Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Sunset of 2011

2011 has been a great year. It presented many challenges but I feel like I'm on the upswing and, God willing, 2012 will be even better. One of my great joys is photography. I took these photos with my little pink camera while talking with my Mom on the telephone tonight. I thought the sky was pretty although I wasn't able to hold the camera as steady as I would have liked with only one hand. Hope you enjoy the sunset photos anyway! The middle photograph shows that the moon had risen already even though the sun hadn't fully set yet. Happiest New Year wishes dear reader! May God bless you in 2012 and always!

New Year's Prayer Haikus

Photograph by Phyllis W.

New Year Haiku I:
Please guide me, mold me
Help me please you more each day
Blessed Lord Jesus.

New Year Haiku II:

Grow Your love in me
Help me be what You desire
Savior of my soul.

It's New Year's Eve. Before bed last night, after prayer time and a bit of thought about the upcoming New Year, I wrote these short poems. I hope they encourage you. 

We don't have to wait for a new year, however, to have a fresh start. As Pastor Joshua Otte says, "Jesus guarantees a fresh start EVERYDAY of the year, not just the FIRST DAY of the year."
Put your trust in Jesus and you can know true peace and joy. More information available here

 Happiest New Year wishes to you and may God bless you today, throughout the New Year and always!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Yuletide Hearts - Recommended Reading

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ruth Logan Hearne's Yuletide Hearts over the Christmas holiday. While this recommendation is unsolicited I do need to disclose that the author ran a contest on and I won the book through that contest (the book was a free gift). Ms. Hearne likes to be called Ruthy and she is a complete dear. She even wrote a personal inscription for me (second photo) and it was such a precious experience to read a book in these loving circumstances. But back to the book. It was a fun to read feel good story about two military veterans who overcome personal challenges to find love at Christmas time. I loved the interspersed quotes, especially the Churchill ones. If you're looking for a cozy Christmas romance book with strong notes of Christian faith, you'll enjoy this book.

Happiest holiday wishes and may God bless you and those you love!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

National Christmas Tree Ornament Photos

As mentioned in my previous post, I love seeing the handmade ornaments crafted each year for our National Christmas tree. This year the honor went to California as you can probably guess based on the themes of some of the ornaments. I thought the contributors did a great job and hope you enjoy this little taste of our National Christmas tree's ornaments for 2011. All photos by me.

I wish you a joyous New Year. May God bless you this holiday season and always!

National Christmas Tree Photos

 Photograph by Phyllis W.

  Photograph by Phyllis W.

 Photograph by Phyllis W.

After church on Christmas day we went to see the National Christmas tree again (when we went earlier this month the tree was cordoned off because it was still being decorated). There was a surprisingly large number and wide diversity of people viewing the tree. It was great hearing so many languages spoken together and seeing the hand made decorations on the tree. I hope you had a very merry Christmas and wish you a blessed New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus!

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
(Luke 2: 10-14, KJV)

Photo by naygyl from

"Grant us, Father, hearts of worship
At this time of Jesus’ birth;
We would see anew His glory
Shine throughout this sin-cursed earth." —D. De Haan on today's Our Daily Bread.

Today we celebrate Jesus Christ's birthday, His coming to earth in human form for the express purpose of saving our souls. Happy birthday dear Jesus!

We are all sinners in need of our Savior. Only by God's grace and Christ's sacrifice can we be saved. Let's praise God and worship Him today and every day. Let the joy of salvation flood through every cell of our beings. God loves us so much! Glory to God in the highest! Merry Christmas to you and may You know His peace and blessing.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Funny Caracal Christmas Photos

Christmas Eve at the National Zoo was full of pleasant surprises. We happened to visit the caracal exhibit shortly after their Christmas gifts were placed in their habitat (a caracal is much larger than a house cat but significantly smaller than a lion). It was fun to watch them open their presents (which contained bloody meaty bones and I spared you those pictures even though the big cats definitely enjoyed their treats).

Hope you enjoyed these funny caracal cat photos. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! May God bless you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Cat Elf

Merry Christmas from our home and hearts to yours! I had a lot of laughs photographing our elderly cat, Moose, in her elf costume. The package indicated that the costume was sized for a small dog so I thought it would work on our 12 pound cat but it was really too large and she was swimming in it. Lucky for me she was more interested in the roofers working on my neighbor's house than on our photo session. Still, I made it as fast as possible for her and rewarded her with her favorite cat treats.

May God bless you this Christmas and always!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Roses in December

Photograph by Phyllis W.
The roses in my Maryland yard have succumbed to the winter temperatures but in Washington D.C. you can still find some rose bushes with fresh blooms. What a pleasant surprise and joy to smell the sweet scent of fresh roses still growing on their bushes today! May you be blessed with something as special or even better!

Photograph by Phyllis W.

Historic Annapolis Gingerbread House Contest

Yesterday while enjoying a rainy walk in downtown Annapolis we decided to check out the 2011 Historic Annapolis Gingerbread House Contest. The room smelled divine and the creations were unlike any gingerbread houses I'd seen before so I thought you might enjoy seeing some of them too. Merriest Christmas and happiest holiday wishes to you and yours!

Recommended: Rocky Mountain Heirs Christian Romance Series

Photo by Phyllis W.
This week I finished the final book in Steeple Hill's Rocky Mountain Heirs series, Kathryn Springer's The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion (pictured above). I enjoyed each of the books and while they could be read out of order I'd recommend reading them in order that they were released as the final book will me more meaningful that way. This series was a fun and easy yet heartwarming and inspirational read. Merriest Christmas wishes to you and yours!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Endearing Deer Family

Visited the Audubon Naturalist Society's Woodend Sanctuary for the first time today and was treated to several deer sightings. This clip is of what I suspect is a family with a doe, a juvenile offspring and a younger offspring. The white tail on the baby deer is just gorgeous. I don't actually know much about deer except that they're beautiful and this sighting brought me joy. May God fill your heart with joy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cheetah Love

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this display of brotherly cheetah love today at the National Zoo. It was a blessing and joy to see the cheetahs snuggling and grooming each other. I couldn't decide which photo I liked best so you get to see all three. Hope you enjoy them and may God bless you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 10 Quotes from "Completely Irresistible"

Photograph by Phyllis W.

Usually I call my favorite quotes from any given book "Book Notes" but seeing that I had exactly ten from author Shannon Ethridge's completely enjoyable book I couldn't resist this title. The quotes are in order that they appeared in the book. I photographed the book's cover before passing it on but the photo seems to have disappeared from my computer. 
I chose this white rose picture to symbolize the purity of loving others because we love God. Love really is our highest calling!
  1. p. 13 “Am I doing all that I can to fulfill every dream God has for my life?”
  2. p. 14 “Is what you’re living for worth Christ dying for?”
  3. p. 27 “When we encourage people to live their best Christian life, we are being the best friend we can be. We are drawing them toward God’s love.”
  4. p. 47 (prayer) “Heavenly Father, Thank you for the many blessings You bestow upon us. We acknowledge there are many people in the world, some who have less, some who have more, who need to hear of Your saving grace. Give us favor with men and women from all walks of life, so that we can effectively draw them toward Your extravagant love. Amen.”
  5. p. 70 “‘Continually thinking of ways to encourage and spur one another (and ourselves) toward ‘outbursts of good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24). Rather than waste our energies throwing stones at those who lack integrity, let us invest our energies in modeling integrity, as well as praising others who do the same.”
  6. p. 119 “Paul visited believers in order to encourage them and help them grow in the Lord (Acts 18:23).”
  7. p. 128 “As you seek to attract others to Christianity, remember that you’ll never do so by being legalistic about what Christians should and should not do. Forget the rules. Focus on relationships instead. Encourage people to center their lives around what really matters - cultivating a lifestyle of passion and purpose through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”
  8. p. 129 “ Focus on the fact that Christianity is not about keeping rigid rules, but about keeping [God] first in our lives.”
  9. p. 132 “Love isn’t love unless it speaks the truth, and truth isn’t truth unless it’s spoken in love."
  10. p. 132 "Sincere love and genuine truth always go hand in hand.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Frosty Foliage Photos

Even weeds can bring joy when beautifully covered in frost. I took these photos in my yard this morning. The sun had started to melt the frost off of the holly (center) but the weeds (top) and the scented geranium foliage were in the shade and still quite frosty. God's creation is amazing!

Decorating the Capitol Christmas Tree

On December third my husband and I went to see the Capitol Christmas tree in Washington D.C. and were surprised to find it being decorated when we arrived. This year the tree and its decorations were provided by California residents (more information available here). We couldn't get close enough to admire the individual decorations so we'll be making another trip later this month. Every year a different state takes responsibility for this and the decorations are usually done by grade school children. It brings me joy to view the children's artistic contributions. May joy be yours in abundance this Christmas season and always!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Panda Eating Bamboo

Enjoyed a trip to the National Zoo with my husband this weekend. The amount of bamboo a panda eats in a day is really amazing. God sure did create our world with a lot of diversity!

In this short movie clip the panda chows down on its bamboo and then apparently takes a drink from the fountain in its habitat. Movie credit goes to my husband Ben.

May God bless you!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Self Talk for Decluttering

 Open skies symbolize open spaces and openness to change. 
Photo by Ben W.

Decluttering is a way to love yourself, those with whom you live and those to whom you open your home. Here is some positive self talk for clearing your clutter.
  • I love clear, open spaces.
  • I am fully able to declutter my home (office, garage, etc.) and I understand that seeking help (if needed) is a sign of maturity and responsibility.
  • I bless others with the things I don't love, use or need.
  • I schedule time to declutter in reasonable blocks so that I make progress but am not overwhelmed.
  • I understand that things and memories are separate. 
  • I respect the storage capacity of my house; when things start to get overcrowded I thin out my belongings. 
  • I make decisions quickly and responsibly.
  • I choose to keep only what blesses my family.
  • I deserve a clean, organized and beautiful home.
  • Decluttering frees me to live the life of my dreams.
Note: Partially inspired by and Maria Gracia's Nov. 13-19, 2011 Get Organized Now e-newsletter article titled Bring Out the Clutter Warrior in Yourself.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bless Your Day With A Walk

I love going for walks outside and think that going for a walk is a blessing at any time of day. It can be a quiet time of prayer and moving meditation or an opportunity to catch up with a friend or loved one. Walks tend to lift my spirit and clear my head. May you have the blessing of a great walk today!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smithsonian Castle's Christmas Tree

My husband Ben took these Christmas tree photos in a recent trip to the Smithsonian's Castle in Washington D.C. I loved the little feathered owl decorations. I wanted to touch them and see if they were as soft as they looked but because the tree was cordoned off I figured that wasn't allowed. It was a beautiful sight. Merry Christmas and may God bless you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Amy Tan Attitude Quote

Loved this quote by Amy Tan so I decided to pair it with a pretty photo. Not sure whether I took this one or my husband did so the photo credit might go to Ben (my husband). If you have trouble reading the print on the photo the Amy Tan quote is: "If you can't change your fate, change your attitude." I found it on page 196 of the October 2011 issue of Reader's Digest. I think it's great advice but remember to pray too. God is great at molding our attitudes when we submit to His will. I personally find it a lot easier to change my attitudes to more positive ones when I am right with God.

May God bless you and those you love!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pull Yourself Up

On a recent trip to the National Zoo it was fun to watch the red panda cubs climbing around in their habitat. If they fall down they just pull themselves up again without complaining, crying or feeling sorry for themselves. It's a good lesson for us humans to remember (myself included).

To reinforce the idea of pulling yourself up but with a much more powerful message, I'd like to share a quote from a highly inspirational woman who not only pulled herself up, but bettered the situation of many women and helped change the course of history. In the October 2011 issue of Reader's Digest there's a great article about Leymah Gbowee and on page 190 she is quoted as saying: "Wherever you find yourself, you can pull yourself up. Nothing can stop you from being what you want to be." I plan on reading her book, "Mighty Be Our Powers," in the near future.

May God bless you and help you pull yourself up the next time you need it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Healthy Chocolate Berry Banana Smoothie

This tasty yet healthy smoothie was absolutely delicious. It's the first one I thought was yummy enough to share since the Amazing Berry Banana Smoothie I posted the other day but even better than the taste was the increased mental clarity and energy I experienced after drinking it.

Please note that I tend to just throw stuff in the blender so my quantities are estimates. Also I like my smoothies more liquid than thick so if you like yours thick use less water.

  • 2 cups baby kale (you could substitute your favorite leafy green vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate pea and rice vegan dietary supplement (powder) by Thorne Research (or your favorite chocolate flavored smoothie powder).
Put first four ingredients in blender using 1 cup of water. Pour remaining 1/2 cup water over powder in blender. Blend until completely smooth. Enjoy immediately (add ice if you like).

I'd love to hear what you think if you try it!

Natural Sleep Aid Recommendation

Two different friends asked for referrals for an inexpensive, natural but non herbal sleep aid today. Paul McKenna's "I Can Make You Sleep" book and hypnosis cd set immediately came to mind. I love McKenna's hypnosis cds and find them very relaxing. I enjoyed his "I Can Make You Thin" and "Change Your Life in Seven Days" books as well. If you're having trouble sleeping it might be worth seeing if Paul McKenna can make you sleep. The book should be widely available at book retailers and is in my local library so perhaps it's in yours as well. May you have deep refreshing sleep tonight!

Related posts:
DIY sleep tea:
Good sleep self talk:
Simple tips for good sleep:

Disclosure: I'm not affiliated with Paul McKenna in any way nor am I receiving any compensation for sharing this recommendation.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Amazing Berry Banana Smoothie Recipe

I'm doing this two week experiment of making healthy smoothies for lunch and dinner. This morning's smoothie was easy and delicious and a friend asked for the recipe so I thought I'd share here. Please note that I tend to just throw stuff in the blender so my quantities are estimates. Also I like my smoothies more liquid than thick so if you like yours thick use less water.

  • 1 cup fresh salad greens
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 packet Amazing Meal Vanilla Chai Infusion Dietary Supplement (powder)
Put first four ingredients in blender using 1 cup of water. Pour remaining 1/2 cup water over powder in blender. Blend until completely smooth. Enjoy immediately (add ice if you like).

Friday, November 25, 2011

God is With You Always

God is everywhere and that includes with you. You are never alone! What a wonderful comfort.

Psalm 42:8 was part of the reading in today's Our Daily Bread and a friend of mine needed some encouragement so I thought I'd combine it with this beautiful sky photo for inspiration. I took this photo last month from a moving vehicle (my husband was driving) and used my sunglasses as a filter to get the cool hue.

May the God of all comfort bless you today!