Friday, December 31, 2021

Recapping 2021 Blessings

 Ringing out the year.  How are you doing it?  New Year's Eve party?  Staying home cuddled up in blankets watching the ball drop in London so you can go to bed early?

One way I want to celebrate saying 'bye to 2021 is to reflect on the blessings from this past year.  Willows' Week Year with Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Our family has survived the big bad virus.  Some of us have had it, but we are all ok.  Right now, we are home because The Professor tested positive with very mild symptoms, but we don't want to expose anyone else.

2.  This year, The Professor and I have made progress on making our house our home.  Projects have been putting on a new roof, building a pergola on our back patio, removing the above ground pool and prepping the area for a new use (coming in 2022), installing a fence around our back area, establishing a vegetable and herb garden area.

3.  We have spent every holiday with our family and celebrated every birthday.  For us, this is the reason we moved 2,400 miles across the US in 2020.

4.  We've been sinking our roots in to the community, getting to know people and places.

5.  My love of knitting continues.  I've created baby sweaters and hats for two new little ones in our new circle of friends.  I've made a couple of warm blankets to add to the stash here at home.  My favorite project, though, was the vest I knitted for a friend, the couple we call our coffee buddies because we try to meet every week for coffee and conversation somewhere in the county.

On to 2022 and new adventures!  Happy New Year, friends!

Monday, December 27, 2021

December Wrapping Up

The fourth week of Advent happened.  PEACE.

And then so did Christmas!

Where did the time go?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  Was yours white?  Ours wasn't, but I have enjoyed the snowy photos my sister-in-law in Oregon has shared with me.

Now it is that week between Christmas and New Years when we pause, take a breath, and eat all the leftover cookies.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Third Friday in December

Happy Friday!  And Happy Fave Fives Day!  Christmas is fast approaching.  Are you ready?  I am pausing and taking a deep breath to focus my attention on the blessings of this past week.  Here are just Five.  (Friday Fave Fives link.)

1.   Third week of Advent.  Joy.

2.  An older missionary colleague asked me about photos I might have of the national missionaries we worked with in our tribal area.  She and her husband had been mentors and teachers to the Hatam pastors before sending them to the Moskona tribe where we were assigned a couple of years later.  I have scanned many of the photos and was able to send them on to her.  Here are three of the Hatam missionaries praying for a newly appointed Moskona church leader.  These men (Bahar, Pete, and Abner) were mentored and then passed on their learning to others.

3.  Browsing the pictures brought back so many wonderful memories-- my younger son and his friend Simson (the son of one of the Hatam missionaries).

Our first village, Meyokda

Wow, this picture brings back memories!  Our Christmas card!
Yes, we are sitting in front of a MAF helicopter--our only means of transportation in and out of our village.

4.  Christmas cards and letters have been arriving in the mailbox!  I love receiving and sending those greetings and updates.

5.  Is it true that it isn't really Christmas until you post a picture of your Christmas tree?  Just in case, here is our tree this year.  Just lights.  No ornaments.  We looked at the tree and decided we liked it the way it is.  (the fave?  super easy)

May you continue to have a JOYous December!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Second Friday of December

Friday Fave Fives coming to you from Willow's Week here at my cottage.

 1.  Second week of Advent.  Peace.

2.  I am recovering quickly from the surgery and no longer need to wear a bandage on my face.  AND the Harry Potter scar is uncovered and noticeable.  (This is the fun part:  "What happened?"  "Voldemort attacked me, but fortunately he was a terrible shot.")

3.  Warm home.  We have had some frigid days and nights this past week.  Every time I walk into the house, I think how blessed I am to have a warm and safe sanctuary.

4.  Cook stove.  On that same theme, I am thankful to be blessed with stove and oven to use for cooking and even heating water to make tea.  Sometimes, I take things like that for granted.

5.Availability.  One of my daughters has needed lots of driving help this week.  I am thankful we can provide that help.  We are healthy and capable to drive.  We have a car.  This is why we moved here.

This week it seems that most of my faves are 'mundane' items.   But maybe the best blessings are the mundane, the simple blessings of the week.

Friday, December 03, 2021

First Friday in December

It's December!  It's Advent!  It's almost Christmas!  It's also Friday and time for Friday Fave Fives with Susanne from Living To Tell the Story.  I love the stories we tell on Fridays--the blessings of the week. 

1.  Christmas stockings.  It may be preliminary to open our Christmas stockings the day after Thanksgiving, but since the New Mexico and Arizona families were leaving that afternoon, we decided we wanted the fun and atmosphere of Christmas to be the final fun for the week.  The children received snow globes, and the adults scored gift cards. 

2.  On Monday, I had a small bit of basal cell skin cancer removed from the bridge of my nose.  Don't panic or worry--it was small, the doctor removed it all, and this type of cancer is not aggressive.  People with light skin and blue eyes (me!) often have these spots removed.  Add to my genetic makeup the fact I spent a decade living at the equator and two decades living in sunny SoCal, I am a prime candidate.  Right now, I look like I was in a fist fight (but you should see the other guy!) and I may have a small Harry Potter style scar for awhile which greatly impressed the grandkids.

3.  Since my activity is limited for a week, The Professor has been taking fine care of me.

4.  Younger daughter has been changing the dressings on the wound.  Since she is in nursing school, this is right in her bailiwick.  Actually, it has been fun.  "Oh, the swelling is down."  "You are healing fast, Mom."  "The doctor did a great job with those stitches."  "How many times did you ice it today?"

5.  First Sunday of Advent.  I love celebrating Advent!  This week is HOPE.

Happy December!  Happy Advent!  HOPE!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Yes, yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the US.  This has been a week of great blessing here at Willow's Cottage.  Blessings and Thanksgiving!  I am sharing this with others who join us with Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Our Arizona family and New Mexico son arrived on Monday!  It was my two sons' first visit to our home.  They have visited their sisters here, but neither had been able to come since we moved here.

2.  Family pictures happened.  Hopefully, we will have some available soon.  Someone took this photo on a cell phone while we were waiting for another set.  Uncle hanging with the young ones.

The Professor with his grandchildren--I snapped this one during another break.

3.  Thanksgiving Day!  Dinner with ALL the family for the first time in a decade. (We also were able to host a couple from our Bible Study class.)  And yes, we were so busy and having so much fun that we never took a single picture of our wonderful dinner of  so much food and SO MANY pies!  Apple, berry, pumpkin, chocolate chip cookie, chocolate pudding and mince pies.  Yeah, my kids love to cook and bake.  All of them.  We love to eat the pies, too!

4.  This morning, we got together one more time before the travelers left for the airport, and we opened our stockings gifts.  What a joy it was for me to see all the stockings hung up together above the fireplace!

5.  PAL is a true Arizona girl.  She has never seen snow.  And she prayed and we prayed, that it would snow.  It did! This morning!  Not much stuck, but she experienced small snowflakes falling on to her tongue and her mittens.

All the blessings of this week will stay with me through this next year.  I am so very thankful my West Coast families were all here to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Five Favorite Thankful Things

It is so close to Thanksgiving Week!  Life is ramping up.  I did start my Friday Fave Fives on Friday, but Life got in the way.  Better late than not at all to be thankful.  Enjoy your week of preparation and celebration!  Here are my Five Favorite Thankful Things from this week.

1.   I thought it was still autumn.  The leaves on the trees are still brilliant and vibrant.  Then why did we get snow?  And why on earth would that be a fave?  Well, I am thankful that we didn't have to go out in the cold.  And really, there wasn't that much snow and it didn't stay around all that long.

2.  On Saturday, we made a trek to another county to visit the local library there, Wagnalls Library.  It is a beautiful and historic place.  Our main reason to visit it was to check it out for having family photos taken next week.  Everyone's response was a resounding, YES, let's do it!  Stay tuned...more to come.

3.  Sunday night, we attended a Big Daddy Weave concert with Younger Daughter and our granddaughter.  I'm not much of a concert goer, but I thoroughly enjoyed this concert.  And Anne Wilson sang with them.

4.  The Professor had another commitment and so what did I do?  Dinner with the rest of the family at Olive Garden!  We were celebrating a personal milestone for Older Daughter, and it was a great time.  I love living near family.

5. Our coffee friends from California, T and S, have been sick.   Since they are well again, we met for... Coffee one morning.  Of course, New Boy loves this because he gets to tag along and enjoy yummy food. Time with friends (oh, you should have listened to the conversation the guys had about linguistics), and fun for New Boy.  He sits and does his school work, mostly all his reading, and sometimes hangs out with us old people a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Be Thankful. Every Day.

 Good morning!  And yes, it is a good morning.  It's sunny and not too cold.  And it's Friday.  Fridays are a fun day for me.  The weekend is almost here and it is Friday Fave Fives time.  November is considered the 'thankful month', but really, every month and every day should be a time of thanksgiving.  And so, here are my thankful things from this week.

1.  Off Daylight Savings Time.  I am happy to be back on 'normal' time.

2.  I have finished a sweater and cap and they are waiting for the hoodie to be knitted, so I can send them to "other daughter" because her son has already outgrown the snuggly sweaters I sent before he was born.

3.  Veteran's Day.  I love to honor all the men in my family who have served in the US military.  My father and his brother, and two uncles, and father-in-law served during WWII.  My husband spent a year in Vietnam.  My brother-in-law was in the US Army Reserve.  My son is currently serving as a USAR Chaplain.  I am thankful for how they willingly have served our country.

4.  November 11th is also Chaplain Dan and Jennifer's wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary X 15 to them!

5.  Finally, since Younger Daughter had the day off from work, she asked if I would hike with her.  We chose a close but unpaved, windy and hilly spot, Flint Ridge State Memorial.  The paths were so covered with leaves that sometimes we were unsure what way to turn or if we were actually on the path.  If in doubt, let the dog lead.  The hike was absolutely beautiful and so refreshing  All. The. Leaves!

Be thankful.  Every day.

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Cold and Sunny

 It is officially COLD here at Willow's Cottage.  For three nights now, the temperatures have plummeted below freezing.  There has been frost on everything in the mornings.  But, at least it has been sunny.  Maybe it is the cold that is slowing me down since I returned from my trip to Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.  That's my excuse, anyway, for not posting photos of our trip and for being so late posting my Friday  Saturday Fave Fives. (you know the drill: click on the link)

1.  Warm blankets and afghans.  I love pulling on one of my handknit blankies and snuggling up in it.  In fact, I am doing that right now.

2.  Freezing temperatures at night mean my garden needed to be put to bed.  The Professor researched and found a way to cover the one bed that still has lettuce, spinach and kale growing in it.  So far, those plants have been snuggly and warm under that frost cover.

3.  The rest of the garden is almost done.  I'm thankful I've been able to get outside during the sunny times of the days and finish that autumn job.

4.  A long and wonderful conversation with a friend from our church in CA.  I miss her sweet fellowship and it was so good to just chat over zoom for two hours.

5.  At my Women's Bible Study, somehow we got on to the topic of contentment and trusting God. (duh)  There were words I needed to hear.  I'm thankful that I have gotten connected.

I hope you are finding all kinds of ways to see the blessings in your life and are grateful for them!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Thankful for Travel

This will be short and sweet because I have been traveling this week.  On the weekend, I will be able to catch up.  What am I thankful for this week?  Willow's Week in Friday Fave Fives (follow the link if you want to join in)

1.  The opportunity to travel.  It really is a privilege to be able to get into your car, drive away and enjoy a new experience.

2.  Beautiful scenery!  Autumn is a great season to travel as the colors are amazing.

3.  There is so much history to experience!  Colonial Williamsburg.  Jamestown.  (lots of photos will be posted as soon as I can sort them out).

4.  Sometimes it works out to visit long time friends.  One evening, we were able to have dinner with a young man and his two daughters who we have known all their lives.  They came to where we were staying and we had the best time.  His wife and the two little ones weren't available for the longer evening travel, so we didn't see them.  But it was a privilege to have those hours with the ones who could come (especially since he is a busy naval officer).

5.  It is wonderful to know you can return home.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Gratitude in Autumn

What made you smile and be thankful this week?  Some weeks, it is just the small things.  Other weeks, it is huge, amazing things.  Whatever God brings in to your life will have ways for you to be grateful.  Here are FRIDAY FAVE FIVES from Willow's Week.  (the link takes you to more!)

1.  When I was at Costco this week, I wandered into the fresh veggies and fruits area where I don't usually go.  Imagine my delight to find RAMBUTAN!  What's rambutan, you ask?  It's a tropical fruit, similar to lychee, that we loved eating when we lived in Indonesia.  The name mean 'hair'.  The reason is obvious when you see the photo.

2.  What's not to love about finding a package on your front porch that you weren't expecting?  And it contained BOOKS!  My beautiful, thoughtful, book loving, librarian daughter-in-law sent me some books by a new to me author.  D.E. Stevenson.  I love anything British, and this author reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge.

3.  The weather has changed.  Time to pull out my warm snuggly AFGHANS!  And one more is almost finished, just in time.

4.  Last night our family drove into the city to attend a showing of the MOVIE Ends of the Earth.  It is produced by Mission Aviation Fellowship, the group of aviators who provided our only means of transportation into the villages where we lived when we were missionaries in Papua, Indonesia.  As you can imagine, we were all so excited to 'see' the places we knew so well.  There was even a clip of one of the national missionaries preaching in OUR little village church.  PLEASE, if you have an opportunity to see this film, GO!

5.  To add joy to our evening, we met a family as we were walking out of the theatre.  Their family member lives in PAPUA!  So we chatted and exchanged information.  The sister even texted her brother--obviously we know the same people and he lives in the town where our children attended boarding school.  What a small and wonderful world!

And here is some fun for you to enjoy...a sign I noticed recently in a local park.  I don't think it is correct...

Friday, October 15, 2021

Best Blessings

FRIDAY FAVE FIVES. (follow the link to read more friends posting their faves)  This is Willow's Week condensed into FIVE BEST BLESSINGS.

1.  Saturday provided opportunities to have a great deal of fun and to show a great deal of patience.  Let me explain.  All the family here decided to drive about two hours south to attend the Renaissance Faire.  It was Viking weekend and we have been excited about enjoying the bagpipes playing and the knights jousting.  All went well with costumes and caravanning. Until.  The last THREE MILES took us THREE HOURS to drive.  Evidently, waaay more people than anyone thought wanted to attend on Saturday.  After two hours of going two miles, The Professor and all the kids jumped out of the two cars and walked the rest of the way.   I'm thankful for finally arriving safely, for good attitudes from everyone, and a fun time at the Ren Faire.

2.  Warm days this week has meant that I have spent hours and hours in my garden.  Mostly I am cleaning and cutting back although we are still eating tomatoes, lettuce and kale daily.  I am so very thankful to have a place to make a garden.

3.  I had a dermatology appointment this week.  Fortunately, there was only one spot that caused the PA to stop and take a small biopsy--just to be sure.

4.  During the evenings this week, we watched some documentaries about Walking Through History with Sir Tony Robinson on Hoopla.  These just made us want to return to England and explore that wonderful countryside and ALL THE HISTORY!

5.  I am so thankful for the wonderful friends we are making in our now home place.  I know I've mentioned our coffee friends.  Every Friday morning we try to meet up and try a new coffee shop around the county.  Good coffee.  Best friends.  You know what I love the most?  Watching the two guys talk nonstop.

BONUS!  Our PAL (youngest granddaughter turned seven (!) this week!  Happy Birthday, PAL!  We love you!

These are just Five Blessings I am thankful for this week.  How about you?

Friday, October 08, 2021

Better Late Than Not At All

 Oh wow!  It's Friday night!  I've had a busy day and am just now sitting down to relax a bit and share my Friday Fave Fives, my weekly discipline of looking back and focusing on the wonderful blessings of my week. (follow that link to join and read of others' thankfulness.)

1.  It doesn't happen often, but Saturday morning all the grandkids are busy and the adults weren't.  So...we took the dogs and enjoyed a morning at a wonderful coffee shop in a neighboring town and then took a long walk on part of the county bike path that we hadn't yet explored.

2.   The leaves are finally just barely turning on the trees.  Maybe autumn is really here.  So much beauty all over the landscape!

3.   Can you believe that this girl is FIFTEEN?  Happy Birthday to our beautiful ZG!  We celebrated with a large group of family at a downtown Columbus restaurant.  (I had to sneak this candid of her as she isn't big on having her photo taken.)

4.  I just have to share this fun photo.  As we were driving New Boy home after school at our house, we noticed this:

What is it???  A UAP? A UFO?  Answer below :)

5.  My brother had a rather major surgery this week.  All is well.  We are so very thankful for excellent healthcare!

That wraps up Willow's Week of many many blessings.  I hope you have a joyful weekend.  Watch for those blessings!

Answer for that UFO?  Did you guess it?  It's a ladybug that landed on our windshield.  It was so cute and I tried to take a picture of it.  The picture didn't turn out so well, but it made a great 'impression'.

Friday, October 01, 2021


 October?  How is it possible?  I know the daylight hours are a bit shorter but it just doesn't feel like October yet.  We've been able to be outside enjoying hikes and bike rides and the weather has been perfect.  There is so much to be thankful for all the time, but this first day of October is just full of blessings.  Here are Five from this week.  I'm sharing with Friday Fave Fives (follow the link).

1.  A new mystery series.  Father Dowling mysteries are set in small town Illinois in the 1970s-80s and center around a Catholic priest who is friends with the chief detective.  Written by Ralph McInerny, they have captivated The Professor and me. They somewhat remind us of Brother Cadfael books.  I admit I love murder mysteries and am glad to have found a new series.

2.  We try to get New Boy (grandson we are homeschooling) out on daily walks for PE.  One day this week we found this little guy hopping across our path.  Can this count as biology too?  I love the diversity of nature!

And here he is in camo...

3.  Garage sale score.  Again.  This week we found a standing lamp for $5!  Perfect for our living room which until now has had NO lights.

4.  On Sunday afternoon, The Professor and I drove to a town about an hour from us where the Frontier Spirit group was doing a weekend of demonstrations about life in 1799-1800.  Our friend is a blacksmith and was making hooks over his fire.  We were equally fascinated by the old surveying equipment and maps in a presentation booth.

5.  My younger girl had a free evening this week, and so did I.  So we enjoyed a yummy dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  Then we spent about an hour finally hanging some pictures on the wall in my house.  Yeah, I know. I've lived here for a year.  I'm really happy with where we chose to display them. (Still have a few to do...)

I hope you enter this new month with joy and gratitude!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Nothing EQUALS Gratitude

 All things being EQUAL, this has been an interesting week.  Weather changes, rain and more rain, sick grandsons (one is better, the other not yet), harvesting tomatoes [so many tomatoes].  I am thankful for all the blessings of this week, and I am sharing with you to encourage you.  For more encouragement, you can go to Susanne's blog, Living to Tell the Story and find other FRIDAY FAVE FIVES.

1.  It's officially fall.  We've passed the EQUINOX.  That means (maybe) that our temperatures will moderate.   The fave of this?  Our weather this week has been cool and rainy already.

2.  I make a point of reading books about the Holocaust (like the book I recommended two weeks ago).  I wouldn't say I enjoy reading them, but I think it is important to keep these stories in people's minds and hearts.  This week I read Jack and Rochelle, an autobiographical memoir of two young Jewish people who survived and fought in a partisan group in Eastern Poland during World War II.  I highly recommend reading it!

3.  A drive around Amish Country.  This was our first trip to visit Amish Country which is about an hour away from where we live.  Besides the obvious horses and black buggies, we simply enjoyed driving through the rural areas of our state.  Stopping at one of the shops, we chose a few items to try.

4.  On Saturday, we joined Younger Daughter and her doggie Shep (he's a Bernese Mountain Dog) for a 'walk in the woods'.  Most of the time we were on a paved path, but we did take a turn onto a path that was quite overgrown.  We love those spontaneous detours.  And we love our hikes.  And Shep loves his Bapa.  I am so thankful for beautiful places to walk in nature, for living near my girls, for the health to be able to do so much outdoors.

5.  The trees are just beginning to lose their leaves; some are starting to change colors.  We have enjoyed our summer walks, but autumn walks are the BEST.  Stepping on all the crunchy leaves.  There is no EQUAL!

And bonus!  Barns!

Enjoy this first week of fall as we enjoy the AUTUMNAL EQUINOX.