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If you wait long enough to cook dinner, everyone will eat cereal. Follow me for more recipes.

– a meme shared on Facebook (hat tip to Cheryl Peck)

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself but I often quote one of my art business course teachers, Stacie Bloomfield, who likes to remind her students: "Don't let overwhelm steal your joy." It's not a Bible verse or anything, but it's a valuable and "sticky" principle I have been passing along. 

With less than two weeks left until Christmas, coupled with the general heaviness of the past two years, I can well imagine the responsibilities and worries weighing many of you down. It's completely understandable and you shouldn't feel guilty if you're finding it hard to muster up the smiles, enthusiasm, creativity, or productivity you might feel others expect from you. This is going to be easier for me to say to you than to myself, but I hope you'll take it to heart: You don't have to do everything, and you certainly don't have to do it perfectly. 

Prioritize your soul care, take care of your loved ones' needs, and try not to worry about the rest. Try (with me!) not to worry if you can't get everyone the perfect gift, if your house isn't spotless, if you can't accept every invitation. It's OKAY.

Last winter, I recorded a video with my three co-authors of
The Joy of Working at Home (only $2.99 on Kindle) and my segment was about how to find joy and gratitude when life is challenging. Click here for that excerpt, which I think you'll enjoy. It's only 3 minutes long. (Just don't laugh at my fuzzy winter toque!) 😄

If you haven't yet joined the official private Facebook group for Whimsy & Wisdom subscribers, you can find it here: www.facebook.com/groups/whimsyandwisdom.

A couple of weeks ago, I conducted an informal survey in the group to get an idea of what topics would interest my readers, and one of the options that got several votes was for me to share my top ten favourite books of all time. I thought, "Ha! That's easy." Until I sat down to write the list. The first eight books were easy. The ninth one, so-so. The tenth? Almost impossible, because it meant excluding the many, many other books I have loved reading. But I finally completed my list, which I'm going to present in reverse order of preference, like a Top Ten countdown.

Numbers 9 and 10 on the list are simply two beautiful and classic novels I highly recommend; I've read Jane Eyre several times but I only discovered The Blue Castle last summer. I could easily list another 20 (or 50) novels I've loved in my lifetime. The rest are a mix of fiction and non-fiction books that have had a powerful impact on my life, and some of you have heard me mention them before. If I could only keep three books in my library, I would easily pick numbers 1, 2, and 3. 

10. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
8. Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
7. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
6. You Are Special by Max Lucado
5. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
4. Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown
3. The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning
2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader* by C.S. Lewis
1. The Bible


* Note: I love the Chronicles of Narnia as a whole, but VotDT is my favourite of the seven books, so much so that I bought myself this custom pair of earrings with charms depicting Aslan, his crown, the Dawn Treader, and the dragon / Eustace. 
I don't know who wrote this story, but I thought it was worth sharing. 😊

There was a man who worked for the post office, whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day, a letter came to his desk addressed in shaky handwriting to God. He thought he should open it to see what it was about. He opened it and read:

Dear God,
I am an 93-year-old widow, living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next Sunday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?
Sincerely, Edna

The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to his fellow workers. Each of them dug into their wallets and came up with a few dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96, which they put into an envelope and sent to the woman. The rest of the day, all of the workers felt a warm glow for the kind thing they had done.

Christmas came and went. A few days later another letter came from the old lady to God. All of the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read:

Dear God,
How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it must have been those thieves at the Post Office.
Sincerely, Edna
whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

I love these three little commercials produced by a Belgian bus company. It's a good reminder that we need each other, no matter how much our modern culture glorifies independence. (Another reason I love being part of a church family!)

A couple of years ago, a pastor friend of mine in Ontario asked me to add illustrations and colour to a journaling Bible he'd been writing notes in for his daughter for about four years. What an honour! He wrote about this project for the Challies blog and included some photos, which may inspire you to do something similar. 

How much do you know about homelessness? Montreal's Welcome Hall Mission offers a downloadable guide that looks at myths and facts to help us better understand and respond to the plight of those we may encounter on the street. Here's one tip that jumped out at me: "Random acts of charity can be very unhelpful. In some cases, they are extremely ill-advised. The best way for members of the public to help those in need is to work with existing well-recognized service organizations." (Note: This is not a personal endorsement of WHM, though they do good work. I simply thought the resource could be useful.)

ANTITHALIAN

(adj) opposed to festivities

Do what lasts; get around to everything else.

– Bob Goff

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