XYZ or All Good Things Must Come To An End (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

Today is day 24 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  The challenge began with A on April 1 and continues the alphabet throughout thethe little grey mouse month, except on Sundays. My theme for the month will be this blog’s tagline: life, books, and all things bookish, so you can expect a little bit of this ‘n that. I’m still reading, though, and I’ll add reviews whenever possible. Thirty days of blogging is a huge commitment for me, but I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting new blog friends.
Today’s word are letters: X, Y, Z

All good things must come to an end. There’s that slurpy ice cream at the bottom of a cone and the last dip of a chip at a party. There’s the credits rolling at the end of movie, the last gift opened at Christmas, one final bunch of lilacs until next May, the walk across the stage at high school graduation, and one last trip to the beach in August. There’s closing a book read straight through the day (and night).  Sooner rather than later, there will be one last day of school, one last hug.

I’ve met some new-to-me bloggers and read so many great posts I had a hard time keeping up. I’m grateful to the A-Z Blogging Challenge team for the time and energy they gave to keep the project running smoothly.

But all good things must come to an end–even the alphabet X Y Z.

So this is my X marks the spot. My thanks for the memories.

July gifts and graces

July joy darea scrappy black cat ♥ restoring order ♥ put-together & stylin’ ♥ morning prayer ♥ Miss Anna Pie ♥ baby on the move ♥ vote ♥ Fr. John ♥ fresh raspberries & cherries ♥ blue sky smilin’ at me ♥ this old dog ♥ laughing family ♥ try a new approach ♥ mid-life ♥ life’s work vs. life’s love ♥ stepping in ♥ homemade strawberry jam ♥ iced tea ♥ I never promised you a rose garden ♥ meadow blooming ♥ summer sun ♥ memories of a happy lab ♥ garden stepping stones ♥ garden haiku boulders ♥ weeping willow ♥ kitchen blinds ♥ detach ♥ soften ♥ singing with baby ♥ old hymns remembered ♥ soft molasses cookies ♥ this is my symphony ♥ just a glimpse ♥ summer dusk ♥ a tough old broad ♥ drifting away ♥ under my heart ♥ retirement in sight ♥ snapping green beans ♥ newly dripped coffee ♥ tussy mussy from the meadow ♥ my corner ♥ headspace ♥ new kids new year just around the corner ♥ morning sunshine ♥ my inventory ♥ making sense ♥ garden magic ♥ Raffi radio ♥ squeals of delight ♥ making it right ♥ standing on my own two feet ♥ life’s disappointments

* thanks to Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare 

Taking the Joy Dare with Jane Austen

I adore Jane Austen. I mean, I am so there. The countryside, all hedgerows and lanes; the homes—Northanger Abbey, Norland Park–gracious with their breakfast dishes and card rooms. And those Georgian manners, “high spirits and good humor” all around at a carriage ride after breakfast; or, letters hastily set aside with colourless faces.  Where new ribbons can make any bonnet both stylish and flattering. Oh, to spend my leisure time with the piano forte or my petit point and drawing (well, maybe not so much).

joy dareSo I was thrilled when I visited my local independent bookstore to choose a new journal and found this little gem: Jane Austen Novel Journal by Chronicle Books. Oh my goodness. (If you can’t find it locally, the journal is available at Gone Reading, a site with bookish gifts to die for—but more on that in another post!) The pages are sprinkled with quotes from her books; the layouts varied–some ruled, some pin-wheeled, some divided.

Now–me, a journal? Quite uncharacteristic. But I’m using Ann Voss’s Joy Dare this year to count up to one thousand gifts and graces. (You can print your own list of dares from her blog A Holy Experience.)  Because I’m stuck. I’ve had countless experiences of grace recently, worked through some incredibly difficult situations last year, and still I find myself restless. Heart-weary. How can that be in the face of so much that is good in my life? I’ve managed to successfully avoid that whole gratitude journal idea—too often (at least in the posts I read) I find it a kind of maudlin here’s-my-life-I’m-pretty-holy exhibition. Harsh, I know, but that’s how I read ’em. But I know I have to do something to rock myself out of this rut.

Enter the Joy Dare which I found via A Holy Experience via Mundane Faithfulness, evangelical Christian bloggers both. Now that’s not my spiritual bent, but I can sure appreciate that the list offers some guidelines without being proscriptive. It’s fresh. So Sunday I wrote down three “yellow gifts of fresh mercy”. Yesterday was “something above, below, beside” and today, “three startling graces of God”. Now this is something I can do (joyfully, I might add!), right along with Jane, because I think she just might understand: “It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible” (Northanger Abbey).

Which I intend to do.