Thursday, December 1, 2016

Grace at Home No. 229


Hello, friends, and Happy December!!

Can you believe it's the 1st of December already? 2016 has flown by, hasn't it? I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace. Here are some links from our last party that caught my eye:

Jennifer from Noting Grace created the cutest Christmas wall art for just a few dollars. Check out her post for full directions.

Kristi from Makin' It in the Mountains completely re-did her family room in just six weeks. You'll want to see her new space--complete with a barn door and a wall finished like an antique chalkboard!


Theresa from Shoestring Elegance shared a recipe for Nova Scotia shortbread. I'm looking forward to making some of these goodies for my family.

And if you're looking for some fun, easy-to-do Christmas crafts, check out this post of mine.

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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas crafting


With every year that passes, I find myself more and more drawn to allowing Thanksgiving to occupy my thoughts throughout the Autumn. Years ago I would have wanted to charge into decorating for Christmas as early as possible, but now I'm content to leave my house dressed for Thanksgiving until after that holiday is past.

Thanksgiving 2016 is a memory now, so I'm starting to deck these halls for Christmas. This year I'm determined to keep things simpler so that I can focus on what's truly important. Still, I want my house to look festive and inviting!


One of my favorite methods of decorating for Christmas is to use crafts I've created in years past. I'm blessed to have attic space so that I can store these things from year to year. This year I'll be using these items from crafty Christmases past.

If you visit my house this December, you'll be greeted by this large DIY Joy sign:


I made it from a 2' x 4' piece of plywood and 9 1/2" craft letters. All it took was some spray paint, glue, and a ruler! You can see the complete directions here.

Once again my kitchen window will wear this easy NOEL sign. Pottery Barn offered a similar sign a couple of years ago, but it was pretty pricey--so I created my own. Obviously it's modeled after the 1960's "LOVE" design--remember that tilted "O"?


Making your own version of the sign is a simple craft.  You'll need some kind of lightweight letters (I used pressboard letters from Hobby Lobby because the shape is so similar to the Pottery Barn sign), balsa wood strips, and spray paint, and glue. The back will look like this:


You can see step-by-step instructions for the sign here.

I love to burn candles at Christmastime, but it can be a challenge to find pretty ones that aren't heavily scented. So these easy-to-make Christmas candles are a favorite craft of mine:


Would you believe that's a just a pretty napkin Mod-Podged onto a plain pillar? These are fun to display and make nice gifts as well. The full directions are here.

And this next craft is so easy that it hardly even qualifies as a craft! Did you know you can make your own Christmas pillows from placemats?


Look for two-ply placemats. Just last week I bought a package of four at Home Goods for $9.99! Then simply open up the two layers of fabric with a seam ripper:


Fill with the stuffing of your choice, stitch or glue the opening back up, and you've got a cute pillow! If you need more explanation, you can see the complete instructions here.

How about you? Have you started your Christmas decorating yet? Have you finished? Made any Christmas crafts? I'd love to see!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Grace at Home No. 228


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party.

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just one week from today?! I know we're all saying "Time flies!" but that just doesn't seem adequate, does it?

Last week's party was an oasis of beauty and grace for me in the midst of a difficult week. Here are some posts that caught my eye.

Shannon from Belle Bleu Interiors shared some of her best advice for hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Looks like her guests are in for a beautiful day!


Valerie from The Kitchen Revival gave us 10 tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving. Some great advice here.

Lynn from Quaker Hill Farm showed us how to make a beautiful Thanksgiving centerpiece. I bought some of those cute leaves from Target's One Spot, so I'm glad to have this idea.


As for me, I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving, but I also reflected on the meaning of Veterans' Day. It's very poignant for me these days, since my oldest son is now a Naval aviator.


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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Monday, November 14, 2016

Can I change my attitude? I hope so.


In the short history of the United States, last week was a tumultuous one.

Americans are deeply divided in our feelings about the outcome of this election. To me, one of the most grievous results is that some members of our society feel that they've been cast aside and seen as worthless. God help us if we ever treat any person as worthless. I pray that we are reinvigorated to extend love to all and hatred to none.

One of the saddest things I've witnessed in the past week in this country is a tendency among citizens to retreat into their sympathetic camps. Just when we need to be reaching out in love to all our neighbors, we're pulling back into our own tribes. We're listening only to those who share our point of view.

Maybe that kind of reaction was necessary and inevitable as an immediate response to a factious election. But I would dearly love to see a difference going forward.

I'm talking mostly to myself here. I have good work to do, and last week I was distracted from it to such a degree that I'm appalled at my own behavior.

No more. There are good deeds to be done, good fights to be fought. There are hurting people right here in my community to whom I need to extend love.

Yesterday I was reminded by a friend from another country--a nation with a much longer history than mine--of this advice penned by a man from yet another country. C.S. Lewis wrote these words in the middle of the 20th century, and they ring as true today as when he penned them.


My dear Wormwood,

Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serve as an excellent distraction from advancing in virtue, character formation, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Be sure the patient continues to believe that the problem is "out there" in the "broken system" rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.

Keep up the good work,
Uncle Screwtape.

In other words, God help me, I must exemplify the change I want to see in the world. I must "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God" (Micah 6:8).

This is what I want to remember in the coming days. Maybe you'd like to join me?

Friday, November 11, 2016

This Veterans' Day


Today is Veterans' Day, a special day that is set aside to honor all the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States. Of course, today is also Armistice Day, the day that the armistice ending World War I was signed, so other countries are remembering their veterans today, as well.

I have always had the deepest regard and respect for veterans, and my husband and I have reared our children to have that same respect. In 2014 we got to take what for us was the trip of a lifetime: we took our boys to Normandy. There we all wept and prayed at these sights:



This year, I've had a chance to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. One year ago, my oldest son took this oath:

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."


This photo was taken just after he was commissioned. As you can see, he's not a veteran yet. And he's still in training, so his experiences pale in comparison to veterans'. This day is not to honor him; it's to honor the men and women who have gone before him.

But this year has taught me a lot about what could lie in store for him. Because no matter the cost to himself or his family, he will fulfill the oath he took last year.

On the day after the election, when so many of us were bemoaning the state of things in our country, my son was up at 4:00 AM, preparing for an early-morning flight.


This election season, I've heard a lot of talk about the Constitution. Apparently talk really is cheap, because there's certainly been plenty of it lately. And I've heard so many people, especially on social media, scoff at our country. Well, our Constitution guarantees them the right to scoff.  

At least on this day, though, I would hope that even the most scornful could understand that the rights they take for granted must be defended. And that defense doesn't come from clever Twitter posts or irate Facebook rants.

No, it's the men and women who have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution who will continue to ensure those rights. People like my son. May God protect and bless them all.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

Oh Christ, whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit, who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them whereso'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Grace at Home No. 227


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party.

This week has been a tough one, hasn't it? Americans have been through the most polarizing election season in our country's recent history. I never discuss politics online, but I have friends and loved ones on both sides of this election. This I know more clearly now than ever before: I am called to use my words to impart grace to everyone. I am drawn again to the inspiration for my blog's name:

"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:29-32).

Each of us has a sphere of influence, and for most of us that begins in our homes. So this party celebrates the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are a few links from last week's party that caught my eye. Thanksgiving is very much on my mind right now--it's just two weeks from today!

Marty from A Stroll Thru Life provided lots of great inspiration for creating a beautiful table for Thanksgiving celebrations.


Lori at Dining Delight showed us how she decorates her sideboard for Thanksgiving. I particularly like this, because I keep my table clear to hold food on Thanksgiving.


Theresa at Shoestring Elegance shared a recipe for making butternut squash soup. Doesn't this look delicious?


And Dr. Michelle Bengtson provided a helpful reminder of the best place to focus in changing seasons and trials.


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.  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.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!