Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 7 - The Opportunity to Blog!!!

When I started blogging here at "Janie's Porch", just over two years ago, I didn't realize just how valuable and important the project would become in my life....

I have learned much, mostly through trial and error.  I have studied other blogs and gleaned information and pointers on style and content.  And, through a process over time, have become comfortable with where my blog is heading.  I know what I like to look at and read, and I know what I want to talk about, so the direction of "Janie's Porch" has evolved.  In fact, it continues to evolve and change as my life changes, reflecting the journey from my perspective.

When I first started blogging, I contacted the writer of a blog I greatly admire.  She was so gracious to give me advice and feedback, helping me to develop my own style.  She encouraged me to add photos to the blog to make it visually interesting and that is one part of blogging that I truly enjoy - capturing images to share my thoughts.  To this day, I still read and admire her blog for its variety and balance and because it is just so aesthetically pleasing. 

I went through a period of time when "readership" became terribly important to me.  I "linked up" to as many posts as possible, visited other blogs and tried to attract "followers".  Only thing was - it seemed that my content suffered, at least on a personal level.  I would see an increase in the number of followers, but I rarely heard back from any of them;  it was as if they followed me simply so I would follow them; it was merely a numbers game. 

So, I shifted my focus back to sitting down in front of a blank computer screen and paying attention to the words to which I actually committed to sharing.  What works for another blogger doesn't necessarily work for me, and vice versa.  I can only write about what I know, feel and understand.  I can't blog non-stop about crafts or projects that I don't have time to do; I'm not the world's greatest cook and don't have an endless supply of recipes to share; I'm not a decorating diva that fine tunes the furnishings in our home every other week; and I'm certainly not a spiritual adviser or devotional leader who toggles out sage writings!

I'm just Jane, plain and simple.  And part of my experience with blogging has been discovering more about who I really am.

One of the unexpected perks of blogging has been in making new "friends" here.  I love reading the comments left by visitors and there have been some who stop by often enough and leave messages that make me feel as if I know them.  Although I have never met these friends in person, I treasure the interaction with them and the encouragement they offer when they leave remarks.  I find I have much in common with people from around the world on certain topics!

Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to host "Janie's Porch".  I'm thankful for the technology that enables me to share posts and publish my thoughts and opinions on the modern marvel known as the worldwide web.  And I'm thankful for the friends and readers I get to interact with as a result.  I count this venture as a tremendous blessing!

Thankful for your visit today.....

Jane

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 6 - Do You Hear What I Hear???

This morning, I sat on the back porch and felt the sun, warm on my face.  The dogs were scampering around the yard; the birds were chirping; the air was very still.  And I heard....bells

Church bells, to be exact.  Keep in mind, the nearest church that has bells in the tower is at least two miles away from our house.  I don't think I have ever heard the sounds of their music from here before.  But, this morning, I could hear it very distinctly....carrying across the distance, sweet and pure.

It was a wonderful moment.  I just sat very still, listening to the peal of the bells and counting the strikes of the clock.  Nine o'clock....each ring as clear as the one before.

I simply soaked it all in....until the music faded away.

What a beautiful way to start the day.  It was a gift, both for the hearing and the soul.  And for that, I am truly thankful.

Enjoying the sounds of the season....

Jane

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 5 - Grace

This afternoon was a special opportunity to meet up with my daughter and her fiance downtown for some impromptu photo shooting.  We met at 5:00, as the sun was already well over into the western sky and the shadows were very long.  Initially, it was obvious they felt awkward posing for the camera, but they eventually relaxed and I think we got some pretty good shots. 





As I strolled around the streets downtown, my eyes lifted upward and I saw my Blessing for today.....



This is the sign that sits atop the historic Grace Hotel here in Abilene.  The neon lights had just come on.  However, from my vantage point, the word Grace was unlit.  Disappointing from a wannabe photographer's viewpoint, but I didn't take it as a divine sign!  After all, the blessing was that my focus was lifted upwards and my thoughts turned to Grace.

Grace means free gift.  In Greek, it is the word, charis, which is literally a free gift.  The most common definition used in Christianity is "God's unmerited favor".  As I browsed the internet for definitions of "grace", I found so much information, a virtual overload of information.  It's overwhelming.  And I don't think God intends for us to be overwhelmed by the scholarly definition of the word, but "grace" covers a lot! 

I think God just wants us to understand the basic concept of Grace.  For me, personally, it is -

humbling, to know that God bestows such a gift upon me....

sustaining, in times of crisis and trial....

enlightening, as to the character of God....and

always sufficient.

It is knowing that the ultimate gift was given in order for me to be able to look forward to a heavenly eternity. 

And today, I am so deeply thankful for that grace.  The depth of my gratitude knows no words, but God knows my heart. 

Many Blessings to you, my Friends....

Jane

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 4 - Getting Out of the House!

I have been battling "the crud" for a couple of weeks now.  I even broke down and went to a walk-in clinic earlier in the week to see if I could get some help with shaking this awful congestion before Thanksgiving.

However, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to taking care of myself.  I always feel the need to Go, Go, Go - even when I should slow down and get some extra rest so my body can heal.  It became very apparent to me yesterday that I had overdone it and I ended up in my jammies, curled up in bed and dozing, by 3:00 pm!

All that extra rest had me feeling much better this morning!  The challenge was to avoid overdoing it today and ending up back in that same spot.  So, I took the day a little easier....

I hadn't been in the car since Wednesday afternoon and was feeling a bit of "cabin fever" this afternoon.  So, after showering and bundling up against the cold north wind, I decided to head out for a little bit.  After stopping at Sonic for a coke and some tater tots (instant energy!), I went out to WalMart with a short shopping list.  Lo and behold!  The parking lot was half empty!  Not what I was expecting, at all.  I guess everyone had shopped themselves into exhaustion on Friday and Saturday and it was actually quite pleasant not to have to fight a crowd.

I picked up eggs and some other necessities - had everything on my list within a few minutes.  So, I headed over to look for a new bedskirt.  (Pepper chewed the front side of ours up something awful a few days ago.  Sometimes, I don't know what gets into that pup!)   While I was cruising bedding, I found a whole new comforter set in just the colors I was envisioning for our bedroom.  And, get this, the entire set was only $48!  Whoever said "If you can't get it at WalMart, you don't need it", wasn't kidding.   I grabbed that bag up and was out of there in a snap. 

Feeling pretty stoked, I decided to stop at Old Navy on the way home.  There, I stumbled upon the clearance section and found two terrific sweaters - one in black, one in brown - both marked WAY down.  Total for the two cardigans - $38, including tax. 



After only an hour out of the house, I had scored some great bargains and was headed back home, still feeling pretty good.  And very proud of myself for not "overdoing" it.

Now, I have the new linens on the bed.  Loving it!  Of course, those fantastic new 1,500-thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets in a lovely shade of terra cotta, which I bought three weeks ago (and that are "to die for" soft), don't really "match" the new bedding.  But, that's okay.  And the stripe in the fabric which looked brown at the store is really purple.  But, that's okay, too.  I'm still feeling the love.



As the day winds down, I've made a batch of oatmeal cookies, chocked full of tiny M&M's and chopped nuts, and am about to sit down and just chill with the dogs.

All in all, it's been a very good day.  I felt good and I didn't try to do too much.  I didn't get chapped about the little things - that don't really matter, by the way.  I hummed Christmas songs the entire time I was out and about and didn't get too many strange looks for doing so. 

So, today I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to get out and do a little shopping.  I'm thankful that I didn't push myself too hard and I didn't even make a "to do" list.  I'm thankful that I found some things we needed and didn't blow the budget.  This day was nothing short of a blessing.

I hope you've had a blessed day today.  Look for the gifts in the little things....

Jane

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 3 - The Beauty in Nature


 This is the view of my neighbor's oak tree across the street.  It is stunning - I wish the photograph did it justice!  Here in this part of the world, we don't get a lot of "color" when the leaves fall in the Autumn.  But, this tree turns a vibrant shade of red before retiring for the Winter.  I can see it from my front porch, from any window on the front side of our house, and I have to pause each time it catches my eye and give thanks.
Today, I am thankful for the beauty found in Nature all around us.  Even as leaves on this tree die, they present their best and give proof that there is a great Artist in control.  

God is good ~ just look around and see!  

Counting blessings, great and small.....
Jane


Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 2 - Decking the Halls

Today was Black Friday.  Many braved the frenzied crowds in the dark of night to head out for great shopping deals.  But not this gal......

I decked the halls!  Well, at least I got a good running start on getting the inside of the house all decorated for the holidays. 

After about 9 hours of it, I have called it a night.  The trees are up and trimmed in the living room - but all my bows are MIA. 

Minus the tree topping bows and ribbons....they're still MIA....
  The garland is lit on the piano top and the hutches - but the front porch is still dark. 

Decked out a little differently this year, but I'm loving it!

The snow globe collection has a new home this year (and I must do something about that cord...)









                                         

As I worked, I alternately listened to Christmas music and popped DVD's in to keep the dogs entertained. 

Check out the elves we've added this year....they make me smile.
And now I am just thankful to be done!   (Or at least at a stopping place until tomorrow.....)

Even though I was busy, I had the time to focus on just how fortunate we are - especially at this time of year.  We have this wonderful, cozy, little cottage that we get to call "HOME".  It is vintage and suits us perfectly.  It is warm and filled with love.  To own our home outright gives us such a feeling of security.  And today I am so thankful to God for this blessing!   As usual, God led us just where we needed to be at this stage in our lives. 

Wishing you all a good night's rest.....

Jane

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 1 - A Day of Thanksgiving

Today kicks off my month-long project of daily posts about the many Blessings in my life for which I am thankful.

It is Thanksgiving ~ a day set aside to be with family and give thanks for the abundance of gifts from God.

I won't stretch and call it a day of rest....no, not really a day of rest.  For today, Eddie and I prepared a traditional Thanksgiving meal for our family.  Turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, yummy yams, fruit salad, pumpkin pie.........well, you get the picture!  It's a lot of work in the kitchen (not to mention the craziness of the supermarket just to get everything).  But, this is a chore which gives me great joy to perform.  And the delicious smells that have filled this house for the past couple of days are a blessing on their own! 

On this day, I am thankful for this special time set aside to lift up prayers of Thanksgiving.  A day to reflect and be with family.  I'm thankful that we are able to prepare such a delicious meal and share it with those we love.  My dad and my mother and Bob were able to sit down and enjoy dinner with us.  Even though the kids were at their Dad's for the midday meal, they headed to our place for a fun supper of leftover turkey and dressing and their fill of desserts!  Today, I'm thankful that they can go back and forth from one home to the other without feeling like they have to choose. 

As I reflect on the day, I think how good God is!  And I am reminded that each day should be a day of thanksgiving....each moment to be lived in a state of thankful praise. 

This holiday season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, seems to me to be the perfect time to focus on that state of thankfulness.  And so I embark on this project of taking the time to post here on The Porch daily, focusing on the many blessings, large and small, in my life.  Journey with me....

Warm hugs....

Jane

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Knocking Back Stress (aka Resisting the Urge)

I'm trying really hard not to feel like I'm running behind!  In the last few days, I have learned that both my daughter, Bonnie, and my mother have put up their Christmas trees and started decking their halls! 

Then I go online and browse through my favorite blogs and see a Winter~Wonderland~Holiday~Bonanza going on out there! 

Oh, my....OH, MY!!!  The temptation, the urge, the feeling of obligation to keep up is pounding at my door!

However, I am truly resisting the urge to start dragging out boxes and crates.  It's an undertaking that simply takes more than one day to accomplish.  I haven't had a day yet to devote......

And perhaps that is a good thing! 

I have decided to view it this way ~

It is too early to decorate for Christmas and Life's pace has reminded me of this.  Next week, after taking the time to stop for a day and give Thanks in an appropriate manner, I will have the rest of a long weekend to prepare our home for Christmas.  This is the way it will be.  This is the way it is working out.  And I accept that.  

So, until next Friday, I am putting self-imposed guilt and stress on hold, refusing them entry into my flow.  While many will venture out in the dark hours of early morning that day, I will sleep in for just a bit.  Then I will get up and have a nice cup of coffee with pumpkin spice creamer in it.  I will dress in comfy sweats and put on Christmas music.  Finally, I will take my time and decorate with holiday cheer until my heart is content. 

Until then, I will just have to settle for reflecting on some of my images of Christmas (and the related decor) Past.......



 





And feel at peace with the way this will fall into place.

Blessings to you on this chilly evening ~

Jane

Monday, November 14, 2011

Under Foot....Defined!

This is what I must contend with when I try to sit down at the desk in my home office.....



Bless his heart!  Jake just doesn't realize that he does NOT fit under the desk!  Every time he does this, he lays on the power strip and shuts me down.  Eddie says "He just wants to be close you.....". 

Side note ~ I recently got the settings on my camera all messed up and out of whack!  Still working on getting it lined out so I will have it ready to grab-on-the-go when I start counting my "30 Days of Blessings" later this month.  I actually have had to pull the owner's manual out to try to figure this out....it will be a tremendous blessing if I can just figure it out!

Loving my pups today!

Jane 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting into the Spirit of Thanksgiving!

Lately, I've been noticing a trend of Thankfulness going around on Facebook.  I'm sure you have seen it - people post each day about something for which they are thankful.  It's a beautiful thing to watch.....

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I've been thinking about starting a project similar to this.  But, I think my blog is a better platform to post about things for which I am thankful. 

As I consider this project, I realize that it is a huge commitment - to post each day about a Blessing in my life.  One Blessing a day - with as much or as little detail as seems appropriate.  Photos included - or not.  But, if I would commit to doing this on a daily basis, it would mean making the effort and taking the time to truly note the Blessing. 

I have been reading a wonderful book - "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. 


 It has inspired me to start keeping a journal of sorts, listing even the smallest "gifts" which I notice.  Part of the act of Thanksgiving is acknowledging these gifts in writing.  It puts our focus directly on the physical impact of the gift - whether it is the pleasurable slant of the sun on an Indian Summer afternoon, or the smell of a pot of stew simmering on the stove.  By dialing in on simple gifts around us, we can learn to live in the moment, no matter what the circumstances. 

And, so now I am contemplating making the commitment, during the busiest season of the year, to stop each day and create a post to share about my own Thanksgiving.  Looking at the calender, it appears that by starting on Thursday, November 24th - Thanksgiving Day, in fact - I can wrap up this project right at day which represents the biggest Gift of all - Christmas. 

I hope you will take time to drop by and share in the Blessings with me.  Perhaps we will find that we have many of the same things that touch our lives and deserve our utmost gratitude. 

Now that I have put it in writing and am sending it out there for all the world to see, I am excited to get started....eager to put my daily post on my list of priorities for an entire month!  For you see, I have so much to be thankful for and I want to make it my practice to focus on all the good things.  They say that it takes three weeks to develop a new habit.  Well, 30 days should get me into a truly good routine!

See you soon! 

Jane

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Welcome, November...

Good morning, November!!!

You have arrived sunny, windy and crisp.  With carved pumpkins still sitting on the steps out front, and leaves drifting down to settle on the lawn.  Like a breath of fresh air, you came during the night.

Now my thoughts turn towards nesting; cozying up on chilly evenings with a cup of steaming cider.  Darkness falls before the dinner hour.  The smell of fireplace smoke floats in the air. 

You are my favorite, you know.  My favorite time of the year.  Before the Christmas frenzy starts, when the world pauses to take a look around and reflect on all the Blessings bestowed in the Harvest. 



Stay for a while and let me take it all in.  Soak up the weakening rays of the sun on late afternoons, scuff along in the leaves.  Enjoy time with the Loved Ones. 

Welcome, November......

Jane

Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...