New Year’s Symphony

My final post for the year. Already, it has come to this. In a matter of minutes, everything will bear the date of 2015. That’s hard to believe, especially considering I wrote 2013 on something just last month. I was finally getting used to writing 2014, and now I have to readjust again.

I didn’t accomplish everything I planned to in 2014. In fact, most of my plans were turned upside down or torn up completely. Most of my accomplishments were entirely unplanned. In some ways, I’ve changed dramatically, and in others I still have a great deal of growing to do. Still, I don’t feel totally like the girl who crossed from 2013 into 2014, and I know I have the chance to change entering 2015. No matter how many resolutions I failed in the past, something about a brand new year fills me with hope: Hope to do more, see more, be more. To change more and make more.

For a girl who typically resists change, I tend to stack too much of it on the brink of each New Year.  I once made a dozen resolutions, only to forget them all by Valentine’s Day.

So this year, even though I have goals, I don’t want to make them the center of my plans. After all, if there’s one thing I have learned this year, it’s that plans change. I’m tired of making long lists where I either quit and feel like a failure, or succeed yet still feel empty. My desire is for 2015 to be a deeper year, one of true growth. I don’t want to measure my success this year by how much I produce or earn, but by the person I become.

Yes, I’m still going to try the usual things, like getting healthier and becoming more organized. What I really want, though, is to change my way of living. I don’t want this to be another year where I miss the miracles around me, where I go through each day and forget about the One who gave me those days.

I found these beautiful words from William Ellery Channing a while ago, but I’ve adopted them as my mantra for 2015.

 To live content with small means, 
To seek elegance rather than luxury, 
    and refinement rather than fashion. 
To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. 
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly,
to listen to stars, birds, babes, and sages with open heart,
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. 
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, 
    grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony. 

– William Ellery Channing, “My Symphony”

To remind me of this each day, I made some simple quote prints. Each time I see them, I hope I’ll remember that life is a miraculous gift. 2014 was a gift, despite coming in an assorted box of good and bad, and 2015 will be the same way.

Symphony bird printSymphony tree print

If you would like to share that reminder, you can download the free prints in 8×10 size here, or in postcard format here. For the 8×10 size, there is a design with birds, a text-only one, and one featuring trees. The postcards are printed with either birds or trees. 

As the final notes of this year fade into silence, and the symphony begins to play for 2015, I hope our new songs will be beautiful. No matter what changes come- both in our control and out of it- I pray we will have courage and strength. I pray that when we don’t, we will allow ourselves to be carried and comforted by God’s unfailing love, and covered in His grace.

Most of all, I pray we will make the most of every new beginning. Of our fresh year, and each fresh day in it.

Happy New Year, dears! May your days in 2015 be filled with unsinkable joy, unshakable peace, and unwavering hope.

I’m looking forward to sharing another year with you.

Blog SignatureP. S. Be sure to check out these inspiring New Years Posts from a couple of my favorite bloggers, as well. 🙂

2014 Going on 2015 from Rana at the Villain Authoress 

Turn to Face the New Year from Miriam at Wishful Thinking 

A Janeite Must Be in Want of These Gifts

Happy December, dears!

I keep recounting the days, but there’s officially less than a month until Christmas. Gingersnaps.

I always have great ideas for gifts throughout the year and then the generous creativity freezes up right around December. And then, in the middle of figuring out what I should give others, they ask me what I want.

Um… How about… socks? Leg warmers? I don’t know. I want too many things all year, but nothing at all around Christmas.

So partly because I personally like these gifts, and partly because I would LOVE to give them, I have assembled some geeky gift guides. I listed more categories than I originally planned, so this will actually be a series.

The first installment is in honor of my favorite authoress ever, Miss Jane Austen.

As most of my friends and all of my family can attest, it is a truth universally acknowledged that I am a bit obsessed with all things Austen. All right, perhaps more than a bit. 

To all my fellow Janeites, and the people who shop for them, I present gifts that a Janeite must be in want of.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for these links. I am sharing them purely because I love these items. 

Jane Austen Gifts Collage

  1. Jane Austen Couple Postcards from Castle on the Hill, Etsy – I love everything about this artist’s Jane Austen prints, especially that the background includes text from the novel! These postcards especially caught my eye because the set includes all the favorite Austen pairs. I’m not sure I could bear to mail them; they would probably end up framed instead.
  2. Mr. Darcy Proposal Scarf from Brookish, Etsy – This entire shop tempts me mercilessly. I’m particularly fond of how soft this scarf looks, and the color is lovely, as is the script of Darcy’s famous proposal.
  3. Pride & Prejudice Pouch from Out of Print Clothing – I never have enough pouches for things, and I could never resist one with a Jane Austen design
  4. The Jane Austen Handbook, available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble – One of my best friends gave me this for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I never get tired of reading through it. This little guide is both witty and insightful; I appreciate the Regency world even more now, and thanks to this book, might be able to survive if I were transported back in time.
  5. Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth Bennett Artwork from Masha Laurence, Etsy – This artist renders the most exquisite Jane Austen prints. I have three of them framed in my room, and wish I had space for more. Especially this charming portrait of Mr. Darcy and Lizzie.
  6. Mr. Darcy Note cards from Brookish, Etsy – Once again, I would probably never send these, but they are lovely.
  7. Places of Pride & Prejudice Tee Shirt from Brookish, Etsy – It makes no difference to me that the general public may not know where Longbourne is. I would wear this most proudly.
  8. Captain Wentworth Slouchy Sweatshirt from Brookish, Etsy– Move over, Mr. Darcy. I personally consider Captain Wentworth’s proposal to be the most romantic of all. This tee shirt proves it.
  9. Pride & Prejudice Mobile Phone Case from a Case of Creative, Etsy – I do believe I need a new case… 😉
  10. Half Agony, Half Hope Mug from Brookish, Etsy – Further proof that Captain Wentworth deserves more credit. I also like this quote on the mug, because it reminds me of the “half full, half empty” way of looking at a glass. Odd, I know.
  11. A Jane Austen Devotional, available from Barnes & Noble or Amazon – Yes, there is even a devotional for Janeites! This little book is truly inspiring, and through it, I have learned a great deal from my favorite Austen characters. Besides, who wouldn’t want another way to infuse Austen into your daily routine?
  12. Jane Austen Library Brooch from Jezebel Charms, Etsy – Two of my favorites: Austen and the Dewey Decimal System. Purely awesome.
  13. Pride & Prejudice Tote from Out of Print Clothing – A bag to match the adorable pouch! A perfect pair, like Darcy and Lizzie.
  14. Jane Austen Quote Tea Towel from the Velvet Vine, Etsy – This charming tea towel is printed with one of my favorite Jane-isms: “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”

And there is nothing like giving a Janeite an Austen inspired gift! Are you a Janeite, or do you have one in your life? What other Regency presents would you add to this list?

Happy Christmas!

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Thanks for Nothing

Thanks for Nothing

I have so much to be thankful for. It crosses my mind at random intervals throughout the year, but at Thanksgiving, it’s so much plainer. Towards the end of November, life seems to glow with gratitude. As the season crosses into Christmas, I want to sing and smile at strangers and express thanks for everything.

But there is one thing I’m not thankful for. I have trouble being thankful for nothing.

It’s an odd statement, and I’m pretty sure it’s grammatically incorrect, so let me explain.

When everything is going my way, when life is busy and bustling with blessings, it’s easy for me to be grateful. It’s second nature to give thanks for each good thing, for each answered prayer and successful step forward. When my dreams come true; when I get the job I wanted; when the words come smoothly, the “thank you’s” flow freely.

In the times when nothing is happening, though, when nothing is working out the way I planned, and I feel like I know nothingI don’t consider being thankful. How can I be, when there isn’t something to be thankful for? Who says thanks for nothing? 

I don’t. When nothing is going as I want it to and I feel stuck in that nothingness, my response is not to be grateful. It’s to sulk and mope about how nothing is going right. Nothing is happening. Nothing is changing. 

Although this year has been a whirlwind of change for me, it’s also been spaced out with empty caverns of nothingness. I’ve hated those “nothing” times. As difficult as change is for me, being stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the midst of seemingly nothing, is worse. I’m only thankful when I get out of those places!

Yet looking back, and then looking ahead and wondering if I’ll be in another “nothing” stage soon, I’ve realized something. Those times of stillness, when nothing happens and I go nowhere, have been some of the most life-shaping seasons for me. In every long stretch of “nothing”, something actually has been happening. God has gracefully been teaching me patience. He’s been holding me back when the time isn’t right for something else. He has given me these pauses so I can breathe, and rest, and simply wait and be still. 

Those moments of nothing are when I should be most thankful. Rather than being anxious about what may be ahead, and when I’ll get to it, I should actually pay attention to the powerful words found in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Every time I’ve read that verse, I’ve paid attention to the prayer and supplication part. Do you know which part I’ve ignored? With thanksgiving. 

Don’t be anxious; be thankful. Even when there is a cause for anxiety, give thanks.

In everything and in nothing, give thanks.

This Thanksgiving, I want to say thanks, even for those times of “nothing.” …Especially for those times of nothing.

give thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! In the times of everything and of nothing, I pray you’ll be blessed.

What are you thankful for this year?

Also, on a mostly unrelated note, what kind of pie do you prefer? The pumpkin pie pictured above gave me a craving, but there are some scrumptious apple pies in my kitchen at the moment too. How does a girl choose?

One last thing before I go for the pie and whipped cream: Thank you for being a reader and friend here! I can’t express my gratitude, and how much it means to share the journey with you. It’s another thing I truly give thanks for.

Happy Stuffed-Like-A-Turkey Day!

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