In My Home This Week: Ending and Beginning

In my home this week:

...I  accomplished little it feels and yet it was a full week.  Busy enough to get things done, but not nearly enough time to get all I'd like to get done.  I've just finished scrubbing the oven door.  It took forever...and I've decided that some big tasks should just be broken down into do-able segments.  I might not get to the oven again until Monday but I'll hit another lick at it as soon as I can.

Christmas stuff is out on the back porch, ready to go into the shed, and just as family comes in for the weekend.  I hadn't planned on guests this weekend but it all seems to be just part and parcel of the current hospitality trend.  I need to plan meals for the weekend.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment but in the end, all that is necessary shall be done and what isn't shall wait, right?

Coffee Chat: Days and Days Ahead

Hello dears, do come in from the chilly outdoors and have a little something hot.  Shall you have tea?  It's satisfying somehow on these cold afternoons, in the same way that coffee satisfies in the mornings.  I recall reading old tea ads which all talked about the enervating effect of an afternoon cup.   It was promoted as a tonic of sorts, bound to cure the afternoon tiredness and carry one through the evening activities.  

What cup would you like to choose?  It occurred to me Christmas Eve as I sipped coffee from a pretty china cup that I have been digging through thrift stores for years looking for 'pretty' tea cups to use...and here I've got several to choose from amongst two matching sets of china!  How silly is that?  However you may take your choice this morning, as you can see.  I've a pretty thrifted pink, a pretty blue that Katie gifted me, a rose covered one and the blue and brown pattern that was my first china.

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 27

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by your prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You hear it a lot these days.  "I'm having an anxiety attack."  "I feel panicky."  "My nerves are shot all to pieces."    These are all signs of the modern day world, in which we have piled upon ourselves too many decisions, too many problems to manage at once and too much of every thing as a general rule.  Even Christians.  Especially Christians who feel it is their sole duty to volunteer for most every ministry program and need in their church.  I remember reading something years ago about Christians who are so keen to fulfill every role that they often fail to leave room for others to do much of any thing.  And then there are pastors and leaders who urge already taxed parishioners to do a bit more 'unto the Lord....'

We do too much.

New Year Thinking: Past and Future

I am going to combine things in this post, both a sort of review of the year past and a good look ahead at what I would like to do in 2018.  I'm excited by what 2017 has been and by what 2018 might well prove to be.

Food and Pantry

I'll start with food because it's my biggest expense area and because I love to cook and I like eating better than most.  It runs in the family.  Taylor loathed Uncle Sam until he said the word 'food' recently and suddenly she popped out "I like food!" and that was the ice breaker.  From that point on she was friendly as could be with Uncle Sam.  See?  I told you it runs in the family, lol!

Christmas Time is Near: Advent Day 25 & 26

Day 25

Isaiah 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.

This day's reading began with the story of an incredible climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in June of 2017.  Alex Honnold  free climbed 3,000 feet without any safety ropes or gear.  It was the man with his hands and feet and an absolute fearless attitude.

Did he climb because he was without fear?  No.  He climbed because he trusted his mind to remain calm despite his circumstances.  Now that is peace!

I love the verse used

Christmas Time is Near: Advent Day 23 and 24

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

If there is one message consistent throughout the Bible it is this: "Do not be afraid," which God repeatedly says to those who are righteous and living rightly.

But the second message, the one we miss all too often, is the message of peace.  It is a gift that has been given to us and rarely do we accept it.

The Last Week of Christmas Looks Like This

The last week of Christmas looked like this in my home...

Pretty flowers for my own pleasure

and some more for a friendly hostess.

More packages went out and more cards came in...No pictures of the packages out though and you won't see which cards came in among all the ones hung on the picture frame.

And saddest of all was the card returned.  A look online presented us with an obituary for a very elderly aunt.  Rest in peace, sweet soul.

Christmas Time Is Near: Fourth Week of Advent, Day 22

This week's theme is Peace.

Isaiah 9:6  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The title of today's reading was Peace is a Person.

Peace, like joy, tends to be rather tenuous thing.  It's something we all long for but do we ever really have it?  And when we do, don't we feel it's fleeting, here now but soon to be gone?

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 21

Isaiah 55:12  You will go out in joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

I love the imagery of this verse.  I can't help it.  Every time I imagine the trees clapping their hands, I'm reminded of the scene from 'A Wizard of Oz' in which the apple trees begin to throw the apples at Dorothy and Scarecrow.  I imagine those same trees clapping their hands in joy instead of being ugly and rude.

This Week In My Home: Flash In A Pan

This week in my home:
I'll share more at another time but our family holiday was...crazy.  An unexpected guest, a change of plans for other family members, a late afternoon photo session with Santa, a little boy who felt decidedly unwell,  a car breakdown that necessitated a long drive and rescue operation, a hurried meal and gift session...I feel like I'd been in a whirlwind and I didn't get a clear vision of any one moment.   There was a lot of babble and bustle and irregular hours.  I'm not by any means saying it was a bad holiday, but it was hectic, even more so than it normally might be. It felt a bit like a flash in a pan.  And then it was done.

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Days 18, 19, 20

Well....I seriously underestimated how busy I might be after  our family party was over and done.  Two overnight guests, two days running errands (three if you count this morning's outing and it should!), busyness all around.  I'm sure it's the same at your own homes.  I hope you have time to stop for a cup of coffee or tea and catch up with Advent with me.

Day 18  Matt 2:10-11  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

One of the questions asked this day was where are you on your journey this season?  I'd just the day before been thinking on this very matter and honestly I realized I'm on a new journey, one wherein I am trying to do and not just think of what I should or could do.  I made that decision about two months ago and the openings God has brought to me to be real and prove I mean to walk the walk has been scary, funny, strange...

The Third Week of Christmas Looks Like This:

Week three of Christmas has come.  It looks like this in my home:

The week began with company, four overnight stays in the guest room in seven days, y'all.   I shall HAVE to buy a new mattress next year because this bed is starting to see as much use as ours does each week!  The guest room is looking a little worse for wear at the moment, though my last guest kindly made the bed before she left.

And there's the inevitable stack of baby laundry that gets left behind because it needs to be laundered.  Daddy Sam will pick it up when he comes in later this week to use the guest bed...Yep! more overnight company!

Christmas Time is Near: Advent Days 15, 16, 17

I did not mean to let this slide.  We've had lots of company and unexpected guests and such.  However, I hope to get caught up today and to stay caught up!

Day 15
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

This Week In My Home: Hurry Hurry Wait!

This week in my home...
...I am writing this early Sunday morning.  We went to the ballet yesterday afternoon and it was lovely.  Truly lovely.  It was chilly as well.  We were in the balcony section and I expected it to be warmer there than downstairs but it was not.  Our jackets were most welcome and my feet never did stop being cold...but my shoes were cute, lol.  

On the way home, John asked if I'd enjoyed myself.  I did, indeed.  I told him that when I'd first seen the ballet on television many years ago I never dreamed I'd see not one but two live productions of The Nutcracker in my lifetime.   He has plans for me to go next year, this time with Bess, Katie and Taylor.  I shall set money aside, as I know Bess would like to take the boys along as well.   

Christmas Time is Near: Day 14 Advent

I Corinthians 13:4-8  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  (5)does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (6)does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (7)bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8)Love never fails...

One of today's questions was "Who do you find it hardest to love?"  An enemy?  A co-worker?  A family member?  A neighbor?

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 13 (Friday)

John 1:9-12  The true light that gives light  to everyone was coming into the world.   He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Today's title was Wide Love.  The author spoke of the lowliness of the people to whom Jesus was born, to those who received his ministry.  It's still true today.  He says that we need only come as little children to him.  A child comes trusting, with no expectation of being hurt or harmed.  Not so  does the world who attends to them.

Cofffe Chat: Next Year, Next Year...But Right Now, too.

Do come in and now's a wonderful time for a bit of coffee...There are loads of cookies to choose from and fruit cake and Banana poundcake, as well.  There are mandarins in the fruit stand and salted nuts. Oh and we can't forget that large jar of Christmas chocolates.  That all sounds right lovely for a treat with coffee, agreed?

Well here I am...Just a day or so ahead of the family party and dreading facing an unexpected visitor.  Not a 'happy to see you!' sort of guest but because of the late hour of arrival we feel compelled to offer up a bed for the night and so I've taken time on this day meant for nothing but rest to clean up the guest room a bit nicer than usual and set out water bottles and snacks and about dark I shall go turn on a light in the room so that it looks cheerful and welcoming.   Originally the hour of arrival was well within daylight hours and frankly I was hoping that the offer of a room would be bypassed and traveling would re-commence but now the hour of arrival is well after dark and the roads are long and rural and darker than dark and it seems inhuman to not ask her to stay.

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 12

Ephesians 3:17-19And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses understanding---that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I think sometimes, I tend to take God for granted.  I mean that in a nice way, in the same way that I take John for granted.  I trust so fully in his love that I often wrap it about me like a cloak and just go through my days without really thinking about it, because it has become such a part of who I am.  I do the same with God.  I wrap His presence about me and walk through my days, assured that He is who He says He is, that I forget sometimes to take time to appreciate Him.

One night, some

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 11

1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear.

My mind went so many places with this particular verse today.  First there is the very advent reading itself which describes what a fearful time the original first Christmas was.  Mary's fear of giving birth for the first time.  Joseph's fear that he was being a foolish man even though he spoke with an angel.  Herod's fear of the King to come.  The wise men's fear as they traveled across deserts and mountains and followed a star that led to who knew where.  Shepherds who quaked at the sight of angels.

And then there are all our human fears.  Diane asked about my mixed bowl of faith with Jewish and Christian elements tossed in together.  Her question reminded me of how I literally shook with fear when we began to explore this added depth of our Christian faith.  When we left our church to begin attending a synagogue, I had no idea what to expect.  I was uncertain and scared as I was the day I got down on my knees to give my life to Christ.  

The Second Week of December Looks Like This

This week Christmas looks like this:

The tree has not fallen over again.  My obsessive need to rearrange ornaments and fill in that spot right there seems to be quieted at last.  Third time decorating, apparently, is the charm.  It leaves room for gazing at the glowing tree in the early mornings and at night.  I contemplate leaving it up longer, past January 1, but I won't.  I want to enjoy the seasonality of it, anticipate it again next year, savor it because I know it's not lasting.

Thanks to a comment by Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me, I remembered I have an Amazon Prime membership, and unlimited data and hey there's free music to listen to.  I sat here one cold evening all bundled up cozy and warm and gazed at the Christmas tree lights.  Per her recommendations I listened to On A Cold Winter Day.  The lovely old English traditional songs suited the dark room and glowing tree and the snug cocoon I'd made myself.  I enjoyed it so much I repeated one dark morning with a cup of coffee before John came in from work.   Some things are truly worth repeating.

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 10

1 John 4:9-10  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Today's writings were about first love.  Do you remember your first love?  Can I tell you a secret?  My first crush was in first grade and I think every thing that followed was a mere crush or lust but my first love?  John.

Not 'in love' but  true love, the lasting sort of love.  Hard to tell the difference if you've never experienced it but it's amazing.  I have fallen in and out of love with him many times over.  I always LOVE him though, a love based on like, respect, admiration, trust and desire.  Love is very complex.

Christmas Time Is Near: Day 9

James 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  

Shifting shadows...That jumped out at me today because not too long ago I was working here at home and suddenly I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  My heart pounded, I screeched, I moved away from where I was standing in a leap.  And what caused all the havoc?  A shift of shadow.  An illusion.  Something that was not real.

Christmas Time Is Near: The Week of Love: Advent Day 8

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave His only son...

This week's focus is love.  One of the questions asked in the follow up was 'How does your relationship with your parents affect your relationship with God?"

This one I've given a lot of thought to over the years.  I told John a long time ago that I couldn't see God as Father.  My own dad's input in my life left a lot to be desired, or so I felt at the time.  A lot more water under the bridge since those long ago early days of being a baby Christian.  At the time, however, I just couldn't grasp what a good father was like.  So I pretty much rejected God but accepted Christ if that makes any sense to you at all.

Christmas Time is Near: Day 7

Romans 8:25 Rejoice in hope, be patient in trouble, be constant in prayer.

Rejoice...In the midst of the storm.

Rejoice...In the day of trouble.

Rejoice...and believe.  

A savior was born.  Emmanuel.

This Week In My Home: Jingle Bells, Ho Ho Ho!

This week in my home:

....I have been busy and behind all at the same time.  Anybody else feel the same?  At this moment it is just after Shabat and here I am finishing up this post and trying to write a few words while we wait on supper which is about to come out of the oven at any moment.   There are more things I didn't do these past two days than things I did.  "Tis the season!

On top of all that, after lots of time and prayer and thinking, I decided to become a consultant with Jamberry.  I still haven't finished up that paperwork either but it will happen shortly.  I'm supposed to have a launch party, but I've decided that can wait until January when things calm down a bit.

Well, now to finish up this post and get dinner on the table.  Short and sweet tonight aren't I?

Christmas Time Is Near: Advent Day 6

Romans 8:25 - But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

What if we had to wait as long as Abraham did for hope to be realized?   Would you be able to hope even after years of waiting?  Would you give up?

It's a test of character when you answer those questions isn't it?  I've always said I'm very patient.  Give me a long line to stand in, a child who needs attention, endless interruptions and usually I am patient enough.  But when it comes to a prayer I want answered...well not so much!

But hope says that I will wait, however long it takes, for God to answer my plea.  It might mean that what I await, the dream I long for changes shape a few times as He patiently shows me how I must change in order to be ready for that much longed for prayer to be answered.  Maybe He needs to help me to alter my dream so that it's more in keeping with His plan for my life and less in keeping with what I think will make me happy.

Christmas Time is Near: Advent Day 5

Hebrews 6:19 (NIV) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

What do we do when the storms come raging at us?  

A couple of years ago, I had a health crisis.  I had bilateral pulmonary embolisms and they were literally found just in the very nick of time.   It was a frightening and scary time with an outcome that was based on percentages relying upon how long the surgeon would be in completing the surgery he was currently conducting.    After the doctor left the room, John looked at me and asked "What do we do?''  "Let's start with calling in all the prayer warriors."   Those prayer partners instantly came to cover us in prayer.   The hope that prayers would be heard in heaven were our anchor in that moment. They sustained us through every step of that journey.

The First Week Of December Looks Like This

December 5 and I am still slowly decorating my home.  I haven't made the first batch of cookies and won't until I buy eggs and milk at the grocery tomorrow.  However, it's beginning to look like a holiday is at hand...Messes abound.

The tree is up. 

For the third time, yet.  I started setting it up on the Friday after Thanksgiving but it leaned wildly.  I located the original tree stand and got it all decorated and we decided that it looked wrong somehow.  We bought a half whisky barrel and decided it would look better at least a galvanized gray.   I painted it and set up the tree in it yesterday and the dadgum thing toppled over and the ornaments went everywhere.

Christmas Time is Nere: Day 4 Advent

Romans 5: 3-5  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given us.

What can I possibly write about today's advent?   Hope never disappoints.  That's the theme.  But how do you tell that to anyone in the middle of grief?   How do you share that with someone whose world is crumbling about them?  

In my young adult years, there was a popular book out called When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  The author was interviewed in every magazine and on every talk show.  Harold Kusher wrote the book following the death of his fourteen year old son who died from a genetic disorder.  

Christmas Time is Near: Day 3 of Advent

                         Psalm 31:24  Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.

In the KJV the same verse reads:  Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

How often the Bible tells us in scripture to 'take courage', 'do not fear'...And there's good reason for it.  Scary things happen to us in this world.  We face trials such as illness and heartbreak.  No one is so saintly they miss out on trials and tribulations.  They come to us all.  Often we cry out, "But WHY?"  We stumble.  We fail.  We weep.  We realize that we are weak in places we never suspected we might be.  We are tested and tried.   The awful things happen.   We are numb with grief.  Yet the sun still rises each morning and the stars shine out at night.   The earth continues to turn and life goes on, even if we feel surely we are dying inside.

Christmas Time is Near...The Week of Hope: Days 1 and 2

Yesterday we were out after church and we had one of those lovely moments.  We walked into Lowe's garden center which was filled with fresh spruce and fir trees for Christmas.  It smelled so good!  And what fun to watch as people chose a tree, had it cut to length and then to watch them rewrap them.   This is something I've never before seen happen and I found it all most intriguing.  Still more intriguing was the sight of a lovely handmade wreath.  I've no idea just where the young couple found it but my gracious!  I'd have loved one of those myself.  It has made me more determined than ever to get busy decorating my own home which has been rather half heartedly attended to at the moment.  I came home and sat down to make out a list...It always begins with a list for me.

I'm at that stage where things feel a bit much: too much to do, too little time to do it all in.  But I don't want to lose sight of what this season is really meant to be about.   Our church passed out books to each family this season to use for Advent.

This Week In My Home: The Next Thing

This week in my home...

...I am in recovery from the Thanksgiving holiday, lol.   For someone who hasn't had opportunity to have very many family Thanksgivings over the past 10 years or so, this one was a doozy.  We had 18 visitors and this little house rocked with noise and good cheer.   There was far too much food and far too much work.  We had guests who stayed through Friday and guests who stayed further through Sunday.  We ate leftovers, we ate out.  There was too much and it was all wonderful.

My February to March Capsule Wardrobe

I struggled a bit with this capsule.  The weather has been more than usually all over the place in February here in Georgia.  I never re...