39. My Small Group

My small group started back up, after taking the summer off!  This is a group from church — four couples and me — and we grab some lunch, then meet at my home after church.  We talk about our lives, pray for each other, and discuss and study the Bible, talk about the sermon, or maybe go through a book.

Most of us had a pretty big summer, and it was good to get to see these people I care about and who care about me.

38. I’m a Cybils Judge!

Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-LgFor my fourth year, I get to be a Cybils Panelist!

The Cybils, for those who are sadly unaware, are book awards for children’s and young adult books which are chosen by KidLit bloggers.

One of the cool things about the Cybils is that they work in two rounds.  And the First Round Panelists get to choose lists of the best books in their categories.  These are some great lists of the best books of the year.  The Second Round Judges choose one winner from each of these finalists.

In the past I’ve twice been a First Round Panelist for Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, and once a Second Round Judge for the same category.  This year, I’m first round again, but I changed categories to Fiction Picture Books.  I feel like this year I took a year off from keeping up with new children’s novels — but I have kept up with picture books pretty well.

And I love being a Cybils Panelist!  It’s so much fun to read widely and then get to promote the outstanding books you read.  And discuss them with the other Panelists.

I’m also proud of the great work we do.  The Cybils Finalists are outstanding!  Cybils Awards try to find a balance between literary value and kid appeal.  We don’t want to choose books that only critics would like, but books that are not only excellent, but also ones that kids will love.

Oh, and the Cybils reading season for First Round lasts from October to December.  Nominations open October 1st, and we will start reading!  Read some good children’s books lately?  Nominate some for the Cybils Awards!

36. A New Gaming Group

I was brave tonight!  A few weeks ago, I went to a Splendor tournament at a recently opened games store.  And they were nice people and said they have open board game playing on Tuesday nights.  So today I went — and didn’t know anyone — and played a game of Suburbia (which I have played before, but only once months ago) — and had a great time!

The store is pretty much halfway between my work place and my home, so it’s very convenient to go there after work.  And it did reinforce my belief that Gamers are people I enjoy spending time with.  And I already knew that I enjoy time spent playing games.


35. Making Supper

Now I don’t cook myself supper often.  About once a week.  I did so yesterday — and it was fun.  I tend to resent the time spent when I have to do it often.  So it was nice to realize that it’s a blessing to get to do it now and then.  Fortunately, I have a high tolerance for repetition!

34. A Glorious Day by my Lake


If I count it a blessing every time the weather is wondrous, that’s going to take up a lot of posts.  But since I started the blog afresh recently, I figure it’s okay to indulge in a few raptures on an especially beautiful day when I get to take a walk out in it.

And the great blue heron was there!  And I hounded him until he took off and left — and he did that right when I was snapping a picture.  This picture feels joyous and beautiful to me, and I was so happy to get it!

And I was already happy.  The weather had cooled off.  The sky was glorious!


A lovely cool breeze was blowing.  I mentioned the heron showed up?  And wildflowers of many different kinds were blooming beside the path.


Just an utterly lovely day.


I’ve always figured if you don’t like the weather, try to ignore it.  (Go inside and turn on the air conditioner!)  If you do like it, might as well let it affect your mood!  And today it was exhilarating to go for a walk on such a glorious day.

Thistles   Lake1

33. Family Math Games at the Library

I’m doing a program once a month where I put out a whole lot of board games and card games that build math skills — and ask only that parents play with their kids.

Today, again, it was just beautiful.  25 people came.  Parents were clearly enjoying the time with their kids and kids were learning and having fun both.  And it just did my heart good to see it.

It’s a blessing for me to get to have a small part in touching families in this way.

32. A Lovely Day with a Lovely Friend


Where to even begin with the blessings that happened today?

After I posted about loneliness this week, my dear best-friend-since-3rd-grade Kathe asked if we could get together.  (We always mean to do so more often than we do.)  I’d been thinking that I really should use the Annual Pass to Shenandoah National Park that I bought last September, which expires this September.  And it worked out that we could go together this afternoon.

We got off to a rather late start, but it’s not far, and we didn’t have to hurry.  We did a very short hike to Land’s Run Falls.  It’s also not far from the entrance to the park, so perfect for a late afternoon hike.LandsRun2

The trail takes you to the top of the falls, so I couldn’t get the greatest pictures.  But it was so lovely and peaceful to be walking in the woods, hearing the rushing water, and there with my dear friend.

The leaves were just barely beginning to turn color, but already beautiful.



And of course, always on Skyline Drive, the drive was beautiful, too.


The whole day was simply such a blessing!



30. Connecting People with Good Books

I was just reminding myself of bright spots in my day — and remembered a huge blessing.  A woman walked up to me at the information desk and asked me for recommendations for something to read next.  My favorite question!  And it sounded like we have fairly similar taste.  It was very fun to get to give her recommendations.  I suggested a wide variety, with such titles as Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, by Farahad Zama, and Q & A, by Vikas Swarup.  It was a joy just to get to talk about good books.

24. Family Math Games


Today we had the “Family Math Games” program at the library again.  (The pictures are from a previous month, but it’s the same idea.)  I’ve got lots of board games and card games that build math skills, and the only requirement is that parents play with their kids.

Today 40 people came.  We had families with all different age levels representing, playing all different difficulty levels of games.  We had small children playing the easiest matching games and we had a family playing Splendor, one of my own personal favorite games.  We had many different ethnicities represented and a nice representation from each gender.

And people were having a wonderful time together.  And kids were learning.  And parents were playfully teaching their kids.

The library’s games collection started with games my kids have outgrown, but our Friends group paid for additional math-related games.  I’m also happy that these games are still getting used and still helping families have fun.

It did my heart good to see it.  I’m so happy about bringing this program to our community.


23. My Lake



In April 2013, I moved into a condo overlooking a lake.  And when I say overlooking, walls on two sides are filled with big windows through which you can see the lake.

It’s not a big lake.  When I walk to the other side and back, I travel a little over a mile.  But it’s lovely.  The wildflowers growing by it change by the week.  I regularly see birds and bunnies when I walk by and have also seen squirrels, deer, and foxes.

And those birds!  I never get tired of seeing a great blue heron who likes to hang out here.  (More on that later!)  But I also see great egrets, goldfinches, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, woodpeckers, robins, mallards, Canada geese, and other interesting or seemingly ordinary birds.

What’s more, the lake gave me back my health!  In August 2011 I had a stroke.  I had the stroke because of an accident, not from lack of fitness — but the stroke itself destroyed my fitness level.

When I moved into this condo, the lake was so enticing, I was able to get myself to walk around it regularly.  I had never in all my life done a regular exercise program before.  I feel much more fit than I was after the stroke and before I started walking.

My lake is a daily blessing I’m so thankful for.