Entrusted: My Word of the Year for 2018

I love Vincent van Gogh’s quote, “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”  That’s very much in line with the goals and planning work I’ve been doing over the past month to get ready and geared up for 2018.

Have you selected a word for the year?

 

 

I have been working through Lara Casey’s goal-setting program for the past few weeks.  I love her perspective; that we can cultivate the things God has already given us to work on as our goals.  There are likely things that He is already doing with us that are things we need to grow–that can be the work and life we give our focus to—just like a garden!  We can start small (like a seed) and cultivate the things under our care.  Those small seeds will eventually turn into a huge, gorgeous plant!

This has created the perfect focal point for me to view what I’d like to focus on in 2018.  And I love the word entrusted; it sums up everything I’d like to be working on this year.

 

What exactly does entrusted mean?

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, entrusted means this:

First, “to confer a trust on; especially, to deliver something in trust to.”

Second, “to commit to another with confidence.”

I found another definition in one of my favorite Bible study tools, Strong’s Concordance (found online at BibleHub):  parathéké, “a deposit, anything committed to one’s charge or trust.”  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon amplifies the meaning a bit with this:  “a deposit; a trust or thing consigned to one’s faithful keeping.”

Beautiful!

 

And how that works out in my life

I’ve realized that there are things that God has entrusted to me; and for those things, I am the only person who can do them/care for them.  If I input the definitions above into that, I realize that God has given me a trust in these to fulfill—and confidence that I can do them!  Also, that they are in my care for faithful keeping.

So what are some things that have been given into  my care?

  • My health
  • My marriage
  • My homeschool
  • My relationship with my son
  • My home
  • My teaching & writing

No one else is responsible for my health…my marriage & relationship with my husband…my homeschool…and everything else on that list.  So how will I care for those things?  How will I grow them?  How will I improve them?

I will take what I already have and I will work on it.  So for my health, some examples are: drinking more water; planning and eating nutritious meals (along with my family!); beginning the year with some gentle exercise.  In our homeschool, I’m turning my attention to planning for college (even though it’s a few years away) and ensuring that we complete the high school transcript necessary for that.  I am looking at my writing (I do a lot of book reviews for various websites) trying to see the overall big picture.  And, I have other things in mind for the other items on the list.

 

I suppose the main idea for me is taking the different responsibilities and relationships I have been given and approaching them thoughtfully…and keeping everything in balance while I try to move forward with excellence.  In the past I have often ignored my health in favor of trying to get too much done.  That is a big area I’d like to make a change in this year!

I’m going to be working more in the coming month on specific goals that will fulfill the different things I’ve been given; but for now, entrusted is my big-picture word.  I love it.  It makes me feel hopeful and, overall, excited about the coming months!

Did you select a word for 2018?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!  Whether you did or not, my hopes and prayers for you all are for an amazing, beautiful year.

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

 

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“The Space Between Words” by Michèle Phoenix ~ A Review

I have been a huge fan of author Michèle Phoenix ever since I read her phenomenal Of Stillness and Storm.  (In fact, that was one of the best books I read during the last year.)  So when Netgalley offered me the chance to read this author’s newest book, The Space Between Words, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

 

 

 

The story

Jessica is an American living in France, working alongside her employer Patrick and fellow employee Vonda.  (The trio are also platonic roommates.)  Patrick owns the Denver, Colorado boutique Trésor, which is filled with (as you’d guess) treasures from Europe.  “Picking chiner,” as it’s defined in France, is Patrick’s joy and métier.  He drives around France’s rural areas and purchases things which aren’t valued by their owners but which make his store a beloved stop by fashionable Americans.  The three agree to head to France together for store shopping.  Patrick speaks French, and Jessica envies his easy friendships and rapport with the French.  On the trio’s last day in Paris, they decide to do some sightseeing and art-viewing.  But Vonda is offered free tickets to a concert that evening; a death metal band, which isn’t really Jessica’s thing (nor Patrick’s, as he heads off to le musée).  The next day they will head off to search for treasures in the country.

But the evening doesn’t go as anyone expects.  Vonda and Jessica are headed to the Bataclan, where three terrorists will open automatic rifle fire and kill 70; and injure many more.

Jessica wakes up in the hospital, wounded, and broken in her spirit.  She plans to leave immediately to go back home to Colorado.  Vonda, uninjured, isn’t much help; but dear Patrick is supportive, kind and consoling.  He works and works to convince Jessica to go with him on their country treasure hunt.  Paralyzed by fears brought on by the attack and injuries made by a bullet, she is hesitant to agree.  But finally, when she’s released from the hospital, they begin their journey and head to a charming inn in the south of France.

As they’re poking around the countryside, the pair finds a barn filled with an amazing collection of furniture, junk, and dusty objects.  Jessica happens onto a collection of ancient hidden letters; and, reading them, enters the story of  persecuted Huguenot Christian Adeline Baillard.

But there are mysteries ahead for Jessica that she cannot even imagine.  Is she in a ghost story?  What is really going on in this journey she’s undertaken after the Bataclan attack?  Is there love and hope ahead for her?

 

In closing

I will honestly pick up ANYTHING by author Michèle Phoenix.  Her writing and perspective captivated me from the first moment I picked up one of her books.  The Space Between Words is a timely, engaging story of the terrors and struggles that we face today, juxtaposed with the ones that Christians faced hundreds of years ago.  It turns out that our desire and fierceness to survive aren’t all that different after all.  Check out The Space Between Words….and everything else you can find by Phoenix!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

I received a digital e-reader copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for this review.

 

Glow in the New Year Giveaway from FINCHNWREN (ends 1/15/18)

Happy New Year, darling ones!

We hope that your new year started out with a smile.  It’s time for our last holiday FINCHNWREN giveaway of the season….some goodies to help you start out 2018 with a glow!

 

 

This time, Finch and I have assembled some things to help you glow on the inside AND the outside.  Since starting out a new year can be a time of setting up some new habits for yourself, we’re giving away two books:

  • Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels by Loretta Graziano Bruening, PhD.  I’m not a mental health professional so I can’t speak to whether this actually works.  But I do know that the Bible says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is…” (Proverbs 23:7, NASB)  Our thoughts can be so powerful in shaping our lives and our experiences.
  • Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life With Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs.  Downs has written a creative, lovely book about how we can win over the fears that plague us and live courageously.

Then, a couple of goodies for your face and body!

  • Sephora Collection Mini Lip Gloss in clear for a gorgeous shine on your lips
  • Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt to use in the shower for exfoliating your winter skin!

How to enter:

Simply click on the pink “Enter Here!” link below, to enter via Giveaway Tools.  One winner will be selected and will win all four items after the giveaway closes on 1/15/18.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren and Finch

Merry Christmas!

 

As Linus reminds us in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,”

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:8-14)

 

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy, –Wren

Merry Christmas from FINCHNWREN to you ~ Giveaway #3 (Ends 1/4/18)

Welcome back for another FINCHNWREN Christmas giveaway!

 

This time, Finch and I are giving away some fun beauty goodies for someone to glam up the holiday with!  Don’t you love playing around with new colors for your beauty routine?  I have to admit, I am a recent convert to eyeliner!

This giveaway collection includes some of our favorite brands and products.  One winner will receive:

  • Tarte “lights, camera, lashes!” Mascara Mini
  • Smashbox “Always Sharp” Lip Liner in Nude Light
  • Too Faced Exotic Color Intense Eye Shadow in Magic Mushroom
  • Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Crayon Eyeliner Mini in Blacquer 42
  • Ulta Nail Collection Mini in Aubergine Queen
  • Sephora Glossy Gloss to Go Mini in Candy Necklace

 

You know the drill!  Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below.  You’ll be taken to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you can enter to win.  Giveaway closes 1/4/17.

Enter here!

Best wishes!

Enjoy!  –Wren & Finch

 

“Holiday Cookies” ~ A Review

Are you always looking for fun and different cookies you can make in December for the holidays?

I admit, I am.  We make biscotti every Christmas…but often we’ll search for something different or unusual that we haven’t made before.  We love making spritz cookies (the cookie press is so fun to use) but I’m often disappointed by the bland flavor.  We like making sugar cookies, especially multicolored ones that you roll up.  But what else is out there?

 

 

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s Holiday Cookies has tons of holiday cookie options—many of which I’d never even heard of before!

 

What will you find in Holiday Cookies?

Food stylist and professional recipe developer Elisabet der Nederlanden is a resident of Berkeley, CA, but was born in and grew up in Sweden.  She learned to bake as a child and worked in a bakery as a teen.  She loves decorating for Christmas (and all its associated celebrations, like St. Lucia Day) and baking wonderful cookies and treats.  So, she brings her love and experience with baking and goodies to this book, which truly is a labor of love.  She searched out, prepared, and selected 50 unusual and delicious cookies whose origins are from countries all over the world.

What I really love about this cookbook is that you’ll find the usual suspects of Christmas cookies (like bark, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies) but they are livened up with gorgeous decorations, unusual flavors, and unexpected tweaks that make cooking, and decorating, more enjoyable and fun.  The pictures are absolutely breathtaking and they WILL make you want to scurry to the kitchen and bake!  It’s also written in a lovely conversational manner that will make you feel as though der Nederlanden is sharing her fabulous cookie wisdom with you.

 

 

She begins with cookie-baking and decorating tips (including a great section on royal icing, which makes rolled cookies so beautiful), helpful ideas for shipping cookies and storing them.  And then the fun begins!  Der Nederlanden has divided her book into 6 sections with 8 recipes each:

  • Very Merry Classics (with gingerbread cookies, black and whites, Red Velvet Crackle Cookies, stenciled shortbread rounds)
  • Cookie Exchange Party (where you’ll find Bejeweled Chocolate Cookies, Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies, Red-and-White Meringue Kisses and more)
  • Warm Holiday Spice (which includes Saffron Pistachio Biscotti, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers, and Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam)
  • Around the World (Swedish Pepparkakor, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and other fun recipes)
  • Holiday Confections (with goodies like Apple Cider Caramels, Matcha Chocolate Bark with Berries and Coconut, and Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle)
  • and finally, Decorated Delights, where the author shares recipes for cookie ornaments, Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies, Stained-Glass Snowflakes, and even a Gingerbread House

The recipes all seem to be well-researched (and tested) and the directions are very clear and easy to follow.  (Of course you’ll still want to read through the cookie recipes before you prepare them; some of them have ingredients that you might not have on hand.)

 

Our favorites

We LOVE Swedish Pepparkakor.  The St. Lucia celebration is so beautiful, and pepparkakor cookies are served then.  The cookies are crisp and carry ginger and cloves (and of course, a bit of pepper).  I don’t have der Nederlanden’s fun goat and pig cookie cutters, but we do have lots of others!

I like the saffron biscotti recipe as well.  It is beautiful and colorful, thanks to the saffron, which I’d never have imagined as a biscotti ingredient!

Other favorites include the Minty Spritz Cookies (I told you I needed a good spritz recipe!), the Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies (although honestly my hand doesn’t have beautiful cursive handwriting with icing!), and the Citrus Sugar Cookie Ornaments.  So many fun recipes to add joy to Christmas celebrations!

More about the author:

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s website

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

A “Merry Christmas from FINCHNWREN to You” Giveaway #2 (Ends 12/27/17)

Hello again, friends!

Welcome back to another “Merry Christmas from FINCHNWREN to You” giveaway!  My sister Finch and I are so excited to share some fun giveaways with you all.  Today, we have something  Christmas-y and something for the New Year for one special reader!

 

 

First, something Christmas-y!

I love Christmas ornaments.  And I love bunnies!  So when I saw this little Lauren Conrad wool and sparkly bunny ornament, my heart was smitten.  (She even has a crown!)

 

And then, something for the New Year!

Bless the Lord, O My Soul is the title of this combination Bible journal, coloring book, and daily devotional.  It is a softcover book with gold-edged pages.  The pages have psalms printed out (one for each day of the year) with coloring pages tucked in here and there.  Each page also has lines for journaling and reflection, where the reader can jot down thoughts about the psalm and what it has meant to him or her that day.

The title is taken from one of my most favorite psalms; Psalm 103, which begins like this:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”  (Psalm 103:1-5, NASB)

And to enter the giveaway…

just click on the pink Enter here! link below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes 12/27/17.  One winner will be selected from all entries.  Best wishes, and Merry Christmas!

Enter here!

Enjoy!  –Wren