finding the joy connections…

So it’s been a while.

No real excuses other than life happening. And life right now – even with some wonderful times – is a challenge in various ways.  The need for self-care is high, and self-care can look like many different things, and can vary at different times.

One way I’m tapping into self-care is consciously finding what I call the joy connections.

Joy connections are those things, even tiny or seemingly unremarkable things, that connect me with joy.

One very small example that relates to this blog is making the decision to change my tagline and switch my header font color back to blue – because it’s my absolute favorite color, and looking at it brings me joy.

Another joy connection for me is painting. I’ve been deliberately making the space and the choice to spend time at the easel. Because painting on large canvases grounds me, calms me, and brings me joy.

Joy connection for me definitely involves those I love.

Including our sweet kitty…

And I’ve been remembering and reconnecting with things I love, things I used to do, but have put away or pushed aside – or somehow thought I couldn’t have in my life anymore.

Like our old 35mm film camera.

I always loved using this camera so much. Whether changing lenses, or focusing, or simply just holding it in my hands and the feel of it, this camera always made me feel connected to my creativity and to my joy.

But for years, this camera has been put away. Just because it’s not digital.

And then a couple of weeks ago while I was telling a friend in a text about how I never used this camera anymore, it hit me: There’s absolutely no reason for me to stop using something I love, something that’s brought me so much joy.

No reason at all. Sure, it’s less convenient than digital. But the point is the joy it gives me.

So I got the camera out of its case, put in new batteries and film, got reacquainted with its various lenses and settings… and now it’s part of my life again.

It’s a little thing to give myself permission to get out a put-away object I love, and start using it again.

It’s a little thing to take just a few minutes to stand at the canvas and paint a few strokes.

It’s a little thing to give our kitty a cuddle or reach out to hold my husband’s hand.

But sometimes it’s those little things that can connect us with deep joy.

Being aware of what brings joy – and then consciously, deliberately, intentionally bringing those things into a day or a week – it can make such a difference.

And this is one way self-care looks. By choosing to find (and make) those joy connections.

writing, faith, life ~ latest update…

My experiment with updating each area in my blog’s tagline ( writing ~ faith ~ life ) took a twist, because early last month I decided a weekly update wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I thought, instead, maybe a couple of times a month – but then I ended up not even doing a second one last month.

So…  the experiment continues, but with no certain schedule or frequency. At least not right now. As happens with experiments, though, it’s all subject to change.

And now on to the latest updates with writing, and faith, and life.

W R I T I N G

I’m close to being finished with the current draft of the novel, and that feels good.

Really good.

Finishing this draft won’t mean being finished with the novel, but this a big step. My self-imposed deadline is the end of the month. Really, though, I’m hoping it will take less time.

The anthology I was putting together is on hold for now. I’m waiting for clear guidance about going forward with it. Or not.

And the plan I discussed in my last update – based on my realization that I need to work on fiction in the mornings – is going well.

The writing is getting done.

Not always as fast as what I consider ideal..

But it’s getting done.

F A I T H

Last month, I wrote out the book of Philippians, one of my all-time favorite books of the Bible. Its reminders to focus on joy and thanksgiving – always helpful for me to remember – held some special importance the past weeks.

With November and writing Philippians both over, I wanted to continue writing out entire books of Scripture because the practice has been such a blessing to me. John is the book I’ve been guided to next and I started writing it at the beginning of the month.

This isn’t a December challenge for myself, though. I don’t want to rush through the Gospel of John (which is another very meaningful book for me personally) and so I probably won’t be finished by the end of the month.

And that’s okay.

I’ve also started writing out the book of Psalms, using a different journal than I’ve been using to write the other books, and writing one Psalm every few days. This is an ongoing project and I have no idea when I’ll be finished.

And that’s okay too.

The important thing about all of this Scripture writing isn’t how quickly I can get it done and over with. It’s about spending time with the Lord and in the Word.

L I F E

One thing I’m not fond of this time of year is the early darkness. And all the cloudy (or flat-out rainy) days we’ve been having.

My body, my mind, my emotions… all of ME seems to do best when there’s sunshine.

I also do best when it’s not too cold and not too hot.

Since I can’t control the weather, I try to find ways to make difficult weather easier for me to deal with. When we had a cold snap that made before-mid-November feel like the middle of winter, and I found myself struggling with the cold temperatures and the dreary skies, and I was wondering how in the world I was going to cope with the weather over the coming months if it was already having such a negative impact… I knew I needed to get very intentional about putting some strategies into place.

I set about rearranging a few things in the eating space of our kitchen (where I keep my table-top easel to paint on canvas) to uptick the cozy comfort of the area even more than it was.

I added more strands of fairy lights around the house. We have them all over the place, and use them all year long, but I realized more strands would be even better – and they’re being turned on even more than usual.

I made the decision to spend more time in certain rooms on cloudy days, to take advantage of the natural light those rooms get.

I created even more little spaces of cozy-comfort with throws and pillows and light… small nooks in corners or near chairs that feel inviting and warm.

It truly has been a very intentional process. And as I get more ideas of things that might help, I’ll put those into place too.

With writing, with my faith, with my life in general… I’m being reminded, again and even more, of how I need to be conscious and deliberate and intentional when it comes to doing things that can make a positive difference.

And it matters because it really does make a difference, even if it’s sometimes a small difference.

But you know what? Sometimes even a small difference is enough to make the difference.

free printable – victorious right hand…

On one of the boards in my workroom, I’ve written Isaiah 41:10 as a reminder to myself:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

This is one of many Bible verses where I find comfort, and strength, and the assurance that the Lord is always (always, always) with me.

I’ve made a printable influenced by the words of Isaiah 41:10, and as with my other printables (which you can find here) it’s available for you to download, at no charge and nothing to sign up for.

The files include the printable as a pdf, as well as jpg files for sizes 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10. These are high quality, 300dpi, suitable for printing to frame, put on a bulletin board or refrigerator, or have somewhere as an inspirational piece or reminder.

The links are below – get all the files or just one, whatever you wish.

Get the pdf file here.

The 4×6 jpg file is here.

The 5×7 jpg file is here.

The 8×10 jpg file is here.

Download, print, and enjoy!

Again, the other free printables can be found here. I add new ones every so often, so check back or follow my blog to see the latest posts.