Thursday, April 17, 2014

My World this Week

Love the morning sun...
Before I forget... I'll be taking time off through the Easter weekend.  Company is coming. There will be feasting.  He is, after all... Risen.

It was lovely and warm last weekend and then we woke up to quite a snowfall just a couple days later.  Part of me didn't mind since I am still in the midst of Spring cleaning inside the house, I could use the outside chores to stay as dormant as possible for another week.

However, it did require picking every single daffodil that had just bloomed or they would have frozen when it dipped to 25 degrees the next night.  Which gave me a lovely bouquet I hope lasts until Easter and enough for another bouquet to take to my new neighbor.

So... here is what has been happening in my world through the lens of my camera.

Reading

I have a couple books on more difficult subjects to read soon but I set them aside, deciding to re-read a couple favorites instead.  Lighter reading is better at the moment.  Re-reading is also preferred.

Real Love for Real Life is a book I read through once, perused a second time, and now I'm doing a little of both my third time through the book.  Obviously, I would enjoy a book written "in the style" of Edith Schaeffer.   You can find more about it... here.*

Amanda Soule is one of those individuals that... as I mentioned in a recent Sunday Afternoon Tea post... hears the echoes of Eden.  Although she definitely does not claim to be a Christian and I know we would disagree on political issues... there is much we do agree upon.

I do enjoy Amanda's blog which I link to on the sidebar, her books, and the magazine she edits called Taproot.  This book, The Rhythm of Family, is my favorite book of hers and you can find more about it... here.  It gets pulled off the shelf and perused a lot!

That other book is my favorite devotional that I adore... here.*

Washing
Always dishes...

Waiting
Veggies and fruit waiting to be cooked now reside in the yellow bowl...

Working
Sorting in the Study...

Beauty
I adore daffodils!
Is it wrong to take a picture of a salad because it is pretty?

Her Fluffiness
Oh, my... what has her licking her lips?

* All links to books are Amazon Associate's Links.  I receive a small percentage in credit and it costs you nothing extra.  This is how I purchase books and grandchildren gifts.  ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How the Storyformed conference went...


My daughter shares about the Storyformed conference at her blog... here.

Reading about it almost (kinda') makes me feel I was there.  It sounds like a wonderful time was had by all.  Did any readers of this blog attend?  I know there were one or two planning on it.

Downloads of the conference are going to be available when ready at the Storyformed website... here.  If you are interested in holding a conference in your area, you can contact Sarah Clarkson at that website, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Echos of Eden


I don't recall what the subject of the conversation was but recently my husband looked over at me and said, "You still have a lot of hippie in you!".  I was a part of the Jesus Movement and not a hippie but I took that as a compliment.  I'm also pleased there is some of the innocence of youth within even if it is deeply buried at times.

Actually, we all have it you know... those echoes of Eden.

There are men and women whose echoes of Eden are at the surface and the very reason they live.  These are the poets and the artists, the songwriters and saints, the mountain climbers and the gardeners, the farmers who plant seeds expecting a harvest, and the men who are drawn to sea as their grandfathers before them.

I am certain Handel heard it and made it possible for me to catch the echo as I listen to the Hallelujah Chorus.  Bach sensed the echo and praised God with his music.  Michelangelo sensed it as he chipped away the marble to release the statue of David.  I am certain Elizabeth Goudge had to hear the echoes of Eden as her imagination presented Henrietta in A City of Bells.  Most certainly did Beatrix Potter and her animated animals.

But so does the woman who lives in the house close to campus with the wildflowers growing in her yard, and the farmer at the market on Saturday mornings in summer who waxes poetic about the heirloom tomatoes, and the woman who collects the honey from her bees as beekeepers have done for millinea.

If one truly has their ear to the ground, so to speak... longing for the echo of Eden within their soul... then we can understand why the animals we love become members of our immediate family.  I think it is even the reason behind our joy as we prepare a meal for those we love and take freshly baked bread to meet the new neighbor.

What are the echoes of Eden?  I believe there are a few which, if we are fortunate, stay with us in life.  First is that sense we experience from time to time, usually for no more than a few seconds, that which comes to us as a fleeting memory of an experience, a feeling perhaps of... bliss.

We try to recapture the feeling and recall the memory but it lays below the surface of our understanding.  I have felt this off an on throughout life and I think perhaps... not able to quote chapter and verse here but only a ponder... that within all of us there is a sense of what God intended before the fall of man.

Why?  Because if the Holy Spirit truly lives within us as the Word testifies, then He remembers.  He was there when the morning stars sang and when the earth was void and when Eden was planted.  He was there when God took of the dust of the earth and made the first of those created in His image and breathed His very DNA into the lifeless form to give him Life.

Bliss... Perfection.... Contentment... all that is Beautiful and Lovely.  Eden.  The world may scoff and tease that those of us who are people of the Book believe such nonsense.  But deep in the very depths of our DNA, we have this faint memory of it all even if we cannot put it into words.

There is another echo of Eden that even those who do not accept Him as God experience.  Perhaps a universal echo of which permeates all of Creation, just as the rocks and the trees and the very earth itself cry out for the day all will be brought back to perfection.

That echo is the one which calls us to stop and gaze at sunsets and brings the Psalms to mind as we thank Him for the sun rising in the Eastern sky.  It is why I stop washing dishes on a winter's evening to look at the full moon behind the treeline through the kitchen window over the sink.

This echo explains my deep love of forests and creeks and cornstalks as they dry in the autumn sun.  I even feel it vicariously as I will stop what I'm doing to watch another human climb a mountain on TV, or walk the hills of Scotland, or take us through the gardens of England in full bloom.

It is why I love to follow the walking trail with John Denver or Indelible Grace on the itty bitty iPod.  I think it is why I love to go without shoes but my husband believes that is because my mother's people are from Kentucky.

If one is to view the favorite links on the sidebar, there are those which takes me to the blogs of friends and others who are Christ followers.  But mingled among them are links of like-minded individuals, not followers of Christ but those people who definitely sense the echoes of Eden.

Perhaps it is the way they raise sheep and turn wool into lovely knitted creations, or they have followed my dream of living off the land, or perhaps they grow their own food and preserve it, or simply understand and explain the echos in such a way as to warm my heart.  Even if they do not yet comprehend there is an Author of the echoes.

I think it is something like is written in verse 20 of the first chapter of the book of Romans. 
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
It amazes me that one can hold their newborn child and not know that echo.  Or feel it each spring as life begins to return even after the longest of winters.  I certainly sense Eden when I celebrate the Resurrection.

Is the echo what the birds hear as they return each year to the same backyard?  I don't know but that is a possibility for one who believes there is such a memory of Eden within us all.  Perhaps that is why all nature is waiting for the redemption of the earth.

Which is why I'm happy one who knows me very well can still see that which he calls a hippie... and I prefer to think of it as one who still hears the echo of Eden.

Picture:  Grandma's Garden by Robert Duncan

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The emergency bag continued and some links

One website suggests keeping a small mp3 player in your bag.
Have you started putting together an emergency bag?  Don't think of it as a "bug out bag" for then you may never do it.

Think of it as a place where important emergency items are all put together that happens to be portable enough to grab and go.

Do it now.  Don't delay.

I showed you last Saturday how I started putting together my emergency bag.  I'm still slowly adding to the emergency bag as I think of items to put in it.  I don't have an extra set of eyeglasses but I do have extra reading glasses!  So one extra set of reading glasses has been added to the bag.

When I need new eye glasses, I will place my older glasses in the bag, too.  I must have glasses to read but the bifocals are mostly used for driving... and even then they are not required by law.  So save your extra prescription glasses for your bag and reading glasses are quite inexpensive at many stores.

My husband brought home a huge box of Nutra Grain Strawberry Bars from a food pantry last week.  They were just a couple weeks past their sell by date (which is why they went to a pantry), so I put all of them into a gallon size Ziploc bag and added them to the emergency bag.  Of course, attention will be kept as to the rotation of any food products as needed.

I read a very good article this week about preparing for emergencies and they suggested buying an inexpensive mp3 player and loading it with favorite music and even audiobooks for emergencies when there is no power or one has to "bug out".  Assuming one keeps their mp3 player charged.

My tiny IPod Shuffle* is still just over $50.00 but even then I could not afford to leave it just for an emergency bag.  But since reading that article, it is now going to go on the list I tape to the kitty carrier!  I also realized I should add my camera to that list as well as insulin and meds.  Yes, I would forget them in a hurry.

But I don't forget my cat.

Which reminds me, I've also decided to continue working on typing all my favorite family recipes and putting them into a three ring binder.  Copies will be given to my daughter and daughter-in-law but a copy will also go into the documents box.

I still need to purchase a small radio for the bag and it should have one or two more flashlights as the one there now is not all that bright.  Oh, and extra batteries.  But only as the budget permits.

You may be able to tell already that my husband and I have decided a second bag would be a very good thing even for just the two of us.  So I'll be checking the aisle in Goodwill and at the Salvation Army for large backpacks or another duffel bag.

Even if we don't need them to leave the house, just having some of these items in one place during an emergency is a very good idea!

Now, here are a few good links I have come across recently:
50 Last Minute Ways to Prepare for an Emergency - here.  This will provide a great list of reminders one may need in an emergency bag.

Prevent Infections, What to Take to an Emergency Shelter - here.  Once again this provides a small list of reminders for an emergency bag.

How to Make a 45 Day Emergency Candle from Crisco - here.  This was perhaps the easiest explanation I found that was not on YouTube.  But if you google the title, there are thousands of instructions, including a lot of YouTube videos.

Somewhere in my research recently, I came across an article where they said how to make these into smaller versions but I can't find it.  I will continue to look.  As with anything with a flame, there is a fire hazard but how easy it would be to keep some Crisco and wicks available if needed!

*Amazon Associate's Link

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not a lot going on in my world this week


Spring is coming in a "one step forward, two steps back" mode.  Which hasn't been too bad since I'm still in a cold weather cooking mood.  Yesterday I made our long time favorite No Peek Stew (which we call Peek-a-Boo stew).

I changed the recipe a little a few years ago by using canned tomatoes instead of the called for tomato juice or better yet... V8 Juice... the original recipe called for.  Since I had V8 Juice in the frig, I went back to the old standard and it was absolutely delicious.   I will write the recipe out soon (hopefully soon).  There are numerous variations online but my favorite is the simple recipe from an old and well worn church cookbook.

Today we may reach 70 degrees and I am so hoping that is warm enough for the daffodils to pop into full bloom.  At least the clump sitting close to the house in the backyard which blooms first each year, probably because the brick of the house absorbs heat from the morning sun.  It has been on the verge of blooming for about a week now.

Speaking of which, have you noticed the difference in the angle of the sunlight coming into your house?  I've especially noticed it on the side where the morning light filters in.   That is the one time of day and the only side of our house that can become sunny... one of the disadvantages of being surrounded by trees.  But that makes me appreciate it all the more.

I didn't take photos for a My World this Week  post.  Except for Victoria and a few books I'm deciding if I want to read or not, there is not much to chat about right now.  Oh, but that will soon change when my world begins to bloom!

Two of the books I'm deciding if now is a good time to read are about subjects that are profound and somewhat difficult to think about.  Both will be read and I know they are excellent books, but I'm thinking there is still the need for something lighter.  A warm and fuzzy kind of read.  My reading tends to be braver in warm weather than when it is still cold.

Now I am off to take advantage of warmer temperatures again and continue the garage organization project.  A lot of the inside of the house is finished, all that is left are a few boxes in the family room my husband must sort through (moved there months ago from the office!).   As it warms up, there will be the cleaning of windows and dusting of everything.

The garage has an excellent start to it but it has been dependent on milder weather to complete as does a good porch cleaning.  Then onward and outward to the yard and garden.

All accomplished a little at a time but even then... I think I need a nap already.

Added:  People ask me often how I keep the house looking decent when dealing with the extreme fatigue of a chronic illness.  The secret is doing it just a little at a time but making it a priority throughout the year.  Especially in the morning hours when my energy is at its' highest... after a cup of coffee.. or two.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Embracing the growing up years...

Fresh Bread by Loren Entz
Yes, once again I am over at my lovely friend Sally Clarkson's blog... I Take Joy.* 

Today I'm chatting about the years in which our children are growing up and how the days seem quite long but the years fly by!  Our conversation has to do with understanding these are the years in which we truly can influence our children's heart.

If you are interested in reading (and I hope you are)... mosey on over here.

*A reminder that Mom Heart was merged with I Take Joy.

Comments are closed here... open at I Take Joy

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - An Eternal Perspective


Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. 

People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.  Hebrews 11:13-16 The Message Bible

I can recall the very morning I heard a sermon that changed my life forever.  Although I had spent years in a wonderful Presbyterian church (a very on fire for Christ kind of place) with talented pastors and teachers, this sermon was preached by a middle aged preacher in a Pentecostal country church whose Hell fire style was one I normally shy away from.

I was twenty-seven or twenty-eight at the time, really just starting out in life as a young wife and mother.  But I knew about death after losing my father in childhood and my firstborn son soon after his birth.  I understood the brevity of life (although at that time I had no idea how quickly the decades could pass).

So when the country preacher began sharing about living a life with our eyes on Eternity... I was extremely interested.  He was a simple preacher.  The message was simple.  The Truth of it all changed my life.
  • We are just passing through this life, pilgrims on our way to our True Home.  
  • That is where our rewards will be found.  
  • And the way we live our lives in this fallen of planets has an eternal consequence.
Pretty deep stuff from a country parson.  But then again... the Gospel is simplicity itself.  Man sinned and fell and needed a Redeemer.  God became a man to live a perfect life and redeem fallen mankind.

Although I was a very dedicated Christian, I was also part of a that Baby Boomer female population that had been told we could do it all, have it all, and should want it all.   We were encouraged to grab for the golden ring on the Merry Go Round of life and "go for the gusto" as we all deserve the finest of... everything.  We were to work hard, live hard, and play hard... even within the Christian community.

I lived this for quite awhile and I even admit that I look back to the old corporate days with a certain fondness.  Especially wearing nice clothes, dining at fine restaurants, and having my own money to spend as I like.

But God changed all that (which is an entirely separate and very long story) and the way those changes came about, He pulled my clenched fingers from all that was glitz and glitter to show me what really mattered.  Eternity.

Not only my eternal life and rewards but what my daughter would become (my son was only a wish at that time), and how He wanted to use my hours and days and weeks and months and years.  For that which had Eternal importance and not the temporary abundance of this life.

I worked in ministry but was never called to full time service.  Mostly I wrote, taught Bible studies or Sunday School, or helped in the church office.  But I spent time with training my daughter and later my son, too.  I chatted with those who were hurting and cried with those who cried.

I enjoyed having friends over to enjoy a meal, talked with women I cared about over morning coffee, and kept the cookie jar filled for neighborhood children. Life went by and my little girl grew up, a son was born and also grew up, a wonderful son-in-law joined the family, and then a lovely daughter-in-law.  Not to mention those amazing grandchildren. 

Life was lived each day for better or for worse, in sickness and health, for richer for poorer.  Just like everyone else on the planet.

And how did we survive the joys and trials, the griefs and gains, the pain and the tribulation of life?  What about those times when what we hoped for did not come to pass and we waited a long time for an answer?  How about the realization some dreams would never be fulfilled?

It all comes back to that Sunday morning in a country church.  For it is all a matter of perspective.

If this was all there was then it would be different.  If we lived life only waking up, going to work, raising our children, cooking dinner, watching a little TV or reading, and going back to bed only to start it all over the next morning... how futile it would all have been.

But I learned to be as one of those who went before me who learned to walk Due North... with their eye on that city whose builder and maker is God.  This my friends, is not our home.

  • Any rewards we receive here... temporary.  
  • Any objects we own here no matter how glorious and beautiful... they will eventually rot or decay or burn or at the very least end up in an antique store a hundred years from now.
  • That promotion we long for... eventually it becomes a job with overwhelming hours to keep it from the next person climbing the ladder of success.
  • Time not spent with loved ones... gone forever.

For you see, this life was never meant to make us happy.   Oh, we have moments and sometimes even days of pure joy.  He wants us to have a goal if it does not take us away from His purpose for our lives.  He wants us to run for the gold if it is pure gold at the end of the line... and not fool's gold.

He has us on a journey and we have an enemy of our souls who is constantly nudging us off that path.  For he knows when we are walking towards the Heavenly City, keeping our eyes on the Savior's purpose, knowing the Holy Spirit is guiding us and leading us... then even when that path seems the darkest... we are safe in the will of God.

But if he that is the father of all lies can whisper in our ears that God has abandoned us, that God has not fulfilled all He promised, that we have been good people and have not obtained what we deserved, or an even worse lie... that we are so sinful and fallen He would never forgive and redeem us... then the father of lies pulls us off that God given path into utter despair.

We are not Home, yet.  Children are still dying from starvation.  Illness eats away at this earthly dwelling we call a body.  Christians are in prison and dying for their faith.  Cars break down and the amount in the checking account does not stretch to the end of the month.  Drought takes away water needed for farmers and floods sweep away houses in their path.  There are storms and whirlwinds and winters with no end and blazing heat withering crops.

This is not Heaven.  This is not the New Earth to come.  All has not been put right, yet.  Even the trees and the fields and the flowers and the mountains and the morning stars cry out for redemption from that which is the result of the fall of man.

But don't give up.  Look just over the horizon.  Can you see it?  Surely you can.  Shut your eyes and think of the Savior, of Easter, of the coming Resurrection morning... can you begin to see it now?

Yes, there it is!  The light.  The Heavenly light of the finish line.  You will make it.  You will finish strong, even if you feel as if you were the last one to cross the line in the marathon... you did it.  Out of breath and sweating and sore and your head is pounding and you are sobbing and you didn't think you would do it but... you did.

Look around at the City.  Do you recognize it?  It was in your heart all the years you walked the fallen planet of earth.  It is Home.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Putting together a bug out bag with what I already owned

I found a much used gym bag in a closet that is now the Emergency Bag.

Sorry for not being around much lately.  There are weeks getting computer time on Hubby's desktop can be difficult to come by as he is quite busy.  Sometimes it is just the inability to comment on blogs of friends but this week I could not post anything on my own blog (except for a link to the Storyformed Conference).

He is in the midst of two big projects but I demanded asked for time to post this weekend.  With a lot of pretty please with sugar on top.  :)

Soooo... my goal was to begin putting together what I call an emergency bag but what the world calls a bug out bag.  The only rules I gave myself was to do it with what I had on hand already. 

This turned out great exercise in preparedness, I wish I'd done it long ago.  I now have a bag in the coat closet but I also know what items are needed.  For instance, priorities include a package of men's athletic socks (they would fit both of us), a small transistor type radio with ear buds, additions to the First Aid kit, and some kind of protein (beef sticks perhaps?).

There were great comments on last week's post and if anyone wants to add what they view as important, feel free to do so.  I absolutely loved the anonymous comment about keeping essential documents in the kitty carrier because they know they would not forget their cat!


Well, if you remember we had to call the fire department when we were hit by lightening and then a week later when there was a natural gas leak (caused by the earlier lightening hit).

Each time I took my beloved Victoria not the file box with essential documents!  So I typed out the above reminder (and added purse and camera!), printed it out, and it is going to be taped on the kitty carrier!  The documents are still in their file box but I will not forget them if God forbid... there is a next time I need to evacuate the house.


This is the kind of box we have the essential documents in but for security reasons, this is not the actual box.  I actually borrowed this idea as a newlywed from what my parents had done when I was growing up and we have continued it for 30+ years of marriage.

The box contains our wills, our car title (before we had to borrow to purchase the new-to-us van, birth certificate's, my husband's military records, our newborn son's death certificate and his information, etc.

If we had extra cash we would keep some in here.  But we never have enough extra cash on hand to do so.  In a perfect world, this would be a fire proof safe but it is not a perfect world.

I still plan to type out a list of emergency phone numbers, etc. and print it out.  


The above is the First Aid kit we keep on a shelf in the linen closet in the bathroom.  I took a few items out of it to place in the bag but I also realized this needs some attention.

It was kept up to date when we had kids in the house but it has declined woefully.


The above is what I put together from what I had in the house and garage that could go into the bag.  It includes an inexpensive flashlight (I would also include batteries for the flashlight as a priority), toiletries, disposable towelettes, tall kitchen garbage bags,  a teeny tiny First Aid kit, emergency blankets, and an emergency light stick.

Since the bag is kept in the coat closet where I keep our best flashlights, they could also be tossed in the bag at the last minute.  This will definitely be a work in progress as I think of items to add to it.


As a Type 1 diabetic, I keep carbs handy in the car already for low blood sugar issues.  High blood sugar can kill you over years but low blood sugar can be sudden and deadly if you take insulin.  So I had plenty on hand to put in the bag.

I need to add some forms of better protein but I already had on hand the protein bars, crackers, Nutella "to go", and those small packets of peanut butter.


Everything went into either Ziploc bags or a similar plastic bag.  All food items in one, toiletries and safety items in another.

There were some smaller items added in other plastic bags later, such as some NutraGrain fruit bars and a collection of plastic forks and spoons.  I also added a roll of TP.

I need to put some of Victoria's kibble in a Ziploc bag immediately, while I'm thinking of it.  I also plan to add a small New Testament with larger type than those I have on hand. 


Just a reminder, it is best to purchase "Strike Anywhere" matches when they are available.  That way if you transfer them out of the box (unlike "Strike on Box" matches), they will light when struck against a rock, etc. Now to be honest, perhaps the Strike on Box matches can, too.  I've just never bought them and tried it out.

Four small boxes of matches were placed in a snack size Ziploc bag to keep moisture out of them.  By placing items in the plastic bags, it not only protects them but also makes them easier to take out and update from time to time.

This did not take much time at all last week.  It took longer to photograph everything than to put it together.  I encourage you, if you have not done so, yet, to look around your home and see what you have already to put together!.

Mine is far from complete but having one started shows me the exact areas where items are needed to make it a more complete emergency bag (aka: Bug Out Bag).

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The New England Storyformed Child conference, April 12th


Just a reminder, if you live in the New England area close to Sterling, Massachusetts the Storyformed conference with author and speaker Sarah Clarkson is coming up soon!

The conference is filling quickly and I believe it will be an excellent opportunity for both homeschoolers and all families who care about using literature in the life of their children or grandchildren.

My daughter is teaching one of the workshops so I wish I were there, too!  Registration continues now through Sunday.

For more information, the website is... here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Creating places of refuge for the storms of life

A summer's respite on the deck...
Recently in the midst of a day when the cold rain falling outside filled the house with a damp chill, I was looking out the kitchen window and thinking how the day was so... blah.

I sighed and thought how at times life could be... and the first word which popped into my head was frustrating!   Now, I'm not sure why but that made me laugh out loud.  For of all the descriptions I could think of, it was not one floating around in that area of the brain where words wait for a landing place.

But it spoke great Truth.  Perhaps it came from a winter which seems to never end or a budget that will not stretch or the sinus headache or simply that feeling one gets when one's energy level is not up to the day's demands.

I needed a vacation.  Preferably someplace where there was sunshine and warmth.  A beautiful garden would be lovely.  Not to mention a buffet of my favorite food.  And great coffee.

I tried to read and that didn't work.  I was too tired to wrap an apron around my waist and get lost in a recipe.  Frustrating was indeed the description of that moment.  But finally I settled with ear buds nestled in place and the sound of Puritan hymns set to modern arrangements miraculously coming from the iPod the size of an eraser.  Peace.

That afternoon got me thinking of the different ways through the years I've learned to find a place of rest... a respite in the storms of life.  As I pondered the subject, there came a realization that I have created ways to both escape from the stress or run to a place of peace.  Let me explain...

Places of escape in the storm's of life...

Books and lovely magazines:
As you are aware if you have read this blog longer than say... five minutes... I have a lot of books.  Many I have read but there are also a number of titles on the shelves waiting for their day in the sun (so to speak).  Just having them ready and waiting brings joy as only another true bibliophile can understand.

But there are also books that are on shelves that are solely there for places of refuge.   They are the old friends of my library.  Safe friends.  Friends with pages that draw me in and give me a gentle hug and take me away from whatever life is throwing my way at the moment.

These are the books I may keep near to peruse, such as Susan Branch's lovely A Fine Romance.  A few contain wise words from literary mentors such as Edith Schaeffer or Madeleine L'Engle.  There are a handful of women and men who have a talent for reaching my spirit and sharing about Him in such a way that peace prevails.

But most are friends found within the pages of novels by Goudge, Stevenson, Miss Read, Jan Karon, and many other authors that have created people who have become dear friends.  I come back to novels in the way my more musical friends listen to the same symphony over and over and over.

I don't purchase magazines like I did when they were inexpensive.   My very favorites are those which arrive on the shelves quarterly and cost as much as a paperback book.  They are saved up for and even then carefully perused before making the purchase.

But they are in the budget for this very reason... they are mental vacations for the weary mind.  Unlike the days when there were multiple magazines stacked and quickly perused, these are stored carefully in magazine racks or on bookshelves and returned to over and over.

The Bible, of course
The most important book to run to is the one that He wrote for us.  It goes without saying but it is of vital importance to have a version you love and can understand.  I am a reader of the Word and not a theologian.  I started out with a KJV but was gifted with a Living Bible translation as a fairly new Christian and it changed the way I looked at the Word of God.

My every day Bible is an NIV and I don't care what anyone says about the translation, it speaks best to my soul and that is what is important.  On our shelves we also have many other translations including an ESV (that I like a lot), an Amplified Bible, The Message, The Living Bible, and a variety of study Bibles.

Music
I do not run to music as a respite in the storm as often as some friends like to do.  But I certainly find peace from favorite songs and musicians.  My taste is eclectic and includes all types of music from contemporary Christian to bluegrass to country to pop... all forms that are not defiling with words that send my mind where it ought not to wonder. 

And the type of music playing at the moment is more dependent on what I am doing instead of my mood.  One would be more likely to hear bluegrass on the CD Player in the kitchen, John Denver on the walking trail, and classical while resting.

The decorating of rooms
I once wrote a blog post about decorating as a form of spiritual warfare so you knew somewhere on this list there had to be a place for beauty in the home.  It is both a running to form of peace as well as escaping from stress.

For instance, in winter's darkness I spend a great deal of time in the living room.  It is decorated in such a way that is warm and cozy and when one lights a candle... quite inviting in that season when light is hard to come by.

My kitchen is a place I run to on cold winter's days when something in the oven, a soup simmering on the stove, and the bright colors found in that room bring a bit of warmth and summer's color into a world that is shades of black, white, and gray.

While in the heat of summer, I much prefer the family room with the large windows looking out on the deck and both trees and flowers to enjoy.  My study is a new place of refuge, decorated with a lifetime of collections... made cozy with thrifted furniture and favorite art.  It is also a warm weather treasure.

I once told my daughter that I had lived here over eight years and still not painted the walls in my bedroom, even though I don't like the lemon-lime color.  I don't spend enough time there to think much of it.  She told me that is because I have no small children at home from which to escape into the respite of one's bedroom.  Good reasoning...

Art, pictures, and things that hang on the wall
I wrote long ago about the Eureka moment I had of the importance of artwork in my home.  It was while briefly visiting the home of a woman I worked with for Concerned Women for America.  I wondered why her home seemed such a place of peace for me.  I realized it was her use of rather large artwork on the walls.

Since that time, I budgeted for good artwork in the affluent years (although none very expensive), asked for inexpensive prints for birthdays and Christmas, and found lovely items while thrifting.  I even love beautiful calendars (gifts this year from my friends Deanna and Linda).

I also have a lot of photos throughout the house, all of family members who are much loved like my parents, children, and grandchildren.  I once had a very nice portrait of my in-laws hanging in the hallway but I realized it did not bring peace to my husband or to me.  So I used the nice frame it was in for a studio portrait of my kids when young and placed my in-law's photo in a box with other pictures.

As I did so, I prayed my photo would never be one that would bring pain to my children or grandchildren.  I doubt that would happen.  I make great cookies.  That, like love, covers a multitude of sins.   ;)

Outside places
Like most people, I adore gardens and beautiful spaces where one can feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of a breeze.   I find contentment on the walking path just a couple miles from our home and the park "in town".

To truly enjoy peace in these places, I had to accept the limitations of reality.  My veggie garden has to be kept small or it would become a burden instead of a blessing.  Most of the flowers I grow these days are in containers or mixed within the veggies... for simplicity of care.

Even walking on the path for exercise has had to be slowed down a bit if it is to be enjoyed.  And I learned long ago that when one has a chronic illness, one is more likely to do something if it is simple and enjoyable and easy.

In the past peace was found on trails in various forests and at the beach on Lake Michigan.  There have been towns where I've found great peace from their quaintness and beauty.  Some people live close to art museums that bring great joy to their heart.

Coffee shops and diners for mini vacations
As long as I can remember, when I need to go someplace to get away from it all, my favorite destinations have been coffee shops or diners.   Both provide a place of refuge.  The coffee shops in my area (the one near campus, Starbuck's, or Panera) are places where I don't know the people but can find an escape and good coffee.

In the past, there were diners where the employees knew I needed cream and Splenda for my coffee and not to allow more than two refills.  Good people.  Good places.  I would stop by at such a time that one could read and write as long as one wanted for it was not busy and people were not waiting for a table. 

Doing instead of going...

Sometimes what is important for finding peace and relaxing is to get taken up with something that keeps us busy.  Women, especially, have known that delight which comes from having something to do with their hands.

Gardening
Many people I know take great delight in the planning of their garden from ordering seeds in January to preparing seedlings in March to planting in May (in our area of the country) all the way to autumn's harvest.

It should come as no surprise if one's theology tells them man was created in a garden.  For the love of growing things is in our very DNA from the beginning.  Sometimes I let my imagination go to that day there will be a world with no bad bugs eating my veggies or mosquitoes.  I can't imagine why there would be mosquitoes on the New Earth.

Cleaning
I am one of those odd people who, when under great stress (like when one of the guys was an hour or more late getting home), will at times throw themselves into cleaning.  I actually like the process of bringing a house from clutter to sparkle and I make a priority of cleaning and organizing while at my highest energy level.

Cooking
You know if cooking is a source of stress relief if you read cookbooks like novels and books by fellow foodies are underlined or highlighted for later review.   Although the everyday preparing of meals can be enjoyable, I'm especially talking about those times we get immersed into a recipe that takes our attention and we forget what may be going on in the world outside of our kitchen.

Sometimes when in this frame of mind, we can imagine setting the table and serving loved ones with the results of our chopping or stirring or assembling... and in that kitchen we create magic (Narnia magic, of course).

Sewing and Needlework
Of course, even if this post is already quite long... I cannot forget the wonders of hobbies such as knitting and crochet and needlework of all kinds.  Not to mention the sewing of quilts or the creation of garments for many people.

Once again, the beauty of creativity and the peace it can bring comes from the One Who created us.  We are made in the image of a Creator so it makes sense that doing so brings great peace... in the same sense that he or she who grows food or flowers is doing so in the image of their Creator.

There are many ways we can find peace in this troubled world if we think through ahead of time what works for each of us.  I've mentioned those which take priority in my own life but there are even more to choose from... painting, sketching, writing poetry and prose, watching excellent movies, fixing cars and pruning bushes, working with clay, creating mosaics from broken china... and the list can go on and on.

The most important is to remember there is a Friend who understands everything and anything we are going through.  Whether the frustrations are simple or the trials are overwhelming.  You never walk alone.