Top 25 Posts of 2013

I really haven't forgotten I have a blog, I promise...despite the fact that it appears that way from my posts (or lack thereof!) over the past few months.  A few months ago, I found myself with some  unusual "downtime" where I was away from the responsibilities of the house and family, as well as offline, several hours a day for a few weeks.  During that time, I drafted quite a few blog posts, planning to come back to them when I was home and online to add photos, links, and finishing touches, and then post.

Somehow, the time to do that never materialized. The bad news about that is that the blog has been very quiet during the last quarter of this year.  The good news is that there should be a ton of new content coming in 2014!

In the meantime, it's time for the top 25 posts from Pondering of an Elect Exile in 2013.  This list consists of the most-read posts this year.  I hope to post my favorites from 2013 in the next day or two.  :)

#25 ~ From Bittersweet Last Times to Breathtaking Amazement ~ This post has actually been on my mind several times recently.

The thing about those "last times" that we don't realize are last times is that we don't realize that we are going to want to look back and cherish them, so we don't necessarily even remember them.

That's how it is with July 1, 2006, for me...
#24 ~ How to Empty a 9 x 13 Pan in Nothing Flat {Pecan Pie Bars} ~  This was probably our favorite new recipe of 2013. Yum!!

#23 ~ Monday Morning Meditation ~ A good reminder as we close one year and begin another...

What a reminder...there are no "lower-level" Christians.  If we have been called as followers of Christ, we have equal standing with the likes of Peter!   That is not only an encouragement, but a challenge...we have no excuses...we have everything that Peter, James, John, and Paul had.

That thought was reinforced in verse 3..."His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness", or as the NIV says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life".   "All things", "everything we need"...as I've heard over and over from various preachers/teachers through the years..."all means all".  If we are His, there is nothing that we lack that is needed to live a godly life.
 #22 ~ Happy Birthday, Ammah Grace!

Some time after we were finally settled at home, I began to search in earnest for the meaning of our tiny girl's name.  When I finally found it, I was totally overwhelmed at the ways God works even in the little things.  "Ammah" is actually a Biblical place name meaning, "God's people".  I still get goosebumps typing that after all these years...thinking about the significance that "God's people" had in Ammah Grace's life...the thousands that prayed, and the many who helped us in so many ways during those days.  I am so thankful that God gave us that name as a lifelong reminder to thank Him for the people that He used in her life and in the lives of our family during those days.
#21 ~ 20 Authors Who Have Radically Impacted My Life, Part 1 and Part 2

Favorite books for me are kind of like favorite hymns....there are way too many choices, and other than a short...or maybe not-so-short...list of all-time favorites, the ones closest to my heart generally change depending on what is going on in my life at the time.

However, a list of favorite authors is a little easier. There are just some whose writing consistently speaks to me, and who have been used in great ways in my life over the years.
#20 ~ The Penrod Posts ~ A mystery solved, and a recap of all the Guy Penrod posts here over the years...

We love Guy.  We love him not only for his music, but for his heart for God and for people.  I'm thrilled to have others who appreciate Guy's music and ministry visiting the blog this week!  I hope you'll grab a  cup of coffee or an ice cold drink and stay a while!
#19 ~ Moralistic Therapeutic WHAT? Chilling Words on Young People and the Church ~  

When we think of the term "false gospel", we generally tend to think of cults and false religions: Mormonism, Islam, etc.  However, the "false gospel" that seems to be overtaking us now is a different one: one which is much more insidious, much more subtle, and so very, very dangerous. 
#18 ~ 20 Resources for Teaching Creativity ~  Part of the "Teaching Creativity to Children" Series, which I hope to revive this year!

#17 ~ Monday Funday!! ~Still working on the "fun mom" thing...but I'm making progress! :)

Recently...through a whole conglomeration of things, God has been pricking me about this.  Now...nowhere in the Bible does it say "Thou Shalt Be a Fun Parent".  In fact, there are verses that could be interpreted (and have!) in the other direction.  So what's wrong with not being a fun mom?
#16 ~ Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls ~ Another yummy new recipe, and an update to the "From Bittersweet Last Times to Breathtaking Amazement" post.

#15 ~ Of Favorite Hymns, Not-So-Weird Tears, and a 19th Century Teenager ~

Those words, though, those words still completely overwhelm me.  "God has been so good to me."
#14 ~ What a Legacy, and What a Hope! ~  We've said good-bye to some very special people in the last 53 weeks as they've gone Home to see Jesus face to face.  We have rejoiced for them, but oh, how we miss them, and how we ache for their families, who are never far from our hearts and prayers.  Mrs. Merlene was one of those people.  She left an amazing legacy, perhaps the most amazing part of which was that she wouldn't have considered herself in any way amazing.  She loved the Lord, she loved people, and His love radiated from her in all she did.  And in the days surrounding her death, we heard over and over and over again of lives that she impacted in amazing ways.

#13 ~ The Original Claremore Road Trip Adventure! ~Our first crazy Claremore road trip adventure, to see Steve Ladd, Jonathan Martin, and Michael English. 

Although I don't have the specifics of the things I heard that night that impacted me so much, I do know that God used that concert mightily in my life.  Steve spoke about obedience, trusting God, and stepping out in faith.  Jonathan told about growing up in the backwoods of Arkansas with no electricity, and how God used that to prepare him and his sisters for their current ministry.  Michael shared his testimony of ruin and redemption.
#12 ~ The Ten Commandments of Slow Cooking ~ Great guest post by my blogging friend K.M. Logan!

#11 ~ Spilling Out and Flowing Over {Mary, Martha, and and Raw, Honest Struggle} ~  Oh, wow, did I need to re-read this now as we are entering this new year!  Interesting that Bro. Gary took a brief break from the book of John on Sunday mornings, but now we are back there, and talking about Mary and Martha all over again. :)  Also interesting that last night we watched "Pilgrim's Progress" at our NYE fellowship...what a great visual of those distractions along the journey!

#10 ~ It's a {Daybook} Monday (or Maybe Not!:)) ~ Not sure why this particular Daybook post had so many views, but I needed to re-read it today, too, so I'm glad it did!  I really enjoy reading back through old Daybook posts; I'm going to try to do more of them in 2014.
I started last week very motivated and encouraged and ready to take on the world...only to crash and burn in a major way by the end of the week.  God has been gently putting me back together over the weekend and strengthening me to climb back in the saddle (quite figuratively speaking!) and press on.  I realized as I read this this morning that a huge part of my crash last week involved letting past failures and my perception of future needs completely overshadow God's provision and grace for today and this moment, and consequently let them completely overwhelm me.  Learning from the past and planning for the future are both wise...but the most important thing is living today well...trusting and obeying and rejoicing and accepting God's grace in and for this moment.  Oh, how I need to learn and re-learn this! 
#9 ~ For Overwhelmed Me...and Maybe Overwhelmed You? On "One of Those Mondays" ~  Another Monday, more Mary and Martha, more reminders to abide in Him, Romans 8, and "Do the Next Thing"...
Physical impairments, circumstantial stressors, "what ifs?" piling on top of "what ifs?" 
All are surface problems. 
The root, I know...needing to sit at Jesus's feet like Mary.
And yet I struggle to clear the way.

#8 ~ If I Were Stuck on a Desert Island With One Adhesive {Glue Dots} ~ A rather silly post about one of my favorite products. :)

#7 ~ Teaching Creativity: Creativity Challenges for Kids ~ Looking for creativity challenges for kids (or the whole family!) in 2014?  Here you go!

#6 ~ Saying Good-Bye... ~ Roy has been in Heaven just over a year now, and we still miss him like crazy.  He was only part of our lives for a short time, but he made a big impact on all of us.

#5 ~ Works for Me Wednesday {Electric Skillet Love} ~ A simple little post on a most useful small appliance. :)

#4 ~ For Such a Time {Online Friendships and the Body of Christ} ~ This is one of those post I wrote through many tears.  I still can't read it without more tears...happy and sad ones all muddled together.

We hear so much negative (and there is so much negative) about social media, online relationships, and the internet in general.  As with almost anything in this fallen world, these things can be used very wrongly, and can indeed be quite dangerous. 

And yet, I am always amazed and thrilled at the ways that God can use even modern technology for His glory.

#3 ~ Vintage Eats {Daddy's Mexican Cornbread} ~ Planning to make some of this this weekend as part of an "extended" birthday celebration...Daddy used to make this for my birthday meal every year, and it's still one of my favorites!  (I'm hoping to post more in the Vintage Eats series this year, too...I have a whole list of recipes and stories to share!)

#2 ~ A Long Overdue Road Trip Adventure {Claremore Gordon Mote Concert} ~ Another concert, another Claremore road trip adventure!

#1 ~ St. Paul {Guy Penrod} Weekend, Part 7...My Favorite Moment of the Whole Whirlwind Trip! ~  This was one of my favorite moments of 2012, but it didn't make it onto the blog until 2013. :)   Love these people and this story!

Did you have a favorite read on Ponderings of an Elect Exile this year?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!  Or share a favorite post from your own blog (or elsewhere in the blogosphere).  I'd love to see what has encouraged, helped, or entertained you this year!
Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful regular friend, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.  (And if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment below, or drop me a note via the email box in the sidebar. :))

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