Saturday, September 6, 2014

"It's Always a Good Time"

Taking a cue from blogging friend Kara (Flowers of Quiet Happiness), I wanted to share some of the things that I'm grateful for in this new season of my life... 

Music. To quote the song "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog: "They got music, it's always playin'. Start in the daytime, go all through the night..." Singing in the shower, in the car, while I'm cooking and cleaning, before I go to bed - the music makes me smile, laugh, and feel, inspiring my written stories and the story of my life. I recently bought Owl City's The Midsummer Station, and I've been listening to it a lot in the car and in my apartment. Here's one song from the CD that's just so catchy and joyful:



Writing. I'm chipping away at How a Star Falls bit by bit, and I'm having a lot of fun with the story! Certain plot elements are starting to firm up more in my mind, although I don't have a set outline or anything. Sometimes I'll work on the story during lunch at work, scribbling away in my journal...


(Please forgive the mistakes and sloppy handwriting.) I've found it really refreshing and freeing to get the words down on paper first, then type up the scenes later. I'm grateful to Lena Goldfinch for the recommendation to switch things up with my writing!

P.S. The new blog header (which I tweaked via PicMonkey) features the view from one of the lookout points at Trinidad Head, a setting in How a Star Falls

Food. I don't think a long explanation is necessary here. ;) I will say that when I went grocery shopping yesterday, I bought a muffin tin and some muffin mixes. I tried one this morning, and it was SO good!


I sprayed the tin with cooking spray instead of using cupcake liners, and they came out perfectly! And the triple-chocolate goodness, fresh from the oven? Oh, yeah, I'm a happy girl!


Shows. I've been watching the first few seasons of The Office, which I borrowed from a coworker. I'd seen a little of the show before, but it's even more entertaining when you actually work in an office, LOL. And I've been loving When Calls the Heart (less than $20 for the whole season via Amazon Instant Video!). I should write up a post just for this series alone - so much sweetness!

http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/whencallstheheart 

Books. So...I haven't entirely stopped browsing books or thinking about books, but that's not really the goal of Mission: Contentment. The goal is to foster a better attitude and to let go of the obsessiveness - something I certainly haven't mastered since I posted about it. I've picked up a few new books since then, and I've had my moments of giving in to the urge to browse and dwell on new reading opportunities instead of...well, you know, actually reading. However, I'm continuing to read The Art of Creativity by Thomas Kinkade during most of my breakfasts, which has been thought-provoking! I'm also reading a fabulous book on singleness, which I imagine you'll be hearing more about in the coming months. And I'm really excited about fellow authors' upcoming releases and other books that are on my TBR. I'm grateful for this passion for books. Through God's grace, if I can keep it in a healthy balance, it does make my job, my downtime, and my outside projects that much more enjoyable. :) I mean, it would be silly to work in publishing or be an author if I didn't appreciate books!

These are just a few of the tangible things I'm grateful for. Greater than these, of course, are God's love and presence, the hope He gives, my family, my friends and coworkers, a wonderful place to live, precious memories, and more. It's bittersweet to move into a new season of life, as there are things I miss dearly about the previous seasons. And yet, I'm so thankful for all that I've been given, and I'm excited about what this season holds. I'm happy to sing, "It's always a good time!"

What are some things you're grateful for in this season of your life, dear friends?

10 comments:

Ganise C. said...

I like the idea of having more independency... I'm slowly experiencing this and I understand when you say you miss certain things from your previous season of life. We are never completely ready for change, are we? However you seem to be enjoying the adventure and I hope that continues. xx

Kara said...

Aw. Thanks for the shoutout! Such a great post. Where to begin to comment? Hmmmm.

Firstly, music just speaks to my soul I love it. So I completely understand what you're saying. And I've heard lots of good things about Owl City but never listened to one of their songs, so thanks! I like it!

When it comes to blogging, I type everything and proofread right on the computer. But when it comes to writing stuff for just me? There's something about holding a pen in my hand and physically writing it down in a journal. I don't do it very often, but I love it. Glad it's helping your writing process! :)

And triple chocolate muffins?! Mmmmmmmmmmm. I want one.

Isn't When Calls the Heart so lovely? I'm happy you're enjoying it as much as I. Can't wait to hear more of your thoughts!

And books. Finding the balance is what you need and what you're doing! It's a process and it'll probably take time, but that's okay. You'll get there. I know it. And so will I.

Lovely post, Amber. And stay tuned on Tuesday. I may have mentioned you in a post of mine....

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I love sharing what I'm grateful for and reading other's lists.

Yay for cooking.

I must try When Calls the Heart.

Julie said...

I don't know if I am a fan of this season of my life or not. You would think I would be with Grandchildren and husband retired, but I think I am having a hard time "finding myself." Not to mention having an adult daughter still at home experiencing independence for the first time is kind of throwing me for a loop. Soooo, in all of that what am I grateful for? I'm grateful for those grandchildren. I'm grateful for their parents that are working at raising them to love Jesus and serve only HIM. I'm grateful for my husband's retirement. Yes, he is under foot(A LOT), but he is healthy and he loves me and wants to be with me and we get to take two long vacations a year :) And that adult daughter living at home? I'm grateful that I have a Heavenly Father I can run to with all of my worries! It is always nice to focus on appreciating what God has and is taking us through. Kind of lightens the load a bit :)

Love your baking endeavors! And yay for cooking spray and non-stick pans!

I can't have enthusiasm for your love of The Love Comes Softly series and When Calls the Heart series because I read the books and neither of the series matches the books and I can't get past that! ha!

I've started reading a couple books at a time because for some reason it seems that all of the sudden I get a bit bored reading one book cover to cover and then moving on. So I have 3 or 4 books going and when I get bored or when one has characters and plots that are making me stressed I change to another until I can deal with the angst going on in the other. I never thought I would do that! But anyway, all of that to say that one of the books that I have been making sure I have going is a book that I already have read. Kind of my own "Contentment" challenge. I've been wanting to re-read several series that I have and have found that reading a couple of chapters of an old friend before bed is very relaxing.

Thanks for your post Amber! Always a joy to see what you have going on in your life :)

Rissi said...

Amber, you've written so many great "food for thought" posts and this one is ranked high among those. It's not just a "fun" entry to be caught up on some of the simple things going on in your life, it's also something most of us can relate to. Bittersweet as it is, I think you're doing great in this new season from what I've observed via what you've shared and I admire you setting out to follow these dreams - you'll do well because of your passion for it.

Getting more excited for How a Star Falls. I admire you writing it down - I have done that occasionally but usually, it's because I'm forced to it. ;)

Muffins? Yum! I don't mind making those and we have a pecan pie muffin and cherry muffin recipe that are two family favorites.

As for books! Bravo. We just have to find the healthy balance. Nothing wrong with a new book now and again, just need to hold in check our purchases. ;)

Sending you all the best wishes - great to know how things are going with you, girl. *hugs*

Amber Stokes said...

Ganise,

Yes, it's a hard thing - having that desire for independence, but the change it requires in order to get it can be bittersweet... And no, you can't completely prepare for it - I agree. But even while missing the familiar seasons, the new ones can have a lot to offer, too. :) I am indeed enjoying this new adventure, overall, but sometimes it feels like my life couldn't possibly have changed so much so quickly!

Thank you for your sweet words; I hope this new season finds you well, too, my friend. Glad you stopped by!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Kara,

But of course! I'm always inspired by your gratitude posts, so I'm happy to give you a S/O. :) Thank YOU for the sweet mentions recently on your blog!

I adore music, too, and I agree with your thoughts on the matter recently - about how much music has become a part of your life, and how wonderful it is. I'm so glad God created music! :)

And I'm glad I could introduce you to Owl City! It's actually mainly a one-man band; his name is Adam Young, and I just love his songs. :) They're great pick-me-ups, with clever lyrics and catchy tunes and inspiring/fun messages. Love it, and I hope you do, too!

There *is* something very special about writing by hand, isn't there? I wrote some of the original scenes for Forget Me Not by hand when I was in high school, and it's been nice to get back into that and have the freedom to write wherever, whenever. :)

I totally wish I could share a triple-chocolate muffin (or maple brown sugar cookie!) with you!! I owe you some if you ever make your way to Oregon, OK? ;)

Yes to When Calls the Heart! Even better than I was expecting, I believe. :)

Thank you for the understanding and encouragement about books - and again for that super sweet mention in you recent post!! ♥ So grateful for your friendship!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Juju,

It's something I need to do more often, I think! It is good to step back and remember what we're grateful for, isn't it? :)

I should do even more cooking...but I'm having fun with my own kitchen, and hopefully I'll try more in time. :)

And yes, I recommend the show! It's just really sweet and fun, and I think the acting is better than some of the more recent Love Comes Softly movies.

Thank you for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

Aw, that's certainly understandable! I don't think retirement is always all the ads crack it up to be...especially when there are other elements at play and it's not all "fun and games" with the children gone. :\ But that's wonderful that you've still found so much to be grateful for! A loving Heavenly Father, dear family, good health, and vacations - all great things to cherish. :)

I'm having fun trying a little more in the kitchen - although I confess to using mixes and whatnot, generally! Ah, well...it's a start. ;) I did try Pillsbury's new "maple and brown sugar" mix for cookies tonight, and I'm quite in love with the flavor! I also have a cupcake mix for later, so I'll have to see how those turn out, too. :)

I understand about having a hard time liking the shows because they're so different from the books. I read some of Janette Oke's books when I was younger, so I don't think it bothers me as much. I'm generally able to separate my enjoyment of a movie as its own piece from my enjoyment of the book version. I will say that I much preferred the direction of the last books in the "Love Comes Softly" series to the movie versions, though! If you ever do get bored, When Calls the Heart is really sweet...just don't compare it to the books, if you can help it. ;)

I love your comments about reading! I've been kind of the same way. Every once in a while I'll get sucked into one story and get through it really quickly. But I often have a couple/several going, as I like knowing I can take my pick - plus, having the option to choose paperback or Kindle depending on where I am, etc. :) And that's a great contentment challenge!! I've been re-reading The Art of Creativity by Thomas Kinkade and a children's book series called "The Disney Girls" - just bit by bit, but it's been really nice revisiting some of these since it's been a while. And I really want to re-read Entwined by Heather Dixon sometime soon-ish!

Thank YOU for all of your encouraging comments! I really appreciate your support and friendship. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Rissi,

That's so kind of you to say! I'm touched that these simple "update" posts resonate with others. :) And I'm always so very encouraged by your comments and thoughtfulness, dear friend! ♥

You and Kara are making me so happy with your enthusiasm for How a Star Falls - yay! :D And I confess that writing it down by hand has just made things more handy when I want to write during lunch at work or when I want to peel my eyes away from the computer, LOL. Goodness, between work and play I'm staring at a computer screen SO much. :\ But it's all good. :)

Pecan pie muffins?? How fascinating! Sounds like your family has some unique spins on these treats. :)

And again, thank you always being so understanding and positive! You have such a balanced approach to life - relaxed but dedicated to quality work - that makes your comments so encouraging. *Hugs*

So glad you dropped by - and so glad to have you for a friend!

~Amber