Favorite Posts of 2016


Another end-of-year activity I like to do is look back through old blog posts. Not so much the “just chatting,” book reviews, memes, laudable linkage, or even the Friday Fave Fives posts (though the FFF posts are by their very nature favorites!) But the ones where I wrestled through an issue or shared something God was teaching me.


4 Reasons to Face the New Year Without Fear.

I’m an Older Woman…So Now What?


Our Church Ladies Booklet.


To the Shy.


The Value of Housework.


Fleeting Pleasures, Eternal Joys.

My Father, My King.

Uncontrolled Reactions.

Christians With Political Differences.


Receiving Criticism.


Bible Verses For Caregivers.


Nursing Wounds.

But That’s Not My Spiritual Gift!


Bookcases (Nothing profound here – I just enjoyed sharing them. πŸ™‚ )

Communicating With God as a Person.


Across the Will of Nature.

Going to a Church With Problems.

Those Perfect Friends.

Principles For Interpreting the Bible.


Thankful For God’s Protection.

The Introvert in Assisted Living.

A God We Don’t Understand.


Ornaments For Timothy. Again, not a deep one, but a pleasant memory.

Thoughts on the Election.

“Edgy” Christian Fiction.


When God Wants Me To Do Something I Don’t Want To Do.

Interestingly (at least to me), according to my WordPress stats, the top ten posts they say got the most views do not contain any posts from this year. At first that makes me wonder if my day-to-day readership has dropped off. πŸ™‚ But I think it means that some of these show up in search engines, so are viewed a lot that way. Those top ten are:

  1. Coping when husband is away.
  2. Christmas devotional reading.
  3. What does it mean to magnify the Lord?
  4. Through Gates of Splendor.
  5. Thanksgiving reading.
  6. A Passion for Thee.
  7. C. S. Lewis on love.
  8. Transverse Myelitis.
  9. Paul Harvey on fathers.
  10. When God Is Near.

I don’t know a way to look at the stats for just this year’s posts, but it looks like the one with the most views is I’m an Older Woman…So Now What?

I don’t know if this is of any interest to anyone but myself, but I like to reminiscence on the year plus see what other readers found most helpful.

I’ve enjoyed this blogging year and am looking forward to the next. Thanks so much to YOU for reading and commenting! It’s a major encouragement, and I have been so blessed by the blogging friendships we’ve made along the way.


10th Blogging Anniversary!


Ten years ago today I published my very first post to begin this blog!

Wow, a lot has changed in 10 years.

If I am calculating correctly, my youngest was in junior high, my middle son had just completed his freshman year in college, and my oldest had just graduated. Now they are all young men, out of school, and working (well, except one got laid off recently but hopefully will find a new job soon).

We’ve added a sweet, beautiful daughter-in-law and the world’s cutest and smartest grandson to the family. After a rough start in the NICU due to arriving 10 1/2 weeks earlier than his due date, he’s doing just great.

We moved my mother-in-law from ID to SC to live near us in assisted living, and just three years ago moved her into our home.

We moved from SC to eastern TN.

My husband and I have enjoyed another decade of marriage and our hair is a little greyer than it used to be. We’ve helped each other through his kidney cancer surgery and detached retina and my heart rhythm problems.

But a lot has remained the same. I wonder sometimes if I should change my blog, with all the talk of “branding,” platforms, and niche in the last few years. But I have always felt comfortable with this hodgepodge of “stray thoughts,” just sharing personal life, amusing or interesting observations, and what God has been teaching me along the way.

Earlier in the year I anticipated this anniversary coming up and thought about doing some kind of big giveaway or planning some kind of hoopla. I forgot about it and just now remembered that today was the day.

So I’ll just quietly observe it without a virtual party. But as an anniversary gift to me, I’d love for you to say hello in the comments! Tell me something about yourself or how you came here.

Thank you for reading. You make this a lot more fun than if I was just talking to myself. πŸ™‚ I treasure the friendships I’ve made along the way.


My favorite posts of the year


Around this time of year, I like to skim back through the year’s old posts to find the ones I especially want to remember. I love the book reviews, weekly recounting of blessings in the Friday Fave Fives, the occasional meme or “stray thoughts” post, but I especially like to look over the posts where I thought through an issue by writing.

Before I did that, though, I received an e-mail from WordPress with some of my “year in review” stats. According to those stats, my most often read post is once again Coping When Husband Is Away from 2011. I had no idea when I wrote that it would hit such a nerve, and while I can’t say I liked the circumstances discussed there, I am glad God is using it to help other women in the same boat.

An odd thing, though, is that none of the top ten viewed posts according to my stats were posts from this year. In fact, the top two written this year, my review of Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan and Elisabeth Elliot In Heaven were way, way down the list of top viewed posts for the year. I don’t know what to make of that. πŸ™‚

Anyway – on to this year’s posts:


Are We Responsible For God’s Reputation?


The Quiet Person in the Small Group.

Finding Time to Read.

How Not to Become An Old Biddy.


“Special” Music in the Church.

Why Listen to Audiobooks?

Is It Nice to Call Someone a False Prophet or a False Teacher?


Praying for the Lost Scripturally.

A very special birthday.

Camouflaging Dirt.

When the Message Isn’t For Me.


Finding Time to Read the Bible.

Spots and Wrinkles.

Dealing With Caregiver Resentment and A Few More Thoughts on Caregiver Resentment.


Is it more important to be nice or to be right?

Elisabeth Elliot In Heaven.

Not a long life, but a full one.


Upcoming surgery is not a favorite because of the surgery or the post, but because of your sweet comments after I bared my heart over several concerns.

Exceeding Abundantly, But Unseen.

It’s ok to say it hurts.

Fallow Hearts.

August: None. Must not have done any deep thinking that month. πŸ™‚ Actually, I was recovering from a procedure at the beginning of the month, then my son was in town for a week later in the month, so I was otherwise occupied.


Middle Child and Other Syndromes.

October was mostly 31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot.


Help For Changing Thought Patterns.

From Depletion to Abundance.

Am I Doing Any Good?

December: Another busy month.

So that’s it for this year! It’s so hard to believe 2015 is about to come to an end. Thank you for reading and for making the blogging experience so enjoyable!


Do you see ads here?

I know WordPress places ads on its free blogs, but I don’t see them myself. So I wanted to ask my readers: how often do you see them here and what kinds are they?

If you ever see anything offensive on them, would you please let me know? If you could take a screen shot and e-mail it to me (click on the link in my sidebar) that would be helpful so I would know specifically how to address it with the powers that be.

Thanks so much!

My favorite posts of the year



There is something about the end of the year that invites reflection. One aspect of that for me is that I like to look back through my posts of the previous year and remind myself what I have been thinking about. I don’t necessarily look back through book reviews (other than listing the books I’ve read this year and then my top ten favorite books of the year) or Friday Fave Fives (though the top ones of those would probably be when Timothy was born and then when he came home from the NICU 10 1/2 weeks later) or Laudable Linkage or anything like that. Rather, I like to look back over the posts when I’ve been thinking through an issue or wrote about something that affected me or something I felt God was teaching me. So from those posts, here are some of my favorites (favorites not in the sense that I necessarily enjoyed them the most, but they are the ones that impacted me the most):


Christian Fans. “How sad that people will defend at all costs a media personage, even a Christian one, who will never know them or care about them, at the expense of a relationship with someone they know and are supposed to love in their very own church and community.”


Be Still? Or Fight? “Sometimes God will supernaturally win the battle for me while I only watch, but sometimes He gives me victory by handing me a sword.”

The Spiritual Value of a Secular Job.

The Value of Homemakers.


Can We Let God Down?

Strong Women.

YA Censorship. A question about censorship in YA lit led to a further discussion about objectionable elements in any literature.


Trusting God in the Dark.

Helping Parents As They Age, part of the Adventures in Elder Care series.


None. I was spending a lot of time at the NICU that month. πŸ™‚


Eternal Glories Gleam, written after our pastor’s announcement of his terminal cancer diagnosis.


But If Not….Another that grew out of my pastor’s illness: thoughts on the reality that God does not always answer prayer the way we’d like.

When People Say the Wrong Thing.

A Plea to Caregivers, another in the Adventures in Elder Care series.


It was a busy month, so there is nothing in the way of “deep thoughts” except for some book reviews, but I did finally get all of my favorite cookie recipes into one post. πŸ™‚


Absent From the Body, Present With the Lord, on my pastor’s death.

My Ebenezers.

Irritating vs. Irritate-able. My biggest problem is not what irritates me, but my ability to be irritated.


31 Days of Inspirational Biography. This was a series of posts through the whole month: this post contains a list with a link to each one. It did me good to look back over the lives of saints who have gone before and to learn from them.

Why Read Biographies?


No Mere Mortals.

Why Read Fiction and Christian Fiction? I discussed why read at all, then why read fiction, then why read Christian fiction. This was a post that had been in the back of my mind off and on for years, so I was glad to finally get it written down. And, it’s funny, after thinking this would be my magnum opus, I don’t think it made a splash in the blog world much at all. πŸ™‚

A revival of what?


Grieving at Christmas is one I have reposted a number of times under different titles. Each year, sadly, I seem to know someone grieving the passing of a loved one this time of year.

Looking at my WordPress stats for the year, none of the current year’s posts is near the top of the number of viewed posts. The highest of them is 31 Days of Inspirational Biography at #15. The post viewed most this year (almost four times as many views as any other post) is Coping When a Husband Is Away from 2011. I’m amazed but thankful that God is using it to help women dealing with that issue.

Only a few days left of this year! Except for the monthly What’s On Your Nightstand post tomorrow and a book review or two to finish out this year, I am ready to look ahead to 2015.

Carrie at Reading to Know is celebrating her 8th blogging anniversary with a giveaway of a $50 Amazon card, but to qualify she asks readers to post a photo of themselves with a favorite book.

The hardest part for me was choosing just one book. Of course the Bible would be the all time #1 favorite, and I don’t want to just take that for granted. In a recent book meme I had a hard time choosing just one book in any category. But Evidence Not Seen (linked to my review), about a missionary wife who was taken captive and confined to a Japanese prison camp during WWII, would definitely be up there in the very top echelons of my favorites.

photo 4

My 8th Blogiversary!

Photo Courtesy of marthastewart.com

Photo Courtesy of marthastewart.com

It’s hard to believe I have been blogging for 8 years!

Our family has experienced a lot of life changes in that time: high school and college graduations, a wedding, a grandson, a mother-in-law moving in from out of state and then into our home, surgeries, a move to a different state, crossing from the forties into the fifties. More grey hair, more wrinkles, hopefully a little more wisdom and experience.

When I first stepped into the blogosphere eight years ago yesterday, the blogging community for the most part felt more like neighbors chatting across the backyard fence than a business, and I’ve endeavored to share my “stray thoughts” about family, home, Christianity, and just about anything else I find interesting or amusing with other online neighbors. I’ve always wished I had come up with a more creative name, but it still aptly describes the content. I’ve been amazed and so grateful that anyone has stopped by at all to read, and that some of you have stayed for years amazes me even more. Occasionally I’ll read blogging advice articles and wonder if I should think more about my “niche” and “platform,” but then I think…nah. If I ever need to have a professional blog for any reason, I’ll probably start a new one: I hope to keep this one as a personal andΒ  hodgepodgy place to fellowship.

I’m so thankful for any way in which God has redeemed and used anything here.

Thank YOU so much for reading and commenting! Thank you for your patience with my foibles, your words of encouragement, your prayers through our various family crises. Without you this wouldn’t be much more than an online journal. You make it both more fun and more of a blessing.

In appreciation, I am going to host a little giveaway of one of a couple of different gifts to two different winners. I traditionally like to give away something that I have enjoyed, so I am going to offer a copy of the book Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins (linked to my review)



…and a copy of the Galkin Evangelistic Team‘s CD Be Still. It is actually a set of two CDs. One has very peaceful and soothing instrumental settings of various hymns and spiritual songs, and the other has Scripture readings with the same music as background. You can hear clips of the songs on the CDΒ  at the Galkin’s site here or on iTunes or Amazon.

Be Still

For many months this has been my go-to CD while puttering in the kitchen, especially on Sunday mornings, and it has greatly ministered to me.

If you’d like to be entered for either of these gifts, just leave a comment below. Let me know if you have a preference for one or the other and whether you’d like the electronic or physical versions (you would need a Kindle app for your computer, phone, or tablet for the electronic version of the book, but the apps are free). I can only send the physical versions to US addresses (and possibly Canada – will have to check on shipping prices there), but the electronic versions can of course be sent anywhere. And this isn’t required, but just for fun in your comment let me know how you first came across “Stray Thoughts” and how long you’ve been reading here. I’ll draw a name using random.org a week from today (August 4).

Thank you, once again, for a very enjoyable eight years.

The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Ivory Spring for winning the book and Amy for winning the CDs! And thank all of you for your kind and lovely comments.