Monday, November 28, 2011

'Tis the season...for Christmas cards

Joe and I are back home from a fun and full Thanksgiving weekend with my side of the family. The time went all too quickly, as it always does, but we're again reminded just how blessed we are with the family God has given us. Each one of them is so special! Hopefully I'll have a chance to share more details and photos from our time later on.

On our drive home last night we had fun talking about how we'll be decorating for Christmas this year - extra fun, with an all-new home to make pretty and festive. :) We'll also need to be getting our year-end letter written up and cards mailed out. It's been quite a year for us and trying to decide how to summarize all that has happened will be an interesting challenge.

Speaking of cards (awkward transition alert :cough: )...TinyPrints is quickly becoming one of my favorite card-printing websites. Over the past year they've had several promos for free cards as well as some incredible sales, and I've been thrilled with the printing quality each time I've placed an order. Their designs are beautiful and very high-quality - and as a perfectionistic designer myself, this is a compliment Idon't give lightly. The designs are actually so good that just browsing through the gallery is great inspiration for me as a designer. Check out their great Christmas card selection here if you don't believe me! ;)

Each TinyPrints card I've ordered has been very easy to customize with photos and text. I've had a grand time making some really fun cards for Joe, incorporating inside jokes and silly photos. And with prices this cheap, I can't understand why anyone ever buys ordinary, boring, non-personalized cards that are available in stores. Seriously! I sure don't. Short of having time to create custom-made cards by hand - something I and precious few others seem to have time for these days - TinyPrints cards are the perfect solution for any occasion.

And yes, another reason I like TinyPrints is the deals they have for bloggers, like the one I'm participating in now. Free cards for writing up an honest review about a site I'm already a big fan of? Count me in! :) The hardest part will be choosing which card(s) to order.

So tell me: which one(s) would you choose?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GreaThings 2011: Today I'm thankful for... (2 days of catchup)

Catching up's yesterday's post.

GreaThings 2011

Today I'm thankful for...

I'd always heard people say that marriage has a way of showing a person their faults and selfishness, and well, now I can vouch for the truthfulness of that statement. Such has certainly been the case for me, though not in a hopeless, depressing way. Instead I find myself all the more grateful for God's grace and forgiveness - and for a husband who consistently demonstrates that grace to me as well. Never once has he he been condemning, even when I've made some ridiculously stupid mistakes. This graciousness and forgiveness is a precious thing indeed, and it's helping me comprehend and accept God's grace in a new way. I pray I may in turn show it to others!

And today's post:

Important things I'm learning about gratitude

One thing I've been learning this year (or re-learning, really) is the importance of verbally expressing gratitude, not only to God, but also to others. This has a two-fold benefit:

1) The recipient of the thanks will be encouraged, and motivated to continue doing things for others. And it just might be that their love language (like mine!) is words of affirmation, so your words may mean far more to them than you realize.

2) You will be encouraged, too. There's something about verbally expressing gratitude that impresses the blessings even deeper in our minds. Guess that's what the hymn is talking about in that line: "Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." Just as griping makes a person feel more depressed, speaking words of gratitude is sure to cheer anyone up. Definitely worth a try!

I try to remember to thank Joe for little things he does around the house, for the times he so kindly puts up with my grumpy or emotional days, and for the ongoing responsibilities he handles responsibly and without complaining. My goal is for our home to have an attitude of cheerful gratitude, and even though we certainly often fall quite short we just get up and keep trying. Life is too short to be ungrateful and unhappy about everything, and we are very blessed indeed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

GreaThings 2011: Today I'm thankful for... (3 days of catchup)

It's been a super busy and stressful week here, so I'm catching up from the last few days...

GreaThings 2011

Today I'm thankful for...
Difficult experiences

This year I have sought to be more aware than ever of how God is using difficulties for my good. Even though there have certainly been many times I just can't figure out what He's doing, having this perspective does help me trust Him and be more aware of the reasons that He does reveal to me.

Several specific situations come to mind when considering this past year. First of all, Joe's ongoing job uncertainty, lasting for 10 of our first 11 months of marriage. As stressful as this ordeal was, it gave us a great opportunity to learn a lot about trusting God as a couple, and praying together as we waited for His answers. We learned how to encourage each other and be strong for each other during the more stressful times, and together we saw God amazingly answer our prayers at just the right time and in a way better than we had thought possible for a while. This was very faith-strengthening, and definitely drew us together as a couple.

Another faith-tester this past year has been waiting for God to bless us with a child. We had hoped (and rather expected) to get pregnant soon after the wedding...but God obviously had other plans. This area, too, has given us a good chance to pray together and trust God and encourage each other. Though we are eager for our family to grow, at the same time we are genuinely grateful for the "extended honeymoon" season and the quality time it has given us to focus on our marriage, getting to know each other much better.

God's timing is indeed perfect, all He allows is for our good, and we look forward to seeing what He has for us in the years ahead!

Yesterday's post...

Today I'm thankful for...
The Internet

At the risk of sounding pathetically nerdy (lol), I'm going to use the "I" assignment for today's gratitude post to talk about how much I'm thankful for the Internet. As much as I get frustrated with technology at times, wishing I could go back to the "good ol' days," I really do appreciate the many amenities it has brought to my life.

Without the internet, I...
~ Couldn't keep in touch with friends and family all around the world. I mean, there is the telephone and snail mail, but I don't like using the former very much, and have little time for the latter these days.
~ Couldn't do graphic design work from home, at least not very effectively. I'm able to work with clients around the globe, and access all kinds of needed information and assets. To try to do this without the internet would be a severe handicap.
~ Couldn't access all kinds of free information. I'm always looking up the answer to something I'm curious about or trying to learn. There's such a wealth of knowledge out there for anyone with half a mind to learn!
~ Couldn't get by on such a small budget. I'm always getting something free online: listening to free streaming music, printing off coupons, signing up for freebies, and so on. We definitely more than recoup our monthly internet access fee!

And most of all, it's extremely unlikely that Joe and I would have ever met or gotten to know each other were it not for the internet. It was definitely what God chose to use to bring us together, and we're sure very thankful for that. :D

And today's post...

Today I'm thankful for...
"Normal" days

Joe and I are both homebodies to a large extent, so we have many quiet evenings here at home. Going out or spending time with others can be wonderful, too, but I do greatly enjoy our "normal" routine and the quiet activities we enjoy doing together. Whether it is me working on handwork while Joe reads aloud, eating popcorn and hot chocolate while watching a movie, laughing over Facebook statuses or Youtube clips, or having him read our daily Bible chapters while I make supper...there is a happiness in the simplicity and "normalcy" of these activities.

When I am tempted to feel lonely or wish I had a car to go do shopping or visiting, I try instead to remember how much I am grateful for what IS. If God blesses our home with children someday, a new "normal" will replace these quiet, predictable times and I'm sure I will think back on them with fondness. May I enjoy them fully now, and thank God for them!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Books for sale!

You'll notice in the left sidebar a series of links to purchase the books I co-wrote, The Truth Chronicles, through Amazon. You are more than welcome to use those links, however, you can also purchase these books from me directly. For a scant $25 I will sign and ship all three books right to your door! Unfortunately, because my co-author lives so far away, I can't get his autograph, but he works for Answers in Genesis at the Creation Museum, so you might be able to find him there and get his signature. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GreaThings 2011: Today I'm thankful for... (T)

Catching up from yesterday...

GreaThings 2011

Today I am thankful for...

I've been realizing lately just how valuable time is. Each of us has a limited number of minutes here on earth, and we never know how many are left. Not to be gloomy, but it's a fact. I want to consciously "live in the moment" and be thankful for all the blessings God has packed into each day.

I'm thankful for each moment I enjoy with my wonderful husband; I'm thankful for friends who generously choose to spend time with me, whether via email, online chat, phone calls, or in person; I am thankful for all the time my family has invested in me over the years, through the good times and the bad.

May God grant me grace and wisdom to use each moment wisely, worthily, gratefully!


And then for today's post...

How you make thanksgiving a part of your daily life

Admittedly, this is something I need to keep as a higher daily priority. In the past I have kept gratitude journals and such, which can definitely be helpful in building habits. Right now, I mostly try to be alert whenever I fall into an attitude of complaining or whining, making a conscious effort to focus instead on what is good and positive. And sometimes I fail very miserably. :P

One helpful thing is the time that Joe and I spend praying together each day before he leaves for work. He is always great about focusing on how much we have to be thankful for, and our prayer time is very refreshing and steadying for me: always a highlight of my day.

Yes, I am blessed indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GreaThings 2011: Answered prayers and miracles

GreaThings 2011

Today I am thankful for...
Answered prayers and miracles

Wow, where do I even start? We have seen God answer so many, many prayers over this past year: some of them as "small" as granting us restful sleep or a productive night's work, and others much larger.

Our biggest, ongoing prayer request this year was in regards to Joe's job. Ten months of uncertainty and stress also included one answered prayer after another. Joe was able to pass a number of tests, he received much help and sympathy from his supervisor and coworkers, and through it all we both experienced a great degree of peace, a peace that made no sense from a human perspective. And then, in His characteristically unique and faith-testing way, He brought along a new job at the very last minute. The way everything fell into place when the time was right left us without a single doubt that it was of His doing - and a very direct answer to the prayers of many who were lifting us up.

Even since moving here to Des Moines we have seen many clear answers to prayer. God has given us peace and wisdom in one very stressful situation in particular, bringing about joyous victory. He has brought us to a church fellowship, the first we attended here since moving, which has already been a blessing and encouragement. We have seen His fingerprints in a million tiny ways each day, and we are unspeakably grateful.

We are trying to keep a written record of these answered prayers and miracles in a special journal, knowing the importance of remembering all God has done. We are human and so quick to forget...yet He keeps pouring the blessings on in abundance. What an incredible Father!

Monday, November 14, 2011

GreaThings 2011: All my friends...

This is a continuation of a two-week series of posts that I have been doing on my personal blog; wanted to share it here as well. :)

GreaThings 2011

Today I'm thankful for...
All my friends

Is it cheating to sneak this in under the "A" heading for today? ;) Samantha had a good point in her comment on yesterday's post: I could have saved my "anniversary" gratitude writeup for today. Ah, well. :)

All my friends, though. Yes, I am very thankful for each of you. Today I was able to catch up with Tammy with a 1.5 hour phone call, and then this evening Tara called while I was making supper. I feel so blessed that these girls - and so many of the rest of you - have been there for me through the years despite the many miles that separate us.

You have lifted me up when I've needed encouragement and prayer, you have rejoiced with me when I've had good news and shared sympathy and good advice when things are tough. You have set an example of Christ-like love and unselfishness, in so many ways I don't begin to deserve - and probably far moreso than most of you realize.

I am a rich woman indeed to have each of you in my life. I thank God for you often, and look forward to many, many more years of sharing the journey together. :grouphug:

Test Post

So my brilliant wife took the time to dig out how we could both log into the blog with different logins. I'm just writing a test post to see how it signs when I post it. Enjoy!


Hi! Joe here, writing the first post of the joint blog Abi and I are going to be managing. We aren't the most prolific of posters on either of our individual blogs, so we'll see how this works out. ;)

We're starting our 6th week of living in Des Moines, and I think we're finally (mostly) settled in. There's a bit of unpacking and decorating to do yet, but for the most part, we're feeling quite at home. We've had the opportunity for Abi's family to visit us a couple of times, even had Abi's sister Susanna and my dad stay the first night we were here, had Abi's friend Elysse stay for a night, and had Abi's friend Helena and her husband Aaron over for a visit just this past Saturday evening. It's been a lot of fun to have company both in Rochester and here, and we're looking forward to being able to do that as much as possible.

We've been attending a small church not too far away, Bethany Baptist Church (link at the bottom of the main page) and have really been enjoying it. We're starting to get to know people, and everyone has been incredibly friendly. As long as God allows, we're looking forward to serving there.

My job at the VA Hospital is going well. Slowly but surely some of the material I learned in college is coming back to me. I'm working in the Hematology Department right now, which, I admit, isn't my favorite place to work, but oh well. In the grand scheme of things, I likely won't spend all of my time there anyway.

Abi keeps busy with several graphic design projects. It has been a tremendous blessing for her to be able to stay home and have such a good job, as well as for her to match her schedule to whatever I am working. She'll really be put to the test when I go from days, to evenings, to nights, and back to evenings, all in a 2-3 month timeframe.

Well, I think that's it for now. Supper's on the table, and I'm definitely hungry. And then it's bedtime. I feel so old going to bed before 9, but to get up at 5, I find it necessary. :P

God bless!