wings moving you forward in your race of life in the week ahead. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

Help For New Bloggers-What I've Learned

Continuing To Be A Lifelong (Blogger) Learner

Public Domain Image

I've been thinking lately about the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Well, I beg to differ. This "old dog" has been learning a lot of new tricks over the last 2 1/2 years that I have been blogging. To be precise, it has actually been 2 years and 9 months since my blogging journey began. And, I haven't stopped learning since!

The purpose of this post is to share some of the things I've learned about blogging as a "newbie" in hopes that it can help others who may be in the same boat as I was as a new blogger. That's just the teacher in me!

For me, trying to learn how to blog created a huge learning curve. I knew how to write, of course, and express my thoughts. That wasn't an issue. It was the technical side of things that threw me for a loop. My question at the time was, how exactly does one start a blog? I researched a lot over many months reading article after article about blogging. There is so much information out there about how to build a blog that it can be confusing for a novice. I went back and forth trying to decide whether to use a free platform or a self-hosted platform that required paying for the hosting. Many of the articles I read asked the reader to think about what they wanted to do with their blog. For instance, do you plan to blog as a hobby, use it mainly for family and friends to keep up with your life or do you plan to make a business out of it? According to the articles, how you answered that question would help determine what platform would work best. The funny thing is, that as I read these questions my answers would go back and forth between starting a blog as a hobby and making a business out of it. Sometimes, I would answer "all of the above!" In the end, I finally got exasperated one day, sat down on my couch and just did it. And, I was just sure my computer would explode. But, guess what? It didn't! So, what platform did I choose?

I decided to go with a free platform and chose Blogger (blogspot blogs) to build my blog.

I have been overall quite happy to have my blog on Blogger. I had read articles that it was known for being tech friendly and I have found that to be true. I literally was able to start my blog in just a few minutes and published my first post quickly thereafter. However, since I knew next to nothing about sizing images, tweaking how my blog looked, doing links, etc. I still spent mega hours (yes hours) researching how to do things online and fumbling my way through to figure out the rest. What I quickly learned, however, it that I truly loved the process of learning about blogging, so all of the time I spent was mostly joyful time. Blogging is hard work and there is an art to it, so the learning about those aspects continues for me. But, that is OK and is part of what I enjoy about blogging! There are articles that you might read online that are negative toward using Blogger as a platform because the writers say it is "old technology" and doesn't have "lots of choices" for plug-ins and templates for designing your blog. I can't speak to the other platforms since I have only used Blogger since starting my blog, but I can say that when I look at the layout and template choices on my Blogger dashboard, there is a lot to choose from! And, each template can be tweaked in many ways to fit the blogger's preferences. To be honest, I don't know what people must want who say there aren't many choices on this platform. Personally, I find that Blogger powered blogs tend to look better and are more readable and easier to find things on than other blogs I've seen. I'm not meaning to put other people's blogs down by saying this, it is just my opinion. One of the only negatives that I have found about Blogger is that it is challenging to find answers to questions about the platform. There is a Help button that takes you to a forum where you can either search for a question similar to yours or you can add a question to the forum. Answers come from other bloggers including some "expert" bloggers who are, I assume, chosen by Google. But, finding answers to your specific question can be frustrating. Most of the time, I researched until I found an answer or just figured it out on my own. 

It is true that because my blog is powered by Blogger, I don't actually "own" the blog because since Blogger is a free service there is no pay involved for self-hosting. I own the content I place on my blog and I own my domain name that I bought when I changed from being a blogspot blog to a dot com blog. So yes, Blogger could shut down my blog. And that is another negative you will read about Blogger. But, they would also need a reason to shut down my blog and I try my best to abide by the rules, so I can't imagine why they would do such a thing. Folks who choose the Blogger platform have Google behind them backing up and promoting content and keeping blogs overall bug free. For a non-techie like me that means a lot! And since I blog on a chromebook, keeping everything within the Google family is a plus. I don't have to worry about doing backups or tackling viruses on my own because Blogger through Google takes care of that. And, it's free

I have spoken with other bloggers about possibly switching to another platform with self-hosting in order to be more "professional." And, I've received various bits of advice along the way, including some that caused me to change how parts of my blog looked.  But, at the end of the day, I've decided for now to stay exactly where I am. And, I've also gone back in and changed some things on the blog back to the way they were. To the way I like it. After all, it is my blog. And that brings me to another important piece of learning that I have discovered since becoming a blogger. 

Be true to yourself and what you want to do as a blogger. And it's OK to change your mind as you grow with blogging. 

It's so important to be yourself and to bring your own unique self to blogging. It's tempting to look at all of the blogs that are out there and to be influenced by them. It's kind of like when you were in high school and everyone wanted to wear what the popular girls were wearing. But, sooner or later, you went back to just being yourself and wearing what you liked because you realized that their style just wasn't a good fit for you. The same is true with blogging. My blog may not have the latest "designer look" for blogs, but then, neither does the furniture in my living room. However, both my blog and my living room are spaces that reflect who I am and I'm happy to spend time in both places. Sigh...I guess that in my 2 years and 9 months of being a blogger I've learned that, like the stars in the sky, I'm only one of about 100 billion bloggers (give or take) out there on the web trying to be seen. And because there are so many of us, it is highly likely that my blog will not ever be a "Super Blog" that attracts millions of viewers, thousands of promotional offers and businesses clamoring at my door to be showcased on my blog. I earn pageviews one reader at a time and I have the best followers in the world who come back to my blog time and again to read and comment. They are a blessing and I get excited every time a new reader appears. 

Blogging is hard work but it is also work that brings great satisfaction. 

When I retired from teaching, I had already been blogging for over a year. My wish was that this new venture would give me fulfillment and purpose in retirement while creating a reason to keep on learning. I can honestly say that blogging has fulfilled all of those wishes and more. I hope that if you are considering starting a blog or are new to blogging, that this post has been helpful for you. It is a post that I would have liked to read when I was getting started. And, if you are not a blogger, I hope that in reading this you are challenged to apply the life lessons of blogging to any learning situations you may find yourself to be experiencing. After all, no matter where we are in life, there are always things to learn! And, you can teach an old dog new tricks! 

Whether you blog or not, I hope you will leave a comment. I love to hear from you!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Changes in the Weather, Foyer and other Things

A Few Changes

Oh my goodness, what is going on with the weather?! In my last post, I was waxing poetic about the warmer temps and today this is the view out my window! I drove home from bell choir practice last night in a raging wind with blowing snow all around me. Luckily, the snow was not sticking to the roads as I drove. While this is not the many inches of snow I know some of you are getting, it still is a BIG change from the weather we have been experiencing and the 80's we are supposed to have tomorrow. Change....we can't escape it, can we?!

The foyer table went through another change up of decor recently. I decided to go for more of a cat theme this time. It looks a bit bare to me, although I like all of the pieces displayed. Perhaps I need to find a few more cat themed items?

Such a sweet piece with the angel holding a cat. 

I found this cat on a spool at an antique store. Don't think it is an antique, but it's cute!

I loose arranged some Spring-like silk flowers in a Longaberger basket and placed it on the floor by the foyer table. The basket matches with the wooden pieces on the foyer table and softens the look of the wooden shoe shelf to the right. 

The foyer table had actually taken a trip to our lower foyer area by the family room. I left it there for a few days, but I just wasn't happy with the lack of warmth in the foyer. I missed my little table decorations too much, so back up the steps it came! We'll just have to live with the foyer table and the shoe shelf all together in one space! It's hard when the foyer serves as both a welcoming space and the mud room of the house! Sometimes, changes aren't so good and need to be changed back to the way things were!

I recently changed something back to the way it was on the blog. Perhaps you noticed. I had joined Bloglovin' and had a "follow me on Bloglovin" sign up on the sidebar. I didn't feel I was generating much traffic from Bloglovin,' however, and although I did have a few genuine followers from there, I was also getting what I believe were spam followers. I don't understand this and I couldn't seem to find a way to delete the spam followers even though I tried to research it online. To make a long story short, I deleted my Bloglovin' account. I apologize if you followed me through Bloglovin' and no longer find my blog there. You can always find my blog by typing in the url address; I guess I figure if folks really want to read my blog it isn't that much trouble to type in the url address. I guess I'm old fashioned that way! I'm just tired of the anonymous comments that make no sense and have nothing whatsoever to do with a post I've written and the "followers" I get whose reply addresses begin with "sexy."  I'm not techie enough to know if somehow they follow me in order to try and get clicks or use my bandwidth somehow or do it just to annoy. If anyone out there understands how to deal with this or what the purpose is behind some of these annoying comments/followers (not all related to Bloglovin' by the way) please share! 

On a happier note, I'm planning to "Run for the Paws" this coming weekend! This is a big change for me because I have never participated in a race before! I'm actually not running, but participating in the one mile fun walk portion of the 5K race. But, it is still an exciting challenge for me! I plan to have hubby take pictures and I hope to do a whole post dedicated to the race. Run for the Paws is sponsored by Brother Wolf which is the shelter where we found our sweet Cassie. They are a local "no kill" animal shelter and they do great work so I'm happy to support them!

So tell me, are there any changes happening in your life? Hope you'll take a moment to comment!

Until Next Time,

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pink Jacket and Spring Scarf

Scarf and Jacket for Spring

*Not a gifted or compensated post. All opinions and writing are my own.

It's so good to finally be getting some warmer temperatures. We actually got into the 70's a couple days this week which was wonderful. There's nothing like a little springtime to make me feel like wearing pink. And adding a spring-like scarf makes the outfit even better!

I actually own this jacket in pink, blue and brown. It's a great mid-weight jacket that can be dressed up or down easily. I love the quilted material and the cuffs can be worn down or folded back. Lots of versatility. 

I've owned the jackets for several years. I bought them at Stein Mart and the brand is "For Cynthia." I couldn't find this exact jacket to link for you at Stein Mart but I did find a couple links for Ebay and Poshmark. I have not bought items from Ebay or Poshmark so can't vouch for the shopping experience from either. Here is an ebay link for the jacket in green. And, here is a Poshmark link for the jacket in pink. 

I'm really enjoying the scarf I'm wearing with the jacket. It is covered with flowers in pinks, yellows and greens and is quite soft and lightweight around my neck. I'm finding that I prefer scarves that are lightweight because I don't like heavy things, including some jewelry, pulling down on my neck. So, I'm thinking about cleaning out some of my heavier scarves and donating them to Goodwill. Would you believe that I got this scarf at the Dollar Store?! I've gotten compliments on it and it does not appear to be "low quality." Fashion need not be expensive! Shop your closet for a Spring-color jacket or sweater that you can wear with a pretty scarf. You'll feel like a million bucks!

Until Next Time,

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weekend Inspiration Wonderfully Made

If you have ever experienced sore muscles, an injury of some type or an operation, then you begin to appreciate your body more. It's odd how we never seem to appreciate what our body does day in and day out, hour after hour, minute by minute, until something no longer works the way it did previously. At least that has been the way with me since suffering from frozen shoulder/rotator cuff impingement issues. Do we take the time to really think about how awesomely God created our bodies to move, breathe, work and play? How intricately our fingers move to cut with scissors, play an instrument or knead bread? How our shoulders are involved with almost every upper body movement we make? I certainly have noticed now that I struggle to do the simplest of tasks such as fixing my hair, reaching out of the car window at the drive-thru or putting a letter in the mailbox! Suddenly, my shoulder, which has been with me going on 60 years, is getting my full attention! "Notice me," it seems to be saying, "I refuse to be ignored any longer!" And so, I am noticing my shoulder with weekly visits to the physical therapist, home exercises and heat therapy. I see the wall charts hanging in the physical therapist's office and am amazed at the intricacies of the shoulder and the other parts of my body. I take for granted that these parts will work correctly and, when they fail for some reason, think longingly of the day when they will be restored to full function. I think I appreciate my body parts more now than I did before. Truly, as the psalmist wrote, our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made! 

To continue this thought process about noticing and being thankful, I remind myself to think about not only God's forming of my body, but also God's presence in each and every aspect of my life. I remind myself to "notice" God throughout the day and to be thankful for God's working for good always no matter what may be hurting or painful or irritating in my life. Truly, there is much to praise God for in this day and always!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Royal Weddings, Books and Covered Perfectly

Shining My Tiara

*This post contains affiliate links. If you shop through those links I do receive a 10% commission at no extra cost to you. The blue top was gifted to me by Covered Perfectly.

 Are you shining your tiara? There's a wedding happening soon, you know. A ROYAL wedding! So, you'll want to get out your jewels and spiff them up a bit. You all know I love anything royal, so you better believe I've been following all of the Meghan and Harry news. And, you can bet that on May 19th I'll be camped out in front of the television watching all of the drama! 

And, I've got my "fancy" jewelry all ready to wear for the wedding! I have my tiara with a couple missing pearls I bought on the wedding clearance aisle at A.C. Moore, my "pearl and diamond" $5 Paparazzi necklace and, of course, my Avon "Princess Diana" ring.  Now, all I need to do is wait for the coveted royal invitation to arrive in the mail...OK, that's taking things too far, I know! I'll make do watching it all on TV.

I am proud to say that I haven't missed a televised royal wedding in the last 37 years! How well I remember Charles and Diana's 1981 nuptials. My mom and I were up at 5:00 a.m. camped out in the living room all day watching the ceremony, the parade through the streets, the gown, the flowers, the carriages, the going away outfit...all of it! Same thing when William and Catherine married, although this time it was just me camped out in the living room. Kate's gown, tiara and veil were so beautiful and she and William seemed truly happy. I also saw Andrew and Fergie's wedding and followed everything I could read about Edward and Sophie's wedding as well as Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene's nuptials. You can see I like to hang onto magazines and books about the royals, so I'm certain I'll be adding some new mags or books about Meghan and Harry in the near future. All tongue-in-cheek aside, though, I really do hope that Meghan and Harry are happy together and that William and Kate continue to enjoy their happy family life. It broke my heart when things went so wrong for Charles and Diana. I really do want to believe that fairy tales come true and that there is a prince for every princess! How about you? I did a post last August remembering Princess Diana that you might want to read if you missed it then. 

Of course I don't spend all my time reading about royalty! I've been spending quite a bit of time reading books lately by authors M.C. Beaton and Elizabeth Berg. I've already shared my love for Elizabeth Berg's writing with you in a previous post here, but I don't believe I have told you about M.C. Beaton. I will need to devote an entire post to her writing in the future but suffice it to say that her characters are memorable and entertaining! I visited our public library today and found a book by each author that I will be reading in the coming weeks. 

If you missed my recent post in which I featured a beautiful top I was gifted by "Covered Perfectly" you can catch up on it by clicking here. You might enjoy seeing some of the other stylish and comfy tops available by Covered Perfectly. (affiliate link). Click on the link to browse through the many choices available. Remember, if you order by clicking on my link you can save 20% on one or two items by using the code DR20 when you make a purchase. Happy shopping and keep that tiara shiny!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Weekend Inspiration-Perseverance

Sticking With Our Faith

Perseverance is a good trait to have in life. Being able to stick with it when the going gets rough is an admirable trait. When I was still teaching, there was a lot of talk about teaching students to have "grit" which basically is what perseverance is all about. Learning new things, especially when the subject matter is not your favorite or something that doesn't come easily to you, can require much grit in terms of studying, work completion and application of new skills. But in the end the work pays off and the new material is learned. 

As Christians, we too need to have grit or perseverance. I believe this is what Romans 12:12 is talking about. Just as a student has to "stick with it" by doing the assignments, listening in class and putting in personal study time, so we as Christians need to keep hoping, praying, studying scripture and supporting one another in the faith. It is through doing these things that we can find the strength to be joyful and patient even during times of affliction, in whatever form that may take in our lives. 

As a teacher, whenever I talked with students about perseverance, I introduced it as one of the "habits of mind" that could help them as learners. There are many other habits of mind as well such as managing impulsivity, listening with understanding and empathy and thinking flexibly. But, perseverance is at the top of the list. Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to in Hebrews 12 when he says; "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

As we go through the week ahead, may each of us have strong faith "habits of mind" with the "grit" necessary to go forward in whatever trials or joys life throws at us. 


*See all of the Habits of Mind here