Thursday, July 2, 2015

Grace at Home No. 161


Welcome to the Grace at Home party, where we pause to give thanks for God's grace and celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace!

Here are some posts that caught my eye from the past couple of weeks:

Paula from Sweet Pea created this patriotic wreath from a wire form and strips of felt.  Isn't it great? And it would store well from year to year.


Kristi from Making it in the Mountains made this amazing headboard from scratch--and she shares a step-by-step tutorial for building it!


I love collecting simple, down-to-earth recipes.  I'm going to try this one for "Poor Man's Fancy Potatoes from Joanna at Everyday Made Fresh.


Sharon Sharing God touched my heart with her wonderful post, "Jesus Knows."  Worth reading!



Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Grace at Home No. 160


Welcome to this week's Grace at Home party!  Grace at Home is a weekly chance to reflect upon the greatness of God's grace toward us and to celebrate the ways we make our homes a reflection of that grace.

Ordinarily I share a few of my favorite links from the prior week's party, but this week I am out of town and haven't had a chance to compile a list of favorites.  Next week I'll do a double round-up of favorites.

As for me, I've been caught this past week between grieving and celebrating:  grieving the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina and celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary.  I share some thoughts about both events I'd love for you to read:



Confession of a recovering racist


The best marriage advice ever (or what I wish I'd known 30 years ago)

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Monday, June 22, 2015

The best marriage advice ever (or what I wish I'd known 30 years ago)


Today is an important day in the history of my life.  On this day 30 years ago, I was a starry-eyed bride.


I'm stunned even as I write it: my husband and I have been married 30 years.  30 years!!

As we walked down the aisle together, I was absolutely certain we were heading into our very own happily-ever-after.


Boy, did I have a lot to learn.  Thank God, I've had lots of time for learning.

In honor of this special day, I'm going to tell you my secrets to a good, long-lived marriage. This is what I wish I'd known on this day 30 years ago.  The best marriage advice ever.

It's a pretty short list:
  1. Learn to forgive.
  2. Seek forgiveness.
  3. Practice forgiveness.
That's it. Those are the secrets.

Is there a key to a good marriage?  Yes.  Forgiveness is the key.

It seems that I must learn most things the hard way. One thing I've learned is that you shouldn't take marriage advice from someone who's never had marital struggles.  Perhaps that sounds counter-intuitive, but I've learned that it's true. It's quite easy for people whose marriage is all smooth sailing to THINK they know the secrets to a happy marriage. But I've learned that the best training for good sailing is to weather some storms and come out still afloat.

When I was a bride, I thought I knew the secret to a successful marriage. I was reared to strive for perfection in all that I did. I wasn't very good with forgiveness, because I believed that it would be better to avoid mistakes and not ever need forgiveness. I tried hard never to let God or my husband down, and I really thought my hard work would be the key.

I failed. I failed miserably. That didn't stop me from trying again, though, each new effort more valiant than the last. Stubbornly I clung to the thought that my marriage was different, that my husband and I were special. I just knew that God would honor my efforts and that we would be rewarded with an amazing marriage.

I was wrong. Only after my marriage has suffered some major crises have I finally learned.

I am human. My husband is human. We are learning and growing and trying to be like Jesus, but we make mistakes. Sometimes we make really bad mistakes. And over the years, some of our mistakes have deeply hurt us. I've hurt him. He's hurt me.  

But in the midst of the pain, here's what I've learned: With God's help, there is no hurt that cannot heal. There is no sin that can't be forgiven. God is powerful enough to redeem even the most difficult of situations.

That might sound unbelievable, even ridiculous to you.  And without God's help, it IS unbelievable. It's impossible.  Remember Jesus told his followers "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). But we don't have to do it without the Lord; we get to do it with Him.  And the truth is that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Of course, there are times when one person doesn't want to be redeemed. I know that's true, and I'm so sad for people who find themselves in those situations. Sometimes there are spouses who must flee a marriage simply to protect themselves or their children.

But for those of us who have spouses who are willing to work with us, I stand by my list.
  1. Learn to forgive.
  2. Seek forgiveness.
  3. Practice forgiveness.
If I could go back and tell my young self what to expect from marriage, here's what I'd say:

Sometimes marriage will be wonderful.  Other times, marriage will be dreadful.  You will falter. You will fall. You will hurt and be hurt. But with true forgiveness, you can make it.

And my prayer for spouses, today and every day, would be this:
We have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fulling pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)
I did not get my happily ever after.  But after 30 years, I can say that I got something even better.

In any marriage, you will not live happily ever after. You will have times of pain of sorrow. But with the Lord's help, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well" (Julian of Norwich).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Confession of a recovering racist


In church this morning, we joined with Christians all over the world to lament the murders of nine precious brothers and sisters in Charleston, South Carolina.  We prayed together:

We stand with our sisters
We stand with our brothers
We stand with our families
We stand to bear their burdens in Jesus's name

In the wake of such a tragedy, it's easy for me to get on my high horse and rage against the evil of racism, to decry the lack of justice in the world, to insist that something be done.

But as I've thought deeply about the events of these days, I realize that for the most part, any raging I would do is really a cover for the real something that still needs to happen in my own heart.

* * * * *
I came by my racism honestly.

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1960's.  Memphis was well on the way to being racially integrated before I arrived on the scene, so I didn't know that it was a big deal that Candace, my dark-skinned friend in Miss Haywood's first grade class, would not have been allowed in my classroom just a few years earlier.  I didn't know that Mrs. Bell wouldn't have been allowed to be my second-grade teacher.  I didn't know about the April 1968 shooting at the Lorraine Motel.  I knew that the Safety Patrol at my school conducted riot drills along with fire drills, but I didn't know why.

My parents did know all about those issues, and when the authorities in Memphis decided to further enact school integration by busing students, they joined thousands of others in what's now called "white flight."  We moved out to a neighboring county, well away from the jurisdiction of the Memphis City Schools.

Because, of course, my parents were law-abiding citizens.  Had we stayed in Memphis, they would have complied with the law.  Laws may change a person's behavior, and sometimes that's an important and necessary step.  But they don't change a person's heart.

At heart, we were racists.  I didn't know it at the time, but we were.  So were most of our friends and neighbors.

Don't get me wrong.  I was blessed that my folks were good people.  My family was Christian, and at church we sang about how people of all races were precious in God's sight.  I think we believed that, at least in theory. So far as I know, my parents treated all people well, regardless of race.  I'm grateful for that.

What I've come to realize, though, is that now matter how seemingly benign a form of racism may be, it's dangerous.  Our kind of racism wasn't overt, but it was very much part of our idea of reality.  The thought of one race being superior to another was one of our underlying assumptions.



Here's the thing about underlying assumptions, though.  Once a false notion is accepted as truth, it changes the way we think.  It alters the way we perceive what's happening around us. Almost as though we were wearing glasses of the wrong prescription, we see distorted images--but we don't realize that we're not seeing clearly.  Those distorted images appear to support what we assume to be true, and our false notions are reinforced.



At least that's the way it was for me.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I had my racism challenged and mostly defeated when I was a young adult.  My husband and I lived in a very small town, and I was blessed to have a wonderful obstetrician who was from Africa.  This black man was a caring and competent physician; he delivered two of my three children.  Since then, I've been blessed with friends and colleagues of all different races.  I thank God for this.

But I know my own heart.  Though I work at not allowing racism of any kind to seep back in, it's still much too easy for me to fall into thinking in terms of racial stereotypes.  I know better, but I'm still susceptible.

It is right and good to work for societal change.  I am deeply grateful for the progress in social justice that has been made in this country. One needn't reach too far back into American history to find evidence of terrible, entrenched racism as a societal norm. An intensive study completed by the Equal Justice Initiative found that nearly 4,000 black persons were killed by lynching between 1877 and 1950. 3,959 instances of racial terror, often carried out with little or no punishment to the murderers.  I thank God that things have changed. I am grateful that racial terrorism now takes our breath away, makes us sick. Things are better.  But they aren't good enough. They aren't good enough!

In the face of such as tragedy as occurred this past week in Charleston,  I find myself ranting about injustice, raging against wrongs that need to be righted.  In the end, though, it's pretty easy to rant and rage.  Far harder is it to change my attitude, to root out all the injustice and wrong that is within me. And if I allow traces of racism to lurk in my own heart, what good have I accomplished?

In the middle of thinking about all this, I read these words from Thomas a Kempis, in Chapter 11 of The Imitation of Christ:

"How can he abide long in peace who occupies himself with other men's matters, and with things outside himself, and meanwhile pays little or rare heed to the self within?  Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall have abundance of peace."

Oh, God.  This is not just my country's problem.  This is my problem.

I applaud those who are working to make things better in our society.  I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters of all races. But before I can stand strong, I need to keep bending my knee, repenting of my own foolish notions, and confessing the sin that's present in my own heart.

Dear Lord, forgive me.  And please keep changing my heart.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Grace at Home No. 159


Hello, friends!  Welcome to this week's Grace at Home party!  I'm so glad you're here.

Here are a few highlights from last week's party:

Jill at The Rozy Home created these beautiful window treatments without sewing a stitch, and she shares a step-by-step tutorial.  So pretty!


Kim at Hunt and Host put together this wonderful Independence Day mantelscape.  She has a great eye, don't you think?


The amazing Penny from Penny's Vintage Home created this lovely bridal wreath.  Wouldn't this make a wonderful decoration for a bridal shower?  I'm a June bride, so this really touched my heart!


And a must-read: "Suspicious Minds" from Sharon Sharing God.  Such a wonderful reminder!


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My updated kitchen


If you're like me, you really enjoy peeking into bloggers' homes.  Inspiration abounds, good ideas flow freely, and besides--it's fun to see what your online friends are up to!

But if you're like me in another way, it's sometimes discouraging to see into bloggers' homes. Projects appear to be completed overnight.  It feels as though no one seems to struggle as much with real-life interruptions as much as I do.  Sigh.

I started a kitchen mini-remodel last spring.  Spring of 2014, you understand.  And though I made great strides in just a few weeks, I did not complete the task until now.  15 months later.  Does this happen to anyone else?

Here's how things looked before I started.


And here's the same view today, with all updates complete:


This was not a dramatic makeover by any means, but I wanted to add more of a farmhouse feel to this big kitchen.  So here's what I did.

Changed the wall color.  This was the easiest project, of course, and I'm enjoying the new, light look.  The color is Sherwin-Williams Liveable Green.  Although my kitchen doesn't have a lot of wall space, I like this soft green color.



Changed the faucets.  I really like these faucets, which are from the Cassidy line by Delta.  They're nice and heavy, and I like the way the two faucets coordinate without being exactly the same.




Changed the tile backsplash.  I swapped the tumbled marble for a crackle-finish subway tile.  The new finish is lighter, brighter, and much easier to clean.  I also took away the stainless steel backsplash from the stovetop.



Painted the kitchen island.  This may be my favorite change.  The color is Oakmoss by Sherwin Williams, and I love the way the green island breaks up the sea of brown.  I also changed the knobs and pulls on the island to polished chrome ones (Gilmore by Restoration Hardware).



Added a beverage fridge to the island.  This was the most complicated and expensive part of the update, but we've enjoyed this so much.  I chose a ULine fridge, which is wonderful--it's part wine cooler, part cold beverage storage. Fitting it into the island required more extensive cabinet surgery than I expected, but I found a good carpenter who got it done.  All the details of that makeover are here.





Changed the lights over the island.  This was as simple as the fridge was complicated.  These pendants are from Ballard Designs, and they simply screw into existing recessed fixtures.  I especially like them with Edison bulbs in the sockets.


Painted and recovered the barstools.  They'd been black for a long time.  I spray-painted them and recovered the seats.


Created faux grain sack covers for the chairs around the table.  This was a fun project.  I simply cut a canvas drop cloth into squares large enough to fit my chair cushions, then just used painter's tape to create the stripes.  First I taped each square like this:



I painted that stripe with craft paint, then applied tape like this.  (You can see that I used tape to mark spaces on my plastic ruler, which is how I made sure that the width of the stripes was the same on all chairs.)



The painted stripes looked like this:


Then I simply used my staple gun to attach these to the chairs.


Changed the window treatment.  I liked the look of my faux grain sack chairs so much that I created a new faux Roman shade for the window over my sink.  I cut a drop cloth to the right size for my window, then used the same tape method to create stripes down the length of each side of my fabric.  I was very diligent to measure carefully from each side to insure that the stripes were straight, which was a little tedious but not hard.  Then I followed my own faux Roman shade tutorial (click here for that) to create the new shade.  I like it a lot!



And with that, I think I'm finished.  And it only took me about 15 months to complete this project. Here are some more views of the new space:








So what do you think of the changes?  And do you ever struggle to get projects finished?  Please tell me I'm not alone!



I'm sharing at these wonderful parties:
Inspire Me Monday at Sand and Sisal
Fabulous Party at LouLou Girls
The Scoop at Worthing Court
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
One Project at a Time at A Bowl Full of Lemons
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Your Turn to Shine at Bless 'Er House