My time gets away from me. I skipped last weekend's catching-up post altogether, and I'm sure that I'm not nearly as busy as most of you. It's just been steady. A little shopping. Medical tests. Making and keeping doctor appointments. A writing contest I won. Gavin's Pre-K Christmas program. Extended family time. Book brainstorming. Afternoon naps. 

I'm running out of time to polish half a dozen Christmasy drafts - from a post about the least of these and buying Christmas presents to the blessings of embracing the gift of forced slowness.   

Chances are none of them are going up before Christmas, but Jeff Goins' Rediscovering the True Meaning of Christmas and Ann Voskamp's When Christmas Gets Radical - Whose Birthday is it Really express my sentiments more eloquently than I ever could. Please take the time to read both of them.

The writing contest I won? Humbling, intimidating fun. Several months ago I subscribed to Joe Bunting's The Write Practice - a growing community of aspiring writers and an excellent resource for writers desiring to improve their craft. 

Joe's Christmas "Show Off" Writing Contest earlier this month is the first writing "contest" I've ever entered. I honestly don't remember what possessed me to do so this time, but I did, and I won, and Joe is now critiquing my entry, helping me make it shine. As much as I treasure compliments from family and friends, an unbiased evaluation from Joe and his team is a gift. 

Joe will post my polished entry around Christmas next week. I'll link to it when he does, but if you click on over to The Write Practice and get a free email subscription, you'll not only be able to read my story in an email as soon as he posts it, but for a limited time, you will also receive a free copy of Joe's new eBook, 14 Prompts - Practical Writing Prompts that Inspire, and the opportunity to win a free manuscript critique. Very, very cool.

Speaking of "buntings", I'm still waiting on the painted buntings to arrive this year, but I haven't done much to attract them. Those pesky gray squirrels constantly raid the feeders, so I've been reluctant to keep the feeders filled. I looked at squirrel-proof feeders, but the best ones are too expensive for our budget.

But then the coolest thing happened. Without me saying a word about it, a friend gave me her very nice squirrel-proof feeder, saying her husband thought I would enjoy it more than they do. Then yesterday while we were visiting with a relative who is moving to Kentucky today, we noticed her two feeder cages that had been designed to let painted buntings in and keep squirrels out. When I asked her how well they worked, she told me to take them with us when we left because she wasn't going to be able to take them with her to Kentucky.

As of this morning, all the new feeders are up, and I'm having fun watching the squirrels' frustrated efforts to get to the feed. It's a beautiful day here on Pollywog Creek. Maybe I'll see a painted bunting.

What are you delighting in this beautiful day the Lord has made?

{Photos}A foggy pasture sunrise, and a cardinal, mocking bird and Easter garden flowers in my Pollywog Creek back yard.