Monday, December 14, 2015

The Joy of Christmas

                It’s time for the Christmas Joy Blog Hop! I’m excited to be hosting today and I would like to thank those of you who shared my sign-up post on your pages! I would also like to thank the participants, it wouldn’t be a blog hop without all of you and I look forward to reading your posts :)


                Christmas was a very special time when I was a kid. I would get so excited about opening presents on Christmas Eve at home and then waking up early the next morning to drive two hours to Grandma’s house to open more presents. I did not realize the true value of those moments until after my grandma died. My mom, dad, brother, and I moved to Oklahoma about a year after Grandma passed away and the next few Christmases seemed very sad and lonely with just the four of us. I have longed for another big family Christmas since then. I cannot believe that this Christmas will mark 20 years since the last time my mother’s side of the family all gathered together at Grandma’s house. Over the years, I have realized that the presents were only a small part of the joy of spending the holiday with family, and my small family has started our own traditions to celebrate each year. We started using stockings at some point when I was in high school, we had a few Christmas dinners with friends from the church, my brother and I have taken care of Christmas dinner for the past couple years, and my dad likes to read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible on Christmas day. Christmas has become special for me again, and it has nothing to do with what I receive. I enjoy seeing someone’s face light up when I finally find the right gift for him/her. I enjoy hearing about how God sent His son to the earth as a little baby in Bethlehem and all the beautiful songs about Him, like this one:

                Christmas, especially this year in light of recent world events, reminds me that we still have hope in Christ. When life looks bleak, I think of the genuine, innocent joy of a child watching Christmas lights. In the midst of bad news, I am grateful to find stories of good Samaritans who help the poor, weary, wounded, and brave. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for mourning and sorrow, but there is also a time for joy and laughter. I find joy in Christmas when I seek time to fellowship with family and friends throughout the month of December.


And now, here is a quick list of a few of my favorite things:

Christmas food: decorated sugar cookies

Beverage: Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks
Decoration: My snow globe collection
Songs: O Come, O Come Emmanuel and What Child is This?
Tradition: driving or walking through Christmas light displays

Party: my church’s young adult Christmas party is usually the most fun

TV Episode: Garfield's Christmas Special
Movie: White Christmas

Speaking of a white Christmas, I also really enjoy seeing snow on the ground on Christmas day and I hope to see some this year.
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


I will be taking a break from posting for the rest of the month, so I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! If you would like some more Christmas cheer, please visit the other participants below. The sign-up will remain open until 11:59pm CST if anyone else wants to join in!
Christmas Joy Blog Hop Participants:
10. Birgit

Monday, December 7, 2015

December Question of the Month

                The Question of the Month is a bloghop that occurs the first Monday of each month and it is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined.

December’s question is: Which one social convention would you get rid of?

                This feels like a follow-up to last month’s question about whether you are introverted or extroverted. As an introvert, there are many social conventions I don’t understand, some I feel awkward with, and probably more I don’t even know about. I narrowed them down to small talk, which in and of itself is hard for me, but it is even harder when I feel obligated to chat with either some person I’ve only met once or twice (i.e. a customer at work), or someone I have not seen or kept in touch with for years (i.e. a high school classmate). I feel like I have a somewhat awkward grasp of a few things, but there are only so many weather-related things I can discuss before I start sounding nerdy:

Small Talker: How about this weather?
Me (contemplating): Did you think those clouds after the snow were cirrocumulus or altostratus?
Small Talker (look of bewilderment): Huh?
I know it’s the polite thing to do, but it would be easier and less awkward if mere acquaintances could just avoid eye contact and move along our way unless we have something significant to discuss.

Do you understand the art of small talk? What social conventions would you rather do without?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December IWSG

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writers Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month. The co-hosts for December are: Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell.

            There have been a few note-worthy milestones and accomplishments for me the last couple months:

·         I wrote and submitted my first 5000 word short story to the IWSG Anthology Contest
·         I actually have a potential follow-up and/or extension in mind for my short story
·         I shared an excerpt from one of my potential books on November 2
·         I published my 100th blog post on November 18th
·         To celebrate 100 posts, I created a Facebook fan page for my blog and writings, and someday I hope to change it to an author page
·         I also decided to host a blog hop!

Those last two points lead me to my insecurities. I feel like my promotional efforts are a bit inadequate. I am not always the most prompt, reliable commenter with my fellow bloggers. My pharmacy job (another insecurity I will not bring up here) has kept me busy and on edge for the past few months and I don’t always feel motivated to read and comment on the blogs I follow and those who leave comments on my posts. I eventually get around to many of you, especially those who visit, but I feel like I’m so late sometimes :( I apologize for my tardiness and I really do appreciate those of you who continue to follow my blog or visit and leave a comment. One day, I will find that window to escape my current job and embrace writing on a more full-time basis, but until then, I will still have those “off” weeks once in a while.

                I hope that I can still have a good turnout for my blog hop, so if you have some Christmas memories you would like to share on December 14, please feel free to sign up. I am reposting the linky list sign-up below. It’s called the Christmas Joy Blog Hop. Share your favorite Christmas memories and what makes Christmas special for you. We even have a nice badge that my brother made :) For more information visit my previous post. 

Have you ever had insecurities with staying connected?  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Join the Christmas Joy Blog Hop!

                I am pleased to announce that in celebration of Christmas and my recent 100th post I will be hosting a blog hop on Monday, December 14, 2015. The Christmas Joy Blog Hop is for anyone who would like to share what brings them joy at Christmastime. Tell us what makes Christmas special for you. To participate, just sign up your blog on the linky list below, post on December 14 with the Christmas Joy badge >>>, and visit fellow participants to spread the Christmas cheer! You can make the post as long or as short as you would like. Here are some things you could include:

- A special Christmas memory
- Favorite Christmas song/carol
- Share why you celebrate Christmas
- Favorite decorations, favorite food or treats, etc.
- The best gift you ever gave or received
- Traditions

I will probably include all of the above because Christmas has always been my favorite time of year! So, please join in on the fun and feel free to tell your friends :)

Christmas Joy Blog Hop Participants:
10. Birgit

Be Thankful

                I would like to wish my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving! Take a moment to remember the things God has blessed you with and thank Him for what He has done in your life. Sometimes we get so focused on what we don’t have, that we forget the things we do have. Don’t take those things for granted. I know the recent attacks in Paris are still heavy on our hearts, and that is reason enough to hold on tighter to those you love. At the end of our lives, the people we care about are much more important than wealth or fame, so tell your loved ones that you are grateful for them today!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Celebrating a Blogging Milestone

Sawyer is ready to celebrate!

             The wait is over, it is time for my special announcement! This post marks a special milestone in my blogging history. Are you ready to find out what it is?





*This is my 100th blog post!*
            Congrats to Arlee Bird for guessing my milestone correctly! I also recently passed the 5th anniversary of starting this blog on September 19. Although, I cannot say that I have been blogging for five years since I took about a year and a half hiatus.

            It is exciting to reach 100 posts :) I have finally reached a point where I post once a week unless  circumstances don’t allow me to. Posting regularly was my initial intention when I created this blog, but back then I did not discipline myself very well with my writing and ultimately ended up posting only once a month until I abandoned blogging entirely in late 2013. I missed sharing my writing with my friends during that time away, and then I found out about the A to Z Challenge in February 2015 and decided to return with a vengeance! I discovered new connections with the amazing blogging community and I was again able to share my writing with my friends who read my posts from the beginning. So thank you to all my friends, both old and new, for sharing in my adventures with blogging! As a part of this celebration, I decided to create a Facebook fan page. Now my Facebook friends and fellow bloggers can unite to find my latest updates, blog posts, and fun extras. I decided to use my full name, Elizabeth Ann Otten, for my writings and you can find me here:

            But wait, there's more! I am also considering hosting a Christmas blog hop. I would probably have it in mid-December. What do you think? Would you like to participate in a Christmas-themed blog hop? I know that I would need to visit all the participants if I took on this endeavor, is there anything else I need to know about hosting a blog hop? What would be a good day, I'm thinking a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday?

Yay Christmas!

                One more thing: I realized that a few weeks ago I said I would publish this post on Monday. Apparently, I forgot that the last two weeks when I said this would be a Wednesday post. Oh well, sorry if anyone noticed that and was confused.
I hope everyone has a great day! Please Like my page if you have a Facebook. And let me know your thoughts on a blog hop :) 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Feeling a Little Crafty

            This past weekend I attended a Women in the Outdoors (WITO) event. This was my third time to participate and as always, it was a lot of fun. The only downside is that something stirred up my allergies and sinuses and I am still trying to clear my head congestion :( So, with the weekend activities and the need to sleep more the rest of this week, I have gotten behind on comments again. One of these days I will get myself on a decent blogging/community schedule. I enjoy hearing from all of you (Facebook friends included). Just hang in there, I will return your visits, eventually :)

            Without further ado, here are some pictures of the crafts I made at WITO. Yes, we pick the indoor crafting classes at an event that includes the word "outdoors," lol. Although, one class was outside under a canopy.

Cords on Gourds

Medicine Bag

Paint and Bake Tiles

As an added bonus, here are some of last year's crafts:

Antler Jewelry
Corn Husk Doll
Finger Weaving

*** Stay tuned next Wednesday for a special announcement! Does anyone want to guess what blogging milestone I'm reaching next week? ***

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November IWSG: Giving Thanks

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer's Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another.  IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.  The co-hosts for November are: Tyrean Martinson, Karen Walker, Denise Covey, and Stephen Tremp.  

                This past Saturday night, I was feeling particularly insecure about the short story I submitted to the IWSG Anthology Contest and I thought I would be writing about that today. I’ll be honest, I don’t think that my story was that great. I procrastinated too long and I feel like I could have put more thought into developing my characters and plot if I had more time. But my story is no longer an insecurity for me. On Sunday, I spent some time with a good friend of mine and got a lot more than writing insecurities talked out. And on Monday, I read this post from Chrys Fey about her gratitude challenge. So, I felt inspired to share some things I’m grateful for with writing over the last week.
                I’m grateful that I finished my story. I may not have polished it up as much as I would have liked, but I’m glad I wrote it. I now have a 5000 word short story completed, which is much longer than any other fictional stories I wrote in high school. I know this may not seem that big to those who write novels or are participating in the NaNoWriMo, but this is a huge first step for me! Plus, I submitted my story to a contest for others to judge, gasp! By the way, good luck to all those participating in NaNo! I only recently found out about it. Maybe I’ll be ready to try it out next year, we’ll see.
I’m grateful for those who commented on my last post who were encouraging me to write my book. I actually haven't thought about it for a while and I have not added very much to my collection of stories, journal entries, and introverted frustrations for months. I was reading through some of my collection before I posted and thinking about continuing my work on it. Maybe it is time to turn it from collecting dust back to a work in progress.
I’m grateful for our Ninja Captain Alex for sorting through all those emailed contest submissions and making sure we have them in an editable file format, lol :) I’m grateful for Chrys Fey for her reminder to look at the positive things in life. And I’m grateful for my friend, Shannon, I’m glad we had that chat, it really helped me put my story (and other things) in perspective :) In fact, I’m grateful for all my wonderful readers and followers, family and friends. Thanks for stopping by!
What are you grateful for with your writing or the blog community this month?

Monday, November 2, 2015

November Question of the Month

                The Question of the Month is a bloghop that occurs the first Monday of each month and it is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. November’s question is a good one:

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
                I can definitely say that I am an introvert. I gain my energy from being alone. My energy and motivation drain the longer I am around people and the more crowded it is. Over the years, I have felt so incredibly misunderstood by many people. So much so that I actually have considered writing a book about being introverted. I have pages of notes and journal entries that I have collected about introversion. Since this applies to today’s question, here is a small snippet from my “book” just for you, my blog readers :)
                The minds of introverts are so very different from our extroverted counterparts. Not to say that all extroverts are like this, but some people just spew out everything that comes to their minds. I put thought into almost everything I say. There have been countless times that I've come up with a great point to make or a funny anecdote only to realize that the conversation has moved far beyond the topic I was focusing on. It's hard to keep up. I have the same problems with interviews. I don't think outgoing people realize how much harder communication is for a person like me. Most people just think I really don't want to say anything at all, but I'm screaming on the inside.
                I don’t always feel that way in conversations. There are moments where words come to me easily and it is usually around people I know well or people who know how to say the right things to get me talking. In fact, when I am around those people, who can get past the small talk, I feel more comfortable staying longer without feeling the need to run home and recharge. Anyway, this barely touches the surface of my personal experience with being introverted, but I don’t want to spoil my book, lol. I will leave you with some fun memes I found for my fellow introverts.


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Listing Hop: List of Lists

                Today I am participating in The Listing Hop, which is hosted by Bish Denham and Alex J Cavanaugh. All we have to do is make a list and they suggested keeping it between 5 and 25 items, and I am a big fan of lists, so I could not resist signing up! You can find a list of participants by clicking above. Since I use lists so regularly, I thought I would share my list of lists :)

These are 15 of the lists I currently have on an ongoing basis:

1. Shopping list
2. To Do list (this is especially never-ending)
3. Long-term goals

4. Hobbies to pursue (translation: A LOT of unfinished sewing and weaving projects, language courses, and scrapbooks)

5. Wish list

6. Blog topic ideas

7. Book writing ideas

8. April's A to Z blog challenge theme ideas and some of the potential letter topics

9. Must-see movies

10. Books to read
11. Netflix shows to watch (Netflix conveniently handles this list for me)

12. Gift ideas (this one is shorter than I would like it to be with Christmas already quickly approaching)

13. List of daily blessings (my attempt at being more optimistic)

14. Prayer requests

15. Bucket list

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday Photos

            Before I share some pictures I would like to give you a post schedule for the next few weeks. I figured sharing my schedule will help hold me accountable and provide a little more structure than normal for this blog.

Monday, October 26: The Listing Hop

Monday, November 2: Question of the Month

Wednesday, November 4: Insecure Writer's Support Group

Wednesday, November 11: Regular or photo post

Monday, November 16: A very special post TBA

November 23, 24, or 25: Thanksgiving week post

            And now, on to the pictures! These are from July 2014 when I went on a mission trip with a group from my church to Sonora, Mexico. The missionaries we visited live in a very beautiful, mountainous area and it was during rainy season. I took these pictures behind there house during the week and I thought that it was really neat how different this same spot looked as the weather was constantly changing. Hope you enjoy :)

Day 1
 Day 3 Morning
 Day 3 Late Afternoon
 Day 4, a very rainy morning

 Day 4 Late Afternoon, my finger got in the way, lol
 Day 5, right before we left

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Have Faith in God

            We sing a great hymn in church sometimes called Have Faith in God.  I was thinking about the lyrics the last time we sang it and realized how applicable that song is to my life right now.  Our assistant pastor also found it applicable to his sermon.  He preached out of Luke 8:22-25 about the time when Jesus calmed the storm at sea.  The disciples were doing exactly what God wanted them to do when the storm hit, and that shows us that even if we are following God’s will in our lives, the storms of life can still hit.  We may think we have control for a while, but when things get rough, we finally turn to God in prayer.  That is something we often forget, trials are not always due to sin or wrong choices, they sometimes come to teach us or to remind us of who is in control.  Even if things seem unfair and we don’t understand why, God is still there and He still cares for His children.  We live in a fallen world where bad things are going to happen.  Those of us who are Christians have the task of shining God’s light in the darkest of times and reaching out to those who are lost and hurting.  So, when the darkness falls within our own lives, we must keep our eyes on Christ and have faith.  He can calm the storms and bring peace in His time.

These are the lyrics to Have Faith in God, written by B. B. McKinney:
Verse 1: Have faith in God when you pathway is lonely,
He sees and knows all the way you have trod;
Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
Chorus: Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
Verse 2: Have faith in God when you prayers are unanswered,
Your earnest plea He will never forget;
Wait on the Lord, trust His Word and be patient;
Have faith in God, He'll answer yet.
Verse 3: Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow,
His heart is touched with your grief and despair;
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him,
And leave them there, oh, leave them there.
Verse 4: Have faith in God though all else fail about you;
Have faith in God He provides for His own;
He cannot fail though all kingdoms shall perish,
He rules, He reigns upon His throne.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October IWSG

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writers Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another.  IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month.  The co-hosts for October are:

TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar.

            In September, IWSG announced that they would be having an anthology contest for group members.  We have until November 1 to submit a short story about a parallel universe or alternative history.  This is my insecurity this month.  As soon as I saw the contest, I was so excited about it, but now I’m having mixed feelings/second thoughts.  I really want to submit a story, I have an idea, I have the characters lined up, and I even started writing.  I am just not sure if I can pull this all together in a sensible way by November!  During this process, I realized that I have not written any fiction since high school, beyond a list of ideas and a couple opening paragraphs to stories that may never come to be.  I don’t even know if my fiction will be likeable, but I guess this is an opportunity to find out.  I have to start somewhere.  I hope I can get it done. 


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