Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Christmas 2021

                                                                 Merry Christmas 

Friends, it has definitely been another strange year and still nobody seems to know where we are heading or how to fix things. Many of us find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by hopelessness, despair and sadness for the loss of what used to be. How appropriate that in the middle of all these things that are out of my control the Lord brings my eyes to focus on the important things; my family, my home, my friends and the most importantly... himself. 

With those things in mind I pressed on and readied our home for the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus. 

Do you choose a theme every year? I chose my theme for 2021 at the end of 2020. I do that so that I can take advantage of after-Christmas sales and clearances. Last year I was feeling nostalgic and this year even more so. I decided to use my collection of nutcrackers; some old, some new. In November I dug out my nutcrackers and plaid & red velvet ribbon and then Mister and I promptly proceeded to get sick.... like cancel Thanksgiving sick and everything was on hold for 2 whole weeks!
 It took the wind out of our sails but we pressed on.

With age I have come to understand the sentiment behind the words of my mother and grandmother and probably most women with adult children
What I truly want for Christmas isn't from a store. I don't care if there aren't presents under the tree for me. I just want my children around me and my husband to curl up next to. I can't wish the world back to how I used to see it. But how it is now should not (will not) rob me of my joy. My joy can't be picked out from a catalog or purchased with a credit card. 

My joy, not silly and goofy slap-stick happiness, but a peace-filled and abiding joy that does not disappoint comes from knowing the One we are preparing to celebrate. 

"So, who is this One and why do we celebrate him?", you ask?
 I wrote this a few years ago and was so thankful when it popped up in my memories this week.

 I pray it blesses you.  

Christmas is about Jesus, the Christ of God.

He did not come wrapped in beautiful wrapping or decorated in the finest array. He was wrapped in rags; swaddling clothes. He did not lay his tiny, magnificent head on a soft bed in a king's nursery but rather in a trough that was meant to feed animals. There was no pomp initiated by the rulers of the day to welcome this prophesied Savior. There was only a young mother and her husband that knew he was not the father of this baby..... and all the heavenly host! It was they who preached to the shepherds in the fields. The shepherds rushed to see this thing the angels had declared to them. They saw the Promise of the Father! They saw, with eyes of faith, the One who would secure for them a righteousness that could never be earned-the perfection that God, the Father, requires for entrance into the gates of heaven.
Wouldn't it be so sweet if that were the whole of the story?
But, Scripture tells us more. We are told that not only can we not keep the law of God perfectly but that we don't even desire to...in fact, we break the laws of God regularly and willfully and that is called sin. Scripture also tells us the wages of sin is death and that EVERYONE has sinned. Death is not merely a physical death, which is the evidence of our sin, but also a spiritual death that separates us from the Almighty-without exception. We are bankrupt and without hope.
But God....being great in mercy sent his Son, in the form of man, to live according to all the law of God-perfectly. And here is the hard thing to remember: that baby lying in a manger, represented so sweetly in my nativity...he came to die ... not because of sin he committed but because of mine and yours. The Father poured out his wrath for our sin on his own Son! The death of Jesus satisfied the penalty for the sin of all those who would believe in him. And we know that it was an acceptable sacrifice because God, the Father raised him from the dead.

That is still not enough, though.

Remember, we have to be perfect to see heaven. A paid debt does not wipe away the fact that we had a debt or that I continue to break God's laws thus accumulating more debt. And here is the "ah-ha" that brought me a peace that knows no limits, remember the perfect life Jesus lived? He gave that to me. He wrapped me in his righteousness and presents me to the Father as his bride, clothed in white, without spot or wrinkle or blemish and I am accepted.
That is Christmas. Maybe that is why I am so enamored with the idea of white and shiny Christmas decor. Maybe that is why I would like it to look perfect and peaceful.... and maybe it is such an unattainable goal for me because that perfection has already been accomplished. It did not come wrapped in gold and silver, velvet or silk....just rags and immeasurable love.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Quick Tip To Fill A Vase

 Don't you just love the pictures of beautiful mantels or tables with a vase full of perfectly placed flowers or some tall sprigs spraying out from the top? Me too! 

But when I tried to get that look it ended up looking like this:


As a young woman, I worked in a florist shop in Denver, Colorado and my boss was great. She taught me how to make corsages, small arrangements and how to fill a vase... 

Somehow, over time, I had forgotten that I possessed that information until this happened!

This is how to fix it:

A florist will use florist tape (green, stretchy tape) to make a grid pattern on the top of the vase. This grid pattern will hold your blooms/greens in place. (New info to me-it comes in different colors now.)

I found these images online.



I didn't have any florist tape on hand so I used painter's tape. I doesn't matter because the vase is on the mantle and you won't see the uglies. 

I was only using 2 sprigs so I didn't need to make multiple holes.

Now you can put the stems in. They won't flop to the side but stay where you put them. 

Maybe someone out there needed the reminder, like me or perhaps this in new information for you. Either way, happy decorating! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Tips For Your Fall Table And Mantel

 Today, I am going to share with you my process for decorating my dining room for any given season. 

Yes,  I did decorate for autumn this year but you know it is always hard for me to let summer go. My summer table was very simple this year. I pulled a woven runner down the center and loaded it with all my beach finds: shells, rocks and glass. Add a little greenery and some twinkle lights and call er' done. 

The mantel got a similar treatment; seashells, driftwood and twinkle lights are my jam. 
(Do people still say that?)

But summer can't last forever, especially here in New England. So, it was time for a clean slate.

When I begin I gather all the items I have for that season. I am not limited to using just these items nor will I use all these items but I want to see everything that I have and develop a plan from there. Remember to shop your stuff. Not everything has to be used in the same way or same place every year. 

A recent trip with a friend to Hobby Lobby gave me my starting point this year. The royal blue, velvet pumpkin and the squirrel are new additions. I love that pumpkin and it gave me an idea! 
I pulled out my grandmother's blue and white pottery that I usually use for summer.
 Yup, I'm gonna sneak some summer in there. 

I use risers in my decorating. They can be cake stands, candle holders, books, a flat lid... anything to give some rise and fall in your arrangement. I also pulled out a scarf to use as a type of runner. 

In this case I decided to put the risers under the scarf and then scrunched it in a messy s-shaped arrangement. I added a driftwood garland and the pottery. 

At this point I add twinkle lights because I don't want them to just lay on top of the arrangement. I want them woven into it. I wrap them around a rolling pin to get the spiral effect and then nestle them into the arrangement. 

Once the base is set I add in the accents and fillers. In this case I used my painted dollar store pumpkins, seashells (still holding onto summer), and hydrangea picks I made several years ago for the autumn season.

I nestled in some candle sticks and added my great-grandmothers turkey plates. I topped them with blue and white plates Mister picked out a few years ago. Can you find the pretty velvet pumpkin? 

The mantel got a dressed up. My teal pitcher that is usually only used for summer made its way out of storage. A riser holds a fake pumpkin. Painted dollar store pumpkins, a large starfish, sand dollar and wood beads accompany the inspiration squirrel. Twinkle lights and some springs of greenery along with some of the hydrangea picks finish off the coordinating look. 

When I decorated the table I did so with the table being its normal length. That was a mistake! I needed it to be ready for guests so I had to undo the whole thing, add the leaf and put it back. That is when I decided to change one of the risers to a shorter one. The ginger pot that sat on that one was too tall and kept me from being able to see the people on the other side of the table. 
I also added some green apples to break up the blues a bit. 

In hind sight I should have arranged the whole thing on some sort of moveable board for ease in changing the leaf in the table. My table has been at its super-sized length for almost two months- which is silly for when it is just Mister and me. I will work on the for next time. 

So, here's the take away: 

1) Shop your stuff-you don't always have to buy new
2) Use risers                                                                
3) Add twinkle lights                                                   
4) Use unexpected or out of season items  
5) Make sure sight lines are not obstructed                      
6) Don't be afraid to adjust as needed  
If you use any of these tips, let me know! 

Ready your home for guests, friends, and family. Share a cup of tea or a meal together.
 Encourage one another. 

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10

Party Links 
Blue Sky At Home, Katherine's Corner, Shabby Art Boutique

*Mantle has been changed to mantel. Sorry for the misspell. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

I Got Stuck


The craziness of the past two years has had me stuck in a very weird place mentally and spiritually. I think about writing blogposts but then I struggle with "why". I follow the news and have filled my brain to the brim with politics, world news, videos, articles and books. All it has served to do for me is to make me anxious, mad and honestly, a bit hopeless

"Does anyone really care if I decorate for the new season?" That is one of many questions I replay in my mind. "In the grand scheme of things, doesn't decorating my home seem rather bourgeoise?", I ask myself. People are losing their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their freedoms. If I manage to muster up some creativity to make a new wreath in this out-of-my-control environment whose going to care? Why bother to decorate at all? 

Maybe, you're feeling a bit like that.  

I was stuck. But, I am a Christian. Words like anxious, mad and hopeless shouldn't be words that describe me. While I have been wallowing in these worthless attitudes far too long God has not been absent. I have been all too eager to engage in conversation with strangers and friends about current events; discussing and commiserating over temporary things that will come and go and not about what is really important-eternal things. Why? It is because of what I am allowing my mind be consumed by.  

But God....

They are my favorite two words in all the Bible! 

But God, in his Word, has told me that I am not supposed to give in to those feelings of anxiety. He speaks to me as he did to Martha, 

Luke 10:41 - But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, (Jolena, Jolena) you are anxious and troubled about many things,

Matthew 6:27 - And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

And then he tells me how to fight that feeling and why I can let the anxiety go...

Philippians 4:4-6 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

I forgot, Lord. You are at hand. You are in control of everything that seems to me to be quite out of control.

I still feel mad about the images and stories I see and read, though. I wonder if people are believing things of me based on my medical standing, skin color, economic status or faith that are just not true. I look at their faces, read their comments, hear the false narratives and have conversations in my head. 

But God says...

James 3:8-9 - but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

Psalm 4:4 - Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. 

Ecclesiastes 7:9 - Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

Ok, so what is at the heart of my attitude of anger? All the information and divisive rhetoric out there has planted seeds.  Am I looking at complete strangers and old friends as if they are now enemies because of what I imagine they may be thinking about me? I have inwardly questioned the motives of people I have known for decades. This took some real sole searching for me and it brought me full circle to a rather profoundly hurtful situation we experienced several years ago but this time am the guilty party. I am supposing the worst of people and friends! How did I let my heart go there?

Lord, help me!

Philippians 2:3b - ... in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

1 Corinthians 13:7 - Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it's own way; it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Romans 12:10 - Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

And, so what of feeling hopeless? As I look around I am overwhelmed like Peter, not by one colossal wave but by wave-upon-wave and I feel I cannot catch my breath. 

Lord, save me.

But God points gently shows me that I have focused on the wrong things and redirects my gaze. "Take your eyes off the waves. Look at me."

Hebrews 12:2 - looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 -So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

1 Timothy 4:10a - For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God...

Uh-oh, where have I been setting my hope? On government, my country, relationships, science, feelings... I have let my mind, imagination, and heart drift away from truth. 

Psalm 42:5 - Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation. 

God has answered all my anxiety, anger and hopelessness. Today, I am anchored in God's Word and if I stay keep my eyes on him I will not drift. 

Hebrews 2:1 - Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Psalm 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Friends, as we go forward I hope to have more posts that encourage you to take your eyes from things that not within your control and trust the One who sovereignly holds it all together. 

In the meantime, go ahead-make your homes beautiful.

Open your doors to the weary and have those conversations that really matter.

Encourage one another, love one another. 

Speak truth. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Picturing A New Fall Wreath

After being inspired by different images on the internet I decided my front door would benefit from a new wreath on the front door. 

My goal was to do it as inexpensively as possible, using what I had and what I could find at the Dollar Tree Store. 

I have said this before but I will say it again in case you're new here... Shop Your Stuff. "What does that mean", you ask?  Look around your home. What are you not using? What can be refreshed or used in a different way? I do not throw stuff away often. I will cycle items in and out of use in my home. Sometimes things will sit in a closet or on a shelf for a couple years and then be used somewhere else in a different way. Sometimes, I get tired of looking at something but simply moving it to different room or into a different arrangement makes me love it all over again. 

So, I did look around and found an old picture frame. I had painted it with white chalk paint a few years ago for a gallery wall that has since been dismantled and it sat in my stash. 

It was a little too white for my liking now so I took some sandpaper to it and sanded back to the wood on the high points. 

I spent less than $10 at the dollar store for leaf sprigs, pumpkins, flowers and wire-edged ribbon. (I did not end up using the fall sign here.)

I layed out my leaves and flowers for an idea of where I was headed and then I just jumped in. I began by cutting the excess stem and hot-gluing the leaf sprigs in place. 

Using my wire cutters I clipped the flowers from their bunches.

I made a bow using Nick's method here. He does such a great job that I'll just leave it to him! 

I wired and glued the bow into place and then added the flowers and pumpkin picks around the bow. This really is where you need to just feel your way. I don't want to put too many of these in place before my bow because I don't want the bow to cover them all up. 

And here it is. 

My front porch is the first greeting my guests receive when they come to my home and now it is ready for Autumn! 

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